I have a confession to make. It's not easy for me. Some of my closest friends tell me that I really don't need to make this announcement; that I can just change my ways and let the fervor subside. But I can't do that. It wouldn't be fair to you, my readers. It wouldn't be fair to the other writers out there who have been discouraged by my success. And it wouldn't be fair to me, to ask myself to continue carrying this treacherous secret. That's why I'm going to man up and take the step that so many of my contemporaries, be it because of shame, denial or fear, won't do. I'm going to admit that I used steroids. Well, actually, there: I just admitted it.
I know how this must seem, but please, I assure you: I didn't seek out steroids. I happened upon them one day while hanging out in the gymnasium of nearby Tommy James Middle School, which I find to be a peaceful place to bust out some writing and reps. Halfway through a set of preacher curls, I watched as a nearby sixth grader dropped the bottle of clear ointment he was carrying. The bottle cracked upon hitting the cement floor, and all of the adjectives in the English language, combined into one long word, would fail to describe the look of anguish, embarrassment and anger that splattered onto this young lad's chiseled face. Responding in my typical neighborly fashion, I crouched beside the substantial twelve year old and begin mopping the gunk up with my bare hands.
The change was immediate.
Within moments, I felt my fingers bulging. Not in a freshman-girl-at-college type of way, mind you. Rather, it was the type of engorgement that comes only from the gross investment of power. Put simply: my hands were jacked. That night I tried to ignore it, but the change was too overpowering. When writing, my previously-sluggish pen darted across the paper. Sentences that, just weeks before, would take entire minutes to write were appearing in mere seconds. I penned a novel in a week. My mind was alert. My fingers were adroit. And I was addicted.
Naturally, others took notice. Few commented, but the sudden spike in my production was hard to overlook. Friends and foes alike watched the horror unfold. Some contemplated fortifying themselves with similar supplements. Others just scowled in disgust. Remarked once-friend and fellow writer Streeter Seidell: "It became apparent, once he began . . . what he was doing . . . that I would never again be able to compete at the same level. And I hated him for that." As the accusations and criticisms became louder, so too did my denials. And I hated myself for it. But I just couldn't admit it.
As it turns out, I didn't have to. Six months of heavy steroid cycling had inflated my fingers to the size of small kayaks. Favorite pairs of gloves no longer fit. Small fruit and juice boxes would be obliterated the moment I grabbed them. My once fleet-of-finger pen-craft became sloppy and illegible, if I could even keep a writing implement grasped between my colossal carpals. I was still working as hard, and as long, but my frustrations and clumsiness were becoming apparent in the quality of my work. I had to cut back. It had gotten out of control.
Escaping from the nefarious clutches of steroids proved to be a more difficult task than I anticipated. I found myself weakened. Tired. Drained. My productivity fell to an all-time low. Exasperation reached an all-time high. And the gossip never stopped. My deflated hands were now regarded as a clear sign of my habit. Of my cheating. What options were left? Go back on steroids? Bloat my hands back to Disney-sized mitts and play it off as good conditioning? Impossible. Yet, I had no plausible story to defend the sudden decrease in the girth of my grabbers. Frustration and fury prevented me from even writing an articulate defense. I had nothing.
Then the shame hit me. I realized how far I had fallen, and that's why I'm here today, standing before you. My hands are back to normal size. I have energy again. I'm writing consistently, and I'm happy with the results. I know this means little, if anything, to most of you, but you have to understand. You have to understand what it's like to be able to harness that type of power. It can turn an average writer into a great writer, and a great writer into . . . well, into a legend, frankly. And I was too weak to resist that.
I don't expect forgiveness or for the asterisks to be removed from my titles. All I ask, from anyone willing to grant a reformed abuser one final wish, is for everyone out there to please recognize one thing: Yes, the 'roids may have helped with my stamina and strength. I could sleep less, work on exercises more effectively and write endlessly. My characters and stories, as a result, became more evocative; stronger; moving. In short, the power of my work came from the steroids.
But the talent, the drive and the creativity . . . that came from within.