top of page

Tales of Horror and Heroism: The Pursuit of a Meaningful Story

“I thought this would be the part when a miracle would happen, but I sat there in silence the only sound the wind flowing through the canyon. I looked to the east one last time and watched the storm clouds growing larger, drifting my direction. I looked to the west. Nothing but sunshine and clear skies over the Colorado River. I kept my gaze west as I placed the barrel against my temple and my finger on the trigger. I wanted the last image to be a beautiful ending and not another storm. Slowly, I pulled the trigger, my eyes westward. I was glad I’d seen the canyon one last time. My eyes closed involuntarily as I gently squeezed the trigger.

“Please save me,” I pleaded to the unknown.”

from “At the End of All Things”

People need a purpose, a mission to have for a worthwhile life. I found that through storytelling. When I wrote “At the End of All Things” in 2015, I was dealing with a tremendous amount of trauma. I sacrificed my career in law enforcement by becoming a whistleblower, I was dealing with a break-up from a cruel woman, and I was lost. I had a brush with contemplating suicide; I started to acknowledge that I was abused by my family and was coming to terms with having a mental illness.

It makes sense that I would pursue writing.

“I’m going to be the next great American author,” I told my boss in 2014, stating it as a half-truth. Meaning I knew that I wanted to write, but I also knew that the odds of that happening were shit. Who am I to have such a daring dream? I don’t have a literary degree, and I only wrote a few short stories. And I’m not those giants who became before me. Twain, Whitman, Verne, Steinberg, King; I’ll never be them. Nevertheless, it was true, and the notion nested in the back of my head, whispering, “Write.”

In 2018, I finished the second book, “The Malediction of Llewyn Glass”, and attempted to get it published. One year and 200 rejections later, I had an existential crisis and went into a deep depression. I laid in bed, desperate for relief as agonizing thoughts of futility and despair wailed inside. But despite the maelstrom of sadness, there was the voice speaking from within the storm. A steadfast voice that only whispered, “Write.”

I took money from my small savings and hired an editor, graphic artist, and had both books printed. I sold them at art markets whenever I could get a weekend off from my job with Tesla. I even tried out an idea of selling my books at bars with a promotion called “Buy a Book, Get a Free Shot”. It worked until the pandemic happened.

Furloughed for two months in the Spring of 2020, during a time when death seemed like a breath away, I found peace. Peace in deciding that I should fully commit to writing because I didn’t want my life wasted for a job where I was easily replaceable. Why waste my talents and gifts for an organization, a job I did not like? I planned to start selling the books full-time a year from then once I saved enough. But Elon did another round of layoffs in August 2020, two weeks shy of my stocks being vested. Stocks I planned to use to fund my dreams. This time there was no whisper in my head. The voice that told me to write was now my own.

For the past two years, I sold my books in bars, in the sweltering Florida heat, and traveled the South as far as Austin in the hopes of spreading them across the country. I had to face sneers, laughter, backhanded compliments, and unfair judgments against my work without them reading a single word. Women laughed at my booth and marquee as I desperately tried to make enough to pay rent. I once had a man who never read my books say to a few people, "don't read his shit.” I threatened to beat him in front of his girlfriend; he walked away. I also had an ex-girlfriend say, “If you’re such a good writer, then why aren’t you famous.”

I pity them. Honestly, I do. They live forgettable lives.

I have found purpose in the pursuit of something beyond me.

I believe in my craft, the art of storytelling. It’s the oldest profession, next to prostitution. A story told through dance, song, word, through paint; brings as much pleasure as a much-needed lay. But it’s the ecstasy of creation that gets the most genuine passion. It brings out the fire from within and ignites it in others. It lights a world where darkness can smother the brightest day. The pursuit of art is a pursuit of passion and purpose. Though our egos may drive us to work, its product is altruistic if the story is pure enough. If the story touches another soul.

The burden of all artists and free thinkers is to be aware. Aware of knowledge all around, within, and in the inner reaches of the unknown. But to be aware is not enough. Knowing that failure is likely, a courageous conviction is needed to go forth into the world. You may wind up broke and sleeping in a park. Heartbroken. Lost. Alone.

But maybe it’s worth it.

In the pursuit of purpose, writing a meaningful story is enough. Maybe taking responsibility for your life and taking command of your fate may lead to works of art that will inspire a soul someday. In doing so, you become part of something bigger.

Five books down with a sixth in the works. 4000+ sold on my own, a slowly growing audience, and several heartfelt fan reviews. I don’t know if I will be the next great American writer. Maybe I will; perhaps I won’t. But the journey so far has been good for me. I am making my novels into an income, earning my audience, having been in the local news several times, and having found love from a woman whom I believed only existed in my stories. Success in my grand endeavor is still not guaranteed. Or, irony graces me with my work being discovered after my death. But I’m going to live as if it is going to happen. The journey has been good for me.

In reading this, I hope you will find something worth fighting for.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer