Starting fresh

I hate being a writer sometimes. It’s not that I hate writing, but the discipline required can be a total drag. I think that’s why most people fail at writing, or really at life for that matter. The ones that are successful have to be tenacious. Pursuing a dream doesn’t guarantee success, but giving up certainly guarantees failure. How many of us stop without realizing they’ve given up? How many times have I done that?

I’ve fallen into that trap as of late. It’s discouraging when you feel that you’re not making progress. Part of my problem is that I’m unwilling to let go of my work. Letting go means allowing myself to fail and that’s a problem sometimes. It’s scary to put myself out there for others to judge and criticize. Let’s face it, some people are assholes just to be assholes. Maybe they’re unhappy with themselves and deal with it by tearing others down. Who knows?

Looking at my blog stats, I’ve noticed a downward trend in page views stemming from my own lack of posting. I felt I didn’t have anything new to say, that I was repeating the same empty promises, sounding like a broken record about what I wanted to do and where I was going. Even my book reviews flatlined, breaking promises to read and review a few. I’m rectifying that now, but getting started is going to be troublesome. I’ve lost my mojo.

We’re already twenty days into 2016, and though the time of resolutions has come and gone, maybe it isn’t to late to set some goals for the year. My first is I’m going to post twice a week at the very least. Second, I’m going to write at least an hour a day. I need to reestablish my habit. Third, I’m going to publish a short story twice a month. I’m also going to push myself out of my comfort zone and dabble with other genres. That’ll be an interesting writing exercise!

Lastly, I’m going to write and finish Giada’s novel and start begin reworking Son of the Father. I want to tell Bishop Mendoza’s story, and I have for years. He isn’t a one off story but rather a series, beginning with Giada. I want to discover the road he took and see the reason why he isn’t some one-dimensional religious leader. He’s a real person with real issues and a history that wouldn’t recommend him for anything other than a life in prison.

But he grew up, changed his life, and found a calling out of a depraved life. He dedicated himself and has been a model priest, but the ghosts of his past begin to haunt him, giving ammunition to those who don’t like him. It’s the kind of story I like to read. I find church intrigue to be intriguing.

My writing, I’m discovering, is a journey of my own choosing. Were I to be honest, I would have to say I want my writing to be the engine that propels me out into the world. I’m not an adventurer, but I would like to be able to travel the world, see new places, especially those of historical value. I want to live in Rome, visit England and Germany, hell even see the other states of this great country. I want to have that freedom to explore which in turn will give weight to what I write.

Maybe it’s a pipe dream, but it’s not one that I’m willing to give up on. If anything, writing allows me a way out of the tedium of everyday living. I can explore without  having to leave the comfort of my home. I can do that with reading, but as the writer, I can dictate the flow of events. I like that. I just have to make myself do that.

Some of my favorite reads

Morris West

Shoes of the Fisherman
Clowns of God

Greg Tobin


David Osborn

The Last Pope

Tap? What tap?

I tried to write yesterday, I really did! I’m trying to get back in the habit of sitting down everyday, to write something, anything, just to get my thoughts down somewhere. It didn’t happen yesterday. Exhaustion forced me to bed early and I enjoyed it, at least until my eyes opened at four in the morning.

But I’m well rested for the first time in ages, though I’m afraid it won’t last. That’s okay, I’ll make the most of it today and I’ll try to finish writing the chapter I’m working on and start on the next. I just have to figure out what I’m supposed to write next. The last scene took me by surprise.

My surprise notwithstanding, I find writing difficult and tedious at times. It’s almost impossible to maintain the level of energy and excitement necessary to complete something as ambitious as a book. That’s where discipline comes into play. The act of abandoning pretenses of writing  literary gold can be freeing, and maybe by just writing you’ll be rewarded by having a flash of brilliance and the words will pour freely and easily. It just won’t happen until you shut up, sit down, and start opening that tap.

