Friday, August 21, 2015

Dream Chaser: The Beginning

Over the last few years I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet many successful authors. I have listened to their stories and learned from them. Two things are certain: Every writer’s path to success is seemingly different, but they all begin with a passion for books and knowledge.

I’ve learned that best-selling authors are not mutants with special powers. They’re human. They are people who have had ‘real jobs’ and regular lives, who have struggled, and have doubted themselves. But they have also persevered, standing steadfast in the pursuit of their dreams. They believed in what they were doing and kept writing until they found their place on a bookstore shelf.

My own path has been anything but conventional. Until about seven years ago, the idea of being a writer never crossed my mind. However, like so many writers, I have been obsessed with books and knowledge since childhood. I always preferred books over television and read encyclopedias like many kids read comics. Looking back, I am thankful for that obsession. Still, I spent many years thinking it was more of a curse. In a previous blog (Beat The Bully), I mentioned how I was the lonely kid at the back of the class. When I was called on by the teacher, having the right answer meant everything to me. It was my identity. That was the moment, even if fleeting, that I stood out, that I had something to offer. Being wrong was not an option for me and when I was, disappointment was an understatement.  

My life has been dictated by that need to know. If a job had nothing left to teach, I became bored and my nomadic tendencies pushed me in new directions. Among other things, I’ve been a preschool teacher, road worker, coach, tutor, competitive fighter, bouncer, horse trainer and a reptile handler. I settled on a career as a manufacturing manager for a while, but only after walking away from the music industry. I convinced myself that I was living a life of fantasy and needed to do as society dictated; get a job, build a family, and become content with my misery. 

(My path reminds me a lot of that classic Fisher Price toy where you have to fit shapes into the matching cut outs on a plastic ball. I was the toddler and my life was the block. I constantly contorted in different directions, trying to bend, squeeze, and force into molds not meant for me.)

It was that eagerness to learn, to do it all. How could I possibly know who I wanted to be if I had not yet tried everything? If there was still so much knowledge to be had, how could I find my place in the world? I went through a period of depression. I nearly conceded to all the voices that said there was no room in the world for dreamers.

Then I started writing.

At first, it was just fun. I scribbled down a few really bad poems, wrote a few kid’s stories that weren’t half bad, and I tried my hand at sports articles, covering a high school in a small town paper. Then came the inspiration for my first short story. Driving through Waitsfield, Vermont one winter I saw a frozen pond. In the middle of that pond, sitting on the ice, was an outhouse. For the town of Waitsfield, that porta-john was part of an annual contest. For me, it inspired a short story called Thin Ice. The story that would spark a wild and crazy notion to write a novel.

I dropped everything. From then on, every step I took was leading me to Colorado. I knew I wanted to be a writer. I understood it wouldn’t be easy. I was certain that it could only happen with the Rocky Mountains in sight.

So, here I am.

The first novel is complete and seeking adoption. The second novel is half written. I have a dozen others started and more ideas than I have time to write. I’m a proud, active member of Pikes Peak Writers and  director for the next Pikes Peak Writers Conference. I’m fully immersed in the writing world.

I found my place and the dream is alive. Thank you for sharing this amazing journey with me. Perhaps one day soon we can celebrate together. Not just my achievements, but yours. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the best path to success is rarely walked alone.

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 JasonPHenry.com

14 comments :

  1. The road to publication can be twisted, frustrating, and ill-lit, but one well worth the journey.

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    1. Enjoying every step so far. It has been quite the interesting journey.

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  2. Boy, you nailed it with the teamwork comment. We might be able to write the books alone, but the team starts counting in a big way when you get to the marketing stage especially.

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    1. I tried the whole solo, tormented writer approach but it didn't work. Not to mention homes with creepy writer attics are getting hard to find. Found a bunch of writer friends and joined reality. It's working out well so far.

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  3. Here's to the dream staying alive and thriving! And hey, if life was simply a straight road stretching to the horizon then (in my opinion), it'd be pretty dull.

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  4. God for you for following your dream, Jason. And I loved the last line of your post about the path to success. Thank goodness we have so many writer friends who help us along that path.

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    1. I love my writer friends. Pretty sure they are the only ones who truly understand me... And don't judge!

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  5. Welcome to the Blood-Red Pencil, Jason. It's good to have you with us :-)

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  6. Thank you, Elle! I'm thrilled to be here and it is going to be fun.

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  7. OMG, having all those jobs sounds so perfect for a writer! You have material for-ev-er. I can't wait to read the one about the guy who's a pre-school teacher by day and bouncer by night, who gives it all up to follow his dream of traveling to the Amazon to find the world's rarest reptile. Or something like that...

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    1. Yes, I have done many things and gone many places. I had an actual 'career' for a long time, but it was never my only job. I have always had a second, sometimes third place of employment. Have never been one to sit still. I have countless experiences to think upon when I write. If there is anything I can claim about my path, it is that my path has rarely been boring.

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  8. This is a great article, Jason. Your trip began recently -- mine started several decades ago when I was a little girl painstakingly printing childish poems on lined elementary-school paper. My first novel had its beginnings in early high school, and it has yet to come to a conclusion. Yet it was an important step on a path I wouldn't fully take until many years later with a nonfiction story that was purchased by a religious publication. (No, it wasn't a religious piece.) Then, nearly 20 years ago, the seeds of my first novel grew into an outline and character sketches. It took 5 years to finish, but what an exciting "end" that proved to be! Now I'm hooked and tapping into a lifetime of experiences and observations to keep the writing ball rolling with lots of "starts" that I hope to cultivate into compelling novels.

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  9. I think quite a few writers spent years trying to squeeze themselves into the wrong size/shape spaces. At least we can say we learned a few things along the way!

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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