I said, in my last post, that I would cover religion next. I was joking.
I may get around to that eventually but I think I’ve alienated enough people for the first five minutes of this website’s existence. And that’s without even counting the people who might not like my writing. Lol
So, in this post, I’m going to give a little insight into how I got to where I am with this writing thing. If I can’t chase you away with my personal belief system, I’ll bore you to death.
While I was always a good student and could rock an essay assignment, I’d never really thought about being a writer. When I was a kid, my friend, Jimmy, and I would come up with some very elaborate made up worlds and characters but they were always just kinda riffs we’d go on for our own entertainment. Sometimes we’d go so far as to create a whole skit show that we’d perform in my basement, charging the other neighborhood kids a buck each to be regaled by our wit and clever productions. I can confidently say, even in hindsight, that we had some pretty funny shit.
I never thought about writing as a career, though. When I was really young, I said I wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor because I knew they made a lot of money. As I got older, I started to follow some passions and wanted to be a rock star. Then an artist, like Van Gogh. (These are both pursuits that I am yet to abandon, btw. lol). Eventually, I became a tool and die maker and then an engineer.
Weird, right? It seems I have a bit of an ongoing battle between the left and right brain.
My career led me to a stint in Australia that required living there and dragging my family along with me. During that adventure, I decided to write a book about the experience that would be entertaining and also help people who were thinking about or were undertaking the same experience. The book covered the process of moving to Australia and our particular experiences. It was reasonable well received and published by a company that catered to expatriates. The book was called Life in Australia: All Over the Place Like a Mad Woman’s Breakfast and you can find the PDF version here: Life in Australia (PDF) | Mike Kozlowski
I had a great time doing the research and writing the book. It really woke something up inside me that I didn’t even know had been sleeping there. I even got a few “fan” emails. But, as it turned out, I wasn’t moving anywhere else (or even traveling much) so what the fuck was I going to write about?
Write what you know, they say. Well, I don’t know if I “know” horror but, as a Gen Xer, I was a big horror fan, especially of Stephen King and of all those wonderfully awful ‘80’s horror flicks. So, I decided I’d try my hand there.
My first novel was, well, not great. It wasn’t awful. My mom liked it and at least two friends managed to read it all the way through and say they liked it. But I knew. If we’re honest with ourselves, we usually know. I mean, it even had the whole “it was all a dream” thing going. I’m so ashamed. So that book, titled Potential, went into the trunk (literally and figuratively). Maybe I’ll go back to it someday.
I decided to write another novel. I got about a third of the way through that one before it fell apart. Mostly because I realized I didn’t know where the hell it was going and nothing was jumping out to give me direction. But there were some cool bits in it and I reworked it into a novella.
And it got published!
A small press put out my novella, Above the Clouds (which you can find here: Above the Clouds – Novella (PDF) | Mike Kozlowski ), and I was on my way!
I made a few bucks on that story and a few connections and was asked about writing a short story for an anthology. That ended up being, Do You Make House Calls? (That one’s here: Do You Make Housecalls? (Short Story, PDF) | Mike Kozlowski). It was included in an anthology called the Memory Eater (the whole anthology is still available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Memory-Eater-Stories-Erase-Future/dp/098566620X).
I found that I really enjoyed the short story format. It’s a format I love to read, as well. Concise, clever, often difficult to pull off, short stories are a “love ‘em or hate ‘em” kind of deal for most writers. I decided they were a good way for me, a guy that craves validation and immediate feedback and gratification, to hone my writing chops. I wrote dozens and had several published in various magazines and online Zines and some more anthologies. Eventually I collected the best of them and self-published my collection, Some Days Suck, Some Days Suck Worse (Some Days Suck, Some Days Suck Worse – Collection (Signed) | Mike Kozlowski).
Since then, progress has been hit and miss. My writing output varied wildly due to various reasons that affected how much time I could dedicate to it. Sometimes it was outside forces like work, or family life, other commitments that kept me from the keyboard. More often, it was my own failing to give it an honest go (because giving it an honest go is hard work). There were big opportunities that fell through and that set me reeling and drained my enthusiasm and killed my confidence (that’s not easy when dealing with me, as I am notoriously overconfident in myself. Lol). I would go months, even went a couple years, without really writing anything. But I never truly gave up. I stumbled. I struggled. But I never thought to quit entirely. I still intended to write.
About 4 or 5 years ago, I decided to stop making excuses. Writing is hard. Many great writers go unpublished because it’s a tough business to crack, much like music or sports. A lot of people are good at it. More are awful. Some are great. And a lot fall between the cracks.
The last few years have not been easy. Not just for me, obviously. They were more lost opportunities, failed promises, rejections… There was fucking Covid. There was Trump (which was, and is, mental draining). But throughout, I did what I could to expand my involvement and connections within the horror community. I’ve made great strides there. I committed to writing on a near daily basis with set goals and a renewed vigor. I reworked some stuff, completed another novel, was able to secure a couple of book contracts, invested in myself with things like this website. I joined the Horror Writer’s Association and am working to attend more conventions and find ways to better market myself.
I’m a long way from being what I would consider a “successful” author. I still have to have the day job. I still see far more rejections than acceptances. But I’m trending in the right direction. And I couldn’t do it without the support of my dearest friends and family, as well as that of other members of the horror community and, most importantly, the readers who support me with both their money by purchasing my work and the occasional encouraging message or email. I will do all that I can to reciprocate.
I have this dream and I’m working toward it. And I thank every single one of you for helping me along my journey. That’s who the Faithful Few really are. And that’s why I love you.