This post is for a story I wrote called, Big Fish. You can read it here or just click on the picture below. It’s a peek into the world of two contract killers who decide to use an unconventional method for the disposal of a body — a big body.

I hope you enjoy the read.  If you do, please like, comment and share.  It helps tremendously. If you don’t like it, do the same thing!

Big-Fish

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One must fail to succeed. I’ve been told this ad nauseum. It keeps me from quitting, because success hasn’t happened yet. I wouldn’t say I’ve failed necessarily, but the climb can be excruciating. I can’t help but to us the Mt. Everest or K2 metaphor, both difficult, if not seemingly impossible, mountains to climb where death is a real possibility. Clearly, death isn’t possible while sitting at a desk and making shit up, but the death of my soul when I get rejected or find a massive hole in my plot is real, and it hurts. What I’ve come to realize is that my ego is getting pummeled.

shutterstock_595617548Ego is the sense of self, self-importance, personal identity.  Well, mine is wrapped up in writing and succeeding at doing so. I’m 44. I have kids. They ask when I’m going to be done with my book. “About three more years or so,” I say. My ego cringes. They look at me like I’m nuts and my daughter says, “I’ll be thirteen?” I die a little inside and say, “Yep. That sounds about right.” She makes a sound of exasperation and gets on with her day while I try not to reel on the fact that when this book is finally done it will have taken me eight years — I don’t try to explain that I have finished the book twice but the rewrites are where the real magic happens. I didn’t start this endeavor with any notion that it would be easy, I started because on my death bed I didn’t want to regret not doing it; so, it’s a long game, a slow burn and hopefully people will like the what I write.

Okay. What If I finish this thing and its wildly successful? Hell if I know, but I’ve been told it’s a one-in-a-million chance and it’s no good for the ego because I’ll always be chasing the dragon of success. I wonder if maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, but in my heart of hearts I know it would most likely not be a good thing — at least that’s what I tell myself.

 

A monster.

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It’s organized chaos. These days, we live by the calendar. I don’t know what’s happening from one moment to the next unless I’m fully engaged, looking at or talking about the schedule in the calendar.

youthI don’t remember it being this way when I was young. Life didn’t seem so scheduled back then. I did what I was told and had fun not paying attention to much else but the world in front of me. The simplicity of youth. Now it’s complicated. Kids’ schedule, my schedule, my wife’s schedule, my damn dog has a schedule sometimes. The gerbil might even come up on the calendar now and then. It’s ridiculous. And necessary, right?

What if it wasn’t? Oh glory. Another name for vacation could be Calendar Free Week, unless of course one schedules while on vacation. I refuse. No scheduling on vacation. It ruins the relaxation — I don’t want to have to do anything. I want to choose to do something, spur of the moment is my favorite.

Our family needs the calendar. There’s too much going on not to have it; but someday, when my wife and I are old and gray, I’d like tooldCouple think that we will pay attention to nothing but the day ahead. The moments will unfold before us like life’s little surprises. we’ll walk a dirt path to a river, pond, a lake or the ocean. We’ll relax among the bugs and birds while the sun shines on our smiling, schedule-free faces. A utopian idea, I know, but what the hell, it’s fun to think about when I’m in between scheduling.

A persistent villain.

shutterstock_337825361When it comes to writing, I’ve been called a grinder. Talent lurks in the shadows, but mainly I work my ass off. I’m persistent, I take criticism on the chin and push forward. I’m teachable and determined to succeed. This hasn’t come easy. I’m not known for self-discipline.

I learned late in life that I can’t just snowboard, surf, party, go to work and all will be right with the world. I didn’t party so much, but man did I get good at surfing and snowboarding. To this day I stave off the adolescent who wants to stay up late, eat cheesecake, binge watch an awesome show, leave my dishes in the sink and still have life be awesome. It’s sad but true. Now, I self-parent.

I work from home. No one is putting me on a deadline, telling me what to do or checking in on my progress. It’s all me. I’m getting better at it, but I know I can get good at it. When I keep that in mind, I persist. Small accompliments, like publishing a short story, are victories — a positive feedback loop telling my subconscious that the discipline I have self inflicted is working.

Waking up every day to grind out a story, not knowing where it will lead, is Sisyphean. Although Sisyphus’s chore was a punishment from The Gods, it fits in the metaphor of what I do every day. Wake up, feed kids, get kids to school, come home, write, exercise (sometimes), pick up from school, make dinner, go to bed, repeat. At the end of the day I can say that life is pretty good, discipline is just a part of it.

 

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It sneaks up on you.rendered

As a writer, being alone at a desk and putting words on a page is what must happen. I can’t be in meetings, having a conversation or multitasking when I write. The world I write about is in my head. Alone. Weird but true.

renderedWhen I’m on day five of not going outside, not shaving, wearing the same sweat pants and I stink, I need to get out. No big deal. I shower, shave, put new clothes on and walk the dog, go to a coffee shop or just stand outside for a while. I’m still alone, but I look better. If I look better, I feel better. What I’m missing in these moments is someone to tell me to get my shit together, get outside and talk to an adult. It’s a positive feedback loop that involves another person. This person is usually my wife, but sometimes she just shakes her head and is thankful the kids are fed.

