I’ve been editing and writing my ass off the last couple of weeks.
This morning I got 1500 words on a novel and immediately afterward edited a short story for an anthology due on the 31st.
I have a short story out for a submission which I hope will get a yes.
This weekend I’ll be working my first event since October 24th.
I’m glad to be able work and that have to of doing it during Covid scares me but while my wife’s salary pays the bills, bartending keeps me sane. And my sanity has been frayed as of late.
Writing a novel, submitting short stories for anthologies and helping me wife have been my mainstays since my last event. While I’m looking forward to do an event I’ll be masked and gloves for it.
This year has been unlike any other but I’ve been very productive. I’ve written and submitted more than I planned on and while my short story collection is at the bottom of Amazon’s rankings, I did publish as I promised myself I would.
You have to keep yourself accountable and I’ve done a lot of that this year.
I got 30k on the draft of a novel today, finished a short story due for an anthology I’m hoping for, trashed, then rewrote a story for one due at the end of the month.
All I have is time.
I’m supposed to have an event this weekend, but with our numbers in Utah going up, that might not happen.
So I’m doing the only thing I can control. I’m writing…a lot.
I’ve written 6 short stories in the last 2 weeks with an average word count of 3k.
There is nothing else for me to do but write, read, fix dinner, and help my wife and kids.
This may lead to being exhausted, but as the month moves along I feel good about writing as much as I have. It’s productive and it keeps me from thinking about what’s going on politically as well as with the virus.
There’s a point when you write horror that you’ll skip some norms. You’ll do some things in your stories that will turn stomachs, make readers(and family)question your morals, sanity, and whether the world is safe with you outside a padded room.
I never thought about going really dark or extreme with my horror until recently. This happened because or a novel I read. It was Brian Keene’s Urban Gothic, which if you’ve read it, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
That book took what I thought was okay to put in a horror story and tossed it straight out the window. I never would have thought to go so graphic, much less so hardcore before.
I read Keene’s The Complex afterwards and will be reading Ghoul after my current read, which is another author who I’m really enjoying.
Having never read extreme or hardcore horror, it took me a few days after reading the first couple of chapters to really get into the book, because it’s seriously messed up.
It has been compared to House of 1000 Corpses by Rob Zombie, and having seen that movie when I was inebriated, it’s an apt descriptor.
I’ve always been subtle or reserved in my horror. Never in your face gore, or anything similar and I feel like that’s been limiting me in what I write, definitely in what I read. I’m finding more enjoyment in the extreme stories than I have in quiet horror or soft horror. I will read those, hell, my favorite book of this year is like that, Stephen Graham Jones’s, “The Only Good Indians.”
It’s a master class in horror and one of the scariest and most unnerving books I’ve read in a long time, but it’s not in your face, at least not initially.
But moving on.
For me writing horror isn’t about scaring, not really. It’s about throwing normal people into terrible situations and seeing if they can survive. That’s what King has done for years with his horror.
Finding that I can write as messed up as I want as long as I do it well, has been revolutionary to my writing.
I have a short story due for an anthology on the 21st of this month, another due the 31st, and a first draft of a novel due in February(though it will probably be done sooner)and I’m enjoying the hell out of tossing in the most screwed up things at my characters.
There’s this part of my day that begins before I start writing but after I’ve eaten breakfast.
I’ve usually started making coffee or my wife has and I’m thinking about the day ahead. I may have taken my son to school(he has two periods where he’s in school)or may not have.
This period is my contemplation.
I’m considering where the story is going. Thinking about the beats to get to the end and all that I still have to write, at least right now. Some days, towards the end of a project this moments are near fleeting and I’m just rocked to get into the story.
But lately, as I work my way through the current project of which is a novel right now, but I’ll be writing a short story the next few days for an anthology to be submitted before the end of the month.
I did that a few weeks ago and it was tough to work on two projects at once. There’s a shift in my brain when I’m writing two stories at once. It’s somewhat exhausting, but as the world is what it is, I have to write in the hope to make money.
If I don’t make the money, at least I have the stories. Every story is an opportunity to get better at the craft and that’s what we’re all after, isn’t it?
So, during this morning period and the thinking about what I have to do, I’ll space off, my wife will leave the room and I’ll focus on what I need to do.
Then as I set up my laptop, login, get the music ready, I check on my family. I make sure everyone is good before I start. This has become a habit as my kids are home most of the time and my wife and are sharing a work space. Well, we’re in the same room anyway.
As I’m writing, I try to become aware of where it’s going. What is the story doing? What is happening to the characters?
By the time I’m done it’s 11:30 or noon and I’m starting helping my kids with their studies.
This is how I control things. These moments in the morning and during the afternoon where I’m hopefully present enough to help with things, which as I haven’t been working events, has become my every day.
I write, help my kids, clean the house, and make dinner. It’s been this way for the last couple of months and at first I wanted to punk out on it, but kept going. Now I look forward to it.
When I’m making dinner or cleaning those are mine for thinking through what I’d written that morning.
I never looked at it that way, but now that it’s an everyday thing, I enjoy those moments of contemplation..
When I published my short story collection in October I knew it wouldn’t do well. The point was to publish something this year, regardless of what it was.
I loved writing those stories and enjoyed the process of editing them, putting them together, and putting them out.
When you write, there are things that you hope will happen: that people will read your stories, that you’ll get amazing reviews, and that you’ll connect with those people through your writing.
What happened was none of that.
The only people who bought the collection, now $.99 on Amazon for Kindle, are mostly family. There are couple of outliers, but it’s mostly family.
Here’s the thing about that. My family doesn’t read horror.
My mom used to, but doesn’t anymore. I guess I put together the collection for them, and not for myself, which is fine.
I’ve listened to a authors talk about the fact that their families don’t read horror so why should they write for them?
I took this to heart with the last few stories I’ve written. It’s about what scares me because in the end, if I’m not scared when I write something, the reader won’t be either.
Writing for you is more important than anything.
There are family members who will be turned off by writing for various reasons.
I realized I’m okay with that. I write for me first and if I like the scary parts I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Your writing should be important to you, not to your family. If someone doesn’t like the bits about gore, it’s not for them. If they’re turned off by those things, remember, you liked them and someone else will as well.
Throw the dirty, gory, nasty things into your writing that you’ve been afraid to. Put it all out there, someone will like it.
I’ve read a lot of extreme horror in the last few months because I hadn’t read it. I wanted to see how far other authors have gone, and realized something. There were great swaths of things I was afraid to write that these authors shrugged at and went more fucked up.
So I’m doing that now.
I’ve written scenes I wouldn’t have dared write six months ago, but seeing where other authors went, I dug myself a hole and followed it into the dark.
Chase the dark, it’s where the best part of horror lies.