The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

I recently read an article that said more than 95% of blogs fail within their first twelve months. The reasons for failure vary from a lack of readership, to loss of interest on behalf of the author, and everything in between. But regardless of why they fail, the number shocked me. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been writing for this site for six years. I never envisioned that I would be one of the minority that made it.

I have always tried my hardest to write from the heart, and have told myself since the inception of this site that an author’s dreams are achieved when they move just one reader. But a friend recently brought to my attention that I have a subscriber list just shy of twenty thousand, and I felt that the milestone, coupled with the release of my sophomore novel, and my six year anniversary of blogging was worth acknowledging. 

Although I rarely acknowledge them, I know that I am incredibly fortunate to have had the successes I have had. So I wrote a letter to the man I was right back when my journey as a blogger began. I wrote him a letter to give him the strength to keep on writing, even in those moments when he feels like giving up. And because there are people who have been following this site ever since that man produced his very first entry, I wanted to share it with those that choose to read it. Raw, and unedited.  From the mouth of a wolf to the world eater I once was. 

 

Dear Chris,

It’s July 17th, 2012, and you’re sitting at your computer with tears rolling down your cheeks as the view counter of your new website sits at zero.  You’ve just posted the first blog you have ever written, and yet rather than feel proud at what you have achieved, you feel defeated. You’ve been having a rough time lately. In fact, you’ve been struggling with anxiety for as long as you can remember. I know it probably sounds like an exaggeration, but that post you just created, it’s going to alter the trajectory of your life from here on out. For better, or worse, you’re a blogger now. From this moment onwards, writing will be the cause of your sickness, and the cure to your disease.

I wanted to reach out to you, to tell you how proud I am of you for finding the bravery to post what you just did. It takes courage to not be afraid, and it takes strength to admit that you are weak.

I want to tell you about your future too. But before I do, I first need to acknowledge your past. You ended your post with a line that oozed apprehensive ambition, and it made me sad to read over it six years after it was originally produced. So, I want to repeat it back to you. I want you to read your own words and hear the pain in what you said. Then, before this letter is done, we’re going to talk it through.

Are you ready? Here it is:

Ten years from now, I want to be able to say that I had what it takes to look depression and misery in the eye, and tell it to fuck off.

You have already been writing for seven years at this point. You’ve had a few failed attempts at manuscripts, and even managed to complete one or two. Right now, you think what you have created is brilliant. But in time, you’ll come to understand just how terrible these initial scripts are. I know that it hurts to know how many agents and publishers have rejected your queries, and you feel humiliated that one piece of shit even took enjoyment in calling you out for a spelling mistake in your synopsis. You feel depressed that people don’t see the greatness inside of yourself that you do. But stick with it kid. Don’t ever lose hope. That character you have been writing about, Jason Dark, people are going to read his story one day.

Three years from now a company in the United States is going to publish the first of what is supposed to be a four-book series featuring him, and for a few brief moments, you’ll feel on top of the world. But before you reach what you will misconstrue as the summit of your achievements, you’re going to crash and burn. More than once.

That depression you spoke about? It’s going to get a whole lot worse. You’re going to push yourself to breaking point more times than you’ll ever be comfortable admitting. You’re going to set fire to manuscripts, destroy relationships, alienate your readers, and push yourself into a place so fucking black you won’t even be capable of finding the path you trod to get there.

Despite your own self-loathing, the number of views on your page is eventually going to tick past zero. Yet even though someone, somewhere is reading, you’re going to grow frustrated that so few care about what you’re going through, and the pains you have endured to blog about it. In the first six months of your website’s existence, less than a hundred people are going to view your work. Considering how hard you’re going to plug yourself to you friends via social media and in person, it’s going to make you feel as though you’re a failure.

This disappointment is going to make you begin to despise other writers. You’re going to be jealous of them, and you’ll begin producing posts laced with venomous undertones, telling anyone who will listen that they are undeserving of their successes. In hindsight, I can tell you that you shouldn’t judge them so harshly. One day you will learn to not only appreciate your fellow blogger, but also to use negativity as a fuel for your creative fires.

A few years now someone will tell you that you have no place in the literary industry, and you’ll use their criticism as motivation to publish an article with a website that receives over 18 million views a week. And the other bloggers; the ones you feel you need to destroy… Some of them are great writers, and wonderful people. Right now, your own frustration and insecurity are obscuring your ability to appreciate them, and to learn from their achievements. But you’ll get over that in time. And when you do, you’ll understand that we all have our own realities, and that it’s wrong for you to assume that you are the only person who knows what it feels like to hurt.

