Hello, my name is Kent Shawn and I want to write for a living.
Right now, I am sitting in a hotel room in Van Horn Texas, sweating out my sixth week away from home on business. I have been at my job for almost fifteen years, and I make a decent living. I’m not broke or hitting rock bottom, I don’t have mountains of debt.
That’s my problem. There is no impetus to change. I can go on the way I am right now, and I will be fine. My kids will eat and grow up healthy. My wife will never be ashamed of where she lives or feel the desperation of poverty. I’ve got this.
But there is this thing that I do behind closed doors. I do it almost every day. It is the thing I wish I did for a living.
I’m not on my way to be another Hemingway. No one is going to hand out awards for my short stories or novels. I write action, science fiction, thrillers. I like to think of them as pop-corn adventures—stuff that I like to read.
I have finished four full length novels, a novella, and countless short stories, but unless you are a close friend, or member of my family. You haven’t read them. You couldn’t.
I have never put any out in the world.
My excuses have been many and varied: I’m not good enough yet. The next novel will be the one. I don’t want to learn the business side of the house. Who the hell wants to market on social media. Can’t decide whether to self-publish or go traditional. The odds are against my success. And on and on and on in an endless diatribe of ineffectual, fear soaked, self-destructive obstructionism.
What is the real problem?
Fear and laziness.
Sucks to say that about myself. But I’m saying it.
Remember that line that Lance Armstrong says to Vince Vaugh in the movie Dodgeball? I do. Lance is giving Vaughn a guilt trip about quitting his team when they need him. Giving up. Being afraid. He says something like:
"Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn't have anything to regret for the rest of their life. But good luck to you, Peter. I'm sure this decision won't haunt you forever."
Silly movie. A line delivered by an infamous cheat. But it sticks with me. What will I say to myself when I am ninety, assuming I make it that far, what will haunt me? Who knows? People change. Maybe the fire I have for storytelling will die out like other passions have for me over the years, but I doubt it.
That stack of paper in the drawer has grown too thick to ignore. I keep writing stories absent encouragement or recognition. I work without pay. Isn’t that what we are all supposed to do? Find something we love and get paid for it?
Already I can hear my traitor mind starting up its chant. Hardly anyone makes a living writing. You have responsibilities. You hate trying to sell things. You might FAIL.
So here I am, in a hotel room close to midnight, in a strange city, all alone with my internal chorus of discouragement. But something has changed.
I’m not listening anymore.
This is my first Blog, but there will be more. I am officially moving out from behind closed doors. I am going to stay accountable with this Blog. Share my ups and downs and look for others who are trying to climb the same mountain.
Today I dug out my first novel, dusted it off, and made a promise. This is going out into the world. Success or failure doesn’t matter. What matters is that if I keep going no matter how hard it gets, win or lose, I wont ever have anything to regret.
I don’t know how to make a living from my writing.
But I’m about to figure it out.