Under Control

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There’s this part of my day that begins before I start writing but after I’ve eaten breakfast.

I’ve usually started making coffee or my wife has and I’m thinking about the day ahead. I may have taken my son to school(he has two periods where he’s in school)or may not have.

This period is my contemplation.

I’m considering where the story is going. Thinking about the beats to get to the end and all that I still have to write, at least right now. Some days, towards the end of a project this moments are near fleeting and I’m just rocked to get into the story.

But lately, as I work my way through the current project of which is a novel right now, but I’ll be writing a short story the next few days for an anthology to be submitted before the end of the month.

I did that a few weeks ago and it was tough to work on two projects at once. There’s a shift in my brain when I’m writing two stories at once. It’s somewhat exhausting, but as the world is what it is, I have to write in the hope to make money.

If I don’t make the money, at least I have the stories. Every story is an opportunity to get better at the craft and that’s what we’re all after, isn’t it?

So, during this morning period and the thinking about what I have to do, I’ll space off, my wife will leave the room and I’ll focus on what I need to do.

Then as I set up my laptop, login, get the music ready, I check on my family. I make sure everyone is good before I start. This has become a habit as my kids are home most of the time and my wife and are sharing a work space. Well, we’re in the same room anyway.

As I’m writing, I try to become aware of where it’s going. What is the story doing? What is happening to the characters?

By the time I’m done it’s 11:30 or noon and I’m starting helping my kids with their studies.

This is how I control things. These moments in the morning and during the afternoon where I’m hopefully present enough to help with things, which as I haven’t been working events, has become my every day.

I write, help my kids, clean the house, and make dinner. It’s been this way for the last couple of months and at first I wanted to punk out on it, but kept going. Now I look forward to it.

When I’m making dinner or cleaning those are mine for thinking through what I’d written that morning.

I never looked at it that way, but now that it’s an everyday thing, I enjoy those moments of contemplation..

See you on Monday.

Write what works for you, not others.

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When I published my short story collection in October I knew it wouldn’t do well. The point was to publish something this year, regardless of what it was.

I loved writing those stories and enjoyed the process of editing them, putting them together, and putting them out.

When you write, there are things that you hope will happen: that people will read your stories, that you’ll get amazing reviews, and that you’ll connect with those people through your writing.

What happened was none of that.

The only people who bought the collection, now $.99 on Amazon for Kindle, are mostly family. There are couple of outliers, but it’s mostly family.

Here’s the thing about that. My family doesn’t read horror.

My mom used to, but doesn’t anymore. I guess I put together the collection for them, and not for myself, which is fine.

I’ve listened to a authors talk about the fact that their families don’t read horror so why should they write for them?

I took this to heart with the last few stories I’ve written. It’s about what scares me because in the end, if I’m not scared when I write something, the reader won’t be either.

Writing for you is more important than anything.

There are family members who will be turned off by writing for various reasons.

I realized I’m okay with that. I write for me first and if I like the scary parts I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Your writing should be important to you, not to your family. If someone doesn’t like the bits about gore, it’s not for them. If they’re turned off by those things, remember, you liked them and someone else will as well.

Throw the dirty, gory, nasty things into your writing that you’ve been afraid to. Put it all out there, someone will like it.

I’ve read a lot of extreme horror in the last few months because I hadn’t read it. I wanted to see how far other authors have gone, and realized something. There were great swaths of things I was afraid to write that these authors shrugged at and went more fucked up.

So I’m doing that now.

I’ve written scenes I wouldn’t have dared write six months ago, but seeing where other authors went, I dug myself a hole and followed it into the dark.

Chase the dark, it’s where the best part of horror lies.

We’re always figuring things out.

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Next week I publish a book and it’s been a learning experience.

The whole thing has changed my perspective on what I write and how I write. I used to think I could only write in one genre, this book and another I wrote in April made me rethink what I write.

The book next week is a collection of horror stories, while the book in January is a political thriller.

I denied myself writing a thriller book for years because I felt I shouldn’t write it.

I considered myself a horror writer because I love horror. My favorite books and movies have always been horror. Narrowing myself to only horror limited what I wrote. I didn’t intend for it to do that but it did.

I still love horror but for some reason I’m having a hell of a time writing long form. Short stories happen easily, but long form are a pain in the ass.

I wish I knew why I have this issue.

