Fire & Ice

‘No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.’


I often have days where I contemplate giving up. They’re the kind of days where I sit down at my computer to write and think to myself why the hell am I doing this? I’m twenty six years of age and I’ve never had a career, I’ve never finished any of the multiple university degrees that I’ve started, and despite having served more than a decade in the workforce I don’t really have anything of substance to my name. I really struggle when those moments arrive. I sit at my computer for hours and stare blankly at a screen clouded by my own insecurities and self-doubt wondering why I don’t just give up and become happy like everyone else. I want to be a writer; I am a goddamn writer. But in those moments I question whether I have what it takes to make a career out of this.

I hate those days. I hate when all the bravado and bluster is stripped away and the lost, lonely little boy that I once was is left sitting naked before a computer he bought with labors that make him feel ashamed. However for every day of isolation and insecurity that I suffer through there is a day of contentment. For every hour of self-doubt there is a period where my fingers dance so effortlessly across a keyboard, or my pen scribbles frantically against pages in a desperate attempt to keep up with the thoughts spilling from my mind.

I’m a man of contradictions. I’m a wolf; yet at times as vulnerable as a wounded beast. I’m a world eater, yet at times I’m afraid of my own realities. I’m a man, but still a child. And I’m a writer. Yet I still feel like I haven’t quite made it. I’m succeeding, but at times I look around at the life I’ve tried to create and all I can see is the decaying carrion of opportunities squandered.

Someone once told me that I must be crazy to try and create a life out of writing books. They were right. The truth is that I’m frigging insane. No one of a sound mind would ever spend ten years chasing down a career with no clearly defined path and no guarantee of success. They’d think that such a perilous decision was insanity. And it is. But after ten years I couldn’t imagine living my life any other way. I’ve become so used to being lost in my own thoughts that to lead a normal existence where I’m just like everyone else seems too difficult to comprehend.

So while everyone else I know lives in the present; I live in a world of fire and ice.

In those down days when I feel alone my mind is ablaze, yet my heart is frozen. While an inferno of self-doubt melts away my confidence and cripples my desire to write, coldness settles over my chest until my heart becomes as fragile as glass. If I were to cradle it in my hands and let it fall to the floor it would shatter into a million pieces and the dreams that I’m fighting for would be lost forever.

In my brighter days my heart burns with a force capable of turning the entire world to ashes, while my head is icy, calm, and methodical. The fires of my soul feed upon failures of days gone by and leave behind a head of dispassionate clarity. My heart ingests all the self-loathing and negative thoughts like oxygen, turning them into creative fuel. In those days I watch the world burn in the eyes of my peers and I know that I am good enough; and that if I just keep fighting for my dreams one day I will achieve them.

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty down. I’ve been struggling to find the inspiration to write and have felt the bitterness of winter turn my heart to ice while the firestorms of my mind have reduced my creativity to dust. I feel like I’m forever on the cusp of success and as though I’m always chasing something new. I wanted to write a novel; so I did. I wanted to see my work in print; and now it is. Now I want to do it all over again; so I am. I feel like I’m stuck in this perpetual cycle of fighting for my dreams and I’m so goddamn tired. I’m tearing myself apart every day just to thaw my frozen heart and hopefully lay the foundations of future successes. I’m stuck in a terrible case of writer’s block,  but I’ve been trying. I promise that I’ve been trying.

I’ve been sitting at my computer and forcing words onto a page. They’re not very good and none of them will ever appear in any blog post or book. But at least it’s something. And with each word that I manage to write a little piece of my heart softens and I begin to melt away the ice that leaves me feeling alone and set the world alight once again.

I may feel a little lost right now, but I’m never going to give up on this. I’m never going to quit no matter how lonely those darker moments may feel. Writing is so ingrained in my soul that without it I wouldn’t be half the man that I am today. We all have self doubts and moments where the odds seem stacked against us. In those times others may look at us and believe that we are mad to fight so valiantly when all hope is lost. But the only madness is giving in and throwing away a dream you want so badly that it hurts. Self-doubt will always pass. You just have to keep your head down low and work through the negativity. Keep pushing and refuse to give up. After all, there’s no point in coming as far as I have only to give up just because of a little fire and ice.

