Remembrance

If you've never been fired or laid off before, it's a very interesting feeling. While you're working for a particular company, people are either saying nice things or nothing at all. It's when you leave that the real truth comes out. You start to hear things from certain people, whether true or not, that you never would have heard otherwise. Before you know it, your story is being told by secondhand people for better or for worse. Gets you thinking about how you want to be remembered...

Personally, I want to be remembered as someone who gave hard and loved hard. Someone who was always willing to help those that needed it. Someone who always went hard and gave it his all every single day. Someone that never quit. Someone that made others better. Someone that made the most of the time that he was given.

How do you want to be remembered?

Learning From French's Mom

Watching a new show called "The OA" right now. Really really good show recommended by my nephew and seemingly every other person I talk to. There is one kid on the show named French. In one scene, he confronts his mom who is drunk yet again and can't seem to get her life together. She tells French at one point that he should stop putting so much pressure on himself to get a scholarship and trying to get into a certain profession. Those things, while important, don't define the man that is.

Who he is is already there.

That hit me hard as I started thinking about my own life. If I'm honest, I can't help thinking that achieving certain things will somehow affect my status in life or change who I am. "Once I close five deals, I will be a great salesperson." "Once I get a book published mainstream, then I am an official author." Those goals, while great, don't define the man that I am. In fact, I am that man right NOW. Time to start acting like it.

Love and Quarterbacks

New couples make me roll my eyes sometimes. The ones that can't seem to keep their hands off each other for five seconds. The ones that are ALWAYS posting about how in love they are on Facebook. The ones that tell you their boyfriend/girlfriend got off early so they're ditching you to hang out with them. Their fights are so small potatoes that it makes you laugh because you just went to all-out war with your spouse the day before. You know exactly who I'm talking about.

Is it real? Or is it fresh?

I think about love in terms of a football game. When you're first starting out, you're a kicker. Your job is simple and people love you for it. Oh, you bought flowers? It's good! Weekend vacation? 50-yarder right through the uprights! Took her to a nice restaurant? Took her to meet your parents? Gamewinner! The Facebook crowd is going crazy because you posted all about it. You get to be the hero even when you haven't done all that much.

Old love is like a quarterback. A quarterback's job is to manage an entire game. While certain plays will help lead the team to victory, those plays mean nothing if the game isn't managed properly.  A quarterback, even the all-time greats, will fall short at times. He gets knocked on his behind at least eight times during the course of a game. Whether or not it's a sack, it still hurts.That same quarterback will be scrutinized by those that haven't done the job before or, better yet, those that have done the job and weren't good at it. "Why didn't he throw the ball out of bounds? Why didn't he slide?"  

Here's the crazy thing about that old quarterback: He doesn't get to take plays off. In spite of the scrutiny and the dozens of jarring hits, he finds a way to get up. It might be slower than it was the time before, but he gets up nonetheless. He keeps playing in that game where he was just blindsided by a 300-pound lineman. The good ones find a way to keep their heads in the game. The really good ones find a way to win. It's amazing when you take a moment to think about it.

We're three years into marriage now and it's safe to say we're in quarterback territory. I know, some of you old heads are probably thinking, "Talk to me when you've done it ten plus years!" I get it, but three years is beautiful, especially when you have someone amazing to split snaps with.

Jennifer McSween, I'd take 100 sacks from Von Miller if it means I get to share the big game with you. I got you. You got me. As long as we're together, we can beat anybody and anything. I love you because we're different. I love you because we're the same. Whether it rains or pours, I won't stop throwing passes.

One final thing before I end this. I've gotten this question a few times over the course of my relationship: How did you know she was the one for you? There were a few signs that pointed me in the right direction, but one in particular that stands out today.

We had just arrived at our hotel room in Cozumel. We were sitting on the bed talking while Kaleb, our son, was running around on the balcony like a crazy person. When Kaleb finally slowed down, he decides to come inside. He walks towards the doorway casually and runs smack dab into the glass sliding door! Trying to be sensitive to the situation, I looked to Jen to gauge her reaction.

She's laughing so hard tears are in her eyes.

"What a dumbass," she says under her breath.

Yep. That's when I knew. Happy anniversary, babe.

