A Journey into Writing
Russ wrote his first chapter story in 6th grade, a story of a young deer trying to survive the changing seasons and the hunters (absolutely no influence, of course, from the similar deer stories he'd read....). His teacher learned he was writing, and insisted on reading the story to the class. The first year of adventures went well, and the class liked it. The second got a bit repetitive (after all, one year to a deer is about like another). By the third year, his teacher graciously allowed the class to simply forget to read any more. Russ was quite relieved, and learned a valuable lesson. Just because it's realistic (one year truly is a lot like another to a deer), doesn't mean it belongs in a story.
Russ wrote his first complete novel as a freshman and sophomore in college--a science-fictionalized account of Noah's Flood. His parents liked the story (!), but he was crushed when his Dad commented that "it was a good start at writing and if he kept at it........." What do you mean, if he keep at it! Wasn't it already perfect? Maturity caught up with him though, and he soon realized his writing had room for improvement. Busy with other things, he abandoned writing for several years. The important lesson in his Dad's comments, that he didn't learn until much later, was "keep at it"!
Russ renewed his writing in the late 1980's, publishing several essays and short stories in an eclectic (but paying) magazine published quarterly by his brother and a college friend. His stories still weren't perfect, but his brother and friend were generous, and published several of his efforts. Russ also published some articles in a local education newspaper.
Shortly after, Russ took a faculty position at Minnesota State University Moorhead (then Moorhead State), and became very busy. He didn't write for a long time. In fact, he even quit reading. Then, around 2000 and during a dark time in his life, he read a wonderful science fiction adventure by Julie Czerneda, "A Thousand Words for Stranger", and got started reading and writing again. And having fun again. Since then, he's written a number of novels, short stories, and non-fiction articles and books.