Getting past the book hangover

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There are two types of book hangovers I’ve dealt with and I’ll talk about them today.

Let’s start with the one that everyone, at least if you’re a reader, has dealt with. I’ll go into more detail about the other one in a minute.

The Readers Hangover

Have you ever read a book, finished it, thought about it for days, then realize you hadn’t started new reading material?

If so, this is for you.

Most of us who read regularly have dealt with this. It usually happens after a particularly engaging read.

This engagement may fall into a couple of categories, but because I’m a horror writer, I’ll stick to the way horror does this.

It could be after a book that upsets the hell out of you. For me the book that did this was The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. I know this is a book that is suggested by many people, but step warily into this one, for it will do some damage to your psyche.

The thing about this book is the writing. Ketchum’s storytelling is incredible and it pulls you into a story that is unbelievable in its disturbing depictions. I won’t spoil it, but you feel complicit in what happens within its pages. It is an amazing book, but it’s not for everyone. I know quite a few horror readers who didn’t finish it and I understand.

I checked it out from the library and tossed it across the room a couple of times.

Then there’s the books that terrify in other ways.

Pet Semetary by Stephen King and The Reddening by Adam L.G. Neville did this. The Reddening was a book that I had trouble finishing because of a certain scene. My wife felt the same way. It’s one of those scenes where you wish you could pull the character out of the book to save them. Pet Semetary is a book that even King says he kept in a drawer because he felt it was too dark. There are moments in that book that truly scared the hell out of me.

Now there’s the books that you feel uncomfortable with. These are the hardcore horror.

Books like Urban Gothic by Brian Keene, The Resurrectionist by Wrath James White, and anything by Edward Lee. I have read the first two, but haven’t dipped my toes into Edward Lee out of fear, and a bit of worry. I’ve read the comments on his books, and the scare me.

Let’s move onto the other type of hangover. This one is for the writers.

The Finished Story Hangover.

You’ve finished a story. It could be a novel, novella or short story, but something happened while you wrote it.

It either took you to a darker place than you’ve been, made you rethink your life(as some stories do), or you confronted something within yourself.

This first part is difficult to get out of. You did some things in that story you’re uncomfortable with. You either don’t want to show it someone, like King did with Pet Semetary, or you wonder about what people will think about what you’ve written. The most important way to get out of this one is to not care what others think about what you write.

The second part usually deals with something about our beliefs. This is one each of us must deal with and while we’re dealing with it we’ll read scripture if we’re into that or philosophy. But pulling us out of that hangover is difficult.

That last is possibly the most difficult, at least for me it has been. You must face something you see in yourself. The confrontation for this disrupts the natural flow of your personal perception.

You may not understand why it came out in your writing, but now that it has you have to confront it, but you don’t want to. Seeing yourself differently after living however long you’ve lived changes something and I think improves who you are as a person.

All of these hangovers are subjective to you as the reader or writer and they don’t define who you are. The hangover is there because you read, or wrote something that changed you and that’s what the medium is for.

I hope you have a great rest of your day. I am reading Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby and I know it will give me a hangover. His last book Blacktop Wasteland did.

Getting on sure footing

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Let’s face it, I haven’t been doing well.

If you’ve read my posts over the last few weeks you know that, but I’d like to say I figured out my new project, and while I may need assistance with parts of it, I like where it may be going.

I’m also reading “Suburban Gothic” by Brian Keene and Bryan Smith. I read Urban Gothic last October and well, that was one way to start with Brian Keene’s work. I’d recommend “Ghoul” instead.

But I digress.

Since I’ve learned a lot over the last few weeks about myself and how I need to manage certain aspects of my writing, as well as my life, I need to get something off my chest.

I’ve been drinking to get through this shit. I don’t know why, but that’s what it is.

I’ve put it away to focus on this story and my mental health, which sometimes goes hand in hand. I also intend to submit the novella soon. I’d intended to do it this week, but my wife is busy, and depending on what happens next week, she’ll be busier.

I was in a bad place for most of the last three weeks, maybe a month, and it’s been difficult to function.

I’m working through some shit and it’s been difficult, but writing is what keeps me sane, as well as above ground. There are many ways to get through depression and alcohol and brooding over shit is not the way to do it.

This new project is going to help, and as I said Wednesday, I’m skipping some levels on this project and will have to go to a very dark place to get there. Which is one of the reasons I’m reading “Suburban Gothic.”

I hope you have good weekend, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll chat with you on Monday.

Optimism and Doubt

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If you talk to me about anything besides writing, I’m optimistic as hell.

For some reason when it comes to writing the optimism goes out the window. It doesn’t matter that I’ve written 11 books, 5 novellas, and over a hundred short stories. When I sit down in the chair to work in the morning, doubt is the first thing in my mind.

