Saturday, February 11, 2017

All The Feels

Depression is never fun and whenever it hits even the most mundane of tasks can be difficult. I always try to put a happy face on things and live in a bubble where all the shiny rainbow unicorns dance all day. In reality I feel alone all the time. Even when surrounded by people I feel intensely on my own. I want to slink away to some space where I can fall to pieces out of the view of others.

I try to break out of this by making friends and hanging out with people who share similar interests, but everything remains at arm's length. I do OK in this zone. The zone of friendship/acquaintance where I don't have to share how I feel. When I share more and get truly emotional, people don't know how to handle that. It's like I'm not allowed. The feelings come anyway and they are intense.

This is why I stay busy. I don't drink and I don't have anyone to talk it out with. What happens when it hits so hard that I can't move? Sometimes it feels like if I move then the world will end. Sometimes I take on too much to drown out all of the thoughts and feelings of being alone. That can be too much and swallows me. The darkness of it all weighing on my back. The push and pull of deadlines, work, and lack of sleep.

I put more tasks in my todo box to stay busy which prevents me from reaching out to people which isolates me more which makes me more depressed which causes me to take on more tasks. It is an evil circle of shit that I don't know how to break out of. So I sit here writing this, thinking about how to break down this wall. The anxiety I feel when trying to make a phone call is enough to make me scream.

I don't have any answers. I have written before that happiness is a choice, and it is... up to a point. I try to celebrate my accomplishments as much as I can, but when depression hits those all feel fake. Like I made them up to get people to like me. So I move on. I do the one thing I can do. It's like the scene in Kill Bill when Uma Thurman comes out of the coma and can't move. "Wiggle your big toe." I start there and build myself up until I can do all the things I want to. Maybe that is the answer. Imagine "wiggle your big toe" becoming the mantra for depressed people everywhere. I should be a motivational speaker *falls over*


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Writing Progress Updates


Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count:40,228
The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Page 23 of 47

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Big Four Oh

I was born on January 30, 1977 in Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, VA. The journey from then until now has been a long hard one. I am writing this on the edge of this barrier and I don't feel 40 years old, but when I think of it and see younger people I do feel 40 years old.

I feel like I found my calling later in life than I should. When I was young I always thought I had plenty of time to figure things out. I went with the flow and didn't bother worrying about the mark I would leave on the world. I always figured that I would be OK. I never spent the time to truly figure out what that would be. I had the potential to be anything I wanted, but didn't put in the work.

It wasn't that I was lazy. With every great idea came many others. Each one seeming like they were the most important thing in the world. I worked hard at every project I took on and I took on more than I could accomplish on my own. I worked on 4 or 5 major projects at a time by myself. At some point you realize that you need the help of others, but other people will flake out on you unless they are just as invested as you are or you pay them to be.

I would prioritize new and exciting projects and eventually abandon older projects I had spent so many hours on. Staying focused on one thing until it was completed was one of the biggest challenges I faced. I wanted to do EVERYTHING. The overriding passion I had for creating things is what drove me, but it took me a while to realize that none of it mattered unless I finished what I started.

That was when I decided I wanted to be a musician. This is something I worked on for a long time. I wrote lyrics in a notebook and created beats to go with them. I made enough songs to put together a mix tape or album. I learned that music, no matter how much I loved it, was not my passion. I was not a talented musician. I could do the music portion by the numbers using math to come up with a sequence that sounded good, but it wasn't organic. I didn't have the passion to learn to play an instrument. The part I loved was writing the lyrics. This is how I came back to writing. That was what I loved going back as far as I can remember.

When I was young I struggled with words. Socially awkward to the point of being afraid to speak to nearly anyone. I still have problems today. This is what fuels my passion for writing though. Math and science were always easy for me. Words are a challenge. They are the road less traveled for me.

I still get ideas, but I am focused on one thing and it is large enough to encompass everything else I do. I have no time for other grand ideas that I would like to pursue. Every book is a grand idea that demands my full focus. Every sentence demands another to follow it. Working with others who have been successful in other areas taught me that consistency and quality are big factors in building a support structure.

In trying to build things and asking for support I have been accused of being false, of lying, and of using people for my own personal gain. This really grates on me because it is hard enough for me to ask for help and then when I do people respond to me in this manner as if I have not been supportive of them for years prior to asking for the one thing. Today I didn't ask for anything and I got this response. I told this person that if they wanted to read my novel that it is available for free through my birthday. I didn't ask them to read it, I didn't ask for money, and I didn't ask for a review that I really need at this point. These are the people I cut out of my life. Life is too short for it to be a one way street where you give and the other person takes.

