Marty —

Calm down. Trust yourself. You've just met the girl of your dreams and you know it. Be your best. Let's not screw this one up. OK?

That means you need to finally finish college. You keep dancing around the finale because you don't know what you want to do with the rest of your life. You say that's the purist in you talking, but it's fear. Don't be afraid. Trust your gut. You already know you want to be a writer — you spend hours scrawling bad poetry on the back of cocktail napkins during your bartending shifts. It's just a matter of believing you can make it happen. So all those days you've skipped class to read Hemingway and Thompson at the beach? Right now it feels like you're just blowing off class. Trust me: it's education.

That bad poetry? Let it go. That's just you trying to be Springsteen. And by the way, writing and alcohol don't mix any more than drinking and manscaping. That's not a term you're familiar with right now, but one day that sentence will either make you laugh or make you cringe.

You need to be loyal. You need to let go of your rage. You need to respect this new girl, because she's going to be the making of you. Your three boys are going to be awesome because she is tough when you are not, and weeps when you storm.

This writing thing is going to take you by surprise — it's also going to take you around the world. You barely know how to punctuate right now, let alone report a good story. In time, those will become your favorite parts about writing. The details you abhor will become your craft.

You're not Springsteen. You're not Petty. Not Salter. Not Thompson. But you have your own voice. Someday, after trying to be Hemingway one too many times, you'll just say fuck it and write.

And on that day you will find yourself.

Of course, you'll lose yourself again. Finding the voice is part of writing's daily discipline. Just sit there and work. Work. Work. You and the voice will find each other.

One last thing: don't listen to the doubters. People think writers are dreamers, and that any man chasing this wonderful profession is shirking responsibility. They'll talk behind your back when money is tight, and wonder how a father could travel the world to chase a book proposal and leave his wife at home to take care of business.

Those are going to be hard days. Carry on. Don't settle for average. Think long term and know that your boys are destined to be better than you.

 Isn't that all a father can ask?

Enjoy the world, no matter where you are or who you're with, even on those anxious nights when worry sits on your chest like an elephant. Enjoy the people you meet along the way, because their inspirations will push you.

Never ever lose sight of your faith.

And cherish that girl. Always.

Because she's the one who's going to tell you that it's time to quit that corporate job to be a writer, and give you backbone on the days you have none.