The Marionnette in the Writer’s Toolbox.

We often wonder what it would be like to be published.

We steal glances at the recently published books at our local bookstore, stare at the copies of paperbacks at the grocery store, all the while we ignore the little voice in our head asking, “Why the fuck aren’t you published yet?”

This voice stands up like a broken marionette, one string is torn as though it was never attached, but we keeping hearing the damn voice, calling to use in our dreams.

“Write asshole, why aren’t you writing, you’re sleeping and you should be writing, why aren’t you writing?”

The marionette is a clever disguise for our lack of faith in our writing or that we often, without understanding it, try to destabilize ourselves by worrying about the most recently published writer we’re friends with on social media.

Then we pick up their book and think, I’m better than this.

We continue our slog, staring at the paperbacks when we’re buying beer or another box of Cap’n Crunch.

We write, ignoring that damn marionette and keep going for one reason, we love to write. We love it like we love our kids, spouse, mom, and dog.

Stop staring publisher’s weekly, their emails will just drive you mad.

 

Books, short stories, and…publication?

You reach a certain point as a writer when you know that you must put your work out for others to read, view, and absorb.

For me, this realization came after finishing the last book I wrote in December.

I realized after the last line was written that every book I’d written had moved me towards that point–I’ve written four–but living in fear of being judged for my writing kept me from publishing.

I’ve sent short stories out, but all of them have been sent back with a form letter.

This year, I have goals that need to be achieved. I will send off two books and wait to see if they’re picked up,

I will send off two books and wait to see if they’re picked up, I will write three books, write a bunch of short stories, which is what I do in between novels, and I will keep moving forward with my writing.

Writing keeps my brain working, it keeps my mind functioning on all cylinders and the thought of quitting now when I know that I’m better than I was only a year ago, is the driving force in my life.

I once wrote only for me and now that I’m writing full-time I need to put it out there.

In the next few months I’ll share details, but for now. I’m writing, working on getting published traditionally and making more art.

 

 

Achieving Goals in 2016.

I had a couple of goals for the past year. A few of them were sidetracked but I kept to them as much as I could.

I wanted to get in better shape, which I did through half the year, but faltered in the latter half. This was my fault and I take full responsibility for it.

I wanted to finish a book. I finished two.

I wanted to spend more time with my family, especially my wife.

I’ve done this. I was able to attend multiple field trips with my daughter and watch my son perform at his Christmas guitar concert.

I wanted to read a lot more. The only way to improve you writing is by reading.

I read 15 fiction book and 11 non-fiction, which I’ll list below.

Fiction: The Darkness that Comes Before – R. Scott Bakker, The Fireman – Joe Hill, The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty, Head Full of Ghosts – Paul Tremblay, Haunting of Hill House – Shirly Jackson, Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb, The Dragon Reborn – Robert Jordan, The Shadow Rising – Robert Jordan, The Magic of Recluse – L.E. Modesitt Jr., Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence, Magician: Apprentice – Raymond Feist, The Man in the High Castle – Phillip K. Dick, Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson.

I’m also reading The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin and should have it done by the end of the year.

Non-Fiction: Ask Gary V – Crush It – Jab, Jab, Right Hook all by Gary Vaynerchuck. The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy, The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster – Darren Hardy, Go For No – Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz,  Go Pro – Eric Worre, Grit – Angela Duckworth, Scrum – JJ Sutherland, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – Mark Manson, No God but God – Reza Aslan.

There are a couple of books from each of these lists that have either changed the way I write or the way I think.

From fiction: Head Full of Ghosts and Prince of Thorns. Both of these books gave me a new way to look at my writing and others writing, I would put Left Hand of Darkness on this list as well but I haven’t finished it and am only judging for the first two-thirds of the book.

From Non-Fiction: No God but God, Crush It and Grit. These three changed my brain about a few things.

No God but God gave me insight into Islam, a topic that is reported improperly in MSM. Islam is something I’ve wanted to learn more about and this was a good place to start. Crush It was the book that changed my mind about my writing and how hard I wasn’t working to achieve my goals. Grit helped me identify where I’m lacking in preparation for my writing.

I accomplished my goals for the most part, but I still have a couple things to improve.

Next year I’ll be publishing.

 

Writer’s and their Window Dressing.

They gather in the field, each one of them finding something they hadn’t thought would be there.

Standing in the sun, the crisp air moving through the pasture, the scent of lilacs flows through.

The lilacs, like the people are window dressing for the start of a story, they are something to use, something to give the reader a taste of the future of the story.

Will the scent of lilacs be used later in the story? Will it ever come up again, who knows.

The story we tell, and the window dressing we use to invite readers into our story is what makes us writers. There are our tools.

The window dressing is only a peak, just as the field, whomever is in the field, the crisp air and the scent of lilacs is dressing.

Each of us use different things for window dressing, but it’s all window dressing.

Standing in the middle of the street, he waves his arm while another taxi flies past him.

The ledge he stands on suctions him to curb, the drop is hundreds of feet, but he still tries to get a taxi, even as another ignores him and flies by in a gust of air.

Depending on how you read the above, or whether you understand that the story is possibly science fiction, you see the story differently.

Each story is different because each writer is different.

Something you write may not be published when another writer’s work is, that’s just how it is, and genre doesn’t matter.

Our writing is ours; it belongs to no one else. We write because we’re writers.

What are you using for window dressing to pull readers in?

Writing Our Own Life Story and the Perils of Giving In to Society.

We find our way through our life,
trudging through marshes of depression, storms of regret and earthquakes that shatter who we believe ourselves to be.

While we’re searching, our lives become something other than who we are, what we wanted out of life and whether we choose to live a life we’ll be happy with when we close our eyes for the last time.

