I spent the last six months wondering in secret if I should be a writer or not.
In an earlier post, I discussed how important Willy Wonka was when it came to planting the seed of harnessing my imagination. Over time, I began to look toward Rod Serling, Stephen King and H.P Lovecraft. Comedians like Richard Pryor, Dana Gould, George Carlin, and others slowly worked their way into my thought process. The all important question I had to ask before I put pen to paper was the most important. “Why am I writing this?” For six months, I couldn’t muster an answer.
People tend to call this “Writer’s Block”, but the reality is that is was depression. It was a vast, deep sea that I floated inside without any end. Some days were calm while others had me be thrown about like a rag doll. I didn’t care. I was like Hatty Hattington, just sitting in my chair with my laptop open. I stared at the screen and I couldn’t get past the first letter. I question why I even thought about being a writer because I thought all of my ideas were terrible.
I looked at the men and women that I saw as pillars in the creative industry. They make worlds and hold the audience in the palm of their hand. All I could think about were buddy cop movies and bad jokes. I wanted to write serious things and serious topics. I was afraid that despite my intelligence and demeanor, people would start laughing for all the wrong reasons. What’s worse is that I was afraid they would laugh even harder if I was serious.
I was afraid of being embarrassed.
I’m not entirely sure where this comes from, but it’s a deep fear that I have. It’s one thing if I do something stupid and laugh along, but it’s another to be laughed at. It might comes from the fact that I was at the wrong end of a prank that ended up with me having a legitimate phobia, but I’m not 100% sure if that’s the main cause. Ah well.
So I’m now just beyond crashing headfirst into being published. Getting that email did two things for me.
The first thing it did was that it brought me back to life. To realize that I was part of eleven other writers in this anthology made me realize that I wasn’t an embarrassment, but an asset. My story wasn’t just “good”, but it was chosen for a reason. It was the cog that fit inside the mechanism. That was the satisfaction I was looking for.
The second thing it did was that it made me realize just how much of an addict I am. I am a junkie for stories and I needed to get my fix. I had been chasing the wrong question. I shouldn’t be asked “Why am I writing this?” anymore. The answer is “For Entertainment.” The question I’m now required to ask is “How crazy can I make this?”
I believe that everyone is made for something. Most of us want to believe that we are all pontificates of thought and have a deep philosophy that must be shared. I used to think that too. But getting published made me realize that even the smartest people in the world want to turn off and tune out sometimes. Get some popcorn and throw on Terminator 2. Snuggle up with the partner and watch No Country for Old Men. Show your friend that one episode of The Twilight Zone about the couple getting advice from a coin machine in a diner. Why? Because it’s a really good episode.
That is what I’m made for. I spent the first quarter century of my life learning why things are entertaining. I did twenty-five years of homework. Now it’s time to put it to use. This is the real test. Time to inject that Paper Dragon into my veins, snort that pencil dust and drink all the coffee in the world.
Let’s get to work.