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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My Friend, My Love, My Creation

Most times, new characters are born rather beautifully. They come with rich back-stories and have a deep family history. They speak to me for hours about who they are, where they live, what they do for a living, etc. Other times, they burst forth kicking and screaming.

They’re wearing straight-jackets and slamming themselves madly against my psyche. They’re roughly cut from raw emotion, they know very little about who they are, where they came from, or who their families are. The only thing they know is their desire to have the same chance at life as the aforementioned.

While I do so enjoy the company of my more ‘fleshed’ out characters, mainly because they are familiar to me, like family or good friends, I find myself oddly drawn to these new beings. They want the same things that we all have, that which has come so easily to their cousins; a life of their own.  They are like children, in a way.  They don’t know what’s behind them, nor do they have a clue what’s ahead of them.  They must learn, through my guidance, of course, what they like or do not like.

Sometimes I can control the process. Sometimes, I can even help form them into something appropriate enough to tell a story about. This isn’t always the case, however, and any writer can tell you that it isn’t always going to be a good thing.

You’re not always going to have a ‘good’ character.  Every so often, as I am helping this character come to life, we discover that he or she isn’t so savory a person.  Maybe said character is a villain?  Or maybe, something much, much, worse. I don’t always like telling the story of these characters, but again, as a writer I don’t always have a choice.  They desire a chance at life.  They demand that their story be heard.  And as a storyteller, I am compelled to share.

Perhaps what awaits in the end is poetic?  Or, perhaps not.  It isn’t for me to decide. You see, much like the character types I have described, so too do the stories exist as well. Some lay in wait, ready to pounce my thoughts without a moment’s notice.  Other times, they are a rough gem that needs worked into something you may or may not appreciate.

Just as is the case of the character, some stories may be beautiful designs that inspire you to continue turning the page.  Others might be an atrocious train-wreck that forces you to turn the pages until you reach the end. This isn’t to say that they aren’t very good.

It’s a tricky subject; horror.

What one person may consider good, might be another’s kryptonite.  I may have written the most descriptive decapitation in such a way that you have never seen before, but what may make one jump out of his/her seat in excitement, might have another turning their head in disgust.

Such is life.

By now, I hope that my readers have come to expect a certain style to my writing.  You’ve survived the first two tales of John Rizzerio and are eagerly waiting the finale, or you have been keeping up with my webseries and are looking for the next post to appear.  You know that I don’t always pull the punches.

Some of my characters may seem like somebody you could run into on the street. Others, a friendly neighbor or work acquaintance.  Then there are those, like the protagonists of ‘She Has A Pretty Face Though’, and ‘The Box’, who each have their own issues to resolve. In the end, was their story worth it?  Was it poetic, or did you enjoy following their journey?

Of course, you’ll have your own opinions that I would LOVE to hear!  But, in the end, I will still continue to tell the stories as they demand to be told, in their own entireties.  While I depend upon you, my faithful readers, to help guide me down the path of your interests, I hope that you continue to stick with me as I share with you my creations.  They are a labor of love, a part of myself in much the same way that my children are, and it gives me great pleasure to be able to introduce you to them.

They are family, after all.

Jibber-Jabber

We all feel it from time to time.  It hits us when we least expect it, when we think we’re at our best or most comfortable.  Our will to continue slowly drains until all that is left is an empty pit of despair.  We wonder why we are doing this.  Why did we even begin at all?  Is it worth it?  Has it been worth it?

There are literally millions of us peddling our work into the digital world.  As readers, we know that there are quite a few lemons out there.  We’ve tried a new body of work, only to find out that the author writes as if English were a second, or (shudders) third language.  Maybe that was the pivotal point in our blind purchasing?  Angry, we return to the point of purchase, leave a scathing review and return to that which we know.

Sometimes we come back.  (See what I did there?)  If there is one thing that remains true across the board, is that readers are HUNGRY for something new.  We want to be entertained.  We want to be informed, but most of all, we want to FEEL.  If we can not believe in the story, if the words are too broken to make sense of, we abandon it for greener pastures.

But what does this have to do with writing, you ask?

Everything, my dear reader.  Everything.

Because as writers, we are investing everything not only into our stories, but into our readers as well.  All of our work goes into the making of the these new worlds, where characters embark on glorious quests for either noble or nefarious reasons.

Whatever your pleasure, right?

We build not only the setting, but the individuals that populate it.  Once this process completes, we, or should I say; “Most of us”, return to the beginning to give it the critical care it needs.

We labor…  No, that isn’t right.  We SLAVE over the words, again and again, until they are just right.  We pass our work onto editors, beta readers, friends and family in order to discover if what we have put into it is perfect.  Our scrutiny even goes so far as to the art that graces its cover.  Some few are gifted enough to be able to write well AND create a beautiful cover image.  Most of us, however, must put our trust into someone who is hopefully talented enough to realize the vision we pitch them.

