This brief morbid statement, scrawled above a purple scribbled rabbit smeared with blots of red crayon, forms the written content of one of my earliest journal entries. Though the words were sparse and the spelling spotty, it was obvious that as a seven year old boy I had a hell of an imagination. Already I was discovering a thrilling way to express such wild fancies that abounded in my head.
Progressing through elementary school, I voraciously sought to read every book I could find, while at the same time honing my own budding aptitude for the written word. My spelling and grammar gradually improved, and simple sentences expanded into paragraphs and later entire pages of structured syntax. I began concocting short stories about subjects such as slave driving specters and ominous tailgaters, and with them attended a handful of local conferences for young authors. Before long I had made up my mind that what I wanted most with my life was to be a writer.
When I was 12, I finished typing my first book, titled Escape from Terror Beach. It was a “choose your own adventure” story, modeled after the Goosebumps spinoff series of the same kind. This first full scale production of mine, however, was read by few others than myself. A brief attempt to shop it around proved unsuccessful, with publishers the likes of Scholastic and Penguin Books politely rejecting it. I accepted that my ambition had outpaced my abilities and resolved to keep practicing. Unperturbed, I moved on.
Throughout most of my high school years, the major outlet for my writing became a music website run by a fellow I had met online. He enlisted me to aid in updating news and writing reviews for punkcanada.net (later canadanoise.com, now defunct). I relished in praising the musicians I saw as talented and innovative, while constructively blasting lesser artists. My satisfaction soared higher than the domain’s emergent following. Unfortunately, the website reached an untimely demise after just a few cycles of the seasons, falling on the wayside as the majority of its contributors became preoccupied with alternate endeavors.
Having lost this latest avenue of expression soon after graduation, I resolved to gear my higher education in a direction that would allow me to continue my passion for playing with words. My third year of university found me enrolled in a journalism program, and by the end of the next I had earned a bachelor degree. Armed with a plethora of cover letters, resumes and clippings of my work, I contacted every local media organization that I could think of. After multitudinous applications, a couple of interviews, and zero job offers, the prospect of being a journalist in the city I call home looked dismal. At the same time, I was unprepared to abandon the place and the people I loved most for employment elsewhere. My diploma grew stale, and I became increasingly frustrated by my inability to find work in the field towards which I had expended so much time, effort, and agonizing stress.
This remained the case for a long time, though I no longer dwell on it. As it turns out, I am lucky enough to have a job that I enjoy, working for employers who treat me quite well. So what if that occupation has nothing to do with what I went to school for? Why must I muddle my hobby of choice with ideals of professionalism? Can’t I work in a warehouse while still getting my syntactic fix? Of course I can.
Reflecting upon my entire path thus far as an avid jotter of ideas, I have come to the conclusion that to make a career of it is immaterial to my overall desires. My struggle to become a journalist did not revolve around lofty aspirations of changing the world. The music reviews I submitted online were not posted solely with visions of my byline in the pages of Rolling Stone. That one labyrinthine adventure of mine about island moored preteens eluding vampires and mythical beasts was not designed with delusions of being the next R. L. Stine. And when as a child I committed fictional leporicide in my school journal, I certainly had no intention of impressing my first grade teacher. Though any of these outcomes would, regardless, have been welcome byproducts of my craft, at the core of it all I was simply writing for the sake of itself. To do so is an urge that today still swells inside my skull and tingles at my fingertips. The words within me beg to spew forth, and I am happy to oblige them.
That is what this blog is for. What I might end up writing about, I have no idea. Whether anyone will read any of it, I hardly care. I’m sick of hoarding all of my words; so here they are. Happy Easter.
– Cory Stumpf