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From Old West Gunfighter to Writer

No wonder so many famous authors become alcoholics; it can be a lonely, depressing life.

I never chose a writing career, it chose me. I still recall how excited I was to discover my first new word.

It was bat.

My mother was teaching me letters and on a piece of yellow-lined paper at the time and she wrote C-A-T.

I decided to see if I could make other words, so I changed the C to a B.

"Is this a word, Ma?" I asked.

It was and I was on my way. Even before starting elementary school I knew I wanted to write books.

Okay, that changed briefly when I was about six and decided I wanted to be an Old West gunfighter, like Little Joe Cartwright. As I grew up I'd routinely scan the help wanted ads, but no one seemed interested in hiring a gunfighter.

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Sometimes I'd hear classmates complaining that they had to think hard to fill up a whole sheet of paper. I was the opposite. I always wanted more paper so I could write longer.

In fifth grade I became a professional writer. Some of the teachers would pay me .25-cents per story. I wasn't Bill Gates rich, but I felt like I was doing pretty good for a poor boy from Charlestown, Rhode Island.

Trying to get published is extremely frustrating, and it seems that all the cards are stacked against a would-be author.

So many times I promised myself to give up writing, and pursue a new career.

But, in the end, I always find myself thinking of new plots and characters. I realize that I have very few skills, except for writing.

So, even if I have to take up drinking, I guess it's because at this point in my life, a best-selling author or bust. God gave me the talent, so He must think I have the write stuff.

For better or worse, I'll be plugging away at my keyboard, I guess.

Unless someone needs a gunfighter?

John Christian Hopkins is a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island. He is the author of Carlomagno. He currently lives on he Navajo Reservation with his wife, Sararesa.