The Creative Writer Returns

I’m back!

It’s been a bit more than three years since I last posted to The Artist’s Road. I launched the blog in 2010 to chart a path that I had set for myself to return to an art-committed life. Over the next five years I earned an MFA, won a few creative writing awards, and became a published author. It was a heady time, and confirmation that abandonment of one’s muse need not be permanent.

That’s why, in 2015, I felt comfortable with my decision to put my creative writing on hold to tend to other matters in my life. My career in the Obama Administration was going strong, and I knew a clock was ticking on my service. Another clock that was ticking was time with my children. My daughter had already left home for college, and my son would be soon. He did so the following year.

So in 2017 my wife and I picked up our now-empty nest and relocated 2,700 miles to sunny San Diego. I love it here in America’s Finest City, but I needed some time to adjust to my new home and my new day job.

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When I decided to move from Washington, D.C., to San Diego, almost every person I told asked the same reaction: “Why?” Um, I mean, really? You have to ask?

Then she returned. My creative muse. And boy, can she be demanding.

So I’m writing again. I’ve been doing so for about two months, stealing moments before work. (Yes, I’m still a rise-at-dawn writer, not a night owl.) Unlike my last go-around, where I explored creative nonfiction, I’ve now returned to the creative passion of my youth, fiction.

In particular, science fiction. It’s a genre I grew up reading, and have recently rediscovered. In the last three months I’ve read about twenty of some of the best works ever published in the genre, and I’m continuing to digest them at a rapid pace. I’m enjoying time spent in these other authors’ fantastical worlds, but I’m also applying everything I learned in my MFA program to distill the secrets of those authors, like a California prospector panning for gold.

When I maintained this blog from 2010 to 2015, I didn’t just treat it as a vanity project. I worked hard to provide value to my readers, whether it be insights from my MFA program or from guest bloggers. I kept up on the best writing blogs and websites and shared useful links. Let me be quite frank; I’m not doing that again. I turned 50 last August, and, well, I’m not as energetic as I used to be. What creative energy I have will be going into my fiction project.

So why write a new post for this blog? Two reasons:

  1. I feel it is important to announce to the universe that I am once again committed to creative writing, and this seemed more practical than standing on the end of Pacific Beach’s Crystal Pier and shouting it into the waves.
  2. I’ve fallen out of touch with some of the artist friends I had made through this blog, and I’m hoping by posting I’ll trigger some reconnections.
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So again, just in case anyone is still wondering why I would leave an overcrowded city that is bitter cold in the winter and swelteringly humid in the summer, I offer one more photo.

In my travel memoir I wrote about the many artists and creators I met on a cross-country road trip who inspired me to embace my own creativity. I followed their instructions at the conclusion of the trip, and I am doing so again. I’ll conclude with the default title of every first WordPress blog post: “Hello World!”

29 thoughts on “The Creative Writer Returns

  1. So nice to see a new post from you arrive in my inbox today, Patrick! Love hearing about what you’ve been up to and that the muse has come for you again!

    It’s also quite timely as I’ve been going through something similar. I haven’t posted on my blog in just over a year. In that time, I’ve moved countries, changed careers, and found a new sunny home, as well. But I do miss the connections I forged on the blog! Time to think about letting people know just what the heck happened to me! 😉

    Congratulations again on all this wonderful news! Have fun with the fiction!

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    1. Ah, this is what I was hoping for with the blog! Now if I were actually able to spend some time on Facebook I’d know your story. I just opened it up and checked out your feed. What a great new life adventure for you! Unfortunately (and I think I’ve written about this phenomenon on this blog) I’m one of those people who finds onself becoming depressed by spending time on Facebook.

      We can keep in touch here, but I’ll be following up with you separately. So happy you have a new, sunny place of your own!

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    1. Hi David! Yes, I suspect for many the surprise will be “The Artist’s Road? I’m still subscribed to that thing?” 🙂 You, of course, understand more than many of us about the ways of the muse, so I’m glad you appreciate where I am right now creatively. And you’ve also lived in exotic places other than northern Virginia and lived to tell about that as well!

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    1. Thanks, Jessica! Well, you’re an inspiration to me, someone who has written two amazing novels while balancing many other life responsibilites. I really hope you’re hard at work on a third!

