So people always ask the same question after they hear you are writing a story. This comes right on the tail of the whole generic “What’s it about?” or “So where is your starving, please help sign?”
Now sure they phrase it a lot differently but it ultimately is the same question. Why? And I’m going to tell you why, for me, that is a hard question to answer. Because it reminds me of one of the worst times of my life.
Let me start off with this.
Do you know what this is? Ever heard of it? Most likely not but that is the book that saved my life. Now it was an awful book, with the worst cover in human history. You cannot find it in any shop anymore, it has sailed to a far off shore. Don’t fret though because if a book is a writer’s child, then this is my malformed Quasimodo of a son and he saved me from a bad place.
I was one of those people who loved to talk about all my unfinished stories, half baked dreams that never would be completed. I also viciously hated myself for never getting anything done. My head in the clouds but with my fry oil soaked feet stuck in minimum wage land.
Moved around a fair bit and ended up in a place with no heat, no insulation, unsealed windows and had been used as a hoarders dump site for years. That place was home and I shared it with a mean hedgehog and a little pet mouse. Oh and depression, he was my roommate.
It snowed pretty bad where I was at. When I say pretty bad, I mean the ass end of old man winter twerking in your face bad. Had a few days off from work and sat there in my kitchen wrapped up in three pairs of pants and more blankets than you have ever seen on a man because it was 14 degrees.
I’d been lower but not by much
After I had exhausted my supply of meme soaked youtube videos, that roommate of mine started whispering to me again. He had some good points, always did. How could I call myself a writer if I never finished anything? Why bother even starting something, it was only going to end up on a list of all my other failures.
I didn’t make a ton of money at the time but my kitchen was stocked with all the essentials a young, living alone man would need. Coffee and a nice full bottle of Captain Morgan’s private stock. (If there was one thing that unfriendly little town had, it was a nice liquor store.)
I brewed up a pot and spiked it like a teenager at an after prom party. It was a crime against alcohol but I didn’t care. I had a point to make. For the better part of two days I tortured that story out of me. Eased its birth with regular epidurals of caffeinated Captain.
On day three, there it was. A tale about a private detective who uncovers that a spurned gay lover had murdered the local doctor’s wife with a toxic mushroom cocktail. It was ugly and unpolished but it was done and it was mine. I hadn’t failed to finish and left it stillborn like so many others. I could do this.
After that my whole outlook changed. I made some mistakes, fumbled like a ton of first time writers. Made a god awful cover not even close to the right size. Uploaded a poorly edited file to Amazon that had more formatting errors than the Titanic had holes but I learned.
I got better and tried different things. Branched out and took some online writing gigs. That wall was torn down in me and that is why I write. So I don’t build it back up again and end up all alone behind it with my half finished children.