Thursday, January 13, 2005

But I'm feeling much better now!

My small explosion yesterday let me clear the decks and get back to work. I agree with Stephen King about monsters. In Danse Macabre, he says that the monster you can see is way less scary than the one you can't. He's right. If you bring your monsters out into the light, they usually shrivel up into nothing. I just have to keep working on those issues so they don't creep back down into the darkness and start to grow again.

A good work day

Not the most prolific in termns of wordcount, but extremely satisfying. Finishing things is always a good feeling.

Finished a final edit/readthrough on "The Easy Way Out" and sent it out to the crit group. I still have a couple of reservations about it, but I want to see what independent eyes have to say. Sometimes, I'm just paranoid.

Finished a crit and sent it out. Two more outstanding right now. I look to get one of them out on Sunday.

Made really good progress on the rewrite/transcription of "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet". It's now at 5000 words, but the climactic scene is almost over, and all that's left is a short denouement scene. I might try to finish it tonight.

Also started making notes for the rewrite of "A Time To Every Purpose". It will be a job, but certainly doable. That's on the agenda for Monday morning. The worst part is that I'm going to have to get rid of my very favoritest sentence in the whole story. That sucks. Oh well, maybe I can use it again later. Like Holly says, sometimes you have to kill your darlings. (P.S. to Holly: I'm renaming the poem to "Mind Over Monkey". I like that better.)

I even found my Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell cassette. At last, the truth rears its ugly head. Yes, I do like Meat Loaf. For over-the-top dramatic rock-n-roll, there's none better. He always puts together a killer band, too. Just too much fun.

"Oh Baby, you're the only thing in this old world
That's pure and good and right.
And wherever you are and wherever you go,
There's always gonna be some light."

Coming up: Carriage House Review opens a new reading period on Saturday. I have "Carrion Comfort" waiting at the gate for them. It won't count on the January/February Dare because I last rewrote it in December. Whatever, I need to get some stuff in circulation. Can't get accepted if you don't submit.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A Mental Health day

"Called in sick" as far as writing was concerned today. That's not altogether accurate, as I did do a lot of reading and thinking, I just didn't get any words written. I'm OK with that right now. I have some serious issues that I have to straighten out before I can progress much further.

Almost every writer suffers from fear of failure. You're going to send out that first story. Your hands sweat, you can hardly catch your breath. Right up until the envelope goes into the box, there's a gopod chance you'll change your mind and go back for just one more look, one more edit. Maybe I can't send it out just yet. Maybe it's not ready yet. I'd better look one more time. Yeah, I had that, too.

Things have changed. Back then, I had no real illusions about being a success as a writer. It was just something I did in my spare time. Maybe I would publish something, maybe not. Now, I can see that I have reached a point in my development where success is a very real possibility, and that scares tha absolute Bejeezus out of me. I know where it comes from, the question is "What am I going to do about it?". It's almost paralyzing me.

So, among the things I spent time thinking about today was the issue of PTSD--Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I know I have PTSD, but I won't often admit it, and I keep trying to convince myself that it isn't so. But the symptoms are unmistakeable: Hyperalertness (the monsters are real and they're after me), withdrawal from other people (agoraphobia in spades), nightmares (every night), and on and on. I even read the diagnosis in DSM - IV-TR. Yep, that's me.

So why am I posting this here for the whole world to see? Because then I won't be able to deny it any longer. This is the root of many of my problems, and I have to deal with it. Somehow. Unfortunately, the psychiatric profession has few tools that really help. Recovery has to be from the inside out. That puts the load on me.

Back in time

PTSD? What trauma? You're a normal middle-aged man, you've never been in a life-threatenting situation or a war or a natural disaster. It would be a lot easier to see if I had been. The source of all this, though, goes back to 1961, when I was four years old. One fine spring day, I was riding my tricycle on the front porch and managed to go over the edge and down the concrete steps. Almost made it, too. Almost. Every day since then, I have had to look at myself in the mirror and see the scar and knot on my forehead and remember.

Lessons that four-year-old might learn from something like this:
  • The world is dangerous. You can die at any moment.
  • Heights are bad. Falling is worse. Hittintg bottom hurts.
  • Being out of control can kill you.
  • Your parents can't save you.
These are some terrible life lessons for a young child to have to absorb. But it got worse. PTSD didn't exist in those days. You got hurt, you got better, you got over it. But I didn't. Now I knew that the monsters under the bed are real. The only way to avoid them is to keep your head under the covers so they can't see you. Draw attention to yourself, and you're doomed. Four-year-old logic.

