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Still Writing; Despite Ten Tragedies
I haven’t written here much lately, and I started to worry that everyone would think this newsletter is abandoned. I think that sometimes when a regular poster stops regularly posting. Writing is a lot of time and effort. Sometimes people quit.
I’m not quitting, but I’m adjusting what I’m doing. There will be a followup article about the details, but it involves more writing instead of less. This isn’t me saying something like “this newsletter is going into a lower gear for a bit.” More like the opposite.
What this article is about is why I have been posting inconsistently, and to say that I’ll be posting reliably again.
The Sad Part
The reason my motivation is weaker is that the past 12 months have been a nightmare for me. It would feel like complaining to go into too much detail, but the outline of things is below. In short, I feel my inconsistency has at least a bit of a good excuse:
In August last year, our dog got cancer, and we had to say goodbye a month or two later. It was so upsetting that it put me into a funk that I only just started to get out of. I spent all day with that dog, with multiple hour-long walks every day. There was a massive hole in my daily life after he was gone
A few months after, in December, our eighteen-year-old cat died. Kidney disease. She was the most annoying cat, but she was our annoying cat
Shortly after, in January I think it was, my grandpa died from cancer. He was something else. An exceptional human being. A leader, an inspiration, a life and world-changing guy
Around this time, a friend contracted… something. There doesn’t seem to be a name for it. I don’t want to go into details, but his life is probably a living hell right now, and his wife and kids must really be struggling. This is bringing up some memories of my concussion ten years ago, which took eight years to recover from, so I can imagine, at least a tiny bit, what he’s going through. And I imagine it’s bad
Perhaps it was January, perhaps it was February; a friend’s dad died. She came to stay with us for a little afterwards. I feel terrible for her
In April or May, my grandma died. She had pretty bad dementia, but after my grandpa stopped visiting her every single day, I think she stopped hanging on. It hit me pretty hard for some reason. I didn’t write much for a while afterwards, not until recently I guess
Not long after this, my brother’s dog died. I drove into town and went to the vet with him and cleaned his house and got to listen to my family tell me how much they missed him for weeks. This made me relive part of losing my own dog, and it was harder than you might expect
Next (how long can this go on?), my dad was diagnosed with a chronic disease. It might turn very severe in as soon as a few weeks, or maybe it will be a few months. He’s seeing doctors weekly for it. He’s also had a fractured back and has had COVID-19 for 12 months. I don’t know how long he’s going to be around, but things look sort of bad at the moment
EDIT 1: between writing the draft of this, and publishing it, a new thing came up. It might be the worst of all, or it might be nothing. I don’t know yet
EDIT 2: between last edit and now, something brand new: a very close friend, but who I haven’t seen in a long time, unexpectedly died. And somebody dumped her body in a park. Do you even believe me? Or is this too over the top? It sure seems like it can’t be real, doesn’t it? What’s next, you might be wondering. It doesn’t feel real to me either. If it wasn’t on the news for a week, I’d still be in denial that it happened. I had a hard time messaging people about it because I was worried it wasn’t true and I was mistaken. I think my brain was broken. I wish the funeral was sooner, it’s still a month away for some reason
God, what a list. I’m sure I even missed something in there.
Anyway, when you feel awful, analytical research isn’t always the most helpful thing to do. A better thing to do is this: create something.
Actually, this SubStack started after I wrote the beginning of The Alienation and the Black Stones. I wrote it shortly after Banjo got cancer. It is a story about facing the inevitability of severe loss; loss that isn’t okay, loss of something critical and close to you and involved in every part of your day-to-day life; loss that can’t be avoided. The story structure reinforces this, and the first chapter of the novella is actually the conclusion of the story. So, you know how it is going to end. That’s the point.
Although, now that almost a year has passed, I think that this novella might be the first in a trilogy, and that the third instalment deserves a happy ending. Because we need happy endings after tragedy.
Not want. Need.
But the reason I wrote it is that it helped me process what was happening. You’ll find a lot of horror authors say the same thing. I’ve spoken to many of them over the last year, and you’ll find some of the same sentiments in interviews I did recently. Reading/watching or creating horror is soothing for certain kinds of people. In fact, two of the biggest horror fans I know have PTSD. The horror makes them feel better.
(That’s why all these attempts to shelter traumatized people feel so wrong to me. Traumatized people sometimes seek harsh experiences, in a controlled way, to help them process what they’ve been through. To gain a sense of control over it? So, when you ban stories to protect people, you’re taking that away from them. Let people make up their own minds about what they read and watch.)
Anyway, I’m Still Writing
The point of this post is to say that I’m not going to let all this stop me.
The thing I learned from my concussion was this: when the world kicks you down… and, apparently, kicks the people you care about much, much harder… well, there’s a lot of nasty things to say here, but the gist of it is that you have to pick yourself up and move forward. Even when you can’t. And this isn’t some stupid ideal of behaviour; it’s because you have no choice.
I want certain things in life and I’m going to go get them.
So, I’m fully back to work and writing a lot.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve written thousands of words, end edited far more than that.
I have two finished stories waiting to be published:
The Telltale Puppy (short story; an homage to Poe)
The Spiced Isle Massacre (short story; I want to get this one traditionally published)
Two that are almost finished:
The Princess and the Fierce Beast (a fairy tale about a bad childhood)
(Secret project as part of a workshop)
And several in-editing at the moment:
The Alienation and the Black Stones (novella)
A BLIZZARD. RED SNOW. WITCHCRAFT (novella that explores unreliable narrators and layered narratives)
The Hitchhiker (short story. Closely related to the blizzard story. Probably will be bundled with it as a series of related stories)
The Bantam Skulls #1: The Fever Jungles (first of what will hopefully be a serialized series of swords and sorcery novellas. Premise: what if we didn’t have to protect nature? What if nature became scary again, and fought back? And not in some noble way. In a vicious, wild way. I think many of us sort of dream of this kind of world. It’s a world of meaning and danger instead of guilt and hopelessness. And, besides, I think we deserve to be hit back after everything we’ve done to the planet.)
The Fascination of Rue’s Gimlet (a novel, exploring obsession)
a couple of others
My goal right now is to turn all those in-progress stories into finished stories that I can publish in some way or another. And soon.
There are some changes to this newsletter I have planned. But I’ll be posting weekly, you can count on that, unless some new tragedy new comes up—and if so, after a while, I’ll come back yet again. I’m a pretty stubborn person. At this point, I can’t promise this won’t come up.
I hope you’re all well
Give this a heart or a comment if you read this. I want to know whether people are still reading these after I went offline for a month or two.
After all, my article about the shark attack script was really good, but it was one of my least read, least-opened, least-liked articles of all time, so now I’m worried I’ve lost everybody. Go back and read it, it’s about a really interesting script!
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