J.D. Daniels moving essay, Technical Difficulty, comes to me in perfect timing. I spent some time this morning discussing with friends what motivates/demotivates us from writing. My motivator, I said, is a desire to prove someone wrong–even if that someone is myself.

Daniels walks us through his evolution from young man in Kentucky, to college student, to writing teacher, to where he is now: “I write handbooks for the molecular biology department at Harvard.”

Actually, he starts there and moves us backwards. Back to that one perfect moment, where the seed was planted:

One day I found Fantastic Four #200, the double-length special in which Reed Richards tore off his enemy’s mask “and in the heart of the great solartron complex Doctor Doom was driven into madness by the multiplied images of his own destroyed face!” A pristine copy of this particular issue is worth a lot of money now. Mine has its resale price written in magic marker in the upper right-hand corner.

I paid my dime. I leaned against our storm door and I read my new comic book twenty times. Then I went inside and asked my mother for a favor. Because her penmanship was better, she wrote my name in blue ink under the title—The Fantastic Four by Johnny Daniels—to show me how it was done.

All right, I said. Now let me try.

After reading this essay, I feel ready again.

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