Ignoring the shiny.

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We writers, we have a problem.

There is this thing, it’s called “The Shiny“.

It comes when we least expect it, but it screams its damn head off when it appears.

We’ll be working on a story, and it doesn’t matter the length of the story, and BAM, The Shiny appears.

It could be a new thought on the current story, something that we didn’t anticipate or worse, it could be a new story, yelling, ‘look at me, look at me. I won’t let you get stuck, but if I do at least you’ll be writing five-thousand words while you wait’

The more we’re blocked, the louder the damn thing screams, but we have to ignore it, we must. There’s a part of us that knows we have to keep going on the current story, because, no matter how blocked we get, we still have more words on the current story than The Shiny.

We want to stop because we’ll get The Shiny to be quiet, then we have the damn things popping up to yell at us. It will happen when we’re going to sleep, taking our kids to school, reading a book. That last one, that’s the most frustrating.

The only thing we can do, write down the idea, put it somewhere we can see it and work on it later after we’re done with the current story.

Don’t give in to The Shiny.

Finding Courage…

Courage is in short supply…

We write, and early one we may be afraid to write the words that scare us and chase us into a hole.

We lack the courage to confront the stories we’ve lived, the nightmares we’ve lived through and that confrontation comes when we’re at a latter stage of our writing development.

Instead, we may write stories of a wholly less personal, but relevant nature.

These stories confront the world, not our own nightmares.

Our nightmares, the ones we keep within our darkest thoughts, our darkest corners, they come out when we’re writing for ourselves

They’ll come when we least expect them too because we lack the courage to write them.

They’re too familiar, they’re unstable as possibly we once were and like a chemical reaction, we’re not ready for the world’s reaction to the personal stories we keep to ourselves.

Once we’re no longer afraid of the world and our courage comes through, we move to a higher place in our writing.

We advance to a plane that writers who don’t care about the world’s thoughts exist.

That is when freedom comes. That is when good writing happens.

The Marionnette in the Writer’s Toolbox.

We often wonder what it would be like to be published.

We steal glances at the recently published books at our local bookstore, stare at the copies of paperbacks at the grocery store, all the while we ignore the little voice in our head asking, “Why the fuck aren’t you published yet?”

This voice stands up like a broken marionette, one string is torn as though it was never attached, but we keeping hearing the damn voice, calling to use in our dreams.

“Write asshole, why aren’t you writing, you’re sleeping and you should be writing, why aren’t you writing?”

The marionette is a clever disguise for our lack of faith in our writing or that we often, without understanding it, try to destabilize ourselves by worrying about the most recently published writer we’re friends with on social media.

Then we pick up their book and think, I’m better than this.

We continue our slog, staring at the paperbacks when we’re buying beer or another box of Cap’n Crunch.

We write, ignoring that damn marionette and keep going for one reason, we love to write. We love it like we love our kids, spouse, mom, and dog.

Stop staring publisher’s weekly, their emails will just drive you mad.

 

Transcendental Meditation after 3 years.

I posted this on Medium last month and somehow forgot to post it here.

Three years ago I stood on the ledge of the parking garage where I used to work.

I’d been fighting depression since I saw my father at my grandfather’s funeral. He walked past me as if I weren’t there.

The day I stood on the ledge, a co-worker told me, “No one really cares about you or your bullshit.”

That was my end point. I got through with work, set my things in my car and walked to the ledge.

I saw the back of the hotel, the marquee for the hotel and the rooftop of the casino. A slight wind blew my hair and I remember putting my hands out at as if I could catch it.

I don’t remember how long I stood up there, it could have been five minutes, ten, or two, but I stepped off the ledge and sat in my car and cried for a long time.

I knew I was broken at that point and I had no idea how to put my pieces back together.

I called my wife, the emotion clearly audible as she asked, “what’s the matter?”

I told her, “I need help. I think I’m going to look into that Transcendental Meditation(TM) I’ve been reading about.”

“Whatever you need to do, I’m here.” She said and I drove home, but I don’t remember the drive, I don’t remember the next week. I only remember calling the TM teacher in Las Vegas and scheduling to come in for my introduction.

A week later, I started my practice.

It’s been three years since I started TM and here’s a list of things that have happened that I know wouldn’t have without TM:

  1. I quit a good paying job to write full time.
  2. We moved our kids out an environment that wouldn’t help them grow.
  3. I started writing full time.

I never would’ve had the courage or mental strength to leave my job had I not learned TM. I was a weak person, most of the people around me would attest to that.

I didn’t know what I wanted and I hated not seeing my kids.

Today, I write full time and I’m working on a book that I’ll be submitting in June. I bartend a few times a week, I see my kids more often and I’m able to spend time with my wife.

I know without TM I wouldn’t be alive today.

I still get bouts of depression. I don’t think about suicide as often as I once did and I’m less angry than I was three years ago.

If you’re having trouble, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8255.

If you’re interested in learning more about Transcendental Meditation try TM.org.

Today, my wife and I are both practicing TM and we’re planning on getting our kids taught as well.

Have a great rest of your week.

On rejection letters…

The flow, muse, and rhythm of writing make for a strange time when nothing grabs those you’re submitting to.

