Fresno State Alumnus Scott Barnes always wanted to be a writer. He recently was one of the winners of the 28th annual Writers of the Future Contest.
Scott Barnes says he’s wanted to be a writer forever – at least, since age 11 – the age when he wrote his first 60-page science fiction “novel.” But it wasn’t until six years ago that he began to put more emphasis on his writing.
Now his young writing career is beginning to get recognition. His recent short story, “Insect Sculptor,” was one of the 12 winners of the 28th annual Writers of the Future Contest, a competition that attracts thousands of entries from around the world. The late science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard started the contest in 1983 and an anthology of the winning stories is published yearly.
Winners were awarded with prize money and a mentorship program with successful science fiction and fantasy writers, but Barnes found something else more gratifying.
“The best thing about the award is that now it’s very easy to ask my wife for time to go write,” he said. “She always supported me, but she doesn’t roll her eyes now.”
He said he always had an interest in writing, and before he seriously considered a writing career, Barnes received journalism and Spanish degrees from Fresno State, and later completed an MBA. He now lives in Lake Forest, CA, with his wife and children.
“I have a combination of the logical and the creative side,” he said. “I have a master’s in business, and I also write science fiction.”
It was during his years working toward his master’s degree that he realized he needed to be more disciplined in order to become successful.
“When I was going to Fresno State, I would study for two hours and think that was a really hard test,” he said. “When I was getting my master’s degree, I studied four hours every day, and when the test came, I didn’t even have to study. So you just develop that discipline.”
Barnes has transferred that discipline to his budding writing career. He spends his days managing commercial real estate, but he tries to find time to get some writing and editing done every day; a routine that he considers vital to achieve success. He is also an avid reader, and considers reading quality writing as a way to perfect his own and create his own artistic voice.
Finding that artistic voice is a theme that is evident in his award-winning “Insect Sculptor,” where an aspiring artist fears immersing himself so deeply into his art that he is consumed by it. But Barnes says that nearly a year after writing the story, he realized that it is somewhat autobiographical.
“I think that every artist has a fear of committing themselves,” he said. “The more I look back, the more I think, ‘That’s me, not willing to commit to writing 100 percent’ for years and years. It is probably the best story I’ve written to this day.”
By next summer he plans to have two more projects completed to add to the dozen or so short stories that he has already published. The first is a children’s book he is co-authoring that takes place on one of the last working ranchos in California. The other is a nonfiction book about martial arts.
Barnes said he now considers himself a semiprofessional author because he has begun to be recognized for his work, but he must write more to become even better.
“If I don’t write in a given day, or at least in a given week, I feel very guilty about it,” he said. “(Being an author) is not what I do for a living, but that’s what I do with every spare minute I have.”