Changing reading habits and me

I’ve mentioned numerous times on here about the books I felt forced to read growing up. It was the 80’s and the techno-thriller was king, at least that’s how it felt in my little corner of the world.

I enjoyed those books, but as I grew older I found myself gravitating towards darker stories.

I recently purchased Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, the book not the game. The last couple of weeks have found me reading through it and I found so much of it boring. As a writer myself I found places the could have been removed through editing.

Was Clancy brilliant in his world building, absolutely. Were his technical discussions within the books not needed in most places? After reading the three hundred pages I’ve consumed of Rainbow Six, I’d have to say yes. It feels like there are so many parts that could be removed.

This is not a review of the book. But I don’t enjoy all of that stuff anymore. It was cool reading those things in Elementary and Junior High, but as and adult, I found them boring and unnecessary within the constructs of the book.

I have read a few books that are more concise and less grandiose in their wording and content, but I feel I’ve outgrown the monotony of how this book works. I haven’t read any of the new books in the Jack Ryan series written by other authors, but I’m hoping they’re most concise and less about adding words and more about the story…at least that’s my hope.

On the other side though, the horror books I’ve read in the last year have blown me away.

I think small doses of Clancy and war books are a better idea. It’s not the length of the book that felt daunting, it’s the unnecessary aspects of scenes. Some of the scenes in that book could be done away with as I don’t feel they move the story forward and are more of stopping point.

I think my days of reading Clancy books, at least those written by the author prior to his passing, are over. I want to read the books in that universe written by the other authors but haven’t had time to do so.

I’ll go back to reading other things for the time being. I have a subscription to Nightworms and I get a few horror books from them a month. They are wonderfully curated and come with all kinds of goodies.

For now, I’ll stick to the smaller war and techno-thriller books.

Wrapping your head around the new thing.

I’ve started a new project in a genre I haven’t written in for a while. It’s taking some getting used to. The scope of the story is bigger than anything I’ve written in a few years.

It’s taking some time for my head to get into that brain space. I know what needs to be written, at least I have a good idea of it. There are many things in this story and I’m truly working to get those things written well.

This came about after I wrote a story for an anthology that is due the end of February.

I enjoyed the hell out of writing that submission. I thought I should go deeper into a new world along the lines of that submission.

I’ve submitted more stories this year than any prior year as well as publishing the collection in October. I will get my first payment for that collection this week, which though small, makes me feel as if what I’m doing makes a difference in our house.

I will keep writing, regardless of the money. I want to get paid, as we all do, but I enjoy the hell out of the work.

Skipping some levels…

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.

Anyway, back to work…and skipping some levels

About long breaks…

I took a break from this blog for a while to work on things.

If you follow me on social media, you saw my post. I have been working on this collection for most of the summer and another project that fell apart.

The latter of these things made me realize a few things about myself and my writing. I am really good at writing short horror stories. But when it comes to a longer form of horror, I have trouble. let me explain.

From April 4th to May 4th I wrote the first draft of a 100,000 word novel.

This novel is different from anything I’d written prior, and it is the only novel I’ve followed a beat sheet and outline to the letter.

It is a very strong first draft. Possibly the best first draft of a novel I’ve ever written. I owe that to the set up with the outline and beat sheet.

The book will be coming out in January and it is not horror.

When I was a teenager I read the military and political thrillers that were popular in the late 80’s and 90’s by authors like Tom Clancy.

At the time I wasn’t allowed to read any other books, or at least that’s how it felt. Any time I asked to read something other than those books, my father rebuffed me and it was only in my room where I could read the books I wanted to read; horror, comics, fantasy, and science fiction being my favorites.

When I began to write my own stories I swore I’d never create worlds like Clancy’s. This came about because of the way I feel towards me father(he and I don’t have a relationship).

With the books I felt I had to read it was about control and I have an issue with being controlled, as we all should.

I believe that by allowing the way I was treated to enter into my head, it stopped me from following a path that maybe I should have followed.

The first idea I had for a novel was along the lines of the military/political thriller, but I closed myself off to that because of the trauma I experienced growing up. In other words, I allowed it to stop my creativity because I worried old feelings would come back.

Now it comes back around to the novel I’ll be self-publishing in January. There are other novels I’m currently writing or ideas I’m pondering contained within the same world.

It is a change that maybe I needed to do. I believe by allowing myself to be stopped creatively because of past trauma, I rejected stories which I would have enjoyed as well as ones that would push me.

Today, I’m moving forward with these books because I really enjoy writing them more than anything else. I consider myself a writer who does not limit themselves to one genre. I will write in whichever genre a story comes to me, I only wish I knew why I had such a difficult time with creating outlines for horror novels.

Maybe this is just a learning experience and I need to figure it out at another time, but for now I’ll write these political/military thrillers because they give me a joy that I’ve rarely found in writing.

Here is the link for the short story collection. I hope you enjoy the stories. There are some dark ones in there and I enjoyed writing each of them.

The effort to move past fear…

The title may be wrong in wording for some, but today, for me, it’s correct.

I’ve been having difficulty parsing my brain with writing, editing, depression, and sobriety.

A couple of those go hand-in-hand(Sobriety and Depression).

But the writing, I don’t know how to deal with it.

I’ve always felt that I must write something new every day. Something on a new project must be written daily.

That’s been my go to for as long as I’ve been writing and maybe that’s part of the problem.

I wonder if the idea that something new has to be written daily destroys my confidence, absconds with my positivity and may actually be pushing my farther into a depression.

The feeling that if I’m not writing something new I’m doing this wrong has permeated my brain since I wrote my first book over ten years ago.

But it hasn’t changed. I continue to feel like something new has to come out of my brain or I’m failing at this writing thing, which is what some people have described it as.

My wife has told me that I need to work for myself. Not for what she expects of me and certainly not what other family members expect.

That last part is another issue which I’ve been dealing with, but won’t get into.

The writing usually makes me feel good. It gives me that needed energy boost, which is why I fall into a depression when I’m not actively writing.

I have over 50 short stories to edit, two novels, but it never feels right when I’m editing. It always feel different.

Let me explain:

Writing isn’t something that I do just for shits and giggles. I’m working to improve daily, but reading fiction, reading books on writing, and my attempting to edit.

But it never feels like other things.

When I quit drinking last fall I buried myself in working out. It was an outlet that I’d always used to cope. It’s always there in the periphery. But I’ve never thrown myself into my writing the way I do with exercise and I don’t understand why.

I can throw myself into a video game, exercise, alcohol, but when it comes to writing, I’ve not been able to accomplish such a thing and its maddening.

I don’t understand why my brain won’t do that.

Maybe it’s fear, possibly its the fear that if I write something really good I won’t be able to deal with the pressure that would come with it. This is a fear I have.

I’m also aware that I have my wife and kids and they’ve been my rock when the landscape is barren.

That my wife and kids are her with me and they back me regardless helps me get through the rough patches, though the patches have been continents lately.

Now I will undertake what I felt was impossible. I will put the effort of other efforts into writing because I can’t live in fear of this anymore.

Some things have to be conquered by straight of grit and determination. The fear that I have for writing and failing is causing me to descend into a depression that could sink me.

I will put forth and effort in my writing which I’m afraid to. I will commit to writing, editing, and improving in whatever way is possible and I will do it to the utmost of my ability as a writer and human.

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