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.

A true villain.

shutterstock_323547224When we needed to be afraid of Saber-toothed cats and Short-faced bears, fear helped us survive, evolve and become the techno-crazed nuts we are today.

In 2017 it seems that fear is no longer helpful. We fear change, technology, immigrants, big cars, little cars, guns, strangers, kids, adults, pollution, cancer. I could go on for a while.  Watch the news.  It’s a fear mongering machine. CNN, Fox, MSNBC, all of it by design sells fear. We are fearful creatures who need to evolve. There is no true value to be as afraid as we are — it no longer serves us as a species.  In fact, I think it’s harming us.

I’m here writing to you because I was afraid.

Four years ago, I came out of my cave and started writing a novel. I hid it from people for about a year and worked on it in the wee hours of the night when no one was awake. I was afraid. Fear kept me from doing what I truly wanted to do because I was afraid not to make money, afraid to look stupid, afraid to fail — the list goes on. Fear held me back for a long time. I should be in the prime of my career, not starting a new one. However, I’m not grumpy when I get home and my kids love my stories (the ones I tell them are PG-13 at their worst). I read The War of Art about seven years ago. I let it marinate for three years, reread it a few times and finally pushed the fear aside and got to work. Four years later, the fear still creeps up on me but I catch it, usually after a day or two.

The momentum has brought me to this place. I’m on my fourth rewrite, I started a blog and I’m submitting short stories to publications. I get rejected, oh yes. Not one of my stories lives out there, unless you count the college literary journal that no one has ever read.  Monetary success is not on the table, yet.

I’m not saying do what I did. I have my own journey. I’m saying don’t be so afraid. And if you aren’t afraid, you have a leg up.

The fear mongers: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc., didn’t win. I’m not buying. I tuned them out when I started to get serious. Sometimes I don’t even know what is going on in the world, but I’m also less afraid.