I can't remember just who, but some author or another that not only was published but did some pieces for the writer's rags said something along the lines of "don't try to write if there is an option to do a damn thing else."
I'm sure that's not an exact quote. But, that's how I always took it.
Any road, I published my first poem back in '87 and thought "you know? I think I'd like to do this for a living if the whole professional football career doesn't work out."
Well, the football gig didn't work out so well. If you saw Joe Theismann go down, from what I understand the way I went out looked eerily similar, according to people who saw both.
But, the writing gig didn't work out so hot either. Oh, I wrote. I wrote a metric shit ton. But, selling it? Eh, not so much.
And sometime in... uhhhhh... 2k? I think? Yeah, that sounds right. Sometime in 2000, I gave it up in my usual stunted adolescent way. I hacked off my three-foot ponytail and tossed it into the bathtub with everything I'd written, doused it in lighter fluid, and tossed in a match.
The wife was decidedly not
amused considering it was 0200, I set off the smoke alarm, and she had to be at work at 0700.
But, I pretty much went with the opposite of that half-remembered quote. Since I couldn't write worth a damn, apparently, I did anything else I could think of.
But, I also had some gradually worsening physical issues that I ignored and just "powered through" until it was too late to do squat about them. And in 09, it caught up with me. Lost my rebound career and spent too much time sitting in waiting rooms and too much money on white coated jackasses that were too busy practicing "fast food medicine" and just wanted me out in under 10 minutes so they could cycle through as many as they could until eventually one old country Doc came in and laced his fingers behind his head with his boots crossed at the ankle and spent a good half hour just chatting and watching. And since he'd been there, done that, and lost his shirt, he had some real-world experience to draw on instead of relying on textbooks.
Well, the good news was he figured out what it was. The bad news was there wasn't a damn thing they could do about it other than "fix your quality of life." Which, I remember enough medicalese from my own misspent youth to know means "you're fucked, but we can keep you around for awhile so we can keep billing you."
And I spent... mmm... about a year, I think, maybe two... stretched out on the couch watching the paint flake and waiting for death to come to claim me.
Well, to keep a long and boring story from being even longer and even more boring (if that second is possible), between my wife and a puppy that decided I was her person, and maybe a little bit because I never did have just a whole lot of quit in me, I eventually got my ass up and started trying to figure out what I could still do instead of dwelling on what I couldn't.
Which wasn't just a whole hell of a lot.
Arguably, I hadn't done myself any favors by taking couch potato to the extreme. But, this damn thing had also affected my heart and diaphragm along with every other muscle in my body. So, yeah. Working out, whether my martial arts or just doing pushups, situps, running a five-minute mile... Not gonna happen anymore. Hell, I struggled just to take the trash to the dumpster which was literally right behind our back gate! No, I'm not exaggerating. I had three chairs set up along the path so I could sit for a few minutes going and coming and catch my breath.
In many ways worse, my brain was turning into tapioca inside my skull. On my bad days, I had trouble remembering my wife's
name. But, then I would occasionally have a really good day and could ramble off a lecture on just about anything from the influence of the Catholic church during the Age of Bede to the proper technique to find and replace a burnt out microchip on a circuit board to solving trigonometric functions to listing off the Newberry and Caldecott winners each year from inception.
Yeah, so I had actually been kicking around Literotica for a bit. Not the forums side, didn't actually even know they existed, but reading over on the stories side.
And on one of my better days, I did a little existential calculus (or maybe some geometric philosophizing) and figured that writing didn't require me to be able to run a five-minute mile or do a hundred pushups in ten minutes or any of that crap that was obviously beyond me anymore. And, it might, just might, help me to hang onto what was left of my ebbing intellectus.
And besides, in my arrogance, I just knew that I'd burned better writing in that infamous bathtub fire than probably 90% of what I was running across on this website.
So, I sat myself up and gradually worked through feeling like every keystroke of the keys some jackass had replaced them all with heated needles hooked to electric current to get a story completed and submitted.
And Mistress Laurel sent it back in my face like I'd written about her mother!
What the hell?!
