No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change this world.
~ Robin Williams
Dead Poets Society
Robin Williams’ quote has always stuck with me because words and messages can alter someone’s day from being sad to happy even if for a minute. I have taken the negatives in my life and learned from them. I use my darkest times to help those going through similar experiences, directing them through their saddest times, assuring them calm waters are ahead. Sometimes you need to take it day by day and others you need to slow it down even more — hour to hour or even minute to minute.
Growing up I didn’t have the easiest childhood. I had a mother who was an alcoholic with a later diagnosis of bi-polar disorder. My father was a workaholic and someone who would put me down for gaining weight which, eventually, led to childhood obesity. He dealt with his own weight issues by putting his anger and frustration onto his youngest son.
I always excelled in school and at sports regardless of the fact I was heavier than the other kids. Sports were my escape, as were movies and reading.
When I reached junior high and realized that I wasn’t good enough to be on a sports team, my depression and eating really took hold of me. This also caused my father to double down on belittling me, telling me I was lazy as my mother told me I was fine while giving me that extra serving of high calorie food.
These years were the most formative for me when it came to my writing and would, later, be helpful when I went to Iraq, and dealt with horrific sights on a daily basis. I’d sit in my room writing scary stories and song lyrics like those bands I looked up to in high school such as Papa Roach, Metallica and my favorite band, Staind.
I connected with these bands and how they went through similar problems such as mine – broken homes; being verbally and mentally abused by their family members because they were different.
I became serious about writing when I got home from Iraq in 2007 and began turning the trauma I had experienced most of my life, including the stress of what I’d just endured, into stories and scripts. I learned that my gift was being able to write at a rate of speed that others cannot. I draft and create the characters in my mind and I can type their conversations I’m hearing in my head just as fast as they are speaking.
It wasn’t until December of 2019 that I found my true calling, writing children’s books. Instead of wanting to scare people with my stories, I decided I wanted to bring smiles to those that need them; much like I could have used when I was an early teenager going through a difficult time.
My difficulties are my own, as are anyone else’s, but we should be there for others when they cannot see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Without my struggles I wouldn’t be who I am today and I wouldn’t have had the blessing of having met my beautiful wife Jessica and having our daughter, Abigail.
Over my twenty years in the military and thirty-eight years of life, I went through a great deal of trauma and was even diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from my military missions. I used my writing ability to get me through these dark times by creating uplifting stories for those that need them just as I do. My writing is my cathartic way of dealing with the visions of war and death and having worked in a coroner’s office for the last two years assisting with the overflow of covid decedents.
Find your healthy escape, whether it is writing, mentoring, coaching or watching movies. Whatever it is, find your passion that brings a warmth to your heart and a smile to your face. The one truth is, we have one life to live, so why not follow our hopes and dreams? It’s essential to follow what you love because we can be rejected a thousand times as I have with my books. But at the end of the day, for those thousands of “no” replies, all we need is that one “yes” to change it all. Strive for your “yes” and one day, you’ll get it like I did with my wife when I asked her to marry me and she said yes. That one “yes” changed my life more than I can ever write into a thousand-page novel. Be good to yourself and to others.
A first lieutenant and a 20-year veteran in the U.S. Air Force who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kristian James is also a children’s book author. His first title, All Hallows Eve in Salem: The Unofficial Town of Halloween, has sold across the globe. Kristian’s two upcoming releases are Building Our Main Street and Once upon a Christmas Eve in Salem. As a new project, Kristian would like to propose that kids write to their favorite monster in his book All Hallows’ Eve in Salem, and their favorite monster mails them back a letter. It would be like writing to Santa Claus, and all he’d ask for is a return stamp.