By Vince Churchill
My name is Vince Churchill. I’m 53 years old. I graduated with the Jacksonville High School class of 1980. I’m African American. I have one dimple.
I’m also a writer.
Most days I wake up and think I’m one of the luckiest people on earth. For much of my life I’ve known exactly what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, and did it. I don’t know anyone else who can say that.
Every once and a while I find myself wondering if my dream of being a novelist isn’t really a deep-seeded delusion birthed from a childhood dream. I mean, I grew up in the public library. What kid wouldn’t want to make up stories like the ones he read? I started writing stories in second grade. I have the report card and teacher’s comments to prove what I can’t really remember. Was I gifted at an early age, or was I merely trying to copy what I loved?
I’m a grown man, and my belief in my talent is unwavering, but that faith in myself has pushed me in illogical directions for a person my age. I continue to gamble with my future based on my refusal to give up my dream. The older I get, it seems less profound and more delusional.
At this point in my life I could stop writing and settle into a career and live out the rest of my life. That would be the smart thing to do. But because of my age, I have the same mindset of that slot machine player that has already blown most of his wad and decides to play out the string. I’m too stubborn to quit doing the thing I love despite the cold reality staring me in the face. My dream, my delusion, has its hooks way too deep into my psyche to try to separate one from another.
And if somewhere along the line I went from dream to delusion, was I supposed to know the expiration date of my dream? I never thought the pursuit of my dream was a boom or bust proposition. I also didn’t know my dream was set up like a mortgage payment. You know – ten, twenty or thirty years and then it’s over. You’re all paid up. You’ve either popped the champagne for a dream captured and lived out, or you’re an idiot to continue to chase something you should’ve been convinced you were never going to achieve.
Maybe I should be more honest with myself. I’ve met my dream to be a professional writer. My dream to become a novelist has come true. But strangely, my original childhood dream has not only evolved, but blossomed into several sub dreams I might never achieve.
I want to make my complete living as a writer. I want to create comic books and graphic novels and screenplays.
And I want to make horror films.
That all sounds more than a little delusional.
I’m a grown man who has been fighting off the real world his whole life armed with the simple, hard-headed belief that one day, I will make all my dreams come true. It makes me feel both very proud and very much like the village idiot.
I often think of all the young people I’ve been in contact with over the years. Maybe I should have advised them to follow their dreams until they started to worry about their retirement nest egg, or their ability to take care of their families. Maybe I should have suggested dreams should be put aside when times get tough, or when quitting is the most convenient or responsible thing to do.
Dream or delusion? I can’t really say. I don’t really know. I do know what I want for myself despite the obstacles. I hope for everyone out there with a life-long dream that the hooks are dug in so deep you can be lifted off your feet, like Richard Harris in A Man Called Horse. And if your dream somehow becomes a delusion, I hope your friends and family think you’re nuts for not ever giving up.
Then again, why listen to me? I’m probably very, very delusional.