I used to get depressed in bookstores. Because it seemed like everyone was writing books. Every poet, every old rock star, every politician, everyone who had an idea of how other people should live. Books everywhere, books by the millions, books for the millions.

Who was I in this mix?

Then I realized that I can do things most of these people can’t. I can write long nonfiction and poetry. Songs and opinion pieces. Remembrances for friends and marketing copy.

I can arrange things. I can take garbled up gobs of nothing and turn it into art, or at least something useful. Sometimes clever. Sometimes funny. Always better.

I have been published in books and magazines. I have read my work at weddings and memorial services.

I have lost jobs. Out of the ashes of jobs I built a business. I’ve been told I wasn’t able to write well enough, and I’ve proven none of them knew what they were talking about.

I now write for one of the nation’s biggest urban parks. A regional bank. A university. The state’s most successful United Way agency. One of the nation’s poorest cities. An international consulting company.

I bring a magazine to life out of nothing four times a year out of sheer force of will.

I have tried to destroy my personal life, but I saved it. I tried to destroy those around me, and I’ve saved them, too.

Next year, I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself.