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.

Focus is the issue

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As I sat down to write this morning I’d stop, check Twitter, and maybe go back to the story.

I’ve been doing this for the last week with every story I started.

Yes, what I said on Friday is true. When I’m not enjoying my reading material, I have trouble writing. And I must be reading within the genre I’m writing. I cannot cross the streams.

There it is in all of it’s horrible glory. I have a focus issue. I have Freedom for Mac and I’ve been neglecting using it for a number of reasons, let’s list them:

  1. I don’t want to use it because it feels like a crutch.

2. Using it feels like there’s something wrong with me.

3. I tell myself I don’t need to use it, but when I have this much trouble focusing, something has to change.

4. get interrupted by my kids a lot in the morning for various things. Then I have to stop it or let it run.

Now that they will be returning to in class instruction it will make the mornings easier, but I’ve also written with no problems while they’ve been home for the last year and a half.

It’s right now that things are a bit hectic with them going back, my wife crazy busy, and the bartending is slowing down heading into September.

There’s also one thing that has been on my mind: We’re getting a dog in the near future and planning for that in our house has been interesting. I have to fix cords, put things away and I worry about my book storage. It will be like a having a toddler in the house again.

So, focus is the issue, and the fraud police, as I stated in Friday’s post.

I only have a short story collection published, but I have a novella on submission and a short story. But as I’ve written 11 books, submitted three of them to agents, I find it hard to wonder if I’m doing something wrong.

Are my stories bad? Is there something I’m doing wrong or is my head just screwing with me?

I like to think it’s the latter, but with as many novels, novellas, and short stories I’ve submitted and received rejections, it’s a thing my brain throws at me.

I’ll keep writing because I can’t not write. Right now it’s difficult, but I will persevere, I will continue to write.

I hope you all have a good week.

I have two bartending gigs this week and while I’m masked during them, it’s starting to feel like Survivor: Pandemic Edition. Masks are rarely worn by guests and with the percentage of vaccinated in Utah, I doubt all of them are vaccinated.

But I’ll keep working because my family needs me to.

Lack of motivation is killing me

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For the last week I have had zero motivation to write. I have submitted a story, but I haven’t had motivation to continue anything I’ve started.

I’m not sure why this is. Oftentimes it has something to do with what I’m reading.

I had an idea to start another Grimdark novel, so I started reading Grimdark, but that’s grown boring and I returned to reading “Let The Right One In.”

I’ve seen both versions of the movie, and maybe that’s screwing me up in my reading of the book. If you haven’t watched either movie, they’re both good, and while I like the actors better in the Swedish version, I felt some of the scenes in the American version were better. Either way, you won’t be disappointed, especially if you like vampires.

But having scene both versions, I know too much about the story and when that happens the reading gets boring. I think the writing is great, however, I feel that having scene both movies, the story is too well known to me and I won’t be finishing it. Which I want to, but won’t. I’ve found it’s not worth forcing yourself through a story you’re reading just to have it listed on Goodreads as something you’ve read. I learned that from reading House of Leaves.

I have numerous books, some from my Nightworms subscription and others that I’ve purchased.

This lack of motivation crept its way into my bartending gig and the lack of motivation to deal with rich, entitled people and their weddings during Covid has reached its zenith and I find myself wanting to take a break from doing events but am financially unable to do so.

When you work catering events you’re going to deal with people who have more money than sense. There were 160 people at the event and the probability that they were all vaccinated in these United States is not good.

The event last night felt like one I did last summer, with a similar guest count. It was soon after that we stopped doing events with a large guest count.

I don’t want to say this summer is feeling like early last summer, but that’s how it feels. I like doing events. I like bartending, but I loath the people withe more money than sense.

But I digress.

I will change my reading material to something else because Let The Right One In is not doing it for me because I know the story so well.

I need to get back on track. When I’m lost like this those old thoughts come back. The feelings of I’m not good enough. The idea that someone will come and tell me I’m not good enough and I should stop submitting creep in.

I hate those feelings. They make me feel worthless!

But on to other things, better things. I have a couple of events this weekend and I’m hoping they go better than the last one.

Bending the Spoon

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We reach a point in our minds where there are two worlds, the daytime regular everything and the written worlds within our minds.

The surrender of which world we’d like to live in exists somewhere in there. It comes and goes, but its there.

The story drives it and that story pushes the boundaries of whether we consider ourselves sane. It can be all consuming. Taking all of our time, energy, and often, patience.

There are two stories within this.

There is the act of ignoring the story, and may disappear from wherever stories come from, or it may stay. That depends on the writer and how much they love the story.

This idea of love of one’s writing is not something a non-writer will understand, hell, a non-creative won’t understand it. I don’t understand it sometimes.

But there is a love of our stories. It’s why we choose to keep it on our hard drives and not send it into the world.

The second part is fear.

We choose to live in fear of what others will say about our stories because the fear is like a warm blanket. It’s this fear that keeps us writing, but it also inhibits our growth as writers. For if we choose to keep our writing to ourselves we hinder its ability to move people. Which is what we want.

We want what we write to move people either spiritually or emotionally. It’s the reason so many of the top rated books in any genre have moved us to tears.

There is something else to this.

We have to move the way we see ourselves and our writing if we’re to ever do anything with it. Which may lead us to into a place where we’re no longer comfortable.

We must stretch our legs and write things we needed to write. Stories about our childhood that only we will see. Novels that only we will read.

There is a point in our writing where a story comes along, we finish it and have hope for it but after looking at our other work, it doesn’t fit. It’s completely outside our normal range of work.

But in writing that story we’ve exorcised a few demons. We’ve completed a story we don’t see.

We’ve move forward along our timeline in a way that makes us understand that it’s not the story that’s changed, but ourselves.