Removing the Negatives

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I’ve had a rough time the last week or so. I don’t know why that is, but everything feels like it’s falling down around me and I’m the only one paying attention.

I know this is my depression issues setting in. Then there’s a bunch of family drama that I have zero time for. People that won’t get vaccinated, that kind of shit. My daughter can’t get vaccinated so I’m wary of anyone who refuses the vaccine. They’re also the ones who don’t wear masks.

But I digress.

My depression issues are something I’ve explored on here more times that I can count. With its reemergence comes the time to evaluate where I’m putting my energy.

I think about these people I care about too much sometimes. When they act a certain way, I try and discount it because I know they’re intelligent, but yeah, no time for that shit.

I’ve cut people out when they’ve shown who they are before, and I have no problem with cutting out others.

These are the negatives I’ve dealt with over the last week, as well as the fraud police showing up every time I open my laptop.

I finished a short story yesterday, and another last week, but they’ve been in my head constantly.

I have a novella that I need to finish editing this week and its been difficult to manage all of this.

There are times I’ve thought of quitting, considered stopping writing because I’d like to help out my wife and kids more money wise, and I’m really not enjoying bartending lately. No one is wearing a mask, no one appears to care about those of us on the front lines.

Hell, I bartended last summer during the darkest moments of the pandemic because I had to.

This mental health break I’m taking from events has been nice, but I’m so tired of worrying whether I’ll bring something home to my daughter. The stress of that will lower when she can get the vaccine next month, but damn I’m tired of people not caring.

I’ll be limiting the negatives for the foreseeable future. No bullshit texts, removing those I’m following who don’t offer me anything, something I should’ve done a while ago.

Removing the negatives starts with identifying where you’re stress lies. I know it’s from family bullshit, so I’ll be limiting that.

I know it’s from the fraud police, I don’t know how to fix that, other than to work on myself and my goals, so that’s what I’ll do.

Have a good week.

About Progress…

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There’s a moment when you finish a project that feels extraordinary. It comes at you, wraps you in a hug, and gives you endorphin high. But that high isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.

The moment is magical, but it’s also one that you shouldn’t focus on. There is still other work to be done.

When I started writing I lived for that high. I’ve written 11 novels, ten novellas, and hundreds of short stories.

I did this by focusing only on that high. Only on finishing. What I failed to learn, until recently, was that I wasn’t finished. The editing would come after the finished first draft. But for the longest time I didn’t edit, which is why I have so many novels written, but none published.

I chased the high of finishing that first draft, but I didn’t have follow through. I stopped at the gates of what I wanted and moved further away from my goals, all by ignoring what needed to be done.

In the last year and half, I learned that editing matters. Yes, I know you’re all staring at this like, “no shit!” Well, I didn’t care then. I wanted that high of getting to the next “finished” novel.

When I sat down last year, during the lock-down and stared at all that I’d accomplished, it wasn’t shit. Yes I have my short story collection, but I published that afterwards. It came as a result of this talk I had with myself. It counts, but only as me telling myself that I had to publish something before my 45th birthday.

The collection needed work and I’ve gone through a couple of more rounds of edits with it. While it’s out there, no one is reading it. I understand the reasons for this.

I haven’t pushed it as much as I should. I didn’t market it, and because of that, I’ve sold about ten copies. But I understand what I did wrong with that collection. I know what to fix when I publish something else.

All of the above came as I progressed as a writer.

I know that a book isn’t finished when the first draft is written. I understand that working on a book means editing.

There are moments when I don’t want to edit. There are many moments when the time I’m spending feels worthless.

Oftentimes submitting feels worthless, but I do it because it’s part of progress. It’s part of writing, and I have to keep writing.

We progress a little at a time. Sometimes we progress dramatically, but we must progress. We must move forward.

Enveloped by Darkness

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There is something to be said about discovering ones purpose.

It brings out thoughts of childhood, of adolescence, and early adulthood.

Memories flood in of things we thought, feelings we had for others, or ourselves. But it’s within these memories the truth comes out.

We’ve pushed those memories deep to keep them from ourselves because honestly, they’re too hard to deal with. But with hiding things from others, ourselves, and keeping them that way until a sudden realization comes about, we never truly understand who we are.

This darkness that’s enveloped me since childhood was a thing I pushed down. Something I didn’t want to see the light for a few reasons.

I grew up in a very religious community.

Living in Utah is like watching a movie about a religion and never being allowed to turn it off. Being a person who is not a member of that community is a careful dance. One can’t commit to too many things. You can’t afford to show your true colors, and you must never show any glimmer of darkness.

My darkness has been around since childhood.

It manifested every time I wanted read or watch something I wasn’t allowed to, but would sneak to watch or read. It was the times I’d stay up when I was left alone and watch Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside, and whatever other show was on cable or other channels late at night.

In Tim S. Grover’s book “Relentless” he discusses the dark side and how everyone has a dark side.

I’ve listened to that book on audio at least ten times, and believed that a person’s dark side had to be a vice.

I recently had a discussion with my wife on this topic. She believed it had to be a vice as well.

But what if it’s not?

He says in the book that “what is the one thing that if people were to know it they’d look at you differently?”

