In one of my many battles with that bastard Procrastination, I’ve tried for several months now to set up a literature-themed blog. I thought I’d kick this thing in the pants with a simple, straight-forward introduction.
My name is Jason. By day, I’m a web developer slash system administrator. I’m a big fan of open source software. I work for a federally-funded center that provides consultation to state departments of education on special education policy. Really, I only know a half a fraction of that stuff – I’m just a computer guy.
I grew up in Upstate New York, but these days I live in Portland, Oregon with my wife and two dogs. I spent a blurry year at the Rochester Institute of Technology straight out of high school, then spent six more years delicately collecting credits at Corning Community College, earning a prestigious Associate’s Degree in Computer Science.
I’m a fair-weather Blazers fan and a lifetime Yankees fan. I like to cycle, but I’m far from fanatic. I also like to garden. I used to be a musician, playing the flute and the sax as a kid, moving on to playing guitar in a metal band for seven years, then DJing electronic music for a couple of years. These days I still enjoy music in almost all forms, but I don’t play a whole lot any more.
But enough of all that. What’s really important in the context of this blog: I’m a lover of books and literature in general. I tend to read science fiction more than anything else, but I try to force myself to stray to other genres and forms of the written (or spoken) word. Fantasy, mystery, horror, historical fiction, and even quite a bit of non-fiction.
Portland, Oregon is a great place to be for book-lovers. First of all, we have the famous Powell’s, a book store so large it has its own gravitational pull. There are tons of book clubs, something for every genre. And we have Wordstock, the annual literature celebration, a four-day long festival with classes, readings, talks, and a great big book expo.
I’ve always dabbled in writing and in the past couple of years I started and stalled on two novels and took a few stabs at various forms of short fiction. Back in October of 2007, my wife and I – only a month into our marriage at the time – won the Wordstock “Red Book” drawing. We got to choose a trip to any city in the United States. I’ll tell that whole “Red Book” story another day.
The point is, I took the luck of the draw as a sign. I mean, not something divine, not destiny or fate – more like one of those signs that’s just a reminder. A reminder of how much I’ve always loved to read and how much I’ve always wanted to write. After all, these were the feelings that made Wordstock a can’t-miss event for me.
So I started ramping up the effort ever so slightly. Taking classes and seminars here and there, reading books and papers and blogs on writing, trying to hone my limited skills. Last year I stopped saying I would do National Novel Writing Month one of these years and actually did it. For NaNoWriMo 2009, I managed about 52,000 words, and as someone who works a full time job, I felt pretty damn proud of myself. Over the months that followed, I’ve edited the hell out of the book, chopped a bunch out and added a whole lot more, and I’m close to feeling done with it.
Three years after winning the Red Book drawing, I caught wind that the Wordstock short-fiction competition deadline was coming up. I thought, what the heck – why not give it a shot? I only had a week before the deadline, but it was a week I happened to be on staycation (that new thing we do because we have too many vacation days accrued and no money to travel). I dug through some unfinished stories and found one that was just calling out for closure. I destroyed it, nursed it back to life, polished it up, and mailed it off with no time to spare.
And hey, whaddaya know? Wordstock came through for me again! I am one of ten finalists in the competition, which means that my story gets published in the Wordstock Ten, an anthology available at the festival and local bookstores.
And this is why I’m such a bad blogger. My short introduction has turned into a long-winded story.