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Christopher M. Lawson

In My Own Words
A short author's autobiography
My writing journey to becoming a published author!
I was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on July 25, 1982. I was born with a heart defect known as Ventricular Septal Defect, which is a hole located in between the two ventricles. I have not needed surgery to correct this, for the hole started closing on its own; a miracle according to doctors and those who know me.
I have lived in western Massachusetts my whole life (Springfield, Agawam, Chicopee, Agawam) and finally settled in Palmer in December of 1989.
I wrote my first "short short" story when I was 7 almost 8, during the spring of 1990. It was called "High in the West", which obviously, is a Western. Upon reading it recently, it is amazing to see that there is a little bit of the writer in me in that first effort.
Though I would write a few one page vignettes throughout the rest of first grade (1990), I admittedly was not interested in writing (except for stories about me, because for some reason, I was fascinated in autobiographical essays). I was more interested in creating my own comic strip. In fact, I did. Though I cannot recall the exact date, I do know that it was during the summer of 1990 when I finally was the proud owner of a comic strip called "Hobbies and Babies". When I say comic strip, I just mean that I drew it on white paper and made it like it was a four or five panel comic strip, much like the Sunday Republican (Springfield) does for their colored edition.
My ambition was to be "the next Charles M. Schulz" because he was my greatest hero at the time. "Hobbies and Babies" had a short life, only lasting about five years, give or take. I was not very pleased with how I drew and knew that I didn't have the talent (or patience) to learn proper techniques. The other problem was, I did not spend a lot of time developing my craft, not like a good artist should. In the beginning, I did try and produce something once or twice a week and then show family, but that was about it. The last time I ever drew an original "Hobbies and Babies" comic strip was for a project in my Health class in 7th grade, and it was promoting NO SMOKING. To my surprise, I got an A-plus on it; however, I had already decided by then that cartooning was not in the cards for me.
By the time I was 11, I developed an interest in writing song lyrics. I used to come up with them in my head and record them with a homemade guitar (tissue box, rubber bands) and cookie tin drum. This became my new passion. I tried drum lessons, formal school band lessons that is, in fourth grade, but I grew impatient with learning and quit (unbeknownst and to the ultimate chagrin of my parents). Nevertheless, I became interested in the guitar and was given an electric guitar for my birthday upon turning 12. This interest lasted a while, until (like the drum) I lacked the patience to stay with learning the instrument.
Then something interesting happened. Even though I continued to tape record songs that I came up with, I started finally writing down the lyrics (none of them survive, by the way). When I reached 7th grade, I began writing song lyrics almost nonstop. It didn't hurt that my knowledge was limited in writing lyrics, but I persevered and developed a fondness for writing love songs (a la Lennon-McCartney; appropriate since I've been a Beatles fan since birth). By the time I was ready to leave middle school, I'd written over 200 song lyrics. They were not the best, but certainly had their charms, I suppose.
That summer (1996), my dad suggested that instead of writing songs, I should try writing poetry. So, even though I have not had any poems published (as of this writing), I continue to write poems for entertainment, to show my love to others, and also just to occasionally vent my feelings.
In eighth grade, I entered Palmer High School. My English teacher, Martha Baker (now Wilson) motivated me to lean toward prose instead of poetry, because she saw potential in my writing. To her everlasting credit, I started enjoying writing this. I even wrote my first "book" at the age of 14. What started off as a contest between my sister and me turned into a long year of writing Tales of Corey and Lynn, a book that could only be considered a take-off on Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. The writing is pretty good, looking at it today, but I don't think it's still worthy of publication. Maybe someday I will tweak it and find some way to issue it for younger readers, but until that happens, it is sitting comfortably in my portfolio.
