Today I have Andy Goldman here to talk about his Darkest Hour, and Darkest Decade. His story had me wiping tears away.
If you’re not familiar with The Darkest Hour, it’s the part of a story where the protagonist can’t see a way through to success, yet they always find a way despite this. I hope you find these stories inspiring, particularly if you’re facing your own personal Darkest Hour.
It took both the darkest hour and the darkest decade for me to get back to writing, but let me start with the decade: from my mid 20s to mid 30s.
Before that time, I loved to write, going all the way back to when I was in elementary school.
At that early age, I started narrating the exploits of my action figures.
A typical story from that time period: Luke and Han move into Castle Grayskull (over Han’s objections), discover the floor is on fire, put it out, and then find that there is a Fire Man (to clarify, a man made of fire) in the castle.
They shoot him with water from a hose and he dies.
It’s possible I was a strange kid.
I continued writing throughout middle and high school and all through college, probably to the detriment of my studies.
Post-college, I stopped. For reasons. Not very good reasons, but probably familiar ones.
I wasn’t good compared to other writers.
Writing took a lot of time and I wanted to go out and have fun.
It was easier to read a lot than spend time writing. And mostly, if I didn’t try to write, I wouldn’t fail at it.
Yeah, that old lie.
So that was the darkest decade, and although the itch to write remained during that time, I left it mostly unscratched.
Then came the darkest hour.
My wife and I were having a baby, and at the 20 week appointment, everything looked fine.
We were having a boy.
But without going into details, there was a problem and my wife was immediately admitted to the hospital.
By 21 weeks, he was born still, perfect in body but without the breath of life.
To say this was devastating is an understatement on par with “Space is big,” except much less funny.
This was in July. By October, I was so stressed out I had a month-long tension headache and needed physical therapy for a permanent stiff neck.
My wife and I weren’t talking much, or seeing friends, or letting family come over.
November approached, and with it: NaNoWriMo. I made a decision.
I would write something in that month, something into which I could pour my grief and anger and loss.
It would be the story of my son, Lucas, arriving in the Lands of the Dead, where he would be raised by our beloved cat, Oolong, who had died earlier that year. (It was not a good year, let me tell you.)
I had that killer headache all through November. I worked. I still didn’t talk to my wife all that much.
And I wrote. Every day. I rushed the story toward the end in order to “finish” the book.
I printed it out. I gave it to my wife with no explanation, just a request to read it.
I feared she might find it crass, but she got it.
The book was a what-might-have-been, a fantastical life for our son since his mundane one had been denied, and it was also the type of book he might have enjoyed reading if he had grown up as I had.
That book broke the ice between my wife and me.
Until that point, she hadn’t realized that I was grieving, too.
On that account, the book was a success. Maybe someday I’ll go back and rewrite it, complete it. Or maybe not.
I didn’t return to writing full-time at that point.
It would take some more heartache and the eventual birth of my twin daughters to convince me to do that.
Because along the way of life’s ups and downs, I realized that I wanted to try to be a writer even if it meant failing.
I realized that if I didn’t try, my daughters would know. They’d see me and they’d be sad on my account. Maybe they’d feel pity that I had never taken the risk.
I’ve self-published two books so far.
I’m not famous or wealthy. But I’m writing.
My daughters ask me each day, “How much did you write?” They cheer if I reach my goal.
I’m trying to live my dream. I think that’s what counts.
Andy is the author of two science-fantasy books in The Only City Left series: The Only City Left and The Fifth House. He is at work on The Roundabout, the conclusion to the trilogy. His much-neglected blog can be found at atgoldman.com, or you can track him down on Google+ or Facebook.
If you have a story you’d like to contribute to The Darkest Hour, please check out the details at: The Darkest Hour – stories of success over adversity, or send an email to TDH [at] fandelyon.com.