Life

This year has been about regaining control over my life.

First, it started by fixing my writing.

I listened to myself when I was writing more often, thought through sentences more carefully, and paid attention when a story went off the rails.

Today my wife will be finishing her first read-through of a novel. I’ll start revising it next week.

I started a new novel yesterday.  I’m currently outlining it and creating a beat sheet.

It’s something different from my other stories, in structure and content.

Second, I’ve been exercising more.

The end of last year was a tough one. My brother passed away from an aneurysm.

Technically we weren’t blood, but he’ll always be my brother.

When he passed, I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself as well as I should.

I’ve worked to correct that.

I work out four to five days a week, restrict my caffeine intake and make sure I’m eating decently.

Third, I spend more time with my wife and kids.

Three years ago I lived in Las Vegas. I worked a job I hated and was stressed all the time.

The hours I worked made it nearly impossible to get any time with my wife and kids.

I’d spend a few days here and there with them but it wasn’t quality time. It was usually in a movie theater.

After we left Las Vegas our goal was for me to write more, spend more time with each other and give our kids a better environment.

We’ve managed to do all of those things.

I’ve written four novels since we moved, over a hundred short stories and with each I see improvement.

Our kids are doing better in school. My son almost made the honor roll, which was unheard of in Las Vegas.

We hike, spend time outside and sometimes we go to the movies. The movies used to be our family time. Now its secondary to doing other things.

I have no doubt I’ll be published soon. I know I’m in better physical and mental condition than I was three years ago.

My relationship with my kids and my wife is stronger than its ever been.

If we wouldn’t have left Las Vegas all of us would be miserable.

I fight my way through depression daily, my wife does too.

There are moments when life seems hard. At those moments I look around and compare the life I had three years ago to my current situation.

Things are better.

I took control of a lot of things this year. I’m also working harder at my prose than I thought possible. I never would have had the time to focus during our Las Vegas life.

Today, I have the time, the strength and the ability to push towards my goals.

It all started by taking control.

There are dreams in the world that happen because we take a chance.

We’re capable of doing great things, but there are moments when we falter.

The truth is, for most of us, fear runs our lives.

It keeps us from achieving greatness.

I used to be one of those people.

I feared people would read my writing and hate. But they’d judge me based only on my writing, not on who I am.

A year ago I sent off my first short story to a magazine. The rejections have come in ever since.

Not one of my stories has been picked up. I don’t know why, but I’ll keep going. I’ll keep improving. The only way to get published it to improve every day. The only way to do that is to write every day or if you’re not writing, at least be reading.

This year I sent off a novel. It’s been seen by three agents. Two of them still have it. The third sent a form rejection.

But I’m not stopping.

I have eight more agents on my list.

When I get rejections from all of them, I’ll shelve it and work on the other one.

I have a goal. It won’t be achieved until I’m published.

I’ve written seven novels, over 100 short stories.

Some of them good, some bad, but I keep writing.

I won’t accept being unpublished.

This year I’ve improved more than any year. My focus hasn’t wavered.

I’m starting another novel next month, another novel I’ll be editing, and few short stories I’ll be submitting.

This road doesn’t end until I’m published.

Sometimes we hit a rough patch.

And like all rough patches, they feel longer than they are.

We find ourselves traveling roads no one’s been. It feels harder, the terrain more difficult.

With each passing spray of dirt, we right ourselves. The correction may be difficult but it’s worth the effort.

Then we’re out off the rough patch, onto the main road and following until we reach our destination.

Sometimes the destination feels farther away than we first realized. We can see the light illuminating its top and we want to quit. We want to give up.

But when we’re traveling and hitting rough spots we’re still moving forward. We’re still traveling towards the light.

When we get stuck in the mud our faith in ourselves and our journey falters.

The mud covers our tires, buries them and then we’re only spinning.

Those are the times we look for someone who can help.

We have to find those people to get out of the mud. We’ll stand on the side of the road, hope they’re around the curve, wish for them to come around and sometimes they will.

Other times, we need to get a stick, place it under the tires or wrap a rope around a tree and pull ourselves out.

When we pull ourselves out its more difficult but the reward of doing ourselves feels better.

We won’t always have that person to pull us out of the mud. Finding a way out without needing someone to help us gives us hope. Hope that next time, we’ll do it again.

Living with constant depression is a battle each day.

There are moments where we get out of the mud, pull onto the main road, hit the gas and get closer.

Those days seem like their far apart some days, weeks, months but they are there.

We must reach the light on the hill.

With each passing day, each rejection letter or rejection form letter, I find myself narrowly continuing to write.

Yesterday, while I sat in the barber’s chair. I listened to my barber talking to a young kid.

