All the mess we’re in…

Writing is hard.

Yes, we’re on this again.

It’s two-something in the morning as I write this and I’m not even close to being tired enough to go to bed. Which is great because I have an appointment at 10:15 and I’ll be good and exhausted for that. I had a surge of bad anxiety hit right before bedtime and…here we sit.

The obnoxious thing about it, is it was mostly innocuous nonsense that spiked the anxiety in the first place. But once I went to bed and tried to sleep, I lasted about an hour before I couldn’t stand to stay put any longer. So I got up and made tea, and I’ve been staring at a computer screen doing nothing productive since.

Par for the course.

Anyhoo.

Writing.

…) I’ve been trapped in the manic phase of the writing cycle for quite some time. I jump from project to project, unable to focus on any one thing long enough to make an impact. I read things I’ve written and think, “This doesn’t suck. Why am I not working on this one?” And then I jump to another folder because attention spans are for schmucks.

…) Basil finally seemed to run out of Tyler ideas and then decided to just piss right off. Because he’s an asshole. I suppose I only have myself to blame for conjuring a muse that’s a damn gremlin.

What?

…) I’ve been mulling over a new idea for the past…week?…or so. Though I don’t think I can really call it a new idea, as it really just pulls pieces of existing plotlines to cobble together a slightly different path for essentially the same group of characters. (Perhaps Basil’s well hasn’t run completely dry just yet.) I’ve felt hesitant to actually work on it, because it’s really just another iteration of the thing I’ve been stabbing at for well over a year at this point. Is this one going to actually work? Only one way to find out I suppose, but it’s difficult to get past the paralysis currently blocking my path.

…) There are two stories I actually really want to be working on. One…we all know which one. The other…has issues. I know what the issues are. I just don’t know how to fix them. I’ve tried to shoehorn half a dozen different subplots into it, only to throw them out after realizing none of them fit. It already has Tyler in it, as this was actually the very first Tyler disaster to hit the page. Part of me is beginning to wonder (and by beginning I mean yes, definitely) if Tyler is actually the problem in all of this. But if I’m being honest he’s actually the most interesting character of them all. By comparison at least. Hannah and Joel, as they currently exist, are just really, mind numbingly boring.

…) So where does that leave me? Here, I suppose. Writing this nonsense instead of the stuff I really want to be working on.

This is my brain and welcome to it.

From the time he learned to talk, it was difficult to get a word in edgewise. He was a social creature, always in the middle of the fray. He never had difficulty making friends or charming every last adult to cross his path. Now rapidly approaching his fifteenth birthday, he was practically mute. He rarely looked her in the eye. It was nearly impossible to get him to smile.

Part of her wanted to attribute it to broody teenage independence, but her gut told her it was so much more than that. His anxiety seemed to spike a lot more frequently and he was often agitated with no discernable triggers. He didn’t strike her as being depressed. Experiences with her youngest brother had given her a pretty solid reference point for identifying the signs. There was plenty of melancholy, but he seemed more annoyed than anything. When she prodded him for answers, he claimed he was fine—if he said anything at all—and more often than not, just rolled his eyes when she expressed her concern.

They’d always had a close and candid relationship. He’d always been able to talk to her about anything, no matter how awkward or upsetting it might be. Now he didn’t want to talk to her about even the most innocuous subjects. Change was inevitable she knew, but the changes he’d gone through were so completely out of character, they’d left her reeling. She had a theory or two, but she wasn’t sure if she was reading too much into things, so desperate for answers, or if the truth really was staring her right in the face, just waiting for her to speak first.

She felt helpless and clueless, in a constant state of worry that she was missing something obvious or doing something wrong. After nearly fifteen years, she thought she’d have more figured out when it came to parenting, but clearly that wasn’t the case. It was absolutely paralyzing. She knew it was futile to keep beating herself up over her struggle to communicate with her son. It wasn’t doing either one of them any good. However, she’d never been very adept at taking her own advice.


Yes. Hello. I realize you should be writing, but I would like some snacks.

What?

Between the lines…

I keep opening up WordPress and staring at my dashboard thinking I need to write something, but mostly I just hear a lot of screaming inside my head. This is because I usually just read the latest headline regarding a certain deranged, blaze orange, narcissistic game show host who’s about to be given free reign over nuclear weapons and all his willfully ignorant and deranged cult followers.

But I don’t want to talk about that.

Instead, listing…

1.) I’ve been listening to the same music on repeat. This isn’t exactly a new thing, but my sanity is at critical mass regarding the aforementioned Shit I Don’t Want To Talk About and I need to maintain some semblance of calm in my bad addled brain. Nothing achieves that quite like listening to music I love ad nauseam. Right now we’ve got O.A.R., Andy Grammer, Eric Hutchinson, and Ingram Hill in heavy rotation. They are good for the soul.

