Writers are crazy, and I’m crazier than most

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway

I’m about to share some scary shit. Some truths about myself that I’ve been too scared to share for years. Maybe decades, honestly.

And yet if there’s one thing I know after thirty years of writing, it’s that you have to tell the truth. You have to tell the truth in your writing and you have to write things that bite and sting.

I’ve dallied long enough. Let’s get this shit moving.

What was my point with this post? Ah, yes, to share some scary shit. And to tell the truth with as much honesty as I can muster. All you have to do is write one true sentence, right?

Well, here’s the truth: I want to be the greatest writer ever. 

Yikes, did I really say that out loud? 

Crazy, right? More importantly, just why the hell did I publish that? 

I could’ve deleted it as I have hundreds of other things I didn’t have the guts to say. I could’ve avoided the ridicule by critics if I had simply deleted it. 

But I haven’t because — well, frankly — it’s the truth.  

It’s scary putting yourself out there, but I want to say some things. I’m not even sure where I’m going with this. It’s like a novel: you don’t know where it’ll end. You simply write it. One sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time. You let it flow out of you. Or explode out of you. Or dribble out in small drops as you squeeze the tube with all your might, screaming and cursing in the night.

But no matter the pace, or how long it takes, the story comes together. Characters choose left or right, and you follow, to see where it’s all going. 

Let’s continue then, with this honest post as well. I want to be the greatest writer ever. There, I’ve said it a second time. See? Not an accident. Not a fluke.

Write one true sentence, just as I said above.

I want to be the greatest writer ever, and here’s a second truth: writers are crazy.

They really are. Also musicians, artists, and professional athletes. They’re crazy, too.

But let’s stick with writers. They are what I know. Hell, even better, let’s stick with me. 

I literally wrote the following a mere dozen or so paragraphs earlier: “I want to be the greatest writer ever.”

How nuts is that? What kind of madness abides inside my head? What kind of person would say such a thing? (I can’t blame youth. I’m a touch over 44. Not some nineteen-year-old mouthing off in a college English lit class to impress some hot, nerdy chick.)

Want to know something scarier? I was pretty much thinking this thought at the age of 8 or 9. That’s the first time I slammed a novel shut and thought, “This book is terrible. I know I could do better.”

And the craziest thing about this story of my childhood is that I actually tried. Little old Stan, still in elementary school, started scribbling a story in pencil in his spiral-bound, school notebook. I remember it perfectly. And somewhere, out in some of my boxes in the garage, I still have it. Twenty pages or so. (Want to know something crazier? I think in my wildest dreams I imagine those pages being held in some museum someday, with literary geniuses studying them and trying to dissect them. It’s why I’ve never tossed them. It’s also further proof that I’m crazy, but I’ve already admitted that.) 

I know no museum will ever care about the scribbles of some kid. And I also know I’ll never matter enough to be considered among the greatest. But I want to be, and that’s the damn truth.

That’s probably the greatest truth of my life. It’s my North Star. My beacon I’ve been moving toward my entire life.

Back to my twenty-page story above, I didn’t finish it, but even at the age of eight or nine, a small part of my soul (or something) told me I was meant to do this. That I could be great. That indeed, my one true desire was to be the greatest writer ever (though I must never admit this to anyone).

What nine-year-old says such a thing? How can you feel (or be haunted by) such a thing at such a young age?

Let’s return to the writers are crazy part of this post. Let’s broaden things a bit. Because if I’m going to admit to being crazy, then I damn sure want some company in whatever boat I’ve shoved off from shore on. 

Let’s start with Ernest Hemingway. A hell of a writer, but also a man who volunteered for war as an ambulance driver (where he was wounded), a man who married four times, and a man who survived two plane crashes in two days. Yes, I’m saying he had a plane crash on one day. Then decided to fly again the next day. And he crashed the second day as well. He also once shot himself in the calves while wrestling with a shark (Google it) and committed suicide with a shotgun at the age of 61. 

