Elaine Marie Carnegie
HOW I GOT HERE!
Some people know exactly what they want from life, moving straight at their goals like a mighty oak tree growing toward the sun. I have never been one of those people and have always been more like plankton, floating randomly from place to place.
I’ve always loved stories, insisting that my parents read to me every night as a child. Reading came difficult to me, so I preferred to watch cartoons and movies. It wasn’t until I discovered comic books that I found the motivation to read for myself. After this, I couldn’t be stopped.
Being a somewhat directionless person I often took solace from quotes like “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” by Tolkien and “I am free and that is why I am lost” by Kafka. Even so, from an early age, I knew I wanted to create stories as much I wanted to consume them. Attempting to draw my own comic books and even write a fanfic based on the 90’s X-Men cartoon. Due to a short attention span, I ultimately abandoned all of these projects.
I wrote off and on throughout my teens and early twenties. I even did NaNoWriMo once, shortly after graduating college during my ‘werewolf phase’. Thankfully that manuscript is lost to time.
Most of the time I would give up due to a lack of natural talent. I felt that if you were going to be good at something, you had to be good the first time you tried. An excellent excuse not to practice! So I would go back and forth between writing, paper crafts, and pixel art.
As my frustration mounted I swore that I would give up trying to write forever, it just was not a realistic goal and I should stop torturing myself since I would never be an adequate writer.
Not long after quitting writing forever, I decided that writing was going to be the interest that I was going to dedicate myself to because it did not require all the art supplies visual arts did.
So I began trying to write speculative flash fiction, something that suited my short attention span. I proved to myself that I could finish a story, even if it was only a few hundred words. I wrote a few stories that revolved around a magical pub, then gave up or lost interest, I can’t remember which.
My next attempt at writing was to start a fictional character blog called Crossing Kevin’s Crossing that I updated weekly for over a year. I’m sure it’s terrible if I were to go back and read it, but I proved to myself that I could stick with writing. I was not destined to continually give up every time the going got tough. So I went back to writing weird short stories. I had no particular style, voice, or genre. I just wrote whatever popped into my head and held my interest long enough to get the words written down. This is when I wrote one of my early favorites, and still unpublished story, Suburban Cannibal.
Around this time I joined Facebook’s Writing Bad group where I found tons of supportive people who were struggling just like me. It was here that I found something that would change me as a writer forever. Calls for submissions from indie publishers. I hadn’t even realized such a thing existed. For the first time, there was a path to seeing my words in print and being able to share them with more than my family and friends.
One of the first opportunities I came across was from a new publisher called Stormy Island Publishing who was looking for stories for their inaugural anthology Salty Tales. So I wrote three short stories about the sea and sent them in.
I knew that if I could get published, and hold my story in front of me, I would be satisfied. I would have physical proof that I was a published author, something I never thought I could achieve. But as soon as I was accepted into the anthology I began to think that maybe it was just a fluke. If I could get a second story published, then I could be sure I was a real writer. Thirty-some anthologies and one solo novelette later I have been forced to accept that I am a writer and stop doubting myself.
I still consider myself new to the whole thing. That very first story, in Salty Tales, The Obelisk, just celebrated its two year anniversary. In that time I submitted to as many calls as I could. The gratification is addicting. I’m still trying to find my voice and my style. Trying to decide what type of stories are distinctly me.
Now I’m backing away from submitting to anthologies in favor of working on my own wacky projects. I have several longer pieces started but nothing finished. One is a post-apocalyptic story about talking dogs that I’m hoping to submit to a publisher in the next month. I’m also trying to finish a weird version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves a bizarro story about people’s hands turning into crabs and the search for love and romance that I put aside because I got stuck. I have hopes of sending the latter to Eraserhead Press someday. If all of that wasn’t enough I’m about to embark on a collaborative project with another author about a lobster who would be a god.
If I ever do finish any of these stories instead of relapsing into submitting to anthologies I’ll have to decide if I want to self-publish or should I shop them around for a publisher. I’ll just have to see where the current takes me.
BIO: Joshua D Taylor is an author who never stopped playing make-believe.
He lives in southeastern Pennsylvania with his wife, son, and a one-eared cat, where he works as a lab tech. He enjoys gardening, comic books, ska-punk music, Disney World, and traveling with his wife. Raised during the weirdness that was the late 20th century Josh’s eclectic interests produce eclectic works. He loves to mix-n-match things from different genres and story elements to achieve a madcap hodgepodge of the truly unexpected. Josh strives to take old ideas and twist them into something new and unusual. And sometimes he succeeds. Josh writes for the thrill of it but would be happy for any glory sent his way.