On my family’s trip to Palmyra, New York, we passed over the Mackinac Bridge and I was intrigued to learn of Mackinac Island. Having just served the people of the Philippines for two years amidst several islands it was interesting to me to learn of an island in America, and it being so far inland. My parents remembered that a movie, “Forever Young” was filmed there and I started thinking of the timeless quality of the island and the blue collar history of Michigan. I could relate to from my experience living in Indiana. Since my imagination was already flowing I jotted down a few notes for what would soon become my idea for another novel, “The Whatever Plan.” That book is in the making. I think it will be my best novel to date. The concept still has so much literary potential. Since I had barely started on the first novel idea, however, I returned back to the concussed soccer player theme. Except the more I thought about it the more I envisioned it as a film, not as much literary. The genesis of my film novel expertise was forming.
It was 1999. With my families help I was already enrolled in most of my classes for that semester at BYU. It was funny how I had signed up in 1997 by way of touch tone telephone. The world had changed while I was away. The internet was in full swing now. I had much to learn. That first week of school I was still trying to tie down a couple of classes. I remember I wanted to take a voice lessons class as a diversion for one. The other class I wanted to take was a screenwriting class, but I did not really have room on my schedule. I determined I would ask around to find a professor who could direct me in the right direction on the side, to learn and develop this talent on my own. My mission in the Philippines had given me more confidence and encouraged me to develop and use my talents. Singing classes did not turn out quite as encouraging. Voice teachers were too academic about it then I much cared for. They made me sing what they wanted and I had fun singing other more enjoyable tunes rather than practice the stuffy Shakespearean inspired song I was assigned to master. I never became a great academic singer.
I may have fallen into the same trap with my other course work. I certainly had a talent for writing. I was uncertain, however, if writing was an appreciable skill or that it could even be gained through academia. Now I realize there are many great academic articles and publications, but my love of writing was much more literary than that. Most authors of literature do not focus on academic writing as a career. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my school career, but I knew that writing was too fun to take as seriously as an academic would. Writing did not seem like it paid either. In fact, even after the validation of publication to know that your writing is good, there is still no guarantee of monetary success. But that’s beside the point. Point is, writing is a tough road a person must be committed to if he or she is going to get anywhere.
At this time I was still trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life and I was still strongly under the impression that I was in complete control of planning how my life would go. I opted to pursue a business major. Then I learned the hard way the hoops required to even be allowed to enter the business program. One guidance counselor even told me that “perhaps school wasn’t for everyone.” I thought he was crazy to think that an Academic Honors student in High School was not fit for college. It never occurred to him that the Humanities program could use some work if it wasn’t turning out students fit for employment. Although looking back now I would have to agree that there is most definitely an end to academia (It would not be for me indefinitely) but never an end to learning when it comes to practical knowledge and its application. Before I had honestly thought that by being accepted to BYU I could study any field of interest that I chose. I was wrong about that. Perhaps, my greatest learning has come when I have been wrong about something. Throughout my college career I fought the urge to write for fun while learning to write for academic purposes. I tried extra hard to study principles of business, but I found I learned more from the entrepreneurs that visited who mostly admitted never completing business school either. In college I learned there is a balance between creativity and organization and a balance between learning, doing, and teaching others. There is a time and season for everything and everything must be done in its proper order if progression is to be had.
In the middle of my Sophomore year I made the decision to get back to the writing of that book that started on my vacation trip. I asked one of my English teachers if there were any professors in the department who knew the format for writing a screenplay. She did. That is when I visited Dennis Packard. That is when I shared some of my writing and he liked it. That is when he asked me to take on another project, which eventually became known as “Sterling Bridge.” That is when I decided that maybe writing fiction could take me somewhere. That is when I got in over my head and I am sure glad that I did.
See “My Journey to Publication (Part One)” here.