Someone once told me that the way to make it as a writer is to "write what you know." That's not entirely something I can get behind. I write, not to tell my own story, but to help create it. My pen evokes smoky bars, barren cityscapes and the glamorous mystique of the untamed night. This is far from my current existence in suburban America, my experiences as a man trapped in the fitful throes of a boyhood he needs to escape.

There is nothing left for me in this tiny town, this bastion of security that hides the anguish of discarded dreams and nagging regrets. When I close my eyes, I see worlds that I must inhabit, people I must meet and roads I must travel. I see men with accordions in Prague, a bartender and his pet monkey in Cairo. A girl so paralyzingly beautiful that every word she whispers in her Nordic tongue is etched into my brain like flowery script on a love letter. I yearn to hit jackpot after jackpot in the Monte Carlo Casino, and to sip coffee with a New York City hobo as the sun crawls slowly up the frigid sky. I want more than anything in this world to share champagne with a red-lipped siren in the Paris dusk, then to curse her scorn for me in an English pub that has stood longer than my country.

This is why, in a few short months, I will pack my things and bid a final farewell to the ugly landscape I call home, seeking to emerge from the torrents of young adulthood unscathed and to make sense of the beautiful, depraved world I live in. I'll stay up too late, walk without purpose and ask too many questions, but at least I'll go to sleep knowing I'm squeezing every last possible drop of reality out of the time I've been allotted.

Until then, however, I will continue to do as I have done all these years. I won't write what I know, that will only serve to depress me and bore the rest. No, I will write what I long for. I'll search my mind for every ounce of raw romanticism, of brash bravado and beautiful sadness. My pen will put to paper every gentle love and every crashing defeat I can muster, slices of pure, unabashed reality in a life that can often seem hazy and trivial. I'll do it to keep myself sane, until a new sun burns away the cold fog and that cruel, incredible world is ready for me.

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