Monday, November 9, 2015

A Writer's Woes: Facing Reality

By Jason P. Henry


You wake up to the sun’s warm rays slipping through a part in the curtains, caressing your skin, inviting you to begin a new day. You accept that invitation by sitting up on the edge of the bed, stretching your arms out to the side, yawning, and slipping your feet into your favorite slippers. Then you stand, go to the curtains, and pull them even farther apart, allowing the sunshine to completely bathe the room. A sparrow, perched on a tree branch just outside the window, whistles a soft ‘good morning’. You look past the branch and see the majestic silhouette of Pikes Peak, like a beacon leading you to your destiny. Then you are greeted by a familiar aroma that puts a smile on your face as it escorts you away from the window and to the kitchen where a freshly brewed pot of coffee awaits. You pour the first cup of the day and carry it with you to your office. Just a simple walk down the hall. You sit down, press the power button on your computer, and enjoy a few sips of java as your start screen comes to life. Then you place the coffee on the desk and open a file labeled current W.I.P. Breathing a sigh of contentment, you place your fingers on the keyboard and go to work.

As writers, whether published or still seeking that coveted place on a bookshelf, we have all had some version of that fantasy. We have spent many moments imagining how life would be if we could make a living doing what we love. That fantasy has potential for coming to fruition, but there are many challenges we face along the way. There will always be the necessities of reality: family, a job, responsibilities, obligations. Then we have the complications of the writing process: beginnings, endings, murky middles, characters, story arcs, plot holes, word counts. There are the business road blocks: rejections, low sales, loss of representation, contract negotiations. Perhaps worst of all, the internal conflicts: self-doubt, lack of motivation, frustration, thoughts of giving up. The writer’s woes are endless. We must continually find ways to evolve and improve, not just to compete in an ever-changing industry, but also to counter our own personal tribulations.

So, as writers, how do we manage to keep our motivation as we face the many setbacks that we must endure?

That is the very question I want to explore with my posts here at Writing from the Peak. There can never be too many writers in the world, yet, so many fall victim to the troubles and the worries that they encounter. I see it happening all around me and I realize writing is not easy. So let’s approach the many things that would prevent us from bestowing our words upon the world. Together, let’s find ways to navigate the vaguely mapped path to success. After all, Adventure Safety 101 tells us that we should never travel alone.

My own path has definitely seen its share of problems. Many times I have considered giving up on the whole idea of being published, because it seemed every step I took led to one more reason why I was foolish for thinking I could do this. There have even been times when I felt selfish for wanting to put the world away, just for a moment, while I sat down to write. Other times I have felt arrogant for thinking I had anything at all the world might want to read. Often, I have felt insecure because a character is just a little too much like me, and I would be exposed, vulnerable, when the reader discovered him.

Then, as odd as it seems, I have feared success. As much as I want to be published, what if it happened? I truly believe this irrational fear of achieving my goals has actually led to moments of self-destruction.   

The best thing I ever did for myself was to begin associating with other writers. As that network grows, so does my belief that my dreams can become a reality. From the writers I meet, I am constantly reminded why being a writer is so important. Set aside the illusions of grandeur; the cabin in the mountains, my face on the back cover of a novel, the book signings where hundreds of readers show up desiring my coveted and priceless autograph. Forget all the silly things that I dream of when I think about being a successful author. Other writers, they remind me of the real reason behind what I do.

We should all remember why we write in the first place. We write because we believe in the beauty and the power of words. We understand that the writers of the world keep the past alive, chronicle the present, and map the future. We writers tell the stories that allow children to dream big and believe in the impossible. We provide the escape for people who need a break from their own reality. We prove that boundaries are only as restricting as we allow them to be, and, if we open our minds, those barriers fade and allow us to breach the realm of impossibility. With the power and beauty of words, we prove that all things can be if hope stands strong. We move, we inspire, and we open doors that most wouldn’t dream of opening.

The road we travel as writers will always be a difficult one to traverse but, I wouldn’t want it any other way. As I look back at all I have been through, I realize something: I made it. I am still standing. If it wasn’t for all the problems along the way, I’d have nothing to write about. Well, nothing worth reading at least. Those moments that leave us questioning ourselves are the moments that truly shape who we are. They make us better writers by giving our words more meaning.

In the moments of doubt, when you question if what you are doing is worthwhile, close your eyes and think about why you started. Remind yourself of how incredible it felt when the journey began. Open your eyes and feel the sun on your skin. Part the curtains, get your cup of coffee. Then go to your writing place, sit down, and place your fingers on the keyboard. We’re in this together, you and I. Together, we’ll weather the storm and change the world. One word at a time.

About the Author:  When he's not working with the dedicated and passionate people of Pikes Peak Writers, Jason P. Henry is lost in a world of serial killers, psychopaths, and other unsavory folks. Ask him what he is thinking, but only at your own risk. More often than not he is plotting a murder, considering the next victim, or twisting seemingly innocent things into dark and demented ideas. A Suspense, Thriller and Horror writer with a dark, twisted sense of humor, Jason strives to make people squirm, cringe, and laugh. He loves to offer a smile, but is quick to leave you wondering what lies behind it. Jason P. Henry is best summed up by the great philosopher Eminem “I'm friends with the monsters beside of my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head.” Learn more about Jason at