I’ll say a few lines about myself farther below, but the following quotes from Ernest Hemingway say more (and better) than I could ever say about both my past and my love for writing.
“What is the best training for a writer? An unhappy childhood.” — Ernest Hemingway
“Dostoevsky was made by being sent to Siberia. Writers are forged in injustice as a sword is forged.” — Ernest Hemingway
“Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it — don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist — but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happened to you or anyone belonging to you.” — Ernest Hemingway
“I have to write to be happy whether I get paid for it or not. But it is a hell of a disease to be born with. I like to do it. Which is even worse. That makes it from a disease into a vice. Then I want to do it better than anybody has ever done it, which makes it into an obsession. An obsession is terrible.” — Ernest Hemingway
“Writing is something that you could never do as well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge and it is more difficult than anything else that I’ve ever done — so I do it. And it makes me happy when I do it well.” — Ernest Hemingway
“It’s enough for you to do it once for a few men to remember you. But if you do it year after year, then many people remember you and they tell it to their children, and their children and grandchildren remember and, if it concerns books, they can read them. And if it’s good enough, it will last as long as there are human beings.” — Ernest Hemingway
“All good books are alike in that they were true then if they had really happened and after you are finished reading when you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and places and how the weather was.” — Ernest Hemingway
For those who want to know more about me, here’s a little more detailed information. (My life has been jam-packed with craziness, so it’s probably worth the read.)
I grew up in the South, in East Tennessee. I learned to hunt and shoot at a young age and left for the Marine Corps at 17. I wanted guaranteed infantry in my contract (never said I was bright as a young man) and was privileged to have my guarantee honored. I served my four years with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, an infantry battalion out of Camp Lejeune, NC.
I can’t possibly explain how tough it is to serve in the infantry (it was mostly pure hell, which I’d never lightly recommend to anyone), but one of the highlights of my career was when my platoon served as a covering force attachment for the highly elite Force Recon. We trained and worked with them for almost a year, which was indescribably cool.
I also managed to win Marine of the Quarter for the entire 2nd Marine Division, as well as pick up a Combat Action Ribbon as part of Operation Silver Wake in 1997. (The details on my military career.)
After four years of active service and being fortunate enough to pick up the rank of Sergeant, I left active duty to go to college. In short, I spent the next three and a half years going year-round to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. For some silly reason, I was in a rush, so I took summer classes each year and never less than fifteen hours a semester. I also worked at least thirty hours a week that entire time, obviously nearly killing myself in the process. But I was young at the time — and very driven — so I didn’t know better. Looking back, I wish I had SLOWED down and enjoyed it more, but I’m a half-crazy, ambitious son of a bitch, so what’s one to do?!
At UT, I nabbed a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Following graduation, I worked at several newspapers as a reporter before doing something more dangerous than joining the Marine Corps at 17: I launched a weekly print newspaper at the age of 27. With just $20,000. If you think that sounds really stupid, you’d be absolutely right. In the end, I’d learn the very hard way that I needed more than a $100,000. And with what I know now, I truthfully needed about $250,000, but I’ll spare you that BRUTAL business lesson.
Needless to say, I ended up beat up, divorced, and nearly bankrupt, living rent-free in a friend’s basement. I somehow managed to stay on the good side of all the banks I borrowed from, as well as my investors, thank goodness, who I went to in desperation after the banks wouldn’t lend any more money to the crazy dude trying to start a media empire.
But through all this trauma, I kept doing something I started as a young boy: writing fiction.
This is a habit I started younger than most. I began writing when I was about nine or ten (my Mom and I can’t nail down the precise year), and it started as a form of escape. Big time.
Growing up, I was a small kid and was bullied a fair amount, so I read fiction all the time.
I soon transitioned from just reading to actually writing. Partly because I wasn’t happy reading the stories out there — I’m a notoriously picky reader still to this day — and partly because in these stories that I wrote I changed from a little boy who was scared and bullied, to a young man who was tall, strong, and desirable. And brave. Always brave…
Writing is incredibly difficult and challenging, so it goes without saying that I started and stopped probably thirty novels over the past twenty-plus years before I finished my first one.
Besides having done a lot of writing these past few years, I also managed to trick a beautiful woman named Danah into thinking a crazy dreamer/entrepreneur (with loads of debt) was marrying material. (Hell, maybe I’m a salesman…)
Danah, who I sometimes jokingly call “Wife 2.0,” helped me run the newspaper until we shut it down in 2014. (More info on what it’s like to own and run a newspaper here.) In all honesty, my run as an entrepreneur for those nine years would make a hell of a story in itself, but I learned a ton and exerted myself at levels only possible under absolute desperation.
These days, I’m still writing as hard as I can, with my sights set for the very top of the fiction world. (Yes, I’m ambitious, and yes, I have a Napoleon complex. Thanks for asking!)
Let’s see what else I’m supposed to put in here…
Oh, we’ve got two cats and a dog — (Penny, Clay, and Maggie, respectively) — and when I’m not writing action-packed thrillers, I’m usually practicing martial arts or weight lifting.
For those who still haven’t gotten enough (Hey, I have a magnetic personality!), you can also subscribe for email updates of my blog posts. (This site is non-political and I mostly post about things that hopefully motivate or inspire you.) Additionally, you can contact me by e-mail at the following address.
Also, I now have a YouTube channel, so join me there if you’re interested!!
Keep the faith,
Stan R. Mitchell
P.S. Some have asked, “Stan, what in the world gives you such an insane drive? What makes you so ambitious?”
Well, part of it is growing up without much money.
And part of it is a belief that if you’re plowing five acres, but can plow ten, then you ought to get your ass back out there and plow those other five.
To not do so is cheating yourself, your family, your community.
I have been fortunate to have had many good mentors and examples to follow. And I have consistently sought out even greater examples, both in the Marines and in the hundreds of biographies and self-help books that I have read.
So with that, let me pay it forward and see if I can share some wisdom and motivation, in the hopes that it might help you as I’ve been helped.
The following quotes come from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai:
- “Even if you begin without talent, you can become great if you imitate a good model and put forth enormous effort.”
- “Emulate the best behaviors of those around you.”
- “In military affairs, a man must always strive to outstrip others.” <— I’m applying this to fiction writing, but you should apply it to whatever you are doing.
- “In the stories of the elder warriors, it is said that on the battlefield, if one wills himself to outstrip warriors of accomplishment, and day and night hopes to strike down a powerful enemy, he will grow indefatigable and fierce of heart and manifest courage. One should use this principle in everyday affairs, too.”
- “It is spiritless to think that you cannot attain what you have seen and heard others attain. The masters are men. You are also a man. If you think you will be inferior, then you are well on your way.”
And the following quotes are from The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way. I highly recommend this book, as it’s without question one of the greatest books I’ve ever come across.
- “You create your own life. You make it heaven or hell. Destiny is not something that happens to you. You make your own destiny.”
- “Getting your body and mind right can affect your whole life.”
- “Nothing is difficult or easy in itself. We make it difficult or easy with our attitude. If you don’t want to do it, then nothing is easy.”
- “Strong body, strong mind. Weak body, weak mind.”
- “A foolish person wishes for good things to happen to them, but fortune, success, and happiness rarely just fall in your lap. You must grasp your life and sharpen it.”
- “Confidence is the most important key to success in all areas of your life. Believe in yourself. Trust in yourself. If you lack self-confidence, you can’t get the job done.”
Inspired, I hope? Then read this: Find true happiness: announce your dreams to the world today.