Negativity + Anger = Less Creativity

I find myself looking for advice on every topic, from politics to movies, through the internet; but I have to say, the best advice out there still comes from the pulpit. Now, I’m not here to preach or get religious on you, but I really learned something today and I wanted to share it with everyone.

My wife and I are not regular church-goers, but we watch Paster Joel Osteen anytime he’s on. Some people like him, some hate him, some say he’s more guru than a minister, but to me, he is an excellent preacher. I love the way he takes everyday life, scriptures, and Bible stories and weaves them into his sermons. Watching and listening to him over the past few years has taught me more about being a good Christian than 18 years of growing up a Southern Baptist.

Today, he was talking about negativity and how it can impact your life. He talked about how hanging onto negative emotions can block you from your inner creativity and reaching your goals. It really hit home with me because of what I’ve been going through this past year and how it’s stifled my ability to write.

I lost my job recently. It was me being stupid and thinking it couldn’t happen to me and, guess what, it did. Since then, I had to cash in my 401K, file for bankruptcy and cut back on a lot of the luxuries in my life.

I took the opportunity to do what I love to do and write. I was able to push through and finish my third book in the Forever Avalon series, but that was several months ago. I tried to start writing my fourth book but the creativity just won’t flow. I know the story I want to write. I can see it in my head, I just can’t make the connection to write it down. Writer’s block is normal but it’s more than that. My creativity has stalled and diving towards the ground.

I know that I’m still hanging onto a lot of excess negative baggage. Every time I drive by my former place of work, my stomach tightens and I my head hurts. It’s found its way into my dreams that wake me up at night. Everyone has told me to move on and get past it, but it’s not that easy. I spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Navy, both as a Sailor and a civilian. It’s what made me the person I am today and I threw it away.

I would love to sit at home and spend my days writing, spinning story after story and make a life at this, but it’s just not possible right now. This “black cloud” that’s hanging over me is still there. I did make it go away, for a while, when I went up to the Military Academy at West Point to write for the 2016 Warrior Games. I was in my element, writing press releases and feature articles by day and working on my own stories at night. When I look back at those two weeks, I know that there is a silver lining out there for me, I just have to find it again.

I’m sorry if I seem to be venting and using my blog to tell my sad little story, but there is point coming. I know there are probably a few people out there feeling the same way I do. I just want to relay that message from Paster Osteen. You need to let go of the negativity, whether it’s getting past something bad that happened in your life, a fight with a loved one, a sudden illness or maybe even something worse. Let go of it all and you can find that inner peace, that spark of imagination or find yourself making that goal.

I know I’m going to work on my issues to get back to writing. I have many more stories to tell and I don’t want this one thing to stop me in my tracks. We all have to find a way.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Frustration is the bane of all independent authors!

facebook-frustration_fullI realize the headline is a bit of a bold statement, but it’s something I’ve experienced quite a lot since I started writing and marketing my novels. It’s not a frustration associated with writer’s block but more so the after effects when you’re trying to get yourself out there through marketing, sales, etc.

I really believe this is the bane of all writers. We all love to write and enjoy sitting down at the computer, typewriter or with paper and pencil to let our ideas flow. it’s what comes afterwards that compounds the situation.

This week, I traveled up home to N.J. for a book signing event for local authors at a local bookstore near my hometown. There were more than 20 authors there signing books. We were cramped together in long tables scattered about the bookstore. Through it all, I only sold two books to friends of mine who came to support me and get signed copies of my book, The Dark Tides.

That was pretty much the highlight of my trip. As authors, we get these images in our minds of long lines of people waiting to get their book signed, taking selfies with fans, talking to everyone about your book, getting feedback, etc. In reality, especially for independent authors like me, that never happens.

That’s what can be so frustrating when you’re trying to break into the publishing world and establishing yourself as an author. You know you have a great story to tell and want to share it with everyone else, but marketing and publicity cost money. Unless your name is Rockefeller or Kardashian, its hard to make ends meet when you’re doing all your publicity on your own.

I came home to Virginia feeling frustrated, disappointed and unfortunately, I took some of that out on my family. I broke down, wondering if this is worth all the pain and frustration I am putting us through, not to mention the downward spiral of financial woes piling up.

On my long drive back home, I was flipping through channels and came across pastor Joel Osteen. As if fate, destiny or ordained by God, his sermon was on frustration. He said that people can get frustrated with things happening in their life and pray to God to remove them, but He doesn’t always do that. God puts these obstacles in our way to help put us on the path he has carefully carved out for each one of us.

I’m trying to preach but I realize that he was right. Each one of the setbacks I’ve experienced since I started writing my novels is just another step forward to bigger and better things. Every author who made a name for themself has experienced this at some point in their career. I can’t let it bring me down. I have to pick myself up and keep moving forward.

If you let the frustrations associated with publishing your book keep you from doing what you love (and that’s writing) then you shouldn’t have started this journey in the first place. It may not line up perfectly for you but, in the end, it will make you a better person.

Adding faith and religion to novels without preaching to the choir

faith-3I want to start out by saying that this blog post is not meant to demean or insult anyone’s faith or religion, quite the opposite. I want to talk about how I incorporated my faith and religious beliefs in my novels as a writer.

When I was deployed overseas, the one thing we were regularly briefed about was to never talk politics or religion with people we encountered in the foreign ports. These were considered taboo as they can change the tone of a discussion rather quickly, and I tend to agree, especially in this day and age. In any discussion about religion, you might find yourself hit from the left and the right.

I don’t really consider myself a religious person. I believe and put all my faith in God for what happens in my life but I have been hurt by “organized religion” on more than one occassion so I distrust the church. I have found myself coming back to it, though, through the teachings of Joel Osteen. His sermons are quite inspirational and are giving me hope in the church again.

When you try to translate faith into writing, it can be rather difficult: Your “one-on-one” connection with God is very personal and you don’t want someone to get angry reading your book if they’re looking for a fantasy novel and instead find a Sunday School lesson. I approached it to reflect my own faith through the faith of my characters.

Here are a couple of examples. In my book, The Dark Tides, as Captain Edan O’Brian is about to take the Morning Star on a cliff run , he recites an old Sailor’s prayer:

“Though my sails be torn and ragged and my mast be turned about; though the night wind chills me to my soul. Though spray stings my eye and the stars no sight provide, give me just enough Lord ‘til morning light to hold.”

This was a simple prayer yet it conveyed so much about a Sailor’s faith in God to help him through the worst conditions. That was the same faith I carried with me through my 23-year career in the U.S. Navy.

Another great example from The Dark Tides is Sarafina’s prayer before the goblin attack at the Battle of Merlin’s Pinnacle:

“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle. My fortress, my high tower, my deliverer, my shield; and the One in whom I take refuge. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit … Amen.”

This was a warrior’s prayer and, as most of my fellow veterans can atest to, is an example of faith and courage before impending battle. These prayers were the best way I found to profess my own faith in God through my stories without turning them into a sermon.

That’s how I believe faith acts within our lives; a simple yet profound belief that God is there for you, in good times and bad. It is that faith that carries us through our life and into the next. Whatever your faith may be, I hope you are blessed in all that you do.