It Ain't So Bad

There's a viral video out there of the end of a UFC fight between Cheick Kongo and Pat Barry. It's a clip I've watched over and over because it blows my mind every single time. Kongo has gotten knocked down repeatedly and not just any kind of knocked down. I'm talking, the man is seeing stars and punching blindly. He clearly doesn't know where he is for a bit of time.

All of a sudden, Kongo's vision seems to clear and he's looking at Barry standing right in front of him. Kongo lands a direct hit to Barry's face then proceeds to go on to win the match. It still amazes me that he kept trying to throw punches even when he seemed totally out of it.

There is a key difference between an optimist and a pessimist. A pessimist looks at the present while the optimist looks towards the future. The pessimist complains about this being a certain way and that being horrible while an optimist looks at their situation and says, "You know, this really sucks...but it won't always be this way. I'll make sure of it." Even when an optimist looks like they're down for the count, they're still throwing punches trying to make some magic happen.

What kind of person are you? The kind of person that looks at a closed door with a scowl or the kind of person that sees that door and tries to bust through it? If you've never tried optimism, now is a good time to start. Just like that UFC fight, things can literally change for you at the turn of a dime. 

I Hate Norm

Yahtzee is one of my favorite games. My wife showed me how to play about four years ago and I've been hooked ever since. With a mixture of luck and strategy involved, your objective is to roll a set of dice up to three times on any given turn to try and get certain combinations. In about eight games, I was hooked!

So hooked, in fact, that I started playing on the Yahtzee With Buddies app. I've noticed that there are three different types of players: 1. The ones that go with the flow of the game and let their rolls dictate how their game will go; 2. The smart players who strategize to go after different combinations; and 3. The aggressive players--Players that take chances beyond just when they have to. Player #3 also relies on strategy, but is relying on a little bit of luck to get them over the hump.

Out of all of the opponents that I've faced, I've found that the aggressive players are typically the best ones. I'm not in their heads, but it seems they don't overthink things from one move to the next and when they swing for the fences and succeed, the game can be over fairly early on. It's the same thing in life. The people that have the most success are typically the ones that have the guts to take chances in life. No matter their hangup--be it money, pride, self-esteem, whatever--they are willing to put everything on the line to go after what matters the most to them in life. And let's be clear, when I say "guts", I'm not implying that a person is bold or fearless but rather they are choosing to do something out of their comfort zone in spite of that fear.

There are so many pressures in this world that try and push us towards "the norm", The norm tells us that we need to have a certain job or we need to do things a certain way or have this or that vice in our life to help us make it. The norm tells us we need to make this amount of money or fall in love with that type of person. Having guts to take a chance is not about being fearless, but it's about you taking a stand and saying, "Screw the norm. I'm doing it MY way and I'll deal with the results whatever they may be."

Two years ago, I self-published my first novel. Leading up to that point, I spent months debating whether or not it was the right decision. Self-publishing is frowned upon because the norm tells writers they need to go through a mainstream publisher.  Here's what ultimately helped me make my decision: In order to succeed, you first have to try. I began to say that over and over until it became my mantra. As a result, I took the leap and the Legacy series was birthed to the world.

Two years later, I'm not a millionaire. I don't have a big house. My book hasn't sold 10,000 copies and honestly I don't think it's sold 1,000. I realized something, though: Two years ago, my mantra was completely wrong. Instead of saying, "In order to succeed, I have first have to try", I should have been saying something much simpler: Trying IS succeeding. 

There are so many people in this world that don't try enough, that get comfortable in their "norm". If that's you and you're reading this, it's never too late to take steps in the direction of accomplishing your dreams. On the other hand, if you've found yourself trying and failing constantly, just remember that you are ALREADY successful. No one or nothing can take that away from you.

Keep succeeding.

Power

My son is one emotionally charged kid. Despite our love for each other, we manage to find ourselves in altercations every now and then. It's rare, but there are some instances where he is beyond rational reasoning and I find myself having to use physical force. No matter how angry I become, I am always fully cognisant of the relationship: I am the ADULT. He is the CHILD. I am stronger than him. I hold the power, both over him and the situation itself. It's because I understand that, I am able to exercise restraint even in my most furious of times. 

There are three reasons power is exerted: 1. To show force; 2. To exert dominance over the less-powerful; 3. Fear of not having control of a situation. The first two are pretty self-explanatory, but let's take a closer look at the third by using my dog PJ as an example. PJ is as skittish of a dog as they come. I can think of few things that don't freak him out. I don't know if it's his breed or what, but the only time he seems to not be on high-alert is when we go on hikes. He leads the way, we follow.

