Get Your Dumb, Lazy Ass in There and Start Writing!


I wrote my first short story at ten years of age. Back then, magazines would have a back page full of two-inch ads for everything from X-ray-vision goggles to correspondence courses in taxidermy. One of the ads was from a company with an address in New York City – Lexington Avenue, so you knew it was a first-class outfit. The ad read something like this:

Do you have what it takes to become a published author? Send your manuscript and SASE – Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope – to the address below for a professional appraisal of your work.

So, I took a Bicpen and my 100-sheet college-ruled notebook and wrote a story. I have no memory of what the story was about. I seem to remember it was six or seven pages long in my cramped schoolboy cursive. I know that when I folded it and inserted it into a standard first-class envelope (along with my folded-up SASE) it burst at the seams. My mom reinforced it with Scotch Tape and put an extra stamp on it ‘just to be safe’. I put it in the mailbox and waited. And waited!

Finally, it came. The response. Inside my wrinkled-up SASE was a single-page letter: folded neatly, uncreased and typed on cream-coloured 20 lb. bond paper – first class all the way with this outfit.

Dear Mr. Larsen

We at [name withheld because I don’t remember it] believe that you have real talent! We are confident that we can find a suitable publisher for your highly engaging story. Please send us $50.00 (Cheque or money order. Do not send cash.) by return post. We can get started today.

I was crushed. Betrayed! I put my pen and notebook away and didn’t write another word that wasn’t part of a school assignment for 15 years.

After college and two years in the army, I entered my On the Road phase. For the next two years, I criss-crossed the United States, Europe and Canada. In my army-issued backpack, I carried two things always – a ripped, dog-eared paperback of Kerouac’s classic and a robin’s-egg-blue Smith-Corona portable typewriter. I hocked the typewriter several times, but I always got it back. In city parks, late-night diners and five-dollar hotel rooms, I pounded out the next ‘Great American Novel’. Everyone who read it disagreed. I put it aside for a few months, and when I reread it, I found they were right. I left the Smith-Corona in a pawn shop in Missoula, Montana and began the process of ‘growing up’. I don’t have enough life experience, I told myself. I’m too young. I’ll get back to it some day!

I was 46 years old when my wife and I were having a conversation one day about regrets.

 ‘I always thought that I wanted to be a writer.’(Imagine a whiny middle-aged guy’s voice here!)

‘Well, if that’s what you’ve always wanted,’ she said. ‘You should probably go sit down at the computer and start writing!’ I took her advice and never looked back.

Success is a relative thing – in the eye of the beholder, they say. In my eyes, I’m a successful writer. I’ve never earned a living as one, but I’ve had numerous stories and articles appear in publications I admire, and I’ve earned a few awards over the years.

I don’t believe in writer’s block – I think it’s an excuse to procrastinate. The one thing I can count on to break me out of the procrastination cycle is to repeat this mantra (I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years):

‘Get your dumb, lazy ass in there and start writing!’

About the Author

Tom Larsen was born and raised in New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Civil Engineering. He has worked as a carpenter, construction superintendent, small business owner and building inspector. He is also the author of six novels in the crime fiction genre.

Tom’s short fiction has appeared in the anthologies: ‘Friends in Foreign Places’ and ‘Dreams’, as well as ‘Flash Fiction Magazine’, ‘Everyday Fiction’, ‘Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine’ and ‘Mystery Tribune.’ In 2022, he was a Shamus Award Finalist.

Check out Tom’s Author Page at



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