You read someone’s blog or listen to their music and you think you know their story. A million things make up who we are, a million little things. How can we possibly know everything?
There is one writer, of many, that I really admire. His writing has made a unique impact on me and he has shared many, many great lessons. He has shared his successes, his failures, his disappointments, and his heartbreaks.
Chris Nicholas is an author from Brisbane, Australia and is the writer behind his blog, “The Renegade Press” and a debut novel “Midas”. I was very lucky to get to ask him a few questions and explore his story a little bit more.
- Who inspires you and why?
As an author making his way into the literary industry I am often asked who inspires me, yet I have always struggled to verbalize an appropriate response.
I am motivated and inspired more by stories rather than individuals.
Of course there are magnificent writers with skill sets and repertoires that I aspire to achieve, but I tend to be more enthused by the content of a story or body of work rather than the individual. I absolutely love reading, watching, or listening to pieces where a writer is unafraid to pour his or her heart and soul into what they have created.
In saying that, there are a few select writers who consistently seem to produce work that resonates with me. Funnily enough with all but a few exceptions, most of them are songwriters and are often featured in epigraphs on my site. Buddy Nielsen from American post-hardcore band Senses Fail is an excellent example of a writer pushing the boundaries of his creativity and exploring himself. The maturity presented in his transition from a bitter teenager to a socially conscious adult who has accepted his own sexuality is remarkable and inspirational beyond all conventional measure. Other international songwriters like Sam Carter and Rou Reynolds are brilliant in their activism, while Keith Buckley and Frank Carter ooze an enviable coolness that cannot be denied. Closer to home Australian songwriters like Adrian Fitipaldes or Zach Britt create fantastic pieces of tackling hard-hitting subject matters and motivate me to create.
Aside from writers, my family and friends are the main source of my inspiration. I look at how blessed I am to be surrounded by such beautiful people and feel a yearning to make them proud of what I have become and the talent that I have been granted.
- You have wrote about the bright side of suffering on your website. With so much suffering happening in the world right now, what would you say we have learned from it all? And is there a bright side?
Oh wow. I really like this one. I’m sure that there will be naysayers who disagree with me here, but I believe that there is always a bright side; sometimes you just have to shift your perspective or beliefs in order to see it. Right now it appears as though there is a really disconcerting level of suffering throughout the world. Media outlets are bombarding us with images of death and destruction to such a degree that you could be forgiven for believing that the doomsday clock is poised at five minutes to midnight.
But when you remove the sensationalism and our insatiable lust for violence there are still a lot of beautiful people in this world who are achieving wonderful things. If you ever need to see a bright side then turn off the television, unplug the radio, and put that goddamn phone away. The bright side of life is all around you. It’s in the faces of your friends and family; the hopes and dreams of strangers; and in your own heart.
What have we learned from the suffering occurring in the world over recent times? We have learned that there are a minute percentage of men and women who believe that the world should burn. We have learned that some of us don’t have the mental capacity to differentiate between a violent sociopath and someone simply practicing their religion, and that tolerance is still a work in progress.
But the bright side of suffering we have witnessed is evident in the resolve of individuals and communities who stand unified in the face of such grave adversity. We have learned through suffering that we, as a species are capable of so much love and compassion that we are bound to grow ever stronger in the face of anguish.
- You have said you want to be a writer but you aren’t sure if you can make a career out of it. What would you tell someone who is struggling through a career they don’t love but aren’t sure if their dreams are possible?
I feel as though this is one of those questions where something I have written is about to come back to haunt me. I’ve definitely said that I’m not sure if I can make a career out of writing, however I believe the remark was made more out of ignorance than fact. Creating a career in the literature industry is extremely difficult because unlike most professions, there is no clearly defined path to creating a sustainable profession as a writer. But that doesn’t mean that it is an unachievable pipe dream. I’m just starting to understand that the key to success in this industry is diversification. I read once that the average millionaire has seven sources of income and I’ve started to employ the same mentality with accruing an audience. My novels will earn me an audience, my website will continue to build upon that. Guest spots on other sites or interviews like this also increase my sphere of influence and help build a more sustainable following of readers and career.
