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Kick Start

My fancy upgrade on this page was up for renewal in July, but I decided to cancel it since this website hasn’t been my primary focus lately. That doesn’t mean the blog is disappearing. It’s just getting a downgrade to the free version. This will allow me to focus my marketing budget on getting Monolith of the ground.

Speaking of which, with the help of Sydnie Beaupre, and several other Creative Writers, I’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the marketing and production costs for Monolith. We’re up to £59 so far. Here’s the link, I’d be very grateful if you sent some potential backers for this project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/creativewriters/monolith-the-creative-writers-anthology-series/

If you haven’t been following along and don’t know what Monolith is yet, I’d be happy to bring you up to speed. I’ve been rather thoroughly involved in running a Facebook group called ‘Creative Writers‘. I got a notification back in February that the group was about to be closed down because it had no admin and only 32 members. Something in my gut told me to run with it, so I did.

By promoting collaboration, support, and offering them the Monolith opportunity, the admins and I have been able to grow the group to 8,745 members. Monolith volume one: New Beginnings, will be the first in a new series of anthologies. Each short story collected within are written by members of the Creative Writers group.

Since I want the Monolith collection to be impressive, my fellow admins and I read every story submitted to make sure they’re nothing less than excellent. Even my own story will have to meet our high standards. Every story we reject receives feedback and help to improve the story, and we tell them in plenty of time to re-write and re-submit.

At least we are right now. The sooner we get the story, the more time you’ll have to re-write. However, you could also use the time to write it really well, and then you won’t need our feedback. 🙂 If you’d like to know more about the Monolith project as a writer, join the Creative Writers group and ask. If it sounds like a project you’d like to support, then please become a backer on Kickstarter.

So far we’ve had about 30 submissions and accepted 12 of them, and the deadline isn’t until August 31st. This is going to be a big book, of impressive stories, and it’s going to priced high to reflect the high quality of the writing. This also means we’ll be able to pay the writers better than most other small publishers. We’re Independently Traditional.

At the moment we’re not a registered business so the money we raise on Kickstarter will be used to jump all the hurdles necessary to make this legit. We have members from all over the world, so there’s going to be a lot to figure out and overcome. It’ll be a great experience though and the more obstacles in our path the more we’ll learn. So far though, the development of the idea into a real anthology series is going pretty smoothly.

There have been a few issues in the group. Minor squabbles and trolling, but far less than I’ve observed in other writing groups. I think the questions we designed for member requests help with that, and the atmosphere of community and support. I also couldn’t do it with my admin team. Irene, Jessica, Prawal, Sydnie and Anya. They share the responsibility of keeping people talking, putting out fires, decided who gets to join, and reading through the story submissions, and they do an amazing job.

Sydnie also made us this:

If you’re a bookseller and want to skip the middle-man, I’m also selling pre-orders of the Monolith anthology. TheRRP for the finished paperback will be £29.99. You can pre-order copies of the Monolith anthology in bulk for £10 each, with a minimum order of £100.

The price is set high to reflect the quality of the writing and the value of the book. Feel free to sell it at a discount, £10 off, 50% off, and still make a profit. 🙂

In other news, since I’m spending so much time on the Monolith project, my girlfriend has decided to move out. We’re still friends, but she’s feeling neglected. Understandable really since I’ve been fairly obsessed. Not many women are going to tolerate being put second to my writing career unless they have something to be obsessed about themselves.

I’m in no hurry to get into another relationship. Anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know that I agonised over the writing or dating debate, sure that I would spend all my time maintaining the relationship and I’d be forced to sacrifice my writing. At the time I had no idea that the Creative Writers group and the Monolith project would demand so much of my time that my partner would be neglected.

Now I know that I would sacrifice romantic love for my love of writing, it would be unfair and unreasonable to attempt a relationship again until Creative Writers’ Press has matured to self-sufficiency. I have no intention of retreating from the world though. The best way to write believable characters is to observe and interact with real people. I’m actually going to try and get out more. I can write anywhere.

She’s already collected all her stuff. It stings a little to look at the room without any trace of her left in it, but at least we’re breaking up on good terms.

I’m going to wrap this up because I’ve just had an idea for writing prompt generator cards that I need to play around with. Maybe I’ll ask the group to help. 🙂 I do this while realising that it’s exactly this tendency to be thinking about the writing business by default now that drove Laura away. This is who I am and I like it.