When I don’t have solitude, I crave it. When I have too much, I force myself to interact. There’s a balance and I’m still trying to find it.

It’s rage inducing.

road_rageIt’s a cliché, I know, but it still affects me. I wish it didn’t. If only I could find an inner calm, appreciate the fact that I’m in a car, that I have music, that I’m comfortable and safe. Nope. If someone in front of me slows me down because they won’t take an aggressive left at a green light I snap. If someone doesn’t use their blinker to turn, expletives fly from my mouth. If someone is driving too slow, and I’m running late, I hate that person for five minutes; my rage focuses on their perceived driving inadequacies.

Is traffic the villain here? The construction that causes a lot of the traffic I’m complaining about is a byproduct of human population increase. This would mean that all humanity is my villain, and I would be falling into the trap of becoming a villain myself. It’s Sisyphean — fighting the inevitable growth of humanity is an absolute fruitless struggle that would never end; and it’s a total waste of time. As you know, time is not on my side.

I’ve realized lately that when I let myself get wrapped up in hating traffic, I’m having a bad day because of something else going on in my life. If I’ve worked out, meditated, eaten well and slept well, traffic is just another thing — this is a healthy adult lifestyle, right — but it’s tough while trying to launch a new career at the age of forty-four with two kids who go to different schools on opposite ends of the city.

Personally, I can’t wait for the self-driving car. If I were to do the time/life calculation on how much time I spend in traffic I might end up in a psych ward. So, I must come to terms with the fact that I spend a lot of my life with other humans in the river of cars going from point A to B. If I don’t, I lose. I don’t like to lose.

No villain today.

versatilethumbnail-1Thank you, Anna, for nominating Who’s Your Villain.

Rules:

-You have to thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog. (Be nice. They went out of their way to nominate you.)

-Link the nominees and inform them about their nomination. (This passes the love forward.)

-Try to link 15 nominees.

-Share 7 facts about yourself. (Don’t make anything up, we love you just the way you are.)

7 Facts about me:

  1. I love and hate writing. It’s a compulsion. The compulsion is the need to write. The love comes from how I feel when I’m done. Hate is a strong word but apropos for what I’m doing. I’m on my fourth rewrite of a crime novel in as many years. It feels as though I decided to climb Mt. Everest one day and showed up to base came with a pencil and a notebook. I want to quit all the time. But if I did quit, I would hate myself.
  2. I wish Elmore Leonard were still alive. I miss him and hate to think a new book will never come from his great, creative mind again.18xq4spa0u5g9jpg
  3. I hid my writing the year I started because I was ashamed. It makes no sense, I know. But some people out there will understand.
  4. I was recently told to start a blog by two people I respect immensely.
  5. I devour crime fiction. Whether it’s in the form of books, short stories, flash fiction, television or film.
  6. I put grass-fed butter and coconut oil in my coffee.
  7. My fiction is quite violent. It’s not for everyone, but it’s what I like to read. I know ex FBI, Police Officers, Navy Seals, Rangers and Delta Force. I also know hippies, feminists, CEO’s, doctors and paramedics. Not one of them wants to be violent; they want to be content, treated fairly and keep their families safe. But violence, like a boogeyman, is out there threatening to upset the balance of love and family. Many of these people I know have seen first-hand the worst of humanity, even the CEO’s see what goes on behind the curtain and it’s frightening. I hope that someday we can figure out that violence is holding humans back from evolving to their true potential.

These blogs are my all-stars. I’m new to this and I still came close to 15 individual blogs that I think deserve a nomination.

Ginger McGee: She’s brutally honest, her writing is haunted with beauty and emotion. She is also an amazing artist.

Jennifer Moorhead: This is a great blog to follow if you are a writer trying to make your way.  She works tirelessly on her novel and will someday be famous, I think.

Candy and Cigarettes by Joe Clifford: He’s an author of the noir — he also wrote a memoir about his struggle as a drug addict called Junky Love — he’s an absolute inspiration to me.  His blog has fallen off since he gained success, but go to his backlogs. Find him on Facebook and he might start up again.

Wolfman’s Cult Film Club: I love movies. For me, this blog is a place to go where I feel like I’m hanging out with other film junkies.

A Writer’s Path by Ryan Lanz: This blog shares writers tips, journeys, information and advice.  I visit frequently.

Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha: He has my favorite blog title and writes about writing.

A Farm in Iceland by Harold Rhenisch: If you are in any way interested in Iceland this blog knocks it out of the park with stunning visuals and eloquent prose.

James Harrington’s Blog of Geek and Writing:  This blog fills my head with ideas and information on what it’s like to be both a geek and a writer. I love it.

Nicolesundays: I love this blog because it takes me back to college and it’s hilarious.

back fence pdx: This is a great story telling blog.

A Streamlined Mind by James Jenner: This is a wonderful writer and I look forward to his posts.

Mathew Lyons: This is an insightful blog that I look forward to.

Creative Thresholds by Melissa D. Johnston: I follow this one because I’m trying to understand my creative threshold and explore the thresholds of others.

lauralanni not as smart as i look: This blog is a peek into the day-to-day life of a very funny person who loves to read and write.

And thank you, Anna, Once again. Your writing, journey and blog are an inspiration.