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Or should I call this one Summer Affective Seasonal Disorder? Yeah, summers are tough. I know. What's not to love. Sunshine. Free time. Vacations.

It's all something else to me. But that's usually the case. Wish it was okay to feel that being out of step is just fine, but we all know it isn't. You're supposed to find a cohort to feel comfortable with, right? If nothing else a lone Statler to your Waldorf, hurling brickbats from the safety of the balcony.

Then there's the time to be alone. Which when you're writing is a lot of the time. At least for me it is. I can't speak to anyone else. Process, genre, mode, commercial aim. That's all personal stuff. Sure, lots of folks are shooting for maximalized success with them. Or what they think will maximalize success. But as I've said too many times in the past, I can't pursue the regular standards of success. I tried that and fell short so many times that even thinking about them was enough to make me lock up.

It's funny. I was in San Francisco briefly last weekend (on the way to a signing in Petaluma but more on that later). Anyways, stopped to talk to a friend who runs a comics store there and it was great to see him. We got to talking about the time I was making comics, and it's true. In my half-assed not knowing any other way to do things, I did. Not just once but twice. Pulled out of publishing deals and ran the pages daily on the internet when that was a novelty enough to get noticed (not really) and ended up doing the whole thing myself, burning up a pile of money and pride in the process. Yes, I was pleased with the final books. I still am. And I've been lightened by every positive reception the books got.

But still, he came out and said "Comics gave you PTSD, huh?"

And he wasn't wrong. I'd never put it into words before, but yeah. They pretty much did. I never knew what to do or how to do anything other than the path I took. And folks, that's not a fun path. Don't do what I did. Let my career serve as an example to others. Sure. A negative example is still an example. And my experience stung to an extent that even when I was asked to write up a short story for a friend's anthology book, all I could do was turn it down without screaming that no, I wasn't going to do another comics thing ever.

Now, that's had consequences. Everything does. There's been some stuff that I've fucked up because of this. That's on me. Throw it on the pile of mistakes to sharpen knives on or something. Maybe it'll be of use some day. Maybe it'll even be of use to me. No experience is ever wasted, right? At least that's what I hear.

I should probably talk about the SF show I was at recently, not as a guest or anything, just another of the many writers looking for a little shining bit of wisdom to hang onto. Funny, right? Only been doing this on and off since the 90s and still out there with my blanket and bowl of kibble out by the water heater 'cause I can't bear to come in the house. Something something feral.

And I still don't feel like I belong. What the market there seems to want is in something like eighty-five percent opposition to what I'm doing in my work. I mean, I get it. All you have to do is write something that an editor will want to go to bat for and that's it. Only I gotta get that past me first and, well, it's not a thing I can do. Or want to do. For the levels of prestige/pay/whatever involved, anyways. Something about reigning in limbo than serving in the suburbs of acceptedness. Be the king of my own little patch of nothing.

Then again, publishing itself is still being rearranged by the withering of audiences, the decimation of reading as chunk of free time versus games or movies or streaming or doomscrolling. I get it. It's easier to get your affirmations in small chunks on Bluesky. I know that it works for me sometimes. Besides, I landed my indie publishing contract and guess what? Aside from the one time I got an advance, it didn't change the world. I did just as much work as I'm doing for promotion now. Heh. Promotion. That's another issue.

The best promotion ever was running the kickstarter for All Waters Are Graves. I can only hope that the one for Fake Believe that I'll be running in early 2025 will work nearly as well after I have to tweak prices (I might've cleared maybe a hundred bucks when all was said and done, and that was on the backs of ebook orders) to make it viable. I'm not talking even rent payment. I'm talking just surviving and feeling enough that... Well. Trying to find a way to express this without calls for intervention.

I'm way past the whole "do it to prove it to yourself" or "do it because you're compelled." I've got a few things in my life going on that already make superhuman demands on time and energy and frankly, will. No, I won't be discussing them. Long-time listeners might have some idea but I won't be talking about them here or on social media. They're things that only change in one direction and the only way out is through. In short, life.

So I suppose ego is still in the game, no matter how much I try to shut it down. It's fuel and destruction both should you get it out of balance, like high-test and badly-tuned engines where the seals could blow any second and maybe some oil sneaks out of a blown gasket and catches fire on the block. None of that's good.

But even with the kickstarter and the flurry of activity around that, and the perception if not the recognition (of course I haven't seen if the books are actually landing with readers, but that's another issue altogether) of that, it's sometimes tough to get moving. I've practiced a great deal of avoidance behaviors (and tried to start up some new ones in this last go-round, though I think I've staved them off for now.) It's hard to deal with indifference, hard to be the only one saying "okay, time to get back at it", hard to sit down with myself and shut the goddamn brain off for a little while and work.

Oh, you think it's all conscious? Yeah, about that.

It's time to go back to work and I'm afraid, out of experience and conditioning and ongoing PTSD I suppose, that in the short middle and long term it'll simply not matter. And that very well may be an expectation that was ingrained in me by a world that no longer exists (if it ever did.) It's still hard to put that down and let go of it. Even something as, for lack of a better word, ugly as that.

Well-meaning folks talk about writing your fears, and if you're afraid that you're really onto something. I don't think I believe that. Anyways, that won't get you any closer to acceptance than simply writing something that an editor likes and will go to bat for.

Like I said. I only know how to do this my own addled way. And this is part of it.

I know. There's better ways to get this done, but I don't know any way of them.

That said, I start revising the collection known as Fake Believe this week. It's... Oh geez. I don't remember how many short stories it is. Ah. Just checked. It's seven. There was some confusion as both Dreams Are Made Of Us and a story not yet published called Asphalt Tongues were part of it at one point. But that's changed. The final lineup looks like this.

A Crate of Bottle-Fed Ghosts


Third Saturdays

Suicide Jewelry

In What Furnace

Club Closed: Private Party

The Cinderhaus

The last one is a follow-on to All Waters Are Graves, so there's some continuity. A couple that folks may know show up in Suicide Jewelry. There's a cameo in Third Saturdays from a familar character. In What Furnace centers around a TV show crew that we've heard mentioned but not seen directly. Club Closed is about two guys robbing an infamous nightclub (I'm sure you can guess which one). Otherwise, you're going in cold. So hopefully it's seen as a good jumping-on point.

Yeah, jumping on with a single-author anthology. That totally makes sense. I mean, could this be any more commercial suicide?

Well, I don't know any other way. And honestly, I don't need it to be a commercial success. At least not in a way that any normal human would recognize.

Revisions on this in the summer, then actually drafting something brand new in the fall.

Unless I can keep avoiding it.

Until next time.


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