I’ve always been a storyteller, and I always will be, but for a certain dark period, I no longer thought of myself as a writer. My sister and my friends insisted I was still a writer when I expressed my fears that the dream was over, but I never felt reassured. A writer writes, always. If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer, and I haven’t been writing for three years. Oh, I would finish the occasional story, but overall, my motivation, my imagination, and my energy all disappeared. And the longer I went without writing, the more sure I was that I would never start writing again. My time of creativity had come and gone, and though I felt like I lost something precious, I didn’t know how to retrieve it.
Then Vivien Dean asked me if I could contribute a story of the Vive La Difference Pax. They were one short, and I had a few months before the deadline.
After I hit my writer’s block (more like a giant brick wall) I fell away from the writing and publishing world, and I regret to say that part of what I lost was my best friend and collaborator. But we started chatting last fall and were in the process of relearning each other’s lives when she invited me to contribute. And I realized she didn’t know the terrible truth that I had come to accept--how could I contribute a story to the collection if I wasn’t a writer anymore?
But then I thought, she’s always known me better than I know myself, and maybe once again she knows something I don’t know.
So I said, “Yes, I can do that.”
The story wasn’t easy. Stephen King once described writing as falling through a hole in the center of the page, and it’s hard to get that portal to open, harder still to have the faith to plunge into the unknown world. But I persisted, and before long, I found a tiny black dot in the center of the page. Soon, that hole widened until I could see some light. Then the shadowy shapes of characters and a world I hadn’t traveled to before.
I can’t say the process was perfect. I turned the story in late and even lost the contract for a few weeks so I mailed that in late, too! I forgot the art of writing a blurb--a skill that I had honed for years, but had since turned rusty, like any tool too long abandoned. Still, I fell in love with my characters and I wanted, no needed, to see the story through. And I did. To what end? I don’t know. I hope that you, dear reader, fall in love with my boys, too. I hope that you enjoy the story I tried to tell, and I hope you’ll be forgiving of any blemishes--it wasn’t the story’s fault just the fault of its imperfect creator.
Alfred is an educated, wealthy young man with a world of prospects and opportunities waiting for him. He chooses the path that takes him away from Harvard and across the country of the newly opened University of California in Berkeley. His journey takes an abrupt turn when he’s kidnapped from the wagon train carrying west through Utah and brought to the mountain hideout of the Lyons brothers. They have a task for him, one that he is uniquely suited for, but he also finds something else in the snowy peaks of the Uintah Mountains--a friend.
Hold the World Together by Pepper Espinoza is now available at Amber Allure.
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