Coming to terms through writing

Published 7:00 pm Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nate Allen used writing as an avenue to express his feelings following the death of his father. Photo submitted

Father’s death spurred author Nate Allen to take up writing

Nate Allen was living in Austin when his father succumbed to a three-year battle with cancer. The event defined the next part of his life, and ultimately drove him to write his first book, “Clouds.”

“It’s a story completely created from my own feelings after losing my dad,” he said.

After years of work, Allen, now a Rochester resident, self-published the story in January. It follows Grant Smith, a character who realizes on his search to regain happiness that everyone has darkness in his or her life. The story mixes the realms of horror, the supernatural and the psychological, and takes the reader to some very dark places.

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“The word my cousin used was ‘haunting,’” he said. “It sticks with you.”

“Clouds” is a raw, personal story that focuses on a person grappling with loss.

The theme, Allen said: Every choice has a consequence. One of his goals while writing the book was to keep the thoughts and feelings of the characters in the foreground, rather than letting events take the spotlight.

"Clouds," by Nate Allen

Allen moved to Austin when he was 8 years old. Five years later, in 2004, his father died from multiple myeloma, a malignant tumor of the bone marrow.

Sometime in the next year or two, Allen fell ill with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, an illness that affects the body’s ability to regulate automatic functions like heart rate and blood pressure when a person changes positions, such as from laying down to standing up. Allen had to stop attending school in ninth grade and go for a GED diploma instead, and not just because of his physical limitations.

“It wasn’t just the sickness,” he said. “I couldn’t have continued because of where I was mentally.”

The sickness continued to plague him for a number of years, and gave him lots of free time without freedom of movement.

“I had hours, so I just started writing,” he said. “I was just writing long, really kind of dark poems.”

He habitually wrote eight to 10 hours a day. The writing kept him going despite his other troubles.

The first copy of “Clouds,” Allen said, was just a lot of ideas. It took five years or so to carve out the story he ended up publishing. Along the way, changes were constantly being made, especially once he no longer felt trapped inside the experience of his father dying.

“I probably did write the story fully over two or three different times,” he said. “I could look at it from a different point of view.”

After a while he started sending manuscripts to publishing companies. He got some rejection letters, and used them as motivation to work on his next draft.

“I had to kind of teach myself how to write,” he said.

Eventually, Allen saved some money and made the choice to self-publish. The book came out at the begging of 2012. Right now, it’s only available in a digital format. It can be bought and downloaded from online book retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Allen said he hopes readers have a strong takeaway from reading Clouds.

“I don’t want people to either like or not like it,” he said. “I want it to affect them in some way.” He hopes his story will help people turn their own personal pain into something positive, he added.

Allen himself has changed over the years. Besides coming to terms with his father’s death, he has now fully recovered from POTS, which faded four or five years after it set in.

Meanwhile, he is already halfway done with his next story, which centers on what good can come from a painful event, and how it’s never too late for redemption. After his experience putting together “Clouds,” he plans to embrace the art of writing and keep it going.

“This is definitely a career I want,” he said.