When I was six years old I felt very connected with God. I had a sense of peace about my world, and knew, I just knew, that one day I would become a famous writer. It was a sense of destiny that was as tangible as anything I’ve experienced since. I started my first novel at age 13, something about a plot to overthrow the President. Then the movie Seven Days In May stole my storyline, so I set the novel aside. Then when I was in the 8th grade, our class compiled a literary magazine. I published five poems and a short story, and was once again really excited about writing. Shortly after that, I stopped writing again, and my joy for it was gone. I didn’t know why.

By the time I was in college, I had trouble writing simple term papers, and finishing my master’s thesis in graduate school was tortuous.

In 1980 I committed to trying to write out my thoughts and feelings. It didn’t come easy. I would sit at a typewriter, or in front of a legal pad, wanting to write, knowing that I liked to write, loved to write, yet somehow feeling stuck. My attempts were tentative and halfhearted, and I had to force myself to make the effort. I was stymied. But I kept trying.

By 1996, I had written two books, had publishers interested in both, and had walked away from publication both times, completely baffled by the whole experience.

In 2003, I found the source of the resistance. I wrote out a dialogue with my inner child and uncovered a crippling message from my grandmother when I was 8 years old, when she said, “If you grow up to be a famous writer, they’ll call you crazy and lock you up.” I was horrified to find this poison in my soul. She drove the message home abusively, and the damage ran deep; I was diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in part because of her actions. It took a number of years and a lot of recovery work to overcome the damage.

I knew I had made huge progress when I published my first memoir, Freedom’s Just Another Word. In 2011 I will publish my second memoir And Then I Stop, about the whole process of healing the wounds inflicted by my grandmother, and breaking free of the writer’s block. Then I’ll go back and publish those two books I walked away from before!

Author's Bio: 

Dan Hays is the author of "Freedom's Just Another Word, a hopeful and inspirational memoir about his struggles to overcome the effects of growing up with a violent alcoholic. Dan also presents hopeful radio messages in his broadcasts "Minute to Freedom." On his roundtable radio show "Dialogues With Dignity," Dan discusses topics of depth and substance.