The problem with a lot of writers is that they want to become authors as soon as they start writing. Many are ignorant that there is a craft to writing; cohesive structures, solid characterization, etc. A slew of bricks that appear seemingly unimportant until you take a few steps back see the Great Wall of China. It’s the small things that matter, the building blocks that are necessary to complete the picture.
I, of course was blissfully ignorant of those factors. I was too caught up in gleefully attacking blank pages, laying siege with marching armies of typewritten characters. What else could I do? I was trapped in the purgatory of small town Mississippi, where the nearest grocery store was a thirty-minute ride away. I was 20 years old, languishing in a state of misery and self-contempt. Words were my only solace, my only way to vent my frustration through a series of cringe-worthy poems that I thought at the time were Pulitzer worthy. (OK, that’s a lie, but I did think they were pretty good)
So I began to plan my road to literary stardom. Unfortunately, the self-publishing boom had not yet begun. (Strange to think that it is a relatively new industry) Vanity publishers were aplenty, however, and like many writers at the time I was contacted by my fair share after submitting my sub par poetry to various outlets. I was flattered, of course. Until I read the full details. Fortunately I’ve always been too tight-fisted with my cash to throw it at dime a dozen schemes by those who prey on naivety.
So my resources were limited, as well as my options. At that time I didn’t even have a personal computer. I actually wrote, as in a journal full of short stories, plot ideas, and of course endless poetry. Pen and paper. Remember those days? OK, some of you don’t.
Writing is a solitary occupation. The solidarity is necessary for the most part, but it leaves the writer with the need for mental toughness. The reason that most writers never become authors is because they don’t write. Not nearly enough, anyway. Once has to commit to writing, or the distractions of life will sweep in like a tsunami and wash away all traces of your literary ambitions. And there are so many distractions. Family, friends, entertainment, making a living. Normal life stuff. Tragedies and setbacks. All can swallow the writer’s time and energy, leaving nothing left but a mind full of static and a gargantuan writer’s block hanging threateningly over one’s head.
But like problems, distractions are mostly your own fault. The result of your own choices. And at the unripe age of 22, I decided that my life of indecisiveness and instability wasn’t enough to juggle. Instead of focusing on salvaging what I could of my situation and working on my fading plans to return to California, I took an entirely different route altogether, making what is arguably the most important decision one can make in their lifetime. Like writing, it requires the utmost dedication and commitment. But unlike writing, it intimately involves intimate involvement with another human being. For the rest of one’s life.
That’s right. I got married.
And just like that, my writing career stalled. In the middle of the desert. With no gas station in sight.