Have a great day. 🙂

 

 

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Opportunities for Growth

For those who read the previous blog entry, Unexpected Hope, yes I did bump into that lady again. I gave her another one of my business cards the very next day and I even saw and spoke to her again the day after that. She promises to email me. If you happen to be reading this, I’m still waiting 😉

In other news, the Creative Writers group is going extremely well. We had had a few fires to put out because too many people were joining that didn’t really belong there. I had wondered for a while how I might be able to make sure that everyone understands the ‘spirit of the group’ when I know that only a fraction of the members will ever read the group description or the pinned post, and join based on the name of the group alone.

I don’t remember now which of the other group administrators reminded me that you can set three questions for new members to answer. I’ve seen too many groups misuse this feature. They’ll ask a confusing question such as ‘Do you promise to follow the group rules?’, when the rules are only accessible after you’ve been accepted. I didn’t want to make this same mistake.

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I had posted a rant to the group after I had kicked out the trouble-makers to try and make sure we didn’t have similar trouble again:

“Creative Writers is a community of writers, wordsmiths and storytellers. We know the power of words. Some words can cause discomfort, and some writers are skilled at deploying these words for maximum effect.
If you plan to drop a verbal bomb in the group, please include a trigger warning out of respect for your fellow writers.

“If you happen to see a word or phrase that offends you, please remember we’re writers. We use words to illicit an emotional response. By all means, correct their grammar and punctuation, but demanding censorship goes against the spirit of the group.

“Having said that this is not the place to discuss religion or politics. You can submit any piece of writing for critique but bear in mind that we deal mainly in fiction and your opinion may be analysed as such.

“We are here to become better writers. To help each other, support one another and learn from each other. Competitiveness and attention seeking behaviours disrupt the spirit of the group and will not be tolerated.”

I boiled this rant down to the following three questions (I copied this from a membership request, so it also includes the answers I’m looking for):

  • Do you understand that this is a place for fiction, and not religion or politics?

    Yes 🙂

  • If you post anything that could be deemed offensive, are you willing to include a trigger warning?

    Yes.

  • Are you looking for a supportive group of fellow writers, willing to help others grow and develop your own craft?

    Yes!

As long as the member answers ‘Yes’ (or some synonym of it) for all three questions, they’re in. If they only answer one or two of the questions, or they reply ‘no’ (or some equivalent response), they are declined. People who still haven’t even answered the questions are declined after a six-hour window of opportunity.  Despite this hurdle, membership continues to increase at a rapid pace.

It seems like we’ve regained the ‘spirit of the group’ I had established when I took over. Finding a way to quit the day job and do this full-time isn’t so pressing anymore. We’re still creating a Kickstarter page, but the focus has been switched from payroll to our product. Which is only right. We’re asking for £3,000 to cover production and marketing of the Monolith Anthology.

 

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We’ve gone back to this cover

 

My original plan, after all, had been to produce Monolith for as cheaply as possible so that all the writers and other contributors can get a fair share of the profit. If I could do it without putting any money in, I would, but my team tell me that this is just as unrealistic as hoping to raise enough cash to pay each administrator $5,000 per month for 6 months! They make a good point.

With all the time effort and passion I’m putting into the Monolith project, including the Creative Writers group and Creative Writers’ Press, I worry that Laura, my girlfriend, is getting neglected. To that end, I’ve been asking her what she’s really like to do with her life. She said she’d like to travel more. At first, this answer made my heart sink when I realised that it would be a long time before I could afford to buy flights and hotels all over the world. Then I watched this video:

I often watch TED videos while I’m working on Monolith, to keep me motivated. This video helped me to realise that travelling the world doesn’t need to mean expensive hotels and flights to every destination. You can travel on a shoestring if you don’t mind roughing it a little, and I have a tribe of over 7,700 Creative Writers to ask for help.

We’ve already had members offer Laura and I a place to stay in Holland, Iceland, Pakistan, Canada, South Africa and several states in America. I don’t have a lot coming in from Patreon subscriptions, but it would be enough to keep my phone data active, and as long as I have power and internet access, I can write anywhere. If it gets too hard I know my family would welcome me back.

We’re not running off immediately (much as I’d like too) we’re currently aiming to start our adventure next year after Monolith has launched, which will hopefully provide an additional trickle of income. In the meantime, we’re going to save up and do our research so we can do this as safely as we can. It will still be risky, but it’ll be a great adventure, an amazing experience, and I’ll have some great stories to tell. I may even end up with my own TED talk!

