What’s holding things back?

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This will not be my usual content!

I’ve been on TikTok a lot lately and there are some fabulous conversations about trauma by good creators. These conversations led me to confronting a lot of bad shit from my childhood, from my late teens, and from my early twenties.

Some of these are issues I’m not ready to deal with, while others are of a different variety.

When I graduated high school all I wanted was to be a Marine. I went to boot camp and was shipped home a week later. I prepared for boot camp for months. But when I was sent home a lot of desire for anything came out of me. I got really depressed and a few times I thought of suicide.

I have never wanted anything in my life the way I wanted that and I think it’s held me back. I see this in my writing, my family life, and myself personally. I haven’t dealt with ghost of the months following my discharge. I didn’t care about anything then. It’s been almost 30 years since then and the “What if” creeps into my mind.

Today I’ve chosen to deal with this and what it did to me.

I was 18 and was as much of child as I could have been. I don’t believe I was truly an adult until I turned 28, just before my eldest child was born.

I was coddled when I got home by my father, siblings, and other family members. I’m sure they were trying to be nice about it, but I think that hurt more than anything else.

Was this 30 years ago? yes. Does it still have space in my head? Yes. But I haven’t dealt with this and I know it’s stilted my writing. I’ve never wanted anything the way I wanted the title, United States Marine, and it screwed me up.

I’m telling you this because I needed to write it down. I had to get it out. Maybe because I hope it will help me throw it away and move forward. I need to go after my writing goals like I did with that, and it’s been almost 30 years.

Today I’m moving forward and taking steps to put this period behind me. I have to. It’s done enough damage to my mental state. I feel like I’ve floated through in life since coming home. I’m sorry to that 18 year old kid that we didn’t do more for him. I hate that we’ve let him down, or at least it feels like it. By we I mean the me who’s lived since he came home. I feel we’ve let that damaged kid down by not doing something more with our lives.

I have a wife and kids and live a good life, but I think he would be disappointed in the lack of things we haven’t done for ourselves. I’m going to remedy that.

Have a good week and do things your 18 year old self would be proud of you for doing!

What truly scares you?

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While I’ve been actively working on this rewrite I’ve thought about fear, judgement, and what really scares people.

When I was a kid I had a recurring dream about my Aunt’s basement. There was a coffin at the bottom and all of this smoke. When I reached the coffin a ghoul would pop up and I’d wake up screaming.

Being stuck in a place, with nowhere to go or worse, being stuck and unable to move are the worst things I can think of. I’ve had night terrors for years and used one of them to write a story in my collection. Most of what happens in one of the stories is completely true.

I find that writing horror allows me to tap into those fears. I use it well enough that my wife has asked if I’m okay while she’s reading drafts.

We’ve talked about what scares her and I’ve used that in stories, because she is the first person to read my stories. I also think about what would have scared me in my teens or twenties and incorporate that.

I’ve read a lot of books over the years and while some of them are very odd, I’m looking at you House of Leaves, the also make me think about different aspects of fear. House of Leaves does that with the Navidson House and Johnny Truant. Spoilers ahead for House of Leaves.

With The Navidson House is the fear of something outside our reality or outside what we understand. With Johnny it’s about a descent into madness.

Both of these sections of the book messed with my head. And thinking about the book in that context, I really enjoyed it.

We find ourselves writing things that scare us, our family members or who we were at one point in our lives. It takes a lot to scare me anymore. I’m very desensitized when it comes to horror, but there are limits for me. I don’t like when kids are hurt. The Girl Next Door did a number on me. It was a difficult book to read. The writing is so good you feel complicit. But I’m running away from the topic.

I’ll talk more about fear on Wednesday.

Coming to grips with something…

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I have written 11 novels, 4 novellas over a hundred short stories and where am I?

Of course I have the collection on Amazon, that is on KU right now. I’ve sold enough for a good cup of coffee and maybe a bagel.

When I woke up this morning, thinking about rewriting sections of this novella I knew that something needs to change.

I blow through stories to quickly. I don’t think them through as much as I should. I’m in too much of hurry to get them done. And when it comes to editing, I do that but can’t afford a real editor. It’s not financially feasible for my wife and I.

I rush into things because I want to say I’ve written this many novels but where are they? Can they be purchased in a book store? Online?

I know I can write. That’s not the issue. As I said yesterday, it’s execution. It’s the editing. It’s going through the draft and figuring out what I’ve done right, and wrong. That’s where I come into problems. And they’re not huge problems, just ones that I have trouble navigating. I would kill for an editor to help me get past this stuff but as I said, there’s no money for it.

Writing these books gives me enjoyment. I love the process and it’s why I continue to write, but having written as many books as I have with nothing to show for it is maddening. It’s not like they’re all first drafts, but some are. Others are on their fifth, some on their tenth, yes 10th draft.

I hurry into stories. It’s a problem and it’s one that I’m going to work on this year.

I don’t plan like I should. I don’t take my time. I’m in too much of hurry to get them done. I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. Write a lot, edit, send it out and wait. But when you’re always chasing what’s next you’re too focused on what’s next that you forget to go slow on your current project. Therein lies the problem.

I will take stories slower. Take my time editing. Do better at constructing each story.

I have a subscription to MasterClass and I’ve watched David Baldacci’s class numerous times. When he talks about his process, he says it’s changed over time and it will probably change as he continues to write.

My writing and how I approach it has to change. I can’t write another 11 novels and not have any of them published.

I have three short stories out and one novella out currently and want them to get published. I need to focus on taking my time this year. How many times have I said that in this post?

Coming to grips with this has been difficult and it’s my job to fix this.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Rejection, rebirth, rewrite, reconstruct

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I find the time that when a rejection comes in I struggle the most with this writing thing. I’m sure it’s the same with everyone. When a rejection comes in that is constructive I analyze what’s wrong with the story, according to the feedback.

Sometimes it’s the same feedback my wife had recently given me, which helps and certainly hurts as well.

After I’ve gone through the draft I see the instances they’re talking about. The after effect of this stings, but it makes me better.

There is a part of this process of analyzing the draft that feels different. It’s when I’ve read it and realize where I can fix the story. Where I can adjust it and where I can do away with parts of the draft. This is the rebirth of the draft. It becomes a new draft in this instance.

A rewrite and possible reconstruction of the draft follows this.

This is when the heavy lifting begins.

This all led from a great rejection I received. Yes they do happen.

I’ve decided to put all my other projects on hold until I can get this story that was a novella, but I’m going to stretch it out into a novel.

The story is kind of personal and I want to make it better. I wrote the first draft a couple of years ago. It’s now on the fourth or fifth draft. I lost it once and almost gave up on the story entirely. When I found it I almost cried. There are moments of joy in writing and that was one of them.

I am enjoying writing on here every day. I’ll continued to do it since I’m isolating after my positive test. Monday or Tuesday, if I’m showing now symptoms will be my last day.

Back to reconstructing this project.

A bit different

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I’ve been sitting in my bedroom the last few days after testing positive for Covid-19 on Saturday morning.

I come to the blog a bit pissed as I’ve been cautious with everything but obviously not cautious enough.

There are many things not say but as I’ve been away from my family in the bedroom my wife and I usually share I think that I’ve realized my health needs work, and it’s not because I’m terribly sick. I have a cough, had a fever earlier in the week, but I need to get in better shape and eat better.

When it comes to writing I have to make good a promise I made to myself. I have to get busy on figuring out how to make my own covers and not just shitty ones I’ve made to my needs.

I have goals this year and I’ll not be held back by anything.

I’m tired of existing. I’m going to live.