Hello! I have hinted at my personal story in my journey in writing on this blog and my past blog. My wish is not to offend anyone, but I must share in the following essay, my journey through life, highlighting my experiences and views concerning the art of story-crafting.
The Symphony of my Life
Many artists, despite differing personal philosophies, see their lives and by extension, the universe, as a great work of art, a “symphony” in musical terms. This is my point of view, and I wish to share the overview of what has thus far been the symphony of my life.
I was born about seven weeks prematurely on February 8, 1989. After spending several weeks on an infantile ventilator my parents finally brought me home. Several months later, my parents began noticing strange things about me: I wasn’t sitting up, I wasn’t rolling over, I had trouble reaching for my toys. Mommy and daddy started bringing me to developmental specialists. There was one who falsely diagnosed me as having a metabolic disorder. A common factoid about children with metabolic disorders is that they must always have nutrients or they will lose their functionality. So until I was about 1 1/2 my mom would turn on my favorite Saturday show and do her best to feed me. It was during this time that I developed a catchphrase that endeared me even more to my grandfather: I don’t like to eat.
Sometime later I was diagnosed correctly with spastic cerebral palsy, which came as a big relief to my parents, as it is non-degenerative. It was divinely strange, but even at this young age, God began to shape my calling. You see, since I couldn’t run, jump and play with my friends I had to rely on my vivid imagination for my recreation or, as Pastor Chip Ingram calls such pursuits, re-creation, as of the soul and spirit. As I mentioned several years ago in another essay, I can identify with Helen Keller, but in this instance on another point. Later in life, Ms. Keller said and I paraphrase, that even though she didn’t know God’s name, God still knew her and was with her through her times of darkness, both literal and proverbial.
I attended public school up until third grade and was placed in inter-related classes, where I did well. However my mother saw that now was the time to make great physical progress and, having an education background, knew she could do just as well one-on-one with me at home. I was homeschooled from third to eighth grade. There I flourished. In my later homeschool years I began to develop a devout interest in world history, and ancient and medieval cultures and warfare, however during the end I began to develop a false sense of condemnation that would stay with me for most of my high school years.
I began to think of myself as a classical philosopher or church father, trying to discern the hearts of man and God, as well as my own. I would give myself long mental discourses on the nature of good and evil which would only lead to self-loathing and self-deprecation. This came to a head when I was placed back in public school during my high school years and it was only near the end that I finally accepted with the help of psychologists and psychotherapists that I was obsessive compulsive, manifesting a sense of hamartaphobia, or fear of sinning. My sense of self-loathing brought me into a sense of judging others as well. This, combined with teenage angst brought me into frequent embarrassing situations at school and at home. However that being said, my guilt and fear of sinning did keep me out of a lot of trouble in my teen years. I graduated with honors in spring of 2008 and for a week or two dreaded my entrance into college.
It was about that time that I went for my yearly surgery checkup with the doctor who had performed my tendon transfer in 2000. My back and head had been curving to the left for several years, and Dr. Bruce said that if we did not deal with the matter soon I would be in extreme pain. Therefore, I had spinal fusion surgery on September 22, 2008. To save time in this detailed portion of my life I will refer to another essay I wrote recently.
Celebrated biblical science fiction writer Madeleine L’Engle once wrote that story surrounds us all and that the desire for stories and their deeper meaning is an innate quality in the human experience. Some would argue from a humanistic perspective that this is based on our evolutionary needs. However, coming from a biblical perspective, and believing that macro evolution is basically false, I see this as one of the innate desires that God has placed in the heart of man, something that binds us together as the “family of Adam”. This is why students of mythology such as Joseph Campbell have been able to identify archetypes of mythology that are present in every basic civilization and culture.
Ever since I was a small child I loved to pretend. And being confined to a wheelchair for most of my life I had to rely on the passions of my imagination for my recreation. I remember numerous times on car trips when we would make up stories together I would want the story to go on and on long after my family had tired of it. In my middle school years I began writing poetry such as limericks and short bits of what is popularly known as “flash fiction”. After having been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder in high school I began writing stories to deal with stress of high school drama. My dad had inadvertently introduced me to the pulp fiction writings of Robert E Howard, the originator of American sword and sorcery. Because of the teenaged angst I was going through I latched onto Howard’s raw, bloody prose and began crafting poorly written imitations of Conan, Solomon Kane, and Bran Mak Morn, with names changed and slight plot divergence to be able to claim “originality”. None of these were ever really good, however it did impress English teachers, and to my current chagrin, some of the pretty girls in my classes. After graduating, I spent the summer writing more pulp fiction though I had become a tad bit better with experience.
