By Shaun McCoy
What happens to those writers, whom we all know and struggle not to be, that tell people at parties that they love to write. You know the kind I’m speaking of, the kind that don’t write. The kind that had a brilliant thought or two as they passed through college. Maybe once a decade they put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, or whatever it is.
One moment, at age thirty, as I stared at the stream of water that poured from my bathroom sink while it washed away the last of the hairs from my morning shave, I realized that I was dangerously close to finding out what happens to them. I was about to be one. Wasn’t writing my dream? Had I really never submitted a story? Had I really never written and finished anything?
They say that truth is many things, but she is seldom accused of being pretty. At that moment, she was downright ugly. It was time to put some lipstick on that pig. I was going to do this, I was going to write. More than that, I was going to be a writer.
The first part was the hardest, I had to admit that I didn’t know how to write… see, I told you she was ugly.
I spent the next few months learning how, reading self-help writing books and watching inspirational Youtube videos. Then, while on an airplane, I imagined a pretty, young professional girl on an elevator, headed down. I didn’t know what was at the bottom of that impossibly long and futuristic elevator shaft, but I knew it was evil.
This became the first scene of the first story I wrote after I decided to actually become a writer. It was called Simon’s Folly, and it was the first story I sold.
But writing is hard, as time consuming as it is soul destroying. It is a draw on one’s mental and emotional resources like no other. My day job was the biggest obstacle in my way, so it had to go. I began living off half of my paycheck each month. I did this, living a minimalistic lifestyle, for two years. Those two years ended on March 24th, when I left my workplace for the last time. Now I have two years to write. Two years to make it.
It is, I must say, a stupid gamble. This same money could easily be spent on buying a house. I could have married the nice girl I was dating and started a real life. But I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t care about failing. There is nothing in this world that would devastate me as much, that would hurt me as deeply, as failing in this … well, almost nothing.
I imagine myself at near the end of my days, looking back on my life, wondering why I never wrote a damn thing. Wondering why millions of people had never read one of my novels. I know what I’d say to myself. “I could have,” I’d say, “if I had only tried.” Maybe I’d believe it. Maybe I’d figure I was lying to myself. Maybe, but whatever. Let them say I failed. Let them say I crashed and burned, that I waded through a sea of mediocrity on the way to an island of ignominy, before they say I never tried.