At some time in our lives, I think we all want to be in with the in-crowd. There’s an allure to being part of a group that’s seen as cool or with it. The things that define the group—the activities, the accouterments of coolness—vary by time and place, by circumstance and context. Today’s guest tells us about his relationship with cool. Nathan Lowell presents…
P. C. Haring
Growing up, I was never one of the cool kids.
I was the last one picked on any school yard team game. While my classmates surrounded themselves with dozens of people at all time, I could count the number of friends I had on one finger, and none of them were cool kids either. When I finally did join a team in high school, it took me almost three years of non stop working to earn the respect of my teammates. When I was in college, while my entire floor was out partying drunk on Halloween, I was studying for my music theory exam and looking at the accounting major. My Friday and Saturday nights were spent in dormitory basements throwing 20 sided dice to see if I hit the evil dragon with my war axe.
I was one of THOSE people…
No, neither was I.
I was never truly grounded in reality. My mind always wandered to vast outer space, worlds beyond our own, and the huge ships that traveled between them on amazing adventures. For some reason, I felt more comfortable in the made up worlds of my mind, than I did in my own shoes in my hometown. The few friends I had kept me from becoming a true social outcast, but while my high school classmates surrounded themselves with hordes, I only had one or two or three at any given time. But that was easy. We were all like minded and so when I started up a message board RPG on the internet, they were more than happy to join and play.
But after one too many RPGs died away due to lack of interest, and one too many characters withered on the vine, their backstories (carefully crafted to give the DM an opportunity to explore hanging threads in side plots) unexplored, I grew tired of building characters only to not be able to tell their stories.
Soon after one of these RPGs died, I found myself with a dilemma…enrollment for next fall’s semester was coming up and my existing class schedule was three credits short of a full time course load. I had not yet declared a major, and the Gen Ed and minor classes I needed were unavailable. I needed an elective…that I could do to fill the schedule, something not too hard that I could blow off if I needed in lieu of the more important classes for my minor. I started paging through the course catalogue and it showed itself up —
Reading and Writing the Short Story.
I shrugged and signed up.
Ultimately I walked into that short story course not knowing what to expect. Sixteen weeks later, I walked out with five writing assignments, all focusing on a character from one of those dead RPGs, and two ‘short stories’ that read much closer to a chapter 1 and 2 of a novel. Oh and an additional 8 chapters of said novel written. By the end of that academic year, I had another five chapters written and by the following summer I finished the last five chapters of my first book.
So cool! I wrote something 98,000 words long! Those college term papers can go screw themselves now! Twenty pages in the wake of 98,000 words is nothing. Nothing I tell you!
But I’ve got this manuscript. What do I do with it now?
A lot of edits and revisions ensued. More than I cared to admit. Writing was definitely a solitary task, but I found myself driven to make the project better. Even so, by the time I came to the completion of the project I had a manuscript in the proverbial drawer and no idea what to do with it.
Then I was introduced to podcasting and I realized there was a market out there for free fiction in audio form. One thing has led to another and here I am today. I have one novel finished, another three on the way, and at least three others simmering in a brainstorm. I have met an impossible number of people along the way— writers, podcasters, scientists, lawyers, designers, developers, listeners, readers, fans, and more.
Say it Proud. Screw the crowd!
-Felicia Day “Game On”
I used to hide my geeky nature. It wasn’t cool. I used to hide that I spent hours in my dorm writing while my classmates were out getting so drunk they wouldn’t remember it the next day. I used to accept that writing was ‘a solitary process’. But no more.
Today my geeky, writing, podcasting, accountant, viola playing nature is a badge of honor. It’s my own personal xBox award (Achievement Earned: Geek! — 10G).
What started as a ‘solitary process‘ of writing and podcasting has exploded into a fantastic community of love and support. I have met some of the best people I will ever know. I am simultaneously honored to call them friend, and humbled when they say the same of me.
I am not one of the cool kids. I am not a well known, New York Times best selling author. Will I ever be? I don’t know.
But I am P.C. Haring, accountant, writer, podcaster, and musician. I am doing my thing, meeting people, and no longer will I hide that badge of geek pinned to my chest. This is who I am and who I want to be.
Being ‘uncool’ has never been so cool.