Darkness comes in slow breaths

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There are moments, little pictures in my head of darkness. How it comes into my head, forming like clouds in the sky, I’ll never understand, but it does.

When these moments come, they’re like breaths on my face, or a whisper in the trees.

They came often enough as a teenager I wrote some of them down. Turned them into sad, shitty poetry, but later they came through as dark stories. I never understood where they came from, but thought it may have been caused by the divorce of my parents. Then, in my early twenties, it sound right, now, I think it was always there.

I’ve thought about darkness, the slow breathing of it, the rapid heartbeats that follow a particularly dramatic scene, and how I’ve always enjoyed that rapid breathing. How when I watch horror it does something to me.

I feel more at home in those dark cupboards, closed down buildings, and with the monsters, than I ever have in the light.

Some people are born in darkness, others have it showed to them, and it changes them. It needs prodding, poking, and sometimes, screams, to bring it out, but it’s always there.

Writing the story from this past week I dealt with a darkness I rarely touch on because it makes me uncomfortable. I feel it’s harder to write the human as the dark thing instead of a physical monster.

We can explain the monster as it being a monster, but the human that is the monster, it’s harder for us to explain.

The best example of this, for me, was The Girl Next Door. We see the things in the book, and because of Jack Ketchum’s brilliance with words, we feel complicit. We feel we’re part of what’s happening.

I didn’t read for a couple of weeks after that book. It all felt too hard knowing that what happened within the pages of that book were based on a true case.

The human monster, regardless of its form, scares the hell out of me. It’s also the most difficult for me to write and it takes something out of me when I do it.

We see the news, but we only experience it through a screen. We’re not there. That’s the brilliance of certain authors. We feel like we’re involved.

I’ve tried to grasp that, and know my diversity with books is a where I falter, and I will do better about that.

Each moment within a book is taken from that author’s mind, and if we want to get to the root, we must understand the process of writing better, or at least I need to understand my process better.

When the darkness would come as a child, I’d shrug it off. Now that I embrace it, it’s much easier to travel roads I never would have. This is where I’ve grown the most in my writing.

Embracing the breath. Chasing the darkness, and loving the full taste of it all.

Getting on sure footing

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Let’s face it, I haven’t been doing well.

If you’ve read my posts over the last few weeks you know that, but I’d like to say I figured out my new project, and while I may need assistance with parts of it, I like where it may be going.

I’m also reading “Suburban Gothic” by Brian Keene and Bryan Smith. I read Urban Gothic last October and well, that was one way to start with Brian Keene’s work. I’d recommend “Ghoul” instead.

But I digress.

Since I’ve learned a lot over the last few weeks about myself and how I need to manage certain aspects of my writing, as well as my life, I need to get something off my chest.

I’ve been drinking to get through this shit. I don’t know why, but that’s what it is.

I’ve put it away to focus on this story and my mental health, which sometimes goes hand in hand. I also intend to submit the novella soon. I’d intended to do it this week, but my wife is busy, and depending on what happens next week, she’ll be busier.

I was in a bad place for most of the last three weeks, maybe a month, and it’s been difficult to function.

I’m working through some shit and it’s been difficult, but writing is what keeps me sane, as well as above ground. There are many ways to get through depression and alcohol and brooding over shit is not the way to do it.

This new project is going to help, and as I said Wednesday, I’m skipping some levels on this project and will have to go to a very dark place to get there. Which is one of the reasons I’m reading “Suburban Gothic.”

I hope you have good weekend, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll chat with you on Monday.

Optimism and Doubt

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If you talk to me about anything besides writing, I’m optimistic as hell.

For some reason when it comes to writing the optimism goes out the window. It doesn’t matter that I’ve written 11 books, 5 novellas, and over a hundred short stories. When I sit down in the chair to work in the morning, doubt is the first thing in my mind.

Nowhere has this been evident than in the current project. I’m in the beginning stages of it, but the feelings that I can’t write it, that writing it will take me to a really dark place, and it’s all because of the subject matter, which is to say it lightly darker than I’ve gone before.

One thing about writing horror is that the dark is my safe space. I love to watch scary movies, read scary books, and sometimes play scary video games.

