What is your creative mission?
To tell stories that don’t just entertain, but push people to be better than they were before they read what I wrote.
What do you love about what you do?
The right words can change hearts and minds, and I love the fact that I’m able to spend countless hours honing a particular phrase to have the exact emotional impact I want. When you’re talking face-to-face, or texting, or however the hell you communicate these days, you don’t stop to think about what you’re saying.
When you’re writing, you HAVE to stop and think about it; otherwise, your writing will be crap, and unless you’re Stephanie Meyer or E.L. James, crap doesn’t sell. I love that I can craft a story that only entertains, but imparts the importance of whatever theme I’m trying to communicate.
With my debut novel, “Learning to Fly,” the theme there is eternal love; or rather, that love doesn’t have to end when the person you love dies. It’s a timeless emotion and concept, and that’s something I believe in wholeheartedly. Being able to communicate that, and have people actually listen and agree and change because of that, is what I love most about writing.
What have you learned from your successes/ failures?
Life sucks, then you die. In all seriousness, I’ve learned that you have to just keep going. I have chronic depression and severe anxiety issues. I’m medicated to hell and back to deal with it, and I’ve had a few suicide attempts. Failures exacerbate the problem, and successes just make me think I’m above it all. Then something happens and I’m back down in the dirt dealing with depression again and the viscious cycle starts all over again.
It’s cliche as hell, but it’s true – if you let your failures stop you from going after your dreams, you’ll spend your life wondering what if. I’ve learned that I don’t want to live life with that question hovering at the back of my mind. I want to live deliberately, and that’s what I do.
How do you keep pushing ahead after a difficult challenge?
I grab a 12-pack of Mtn Dew (one of God’s many gifts to men), my fly rod, and go fishing. Before I started writing novels, I wrote about fly fishing. I still do – seven columns monthly, for local and national publications. It’s my escape. Some people smoke pot, other guys shoot up heroin – I guess fly fishing is my drug of choice.
I get out on the river, and in the words of John Gierach, when I’m on a trout stream, I don’t really forget my troubles. I just realize where they fit in the grand scheme of things and they suddenly don’t seem like such a big deal anymore.
I talk to friends, too, because you have to talk to people (other than your novel’s characters, which can be construed as unhealthy depending on your perspective) to stay sane. I’m incredibly blessed to have far better friends than I deserve who help pick me up when I get down.
Have you ever encountered resistance from family, friends, or the world in general? How did you overcome those kinds of blocks?
Yes. I won’t name names, but there’s been plenty of people in my family, and friends as well, who think I’m up in the damn night with this writing career.
Hell, I think I’m crazy half the time. You don’t write because you want money. You write because you don’t have any other choice. Luckily, I’ve never really given a damn what people think about me.
I’m a white Christian from the West who grew up on ranches, orchards, and farms. I never had time growing up to worry about what people down the street thought of me. I was too busy working. If you the opinion of others define you, you’re buying a first-class ticket to misery.
How has your art and creativity healed you?
Writing is cathartic. Half of the stuff I’ve written, or will write, will never be published. Being able to create my own world and escape into it, vent to and with my characters, helps me blow off steam. I’d be a wreck if I didn’t have this outlet. Yeah, that’s cliche, but it’s
I’d be a wreck if I didn’t have this outlet. Yeah, that’s cliche, but it’s cliche for a reason.
What are your NFA Bullet points? What steps would you recommend for anyone who wants to kick some ass and get their creative dreams off the ground?
1. Quit caring what people think about you. The second that you realize the only opinion that matters is yours is the second that you’ll be far more successful.
2. Don’t forget God. I’m a terrible Christian at times, and I’m far from perfect. I’m not preaching, mind you. As long as your god isn’t telling you to blow people up or judge someone because they don’t believe in your god, I’m fine with you. Just remember that He’s the source of all the blessings and goodness in our lives. It helps you stay humble and keep perspective on problems.
3. Just do it. You can sit at the bar with your buddies and talk about starting the next Nirvana, but until you buy the guitars, amps, and mics, it’s all posturing. So shut the hell up about your idea, sit your ass down, and get to work. It’s hard. It’s supposed to be. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
Hey you. Wanna share your wisdom? Answer the 7questions of Creativity here.