On Writing (8-22-18)

It’s been some time since I’ve drummed on the ole keyboard, more than I care to admit.  I’ve missed it.  I mean, I’ve really missed it.  The sound of the keys, as the words pour through my fingers, is one of the most soothing sounds I’ve ever known.  Watching the words form on-screen as I think of them, with only the occasional needed correction – just the very process itself…

Writing has always been my go-to escape, in the very same way that reading might be for you.

Another writer would understand.  A reader could relate.  Everyone else just looks at my funny and glances toward the nearest exit while they formulate the quickest route of escape.

There are worlds living inside of me, vibrant and full of life, just begging for a chance to be known by more than just me.  I can hear them whispering to me, often in my dreams, sometimes from the shadows, and occasionally with-in a crowd of people.

When writing, I become a living conduit for these beings.  I give them life outside of my thoughts, and in one of my most favorite places; a book.

But, the struggle is real.

As an independent writer, I have my work cut out for me.

For one, I can only work in my free time, which, isn’t all that much these days.

For those who are familiar with my first works, “The Rise and Fall of John Rizzerio,” and “The Hunter Reborn,” you know that they became available for sale almost five years ago.  Fans know they were both available with barely a year between them.

Since then, I’ve been working on the promise of the next book more than I’ve been able to actually work on it, itself, and that’s a very frustrating place for me.

When I wrote these books, I worked in retail.  The hours were very favorable, but the money I needed to bring home was not.  I brought home roughly seven hundred dollars every two weeks.  While this isn’t bad, per say, it just wasn’t enough to support a family of six.  At the time, there were very few options.  I could either get another job, or, get a better paying one.

I took the second route, but, in retrospect, I don’t know if it was any better a choice than the first.

If you’ve followed any of my non-fiction posts here, you know that I’m currently in the trucking industry.  If not, well, sorry…  Spoilers!

My first job in this industry was with a local asphalt company.  I went from eight-hour work days to fourteen.  Furthermore, with that company, I was required to stay out-of-town for a week at a time, depending on the job.

But, after a near death experience, and two years of back-breaking work, I decided the pay just wasn’t worth it.  Yes, it had doubled, but I felt I was worth more than what they were giving me.  So, I left the asphalt business and became an over the road driver for Frito-Lay.

My days are still fourteen hours long, but now I’m living in a hotel more than I am at home.  When I am at home, it’s only long enough to wash my clothes, take care of the three S’s, and sleep.  Any other time, such as when my driving clock has to be reset, is spent catching up around the house.  By the time everything is done, I’m sitting in my favorite chair, with only a few minutes left out of the day, sipping on a cold drink, and wondering where the hell they’re going to send me next.

And my writing?  Well, I’ve got the biggest imaginative blue balls in the history of writing.

Here I have this novel I’ve been working on finishing, but every time I try to get in a few keystrokes, my job opens the damn door and catches me in the act!

And it isn’t just my career that’s against me.  I no longer have any support on the home front as well, which makes things even more difficult.  Don’t get me wrong!  While my wife does accept the writer side of me, she doesn’t see my passion as a viable part of our lives.  If it doesn’t produce the green, the writing doesn’t need to be seen.

She’s never said that, let’s be clear, I was just making a bit of a rhyme to lighten it up a little.  But that is the truth of it.  As long as my writing isn’t supporting us, than it’s nothing more than a hobby in her eyes, and there will always be more important things I could be doing.  It’s more pragmatic, which I can’t argue.  I do have to take care of the house first.

I should stress that this isn’t the issue here.  Yes, it’s something on my mind.  It hurts that the one person I have to talk to about my interests, isn’t interested, but it’s not a deal breaker in our relationship.

Furthermore, I don’t want to dwell on this part of my thoughts for too much longer.  I’m not the type of person who whines about something when they aren’t getting the things they’ve been working toward.  What I’m simply trying to accomplish is the sharing of some insight into my situation, and in the process, I’ve wandered all over the spectrum.

Recapping, I’m short on time, literally ALL of the time.

Because my time for writing has to be outside of my schedule, finding any of it to use at all has been like discovering the location of Captain Jack’s (lost) buried treasure, if you know what I mean.

And it isn’t just the writing.  There’s the promoting, the editing, the finding time for, as well as setting up of, signings, and the many other responsibilities I have to shoulder.

Anyone else would crack.  They would say; “Fuck it,” and just let the writing go.  After all, don’t they always say; “If you love something, let it go.  If it’s meant to be, it will come back to you.”  I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but I do know you’ve heard the saying.

Not me, though.  I don’t have that luxury.

You see, it’s because of those other worlds, those characters, who are begging to be set free, that I write.  They are always scratching at my brain, which itches as a constant reminder.  They are always whispering from the shadows, calling my name, or moving just enough that I’ll look twice their way.  I’ll never move on, I’ll never forget about them, because they won’t let me.

