Finish Line or Starting Post?

war everlasting cover

So… late last week I handed in a 50k-word novel in The Executioner series created by Don Pendleton. That makes it at least my thirty-fifth book about Mack Bolan, and something like more than forty novels total of my work in print. While I took this assignment for mixed reasons, some purely mercenary, it got me wondering if I was back in the writing game. And is it good or bad? And am I playing for keeps this time?

Have I crossed the finish line and it’s now time to crawl back into my other stressful yet “lazier” life with no more races to run? Did this book reawaken something I thought I’d lost? Truthfully, I’m not sure yet. Like those reasons I agreed to write CHICAGO VENDETTA (which I pitched to be re-titled BLUE VENDETTA but they shot me down) my feelings are mixed.

On the one hand, I’m really enjoying my decision to begin in earnest on my new novel, Right Winger, via Wattpad. It’s a novel most would call “literary”, which I’ve always thought was pretty stupid because isn’t any fiction literary, but it’s one I’ve wanted to write for a long time. On the other side of the coin, I’m wondering if I’ll be able to maintain consistent pace to completion. Things are real damn hard in parts of my life right now; stuff’s a sweat and in some cases it’s just plain shit. I have a lot of stressors, more than I’ve ever had before save for military service, and there’s a lot of turmoil and chaos in both the personal and professional spaces.

But you see, that’s just the whole point. This is where it comes down to deciding what I’m made of as a writer. Do I have the mettle to press on despite all the easy distractions around me? And can I really walk away from more than twenty years of doing this for good this time? Since my first professional article for a small, independent newspaper in the town in which I lived at the time, I’ve been infected by the bug to which most writers succumb: seeing my work in print and watching with secret delight as people read it. Then bitching whenever someone doesn’t like it, and wondering why the hell I ever do it, and wouldn’t it be better to just spend my evenings watching Hulu or Netflix, drinking some beers, and ignoring all the pain in my circumstances.

What hurts most is it took me that long to realize something: I have to do this! I have to run this race because I really want to know where the hell it leads me. The writing is not what I do, it’s what I am. You read that right. In a lot of ways, all of my books are truly about me and my relationship to everyone else here on planet Earth. My books are a place where I can say all I have to say about my life and what I see going on around me, and how I feel about it—yeah, this is the venue where I can say pretty much whatever I want and I don’t give a shit what people of think of it (like I ever did)—in the best and simplest way possible.

So I’ve not crossed the finish line and I’m not at the starting post. I’m running the race the whole track, and I’m going to make as many laps as I can, and the truth is I never really stopped. Hopefully, I’ll connect with a few more readers along the way, so I have something new to bitch about. Who knows? Maybe I’ll write yet another Executioner book if they decide to ask me again, giving me fresh reasons to complain about hard it is to find time to sit down and do this crazy activity. What is this that I hate so much and yet love so much, this writing I do for which I can’t explain, and about which I don’t understand.

In the meantime, I can now enjoy my holidays, watch sappy old holiday classics like It’s a Wonderful Life (not always) and Miracle on 34th Street (miracle on my street for once would be nice), and drink some egg-nog ever so delicately balanced with 50% Prichard’s. Maybe I’ll buy a boat, sail away, and hammer at the keys of an old typewriter to shut out the “noise” of today’s world. One of my friends says I have permission. Nice of her, huh, letting me buy a boat with my own cash? Thanks, Chica!

Whatever I decide to do, those of you who want to ask me if I’ll write about it, the answer isn’t really all that profound. Yeah… hell, yeah. Happy Thanksgiving week to you all! Let us always pray for peace but gird for war.

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