(Fortunately, I’m lucky enough to have that going for me!)

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself just a little.  You see, before the cover image; before we let our work leave our hands, there’s an impasse at which we must make a very critical decision.

  • Do we start sending our work off to established publishing companies in the hope of becoming a client?
  • Do we dig our heels in and take the necessary steps to publish our book ourselves?
  • Or, do we do a combination of both?

Because, that’s totally important.  What’s more prestigious than having a publisher do the work for you?  You’ve made it Buster.  All you have to do now is write the books while they take care of the rest.  Of course, your book may not be the same as it was when it left your hands.  There may be changes made to meet THEIR vision of what it should be.  They may want YOU to do the changes yourself before they accept it!  You may have written a perfect body of work, only to find out that their editors corrected a line with…wait for it…an error!  You may find that the cover doesn’t make sense with your vision, or maybe they want to rename it to something else.

Who the hell wants to dick around with all that?  You’re living your dream, writing is your career, but you have very little control over what happens once it’s out of your hands.  And let’s not even go into royalties, appearances, etc.  You have to REALLY get someone’s attention if you want to break out of the crowd.

So forget about all that then.  Do it on your own, that’s the way to go!  Sure!

And now we’re back to where I was before I got ahead of myself.  We’ve written our work, poured our heart and soul into the story, handed it off to privately chosen test subjects, designed or commissioned a cover and then…what?  Why, we now have to find the right publishing platform!  Amazon/Createspace, Nook Press, Smashwords, Lulu…  The list goes on.  As independent writers, we have our favorites.  What matters is that we make it available to the readers!

We’ve finished editing our book, but now we have to format it for print!  If you haven’t done this before, it’s something that varies with each platform.  Smashwords, if I remember correctly, calls their formatting process ‘Through The Meat Grinder’, or something very similar and it’s a very fitting term.  You can spend an entire afternoon just trying to make your work look perfect for e-devices, PDF and Print formatting!

There’s also pricing to consider, blurbs and book descriptions…it all has to be perfect for not only your work, but for the market you’re entering it in.  You have to consider the competition you’re against.  (Remember, I did say MILLIONS of writers?)

Or, why not do a combination of both?  Write stories to publish on your own AND find a publisher for other original works as well?  You have time for that, right?  Geezus Pleezus, may I borrow your cape?

Not all of us are superheroes.  We don’t all have the same mission in life; “Wake Up!  Don Costume!  Save The World, One Book at a Time!”

No, we’re people, just like you.  Some of us have taken the martyr’s path to writing, committing our entire life to our passion.  We work from coffee shops, diners, or from (insert other minimum wage job title here) just so we can focus on what’s important.  We have one room apartments.  Sometimes we have a pet to accompany us, but we have chosen our path.  We are going to succeed and you can be damned if you say otherwise!

I often think about these people.  Sometimes I wish I was one of them, with only the words as my companions.  I would love to be able to stare into a blank page (or .docx) and watch as a never-ending parade of characters appeared before me, each coming to life as a living, breathing story!  Not that I don’t do this already, mind you!  I’m thinking of an alternate reality where I didn’t have to balance my passion against my responsibilities!

But it’s also a frightening venture and I wonder if I even have enough of ‘it’ to have been able to do that.  If I had made different decisions with my life, would I now be living a meager to moderate lifestyle as an author?  Or, would I have faded into the cracks of society/blogosphere/etc.?

We’re people just like you.

Some of us have families, and while writing may be our passion, it’s comes last to our responsibilities.

Take a brief look into my life, for example.  I’m a father of four beauties, all of whom I’m proud of in some way or another.  They love and support me in my ventures, and in return, I give them the love, attention and childhoods they deserve.  Uh…did I just say; “…in return…”?  What I actually meant was that they come first!

I have to write in whatever spare time I can scrape off of the clock, be it during nap-times, as they’re doing chores or on my days off.  How does having a day off help, you may wonder?  Oh.  I guess I should have covered that part of it.  You see, I’m employed part-time during the graveyard shift, working for a minimum of thirty-two hours per week.

Writers come in many flavors, much like our companion drink, coffee.  Some of us are really gifted!  Can you believe it?

Maybe, or maybe not, depending on your standing as a reader.  If you’ve turned away from the indie writing crowd, you’ll never know that, will you?

On the other hand, there are the breed of readers who ONLY read indie work. There’s a real market out there for stories so delectable to the palate that a reader can get lost for weeks, consuming millions or words as they desperately continue to escape from whatever reality they live in!

Writers, such as myself, realize that we have to tap into that market.  We STRIVE to be better at what we do, with everything we create.  We join support groups, marketing groups, social networks, forums and more in an effort to get our brand known. Minutes turn into hours better used for creating new stories, as we cast our metaphorical line into the pool, hoping that we have chosen the right hook for the task at hand.  Sometimes it pays off, others, well, let me just ask you this; “Have you ever gone mushroom hunting for Morels?”

