6.28.2018

Resetting The Why and Crushing Self-Minimizing

Resetting The Why

If I am able to string the words along properly and give some kind of accurate representation on this page that bears some resemblance to the dance they have been doing in my head for the last 3 days, then you may well get two lunchtime bloggy blog posts for the price of one.

And I may again be able to stare down a couple of demons who have been whispering shitty things to me from the shadows of my mind.

There seems to be some kind of romantic notion (good or bad) that springs to mind when you tell someone that you are a writer. Images of  empty whiskey bottles strewn about the room. A glass dish big enough to be considered the murder weapon, littered with butts; evidence of nicotine fueled battles between author and muse. Crumpled sheets of rejected ideas you wished you'd written yourself if only to see where the shop keeper's son stored the dead presidents found in the pocket of the banger, dirt napping dead in front of the store on 2:30 in afternoon on a Sunday in August just before the storms rolled in to clear the stench of piss from the air and the stain of blood from the sidewalk.

The other extreme is equally terrifying. The project board and perfectly detailed notes. Color coded and cross-referenced on a separate print out. Dates and word counts clearly displayed, sticky-notes flapping proudly like the trophy case of the state-champion high school. A subtle nod of intimidation, whether intentional or not, to any who might want to one day throw their own hat into the ring. Dipping their metaphorical and very literal pen into the ink that is both fuel and vessel. Ship and roiling sea.

I won't tell you where I fall on that spectrum. Likely you already have your own idea.

A friend of mine had a setback. Not a minor one. One that knocked the wind out of the sails. One of those 'question the very reason for donning a cutlass and eye-patch and thinking they could make a go of this pirate' kind of thing.  I got a note from them at the time. It said simply, "I need to reexamine my why."

Like many things this particular friend writes, the words hit me in a way I didn't see coming.

Now, to be fair, comparison is death. But you're lying if you say that you don't use someone who inspires you to at least build the guidelines for your own benchmarks. At some point, there is a shift and the milestones and goals are truly your own. The shift from "I want to do XYZ just like so and so" soon becomes, "I want to do XYZ."

But there's always the why.

Why am I a writer?

Not what makes me think I am a writer?, but why do I write?

Why?

The thing that really pissed me off when I started to think about the why was the fact that it didn't seem like too long ago I was just coming to grips with even telling the world that I was a writer. I mean, fuck, man...give me a minute to just be able to say that I am a writer first.

It doesn't work like that.


I'm looking at my words. I'm looking at what I've written in the last 6 months (and it really doesn't feel like much, if I'm being honest), and I realize that I really need to stop and look at my why.

It's time.

And I didn't want to.

Because I already know part of my why. And facing that part in the light of day sucks. It just really...
It just sucks.

I grew up needing to feel like what I did mattered. That it was good. That you liked it. That you wanted me to do more of it.

In one of the hundreds of personality tests out there, I come back as an Obliger. This means that I will put your needs above my own if given a choice. And I did, a lot.

I still do.

And I know that tendency has crept in and morphed into part of my why. Now, having the obliger tendency in itself is not a bad thing. As long as you recognize it and realize that it's ok to actually take some time for you and do things for you before someone else.

That's just it, though. Part of the 'why' for me is because inside me there is still that little kid, unsure, holding out the paper with a space battle drawn in pen, hoping that the person they are showing it to will tell me it's the best thing they've ever seen. But more than that, I want the people I love to tell me that they have read my words. Love them or hate them, I just want to be read.

There. There is it. Part of me writes because I read Stephen King growing up. I read Koontz. I read Tolkien and Asimov.  And Douglas Adams. And Piers Anthony.

And I loved them all. I hung on every word.

As a writer, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want that. That I don't want someone to fall in love with my voice and my style and to hang on every word, wondering what the next glorious page will hold.

I do. Part of me wants that.

I write because I want to make you happy, and there's a part of me that's vain enough to think that my words can do that. Can bring a feeling, an emotion, and take you to a place you've never been.

I write because there are writers who inspire me. And I want to pay them back for that inspiration. I want to show them that what they wrote matters.

And I want to be that inspiration for someone else.

