To a writer facing personal troubles

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I do a lot of writing. If you read this blog, you might have read a few hundred thousand pages of it in my books—what you might not know is that like a lot of writers in history, I also write a huge amount of letters, sometimes tens of thousands of words a month. Perhaps I should channel this elsewhere!

It strikes me today that many of these might be worth sharing. While my correspondents’ side is, of course, private, many of the letters that I write are largely about my own experience, and worth publishing for the benefit or interest of others.

Today’s letter is to a fellow writer who recently told me that his project is being stymied by financial and relationship difficulties, which I can relate to.


Hi, —

Thanks for writing.

I’m sorry to hear about your troubles. There’s not much you can do in the way of saying things to make someone feel better at times like these, but here are two inspirational comic strips from Zen Pencils that I thought of when it comes to writers in difficulty:

I actually finished my first novel around the time that an ex-girlfriend who I had lived with left me for a mutual friend. Perhaps not surprisingly, I was glad to have my writing to devote myself to at the time—it was a good outlet for my emotions and having something else to focus on helped. That said, I could hardly sleep for about six weeks, in spite of what I thought was good mental resilience. Sometimes only time heals such things.

As for talk of failure—if you’ll permit me some of my own thoughts, I wouldn’t see it as something to be afraid of, exactly. There’s far worse—despair, and giving up. While one is still getting back on one’s feet and fighting, there is nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I was reminded here of a passage from Chogyam Trungpa’s book Shambhala, which I read from at a book co-op night for writers in Melbourne some time ago. You might like it.

There may be something inspiring for you there as a writer, in the sense that communicating the difficulties we’ve been through is part of our work.

To end on a hopeful note, in January this year I finished off a short book project for an author, that included editing and a website, and she’s had an excellent sales result so far, selling about AUD 1,200 in books to her contacts before the month is even over, and having already made back more than half the money she invested in the project. I’m really thrilled for her, and I wanted to let you know about the success story.

I hope things feel a little brighter for you soon. In the meantime, I guess the last thing I can offer you is just to say hang in there and keep writing—there is always some kind of salvation in it.

Good luck. Write to me any time you like.

—Ben

Author: Ben Hourigan

Ben Hourigan is a novelist from Melbourne, Australia. His books Kiss Me, Genius Boy and My Generation’s Lament are Amazon category bestsellers, and are available wherever good books are sold online. Ben also works as an editor, copywriter, and self-publishing consultant at his own firm, Hourigan & Co. For news and book release updates, sign up to his email newsletter.