2.) The Christmas tree still stands in the living room, in part because I am a procrastinator, and in part because I don’t want to put away the lights. I want to keep the lights up year round. I don’t need the tree or the ornaments, just the lights. I wonder if I could convince Robert to let me hang some in the loft…

3.) Basil seems to have expended all of his Tyler pipe dreams. Which is a bit of a blessing and relief, but he’s also being obnoxiously quiet on ideas in general. Because of course he is. There is no in between with him. Because he’s an asshole. But we’ve been over this.

4.) I’ve come to the conclusion that there is really only one story in the active list that is truly viable in its current state. As in, it has a definitive start and end point, and a clear plot in the middle. I’ve been beating my head against the wall over it for over a decade at this point (or half a decade as it currently exists) but it’s the one I should really be focusing on. Perhaps I should be listening to the Ben & Marina soundtrack on repeat for inspiration.

5.) I have a long list of house projects I need to get done but my focus is shot. (No–no, more than usual.) They are mostly small things that would take little time to complete, and having it done would make a lot of other things so much easier, but…ech… (see list item number one)

6.) Costco stopped selling Sobe vitamin water so we switched to the Vitamin Water brand. It’s taken some adjustment because we are creatures of habit and resistant to change. Something so insignificant shouldn’t cause such a disturbance, but we’re great like that. The orange flavor tastes like watered down Tang. Watered down Tang reminds me of the Farm. That was always pretty much the only available beverage for YEARS because well water wasn’t suitable for drinking. Christmas this year had me feeling a little wistful about the Farm. The family is gearing up to sell it now that both my grandparents are gone and it feels really weird to know that I’m probably never going to see the place again. I didn’t spend nearly as much time there as a lot of my cousins (or even my siblings) but it’s always been THERE and it won’t be long before it’s gone. (Or under new ownership, that is.)

7.) Life. It’s weirdly exhausting.

One eye on the clock…

Sleep has been an elusive little bastard lately.

Though that detail seems a little irrelevant at this moment. I started writing this in the middle of the night, but now I’m editing it in the middle of the afternoon. Because I am efficient like that.

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve started and deleted this post in the last twenty-four hours. (More like forty-eight at this point.) In part because I’ve been in a foul mood and everything just comes out as a bunch of bitching and whining. In part because I don’t have any real clear idea of what I even want to write about. I just feel like I need to write something here, so I keep hacking and slashing at this draft, hoping something worth saving* will manifest on the screen.

I average about one post a month around these parts.

I used to write more.

Sometimes I still do.

It’s certainly not for lack of trying. I open up blank drafts (or existing ones) all the time. But I generally stare at the blinking cursor for an indeterminate amount of time, before closing it out and return to tabbing between Twitter and Word.

I suppose if all else fails, I could easily ramble on for a few hundred (or thousand) words about whatever story project I’ve been beating myself about the head over. There’s no shortage of commentary in that department. But the true challenge with that idea, is writing something that actually makes sense. My thought process when working through ideas (and their multitude of details and problems) is so disjointed. When I write about it here, I put a hell of a lot of effort into making sure it makes sense, so when I come back to it somewhere down the line (because I always do) I have at least some idea of what the hell I was talking about.

My biggest issue tends to be that everything sounds so damn cryptic, even though it isn’t meant to be. Like I’m protecting my ideas from getting spoiled or stolen, so I have to be super careful about what I say. I have no intentions or delusions of publishing this stuff I’m writing, so keeping details under lock and key isn’t a high priority concern at this point. I just want to finish something for me. Bonus points if I don’t absolutely hate it.

But really, there are only so many posts I can spit out in a row of incessant babbling about stories before even I’m just JFC SHUT UP ABOUT IT ALREADY.

I annoy myself.

I haven’t made much progress on any one story as of late. I’ve been jabbing at a lot of different ones, and maybe if I combined all that I’ve written into one place, it would add up to a lot, but on a single project? Not so much. I keep revisiting the same ideas, trying to figure out what the block is preventing progress. A lot of it is lack of a proper timeline. Narrative is always a bitch. And some are just vacant in the overall plot department. I’ve designed half a dozen floor plans in the past couple weeks, but the stories they’re intended for have barely moved.

And then there’s the ever-helpful** BASIL and his relentless WHATIF campaign.

What if you combined these two lackluster ideas to make one much more interesting story? Wait–wait, what if you added in this third plotline? Hold on, what if you took that one idea and wedged it into this story that’s super boring? You’d have to pretty much rewrite everything you have written, but it could work. Hey, this story doesn’t have Tyler in it. We need to shoehorn him in there somewhere. Let’s take this story from ten years ago and update it with a complete cast overhaul and major plot changes and Tyler. Wait—hear me out—what if…

STAAAHP.

Though I am considering one of those. Taking an idea that falls a little short on its own and combining it with one that’s far too boring—even for me—and potentially making something else entirely. It would require a hell of a lot of rewrites to make it work. It would change A LOT with the dynamic of the characters. (It already has Tyler, but it would add some pieces to his story that are currently lacking.)

I just don’t know if it’s actually a feasible idea, or if I’m just grasping at straws on a story that really isn’t salvageable. I’m not ready to let it roll over and die just yet. I’m convinced there is a way to fix it. I just don’t know if THIS is it. It would really change a lot with the dynamic of the characters, and I don’t know if I actually like what those changes would be.