Some other factors that reinforced the problem:
  • An emotionally remote family. No hugs or kisses, or even pats on the back.
  • "Be tough. There's nothing to be afraid of, crybaby."
  • Being taught that all deep feelings are bad.
  • "Don't come running to me. Do it yourself."
And others, but those are just for me. I will just say that I have tapped into a deep vein of unresolved anger at my parents for their roles in not giving me the love and support I needed when I needed them most. That's hard to deal with.

I'm an emotional train wreck right now. Back to work tomorrow. I suspect my stories are going to take a turn toward fear and anger for a while.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Absurdist Theater at its finest

It's that time of year, again. The stench of dirty laundry fills the air. Duck and cover, but keep a firm grip on your wallet because the Georgia General Assembly is back in session. Yes, friends, Clown College has officially convened, and idiocy runs rampant in Atlanta's streets.

Among the items up for consideration at this session:

  • Provide for the death penalty for persons convicted of aggravated sodomy against a victim under 12 (House Bill 13). I can see how parents would like this one, but I, personally, think it's just a little extreme. I think maybe 10-25 years with mandatory, effective treatment might be a better option.
  • The State Flag (HB 15). Again. Jesus, people, give it a rest. Rednecks, fly your Confederate flag at your house and on your pickup truck and leave the rest of us alone.
  • Phase out all income taxes for all corporations over 5 years (HB 24). Hmmmm. Wasn't Georgia just in a budget crisis of unbelievable proportions just last year?
  • A Resolution (HR 8) asking the NCAA to adopt a playoff system for Division 1-A football. Do you guys really have time for this?
  • A Resolution (HR 4) requiring that "Representatives shall conduct themselves with dignity and in a manner to ensure decorum at all times in their offices and offices of other members of the General Assembly and in related work areas used by members of the General Assembly, including all committee rooms in the Capitol and the Legislative Office Building." I thought these people were adults. Should we also take away recess and make them stay after session?
  • The Georgia Public-Private Infrastructure Act (SB 5), which provides that public agencies can play fast and loose, oh sorry, "be flexible", with public funds (including Federal) in their contracting with private concerns on infrastructure projects. Oops, there goes another $20 million or so down the tubes.
Let the games begin.

Kludging towards Bethlehem

Finally got the article titles sorting out properly on my Vision indexes. Don't ask, it ain't pretty. Substance over style is my usual preference, anyway.


Thanks Holly and Debra for the support and encouragement! It really helps.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Here we go again.

Been fighting a severe attack of the "Why Bother"s. Why bother working on that story? It's crap and you know it. Why bother submitting anything? You know you're going to be rejected again. Why bother blogging? Nobody cares. Why bother this? Why bother that? Why bother anything at all? Why not just sit in the recliner and stare out the window?

This is self-sabotage at its finest. My mind is endlessly creative when it comes to ways to avoid doing things that I like. It's always got a long list of "shoulds" to throw at me. I should be house-cleaning. I should be outside working on the driveway. I should re-stack the firewood.

It would be great if I could just say Retro me Satanas! and the sorry son-of-a-bitch would just shut up and leave me alone. This business (life or writing, works either way) is hard enough without the constant battle with myself. Sometimes it just wears me out. I look at the computer and the notebook with dread instead of anticipation. I know that if I start, the racket in my head will become unbearable. Shit.

A lot of it comes from my parents, just like most of us. Make more money! Get ahead! Drive a nicer car! Buy a bigger house! Screw that! I don't care about those things. Creating with words is just about the only thing in my life right now that gives it purpose and meaning. I have to do this. I have no choice. Just please, please, please shut up and leave me alone!

Sometimes I go a little crazy. Don't be afraid, my wife hid the guns a long time ago. :)

I hope she sold them.

Small progress.

In spite of the obstacles, I have managed to get a little done. 2600 words into the "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet" transcription/rewrite. Also got one rewrite done on "The Easy Way Out". Net gain of 400 words to 1100. I had originally intended this one to be flash, but I never could get it to work. There's just too much depth that has to be explored and expressed. I'll take another hard look at it tomorrow and see if it's ready to send out for crit. Also have 2 article ideas and a Web review to work on for Vision. Feb. 10 deadline, so they're not rush jobs.

Also got Author and Title indexes for Vision up and running on my Web site. Subject index will be a little while yet. Sometime in the Spring, I hope.