Ignoring that voice…

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I submitted a story two weeks ago which had a quick turnaround and I haven’t heard a response on it

My brain immediately goes, “it’s cause you’re shit.”

This little bastard of a voice comes and goes, but this week it has been at the forefront of my thoughts and screwing with me daily.

I find it’s hard to get past it and it almost sent me into a spiral of doubt, depression, and anxiety when I can’t afford to deal with any of those things.

There was a bright light in this tale though. Yesterday I finished a story for a submission due in February. It was in a genre I hadn’t worked in a for a while and I found myself enjoying the hell out of it and wondering what would happen with the characters after I’d finished the story.

This bright spot got me through the day and I finished with my head above board.

My mind hadn’t screwed with me this much in quite a while. I started to fall into the old feelings about writing. I had a nightmare because of the stress I was putting myself under.

That I didn’t hear a word made me go back, make sure I’d sent it to the correct email(I had), and wonder why.

I had to push these thoughts away; my mind will kill me if I let it.

Pushing off from these emotions, I felt refreshed. The new story pushed the reasons why I hadn’t heard back away. Isn’t that what new stories are supposed to do?

There are so many emotions in writing and I let self-doubt creep in when that bastard isn’t allowed.

I have stories to tell and I will wait for them for them to be read. I will continue writing because I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

I love the work and I am intrigued by the characters that fall out of my head, but days where my head screws with me are not fun.

I’m glad I was able to dig my way out, much how I did yesterday with our recent snowfall.

Anyway, have a good weekend.

Under Control

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There’s this part of my day that begins before I start writing but after I’ve eaten breakfast.

I’ve usually started making coffee or my wife has and I’m thinking about the day ahead. I may have taken my son to school(he has two periods where he’s in school)or may not have.

This period is my contemplation.

I’m considering where the story is going. Thinking about the beats to get to the end and all that I still have to write, at least right now. Some days, towards the end of a project this moments are near fleeting and I’m just rocked to get into the story.

But lately, as I work my way through the current project of which is a novel right now, but I’ll be writing a short story the next few days for an anthology to be submitted before the end of the month.

I did that a few weeks ago and it was tough to work on two projects at once. There’s a shift in my brain when I’m writing two stories at once. It’s somewhat exhausting, but as the world is what it is, I have to write in the hope to make money.

If I don’t make the money, at least I have the stories. Every story is an opportunity to get better at the craft and that’s what we’re all after, isn’t it?

So, during this morning period and the thinking about what I have to do, I’ll space off, my wife will leave the room and I’ll focus on what I need to do.

Then as I set up my laptop, login, get the music ready, I check on my family. I make sure everyone is good before I start. This has become a habit as my kids are home most of the time and my wife and are sharing a work space. Well, we’re in the same room anyway.

As I’m writing, I try to become aware of where it’s going. What is the story doing? What is happening to the characters?

By the time I’m done it’s 11:30 or noon and I’m starting helping my kids with their studies.

This is how I control things. These moments in the morning and during the afternoon where I’m hopefully present enough to help with things, which as I haven’t been working events, has become my every day.

I write, help my kids, clean the house, and make dinner. It’s been this way for the last couple of months and at first I wanted to punk out on it, but kept going. Now I look forward to it.

When I’m making dinner or cleaning those are mine for thinking through what I’d written that morning.

I never looked at it that way, but now that it’s an everyday thing, I enjoy those moments of contemplation..

See you on Monday.

Write what works for you, not others.

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When I published my short story collection in October I knew it wouldn’t do well. The point was to publish something this year, regardless of what it was.

I loved writing those stories and enjoyed the process of editing them, putting them together, and putting them out.

When you write, there are things that you hope will happen: that people will read your stories, that you’ll get amazing reviews, and that you’ll connect with those people through your writing.

What happened was none of that.

The only people who bought the collection, now $.99 on Amazon for Kindle, are mostly family. There are couple of outliers, but it’s mostly family.

Here’s the thing about that. My family doesn’t read horror.

My mom used to, but doesn’t anymore. I guess I put together the collection for them, and not for myself, which is fine.

I’ve listened to a authors talk about the fact that their families don’t read horror so why should they write for them?

I took this to heart with the last few stories I’ve written. It’s about what scares me because in the end, if I’m not scared when I write something, the reader won’t be either.

Writing for you is more important than anything.