Worst case scenario, I try making the changes and it’s a colossal failure. But then I would know, instead of constantly wondering about Basil’s latest whatif, and not getting any writing done because I’m too distracted by that one thing.

If I take my time figuring out what needs to be changed with the existing material, it could work. The story as is, is lacking conflict. This would add some. But I don’t know if it would feel like it’s a natural part of the story, or if it would feel like I just crammed it in there as an afterthought just to make conflict where there really is none. I could be just making everything far more convoluted than it needs to be.

Which…is really every story I’ve ever written.

Oof.

 

* I stared at that line for far too long, thinking it seemed weird, until I finally realized that it’s the title of Gavin DeGraw’s latest album. Despite my penchant for using song lyrics as post titles, that was completely unintentional.

** Not at all helpful. Seriously. Not at all.

Damn these days…

Insomnia and anxiety are great, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

There are so many things I could be writing about, but they’re not getting written because I just don’t have the mental fortitude for it. I write plenty of posts dumping out raw emotions that never get published. They just sit in the drafts folder never to see the light of day. It feels better to purge my brain, and everything I write here, I write for me, but some things just don’t necessarily warrant public perusal. I haven’t kept a private journal in years—I’ve started many, but never maintained—I guess posts that sit unpublished serve that purpose these days. It works, I suppose.

Anyhoo.

Instead I’ve been writing.

… I’ve spilled several thousand words on a dumb fanfiction venture because sometimes you just need to give your brain a little reprieve and focus on something silly. It’s ridiculous and stupid and it entertains me endlessly.

… I’ve been plotting a way to combine two existing storylines into one. Separately they fall a little flat, but together they actually have some substance. But they’ve been tackled from so many angles over the years, I need to make sure I have my characters in order before I start pounding out words, or it will implode before I even really get started.

… It amuses me how inspiration can strike from even the most minuscule details. I read something that someone else wrote, and one, tiny little comment stuck in my brain that rapidly morphed and mutated into an entire storyline (or several, if I’m being honest). And while I thought it was just my warped imagination running rampant with exaggeration, months down the line, I’ve apparently hit the nail right on the head. Some people are just easy to figure out, I guess.

… I’ve been mulling over a number of ideas sitting in the active writing folder, seeking inspiration, wondering what I could do to make them work better. There’s one in particular that I really want to be working on. I have some stuff written for it (actual narrative!) that I really like, but the over-arcing plotline is just so boring that it’s really difficult to know what to do with it. I’m a total sucker for the everyday mundane, but this stuff is a total snooze-fest even for me.

… When I’m fumbling around trying to put together character lists or timelines, I retreat to my home architect program and start designing houses for these as yet unwritten stories. Or redesign existing floorplans to better fit the tales they’re intended for. I spend hours working on plans and perusing house plan websites for inspiration. It just adds to the excess of information I have rolling around in my head on any given story project that really has no relevance to the actual story, but it’s there if the need ever arises. And it’s much easier to describe surroundings if I have a visual reference to study.

… Writing. The bane of my existence and the love of my life. Both at the same time.

 

She’s such a piece of work—her husband too. She is totally one of those people that will carry on endlessly about how much she absolutely loves both of her children and she couldn’t possibly choose a favorite, but it’s blatantly obvious that she does favor one over the other to an extreme degree. In her case, she fawns all over her younger son, and her first born barely gets any attention by comparison. They’re always so irrationally harsh with him and I’ve never seen him do a damn thing wrong. I just don’t get it. He’s smart, he’s sweet, he works hard. He’s an amazing kid and his parents don’t see it at all. They’ll totally take credit for it if someone else points it out, but they don’t actually acknowledge that with him.

Really, at fifteen, he’s leagues smarter than his parents and they’re threatened by that. The only way they know how to cope with it is by trying to make him feel bad about himself, which is the one thing they’re actually good at. Every time they put him down I just want to throttle them. I don’t know how anyone can treat their own child like that.

I just want to hug the shit out of him and tell him he’s worth so much more and deserves so much better.

But who am I?

Just some virtual stranger with no clout to help him.

 

Swinging at smoke…

Writing is hard.

It’s a very cyclical thing for me. It moves along in stages. What those stages are, how long they last, and whether or not I recognize them as they’re happening all vary on a case by case basis.

Right now I’m in the JFC everything is crap stage.

It happens.

I’ve spent a lot of time staring at my writing folder—like I do—trying to discern what I should be working on. Truth is, I really don’t know.

Once upon a time I went through and summarized all of my “active” projects. It was a lot more difficult than it should have been. And I’ve been trying to do an updated version of it with the current active list for…a long time. It’s an exercise in brevity and it’s incredibly difficult for someone like me who has a tendency to ramble incessantly, especially when it comes to talking about writing.