I’m going to say that Ernest Hemingway, who’s considered one of America’s greatest writers, makes a pretty compelling case for proving that writers are crazy. But I could easily point out a dozen other authors to add to the ledger.

And we’ve all heard the theme of how much most writers drink, correct? “Psychology Today” even had an article in it titled, “Why Do Writers Drink So Much?” That article listed roughly twenty names, including the likes of such greats as Raymond Chandler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Edgar Allan Poe, and John Steinbeck. 

So, if you’ll grant me that most writers are crazy (and/or drunks), we’ll get this show back on the road. Where were we? Oh, yeah. Just write one true sentence. And writers are crazy.

Here’s another one: Writing is a madness. It’s a disease. It’s a curse. 

That was three, but I’ll stand by them. 

I’ve learned that you can’t really run from this calling. It ruins your showers. Your bedtimes. Your conversations, when your best friend sees your mind go elsewhere right in the middle of that discussion. (I just had a crazy book idea, I tell him. He shakes his head, having heard that one before, and also knowing it’s true.)

Writing afflicts your soul. It eats at you in the darkest parts of night. 

When I’m not writing, I’m miserable. My conscience won’t stop pestering. Sometimes whispering. Sometimes screaming and shaking me. But he (or she) always says the same thing: You should be writing. 

Also, when I’m not writing, my head goes into dark places. At the worst of times, it can plummet to scary depths. I’ll ask myself, “What’s the meaning of life? Is this all there is? There has to be more.”

My writing mania plagues me unabated. 

I’ll grab books to read because they are some of my greatest escapes. But I can’t read for long. My head whispers, “You should be writing.”

There’s no getting away from it. Not a day goes by when my head doesn’t say, “You should be writing.”

Writing is a madness. It’s a disease. It’s a curse. 

I’ve come to accept the three sentences above. 

I believe them to be true, and if you’re afflicted with the calling to be a writer, I’m confident you agree. 

But writing has a flip side. It can be the greatest high in the world. I’ve gotten so into the zone of writing a story that I will lose all track of time. I will enter an almost fictional world, where I’m dodging bullets or chasing down enemies. I have no idea what my opponent will do. Or even what my main character will do. But I’m there. I’m watching this movie and excited to see where it will go. And I don’t want to stop it. I don’t want to exit this world. 

Crazy, right?

There are also times I try to write and it’s like I jump into the driver’s seat, remembering the day before when I wrote for hours and was really into the story (right in the middle of that firefight or fistfight). But I’m not sitting in that space machine anymore.

Instead, I’m sitting on the hard metal seat of a 1940s tractor. It’s raining and freezing cold, a whipping wind blowing across the land, stinging my face. And the tractor won’t start. And after screaming in rage, I look down and realize it’s up on a jack, one of its wheels leaning against a fence, flat.

And holy shit. There are wires hanging out the side of the engine. Some asshole thief has stolen the electronic ignition and distributor cap in the middle of the night.

These times when you struggle to write a single sentence can be as maddening as when you’re not writing. You’re sitting there, trying to do what you’re meant to do in life, but the muse won’t cooperate.

So what I’m saying is that you’re miserable on those days when you chase your dream, but the words won’t come.

And you’re also miserable on the days when you don’t write and you run from your dream.

Writing is madness, remember?

It can be infuriating. Like, if you’re meant to be a writer, if you’re destined to be the greatest, then why is it so hard? Why aren’t you a natural? 

I think the answer to this question is that nothing in life comes easy. Maybe all those sports icons practice and work harder than we know, right? And maybe guys who marry four times and shoot themselves at the age of 61 have struggled more than we know, right?

I’ve been chasing this dream for a long time. I will spare you the story.

But I eventually completed my first successful book about a Marine sniper who gets betrayed by his government after completing a Top Secret mission (Sold Out — Nick Woods Book 1). That one took me 12 years to write.