The life we view through our lives is something different from what we’d dreamed of as kids.

The day I realized I was no longer following my way, I discovered my life was full of plot holes and in those holes I’d put things, hate, regret, rage, pain and loss.

These things led me to a life of bitterness, which, throughout my life caused me to do things against my beliefs, which have changed as I’ve grown older.

I’m still a believer in who I am and who I want to be, but sometimes the plot of the story has gone missing.

For my next life I believe that I want to be judged not by my earlier failures, but by my later triumphs.

Within my soul I’ve discovered a writer, husband and father I believe I’d never be. I have no idea why I believed these things, only that I have.

As a species humans are told to believe who they are, what they believe and are taught we shouldn’t question these things for fear of reprisals.

What this does is take away our ability to choose and to be the person we’re supposed to be rather than the one society prefers.

This societal preference stops our feelings of ownership over our lives from a young age.

Our lives seem to be phantoms searching the world, wanting things, but never able to have them.

Our having of the things we want..e.g. family, love, career or finding meaning in our lives which corresponds to our childhood wish of wanting to be a superhero, police officer, soldier,  nurse or doctor.

The difference is in the desire and ability to attain what we want.

As a child our desire is irrelevant, because as children most of us are taught we should desire to be things. It’s imperative at a young age that we desire things.

But, as children our ability to achieve what we want is controlled by parents and their belief that we are unable to make our decisions, and that we’re too immature and because of our immaturity we must be guided by our parents, sometimes to the detriment of our abilities.

As we grow older our ability to attain our childhood dreams grows with the acquisition of the monetary means to chase those dreams.

But also as adults we’re led to believe (by society) that chasing our dreams isn’t what we should be doing, and that childhood dreams are a falsehood and must be squashed with whatever means necessary.

There are those who go against the belief we’re to give up our dreams, they are the artists, scientists and dreamers who truly create society.

The rest of society is built for those who give in to the belief you can’t follow your dreams. They do this because they’re told enough times, “It can’t be done!”, what this says about society as a whole is that dreams are only good for a certain group of people and those people have the drive, ability or are given a break by some divine power, or that they know someone, which is hardly ever true.

As we become adults, not always at age 18, we find that there are things we could do to influence life in our favor. This includes writing even when we’ve been told we won’t be published, following our heart into a profession we’ve always wanted to do or trying something we’ve always been curious about.

We discover with age that our lives are our own and we must control them and not let those who’ve told us things, “Can’t be done!”, in the dust and do the things we’ve always dreamed of.

Our way through life has its perils, but in the end we’re controlling the helm through the storm, we’re the one writing the book, creating the plot lines and delivering the life we wanted when we close our eyes for the last time.

Writing the story that makes you vulnerable.

Sometimes your life ends. Not for any other reason than it does.

My life felt this way for a long time. I never understood myself the way I thought I did.
Ending is inevitable; but how do we want to go out.

I’d think about this when I was stuck on a particular piece of writing, forget about it then it would creep in, the wanting of “The One”.

I’d sit at my desk waiting for “That Story’ the one!

First, chasing the one has nothing to do with writing ability; it’s all will.

The will to write the hard story is one of the toughest things about being a writer. It’s like life laughing in your face, fate screaming your name from a well-walled, distant room.

That one story will resonate with anyone who reads it, or maybe a select few that will love it and love you for it.

The problem with this story, vulnerability.

As creatives, writers are already prone to confidence issues, we don’t need to have anyone or anything else telling us we’re doing something wrong.

The story may come from childhood, teenage years, early adulthood or anywhere else. The worse thing about this story is it opens things up we’ve kept hidden from the world.

Things we’d rather not have opened. Wounds we thought had been closed, but that story comes in, masquerading like a savior to our writing.

If only you could write it!

But you’re afraid to write it. You don’t want to seem vulnerable to others. You don’t want others to see you afraid of yourself and the person you are, were or could be.

The truth is, these people you are, were or could be, they need you to write that story.

They need that closure, they desire it more than anything. I could list the reasons, but there’s not enough space in a post.

Every writer has the story they’re afraid to write. They don’t want the judgement. The fear of being vulnerable keeps us from writing those stories.

The fear keeps us from proving to ourselves who we are, and it always stands up when we’re stuck with another story.

It sits there, the one that got away.

Thankful for this Writing Life.

When I was 18, I knew what I wanted to be–a Marine–what I wanted to do and I had a plan for how to get there..

It’s been nearly 20 years since I left boot camp without graduating and I still think about it.

I know there’s a reason I’ve been on this path the last twenty years, but I’m not sure what it is yet, but I think I’m getting closer.

Like being a Marine, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager.

I loved creating something from nothing and discovering new worlds.Writing for me was a power trip, especially growing up when I didn’t have any power.

I started writing again ten years ago when a friend said, “You read a lot Brian, you should write something. You’re a smart guy, you should write.”

I wrote a few short stories after that and in 2004, just before my son was born I started writing a novel, it was my first and I learned a lot from the process.

Last year I finished me second novel, and have written a lot of short stories since then.

This year hasn’t been as strong as last year, but I’ve learned a lot from writing short stories.

For twenty years I’ve been on this path, but since I started writing again I’ve begun to feel more like the kid from Wyoming who wanted to be a Marine.

I’m finding that writing is fun, life is a pain in the ass and that I have an amazing wife who’ll support me no matter what I want to be. Along with our kids I’m sure I’ll find my way.

My path doesn’t include dress blues or the Marine Corps hymn like I wanted it to twenty years ago, but I’m enjoying the writer’s path and spending time with the wife I have, our kids and I”m thankful for being where I am and finally discovering who I am.