I want to write a brief summary of the plot, a few notes on where my brain is at on the given project, and a snippet of text from the actual story. Problem is I could go on for hours about each one when “summarizing” the plot. (I might need to lookup the actual definition of the word summarize, because clearly it doesn’t mean what I think it means.) As for where my brain is at with each one, a lot of it generally comes out as fuck if I know. And when it comes to pulling out a few lines of text…I want to take paragraphs.

And then I have a twenty-thousand word post.

Give or take.

I’ve considered doing an individual post on each one in a series. Then I could ramble all I want. But it’s supposed to be about brevity. And while that’s clearly not one of my strong suits, that’s what I want it to be.

So as it goes with everything in writing, I keep hacking and slashing until it resembles something I’m more or less okay with.

Or I shove it back in the drafts folder and forget about it for awhile.

Fair warning…this whole thing is five-thousand-some-odd words. (The last one I did was 3000+…so…)

So much for that whole brevity thing, I guess.

Hey—it’s fairly brief commentary for each story. But once you pile them all together…

Continue reading “Swinging at smoke…”

Can’t remember all the details…

Writing is a weird beast.

You’d think after two-thirds of my life, I’d learn to just roll with it, but it continually serves to boggle my mind.

I get these elaborate essays built up in my head, but when I sit down to write it out, it’s just an epic disaster of incoherence.

And…I think I just came up with a new tagline for my writing.

Ahem.

Anyway.

I’m writing new things.

And by “new” things, I mean a hodgepodge of existing ideas and characters cobbled together into a plotline that’s been rattling around in my head for a long time, but I never quite knew what to do with it. It has all the proper pieces—a Chance Records artist, a collection of previously used character names, a [different] version of Tyler.

Can I do the story justice? Time will tell. It’s certainly nothing groundbreaking in subject matter, but things are feeling good so far. Which is a welcome relief after so many long months of banging my head against the wall.

We’ll see where it goes.

The Letter…

TL;DR—I’m taking a hiatus from music.

I’ve been told there have apparently been a lot of rumors flying around that I’m in rehab for an addiction problem.

A few weeks ago I was spotted in New York very drunk and then very hungover. Two days later I was spotted at JFK airport and then in Minneapolis. Why else would I be flying to Minneapolis if not to check into the notorious Hazelden rehab clinic? (Never mind they also have a facility in New York.)

I am ashamed to admit it, but the rumors of being drunk and hungover are, in fact, true. I did also fly from New York to Minneapolis that same week, but I didn’t go to check myself into rehab. I flew to Minneapolis because I live there. While I do have a place in New York, my permanent residence is in Minnesota with my wife and son.

Despite the fact that I’ve always worn my wedding ring, it always seems to come as a surprise to people to hear that I’m married. Apparently I don’t give people the impression of family man. I’ve been married for ten years. I’ve been with my wife for fourteen total. We have a twelve-year-old son. I’ve mentioned them before, but they are rarely the center of any conversation relating to my career in music simply to give them a semblance of privacy and normalcy. My wife is not looking for any attention for being my wife and we both want to protect our son best we can from the horrors of a public life.

Over the span of my career, I’ve managed to keep my private life mostly private, and I’ve never been one to publicly air my dirty laundry. But as rumors fly about rehab and addiction, I feel the need to set the record straight. As I said, I’m not checking into rehab. I don’t have an addiction problem. I smoked pot once in college and didn’t like it. I’ve never abused prescription or recreational drugs. I’ve never really been much of a drinker. I know this all started with an episode of heavy drinking and a killer hangover, but it was one significant event in my life that drove me to get shitfaced like I did.

Finding balance between work and home is a challenge for anybody, regardless of circumstances. My situation is not unique. As a musician who travels constantly, it’s easy to just let the road take me where it leads. I have to put in the effort to make time to spend at home with my family, and make sure they have everything they need. Some people find that balance easily. Others, like me, struggle to figure it out. To say I’ve done a lousy job of it would be the understatement of the millennium.

Travelling the country (and sometimes the world) has its perks. Playing shows and getting to visit places I might not otherwise see is a dream job few get to experience. I am grateful every day for this privilege I’ve been afforded in my life. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, but I haven’t done it alone, and I do my best to give credit where credit is due.

My two biggest supporters (and toughest critics) have always been my wife and son. I owe more to them than anyone else. They are the center of my entire world. I would not be who I am without them. My wife is a brilliant, strong, beautiful woman. She works tirelessly to hold down the fort while I’m on the road, raising our son, and running her own successful business. She loves fiercely, cares deeply, and she does not put up with bullshit from anybody (not even me). My son is nearly a mirror image in personality of his mother—smart, strong, passionate, caring, every adjective a parent could hope for—though he’s also strong willed and stubborn and he likes to argue, which he gets straight from me. I couldn’t be more proud of the person he is growing up to be.

My wife and son are absolutely amazing human beings and I have taken them shamefully for granted. That is the painful, unfortunate truth of this situation. I have neglected my relationship with them for far too long. I have taken their love and support for granted, deluding myself that they will always be there, no matter how much distance I put between us (geographically and emotionally). Over the last few years I have put an ocean of distance between us and created a rift that is not going to be easy to repair.