Now, I believed it to be alcohol, like a vice, but I don’t feel that’s true anymore.

The one thing that I’ve kept to myself is that I like all these dark things. I like to watch a horror movie and be scared. I enjoy reading a book that scares me enough, or freaks me out enough, to toss it across the room after finishing it. I did that exact thing when I finished “The Girl Next Door” by Jack Ketchum.

There is a story in my collection where I let my mind run and what I wrote freaked me out. It was very exciting to me that I wrote something that made me afraid to share it. And that is exactly why “The Leftovers” is in my collection.

That story felt freeing.

There were things in that story that I didn’t want to write, but I felt in order to be honest about the story I had to.

Now, as I’ve apparently accepted my dark side and that I’m no longer afraid to go dark, what I write may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I don’t want to write for anyone else. I want to write what felt forbidden. Pull things from the dark recesses and put them on the page.

If you’ve read “The Leftovers” you understand what I’m talking about. If not the collection is only .99 on Kindle.

As I go back to the regularly scheduled program, I leave you with this. What is the one thing that if someone were to know it they’d look at you differently?

Use that to push yourself. I got looked at differently all my life for all the dark things I love. But it’s made me into the functioning adult I am.

Have a good weekend.

The terror sets in…

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It happens when I least expect it…what if.

I’m writing whatever is the project and those words pop in. What if this project does well? What will I do if that happens?

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot after Stokercon. Watching all the other writers. Writers I’ve read, writers I’ve listened to during other events or classes. What if I get to that point? What will I do?

I know it’s a trivial thing. Most of us never make it to the mountain top. Some of us are left at the base camp, cleaning our boots, and sharpening our ice axe for the next ascent.

The events like Stokercon remind me that others are working day jobs, just like me. They’re out there teaching classes, bartending, or working in retail.

I like to write. I enjoy the craft more than anything I’ve done in my life, I mean anything. I’d rather be at my desk working on a project than at any sporting event, concert, or anything similar. There is nothing like that feeling of creating a story.

I bartend because it helps pay the bills. I used to like it. At one point in time I enjoyed making drinks. That time left years ago. Now it’s not very fun. During Covid, it’s been horrific.

I’m good at bartending though and that’s where the problem is. I know my cocktails, know the history of some types of alcohol, where they’re made, why they’re made in that place, and I can tell the difference between various types of whiskeys. But it’s not what I enjoy. It’s not what makes me want to get up in the morning.

I wake with a determined heart every morning, focused on whatever story I need to finish, or add to.

It’s these little moments of terror that remind me I have a ways to go yet and a lot more work to do.

I know at some point all of this will pay off.

I feel that there are points, forks in roads, and I’ve crossed a few off recently.

But I know it’s the start of a long weekend for most, so I won’t keep you.

Enjoy your holiday and I’ll see you Tuesday.

About long breaks…

I took a break from this blog for a while to work on things.

If you follow me on social media, you saw my post. I have been working on this collection for most of the summer and another project that fell apart.

The latter of these things made me realize a few things about myself and my writing. I am really good at writing short horror stories. But when it comes to a longer form of horror, I have trouble. let me explain.

From April 4th to May 4th I wrote the first draft of a 100,000 word novel.

This novel is different from anything I’d written prior, and it is the only novel I’ve followed a beat sheet and outline to the letter.

It is a very strong first draft. Possibly the best first draft of a novel I’ve ever written. I owe that to the set up with the outline and beat sheet.

The book will be coming out in January and it is not horror.

When I was a teenager I read the military and political thrillers that were popular in the late 80’s and 90’s by authors like Tom Clancy.

At the time I wasn’t allowed to read any other books, or at least that’s how it felt. Any time I asked to read something other than those books, my father rebuffed me and it was only in my room where I could read the books I wanted to read; horror, comics, fantasy, and science fiction being my favorites.

When I began to write my own stories I swore I’d never create worlds like Clancy’s. This came about because of the way I feel towards me father(he and I don’t have a relationship).

With the books I felt I had to read it was about control and I have an issue with being controlled, as we all should.

I believe that by allowing the way I was treated to enter into my head, it stopped me from following a path that maybe I should have followed.

The first idea I had for a novel was along the lines of the military/political thriller, but I closed myself off to that because of the trauma I experienced growing up. In other words, I allowed it to stop my creativity because I worried old feelings would come back.

Now it comes back around to the novel I’ll be self-publishing in January. There are other novels I’m currently writing or ideas I’m pondering contained within the same world.

It is a change that maybe I needed to do. I believe by allowing myself to be stopped creatively because of past trauma, I rejected stories which I would have enjoyed as well as ones that would push me.

Today, I’m moving forward with these books because I really enjoy writing them more than anything else. I consider myself a writer who does not limit themselves to one genre. I will write in whichever genre a story comes to me, I only wish I knew why I had such a difficult time with creating outlines for horror novels.

Maybe this is just a learning experience and I need to figure it out at another time, but for now I’ll write these political/military thrillers because they give me a joy that I’ve rarely found in writing.

Here is the link for the short story collection. I hope you enjoy the stories. There are some dark ones in there and I enjoyed writing each of them.