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Where I come from

Tim and Robert on the Llano River

I was interested in writing fiction a long time ago but didn’t attempt a story until about 2000. My best friend, Tim, asked me to join a writing class offered by Texas Tech University; by joining at the same time, we each got a $10 discount. The teacher was Elisabeth Schneider-Scull, a delightful person to learn from. Her writing is available here.  She started the class with this directive: think of an interesting character, followed shortly by write a paragraph about that character. Half of the class panicked and left, the other half started writing. Seven classes and four years later I had numerous short stories and a start on a novel, Awol 21. Tim was a better writer than I, but he died unpublished.

If writing draws on life experiences, I have a lot of material. I learned long ago that if you wanted to write authentically, you had to be very familiar with the subject.  I don’t write about things I don’t understand. When I write about Enchanted Rock, it comes out of hundreds of visits, hour upon hour of walking, visits to every corner of the park, conversations with staff. Although they are not true stories, I hope they are authentic, and could have actually happened.  They are in a sense modern day westerns.

I included some Greek in Blue(s); this comes out of my childhood experiences in that wonderful country and my rudimentary knowledge of its language. Awol 21 is about an Air Force pilot, and comes out of my experiences in that life, sitting in the cockpit with the stick and throttles in my hands and my feet on the rudders.  Fort Davis Rocks comes out of much time spent in West Texas, talking to its denizens, walking the trails of the parks.   If life experiences are an indication of where my writing will go, expect to read about mountain climbing, backpacking, fly fishing, civilain and military flying, Thailand, Spain, Alaska, and Wyoming. I am not sure I could write a story about being an insurance agent or financial adviser, though; that is my alter-ego, and doesn’t come from the part of my brain the writer inhabits.

So, expect the protagonist to be the quintessential Texan; not quite a cowboy, but a man who faces life’s challenges with honesty and courage.

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4 Comments
  1. Randy Petterson permalink

    You have come a long way Robert.

    • And been a lot places in the meantime! Thompson Hall First South South is not just a distant memory, its gone.

  2. You sound like a very adventurous fellow and an interesting writer. I was born in Fort Worth, so Texas is always in my blood. Good luck and keep writing.

    • Recently one of my readers said my story reminded her of Hillerman; I said that was no accident, I try to write in his style. I did not have the opportunity to meet Hillerman, but now I have a connection to him through you! Edward Abbey has long been a favorite author for me as well, and I strive to create such interesting characters as he did. THank you for you kind words.

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