Failure to Launch

Hello everyone. It’s been a while since last we talked. I wish I could say that I’ve been too busy at my day job or that I’ve been too busy with a social life. I wish I could say that I was busy working on a new writing project. However, really none of those are true.

I mean, sure, I’ve been working a lot because things were busy for a bit at the ole day job and I’ve been trying to hang out with some friends every now and then while not at work. But I haven’t put my fingers to a keyboard as far as a creative writing project since the middle of July.

I’ve tried to get started on a new project. Whenever I do sit in front of a computer and try to start, something distracts me, and I’m pulled away from the computer screen. I’ve had a ton of ideas for what could be decent short stories. I’m thinking about putting out another collection of short stories. I’ve got an idea for a really cool series of supernatural based books. I even doodled the logo while at a government meeting, I was covering last week. I also had an idea for a book that involved an online dating app stalker, but it’s through the point-of-view of the stalker… sort of a Lolita type of novel where the reader sympathizes with the stalker. Don’t worry though because the stalker gets what’s coming to him (as should happen with all stalking cases).

The problem isn’t the lack of ideas. My problem is a failure to launch.

At first, I thought it was the fact that I wasn’t depressed anymore. It’s been almost a year since my last bout of depression. Which is a very good thing, don’t get me wrong about that. However, when I would feel depressed about something I’d sit down and write a story about it. That’s how my first collection of short stories came about. I’ve even tried to stir up that depression in an attempt to have something to write about. Back in the day, I’d listen to the Johnny Cash rendition of “Hurt” because I identified so well with the song lyrics. To my depressed mindset, the song was a constant reminder of the fact that my life was just a pile of dirt and that everyone I loved would eventually leave me. (I know now that was just a lie, but like I said I was depressed so I had believed it to be true.)

I was doing so good too. I was working on book four of series and had just over 91k words to it. It was the fourth book in a planned seven book series. I was feeling good about it. Sure, the first publisher of the series dropped me before the first book could be published. And sure, the second publisher of the series closed before the fourth book could see the light of day. But I had a good feeling about the third publisher. I had worked with them before. They had a great website with a plethora of podcasts that could advertise the books.

Plus, third times the charm… right?

Yup, I had talked about it before, so I don’t think I need to rehash how my newest publisher went under and left my books again without a home.

I wouldn’t say I was discouraged or depressed about it, because I wasn’t. However, I wasn’t invigorated by the thought of trying to find another publisher or trying to self-publish the series. I went hard on writing book four for two solid months. Every day I made it a priority to sit down and write even if it was a few words. I was psyched about the world I was building and the prospect of spreading a message to my readers. I attended two author fairs and purchased some of my books to redistribute in various manners.

For once in a very long time, I actually felt like an author.

If you’ve ever heard the myth of Sisyphus, you’ll understand exactly how I felt when I was told that my current publisher was closing up shop. Even though I had come so far in the series, I just couldn’t do it. I was tired of trying to push that particular series up a hill only to have it roll back down whenever another person decides to shut it all down. So, instead of getting behind that boulder again I decided just to step away from it.

Was it the right choice? Probably not. Is it the reason why I’m currently suffering from writer’s block? Probably. Book four, in its incomplete form, currently rests upon a shelf. And if I listen quietly enough, I think I can hear it, pleading for me to come back as if it’s a desperate lover.

I have a friend that serves as an accountability partner. Every Wednesday he asks if I’ve spent time each day reading the Bible. And each time I tell him, honestly, that no I’ve been too busy. Which is and isn’t a lie because there’s always time to read the Bible. I went to see Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) last week which was an hour and a half of terrible acting. Those 94 minutes could’ve been used reading the Bible.

Now, you might be asking while I’ve switched topics from writing to reading. Well, sitting on the shelf right next to my incomplete fourth book is my Life Application Study Bible. Both are collecting dust.

So, like a guilty Christian, I went and picked the Bible up and turned to the index. Looking up “Persistence” I was referenced to Exodus 9:1. This is the part where Moses goes to ask Pharoah to let his people go, but Pharoah keeps denying him despite all those horrible consequences.

If you’re trying to study and understand the Bible, I highly recommend the Life Application Study Bible. It’s got all of these neat explanations at the bottom of the page. For instance, it explains Exodus 9:1 as follows: “This was the fifth time God sent Moses back to Pharaoh with the demand ‘Let my people go.’ By this time, Moses may have been tired and discouraged, but he continued to obey. Is there a difficult conflict you must face again and again? Don’t give up when you know what is right to do. As Moses discovered, persistence is rewarded.”

…sigh

Well, I think I know what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to pick up that manuscript that’s been sitting right next to book I just picked up. I guess if Moses could do it, I can too (I totally know that his situation and my situation are completely different. Don’t worry, I’m not in da Nile (get it? It’s that really old pun about Denial and Da Nile)).

I don’t think I’m the only person that has experienced or is currently experiencing this type of life event. We all have moments in our lives where it probably would be convenient to just hang up the hat and do something different. Especially when we keep getting reset back to the first level. It’s discouraging to know that you’ve spent almost ten years of your life (in my case, others could spend more/less) doing something they love but not seeing any kind of advancement.

Looking at the word count for today’s column, I have to wrap this up but I’m unsure how. Usually, I try to add an upbeat message to it, but I’m wary to because of the past. All I can really tell you that I’ll try again with this series. I’ll get behind that boulder again and see how far I’ll make it up that hill all the while knowing that I’ll most likely have all my bones crushed when it rolls back down it.

I’m going to leave you with a quote from C.S. Lewis about persistence in overcoming hardships. “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”



Categories: Mastering the Craft

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