He stands and looks out at the landscape he left behind two years ago.
Has it really been that long? One minute he was right here, writing his heart out, planning on putting his stories out into the world.
And then the next . . . nothing.
He was instead in another place. A faraway place. And the words never came. His ideas, his worlds, his characters, all stalled and trapped like he was. For all this time, the gap between these two places had been thin, and occasionally his ideas had escaped and found their way back home. But it was few and far between.
He stretches, both physically and mentally. He searches his mind, hoping that he didn’t come back alone. For a moment, when nothing replies, he feels breathless and empty. But there they are. Hidden away. Perhaps frightened, but they are there.
His fingertips itch to get to work, yet he can’t just rush back in. He’s not as strong as he was before he fell away. He’s rusty. To throw himself into something old, or something too big could do more damage.
Or worse, send him back ‘there’.
No, he needs something fun, something easy, where the rules aren’t so tight and restrictive. A playground where a simple spark can grow and grow with nothing but craziness and inspiration to accompany it.
Something created . . . by chance.
This blog has been a bit of a dead zone for the last couple of years, a place where words fell to the page as infrequently as rain falls in the desert.
I ask myself how did it go from being so much to so little.
Well, it started back in 2016 .
I had managed almost two years of blogging every single Wednesday. Which isn’t including all the extras like the story posts. And yes, some evenings I was cutting it fine, and yes, some posts weren’t my finest. But I showed up and got it done, with a big ol’ bag of consistency.
Unfortunately though, as 2015 faded away in the rear view, taking those highly motivational Flash Fiction contests with it, I suddenly found myself without prompts, and with only my own original work to keep me company. Doubt began to creep back in. Confidence said it was popping out for milk and it never came back.
I was struggling with posting regularly, and as much as it hurt after keeping up the strict routine of posting every Wednesday for almost two years straight, I curbed my output and went fortnightly (in the process, killing my catchphrase “see you in seven”).
Halfway through that same year, just before we took our son away on his first holiday abroad, I discovered that it wasn’t the forced routine that had made me struggle with the blog posts, it was the content. I realised that I was talking the talk, but not walking the walk. That is to say that I was posting on how to write, how to do covers, and what I wanted to self-publish, but each year I ended unpublished. I felt like a fraud.
So, it was with a heavy heart that I stepped back from the blog altogether and went on hiatus.
Of course, I popped back in occasionally to make sure the digital flowers were watered, that the non-existent fan-mail wasn’t clogging up the hallway, and to continue annotating my NaNoWriMo journey come November. But the blog was effectively closed.
Around this time, the stress of my job claimed my sanity, and after an altercation in the canteen where I ended up losing my temper and being accused of something far worse than that, I was asked to seek help.
I spent the next few months attending Anxiety, Stress, and Anger meetings. In my mind it was a mistake, because the thing that could have cost me my job didn’t happen as was explained to my bosses. But listen they didn’t, and so I went along with it.
Now I’m not saying I shouldn’t have been seeking help. I most certainly should have because anxiety, stress, and anger are easily my biggest problems. So I chose another reason to do it. I wanted to be better for my family. I worked hard at the end of 2016, despite coming out thinking it had been a waste of time, and then found people saying I was different, better.
I hid away from writing and didn’t think I’d ever find myself back to the way it been during 2014/2015, my golden era. But I did come back and not for the reason I ever thought. Two things happened to me in April of 2017 that knocked me down further than I thought I could go.
Kidneys stones hurt me physically.
And the next day, my marriage hit the beginning of the end.
AN ANTHOLGY CALLED ME
It was a tough few months of ups and downs. Shouting, tears, a lot of mental pain. I struggled to not let go of the hard work I’d done on myself at the end of 2016. It’s all a blur now, I know, but I remember that around the August I finally realised that I was fighting for a prize that no longer existed. I found myself stopping and taking a look in the mirror. After that, something weird happened.
As the summer of 2017 was in full swing, the blog posts started building up once more when BRISK WORLDS, my collection of Flash Fiction stories, was suddenly shot into production and then released into the wild. It all happened so quickly. I had post after post in the build up as I planned my design and cover. Then, once it was out there, more posts followed as I chronicled my experiences of the process.