I was inspired by an anecdote I'd heard about S.E. Hinton (The Outsiders) that she'd had her book published at 16. This filled me with an ambition to have a book published at 15. Originally considered part of a collection of short stories that I'd written (short stories are still fun to write, even though I haven't written one in 10 years), Life with Jimmy took a life of its own [excuse the pun] and took me another full year to write. I was so proud of myself, having written a two-hundred page working copy (or rough draft) by hand. When it came to typing it on the computer, I grew frustrated and depressed with the long process and found myself editing it almost to death. There are only a few pages of this still around somewhere in my portfolio as well, since I all but abandoned it and chalk it up to being too close to Then Again, Maybe I Won't (also by Judy Blume).
For years, I used to have this dream to write a script, find some people to act in it with me, and perform it for an audience. Not counting the occasional homework and then class assignment to perform it, I finally put this dream into action in April of 1999. The result was the five minute skit, "Friends Forever". Though it had a small audience, those who saw the performance were charmed. My teacher, Trish Nolen-Parkhouse, was the one who allowed this to occur and then asked me to get another play performed. This turned out to be an even greater success with audiences at Palmer High. It was performed seven times that day. The play was called "One More Chance" and was very well received. The purpose of the play was to give the students a "strong" message about the dangers of alcohol and by all accounts, it worked. I went on to write a good number of scripts after that, none of them getting produced, much to my disappointment. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the process and had fun.
Also in April of 1999, I started working as a typesetter/proofreader for Turley Publications. I would be with that job until January of 2001. Over the course of my time there, I learned a great deal about newspaper publishing and the process the reporters go through. I even had some articles and photographs published by The Journal Register, which was quite exciting for this young writer. I also met a man who would eventually take me under his wings and encourage me along the publication route: David Hale, a novelist in his own regard. His books include How I Trapped Louie The Rat, 2084: The Year of the Liberal, and The Liberal Masters,  all of which are very good novels I might add.
In 2001, I saw the production of my family comedy-drama play "The Fever" performed by the Palmer High School Drama Club. The previous November, Chris Herland (also my English teacher) had the brainstorm to feature student written plays for the drama club, and I leaped at the opportunity to do this. It was also well-received, despite some controversy over the dysfunctional family. I would write only one more play that year, but it too, was not produced. Shortly thereafter, I graduated with honors (24 out of 130 students) on June 3, 2001.
In November of 2001, I started work on yet another novel, not exactly sure what to expect. Considering that my other attempts were not good enough for me, I poured everything into making this one work. The result was Hello...and Goodbye. The only disappointment was (and remains) is that I lost money over it, considering that AuthorHouse (previously 1stBooks Library) is a vanity publisher and I had to pay them. Friends and family who read it, fortunately, enjoyed it and demaned a sequel. So I started to write one, but it didn't take off as well and it is gone (but not forgotten).
In 2004, I began writing another novel and it was entitled Broken Chains of the Heart. I knew from my previous experience with AuthorHouse (as supportive and kind as they were) that I needed a new publisher. So I set to work on making a book that would be marketable and a unique challenge for me. This novel didn't get past the first 10 pages, if you can believe that. Therefore, I shelved it.
Then finally, on April 10, 2005, I began work on a novel called No More Lonely Days. It was basically the same idea as Broken Chains of the Heart but I shuffled characters around and changed the plot. This novel would eventually take me 19 months to complete, finally finishing December of 2006. Exhausted both from the hard work it took me to complete it (at times, I considered giving up; thankfully I didn't) and also from so many other personal issues facing my life.
I submitted query letters and sample chapters to different agents and publishers and all of them rejected it. Finally, in late March of 2007, I took a try at PublishAmerica and they accepted it! As of this writing, I am still awaiting its publication, but I am excited nonetheless.
Currently, I am writing my new novel For Her Eyes Only, a semi follow-up to No More Lonely Days, and thanks to PublishAmerica, I need not go any further than them to publish it.

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"A writer's job is to always entertain in the best sense of the word."
Sue Grafton
The Armchair Detective
 
 
(C) 2007-2008 - Christopher M. Lawson