[Continued from this post].
When I make a decision about something, I push forward with full effort. I rarely change my mind. I’m the same way about choosing beer and food, so when I make a decision I stick with it.
By the end of my sophomore year of high school, I was interning with the Plattsburgh Press-Republican. My first story was on Road Rules coming to Lake Placid.
I worked with a journalist who went to St. Bonaventure University. After junior year, I worked with the Lake Placid News. I was off to the races. St. Bonaventure was in my future and my writing education kicked off into high gear there. Throughout my high school experience I still read comic books. We were at the end of the Chris Claremont and Jim Lee era of X-Men and I stuck with the book because I loved Joe Madueira’s art.
I went to St. Bonaventure University with a need to tell stories. To work on the nuts and bolts of it. Still I knew that I wanted to be more than a journalist. This is when I started reading Transmetropolitan. I tried other Vertigo comics and indie books but none clicked with me.
It was hard to access comics from 1999-2003 when I was in college so my reading declined. I had Transmet and Hourman subscriptions my freshman year—and the internet.
Warren Ellis’s message board, the Comics Continuum, CBR to keep on things in comics. Making notes to check out particular books and learning how to write them from Matt Fraction’s Pop Life column and Ellis’s Come In Alone. All this time I was writing articles, sometimes as many as four a week. I got very efficient at drafting: handwrite a draft, type it up, revise. I wasn’t quite a five draft man, but I was a three draft man and I was fast. I could sit down and type a thousand to two thousand word article in an hour. The whole process probably took about two days. I would always take twenty-four hours between drafts to get some distance from it for revision purposes. Eventually, I realized, I had to do a little more than three drafts to be an A student.
That’s when I fell in love with St. Bonaventure’s Library. Specifically the third floor that looked out over the ball fields, the Allegheny River, and Hart Mountain in the distance. The reason it was called that is there was a giant clearing in the middle of the hill in the shape of a heart. Thomas Merton lived in a small cabin on the other side of the heart. I would sit near the windows, writing a rough draft out on a legal pad or in a specific dedicated notebook to whatever class I was in. Then I would go back to the dorm and type it up.
The problem with the dorm was all I ever wanted to do was hang out, and that’s still true to this day. When I go home it’s time to be with my family. In my freshman year, I had a girlfriend early on—my first serious girlfriend, and this was at the height of my self-esteem issues. We broke up in February 2000, because I lied to her, because I didn’t think I was good enough for her so I had to make up stories that would show that I was good and worthy of love. My friends knew my bullshit immediately. They’re still my best friends. We broke up and I spiraled. It was all caused by lies, anxiety, and victim-thinking.
I liked making up stories that make me feel like I was better than I was. In a lot of ways that’s what I’ve been trying to do—prove to myself for eighteen years now. That I’m not a poser, or a wannabe, a hobbyist storyteller, or a pathological liar.
I’m a writer, a storyteller, and I learned the most important lesson of all in 2002, when I was accepted to Somerville College at Oxford University.