clothespins

TAINTED CONFESSIONS

“Oh life is like a maze of doors and they all open from the side you’re on.” Cat Stevens

Writing mimics life. Some mornings it requires a marathoner’s stamina to choreograph one coherent thought onto a piece of paper. Other days you squeal with glee at the breakneck pace in which you complete a chapter you deemed ambulatory the week before.

I love this gig – maybe I have time to climb Mount Everest before happy hour.

Success is a close relative of mediocrity, and a twice-removed second cousin of abject failure. I’ve spent innumerable months completing the first of three humorous memoirs and while I accept “way to go!”s from friends and family, I understand I’ve barely started this murky trek with an unknown destination. Meanwhile, more talented writers who started their career years earlier grind out five quality pages a day on their forty-second novel.

I suck at this – tell me again why I thought this is who I am.

Writing anything – a heartfelt thank you note, to a description of the delicious salmon you grilled last night – takes dedication, practice, persistence, and most of all, a “I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of my work” attitude. I finished a book and 99.9 percent of the people in the Milky Way Galaxy can’t claim that on their resume. Creating compelling art is more difficult than splitting atoms in a high school laboratory on your lunch break.

I continue to write every single day and read at night until I fall asleep with the bedroom lamp on. I work hard at my craft and kid myself I’m improving. I high five the pizza delivery guy when I unearth the perfect adjective that forces a dreary sentence to shine. Sometimes I blame my lack of creative genes on my parents and rant about my weak DNA structure.

Maybe I can purchase a Stephen King cloning kit on the Chinese black market.

Nope – this is what I’ve chosen to do and there is no cutting in line or calling dibsies on an acclaimed agent. You can’t inherit or buy your way to success in the publishing world. Each author on the NY Times bestseller list earned it. By writing for thousands of hours, continually editing their work, and never quitting. Kudos to them and congratulations to every person who dedicates several hours a week to the notion that someday people will pay to read the results of those efforts.

Yes, life is a confusing maze, and it is on those frigid winter mornings, when you force yourself to get up at a blasphemous hour to improve a disjointed paragraph, that the journey is the most rewarding part. Few of us know where we are heading, but it’s up to us to write our way through another closed door.

Thanks for tuning in this week. Ciao belli lettori!

Steven Leonard

Steven R. Leonard is a writer born, raised and paroled (from his family) in Denver. He’s written a humorous and heartbreaking memoir detailing his childhood.

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