Bountiful resident Paul Eckheart, who was honored this past Sunday at the 30th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards in Hollywood, Calif., knows this firsthand. He was recognized for his short story, “Shifter,” which won third place in one of last year’s Writers of the Future contests.
“I was pretty shocked when I found out,” said Eckheart. “It took my breath away.”
Then came the bad news. He had to keep his victory to himself.
“They said they had to inform all the other contestants, so it would be a few hours before I could tell anyone,” he said. “I was actually at a writer’s workshop, so the wait was torturous.”
Now, though, he has plenty of opportunity to spread the word. In addition to the award, Eckheart’s short story will be published as part of “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers and Illustrators of the Future, Volume 30,” set to be published this year from Galaxy Press. He also has another short story, “Patient Zero,” set to be published in “Fiction River: Fantastic Detectives” this August.
“I’ve got four short stories in various stages of completion,” said Eckheart. “I also have a novel that’s been on the back burner, but it’s starting to demand more of my attention.”
Surprisingly, Eckheart started his writing career in theater, becoming a finalist in the Utah Young Playwrights contest. This earned him an observership and the opportunity to be a stage manager at the Sundance Institute’s Playwrights Laboratory.
By the time he got to college, though, his attention had turned to creative writing and computer science. Now, he spends his days programming and his nights writing fiction, though he admits that juggling the two isn’t easy sometimes.
“I have to think logically all day, and it can be tough to make the transition,” he said. “On top of that, I stare at a computer all day. It’s not necessarily something I want to do most evenings.”
Still, he keeps writing, and has even learned some lessons along the way.
“A lot of beginning writers seem to want someone to tell them it’s OK to try something,” Eckheart said. “If you’ve got something you think is a good idea, then by all means try it. See if you can make it work.”