I loved writing the stories in the collection which comes out next week, they’re all horror of some sort or another.

You can find it on Amazon for Kindle or Barnes & Noble for Nook.

I don’t understand why I have this issue, but I do. I hope you’ll get the book. I enjoyed writing every line of those horror stories.

About long breaks…

I took a break from this blog for a while to work on things.

If you follow me on social media, you saw my post. I have been working on this collection for most of the summer and another project that fell apart.

The latter of these things made me realize a few things about myself and my writing. I am really good at writing short horror stories. But when it comes to a longer form of horror, I have trouble. let me explain.

From April 4th to May 4th I wrote the first draft of a 100,000 word novel.

This novel is different from anything I’d written prior, and it is the only novel I’ve followed a beat sheet and outline to the letter.

It is a very strong first draft. Possibly the best first draft of a novel I’ve ever written. I owe that to the set up with the outline and beat sheet.

The book will be coming out in January and it is not horror.

When I was a teenager I read the military and political thrillers that were popular in the late 80’s and 90’s by authors like Tom Clancy.

At the time I wasn’t allowed to read any other books, or at least that’s how it felt. Any time I asked to read something other than those books, my father rebuffed me and it was only in my room where I could read the books I wanted to read; horror, comics, fantasy, and science fiction being my favorites.

When I began to write my own stories I swore I’d never create worlds like Clancy’s. This came about because of the way I feel towards me father(he and I don’t have a relationship).

With the books I felt I had to read it was about control and I have an issue with being controlled, as we all should.

I believe that by allowing the way I was treated to enter into my head, it stopped me from following a path that maybe I should have followed.

The first idea I had for a novel was along the lines of the military/political thriller, but I closed myself off to that because of the trauma I experienced growing up. In other words, I allowed it to stop my creativity because I worried old feelings would come back.

Now it comes back around to the novel I’ll be self-publishing in January. There are other novels I’m currently writing or ideas I’m pondering contained within the same world.

It is a change that maybe I needed to do. I believe by allowing myself to be stopped creatively because of past trauma, I rejected stories which I would have enjoyed as well as ones that would push me.

Today, I’m moving forward with these books because I really enjoy writing them more than anything else. I consider myself a writer who does not limit themselves to one genre. I will write in whichever genre a story comes to me, I only wish I knew why I had such a difficult time with creating outlines for horror novels.

Maybe this is just a learning experience and I need to figure it out at another time, but for now I’ll write these political/military thrillers because they give me a joy that I’ve rarely found in writing.

Here is the link for the short story collection. I hope you enjoy the stories. There are some dark ones in there and I enjoyed writing each of them.

Bending the Spoon

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We reach a point in our minds where there are two worlds, the daytime regular everything and the written worlds within our minds.

The surrender of which world we’d like to live in exists somewhere in there. It comes and goes, but its there.

The story drives it and that story pushes the boundaries of whether we consider ourselves sane. It can be all consuming. Taking all of our time, energy, and often, patience.

There are two stories within this.

There is the act of ignoring the story, and may disappear from wherever stories come from, or it may stay. That depends on the writer and how much they love the story.

This idea of love of one’s writing is not something a non-writer will understand, hell, a non-creative won’t understand it. I don’t understand it sometimes.

But there is a love of our stories. It’s why we choose to keep it on our hard drives and not send it into the world.

The second part is fear.

We choose to live in fear of what others will say about our stories because the fear is like a warm blanket. It’s this fear that keeps us writing, but it also inhibits our growth as writers. For if we choose to keep our writing to ourselves we hinder its ability to move people. Which is what we want.

We want what we write to move people either spiritually or emotionally. It’s the reason so many of the top rated books in any genre have moved us to tears.

There is something else to this.

We have to move the way we see ourselves and our writing if we’re to ever do anything with it. Which may lead us to into a place where we’re no longer comfortable.

We must stretch our legs and write things we needed to write. Stories about our childhood that only we will see. Novels that only we will read.

There is a point in our writing where a story comes along, we finish it and have hope for it but after looking at our other work, it doesn’t fit. It’s completely outside our normal range of work.

But in writing that story we’ve exorcised a few demons. We’ve completed a story we don’t see.

We’ve move forward along our timeline in a way that makes us understand that it’s not the story that’s changed, but ourselves.