Speaking of hurting…

Your depression is going to really hurt your ability to resonate with an audience. Your first two years of blogging is going to be a shit storm of self-loathing, hate, and terrible metaphors that people struggle to palate. But then, in December 2014, you’re going to start to change. You’re going to start to become a man.

You’ll write a post about broken windows in response to a terror attack, defending a religion you have no affiliation with. The post will polarize your readers. Some will appreciate your ambition and willingness to take a stand. They will respect your appeal to the better angels of our nature, and offer their camaraderie and support. But many will call you an idealist, a child, and far worse. You’ll receive death threats, emails which consist of passages of scripture, and even see your name and photograph defamed on websites dedicated to intolerance.

It’s going to scare you. But you’ll fight back. You’ll give as good as you get, threatening to protect your beliefs with bloody knuckles and an acid tongue. Your war of words with one reader will escalate so rapidly that your partner and family will become concerned, so you’ll try to make peace by writing a post about bygones being bygones.

But the olive branch you extend is only going to make things worse. The reader will threaten to attack you, call your mother names, and claim that he is doing so in the name of his God. Unfortunately for him, you never really forgive him for this. The idea that anyone would use their faith as a means of projecting hate makes you feel ill. You’ll probably find it funny to know that six years later, you’re still dishing out his email address to every spam list that you can find. You know it’s a little immature to do so… but, fuck him. He shouldn’t have said what he did about your mum.IMG_4646

In 2015, you’ll publish a book, grow an audience, and begin to make a name for yourself. You’d never believe it, but a few months after your book is released, people are going to start contacting you to ask if you’d like to be interviewed on their radio shows and websites. They’re going to tell you that they enjoy your work, and ask if have any words of wisdom for up and coming bloggers. Your writing is going to improve a lot in this time. You’ll begin weaving the positivity that has begun to blossom inside of your chest through your words. Shit, you’re going to feel so goddamn good that you start sharing fictional pieces on your website too. I know that sounds great in theory. Believe me when I say that I once thought it was too. But after a while it’ll dawn on you that your mother and little sister have read pieces you’ve written about undressing a woman and feeling her writhe beneath your sheets.

And then, just when you feel like you have found your purpose in life, everything is really going to go to shit.

You’re going to live through a period of eighteen months during which two friends will take their own lives, the girl you thought you’d marry will walk out on you, you’ll have a health scare that is going to make you more afraid than you have ever been, and your publisher will tell you that they no longer wish to represent you.

You’re going to hit rock bottom, Chris. And you’re going to hit it real fucking hard. Your family and friends are going to be concerned about you. They’re going to fret for months about how different you have become. Your mother is going to ask you repeatedly if you need professional help, and if you have had thoughts of suicide. Your father will end a phone call by telling you ‘not to do anything stupid’, and unbeknownst to you, your friends will band together to make sure that someone is always watching over you whenever possible.

During this period, you’ll lose weight, quit writing, and get so sick that company you work for will ban you from showing up until you agree to visit a psychologist. Your writing will become macabre again. The confidence that once shined in your work will be shattered, and you’ll begin embracing analogies about flowers and heartbreak as a means of coping.

You’re going to be so lost inside your own depressive mindset that even though you tell your mum that you’ve never thought about giving up, you will. A lot. In fact, there’s going to be a few moments where the only thing that saves you is the knowledge of how painful it was when your friends took their lives, and your refusal to put the people who love you through that agony again.

Eventually you’ll find a way to start over, and you’ll begin writing a love story so that you can experience the happy ending you believe will forever allude you. You’re going to cry your way through the early stages of the first draft, and much of what you produce will need to be rewritten. But the project will ultimately become something you are truly proud of.

Writing about selflessness and love is going to teach you so much about who you are, who you have been, and who you want to become. Despite having drafted the sequel to your debut novel, you’ll abandon it and decide to publish your love story instead. You’ll distribute it yourself too. After years of viewing self-publishing as an act of creative defeat, you’ll decide not to follow the traditional publishing route when you realise that you’re more concerned with sharing what you have created with those who choose to read your work, than chasing down publishing contracts and mass market appeal.

The novel will come out just a few weeks before I write you this letter. It’s release, coupled with the realization that I have been blogging for six years, are the catalysts for this letter. See, I’m about to turn 30 in a few months, which has prompted me to think a lot about my past. Call me melancholy for doing so, but I just can’t help but turn my attention to where I have come from so that I can understand where I am heading in the future. Maybe it’s because some of the places that I have been, that you are yet to go, aren’t so great. Maybe I’m trying to disprove the sentiment people have often told me that the best indicator for future behavior is past behavior.

