2020 and doing the hard things.

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This last year I pushed through a few issues.

I found my writing groove and I was distracted at times by video games.

But I didn’t do the hard things.

I didn’t publish because I was undecided and nervous about the quality of the book I planned on putting out.

I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t do that. I did it anyway.

I also had a few personal victories.

I pushed past the things I felt comfortable writing and wrote some truly freaky shit.

I sent out more queries than I ever have and I plan on doing the same in 2020.

I decided my writing and my time to write is worthy and needs devotion.

In 2020 I’ll make priorities for that time and not let others take it from me. My writing and editing time is me working even if I’m not currently published.

That will change and the mindset I have going into the new year changes too.

I will not be held back by things or people.

I will move forward, ignore and resist what others think of me and will never let people in who don’t understand those things.

I fought with a few demons, found a couple more and I’ll kill every last one of ’em until I’m where I believe I should be.

Go out and get it and take no prisoners.

This week feels difficult…

I don’t know whether it’s that I’m stressed and I won’t reach for a bottle or that I’m trying to immerse myself in the current project, but this week feels different. More difficult.

I’ve thought about this over the last week.

I started drafting on Thursday.

This week I’m fully invested in the project after doing the outline, character sketching, and all the other stuff it entails.

So, I’ve been sober for 1 month 25 days.

This is a full time thing. I don’t see myself drinking again.

I may bartend, but I’ll never drink alcohol again.

I used it as a crutch to deal with stress and life for so long it’s difficult to manage things without it.

Though I’m trying.

Finding darkness, embracing it, and keeping going.

I fell down a rabbit hole recently.

It wasn’t too deep but it got me to thinking about darkness and how I deal with it, hell, how any of us deal with it.

Let’s start earlier.

Since I was a little kid I’ve always liked scary things. I was a vampire almost every Halloween as a kid. When I wasn’t, I was a werewolf.

As I grew up, I watched a lot of horror movies.

I saw Halloween when I was eight, Children of the Corn at about the same age.

Then my sister introduced me to Hellraiser.

Those movies are my go to for anyone who wants to understand me.

Watch the first three and you’ll understand me a bit better. Read Barker’s book, “The Hellbound Heart” and you’ll understand me more.

That erotic, bloody, torturous movie and it’s sequels helped me to find myself.

Now that I’m 43, I think about what type of horror drives me.

It’s visceral. Dark. Dirty.

Sometimes it makes me take a step back. That’s when I know I have something good.

When what I put on the page scares me. Then I have something good.

Pushing the boundaries is what we do. Especially horror writers.

I remember an interview with Stephen King about Pet Semetery. He said that’s one of the books he thought he went too far in.

But can you imagine that book changed? It would mess it up. That book scared the hell out me.

There are so many books where I thought a writer went too far but I can’t imagine the story without those scenes.

I strive to be a good horror writer because I love the dark. I’ve always loved it. Watching a horror movie gives me more joy than almost anything except my wife and kids, though the goods ones eclipse them too.

Reading horror is new to me.

Growing up, my father restricted me to certain types of books. I’ve mentioned this before.

But I would still pick up a copy of Fangoria at the bookstore.

I could watch horror movies when I was a kid, but the books were off limits.

In the last few years I’ve tried catching up on some of the classics. There are a lot of them and I’ve had to be picky.

But a good horror book or movie will always be my favorite. I’d rather watch or read those than anything else.

It makes sense for me to write that stuff.

I love it and it will always be what keeps me going.

It’s better when you write what you enjoy.

For the longest time I’ve been trying to write a fantasy novel, but I never thought about why I’m writing it.

Yesterday I did.

I write fantasy because I felt it was expected of me, not because I enjoyed it.

I had a friend turn me on to Fantasy books when I worked in Vegas. It was a genre I never understood and one I never thought about reading.

It always seemed too complicated, too busy and of the 3 novels I’ve written in the genre none of them gave me pleasure in their writing.

I wrote them because it felt expected of me. For the same reason the first novel I wrote was a vampire story. It was expected of me.

I’ve gone back to that vampire story a few times. It’s awful, as first novels usually are, but the story idea is good and I may do something with it later.

The only stories that give me pleasure are horror stories.

There is something about scaring people.

I love the act of creating a story that not only scares the reader but is unsettling to myself as well.

Short fantasy stories are fine, little ones where the reader is following one person. Not the arching novels of Brandon Sanderson. I love to read those books, thanks to a friend, but writing them brings nothing but stress and frustration.

I’ll stick with horror. It’s what I always liked as a kid.

I’d find myself staying up when I’d go to my grandparents. Watching the late night scary movies that aired on HBO, or Tales From The Crypt. Those were some of my favorites.

I remember picking up a copy of Fangoria in the book store and staring at it.

People would stare at me, my own father wouldn’t buy them for me, but I’d sit and read them any chance I got.

The dark, the macabre, and the creepy runs deep in my blood and I enjoy writing those tales the most.

It’s better to write what you enjoy, rather than what someone expects of you.

I had a conversation about this with my mom a while ago. She told me, “I wondered why you wrote anything other than horror.”

Listen to your mom. She knows you best.

It’s what I’ll stick to from now on.

Happy Friday. Have a good weekend.

When writing things click.

A while ago, like ten years or something my cousins who is published traditionally, and who publishes independently gave me a book.

It’s John Truby’s Anatomy of Story.

At that point I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how to use the book, didn’t think I needed the book, and was determined to do it on my own.

Here’s a tip, when someone gets you something and they’re trying to help you, use it. Do whatever it takes to understand it .

If you don’t get it, ask for help. It’s really okay to ask for help.

Go to Reddit and ask. The people on R/writing are awesome.

But use whatever is at your disposal.

I never asked. I was stubborn and borderline asshole.

The belief that we can do something ourselves and ignore what people tell us is stupid.

You need help, ask.

Now that I’m trying to figure this out(ten years later)I’m struggling to do so.

I should’ve listened to her. Paid attention and not just read the book and not understood it. I should have done a lot of things differently.

Now that I am doing things different, I understand she was trying to help me.

She was trying to get me to understand writing on a different level.

It’s taken me a while but I’m getting there.