Author: Chris Nicholas

Chris Nicholas is an author from Brisbane, Australia. He has published two novels, and is currently working on his third.

134 thoughts on “Fire & Ice”

  1. Very well written and very timely for my own current state of mind/feelings.
    You indeed are a very good writer…. such fluidity, substance, and lyricism.
    I know you will never give in to doubts, because both fire and ice are necessary to the creative process. Make it work for you. – Wishing you much continued success.-

  2. Chris, I appreciate this post because it’s very raw and powerful. I admire your honesty with admitting to the struggle of being a writer. I do also like the title Fire and Ice! Like you, I’ve had many jobs and spent a lot of time in school and I’ve often felt like a square peg in a round hole. It took me years, starting with transfer from a community college then to University before finishing my first Bachelor’s degree. I share this because I’ve felt what you’ve felt; the journey isn’t easy but I’m here to tell you that if you hang in there, it will come and it will be easy when you do figure it out (though it never really feels like it). I flip-flopped with declaring my major before I graduated eventually with a Human Kinetics and Psychology degree which my ego felt more validated than just graduating with an English and Psych degree (at the time, I was doing Creative Writing classes galore). I don’t know if I’m qualified to give you advice; I’m just sharing my journey. I think if you take a look most of the classes you’re taking and determine which one you like best, you can graduate finally and declare that as your major (English/Writing). It might also be that you’re a multipotentialite (Google it) like me and this is why it’s hard to choose just one. Thankfully, we’re not stuck to choosing just one! Lately, as I’ve met more people like me who fully embrace being a scanner/multipotentialite, I’m no longer ashamed of being one. Celebrate your abilities! You have many skills. You’re only 26 and you have a published book already! You have a solid blog with many followers. You are educated! PLUS you have so much rich experience to draw from! We’re lucky, really. We have choices 🙂 Anyway, giving up is easy so don’t do that. Please excuse this almost stream-of-consciousness response to your post. I close with a quote from
    J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

    1. Cristina, I owe you an apology for taking so long to respond to such an honest and thoughtful comment. I really appreciate you sharing your story and most importantly showing that we multipotentialites are capable of great feats.
      I have heard of the term before, and have often wondered if I could fashion a post for this site on the topic…. You may have just inspired me to try again!
      Oftentimes it takes the kindness of strangers to see just how far we have come and what we have achieved. You have definitely been such a stranger to me. Thank you!

  3. Your statement: “But the only madness is giving in and throwing away a dream you want so badly that it hurts.” resonates so much with me. And yet I often feel that there is no point in keeping on. I have over 40 years on you, Chris, and I sometimes fear that the fire is going out. I hope not.
    Thank you for calling in on my blog. 🙂

  4. I wanted to thank you for this post. It comes at a time in my life where I needed to hear it. Although, I’m going through slightly different circumstances, I find myself at that chaotic “what the heck am I doing” stage of my life, and its have been steadily eroding both my piece of mind, and my self esteem. That being said, this post really spoke to me, and I was encouraged by your words. I’ve only just recently discovered you blog, and yet I am thoroughly inspired. Thank you, and all the best.

  5. Your writing leaves stoic triumph individuality. Please continue writing. I am very much inspired by your words and I identify with it. Anand Bose from Kerala

  6. Reblogged this on The Paperback Writer and commented:
    Here are some extremely brave and relatable thoughts, from indie writer Chris Nicholas. I can completely relate to how he feels. This timely essay illustrates the struggle of our generation, and struggles of my own. My dream was and will always be to become an author, and I’m still working towards that. I more than halfway through my novel, and through writing it I have become a better writer and earned the self esteem as one. I commend Mr. Nicholas for his very honest post, and I hope that others find it as helpful as I have.

  7. Mr. Nicholas,
    Please continue writing. Your post here has brought forth my own feelings and struggles about my own life, and my career as a writer. I commend you for writing something so honest. The world we live in is a tricky one, it is too often an essential that we work menial jobs that we hate and begin degrees that are left unfinished–because what we really want to do in earnest is to write. Thank you for writing something so important and identifiable.

  8. Reblogged this on Musket and Magic and commented:
    Fire and ice indeed. You’ve no idea the hope this gives me, knowing that even writers older than me still suffer these doubts; as with all seasons, this too shall pass.

