Change is coming…

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I’ve been in a very depressed state for the last three months. It started with my writing not going anywhere. It moved on from that onto my oldest having issues at school. They graduate this year and ran into some issues in February. From there my mind was thrown off and I haven’t written anything I’ve really enjoyed since.

I have a novel out with my editor and will continue to use this editor. She’s been awesome and understands the characters. Her going over my draft has been one of the brightest points of the last three months. The rest of it has been shit.

I have six projects in one form or another moving along, but getting fresh words on them are the hardest things I’ve done in a long time.

Long time readers of this blog know that I equate depression to living in pit. The walls are slick with mud and slime. It is hardest thing to climb out of because of those walls. I’ve had many thoughts of self-harm over these three months. I’m working through all of it but damn getting out of the pit is hard.

I’ve also quit drinking. This time for good. I can’t drink. It’s something that I’ve fought with over the last three years. It finally came to head around my birthday in March. I can’t in good conscience drink alcohol and fell good about who I am as person.

I no longer want to be in this situation. I’m working to improve my mental as well as physical well being. I will be using this blog to refocus my energy and to use it how I’d initially intended it. To write about my problems. I know it’s sometimes depressing to read about how someone is struggling, but I know there are people out there who are comforted and feel less alone by reading my words. I’ve had numerous people tell me so.

But I am on to the next page. I will be here more often and my content will change a little bit, but I’ll always talk about writing. It’s the one thing that keeps me going.

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You have to put a book away sometimes.

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Last year I struggled to read books. I started strong but got stuck along the way. I’m certain I know which book did it: Lonesome Dove.

Don’t get me wrong I loved the book, but I felt like I read it for months. I’m feeling the same way with The Brothers Karamazov. Which I’ll be setting aside for a while. I finished Lonesome Dove last month, followed quickly by Streets of Laredo which was a good book, but it’s not the same as Lonesome Dove.

I need to read something fun. Dostoevsky is not fun. I’m enjoying reading about the characters but feel like so much is dragging on about various story threads. It feels closer to a bunch of stories put together to form a book rather than a novel with cohesion. I don’t care for the story, but the prose is incredible. There’s a difference.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I picked up a couple of books recently and I’m a subscriber to the Nightworms monthly book box. I received last month’s books and haven’t touched them because I’ve been reading Karamazov.

I recently finished watching the Reacher show on Prime and while I’ve read the first book, I haven’t read any of the others. I think I’ll read some of them for a while, then read the Nightworms books.

It’s okay to put a book down if you’re feeling overwhelmed, bored, not digging the story, or that you’d rather brush your teeth than go through another paragraph. Read what you want to read and read for enjoyment, not for a number.

Anyway, I enjoyed the Reacher show. I’m glad they’re going to do another season. I’m going to read something fun for a while. Dostoevsky feels like schoolwork.

Taking your time and getting through the drafts.

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Through trial and error, I’m discovering that I need to take more time with a story before I commit to writing. This comes as I’m working on the 3rd rewrite and 6th draft of this story.

I don’t take enough time to figure everything out. I jump in feet first and don’t think about it. It takes me more drafts to do that and as I worked on the story this morning I’m understanding the story better. It could be the draft number, but I’m realizing more about the story I didn’t see before.

I won’t get into the specifics because I’m submitting the story again this year, but it’s about more than I thought it was. Parts of it are personal, others are just the story, but I hope it finds a home.

But I digress.

When I take my time I understand the story, and while it takes a few years, it’s a better story for it. The current story started a couple of years ago as a short story. It’s changed what it is, but the meat is still in it and the heart continues to beat.

Getting through each draft is the maddening part of it. My wife thinks I should outline and narrow the scope to reduce the number of drafts. Some stories don’t let me do that. I know the story’s bones when I sit down. That’s not all the time, but usually, I construct the rest of the story around those bones. When I don’t know it I may sketch the thought down, just to have a record of it. I’ll work with that thought over a few weeks. If I have enough I’ll get to work. If not it sits.

The problem is jumping into a story without having those bones, ligaments, tendons. The heart may be there, but it’s a lifeless, grey thing without the other parts.

I’m trying to slow down with these drafts and construct something better.

I have to get other things done today. I hope you’re all well and I’ll see you on Friday.

There is a bit of transference…

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I’m going to continue on this tangent about books.

I’ve dropped reading Horror for a little while to work on my craft. I’m finding that when I read better writing my writing improves. I’ve ignored this for a while as I knew it happened, as it’s happened before, but I really like horror.

My current read is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. While reading it I’m realizing a few things about my own writing as well as ways to improve my craft. These things have to do with paragraphs and how to structure them. The problem is I’ve written a blog for so long that what I do on here flows into my other writing. The short clipped sentences you’re “supposed” to use in blogs made their way into my novel writing.

When I discovered this I knew I had to change a lot of my writing. The latest rejection told me that there were a lot of single-sentence paragraphs, which I knew came from my blog writing. I will be adjusting this and you will see that adjustment. I’m trying to get the length correct and keep to one idea within each paragraph. I’m aware this is how paragraphs should work but the way I used to right created problems and I’ve fixed them along the way to where I am. These adjustments took time to break and I’m still working on them.

Now I love horror, but sometimes the language and the structure isn’t as good in horror as it is in other fiction. There are writers whose prose baffles me. I’ll look at some writer’s work and think, “damn I can’t do that.” Afterward, I think, but I’m going to work on it until I can. That is my goal in this art, to get better.

I know this is a bit different for me, but I’ll continue to write on this blog, it may come across a bit different as I work on my craft issues. I hope you’ll stay as adjustments are made.

Comes a time…

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I wrote a lot of blog posts last week while in isolation. I started the rewrite for a story I mentioned in this post and I’m moving forward.

I’d had an issue with a certain part of the story. I thought about that story through the weekend and found some new ground within its borders. I figured out how to make it work while incorporating a story I wrote a few years ago into its borders.

The story itself ran into difficulties while I wrote it and I came to understand there was something missing. A larger story was missing and the novella will be novel.

I’m making an effort to take it slow with this story, something I talked about on Friday.

I’m also doing something that felt odd until I noticed an improvement while doing it.

I see places in my head but can’t get them down as well with my eyes open. It’s only when I close them that I see the story better, so I’m doing that.

When I sat down to write this morning the words came darker, more evocative of what I want for the story. They’re better words and I’m sure my patience with the story is helping a lot with that. Patience isn’t always my strong suit. I’m always in a hurry to get to the next story, but I’m going to slow down. Take it in smaller steps to finish this one.

The incorporation of this short story into the larger frame of the novella adds more to the story and while it makes it darker it also changes one of the aspects of the story I didn’t like as I mentioned above.

There are many aspects of this story I love. The main character and what he’s dealing with are the biggest as I can relate to some of it.

We find ourselves in our stories often. Sometimes it’s little things, this is a bigger one for me.

I’m hoping to submit it later this year. I have four other projects out on submission and I hope to hear something about them soon. I’ll let you know when I do, but for now I’ll keep working on this one. If you’re curious, here is the playlist on Spotify for this one.

Happy writing.