That is why I’m here now. I have to repair this. It would be easy to throw in the towel and say we’re all better off if it ends, but I know that I would most definitely not be better off. I have to believe that they won’t be either. I’m taking an indefinite hiatus from music to focus on my family, to repair the damage, and heal the pain I’ve caused. It’s not going to be an easy fix. It’s going to take time to rebuild. It’s going to require my entire focus.

I know I’m exposing myself to ridicule and slander by sharing this piece of my private life so publicly. But there are people who are going to concoct their own stories regardless—they’ve been doing it since the beginning—so I might as well put the truth out there for those who are willing to pay attention. There is no sordid affair, no substance abuse, no gambling debt, no domestic violence. There is nothing exciting or scandalous about any of it.

It’s one man’s selfish stupidity finally biting him in the ass.

And because I know the commentary is coming, if this is published on a public forum, my wife and son have read and approved every word written here.

Hiatus is like a four-letter word in this business. It’s often the nail in the coffin for so many careers. I don’t know what it means for my future in music. I don’t plan to be gone forever, but if it comes to that, so be it. Music is vital to my life, but if having a long-lasting career means losing my family because of it—I would chose my family in a heartbeat every single time.

I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. I can’t even guarantee I’ll be back. But until the time comes that I know for sure…

Thank you for listening.

Thank you for your support.

Thank you for everything.

I will [hopefully] see you on the other side.

GK

Over and under…

Writing is hard.

I’m still in a bit of recovery mode after my mental meltdown over one single writing project.

And while we’ve had a few moments of mild reprieve from gross summer weather, I’m still feeling the effects of SAD. Though I do have a little bit more of a handle on the anxiety that has been all-consuming now that I know where it’s been coming from.

Getting back to writing after an inadvertent break feels a bit like floundering. I’ve spent a lot of time staring at my writing folder trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do with myself. I’ve spent just as much time staring at a blinking cursor in WordPress. I’ve started and deleted a dozen posts, trying to cobble words together into something resembling coherence. I’ve tried writing about something other than writing, but everything comes out wrong.

It happens.

It’s nothing new.

Things go in cycles, though I can’t tell if there is a definitive pattern to it all or not.

Basil is still on his Whatif??? crusade, but believe it or not, some of those whatifs actually involve characters other than Tyler. Miracles never cease, I guess. I’ve been writing things, and some of it is okay, but it’s not quite what I want to be writing. I have ideas, but they’re stuck inside my head, trapped behind some sort of unidentifiable barrier I can’t quite figure out how to break through.

It’s frustrating at best and infuriating at worst, but all I can really do is ride it out until it passes.

In the meantime, I poke at existing stories, write what I can, and read through the stuff that reminds me why I do this in the first place.

Also, listen to music on repeat.

Always.


(I Go Through by O.A.R.)

I love this band so damn much.

The heart don’t listen…

…to words of wisdom
I could never get myself to understand…

I am in an extremely fortunate and privileged position in that I don’t have to work. (Not that my mental state is really in any condition to, but that’s a whole other discussion.) Bob has a good job that provides us with a comfortable income. We can pay our bills, save money, and budget for the things we want. He is okay with me not having a job. To certain degrees, he prefers it that way because he knows me. I struggle a lot (a-fucking-lot) with feeling like a leech and being completely useless, but again, a whole other discussion.

I have an opportunity to focus fully on the one thing I know I want to do with my life.

Write.

I don’t have any aspirations to publish anything—aside from here—but maybe someday if I ever finish something I don’t hate, that plan may change. I really don’t see that, but stranger things have happened. (I met a boy on the internet and married him, after all.)

ANYWAY.

Writing is hard.

This isn’t some brand new epiphany I’m having over here, but sometimes it slams home a little stronger than others.

For the last…lengthy frame of time…I don’t remember when I really started it…I’ve been making a more deliberate effort to write every day. And by that I mean, sitting down and actually focusing on writing while attempting to avoid other distractions. (see: the internet) It feels like I’m rarely very successful, but I think I have made marginal change.

In my efforts to write more I also decided to make an effort to focus on one project instead of juggling the eight…ish different ones I had been spreading myself over for too long. And I did that…to a certain extent. I did allow myself ventures into other folders when ideas struck or words stalled, but for the most part I was focusing on just one story.

I did get some decent writing done. But spending so much time on it made me realize how many things were wrong with it. And I had no idea how to fix it. I spent a lot of time beating my head against the wall trying to figure things out, and ended up getting incredibly frustrated and burnt out.

That last tweet is supposed to say then Bob but instead it says the Bob, but really he is THE Bob, so it still works, even with the typo.

I’ve been talking to Bob a lot about all my writing woes and the issues with the project I’ve been working on, trying to sort out what I need to do with all of it. The conversation that followed that series of whiny tweets knocked me on my ass.

Maybe I need to just be done with that project.
Be done with trying to fix it.
Put it to rest and let it stay there.

To say I was bordering on a panic attack would be an understatement.

