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What a Great Time to Be Young and Creative

  What an amazing day. I couldn’t be more thankful. A group of high school students from two different art schools came together to celebrate their work towards my Beauty Scars Book Cover contest.

First off, ALL of the submissions were incredible. All of them are still up on my website so head over to the Beauty Scars tab and take a look. You’ll be just as impressed as I was with these pieces.

And all from high school students!! Young, enthusiastic, gifted art students who created these cover images with very limited information. Yet they worked with what they were given, and over a six week period were able to design images that in some way match the theme of my story. They did this with no certainty of anything other than the opportunity to be part of my future novel.

But that’s art right. Creating without promise of any appreciation, or monetary gain, or even without the guarantee that it will ever be seen. Artists dedicate their lives to ideas, and bringing those ideas to life. For many, the accomplishment from that alone is enough to nurture their souls. I have to thank 50 of these souls for being so willing to put their work up for ridicule. The excitement inside of Artscape was electric.

I still remember starting my own writing journey. I was so confident in my abilities, and even as feelings of doubt, fear, and hesitance emerged, I was still able to endure and put out a high quality, creative piece of fiction. I'd go as far as to say that it was the fear that partially motivated me. There was no way I was going to let it win! 

I’m still very much on that journey, enjoying each and every step. This was a good day!

#PassionAndPaper

#HistoryOrNothing

Read my fictional novella “Thoughts of a Fractured Soul.”  

(Image shot by Robert Young)

Let Success Be Your New Life

I'm blessed to have some intelligent friends around me who can hold some truly insightful conversations. The convo I'm talking about this time, though, was short, simple, and sent in the form of a text you see in the feature picture. If you notice the time on that message it's almost 2:00am, so it's like my friend had a sudden epiphany. We've had a few conversations about this in person after his message, and debated the validity of this statement. I mean, is that what "ultimate" success takes? Does it truly take sacrificing your entire life? If you read the end of his message, he actually gives very specific examples of how he's had to change his life if he wants to stay on the path he's currently on.

"Missing family engagement parties and bachelor parties and barbecues. Cuz you gotta focus on basketball or workouts or work or meetings."

For my friend, those other things take precedence in his life right now. More precedence than engagement or bachelor parties or anywhere else he's been invited. I think what get's scary for most people, like the vast majority of people, is that if they sustain that level of focus, that level of discipline, will it all work out the way they want?

That's the struggle, isn't it. You actually don't know everything is going to go your way. You don't know if working overtime is actually going to get you that promotion, or if you quit your job and start your own business that it will actually be successful. And the next question you ask yourself is just how long will you have to put in all this work before you get the payoff?

Oh now we're getting somewhere. We're all willing to put in the work if we knew for sure it will lead to something better. But only the people who are "ultimately" successful put in the work already KNOWING it will lead to something better, and with the understanding that the journey is part of the payoff.

Tough pill to swallow, tough lesson to learn. Hard to move forward without security, right? Without some kind of assurance. But it goes back to the title of this article: Are you willing to let success be your new life?

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#PassionAndPaper

 

 

Acceptance vs Ambition - Where Do We Draw The Line

Talk about thrilling. I was sitting in my seat waiting for the hit play “Secrets of a Black Boy” to start and I could literally feel the energy and the buzz of anticipation all around me. People were genuinely excited about this show, and after seeing it myself for the first time, I shared their excitement. secretsI was invited out by the writer of the play, Darren Anthony, whom I had just met a couple weeks earlier. We had a chance to chat when we first met, and he was excited about his show’s upcoming road-trip to DC and Baltimore after first debuting just over five years ago here in Toronto. We also spoke about commitment and perseverance, an d the courage to take that final leap of faith and do whatever it takes to follow what you know is your calling.

He was admittedly a bit nervous about making that jump, and we got into a discussion about where to draw the line between accepting where you are in life, accepting what you’ve accomplished and where you’ve come, and balancing that with the ambition you feel to do more? How do you stop when you know in your heart there’s so much more to for you to do, so many more lives to touch and people to inspire?

We spoke about how our loved ones play a role in those decisions, how maybe having a child or long term relationship changes the outlook of what we thought would be our future. And that may be true, and many people can substitute “child” or “relationship” with any other external influence - family, work, time - and have that be their scapegoat of choice.

But anyone who’s been reading my blog for the past year, anyone who knows me personally and understands what I stand for knows scapegoats don’t exist in my world. Teenage parent, so what. I still graduated from university. High school dropout, no problem. Now I’m a successful writer and first time author with readers and fans all over the world.

I create my own reality, I dictate what’s possible, I dictate my present and my future. A few years ago I pictured my life as it is right now, and right now I’m busy creating more mental molds of what my life will be during the next five years. I don’t know how wrong or how right this is, but there is no line for me. My balance is weighted completely on the side of ambition, squarely one sided on the scale of not accepting anything less than what I know I am meant to do, on what I am doing right now. chess-316658_640

I’m not a dreamer because I live this reality everyday. I am not delusional because I set goals and continue to shatter them. I play without a lifeline, without any boundaries to how far I can go. My life is my life.

I was invited as a special guest speaker at my old high school’s graduation. Seeing the excitement of all those young people ready to take on the world, still believing anything is possible, those few hours were inspirational for me and reminded me of how naivete can sometimes be a powerful perspective. All of those students still operate from the belief that nothing is impossible, that they can be or do anything. And really, who’s to tell them any different?

The fact that the influences of the world have not fractured their ambitions is what makes them special, what sparks evolution and leads to revolutions. And we should encourage this behaviour, so long as it is backed by a comparable work ethic and determination to follow through on these passions.

Secrets of a Black Boy received a standing ovation. I saw tears in Darren Anthony’s eyes as he hugged his sister Trey Anthony, an accomplished writer and producer, herself, with The Kink in My Hair as her launching pad. Our chance meeting suddenly ran through my mind, and somehow I feel his decision was already made.

#PassionAndPaper

Get your copy "Thoughts of a Fractured Soul" here.

 

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