And Now… For Something Completely Different.

One of the worst things as a writer, is to bore yourself. That might be true of any one, writer or not. Maybe what I mean is to stop feeling challenged. For over seven years I’ve dabbled in one genre, romantic comedies with the occasional dip into urban fantasy. I still have stories I’d like to tell, but don’t feel the excitement I once had when opening myself to these worlds I’ve created. Perhaps part of the problem is I know what happens. I’ve seen the story unfold and the ultimate end for my Vampire series. You can’t have fun if you know the ending. Of course for you guys waiting for the ending, my reluctance to get on with it might be off-putting. The thing is, if you don’t feel it, you can’t write it.

Shouldn’t write it might be closer to the truth. Any creative medium is all about passion. If you don’t feel passionate about the project, don’t force it to unfold. You can tell it, and a reader can certainly see it. I would much rather let a story hang than tell a story that is flat and just plain boring.

In an effort to avoid just that happening, I decided to open a blank doc and see what new worlds I had floating around in my head. My imagination being what it is, I figured I should have something in there to offer me a challenge. It’s not like I’ve ever limited my reading to just one genre. No, I have always read things based on what sparks my imagination. My first love had been the Hardy Boys books. I loved solving the mysteries along with them. Sometimes I even managed to beat them to the punch. Before long, I had no trouble solving the mystery before they got half way through the book. As I grew up, or grew geeky, I moved on to Fantasy and Science Fiction. No. I’m not forgetting comic books. They’ve been a steady constant in my life I don’t see disappearing from the radar anytime soon. As I entered my teens I moved on to horror and espionage novels. Stephen King, Anne Rice and Tom Clancy replaced Tolkien and a host of authors too many to name. Romance novels didn’t enter the literary picture of my reading until I was sixteen.

The point is, I have multitude of genres to pick from to start this new phase of my author existence. Never one to limit myself, I set about to combine a couple of loves into this new effort. Really, I have a few ideas rolling around in my head wanting to be let out. I had to just see which one was talking the loudest. More importantly, which one felt closest to me.

See, that’s the thing. Writing is personal. It hits too close to home like nothing else ever will. You are purging yourself out into the universe. You are letting total strangers get a glimpse inside who you truly are. That is the secondary effect of writing. First and foremost, through the process of writing you discover, as an author, who you are. Well, who you are for this one brief flickering moment in time. We are constantly changing, evolving toward the person we are ultimately meant to be. Authors tell this story of personal evolution indirectly through our books. The person I am today is not the person I was when I began this quest called writing. I have grown. I have gained wisdom through the act of living. I’ve experienced doubt, pain, revelation and so much more. I am new everyday through the process of moving forward with my life. Here’s a secret I’ve learned. You never grow up. You might mature, but your inner outlook is the same as that insecure kid who first looked out from behind their mother to see how big the world truly is. Maturing only allows us to see the many aspects of the world we live in by the context it takes to understand our place in it.

To stay sane, we need to be that child again. We need to discover wonder in the mundane. We need to witness the miracle of life itself, when all we want to do is moan over the fate our choices have led us to. Writing frees that maturity from the swamp of who we are. Sure, we’re talking about cloaking it in fiction, but it’s there nonetheless. Whether anyone else sees who we are is immaterial. The importance lies in us recognizing ourselves in the poppycock we write.

So, where is my maturity taking me? The story speaking the most in my ear is a horror novel. Why horror? Because maturing is not about running from our fears. It’s about facing them and learning from them. What do we fear most? Failure? Death? Isolation? The meaninglessness of existence? Each one of us has our own fear to face, but those are the most common. Or, rightly, the ones I find plaguing myself on a bipolar daily basis.

Horror gives an outlet to address those fears and give them a face. Once you completely understand something more times than not, fear loses its hold on you.  My choice is not an easy road, for that very reason. Facing your own personal demons is all about peeling back the layers of who you are. You find things you don’t like about yourself doing things like that. I’m not big on surprises.  Still, to move forward in my talent, I can see no other recourse.

The best stories I’ve read aren’t big budget Sci-Fi extravaganzas with great mental imagery, though that doesn’t hurt. No, they’ve been about normal people thrust into situations that define them. I hope in the process of attempting to step outside my box, I get a chance maybe to redefine who I am not only as an author but as a person. Who knows? I just might surprise myself, and discover I’m actually up to the challenge.