Whatever the reason for my looking back to progress forward, it was by doing so that I came to find the quote we both penned on July 17th, 2012 that I spoke of above. I looked right back on where my blogging journey started, and realised just how far I have come in the past six years. When I started blogging I was afraid, downtrodden, and lost. Just like you are right now. You just wrote a post about your father nearly dying, and how afraid you are to know that your little brother is struggling with anorexia.  Now here I am six years later telling you that Dad is still kicking along, and your brother, he got his shit together, and he’s actually accomplished a hell of a lot more than most 22 year olds.

Perhaps you’d like to know that I’m not lonely, downtrodden, or lost anymore either. I feel like you’ll be excited to know that those feelings will pass. These days I’m a confident, proud, and happy near 30-year-old with two published novels to his name. I am also a son, a brother, a lover, an uncle, and although you won’t understand this analogy just yet, I’m a fucking wolf. And one day, you will be too.

Six year ago, when I was you, I told myself that a decade into the future I wanted to be able to say that I overcame depression and misery. But it turns out that I didn’t have to wait that long. And neither will you. Because we’re one in the same; perfectly imperfect in every single way. The next few years are going to fly by, so try to appreciate the small moments of happiness you will inevitably experience as best you can. Because it feels like just yesterday that it was July 17th, 2012 and I was sitting exactly where you are now.

I started writing because I feared who I was. But six years later, I continue to write because I’m damn proud of who I have become, and because I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to change anything about the path that I have walked. I know that you ended your first post by saying you wanted to tell depression to fuck off. Believe me, there was a time when I wanted to say that too. But I felt I needed to write to you and say you never will. Not because you lose your battle; but because you’ll learn that you can’t fight fire with fire, and you’ll kill depression with kindness instead.

Keep your chin up, Chris. Keep writing. And always remember that no matter how bad life may seem, there is always the possibility for it to get better. You just have to give it a a chance.

Yours Truly,

Chris Nicholas

285 thoughts on “Epoch

  1. TheBookHaven says:

    Just clicked on your blog as you had liked my recent post.
    At a melancholy hour, your words opened up a well.
    Thanks for putting such honesty out there and conveying emotions I wish I could express in such an intimate way.

    Layla

    1. Whoa! You liked one of my recent post and I always check out my new readers and I am insanely glad I did! This was a crazy good read! Its hard to do this as a writer and be so raw for many people! You did this with grace and spunk! I love it. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Jessica says:

    Thanks for this! It is really nerve wracking to be so vulnerable, but I’m holding my ground.

    1. Thank you for writing this.

  3. Nice one Chris! Great post 🦋✨

  4. jmm2013 says:

    Great write up. Also, thanks for recently liking one of my posts.

  5. Bhakti says:

    Thank you for writing this. I have saved this post because I am going to read it many times again, especially the letter to your younger self. That to me is a beautiful reminder to how little we really from from where we are. Thank you Chris for this post

  6. Mighty encouraging, this. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Beautifully written! Thank you for encouraging me with this post. 🙂

  8. mfcartervt says:

    Wonderful words of encouragement. Thank you.

  9. Just stumbled on this post, intention of reciprocating your ‘like’ on one of my posts. Although I have no illusions of reaching any level of success with my blog – I simply love to read and enjoy sharing my thoughts on the books I’ve read – your message of encouragement is universal. Life can and certainly will suck, knock you down and kick you in the ribs. Embrace the suck. Never give up because any, everything can and will get better if you just don’t give up.

  10. Angie says:

    Wow! Epoch is a very powerful message. I admire both your willingness to write to your former self, and your willingness to share it. I am new to this Blog world and though I top you in years, you are so far beyond me in your writing experience and your willingness to share. I don’t think I could have started my journey Writing as a Blogger at such a young age. I was far to insecure and to afraid to speak my truth…. It also should be noted the internet was still fairly new. You’ve grown up with this technology and mastered it beautifully.
    I wish you all the success your journey deserves and more!

  11. kevin cooper says:

    Very good post. That’s a huge percentage of blogs that fail. Probably accounts for some of the blogs I can no longer reach after they visit mine.