So I sit here contemplating their words. Am I a fake? A fraud? Am I wrong for trying to be open and honest? Would people trust me more if I lied all the time? or cursed more? Should I never strive to take anything for myself? Am I exploiting people? No, I emphatically reject this entire line of thinking. The actual response going through my head right now starts with "F" has 3 more letters and ends with "THAT", all caps. I can only be myself and I am constantly trying to improve on that. These people are actively impeding that progress.

Going after what you want in life is what everyone should be working toward. If you don't try then you will never get there. A true friend will want to help you without being asked, and if they can help they will in most cases. If you are a true friend then you will reciprocate in the same manner. True friends exploit each other as a matter of course. It's a symbiosis. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. We both benefit. So here I am writing on the day before my 40th birthday about this and mourning the loss of a few "friends". Tomorrow will be filled with the happy, sunshine, Godzilla stomping, confetti cannon, rainbow, unicorn, and cotton candy ride of amaze. Wanna come?

On to better news. My novel is available for free in ebook format at Amazon through my birthday 1/30.

CONTEST OMGSH

I'm also giving away more books that I didn't write! Details are on my author facebook and twitter accounts.
     

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Writing Progress Updates


Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count:40,058
The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Page 18 of 47

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Freedom of Thought

If you have been following me on Twitter for a while then you know that I can't resist making posts about politics, about cute puppies and kittens, or about various fictional apocalypses. I wanted to write today about something that I think is very important for fiction writers and authors to have. That is what I call the freedom of thought.

In spite of what you see me post, I talk with people who supported and some who still support Trump. I think it is important to keep the lines of communication open for any thoughts or ideas whether I agree or disagree with them. I will try to remain civil in the vast majority of cases, but I can tell you that I have been cursed out hundreds of times for putting forward an idea that someone else doesn't like. Ideas and stories are like Pokemon to me, I gotta catch 'em all.

Walk A Mile

They say I can't truly know someone until I have walked a mile in their shoes, but what do they say about that person's underwear? I'm uh... asking for a friend. I can't write without having some understanding of the characters in my story. I have to know every argument they are going to use and why. If I am going to write a character that would fall within a certain category then I have to take the time to try to understand them. If my character is like Trump or would have voted for Trump then I have to speak with conservatives to understand how they think. The same is true for writing people of different cultures, sexual orientations, gender identities, toenail colors, stances on Godzilla, etc..

The best way to get that understanding is to live like they do. Think about what they do on a day to day basis. Who do they speak with every day? What motivates them? Experiences will influence how someone thinks and reacts. Going through those same experiences, even if only in my mind, can help me to at least partially understand someone. With that understanding I still could get it wrong, but the fear of getting it wrong won't keep me from trying.

Justified

One thing I have noticed is that no one sees themselves as the villain. Even Darth Vader had justification for turning to the dark side. It wasn't only because he was evil. Emperor Palpatine wasn't evil for evil's sake either. He was a politician that wanted the power to fix things that needed fixing without others in the Senate squabbling over it. My biggest pet peeve in fiction is a character that does evil things because evil. How do they sleep at night if they can't justify their actions?

Nearly everyone justifies what they do before they do it if there is any question of morality involved with the action. Everyone makes mistakes, but at the time of making the mistake they have a reason for it. While plotting out things, before I write an outline, I go through every major decision my characters have to make. I have to justify my narrative and make sure the characters fit within the story I want to tell. I think about how each character that is affected by these decisions will react. More often than not each decision creates a chain reaction of events. Each decision has to be justified within that character's framework. A character on drugs might justify their actions saying that a unicorn promised them a rainbow if they did the thing. I'm going to do the thing anyway, but if someone would give me a rainbow I would be all the flails.

Freedom

Doing your research and collecting these ideas gives you the freedom to confidently write the story you want to tell. It makes your characters feel more realistic and gives them a depth they wouldn't have had otherwise. It helps you avoid tropes that are harmful. No one writes perfect characters. All our characters are flawed messes of people. That is what makes them interesting. Just like our characters we are flawed. We mess up, but we can always try to do better next time. That is why it is important to listen to others. You never know when someone may be a bag of spiders waiting to be unleashed upon you. Don't make the bag of spiders angry OK?