About half of the time, I actually think I’m going to make a boatload of money. I’m driven as hell and my friends will tell you I’m as determined and stubborn as anyone you’ll ever meet.

On paper, I at least have a shot.

Desire? Check.

Writing degree? Check.

Typing speed? I can type faster than a cheetah with a rocket on his ass. 

But on other days, I think of just how many writers have tried this gig. This isn’t the first time a tractor has plowed this field. It’s a community lot, and it’s been plowed and worked for at least a couple hundred years. It’s depleted of any good soil. The land is exhausted and consumed. There’s little incentive to plow the dry, parched earth.

And that’s assuming you get the tractor running.

And that’s further assuming you don’t look across the land, and then to your left and right, and notice the literally thousands of fellow writers staring at their own tractors in the pre-dawn darkness. They see the same poor, parched land. They also see the desperate craving of those other writers in the field, fiddling with their tractors, starting their morning anew with sometimes just the faintest of hopes. Old men and women who have been doing this for decades, and who are as impoverished and demoralized now as they were in the beginning. (Maybe more so.)

To be lucky enough to do this as a full-time gig would be one of the greatest gifts in the world. To attempt to get into the zone every day — for a full day — instead of dealing with the day job and all the rest of life’s interruptions? That would be heaven. 

And for most, that would certainly be enough. But apparently, my variant of this disease is far worse. Because frankly? That is not enough.

I want to be the greatest. And I’m honest enough — as well as stupid enough, clearly — to be willing to just come out and say it.

What gives me the right? What gives me the gall?

Partly, it’s what I said above. Writers are crazy. And they drink a lot. See earlier graph (and the internet) for more evidence.

Of course, part of the problem for me is I don’t drink at all. I’m scared to death of alcohol. (Long story, but it involves a family member, drinking, and a suicide that still haunts me.)

But besides being scared of alcohol, which I am, there’s also at least an equally large problem. I couldn’t possibly enjoy drinking because deep down, either in my soul or in my head, I would hear the words: You should be writing. 

Maybe other writers hear those words, too, when they’re drinking. Maybe that’s why they drink so much? Maybe they’re running from it?

I can’t say because I don’t know. 

Some days, I feel proud of what I’ve achieved. I’ve put in a ton of work. I have, after all, written eleven books. Some big-name authors don’t even do that. (Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind. Only one book.) (J.D. Salinger, The Catcher In the Rye. Only one book.)

So, yeah, I’m proud of having written eleven books.

I’ve also made a lot of money one year, back in 2013. More than six figures, or just a tad over $100,000. In my hometown of Knoxville, if you can make a hundred thousand dollars in a year doing what you love (i.e., not a day job), then you’ve done something.

Making that kind of money in a single year from writing is beyond-words-awesome, but it’s only happened once. And I did that more than eight years ago. When I only had a couple of books published. The books went viral, the fire burned hot, but I lacked the inventory to keep it going. So the throngs of readers moved on to pastures with more sustenance. 

I’ve continued almost every day since then believing they’ll return. You don’t quit when you’re hungry. Nor when you’re crazy.

Back when the money was good, and I was full-time, I thought I was on top of the world. I thought I was lined up nicely to actually become the greatest. (How crazy is that? One good year, and you think you’re the shit? Yeah, I really did think that, I’m ashamed to admit, and maybe the muse was like, oh really? I’ll show you. I can’t say for sure about this latter part.)

All I know is one day I was on top of the world and the next day I wasn’t. The sales slowed, the fear rose, and eventually, my career died. It became a hobby on paper; a death pursuit in reality.

In that moment, I learned another painful truth to this crazy dream: it can all end tomorrow. A drought can arrive. And that drought may last for years. The throngs may not return.

Sometimes these days, despite how optimistic and regimented I remain with my writing, and despite how many times I climb on that tractor full of determination and fire, I fear the drought could last forever. The people may never return. 

