A little over three years ago a friend of mine in South Florida sent me a Craigslist post from a gentleman in the Los Angeles area seeking writers for a new website. The writers had to fit two criteria. They should be situated on any part of the planet, the weirder and more varied the location the better, and they must be able to write good creative non-fiction. When I received the email I was holed up in a mansion bordering a golf course on the outskirts of Cascais, Portugal with an injured leg and a bored and shitty attitude. I fit the first part of the bill, for I was definitely living in a weird and remote location, but I was no writer, oh no, never would be. Not me.
My friend in Miami pestered, cajoled, threatened and persevered and, one night, tipsy on Beaujolais, I relented and sent off an awkward, self-conscious and self-deprecating letter to the guy who’d posted the ad.
Two days later I got a reply from a dude called Brad Listi. He was a Real Writer with a Real Book, and A Blog, and Ambition, and Motivation, and Credibility, and he said something that changed my life forever.
He liked my work.
It’s amazing what a little approval can do.
For years I had been writing stories, letters, poems and weirdness, but sharing them only with friends and family. When my friends and family complimented my words, praised me or urged me to write more I filed their encouragement away as biased love and white lies. I simply didn’t believe anyone. Not a single damn soul. I never showed my work to anyone but my closest circle. I couldn’t. I didn’t dare. And now, thanks to a push from a friend on the other side of the world and three glasses of French red grape-juice, here I was on the receiving end of some surprising encouragement from a total stranger.
The weirdest thing?
I believed him immediately.
I suddenly felt capable. Wow. Perhaps I can do this. Perhaps I really can do the one thing I’ve always wanted to do but never had the courage to. Holy shit?!
My entire life changed in an instant.
Mr Listi urged me to join Myspace to practice my writing and garner an audience that I could then sway to the website when it finally opened. Reluctantly I did. My life changed again. My blog became popular, my readers grew, and grew hungry. I wrote and wrote and wrote and shared EVERYTHING with anybody who’d read it. I got the idea for a movie about it. I wrote it, I filmed it, and I even put Brad Listi in it. But that’s another story.
I met a bunch of people from Myspace who read my blog and became friends with many of them. But that’s another story too.
Finally, through a series of strange and beautiful adventures and encounters, I met a man on Venice Beach who I’d only ever spoken to through emails and one brief phone call. He was the close friend of an amazing and luminous woman I met in the comment section of Brad’s blog. Her name is Solar and she is a great light in my life. This man and I went for a walk on the beach where I picked up a bee and he hugged me and then, a couple of months later, we fell in love and moved to San Francisco where, after a series of malfunctions, we ended up sharing a house and a vegetable garden and a lot of beautiful dreams. But that, again, is another longer, prettier tale.
So happy birthday, thenervousbreakdown.com. Thank you for all the doors you’ve opened and the magic you’ve made happen. I love you very much and I think you’re wonderful.