“I don’t want to be unhappy.”: An Interview with Jay Armstrong
Two weeks ago, began a “Virtual Book Tour”, an eight week promotional blitzkrieg from the comforts of my couch. No airports. No hotels. And, on this tour, wearing pants is optional.
I was recently interviewed by the website, Literary Gold, and, this week, wanted to share some of that interview with you.
I hope you enjoy it!
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
A major dream in my life was to write a book. Period. And as corny as it sounds, as I was writing “Bedtime Stories for the Living”, I often whispered to myself, “You’re actually doing it!”
As Tony Robbinsish as this sounds, I really enjoyed the thrill of achieving a dream. Yes, it was daunting at times. And yes, I spent a lot of nights eating Peanut M&Ms and doubting myself. But holding my book in my hands was like holding one of my children. Minus the crying and sudden bowel movements. A moment of absolute love and pride and wonder. A moment of being alive.
Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?
Yes, I do. I think my first book was really about acceptance. I wanted to write a book composed of small, everyday moments experienced with my children and family–my daughter writing poetry, my son learning the “F” word–that provided me the courage to accept my disease. A book that announced to my kids, “Your dad has a degenerative brain disease and he’s doing the best he can.”
However, the next book is about creating lasting change. The life expectancy of a US male is 80 years-old. Which means at 42 years-old, when I started the book, I’m closer to death than birth. This terrifies and thrills me. There’s a real urgency to life now I realize I need to pivot. And as strange as this sounds, my disease is helping me change. My disease has forced me to reevaluate my life and do the most difficult of human things…change.
I think the older you get, the harder it is to change. Yet learning to change is necessary for survival. I see a lot of middle-aged people that are reluctant to change, which I believe, ultimately leads to unhappiness. And I don’t want to be unhappy.
Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?
Well, my plan is to keep writing my Friday post on my blog, writeonfighton.org, until the internet goes out of style and to finish my second book.
I plan to listen to my children laugh and cry, tussle their hair, ask them questions, tell them stories, and witness them wrestle with the heavy, moral dilemmas of adolescence.
Oh, and I also plan to take naps on the couch.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing off and on since high school. But back then I lacked the confidence and courage to make something of my writing. I kept my writing buried in a desk drawer for fear of criticism and rejection. I feared that people would question my “weird” urge to write. I was a kid. I was impressionable and desperately wanted to fit in. And plus, back then talking to girls was way more important than writing.
Sadly, I didn’t get serious about writing until life got serious. I’m 42 years-old now and I started really writing at 33, when I was diagnosed with a degenerative brain condition. It’s funny, bad news can be a hell of a motivator.
Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?
It’s weird to hear “fans.” Beyoncé, Brad Pitt, and SpongeBob have fans.
I buy my sushi from the supermarket. I wait in lines at the post office. I drive a Hyundai.
But I would like to thank everyone who has supported my writing over the years. Thank you for buying my book, visiting my blog, and telling other people about my writing. I hope my stories have provided you with comfort, courage, and companionship. Because your messages, your support have done the same for me.
A few months ago, with low expectations, I entered “Bedtime Stories for the Living” in the highly regarded, highly competitive international book contest presented by Readers’ Favorite. Readers’ Favorite is an established force in the publishing industry. They have worked with Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors.
Anyway, just before I was about to take a midday nap, I was informed that this suburban dad had won…
First Prize, the Gold Medal, in the Non-Fiction-Parenting genre!
The award ceremony is in November and is at Hilton Blue Lagoon in Miami, Florida.
It was totally unexpected. I’m totally honored. And I totally can’t wait for my kids to question my parenting skills so that I can gently remind them I wrote a Gold Medal winning parenting book.
This month, I teamed up with some bestselling authors who are offering a delightful selection of books about change. If you’re thinking it’s time for a change check out the link below!
As part of the book tour, check out an excerpt from “Bedtime Stories for the Living” and plus my “18 Notes on Writing” at Uplifting Reads.
And while you’re there, enter for a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card!
Last Week’s Post: Procrastination Comes Home
As a teacher, I hated student procrastination. I believed that if students applied care and completed their work in a timely fashion gifting them time to reread and revise their work they would become much better students. They would all graduate high school summa cum laude and go to Princeton University and all become leaders in the anti-procrastination movement which would single-handedly reverse global warming, cure cancer, and end world hunger.
Quote of the Week:
If you would like to share something with others (a photo, a poem, a song, a quote, etc.) that tosses some positive vibes into the world, please send your suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Bedtime Stories for the Living recently received not ONE…not TWO…but THREE highly coveted 5-Star ratings from Reader’s Favorite–a highly-respected literary website that reviews books from all over the world!!!
Readers’ Favorite Review by Emma Megan
Jay Armstrong, a high school English teacher, explains in “Bedtime Stories for the Living: A Father’s Funny and Heartbreaking Memoir About The Power of Pursuing Your Dreams” how he was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative brain disease. This striking memoir contains wonderful love letters for each of Jay’s children, beautiful true stories, and precious life lessons and advice. It also contains what Jay never told his kids, what he felt like saying to them but failed as life got in the way. In “Bedtime Stories for the Living”, Jay talks about poetry and books, the importance of writing and its impact on his life, offering aspiring writers valuable writing tips. He also talks about the beauty and the challenges of life, of being a parent, and the difficulty of dealing with a rare disease.
You cannot read this breathtaking memoir and still be ungrateful for your health. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” by Jay Armstrong is the best motivational book I’ve ever read. Jay’s writing style is addictive, mainly because it’s nostalgic, vulnerable, and filled with wisdom and sorrow. In his uniqueness, Jay inspires and encourages not only his children but all his readers to figure out their dreams and to chase the one that brings them joy, to read poetry, and never to ignore their internal voice. He reminds them that they are responsible for how they adapt to change. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” is truly an empowering book as it speaks to the heart and the mind and delivers inspirational life lessons and unique stories. It’s undoubtedly a must-read.
Are you a reader? Looking for your next good book to read or listen to? Check out my new page “Jay’s Book Shelf” for some book recommendations.
Here’s what I’m currently reading: Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
If you like this post, you may also like:
How to Climb Today’s Mountain
Your Voice is the Most Powerful Thing You Own
A Different Kind of Hope
Alchemy Behind the Dugout
Trouble with the Left Hook
Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, former high school English teacher, and an award-winning author. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. The leader of the Philadelphia Ataxia Support Group, he hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life. For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents or a drink with his friends)
Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time.
You can also visit Jay at jayarmstrongwrites.com