Why did I write this book? I like to write. I’ve always liked to write. I just never tackled anything so lengthy or involved before. I set out, first and foremost, to see if I could tell a cohesive and well driven story.
I boast of no formal prior writing accomplishments except for personal writings consisting of some poetry and short story assignments for creative writing courses in high school. One short story, in particular, was among those in the class that were "signed" anonymously with a number, read and critiqued by the entire class over a two day period. One short story I wrote for an adult continuing education course, which was also read anonymously in class, was met with stunned and concerned stares. The story is called "Grace" and was used in its raw original form in my novel, "Mightier Than The Pen."
In my early teens, I scratched out a play about a boy who talked to trees and got involved with a gangster and his moll. I don’t remember much about that one, and have no idea what the impetus was, but I am sure it no longer exists, though I can remember the cover of the spiral notebook I wrote it in; a silhouette of a surfer and his board standing on the shore against a raging wave coming toward him.
I’ve also written very sentimental memorials to people in my life who have passed, beginning with the death of a childhood friend when I was 12. It was on loose-leaf paper, written in pencil and stapled together and in it, I recalled those special memories only a 12 year old could have. My father made copies of it and handed them out to people, including my dead friend’s father to show what I had done. And then from somewhere in me I didn’t know existed, I penned poems to eulogize my Grandfather and Grandmother.
Oh, yes, and there was that one "winning" poem I did get published in a volume of other "winning" poems in a rather dubious poetry writing contest. Both Ariel and I submitted two poems and one each of ours won and the prize was to be published in a bound coffee table edition that could be purchased at the close of the contest. Since we really needed only one book between us I placed the order. And guess whose winning poem was not included? The one’s who did not order the book–Ariel’s.
In my early twenties I began a novel on my brand new electric typewriter while listening to Violin Concerto in D. Opus 35 by Tchaikovsky secluded in my bedroom. It was during a time when life’s path was a bit fuzzy and after about 14 chapters, I left it to gather dust. I let only one person read what was thus far written, my Uncle Billy on trip to the Maryland House for a cup of coffee. The trip was a whim and I went for it. When he died, a copy was buried with him.
Sometime later, after Ariel and I met, he read it and saw a shred of promise in the story and encouraged me to continue, but the moment had passed for that story. It was time to move on and more than 10 years passed before I would make another attempt at writing.
"Mightier Than The Pen", in the beginning was originally going to be a gangster story and ended up as a love story. From the moment I wrote the first word, on a yellow legal pad one hot summer afternoon in my backyard by the canal, my too long dormant desire to write had reawakened and I was determined to see this work through. As the story grew and my words were transferred to my computer I would sometimes find myself staring at a blank screen. My fingers were willing, but they were stilled, not knowing where to go next. I had no formal outline and I wrote as I thought of things and hoped I would remember where everything all fit.
Each writing session over the two year span it took to write the book was a lesson learned and I quickly learned to appreciate the intense devotion needed to tell a story.
Now, as I am nearing completion of my second novel, a sequel to "Mightier Than The Pen", I am already considering ideas for my next and future stories.
I have an extensive eclectic collection of books, but do not have much time to read. Most of my treasured Daphne DuMaurier collection, hunted down over the years, still waits to be read. Reference books, from napkin folding to household repair, varied biographies of luminaries like Abraham Lincoln, Tchaikovsky and Bette Davis to the memoirs of the last surviving Wizard Of Oz Munchkin, and contemporary novels, including those by my new favorite author, Gregory Maguire, fill my shelves. The spontaneity of live theater is always a pleasurable experience, even, at times in spite of rather lackluster productions; some gems can truly be found on Off-off Broadway. As for my taste in movies, my preference is for the classics from under the studio system where story content far outweighed any need for flashy devices. These treasures of cinematic magnificence far outshine today’s computer-enhanced, pyrotechnic-heavy offerings (needed mostly to compensate for lack of plot).
Along with my life’s experience, it is this collection of books and performances which have influenced and ultimately determined my style. I describe it as my attempt to either entertain or be irreverently informative and opinionated as the subject matter dictates. My writing voice is a record which echoes the contemplations of my mind’s observation of the most mundane moments in day to day occurrences. Sometimes I have a tendency to put a Twilight Zone-like spin on everyday situations. One December, near the holidays, I saw an attendant trampling over a stack of cut Christmas trees in a lot. How bizarre it would be, I thought, if, while those trees were being decorated in a customer’s home, the ornaments would mysteriously shatter on those branches that had been stepped on. Or, my all time favorite ponderable–what if one day I actually saw the pile of wrinkles that fell out of the clothes hanging in my closet.
In closing, I’d like to share with you a little bit of the writings I mentioned above.
Brian K. Sigley's debut novel, Mightier Than The Pen, will leave you wishing you had set more time aside to read it. You will not be able to put it down willingly.