My writing talent manifested before the discovery of my talent for narration, in high school. Interestingly, it started to manifest from age 14, when I was allowed to unchoose religion, by choosing philosophy instead. It was a wise choice that came with a wise teacher: the religion teacher, a little fat man with a sadistic smile liked to pinch our cheeks, and the class consisted in standing up to recite Bible verses ‘on command.’ It was totally stupid, and so much the more the change to philosophy was a moving-forward factor in my school life!
My two parents had high writing talent, my mother having written several books during the war that were destroyed through the American chain bomb on our property three days before the end of WW2. My father had written a poem collection from which he quoted sometimes. Both of my parents had studied journalism at the University of Nancy, during the French occupation of our region (1945-1957).
My own talent was discovered by our German teacher evaluating the quality of the essays that I submitted for our creative writing class. I was the only one who every time chose the ‘free theme.’ And my ways of producing content was unique and quite different from the ways the other boys submitted their writings. They namely started right away, while I was sitting there at my desk, waiting for inspiration. And before that manifested, I would not touch even the pen.
It was of course risky doing that, as no overtime was granted, but I intuitively knew that it was the only way working for me, with my creative mind manifesting in ways that were quite unexpected for me. I simply accepted the creative challenge and trusted my inner guide. And it worked, and flawlessly so! There would be a moment ‘of truth’ when I knew with inner certainty that I could start. A kind of pattern was then forming in my mind that was containing all I needed for writing the essay. It was like a blueprint. I just had to tap this reservoir of ‘potentiality’ that was presenting itself to me in this perhaps altered state of consciousness.
The ‘pattern’ then was put in motion, so to speak, and it would deliver an ongoing scenario, from which I would crystallize sentences that I wrote down as quickly as I could. My hand would cramp often times as I had to write so quickly and yet, I had to put an effort in my handwriting being decipherable by the teacher—which was a major hurdle!
Toward the end of the time allowance, things would turn frantic: an inner battle between still available time and the necessity to complete the task within the deadline. I would succeed unfailingly, guided by an intelligence of a specific sort that I had not known existed within me.
At the point of closure, I would sit in my bench with an empty mind and a right hand hurting from a cramped condition that only slowly was releasing the tension.
Some of my essays were read in front of the class, as examples of how to handle the ‘free theme’ —yet none of the other boys felt inspired and courageous enough to ever make this choice, which is why I remained the only one in class to ever choose the ‘free theme’ for essay writing.
The essay I wrote for the baccalaureate was read in front of the entire school, and the German teacher lauded me.
This was a quite extraordinary start of my writing career, but was never considered as such, neither by my mother nor even myself. Somehow it was only my mother whom I considered as ‘competent’ enough to give me an evaluation of my writing talent, and not any of our teachers. I don’t know why I was thinking that way, it does not make sense to me in hindsight, but that was part of my codependent relationship with my mother, which distorted my perception and self-perception.
But despite any lack of self-pride, I continued writing so much the more as through a typewriting course book and a typewriter my mother bought me, I was going to find unmatched pleasure in writing, bothered no more by that fact that often times I had been unable to read again what I had written, unable to decipher my own quite impossible script.
I was doing this work diligently, after having done my homework for school, when the other boys would sit in the TV room. I enjoyed the fact that I was always alone in the study room at that time of the day, and could give me whole attention to learning typewriting.
The results were real. I surpassed my mother in ten-finger typing, and that was quite an achievement for my mother had been very fast! This was the first time in my young life that I really got a compliment from my mother of having achieved something with extraordinary brilliance. She was visibly content about my success! And this skill was going to be most important in my life in later years, when writing on my laptop was going to be an exhilarating experience and a useful asset in my producing more than 100 Paperback books and Kindle books, self-published with Amazon / Createspace / KDP.
Yet my fate was and is strange! I am titled by some people as ‘a prolific self-publisher’ and Google gives me a warm welcome when people search under my name, with some description on the right border of the page of my occupation as a ‘writer.’ Yet I was never finding a publisher.
And that started back in 1997, when, returning from my budding career as a corporate trainer in Indonesia on the request of my mother to help her with managing our business property, I prepared my first essay edition, all still in German language. I actually had not much to do business-wise and thus had a lot of time left for finalizing that edition and approaching magazines and publishers in Germany.
Yet there was no success, and most of the manuscripts were sent back unopened, or I simply got silence as a reply, and no manuscript back.
Thirteen years later, in 2010, I started translating many of my German essays to English and wrote again to publishers and literary agents, this time in NYC. One literary agent wrote me back:
—I am sorry, but we do not publish laundry lists of old books!
That was enough. I decided to self-publish and first got in touch with iUniverse. I asked two editors if I could really venture into publishing in English, given that I was German, and if my English was good enough? They wrote back that most Americans were unable to write an English like me, with so few typos and style mistakes. They thus encouraged me but because of the relatively high fees, I then started with Amazon / Createspace which was free for the basic plan but still coming with a small fee for extended distribution which I was willing to pay.
I have now behind me a journey of ten years of self-publishing and can say it was well worth it, despite the fact that two of my books—‘Love or Morality’ and ‘The Deeper Yielding’—had been suppressed from publishing. But overall, publishing with Createspace was a positive experience.
A few months ago, I have basically finalized this journey with the publication of ‘Cambodia, a Portrait’—a photo book featuring the hospitality industry in Cambodia, with photo collections of most of the 5-star hotels, and other businesses. The book has been so welcome by Amazon KDP that I got free editing service included.
I am still in the process of finalizing my autobiographic novel ‘Lorenz C. Schuster & Sons,’ but it shall be published directly into the public domain. The original German version with all real names, I have suppressed from publishing, for it was against privacy regulations. That’s why for the English translation I have made up aliases for all names of family members, and have given the book a title other than ‘Autobiography.’
I still have several other book projects, but none of them shall be self-published with Amazon and their audio versions shall be published for free on Audiomack.
So what should I say as a final analysis of my writing career? Well, it is uncanny, and I do not know of anybody else who has done what I have achieved. It was a process of slow and gradual progress, and the final success is not a matter of fame and recognition, as with published authors. It is not financially attractive either. For more than 100 published books I have now around 100$ royalties per month, which is only a recent peak, as before it was always around 50$ only, then 70$, etc.
So in the final count, what primes is my motivation of being useful with my writings!