In September of 2008 I had back surgery to correct a severe scoliosis. I had been a fan of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien for years due to the influence of my best friend, and during my convalescence at home, overdosed on the Peter Jackson movies. On October 15 I had the inspiration to make my own mark on the face of high fantasy literature. My first book, Sword Dreamer, was a short novel concerning a young man in a high fantasy setting with seer like abilities who helps bring an end to a civil war tearing apart the kingdom. Of all my works, it most resembles Tolkien, with Rings-style prose and overtones.
I began my next book only a short time after finishing the first. This was a fairytale romance that closely resembled the Chronicles of Narnia and the works of Jane Austen. While I do not want to give away much of the plot it was sort of my way to bring an adult Susan Pevensie back to Narnia. For the first section of the book I studied British history and geography as I wrote. I dedicated the book to my niece Miriam, who had recently been born.
I stagnated for a few months following, with several false starts. However I struck gold with the book I published under the name Light Bringer, a book heavily influenced by the gospel of John, World of Warcraft, and the Dungeons & Dragons setting of the Forgotten Realms. I had recently been playing a Druid in World of Warcraft and the book was originally titled The Last Druid.
I had been, in late spring or early summer of 2010, then watching the BBC series Merlin and looking at fan art for George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and thought that it would be interesting to do a story concerning knights and chivalry to teach about the fruit of the Spirit. I got a few thousand words into the book and had to leave it to prepare Light Bringer for publication. This, coupled with a lack of focus, caused the story to creep along and stagnate. During this time I began blogging and later working on an outer space medieval story similar to World of Warcraft and their world of Draenor. Also I began to work on other stories set in different parts of the Light Bringer universe. Yet my knights book still gathered literary dust.
One day while going on a stroll with my dad I found inspiration on how to tie all three of the tales and all my other books together, taking a cue from Dragonlance, and their immortal chronicler Astinus. Thus I created Lamathrath of the Nexus. An Immortal angelic scribe, Lamathrath sees all that happens in the other worlds, worlds of magic and fantasy creatures and records them for the glory of his God, the Almighty Creator who is known in all universes but whose teachings are the same in all universes. There is only one true way to him, however, not many, and though he is known in other languages, the meaning of the name does not change, much like Eru Iluvatar of Tolkien’s legendarium.
I took my sword dreamer blog in the fall of 2013 and turned it into a book. Then I took all my books and published them in one volume titled The Library of Lamathrath. And thus, my adventures in publication in professional writing have ended.
Now, lest anyone pass judgment on me, allow me to speak with prudence in my defense. I am not saying that all religions are the same for they are not. They never have been and never will be. Following Christ, more commonly called “Christianity” though the name has meant different things to different people, is the only way to heaven and to God. Also, please do not mistake me for another meaning. An allegory is meant from the beginning to be an allegory. J.R.R. Tolkien said that he had a cordial dislike for allegories, and did not want his Middle Earth writings to be seen as such. There is only one allegory that I can think of spontaneously, the great allegory of post-parabolic Christian literature, Pilgrim’s Progress. Even CS Lewis, who was more allegorical in writing than was his contemporary, hesitated to call even Aslan an allegory. Here is why. Our books are not allegories, but suppositional, answering the question: Who would Jesus be in a world of talking animals, or in Lady of Naofatir, sidhe-like beings? Aslan is not a symbol of Jesus, he is Jesus in that universe, as can be seen from the end of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I do realize that art in all forms is open to interpretation, and that once an artist dies, his unique proper way of interpreting his work is largely lost. However, like the sting of a mosquito bite in Midsummer, I do resent my works being dubbed as allegories; for although they may have spiritual motif, nothing is a perfect mirror transparency. Tolkien disliked allegory for the same reason that I do. It limits the story. A story can still be biblically spiritual and edifying without being an allegory.
I do not know what the future holds for me. But I know that I will always be an artist and I hope someday to share my can-do spirit with others of similar physical limitations that I have. I want to let them know whether from pulpits or ice cream parlors, that with God all things are possible and we must gauge success through his eyes, not our own. I, much like Sam watching Frodo leave the Shire, wonder what shall be the next chapter in the God-written novel that is the story of my life. Soli Deo Gloria!
I want to encourage you, as my character Lamathrath would say, gentle reader, that with God all things are possible. If through the Spirit, this boy, or now, man, whom one developmental specialist said would lose the power of his voice, his mobility, and all manner of communication, has now become an author, who has through his characters, shared his feelings and his heart with hundreds of people, how much power does the Lord give to you through the Holy Spirit? May his passion burn in us that we may, like the witnesses that surround us, bring him glory and honor. I believe that one day whether above the earth or on the earth I will see a miracle in my body but until that day comes God has healed my heart and healed my mind and for that I am thankful. Blessed be the name of the Lord always. God bless you, my friends!
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