Follow The Leader

The Gonzo Journals

January 4th, 2023

Where have I been? I took a break from my writing career for the first time in fifteen years. As painful as it was, I felt as though it was necessary. I’ve often wondered what it would be like if I’d never decided to put pen to paper and begin a life convoluted with criticism. To be honest, it was magical.

In that time, I managed to land a job with the Six Flags & Texas Railroad. I didn’t need the money, I just wanted to fulfill the final promise I made to myself as a young child by somehow finding a way to drive an authentic steam locomotive. So far, I’ve gone from station master, to conductor, to fireman. Engineer looms on the horizon and hopefully I’ll make it before my one-year anniversary. Every single day is heaven, and my inner child is alive and well after all.

Writing a book and being recognized by the literary community was also a childhood dream of mine and I’ve done it fifteen times over. Am I bored with the experience? No, but I’m highly disappointed. I’ll never be able to stop writing because it’s in my blood. My head will explode if I don’t translate those thoughts onto paper or a computer screen. The community, though? That’s where this story takes a turn.

I remember when I first began my writing career fondly. American society was knee deep into the Myspace era and thousands of followers hung onto my every word. At my first book signing, dozens of people lined up to grab a copy at my local bookstore and interacted with me via social media often. I didn’t even know that many people could read in my hometown! I remember thinking that there was nowhere to go but up at that point. Enter: the rollercoaster known as the flavor of the week literary community.

It wasn’t long after that when my local bookstore closed. It soon turned into Planet Fitness and all the home bodies who swore they loved to read now swore they loved to work out. I think there is a treadmill in the exact spot where I sat during my first book signing, yet I’m still a fat bastard who’s struggling to deny the devil’s nectar known as Dr. Pepper. Goddamn bane of Texas guarantees we’re all destined to reside in a larger grave than the typical inhabitant who occupies the other side of the Red River. Evil shit in a flashy can, for certain.

From that moment on, my writing career was destined to exist only online if I didn’t find a way to escape my birth surroundings. Yes, I served in the Army and even traveled every inch of this god forsaken divided down the middle “has been” country of ours, but that doesn’t count. I needed to officially lay more roots in a larger space otherwise I was going to choke my tree of creativity. Through fate, luck, sorrow, and trust, I did exactly that.

Unfortunately, I lulled myself into a false sense of security.

I followed the leader. After a small stint with a couple of small presses, I decided to take my career in the opposite direction. I wanted to leave the publishing game behind me and put the future of my literary career into my own hands. Just as I was about to pull the trigger, I was invited to sign with a literary agency in the UK. I had wonderful times and met some really talented people, many whom I still communicate with to this very day, but a sudden turn in my agent’s health caused the agency to close shop.

Since then, I have been passed from self-absorbed publisher to “ran into the ground” small press and I’ve hated every single goddamn second of it. I’ve been associated with organizations who claim greatness, yet not a damn person has heard of their deeds outside of their own egos. They choose a “legend” within their own ranks, scream of their accomplishments inside of their own circle, and claim their forever status in tiny rooms. They smile at the sound of their own echo through narcissistic ears awaiting the next victim to believe their bullshit.

Somehow, I fell for this. I’ve been to the top of the mountain, yet I still fell for it. I guess if everyone else is riding the fame roller coaster and screaming their lungs out over the truly nonexistent hills and valleys which only they can see, why not occupy the empty seat next to them? This was the first of many mistakes.

I’m not quite sure where I will go from here, but I’ve been in this predicament many times before. An opportunity has always presented itself, and I’m certain this will happen again sometime in the near future. After all, I didn’t know what the fuck I was going to do with my very first book when I wrote it all those years ago, but I managed to get where I am today. Fuck publishing in its dirty old asshole, as far as I’m concerned. I’m a writer, not a publisher, and publishing is not my problem. Just write, you silly bastard. Just write. It’s what you know. It’s what you’re good at.

Show them all the wolf you used to be and howl about it until their ears bleed.

They’ll remember you.

Peace.

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