You can never judge how far you’ve come as an artist until you look back at the beginning!



C. Derick Miller – Head Writer

Your Stories on Video

I’m time traveling again. This time, it doesn’t have anything to do with ex-wives or children. No, this time, it’s a trip in the way back machine with darker origins that the joys of my kids having amazing adult lives. Ok, you caught me. It kind of has something to do with ex-wives. To understand, we’ll have to go back to the very beginning of my writing career.

The year was 2004 and I was going through my second divorce. To add mental insult to permanent injury, I was working nights as a jailer for the Hunt County Sheriff’s Department. I was still a rookie and trying to figure out how to make it from one night to the next without getting shanked by an inmate. It’s a scary way to make a living. With that in mind, I would often bring notebooks to occupy my mind and pass the time. Shift after shift, those notebooks grew.

Most of the time, I would jot down break up poetry and dark things along those lines but there’s only so long that sort of sap can hold someone’s interest. At some point, those negative feelings turned into fantasy. Fantasy, my dear readers, can be fun if managed correctly!

It was a particularly dark night and I believe I’d just gotten a horrible phone call from my soon to be ex wife revealing she was in love with the cook at the restaurant in which she worked. Nothing against cooks, heaven knows we need them to eat, but not all of them are bad enough to steal your wife. In hindsight, I’m glad he did, but, at the time, it wasn’t necessarily something I wanted to hear. I threw on my uniform and dragged myself to work because I hadn’t been there long enough to take a “mental health” day. Who am I kidding? There was no such thing as a mental health day in 2004!

As I got to my hallway, the inmates were nice enough that evening to leave me alone. I took advantage of the silence to break out the notebook and scratch out a few lines. My mind began to wander, still reeling from the revelation of my former spouse with the guy who flipped the burgers. Again, nothing against the guys who flip the burgers. It’s just that this one particular guy was elected representative to them all in my permanent psyche and, well, here we sit.

To the people who flip the burgers: thank you!

Anyway, back to my story. When it comes to horror, werewolves have always been my favorite of the monsters. They’re normal most of the time until they freak out. Remarkably similar to most modern-day humans, which leads me to believe that lycanthropy is nestled in a miniscule amount of realism. Honestly, apart from The Lost Boys, vampire movies just never really did it for me in my youth. American Werewolf in London, though…

That’s something special.

I was thinking about what it would be like to turn into a werewolf living in a small town. Well, my town, to be exact. What would that be like? Everyone knows everybody else and, eventually, as the werewolf is learning to get control of his or her powers, they’re going to bump into someone they know and feast upon them. How horrible would that be? To wake up after every transformation and reflect upon last night’s snack? What a horrible fate (unless you lived in my hometown, and you hoped to change into a werewolf and stumble across people you know)!

Of course, I had to make it the absolute worst scenario possible! I authored a short story where a werewolf awakens to realize he’d eaten his own daughter the night before. Out of pure humor, I titled the story A Taste of Home. It sat in a folder for six years.

After releasing my first two novels on paranormal investigation, I decided to see what it would be like to try my hand at fiction. Using the short story as an guide, I removed the plot line about the eaten daughter and gave it my hometown’s personality. Idiots, a crooked Sheriff, and a hero who was at the end of his rope. In 2010, my first fiction novel released with the same title as the short story. A Taste of Home. Locally, it was a hit. A few years later, it traveled overseas to London and was published there. When that was all said and done, I self-published it in hopes it would live forever with no more negotiations. This is the hard part of being a writer.

In the wee hours of the morning, I began formatting the manuscript for A Taste of Home’s hardback debut through my own publishing venture named Gonzo Wolf Press. As I read over the pages I wrote almost eleven years ago, I thought back to that first night on the cell block when I cracked open the notebook. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I’d not only publish that bit of fiction, but a sequel and several other titles over the years as well! Still, it was hard to read those words because I’ve evolved so much as a writer.

Back then, I was a dreamer living from page to page, hoping my fairy god mother would wave her magic wand and make it all happen overnight. Now, fifteen years later, some people in this crazy world consider me to be professional. Last week, one Amazon reviewer called me a genius. I wouldn’t dare go that far, especially when speaking about myself, but who am I to lead my readers in the opposite direction? I also found out last week that one of the publishers for a couple of my novels has landed an international distribution agreement. I never thought this would be possible.

My main reason in bringing this up is the evolution of the entire process. Paying close attention to my writing skill and style now when compared to how I did it so many years ago, I never thought I’d be at this level. I never attended a single class on creative writing, and I don’t remember performing that well in my grade school writing classes. How in the world did all of this take place? That part is easy.

It happened because I believed. It also happened because there were others around me at the time who believed in me as well. To be successful at anything, you must believe in yourself. It also helps if you surround yourself with people who encourage you. More importantly than that, you must NOT surround yourself with those who would hold you back.

In my experience, those people who would hold you back are just jealous they can’t be who you’re becoming. It took me years of pain and set back to learn this lesson. I’m giving this advice to you free of charge because I love each and every one of you, my dearest readers. Thank you for keeping me going!

Do you have a particular hobby you or others consider to be exceptional? If so, have you ever compared it side by side with some of your earlier work? Isn’t the difference between the two amazing? Here at Your Stories on Video, we want to know! Maybe you’re a guitar player who’s recently ventured back through some old recordings only to realize how well you play today! Maybe you’re a writer like myself who can peck out a poem at the drop of a hat, but you’ve recently stumbled across a tattered notebook full of love scratch dedicated to the one you fell in love with. Even photographers (especially with the invention of social media) see memories of their older work and pick it apart in comparison to the work they accomplish today. I know I do!

Now, if you haven’t experienced this lately or you’ve never even thought to do so, I highly recommend it! You can never judge how far you’ve come as an artist until you look back at the beginning!

I’m daring all of you!


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