Long before Dorothy came to Oz, Glinda and the Wizard changed everything.

fear on the Brick Road to Success

On the Road to the Emerald City, a sand scuplture

Fear is the anti-mortar on the brick road of my life. It is the unbinding factor that consistently threatens to undo all of the hard work that put into life.

For twenty-five years I have wanted to be a writer. I decided at about eleven years of age that I wanted to write novels. I started almost immediately. Today I have boxes full of notebooks full of stories – most of them half-finished. These were all building blocks for what was to come, and what is, now. Every so often, I go back and discover great ideas that I once had, but I had since forgotten in the flowing tides of imagination. You know, things get buried under the sands as the imagination flows and ebbs. The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: The Witch Queens (Emerald Engine Studios, 2012) is my first published novel. Why did it take so long to write my first book? The answer is simple in its profundity – fear.

fear is the unbinder

What was I afraid of?

I was afraid that I would find great success and then someone (or something) would come and take everything away from me. See, I have had that type of experience before – not the great success part, but putting in the hard work to earn the reward, only to have it snatched away from me by a power or force greater than myself. At the time, I could not stop this power from taking what I had earned. The experience was not unique to one period of my life – it has happened several times.

My depression cloak

I spent close to a decade of my adult life in deep depression. Only after I could no longer ignore it did I go in to the doctor and have it officially diagnosed. Depression. Huh. That explains a lot. I wish that someone had been aware enough of my situation in life to help me see that life is not all gloom and doom with the 99% chance of pillage. My wife stuck with me, but she got very frustrated. Who can blame her? Certainly not me. I was not exactly a bundle of sunshine. I was the picture of the tortured artist, at least in my own mind. From the outside, I was just a smart guy who was working hard to make ends meet; someone who deserved better. People shook their heads when I talked with them. A lot. But nobody doubted my dreams.

Keep trudging forward

Just like other times in my life, I wrote a lot. I drew. I followed my dreams of being a writer. I plotted and wrote stories (they are still in the aforementioned notebooks). I wrote screenplays (many, many screenplays). I wrote comic scripts and drew the characters. I did everything that I could do with a zero budget.

excuses abound when fear rules

And then I found the perfect excuse for not moving forward – I didn’t have any money. It takes money to:

  • Publish a comic book
  • Break into Hollywood
  • Publish a novel

Ha! The perfect reason for not going forward, one part of me said. And the other part got very frustrated, because this was my dream that was being stompled on, through no fault of my own.

Dreaming of castles in the sky

So what did I do? I kept writing. I revised some stories many times. I never threw anything away. Hence, the boxes of notebooks. I was building my castle in the sky, word by word, notebook by notebook. I couldn’t see it through the clouds, but I believed that it was there.

To make a long biography short, I found some people who believed in me enough that I could live in their light until I could see my own light. These were managers that helped me step off the dead-end career paths that I was on and begin a new career – not once, but twice.

Faith like a trebuchet

Ever seen a trebuchet? It’s one of those big catapults that the movies use to launch fireballs from castles. Watch here and imagine the throwing power that one of these contraptions has. Come back for more after the video.

It looks cool from a distance, when you know what it is. But when you’re tied up in the middle of everything, and you have no idea what is going on, it isn’t much fun at all.

On the trebuchet, you have a great weight – that can’t be changed. You have a machine (of sorts) that has been built around your life by greater Hands and Knowledge than yours. What happens when life gets so heavy that the pressure launches you out like a catapult?

If you’ve done your part, it launches you into the sky on a wild leap of faith. That’s what I did. I moved my family (my good wife and me) from Minnesota to Texas. We didn’t know anyone and we didn’t have a job. We had a handful of cash – enough to last us about a month. We squeezed that out to six weeks because we had some food storage.

I found work in Technical Writing. I liked it. It paid better than I had ever been paid. And I was successful at my job. I found a new life.

Inside the castle walls

So I successfully stormed the castle in the sky. To my delight and amazement, it was built better than I imagined it. This was mine, by the Grace of God. I was inside the castle, but I still didn’t have a book written, let alone published.

Perfect Light casts out all fear

Every trial and tribulation that we pass through in life is necessary for our growth and eventual spiritual perfection. Though we bring some hardships on ourselves, that, too, can be a learning experience. We need to learn to stop it. Stop doing what brings you down.

I had a new job. New life in Texas. New hope for the future. So what did I do? I enjoyed the moments. I kept planning, and kept dreaming.

The pencil is sharp enough

I had a lot to do. I did this and that, and then some more of this. I enjoyed the comfort that this new life brought. Metaphorically, I was sharpening my pencils – getting ready to write. Pretty soon I ran out of excuses. Even though life was better than it had ever been, there was more that I needed to do. It was time to face my fears and write my novel. I did. Eight weeks for the first draft. Three months for the rewrite, with a six-week gap where I worked on art.

Your story, is, after all, YOUR story

Writing a story is an exploration into what you want, what you know, what you have learned, and what you are willing to share. Your story is you, wrapped up in different masks and costumes.

Does it have a happy ending? Of course. Because it’s a work in progress. I’m not going to stop until I say what I have been put here to say. I have learned that my worst enemy is in the mirror, but so is my best ally. The shadows of the past may cloak, but they cannot bind without my permission. My story had an ending that fit. It is just the first book in a series. It works on its own, but it will work even better in the context of the whole.

Take that, life! This chapter works in life because it is viewed as part of a larger story. When life gets you down, just remember, you are the hero, the villain, the love interest, the mentor, and the sidekick. The story does not end here, it continues down this brick road to as many horizons as it needs to reach.

Brick Roads are conduits for magic

The bricks in this road don’t come apart easily. They can be separated through apathy, anger, self-destruction, and fear. Which brings us full circle. Fear is the unbinder in life. It separates us from who we are, what we want, and where we are going, by introducing doubt and self-destructive thinking. Note that my headings kept fear in lower-case letters. Fear does not have any more power than you give it.

Look down at your feet. They are on bricks. Bricks are made of earth. The earth was not made by you, but by the Creator. The road you are on is the path given to you to walk. Your mission, should you choose to embrace it, is to walk, and skip, and run, and explore, and live. Take notes along the way and share them with others.

The road you walk is magic. It is a magic all your own. Share it.

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One response

  1. Pingback: Robert JR Graham » Self Destructive Beliefs

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