It was in fifth grade that I first thought I wanted to be an author. We were assigned to write a short story for class. I wrote a disorganized account of a detective hiking through the jungle to watch some natives involved in a mysterious religious ritual. I never finished, but I think it was supposed to have eventually been found out to be part of a cyborg plot to invade Earth.
In sixth grade I met my friend Ryan at the bus stop. We acted out scenes from Star Trek mostly. Soon, I was at his house six days a week coming up with and playing out ideas for a television series we called Dan And Ryan’s Adventures. The characters were based loosely on us. Unlike other children who wanted to be Ghostbusters or Ninja Turtles, I always wanted to be me – except with superpowers. I knew that before we could ever worry about acting, directing, props, sets, or camera angles, I first needed to write the scripts, but writing was much more tedious than playing. Instead, I made longer and longer lists of our ideas without writing any of them out. As I grew older and learned more speculative science, the ideas became ever more sophisticated and we strived to be groundbreaking.
By the time I had graduated high school, Ryan had moved away and I had fallen in love with the written word. There is just something magically satisfying about capturing in mere words the action and images of a scene. I enjoyed repeatedly going over my rough drafts and refining them into perfection. I gave up on the television series idea and decided to write a series of novels. I had settled on calling it The Way Out Series. It had a triple meaning. It dealt with events “way out” in deep space where there was often only one “way out” from danger and my characters were “way out” of their minds. I was unaware at the time that there had already been a Way Out science fiction series in the sixties. I made my first real effort to write in 2000. The first episode was to have been called Inside Metha. It would cover how the two main characters, Dan and Ryan, first met.
Unfortunately, I could not finish. Between work and school I did not have much time. I was mentally exhausted and could not focus. I kept having writers’ block and I did not trust that I could think my characters out of situations that I put them in. I needed to put them in danger, but also have them survive in a way that didn’t seem too unrealistic. I kept trying to plan everything out ahead and outline in too much detail, becoming frustrated when things didn’t work out. As the years passed I continued having new story ideas until I had hundreds. How was I ever to finish writing the entire series in a natural lifetime? I kept changing my mind which episode I should start the series with and what should be backstory. I had numerous ideas for Dan that took place before and after his adventures with Ryan, making Ryan less important, and the character Dan was becoming less and less like me anyways. Eventually Dan became Nate.
In the meantime, I developed other interests, such as art, travel, and politics. I kept various blogs. I somehow wrote The Nutcase Across The Street (politics/current affairs) in six weeks in 2010, later publishing it in 2011. It was only in 2012 that I made a breakthrough with my science fiction. I don’t fully understand what happened myself, but part of it was that I gave up trying to run my life and trusted God to lead me wherever, including what to write. I started writing The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship (science fiction). I now had the ability to write but not enough time. Fortunately, God also arranged for me to get fired mysteriously without cause in 2013. At last I had the time. I published in 2014.
I immediately began to think of what to do with all my extra ideas to make them marketable. I had received much feedback over the years that my stories were too complex and too weird to ever be accepted by anybody. This is why I originally decided to focus on Nate’s early life (then called Nathaniel). Nate’s childhood stories were simpler. I aimed to create a style emulating both Calvin And Hobbes and Star Trek, both highly popular among adults. I thought I had a winning combination. Instead, I received much feedback that no adult would ever want to read about children that talked and acted like children, yet no child would ever understand the science references (both real and fictional) I included. If my series had taken off, I would have kept going with it. Because it did not, I reevaluated what it was I really wanted to do for myself and decided that while I enjoyed writing in that style, it was not where my heart was. I had also tried becoming an artist and selling my drawings of alien creatures. While I received many compliments, I also ran into many obstacles in promotion and securing venues. If my art had taken off, I would have continued with it. Because it did not, I reevaluated what it was I really wanted to do for myself and decided that even though I enjoyed drawing, it was not where my heart was.
Around the same time, I came up with an overall plot arc to Nate’s life that tied all the hundreds of stories together. I thought it would be nice if I could actually publish all of my ideas while I was still alive. Finally I hit upon the idea of a trilogy of books, each containing 212 microchapters. Each microchapter would be a quick summary of one story from Nate’s life. I called it The Champion Trilogy. I was doubtful that anybody else would want to read such a thing, but the more I thought about it the more I knew I had to finish it before I could do anything else. This is what I really wanted to do.
In Champion Of The Galaxy, Nate finds that evil is everywhere he visits and starts to think of himself as a hero. He protects the innocent while battling criminal masterminds, alien monsters, space storms, military robots, and dimensional paradoxes, but for most of his life he is incredibly lonely. Finally, he meets Derek and they become best friends. In Champion Of The Universe, the challenges Nate and Derek face become ever bigger and more complicated. They learn to rely on each other more and more. In Champion Of Heaven, Nate slowly rises in power to control the mathematical underpinnings of reality itself in order to banish evil completely, but just as victory seems within his grasp, everything unravels. He loses his throne, his friends, his powers, and begins to lose his mind. After many years of grasping for every last sliver of hope, he collapses from emotional exhaustion. It is then that a mysterious entity rescues him and says, “You don’t have to be champion of the universe anymore. I am champion of the universe.”
After 636 stories, who knows? I very well might keep Nate going.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.