400 posts, and a quarter-million words.
I started this blog clear back in 2016 with no long-term goal. The only goal at the time — if you can call it something so grandiose as a goal — was to “live blog” the process of conceiving and writing a novel.
Now look, I’m pretty sure we all know just how successfully I stuck to that particular plan, but it at least was something I could point to when people asked me why I bothered writing something so pointless as a blog in a world dominated by Facebook and Instagram…
I gave up the pretense of “live blogging” after the first few months sitting at this bar, by the way. I gave up the “goal”, but I didn’t give up the writing.
You never give up the writing.
It isn’t much, you know, when you boil it down to raw numbers.
Shit, 250,000 words is all of two novels. Two novels over three-and-a-half years. That ain’t a lot of production, not when you really get right down to it.
Hell, it kinda makes me feel guilty to have so little to show for the time and effort I’ve put into this seat at the bar. Guilty, until I think about the fact that every single one of those words has been the purest stream-of-consciousness. Every single one of those words has been written with no real plan, and certainly no drafting or editing. Good and bad, every single one of those words has been me.
I’m not an easy guy to get to know. I wrote a line once, about a protagonist of mine; about how he didn’t lay himself bare to strangers, not anymore than he laid himself bare to himself. That line — that very concept — is about me just as much as it was about my protagonist.
For most of my life there has been far more that I won’t talk about than what I will. For most of my life I have held the rest of the world at arm’s length.
I still do.
But not when I write.
The first novels I tried to write were conceived and written to please other people. Oh, I believed in the plots and characters, but there was no…soul. No personality. No reality. There was no…me. To this day, when I go back and reread those words, I cringe. The bones of something good are there, but the execution…the execution sucks donkey balls.
It was not until I let go of trying to please other people and wrote only for myself that my writing finally started to show emotion and passion. It was not until then that the words — and the characters, and the worlds — finally started to be real.
But what about this blog? What about these quarter-million words?
How the hell do you think I finally broke down the walls I had built around my own mind? Around my own soul?
These quarter-million words are how I’ve learned to let go. They’re how I’ve learned to look inside myself and…well…be fucking honest. Be honest with you, and with me.
I’ve written here about depression and despair. I’ve written about fear and failure. I’ve written about suicide and death, and about life and laughter. I’ve written about “terrorism” in Yellowstone, and attack-squirrels and drinking shit beer with college kids. I’ve written about nonsense and emotion and advice. I’ve written about far horizons and claustrophobia…
When you get right down to it, this entire damned thing has been about me. And you have no idea just how much I hope that that’s not as narcissistic as it sounds!
Like most writers, words are everything to me. For me, it’s just plain easier to pull back my personal curtain when I’m writing than ever it will be when I’m talking. Hell, my own family has had to read this blog to truly find and (hopefully) understand the person they thought they have known for the last X* years.
*This space intentionally left blank. Nothing to see here. Move along.
No one, until this blog, has known of my unholy passion for Downton Abbey…
No one, until this blog, has known a damned thing about my taste in music, or just how it influences my writing (and my life)…
No one, until this blog, has known just what a love-hate relationship I have with nostalgia and the past…
The suicides of friends were never a subject for words…until this blog. Err…well…that’s not quite right. It was not until after I wrote Oz’s suicide (the first scene I wrote, mind you, for Somewhere Peaceful) that I could I write about my own experiences with suicide, even in this blog…
God knows, no one who knows me — not even my closest friends — has ever heard me admit to suffering from depression. Not until this blog. Oh, some have suspected, but for me to talk/write about it?
Shit, has this whole thing been nothing more than a quarter-million words of therapy?
Okay, I’m done cussing now. Sorry about that.
Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here: writing is how I live. If you want to boil that thought down as far as it goes: writing is what keeps me sane. Without the words — the words in this blog as much as the words in my novels…and yes, the words in my flash fiction pieces, too — I would be just another statistic. Just another drunk who gave up…
In a very real sense, these quarter-million words have saved my life. I’ve gone through enough depressive episodes over the life of this blog that I can say with no hesitation, the words have saved me.
Hell, I’m fighting depression right now, if you really want to know. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want to see anyone…I just want to be left alone. The good news — and every story should end with good news, right? — is that instead of turning to a bottle of scotch to deal with this shit, I’m turning to these words…