  9. Oh my God! I actually cried while reading this, I kid you not. This covers my feelings spot on, yet not. I’m sure that while writing this you struggled with finding the right words, but they just wouldn’t come. Because they don’t exist. Putting our feelings and thoughts into words is a difficult task; especially those thoughts which put us at war with the world.
    Your heartfelt words give me courage really. I’m often harassed by feelings of not being good enough. I’m stuck doing something which I don’t want to, all in the name of becoming eligible to earn decent money. The result is that I feel miserable as well as stupid because I just can’t get anything right. I can neither stand up for my dreams, nor suck it up and do what I’m ‘supposed’ to. But then I come across people like you and it gives me a push towards saying ‘screw it all’. So yeah, thank you for sharing this. I needed to see it and realise I’m not alone.

  10. This post demonstrates what a brilliant writer you are. Don’t ever give up. The hard part for ll of us is finding readers. But with writing as powerful as yours, that will come. Self discipline and patience are hard task masters but will bring rewards in time.

  11. This is another great post that’s good on form and content. You have a calling and you can not and will not escape it. The arts are the best media for the preservation of human values and civilization. Writing is by far the best of all the arts for the preservation of our values and the perpetuation of our civilization. When the perpetrators of evil succeed in decimating the numbers of mankind and destroying almost all values and civilization, the works of writers will be read and used to restore values, assumptions and civilization. This is exactly what happened during the middle ages and the renaissance of that period. You and your written work are important to both the present time and this future restoration process.

  12. Fire and Ice great title. I think we all struggle our way through life as you described, wanting so badly for something, yet doubting ourself along the way. Even when we have accomplished one goal, it never seems to be enough. That’s us crazy humans always pushing. Pushing for more is good, enjoying life and having a balance is important too. Hope your taking a chance to enjoy the ocean living in Oz :). When I get tangled up in my thinking I think of the book the Alchemist, ‘the universe conspires to help you it also tests you along the way to see if it is something you really want’

  13. Chris, you are truly an amazing talented young man! You have the heart of a writer, and the natural talent to go along with it. I’m so glad you stopped by my blog, which led me to discover you. Do not ever give up…don’t give in to any doubts or to what others might think. I’m an old woman now, and it’s too late for me to achieve my earlier dreams of writing. I gave up on my desire to write twice in my life. As a girl in high school, I did my first writing. My English Lit teacher encouraged me to pursue my dreams, but instead, I got married and pushed that dream to the background. Forty years ago I started writing again..and once more gave up. Just last year, I got out of a long relationship with a person that had shown no appreciation for my writing. I have recently taken up writing again, and have finally found that spiritual place where I belong and am able to once more let my heart and soul pour out onto paper. I’m not good, not educated, never took another writing class, but I do write from deep inside. A friend encouraged me to post some of my writing on my blog..and I’m amazed that some people actually like it. But back to you…again, don’t give up…you will achieve all your dreams one day! I am going to follow your blog, and your career, and expect to see great things. The best to you always.

  14. Thank you for stopping by the blog Chris. I’ve found it easier to generate content, ideas & inspiration as I’ve aged, more experience, travel, ups/downs & a love of stories in all things, people, places, events. I love airports & waiting rooms, listening to conversations, watching children play, people interact. Write about anything – write how to peel an apple if it’s practice you need bleed onto the page as Hemingway once stated or more notably commented “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily & perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges”. Fall in love, fall out of love, dig deep, wide & with the abandonment of rules & ideas of what you should write or it should look like – just write. From the attic is a new blog, a long line of many. I love your imagery, you take the reader with you, it’s a gift so keep going. Join a writers group, study if you must, explore the techniques if needed, keep the passion alive. Read your favorite authors – what is about their writing? Unpack their journey like hints on a path, be inspired & read more.
    My favourite moments are creating tales with children “come on make up a story” & I ask them to throw me a line, a little like Mr Squiggle with a line on a page & then create from there. Enjoying every piece.

  15. There are many people that follow you faithfully. Please keep writing as I’m learning from your writings. Remember, if you go down the tube you’ll suck many followers down with you.

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