I shipped my first book to the world in 2002, when I was seventeen years old. Honestly, it’s not really fair to call it a book. It was more like a really long short story that I had bound at a Staples Copy Center.....“spiral bound please.” The book cover was sketched in pencil by my best friend and the pages were paginated by Microsoft Word Version 1.OLD.
But no matter how janky the book was, I am proud to say it was the first book I shipped to the world. I gave it to my teachers and peers to read. It was funny and honest, but also extremely cheesy and written by a seventeen-year-old, aka full of clichés and bad writing. If you search Amazon.com do not be prepared to find it in the results page. In fact, the only two copies (collectors items?) left in existence are being held by my biggest fans of all, my parents.
So there it is. At seventeen years old, I had the balls to put my amateur work on display for the world to see. This must have been the start of a great career, right? HA!
The truth is, after I shipped that first book, I went into hiding. And not like a couple months to explore Europe kind of hiding. I'm talking dragon in a cave, a decade drunk in a bar kind of hiding.
It would be nine years till I shipped something else to the world.
During those nine years, I did whatever I could to distract myself from writing. I had long-term dysfunctional relationships with numerous breakups and thousands of “FUCK YOU” text messages. I drank gallons of jungle juice and smoked pot and zoned out to Arrested Development and 24. I stuck my head in blue books and pretended I gave a shit about Law and subjects like Muslim Architecture and Anthropological Studies. I blacked out and summoned as much drama to my life as a full season of the Real World. I got into line with everyone else and decided to stay under the radar.
And the hibernation didn't stop after I graduated. Instead, I got a normal job so I could continue drinking heavily without overdrafting on my credit card. WHATEVER I CAN DO TO KEEP ME FROM THE REAL WORK. I’d rather play hours of Playstation and watch porn than do the things required to elevate my soul to a higher being. I fought for as long as I possibly could.
In 2011, I shipped my second book. It took me nine fucking years. I remember the moment I started writing it. I had burned out on my last girlfriend so I didn’t have any text messages to respond to. Most of my drinking buddies had migrated out of my college town, so there were no calls to go out. To top it off, I had developed this lingering depression that something in my life was unfulfilled, pointless, disappointing, etc, etc.
I was out of excuses and distractions.
I finally sat down at the computer.
And I started writing.
I was doing the work again. I didn’t smoke or drink in the months that followed. Instead, I was in this supernatural daze that can only explain as a writer’s binge. The book may not have been a bestseller or sold thousands of copies, but it was single handedly the most important moment of my life. It symbolized the return to my calling. It was the moment I stopped sabatagoing and self destructing my world. I stopped hiding from my life’s purpose by conjuring distractions and dysfunctional relationships to cover up my ambition. I stopped being in love with the “idea” of writing and started doing the work that matters.
I stopped running from my dream.