To my recollection, I have never actively stopped working on a story. Yes, I have quit working on countless projects, but it has always happened gradually, fizzling over a long period of time as the inspiration sputtered out and other stories took over. I have never made the conscious decision to just stop.

Facing that decision literally brought me to tears.

It scared the absolute shit out of me.

Bob reminded me that is OKAY to fail. It doesn’t make it suck any less, but it’s okay.

Being the natural problem solver that he is, he made a number of suggestions to help me with my problem, and one of them made me panic even more than just stopping one story.

A writing cleanse.
No writing at all for a week.
Actively stop thinking about it.
Focus on something else entirely.

The very idea of stopping one story made me cry.

I couldn’t even breathe at the thought of not writing at all.

When the writing is in short supply, the mental health takes a tragic hit.

How could I survive not writing on purpose?

And then…without even realizing I was doing it…I took a break…

Sort of.

I didn’t make the conscious decision to take a break. I just…did. I opened Word. I opened files. I stared at them. But I didn’t write anything. I did read through some things. I spent a hell of a lot of time thinking about all of it. I even found another story in the archives to shoehorn ∞Tyler into. I didn’t write anything on it, but I spent plenty of time brainstorming it.

It wasn’t exactly a cleanse.
It wasn’t even a full week.
But it was far more than I was open to trying, even if it wasn’t entirely on purpose.

It was absolutely miserable.
It was a really shitty four days.
I cried a lot.
(Though that has also been heavily influenced by the horrific state of the world as of late.)

By Friday night I was in such a bad place. Bob and I spent several hours talking through it while I cried even more. (It wasn’t just writing at that point. There’s other shit tormenting me too.) We didn’t find much resolution, but unloading helped immensely. Snotty, weepy pillow talk can be incredibly cathartic all on its own.

Have I mentioned lately that my husband is fucking fantastic?

Because he is.

I don’t have a damn clue how, but I really did hit the jackpot with him.

Maybe if I had done a true cleanse things would have been less miserable, but I don’t know. Past experiences have me inclined to believe it would have been just as bad or even worse. I’ve gone long stretches without writing. Those were miserable times I don’t care to revisit on purpose.

At the time Bob and I were having the initial maybe it’s time to stop conversation, I had music playing—as I do. (Nine Days on repeat.) Somewhere during that, the song Star started playing—the life and struggle of a musician trying to make a career out of the trade. Not exactly something I can relate to, but a line stood out that so perfectly fit my mindset at that moment (and in general) and caught me completely off guard.

But if I give up I’m afraid I’ll disappear…

If I don’t have writing, what do I have? Putting all my eggs in one basket isn’t the smartest move, but I really like that fucking basket and it’s the only one I have. Writing is such a significant part of who I am. It has been my one true passion since I was twelve years old.

The ridiculous thing about all of this is it’s really JUST ONE STORY.

Nobody told me I can’t write anymore.
Nobody told me I have to give it all up.
It was just a suggestion to put ONE project to rest and stop torturing myself with it.

But this is how my brain works.
One little thing goes wrong and suddenly everything is in CRISIS MODE.
I KNOW it’s ridiculous.
I KNOW it’s anxiety being a royal dick.

I KNOW.

But there’s very little I can do to control it. It’s incredibly frustrating and absolutely exhausting.

So I cry.
I unload my woes on my saint of a husband.
I wrap up in blankets and cuddle my stuffed animals.
I listen to the same music on repeat.

I will survive.
This will pass.
Things will get better.

I’ll sit down in front of my computer and write.

I don’t know which story it will be, but I will love it and hate it and fight with it and obsess over it and things will be okay.

It’s a reminder I need far too often.

Things will be okay.


(Star … Nine Days)

Don’t wanna mess this up…

Sometimes I find myself falling into the abyss of reading old blog posts. I’ll go to look for something I wrote and suddenly it’s six pages of posts later. And in the process I usually completely forget what I was originally looking for in the first place.

Par for the course.

Most interesting to me are the posts about writing.

A lot of my writing about writing is pretty much just me talking my way through (thinking out loud, in a sense) whatever project is currently eating my brain. I reread posts so many times before I actually publish them, by the time I finally hit that button, it’s all just a blur of letters that may or may not spell actual words. The surprising thing is—things I’m pretty sure are just absolute shit are actually a lot more coherent than I originally thought. Not all of it. But far more than I expected.

What makes me wonder, is how much sense does any of it make to some random stranger who happens to read this stuff. (Though I can count on one hand the number of people who visit this place and I don’t need all my fingers.) (I am okay with this.)

It all makes sense to me…to a degree. Sometimes I read things and have no flipping clue WTAF I was talking about, but I’m sure it made sense—in some bass-ackwards sort of way—at the time. But since I know all the details of whatever story I’m rambling aimlessly about, I don’t always see what does and does not make sense from an outside perspective.

If it comes off as absolutely incoherent drivel, that’s fine. I write for myself here. If other people choose to read it—hey, I appreciate it, but I won’t be offended if you run screaming and never come back. If I had any aspirations to be social with people, I might seek out actual feedback from kids who are not wholly familiar with my demented little brain.

