Not sure where this is going.

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve thought about where I’m going with my writing. What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong?

I don’t have answers to either of those questions. I feel I put in enough time editing than I used to. I feel I’ve worked hard to overcome many of my crutch issues.

I submit when I see a call that a story will fit with. I work on my craft by reading books on writing and reading all genres of books. I’m thinking of stepping away to work on something else. Myself.

I have a novella out on submission and a thriller novel that I’ll be submitting in August, but after writing 13 novels and novellas, I’m not enjoying this. I write daily because that’s the deal my wife and I made when we left Las Vegas.

I would write and bartend a few days to make ends meet.

Anymore, I wonder if I’m helping her out enough. If I’m helping my kids enough.

Am I doing everything I can to make them happy?

There’s one thing about this I haven’t put forward often. Am I doing enough to make myself happy?

I don’t usually think about this. I used to put myself before anyone. That came from having the biological father I did. He always put himself first. I did that for years. I’ve worked hard to not be that way, but I think something was lost.

I think more about making others happy and not myself. I worry about whether others are getting what they need. I never consider what I need. It just doesn’t feel like I’m as important as everyone else. Maybe that has to do with my childhood, I’m not sure. I know this mentality has screwed up how I view my writing life.

I’m leaning towards getting the thriller submitted and seeing how it goes. Afterward, I’ll reevaluate my writing and whether I’ll write to submit, which is what I’ve done for the last seven years.

I have my story collection on Amazon and wish it would do well, but it hasn’t. After two years on Amazon and other places, I may pull it after it goes through its cycle on KU.

Today I finished a story, and it’s brutal and destructive. I don’t know what I’ll do with it right now. Probably keep it with the rest of my stories on my hard drive. I’ve worked hard on these stories. I’d like someone else to enjoy them.

I’m beginning to think I missed the turnoff somewhere. I don’t know where to go from here.

F This and Getting It Right

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I’m trying to get my head right.

These last three months have challenged me in ways I never thought possible.

I’m reevaluating where my energy goes. I’d put a lot of it into social media, at least in TikTok and I’m feeling like that’s been part of my problem. I took the app off of my phone and will only look at it on my desktop or laptop.

I started working on Tim Waggoner’s new Writing in the Dark Workbook yesterday. I’m feeling better about my writing while making my way through the exercises, which is more than I’ve been able to say in months. The book is fantastic and while this isn’t a review for it, I think it’s as good if not better than the original book.

I believe a perfect storm happened over the last three months and staring at TikTok as much as I have screwed with my head. I used it to dull my senses about everything else that happened.

This is something I used to do with alcohol but having given up alcohol I needed to find something else to dull me. Social media is a good drug, but its after-effects are a bitch.

I need a middle ground on all of this and I’m having trouble finding it. I know my post the other day probably freaked a few people out. It’s been a hard three months.

I’ll be offline for everything this next week as I travel to Disneyland to celebrate my son’s graduation from high school. I intend to get back to writing as my head feels clearer than it has in months. I’m not sure what caused it, but I’m not sure I’ll be using TikTok anymore.

The hard writing creates the most improvement.

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I’ve thought about this blog idea and finally stepped up.

I consider myself and horror and thriller writer, which is stated on my Twitter profile.

With thrillers, they come easily. They write themselves from the start of the outline to the finished story.

With horror, it’s different. I have to think a bit more. It challenges me more. I can’t write an outline for my horror stories, no matter their length. I’m not sure why this is, but I’ve learned to accept this is my process for each genre.

Identifying this little bit took me to the point of quitting altogether. It wasn’t until recently I identified that each story needs something else. And that’s okay.

I started a horror novel this week, and just as with others, I attempted to write an outline, but nope. These stories are all discovery written.

I believe it’s the intricacies of the thriller genre that require this. The layers of military/political/espionage thriller and the research those categories require force me(who has never served in the military, worked in politics, or participated in any espionage activities) into discovering how certain firearms work. How certain groups would operate and what they’re like is the most difficult. I don’t know anyone who works in these environments, so I read about tactics and weapons. The library I have on certain groups has probably put me on some government list. I’m fine with that. I get pulled out by the TSA every time anyway. I always have.

I enjoy the lack of need regarding all of the research with horror. Of course, there is some research, but nothing like when I’m writing thrillers. There is also the fear factor involved. I worry more if I’m getting details wrong with thrillers. One can only read so many books and still not understand what it’s like to be in a firefight, and I would never ask a vet.

