How to Become Charles Mitch Turner, Writer
Henry Miller came as a revelation to me. I had read only a few authors who wrote autobiographically in the mode of fiction writers. Notably, Philip Wylie, to an extent, and Jack Kerouac. Miller blew me away. It was 1963 and the edition I read of Tropic of Cancer was illegally imported. It was more than sex and four letter expletives. It was a bleeping masterpiece.
I told my older brother I would love to become a writer, in the style put forth by Mr. Miller. He responded, saying, "If you do I will disown you."
Not to be dissuaded, I dallied forth to learn the art of authorship, with that sort of material set as an ultimate goal. With no formal education, beyond a few years' failing grades in high school, without a clue how to get started, most disheartening of all, with nothing to say, even, I persevered. I wracked my brain, dawdling, straining to produce what my first wife described as "dumb little poems"and producing one addled manuscript for juveniles, titled, "Ollie Philbert." A couple of my poems seemed to work. For the longest I produced mostly rhyming verses. Lyrics. The occasional short story. But, consider my origin.
Life was a struggle for me, from day one and through middle age. Dirt poor, bullied by a step father, saddled with unrecognized Asperger's Syndrome, I lurched like the punch drunk boxer, who's getting slugged consistently and dancing at whatever portion of ring he got knocked into. By age thirty I had been on my own for ten years, done a stint in the Navy and had been living the vagabonds existence, riding by freight train and hitching with my thumb. I was sometimes accompanied by a brother, who fought his own demons, most valiantly. By the time my older brother got himself murdered, at age twenty seven, I could point to just one non family person who counted himself a friend. And he was long gone, making a life in the far-off northeast part of our great nation.
By age thirty, I was ripe for a new strategy. I married a woman who actually latched on to me, first. We lasted nearly six years.Still the punch drunk boxer, i married a second time. We raised four children. I still clung to the notion of producing literature, beyond the time they were grown and I was nearing retirement.
Self publishing seemed the only out, as I knew the work to be for the most sub par. During the several years surrounding the self publishing, I wrote bits and pieces, aimed at eventual unification of the pieces into one huge autobiographical novel. With time I began to realize that the book was not feasible. I had too many half siblings that hated my guts. So I deleted most references to any living persons and riveted the newly molded superstructure onto a fictional framework. I had a novella, which I called, Beyond the Dark Water. It had none of the genius of Henry Miller or Philip Wylie, but was true to the material
Then I set to work on a novel meant to employ some of the tricks of a Henry Miller. My book, Poppy Fields of Mars is a sloppy, self indulgent bit of refuse, but at least I got it out of my system.
Lately, I have written Spelville and a number of shorter stories, including Sam Paine and Bonobos. Currently writing Mexican Red, a western, and Gwenn Wrenn, or, The Hollow Planet, science fantasy for teens and adults, simultaneously.
Dry Water, my blog