What would I say to someone who is struggling through a career they don’t love, but aren’t sure if their dreams are possible? I’d tell them to maintain their composure and harden their nerve. Self-doubt will destroy dreams faster than any other hurdle an individual faces, and you are certainly not alone for feeling unfulfilled or dreaming of more. The reason that most people fail is that their resolve falters when they need it most. They start chasing a dream and their initial enthusiasm becomes the momentum driving them forward, but over time that enthusiasm wanes and it can be tough to continue striving towards your dreams. Trust me, I still move through periods of elation and despair with my own goals and aspirations. But when I feel as though I want to give up I look back on how far I have come and how much I have already achieved and find myself rediscovering the fortitude that bought me here.
- What advice would you give someone who isn’t sure who they are and what they are meant to do?
Be honest with yourself. It’s as simple as that. If you break things down to the ridiculous you’ll learn about whom you really are and what you are meant to be. Honesty to oneself is the only way to know what you are capable of. Find the one thing that means more to you than breathing and chase it down. If you want to be a writer, be a writer. If you want to play basketball and are prepared to put in the work than you’ll get there. If you want to be the world’s greatest mother or a father, than do that. The end result is interchangeable and ultimately irrelevant. It’s the passion and hunger to reach it that matters most. Be honest with yourself and focus on what will make you truly happy.
But be prepared to fail. I started writing when I was seventeen, producing half a dozen manuscripts that were terrible. I submitted them to agents and publishers and was slammed for my shoddy plots and one-dimensional characters. In my very first query letter to an agent I was so nervous that I misspelled the word literary and received the harshest rejection letter I’d ever read. At the time I was crushed. But those failures became opportunities to grow, and eventually I signed a contract with Meizius Publishing and saw my dream of being a published author come true.
Oh, and always have more than one goal. Not because you’ll fail, but because you will succeed. Once I signed a contract to release Midas I suddenly found myself a little perplexed as to what I wanted to strive for next. I spent the best part of a month scratching my head wondering what the hell my new goal was. I had to break things down to the ridiculous again and be honest with myself to understand where my creative impulses were headed next.
- Do you believe in luck?
Yes and No. I tend to believe that the success of others is a result of luck, and that mine is attributed to hard work and determination. That probably sounds quite childish in some respects, but it’s an honest assessment of my own mindset. I am only privy to highlight reels of the lives of others, whereas I live through my behind the scenes moments. Because I don’t have an opportunity to see and understand just how hard another writer, or sportsperson, or whoever else has worked I tend to immediately credit any success or accolades they have received to luck.
Which explains why I am often so brazen as to state that I will be the best writer of my generation. I believe that hard work achieves more than talent and luck. No one is prepared to work harder than I am.
- If there is one lesson you’d want to teach the people who come into your life, what would it be?
I can only choose one? (Laughs). To be really honest, I feel as though it’s a little too early in my own journey as a writer to be imparting lessons onto others. However if I had to choose something it would probably be to find happiness in whatever it is that you chose to do. We have a finite time on this earth so to whittle away time in a job you hate or damaging relationship is a waste of a pretty spectacular gift. Be bold. Be brave. And be you. Whoever that is. The result of your happiness is inner peace, and the flow on effect that it has on those closest to you is endless.
Unfortunately the chemical make up in my brain has a predisposition towards negativity and depression, meaning that I go through periods of extreme self-doubt and loathing. When I fall into these bouts of anger and questioning I struggle. A lot. I am hard on myself at the best of times. I continuously push myself to the limits of my abilities in order to continuously grow, so when I’m feeling down I have a tendency to fall apart.
But that’s OK. In fact it’s natural. I couldn’t truly appreciate the moments of triumph I have experienced without also experiencing a few lows. Life is about context and perspectives. Be happy and try to put a positive spin on every situation and you’ll live an amazing life, no matter who you are.