It still doesn’t feel real.
Truth is, I never felt talented enough to be a writer. Apparently, the fifteen publishers I pitched Last Chance California to agreed with my self-assessment. No way did I belong among other professional writers. I’m not as good as them, and probably never will be. The publishers knew it. I wasn’t any good. Terror strangled me to the bone. Who would care about what I had to say? Why did my story matter? I’d just embarrass myself. What if the writing was bad… or worse, what if it was boring, self indulgent bullshit?
A year ago today, I said fuck all that and self-published my first novel, Last Chance California.
I started writing the book with a pen in a journal, stoned and drunk, lying in a hammock staring at a giant mountain in Zion National Park. It was a lull in the pandemic and I was desperate to escape lockdowns. Somehow, I found myself in one of the most beautiful places I’ll ever visit. Between my own mortality glaring me in the face and an escape into the simple pleasure of nature, I was inspired. My inhibitions destroyed. My ego demolished. There was only way to figure out if I could write. Six packs of Marlboro Cowboy Killers, too much whiskey, countless late-nights, and over a hundred joints later, Last Chance California was finished in the winter of 2021.
Is it a perfect book? Not even close. But it’s a start.
Trying to become a writer has been a non-traditional path for me. The pandemic gave me the time and headspace to stop putting it off. I was out of excuses. Nothing mattered. We were all doomed. Mine as well live life like it was over. Daily life in the pandemic, a painful reminder of how fragile our existence is.
Despite this “don’t give a fuck” mindset and being trapped indoors, Last Chance California wasn’t easy to write. Writing a book is hard, no matter the subject matter, but for me it was especially tough trying to find a way to tell some truths using a bunch of lies. I adopted the writing motto “bleed on the page” to remind myself to let everything out without pulling any punches.
Still, the writing took a toll on me.
Mentally, physically, and emotionally the book drained me. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was worth every moment. The tears from releasing demons, laughs at the witty sarcasm, excitement from the perfect line, and that creative buzz that kept me at my desk for more than fourteen hours a day as I raced to finish Last Chance California.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to write it alone.
So many of you supported me through this journey. From loaning my money when I was behind on bills, offering encouragement when I was down on myself, listen to my rambling story ideas, or forcing me away from my computer to get some daylight, I couldn’t have finished the book without you. I appreciate the money, time, effort, and energy you’ve dedicated to me and my insanity. I mean, me and my art.
This book anniversary is just as much my celebration as it is yours. Grab yourself an old fashioned or light a joint and celebrate one year of Last Chance California.
Thank you for making me feel capable of crashing the literary world… because that’s where we’re headed next.
If you haven’t got a chance to read Last Chance California, it’s currently free for Amazon Kindle users until Christmas Day. There’s also a signed paperback giveaway running on Goodreads from December 23 until January 9, 2023.