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  2. Hey, Patrick… you are not forgotten. Not at all. Great to hear from you. This, coming to you from another acre of west coast paradise ‘up the coast.’ Cheers, mate. ~ PJ Reece

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  3. Hi, Patrick! Great to hear from you. I also went AWOL for a few years while I finished up my teaching career. Just retired on June 1 and will be getting back to creativity coaching and writing. I’m really excited that you’ll be writing science fiction. My father was a science fiction fan beginning in the 1930s and wrote some sci-fi as well. I inherited his sci-fi/fantasy collection in 2014 and am still selling it off. I’d be interested to know what you’ve been reading in this genre.

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    1. Kudos on your retirement, Sue! Sad news for would-be future students, but good news for future coaching clients and readers of creative writing.

      Funny you should mention me current reading list. I’m quite curious what others are reading/have read in the genre, as well as what they would recommend to other writers in the space. I suspect that will be a future blog post. (Short answer, biggest influencers currently are Bradbury, Asimov and Gaiman, heavy on the Gaiman. Currently reading and enjoying Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, although I’m not skilled enough to stretch out a scene the way she does and maintain reader attention.)

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  4. Hi Patrick!
    Nice to see you here again and congrats on beginning a new journey. I loved Committed. It is one of those books that is hard to forget, so I am excited to see what you do next. No pressure. Lol!

    Since last meeting here, I have published and moved across the country! At almost the same time. That was fun… As a painter and author, blending the two has made me think differently about both.

    I lived on sci-fi in my teens and twenties. A list of great sci-fi authors would be incomplete if it did not include William Gibson! One of my favorites.

    Looking forward to sharing in your latest quest.

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    1. Hi Michele! Thank you for the kind words about Committed. You’ve reminded me that I never let you know how much I enjoyed your book Once Imagined. I ordered it some time ago and found it quite amazing, part art book, part history, part poetry, part artist’s craft tale. (I don’t have a favorite “character,” too many to choose from, but my favorite painting is “Room with a View,” which is haunting and inviting at the same time.)

      As to Gibson, I’m rereading Neuromancer as we speak. Michael Swanwick, the author I interviewed in Philly (he’s in Committed) said that with Neuromancer, Gibson sought to completely redefine the science fiction novel. He fell short–it was an unreachable goal–but the result was a masterpiece.

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      1. Lol! The publisher had a bit of a challenge categorizing it. I’m so pleased you liked it. Room with a View lives near Algonquin Park these days.

        Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive, both beautifully done. I had the pleasure of doing a workshop with the artist, Rick Berry, that did the original cover art for Neuromancer. It was some of the earliest digital art. He gave a lecture before the workshop tying together art and cutting edge science. His work was so intuitive, it was exciting to get into the mind of such a skilled and intelligent person. He is associated with Gaiman and George R R Martin, so I’m sure you’ll come across him. Amazing person.

        You are in for a true adventure.

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    1. It’s good to be back, Kate. I see you and others on Twitter occasionally, but that channel is so polluted with stuff I don’t want to see as well. Let’s hope this space stays as positive as it always was.

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  5. Behind the Story

    It’s nice to hear from you again, Patrick. And welcome to the West Coast. I understand your decision to concentrate on your fiction writing, although I do hope you check in on your blog now and then.

    While you’ve been away, I’ve been working on my second novel and keeping up my blog, posting once a week, sometimes less often. I’ve considered blogging less often and concentrating on my novel. I’m still thinking about it.

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    1. Hi Nicki, thanks for the welcome! I do plan to blog a fair amount, just not necessarily as substantively. I’ve already got two in mind.

      It’s great to hear you’re working on another novel! I just went and signed up for your blog, so I’ll watch for updates. Yes, it’s tough to find that balance. For me, I’m thinking an occasional post here at a modest pace will help keep me tethered to the writing process without taking away all of my time and creative energy. We’ll see.

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  6. Welcome back indeed. At 70 I have just come to some of the same decisions – so you are way ahead of the curve as far as I’m concerned! While SciFi is not my personal genre of choice, I have often read and enjoyed your blog and will continue to follow your work. Meanwhile, congratulations on a packed-full-of-positive-change-and-achievments five years. Here’s to many more ahead!!!

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    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for this note! I’m glad you’ve appreciated The Artist’s Road in the past. Good to see you’re finding time to post occasionally on your blog. Here’s to creating!

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