That’s my worst fear. (Another true sentence here.)

My writing might remain nothing more than a side income. A mere tantalizing love that I have to bridle down and downplay at parties. And a voice screaming in my head, “You should be writing,” when there’s no true need to do so. (The day job pays the bills, after all. Why not just let the writing go?)

As a writer, it’s easy to measure your success by the size of that month’s royalty. How well are you selling? But measuring this way can drive you mad. It can go up dramatically. A sales bump!! Possibly the start of your new (rich) life. But then the sales spike plummets for no discernable reason.

It’s maddening. Or maybe it’s fuel. Or maybe it’s both.

These sales bumps are something writers try not to talk about too much. Because often, you’ll find yourself blathering to your spouse or best friend about how close you are to making it, and you’ll notice that you just got that look.

Sometimes, they look at you with love. Sometimes, they look at you with concern. 

For now at least, my sales are trending upward. No, they really are. And it’s not a bump, I tell myself. It’s a trend, I say, but my voice doesn’t sound real confident when I say it… And I imagine I look like that crazed gold-miner from a hundred years ago, who’s begging his family to borrow money for that seventh mine he wants to start. This one is going to be the one, he screams!

But even if my sales go ballistic and high, I’m going to be a quivering, gun-shy dog, balled up in the corner. Because I know a truth. A painful truth.

It can all go away. Almost overnight.

Do you know how hard it is to keep your confidence up when your sales are dropping?

You’re the star Major League Baseball player, who was thinking about becoming MVP, when suddenly you’re not hitting as well. You think it’s nothing at first, but it grows worse. Your stats nosedive. And then people on your team stop talking to you. And then you’re being warned by management that you better get your numbers up. 

You can’t believe this. You reach and flail. You seek advice. You even change your swing.

Nothing stops the crash. 

You get the talk. You get cut. You’re sent down to the minors. 

You go from making a couple million a year to making less than twenty thousand in the minors. 

One day you’re playing for the Chicago Cubs. The next, you’re playing for the Akron RubberDucks.

As you play in front of miniscule crowds, the voices in your head clamor louder. There’s the desperate side of you that just wants to go back to making big money. You were good before. What happened? The voices say you got lucky. You were a fluke. It’ll never happen again.

Your mind and body say submit. That elbow pain is flaring. That knee isn’t what it used to be. Why are you doing this? Why are you killing yourself for 20k a year? What are you, stupid?

I’m betting most writers know that voice, as well. 

I’m also betting most writers trudge on. Writers are crazy. I see them climbing on their eighty-year-old tractors every day, trying to get them started.

Every writer needs a schtick. Some writers craft lines that are exquisite and supple. You read them because they seduce and lure you forward, page-by-page. Some writers blast you with a foghorn. Or put a dozen twists in a book. Or use an unreliable narrator. 

The only schtick I have is brevity. A couple of my books barely top a hundred pages. But they work. At least according to the reviews. (Hell, my character study/self-help book about Obama is like 50 pages.)

I learned brevity in journalism school. And in ten years of newspaper writing after graduation. You only had a small amount of space in the newspaper. You damn well better make good use of it. 

And that brings me to my second skill. I hate boring books. Can I say that again? I HATE boring books. Even those with exquisite and supple writing. That kind of writing can work for a page or two, but something needs to happen. Blood needs to flow. Relationships need to start. Or relationships need to end.

This is the 21st Century. We live in a world of tweets, Vines, and TikToks. You can’t be screwing around and padding your books with fluff. 

I firmly believe this is the formula. And it’s one I try to follow. I do my best to write fast-paced, exciting mysteries and thrillers. And I also firmly believe that these things are going to make me boatloads of money. 

Of course, I’ve also admitted to being crazy, so there’s that.

But part of me just knows that tremendous success is going to happen. 

Call it confidence. Call it madness. It’s probably a bit of both. 

