I won’t ask forgiveness for the title. It’s clickbait, I know. But as I sat here contemplating how to adequately express what I’ve been feeling over the last couple months, there was no better was of saying it. I thought about having the title be about my trip to Arizona, or maybe about how the Mythica: A Quest for Heroes Kickstarter worked out great. I even thought about going on a nice little rant about the state of the economic future of our current nation, or announce stuff about my short stories being published in some collections.
But that’s not what truly sums up want I’m wanting to say.
I’m a realist. I have a sarcastic streak and a tendency to avoid confrontation as much as possible. I don’t like conflict, though I don’t shy away from it when pushed. On social media, on my blog, I rarely discuss things without attempting to either put a positive spin on them or else I avoid certain topics altogether.
Negativity breeds negativity.
Realism isn’t negativity. It’s telling it how it is. I’ve strayed from realism into passivity over the years on some subjects.
No more. I shall return to being the sarcastic, realist that I am. Because that’s me (even though I end up waxing hopeful at the end of all this…maybe there’s some optimism in me somewhere too)…
But the whiskey…?
I’ll get to that, but first, a story. Which begins with some setting. A conflict. The Truth (big T).
A couple months back, I hit a point where my mind simply gave up. My publisher and I were at odds on almost everything, I was working two different novels at the same time with utterly ludicrous deadlines, and it felt as if all the work I was doing for them amounted to almost nothing in their eyes. The day job (mortgages) wasn’t going well, I was being yelled at almost daily by angry clients for things that were outside of my control, and some family medical issues left me with a stress load the likes of which I’ve never before experienced. I don’t sleep much anyway (maybe a couple hours a night), but even that dwindled to an hour or two a night.
I had no desire to keep writing.
I had no want to drive a dozen hours with two kids and a sick spouse down to Arizona for a family get together.
I had no desire to do much of anything.
Here’s the thing. Authors talk about the process of writing a lot. A LOT, a lot. The business end? Not nearly as often. There’s something wrong with that, I think. The business side of writing sucks the life out of you if you’re not ready for it and sometimes even if you are. Dealing with contracts, with marketing, with just trying to be human outside of the creative little bubble you put yourself in as a writer, sometimes really sucks. Trying to do that while having any other kind of life is like drowning in boiling water. Trying to do that and also have another career? Toss me in a volcano right now and get it over with, alright?
Melodramatic much? Maybe a little. I write fiction – I think I get that liberty every now and then.
I kept working anyway, pushed through the Kickstarter and the two book projects despite disagreements and serious frustrations with the business side of writing, and worked on everything else.
But I couldn’t write anything new. I didn’t want to deal with all the garbage again. I couldn’t stand the thought of writing more stuff for little return. I couldn’t put myself through that.
Fast forward a couple weeks and I went to Arizona anyway. My brother was getting home from an LDS service mission and my siblings and I hadn’t had all of us together in over 11 years. But I’ll be honest. I wasn’t excited. I love my family. I love being with them. But…
I wasn’t excited for much of anything right about then.
The week came and went and not much changed, honestly. Seeing everyone was great, but that emptiness, those inhibitions, that lack of desire to do anything, still overshadowed it all. It was like looking at life through a thick fog.
I had a book signing on Black Friday while I was down that way. I didn’t expect too many people to come, but hoped that at least a few would. A few did show up. Specifically these two (plus some others).
These two started it all for me. Back in 6th grade and both in their own way, they pushed me to become the writer I am today. Seeing them there, coming to support me now 17 years later, it cracked that shell of “funk” in which I found myself. That event started me remembering, feeling, and thinking creatively again. It didn’t shatter the apathy, but the cracks were there.
I got back from Arizona and was back at the day job within half a day of getting home. That was a beast of a day, let me tell you. It didn’t help the cracks widen. If anything, any progress halted.
Until I got home.
A box was waiting for me. It contained?
Writers’ Tears. A reminder of all the ones I’d shed over the last couple months, and all the tears I’ve shed over the last 17 years since I first started writing.
Writers’ Tears – a liquid I would never drink.
The apathy shattered. I shed a couple tears. My inhibitions at moving forward with writing new stuff, with living life, with being human again, were lowered. And I didn’t even have to imbibe anything.
I remembered why I’m doing this and what I want out of it. I remembered how those two amazing individuals pictured above, through their actions as well as their words, both inspired and empowered me to do something I didn’t think was possible. They showed me then what I’m still trying to accomplish today, that I’m striving to realize a dream, a dream of being a writer who makes a living on his writing. I’m in this for the long haul. I have been from the start.
I’ve shed tears, but I won’t open that bottle. Those prior tears will remain in the past. Safely locked inside that bottle I will never open.
That bottle of Irish Whiskey, those Writers’ Tears, will sit on my writing desk (or table, or couch, or wherever I’m writing) forever, to remind me of the tears I’ve shed in this pursuit. I started this journey a long time ago. I’ll keep it up a lot longer. I’m going to shed more tears, I’m sure, and the bottle will remind me of that too.
The realist in me points out that this is your call to action, you who read this blog post. I’m asking you to support my dreams. This world is kinda crazy right now. The economy is full of uncertainty. With the election results, interest rate hikes, Brexit, Calexit, etc., people aren’t spending money like they used to. As a nation, we’re all pulling back and storing up for the winter (yes, that’s literal AND and metaphor). We’re all afraid for the future. I’m afraid for the future.
When I ask you to buy books, support Kickstarters, spread social media news, I’m asking you to be a part of a dream. Yes, I’m throwing off my realist hat for a moment and being an optimist. I’m asking for faith and hope. I’m giving you faith and hope too. I’m telling you that dreams are real. They’re attainable. They’re real. They’re worth fighting for.
I’m pushing back against the darkness that is the crazy world in which we live.
Because even the realist in me knows that we’re a nation of dreamers. Of doers. We’re a nation of people who can make dreams happen. We’re a nation and a world where, collectively, change occurs, for good and for ill.
I believe in hope.
I believe in us as humanity.
That bottle reminds me of that. It reminds me of where I came from, and where I hope to get some day. It reminds me that I believe in me. And you. It reminds me that I believe in us. It reminds me to be a realist and put in the time, hours, and work to get the job done. It reminds me, as a realist, that I can’t do it by myself, but that I can do it.
It reminds me dreams are real, if I work hard to attain them.