This being an author thing is harder than I thought it would be. Let me explain. See, for years I could barely function in society -- with one rather big exception:
I was always a good writer. Always.
Even as a young cub newspaper reporter (and in the grip of drug and alcohol addiction), I could write one kick-ass story. I know, because even the editors who hated me always told me I was a good writer. They'd say it through clenched teeth, but they said it.
Consequently, I started to believe my own press clippings, so to speak. I made plans early on to become a published fiction writer whenever journalism's magic wore off.
In 2007, the magic wore off. So I put on my comfy pajamas and fired up the computer and ... started to write. A book. A big, complex book.
And I learned fairly soon (about two hours into it, as I recall) that I had no freaking clue what I was doing. None. This was not journalism. I mean, where the hell were my notes?
So I started scouring the Internet and began stumbling across blogs and websites by other writers and agents and publishers. I bought books on fiction writing. I started learning the craft of fiction writing. Of novel writing. It's not easy.
Of course, by then, I was already halfway through my big, complex book. But hey, better late than never, right? Right.
Once I figured out what the hell a story arc was, I went back and tried to put one into my book. And when I learned how crucial the first few pages were, I went back and re-did them. Over and over and over again. Each time I learned something new about the craft, I went back and tried to incorporate it into my work.
The damned thing started to look like a patchwork quilt. And not in a good way, I'm afraid.
But I finished it. And had a book editor go through it and made the changes she suggested and sent it out to beta readers.
And waited. And waited. A couple checked in and said they were liking it. And then one finished. And he said he liked it. Then two more finished it and they liked it, with a couple of minor suggestions.
It was all good. I was pumped.
And then one more weighed in. And he hated it. Just didn't like it. At all.
And I was crushed. No one had ever told me they hated something I had written. Let me repeat that: No one had ever told me they hated something I had written. Never. I know that sounds arrogant and egotistical, but it's true.
I. Was. Crushed.
And so I decided to hang it up. Get a real job. Screw this writing crap. Clearly, I am not a fiction writer and will never be a fiction writer. I mean, my first attempt at writing a novel and here was someone not liking it!
Now I realize this sounds ludicrous, but I really did decide yesterday to give it up. I told the wife I would shop this one because, well, because I've wasted three years of my life on it, so I might as well try to get it published. Right?
My lovely wife rolled her eyes and told me to shut up and go to sleep. (She knows me pretty well.) So I did. Finally. And tossed and turned all night. At 1 this morning, I awoke in the second-most horrible way imaginable. I suffered a severe case of acid reflux, something I hadn't had happen to me in a decade or so. There's not much worse than jerking awake with a mouthful of bile.
Except there is one thing worse, as I was to learn a few hours later. I woke up at 5 a.m. and my left eyelid felt as though it was crusted shut. What the hell? I wondered. I figured I must have pink eye or something. But I couldn't get the crusty little knot off my eyelid. So I got up and went into the bathroom and turned the light on.
And there was a huge wood tick stuck on my left eyelid! OMG! I looked at it, reached into the drawer, pulled out the tweezers and plucked the little bastard off. And it was on there TIGHT.
Oh Christ, was that nasty. It actually made a little POP sound when it finally gave up the ghost. I flushed that sucker and went back to bed. But there was to be no more sleep for me.
Later, I went for my run through the countryside. It was a beautiful day and I put on the iPod and cranked it up. I planned to brainstorm ideas for a job. You know, something easy that pays a ton. No big deal.
But a funny thing happened instead. The entire plot for the political novel I started a few months ago fell into place with an audible THUD. And then the ending came to me so perfectly finished that I turned around, ran home and typed it out.
I can't wait to get back to it. I guess a real job is just going to have to wait a while.
Apparently, I'm a writer. Whether I like it or not. I mean, there's no way in hell I'm messing with the writing gods again. ;)