I tried again. And again. And again. And each time, there was Mistress Laurel cackling (or so I imagined), "Nice try. Care to play again, fucker?"
Well, eventually I managed to slip something past her guard. Aha! I was on my way now, you betcha. My adoring fans that hadn't realized they were just waiting for me to get past all the assholes like Jim Baen and Tom Doherty and now this Laurel person were about to get the literary treat of their lifetimes!
And I got positively trounced
in the voting.
What the fuck, over?
Fortunately, I am... or at least was... a cocky little son of a bitch. And I knew damn well I was a good writer. More, I was an artist! So, I bounced back and sailed another electronic manuscript past Mistress Laurel side hand.
And it just didn't do just a whole lot better.
Eh, what the fuck do a bunch of porn scarfing pervs on a so-called "erotica" site know about art anyway?
I can't remember for certain without going to check, but I think Acktion went about nineteen rounds and only about... four, maybe... hit that coveted H
, with one the last I looked still down in the 3.something. Which was, of course, just patently ridiculous. My writing was so fucking good that anything less than a 5.0 was just plain silly!
Um... yeah. I think I might have mentioned I was cocky and arrogant? If you haven't already encountered Acktion, take my advice and don't
go looking. Seriously. Don't do that to yourself.
Well, I had to stop writing for a bit. Some of it was a resurgence of my symptoms. But, mostly it was because we'd spent so fucking much of our savings on quacks and nostrums that we ended up losing the house.
Eventually, we managed to wash up here and got the amenities like electricity and running water straightened out and got internet back. And I couldn't remember my old username, the email account I'd set it up with, much less the password.
Obviously, I have since. And went back and read some of the shit I'd slung at the wall as Acktion and was just mortified. What the hell had Laurel been smoking that she accepted that drivel?! And, more importantly, why hadn't she shared?!
Puff, puff, pass
, Laurel. Puff, puff, pass
Well, I decided that since I'd already created a completely new user, there was absolutely no point in resurrecting that account with his horrible writing, not to mention his arrogant forum posts. New beginnings, right? A second chance to make a first impression.
There was a contest on, Valentine's Day, so I started racking my brain for something I could do for that contest. And somehow, and I'm still not completely sure how, that little idea I submitted as Ewobbit managed to swipe third place out from under quite a few, in my opinion, more deserving stories submitted that year.
Winning one of the cash prizes apparently the first rattle out of the box was actually something of a bad thing in a way. In a purely analytical perspective, it was actually better writing, both technically and artistically, than what I'd done as Acktion. But, what if it was a fluke? What if my next attempt dropped back down to the level of Acktion? Ugh!
I dithered too long and didn't actually get anything else completed and submitted under that handle before realization reached up and smacked us in the face that we hadn't gotten our spending as under control as we'd thought. We lost electricity and water, much less internet, while we tried to repair the ravages wrought on our checking account.
Eventually, we got back up, with much better control over our much-reduced finances. However, my symptoms had gotten all out of whack again. Not least because part of how we got the finances under control was that I quit the thousand dollars a month worth of meds they had me on cold turkey. There wasn't a whole lot of point anyway since they weren't going to get me back to the point I could actually go back to work.
Last summer, ironically right about this time, I managed to sit back at the keyboard and cranked out "A First Timer's Tale." And submitted it under this handle since I couldn't remember either of the previous two at the time. A week later, I managed to slap up "Bring a Friend." It wasn't much better. And the votes reflected that. But, I was back to doing something. And it felt good.
I decided to do something a little more ambitious and got the wife involved for the first time. She had gotten her Bachelor's in English Literature with a minor in Women's Studies. So, I would be a fool not to ask her opinion. Right?
"Heatstroked" got away from me a little bit. Okay, more than a little bit. I was having so damn much fun figuring out inventive ways to cockblock the two hapless primary characters that I almost forgot to bring the sexy! The really sad part was that it would have been about ten or even twenty screens longer except my delicate flower put her foot down.
I'd been so caught up in writing that I hadn't been paying attention to the calendar. And our anniversary was coming up.
