Sometimes I send mixed messaged about publishing. One minute I’m ranting all sparkle eyed about helping a new book come to life (and I do believe they live) and then the next I’m grumbling about how I am absolutely, finally going to quit. No one believes me. I don’t even believe me.

Epiphany: my stormy relationship with publishing comes from my own projects gathering dust while I publish someone else… but no one is asking me to do that but me. This week, I set aside time every day for my own writing. In the process of remembering how to be a writer, I remembered what prompted me to become a writer to begin with: futile activism, a supervillain and a comic.

Here are all the lurid details:

Seduced by Syntax, or How I Became a Writer

Ranger Rick told her the whales were dying. She found a dirt road sandy canvas and gathered three buckets of stone, the only thing that doesn’t get scoured to nothing by the prairie wind. With great care she laid a message, day dreaming of Moses, thinking God needed ghostwriters until Save the Whales in giant pebble typeface scrawled across the road. She imagined astronauts, deities, and aliens reading her words. On earth, the first car never even paused. Mr. Fowler didn’t have time for whales, divine ghostwriters or a kid, unseen, in a ditch as he drove over hope…

… a shower, a cry and a TV dinner later, she lay on avocado shag reading comics, resigned to not mattering. Between panels, a villain was killing it with rhetoric. No lasers, abs of steel or golden lasso were a match for this smooth talking literate. “He who controls words controls the world,” he said in neat lettering, cheap soy ink on pulp. She studied his bubbled message and daydreamed of power, left the ghostwriters to God and refused to turn the page where, she knew, the superheroes were predestined to win. Instead, she inked herself into a world where language empowered and tired old men didn’t drive over bylines.

The path to power:
paper and ink enlightenment—
origin story.

By Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Ryukyuan-American, award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years in newspapers. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner, and HWA Mentor of the Year, she shares Authortunities, a free weekly calendar of author opportunities at

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