It’s a different kind of WIP-it Wednesday today, as all my efforts this week have been focused on getting my writer’s website ready and starting my own small press publishing business.
For some reason, all this work is complicated and time consuming. ;-) However, it’s also very exciting and rewarding!
A major effort of mine over the weekend was writing a biography about myself to be included on my author’s site. So for my check-in this week, I’m going to share it to help my longtime and new readers get to know me better. :-)
Photographic evidence that my love of fedora hats is not a recent, hipster thing…
In a hospital room only a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean, Jason H. Abbott was born in the small town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine in the mid 1970s. It was evident that Jason had an active, imaginative mind early on, and he was creating stories, songs, poems and copious amounts of monster drawings for himself and his family well before he could either read or write.
Learning to read opened new doors to him, and he developed precocious tastes and a love of learning that earned him accolades from teachers for being bright, but at the same time it estranged him from his peers. He was frequently bullied and had a lonely childhood as a result, often finding that afternoon adventures of play and make-believe by himself in the woods out back were preferable to the playground.
Jason found solace and refuge in stories of fantasy and science fiction. Broadcast “Sci-Fi Theater” television matinees introduced him to classic films and whole mythologies and genres he would later seek out to read in print. As his childhood and early teen years spanned the 1980s, he grew-up on the evolving and vibrant tapestry of imaginative comic books and movies that defined the decade. Those influences inspired his earliest creations of fiction and constructed worlds, and notebooks soon began to fill with his sketches and ideas. Those creative foundations continue to inspire him to this day.
Entering his teens, Jason exited a lonely childhood by having the good fortune to forge lasting friendships with other adolescents thanks to a unified enthusiasm for the Dungeons & Dragons game. Finally finding close friends to confide and grow with both playing games and not, D&D and a succession of other role-playing and tabletop games not only exposed him to more fictional ideas and concepts, but also ingrained in him a deep love of the fantasy genre as a whole. Moreover, through play he learned storytelling fundamentals and discovered a sense of humor that had finally been given a fertile ground in which to blossom.
As he made his way through junior high and high school, Jason’s ever-present and sprawling notebooks consisted of game and story ideas scrawled like arcane magical formulas… along with academic assignments as afterthoughts. Adding to his geekery was an interest in the nascent “Japanimation” scene that crossed-over with childhood fondness for Japanese giant monster movies that continues into his adult years. As a result, he often sights the influence of the unique cultural styles, subjects and themes found in Japanese manga, animation and films on his creative vision.
Jason was active in his high school’s student newspaper as an op-ed contributor. He took his greatest pleasures in his English, history and visual arts classes, and before graduating attended a 1992 summer program at the Philadelphia University of the Arts where he studied screenwriting and animation.
After graduation, he left for college —the first in his family to do so— intent of getting a degree in cinematography to tell the many stories within him as he had planned for much of high school. However, within a month’s time he came to the conclusion that the realities of motion picture production were in no way how he wanted or could express himself creatively.
The realization was a crushing one. After trying to find a new way for himself far from home, friendless, and with poor collegiate support, his disappointment turned to depression. Jason returned home before the end of the fall, and a combination of financial and personal difficulties thereafter would keep him from returning to higher education until over a decade later.
But it was also at this time that he returned to his original dream of becoming a writer. A desire he’d gained true and clear after a fifth grade writing contest had filled him with joy and purpose… and a goal he’d only reluctantly strayed from in high school at the lure of the films he loved. Although in the years to come his needs to scratch out a living and his own fears would often reduce the progress towards this goal to a crawl, Jason never again abandoned it.
The next fifteen years would see him work a number of jobs. A handful were done with joy, some he managed to do well, but none sated the desire of what he truly wanted to do with his life.
An ill-fated marriage that ended in divorce only a few years later didn’t make his quest to hone and refine his writing any easier. But while his progress was slow and halting, working alone and without mentors, it was truly his own inner demons, criticisms and fears that kept his stories bottled up inside him. This expressed itself in what Jason calls his “World Building Dungeon” of those years: A continual cycle of pre-writing work where one researches, plots, plans and revises projects without actually writing any sort of story before you then move on to pre-writing another project.
This began to change after he met and married his wife Kim in 2008. With loving support and unfailing encouragement, she began to heal his longstanding wounds in the face of so many years of false starts. With Kim at his side, Jason assessed his life and faced his failures after the death of his mother 2012, who died with her wish of seeing her son a published author unfulfilled.
It was then that he looked his inner demons in the eye and told them to go back to hell. That he was a writer. And that writers, write.
…And I finally got my hat back!
He began to write and rewrite. He began to learn and study and hone his craft with fury and passion. He blogged. He critiqued and was critiqued. He shared his work, found other writers, and encouraged and helped them in theirs. He wrote and rewrote again. He learned to edit and accept the edits of others. He learned to listen to himself, and to the advice of others. And most of all he leaned to write what he loves and love what he writes.
Finding his author’s voice and stride, a steady flow of stories began to emerge from the little green study room of his Southern Maine home. Never the fastest writer, he’s nonetheless written hundreds of thousands of words in only a few years time by working determinedly and late into the night. Currently —and in addition to writing flash and/or micro-fiction daily— Jason has authored dozens of short stories and novelettes in the genres of speculative fiction.
His first novel, Vivian’s Last Cigarette, is currently in edits and scheduled to be published in 2018.