If you would have told me I would write a book when I was a kid, I would think you were nuts. If you had told me 5 years ago, I would have laughed in your face. If you told me 3 years ago, I would shake my head in disbelief. And after I started writing my first books, if you told me there would be more than one, I still would have had problems believing it.
I am not your typical author. Growing up, I never enjoyed writing. It was a tedious chore I suffered through during school days, and not many others. If you were a teacher, and set a pen in my hand, asking me to “let my mind flow” you were liable to get the same word until my page was full, or a profanity laden tirade about why writing sucks.
If only I had known better.
The joy of creating my own world, changing the laws of physics if I feel the need. Creating a group of people, and giving them all personalities. Placing them in harrowing situations, then rescuing them or leaving them to their fate. I’ve learned creating is addictive.
I used to be a Certified Nurses Assistant at a psychiatric hospital working nights. I’ve seen people at their worst, and watched those same people lift themselves up from rock bottom. The one thing that was consistently the same was the shift in perspective.
I could tell when a patient was on the right track. There were lots of cues, but the biggest one was how they woke up in the mornings. At their worst, clients would argue and fight, digging in with the actions that put them in the hospital to begin with. In the mornings, these are the people who cursed me, threatened my family, and generally carried themselves with a menacing air. They’re unwilling to listen to outside ideas, and close themselves away from anyone and everyone. And who can blame them? Some of them have suffered horrendous traumas. I saw their hurts and how they dealt with it. It taught me to deal with my own.
I watched as they progressed through treatment, some lifting themselves without help. These people all shared one perspective, and it’s the one I have set a goal to cultivate. That’s determination. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. Once you set your mind to do the hard work and persevere through the learning curve, therein lies success. I’ve seen it too much in my life, watched too many success stories. I try to learn from others’ experiences.
Some people need a bit of a hand up before they respond positively. These people taught me lessons as well; the one perspective they shared was hope. Even at their worst, these people were always ready with a smile. They were willing to learn from their mistakes and move forward with those lessons in the forefront. From them I learned to keep my head high, and be a shining light. Your only mission in life is to be a better person than you were yesterday.
The people who never changed after treatment shared a perspective as well. It was a feeling of being trapped. When you get locked inside of a building 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s not hard to see why. The lesson I learned from them was we build our own prisons. That’s not to say you can’t be imprisoned, you can be, but you can choose how to react to that imprisonment. You can be stuck in a box, and still have as much freedom as you are willing to accept. Again, it’s a matter of perspective. Some patients thrive under stifling rules, but fall apart with freedom. Others chafe at the rules, but truly have their best growth without impediments.
The last group of patients were the ones that never wanted to get better. They taught me the most important lesson. You never fail until you give up. They never set themselves attainable goals, and didn’t move on when they failed. They dwell on the past, and that keeps them from having a future.
I can honestly say, without these lessons I would never have written a book. I didn’t have the perspective to do so.
Go out and experience life, attempt to place yourself in other perspectives. Watch people and learn how they act, and why they act that way.
When I first hurt myself and was unable to return to a job I loved, I had nothing to turn to. Adrift and aimless, I buried myself in the stories of others. Eventually, characters of my own started to pester me. What began as a wild leap away from boredom has morphed into a monster I don’t want to stop.
One word at a time, one step at a time. That’s the greatest advice I can give you. No matter your writing method, the story is still written one word at a time.
About the author
Riley Amos Westbrook is a simple man, living somewhere in Washington state. Please be sure to check out Rileyamoswestbrook.wordpress.com for free author spotlights and honest reviews (follow the policy guidelines please!) And stay tuned for more series from him and his wife Sara Lynn Westbrook like Everyone Dies at the End and Journey From Atremes.