 

 

 

 

 

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Unexpected Hope

Today I was working a breakfast shift at the Whitewater Hotel. I grumble about having to work here from time to time, but I still like it. There are much worse places I could be working. We were waiting for the last of the guests to finish when one of them called me over.

“Young man? (instant ego boost) Do you have any toothpicks?” she asked

“I’m sure I can find you some,” I say, already knowing there are cocktail sticks in the kitchen. I’ve been working in customer service for most of my adult life, and read quite a bit too, to actively try and excel at it. I habitually under promise and over deliver now.

I returned with three cocktail sticks and asked: “Will these do?”

She accepted them gratefully, and I said, “I’m terrible, I always use the corner of a business card.” She replied that she refuses to admit to doing the same. I took the opening and pulled out one of my business cards saying, “I have one if you need it”.

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She looked at it. Read my name, and that it says ‘Author’, and asked me what I was writing. So, of course, I told her all about Hermes925, the Creative Writers group and the Monolith project. She held my gaze as she asked if I was published, so I told her excitedly,

“That’s part of the reason I’m doing the anthology. It will allow me to figure out how self-publishing works without risking my baby”. My ‘baby’ being Hermes925. She came up with a great idea.

“Then afterwards you could write about how to become self-published. There’s a huge market for that right now.” It turns out she’s retired from a corporate position in which she specialised in attitude-focused motivation. I’m sure my eyes lit up as I mentioned a project currently on the back-burner called “Levelling Up! A gamer’s guide to success“.

The book would compare gaining XP (experience points) to gain new skills in both tabletop and video RPGs to gaining real life experience and applying them to your life to develop real skills.

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She seemed very interested in the idea of applying game experience to real life and encouraging people to be more with what they already know. I loaded my tray with dirty plates and used breakfast items such as the jam tree and sugar bowl as we talked. We soon realised that we’d spent a long time talking and she promised to keep my card and email me. I went back to the.kitchen with the tray, invigorated and hopeful.

I was a little disappointed that she left my card behind, but not terribly surprised. If I bump into her again over the next couple of days, I’ll hand her another card as if she forgot. I may have been deliberate, and if it was it wouldn’t be the first time that someone in the corporate world promised me a great opportunity that never materialised.

It also reminded me that the only people I can rely on are my family. They’ve given so much to help me become a successful author. I want to return the favour and help them live they way they want to live. If I want to do that I need to work harder to make Creative Writers Press a reality, and put rest to the idea that some mysterious benefactor will simply give me what I want.

I’ll learn a lot more figuring this all out myself. I’ll be more than just someone who got lucky. I’ll be an expert, and I can use that expertise to compound that experience into more stories, projects and self-help books! I feel more confident in my ability to pull this off than ever.

I’ve been trying to crowdfund to support giving the administrators of the Creative Writers group a salary, so they have more time to work on this. There’s already a Patreon site, and I’m working on a Kickstarter site too. If that doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world. I just pointed out to someone today that my part-time job gives me a break from all the work I’m putting into this. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

However, I think I might be able to get myself a better income if I do this right. I can schedule breaks for myself. I can keep a standard work day again instead of fitting time in around my Whitewater shifts. Even if I’ll fail, I’ll be gaining experience and I’ll learn. When I try again I can use what I’ve learned and I’ll find a whole new set of hurdles, and I’ll learn from those too. I’ll keep practising what works until I have a whole new set of skills.

Those of you who play RPGs will know that at this point things start to get easier, but then you level up. This gives you new recognition, more renown, and tougher challenges. I can’t wait 🙂

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Time To Write

I know I’m not the only writer that has this problem. You get up ready to write, pull out your notebook and pen or turn on your computer (or both) determined to work on a story that you know has to get written. You know exactly what you intend to work on, but the words just refuse to come.

This is especially frustrating if you know that this is the only time you’ll get this week. The rest of your schedule is filled with prior commitments. Work, family. friends, other writing projects, classes, housework, etc. All vying for attention while the one thing you’re trying to pay attention to refuses to cooperate.

You may be trying to keep to a deadline, a schedule, or a promise, but you just can’t focus. You try to read over your notes, scan over the last thing you wrote, and get into the mindset of your characters. You find yourself just staring, your mind wandering to other worries.