I was informed in no uncertain terms that if I didn't wrap it the fuck up and submit it and spend our anniversary giving her a little more attention than asking her to read over it again, that she might just do all the cooking for a month!
Well, I wrapped it up and submitted it. And I did spend our anniversary lavishing attention on her. And I'm really glad I did.
Because it was to be our last one.
On October 05, as I was sitting here tapping away at what I hoped would be a story to submit for the upcoming Halloween contest with her asleep just feet away, she slipped away in her sleep.
I didn't feel much like writing anymore. Least of all something sexy. For that matter, I didn't feel like doing just a whole lot of anything.
Twenty-two days later, on October 27, my father's wife had a stroke or something and passed away as well.
I don't remember just when, but I'm pretty sure it was after that fucking month of funerals and wakes and visitations and... Well, anyway. I'm pretty sure it was sometime in November when I signed on and more or less gave what was supposed to be a farewell tour of the boards.
And was pretty well not just invited, but virtually challenged to try to keep writing and see if it didn't help.
So, I did. And it did. And I slapped up "Thankful" in time for the Winter Holidays contest.
The problem was, writing only helped while I was actually writing. It was an escape. Not actually dealing with anything.
Once upon a time, I was considered moderately bright. And a small flash of that long ago brightness resurged. The next contest was Valentine's. I could write the story of us! Love, sex, loss... it would have it all! And it would maybe be a way to do a little something to deal with the grief instead of pushing it aside like I'd done while writing "Thankful," only to find it waiting to pounce the moment I hit "submit."
Holy fucking shit! I sincerely think about the only reason I didn't take my own life was some combination of taking care of the animals, my father calling me every day to lament how lonely he was without his wife and then going on to his current list of maladies (
), a really good friend who had the damn keys to the place, and haunting the boards on here (although mostly the HT).
Wiser heads than mine convinced me that maybe writing about her was not just the brightest idea I'd ever had. At least not so soon. So, I left off on that and dug back in faulty memory to find the scraps that eventually lead to "Beau and Sweetheart of the Show."
Feeling a little better, I slipped my leash again and went off to try to see if I could hammer out something on that story of us. However, it was still too painful to be so factual, so I crabbed sideways into fiction by asking "What if?" And got "A Final Valentine" completed just in time.
Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, I had made a particular friend on here along the way. I mean, I'd made several. Which is actually probably a testament more to how nice Litizens are than my own likeability. But, one in particular...
Well, let's just say that small ray of hope was shone into a world that had gone dark and dismal and leave it at that if we can.
On the writing front, the next contest was April Fool's. A tough one for me to come up with an idea. But, I eventually came up with something. However, I bumped up against a problem in "Prank War." For some reason, the sexy was actually difficult to bring. I ended up chickening out of the original concept of a threesome and turning it into a prank on readers as much as anything. And, yes, I paid for it in the polls.
But, I'd done what I set out to do and gotten something
done for the contest, the third since I'd decided I would try. Three down, three to go. And the rest should be easier.
However, I took leave of my senses when I realized just how far away the next contest was and concocted the wild idea to do a little something Sci-Fi in May. And thus the kernel that became Geek Pride was born.
And I will neither confirm nor deny that it might or might not have had anything to do with the nerd that started healing my heart...
However, it seemed the fickle finger of fate was not done fucking me.
Dad's health spiraled out of control. And I ended up ghosting the very concept I'd kicked off as I spent time at his bedside.
Dad died just minutes before Father's Day was officially here.
I did have an idea for the Nude Day contest, but writing it just didn't happen. I've got three ideas for Summer Lovin'. But, I don't know that's going to happen either.
I don't think I'm done writing. I hope not. It's something I enjoy and one of few avenues left open to me. It's just a little difficult to find the sexy at the moment.
Any road, you asked why we write. Well, it's a bit long-winded as usual, perhaps even more so than usual, but there it all is. All of the reasons I did write, along with the reasons I haven't from time to time. And my hope that I will once again before they toss me in the fire.
I only hope you aren't sorry you asked.
Any road, whyever you choose to write, I can only tell you that if you choose it, or rather it chooses you, you should. Unless perhaps there is some better option left open to you.