Deep in The Feels and ascending Failure Mountain

There’s a reason why I haven’t updated the blog in a few months.

I’ve been writing.

Head down, butt in chair, fingers on keyboard writing.

I wrote three short stories and submitted them for publication. Lately, I’m on a short story kick. Crafting short stories takes time and energy, both of which I strangely have an abundance of now (Thanks, pandemic!).

The stories I’m writing range from historical horror, fantasy, and literary. They’re both lighthearted and serious, hitting on the time-tested themes of abandonment, addiction, loss, and my personal favorite, grief. 

Writers should dig deep into The Feels. Don’t be shy and bleed your soul all over the page and dredge up your truth, no matter where it resides. For me, tapping into past trauma and pain allows me to channel authenticity onto the page. It’s draining, but it works for me.

The cliché is “Write what you know.” There’s some truth to that. Emotions should be raw, real, and sincere, so mine your life for material. 

Without believability, your story falls apart. Characters flail and fail at conveying their truest selves. Readers notice when characters don’t behave logically. Emotions must elicit a response in your readers, reach deep into their guts and tug at their heartstrings, or at least the part of their brains that shed a tear during Field of Dreams.  

Don’t look at me when I’m watching the scene where he plays catch with his dead Dad. 

Makes me misty-eyed every time. 

I access my own history and what I felt and thought during those intense life moments when I wish to incorporate real experiences such as grief, loss, and ageing in my writing. Bypassing trauma and pain because they make you uncomfortable is okay. Some people aren’t ready to confront their demons, and I don’t blame you if you don’t. Trauma is hard and dwelling on painful moments can make things worse. But if you’re ready and if you can, writing about your own painful memories will reveal things about you that you never considered. 

It’ll open doors you nailed shut and force you to glimpse your truest self. 

The recent stories I’ve written include dealing with mortality, watching a loved one with dementia, and surrendering to addiction. 

Not light topics by any stretch, but decent and entertaining stories nonetheless, if I do say so myself.

I’m still querying my urban fantasy novel, and running into several roadblocks along the way. I did receive one partial request, which was unfortunately rejected, and several rejections after that. Some days, things look bleak. You wonder if you’ll ever make it, if you’ll ever get a foothold. You see younger, fresh-faced writers with thousands of Twitter followers receiving full requests and getting offers of representation and you realize that you’ve been writing longer than most of them have been alive. 

It’s disheartening, but you soldier on. You adjust. And you write something else because you’re a goddamn writer and that’s what you do. 

You grip Failure Mountain by its rocky foothills and start climbing. Every day you reach higher than the day before. All of those terse rejection form-letters look the same. You hoist yourself up to a stable outcropping and survey your surroundings. Not wishing to get too comfortable, you ascend higher until you get a partial request, then a full request, then a contract because you’ve beaten the odds and contacted the one agent in the galaxy who finally gets your macabre sense of humor. You scale that mountain with every word, sentence, and paragraph you write. Conquer the ice peaks and eat yeti meat and make base camp wherever you can. 

That’s my goal, anyway: Reach Failure Mountain’s summit instead of wallowing in the frozen, urine-drenched corpses below. 

Though the journey is aggravating and demoralizing, it’s the challenge that gets most writers out of bed every morning. Will today be the day my words connect? Will I use written language to score an emotional bullseye? 

Time will tell. 

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