1. How I got to be ScottPosted: April 3, 2017
Poor Traits of an Artist as a Young Man: How I got to be Scott
This is the first in a short series I’ve written to satisfy some readers’ curiosity on the history of my writing career. You can find the full table of contents for this series here.
I blame it all on the glasses.
I’ve had them since I was five. And on the Gulf Coast of Texas in 1989, if you were a pasty kid with glasses, you were a nerd.
So, I was a nerd.
My parents, wonderful people that they are, encouraged me to read. And so I did – voraciously. My first true loves were fantasy epics. I must have been ten when I finished David Eddings’ five-novel “The Belgariad,” and that took me over to Terry Brooks with the Sword of Shanara series.
At the same time, I am cursed with being the sort of nerd who isn’t particularly good at school, and my grades have always been pretty average. However, I could read. Port Lavaca had an accelerated reader program and that put me in touch with a lot of fantastic novels that planted the seeds of awareness of just what novels are capable of doing.
Real books. But mostly, fantasy and sci-fi.
Middle-school was my rebellious years. I remained mostly a social outcast, spending my time with my nose in books. I remember a phase where I was reading a Christopher Pike book every single day – which was handy, since he had about 70 at the time. As a side note, Christopher Pike later messaged me out of nowhere saying he loved my novel [sic], sparking up a series of conversations… but more on that in a later post.
As all teens seem cursed to do, I started writing poetry. Basically our elementary take on Nine Inch Nails lyrics, if we’re all going to be honest.
But by high school, I was starting to fit in and mature a bit more. I still wrote poetry, but English classes at Calhoun High School rekindled that spark I’d built in my early years of consuming literature.
Some great people in my life (like my older brother, Mark) opened me up to some more complex art across a lot of different mediums, breaking me out of the pop I’d rather thoughtlessly consumed before.
A new world of artistic appreciation opened up for me through the complexities of Radiohead’s OK Computer and Kid A albums, or the depth of tragic films like Requiem for a Dream. Fight Club hit us all like a bat to the face; Palahniuk made literature something aggressive and challenging and cool.
But where it really took hold was in literature class. I found books that expressed all this and more, and went so much deeper than lyrics or film ever could.
Catch-22 was the first book to pull the ground out from under me. This was postmodern fiction at its most challenging and I was in love. From there, I found Slaughterhouse-V, which began a ten book love affair with Vonnegut. Then Hemingway, Gardner, Hesse. I was insatiable.
And then, when I was fifteen, I decided to do it: I was going to write a novel. Even though I looked like this:
And they weren’t going to be just any novels. They were going to be novels that mattered, books like the ones that had just changed my life. Books that shake your hold on reality.
Join me for the next post, the first three novels.