Sometimes I can get around this by working on something else, or updating this blog. Other times I can post a question on Facebook to my fellow writers to figure out what direction I need to take the story in. Most of the time just forming the question is enough to get me going again.

Right now I’m supposed to be proofreading and editing the short story I’m working on for UbiquiCity, the RPG sourcebook I’m contributing to. I have already fixed a lot of it, but I know it needs more. I keep meaning to find the time to read over the stories that have been submitted by the other writers to make sure that my descriptions of the City are consistent, but I keep having the same problem I’m having with my own work. I’m just staring at the screen.

I have four days until the writers meet up again. One of those days I have to be out of the house for about 10 hours for my day job, and on another I’ll be doing the update for my Facebook RP group the City of Gate. I’ve had all month to do the rewrite and I’ve spent maybe 2 days actually doing it. The rest of the time I’ve been working, sleeping, doing not enough writing and spending too much time discussing a new project.

To be fair the new project is very exciting. A series of short-story anthologies called Monolith. The Creative Writers group is now up to 343 members (and probably more by the time you read this) and a lot of them are pumped about writing something for book one. I don’t expect each book to make much money, but the more books we publish, the more the royalties will add up.

Working on Monolith will also give me invaluable insight into self-publishing and allow me to make use of some of my accumulated knowledge on sales, marketing and entrepreneurship. At one point I thought I’d use these skills to attain a corporate position of some kind, or start my own business, but it feels right to apply it to creating a series of books instead.

If you think you might be interested in contributing a short story, please do. You can get more info about it on the pinned post of the Creative Writers group. Eventually there will be a dedicated website to go with the Facebook page I’ve made, but for now there’s a link at the top of this page for submissions. You have until June-August to get it in, so that should give you plenty of time to polish it up and make it awesome.

I should get back to the UbiquiCity story I’m supposed to be writing. If not, then I should at least be working on The War on Magic, City of Gate: Chronicles, Hermes925, or The Haunted Story. I may have too many writing projects!

If you happen to be someone that likes to invest in entrepreneurial new writers, you can do so either on my Patreon page, or by selecting one of the Paypal subscription options below. You’ll get updates on my writing projects and free copies of every book I’m published in if you do. Have a great day 🙂

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New Plan!!

Before I can really explain what the new plan is and why it’s necessary, I should catch you all up on what’s been going on.

As you may be aware, I’ve been spending rather a lot of time building up the Creative Writers group and managing the incoming short story submissions. So much so that I was neglecting my girlfriend, who then left me. Despite my self-assurance that I want a partner that will like me as I am, I found myself revisiting painful memories associated with previous experiences.

I was still recovering from this attack of depression when one of my favourite singers died. The resulting article will soon have a follow-up show-casing my manic counter-balance.

I also had some issues with a used MacBook I bought recently. I had hoped it would replace the tired old laptop I’m currently using, and allow it to retire from ‘work’. It seems this is not to be. I had originally planned to try and save up for a hardwearing and portable laptop, but the one I want is about £1400. Not going to happen.

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It hasn’t all been bad. I also met someone, online, who seems terrifyingly perfect. We have an impossible amount of common interests, perceptions, motives and ideas. The only real problem is that she lives in Italy, and I don’t. We’ve been talking every day, and she’s wonderful, and I can’t wait to meet her and see if this is the real thing this time.

Which brings me to the first part of the plan. Find a way to fly cheaply to Italy. To visit her for a few days and see if we have the same chemistry in person that we do online. If I don’t do this I’ll regret it.

When I was a kid, my parents told me that there’s one true love in the world meant just for you. I thought this was a bad plan because if that one person in the world meant just for you lived on the other side of the world, you might never meet them.

I met the woman I would marry in University, and she was from America, and I convinced myself that she was the one. Needless to say, I was wrong. Neither one of us got what we thought we were signing up for, and I’ve had a jaded view of love ever since.

However, this wonderful English girl that lives in Italy reminds me of that moment when I decided that, if there is only one, then it must be possible to meet them. I may be about to make the same mistake twice, but I don’t think so. This is different. I’ll only really know though if I go see her.

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I did worry that, if I allowed myself to fall head over heels in love with her, it would mean starting over all over again. When I moved to America I brought one suitcase. I had some stuff sent afterwards, but there was a lot of beloved items I had to say goodbye to forever. Some of which I should have brought with me in the first place, but I never thought she would accept.

