Don Rearden | An Explosive Confession


I’m not one to share in a blog, essay, or poem, those deep and intimate details of my life or even my scattered and ridiculous thoughts. The one time as a kid I had to go to confession I pretty much lied, and it wasn’t even a good lie.

I mean there was no way I was telling the bad stuff to the priest, a guy I didn’t know, so I just sort of made up some story about being mean to my sisters and lying to my parents. I wouldn’t actually dare lie to my parents or even be all that mean to my sisters, but there wasn’t anything real I dared to tell the stranger on the other side of the screen.

I guess in many ways my writing has been like that, too. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable baring my soul on the page, so much as I’ve never really felt compelled or felt like I needed to use my writing that way.

Today, however, I feel obliged to confess something right now, right here.

I tremble at the thought of divulging my deepest secret to you now, but here it goes.

I have issues. Serious issues. The kind of issues that keep me from being a productive citizen. The kind of issues that make me unreliable (at least as a narrator). Issues that play havoc on my day to day existence.

Here it goes:

I am a writer.

In writing those four words, I had hoped an enormous burden would be immediately lifted from my shoulders, but unfortunately that is not the case. The truth of the matter is that I write those four words and I am compelled to write more and need to write more, and not necessarily on this current over-the-top confessional you are reading here, but another story that I am infected with, no, afflicted by, no, afflicted and infected with and by.

Here is how this plays out: a story works its way into my bloodstream and I’m doomed, constantly and continuously doomed to think about that project to the point I am distracted and unable to think about much else. I’m sorry, what were you saying? Where was I? Right. Wait. Excuse me for a few hours.

I don’t want to compare my issue to what people who face addiction deal with, because I don’t want anyone to think I am trivializing the struggle of anyone who faces serious addiction; however, I’ve been thinking about my problem a lot lately and wondering if I could quit. Stop. Be done with writing. You know, go cold turkey, as they say.

Could I do it? Maybe after this one last story?

There is a huge new and amazing writing project on my plate. One that I want to drop everything for—I mean everything. Work. Family. Dog. Even chocolate. Yes, I would even leave chocolate! And possibly coffee. I want to take my laptop and disappear for a few weeks and focus on nothing more than this story.

I know writers who would do this. I admire and find myself jealous of them and their bravery. I am not this writer. Instead, I will stick to the work, family, and dog—relying upon chocolate and coffee to sustain me—while I dream and ruminate and try to find a few minutes and hours here and there to cobble together just enough writing time to sustain me. The project might somehow happen in this way.

I am a whale or a seal beneath the surface, rising for air every so often; the writing and stories the breath I need to keep me, well, me. It’s obnoxious at times, this compulsion, and would be incredibly freeing to feel as if I could actually even take a break. I could tell you that I wish I could wake up some morning and feel as if I no longer need to write, and that there isn’t a story that requires my attention, but I think in telling you this lie I would be that young boy back in the confessional, crafting some silly fiction for the priest.

To be honest with you? I think the truth is that I’m okay with this horrible problem of mine, now that I’ve shared my struggle with you. Maybe I ought to do a little confessional writing more often….

Don Rearden confesses to writing The Raven’s Gift, a novel where he hides his deepest darkest secrets. He also confesses to never being brave enough to write his own memoir, but he co-wrote Never Quit, Jimmy Settle’s wild tale about becoming an Alaskan Pararescueman.

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