Write one true sentence, right? One sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time. Climb on the damn tractor. Listen to the voice in your head: You should be writing.

And if that doesn’t work, there’s always alcohol and the shotgun.


About me: I write fast-paced novels. No, I mean blistering fast. With great suspense & twists. Also prior #USMC with Combat Action Ribbon. Books are located here: http://amzn.to/3p6lAnQ. I also discuss foreign policy at https://stanrmitchell.substack.com.

Author of “Watership Down” dies…

One of my favorite authors died yesterday.

Richard Adams, who wrote “Watership Down,” died at the age of 96. (I like to think that watership_down_coverHazel, Fiver, Bigwig, Dandelion, and several other rabbits he created met him at the gates of heaven.)

Watership Down” is one of my all-time favorite books. Definitely in my Top 10. I’ve read this book probably six or eight times and bought at least three copies. (Just this Christmas, I bought one for my niece. Trust me, I’ve been waiting about four years and harassing my sister to no end, asking her if my niece is the appropriate age to give a copy.)

Not only did “Watership Down” inspire me to have rabbits as a kid, I also bought two rabbit bookends a few years back because of the book.

As if all that isn’t bad enough, last Christmas my sister-in-law ordered a hardback from the UK that he’d actually signed. (Now I’m more thankful than ever that she did that.)

Yeah, it’s kind of sick how obsessed I am with that book. I hate to hear he’s died… 😦 And I think it’s every author’s wish that we could write a book that makes such an impact.

A photo of my signed book, other copies, and one of the bookends that I had to buy (and now treasure a little too much).

One final thing to add, as if all the above isn’t bad enough… Danah often calls me her “bunny goat,” because I’m infatuated with rabbits and also as stubborn and hard-headed as a goat.

Honestly, the nickname is pretty accurate. I mean, I’m just crazy about rabbits. I’ll be driving and constantly scanning the yards around my home for them. And when I see them, I often pull over and just watch them. Or shoot a quick video on my phone.

It’s also true that I’m as stubborn and hard-headed as a goat. (Only a hard-headed goat would start a newspaper and think it’s a good idea to spend a quarter of their working life trying to make it pay off…)

Sorry, guys. I’ve rattled on too long, which is the classic sign of a writer who’s too close to something. But, clearly, I’m too close to this topic.

If you’ve never read the book, check it out. And if you have kids in about seventh or eighth grade, and especially if they hate reading, hand them a copy of this book. It’s probably the primary childhood book that completely hooked me on reading as much as I did.

Here’s the link again: “Watership Down.” (For those wondering about child-appropriateness, my school required us to read it in 8th grade. I’ve also seen online that some schools require it in 7th grade. So those two facts are probably pretty good guides on whether your kid is the right age or not to tackle it.)And if you’re an adult, I think the book will blow you away as well. It’s that good.)

Oh, and if you’re an adult, I think the book will blow you away as well. It’s that good.

Just be prepared to become obsessed with rabbits after reading it… 🙂

Semper Fidelis,

Stan R. Mitchell

P.S. Enjoy my writing or videos?! You can leave me a tip at this PayPal link. : )—————————

Stan R. Mitchell, author and prior Marine, is best known for his Nick Woods Marine Sniper series, which has remained in the Top 100 on Amazon for more than three years. The series has also been picked up by Audible.com for a multi-book audio deal. Additional works include a Western thriller, detective series, and World War II story.

My fall story and how a few leaves inspired me to no end as a young boy

Hey guys!

Hope everyone is doing well!

I wanted to share a quick, personal story about my life, which I think might help inspire you, and which helped change the course of my life.

When I was a boy, I used to love to be in the woods. I loved to explore them and play in them with friends. But on one fall day about this time of year — probably about two weeks earlier — I was in the woods alone on a beautiful day and lost track of time.

And I was sitting there on a comfortable ledge, pretty high up on the side of a hill, just watching the woods. Back then, I could watch squirrels or chipmunks (or a deer if I was lucky) for hours without being bored, and that’s what I was searching for on that day.  

