You can make excuses or you can make progress.

The other day, I hopped in a cab. The driver and I started chatting, as you do. She asked what I do for work. I told her that I’m a writer. Her eyes lit up.

“That’s so cool! My son wants to be an author.”

“Oh yeah? What does he like to write about?” I asked.

She explained that her son is 12 years old. He has declared that he will finish his first novel by his 13th birthday. It’s a story about twin siblings — a brother and a sister — with supernatural powers. He works on it every single day. Any chance he gets.

Recently, he got in trouble during science class because he was writing story ideas in his notebook instead of paying attention to the teacher. 

Another time, a different teacher scolded him and said, “Kids don’t write books.” (Can you imagine?) But none of that has stopped him.

“We don’t have a computer at home,” his mom explained. “It broke a long time ago.” Totally dead. Won’t even turn on. Sizzled black screen. She’s saving money to buy a new one. But it hasn’t happened yet. 

But for her son? That’s no problem. He goes to the school computer lab during lunch — and then again after school — and that’s when he types out his novel. Every day, he pushes himself to finish his homework as quickly as possible so that he can work on his novel. He’s been doing this for months. 

We arrived at my apartment. I scribbled my contact info and a publishing resource on a scrap of paper and handed it to her. I said goodbye and told her, “You’re an amazing mom, and you’ve got an amazing son.”

I’ve been thinking about this kid ever since. 

No computer? No problem. Unsupportive teachers? Not an issue. Tons of homework? No sweat. Already finished. This kid is unstoppable. I predict he’ll have a trilogy of books — and a movie deal — by the time he graduates from high school. 

May we all pursue our dreams with the relentless, undaunted passion of this 12-year-old kid.

If we applied even one-quarter of his determination to our work, we’d all create miracles.

“Oh but my Internet connection is really slow.” “So-and-so hasn’t gotten back to me yet.” “My assistant is on vacation.” “My boss won’t let me.”

When those voices arise, when you feel like stalling, when the work feels too hard and overwhelming… remember that somewhere in Oregon, there’s a 12-year-old boy working his butt off at the junior high school computer lab. He’s figuring out how to move forward with his goals in spite of every obstacle.

You can make excuses or you can make yourself proud.

You can make excuses or you can make progress.

You can make excuses or you can make art.

Every day, it’s your choice.