Hi Everyone, I used to browse these forums many years ago and found myself looking for it again as I sat down at the computer tonight. I've wanted to write something since I've been a kid but was always overwhelmed by it, and the idea of writing was always so much more appealing than the process. I'm in my early 20's now and have been very fortunate lately in terms of traveling parts of the world, meeting a lot of people, a lot of personal growth, etc. Part of the reason I didn't write before was because I felt I didn't have the life experience or maturity to make it worthwhile. I'm sort of happy I held off, because a lot of things have accumulated in my head now, and I feel ready. I've been far from home for the last few years now living out of a backpack. I began writing out of necessity about a year ago just to maintain my sanity - keeping a journal and occasional prose, some songs, etc... I've also had time on my hands, which has been helpful. So, I've been wanting to undertake fiction but am still feeling overwhelmed. I think my ideas are sound, but I have a lot of fears: -setting compromising my story or theme. -properly developing characters, or I guess making them as human on paper as I perceive them in actual life. -Not being able to articulate/convey my thoughts & themes convincingly. -Plot structure: How much is too much and how little is not enough? I am attracted to realism and minimalism in writing, and don't want to get caught up in ideas of plots having to be super-complex in order to be good, and things like that. -Length. This is a big one for me because I feel like I could fill a book, but that doesn't mean it would be quality writing. It would be nice to start with short stories, but I tend to be long winded and am more afraid of the short story than the novel. This is because I see it as more restrained. I've been trying to self educate with a how-to book I've been reading, and by reading as much as possible lately - trying to understand how different writers write, trying to decide on some favorites, pick up on subtleties and technique, etc. My favorite writers are Hemingway, Bukowski, Wolfe, Miller, DH Lawrence, Selby, and a lot of novelists with a novel or two that I've always really liked. I am interested in music and my favorite songwriters are Roy Orbison and Townes Van Zandt. With the writers I have mentioned, I really appreciate them as artists and have learned a lot from their work, but that doesn't mean I would try to sit down and write something Bukowski would write, for example. I don't want to be anyone else and I do not want my work to sound contrived. Honesty and integrity are really important to me in my art, and I'm just looking for the best way / my own way to express myself. I'm not a recluse, but I've spent the majority of my years very much alone and it's reflected in the things I like (need) to write about. Life, death, love, loss, guilt, regret, optimism, pessimism, depression, appreciation, personal relationships, family, etc. I guess nothing different than what is on most of our minds. I could use some tips. How to get started, really. I've been piecing together some songs lately that I've actually been very pleased with, and I'm trying to finish up some smaller pieces of writing like that just to work on fundamentals and get some confidence going. Do I start with short stories, or go for the novel? Can someone tell me how to keep a first short story simplistic but of good quality? I've got some novel ideas in my head but get discouraged when I sit down to work. Things like "well I understand my theme but don't understand how to write this character", or "I've got a good character but is he/she necessary for the story?", and that sort of thing... like a cycle of brick walls...like I can't entirely solve a problem because the result is another problem or something I'm not educated on. I don't mean to ramble, so thanks for putting up with this. This forum looks like a good place for me to be, and I hope to learn things from all of you. To go back to one of my fears for a second: the big issue for me right now is that I'm worried I won't be able to translate the essence of my story into words properly. I write based on what I feel and sometimes it's hard to capture that. I'm not worried about the reader missing the point, I'm worried about letting myself down, or not achieving how I see it unfolding in my mind. I have been keeping travel journals lately for friends and family and they seem to really enjoy them. I'm going to spend a couple of months on a solo journey this summer and plan on self-publishing my journal of the experience just to give to family and friends. It will be the first time I've printed something of my own, and am really looking forward to it. However, my journals are only journals, and I am anxious to get going with some fiction. I wouldn't self publish my fiction, by the way, because I would value it in a different way than journal entries. Anyway, thanks for reading all of this and if anyone feels they can relate to the things I've said, I could really use some mentoring. Take care, b.