Yes...it's true. There is a part of me, of every writer that says they would write every day, because to not write is tantamount to not breathing, as dramatic as it sounds. And yes, I would write anyway, even if I knew it wasn't going to be read. But I can tell you that stuff that I write half thinking no one will ever or want to ever read it...that stuff is raw. And it's probably garbage. But yes, I still write.

The other reason I write is because I feel like I'm fairly fucked up in the head. And for me, writing is way I can create characters who may or may not be messed up in the same ways that I am, and I can walk them through scenarios in the story. I can make things happen to them, for them, and by them.
And maybe, just maybe they will get their happily ever after.

Because if the characters in my stories get their happily every after, then maybe I will too.

So..yeah. There's the brutal why. And it's pretty clear that I won't stop writing until either the happy ending happens in real life or I run out of ways for my characters to find theirs. 

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

And, unfortunately, I've run out of minutes in my lunch break (and I just killed the oatmeal cream pie).  The second piece on the crushing self-minimizing will have to wait for another lunch, I'm afraid.

Until then, I hope you'll tell all of your friends about the raw post thrown out on the interwebs by one of your soon to be favorite writers.

Peace
-Todd


6.21.2018

2AM AGAIN

If I am ever asked to write a...what?

OK Fine.

WHEN I am asked to write some kind of article or give an interview about how my writing process works, I might just leave out the part where I think it is actually a good idea to down a Watermelon Rockstar at 1AM on a night where I need to be up just 5 short hours later to do what is commonly referred to as 'going to work.'

And yet, here we are.

Oh, but...against all odds, I am actually sitting at my writing desk (such as it is at the moment) giving you a fresh dose of bloggy randomness.

This is quite unique as it's the first (I think) blog post from the new abode.

It's also the first blog post on this blog that I think I have penned from my bedroom (I'm not counting hotel rooms, and neither should you. Vile things, really).

So, for anyone betting on this...official move in date was March first. It is now June 21st.

I'd like to give a hearty shout out to Summer. Welcome, Summer, you wee right bastard!

My daughter, by the way is VERY lucky that her parents weren't some new-agey/hippy types or she might very well have had some kind of name like Summer Rae or Sunbeam or some shit like that.

Which is to say, she's lucky that her father was afraid of what her mother would do to him if he pulled that shit. I suppose it's bad enough that I got to warp the way we spell her first name.

Someday she'll appreciate that.

Maybe.

Holy shit. Writing. So, that's a thing.

I've been nose deep in working on the first draft of 18 Clocks these days. Stealing words during lunch on the Alphasmart NEO2. No, I haven't been lunching on it, don't be ridiculous.

I've been reading quite a bit more these days than I am used to.  It's a good thing. Weird, but good.

Current mood is...hmm. That's a little trickier, isn't it? Let's just say, it's not full on 1996/97 level depression. More of a dip in the road. If you're still in my life these days and you knew me back in 96/97, first of all, I'm sorry. Second of all, wow, are you a fucking glutton for punishment.

Yeah. I mean, things are going well. On paper there is absolutely no reason for the grey film that's covering everything and yet, there is it. I wipe it away, but in that odd post-shower instant condensation science is cool kind of way, it comes right back. I think a large part of it has to do with getting things settled in the house. Once things get where they need to go and I find places in this space for the shit that's mine, I think a lot of it will go away. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

OH. Shit. I almost forgot.

I have put out Shadow Initiate and Ovid's Folly as standalone e-books on Amazon. The cool thing about that is, that between the 2 titles, I've already sold 30 copies. AND, since they are standalone, I can keep them up on Amazon and my author page won't go away. Now when I tell people my things are on Amazon, they can find me instead of getting a heartfelt collection of life lessons from a rookie College referee. I'm going to track that dude down one day just so I have can have him autograph a book To Todd Skaggs, From Todd Skaggs--coolest name ever bro! And naturally, I'll have at least one paperback by then and I can return the favor. We can then each put the books up on our shelf and pull it down when the record-listening party had hit a lull.

Here's the thing, I'm not tired. I should be. And I probably am (I'm not), but it's likely the Rockstar keeping me alert (or what passes for alert at 2AM). I'm going to go ahead and hit the hay.

I will catch you on the flip side my friends!

Peace,

Todd "Not A College Referee" Skaggs

The Theater of Semantics

The house lights are down. The audience an invisible mass gathered with a low jumbled murmuring sit restless, somewhere out there in a cloud...