in the mirror - we all have it - that shadow self - that dark heart
I never liked myself—even as a child. I always felt an imaginary audience watching me—applauding or hissing my every move.
I was hypersensitive and painfully self-conscious and those inhibiting qualities led me, I believe, to enter a rather boring profession—I became a used book dealer in downtown Toronto.
Although well educated and a lover of books, I never ended up the hero of my own story. I always felt my temperament constraining me, holding me back, and preventing me from achieving my true potential.
I think it was more this than anything else that led to my great lie.
Walter Towne, a local artist, was in need of a copy of Machiavelli's Mandragola—I found him a rare copy and in gratitude, he presented me with a wonderful ink portrait of me.
It was a sketch really, but seemed to elevate and ennoble my features. I hung it on the wall above the fireplace and would stare at it evenings, a glass of Medoc in hand.
Whatever became of the dream Richard?
I asked myself that question every night.
One night I decided to do something about it—something daring and slightly risqué.
I opened a Twitter account using the pseudonym Scott Finney—an amalgam of my two favorite authors—Jack Finney and F Scott Fitzgerald.
But I needed an occupation befitting my real potential.
I opted to be a psychiatrist—and not just any shrink, but a truly noble soul—I imagined myself going to the Third World on mission trips to aid traumatized victims in war-torn areas.
I was to be a true Doctor Without Borders—Doctor Scott Finney (Psy. D.)—Itinerant counsellor to the downtrodden.
In lieu of a picture, I uploaded the sketch.
I had no idea how people would respond, or if the ruse would succeed.
But succeed it did, beyond all expectation—in my first week I had six hundred followers—in two months, I had ten thousand.
My Klout score was in the mid-seventies and on that basis, found myself being offered free meals in restaurants, paid luxury suites in hotels and discounted air fares.
Then it happened, late one night when I felt reckless and arrogant, a woman, Marie Sevigne, began tweeting to me.
You should write a book. Your advice has helped me so much in my personal life.
How should I respond? The suggestion was absurd.
I haven’t time right now with all my commitments – maybe in the future.
She persisted: We need your expertise and advice, Doctor Finney – I’ll start an on-line petition.
And so it went, night after night, until finally, I relented.
Within a month I scraped together enough money to self-publish 500 copies of Reaching Your Potential. I had them published at a small vanity press and offered them for sale on Amazon.
They sold out the first day.
I went back and placed a rush order for 2,000 and they sold within the week.
Suddenly, my book sales went to the top ten on Amazon.
Barnes and Noble, Book Off USA and Books-A-Million were requesting huge shipments to meet demand.
I found myself traveling to book signings in New York and Chicago and even at the large Chapters bookstore in downtown Toronto.
It was then that the dream began to unravel.