  12. So appreciated your like on my most recent blog – it makes me feel that i am not just barking up my own tree!

  13. Interesting. I started one blog in 2011 and moved later to website, the other in 2012. I have many blogging friends who haven’t given up. I think statistics are wrong about 93% quitting their blogs so soon.
    Your writing says you have been through a lot.
    So have I.
    The major difference is that I did everything else, except talk or mention the health issues. Well. I did a few times.
    I’ve been in medical writing and research for more tan 3 decades.
    I think the main thing is not to identify oneself with the illness. I know it sounds terrible because it takes one over, but the only way out is to break free, not to become consumed by it.
    I am writing about that in my lifeschool blog. The other is my art only.
    I have tested this theory for almost 40 years now (I am past 60) and I find that the mainstream approach in treating depression and associated conditions is wrong. Just wrong. There are new clinical trials which also show that some medications usd in depression treatment will only worsen it over time.
    It’s worth trying a new approach which puts you in a completely different space and separates from depression. Like I said, I write here and there about it, and you could just check it out to probably see another angle.
    I find it’s extremely difficult to break wide-spread assumptions in North America. Well, changing things dramatically would help.
    Congratulations for not quitting the blog!
    I wish you all the best!

  14. ccconflict says:

    Terrific Article! Alot of details. Your choice of words have great description. I Aim to write at that caliber! Thanks.

  15. This post is so beautiful and honest. I have been blogging for 3 years and have eventually reached 100 followers. I know that doesn’t sound like something to boast about but its more than I ever expected. I only write what I profoundly believe and if I can add value to obe person’s life by what I write then I will have achieved what I set out to do. Keep writing!

  16. weirdgalsays says:

    Can relate so much with what you have written. Your writing touches the heart!

  17. Sarah says:

    Our lives are beautiful sagas. Each one deserves to be told. Thanks for liking my post. You write well.

  18. capkane says:

    Dear chris Nicholas,

    This is inspiring and beautiful. Sometimes life forces you to take a road that you did not believe you could go and in the end, you make it !
    Now that you have achieved this, you know you can achieve anything.
    I didnt know you prior registering on wordpress (and seeing you were my first reader and my first like! ) and Im happy i discovered your work! Thanks for being there,
    Bien à toi,
    Hélène.

  19. Wonderful honest writing. Many thanks for liking my post. I wouldn’t have read this otherwise. We need to hold onto the chinks of light that appear. Thank you

  20. Emily Heron says:

    Hi Chris… this is a beautiful post. You have a lot of talent. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  21. I was just thinking the other day that a great many of the people who began blogging when I did seven years ago are no longer around. It’s sad. I blog off and on as it suits me, but I never really abandon it altogether. It’s the same with my fiction writing efforts. I write because I enjoy it. I really enjoyed your post, Chris, and thank you for liking my post.

  22. I can’t help liking this post !!! Keep writing..

  23. Ariana says:

    I appreciate your honesty. Life can be super messy and hard to navigate. There’s a reason I never check my site stats- when I decided to become a public resource for other families who might be walking a similar path, I wanted to make sure what I wrote reflected what has really been going on in our world. At least, as much as all of the active participants felt comfortable sharing. I was afraid that low numbers would get in my head and possibly make me want to modify the reality I portrayed, and that if the numbers ever got higher the reverse would be true and it could go to my head. Neither outcome is what I wanted. My goal was to genuinely reflect our experiences in a way that could be useful at some point to someone, somewhere. It isn’t easy to be publicly vulnerable and stripped down to the essence of who you are for people to “like” or not, as they see fit. I wish you many more years of writing and rising above ❤ Ariana

  24. clford21 says:

    I wonder why I panic when someone follows me? I remove them and my list . I just wanted to leave behind me a comfort those who have taken my place and those who understand.

    Thank you for visiting

  25. Ola K says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing your journey. It was both inspirational and heart breaking to read. xo

  26. Isla says:

    You write beautifully, and with incredible punch. Just getting through the past few years sounds like a triumph, let alone managing to write and publish.
    I hope your 2019 has been better than your 2018, and that you’re keeping your chin well above the waterline.
    Sending love and well wishes from halfway around the world.

  27. I have just discovered your blog Chris and wanted to thank you for this inspirational post. Even though it has been 2 years since I began blogging I can relate to your post and letter. Blogging is not easy at all but having that passion is ever important. Glad to connect and have a great week. 😊

  28. Thanks for sticking with yourself through it all…you’re lucky to have you :}

  29. I think the main reason for blogging has to be that you actually enjoy writing yourself. Good content will ultimately find its readers. Thanks for liking my latest post!

  30. Joe Durso says:

    Good thoughts, it always pays to keep on keeping on.

  31. Chris, I have read your letter. Thank you for being an inspiration to authors and bloggers like me out there. I love your story and the obstacles you have overcome is incredible! Love that you are keeping it real!