My tap is firmly shut at the moment, and it feels a little rusty. It’s resisting my attempts to open it. That’s okay. I’ll spray a little WD-40, wait for it to soak in, and try again, figuratively speaking. Literally speaking, I’ll pop open a bottle of beer, wait for my inhibitions to lower slightly, and then wait for inspiration to bless me with…, er…, writer’s stuff.

Speaking of writer’ stuff, I need a printer. That would be awesome. Also an office chair, with lumbar support. My birthday’s coming up in a few months, maybe I should start hinting that I would like something. Like a printer. Or a chair. Or maybe I’ll just buy it myself. And maybe I should shut up and sit down. I’ve got writing to do.

Practice and discipline

It’s hard as an aspiring writer to sit back and read a book and not compare myself to the author of said book. Am I alone in this? I know I’m not. I remember feeling that when I became a music major twenty years ago, and I would listen to another student perform. I couldn’t help but feel that my own talent was lacking. So I quit.

It took me a few years, but I learned enough to know that I didn’t have what it takes to be a musician. For someone on the outside looking in, it looks like it could be fun, and it is, but it’s called a discipline for a reason. To achieve any measurable success, either as a performer or a teacher, requires hours of grueling practice and studying, and I lacked the discipline to work at it. The only honest thing I could do was to walk away, and for years I was lost.

A few years later, I dropped out entirely, and my life has taken a circuitous route  though life, adrift on the seas of time, having neither purpose nor direction, and when you have no destination in mind, it’s amazing how long it takes to get nowhere!

But eventually you will collide with something, which I did in 2011 and going into 2012. My life fell apart, and everything I had, everything I had worked, I lost piece by piece, until I had nothing left. Even my pride was reduced to a pile of ash, blown away by the wind.

Keeping up with the nautical metaphor, writing became my lifesaver, keeping my head above water as I tried to find my bearings. Being adrift for so long, with no mind on my direction, it took another year for me to begin to rebuild. I went back to school, taking a Grammar and Writing class to end my academic career. Writing, it seemed, became my new goal.

But when I read the professional practitioners of the art form, I’m struck by how eloquent they sound in my mind. I read my own, and I feel lacking again in talent. Perhaps you’re not cut out for this, my inner doubt tells me, feeding my insecurities. You’ll never be a real writer. Why not give up?

Why not? Because this time, I won’t walk away. I have something to say, so I’m going to say it. I may not use the most flowery language, but that’s not my style. I’m rather prosaic in style, direct and to the point. If something is blue, it’s blue and not azure. If someone is in love, they are in love and not enamored. I’m not adept at creating imagery with words, but I don’t believe that’s necessary to the tales I’ve decided to tell.

I trade in reality instead of fantasy, though I am a fan of the latter. I hope that doesn’t mean that the reader will be unable to create the scenes in their minds as they read my simple words. I have stories to tell, simple and hopefully with some underlying truth. I try not to be allegorical in my storytelling. I don’t want to preach or teach a lesson. What I write is personal to me in some way, and my characters are a reflection of me, of my suffering and joys, of what I am and what I wish I could be.

I believe my writing has matured as I’ve become more practiced with the written word. Next month will be my four-year anniversary of my blog, and I just completed my fourth NaNoWriMo this past November. I’ve written and rewritten many of my books, and I’ve read and I’ve reviewed almost two dozen novels. I’m just getting started.

I’m still a musician, if you want to know, though now I play solely for my benefit. I hope to buy an electric guitar in the near future and learn to play some of my favorite rock tunes. But my music is to soothe my own inner demons even if I still dream of being a rock star.

But I don’t have the discipline to be a musician, but I hope I’ve proven to myself that I do have it for becoming a writer. I’ve toiled in obscurity, known only because I’ve chosen to share a bit of my madness unseen via this simple blog. I dream of more, of having my reach extended, as do other writers, to include a larger audience. I want to be read, and my books enjoyed, by as many people as possible.

Until then, I’ll continue to hone my skills in private, sharing snippets to gauge if I’m ready to risk failure and success. I may not be as good a writer as the authors I read, but in my style, they will never be as good as I am. I will never have their successes, but why should that mean I can’t have my own? I just have to keep practicing.