I have been writing fiction stories since elementary school. In sixth grade, my teacher gave me the opportunity to attend a local young writer’s conference – if I could produce just one non-sports story for her. I dashed off a story about Bigfoot and got the chance to spend a day with a few classmates, attending writing workshops. On the same day, most of our class was pent up in the boring old school building.

It was also during the sixth grade when I first plunged into the world of publishing. I convinced a lot of classmates to write articles for my newly formed magazine, Howdy. Howdy was a critical success, but operations ceased after just one issue after a discussion on the proper and improper use of the school copy machine.

In high school, my short story The Case of the State vs. Santa Claus was among a handful selected for publication in the school paper.  The story detailed the prosecution of Santa Claus in the death of grandma (sing it with me – “Grandma got run over by a reindeer …”).

During my college years, my fiction writing ground to a near halt, due in large part to the increase in writing required for term papers.  I wrote a few very short stories, but really nothing subtantial.  Oddly, although I obtained a minor in English while in college, I did not take a single creative writing class; choosing instead to focus on pre-19th century British literature.

In my post-college years, I would write the occassional story.  The story Tina, for example, was written for a long-forgotten acquaintance by that name.  I also began writing invitations to a weekly dinner/movie event.  Most people would simply send out the location of dinner and the choice of movie.  I unleashed my creativity and typically threw several hundreds words into the email.  This would occassionally cause some confusion – such as the time when one person ended up at the wrong Australian steakhouse.

After moving back to my native Iowa, my writing once again dropped off.  It later regained some momentum when I joined a simulation baseball league (essentially, a cross between fantasy baseball and Dungeons and Dragons, with fake players).  Credits could be earned by writing about your team, and my favorite type of article quickly became fictional accounts of my player’s lives.

During my time in the league, I shared  my tongue-in-cheek investment advice.  After encouragement from friends, I launched a blog in October, with the investment advice piece as the very first article.  The blog was unlike many blogs in that it did not focus on a particular niche, instead trying to bring a diverse group of topics under a single umbrella.

I picked up my fiction pen again in November when I wrote  about Oregon’s election process.  After a few more satires, the first true original fiction piece, Release Point, became the first story in the Fiction Friday series.  Shortly thereafter, The Soap Boxers moved to its current address.  In recent months, I have added several writers to the staff, in an effort to add diverse content, as well as allowing me to focus on a handful of topics.  The most important of these topics is definitely the fiction stories.  In July, the Fiction Friday stories were collected into an eBook (along with a longer bonus story).  (If you’re a repeat visitor, you can click on the “Free eBook” link at the right edge of the blue bar toward the top of the screen).

I plan to perodically release new volumes of the compiled fiction – always with at least one brand new story.  I also have a few other irons in the fire, including a couple of possible book ideas.

While I do wish to devote energy to novels in the future, I do not want to forget my short stories, either.  It is for this reason that I am announcing my intention to enter the 2010  Iowa Short Fiction contest (see details about the 2009 contest).  The contest requires a 150+ page manuscript of short stories.  I will not be able to have a manuscript ready in time for this year’s content (submissions are due on September 30), but this is my goal for 2010.  I plan to dust off some of my books about writing (including on book that is devoted entirely to writing better dialogue) as I attempt to refine my writing style.  My hope is that this will result in stories that are more enjoyable to read.

What’s the moral to the story?  If you have the itch to write, grab a pen (or keyboard) and start!  It’s a cheap hobby.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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