But we all know that ain’t gonna happen.

Guess it’ll just remain a mystery.

The past six months (Already??? WTF???) worth of writing can pretty much be summed up in two tweets.

(The fixating is a whole lot more than just writing, but right now we’re just talking about writing.)

I started a story dubbed Lightning. Why Lightning? Your guess is as good as mine. It was a mix of old ideas from various projects and some new[er] inspiration from a few different sources. It took some finagling of the character names, but I was mostly content with the way things were playing out in the early pages.

And then BASIL showed up and initiated an avalanche of Whatif??? and Tyler to the Infinite Power.

Because he’s an asshole.

Scout was intended to be just a pile of Scenes Without Stories, providing me with an outlet to purge some of the crazy rolling around in my head. It’s since been reworked into something entirely different, that may or may not actually make a complete story. The reworking probably belongs under its own code name but…ehh…logic.

Haven (versions 2 & 3) spawned after I started looking at an idea I’d recently stuffed in the Stalled folder. (Code name Haven, in case it wasn’t obvious.) It was short lived on both versions as something wasn’t quite meshing with the [new] characters. Which was fine because a certain creature shoved a wrench in my face in the form of a Train song.

Lightning v2.0 kept a few elements from Haven, but shifted in an entirely different direction with the core characters. Why I named it Lightning 2.0 is a mystery (though it’s slightly more fitting to this story than the first) but I haven’t come up with a different code name for either version so…it stays.

Next Gen is a little muddy how it was spawned. I can’t pinpoint anything specific, but there were pieces that I really liked so it grew rapidly into a full-fledged storyline. And aside from the characters, there’s not really much for overlap with other stories, which may or may not have everything to do with why progress has been very slow on this one.

Trust Fund v2.0 came up while digging around in the Stalled folder in a bout of writer’s block and frustration. I started mulling over the original story and a plot point that I had considered in the beginning, but ended up cutting out. I put that piece back in and it ended up changing the entire story considerably, giving it a level of substance it didn’t have before.

Pictures stemmed from a separate trip into the Stalled folder, pulling pieces from other ideas that warranted revisiting. Certain parts make it largely similar to Lightning v1.0 with a role reversal, but digging deeper into the story, it’s different enough to keep both.

Fleet is just an outlet to purge the crazy from my bad-addled brain. It’s not meant to be a complete story. It’s just a series of conversations between characters that don’t fit in anywhere else. Writing this kind of stuff is surprisingly effective in clearing the murky waters Basil stirs up when he’s on a rampage.

Every single one of these “stories” falls under the Stephen Tyler marker because every single one of them revolves around a group of characters that can be largely interchangeable from story to story. It’s repetitive and confusing and I’m okay with that. The circumstances vary from story to story (mostly) but the core characters all largely stem from the same inspiration point. This is how my brain works. I’ve stopped trying to figure it out. If I just go with it, things eventually fall into place in a way I can actually work with.

I’ve been beating my head against the wall over all of these ventures, knowing that if I’m going to have any success at all, I NEED to focus on just ONE AT A TIME. Balancing all of these attempts simultaneously is never going to work no matter how hard Basil tries to convince me otherwise. Some of them belong in ye olde Stalled folder, but they’re staying put just to keep all of the inanity of Stephen Tyler together.

The other night Bob and I spent a good chunk of time talking through all of this stuff. He challenged me to summarize each story and tell what I liked and didn’t like about each one. We do things like this every so often, especially when I’m spinning my wheels at the bottom of a hill. He’ll be the first to admit he really doesn’t know anything about writing, but hearing the details of a story as a potential reader, he asks a lot of questions and gives me some perspective I have a hard time seeing as the writer who knows all the useless and dirty details. I had to keep clarifying which version of Tyler I was talking about (because seriously) but when all was said and done, he gave his opinion on which story I should focus on, and when I step back and look at them all from a distance, I think he’s right.

Doesn’t mean I won’t still keep stabbing at all the others when the inspiration strikes, or the blocks interfere. But my primary focus needs to be on ONE.

So Lightning v1.0 it is.

Makes sense.

Been there for awhile…

I write a lot of blog posts in my head. Mostly while I’m in bed, staring at the wall, not sleeping, debating if I should just relent and get up, or force myself to stay put in the hopes I’ll get tired enough to fall asleep.

It’s fun times.

The downside to writing posts in my head…when I finally open up a blank draft, I pretty much lose everything I wanted to say. That’s not really surprising, but it is frustrating.

This is probably why there are currently nineteen posts sitting in drafts.

When it comes to writing, there are times I get into a solid groove, hammering out words for days. But all it takes is getting hung up on one little detail and the whole thing derails in spectacular fashion. Then I find myself grappling for a hold, desperately trying to get back into that comfortable groove of progress, and eventually I realize I’m sitting in the middle of an indecipherable mess of multiple projects that may or may not stand a chance at getting finished in a timely fashion, if at all.