Seriously.  Try it sometime.  It’s a lot like that.  Sometimes you could spend days and find not a single one, but when it hits…  Oh boy, when it rains, it pours!

Of course, I wouldn’t know.  I have yet to find a Morel this year.

We’re people just like you.

We laugh, we cry.  We eat, we sleep, (sometimes) and we long for companionship. Not in the physical sense, but in that Author/Reader bond that is generated from our efforts.

We have a tough hill to climb.  We feel like Sisyphus, eternally pushing a boulder up a hill it will never crest.  No, I won’t say our work is tougher that yours, because we all bear our Cross differently, but I what I hope I can safely impart is that we tend to FALL a lot farther when the boulder tumbles down.

Here we stand, holding the fruit of our labors.  An entire world literally rests in the palms of our hands.  Thousands of hours have gone into its creation and we face a wall of rejection so high that only the strongest will climb over.  There are so many of us (WRITERS) that each one of us is as important as the sperm to your (READERS) egg.  In order to create that symbiotic relationship, we have to be the strongest, the most impressive, the prettiest specimen you’ve come across in a while.  (No pun intended.)

Those are simply the odds.

We may craft stories you’ll remember years from now, but none of it matters if we can’t draw your attention long enough to get you hooked.

The minutes become hours.  Hours transform into days and days to months, but still we persist.  We reinvent the way we present our work to you.  We recreate OURSELVES, preening our presence in the vain hope that we’ll be able to create that bond we are so hungry for.

We want it for different reasons.  Sadly, many are in it only for the money. They think to themselves; “Book plus internet equals $$$,” and go from there.  The virtual bookshelves are polluted with those who dabble to this fancy.

We have a story to tell.  We have an idea for a story so powerful that we can’t help but to share it.  Many times you can find a good story from this pool, but there are just as many bad as there are good and the great ones are few and far between.

Fewer still are slaves to our passion.  We desire nothing more than to write, and write we shall.  We have our own office, or office space, where we can focus solely on the worlds that are clawing their way out of our psyche.  Sometimes they come screaming into our consciousness with their asses on fire and we find ourselves begging our fingers to keep up with the words as they tumble from us, but most times we are just driven simply to continue.  It has to be done, whether we want to or not and we often lose track of everything until it is.

So, when we’ve finally come to stop at the bottom of that hill, when we’ve careened down that great wall, what is there left for us?  We’ve given it our all, only to be beat out by those who have a bigger following.  Our work has been denied by the countless publishers, overlooked by the millions of readers and sits, covered in dust, whether virtual or physical, as we wallow in angst and despair.

What was it all for?  Why was I compelled to do this?  Oh my GOD, I have to start over because (…)!!!

A great majority never make it back from this, survival of the fittest and all that, but those who are meant to be great will and often do.  It’s how we come back that matters.  How have we learned from our mistakes?  Can we continue from here, or do we take a different approach?

I think about a lot of things while at work, most of all, how tough this has been on my family.  This is what I desire to do DURING my life, not at the end of it.  I don’t want to work in a blue-collar job, on the graveyard shift, where I will miss out on most of my children’s lives.  I don’t want my marriage to suffer for the next (…) year(s) as I try to maintain the sales that I DO have.

I’m in the process of finishing my third book, a title which will conclude a vampire hunter trilogy.  I’m ALSO writing a collection of short stories I hope to release by mid-summer!  Do you think that’s enough, on top of working nights and being Mr. Mom?

I’m also a contracted webpage designer.

I’m also Ghostwriting on the side.

And, I’m currently uploading free stuff to this website as a way for readers to get to know my work.

I’m a slave to my passion of storytelling, and sometimes it’s difficult to think about anything other than whatever story is currently trying to project vomit itself onto my screen.  So when I fall, you better believe it’s with enough force to rumble a neighboring city!

Who’s there to catch us when we fall?  Friends?  Family?  What if we have no friends?  What do we do when our family doesn’t support us?  How far do we fall before we are able to pick ourselves up?

As far as we need to.  It’s no more difficult than that.  Once we’ve come to a stop, it’s up to us as to whether we get run over by the boulder or roll out-of-the-way.

Wanna know a secret?

It’s always like this for the writer!

For us, the top is very much like that top of that hill in the Sisyphus analogy.  We’re forever ‘just’ reaching the top, only to have the boulder come crashing back down. Some are able to hold that boulder there for longer than other, but once the work starts anew, it comes a-tumblin, tumbling.

Wanna know something else?  Writing’s a LONELY job.  It’s a TIME-CONSUMING job.  We tend to disappear for months off the grid, and unless we have family there to coax us out into the open every now and again, you might find yourself wondering; “What ever happened to so-and-so?”

What indeed.