It's not that I stopped writing... it's just that I realized I had written myself into a corner. The corner was a dead-end street, and I got car-jacked to boot.
I saw a lot of manuscripts on that street. A lot of broken dreams out there. The good news was that I knew the street wasn't real, and that the drive to move forward was completely within my hands.
I had been reading Writer's Digest for some time, so I thought I had this thing down. Furthermore, Stephen King's On Writing had shown me the light. But... there's always a but... just look behind you... it's one thing to read this stuff in the abstract--it's quite another to read it with the knowledge that I had committed all the cardinal sins.
I didn't give up. I read more, looked at my work, wrote new material (mostly short stories), and found that my writing got better, considerably better as I worked on the craft. I read more novels, not just for the story but also to learn how the author used elements of plot and tension.
I wrote three short stories that I was proud of. Then I did the unthinkable... I put myself out there. I entered my work in a competition (didn't win... but that's not the point) and allowed a select few to read my work. They include: my wife (my first reader... if she loves it, other's get to see it), my "editor" (she isn't but she is... i can't explain... she is awesome), my friend (he's married to the "editor" and although he doesn't express himself, he still spoke to me so that was good news), my mom (who reads more books in a week than publishers release) and my brother (who is an artist, a romantic, a phenomenal musician... and a CFO... what can you do? we still have to pay our bills).
Yes, I allowed them to read the damn things. I never realized how paranoid I was of their opinion... as if somehow, if they didn't like the work, it meant they didn't like me as a person. Well, they liked it. Liked it a lot. In fact, I was moved and motivated by their words and the fact that they got it.
In summary, since February of 2009 through May of 2010 I was studying, practicing, testing and harnessing my skills. I will do a separate post on what I read. But my education was beyond a shadow of a doubt fundamental to my growth as a writer.
I may not have mentioned this, but I'm gainfully employed as a senior executive for a large technology company servicing the Entertainment industry. I have a full time job that is what most people would call stressful, and time-intensive. But I digress... I was on one of my many business trips. This particular time in Paris. It so happened that I was there in late May at the start of the French Open (for those who are confused, that's one of the largest tennis tournaments in the world). I was in a hotel where a handful of the professional athletes were also staying. An idea was born. It was caused by one athlete in particular, Dominika Cibulková.
On my flight back, I used my handy iPad to mind map (iThoughtsHD) the seed of an idea. Next, again on my new best friend, I wrote the opening scene (Apple's pages for the iPad). I smiled. I was onto something.
Stay tuned... the story will continue soon.