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.

Exercise, Anxiety, and getting my mind right.

I reached a breaking point.

This happened for a number of reasons. The main on being I haven’t taken care of myself lately.

I stopped working out, I’m not sure why. I wasn’t burnt out. My muscles weren’t sore or my joints, I just stopped.

Exercise, mostly weight training, has always been in my life.

My biological father did bodybuilding when I was younger and when I turned 14 he got me in the weight room.

Initially I didn’t care for it, spending most of my gym time in the pool instead of the weight room. I’ve always loved the water. It’s a Pisces thing.

As long grew older I fell in love with being in the gym. I enjoyed the feeling of the weights, the pump in my muscles and attended the Olympia on a couple of occasions.

Until recently I never associated the gym with my mental wellbeing. It was just something I did.

Then I looked at where my life was when I spent the most time in the gym or my muscles grew the most.

Those were emotional times.

In high school I used my weight training class to deal with my teenage anxiety. Never understanding then what I was doing.

In my early twenties I used it to deal with loneliness and that I was an awkward shy person.

I found comfort in the weight room. It was something I could do where my effort determined the results.

In my late twenties I used it to deal with our first miscarriage. Then in my early thirties to deal with my daughter’s early birth and first month in the NICU.

As I moved up on age I never noticed this, until now.

Most recently, I used it to deal with the death of my big brother.

When I struggle most I return to the weight room. That’s what I’m beginning again.

It’s another way to deal with anxiety, my writing frustrations, and just with every day life issues.

It has never failed in getting my mind right. It never failed in adjusting my attitude or my mindset.

TM keeps my mind in good shape, but with the combination of TM and exercise everything fires on all cylinders.

I’m back in the gym because I realized it keeps my mind more focused when I do it.

I may not thank my biological father for much, but a love of the weight room will always be one of them.

Have a good weekend.

Get shit done, have some fun, and keep going.

Catching the failure bug

The problem of being an unpublished writer it there isn’t a metric of comparison. I can’t compare myself to my writing idols, they have something I don’t.

This weekend, after I reconciled with myself about my actions, I thought about my work ethic.

Have I been working hard enough to get published? Am I focusing properly? Is there something more I could be doing?

I realized there are a few things I’m not doing and some I’m not doing enough of. There are streams of sunlight at the end of each storm, but we tend to think of the storm, what it did, how it wrecked us, but we don’t think about the clean up. We’re too focused on the storm.

The storm struck me this past weekend. It made me question my writing, it made me question myself.

For me and my struggles with depression, this is a dangerous road to travel. Much like sandbags along a river, I have to set up markers and ways to stop the progress of doubt and feelings the stop or hinder me.

These markers usually work, but this one, it’s taking things away from me.

I’m working to get through it. I stare at the keys when I’m writing and wonder if I should keep going. I get words, but are they good enough?

I feel my writing is good. I’ve improved greatly over the last eighteen months. But the doubt crept in. The sandbags filled with water and the dam broke.

Life tosses us through the storm, the sandbags break, the water spills over the dam, but we keep going because that’s who we are and that’s what we do.

But sometimes, the dam breaking hurts. It causes us to question where we’re going.

I’m struggling a bit this week. It’s been a while since I have, but putting it on the page for the world to see and for the world to know helps me get through it.

Don’t let anyone distract you!

There’s a point when you’re an unpublished writer and all of your writer friends aren’t on the same level you feel you’re on.

This isn’t about bragging, narcissism, or vanity.

It’s about focus!

Projects may come along which can divert your attention, take away your focus, shifting it somewhere you don’t want it to go.

These projects are distractions from your goal, they’re mental masturbation.

You might get some joy out of them but they will always take your focus away from your goals.

They’re you telling yourself, it’s okay to do this thing these other people are doing because it “might” make you better. But you have goals to focus on, you have self-imposed deadlines to meet.

When everyone around doesn’t have true, set on paper goals for their writing it doesn’t matter what they’re doing. It’s a distraction. And distractions take you away from your goals.

Don’t let anyone tell you your goals aren’t real, that they aren’t attainable. And never let anyone distract you from those goals.

Why I love writing horror.

This post goes to the heart of who I am as a person.

For as a long as I can remember I’ve loved horror. I read a few books when I was younger, but horror movies fueled my childhood.

I watched Children of the Corn and Halloween when I was eight.

In my teen years, my father wasn’t home quite a bit and I would stay up and watch horror movies on HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime.

He wouldn’t let me get horror books when we’d go to the book store so I watched a lot of the movies.

As I grew up I loved to be scared and I remember my dad taking me to see “A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy’s Dead.”

It was the first time I saw a horror movie on the big screen and parts of it were in 3D.

My biological father would never have taken me to see it but my dad, he’s always been cool that way.

I love to be scared and when I was able to buy my own books I devoured them. Clive Barker’s Books of Blood is a favorite.

Recently, my wife and I would read horror, then trade books and have a discussion about them.

I came to writing horror and dark fantasy because I enjoy being scared.

It took me a long time, my wife and mom would say too long, to accept that I’m a horror and fantasy writer.

Sometimes, as a writer we deny who we are because we’re afraid of judgment. But the only one who can judge us is ourselves.

Be free to write what you enjoy and don’t let what anyone thinks about what you write or create make you feel bad.

It’s your art, enjoy it!

Happy writing!