Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What it's like to be an Author in the military

People often ask me what it's like to be an author in the military. I simply reply: "It's not easy, but writing is my passion. It's something that I have to do." When I initially joined the Army back in 2007, I joined with the hopes of becoming a journalist. Murphy would have other plans! It turns out that, at the time, the Army was over strength on journalists. I would have to choose another job. This is why today I am not a writer for the military. (I eventually lost interest, anyway.) These days, I continue to write books and stories, while at the same time serving the military. I always find time to write. Depending on which assignment I am on, that could be late hours during the night or just on the weekends. I prefer to write using my computer, but often I find myself in situations (like in the field, or on a deployment) where I must write the old-fashioned way, using a pen and a notebook. (We’re spoiled these days, aren’t we?) Right now, I’m blessed to be stationed somewhere that has Internet (Germany), or else I would not be writing this blog! My strategy is simple: I believe that, if you are passionate about doing something, you can always find time to make it happen. It may be at zero-dark-thirty in the morning, or during those five minute breaks between staff meetings. There really is no excuse to not make time for the things that you are passionate about. The hardest part about being a writer in the Army is switching between Soldier mode and Author mode. (You thought I was going to say having to explain to the 1SG that I REALLY AM a published Author, and that I REALLY DO have a book signing at the Barnes & Noble at 1800, didn’t you?) For you writers out there, you know how complicated it is to switch from writer mode to “oh, crud, I have to go to work” mode. Well, imagine having to switch modes when your “work” is troop leading and warrior tasks and drills. IT’S NOT EASY! Especially for a children’s book writer! But the hardest part of all is going from “I am an American Soldier, I am a warrior and a member of a team” to talking to children about griffins and magical worlds during a “meet the Author” event! (Don’t get me wrong; I very much enjoy speaking to children. But you understand where I’m coming from…) I suppose the transition would be just as complicated for a fireman, or a police officer. (I really feel for the D.A.R.E. guy!) Like I said, I really enjoy public speaking. For some, it is the hardest thing to overcome. But for me, public speaking has always come easy. So what about my relationships with other Soldiers and leaders? That’s easy. I write on my own time. My writing career and my Army career are two completely separate things. To the Army, I am SGT Casey Harmon. I am a non-commissioned officer, a leader of Soldiers. To the civilian world, I am known as Casey Sean Harmon, Author. (Unless you’re my wife, in which case I’m known as “honey”, or my mother, who calls me “Case”, or some of my friends, who call me “Sean”, or…) So there you have it. A little taste of what being a writer in the military is like. So what can YOU take from this? Just remember that if you are passionate about doing something, you can always find a way to make it happen. There is no excuse not to pursue your dreams! (If you are a military veteran who also writes, check out the Military Writers Society of America.)

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