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.

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!

You have to put a book away sometimes.

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Last year I struggled to read books. I started strong but got stuck along the way. I’m certain I know which book did it: Lonesome Dove.

Don’t get me wrong I loved the book, but I felt like I read it for months. I’m feeling the same way with The Brothers Karamazov. Which I’ll be setting aside for a while. I finished Lonesome Dove last month, followed quickly by Streets of Laredo which was a good book, but it’s not the same as Lonesome Dove.

I need to read something fun. Dostoevsky is not fun. I’m enjoying reading about the characters but feel like so much is dragging on about various story threads. It feels closer to a bunch of stories put together to form a book rather than a novel with cohesion. I don’t care for the story, but the prose is incredible. There’s a difference.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I picked up a couple of books recently and I’m a subscriber to the Nightworms monthly book box. I received last month’s books and haven’t touched them because I’ve been reading Karamazov.

I recently finished watching the Reacher show on Prime and while I’ve read the first book, I haven’t read any of the others. I think I’ll read some of them for a while, then read the Nightworms books.

It’s okay to put a book down if you’re feeling overwhelmed, bored, not digging the story, or that you’d rather brush your teeth than go through another paragraph. Read what you want to read and read for enjoyment, not for a number.

Anyway, I enjoyed the Reacher show. I’m glad they’re going to do another season. I’m going to read something fun for a while. Dostoevsky feels like schoolwork.

Don’t let research bog you down.

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A few years ago I was looking into cults and after one book I fell down a rabbit hole of cult stuff.

I read “Raven” about Jim Jones and Jonestown, watched a couple of documentaries about it, and kept going with other documentaries about Heaven’s Gate, Manson, and well, there are a lot of books and movies on the subject.

I started this research because of one story. A story that has sat on my hard drive for the last few years. It’s only as I thought of how to reconstruct the current project that it came back. I’m sorting through all of the cult stuff to make this story more interesting. I’m taking my time to inject all that I enjoyed about the former drafts while incorporating the contents of the short story.

The research about cults was fascinating but having done it to such a depth where it occupied a lot of my time wasn’t healthy, but I’m also aware that it will help me with this story.

Research no matter how small, if you’re fascinated by the material, will lead you down a few rabbit holes and it can be hard to climb out.

I’m able to use the material now but felt like I’d stepped in something at the time.

It’s a bit of a crap shoot sometimes with research, but don’t fall down rabbit holes.

Taking your time and getting through the drafts.

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Through trial and error, I’m discovering that I need to take more time with a story before I commit to writing. This comes as I’m working on the 3rd rewrite and 6th draft of this story.

I don’t take enough time to figure everything out. I jump in feet first and don’t think about it. It takes me more drafts to do that and as I worked on the story this morning I’m understanding the story better. It could be the draft number, but I’m realizing more about the story I didn’t see before.

I won’t get into the specifics because I’m submitting the story again this year, but it’s about more than I thought it was. Parts of it are personal, others are just the story, but I hope it finds a home.

But I digress.

When I take my time I understand the story, and while it takes a few years, it’s a better story for it. The current story started a couple of years ago as a short story. It’s changed what it is, but the meat is still in it and the heart continues to beat.

Getting through each draft is the maddening part of it. My wife thinks I should outline and narrow the scope to reduce the number of drafts. Some stories don’t let me do that. I know the story’s bones when I sit down. That’s not all the time, but usually, I construct the rest of the story around those bones. When I don’t know it I may sketch the thought down, just to have a record of it. I’ll work with that thought over a few weeks. If I have enough I’ll get to work. If not it sits.

The problem is jumping into a story without having those bones, ligaments, tendons. The heart may be there, but it’s a lifeless, grey thing without the other parts.

I’m trying to slow down with these drafts and construct something better.

I have to get other things done today. I hope you’re all well and I’ll see you on Friday.