Because he's on high-alert constantly, he perceives the world as way more threatening than you or I. If he doesn't know you and you happen to get too close, his warning bark will make you think twice about taking anymore steps in his direction. Respect his boundaries, though, and he'll love you from a distance.

The job of law enforcement is to do exactly what their title entails: Enforce the law. That, by itself, bestows power. Throw in mace, a nightstick, a taser, and a gun and you are multiplying that power exponentially. That title and those weapons tells me that, nine times out of ten, a police officer is the most powerful person involved in any given situation. I recognize that. You recognize that.

So why can't they?

I'm looking at the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shootings, both of which leave me scratching my head. Both senseless. Fatal. Wasteful displays of power. We're not talking about shoot-outs, but cold-blooded murder. The former was shot on the ground multiple times at point-blank range while the latter was shot (also multiple times) while reaching for a wallet.  In the span of twenty-four hours, things went from heartbreaking to just plain sickening. 

Why did this happen? It happened because of power and fear. Fear that had to have come from some preconceived notion that ultimately caused them to think they had no control of the situation. Why else do you put five shots in a man that you already have restrained or kill a man who is trying to pull out an ID that YOU asked for? What's your answer? That you didn't know? That you didn't understand the nature of the situation?

Therein lies the larger issue: Understanding the nature of a situation is a crucial part of a police officer's JOB. NOTHING should cloud your ability to do that, not fear, not preconceived notions, not race. Having that ability, THAT'S what gives you real power. Not a badge, not a gun.

I don't bring PJ around a lot of people because I'm fully aware that he is unpredictable. In the same way, a cop that can't properly take stake in the situation before him should not be allowed to wield a gun or hold any kind of power because that cop is unpredictable.

Funny thing is, the way to truly overcome fear is with power. Not the power to hurt or kill, but the power to exercise restraint in a situation you deem dangerous or scary. 

Speedy Stimulation

We live in a microwave society. Our brains and emotions are stimulated primarily by instant gratification. Facebook. Movies. Snapchat. Twitter. In today's world, you get what you want and you get it instantly. The more I think about this, the more I've thought as of recently, am I doing the right thing by writing novels? Should I be more focused on screenplays instead and cater to this new microwave era?

As a salesperson, the concept of process is forced down your throat early on. Because sales are tied directly to your commission, you want to close as quickly as possible in an ideal world. Meanwhile, in the real world, things move much slower and for good reason. You're not only asking someone to try something new but you're also expecting them to spend a good amount of cash in the process. While your head is screaming, "Let's get this thing closed so I can put some money in my pocket", in your heart you know it's better to develop that relationship with the prospect. Building a relationship builds trust and, once there's trust, you open up a world of possibilities. And none of it would happen without time. Time is everything. Time fuels process.

Though I hate to admit it, having a process in place that takes effort and time--like, say, the process of writing a novel--and seeing that process produce great results brings much more satisfaction then jumping from point A to Z with nothing in between to show for it. It's a slow grind, something that might very well not pay off like you want it to in the end, but if you respect the process and stick to it, breakthroughs happen.  

Back to my first question: Am I doing the right thing by writing novels? To answer that, I had to think back to why I even started writing in the first place: To get people interested in reading again. Through my characters and worlds, I wanted to create something that relates directly to readers, not just the old heads, but the newer crowd that see books as merely something that take up space in a library. In order to do that, I have to respect the process. Good things come...

Even the Bare Minimum Helps

Writing is a game of inches. One word added is one more word than what you had before, bringing that work one inch closer to completion. I used to try and write as I found time. Now, as I've gotten older, I feel like I'm playing against some kind of game clock. I don't know how much time is left on that clock, but I sure as heck don't want it to hit zero before I've done everything I needed to do. No matter how busy I am, I have to MAKE myself write one paragraph a day. That's it. Bare minimum. Of course the goal is to do leaps and bounds more, but if I can commit to a few lines of prose a day at the very least, I continue forward progress. In football, no team expects to get a first down on first and ten when it's a running play, but even a one-yard gain will set them up nicely for the next play.

