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That was the Sugar, now the Sulfur.

Similar to sticking your foot in quicksand, writing will suck you in.

That's the good part.

My wife Beth is very hard-working and practical. She believes that if there is a job to do, you dive in head first to the exclusion of all else. There is no point in sugar-coating, a job well-done is it's own reward. So, when I wrote my first two articles, she was at least somewhat disappointed in my tone. She thought I was cheating potential writers by making cheesy jokes about what is a very hard process. She was right.

And it was on purpose.

You have to appreciate the simple genius of Gary Larson. He looked at bizarre and everyday things from every conceivable angle, and came up with unique (hilarious) takes. The idea of someone with an attitude so positive that he could whistle while he worked in hell is breathtakingly funny. We'll skip the devils' equally hysterical analytical reaction for now. Though it is worth noting that if any of us can achieve this many layers of meaning in such a simple rendering in our writing, we'll be on to something.

Writing isn't exactly hell, though you're going to wonder what you did to deserve taking on such a harsh master. The writing process is going to be grueling, thankless, and it will devour your time. It's a bit like when I took on the doctoral journey. I committed to the time, the strain, the loneliness of a process that was so long it seemed it would never end.

But it did end one day. Your writing will not. Well, not while you're still able to prop yourself up in front of a computer anyway.

So that is why I incurred the wrath (a bit of hyperbole there) of my wife. If you're going commit to becoming a writer, you might as well have a few yocks on the way in. You're going to need to hang onto the memory that you were brave enough to sneer at the monster before you, and laugh while walking into the deep, dark forest...never to return.

So is it a frontal lobotomy, or...

That's up to you. But if you do it right, you'll find ways and reasons to sneak off and write. A few minutes on your only day off will become hours. Your family will forsake you (or at least come to accept you). There will always be just that one more chapter, that one more revision. An edit will pop into your head in the middle of the night, and you'll rush to write it down. Because if you don't it will disappear into the darkness. And you'll know you screwed up.

You'll observe others enjoying life, putzing around and having a fun, relaxing life. But that isn't for you. Once the bug bites and the creative virus enters the bloodstream, it is there to stay. You will not receive accolades from relatives and friends who will now start to more or less ignore you. No one will want to read you latest scene, no one will want to hear about your inspiration for the book's protagonist, or maybe especially the antagonist. But it will be OK. One day, you'll become stoic enough to just be the writer in the family who doesn't refer to his work. It will be there. And you'll be happy knowing that someday, someone will discover your writing and they will want to know. And by then, you won't gush anymore. And that may...just may cause people to give you another thought. You and your journey.

You'll be the smiling guy pushing a wheelbarrow in hell.

You've heard it before. Writing is hard work. Chisel that in granite.

So own it. Your journey, perhaps even your destination is different than every one else's. And that's alright. Think of it like this. Years ago, I knew a girl told the story of a neighbor growing up that loved baseball. He watched it all the time, with friends, family, during parties, it was his life. When she thought of the neighbor, she thought of baseball.

But when he passed away, even though his family and friends had warm memories, he left behind nothing of himself. And that's OK. There are billions of us. Not everyone can.

But you will. And if your writing never takes off in your lifetime, a distinct possibility, with today's self-publishing paradigm, you'll leave behind stories from your life, experience, and most importantly...heart. Someday, a distant descendant or maybe someone from a different culture on the other side of the world will pick up one of your books, and get what you meant. The story will resonate, and maybe best of all, inspire them.

Next Wednesday: the Nuts and Bolts.

We'll start into how to turn a vague idea into a framework, the framework to an outline, and so on. It's a step that throws many would-be authors, but it can also be the hook that ends with you finishing your book.

Be here friends, and we'll start together.

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