When I found my voice.

There’s this often referred to mystical thing called voice.

It’s talked about in books, podcasts, hell I’ve even seen it referenced in movies.

There are many types of voices within a story. There is the narrative voice, each characters particular voice and then there is the distinctive voice each author gives to the story.

Some authors find it early in the writing career, others keep going and find it after writing 9 books.

It’s taken me to the latter of these.

It was never explained to me what this voice means. It’s difficult to explain.

The only way I can describe it is like this.

When you read a Stephen King book, you know it’s King by his description, by his character creation and the way he handles his monsters.

The same goes for any author. Neil Gaiman is another.

You know his work by the mood he sets in his books.

There is a moodiness or vibe to all of Neil’s books. I’ve loved his writing since Sandman. I’ve read a lot of his books. Anansi Boys is my favorite.

With every author you know that author from how they construct, how they build, how each of their stories flow.

This is what your voice is. I can’t tell you how to find it, only that you will.

You’ll discover it while reading one of your stories. You’ll set it down, step back and wonder when it happened.

It will happen, but you have to keep going to discover it.

When it does, you’ll understand why, and you’ll also understand why other stories didn’t work.

You’ll find it. Keep writing.

When we know what works and what doesn’t.

For the last three weeks I’ve been trying to outline.

I’ve read through the books I have on the subject and the ones I have about beat sheets.

This week I reached a point where reality smacked me in the face. I stared at what I had and tried to write from the outline, then it started to go in another direction.

This is what always happened when I was writing into the dark. But I know this story.

I wrote it as a short story last year. I always wanted to turn it into a novel. My writing group didn’t like the story. It was too dark, too disturbing.

I think that’s why I wrote the fantasy novel.

They write fantasy and sci-fi, I’ve said how much I struggle to write in those genres.

But they didn’t get the story, they don’t read horror.

I was trying to placate them, but in doing that I stopped doing what I enjoyed, horror.

But back on track to the point of this.

I’ve tried really hard over the last three weeks to pull this off and the writing is terrible.

It feels stilted and boring. And the biggest thing of all, I haven’t been having fun.

I usually enjoy my time in the chair. The last three weeks felt like torture.

Yesterday, I wanted to try something out.

An experiment if you will.

I started writing, putting the outline away, and I busted out a bunch of words and it was fun.

I understand I write this way for a reason. It feels comfortable and I don’t worry about sticking to an outline.

I know this story, so maybe that’s why I’m having an easier time. I know what happens and when. I know the ending, understand the characters and love the scary parts.

When I get a new idea maybe I’ll outline that, but for now, with this story, I’ll write it like this.

I also realized that it hasn’t been the drafting part I’m horrible at, it’s the editing.

I even asked questions on Reddit about it.

Understanding where my writing fails is important. It gives me something to work towards. It allows me to improve.

I write into the dark, discovery write, or pantsing because that feels most comfortable when I’m drafting a story. But when it comes to editing, I suck.

Now I know the problem and I’ll be working on fixing it.

These last three weeks also took me back into the pit of depression. That’s a place I’ve fought to stay out of.

I’ve been stressed over this outline business more than anything in a long time. Now I’m moving forward, my way, because I have to.q

Have a good weekend and I’ll see you Monday.

Fear and what it does to us.

I was talking to my wife the other night as we lay in bed.

We want to go to London and Edinburgh with our kids next summer and I said, “well if we go there at least we won’t get shot at.”

This is what we’ve come to.

My kids go back to school in two weeks and then it’s stress time.

Any time the sound of siren passes down the street we wonder. Is that going to their school?

It’s a horrible place to be in as a human and a parent to think this way, but it’s the only way I can think.

We’ve reached a point where we cower in fear at the sound of siren, a car backfiring, and fireworks going off.

It’s not normal to act this but unfortunately it’s the point we’ve reached.

I’ve talked to other parents who react the same way and it’s terrifying.

I don’t look at this as a political issue, it’s a human rights issue.

My kids and everyone else’s kids deserve to attend school without having lockdown drills.

Myself and other parents deserve to not worry about a shooting but whether their kid is enjoying school.

I’ve reached the point where I’d rather travel overseas with my family than in the country of my birth.

My family has roots going to the 1600’s in this country. It’s about what’s right and decent not about what’s politically popular.

Finding your path.

There are these paths that we take. They lead us through troubles waters, rough seas, and storms that wish to drown us.

They come at us in ways we’re not expecting.

Parents we once trusted, siblings we’d do anything for, and friends who were washed away with our dreams of a better life.

These paths meander, sometimes converge, but most often they lead us to where we’re supposed to be in our lives.

We follow this journey in the footprints of others. We see the light pouring through the clouds at times. It leads us, protects us, but most often it does not lead us astray.