But the doubt that I can’t create this story the way it needs to be written has me doubting writing it at all, which would be a travesty since I feel the idea is awesome.

I’ve told my wife this story will have me skipping some levels. I won’t just be doing things in the dark like some of my stories, they’ll be out front for the whole world to see, which is scary.

My wife told me that with the subject matter, she probably won’t be reading this one, and I’m cool with that.

I have trouble reading some extreme horror, and it’s because it don’t enjoy it. I have set books down that took me somewhere my mind didn’t want to go, and there are authors I won’t read because I don’t enjoy what they write, but some people do and that’s okay.

When it comes to optimism I have the lion’s share with the pandemic, when a family member is sick, or anything else in my personal life, but trusting my gut is harder when it involves writing a type of horror that is on the outside of what makes me comfortable to write.

Writing is about boundaries, at least for me, and knocking those boundaries down can be difficult, as can taking the story slower than I usually do. Having written three novellas in the last three months has me wanting to move quick through the story, but this one can’t be rushed.

I usually sit down, turn on Mac Freedom, set a timer for 25 minutes and write, with this one that’s been difficult, but I’ll keep going because not writing isn’t an option.

As I get past this boundary I know it will make me a better writer, and less afraid of writing out of comfort zone. This one is so far beyond my comfort zone that my optimism took a hit, but I’ll keep going.

Hope you’re all having a great week, and I’ll talk on Friday about something else.

Starting over…

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After struggling with my mental state and my writing over the last few weeks, the thought of a reset, starting over, whatever you wish to call it, has been on my mind.

.A reset in the way I’m dealing with depression issues, my writing, my bartending, and whatever may come up.

In regards to depression, I’m making a list of what’s been setting it off. Why I’ve been struggling, and I’m fairly certain this has to do with the elimination of people who are better left out of my life, for one reason or another.

With writing, I’m going back to stories I’ve read that pushed me to get better. I’m starting up with Dark Descent again. There are amazing stories in that anthology, and I need to work on my short story issues. ,

I know there are writing problems with my short stories, and I’m working on them, but seeing how the greats do it helps me.

Bartending: I honestly don’t know how to approach this without sounding preachy. I worked last summer during the height of the pandemic, with some people wearing masks, but it feels like we’re back to that. I don’t like doing events. I’d rather be home with my wife and kids working on my writing. But the deal with my wife is I have to bartend until my writing eclipses my yearly salary, which is only 10k.

This reset and starting over hopefully will lead to better management of all that I listed above.

Have a good weekend and get some work done, or not. Maybe take the weekend to have fun.

Going it alone

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I’ve reached a point with my writing where I have to do some of this alone. I don’t have anyone to read my drafts other than myself.

My wife, who is usually my first reader no longer has time to read anything of mine. It sucks, but she pays the majority of our bills and its not worth forcing the issue.

I gave her a novella in July and she never got to it. So, I have to move forward doing this myself.

I’ve mentioned we can’t afford an expensive editor. This is me going it alone on all of my projects going forward.

I’ve looked at an editor for my military/political thriller, but it’s also 86k and the editors I looked at on Reedsy wanted over a thousand dollars for that. We can’t afford that.

This problem led me to reevaluate my writing goals numerous times, and even contemplate quitting altogether. When we don’t feel like we’re getting the support we need, the world feels like its on fire and we can’t locate a fire extinguisher. At least that’s how it feels to me.

Today I finished the edits on a novella, which means I ran it through Grammarly and the Hemingway app. I know that’s not ideal, but it’s all I have.

Going it alone is depressing. Now that my time away from doing events nears its end, I have to go back to dealing with people not wearing masks in a state with 1500 new cases as of today, 25% of those in kids, with the majority of them in the 0-3 years old range.

I don’t know another way, but going it alone is better than quitting. I may submit the novella as is. I don’t really want to, but I’m leaving that open as an option.

My hope in this working alone is that it represents a changing in how I approach my writing and how I approach everything else, which falls in line with my post from Monday.

I’m still eliminating the toxicity, and I feel better, but there are moments, like today, where I wonder if I would be better off quitting trying to publish my writing. I can’t stop writing, but working to get published became something more daunting recently.

I’ll keep going, but damn I wish I had some assistance.