That was my first mistake right there. Deciding not to be myself and leave all of my gothic clothing, jewelry and decor. Leaving behind my Warhammer collection too. I chose to take my stories with me though. I’d forgotten that until now. I’d forgotten that I was trying to be a writer at that point in my life.

When I came back to England twelve and a half years later, I brought one suitcase. I sold off the Warhammer 40k collection I’d accumulated, and also the Magic: the Gathering, Munchkin card collection, Card Against Humanity, and many precious graphic novels, including a signed copy of Neil Gaiman’s ‘Endless Nights’. Again though, I brought all of my writing with me.

I’m finally building up a life again and I’ve been dreading the idea that I may have to abandon everything again for the sake of love. However, my Mum reminded me that I could get to Italy by car if I decide to move there! If I went by car I could get to see some of the rest of Europe. Perhaps even meet up with some of the other members of the Creative Writers group on my way.

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It also means I can take my stuff, and that I don’t have to have a laptop for easy packing! I can build the computer I want, to whatever specs I want for way cheaper than the next closest laptop. I’d be able to pack it in the car with me! Which leads me to parts 2 & 3 (or more accurately, 2, 3a & 3b).

Start with buying myself computer bits to build a professional computer I can’t use both for my creative writing, and to help me manage the Creative Writers’ Press brand, the royalties and marketing/selling the books.

I’m also going to need to save up for driving tests and an affordable, reliable, and, preferably, a fuel-efficient little vehicle I can tootle off to Italy in containing almost all of the contents of this little room barring the furniture.

I’d also need to save up money to occasionally stay in a hotel with a shower and proper bathrooms (I can’t sleep in the car or a tent all the time), buy food and drinks and possibly pay for repairs, healthcare and tolls on the way.

I will, of course, be writing about my adventures and sharing pictures of various European landscapes, buildings and people. If this sounds like something you’d like to see, all I’m asking for is encouragement. I’ve already put more hours in at the day job to save up faster, and I’m putting a lot of my time and energy (when not at the hotel or travelling there and back) into making a financial success of Monolith.

I’ve learned that crowd-funding for big personal goals, or even expensive computers, doesn’t work. Thankfully, I have had a few people donate to the Monolith project to help cover the costs of final editing and marketing. If there’s anything left over from that fund, It’s going back to those who contributed.

I’m not dipping into any of it for my personal stuff. It is, however, likely I’ll end up adding my savings intended for plane tickets, or a car, or the computer, toward the monolith project instead. It’ll keep me motivated to try and make more money, both at the day job and by selling more books. No crowd-funding necessary! 🙂

I’m not even going to try and sell ad space on the car to pay for it and covered in brand decals from the various sponsors (though that is an idea I’ve been playing with for years and now would seem an appropriate time to see if I could actually do it).

So that’s the new plan. What do you think?

The Choice To Live

Last night Facebook was blowing up with posts about the death of Chester Bennington. For those that somehow happen to have no-one in their Facebook feed that listens to Linkin Park, Chester was the singer (not the rapper). He was found dead having committed suicide. If talking about suicide and depression make you uncomfortable, you may not want to keep reading. Consider that your content/trigger warning.

Almost no-one sees it coming when a celebrity, a loved one, or a pet kills themselves. Yes I said pets. When I was a child my pet goldfish, Freddy, jumped out of his bowl. It may have been just coincidence that he landed under the heater, but there’s no way to know. I’m sure my dog Teaser would’ve chosen to end it if she could. She was suffering from leukemia and we didn’t even know until after her second ear-infection surgery was refusing to heal.

My cockatiel D’mingo flew into a mirror while I was on holiday in Edinburgh. This angry little bird never really settled in. I have no idea what the little guy had been through. We looked after him as best we could ever since he showed up on our doorstep. When we went on holiday months later, it may have been longer, and left him with a friend after getting his wings clipped. Who knows what he was thinking when he freaked out and flew into the mirror so fast it killed him. Maybe he thought it was an open window and was just trying to escape, or come back to us. He must have been pretty desperate to be able to do it despite having his flight feathers removed.

Depression sucks. On bad days it physically hurts. Not like a wound or a bruise, but an all over numbing prickle from your scalp to your toes. It’s not just feeling sad. This pain doesn’t make much sense. Especially when I was a teenager. I didn’t really know why I felt that way. I would hurt myself to mask the pain with a physical injury I understood.

