Every journey has a starting point, and my journey to become a writer began with the complete annihilation of my artistic dreams. After all, to create sometimes you have to destroy, and the phoenix only rises from the ashes of its own fiery demise.
My rebirth was hardly that dramatic. It involved a trip to San Diego with a few friends, in fact. Of course this was a special time of the year. The summer of 1996, if memory serves me correctly. The event was Comic Con.
Sure, everyone thinks they know about Comic Con now. Popular celebrities and powerful movie execs make it their business to set up shop each year and unveil all their upcoming works of sci fi, fantasy, and of course, comic book events. Not so much the case back then. Comic Con was still a geek event, a social gathering of nerds and cult followers of various enterprises. The biggest celebrities in those days would be someone like Lou Ferrigno.
I’d always wanted to go because I was going to be a comic book artist. I was considered quite talented even among my circle of artistic friends. I could produce a pretty decent sketch of Wolverine or Batman in minutes, and spent countless hours creating my own comic books. I wanted to be the next Jim Lee or Mark Silvestri, working at Image comics and introducing the world to my meticulously crafted characters.
Dreams die every day, however. And on that particular day my dreams burst apart like meteor fragments passing through the atmosphere. I stood in those long lines with hundreds of other potential artists, waiting for a few seconds to show my work to a studio exec who had seen the same thing over and over. I found out that the work that had so impressed my friends and family was sub-par at best when compared to so many others in line with me. Many of the other artists had work that looked better than the artists already employed, and yet there they were in line with me, waiting for their break, their one chance to get lucky.
I was out before I even stepped to the plate. I knew it even as the studio exec and I went through the motions. The guy wasn’t rude or snobbish. He examined my work, gave a few words of advice (don’t be a Jim Lee clone), and motioned for the next man up. I walked away with one absolute certainty.
I would never be a comic book artist. My dreams were ground to dust on a summer day in San Diego, and no one but me saw the remnants scatter in the wind. I went home, stared at my stacks of work that went back to my childhood. It all seemed so useless.
So I gathered it all and threw it in the dumpster.
So dramatic. I admit that I was a bit more emotional in those days. I woke up the next morning with the pangs of regret. But much to my dismay, it had rained all night. Salvaging my work was impossible. In a way, it was almost fitting. A final act to cement the death of my dreams.
Looking back, I truly believe that day marked the beginning of my journey to being a writer.