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  • Writer's pictureElaine Marie Carnegie

The Unfinished Story Arc

Please help me welcome Shawn M. Klimek to the Writer's Journey Blog this week!


When I was still young enough to check out a Dr. Seuss book for the third time without prompting a shaming headshake, I was inspired to write my own books one day with the power to stimulate similar joy. I recall deliberately studying the books to understand the source of their power. In the case of Dr. Seuss, I mentally bookmarked pages illustrated with dark caves, deep waters, and food. Those moved me. The sensory imagery, I deduced, had uncanny power.

Later, as my eldest brother, Stephan, and I were sharing modeling clay and telling stories, he described a vault door closing with “a metallic clang”. I was so impressed by the vivid impact of such a simple pair of words that I became determined to impress him with my own.

My “poetry” began with funny greeting cards for family birthdays, but I was nine-years old when I first began to take writing seriously. Inspired by television show theme songs, I tried my hand at writing a dramatic cowboy ballad. I had barely finished the first verse of “The Ballad of Van Keith”, when Stephan read it over my shoulder and suggested swapping in a funny rhyme (“came riding a horse he had stole from a thief!”) I resisted abandoning the poem’s more serious tone, until his repeated insistence and contagious mirth finally converted me.

Through high school, I wrote poems and short stories, comic sketches and even songs for imagined musicals. Having won a merit scholarship, I majored in fine arts, but gave so much energy to acting that my homework suffered. Finally, my despairing professor took me aside and asked exactly what kind of art I imagined myself doing, someday. I answered that I wasn’t sure but felt sure it would involve words.

I took a break from college to review my plans, meanwhile joining the U.S. Army as a journalist. For the next four years, I developed my professional writing and editing skills (earning accolades for photography and illustration, in addition to writing). Meanwhile, I continued personal projects on the side, including writing and directing my first one-act play.

After the Army, I kept a promise to myself to prioritize my dreams, returning to college to study writing and theater. I finished a full-length musical, and earned a BA in Creative Arts, summa cum laude.

Then it was back to reality. To pay rent, I joined the corporate world, first as a temp worker, then as a permanent hire, advancing one promotion at a time to become a Senior Marketing Data Specialist with a 401K and healthcare. Creative arts were still “my happy place”, but as unpublished poems, stories, and even an unfinished fantasy novel began to stack up, my family wondered when it would ever come to anything.

Meanwhile, I married a more pragmatic wife, who became a nurse before joining the U.S. Air Force, which led to a 3-year assignment in Japan. Stuck at home overseas and unemployed, I began focusing again on my writing, determined to finally become published.

In 2017, I sold my first two poems, both speculative fiction, one humorous. Through Facebook writers’ groups, I learned about additional opportunities, including websites, e-zines, and themed anthologies. Within two years, I had had 150 pieces published, plus my own, self-published book, “Hungry Thing”.

This year I am continuing to write short stories, and aim to compile enough to publish my own collection. In some ways, my life resembles my unfinished fantasy novel: off to a promising start, but the best chapters have yet to be written.


BIO: Shawn M. Klimek is an internationally published, occasionally lauded author of more than 170 stories and poems, plus the acclaimed, book, “Hungry Thing”—a dark fantasy told in five poems and illustrated by surrealist, Norbert Somosi. He currently lives with his wife and their Maltese, in O’Fallon, Illinois.


Facebook: @shawnmklimekauthor

Twitter: @shawnmklimek

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