Stay with me. I’ll connect the dots.
I was a state champion wrestler. Wrestling is the quintessential individual and original gladiatorial sport. There is no aid or assistance on the mat. You win or lose based solely on your own skill, conditioning, preparation, and desire. Writing is no different. It is just the writer and a blank screen to be filled. After dripping your soul onto the page, you offer it up to the world and do your best Russell Crowe impersonation.
However, neither endeavor is really an individual effort. Both require coaches, training partners, and motivators. At least for me, the stereotype of the tortured artist laboring in isolation is a myth. Well, the tortured part is pretty accurate. I wrote the sixty six thousand words that are my novel, but a village of people influenced the outcome. I call bullshit whenever someone states their fortune is self made. At the very least, they relied on social stability and laws of commerce created by their society. My book is no different.
Whatever level of skill or artistry I have as a writer is due to a long list of mentors, professors, and teachers…Fisher, Camoin, Wollam, Anthony, Bondurant, Childs, Drowne, Carey, Towler, Garvin, and Mitchard, to name just a few.
Various iterations and chunks of this book have been read and ripped by my fellow citizens of our literary asylum. I was cheered and encouraged and given a comforting, “you got this,” on countless occasions when I wanted to ceremoniously set the whole manuscript on fire. The world’s most patient and tolerant woman read it at least twenty times and was candid enough to tell me, “That’s not your best work, dear. Run along and play with your little words.” I inferred the last part.
Our merry, curmudgeonly band of literary nutjobs (okay, maybe I’m the only nutjob) becomes so vested in one another’s work that we celebrate the successes and mourn the rejections as if they were our own. We might be the Borg of words.
It may be more accurate to say we have a book deal. My heartfelt thanks go to Big Daddy, So Not Tim, Little Shit, Mr. Greene, Jon, KSG, Jer Jer, Nat, Andrea, Stella, Kim, Pratima, Original Recipe, Wendie, especially my BSW, and so many more for the role they played in creating this thing called “The Trees Beneath Us” which will be a real live book soon.
Just to be clear, I’m not sharing the royalties.
I’m Darren Six of Nine, and we have a book deal.