ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Finishing School

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Ever feel so overwhelmed you can’t finish? I’m talking anything. Like running a 5K for instance. You look up and it seems so far away you just say f#ck it and quit. Or you have so many writing deadlines that you can’t concentrate. It’s just too damn much. This applies to school, to life, to anything. I know we’ve all been there. I know we’ve listened to the niggly voice whispering in our ear to quit. We ignore it at first, but then it changes tactics and makes us rationalize.

It’s not so bad.

A lot of people don’t finish.

No one will know.

How often do you listen to it?

How often do you fall victim to it?

There’s a TV show I found while cruising the Direct TV menu last year when I returned from Afghanistan. In fact, it’s how I discovered that one of my favorite magazines has a TV channel – Esquire. The show was titled Boundless and featured two Canadians who travel the world doing ultra-marathons and insane bike races in places like Africa, South Asia, Austria, etc. Simon Donato and Paul “Turbo” Trebilcock are the two crazy guys. Turbo is about my age, while Simon is ten years younger. These aren’t young men. And they don’t finish in first place. But in most of these, they do finish, which is most important

What I like most about this show is when they’re narrating their own success or failure and they talk about that voice in their head, the rationalization that creeps into their desire to finish, and how they react to it. I’ve seen Turbo fall victim to it and overcome it and it totally hits home. 

In some odd way, Turbo is me.

A lot of years preceding my deployment to Afghanistan, I was a quitter. I quit exercising because it hurt. I gained 80 pounds. I rationalized like a Grand Master. Truly, I was a genius at it. I had an excuse for everything. Even as I plodded around as Mr. Fatty McFatty acting like I was the King of Awesome, I rationalized that I was old and a disabled vet. If anyone deserved to not exercise and to be a rotund person, it was me.

But as I prepared for my deployment, I decided that I wanted to change. I needed to change. The doc looked at me during my predeployment physical and told me I was in bad shape. Where was that voice then? Little f#cker had abandoned me.

So I deployed and began to learn to finish.

I saw men and women I was in awe of.

I saw a soldier with a prosthetic leg who’d returned to war. If anyone had an excuse to quit, he did. 

I watched people’s eyes and I could tell which ones were rationalizers and which ones were finishers. 

I met a lot of operators who had that look in their eyes where one glance and you could tell that they would never quit.

I coveted that look.

I wanted that look.

So I curated that look.

Since June of last year, I’ve never not finished a distance run I’d set out to do. Often, if I feel like quitting, I’ll run farther. Just the other day, I felt like dog sh#t. My legs were a thousand pound tree trunks, my body was tired, I wanted to do nothing more than quit. But I had to exercise. So I was going to toss off a quick 3K. Halfway through that voice returned. It niggled in my ear like a sweet little earwig, rationalizing like it had for so many years.

It whispered.

It cajoled.

It pretended I hadn’t banished it.

And it pissed me off.

So I ran 5K.

This has bled into my writing. This spring I had a novel, 4 stories and a novella to finish. It seemed so overwhelming…almost impossible. But I did it. I finished all of my deadlines.

How do you do it?

How do you ignore that voice?

How do you finish?

My latest novel I wrote in Afghanistan
Here’s the great secret. It’s a very complicated four step process handed down person-to-person from the original Grand Masonic Order of the Dali Lama. I'm probably going to get in trouble for sharing, but hell, if you're reading my blog and reading my books then you deserve it.

So here it is.

Ready?

Step 1 – Want it.
Step 2 – Ignore the f#cking voice.
Step 3 – Do it.
Step 4 – Rinse, repeat.

Stephen and Turbo follow this process. They don’t always succeed, but damned if they don’t try. I only run a few kilometers and am able to ignore the voice. But they chew life in large chunks. They run 100 kilometers  at a time which gives that voice a lot longer to whisper to them. It gets so hard. You feel for them watching the program. Don’t listen to the voice, you scream at the TV, but of course they can’t hear.

That should be your mantra - Don’t listen to the voice.

How much more success would you have if you ignored the voice, or if the voice was silent?

I watch Boundless to see them succeed. I watch it to see them overcome the voice.

The last episode was the first episode of Season 2. They’re in Austria competing in a mountain bike marathon in Europe: the 137-mile Salzkammergut race in Austria. I thought of my old friend La Kelly when I watched it. She’s a professional mountain biker. I wonder if she ever competed in the race. If she did, I guarantee she ignored the voice. She seems to have her own inner voice that drowns out the evil one. I think that her desire to get the most out of life is greater than the voice's ability to stop her.

This desire is something I’ve been trying to curate within myself. I’ve embraced nature. I’ve returned to fishing. I have a kayak now that I use to be one with the water. I can stare at the world and smile, picking the beauty from it wherever I am. This strategy silences that voice like none other.

I’ll do almost anything to keep that voice silent.

Turbo did too. In the last episode of Boundless, he almost fell victim to it. It almost convinced him to quit. But he overcame it. He ignored it, squashed it like the pathetic little imp it is, and finished the 137 mile race. He did it by not thinking about the distance, but thinking about the road in front of him. It's like when you run. You don't stare at the horizon. You stare at the ground in front of you. You concentrate on the next step, not the last step. 

Or writing novels. I'm from the Tom Piccirilli School of Writing. Sometime way back in the beginning of my writing he imparted this wisdom. Write 5 pages a day, everyday. That equals 90,000 words in three months which is a novel. Five pages seems doable. 90,000 words seems terrifying. And it works too. I wrote the third SEAL Team 666 book in three months.

This is me 4 months after Finishing School
You see, Afghanistan was my finishing school. It taught me so much. Look at that word—finishing. When you’re finished there’s no going back. You’re finished. In this case, finished listening to that voice and I’m never going back.

Not everyone can go to Afghanistan for finishing school. I get that. You're listening to the voice. Block it out and listen to me. Finishing school can be whatever you call it. It can be whenever you want it. All you have to do is follow those four secret steps handed down from the Grand Master Mason of the Dali Lama.

Step 1 – Want it.

Step 2 – Ignore the f#cking voice.

Step 3 – Do it.

Step 4 – Rinse, repeat.

What are you waiting for?

~ ~ ~

Weston Ochse is the author of twenty books, most recently two SEAL Team 666 books, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable List of 2012.' His newest novel is Grunt Life and is already in its second printing. Visit him online at www.westonochse.com

Thursday, May 1, 2014

GRUNT LIFE Contest (Ending 5 May)

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GRUNT LIFE CONTEST: 

Here's how it works. 

To enter the contest, take a picture of the book and post it to your FB page or Twitter account and tag me (make sure to tag me so I know. I'll have to approve the tag if it's on FB, so don't worry if it doesn't appear on my page right away). Pictures can be boring or exciting. I especially love bookstore pics and pics with weapons, but not combined (this means don't go taking an AK 47 to a book store and say that Wes told you to). 

The contest runs from 26 April to 5 May. 

What do you get, you ask? You mean besides a cool ass book? For the winner, a person randomly chosen from all the entrants, I will have a cell phone case made just like this one to fit their cell phone. Then I will sign it and have a platoon of grunts deliver it to their door -- or the UPS man. This is a chance to have fun and to get people interested. Thanks peoples! I'll repost this every day to remind people.

Here are some of the entrants thusfar (but not all)...


Brenda Todd

David and Jen Germain

Jay Chase

Dave Lookabough

Pam Donovan

Sean Neeld

Sean Neeld's Cat
 
Lee Whiteside

 Isn't this a blast?

Where are your pictures?

Come one. Snappy snappy!