But there was nothing moving, even once I sat down and got quiet. It’s really rare that no animals are out moving, and as a matter of fact, it’s the only time I can recall it happening to me — and I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the woods.

But back to the story, on that day there was nothing moving. No squirrels. No chipmunks. No birds or crows that I can remember, though surely there were some.

Zero. Zilch. Nada.

On this day, I was alone in these wide-open woods. A young boy, sitting on a ledge, watching leaves fall to the ground. And as I sat there, I lost track of time. I was mesmerized by the woods before me, as leaf-after-leaf drifted down.

The entire time, I anxiously waited to see something spring or prance by, but nothing did, and in about a three-hour time period, I can’t tell you how many leaves I watched drift and descend to the ground. Literally thousands, if I had to guess.

Most of them were brown and scarcely discernible from those around them, and they fell fairly quickly and predictably. But every now and then, in my trance-like state, I noticed one that wasn’t brown. Sometimes a yellow one. Or perhaps a red one. Even a couple of purple ones.

These leaves that stood out instantly caught my (bored) eye, and I’d watch them descend while ignoring their brown peers that dropped around them.

And sometimes, a vivid red or yellow one would be shaped in just a way that allowed it to catch small wisps of wind and float sideways as they arced to the ground. Even rarer, sometimes one would be so perfectly aerodynamic that it’d glide far and almost lift up with small winds that bounced along the ground.

For hours I sat captivated by these leaves of all colors, and their varying flight paths and trajectories. But by the end, I could only recall a few that had fallen. Perhaps a couple dozen out of literally hundreds and hundreds that I had watched.

And as I came out of my almost meditative state, prompted by hunger and a stark reality I had stayed out too long, a shocking realization hit me: we are all leaves.

We all fall, our lives brief.

Mostly, we’re barely noticed. Certainly not remembered. 

But I had noticed some of those unique leaves that day. I had remembered their form and color, and the path they had taken. And it instantly hit me that I didn’t want to be a brown leave that fell straight down, same as every other leaf.

I wanted to be yellow or purple! I wanted to glide and float and lift with the wind! I wanted to land a hundred yards from the tree from which I fell, not right below it!

I wanted some young boy to see me and take note! To smile and remember me, and make his own mind up to be a little different and memorable.

And from that day — I was thirteen — I swore to myself I’d do all I could to maximize whatever potential I had. Up to that point, I did things to please my parents and others. But after that magical day in the woods, I did things for me. I felt called to move toward greatness, and the Marine Corps fit my picture of what a great, young man would aspire to at that time.

Later, I’d feel that same call to become a journalist. And still later, an entrepreneur who launched a newspaper. Finally, I’d grow courageous enough to attempt the impossible mountain of becoming a full-time author.

I share these words, this story of mine, because I feel confident that  there is at least one of you out there who harbors some dream, as well, and I hope my small story will help inspire you to pursue it as vigorously (and responsibly) as you can. (Additional motivation for those with just such a dream: Find true happiness: announce your dreams to the world today.)

But this post isn’t just meant for the dreamers who have some burning fire inside their soul.

It’s my very strong belief that all of us can be memorable, despite trying work and life demands. All of us can be red or purple, soaring through the sky like the wind.

A great example of this is one of the most remarkable men I ever crossed paths with. I first met him when I was working part-time at a completely depressing manufacturing plant while I was in college. I don’t remember his name now, much to my chagrin, but he was a jolly man from the inner city.

So many people quit at that plant within hours or days of being hired that you didn’t bother getting to know the new ones, especially those assigned to parts inspection where I worked. But this smiling man was assigned to our station and my buddy and I watched him with great interest on his first day. We wanted to see how fast he’d break — same as so many others before him.

But this man just smiled and sang to himself, and whistled away that first day. He did all this real low and to himself. Not a pest at all, like some of the singers and whistlers out there!