Even as we speak, (which is a funny phrase to use, considering the format), John and Chloe are calling out to me, begging me to come back to them.  And even if you haven’t been following, it (their story) still needs to be told.  Their friend’s lives depend upon it.  Hell, their very world depends upon it!

I suppose I’ve taken up enough of your time.  I know I’ve used up enough of my own.  This post is approaching twelve hundred words, which is a number count I could have used towards the aforementioned characters…

Do I regret it?  No.  Nor am I sorry as well.  Just sharing myself with you, even a little, has been therapeutic, to say the least.

I’ve come to realize that, very much like the train of a certain Casey Jones, circa 1900, my life’s direction is very much out of my control.   Whether I like it or not, writing has to be on the back burner, only to be warmed up when I’m home alone, after everyone is asleep, or in the rare instance I have some time off-  such as a thirty-four hour reset.

I love writing, and, I love reading.  But I love sharing my worlds with you even more.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

R. Richardsson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depression is very real.  It is also treatable.  If you believe you are suffering from depression, please seek help as soon as possible.  You are not alone.  You are never alone.

 

 

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Inspiration of the Day

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May I have a moment of your time?

 

twainquote

 

Editing is the writer’s greatest weakness.  No one person, with the exception of the OCD genius with IQ of 150, will be able to produce a masterpiece on the first attempt.

I am constantly reminding myself to pour as much attention into the finished product, as I do when creating it, lest I give you something not worth the spit on the bottom of my boot.

One of my tricks is to surround myself with inspirational quotes, books, or the occasional test reader, to remind me the error of my ways.  While I don’t surround myself with the test reader, no matter how willing he or she may be, I do appreciate their scrutiny.

fitzgeraldquote

How many times have you done this?  Writing on bated breath?  Mr. Fitzgerald believes that this is how all good writing is done.  Let me ask you this: do you fancy yourself a writer, or, do you just desire to be a writer?

Writing comes from the soul.  You either have a story, (or in some cases, stories), to tell, or, you want to tell a story.  Whichever side of the fence you are on, you desire those moments when you forget to breath.  You thirst for those brief times that you tap into your soul and the words march from your fingertips, covering the paper or screen before you.

Some would say that those who desire becoming a writer aren’t actually writers. Others argue that stringing together a body of words, and publishing them, makes one a writer.

I argue that it’s the ability to tap into those moments, which make one a writer. To write is to tell a story, but to tell a story properly, one must be able to tap into the soul.  That’s where true magic is born.

kingquote

 

There will be scars.  Any writer, worth his or her salt, already knows this truth.  You may think you have written the greatest story, or collection of words, since (insert author name here), but the final decision is not up to you.  If you are an independent writer, the choice may not even be up to the reader as well!

In today’s society, ANYBODY can publish a body or work.

This does not mean that you are going to be an instant success!   Your book is now swimming in a virtual sea of books, and chances are, you aren’t going to find what you were looking for!  Neither, for that matter, is your potential reader!

You’re hurt.  You can’t understand why it didn’t work for you, the way that it did for that young lady that wrote the books about the boy wizard.  After a few months, you throw your hands in the air, in frustration, and vow to never create another word.

Mr. King, among many others who have found success as an author, know that you must have the ability to heal from these wounds.  More importantly, in his own words, you must remember the origin of every scar!

 

These three things define me, as a writer.

  1. The ability to recognize and correct one’s mistakes.
  2. Being able to tap into the soul, and infuse it into one’s work.
  3. Knowing that it is the ability to rise from failure, which defines one’s success.

Writing isn’t a science.  Ultimately, you take what works for you, and you jump right into it.  Every writer has his or her own edicts, and in truth; what does it matter, as long as he or she writes?

 

Across the White Line

This isn’t my typical fare for those of you expecting something delicious.  I don’t have any monsters in this post, nor will anybody die.  Sadly, there will also be no twist endings, no surprise villains, and I will not be creating a world you’ll want to visit from time to time.  Tonight I will be stepping outside of my comfort zone to talk about something that happened last week.

Life changing?  Sure.  For some, this was an event that might give cause to completely alter one’s life.

Enlightening?  Possibly.  I suppose there is something to take away from all of this. Later that day, my boss says to me; “Do you believe in God?  You should, because he believes in you.”

The day in question was August 4th, the day I nearly died.

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The image you see here is the wreckage of my 104, the truck I had been been entrusted with when I took my job as a driver.

I had just left the quarry in Edgarton KS, headed to a job site less than ten minutes away.  I had a number of routes available to me, three to be exact, of which I had chosen the quickest one; hwy 199, going east.  For those of you without any knowledge of this road, and I expect that number to be in the ‘most of’ category, it’s a narrow two lane jobber.

