After a successful 23 years as a navy submariner I struggled for a new career and identity. A massive brain tumor taught me the importance of love, faith and hope. With my bride of twenty-five years beside me, I plunge headlong into my second love, writing.
Adventures Above the Aether Blog
Why I became a Writer
Growing up with my head in the clouds, I’ve largely been happiest alone with my thoughts and dreams. As strange as I seemed to other kids, they seemed equally strange to me. I could not understand the allure of their interests. My imagination served as my longest and closest best friend. We enjoyed each other’s company more than baseball, wrestling, or fishing. Exceptions came occasionally.
With few close friends and fewer prospects for employment in West Virginia, I joined the navy. Eventually I set aside my imagination for ‘more important’ things. I kept my daydreaming to myself.
When I finished my naval career I didn’t easily slip into a second career. I jumped from job to job. Once I could confidently and proudly tell people, “I’m a submariner,” or, “I’m a chief in the navy.” Without those labels, without that uniform; I felt lost, without an identity.
As a hotel desk clerk, in the middle of the night, I searched for ways to stay awake while simultaneously seeking a new career and a new identity. If only I might turn my daydreaming distracted mind to some useful purpose. On of my few epiphanies struck. I know, I’ll write.
Clueless and thrilled I wrote. Long solitary nights behind the hotel desk became therapeutic and productive.
Bills piled up so I changed jobs often, each time earning more, each time writing less.
A brain tumor diagnosis sent my life for a loop. Again I wrote less.
December 5th 2007; a lengthy surgery and a short coma later I emerged altered. Aside from the obvious physical changes, my spirit also changed. I didn’t know it then. I denied it any time my actions came into question. Early in my new life denial reigned supreme.
Only in retrospect, years down the road I looked back amazed. The paths chosen provided irrefutable evidence. I left the hospital a different person. Some say I’ve become emotionally immature. They might be right in general. Passionate conversations come more readily. The rudder of my heart makes tighter turns, leaving a larger wake. The biggest, the best alteration in my life’s perception came with a deepened desire to pursue my passions. My love for my wife ran deeper and my drive to write burned brighter.
One day I spied a poster; a writer’s workshop. Giddily I go. Reading my work to others for the first time set me all aquiver. Patiently they listened. Anxiously I heard their critique afterward. My clumsy first works garnered few positive reviews. Well imagined tales failed to leap from my mind to the page without losing something along the way.
Driving home from those initial meetings I recognized the first sign of being on the right track by writing. Most times I tried learning something new, initial failures dashed my hopes and deflated my desire. This time critical commentary excited me. Instead of stinging, the exposed flaws offered hope. Though awful at first, I sought to salvage each sliver of universal truth from the trash heap. Each encounter helped hone my skills and sharpen the focus of my story’s purpose.
As my fervor grew to write I also diversified my projects. I put aside my science fiction manuscript and wrote short stories on a variety of subjects. I wrote articles for my company’s newsletter and the local newspaper.
Looking back now I smile. Writing seems so obvious a path. My identity lost is now an identity proudly found. And now as a writer a new dream dawns. I dream of others reading my work and falling in love with my characters as I have. I dream of putting a smile on a reader’s face, a tear on their cheek, and a gasp in their throat.
Winfield, thank you so much for sharing your writing journey and letting us know why you write. Very inspiring story.
a. For the lead role, Pittsburgh reporter and Civil War veteran, Solomon Hanson: Chris Evans. I’m looking for a hero who can balance action and a sharp sense of humor. Any guy that makes Captain America look that good has my vote.
b. British doctor, explorer, Henry Wells: David Hyde Pierce. His role as Frazier’s brother as well as his voice acting for ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’ nailed it for me. He has a calm presence in the midst of chaos. He seems able to portray a man smitten by a woman whose desires he no longer satisfies.
c. The doctor’s wife, assistant, and love interest for my lead Regina Wells: Karen Gillan. Regina Wells is more woman than her husband Henry can manage. Solomon Hanson’s frontier experience makes him an ideal partner for the brave and bold Regina. This Scottish actress portrays the courageous Amy Pond in Dr. Who. Opposite the iconic doctor Karen’s character shines a light of her own on the adventures they take through time. Her beauty, courage, and calm in the midst of adversity make her the perfect choice.
d. Russian engineer and revolutionary Nikolai Kibalchich: Colin Farrell. An intense misunderstood man who’s lost touch with his humanity; I figure who better to pull this off?
e. Bodyguard and mercenary, Claude Dufresne: Mark Strong. This guy shows a silent strength indicative of the character. He’s scary, in a good way.
f. Bankroller, expedition’s ‘leader’ and coward, Julian Turleau: Gene Hackman. While all smiles at the dinner table, Julian bites off more than intended with his unfathomable expedition. Dustin’s age is about right and he plays the agitated ‘man in over his head’ well.
Sounds like some great actors and reasons why you'd think they'd play the parts well. Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever traveled to?
In the navy, aboard a nuclear powered submarine, we set out to sea and weathered a hurricane from hundreds of feet below the waves.
Not sure I could ever go in a submarine...I've very claustrophobic. What was the setting for the most romantic scene you’ve ever written?
In a world devoid of men, Nikolai regains his humanity in a tender moment with a lunar native. He share a passionate kiss and in the process renews his own appreciation for love.
What secrets justify hiding from history mankind’s first foray into space? In 1881, in an age of steel steam and innovation, an eclectic collection of adventurers gather. As resources pour in and hints at breakthrough technologies leak out, one man is sent to investigate.
Follow Solomon ‘Hap’ Hanson, Civil War veteran and Pittsburgh reporter as he uncovers a maze of mysteries. Deeper and darker events become. As his story unfolds more dangerous the perils become, more rewarding the venture grows.
An enigmatic message along the way keeps Hap focused on his task: “Save this adventure from itself.” Who will be this voyage’s downfall? Will it be the swarthy terse soldier, Claude? Surely the sallow British doctor, Henry Wells, and his beautiful, brave, resourceful wife pose no threat to the voyage’s success. The most obvious danger lies in the expedition’s most brilliant member. Nicolai’s nihilistic views come to the fore as tensions rise and crises converge. But as Hap joins the chaotic crew he wonders, will he see the crew and voyage to its doom?
Worlds beyond our own, Earth’s nearest celestial neighbors, beckon to be explored. Join in the voyage textbooks cannot know happened. Learn why such an epic event goes unwritten until the dangers of our past no longer threaten to destroy the future. Discover the lessons learned on distant worlds a century ago which serve as harbingers of horrors hanging above our hectic globe.Where can readers find your book online?Purchase Link for Adventures Above the Aether
Winfield, thank you so much for stopping by to share your writing journey. I enjoyed chatting with you. Hope you all can stick around and chat for a while.