There are family members who will be turned off by writing for various reasons.

I realized I’m okay with that. I write for me first and if I like the scary parts I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Your writing should be important to you, not to your family. If someone doesn’t like the bits about gore, it’s not for them. If they’re turned off by those things, remember, you liked them and someone else will as well.

Throw the dirty, gory, nasty things into your writing that you’ve been afraid to. Put it all out there, someone will like it.

I’ve read a lot of extreme horror in the last few months because I hadn’t read it. I wanted to see how far other authors have gone, and realized something. There were great swaths of things I was afraid to write that these authors shrugged at and went more fucked up.

So I’m doing that now.

I’ve written scenes I wouldn’t have dared write six months ago, but seeing where other authors went, I dug myself a hole and followed it into the dark.

Chase the dark, it’s where the best part of horror lies.

A Thing About Devotion

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This topic has come up in my head quite a bit lately and I’m trying to recon with the reasons.

The thought of devotion isn’t only one of religion or spirituality, not even to one’s spouse.

I am devoted to my wife, but I haven’t been devoted to my writing.

Sure I get words on the page, but do they go anywhere? Will anyone eventually read them?

This has been what has been holding me back. I’m devoted to putting words on the page, but not putting those pages in a book.

What is the written word without a book to hold it?

This came up when I watched something the other day.

An author was being interviewed and she said, her first book she did the best she could and published it. There were spelling and grammar errors, but she didn’t care because it was out there.

This has been my blockage, this hasn’t been my devotion.

My devotion has been to write words, not to see them in print. What good is it to write stories that aren’t seen?

I am devoted to improving my writing. I can’t improve without publishing it, no matter the form it takes?

I have written 11 books. Even if they’re shit, why haven’t I published them?

I’m devoted to the act of writing, but live in fear of being published. I have submitted novels, but when those novels come back rejected, I leave them on my hard drive. I don’t do anything else with them.

My devotion has to be two fold. To the writing and to the publishing. I have to want to publish, regardless of the final product. As I’ve said, my wife and I can’t afford an editor. With Covid-19 and my bartending gigs less, we can’t put money into something like that.

What we can do is go over what I’ve written, self-publish it and see where that takes us.

So, I’m going to continue to write stories, but I will write them with a certain collection in mind.

I write horror, it’s what I’m the best at. I will continue to write those stories but now my devotion to them is changed. I will publish this year. I will collect 10-15 stories set with a theme, organize them and publish them.

I have to do that.

I’m devoted to my writing and now to getting things published, no matter what form that takes.

The Biggest Problem I have…

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When it comes to writing, I have things I enjoy and things I’m afraid of. You’d think at 44 I’d get over some of them, but they’re still there.

The biggest among these is the enjoyment of horror. Whether it’s writing it, reading it, or watching it, I worry about the judgement aspect.

I guess that happens to a lot of writers, but lately its been creeping into my mind and stopping me from enjoying things that otherwise I would have.

I’ve loved horror since I was a little kid and maybe it’s because I grew up in very conservative environment where horror wasn’t given the respect it deserves. Then there are the people in this world who turn up their nose at horror.

There are so many of those people.

I think it has to do with a lot of that. The being judged part of my brain still has a problem with it.

Take the book I just finished, it wasn’t in the horror genre, mostly because I felt like I needed to try something new.

After writing 10(now 11) books I felt that something wasn’t working. I’d submitted books to agents, short stories for collections and anthologies and heard nothing back. Maybe it’s my writing.

It possibly is. But if it is, I’m going to take the next few months and work on improving that.

I have story ideas all over the place. I can’t stop writing now, it’s the one thing that keeps me going daily, if I were to quit, I’d have to quit other things as well.

Its the feeling of being alone in this process that drives me crazy. I can’t afford to get and editor, especially not during this pandemic. All of our money is focused on continuing to survive.

I’m grateful my wife is able to continue her job and we can continue to have our house, when I know a few people who aren’t in our position.

I’d like to get a push. Some kind of win on this, not that it matters money wise, but for my sanity. it would be helpful.

I’ll keep writing horror and work through the issues I have with sharing them with others.

Sending them to a contest, collection or anthology doesn’t bother me, but having others know what I write does freak me out a bit.

I’m aware that most of my family, other than my wife, won’t read what I write, and maybe I need to get past their approval and stop caring about what they think.

That’s probably for the best.