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Moment of Doubt

Sorry for being so quiet of late. I’m in a slump of sorts. Usually when I finish a book, ideas are fighting to get out of me. True, I’ve got ideas, but not the words to make them into reality, or what passes for reality in the literary world. So, I’ve basically brooded over what to do next. Unfortunately, I’ve come up with nothing.

I have come to feel that I’m at a crossroads. My life has taken many turns this year. I’ve spent it examining my own mortality. Becoming a grandfather, and just this week a great-uncle, I’ve gotten into the habit of re-examining my life. What impact have I had on those who have passed through my life? Have I used my God given talents to their fullest extent? Does my writing have meaning? You know. The usual when it comes to us self-doubting creative types.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I used to call myself an artist. If you look at the definition as any person who expresses themselves through a visual or musical medium, then I never stopped. Writing is a visual medium, so let’s not discount it in my definition. Whereas sculptors, painters, photographers, and so on, use a ‘visible’ format to get their ideas across, authors force you to accept their visions through the words they use.

As someone who has worked in both areas, let me tell you, writing is a much harder medium to work in. Mainly, because the response to art is immediate. You’re there in person when someone views your work. You get an instantaneous view of what people think. Writing is different. You rarely get to communicate with a reader. It could be months or years before you actually get to talk to someone who has read one of your books. You’re left with doubt as to whether you’ve achieved what you set out to do. Sadly, when you do hear, it’s not always what you want to hear, or read, if we’re talking reviews.

This may be pathetic or self-serving of me to bring up, but after checking a pirate site and looking to see if my books were there, I found out one of my books had been downloaded like a kajillion times. Okay, I might be exaggerating. The point I’m getting at is this. The fact those kajillion people illegally downloaded my book gave me a warped sense of vindication. That I hadn’t been wasting my time isolating myself from humanity. People liked my books enough to steal them. Whoopie! Never mind, people hadn’t bothered to spend hard earned money to equal those illegal reads. I had reached someone enough to point out my book was good enough to steal to read. How pathetic is that? A writer gets worked up because he’s made the best non-seller list. Don’t answer. I’m not sure I’m up to reading the answer.

With yet another book under my belt, I sit here wondering not what next, but if next. I’ve never been a quitter. Non-starter maybe, but I’ve never quit to the point that sometimes I should have. With the urge to once again paint filling me, do I owe it to myself to return to my first love? Balancing both is like splitting your mind in two. There is a constant struggle to hold in the dominance of one over another. One will always suffer. The thing is I quit all those years ago because at the time I knew I couldn’t do what I wanted the way I wanted. Basically, I couldn’t be the best I could be. With time between me and the then me, I’ve found the muse and skill to be that me I wasn’t able to be then. Could the same be true of writing? Have I reached the end of this me? Not quitting totally, but stepping back to examine what I want to write, or maybe just find myself again.

Since 2006, I have written over 25 books that are or were in print at one time. That’s a lot of verbal usage for one guy to regurgitate out of his head. I could just be burned out. The ideas seemed tired and trite. I am moving slower than I did when I first started out. Needless to say, the books I do now are better than when I first jotted words onto the screen.

So, maybe I’m not burned out. I could just have a firmer grip on who I am and what I want to write. I could just be resisting writing just to be writing. I have never want to just throw books out to throw books out. The stories I write are a big part of me. To write something I don’t believe in would be denying who I am. I have enough negative delusions without adding more.

Which brings us to who am I. My life is taking on different meanings. I am currently considering going back to school for my masters. Life itself is uncertain as it never has been before. I’m growing older, and the world is constantly changing around us all. As someone who expresses the world around them in literary terms, how can I express anything with uncertainty the word of the day? Perhaps that’s the problem. I have been trying to tell stories set in a safe world when normal is well normal. The world is anything but set in stone. As I travel down this road, I need to take that fact into account.

I guess I’m just adjusting like the rest of you. The world can be a scary place, and it’s my job as an artist or author to take your minds off your troubles either with words that make you escape your own hardships for a time, or give you a snazzy visual image that let’s you see the beauty in the world. Despite everything else, I try to never lose sight of why I write or paint. It has never changed from when my brain first opened itself to create. I create to give people an emotional release. Ultimately, when I make people smile, it makes me smile.

In spite of my doubts, I can’t deny bringing joy is the greatest calling there is, and one I hope to never stop doing.