Today on social media I have seen a lot of encouraging and warming posts regarding Blue Monday. The sad fact is that as we all come out of the joy and warmth of the Christmas holiday and the excitement of the New Year many of us often forget that this is the hardest time of the year for many people. January is statistically the month that holds the highest suicide rate. Not only does the air turn frigid, but life too can seem cold and empty for many. As a person who has struggled with anxiety and melancholy and as someone who had friends admitted to the hospital under suicide watch, the posts I saw today hit home and they really pulled at my heart. I wanted to do something to offer some hope and encouragement for anyone who may be feeling depressed, anxious, ignored, empty or invisible.
First, if you have had or continue to have any suicidal thoughts please, seek out a friend, family or counselor. Also, I want to offer a simple but true statement. You are loved. It may not always feel that way but it is true. Your family, your friends love you. I write this because I love you, even if we have nev
er met. And as a Christian I believe there is a God who loves you too. You are loved. It may not always feel like it, but I hope as you read these words you know it is true. Something that Seth and I are very open about is the fact that when we go to a book signing or comic con our first mission is not to sell books. We step foot into each venue with the main goal of meeting and loving people first, and selling books second. I think this is part of why we love conventions so much, we have the chance to meet so many awesome people. We have been on the outside looking in, we have been picked on, we have been rejected and felt invisible at times and we want to make sure we love on others who may feel the same way. I am not a psychologist and I don't want to pretend that this post is a fix-all, but I hope it can offer encouragement on how I have allowed despair to fuel my creativity in the past.
Second, I wanted to share the thoughts that kept going through my mind all day: despair can fuel you. I know this might not sound logical at all, but hear me out. So how can despair fuel you? I know for me, I have been at moments of despair or hopelessness and the feeling is not one that I would normally equate with motivation. However, I began to think back on my own life as well as the life story of several people that others would consider the pinnacles of success in the world of writing. It is not easy, but if we can fight and reflect on what is causing our feelings of inadequacy or depression sometimes we can unearth a small sliver of truth. We can find the fear or pain that is at the root of our suffering. Many people fall to their deepest depths because they feel unloved, or maybe it is a fear of the future, or maybe there is financial uncertainty. Maybe others suffer with feelings of inadequacy or unmet expectations of their own or a loved one. I admit there are times that the root may need medical help and I in no way want to discount that truth. But for anyone who may be feeling depressed or who fights the uneasiness of anxiety each day, I would encourage you to carefully look within to try and find that root and grab hold. It hurts. That root has thorns and is deeply embedded. Most would think to just rip it out and try to move on, but I think if we brave that thought it can help birth ideas and exploration that could help change your life for the better.
I admit I haven't done extensive studies of any of the individuals I am about to mention and I am not claiming to know their personal thoughts and past, but I was inspired by their stories and as I thought on this topic I couldn't help but think about their circumstances and the fact that they most likely dealt with some dark or discouraging thoughts along the way. Three names are synonymous with successful writing careers: J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. Each has a distinct story and unique path to success, but each popped into my mind for different reasons. As I understand, J.K. Rowling was a single mother living on welfare pounding away at a type writer as she created the world of Harry Potter. Stephen King had a nail perched over his desk with his dozens of rejection letters staring at him as he worked. Hugh Howey held many different jobs before launching a hugely successful self-publishing career. I can only imagine that Rowling and King dealt with dark thoughts or rejection or failure. I cannot pretend to imagine the fear and difficulty a single mother must be facing as she tries to work and write at the same time. And at the risk of reading too much into someone's past I can imagine Hugh probably spent times wondering if he would ever "find his place." Again, I don't pretend to know the psyche or thoughts of any of these writers, but I do know two things. First, they all faced adversity and second they all not only survived but thrived. I imagine they all had to find the bitter root of fear and anxiety and I am sure they used it to drive them. Now, I am no best-selling author and the Keys of Candor series has not sniffed the type of success seen by any of these three great authors, but I have been able to see the amazing power of writing. Writing allows you as an author to explore your deepest darkest thoughts, and it also permits you to examine your greatest dreams.
That is what I think is so amazing about writing, if you find that root that is swelling within you, threatening to crack your foundation you can find power to better understand it and better understand yourself. You can allow your villains to flesh out your darkest fears, while your protagonist can struggle just like you. You can even allow your creations to experience the joy and success you have been striving for. In all honesty I think it is the embedding of this reality that makes a story even better. As Seth and I have been writing Keys of Candor we have taken our own fears and questions and tried our hardest to flesh them out in the lives of Kull, Seam and Willyn. However, we didn't stop there as we tried to make sure as many characters as possible fought through realities we have known and terrors that we would never hope to encounter.
There is a therapeutic nature to writing. As you crawl into the skin of your characters and see the world through their eyes it has the power to help you personally as well as those who read your works. One of my proudest moments was when a reviewer mentioned how well she felt we described the feelings of despair and depression of one of our secondary characters. The praise was unexpected and truly humbling to know our thoughts bled over, and it continued to encourage me the way readers gravitated to that same character and rooted for him as he fought through a truly terrible predicament, trying to decide his own place in the world of Candor.
We all have struggles, pain, failure and loss and I think the best way to work through it is to share it with others; whether it be through writing, art or music. Find that splinter, examine it and work to turn it into something beautiful. Use it as a light, even if one that is dim, to let others know they are not alone. We are all here in this world together, let's all work to let others know that they are never alone. It is okay to examine dark and lonely places of our heart, but don't stay there. Carefully unearth that place, that wound, and bring it into light and use it. Don't let it have power over you, use it for your own good and the good of those around you. Seth and I love you and we hope if you read our stories you will be able to feel our pains and insecurities as well as our hopes and dreams. But whether you read our work or not, remember that you are loved.