This is a pretty good descriptor of everything in my life, but right now we’re talking about writing.

Every so often, I’ll start working on a new idea that seems to hold a whole lot of promise. I know where it should start. I know where it should end. I know a pretty good path to take to get there. I start putting words down, things are going well, and then…

Good ol’ Basil comes skulking along from whatever cave he hides out in and starts whispering, “But what if THIS happened???

NOBODY ASKED YOU, BASIL, SO SHUT IT.

But he’s persistent.

And convincing.

And I’m pretty sure he isn’t called a gremlin muse for nothing.

So I start writing these other what-if scenarios. Most of them end up being a little ridiculous, but they tend to be really fun to write. And purging the what-if crazy from my overloaded brain clears the path for the usable material that’s fighting to make its way back to the forefront. Sure I’ll end up with half a dozen different scenarios revolving around the same group of characters, that will sit in a folder and never actually go anywhere, but I’m still writing. Even if it’s utterly ridiculous.

I’ve been trying to articulate the issues I’m having with the latest writing project(s), but it’s just not coming out right. And to get to the root of the problem, I’ve been trying to trace my way back to where this convoluted mess all started.

Best I can figure is it might have started with a Train song. (Oh but don’t so many stories start with a song…) But more specifically, certain lyrics…

I’m not coming back for round two
I just want to love you like a friend would do
You weren’t wrong for the feelings you had
But the man that I was isn’t coming back
So stay
It’s okay…

It got the gears turning on an idea that dates back…a really long time ago…that has been revisited countless times in countless variations since.

What could I do with it this time?

Then I started looking at a pair of characters from a different project, that have been sitting around for an indeterminate amount of time, wondering if they could work in some variation of that old idea. Pieces started falling into place, and a story started to manifest, and progress was happening.

And then…

One goofy, little hangup started an avalanche that—somehow, months later—is still careening down the side of Basil’s mother-effing WHATIF mountain.

I had Stephen, Hannah, and Tyler. When I realized why things sounded so awkward with Stephen and Tyler, I kept Tyler and changed Stephen to Parker. Then for some reason, Hannah no longer sounded right, so she was changed to Alison. (Though I briefly considered Olivia, but then I would have Liv and Tyler.) Then Basil threw in a different Train song to intervene and an entirely different story was born.

Going back to the first idea, however, I decided Alison didn’t fit and changed her back to Hannah, and then changed Parker to Justin. Tyler stayed the same, and other plot points in the story started to evolve and change. And things are still evolving and changing because Justin became Joel but now may actually be back on his way to Stephen. Because WHY NOT.

In the meantime, the ever-scheming Basil threw another wrench into the works—though I can’t quite place where the idea originated (for once, not a song)—and a third plot cropped up, putting those three characters into yet another different situation. After a whole lot of character naming and renaming (and renaming…) I landed on Stephen, Olivia, and Tyler because fuckit, it makes me laugh, and I like to have inside jokes with myself.

There are also three other plots that have been briefly entertained, but really haven’t resulted in much more than a few scenes without stories, though they all have the common element of the character Tyler, because apparently I’m stuck in a naming rut. It almost feels like I’m producing some bizarre Tyler to the Infinite Power in a cloning experiment gone awry.

The name Tyler has long been on my go-to list of reusable character names. I have a sub-list of names I use specifically for kid characters and Tyler is one of the most commonly used. (Nieces and nephews, kids of friends, varied and sundry side characters, et al…) This time, when I pulled the name off the list to use for the teenage son of the main character (or nephew, or little brother, or pick a story, any story…) I had no intention of cramming him into half a dozen plotlines, but here we are.

The other two characters have seen countless name changes, but for this one, I’m stuck on Tyler. It fits. And I like it. There are many similarities between each of them, but there are also a lot of differences as well.

It’s like my constant use of the name Kate. Yeah it’s redundant, excessive, and a little confusing to keep them all straight, but it fits the given character better than any other name I’ve tried, so it sticks.

Infinite Tylers aside…I find myself spinning my wheels on each of the three main storylines, struggling to get my bearings after so many character and plot changes.

Lightning v2.0 Parker, Alison, and Tyler are pretty solid in terms of what’s happening and where things are going, but I’m running into ye olde narrative problem as I hash out all of the major plot points.

Next Gen Stephen, Olivia, and Tyler have kind of hit a wall as they keep getting shoved to the side to make way for Basil’s constant what-if-ing.

Lightning v1.0 Hannah, Tyler, and Justin (or Joel, or Stephen, or…) are sitting at a bit of a crossroads as I contemplate some plot changes that could steer things in a slightly different direction than originally planned. That and I can’t make up my damn mind on one freaking name.

It aren’t that hard.

Does any of this make a single shred of sense?

No.

No it does not.

But I’m starting to think that Tyler is in cahoots with Basil in some bizarre scheme to acquire Aerosmith’s entire discography.

Or I’m just severely sleep deprived.

Maybe.

Probably.

This is my brain, and welcome to it.

Perhaps I should just start from scratch on all of it.