Living the dream! (Again)

I get up in the morning and do what I love: I write. I sit around the house in my underwear and make shit up. That’s what I do. And then I sign some books. I put my dog in the truck and we drive to the post office together. We go for a walk at the Greenway here in Boone or I take her to the dog park for an hour. When we get home, the dog and I sit in the sunporch while I respond to e-mails and she takes a nap.

A little more revising in the afternoon, maybe an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, a call from my agent that we’ve got an offer from overseas, a walk through the neighborhood before I start dinner.

I’m living the dream. I completely lucked into it. And this is the second time it’s happened to me.

The first time I stumbled into a career as a yacht captain. I was living on a 27′ Watkins sloop while I was in college. After my Junior year, I decided to put off the real world for a bit, and I sailed down to the Bahamas. There, I learned to scuba dive, learned to catch lobster and conch, and generally lived like I would never have another care for the rest of my life.

Hurricane Floyd changed all that. I managed to flee the oncoming category 5 storm and pulled into Nassau in time to weather it. The damages suffered meant I was stuck there for a while, and my cruising funds withered. But I found out I could drive other people’s boats and they would pay me for it. And it was something I was really good at.

By the time I returned to Florida, I had a job waiting for me. The first task was to take a sportfish down the Miami river and over to Nassau, which is where I’d just come from! Cruising buddies I had just tearfully said farewell to a few days earlier grabbed my dock lines as I rumbled back into port. The scruffy little stray that left on a struggling sailboat had arrived at 30 knots in a shiny Bertram.

And so began a career of delivering yachts up and down the East Coast and throughout the Caribbean. I spent a Christmas in Cuba, was marooned on a near-deserted island for over a month, drove a 100 foot yacht through the Eerie barge canal and through four of the five Great Lakes to Chicago, and all before I hit 30.

It was a dumb and lucky accident, just like becoming a full-time writer. A few months ago, I was taking my lunch hour at the bookstore and going up to the little-used conference room where I would douse the lights and peck at my keyboard until I had to go back to work.

Everyone at the bookstore would make fun of me sitting in the dark like that. The general manager of the store would reach his hand inside the room and turn on the lights, just to be a dick. I didn’t care. I was steering my own course, not a concern in the world, just doing something because it was fun, travelling in my imagination the way I used to hop through the islands, no idea whatsoever that I could actually make a living while chasing my dreams.


13 responses to “Living the dream! (Again)”

  1. A very wise preacher said something in one of his sermons when I was teenager that has stuck with me from the second he said it. He said it was told to him when he was a kid as well. He was asking someone about what a good career might be and they told him,

    “Think of something you would gladly do for free and then find somebody to pay you to do it.”

    I get too seasick to captain yachts (found that out AFTER joining the Navy…yikes!) and I have yet to find any storyteller genes in my DNA, but I do love to farm!

    1. There’s more and more call for fresh veggies these days!

  2. So Hugh… when do we get your auto-biography? Cos I’m waiting you know…

  3. I’m working on it a bit at a time. Probably not for another year.

    It’s dreadfully boring.

  4. Twain said “write about what you know”

    Boat captain days must be ripe for story fodder.

  5. …Nothing about you is boring Mr. Howey! Nothing…

  6. Thanks for another motivating blog post, Hugh! I tell my daughter that she should grow up and do something she enjoys, and I feel like a hypocrite every time I have to tell her why I don’t do the same thing. She’s five, so she doesn’t get the paying the bills part yet, so it’s tough to explain.

    I have a job that pays the bills, and I’m good at it, but I’d much rather be doing something creative like writing, art, anything. I’m getting started down that road, but it’s a long journey I’m afraid. With any luck, I’ll stumble into it one of these days. In the mean time, I’ll keep being inspired by my favorite author!

  7. hmmm, you should definitely organize a book signing at that book store…let that former boss know…”yeah so remember when you were being a dick and mocking my writing efforts?…top selling author on Amazon (as in largest book seller in the world, Amazon) just saying…so how goes stocking shelves?”

    1. Haha! Well, my immediate boss (who ran the general book area) is a great guy. It’s the doofus in charge of the entire bookstore who gave us all fits. He seriously was a caricature, crazier than anyone you’ve read about or seen on TV. Michael from The Office doesn’t come close.

  8. “I get up in the morning and do what I love: I write. I sit around the house in my underwear and make shit up. That’s what I do. And then I sign some books. I put my dog in the truck and we drive to the post office together.”

    You go to the post office in just your underwear?!? Good God, you are living the dream!


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