Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


I have a confession to make.

I’m not brave.

Oh sure, I can talk big and often do–on this blog, to friends, and on social media. Take risks! Push yourself! Move outside your comfort zone!

And my personal favourite, “Jump and the net will appear.” Love that one.

As most of you know, I quit my day job at the end of 2012 to focus on my lifelong dream of becoming a novelist.

This isn’t the only time I’ve worked for myself, but the first time around I was completely consumed with building my freelance career and making as much money as possible. The result? Not a word of fiction was written. I was determined not to make the same mistake again.

However, I am not patient.

And, as stated above, I am not brave.

I’m scared of many things–that the roof of this old house will cave in and I won’t have the money to fix it. That my relationship will fail and I’ll suddenly be on my own, with only my freelance income and no support. But most of all, I’m scared of wasting my time.

What if this writing thing never works out for me? What if I turned my back on a successful career for nothing? What if none of my article pitches or query letters ever amount to anything?

What if, what if, what if.

It’s enough to drive one mad.

So whenever a day job comes around that interests me, I’m tempted to apply. High-level communications positions aren’t exactly plentiful in this city. What if I don’t apply and end up regretting it? What if, what if, what if.

Every single time I’ve committed myself to my dreams, I’ve given up whenever something safe and secure has come along.

This is why I’m not published. Keeping the faith for two months, five months, a year…that seems like an eternity to me.

Wait, does my alma mater need a journalism instructor? Maybe I should apply.

I recently found some wisdom in the most unexpected place–Jim Carrey. You may have seen the clip of his commencement speech, as it’s been making the rounds.

Jim’s father wanted to be a comedian but settled for a job he didn’t like because it paid the bills. Because it was safe.

Well, Jim’s father got laid off. The lesson Jim learned from this is why he is one of the most successful comedians of our time.

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

What is riskier, I wonder? Playing it safe and accepting that your dreams will stay just that–dreams, or going for broke and seeing what happens?

If you decide to leap, hoping that net will appear, how long should you keep leaping before giving up?

That question I know the answer to. Never, ever, ever give up.

The net will appear eventually.

Probably exactly when you’ve stopped looking for it.

Have you ever put everything on the line to chase a dream? If so, what happened? How do you keep yourself from giving up?

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  1. Frank Powers

    You did it again, the wheels are turning. I’ve always said I’d rather fail than not try. Problem is I haven’t always lived it. I needed this perspective. If I’m going to fail, might as well be doing something I love.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Exactly, Frank. I saw a quote yesterday that went something like this: “writing isn’t a one-night stand; it’s a long, committed marriage.” There will be days when you want to give up. How will you convince yourself to keep on going?

      Thanks for commenting! Hope all is well with you.

  2. Lisa

    I actually used that quote from Carrey’s address last week…inspirational…
    The only dream I ever chased was going to Europe when I was 25…Quit my job and travelled for 5 weeks. No regrets but then I had support from my family at the time…

    • Holli Moncrieff

      It’s a great speech. I envy your Europe trip–I would love to do something like that. Hopefully someday I will. You were smart to jump on the opportunity when you had the chance.

      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  3. Crystal

    Thank you for sharing! I think every one of us feels like this at some point, whether we are about to take the leap, or have already jumped. I know I certainly do!

    Stay strong, stay positive, we’re here for you! 🙂

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks, Crystal. If they do feel that way, they’re not sharing. I would love a writing mentor, someone who has been where I am now, who can talk me off the ledge now and then. I wonder where one finds such a person?

      Thanks for the kind words.

  4. Susan Scott

    Hi Holli, thanks for this. ‘What if’ and ‘if only’ have to be the saddest words. I guess they can help us reflect though. I’m inclined to agree with Frank – I’d rather have tried and failed than not to take the risk. Someone posted some words by Churchill a while back – who said exactly about never ever giving up.
    And yes, there are DEFINITELY times that I don’t believe in myself – that inner critic causes havoc. And I feel like giving up. But in a sense I am a bit afraid to give up because I know I won’t like myself. Strange but true.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Hi Susan,

      I can relate. There have been some very dark times in my life when I’ve said that I’m not a “good enough” writer and that this was all too hard, so I should just quit. The feeling of despair and utter desolation that followed was enough to bring me to my knees.

      I’ve been known as a “writer” since I was in high school. If I turned my back on that identity, that dream, what would I be? And what the heck would I do?

      Interesting, but frightening to consider. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Roger Owen Green

    Ha! I’m convinced that most of us are faking it. I’m sure the heck not brave…

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Welcome to my blog, Roger! And thanks for commenting. It’s great to know I’m not the only one. 🙂

  6. Elle

    Brave isn’t not being afraid. Brave is being afraid and doing it anyway. And you are doing it. *hugs* pal.


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