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As Seen On Zoetrope* Studios' Website
My first exposure to creative writing came when I was ten or younger.  A question on an exam known as the Ten Plus in the UK provided a couple of sentences forming the basis of a story, and asked the pupil to continue that story, using their own imagination.

I don't remember what I wrote but I do recall being told that my answer was the most creative and imaginative of the group that took the exam.

I really started writing creatively when I was about eleven - some 38 years ago.  For 15 years or so I generated short stories, mini-scripts (at most three pages of typed A4) and sketches, almost all revolving around escapades with my friends - as viewed by me - and compiled them into a huge folder.

In my late 20s I reviewed the huge folder, decided it was all crap, and destroyed it.  Not one of my better decisions...

Then I moved on with my life, which at the time involved working as a medical research technician in the UK's National Health Service, with technical writing an important part of it, but Computing becoming the main focus.

I was commissioned to write a book for Castle House (Micro Press), and "Mastering the TI-99" was published in 1984.  (That commission arose because a friend - Paul Dicks - was approached first but didn't have the time to undertake the task, so he referred the publisher to me.  Just in case you thought I was first choice...)

Unfortunately for me, Texas Instruments - the maker of the TI-99 - pulled out of the home computer business shortly before the book came out, which didn't help the sales much.

But along the way I managed to do some investigative journalism for Computer and Software Retailing (now that was fun!), wrote a few letters and a couple of articles that were published (in Personal Computer World and Nature, among others), undertook software reviews (Home Computing Weekly), read and reviewed a dozen manuscripts for my publisher, and accepted every invitation by my editor to write another Mastering book (he would provide the hardware) - but nothing ever transpired.

My publisher then pulled out of the computing publishing business, dashing my plans to write another four TI books.

A few years later I pulled out of medical science and dove into computing science, but didn't stray far from the medical field.  After a hiccup while I worked briefly as a motorcycle courier (and got done for speeding - over 100 mph on the M25) I went to work as a "Creative Programmer" for an interactive video company, developing software and graphics for an information workstation that was intended to be the leading edge resource for information on Interferon (you may remember it as the "magic bullet" for all kinds of fatal illnesses).

Among the graphics I produced were an animation of DNA replication, another of chromosomal translocation, and a symbolic representation of an Interferon molecule.  It was extremely enjoyable work but it did a number on my eyesight.

The company went kaput and I ended up spending quite some time looking for another contract.  Eventually I went back to work for the NHS, but this time for the Unit of Clinical Epidemiology as a Programmer / Statistician.

From there I transferred to a post with the University of Oxford's Department of Public Health and Primary Care, which became my last position in the UK: Computing Officer with the University of Oxford's Health Services Research Unit.

Through that position I gained access to what soon became the Internet, and through the 'Net I eventually met - and married - Casey, the love of my life.  We celebrated our seventh anniversary in August 2002.

Marrying Casey meant relocating to the USA - for various reasons - and entering a period of uncertain employment that still isn't over (ten contracts in six years, virtually every one ending because of the employer's financial problems).

For roughly half of that time I concentrated on the computing science aspect, but after a few years it became obvious that a writing career was a better choice (better opportunities, even better income) and so I switched the emphasis to Technical Writing.

Through all of this I had not considered a career as a creative writer, which is odd when you recall how many years I spent doing just that as a hobby.

In 2001 I began to make the first serious attempt to establish myself as a professional creative writer.  I'm reading, and learning, and thinking, and developing, and being alternately inspired and depressed by the successes and failures of others who have chosen a similar path. 

I have no idea whether I will succeed.  I have faith and confidence in my abilities, which seem to be the first requirements for any creative writer.

Without those there can be no real commitment - no belief in one's self, so no perseverance. 

My first main project should be, of course, the spec script.  But I realise that to attempt to write an award-winning screenplay at the first attempt would be folly of the first order.

So my sights are set a little lower: TV sitcom (specifically: Malcolm in the Middle, which seems to fit with my warped sense of humor and my own experiences, oddly enough).

I have a work in progress, the first treatment of which has now been transformed into a fully fledged script (see "Other Details" here for more information).  I have around eight further main ideas and a couple of dozen subplots to support them, so there's plenty of meat left on the bone.

I also have entries in fiction and non-fiction writing competitions, to test my skills and abilities.  I won First Prize in the 2002 Write Thinking 24 Hour Creative Writing Competition with a 2000 word piece entitled "So Long And Thanks For All The Pancakes".

I was also hopeful that at least one of five non-fiction short stories - entitled "Holiday Magic", "The Last Banana", "Punting As A Water Sport", "Under Cover Job" and "Scattering Ashes" - would do well in the Sixth TooWrite Competition in the UK, but that wasn't to be. I was competing against over 900 other entries so my chances were slim to begin with...

I do have ideas for movies - a score of them - that seem to be workable as far as the concepts go (or so I have been told by more experienced scriptwriting friends), but I need and want to learn to walk first before I try running.

Having now obtained representation (Stuart A Bronstein of San Francisco - see NEWS) the stage is set for the next scene - whatever that may turn out to be...

* : Zoetrope Studios Website (but you'll need to join)
Other Details
My present location (and for the past five years): a stone's throw from Warner Brothers studios on the very outskirts of Burbank, surrounded by people who are - or who want to be - in "the biz". The stage is set... 

My work: well, several pitches, premises and treatments for TV and film ideas are available online at WriteSafe, as is the script for an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, which so far has managed to make it all the way to the finals in various WriteSafe Present-a-thons for 2002.

For a first attempt at writing a formal script I think that's not too shabby.

There are several more Malcolm in the Middle concepts in the works (as brief notes, with no structure yet) and those will appear in the list of writing projects shortly.

What do I do with the rest of my life?

Well, apart from trying to be a halfway decent husband, these days I'm a Senior Content Engineer (Senior Technical Writer+), often working as a contractor (when the contracts are available!)

You can always check out my Technical Writing site for more information, or my growing work Showcase.

Very recently I became an Ordained Minister with the Universal Life Church. Now what, you may ask, is a confirmed existentialist / agnostic / atheist doing becoming a Minister?

Well, it's going to be an interesting journey and with it an interesting story (I hope).

Part of what I'm doing is setting up my own Church: The Church of The Write Way.

Because it is an a-theistic religion (there is no specific deity, and therefore there should be - in theory - no clash with any other religious belief system, established or otherwise), it should be possible for anyone (no matter what their faith or belief system) to become a member and benefit from what I hope and expect will be generated by the Church's existence.

Unlike the Church of Scientology, there will be little or no emphasis on charging huge sums of money to learn something from the Church's teachings (which, like those of the Church of Scientology, will be divided into two categories: Spirit Technologies - the religious teachings, and Life Technologies - a separate set of guidelines to be used by anyone in any setting to the intended benefit of everyone).

The principles of the Church of The Write Way are slowly being formulated as I find time to devote myself to their creation. These principles will be subject to perpetual scrutiny and will evolve over time into what I fully expect will be a better template for living and co-existing with as wide a range of individuals (whether animal, mineral, vegetable or "not specified") as is possible.

All I can say at the moment is: read this space.


Last updated: October 11, 2002

CONTACT
Peter Brooks
pcbrooks@earthlink.net
 

© PC Consulting 2002