So you're in the shower, feeling the warm wash splash over you. You allow yourself to relax a bit, let the heat and the water wash off the psychic bruises of the day, the low grade filth that sticks to your skin after a day in this world. You stand there in the steam and you get an idea.
It is vague, right, a vapor cloud, a ghost, but it happens, you see it in your head and it starts to form, take a more solid shape, take on more structure, it becomes a skeleton, a frame on which to hang other ideas, things that have been bouncing around your head for a while now, bouncing because they had nowhere to stick, but now they do, and the idea takes a place in your world. It has become real.
This is it. This is the thing that will be your breakout. This is your Golden Ticket.
You jump out of the shower, you gotta get started on it right now, this very moment, before the idea fades, before you can talk yourself out of it, find reasons to not even start, to not even try.
This is the first obstacle, that sneaky voice that wants you to stay small, the mouse, that wants you to hide and stay safe and small, that tells you to never take risks, that whispers to you every reason that you can't do it, that is so persuasive and insidious.
Listen. Do not listen to the mouse. He is small. He is weak and terrified. You are not a mouse.
Ignore the mouse.
You start, you move, and it is glorious. This is what it feels like, the fireworks, the orgasm. This is what you were always meant to do. It is this feeling that allows you to still drive the kids to soccer practice, to hold the wife's purse while she shops for shoes, to accept the ridiculous and hurtful bullshit, why you can suck it up when you step in dogshit in your front yard and you don't even have a dog, this is why you can continue in this life that can be so full of pain and disappointment.
This is a lie. This is a teenage love, fast and hot and short lived, and when it burns out, you find yourself standing in the cold grey ashes, and you cry, you wonder if it is worth it to even continue.
Listen. Your teenage love was a lie, and your fireworks are a lie, too.
Ignore the fireworks.
This is it. Here now, where you get to decide who you are, what you want to be. You work, you skip your snacks and your naps, you plow forward, keep moving, keep pushing. You know that it will be worth it. You are close now. You work so hard you break a sweat, you lose track of time, and then your wife taps you on the shoulder, tells you that you haven't moved for days, you haven't come up for air, the kids are starting to ask where Daddy went, they keep mentioning someone called Uncle Greg, but you don't have any brothers, and neither does the wife. Maybe it is time to clean yourself up, shave off your disgusting beard, take a shower. You can see the end anyway, you are so close, maybe a break is in order, hell, you deserve it. You can eat food, maybe ask about this Greg asshole.
You take a shower. You let the warm wash over you, let the water leach off some of the psychic bruises, let the soap rinse off the crust and barnacles, and then it happens. You get an idea, just a whisper in your mind, and you remember the fireworks, that hot, fast love. You remember that what you are doing now is hard, and long, and it is starting to look like your car does, pretty once, new and exciting, but now it has two hundred thousand miles on it, and the kids have thrown up in the back seat seven or eight times, and you have stopped throwing your garbage out because if you do, it exposes the holes in the floorboards.
This new idea is a Ferrari. This new idea will go fast and furious. You can always come back, the Ferrari whispers, you can come home after your race and set to restoring your old POS, right? Take a ride with me, it whispers, I go fast.
Listen: don't believe the Ferrari. If it is real, it will sit there in the driveway until you fix up your old car. If it is real, it will still be there when you are done with your old POS. If it isn't real, it will fade like a dream in the morning sun. Expensive cars always lie.
Ignore the Ferrari.
Kiss your wife (why is she wearing make-up at three in the afternoon on a Wednesday?), say hello to your kids (they are so much taller, my God, is that a mustache?). Sit back down. Finish. You do this because you have decided who you are, what you want to be. You made your choice, and all the mice and fireworks and Ferraris will not be able to change that. You finish your work, because you want to have done something that might last even after you have died and rotted away, after you have long crumbled into dust. You do this because you do not want to live in fear. You are not a mouse.
Finish the job, then go and have a word with Greg.
Hello there, strangers. I have been working, I promise. Just last night I finished the first, long and terrible edit of my second novel, Flagg. Thank you so much for reading. Check out my short "Learning" on Grand Central Review (grandcentralreview.com), Follow me on Twitter (@RDPullins), go and sign up for the launch team for Antiartists on my publisher's website (pennamepublishing.com). Cheers!