Accompanying the pain are the thoughts. All the reasons that life is pointless, the behaviours and personality traits that you’ve judged to be defects. The physical flaws. External reasons too, like the job that leaves you too tired to write, the relationship that fails to satisfy the gaping hole in your chest, or the house that’s slowly falling apart and you can’t afford to fix.

Sometimes exercises like the Tim Ferris’ fear-setting (described in the video below) can help, but it’s a recurring battle. Involving yourself in projects and goals can help keep you going. Keep you occupied and distracted from the dread that comes creeping back. I’ve used several strategies like Tim’s to keep going, and I’m always looking for more Ted Talks and books to help me learn more, and to try and use my own depression to drive me.

We make a choice to keep going, hoping that tomorrow will be better. Most of the time it is. You feel better and get on with life. In my case I try to use these better days to get a little closer to my goals. I know that becoming a ‘successful author’ won’t put me in a blissful state of perpetual happiness, but at least I’ll have achieved something. I’ll still have to fight the thoughts when they come. The absolute certainty that, not only will I not be happy but there’ll be all new challenges to face. All of which will fade to nothing once I’m dead.

I hold on to the hope that it will be worth it, that my actions and decisions will make the lives of others a little better. Prove to friends who are losing the battle with depression and anxiety that it’s possible to make your mark and be someone worth remembering. Even that is a futile exercise. Da Vinci, Shakespeare and Mozart are remembered, but no-one knows who they really were. There’s no-one alive today that remembers the sound of their laughter, or what they liked to eat.

Some of use choose to end it. To stop fighting and let the pain win. I understand the urge. It doesn’t seem to matter what you do, depression is only a few steps behind. Reminding you that, no matter how good things are going right now, your old wounds aren’t healing, and it will only take the slightest bump to set them bleeding again. It’s tempting to blame these wounds on other people, but they’ve always been there. It’s just existence. The solution seems obvious. Stop existing, stop the pain.

Chester’s lyrics helped many of us feel less alone. Like we weren’t alone. Like someone else felt and understood the pain of living. Loneliness is a big trigger for many of us, so we search desperately for people like us that will hear us and understand. Friends, romantic partners, family, fans, or even pets. Your tribe.  The people that are supposed to hold you up when your down. Most of the time, when you think you’ve found them, they have their own problems. You end up having to be the strong one for them, and sometimes they’re too broken to reciprocate, or you feel it would be selfish to even ask them for help.

I don’t have answers. Just more questions, and the one very tempting solution. The one that we tell ourselves is a cowards way out. A selfish act. It’s true that other people will be upset, and even offended, by your death. We’re taught that life is precious, and yet there is life everywhere, continuing despite us. What so special about one person?

Morbid curiosity and responsibility is keeping me going. Everything I experience gives me something to write about. Thought I may find that everything I write ends up being about depression. I’ve already noticed that my stories often feature death and disappointment.

Most of the songs I’ve picked for this article are Linkin Park’s earlier material, but these two here are from their latest album. Despite the change in style the theme Chester is singing about remains consistent, which tells me he was still fighting the depression that had plagued him his entire career. He had a family, he had success and fame, and in the end it didn’t even matter. However, he left a mark on the world before he left. I will to.

I’ll feel better tomorrow. As long as there’s a future there’s hope. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. I can make my life better as long as I’m alive. Today it sounds hollow, but tomorrow, who knows? Maybe one day I’ll have had enough for now, I have a series of books to help make. Obligations to fulfil. People to meet and fall in love with. A life to live. It had better be worth it.

Afterword: This is not a cry for help. If anything it’s a battle-cry. A call to arms. An honest confession of how I’m feeling (today) so that others like me don’t feel so alone. I don’t need to talk, I just did. If you need to talk though, go for it, maybe others like us will hear you and feel like they have somewhere they belong.

I’ll miss you Chester, but I heard you, and I understand.

Grinning Again :)

If any of my family and friends were worried about my last article, Grateful Gardening, fear not I’m feeling much better. This is in large part to being able to work in the garden with Grandad again yesterday evening. Mostly we were just re-gravelling the pathways and adding decorative stones, but it felt good. Not only to be useful but to be able to reconnect with my Grandad.

He didn’t realise how much I liked gardening. Grandad seemed just as excited as I was at my enthusiasm, and happily showed me his plans for the garden. He also showed me what he had grown in his hidden vegetable plot next to his decorative garden. He has lettuces that you can just pull leaves off and eat. He also has rhubarb, leeks, raspberries, mint, and gooseberries.

