I wrote my first story when I was twelve. It was a heart wrenching tale of a boy who was stricken with grief over the passing of his dog. It took me a long time to write (two weeks) and was long in length (two and a half pages). I never showed anyone the story and have since misplaced it.

I didn’t write for another two years.

When I did begin writing again, I was fourteen. My writing took on the form of songs and poetry. I was a teenager full of angst. I enjoyed poetry because the poems could be finished in a short amount of time, and they were usually built around one really good line.

In short, I had a tolerance for writing equal to my tolerance for alcohol. I could sit down for a page or two, but then I was finished, passed out on the couch. It only took one good line to get me intoxicated on the act of writing. I would binge on the weekend and write one poem. I would then be hungover for days, my head spinning from the lines in that poem.

I continued writing poetry after high school. I wanted to write stories, but I didn’t have the endurance to devote so much time. Plus, ideas didn’t come frequently enough. Most of my stories were the same length as that first story I wrote when I was twelve.

It was in my first year in college that I wrote my first full story. It took me a long time to write (too embarrassing to divulge) and it was thirteen pages. By this time, I had been writing for so long that the story was chockfull of good lines. I had built up a tolerance to good lines. It now took me a lot more than single line to find something worth writing down. I was intoxicated on that story. I drank up the characters and their words. It felt like something I should have been doing more often. Due to my high tolerance of “good” lines, I became more focused on the story built around those lines. To further the metaphor, once I began drinking micro-brewed beer, I was able to have a more pleasing experience that lasted well into the night. No more passing out on the couch.

The only problem was I was only able to write for thirty minutes or so, before I was burnt out. Incidentally, I began riding my bike around this time. I would be wiped out by a four mile ride. I had to build up an endurance. I began riding my bike everyday. It wasn’t long until the ride into downtown became a breeze.

I began to see my writing career in the same light as I saw my cycling hobby. If I devoted an hour a day to writing, sometimes forcing it, I would build up an endurance. It worked.

I now had the endurance to write for a long period of time (even if sometimes I was forcing it) and it took me a whole lot more than a good line for me to become intoxicated.

I felt like a fiction writer.

Now, I have the endurance to be mid-way through a novel. One could argue that it contains more than merely “good” lines. I could always build up my endurance, ensuring that I ride longer and faster. And I could always use one more drink.