Normally, I try to follow the highways that have a full, or in the very least, a partial shoulder, in case something should happen.  Today, I thought that I could get a little bit further ahead by shaving a few minutes off of my route.  Three, to be exact.

Somewhere deep down, I knew that I had made a mistake when there was no shoulder on the other side of the line.  Once across, you were in the grass.  These fears came to fruition about a mile in.

Ahead of me, I noticed an extra large pickup coming my way.  More specifically, I noticed that his two rear-axle tires were on my side of the road!  I had only a split second to react and I moved over a little to the right.

Two things immediately happened:

  1. Because I was carrying a full load, and as it always does when I move a little too suddenly, the trailer began to rock from side to side.  When I felt it move, I looked out the side view mirror, wrongfully thinking that it had gone over the white line.
  2. Because I looked out the mirror, as nearly every driver would do at this point, my hand hand followed the movement of my head.

At that moment, what I thought my trailer was doing, was happening to my tractor!

I wouldn’t realize this until later, however, as I swore it was the former of the two that sucked me down.  That being said, there were only six seconds left until –

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I watched in horror as my truck slid from the road.  To my credit, I almost kept her on her wheels!  However, and as I was later informed, I did what eight out of ten drivers would have done in this situation.  I kept fighting to get back on the road.  As such, when I reached that point where only five of my eighteen wheels were still on the pavement, my tractor overturned and slammed into the ground at a little over forty-four miles per hour, give or take.

There were only six, when I felt myself losing control, but they were the longest six seconds of my life.  It was at that moment that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I had come to the end of my life.

I wish I could say that I said something memorable, like in that movie; “The Perfect Storm.”  Remember when the boat went down and the crewman said something to the effect of; “This is going to be hard on my little boy?”

Or what if I had gone with a witty one-liner?  “Well, this is one way to lay down some rock!”

Unfortunately, the sad truth of it is I went with; “No.  No, no, no, NO – OH FUCK!”

That’s when the ground exploded into the cab.  That, and about two feet of the rock I was carrying that day.  When the dust settled, I didn’t have time to think about how I was alive.  I looked down into what was left of the passenger area of the cab and tried to make sense of it.  It looked, and I would later discover this to be true from the outside as well, as if it had been crumpled up like a wad of paper.

I heard steam.  I could hear something leaking.  I looked out the hole where the windshield had been and saw a pool of liquid forming on the ground.

The dust settled, and I burst into action.  I had seen the movies enough times to know what happens next.  Directing my attention to my side, I located my seat belt release and fought for escape.

*CLICK*

Success!  I was free!

The next two or three seconds are a blur, nearly lost in my memory, but I somehow birthed from that unholy compartment and back into the world.

I remember pulling myself to my feet and charging away from the truck as if the hounds of hell were at my heels!  What a sight I must have been to the bystander who’d stopped to help.  THIS man, bloodied, and wearing a terrified expression, pulls himself from the wreckage and charges as if possessed!

I remember the expression of shock/amazement/fear on his face as I waved him away.

“Got. To. Get. Back,” I shouted between gasps.

I was struggling for air.  I was also trembling from the adrenaline rushing through my veins.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I had sustained some damage to my left shoulder.  Maybe in the impact of the crash?  Or, maybe pulling myself out?  Who’s to say…  As I write this, pain is consuming every nerve ending in what I believe is the rotator cup area, and I’m wondering just how much more I can pound out on my keyboard before I’m happy with the results.

And actually, there’s little else to tell, from then on, that I feel is relevant to this post.

The bystander allowed me to call my work, 911, and my wife before leaving.

The person who caused my reaction, the one driving the extra-large truck, never stopped, and hasn’t been heard from since.

And, I have been on the mend now for over a week.

I don’t know how long this place in my life will hang on to me, I’m hoping to have some good news after my next doctor’s visit, but I do know that the wounds will take longer to heal in heart, than just in body.

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Amazing that these are the worst of the abrasions I suffered!   Not pictured were the scrapes, cuts, and scratches on my arms and legs, probably earned during the escape.  And, obviously, we can’t see the damage done inside my shoulder, but I assure you the bruises forming there are telling a story of their own.

Strangely, this hasn’t changed my outlook on the future.

Once I am able, I plan to get in another truck, back at it.  Since this job is seasonal, and most of the work is in the warm months of the year, I anticipate (as well as look forward to) the remaining months to be used writing my books.  Of course, I work on them during the week when I can, but some nights I don’t get home until well after dark.

I guess I am sharing this with you, my friends and avid readers, because I wanted to show you what was on the other side of the computer screen.  I don’t do this often, for I am not always fond of what I, myself, find there, but this time I felt compelled to.  As I mentioned before, I find myself heavy of heart as of late, but I’ve heard that sometimes it’s best to just tell the tale.

104 has been laid to rest this week, but I have not.

  • R. Richardsson