I’m naturally a passive person. It’s taken me years to understand that fact, much less admit to it. The world generally doesn’t like or respect passivity. We want people that seize the day, that just do it, that lead instead of follow. Now that my first novel, Still Dark, is out, I can finally see that there are some positives to being passive. It made me a hell of a daydreamer, and I’m almost biologically suited to be a writer due to how much I like being alone with peace and quiet.
With all that said, if I had a time machine and went back to visit my younger, struggling writer self, I would give him one piece of advice: Toughen the hell up.
Understand, this isn’t about machismo or some misguided attempt to “be a man.” No, this is functional, practical advice that personally took me years to understand. This is advice that could have shaved years off my struggle to be a writer.
To make sense of this, you need to understand more about me. I hated sports growing up. I never really went beyond a single season of any team activity. Hell, I quit karate after I got my second belt. The point is, I never really learned how to fight through adversity, how to get my ass kicked and keep moving forward. In short, I was woefully lacking in tenacity.
By the time I got out of college and started actually honing in on the idea of being a writer, not much had changed. I was ready to start putting myself out there, but I just couldn’t deal with the rejection. I took everything too personally, I told myself that the people reading my work were idiots, and I basically just retreated for months at a time.
It took a few big life events (I’ll spare you the details) for me to really start evaluating myself, my work, and most of all, my thin skin. About seven years ago, I made myself an ultimatum: Put everything into the writing, leave nothing on the table, and stop making excuses. If I still continued to fail, it was okay to walk away. This new version of me was suddenly bulletproof to rejection. My paper skin calloused into titanium, and pretty soon, all a rejection meant was an opportunity to reread, revise, and resend.
In short, tenacity was the missing piece. It was a shame I had to learn this lesson so late in the game, but the reality is that some people never learn it. I’ve applied this same philosophy in other aspects of my life, and it’s a powerful lesson. No one on the planet is put here to make me happy or content, and if I want my work to get out there and shine, it means I got a lot of work to do.
Still Dark was the first novel I wrote after I made the turn and learned to toughen up. I hope you’ll give it a shot.
When a thunderous explosion rocks an idyllic cabin resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, animals and humans alike begin to act strange. Jim, along with his wife Laura and son, Sam, are cut off from the outside world, but they soon realize the true nightmare is just beginning…
Deep in the snow-covered woods, something is waiting. The creature calls itself Apex, and it’s a traveler. Reading the minds of those around it, Apex brings the terrifying fears hidden in the human psyche to life with a singular purpose: to kill any that stand in its way.
Locked in a fight for their lives, Jim and his family must uncover the truth behind Apex, and stop the creature from wreaking a horrifying fate upon the rest of the world!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR — D.W. Gillespie has been writing dark fiction in one form or another since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He’s been featured in multiple horror anthologies, both in print and online. Still Dark is his debut novel, and his second book, a short collection titled Handmade Monsters, arrives in 2017. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and two children.
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