Are you working hard enough?

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When I contemplated giving up writing, I wondered if the problem was my work ethic.

This is never a question at my day job. It’s never been a question for any job I’ve ever worked, at least not since I grew up, which is a subjective statement.

Each of us grow up differently.

My wife was more mature than I was when we started dating. I am aware that it took me a while to understand a few things. It’s not that I’m not smart, it had to do more with who we are as people. It had to do with our life experiences. My wife went to college straight from high school. I did a year of college and hated it. There are many instances of this in our relationship.

She’s told my I intimidate her because of how my mind works, which makes me uncomfortable. There are other instances, but I digress.

Why do I have this trouble with my writing when it’s not in any other job?

Let’s analyze:

  • Imposter syndrome is a big one for me. I often wonder if there’s something else I should be doing. That I don’t owe it to my writing to focus as much as I know I should.
  • Not setting work hours. I do that with my current project, but once I’m done for the day I put everything away and do something else. I know this is the wrong approach, but I guess there’s a part of me that has difficulty accepting what I’m doing. It’s the guy part. The part that says I should be working. That I should be making money to support my family. That’s the big one.
  • Putting away things that get in the way. This has a bit to do with my day job and how I’m not really happy with it. I feel my day job gets in the way of my writing. It stresses me out more than the writing that’s for certain.
  • Exhaustion from working late night events. This is a big one. I am tired as hell some days and pulling myself out of bed at 6:00 am when I got home at 2:30 is difficult. Today was one of those days.
  • Telling people no. This relates more to my day job, which is for a bartending service. They send an email or text and ask if I can work. I say yes or no. But there are days when I want to say no because I’d rather be writing.

All of these are difficult when my brain tells me I need to work harder, I wonder if it’s screwing with me.

What this all leads to is starting to set a real schedule. Only doing events after a certain time in the day.

I know my managers don’t look at my writing as a real job, and I guess sometimes I don’t either.

It’s hard to consider something you’re doing a job when you don’t get paid for it.

There are moments of hope during the week, but they’re few and far between.

I have received about $48.00 since I published my collection last year. I know it’s more than I received the previous year for anything, but it’s not much.

I’ll be setting up a real work schedule: Mornings are for new stuff, edits are for after lunch. I’ll be more stingy with what’s important to me. Some of these are folded into others when they’re done.

I’ll start tomorrow.

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.

Truth be told…

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There is this life we have and we have a lot to do in it.

We must manage our personal lives, our work lives, and our relationships, but there’s one thing a lot of use forget about.

We must consider our dreams, for they push us to be better in our other managements situations.

Our dreams and whether we pursue them are some of the most difficult situations we undertake. It’s these undertakings where we may struggle the most. Where we may get our most strident resistance from others.

But, for the large majority of these resisters, it’s more to do with who they are, what they have or haven’t done with their lives, and how hard it was to give up their own dreams.

For some they gave up early because it was too hard. For others life got in the way of the chase, but there is a group who are offended that you dare chase something because they couldn’t.

This last group will tell you whatever you want hear, but in the dark, they’re saying other things. You should look at these people when your goals and dreams feel hard. These are your motivation. These are where you find the energy to do what you need to do.

The rage and anger you feel when you hear about the words they’ve said should push you harder than anything else. Your mind tells you to leave it alone, but that little voice in your head, it tells you to rip their throats out.

Listen to that little voice. Your mind says play nice, that voice…well, it says darker, more disturbing things.

Truth be told, that little voice, it’s your darkness. It’s the truth of who you are. Use it.

It’s difficult…

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A while ago, I don’t remember when, I came across a quote. I don’t remember if it was about writing or not, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t, but it was something to the effect of, “When things get hard, that means you’ve leveled up.”

I must have leveled up like a mother f’er, because things have been difficult as hell. I know my regular readers will acknowledge that.

Here’s the thing, you have to fight through it. I’ll continue to take some time off because I’m still struggling, but this quote popped in my head today, I don’t know why, but it did.

Now, there is this quote and there is my writing that I haven’t done shit with, at least not enough for me.

I’m also thinking about how I’ve looked at my writing. How I’d hoped getting published would help my family out, even a little bit, but that hasn’t happened, but this realization has.

So, let’s do a bit of retcon:

I’ve written 6 or 7 books since my family moved from Las Vegas to Utah six years ago. I’ve submitted nearly all of those books and received rejections on all of them. But with those stories I didn’t edit all of them. I wrote them and they’re on my laptop, but they’re only there, and that’s when another quote hit me, “If you decide rejection is the scariest thing to you, you’ll always avoid it, but if decide regret is the scariest thing, then you’ll continue. No rejection could be as painful as the regret of not trying.”

Rejection hurts like a mother f’er, but that act of not trying and the regret I’ll feel over that is more painful.

Back to the retcon:

Finding a way out and deciding to limit my exposure to social media as well as writing for me instead of writing to get published will change how I feel. I will continue to submit, but I will not submit so I can say, “look what I did.” That’s not going to work.

I will submit based upon whether I have something or if it’s a finished project, I’ll submit it, but as for submitting just for the act of it, I’m not doing that anymore. It’s too damn hard.

I will continue to write horror and maybe other genres, but my dark heart requires blood and I’ll feed it.

Where from here…

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I worked a bartending gig on Saturday and it was boring. I used that empty time to try and figure out where I go from here.

I love writing stories, but trying to get anything published feels like I’m wasting my time.

Here’s a bit of history:

  1. I started this blog in one iteration in 2004 I think. I’ve gained a lot of readers, but that never translated to readers outside of this blog.
  2. I’ve written 11 novels. I’ve submitted half of those to agents. All of them received form rejection letters.
  3. I’ve written over a hundred short stories, at least half of which I’ve submitted, with the same response as I listed above.
  4. I feel like I’m improving in my writing, but the submission grind has worn me down.
  5. It feels like I’m trying to prove something to someone, and maybe that’s where I’m screwing up.
  6. After over ten years of this I’m not sure I have the mental strength to keep submitting while only receiving rejections.
  7. I feel like I’m doing this alone. I don’t mean in the sense that I’m writing alone. It feels like the little bit of support I get isn’t enough to keep me writing.
  8. I’ve considered taking a step back for a while, without the blog or social media. I don’t use this blog as much as I once did and I don’t feel I get much of out of it anymore, and social media feels the same way.

That list is a lot to take in. As I read what I wrote it feels like I’m bitching, which maybe I am.

I once used this blog as a way to get my thoughts out, I’ve stepped away from that and used it as something that feels like I’m ranting constantly.

I get a few people reading here and there, but for the most part it and social media feels like a waste of time. There are a couple of reasons I’ve stayed on Twitter. I love the horror community on there. When everyone isn’t fighting over bullshit we do great. The second reason is, it’s the only place I’ve found reliable listings for submissions.

Maybe I need a reboot, a hard reboot. I hate to lose all of the followers of this blog and Twitter, but anymore, they’re only numbers.

I have a short story out for submission and a novella, but with my 10 year track record I’m not holding out hope for either of them.

Ten years ago my wife and I lost a storage unit. We had a lot of stuff in there, but it was just stuff we’d collected as kids or adults. We were upset, but I told my wife, “It’s just stuff. What’s important is us.” That’s how I’m feeling about social media and this blog. It’s just stuff.