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.

Found myself in Limbo today.

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The last few months have tried my mentally and physically. I’ve barely written a word in the last couple of months and those I’ve written I don’t care for.

I’ll never stop writing, but right it feels hard. I don’t know it’s this way, but it is and it’s causing my depression issues to creep back in. I want to be left alone to read, watch movies, and do absolutely nothing, but that’s not a possibility.

The aspects of not writing or being blocked, which I’m not sure if I’m blocked or if there’s something else going on.

I had a good discussion with my editor about my military/political thriller on Tuesday and it gave me a lot of confidence to continue to write in that genre, but it hasn’t turned into new words on the page.

I’ve dealt with a lot in the last couple of months with my mental state, what I want to do and whether I’ll continue to write, it’s a yes on the latter, and confusion on the former.

It’s difficult to deal with childhood issues when you’re working on them. It’s also difficult to understand that trauma you dealt with as a kid when it raises its head at the most inopportune of times.

I’m trying to work past all of this, but it’s quite difficult to understand why I’m stuck. I’ll go back and erase some of the items in the draft, or move them around. They’re hard to deal with and they set the story on a path I’m not comfortable with at the moment. I have to get back to writing and not worrying about whether the story is going in a direction that is manageable. Sometimes it manages itself, and I need to get back to my writing moving smoothly. It’s not happening right now.

I’m feeling a bit lost with my writing and it not flowing is making it worse. I’d wanted to have a finished draft of the espionage thriller done by the end of May, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. I have plans for other books within the same world.

My brain has been active with regards to writing this stuff but my fingers have not. I’m writing, just in my head not on the page.

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.

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.

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.