Writing: All It Takes Is Guts

4 years ago I was sweating bullets, sitting in the bright sunlight of Cross Plains, Texas during Barbarian Days.

Now let me answer your first two questions:

One: Cross Plains is a small, oilfield town that the Texas highways left behind a long time ago.

Two: Barbarian Days is a festival put on by the grand ole City Council meant to celebrate one of the giants of pulp fiction, Robert. E. Howard. For those who may not be aware, Bob Howard is the origin point for Conan (yes, that black-haired rogue of the paperbacks), "The Tower of the Elephant," and everyone's favorite puritanical swordsman, Solomon Kane, among many others.

Going to Barbarian Days was a great way to recharge my batteries, hang out with dear friends, and do a little (see: a lot) of drinking. This year was bad, though. I was despondent in my writing career, only having been able to land success with a small, start-up comic book publishing company that never amounted to what we’d all hoped. I was ten years into spending every night at the computer, hammering the keys. I’d finish a story just glowing with the firm belief that this guy, this guy right here, “He’s the one!” But, like all the others that had been born and killed within the same month, he died the lonely death of the dreaded Form Rejection Slip. A decade is a long time to a 29 year old, so I was pretty much determined to give up the ghost on the whole ‘be a real author’ thing. That’s a dark place for a writer to be, and certainly not unique to me. It’s a landscape filled with unending forests of anxiety, deep lakes of fear, all cast over by a cloudy firmament of doubt—a gray waste that all hopeful authors traverse. It’s in that place where the ghosts of failure whisper to us familiar phrases....more