    Love,
    Michelle

  32. I’m late but this is truly encouraging…

  33. Mpdezn says:

    I need help with my Blogs I’m a first time Blogger

  34. amandamdoak says:

    Felt every damn detail of your post. I love it because I am your former self. Thanks for writing.

  35. TCast says:

    This is a great post and I want to thank you for sharing it with us…your readers.

  36. Hi, you might not read this comment but I just wanted to thank you. You left me the first ever like on my blog just a couple of days ago and so I came here and read the most recent post on your blog.

    Wow. It hit me pretty hard cause I basically could have written it myself, except without all the accomplishments. I have severe depression and anxiety as well as other issues but I created my blog in part as an outlet for all that as I try to write a novel. I abandoned a blog previously but I’ve already posted more on this one than that one cause I enjoy what I’m doing.

    Again, thank you for this post and for giving me some kind of hope that through all this anxiety and depression, things still might get better even though it’s been this way so long.

  37. Ben Cross says:

    Hello Chris. I came across your blog as you liked my recent post, and I am glad to reciprocate by reading this powerful and punchy post. Reading it brought a lump to my throat as I felt your emotions. You should be proud of how far you have come, the obstacles you have overcome, and I admire and appreciate your raw honesty, in telling your heartfelt story.

    As a blogger, I can relate to how hard it is to write. I started my blog nearly five years ago and having recently passed the 100 published articles milestone, I am proud of my blogging journey as when I started I never thought I would still be doing it now. Blogging is an outlet for myself and every other blogger, as we write to express ourselves.

    I write and blog because I love it with a heartfelt passion!

    Thank you so much for writing a wonderful and inspirational post. Hope you are feeling good and remember that you are not alone.

    Good luck for the future!

  38. I came here because you liked one of my blog posts. This was a great read! I like how you infused the what if’s with what actually may have (or may have not) gone down into the future. Thanks for sharing this most excellent piece!

  39. Retired says:

    This was a very thoughtful piece
    The writing of a blog takes significant effort and I hope that you keep getting encouraging comments
    For my part my blog at inspireretirenow.com does not have these personal details, having retired I am still working out my role. Not easy to answer that question “and what do you do” which is used as a conversation starter-or not as the case might be
    I wish you all success

  40. Retired says:

    I found your piece very thought provoking
    I hope that the responses you get are encouraging and that you continue
    For my part my blog at inspireretirenow.com does not have any personal details
    This is because having retired there is a whole process of self reinventing to go through
    It quite difficult to answer that apparently simple question “what do you do” when one has retired

    I hope you will be able to continue and get to wherever you want to go
    Best wishes

  41. Aleta says:

    Damn, I wish I could write like this. Being a new blogger, this is something I aspire towards. Thank you for sharing this – I think it’s appropriate to all of us sharing our hearts and thoughts to others.

  42. Marce says:

    I’ve had a blog for yearsss but had it mostly like a record for myself to go back to. Now I see there’s a lot you can do with your blog and am just learning about this World.

  43. Literophilus says:

    I love this entry! It was awesome.

  44. Thank you for sharing this amazing letter to your past self! As someone who just started a blog, it gives me hope for my future self. You’ve had an incredible journey and I’m glad you’ve in the 5% who kept at it. Onward and upward!

  45. khushijhon says:

    Well you’ve gone far from the first time and you have come through

    That’s good.
    Thanks

  46. Anand Bose says:

    Only trials and trauma can build a writer. I can identify with your struggles. Anand Bose from Kerala

  47. rielamenev says:

    This letter spoke to me on every front.

    Here I am currently struggling away at my first book, attempting to reinvent my poetry, facing the trauma and pain I’ve buried, and fighting tirelessly against my own unending desire to kill myself.

    At 24, I am finally beginning to accept that I will not wake up one day and be free of my laundry list of mental disorders. I am learning that the pain can be used to find strength and to share the beauty within torment with the world.

    I hope the good tidings and success you describe in this letter have continued over this last year. If not, then I say congratulations. If you run out of pain, you run out of life worth living. You run out of poetic fuel. Pain is the ultimate affirmation of life, and you have suffered beautifully.

  48. I really liked what you said how you described your emotions and how you felt. Me on a daily basis I deal with depression and anxiety as well. For me to describe how I feel I can and I’ve changed alot from doing that. But still working on myself.

  49. This piece is simply amazing. Your writing forced me to think and to step out of my comfort zone, which is really confined if I might say. You truly have a knack for writing. I am a new blogger and so wish I could write with such conviction and clarity. Fabulous piece!

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