I love writing horror for the simple reason of its freedom. I love writing thrillers because that’s what I grew up reading more than any other genre. Both are my wheelhouse and I learn different things from writing both. I find writing horror more difficult because it’s straight world-building throughout the process.

Thrillers will always have more work on the front end with outlines, and research, while horror will have more on the backend, either with more drafts or with research during or after the first draft is complete.

I’m adjusting to the fact that I write differently depending on the genre. I’ve taken some damage to my ego, which I’m sure needed to happen. I’ll be working this way from now on.

Horror will be my favorite of the two because it’s my safe space, as I mentioned earlier this week. But that’s all I have for today. Have a good weekend.

Horror has always been my safe space.

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When I think of horror it’s about the times I spent alone as a kid. My father wouldn’t come home for a couple of days. I’d spend that time watching horror movies on HBO or Cinemax or I’d read. But the books weren’t horror, they were military/political thrillers. Later they were dubbed techno-thrillers, but I digress.

Horror was my safe space. I felt safer watching those movies than at any other time. It was in those long nights of being home that I watched Basketcase, Creepshow, Tales From the Crypt, and a myriad of other movies. I watched movies a 13-year-old maybe shouldn’t watch, but it was the ’80’s and us latchkey kids didn’t have many rules. The rules we had were about school, but everything else was open and free to explore. I took advantage of that.

I’m sure the reason I fight with myself over writing horror or thrillers is because of those days and nights alone. When my father was home I read thrillers. When he wasn’t, I watched horror. Horror made me feel safe. It scared me of course, but I knew it was safe. T

he thrillers were about the world ending in a war or some random shooter. But horror wasn’t like that.

When I write horror I consider it a dive into my deepest, darkest memories and how those memories scarred me.

It’s within the construct of a horror story that I feel safe. I’m allowed to explore those bad memories. Those bad events. I’m able to parse those things into a story and allow my mind to explore them in a safe space. It’s this same safe space that I felt growing up watching those movies.

It’s the darkness staring through our eyes. Our memories of tragedy, of abuse, and of learning to deal with it in our own way. My way of dealing with abuse was to shut down. It still is.

When I consider where I came from and what I’ve learned about myself and the fear of things in the night, regardless of what they are, I think of long nights alone in the dark. The flicker of a horror movie on the screen is my solace and when I’m depressed or upset it’s these movies that bring me joy.

A new story comes from these dark places and they bring me joy in the same way those movies do. A new story comes when I’m ready to deal with the past in any shape. It breaks through the barrier I keep around myself. Those stories endear themselves to me. They show me the dark isn’t that bad and that I can work through anything.

My own development as a writer is to put this process through it’s paces. I must feel the story. I must understand that it’s going to get rough for these characters and that through them I can work through whatever trauma I have. I did that with the story, ‘Carnival of Darkness’ in my collection. I dealt with a situation from my childhood I’m still working through.

I must hear the story and the characters in my head and it’s only with horror that this happens.

While writing thrillers it’s the story, but with horror it’s the characters and their feelings.

I come to a story with an idea, but getting to know my characters and their feelings about life, love, and what trauma they’ve dealt with is where I play my cards.

I will let you get back to your regularly scheduled program.

I will be at the same Bat Channel tomorrow.

Change is coming…

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I’ve been in a very depressed state for the last three months. It started with my writing not going anywhere. It moved on from that onto my oldest having issues at school. They graduate this year and ran into some issues in February. From there my mind was thrown off and I haven’t written anything I’ve really enjoyed since.

I have a novel out with my editor and will continue to use this editor. She’s been awesome and understands the characters. Her going over my draft has been one of the brightest points of the last three months. The rest of it has been shit.

I have six projects in one form or another moving along, but getting fresh words on them are the hardest things I’ve done in a long time.

Long time readers of this blog know that I equate depression to living in pit. The walls are slick with mud and slime. It is hardest thing to climb out of because of those walls. I’ve had many thoughts of self-harm over these three months. I’m working through all of it but damn getting out of the pit is hard.

I’ve also quit drinking. This time for good. I can’t drink. It’s something that I’ve fought with over the last three years. It finally came to head around my birthday in March. I can’t in good conscience drink alcohol and fell good about who I am as person.

I no longer want to be in this situation. I’m working to improve my mental as well as physical well being. I will be using this blog to refocus my energy and to use it how I’d initially intended it. To write about my problems. I know it’s sometimes depressing to read about how someone is struggling, but I know there are people out there who are comforted and feel less alone by reading my words. I’ve had numerous people tell me so.

But I am on to the next page. I will be here more often and my content will change a little bit, but I’ll always talk about writing. It’s the one thing that keeps me going.