Why did you write your book?

(Readers’ Favorite Award Ceremony, Miami, FL., 2022)

This week I’m sitting down at digital roundtable with my friend and author Gail Boenning and a few other bighearted authors to discuss the question:

Why did you write your book?

In short: I wrote this book because I didn’t want to die.

I know, it sounds overdramatic. Trite. Like something etched in black ink in the white margin of a high schooler’s notebook. But the adult-truth is that I began seriously writing during my most confusing, most desperate, most urgent days.

With my head and my heart drowning in doubt (another phrase fit for a high schooler’s notebook), I began writing.

And writing saved my life.

Writing was one of the few things I had, and still have, control over. I believe it was the daily pursuit of writing a book that kept me alive.

Reflecting on having now written two books, I know “not wanting to die” was simply the surface of my motivation. A motivation that napped deep in my dad heart since I was a pimpled teenager writing overwrought sentences in the margins of marble notebooks while considering what to do with the rest of my life.

I wrote this book…

Because when I was a high school English teacher I repeatedly told my students to follow their dreams and now I tell my own kids the same thing and if I didn’t take my own advice I would die a terrible hypocrite.

Because I’m not emotionally ready for “adaptive recreation.”

Because humor and imagination are overlooked and underappreciated survival skills.

Because I’m fascinated with words and sentences and stories and cool literary techniques like Polysyndeton.

Because I’m fascinated with how good stories are built and how good stories punctuate the human experience.

Because I’m fascinated with how stories are forever.

I wrote this book…

Because I spent so many years not writing this book.

Because I once wrote a heartfelt, personal letter to someone I valued and had known for years and they never wrote back.

Because in a world so out of control, so fat with uncertainty and chaos, writing a slim book from the safety of my couch was one of the few things always in my absolute control.

Because I feel the pangs of time every morning when I shuffle across the bedroom carpet trying hard not to pee my pajama pants.

Because I still want to instruct and entertain, humor and haunt my kids even when I’m dead.

I wrote this book…

Because I wanted to make the 13-year-old me, the kid who wanted to write a book but was too scared, proud.

Because I wanted to discover who I was and what I stood for.

Because I wanted to artfully tell anyone who ever doubted me to fuck off.

Because I wanted to cross a metaphorical finish line.

Because I wanted to be proud of myself, especially on the bad days.

Because I wanted to help people.

I wrote this book…

Because I wanted to make sense of my suffering.

Because I wanted to accept my disease.

Because I wanted to empower people, who like me, endure a disability, a disease, and crippling doubt.

Because I needed to write down some things I didn’t have the courage to say out loud.

Because I needed to convince myself I’m worthy of happiness.

Because I needed to remind myself just how tough and resilient I am.

I wrote this book…

Because of F. Scott Fitzgerald, JD Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, Tim O’Brien, Paulo Coelho, Brian Fallon, and Bruce Springsteen.

Because the world has enough bitter bastards and I didn’t want to become one.

Because I wanted to better understand my contradictions.

Because I wanted to show vulnerability is a strength.

Because I wanted to stay out of trouble.

Because I wanted to carry fiery hope through the darkest and coldest, meanest and most hopeless seasons.

I wrote this book…

Because I didn’t want to die.

Be well,


Amazon Order Link!

Ordinary Hero is now available in hardback and available, upon request, in local bookstores or libraries, even if your local bookstore or library is in Peru.

Greetings to everyone who found me on the University of Pennsylvania’s Ataxia Clinic’s website! Thanks for stopping by. I have ataxia and though I’m not a doctor, I hope my words comfort, encourage, empower, and serve as good company on your journey.

December Book Promos for You:

Are looking for inspiration? Are you searching for a better version of yourself?

This month I joined literary forces with some best-selling authors in an awesome book promotions. Click the link below:

Cozy Up with these Memoirs, Biographies, Self-Help books and More!

Purchase Jay’s Debut Book,”Bedtime Stories for the Living” Exclusively at Amazon!

Recent letters you may enjoy:

Celebrating My Worst Day; Year 10

Celebrate the Little Steps

Life is Change

Adversity Also Builds This


Jay Armstrong is a speaker 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.

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