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Writing Progress Updates


Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count: 32,479
The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Page 11 of 47

Friday, December 30, 2016

Reading Habits

I hope you all had a very Happy Holidays and that the new year doesn't contain as many horrors as the last. This last blog post of the year I want to focus on something that I love. Reading books.

First I do have a couple of announcements:
  1. Night Reads will be resuming with Season 2 that will comprise 7 episodes. If you are an author or know of one looking to promote a piece of fiction, submissions are open. There are currently 5 slots available! More information can be found here: http://brianbasham.blogspot.com/p/night-reads.html
  2. I will be hosting a Twitter chat about writing and pop culture on Wednesday 1/4/17 at 8 PM EST (5 PM PST). Join us at the hashtag #SiWriChat at that time. This week's theme will be Star Wars. I will host this chat every other Wednesday and will post a schedule of the upcoming events soon.


Now time for some serious shenanigans. Reading has been one of my favorite things to do for a very long time. My mother took me to libraries when I was young where I poured through whatever looked interesting. I remember loving every Choose Your Own Adventure book I could get my hands on and flipping back and forth to go through every choice. I remember reading Sherlock Holmes before I was old enough to really get into such stories. I remember thinking how the author took one tiny detail that was glossed over or wasn't fully revealed and made that the crux of the detective's argument when solving the murder. This angered me more than displayed the brilliance of Holmes. I wanted to morph into Godzilla and terrorize the setting in the story. I spent a lot of time going back and rereading one story and becoming more frustrated rather than getting lost in the suspense of it all. I remember reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlotte's Web. The Cask of Amontillado was one of my favorite stories we read in class. I remember Robert Frost visiting my Elementary School and how much his breath stank when he got close enough for me to smell it. Tip to authors who visit schools: Brush your teeth and stay away from the coffee while you are there!

Then I became lost in the shuffle of school, sports, and video games. I used to love video games and spent too much time playing them. I decided that I wanted to make video games when I was too young to make such decisions. It took me a long time to realize that what I really loved was the stories behind the video games. I began to write my own fiction during this time after a teacher exposed me to the wonders of a chain story, and I have an unnatural love for chain stories to this day. I would lose interest and come back to these stories here and there, but never finish them.

When college came around a friend of mine let me borrow Jurassic Park and I discovered my love for the written word all over again. I fell in love with Crichton's fast pace techno-thrillers then spread out to other genres. I discovered Clancy, Robert Jordan, and (of course) Stephen King. These wonderful authors created worlds that I tore through as fast as I could. Sometimes I would stay up until 3, 4, 5 AM, or later because I could not force myself to put down the book. I had an English teacher who always gave us a creative option for our papers which I always went with. I wrote about the character Forrest Gump becoming a professional wrestler and I wrote about a surgeon who wore an afro with a chinstrap. Both silly tales in the mold of Ace Ventura. I took a creative writing class that challenged me in ways I had never thought about before. It taught me to consider each word carefully before setting it on fire.

Many years after college I finally realized that I loved to write. Why shouldn't I try to write my own novels? I looked into publishing and then self-publishing through Amazon. I had stories that I wrote on the side for myself, but most of them were never finished or far too short to be considered a novel. I posted things on Wattpad and worked on my novel.

I read books from some of my indie writing heroes Lindsay Buroker and Hugh Howey. Each word giving inspiration and satisfying a need. Today I typically read at least 3 fiction books, 1 audio book (listen instead of read?), and 1 instructional book. One book is for lunch breaks at work, one is for the bathroom (I am old shut up), an audio book for trips more than 10 minutes, and an e-book for nighttime reading before sleep (don't need the lights on for this!)

Lately books I could not put down have been hiding from me. I miss the techno-thrillers of Crichton, the Harry Potter series, the first two books of The Hunger Games and Divergent series, Angels and Demons, and other books that sucked me into their worlds. Then I ran into one that I felt I must share. I posted a link to my review of the novel here on the blog. A review of a book is one of the best gifts you can give to an author (ranks up there with coffee and chocolate), so please review the books you read.

In 2016 I did not finish many novels. I think I only have 6 or 7 that I finished for the year. I want to at least double that for 2017, but I need help. If you have any novels that you recommend or could not put down then please share them here or message me on social media with them. I am always looking for books that grab you with Hellraiser type hooks and won't let go until the book is satisfied with your page turning. Give me all of those... and puppies.


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Writing Progress Updates


Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count: 25,185
The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Page 4 of 47