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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

Existing in the Gray...

“It’s not what you achieve, it’s what you overcome. That’s what defines your career.”—Carlton Fisk


Thoughts on my writing lately have had this theme running through them. Overcoming challenges as they come, as I grow, as I have matured, as I have acknowledged my flaws and weaknesses. Learning to forgive. Learning to see the truth behind what others do, even when they cannot see it for themselves, learning to empathize with the traumas they are not ready to face or admit to and understanding that sometimes we must let go of the anger in order to move forward, even if we move forward alone.

I’ve talked a bit about my challenges with having a severe stutter as a child, an issue I still deal with; with depression, with weight struggles, insecurity, isolation, self-worth stemming from racial issues as a child, self-identity stemming from my adoption. I could go on and on.  And yet, here I am, doing things that I never thought I would be capable of doing.

For the last five years, I have been writing and publishing my books and others. I started an indie publishing house because it’s something that I now see as possible, whereas seven years ago the laughter and disbelief that would have crossed my face, would have silenced the kindest and most well-meaning soul trying to convince me that I could.

For the last two years or more, I have been speaking at conventions on panels and moderating panels of my own, attending live-streamed virtual conventions and co-hosting on a popular podcast that allows me to interview my peers and my heroes. These have been events, no, dreams that I once had, that I knew in my core would never come to pass. Not me. No such luck. Why in the world would anyone want to hear me speak, stumbling over my own name?  Or read my work? Or my innermost thoughts in the form of verse that flows like blood across the page?

That wasn’t my life. That was for someone else, but not for me. People did not “see” me, even worse, I couldn’t “see” me. I was invisible, shades of sadness and despair lost in the gray, between living and existing. I passed through rooms silent and unseen, unacknowledged, unacceptable, unwanted by everyone, including me.

Yet, here I am, a multi award-winning author with 17 published stand-alone works, 25 published or soon to be published short stories. A thriving editing business. An indie horror review website. A publishing house for those of us that live in the gray, that exist in the dark, that become our truest selves when faced with the abyss.

The quote above fits my journey. Anyone that knows me on a core level knows what I have overcome, knows the crippling terror I face in the dark, knows the feeling of sheer panic when the spotlight is on me. Even to this day, when I am to speak, when it's time to be heard, beads of sweat trickle down my spine. Ice fills my stomach. Lead fills my bones, and my mouth is dryer than the Sahara.

Eyes on me. People waiting to laugh at me, to humiliate me, to bring the shame and the tears and the pain, once again, except, they don’t. Not anymore. Now they sit quietly and nod, they listen, and when I finish, trembling in my spot at the podium, they applaud.

I’m here, in living color, no longer lost among the grays. Vibrant, alive, thriving, no longer a slave to fear but allowing myself to feel it, to acknowledge its source, and then, overcoming it. Daily. I am no rock star suddenly, no motivational speaker. There was no cure, no easy fix. One day, I did a thing. I took a single step. One step. Then another. Then more. Fear came. I swallowed and took another step. And another.

I want to live. Living. Breathing. Part of the world, not apart from it. I spent a lifetime existing outside of my own existence.  Fear. Shame. Doubt. Demons. Beasts. Monsters. Crippling my every breath.

I took a step. You can too.

Breathe. Feel it. Step again, and again. Inhale and let go.

Those that hurt you, do not, and will not, define you.


Take that step.

Define YOUR path.



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1 Comment

Jan 27

Beautiful! This speaks so much to the core of my soul. Still we rise! Go Candace🤗

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