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  • Writer's pictureDouglas James Troxell

Writing: A Satisfying Way to Be Poor

Most writers use their first website blog post to talk about why they write.

That's boring.

Why do I write? Because that's what I do. I've always written and I always will. What's it to you? Why would you care why I write? Why does Tom Brady (who I hate) play football? That's what he does. He enjoys it and he's good at it and he makes the Dolphins (who I love) look like schmucks. It's as simple as that. Why does anyone do anything?

Instead I'd like to write about the moment I knew writing was what I was going to do with my life. Like I said, I've always written. I wrote my first book when I was in fourth grade. It was a rip-off of Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories from Wayside School. I wrote goofy stories about all my classmates and got about halfway through before I gave up on the whole thing (That's pretty good for being ten).

I wouldn't attempt writing a book again until I was 17. Then it became my obsession. I said I wanted to be a writer so I figured I'd better prove it by writing a novel. So that's what I set out to do. I spent the majority of the summer between my junior and senior years of high school writing my first novel. I spent most of my days in my parents' room where we kept our giant desktop computer smashing away at the keyboard for hours and hours.

The book was a really sleazy teen thriller called The Menage a Trois Murder. It was about a three-way that goes awry when one of the members of the three-person orgy ends up dead. Then the other two have to cover up the murder (I was 17 and super horny. Give me a break).

I want to point out that I wasn't an overly loser-y kid, either. I had friends, a girlfriend, a job. I just blew them all off to write. Instead of hanging out with my friends, I stayed home and finished a chapter. Instead of going to see my girlfriend (who had a Jacuzzi, an in-ground pool, and a room that smelled like lavender at her house), I gutted out a few more sentences. Instead of going to the old folks home where I waited tables, I stared at the computer screen until tears streamed down my face.

I sacrificed and wrote and wrote and wrote and by the end of the summer my novel was finished. It was 123,000 words long and terrible, but it was finished...and it was GLORIOUS.

So I had written the damn thing so the next question was, what do I do with it? Easy. SELL IT! I took out an ad in our school newspaper (which I had been editor of for three weeks before I was kicked off the staff for being too critical of the school and telling my female adviser to "Grow a pair") and told my classmates that for only $10 they could own the debut novel of DOUGLAS JAMES TROXELL.

It turns out, though, that I was a better writer than a mathematician. See, I had to print the books myself and at 123,000 words each book was a monster. It took nearly an entire ink cartridge to print the whole book. Print cartridges were $50 so I was losing roughly $40 on each book. It would have been fine if no one wanted one, but (TWIST OF FATE!) ten people ordered books! I tried printing them at the library, but they caught on to that scheme real fast when the printer was going for an hour-and-a-half straight. I didn't want to back out of my commitment or jack up the price so I sucked it up and ate the cost.

When it was all said and done, my first venture into writing cost me over $200. That's a lot for a 17-year-old kid. Hell, that's a lot now. Still, I wasn't mad. All I cared about was that people were reading something that I had written...and most of them even liked it as perverted and twisted as it was.

That's when I knew I was a writer. When writing had made me poor and I didn't care, that's when I knew writing would be with me the rest of my life. Fifteen years later, writing hasn't made me any wealthier but the riches it's brought me are immeasurable.

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