The job required you to lift with your fingers these really heavy airbag cylinders, all of which were soaked in some kind of toxic who knows what. And if you were good, you’d do two per hand and work your way up to three or four or even five.

All the work was timed and each hour crawled by like a mini-lifetime. I kid you not, there was never a day (or even two-hour sprint until we could get a 15-min break) that I didn’t nearly quit.

Your fingers ached, the oil did weird stuff to your skin, and your clothes were ruined nearly every day. But Mr. Jolly New Man survived the first day, and left with a smile and almost a skip in his step — really remarkable given he was mid-fifties or early sixties, and the work was pretty grueling.

But day-after-day, it was the same. Mr. Jolly New Man came in as if he had the greatest job in the world, quickly volunteering for the worst parts of the job.

“Oh, it’s not too bad,” he’d say with a smile as he grabbed another crate to take the load off a weaker worker.

We soon learned he was poor, had no family, and rode the bus to work because he didn’t have a car. (And for my northern readers, let me assure you that in the South, you almost have to have a car. Public transportation practically doesn’t exist.)

Mr. Jolly New Man wouldn’t say much about where he lived, but it was my strong impression he lived in the projects. As we grew to be friends with him, we learned he’d never take any form of assistance. No ride home, even if the bus wouldn’t arrive for another hour. No ride down to the gas station for a snack after work, which was a mile away.

No, he’d rather walk it, even in a downpour.

My buddy and I were finishing up college, happily married, bright futures ahead of us, and at least thirty years younger, but I give you my word that this man was a 100x happier than us. (We were also, by the way, both spiritual and optimistic, happy people in our own right, but we sure didn’t measure up to him.)

Mr. Jolly New Man couldn’t work circles around us — we were both studs — but he held his own and surpassed us by miles with his attitude. We complained about having to be there and what better jobs were out there. He didn’t mind working late, even off the clock if it helped the boss. Or sweeping up afterward. Or tackling a couple more crates.

His attitude was unlike any attitude I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve met some go getters in my day.

Additionally, his countenance was not of this world, and his smile and laughter was infectious. Never has such an imperfect smile been so perfect. Or perhaps he’d forgotten his smile wasn’t perfect?

My buddy and I would try to talk news with him, but he’d ease his way out of the conversation. He didn’t want to talk politics, the economy, or a hundred other things that might kill that incredible attitude and smile of his.

Asked his thoughts on any of this, he’d usually smile real big and say, “Oh, I don’t know,” and pat you on the shoulder if his hands weren’t covered in grease.

Love just poured from the man, and surprisingly, though we learned he was Christian, he never talked about his views or pushed his religion.

He lived his religion, and it was one of the most beautiful sights to behold. A near modern-day Jesus who had no cares for money or security or any of the other things we all worry about so much.

To this day, I can say that few people have influenced me as much as this man. He wasn’t some decorated Marine. Not some kind of big-time author or famous person you hear so much about.

He was just a man who stood out, every single day of his life, like the yellow and purple leaves that floated down to the ground back when I was a boy.

I have told dozens of people about this man in the past twenty years, and I’ll bet every person that’s worked with him has done the same.

My point in this much too-long blogpost is that all of us can be like this man, striving to stand out more, to be more beautiful and memorable and inspiring.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you just never know who’s watching, or how much you will shape their lives for years to come.

In closing, I hope this small story of my life has in some small way sparked yours. Feel free to share it, of course, if it has.

Keep the faith, and be more beautiful!

P.S. Enjoy my writing or videos?! You can leave me a tip at this PayPal link. : )


Stan R. Mitchell, author and prior Marine, is best known for his Nick Woods Marine Sniper series, which has remained in the Top 100 on Amazon for more than three years. The series has also been picked up by Audible.com for a multi-book audio deal. Additional works include a Western thriller, detective series, and World War II story. Learn more at http://stanrmitchell.com.