I've been thinking about time a lot lately. How we use it, how we misuse it. As I'm writing this right now, my son is making a smoothie from scratch. He is taking the time to cut up the fruit and get it all perfectly blended and whatnot. Before this, he was shooting baskets on the nerf hoop in his room. He's basically doing ANYTHING he can to keep from the real task at hand which is getting his homework done. He's got a lot that needs to get done by Friday evening (tomorrow), but he somehow thinks he has all the time in the world. Little does he know, the clock is ticking. Tomorrow will come and go and, the longer, he waits, the more the pressure of completion builds and the harder things become.

Time is what we make it. We make time for the things in our lives that we consider a priority. I'm happy and proud to report that, after spending a great amount of time on it, I finally finished my short story "Dying Embers" and submitted it to the Writers of the Future contest. Feels good to get that out of the way finally...Now, I can focus the majority of my efforts on The Last Human Chef which is progressing slowly but surely.

I'm just a kid that loves to write, taking full advantage of the time God has given me.

Personal Professionals

I don't have many pet peeves. I'm a pretty tolerant person when it comes down to it. Wasn't always, but getting older changes you. I do have one pet peeve in particular that drives me crazier than almost anything else: Fat personal trainers. Isn't that an oxymoron if you've ever heard one? I know what you're going to say: There are some older trainers that were professional athletes in their hayday and now they're passing on the knowledge that they used during their healthier days. Still not buying it. I could give two craps if you USED to be an olympian or you were in incredible shape twenty years ago. That was then. This is now, 2016, and 2016 says you've put down the weights and picked up the doughnuts. Which is fine, not faulting you for that at all. It's just that when I'm looking at someone that's training me, I expect to see someone I would like to aspire to be. I'll never say, "Man, I sure wish I looked like you did in 1983." I wasn't even born in 1983, come on man!

When you're claiming to be a professional, you have to act and look professionally. In other words, people need to see by your actions and not your words that you are what you say you are. You want to be a personal trainer? Great, but you better look diesel in a string tank top. Just a thought. In my case, the case of writing, I have to continuously develop my craft. How do I do that? By writing!  

I try and maintain professionalism by writing on an everyday basis, including the days where my laptop is the last thing I want to see. I also stay professional by editing everything I write. Personally, I think people should do it anyway, but especially if you're trying to write professionally. I edit EVERYTHING, including Facebook posts and texts before I hit send. If I'm truly a writer then what you read from me at the very least should be...well, readable. 

Words are powerful, but it's our actions behind those words and the way we carry ourselves that truly define us.

The Double Standard Sermon

I've ranted on this on Facebook before so forgive me if I'm delivering the same sermon. In about two months, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice will be gracing the big screen and will feature not only the two major superheroes, but Wonder Woman as well. There has been a lot of buzz about the casting of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman due to her physique. From a facial standpoint she can get away with it, but her body definitely doesn't match the physique of the Amazon woman she is portraying. Plenty of comic book afficionados take issues with this as they wanted the casted role to be more true to form. These same people have received a ton of backlash, being called misogynistic and sexist. 

I find that extremely hilarious and ridiculous. Why? Because those exact same accusers take no issue with the male superhero roles being cast to form. Look at Captain America. Look at Thor. Wolverine. Should I go on? If Kevin Spacey was cast as Superman, people would be calling for the heads of the director and producer of such a preposterous movie. While we're at it, why don't we just get Adrian Brody with all of his glorious muscles to play the role of Thor? That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we like to call a double standard. 

Will Gadot do a good job as Wonder Woman? I think she'll be fine. Do I think they could have casted a curvier actress to play the role? Absolutely. 

Someday I'm very hopeful that my Legacy series will be turned into a movie. For those of you that have read the first novel G.L.O.W., you are aware that there are some female characters that are described as having a "fuller" shape. I did that on purpose as I'm tired of seeing the same old skinny-minnies grace our books and film. That's not reality. "But you write science fiction, Phillip. That's not reality either." Hahah, very funny. You get my point.

Results Vs. Process

The beauty of working hard is seeing the eventual result that comes with it. No one would work hard a day in their life without cause or result.  When I finally finished Legacy: G.L.O.W. after over two years of working on it, it was probably one of the happiest days of my life. It was the first book I had ever finished and just getting it done told me I could do it again when I was ready. Not only that, but now I had a finished product I could send off to agents and publishers to try and get put on a shelf. As much as I hated the working hard part of it, the good of the results far outweighed the bad of the process.

