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  • Writer's pictureM.H. Barton

How I got into writing

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

Ever since I was a little boy, I've wanted to be a bestselling author...

Sorry, is that how you expected this to start? Truth be told, I've always had a talent for writing, even back to elementary school. I always did well on papers and whatnot, although grammar was always my worst subject. Still, even with that talent, I never really aspired to become a writer or an author - I majored in music education in college, unlike so many who actually studied this craft.

It seemed my future as a band director was set. Long story short, it didn't work out. Graduated at the bottom of the recession, went to grad school for two years, still couldn't find work in my field... it's a common story for Millennials like me. But, no sob story here. I met the woman of my dreams, got a job in Corporate America to pay the bills. Life is good, right? For a while, it was.

That led to the moment my wife and I decided we wanted a baby. A year later, no luck, so it was time to get tested. Guess who got the short end of the stick? Yep. Me. Completely infertile. What followed was four years of frustration and waiting as we attempted unsuccessfully to treat the problem and, eventually, began the process of adoption. Through it all, I found that my normal creative outlet - music - was doing me little good. I needed something new to inspire me.

It started as just a random bit of fan fiction. Never once did I think anyone else would enjoy my little fantasies. But upon posting it online, the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive, spurring me to write more. Better still, this put me in contact with fellow readers and writers who would become some of my favorite people in the world. We corresponded, provided feedback on each other's future works, and the quality of our work improved by leaps and bounds. And believe me, I needed this outlet.

For anyone who may be unfamiliar, the adoption process sucks. I can best describe it as a voluntary, open-ended, governmentally administered colonoscopy. First, you have to get approved and qualified, requiring character references, social worker visits to your home, and numerous background checks. The best part? All these things expire after a year. So, if it takes you three years to adopt, like it did for us... yeah, you can do the math.

Then, there's the decisions. Are you ok if the birth mom was on drugs? Which kinds are ok? What about smoking? What if the baby is born with special needs? After going down the list of questions you have to answer, it's bound to be depressing. And even then, you start to question yourself - what if my answers were too restrictive? One could not be blamed for thinking they were an awful person through all this.

Finally, there's the worst part - the waiting. We saw dozens of cases and presented to upwards of 30 or more over the course of three years. Weeks go by while other potential cases are passed over, since presenting to more than one at a time is a major no-no. Finally, you get yet another rejection, and the process starts all over again. Eventually, you start to take it personally, even when there's no logical reason to do so.

Throughout this soul-sucking process, I wrote like hell. Short stories, outlines, you name it. I not only wrote, I refined my skills and my older works, even to the point that I decided to write a mainstream high fantasy novel. The first inkling of a concept was just something that came to me as I laid in bed one night, but it eventually grew into what would become Lost in Camelot, the first book in The Brighton Chronicles series. Even if my goal of publishing it falls flat, words can't express how much this story did to help get me through the adoption process.

As I'm sure you're wondering, yes, this blog does have a happy ending. My wife and I were finally chosen in late 2019 to be the parents of a baby boy. We got the call in December that he was about to be born, rushed to buy plane tickets, and he's been our little caveman dictator ever since. Ironically, my opportunities to write have diminished, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I hope to be a best-selling author someday, but even if I only ever have time to write a couple more fan fiction stories, it'll all have been worth it. It's what sustained my sanity long enough to complete our family.

If you're going through hell, keep on going. Churchill said it, Rodney Atkins sang about it, and I lived it.

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