At first, the kid said he wanted to be an apprentice.

As the conversation developed, the kid’s view changed.

My barber is a smart dude.

He knows what he’s talking about. I enjoy the conversation in the shop as much as the haircut.

When I was this kid’s age (21) I had no idea what I wanted to do.

It took me until I was in my thirties before I knew I wanted to write full-time. Now I write full time, don’t get paid for it and enjoy my life more than I ever have.

Sure, sometimes we struggle, but the moments when I write something that resonates with my wife, those make this worth it.

I bartend to make ends meet. My wife had a good job that allows me to write full-time.

When we left Las Vegas three years ago, we knew it was time to get out.

I knew I couldn’t do another year in Vegas.

I dealt with severe depression, a job I hated and an environment that wasn’t good for my kids.

Three years on, I’m getting better.

I’ve written four novels in the last three years. I have one being queried another I’m editing and I work on short stories daily.

The way you look at life matters.

Three years ago, we arrived at my mother-in-law’s, our belongings in storage, it took me two months to find a bartending gig.

We hadn’t anticipated that it would be hard for me to find a bartending gig after seventeen years on the Las Vegas strip.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen the places I work.

For the longest time, I was afraid of getting my work out there. But I have a wife and two kids who need me to keep going.

I need to show my kids that you can do what you want in this life if you work for it.

They need to know that hard work pays off.

The last three years have been difficult, there’s no doubt about that, but without difficulties, life wouldn’t feel as good when we reach our goals.

I’ll continue writing because I like it and it’s one of a few things I’m good at. Bartending and being a dad are some of those things.

Life matters, no matter how hard it gets, life matters.

This past week my family and I took a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood.

It’s something I’d planned since last year and it was our kid’s choice.

Each summer our kids spend two weeks with my parents.

This past summer was no different.

When our kids came home I gave them three options for a trip this summer. Chicago, Washington D.C. or Universal Studios to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

They chose Harry Potter.

We arrived at Universal and for some reason, I was in a bad mood. All of the first day I was an asshole to my wife, son, and daughter, but mostly to my son.

That night my wife called me out on it and I hadn’t thought I had been any different. I believed it was the kids who were acting up.

After sleeping that night and contemplating the previous day during my morning meditation, I realized I’d been an ass.

After everyone was ready, I apologized to my family, giving my son special attention that day to make up for my attitude the previous day.

After four years of transcendental meditation, dealing with recurring depression and thoughts of giving up on writing, I sometimes lose my way.

I tell you this because no matter how much better we think we’re getting, we slip sometimes.

There are days when life feels harder than it should be. Those days should make the other days better.

Sometimes they do.

There is always the nagging of depression. Fighting it every day feels like a chore, but its better than the alternative.

Doubt has crept into my mind recently.

It rears its head when I get a rejection notice or an agent doesn’t reply at all.

My head screws with me. Tells me that I need to quit and get a real job. It says I should do more to support my family.

My wife tells me to keep writing and without her, I don’t know what I’d do.

Last week she corrected me on my attitude. This week she told me to keep going.

Today I feel better, but I know doubt and depression could creep in at any moment.

I try to keep my head above the pit and continue to write.

Short stories and improving have been my goal this summer.

I’m getting better and I’m querying a novel with multiple agents at the moment.

Today, I’ll be bartending at an event and think about what I should be writing tomorrow.

Every day is a blessing and I’m not done yet.

There comes a time when we must challenge ourselves.

This challenge comes after months of thinking.

Sometimes, at least with me, it comes from dealing with depression and a feeling that I should quit and get a real job.

The challenge is this: take 3 months to improve your writing.

Ask those who read your work what you’re poor at and take 3 months to get better on those things.

I did this last year and I improved more in those 3 months than the previous 3 years.

This year I’ll push myself harder to get where I need to be because I won’t quit.

I’m unpublished but not for long.

In order for me to do this I have to take a break for social media.

My site isn’t a part of social media and now that I’m using it again, I’ll keep going.

As for other social media, the break begins this week.

I know where my writing suffers. I understand that getting better at the craft must happen in order to be published.

Have a good Tuesday and I’ll keep you updated.

There are those who say that we don’t put enough effort into the things we want. They haven’t lived our lives.

People don’t understand where we’ve been.

There isn’t a VR for that, yet.

What we can do is push towards our goals,

We can contribute to the world around us by writing, creating, living, enjoying, and thriving.

Pushing towards our goals, regardless of whether there is a choice in our lives don’t matter.

What matters is how we make people feel.

It matters when you say good morning to someone. It matters when you call your parents after not talking to them. Sure, you can text them, but calling them, they love that.

Make your way towards what you want.

Let life set a path for you and follow it until you attain your goals.