Nowhere has this been evident than in the current project. I’m in the beginning stages of it, but the feelings that I can’t write it, that writing it will take me to a really dark place, and it’s all because of the subject matter, which is to say it lightly darker than I’ve gone before.

One thing about writing horror is that the dark is my safe space. I love to watch scary movies, read scary books, and sometimes play scary video games.

But the doubt that I can’t create this story the way it needs to be written has me doubting writing it at all, which would be a travesty since I feel the idea is awesome.

I’ve told my wife this story will have me skipping some levels. I won’t just be doing things in the dark like some of my stories, they’ll be out front for the whole world to see, which is scary.

My wife told me that with the subject matter, she probably won’t be reading this one, and I’m cool with that.

I have trouble reading some extreme horror, and it’s because it don’t enjoy it. I have set books down that took me somewhere my mind didn’t want to go, and there are authors I won’t read because I don’t enjoy what they write, but some people do and that’s okay.

When it comes to optimism I have the lion’s share with the pandemic, when a family member is sick, or anything else in my personal life, but trusting my gut is harder when it involves writing a type of horror that is on the outside of what makes me comfortable to write.

Writing is about boundaries, at least for me, and knocking those boundaries down can be difficult, as can taking the story slower than I usually do. Having written three novellas in the last three months has me wanting to move quick through the story, but this one can’t be rushed.

I usually sit down, turn on Mac Freedom, set a timer for 25 minutes and write, with this one that’s been difficult, but I’ll keep going because not writing isn’t an option.

As I get past this boundary I know it will make me a better writer, and less afraid of writing out of comfort zone. This one is so far beyond my comfort zone that my optimism took a hit, but I’ll keep going.

Hope you’re all having a great week, and I’ll talk on Friday about something else.

Keep rolling

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Withing in the spectrum of who we are, what we do, and solve our problems, there is a movement.

It depends on our deepest fears, our darkest desires, and without these movements we are flat.

The movement is a random act of falling into our projects, our journeys, or lives.

It can push us to the limits of our abilities, or in the worst of times, push us into the pit.

Within the movement are the clockwork parts. These are the items within our mind that pushes us to new heights, or when we’re depressed, anxiety raises its head and there’s only the thoughts of despair, it will drag us down.

These are the bottom movements. They are the worst parts of trying to attain what we want. They keep us stuck in the same place, deny us our desires, and restrict our goals.

Getting out from under these restrictions, denials, is the most difficult thing we can push through. We have to get through the bottom part of these movement to the top.

At the top of the movement, like the top of the clock, is the beginning of our new journey.

It’s where we can be our most creative. Where the lights come one. It may feel like we’re not all there, but digging out from the pit, reaching the top of the movement, it’s the creative place. Where we need to be in order to make our place, make our stand and rectify our thoughts.

These creative fluctuations are normal, they keep us moving to the next project, the new thing.

Some projects may give us a hangover, but the next day we must get to the desk, easel, or the stage. Keeping the clock in rotation engages the part of our mind where our goals are at the forefront of who we are,

Limiting our mind is the way to limit our goals and where we want to be.

Push forward, go stronger, get better, keep the clock rolling.

Going it alone

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I’ve reached a point with my writing where I have to do some of this alone. I don’t have anyone to read my drafts other than myself.

My wife, who is usually my first reader no longer has time to read anything of mine. It sucks, but she pays the majority of our bills and its not worth forcing the issue.

I gave her a novella in July and she never got to it. So, I have to move forward doing this myself.

I’ve mentioned we can’t afford an expensive editor. This is me going it alone on all of my projects going forward.

I’ve looked at an editor for my military/political thriller, but it’s also 86k and the editors I looked at on Reedsy wanted over a thousand dollars for that. We can’t afford that.

This problem led me to reevaluate my writing goals numerous times, and even contemplate quitting altogether. When we don’t feel like we’re getting the support we need, the world feels like its on fire and we can’t locate a fire extinguisher. At least that’s how it feels to me.

Today I finished the edits on a novella, which means I ran it through Grammarly and the Hemingway app. I know that’s not ideal, but it’s all I have.

Going it alone is depressing. Now that my time away from doing events nears its end, I have to go back to dealing with people not wearing masks in a state with 1500 new cases as of today, 25% of those in kids, with the majority of them in the 0-3 years old range.

I don’t know another way, but going it alone is better than quitting. I may submit the novella as is. I don’t really want to, but I’m leaving that open as an option.

My hope in this working alone is that it represents a changing in how I approach my writing and how I approach everything else, which falls in line with my post from Monday.

I’m still eliminating the toxicity, and I feel better, but there are moments, like today, where I wonder if I would be better off quitting trying to publish my writing. I can’t stop writing, but working to get published became something more daunting recently.

I’ll keep going, but damn I wish I had some assistance.