It’s difficult…

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A while ago, I don’t remember when, I came across a quote. I don’t remember if it was about writing or not, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t, but it was something to the effect of, “When things get hard, that means you’ve leveled up.”

I must have leveled up like a mother f’er, because things have been difficult as hell. I know my regular readers will acknowledge that.

Here’s the thing, you have to fight through it. I’ll continue to take some time off because I’m still struggling, but this quote popped in my head today, I don’t know why, but it did.

Now, there is this quote and there is my writing that I haven’t done shit with, at least not enough for me.

I’m also thinking about how I’ve looked at my writing. How I’d hoped getting published would help my family out, even a little bit, but that hasn’t happened, but this realization has.

So, let’s do a bit of retcon:

I’ve written 6 or 7 books since my family moved from Las Vegas to Utah six years ago. I’ve submitted nearly all of those books and received rejections on all of them. But with those stories I didn’t edit all of them. I wrote them and they’re on my laptop, but they’re only there, and that’s when another quote hit me, “If you decide rejection is the scariest thing to you, you’ll always avoid it, but if decide regret is the scariest thing, then you’ll continue. No rejection could be as painful as the regret of not trying.”

Rejection hurts like a mother f’er, but that act of not trying and the regret I’ll feel over that is more painful.

Back to the retcon:

Finding a way out and deciding to limit my exposure to social media as well as writing for me instead of writing to get published will change how I feel. I will continue to submit, but I will not submit so I can say, “look what I did.” That’s not going to work.

I will submit based upon whether I have something or if it’s a finished project, I’ll submit it, but as for submitting just for the act of it, I’m not doing that anymore. It’s too damn hard.

I will continue to write horror and maybe other genres, but my dark heart requires blood and I’ll feed it.

Where from here…

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I worked a bartending gig on Saturday and it was boring. I used that empty time to try and figure out where I go from here.

I love writing stories, but trying to get anything published feels like I’m wasting my time.

Here’s a bit of history:

  1. I started this blog in one iteration in 2004 I think. I’ve gained a lot of readers, but that never translated to readers outside of this blog.
  2. I’ve written 11 novels. I’ve submitted half of those to agents. All of them received form rejection letters.
  3. I’ve written over a hundred short stories, at least half of which I’ve submitted, with the same response as I listed above.
  4. I feel like I’m improving in my writing, but the submission grind has worn me down.
  5. It feels like I’m trying to prove something to someone, and maybe that’s where I’m screwing up.
  6. After over ten years of this I’m not sure I have the mental strength to keep submitting while only receiving rejections.
  7. I feel like I’m doing this alone. I don’t mean in the sense that I’m writing alone. It feels like the little bit of support I get isn’t enough to keep me writing.
  8. I’ve considered taking a step back for a while, without the blog or social media. I don’t use this blog as much as I once did and I don’t feel I get much of out of it anymore, and social media feels the same way.

That list is a lot to take in. As I read what I wrote it feels like I’m bitching, which maybe I am.

I once used this blog as a way to get my thoughts out, I’ve stepped away from that and used it as something that feels like I’m ranting constantly.

I get a few people reading here and there, but for the most part it and social media feels like a waste of time. There are a couple of reasons I’ve stayed on Twitter. I love the horror community on there. When everyone isn’t fighting over bullshit we do great. The second reason is, it’s the only place I’ve found reliable listings for submissions.

Maybe I need a reboot, a hard reboot. I hate to lose all of the followers of this blog and Twitter, but anymore, they’re only numbers.

I have a short story out for submission and a novella, but with my 10 year track record I’m not holding out hope for either of them.

Ten years ago my wife and I lost a storage unit. We had a lot of stuff in there, but it was just stuff we’d collected as kids or adults. We were upset, but I told my wife, “It’s just stuff. What’s important is us.” That’s how I’m feeling about social media and this blog. It’s just stuff.

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.