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. My god, if that is how you write when you are suffering from writer’s block, then I have got to see your prose when your on fire and seething creativity.
    Your blog made me feel you. It made me feel me. It made me think for a moment that I felt all the tortured artist souls in the world simultaneously, overcome with hopelessness, despair and the fear that we never will be the creators we are defying society and, at times, even ourselves to be.

  2. I was unsure how to start this reply, I’m 43 and go through some of the same doubt and wondering what I’m doing in this world. I don’t think it ever goes away unless we numb our souls. But I would rather battle with the contradictions than feel nothing. Keep living with Fire and Ice.

  3. I stumbled over the following line in your post: “[…] wondering why I don’t just give up and become happy like everyone else.” Is everyone else really happy? I think Oscar Wilde has a good point when he says “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” From the way you write, it sounds as though you live – with all the consequences this may bring. So be happy, as you have achieved the rarest thing 🙂

  4. I have to agree with Jennifer. If this is how you write when you think you have no creativity then I can’t wait to read something you consider creative.

  5. There is no choice but to keep going, even if or when we give up. It just takes a different time frame for each of us to realize that. I liked the post and could relate 🙂

  6. Chris. Stop fighting. Surrender. Allow. Stop listening to that monkey in your brain. Breathe. Listen to the stillness. Listen to that presence, the on that is still there when the thinking stops. Step back. Let your heart flow. If it does not, walk in nature. You have the words. Let your heart and your passion speak. Don’t get in your own way. Peace and blessings on you.

  7. Or, think of it this way. Writing is a vehicle for expressing who you are to the world. Don’t write to live. Live to write. Blah, blah, blah. You’ll figure it out.

  8. “What is it in the end that induces a man to go his own way and to rise out of unconscious identity with the mass as out of a swathing mist?

    It is what is commonly called vocation: An irrational factor that destined a man to emancipated himself from the herd and from its well-worn paths. . . Anyone with a vocation hears the voice of the inner man: He is called.” — C.G. Jung

    You heard. . . You listened. . . You followed. . . Congrats! It has been said that human creativity and lasting value is possible only when someone sets out to make a difference. Address some problem, advance some kind of knowledge, or serve a cause or humanity is some fashion. When they have answered ‘the call’ and are doing what matters to them with purpose….then they are out to make a difference. They choose significance over success. The world gets better when a good many of us….listen…follow…decide…and add value. Keep writing from your core…many seem to be listening.

  9. You’ve embraced insanity. In my opinion, that is one of the greatest feelings in the world: being able to say “I did this even though it defies all logic and maybe all emotion.”

  10. It’s rather ironic: you are sitting there with a career as a writer, wondering about the traditional “degree” path and feeling depressed and uncertain; I am sitting here finishing a medical degree, wondering about life as a writer and feeling equally depressed and uncertain. Circumstances wouldn’t change how we feel. I could quit school and write and you could find a desk job, and we would still carry the weight of our minds, OR, like you found in your post, we could persevere and know in our hearts things will turn out okay. i enjoyed your post immensely and thank you for sharing!

  11. The world is forever unfolding and being created, in each moment. As writers we do our bit by revealing it to others. When you feel stuck, move, listen, explore. It is our very nature – we are creative beings. You cannot lose what you are made of. And if you forget for a moment, trust you will remember. In the meantime, simply write without judgement. Nothing is wasted.

  12. There are no guarantees in life whether you follow a traditional “safe” career or pursue writing. I went the “safe” route. I got a teaching degree, married, stayed home with my children only to have my husband walk out on me for a younger woman. Where would I have been if I had followed my dreams in my early twenties rather than taking the safe route? It certainly couldn’t be any worse than where I ended up. So, go for it.

  13. I totally understand how you feel. The world is a difficult place for creative souls. But people like you and me can’t find happiness unless they express their imaginative self in the best possible way. Success is difficult but the fuel to your soul will be the ability and the courage to put forward to the world what you have to offer. You are great and keep going!

    Thanks for stopping by and liking my post

  14. Well now, that was something ! As a fellow artist, let me add this… that dichotomy never goes away. It’s the edge that fuels the spark of creativity. So settle back, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
    Twice as old as you, I thought these same kinds of things at your age and STILL DO. Only now, I’m twice the painter I once was, so keep working. The work itself will get better and better as you hone that skill. You do this because you have to. That’s all there is to it. And in between the work that surprises you, and the work that dissapoints you, lies life. One day at a time.

    Thanks for liking my last post.

  15. Never feel like what you seek to accomplish is impossible. Never feel the need to compare yourself to other people’s successes. You have a voice and gift unique until yourself. Your words will not be someone else’s. Words have the power to shape lives. Don’t digest the negative ones…partake in the words of hope that will grow a brighter future and a brighter story.

    I understand the want to give up. The apathetic depression that grips the heart and halts the mind. Tell it to shut up. Spit upon its pathetic attempts to reclaim your future. Squish it under the soul of a dignified, yet noble shoe worn by the feet of an explorer and dreamer such as yourself.

    You never know what your words could do to change the world.

  16. The quote in the beginning compelled me to read it further and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Not only because I saw the reflection of my thoughts but also because the write up was lyrical and seamless! Beautifully written!

  17. Good job!!! Keep writing it out of your head and moving on. Once in my former life as a soldier I walked 100 miles in one exercise lasting 4 days. It sucked, but I am still tellin the story because in the midst off doubts and pain is the beauty of realization. Thanks for sharing your realization that you’re a writer!!!!

