This time of year is a bit strange for me in several ways, not the least of which is the anniversary of my split with my second wife. This happened 9 years ago, almost to the day. It was a rough time for me, for her, for our infant daughter, for my two sons from my first marriage.
I was in rough shape. After having had a successful run as a freelance journalist, having earned my MFA in Writing, having nailed my first quarter million dollar contract with a big NYC publisher, all within a period of 7 or 8 years, I found myself without any kind of writing job whatsoever, my hope of nailing a second book contract a pipe dream, and now, my second marriage to a woman I loved, most definitely on the rocks.
For years I blamed the publishing system. You know, if it hadn't been for their silly consolidations my editors wouldn't have been fired and I, along with a bunch of other writers, wouldn't have been shown the door, our only hope to start all over again. If they hadn't given me that big two book contract in the first place, I wouldn't have quit freelancing as a journalist and severed ties with my bosses. The hole I had dug all by myself, for myself...somehow it was all somebody else's fault when in fact it was my fault for not seeing the writing on the wall in the first place and for storing all my golden eggs in one basket that was riddled with holes.
You see, once you've been to the big time and enjoyed the accolades and the parties and the back pats, it's pretty damned hard to pick yourself up again from out of the gutter, and start all over. All you want to do instead is run and hide. You fear everything. The phone ringing, a knock on the door, dinner with friends. You know, friends who will ask you if you are "still writing."
You fear the bills coming in. You fear the hollowness in your wallet and in your heart. You fear that look on your wife's face that says, "We're broke. Why don't you pick up some kind of work?" You fear having to get a job. A real job. You fear having to become a nobody again, and you fear having to write your way out of a hole because you worked so damned hard at it the first time around, you're not sure you have the energy to do it all over again even if you haven't yet hit forty.
Mostly what you fear is yourself.
My wife didn't want to have to ask me to leave, but she had no choice. As I stood inside my new small apartment, alone, feeling devastated, I knew I had no choice but to confront my worst fear. I sat down in front of my laptop, and I pushed all resistance aside, and I went to work writing the novel that would become Moonlight Falls. For better or for worse.
Nine years ago this week, I faced my worst fear, and it has made all the difference.
The newly released 8th Episode in the Dick Moonlight PI Noir series: MOONLIGHT WEEPS