The meaning of writing is for yourself, but what about when you’re submitting and getting constant rejections?

Writing improves with time, right?

When there is no one to tell you that you’re improving but family, it doesn’t feel the same.

Submitting stories to places that appear to only want writers with publication credits feels the same as the reason Hollywood is doing remakes.

Why should they risk their publication on an untested and unpublished writer?

Hollywood does remakes because they’re using a formula that works. They don’t want to take chance on an unknown writer; neither do story publications unless your story is badass and your writing has zero issues.

When looking at publications, the list of authors and stories are from previously published authors. The stories are rarely from authors who haven’t been published numerous times.

It feels like there’s fear in these magazines at taking a chance on an unpublished author, but there shouldn’t be.

Broaden the minds of the readers and give them a story from someone who would kill to be published.

 

Books, short stories, and…publication?

You reach a certain point as a writer when you know that you must put your work out for others to read, view, and absorb.

For me, this realization came after finishing the last book I wrote in December.

I realized after the last line was written that every book I’d written had moved me towards that point–I’ve written four–but living in fear of being judged for my writing kept me from publishing.

I’ve sent short stories out, but all of them have been sent back with a form letter.

This year, I have goals that need to be achieved. I will send off two books and wait to see if they’re picked up,

I will send off two books and wait to see if they’re picked up, I will write three books, write a bunch of short stories, which is what I do in between novels, and I will keep moving forward with my writing.

Writing keeps my brain working, it keeps my mind functioning on all cylinders and the thought of quitting now when I know that I’m better than I was only a year ago, is the driving force in my life.

I once wrote only for me and now that I’m writing full-time I need to put it out there.

In the next few months I’ll share details, but for now. I’m writing, working on getting published traditionally and making more art.

 

 

Achieving Goals in 2016.

I had a couple of goals for the past year. A few of them were sidetracked but I kept to them as much as I could.

I wanted to get in better shape, which I did through half the year, but faltered in the latter half. This was my fault and I take full responsibility for it.

I wanted to finish a book. I finished two.

I wanted to spend more time with my family, especially my wife.

I’ve done this. I was able to attend multiple field trips with my daughter and watch my son perform at his Christmas guitar concert.

I wanted to read a lot more. The only way to improve you writing is by reading.

I read 15 fiction book and 11 non-fiction, which I’ll list below.

Fiction: The Darkness that Comes Before – R. Scott Bakker, The Fireman – Joe Hill, The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty, Head Full of Ghosts – Paul Tremblay, Haunting of Hill House – Shirly Jackson, Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb, The Dragon Reborn – Robert Jordan, The Shadow Rising – Robert Jordan, The Magic of Recluse – L.E. Modesitt Jr., Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence, Magician: Apprentice – Raymond Feist, The Man in the High Castle – Phillip K. Dick, Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson.

I’m also reading The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin and should have it done by the end of the year.

Non-Fiction: Ask Gary V – Crush It – Jab, Jab, Right Hook all by Gary Vaynerchuck. The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy, The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster – Darren Hardy, Go For No – Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz,  Go Pro – Eric Worre, Grit – Angela Duckworth, Scrum – JJ Sutherland, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – Mark Manson, No God but God – Reza Aslan.

There are a couple of books from each of these lists that have either changed the way I write or the way I think.

From fiction: Head Full of Ghosts and Prince of Thorns. Both of these books gave me a new way to look at my writing and others writing, I would put Left Hand of Darkness on this list as well but I haven’t finished it and am only judging for the first two-thirds of the book.

From Non-Fiction: No God but God, Crush It and Grit. These three changed my brain about a few things.

No God but God gave me insight into Islam, a topic that is reported improperly in MSM. Islam is something I’ve wanted to learn more about and this was a good place to start. Crush It was the book that changed my mind about my writing and how hard I wasn’t working to achieve my goals. Grit helped me identify where I’m lacking in preparation for my writing.

I accomplished my goals for the most part, but I still have a couple things to improve.

Next year I’ll be publishing.

 

Monotony

We reach the world, cross the oceans and still there is nothing but gulls, laughter and the monotony of the world around us.

It suffocates, smothers and eliminates the breath.

Monotony is the greatest killer of creativity. It takes the best of us, covers it in petrol and lights it.

In the world we have, monotony makes us docile. It makes us easy to kill and in the end, we will be killed, we will die and the monotony will take us deeper into the cavern of loss.

Christmas Hope

Today, we went to Brio at Fashion Place Mall. It was something to remind us of Vegas and it’s a place our kids always enjoy.

We went in expecting a good meal and came out with something else, hope.

We’ve struggled financially since our move and we’ve been trying to make ends meet have a good Christmas .

My wife works full-time and I’m trying to get a book published and bartend on the side to make ends meet.

Today, after we ordered our appetizer and drinks, the waitress came over and told us someone was paying for our meal and that we should order whatever we want.

I tried not to cry.

While we’ve struggled to make ends meet, I’ve gone hungry and I’m sure my wife has as well so our kids could eat.

I haven’t been able to help as much financially as I had hoped when we first moved and money has been tight.

To the person who paid for our meal today, thank you so much.

Your gift has meant so much to my wife and I.

Merry Christmas,
Brian and Anita

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