  18. I’ve only read this one post of yours…so far. Yet I can already tell that you are an amazing writer. Your passion has already motivated me to keep up with my blog more frequently as I have a similar desire to write. Here’s to melting that ice!

  19. Giving up is not an action. You write so brilliantly. Know that you are not alone. Every time I get asked, so how much have you made from this writing that you always do? When I say well less than $100, I get the look saying are u insane? But what can I do, I do love to write, and am nowhere near being a good writer yet. To think that I have been doing this for about 13years also. At this point, am standing firm against all the fire and ice that may come my way. Keep your head up my friend, giving up is definitely not an option for you, not now, not ever.

  20. Reblogged this on Catch The Moon, Mary and commented:
    Chris says it brilliantly…he nails all the agony and ecstasy appended to our calling…fire and ice…madness and genius…self-loathing and self-worship…in the final analysis we internalize God as the creative urge and damn it we are too bloody small but what courage we possess to hold tight against the forces that obsess us. Bravo Chris! You speak for all of us crazy writers!

  21. Chris says it brilliantly…he nails all the agony and ecstasy appended to our calling…fire and ice…madness and genius…self-loathing and self-worship…in the final analysis we internalize God as the creative urge and damn it we are too bloody small but what courage we possess to hold tight against the forces that obsess us. Bravo Chris! You speak for all of us crazy writers!

  22. Writing is something that has you, you don’t have it.

    I find that it drives me. I cannot NOT do it, even when I’m NOT doing it. It happens in my head, if not on paper 😉

    I like your descriptions here. I think it’s wonderful that each of us has a unique process and I hope I never “grow up”. I think it would be the death of the writer within…..


  23. Writing is no more complicated than old French torture chambers 😀 You described the process with its ups and downs and inherent acute loneliness very well. You are not alone in this. And you are further along the journey than you seem to give yourself credit for. I am still at a stage of battling with my fears and resulting inaction. Will go back to my script inspired by your post!

  24. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve come across came from an interview with the musician Brian Eno:

    ‘The point about working is not to produce great stuff all the time, but to remain ready for when you can. There’s no point in saying, “I don’t have an idea today, so I’ll just smoke some drugs.” You should stay alert for the moment when a number of things are just ready to collide with one another… The reason to keep working is almost to build a certain mental tone, like people talk about body tone. You have to move quickly when the time comes, and the time might come very infrequently – once or twice a year, or even less.’

  25. First off, you are an incredible writer. Next, I applaud you for ignoring the naysayers and working on your dream. At one point you mention giving it up and being happy like everyone else. You would not be happy bc you wouldn’t be doing your soul’s work. Also everyone else is not necessarily happy. Many people get up each day and are down right miserable bc they feel stuck in a job that is killing them. You also mentioned how people think you are crazy for doing this for 10 years. My favorite band traveled in a van with a u haul trying to make it for 10 years, and now they are happy and millionaires. But they like you couldn’t imagine being anyone else. They ate peanut butter and jelly and slept on a mattress in the van. They took showers at the colleges they played at. They played for 8 people once and 4 asked for their money back. They refused to stop. On a good night they got a cheap hotel room for the 3 of them. People thought they were crazy and would never make it. Stay the course. Block out the noise. Nothing worth having is easy. When it gets tough, take a break and get out of your mind. Do something fun and then go back to it. Sometimes you have to step back to move forward.
    Keep writing and living your dream. 😊😊

    1. Me? Thank you for having me on your site. You have a beautiful blog and I really enjoyed your work. If you ever feel like passing on some tips to present my work as wonderfully as yours I would be all ears!

      1. Yes, you! Wow, your words and thoughts are just incredible. Thank you so much for you kinds words about my blog, too – I would be happy to chat about blog formats, etc. (although what you’ve got going is pretty rad).

  26. “the only madness is giving in and throwing away a dream you want so badly that it hurts…..” Your words are impeccable. You write with your heart and have penned down so many of our feelings as writers. God bless you with the courage, ability and fortune to continue immersing yourself in this passionate ocean of words that you have chosen to make your world!

  27. Now Chris, you gotta get out of my head 🙂 I’m reading ‘Big Magic’ (Elizabeth Gilbert) at the moment sounds a bit woo woo but talks about all of this angst we writers, and other creatives, have and is pretty inspiring. I think the worst thing that can happen to us is to reach the end of our lives knowing we gave up on our dreams – and ourselves. Keep the fire burning…

  28. I’m..stunned. I let your words sink in and just be awed. I have been through that insufferable writer’s block too many times and my profession takes most of my time from writing.
    Listen, if this is how you write, if this is how you transcribe your thoughts, then those people who told you that you’re insane should eat their words. I mean..damn! (pardon my language)
    Do what you got to do. 🙂

  29. Don’t focus on a career or a university degree or something concrete necessarily. Focus on your passion. Your passion is what will make you happy and get you money. A career can simply get you money but you could hate what you’re doing

  30. It is said that great minds think alike. I’m not entirely sure that my mind falls into that category…but then again, your post (a veritable universe of imagery) shows that very character; and you have expressed the exact frame of mind that I have been suffering lately, then does it not stand to reason that mine may be a great mind as well?!

    Thanks for visiting my blog, The Old Fossil Writes. Had you not, I wouldn’t have such an excellent blog as yours to follow myself!

    Hang in there, writer. I’m 61+…you have the benefit of stored energy to fight your inner writing battles!!

    Best of luck, dear. You’re already a success 🙂

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