Yes, I am. A friend, who I'll call Fred, dropped by just the other day to introduce me to his girlfriend Mary. He talks about the woman all the time and I can see why. She's beautiful, smart, and engaging. After our introductions, she said to me, so... you're the writer...
After I acknowledged that, yes I was, she proceeded to tell me about one of my books she'd read a while back. I have a habit of ordering up a batch now and again, keeping them in the car, and handing them out to people I know and like. I'd given a copy of Apache Nation to Fred last year. Whether he read it or not, I have no idea. I never ask.
Apache Nation is one of my few books that might be considered family friendly fare as it has no fucks or shits or goddamns in it. Well, maybe one or two—and only when the narrator is under extreme duress—but who's counting? Right?
So, as I was saying... she says... so... you're the writer. Tell me... do you really walk into those mountains of southern New Mexico like you say you do in your book? I never know how to answer that question. Yes, I do. Oh... well then, I'm planning on my next vacation to go to New Mexico and do the same thing. No, I don't. So what you're saying is: basically your book is just a pack of lies?
Now, if she read the book, she would've seen right off that it is marked as a work of fiction. I make no bones about that. I write fiction. In other words, I make stuff up all the time. I even catch myself doing it in normal everyday conversations. Why? Because it's a better story, and that's what writing is all about.
But then again, I have in the past really wandered into those desolate mountain... walked the trails that I write about in Apache Nation. Would I recommend doing so to others? No. It is too far dangerous for the uninitiated to attempt such a feat. They'd die, probably after enduring horrid days or even weeks trapped in some of the most inaccessible territory in the world.
That I survived is a fluke, sort of like my writing. Though I started with the craft at a young age, I came back to it late. I had no idea what I was doing or why I was doing it. I wrote a word, looked at it, and then wrote another... just as upon entering those mountains I took a step, looked around, and then took another.
I don’t go into those mountains on a lark, as if I am taking a vacation. My writing is the same. I obsess over it. People tell me, Dan... take a day off. Maybe two. Hell, take a week. That way you'll come back to it fresh. But writing isn’t work to me. It's fun. I can think of nothing I'd rather be doing. So why should I stop doing it just because someone tells me I should?
That's the reason I never let anyone know I'm going to the mountains. They'll advise me not to do it. Go to a resort, Dan... yeah... take a trip to Las Vegas. Gamble a little. Stay up late. Hit the whorehouses. You know, like every other red-blooded male does. Yet I can think of nowhere I'd rather go when I go than to those mountains.
So... you're the writer. Yes, I am. And there is a reason for that. I write. Obsessively. While everyone else is plunked down on the sofa stuffing their gullets with chips and popcorn and guzzling beer in front of the flickering television screen watching all the latest sit-coms or rom-coms or sports shows or Hallmark movies, I'm writing. I get lost in that shit. I'll sit down at 10pm, look up a moment later, and it's 3am. Huh? When did all that happen?
And sure... all my lies are laced with the truth. I suppose that's as good a way of putting as any I can think of. I never write about my own experiences and yet that is all I write about. What else is there? Still, I label it fiction. Maybe I want to fool the reader into believing no one can be as stupid as I am and yet live. Or perhaps I like to show off. Who knows. Either way, it is fiction.
I write to amuse the reader... that one reader who gets me. I'm sorta like that guy on the stage singing his heart out while staring right into the alabaster eyes of the prettiest girl in the house. I do it for her... I do it for him... I do it for that one reader who picks up my book and is enthralled by the words contained therein. Today, it's Mary. Tomorrow, someone else might discover these words. And like that singer upon the stage, I crave applause. But I never ask for it.
Yep. I'm the writer.