It turned out that following in the footsteps of greatness didn’t reproduce that greatness. And not for lack of trying, either.

Tony left his job in construction to pursue a dream: the writer’s dream. You may be familiar with it; many of us who are capable of stringing words together often have it. We one day realize that we’re spending most of our time not writing and think that we’d be better off if that wasn’t the case. It’s important to note that the desirability of this dream hinges on the very important fact that those of us who have it have never had to write for a living. It’s romanticism, plain and simple. The idea that writing won’t be as labor intensive as our day jobs because it comes from a place of passion is an ignorant delusion.

What Tony hadn’t done with his off hours started to show on his very first day of independence. He was unprepared for freedom, and he wasn’t alone. Most of us spend our entire lives in servitude, made worse by its voluntary nature. Once we throw the shackles off, we find ourselves with a lack of purpose. With no previous experience in self-direction, it’s easy to float, lost at sea, until we drown.

Tony drowned first in sloth, then drink, and finally drugs.

Tony was a strong person, though, and one who was capable of learning from his mistakes. His first year of independence left him near penniless and strung out, but he got help and got better. Once he could think clearly, he figured that his biggest mistake had been not committing more fully to the “writer’s experience”, whatever the hell that was. So, he sold off the remainder of his worldly possessions and rented a cabin deep in the interior. He stayed there an entire year—through the freezing winter and all—and nearly died from the isolation.

And still hadn’t become a great writer.

2015.03.18 – 2023.10.10

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