The negativity I’d been suffering from had gone away, and the end of 2017 seemed to be exactly where I’d been aiming for. BRISK WORLDS was to be the springboard I’d been trying to get to, the hump I’d been trying to get over, the wall I’d been so desperately trying to smash through. It was only a matter of time now before the first full novel came out. And the next. And the next.
Nothing was going to stop me now.
Except, ‘sigh’, that’s not exactly what happened.
It should have been a case of carrying on with the momentum.
2018 definitely started that way as I continued to post and back up to weekly. Well. At least for the first two weeks. Then it became monthly. Nothing of interest either, just weak, pathetic posts about how I was falling down again.
Then it was April, and a bunch of Superheroes pulled me back up again.
With AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR on the horizon, I did what any self-respecting geek was planning; watching all the preceding MCU films in a marathon for the build-up. With my blog parched, I thought perhaps it would be nice to chronicle the viewing, and post my journey and my views of it, as I went. It started so well as I discussed the highs and lows, talking about memories of when I saw them and what was so good about them in my eyes.
Then, for some reason, even blogging about my favourite subject in the whole damn universe became a chore. What the hell was wrong with me?
The article is still a mess to this day. I did it a great disservice. What should have been a passion project ended up sabotaged and ruined.
And again, I stopped blogging. Again, I fell back into the showers. Again I thought it wouldn’t get much worse. I mean, come on; NaNoWriMo was on the horizon. That always picks me up, right?
NANO MORE WORDS
Despite what ever is happening to me, November is my happy time. It’s my version of Christmas (surprise, surprise, I’m a Bah! Humbug). October is the count down, then it’s 30 days of me in a new world exploring and recording what I see. And it’s one thing that I’m not only good at, but always super proud of.
It also sees me return to post updates for just the month of November.
So why did I get two thirds through and stop posting? Why was the 21st November the last content on my blog until those garbled messages started showing up a few months ago?
Like all good stories, it was because of a girl.
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL?
As Divorce-ville was my main destination from mid-2017 until whenever the solicitor decided, I was pleasantly surprised to find a detour not marked on the map.
It turned out that a work colleague/friend who was probably the only person in the world that I felt actually ‘got’ me, had feelings for me. And guess what folks? I realised the same thing about her. My spirits were more than lifted. I realised that I might not grow up to be a hermit, or that grumpy old next-door neighbour who never returns your football if it goes over the fence. I felt like I might actually be . . . happy!
And so began months of will they won’t they.
Now you’re probably thinking, “well bless him, he was so distracted by love, that he forgot all about writing and was just in a really good place”.
Well you’d be f’ing wrong. Unfortunately, during the month of November, it was in the phase of ‘Won’t they’ so I was in an even darker place than normal when it came to fiction. And the novel I worked on (SHUFFLE, DEAL, PLAY) which somehow did make it to 50,000+ words, is the kinda thing you write when you feel like you’ve had your heart stomped on. I thought it might be therapeutic, or something, but it’s was a mess and should have just been taken out back and shot.
Actually, that’s kinda unfair. When things with the girl ended earlier this year (if she’s reading this, which I think she might just be, then I’m still going to the cottage on the hills) I looked back at the story with calmer thoughts and found something deep inside it that I might be able to remould into a pretty decent novel in the near future.
Which brings us to 2019 and things are a lot different.
I have a new job (still IT) which I don’t have to travel very far to. I have a new hobby (board games) which I’m loving right now. My family situation is . . . . peculiar (my mom still can’t get her head round it) and it would make a great sitcom.
And I have an urge to write again.
But as I said in the intro, I don’t want to throw myself into anything complicated of epic, and the thought of trying something old, or something failed could also derail me.
Luckily some chance things have combined almost effortlessly, and a project now sits on my 2019 NaNoWriMo page that I’m excited about starting.
I’ll go into a little bit more detail next week when I do my annual update on my past NaNo projects.
So I’ll just leave it there for now. I’m back and in a more positive place than I have been for a good couple of years. I’ve crossed into a new decade, and the end is nearer, so it’s time I got all these stories out of my head before they are lost forever.
See you in seven.