And that process, it's a beast. When you're grinding on something, it feels like you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's work and work and work and work. The worst part is, you don't know if what you're doing is good enough because you haven't seen the results yet. It's enough to drive you mad. Sometimes I wish there was an easier way to write a book, that I didn't have to sit at my laptop while a blank page stared back waiting on me to make the first and last move. Without the hard work, it doesn't get done. Sometimes even that thought isn't enough to convince me to put the time in.

So what is? For me, it's dreaming of what the finished product could be. A published novel. A full-time writing career. Maybe even enough money to singlehandedly take care of my entire family. Putting smiles on the faces of millions.

I can't see any of that if I don't do the work placed in front of me. Back to the grind...

Another Shot

A few weeks ago, I finished the hardest videogame I've every played in my life: Bloodborne. I'm talking about a game so tough that it took four people, myself included, to collaborate and finally finish it off for good. It is a game that thrives on you dying over and over and over...and over again. Just when you think you've got the hang of it, you die some more. I get frustrated thinking about it even now.

Yes, Bloodborne is surely a game that will test your resolve. The more you play, the better you get as you learn the ins and outs of how to improve. Ultimately your many failures lead to eventual success. Funny how that works out.

I've put my all into the Legacy series, especially the first one. Writing alone is no easy task, but you throw life into the mix and it actually starts to become borderline insanity. What, you mean to tell me after the kind of day I've had and all the things threatening to throw my life overboard, I now have to sit down in front of a laptop and create something? I'll be the first to admit, most days, that's the last thing I want to do.

Imagine how I felt when I put my all into that first novel only to have it rejected repeatedly by agents and publishers. Sure I got some bites, but rejection always strikes a harder blow than acceptance, doesn't it? I wanted to quit, throw it all away. Then I put on my big boy pants and realized, "You idiot, this is your FIRST book! You've got a long way to go before you can quit and say you actually gave it your all."

You know what I've always loved about videogames? No matter how much you suck or how quickly you die, you always get another shot. And, eventually, the dying makes you better as it shows you what you need to do the next time. Dying doesn't mean it's time to stop. It merely means it wasn't your time.

Death brings life.  People die causing the people close to them to rethink their own lives and what they hope to accomplish before they leave the earth. Relationships die and, hopefully, the parties involve move on to bigger and better things. People get fired and find new jobs. Happens everyday.

Don't count yourself out if a door closes in your face. Having the courage to push on can turn your failures into success.

That's Progressing

I read a brief blip today about a guy that wrote one short story a day for a year. My wife somehow believes that I could actually do the same thing. God bless her for believing in me, but I know me. I know my writing style. I'm more of a Prius type of writer. Slow, steady. Eventually I win the race. It's a curse sometimes. I wish inspiration would just shower down upon me causing me to glue myself to a chair and just sit and write for hours. Instead, more often than not, I find myself forcing myself to type until I hit my daily goal. Once that goal is hit, I run away from my laptop like it has ebola. Reality: It is what it is. Speaking of writing progress, The Last Human Chef is moving slowly but surely. Six pages in and I'm starting to get a feel for the main character. Can't wait to see how things progress.

The Dreaded Approval

One of the many things I love about writing is the complete control that it comes with. It's your world. You create it along with the characters, plot, beginning, middle, and end.  Because this creation stems from your own mind, you're almost guaranteed to like it. Making a work of art you know you're going to love is a beautiful thing, especially with all the crappy stuff that exists today. 

The more I started writing over time, the more I was asked for others to be allowed to read my stuff. While it was an honor, I didn't realize how much of a snakebite it would serve to be to my writing style. Instead of going with the flow, I intentionally started to adjust my style with others in mind. I would ask myself, "Would so-and-so like this?" or "Better not include this. So-and-so might not understand it." It wasn't long before I was driving myself nuts and writing wasn't enjoyable for awhile. I had to get back to what made me happy in the first place. I had to stop thinking about fans I didn't have and focus on my number 1 fan: Me. 

Writing is supposed to be an escape from the everyday suckage of life. When you write for others and not yourself, you're merely putting yourself in the same box that life can sometimes trap you in. The world needs different. Don't write because it fits a trend or because you think Aunt Becky will love it. Write because it's good for the soul and because it's from the heart. When you finish, you can take heart in knowing you were solely responsible for something that at least one person loves.

