Writing to Stave Off Insanity

My name is Stephen Roddewig, and I’m a writer. I made this page so I could write and share my work, and hopefully by the time you’re reading this, others will be too. Think of these posts like a telescope into the inner workings of my mind, the thoughts of a (hopefully) successful author. That’s right, prepare for the insanity.

I first delved into the world of creative writing after a personal tragedy which rocked my young life to the core; the end of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series at Book Eight, Outcast. Desperate to read the future exploits of Coryn, Soren, and his intrepid owl band, I took things in my own hands, deciding that I would write Book Nine myself. Typing with merely my forefingers as weapons, I fought my way through approximately thirty pages of manuscript (probably less, my memory’s hazy). But alas, fate stepped in, or I got lazy. Either way.

Kathryn Lasky eventually continued the Coryn-Soren story arc with Book Twelve after a quick detour for some owl mythology. Unfortunately, there was no special thanks to Stephen Roddewig, not that I’m sure a professional writer would have appreciated a third grader trying to show her how to write her own series anyways. But this setback was not the end of the war. The seed had been planted, and though it would take several years to sprout, my life had been forever altered by that unpublished book.

Five years later, and Virginia was declared a state of emergency by the governor. Eighth grade me, long haired and disenfranchised with the education system, awoke to find the world covered in four feet of snow. I couldn’t go anywhere, I couldn’t hang out with my friend Josh, I couldn’t even walk off the front porch. It only took two more feet of frozen precipitate and I would be buried standing. At first, reading and copious amounts of television kept my mind placated, but soon cabin fever was setting in. Days passed without outside company or anything to break the monotony.

Just as I thought my mind would snap and I would just keep shoveling that same patch of sidewalk until I died, an idea formed. My eyes had digested so many novels over the last seventy-two hours, why not write one of my own? Like so much of my inspiration, it was a complete shot in the dark, but the concept took hold as the walls of my room started to close in on me. I sat down at my desk, opened up Microsoft Word, cracked my knuckles, and let the ideas flow.

Thus arose Red Riding Hood the Assassin, the story of Wonderland on the brink of civil war, society and government brought to the brink by the innocent fairy tale character turned killer. It was strange even for me, but the creativity was certainly there. There were many ideas since then, most, I’ll grudgingly admit, still unfinished. Many were odd, many ill-conceived, many ridiculous. Some of my more notable exploits included Outcast, a full-length attempt to emulate the tone and characters of Bambi: A Life in the Woods. If the name seems familiar, you’re thinking of Walt Disney’s hijacked butchering of the actual novel (though I confess I enjoyed the movie too). This version is much darker, more vivid, and its resounding message haunting, to say the least. I highly recommend it, but more on that another time.

Another good memory was of “The Morgue,” the short story of a detective investigating a spree of gruesome murders within a moratorium, only to discover the killer’s identity lies close to home. Eleventh grade saw a Coast Guard Ensign trapped inside a haunted lighthouse as a storm bears down on him in “The Dying Light.” While most of my ideas never got off the ground, every half-written piece contributed, allowing me to practice the cultivation of a plot and the development of my own style.

This brings us to the present, and the work I show here wouldn’t have been possible without those bumpy early days. I am not ashamed of those unfinished pages molding on my old desktop, it is a source of pride to say that my “Work in Progress” folder was the largest use of memory on my computer. Without accidents, how would we know success? My personal mantra is that a writer is one who writes, regardless of whether or not you are ever published, regardless of whether or not you even finish your work. So long as you dedicate words to paper, so long as you strive to improve, so long as you express yourself, you are a writer.

Have an interesting story about how you found your passion? I’d love to hear it.

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