I Am a Writer
I have wanted to be a writer, a teller of stories, since I was 15 years old. I enjoy the writing process, from the first idea to the outline, research, the initial draft and the editing. Okay, I don’t enjoy editing that much, but it is nice to see awkward sentences become smoother, and lukewarm words become powerful. When the story is ready I send it off to my publisher. Once it is accepted, I am joined by an editor and a cover artist—all three of us strive to turn my original story into something wonderful (and sellable).
That being said, I remain amazed, and proud, to be part of a magical process that began around prehistoric campfires. Perhaps some of those early storytellers also ventured into deep caves to paint the cave art in France and Spain that amazes and awes us today. Most likely we will never know when nameless storytellers first told stories of Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, nor who was the first who later inscribed his adventures in cuneiform on clay tablets. Neither will we know who told the first stories of Jason and the Argonauts and their search for the Golden Fleece, or of Helen of Sparta who became Helen of Troy.
By the way, African and Asian storytelling is just as ancient and imaginative. I know very little of their literary traditions which is why I do not reference their stories.
The reverse of the coin is that there is something within us that wants to hear these stories or to read them. The question then is, “Why?” Is it simply a desire for entertainment, to escape a hum-drum life for another momentary world of great magical adventures or of great love and romance? Or perhaps a momentary universe of star ships speeding past nebulas we can only glimpse in photographs, to orbit distant worlds and encounter alien civilizations.
Writer and reader—we seem to be made for each other.
It has always been that way, whether prehistoric men and women gathered around a campfire under a starry sky, or Egyptian families listening to an aged patriarch, or Achaeans gathered around a flaming hearth in a great hall. It continues today.
The famous World War II European Theater cartoonist Bill Mauldin once wrote, “Soldiers are avid readers: some because they like to read and others because there is nothing else to do…Half the magazines carry serial stories, which are a pain in the neck to the guys who start them and can’t finish them as the magazines pass from hand to hand” (Up Front, 18, W.W. Norton & Company). To underscore the point, Mauldin drew a cartoon of his famous characters Willie and Joe relaxing among building ruins and reading a story, “…so Archibald kissed her agin an’ gently put her head on th’ pillow. She gazed at him wit’ half-shut eyes—tremblin’ hard—don’t forget to buy next week’s installment at yer newsstand” (Up Front, 19, W.W. Norton & Company).
Yes, just as Soldiers are great tourists, they are great readers. When I was deployed to northern Kuwait with a SECFOR battalion (2006-2007), we often received boxes from organizations and individuals filled with books and magazines. I and the other mail clerks put them on a table on the front porch of the company HQ and the Soldiers helped themselves. It didn’t take long for most of the boxes to be emptied.
(We also received goodie boxes filled with candy and other odds and ends, including small stuffed animals—I won’t go into how many combat hardened Soldiers who engaged Iraqi insurgents in numerous gunfights and who survived IEDs, claimed those stuffed animals, nor will I admit to grabbing a few for myself, which my grandchildren claimed for their own upon my return home.)
Well, enough rambling, I suppose. My point is—as writers, whether horror, science fiction, fantasy, erotica, military fiction, YA, MG, New Adult, whatever, we follow in a rich literary tradition that began around prehistoric campfires.
Go ahead, look in the mirror, look yourself in the eye and say, “I am a writer.”
~~~A little about INTIMATE JOURNEYS~~~
Intimate Journeys Anthology, Melange Books, February 2012.
BLURB: Every journey through life is an intimate journey simply because it is someone’s personal journey. Sometimes the journey is like being alone in a small boat the mercy of wild ocean currents, and sometimes the journey is like being part of a crew in a strong ship with billowing, wind-filled sails…
EXCERPT: The wintry night of New Year’s Eve 1899 was filled with excitement, hope, and wonder. The world was leaving the 19th century behind and entering the 20th century and no one could guess what wonders the new century offered.
Except Caleb Winston could care less. He was a heavyset man with a thick gray beard and mustache, and long gray hair slicked back over his head. As he sat in his favorite office chair brought from Fort Abraham Lincoln to the newly built home in New York, he let out a sorrowful sigh.
“It’s time to retire,” Abigail, his wife of thirty-six years, and his grown children had reminded him for several years until he gave in.
It was with a heavy and sometimes resentful heart that he turned over the operation of his sutler stores, convenience stores that served the soldiers in their far-flung forts, the local civilian population, and sometimes the Indians, to a long-time and trusted employee. He had two stores each in Montana, Wyoming and Arizona, and a pair of Indian trading posts in Wyoming and Arizona. Before he retired, management was usually conducted by mail and telegraph, though he sometimes visited his distant stores and posts. Though he was no longer a young man he enjoyed the travel.
At last, he and Abigail packed up their home and moved east that last spring of the 19th century; Abigail was ecstatic as their three children and their families lived within walking distance of their new home.
Yet, settling into a comfortable retirement was difficult. Caleb missed the vast wildness of the west with its beautiful snowy, forested mountains, isolated mountain valleys, full rushing rivers, and grassy prairies that extended to the edge of the world. During his travels he sometimes felt that he was watching a hard, yet pristine world, vanishing before the onslaught of endless settlers and a growing, yet mystifying technology. Future generations would never know the West as he had known it.
His resentment and unhappiness wasn’t only due to leaving a beloved life and world behind, but a realization that he was old. His health wasn’t the best and he sometimes felt his path in life was becoming narrower and darker, as if he was entering a deep sunless gorge that he would never leave…
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He is a serving member of the Army National Guard with the rank of staff sergeant, with prior service in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. Second career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.
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