I Want Out

I remember when I first bought my dogs two years ago, Bruce and PJ. Bruce, our beagle, has always marched to his own drum. He's obedient, but on his own time. You put him on a diet, he finds food elsewhere. He's never met a person or thing that scares him. We named him Bruce for Bruce Banner and, while his stature isn't Hulk-like, his spirit sure is.

PJ, on the other hand, is entirely different. A border collie-great pyrenese mix, his size has never matched his demeanor. He's always been timid, shying away from people and things for one reason or another. He keeps to himself and does his best to please so that he doesn't get in trouble. While Bruce has been in doggy prison more times than all the Batman villains combined, PJ lives to please. He slinks around quietly and stays out of the way. Think Adrian from the Rocky series.

About three months ago, I was awakened out of my sleep by a constant, whiny barking. I expected it to be Bruce because, well, that's the kind of thing I expect from the little roly poly. To my surprise it was PJ, not only barking but pawing and scratching trying to get out of his kennel. I ran him downstairs to use the bathroom thinking that had to be the issue. It wasn't a minute before I put him back in the kennel that he started barking again. Finally, not knowing what else to do, I let him out of the kennel. Within five minutes he was asleep laying stretched out on the carpet at the foot of our bed.

This went on for weeks.

My quiet dog had become an outspoken nightmare. When I started to think about it more, a lightbulb went off inside my head. PJ was so desperate to change his situation that he was willing to step out of his comfort zone and do whatever he needed to do until he got what he wanted. No matter how many times I scolded him, he refused to stop barking.

Life sucks sometimes and I'm saying that as a total optimist. We get stuck in certain situations and we forget that we have the power to change them. We forget to bark. You don't have to be satisfied with the mundane, with the ordinary. Bad circumstances might seem suffocating, but there is almost always a way out and it almost always starts with us.  Good change usually isn't earned without a struggle.  So either keep fighting or start today!  Don't stop barking! Who knows, you bark long enough and that kennel door just might open.

Making Time

Relationships are tough. Whether it's a friendship, parent-to-child, or marriage, It's not just about love, but about sacrifice. You fight and you work through things together. There are days when the love you have for one another is not a feeling, but a choice. You choose to love each other despite your disagreements and dislikes. Being there. I would even argue as to say that's what the majority (and by majority, I mean about 58%) of a good relationship is: being present; making the conscious decision to stick around when it's not always flowers and lollilops. Not exactly the love stories we see in movies, huh?

It's actually better.  Choosing to love when you don't always "feel" it represents true commitment. When you're committed to a relationship, you're giving that person a special connection that you don't share with anyone else. Mere acquaintances and co-workers will come and go, but the ones you are committed to are connected to you for life. That's real love.

Writing, in a sense, is the same way. I'll confess, while writing is something I believe I'm good at, I don't always make time for it. When I do, I'm typically thinking of all the other things I could be doing. Sometimes I actually do those things while I'm supposed to be writing. Ok, fine, a lot of times.

To be able to write and write well, it's true you need some experience, knowledge of storytelling, and talent. But, even moreso, it's all about the 58%: being present. Writing is a war of the pages that is won by the small battles you have with yourself. You can say you want to accomplish a completed work all you want, but it all starts with physically sitting in front of that computer screen and staring down that blank page until it becomes a page filled with words. A lot of times you don't want to do it, but when you choose to do it, it means you love it all the more. Choice equals commitment and there's nothing better than commitment in writing.

Cutting Down the Failure Tree

I love video games, sometimes too much. They are a mindless form of entertainment that allow me to zone out from the day and have a good time. Video games these days have become like interactive movies, rewarding you with super long cut scenes and awesome endings. If you're anything like me, by the time you get to the end you've probably died countless times. The greatest joy of video games, however, is the ability to restart, to pick up where you left off. You might fail but you never really lose.

It's the same thing in life and the things we do on a regular basis. You might find yourself failing countless times, but you always get to choose whether or not you continue on. Unfortunately you can't choose whether or not you fail or succeed. However, you do get to decide how far you are willing to push yourself. Stretching your limits not only makes you a stronger person, but it helps you to respect the success even more. I can't tell you the number of times I've said, "Well, if this or that doesn't happen, I'm going to put down writing for good." And here I am. Still typing away. 

