I’m reading a book my brother gave me and it is an astonishing story of a British officer’s endurance in the face of obstacles so daunting that one can scarce believe he survived (The Jungle is Neutral: A Soldier’s Two-Year Escape from the Japanese Army by F. Spencer Chapman). Having survived cancer in the last three years, stories of endurance appeal to me; in fact, they always have. I’m a very tall, 6’5”, broad shouldered and muscular guy although not a muscle freak. During my chemotherapy protocol I lost all of my strength and musculature. After four months of chemo, I could not walk around the block. Over the last two years with the help of my trainer, Lance Breger, I have regained my vitality and strength.
Which brings me back to endurance. My parents and grandparents all died by the time I was sixteen. As my shrink once told me, “you had all your illusions about life sandblasted off of you at a very early age.” And he is right. Beset over the years by anxiety, depression, grief, constant agonizing over my sexuality along with the pressure of the everyday of work, achievement, writing and other pursuits, I endured. In spite of the obstacles, and most are and were emotional, I just put one foot in front of the other.
Many times I wanted to give up but for some reason I did not. It wasn’t unrelieved agony, of course, or else I would have blown my brains out. But it was difficult. Part of my successful negotiation of so much of my life came because I took my tremendous anger resulting from my misfortunes and channeled that anger into different pursuits. One of those pursuits is writing. One was my business career and one was politics. I’m down to writing but hope to revive my business career because I have got to make some money. Writing is not a path to riches, especially if you’re good at it, which seems to be a contradiction I know, but it isn’t. The better you are the longer it takes. Writers who don’t take pride in their craft churn stuff out and don’t care how it reads as long as they get their check. I don’t want to sound like a complete snob and a jerk about this so I confess if I could write bad novels quickly and get paid, I would do it. But I can’t write bad novels or even bad emails. It’s not that I won’t, it’s that I can’t. If you’re talented at something, do it well, constantly work to hone your talent, then you can’t force your mind to perform that particular task in a half-assed way. At least I can’t.