We journey on this path, the footsteps feeling more like quicksand, our feet sinking. Struggling to keep ourselves above the fray of who and what we are.

The path takes us to a place we knew we had to go but didn’t want to because of a fear of losing people.

It is upon this path, in this sanctuary that we discover where we’re going, what we are supposed to do when we get there and it’s only in these moments when absolute clarity reaches us.

The clarity of mind, of life, and of a choice to follow the path presented is one that we must take alone. In it we’ll understand why other things never worked.

Our journey, our path, and the guide within takes us to exactly where we need to be at the point in our lives we should be there.

It’s taken too long for me to find this path. Now that I’ve reached it, I’ll continue down its shores, within its green forests, and find my way through the desert.

It’s better when you write what you enjoy.

For the longest time I’ve been trying to write a fantasy novel, but I never thought about why I’m writing it.

Yesterday I did.

I write fantasy because I felt it was expected of me, not because I enjoyed it.

I had a friend turn me on to Fantasy books when I worked in Vegas. It was a genre I never understood and one I never thought about reading.

It always seemed too complicated, too busy and of the 3 novels I’ve written in the genre none of them gave me pleasure in their writing.

I wrote them because it felt expected of me. For the same reason the first novel I wrote was a vampire story. It was expected of me.

I’ve gone back to that vampire story a few times. It’s awful, as first novels usually are, but the story idea is good and I may do something with it later.

The only stories that give me pleasure are horror stories.

There is something about scaring people.

I love the act of creating a story that not only scares the reader but is unsettling to myself as well.

Short fantasy stories are fine, little ones where the reader is following one person. Not the arching novels of Brandon Sanderson. I love to read those books, thanks to a friend, but writing them brings nothing but stress and frustration.

I’ll stick with horror. It’s what I always liked as a kid.

I’d find myself staying up when I’d go to my grandparents. Watching the late night scary movies that aired on HBO, or Tales From The Crypt. Those were some of my favorites.

I remember picking up a copy of Fangoria in the book store and staring at it.

People would stare at me, my own father wouldn’t buy them for me, but I’d sit and read them any chance I got.

The dark, the macabre, and the creepy runs deep in my blood and I enjoy writing those tales the most.

It’s better to write what you enjoy, rather than what someone expects of you.

I had a conversation about this with my mom a while ago. She told me, “I wondered why you wrote anything other than horror.”

Listen to your mom. She knows you best.

It’s what I’ll stick to from now on.

Happy Friday. Have a good weekend.

Outlining, mental health, and stress.

Let’s be honest.

I’m really having trouble with this outline stuff.

Having written one way the last 14 years or so, and suddenly trying to write with an outline is fucking hard. Like a lot harder than I expected it to be.

It’s starting to affect my mental health.

Last week I joined a local gym because I like throwing heavy weights around and I didn’t have enough of them in my house.

I’m using it to handle the stress of trying to outline and make the story better.

But truthfully I’m using it because I quit drinking a couple of weeks ago.

I used alcohol as a crutch so many times in my life. I got to the point when things would go south at home I’d reach for a bottle, do a shot, or two and act like I didn’t.

I haven’t written anything new in a couple of weeks as well. I know it doesn’t have to do with the alcohol but more with my overall mental state.

Writing gets things out. It always has. It is my way to comment on life, politics, and the world.

I know that’s what it is more than anything.

I strayed from writing those things because I felt I had to write something else.

I hate that I did that but glad I’m aware of it.

Awareness is important when you’re dealing with stress and your mental state. Sometimes they go hand-in-hand.

I understand outlining is where my writing process needs to go and I’ll go there but it’s on my terms.

And my mental health is more important than a story.

Take care of yourselves. Get some extra rest, do one thing this week that makes enjoy life.

When writing things click.

A while ago, like ten years or something my cousins who is published traditionally, and who publishes independently gave me a book.

It’s John Truby’s Anatomy of Story.

At that point I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how to use the book, didn’t think I needed the book, and was determined to do it on my own.

Here’s a tip, when someone gets you something and they’re trying to help you, use it. Do whatever it takes to understand it .

If you don’t get it, ask for help. It’s really okay to ask for help.

Go to Reddit and ask. The people on R/writing are awesome.

But use whatever is at your disposal.

I never asked. I was stubborn and borderline asshole.

The belief that we can do something ourselves and ignore what people tell us is stupid.

You need help, ask.

Now that I’m trying to figure this out(ten years later)I’m struggling to do so.

I should’ve listened to her. Paid attention and not just read the book and not understood it. I should have done a lot of things differently.

Now that I am doing things different, I understand she was trying to help me.

She was trying to get me to understand writing on a different level.

It’s taken me a while but I’m getting there.