I’m not a huge fan of gooseberries, but I’m looking forward to eating fresh home grown salads and drinking mint and raspberry leaf tea. He has a couple of potato plant growing too. Having a garden had been a dream of mine since childhood. It was a big part of my ‘happily ever after’ dream of adulthood. It’s rained hard today, so no gardening for us tonight, but I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to get my hands dirty.

I’ve also gotten to talk to Grandma a little more than I had. Perhaps Grandad and the Doctors have finally got her meds balanced correctly, or perhaps I just didn’t see her enough while I was preoccupied to make an accurate assessment before. She’s a lot more with it than I thought she was. This makes me happy too. I’m glad I still have the opportunity to chat with her and get Grandma cuddles.

Even chatting with my ex at work today has been positive. Despite our separation, I still have the same reaction I’ve always had in her presence. I smiled. It looks like we might be able to pull off this ‘just friends’ thing after all. She even said she misses me, which boosted my ego somewhat. 🙂

I’m finding my urge to write again too. Not just talking about it in the Creative Writers group, but actually write too. This article is just the start. I’m also going to type up and proof-read the story I’m working on for Monolith, and then begin revising my narrative for Hermes925 to fix any inconsistencies and strengthen its connections to the UbiquiCity universe.

Once Hermes925 is finished, I’ll release it under the CWP brand, and add a page telling readers about other titles for Creative Writers’ Press, including Monolith, Mosaic, and anything else we have out or in the pipeline by then. I’ve had several members of the Creative Writers group ask me to help them publish their work. The stories will have to be awesome. I’m holding Hermes925 to the same standards. If the team doesn’t think it’s good enough for a CWP label, then we’re not printing it until it is.

I’m not going to announce it just yet. I want to get my new work-life balance figured out to be sure I’ll have the time, though I’m fairly certain I’ll make the time. I’m also considering taking more hours at work, to help save up more capital to invest in this venture. I also think I’m more likely to find interesting characters and possibly even people I can network with.

There may be a supervisor position available soon at Whitewater hotel. It would allow me to apply my group-tested leadership skills in a real-world environment, and it would be a much better rate of pay. I’ve already let the hotel manager know I’m interested and reminded him of my experience and credentials. We’ll see what happens. If it doesn’t happen, I have contingency plans.

This is a 360 flip of my previous goal which was to dump the day-job entirely in favour of becoming a full-time writer. However, the structure of a working day keeps me writing, and I gain the resources to produce, market and sell books faster than my current strategy is. I’m going to work my ass off!

😀

 

Grateful Gardening

I’ve been nursing a bruised ego for nearly a week now. I’ve been telling myself that I just need to immerse myself in my writing, use the emotions I’m experiencing to give my characters more realism. It’s the same advice I’d give anyone else, but I can’t seem to focus.

I would try to read, but my thoughts were too distracting to be able to see the marks on the page as words. I’d try to write an article for Creative Writers and end up writing about the pointlessness of existence instead.

Yesterday, I had every intention of writing some more of my short story for Monolith and found myself turning on the Xbox and playing Diablo 3 all day instead.

This morning something rather wonderful happened. My Grandad asked me to help him paint the deck in the garden. At first, the thoughts of hopelessness and failure were still trying to get my attention, but soon the work took over.

It helped a lot that Grandad and I were chatting as we worked. He’d noticed all the Amazon packages that had been arriving lately, and I told him I was researching police procedures. He told me about two relatives that would be able to help with my research, and I hadn’t known either of them had been involved in police work.

It was also great to be out in the garden, feeling useful, instead of being shut up in my room feeling sorry for myself and punishing myself for not writing.

I started to form a better idea for my Creative Writers article too. I may go back to the other topic when I can trust myself to be less existential about it. It’s hard to feel motivated to do anything right now, but the story submissions for Monolith are piling up. Luckily I’m not the only one working on it. I’ve got a great team and we’ve just added another admin who’s very enthusiastic about the project.

Since I’m currently lacking any enthusiasm to do anything, this couldn’t have happened at a better time. I’m forcing myself to write this so I can work through this funk brought on by a compounding list of minor disappointments and listening too much to a self-proclaimed nihilist.

I’ve been trying to listen to self-empowering music, soliciting pep-talks from friends, and anything else that usually helps me ignore the very thing that this man seemed intent on reminding me. Even if I do succeed in becoming a successful author, helping many others to become successful in the process, and leave a small library of books after I’m gone, it won’t matter.