I wish I could say that I was done with failure. I was that I could tell you right now that The Last Human Chef was going to be a smashing success and change the world. The truth is I don't really know what the future holds for me. The only thing I know for sure is I'll never stop trying. I'm a true believer that there's only so much failure you'll hit before you finally reach success. I'm excited for what the future holds.

The Writing Saddle

It feels good to be back in the saddle! The writing saddle, that is. On September 28th, I began my new novel The Last Human Chef. I'll spare you the details for now, but I definitely think it's a pretty cool project that will have both flare and originality. Not to mention I get to delve into one of my favorite topics: food! As of now, I'm only about three pages in, but it felt really good to get started. I'll keep you posted as more progress develops!

Seeing the Light

It's hard to smile in dark times. When things aren't going well, it almost feels like you're suffocating, like life is literally trying to strangle you. What's worse, you don't feel an ending in sight. In a pessimistic world, it's easy to view the bad times as everlasting and the good times as fleeting.

Eclipses are cool to watch if you can manage to be around for the short period of time that they happen. I learned some cool things about eclipses recently. Firstly, there are three types of eclispses: a partial eclipse, an annular eclipse, and a total eclipse. If I can get nerdy here for a second (some of you are probably screaming "Too late!"), a total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks out the sun. In other words, the darkness consumes the light...or at least that's what is supposed to be happening. If you've ever seen an eclipse in person, you've probably seen a ghostly glow of light extending around the edges. A phenomenon known as "Bailey's Beads" often appears as sunlight shines out through valleys on the lunar surface. In other words, even as the moon is trying to choke out the light, the light finds a way to shine through.

That can be us in dark times. Even as hard times threaten to consume everything in our lives, there is always a light to hold on to if we take a moment to look for it. The dark times are what give us perspective and strength and shows us just how bright the light within our own lives really is. Bailey's Beads? We are Bailey's Beads. 

What am I saying? I'm saying that no one or nothing, no matter how daunting or terrible, can kill the light in your life. And no dark thing lasts forever. The longest a total solar eclipse can last is 7.5 minutes. Sure tough situations in our lives can last substantially longer. but it's not forever. We're going to be just fine. 

You Did a Great Thing...Now What?

As a thirty-one-year-old, it feels good to look back over my life and say that I don't have a lot of regrets. I've made numerous mistakes, but I've learned from (most of) them. I've come to accept the fact that falling is quite ok when you can avoid the thing that tripped you up in the future.  Unfortunately, I'm not completely devoid of regrets. There are things I wish I would've done, things I should've said to certain people over the years that still stick out in my mind to this day. Things I shouldn't have said. You live and learn.

I finished the first version of Legacy: G.L.O.W. as a twenty-year-old in an old, dusty dorm room on the campus of the University of North Carolina. Ehringhaus, represent! I was so proud to have finally finished a novel-length work. Leading up to that point, I had started numerous projects and tossed them for different reasons. In fact, a bad breakup almost made me quit the Legacy project. Thank you, Rachel Searles, for talking me off that ledge...

Finishing such a large project takes a lot out of you. You're proud...but extremely tired. I decided after all the editing had been done and I had sent my baby out into the world to be rejected, I would take a little break from writing. Not long, just a couple of months. Probably one of the biggest mistakes I could have made in my writing career. A cute little procrastination baby was born and started to rear its ugly head, not just in my writing, but in every other aspect of my life. I was the kid staying up until the sun came up to start AND finish a twenty-page paper. Pretty insane thinking back on it now. Since then, the breaks between novels have become longer and longer. Problem is, I'm not getting any younger. I'm on the same age train as everyone else and the clock is ticking.

If I could go back in time, there's a few things I might tell my younger, dumber self, but number one would undoubtedly be: "Oh, you finished your first novel? That's great...now what? What's your next move? Are you published? Does the world know who you are? Then you have absolutely no reason to take a break. There's no time for it. Stop stopping!"

Writing, for lack of a better word, is an asshole. You can spend years on something for it to never see the light of day. Writing, however, like any other craft is improved from consistency. When you perform a task day in day out, naturally you're going to get a little better each day. If you're anything like me, a little improvement never hurts. Stop stopping. Keep writing until the world knows your name. And, once they know your name, write until the universe knows who you are.

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