It’s FRIDAY! That means another interview!
Today we have the wonderful Chris Morris with us. I will say that I have enjoyed all of my interviews, but something bonded me with Chris, I felt a connection to him just from his interview, that kind of connection that you get when you meet someone who has face similar things in life. I feel truly lucky that my writing journey has led me to meet some really wonderful people, him especially.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: For as long as I can remember, I have been able to put words together in a way that moves people. In third grade, I won a statewide contest for writing. In high school, I won two more writing contests and was the editor for my school newspaper.
Then, adulthood hit, and I stopped thinking about writing. I pursued a series of career paths, until I settled into healthcare consulting. I realized I am really good at this career…but it left me unsatisfied. Through a series of crazy and unhappy health circumstances with me and my family, I picked up writing again about two years ago. Now, I find a freedom and joy in putting stories and truths together to inspire others and give them hope.
I have two full manuscripts in the final stages of editing right now. I plan by the end of the year to have at least one of these books in the marketplace, hopefully both.
Q: Did you share this dream with anyone, if so what was their reaction?
A: The first person I shared my dream with was my wife Barbara. She loved the idea from the start. She is 100% behind me, and honestly without her I would have given up long ago. Barbara is always pushing me to write from a deeper part of my soul, and I am a far better writer because of it.
The second person I talked to was my father. He told me to let him know when I am a New York Times bestseller, and that otherwise I needed to keep my day job. He continues to berate me and be generally disinterested in the efforts and energy I put forth into writing.
Q: I am quite aware of the negativity that family can give you, I’ve dealt with it myself for a very long time. Who has been your biggest supporter and your biggest critic?
A: My wife is my biggest supporter. We are dreaming together of me becoming a full-time writer. We are making a plan right now to allow this to happen, financially and otherwise.
As disappointing as my father is for me, I am my biggest critic. I constantly question my ability to communicate effectively. I lose heart when my blog statistics don’t meet my expectations. I cannot seem to think the best of me, no matter how many encouraging notes and strong admonitions to keep pushing I get from others.
Q: I have the same issue. I am overly critical of myself to the point that my mother-in-law gets very flabbergasted with me. That being said, when someone gives you an opinion on your writing, do you tend to believe strangers over people you’re close to, or vice versa?
A: I believe them equally, but in different ways. With my friends and family, I view their words through the lens of their experience with me. I know that (my father excepted) everyone near me wants me to do well. This can cloud their judgment, and result in a kinder opinion than I might otherwise receive.
Conversely, I understand strangers do not know me, but I also do not know them. I don’t know what brought them to my site. I don’t know what their day was like before they clicked to my post. I don’t know the pain they have received before we ever met.
I am learning to take all opinions from my writing in stride, I suppose. The only way I can grow as a writer is to be proud of the work I create, regardless of anyone else’s opinion. While I am my toughest critic, I am also the first person I need to please with my words.
Q: Interesting. Have you lost friends/families because of your writing?
A: On the contrary, I have gained friends through my writing. My life is richer and deeper in friendship because of writing. Fellow writers have joined me on the journey of growth. Others who suffer from chronic illnesses like me and my daughter have come along side to lend strength when I am weak, and give me the opportunity to return the favor when I am stronger.
Q: What is the thing you struggle with most about writing?
A: I get jealous of the success of other creative people. When I see another writer publish a book with a major publishing house, I get agitated and start wondering, “Why can’t I find this success? What’s wrong with me? Why am I not good enough?”
In these moments, I have to remind myself I am walking my own path. I will find my own success in my own time, and it probably will not look like anyone else’s success in the end.
Q: I struggle with that a lot too. My biggest was realizing that being a NY Times Bestseller doesn’t mean what it used to. It’s lost a lot of its appeal and awe. Have there been moments where you have wanted to give up on this dream? If yes, what has made you stick with it?
A: So many times in the past two years I have been discouraged by what feels like slow growth in my “tribe”. When I fixate on numbers, I always feel less-than. Invariably, when I start to feel this way, I get an email from one of my readers. They tell me how my recent post inspired them to push through rather than give up. I am reminded in this moment – I am not writing to get famous; I am writing to give hope.
Q: What is one thing that you wish you knew from the beginning of your writing career?
A: When I started my blog, I believed there was only one right way to do things, and I believe the self-proclaimed experts had all the answers. Now, I realize they can only tell their own story. What they call strategies are often nothing more than anecdotal proofs to support their own success, a success built on a variety of factors: luck, timing, topic, and early entry into a market. Most of these characteristics cannot be replicated. So, instead of following the experts, I am learning to walk my own path. If I had started with the courage to walk on my own, I would be that much closer to success.
Q: Do you have things/people you turn to for inspiration or can you sit down and just write?
A: I primarily write about my family and our struggles with my daughter’s epilepsy and my seizures, along with other topics related to chronic illness. As a result, it is not difficult to find topics to write. My biggest problem is finding time. I work full-time, have a wife and three kids, plus I am building a side business. With all these things happening, finding the time to write is a challenge. I have to be very intentional about it, and some seasons are better than others.
Q: What achievement in writing are you most proud of?
A: I would have to say my biggest achievement is finishing two manuscripts for books in the past year. I cannot wait to see these books out there for the world to see and buy.
Q: There isn’t another feeling in the world quite like it. What has been your biggest lesson learned in writing?
A: My biggest lesson in writing is that everything is practice. If I have a blog post series that is terrible, that’s okay…it’s just practice. I need to analyze what went awry and learn from it.
If I have something go incredibly well, that’s great…but it’s still just practice. I need to analyze what went well and learn from it.
I am constantly learning and evolving as a creative person. I will never arrive. So long as I keep this in mind, I will be able to stay even keeled and maintain focus over the long haul.
Q: If you could only pick one, would you rather be well known (NY Times Bestseller etc) for one piece of writing, only to be broke after a quick fifteen minutes of fame, or would you rather be semi-unknown, only making just enough sales to live modestly, as long as you were able to keep writing?
A: Without a doubt I want to be the semi-unknown, modestly living writer. This is actually a long-term goal for me. I want to create enough products that are well-received enough over a decent period of time that I can support my family with my writing. Since I have not published a single book yet, this is a long way off. But I do not want to be a flash in the pan. I strive for consistent excellence over years, with the reward of a decent “salary.”
Thanks Chris, for being a part of the madhouse that is my website for the day. I enjoyed getting to know more about you!
Chris Morris writes about how to maintain faith and hope in the midst of seemingly insurmountable challenges. As the father of an epileptic and a sufferer of seizures himself, he knows the pain of unmet expectations. But together, he and his daughter have learned: we don’t give in. We don’t give up. We don’t let the pain and aggravation and injuries and difficulties from this history and these illnesses keep us from living a full life.
If you would like to read more about Chris, or connect with him, you can do so through the links below:
Blog – http://www.chrismorriswrites.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/cmorriswrites
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ChrisMorrisWriter