I’m going to die. The people I’ve helped are all going to die. My family, friends, exes and enemies, and anyone else who knew me, at least in passing, are going to die. The books themselves will fade, decompose, burn, or otherwise be deleted from existence. The entire planet could be destroyed, and the rest of the universe would keep spinning regardless until it doesn’t anymore.

 

It’s almost enough to make me adopt a religion, or become a flat-earther, but I’m aware that it would be just a desperate attempt to pretend my life had real meaning. Which it doesn’t. Don’t worry though, I’m aware that even dying is a futile gesture. At least while you’re alive you can enjoy the ride. Live for the small stuff. Make the most of it.

That thought hadn’t occurred to me until after I was outside painting. I was in full no-hope mope. I’m very grateful to my Grandad for giving me something practical to do, getting me out in the sun, and just talking to me. He even got me chicken and chips from the local chippy.

I’m still not all the way out of my slump. I want to sleep until it’s all over and the bad feelings go away, but I can’t. On the plus side, I had been aware, prior to being hit with an emotional building, that I was spending way too much time engaging with people in the Creative Writers group, and not enough time actually writing. I’ve been forced to take a step back, let the other admins take the wheel for a bit because I just couldn’t be bothered.

It’s a great group, but as an admin, you have to deal with complaints, fights, and intolerant behaviour and do it all with a smile. I couldn’t face it. I’ve still had to respond to a could of issues that I was tagged in, but I haven’t been looking for more. I need to make more time to write.

Working in the garden today reminded me that some of the best ideas come to you when you’re doing physical work. I need to do more. I also need to follow up on the research leads Grandad gave me, and find some others, to help me do the ideas justice.

I need to regain my defiance. I can already feel it returning. The next time a voice in my head tells me “It’s all pointless. You’re going to die alone and be forgotten.” I’ll be able to say, with conviction “Oh yeah? Watch this!” instead of my current “So?”.

I’m tempted to scrap this article and start over. As I’m looking over it to do editing, links, images, etc. I find that I’m not really upset about the recent stuff. My brain is still replaying the day I let everyone down. The day my life fell apart. The day the doctor told me I couldn’t have kids.

In that moment the fantasy died. Up until then, the marriage had had some hiccups, but we’d always worked through it. An absolute certainty that the two of you are meant to be together and have a family together (a girl and two boys, we named them) can help keep you motivated. In that one moment, it was all gone.

I’ve been painting her as the villain in all this, but honestly, I think I started pushing her away after that. Outwardly, I kept trying to make the best of it, but inside it, all seemed so pointless. Maybe if I’d talked to her about this, instead of trying to put a brave face on things, we’d still together. Yep, that’s definitely the button. I’m bawling my eyes out as I’m writing this.

I’d still have the big house, and a garden, and my cats (and probably a few more animals), and my wife if I hadn’t given up. We might even have adopted. Obviously, there’s nothing I could have done about being infertile, or even the likely complications if she ever got pregnant (she has scoliosis). We might have been happy if I hadn’t let my disappointment poison the relationship.

I’ve been my own worst enemy for a long time. I’m not sure what to do about it. I’m worried that if I don’t overcome this habit, everything I attempt will likely fail due to my own sabotage. If I have to exist I may as well enjoy it, but that’s not going to happen if I keep pushing everything that’s good away from me.

I need to get back on track and finish writing Hermes925. Stepping back from Monolith and allowing more experienced writers to take over the project may provide me with the perfect opportunity to do so, and reduce the risk of me sabotaging it. In the meantime, Grandad hinted that he might have something else that needs doing. I’m looking forward to it.

What do I write about?

I wrote this for the Creative Writers’ Press blog.

Creative Writers' Press

Lots of people have posted in the group,

“I want to be a writer, but I don’t know how to get started.

There’s been some great feedback in these threads, but it’s a fast-moving group. It doesn’t take long before the last post on the subject is too far down the page to easily find, and someone else asks,

“Hey, I’m new here and I’ve always wanted to write. How do I get started?”

The most obvious, and frequently commented answer is, of course,

“Write”.

While this may seem condescending, obvious, and not particularly helpful, it’s also true. As daunting as it always seems to put pen to paper for the first time before you even have an idea, it really is the best start. Free-writing, which is writing with no agenda (for those that didn’t read Overcoming Obstacles), is a great way to practice writing, get in touch…

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