My first podcast interview posted on the J.P. Cane Working Title Podcast. Hearing myself talk gives me anxiety so the first two times I tried listening to it, I shut it off just after a few seconds. On the third try, I was able to force myself to sit through it. I guess I just worry that I’m going to sound stupid or full of myself. Two of my friends thought I did well. If you want to listen to it, you can click here.

Last night my narrator, Laura Bannister, sent me the audio files for the Scribbling the Eternal audiobook. Because she got it to me two weeks before than anticipated, I believe I will have a November book release. (Fingers crossed.) I have to review all the files, but again, this task gives me anxiety. Though I’m not hearing my own voice, I’m hearing my words read aloud, and there’s something about that that just makes me want to hide in a cave.

During my cabin stay in Idyllwild-Pine Cove, I didn’t write the 30,000 words I had hoped for. I only netted 3,779 new words over five days. But I still think the retreat was a success for four reasons. The first is that I completed the first two chapters of the book. The second is that my beta readers loved the chapters (and they didn’t dislike Orly for what she does in Chapter Two). The third is that I’ve created momentum to keep going. The fourth is that I only needed extra anxiety medicine on one day during my stay.

I was supposed to be there for seven nights, but I only stayed for five. The isolation got to me. Even though I don’t generally interact with strangers in public, I still like to see that they’re there. I wanted to write where it was familiar—Starbucks store 20537. And so I left Thursday morning. It’s Sunday now and I’ve added 1,215 new words. I also began writing a story about Orly before she meets Yelena and her friendship with Abdul-Samad who is mentioned in Chapter Twenty-Two of The Scribbled Victims.

I also sent out a newsletter for the first time in a long time. I received many responses from readers which made me very happy. I’m going to try sending a newsletter once a month. Click here if you’d like to sign up.

Late this afternoon, I arrived in Idyllwild-Pine Cove where I rented an A-frame cabin for a week so that I could write without distraction. I plan to work on the third book in the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy, although I also have a short story on my mind about Orly before she meets Yelena.

My goal coming here was to write 30,000 new words. I looked back at entries in my personal blog from the end of July 2015 when I took a similar trip to Bainbridge Island, also to write in solitude, also from a Saturday to Saturday, and noticed I also had a goal of 30,000 words. I remember I went on that trip because I had eight chapters of The Scribbled Victims and was stuck. I was struggling to figure out the mechanics of how Yelena would be able to adopt Orly. By Monday, I wanted to trash the story. But Tuesday, I spent a day in nature and then sat back down Wednesday and kept at it. On Thursday I had a breakthrough: Yelena would not succeed in adopting Orly. Once that dawned on me, I was able to keep going. I didn’t come anywhere near 30,000 new words, but by September of 2016, I finished writing the book.

As I mentioned in my two previous posts, my depression has been bad lately. My psychologist and psychiatrist are concerned about me being isolated for so long. My anxiety has been bad as well, but my anxiety was also bad in Bainbridge, and on that trip I succeeded in taking only three Klonopins and as I said, I had the breakthrough I needed. So, I’m hoping for a very good and serene writing week, even if I don’t hit 30,000 words. It’s just a number. It’s just a goal to keep myself motivated. I already have a good start. On the winding mountain road that brought me here, I acted out a scene, and when I arrived, I wrote down the last lines of a character who won’t live to see the end of the third book.  

My depression persists. I believe it’s actually gotten worse. Down the spiral I go. Every day it’s a struggle to get out of bed. Yet somehow, with my new daily writing goal of just ten minutes, I’ve been able to make myself write every day this past week. My daily word count is minimal, but that’s not the point.

Yesterday I watched three videos posted on the Patreon page of an artist whose work I admire a lot—Elly Smallwood. She talked about doing your own thing as an artist and the importance of not comparing yourself to others. It helped to be reminded of those things, as I’ve been feeling like a failure as a writer. For some time I’ve been measuring my success by number of readers—something Elly would refer to as external validation. I need to relearn that the success is in the doing—in the writing and in the completion of work. Everything else comes second or not in any place at all. I think I often forget this because I spend too much time looking at social media, where it’s easy to compare myself to others and subsequently put myself down.

I need to stop looking around me and pay more attention to what I’m working on. Later this month I’m going to spend a week in a cabin I rented in Idyllwild for a writing retreat. I hope by then I have a better handle on my depression so that I make use of all that quiet time by writing my new book and not sleeping the days away.  

Though sessions with my psychologist have been helpful, I continue to slip deeper into my depression. When it gets bad like this, I just don’t want to do anything but stay in bed, so I’ve been struggling to push myself to do things—to go to work, to exercise, even to read.

For a long time, my daily writing goal had been thirty minutes. I find it effective to set easy goals so that it is more likely that I will complete them. With having a day job that often leaves me mentally exhausted, it’s more palatable to contend with a goal of thirty minutes than one of three hours. The aim is just to get myself to sit down and start writing, because once writing I usually lose track of time and, consequently, I exceed the goal.

But in this depression, even thirty minutes felt daunting, and as such I hadn’t written any new words since August 25th. So today I decided to reduce my daily writing goal to just ten minutes. It worked, at least for today. I put on music, sat down, and wrote for hours. I finally had to stop as I was running late to have dinner with my friend Brie. (Again, I’m pushing myself to do things, and seeing friends helps.)

I’m still very early in the new book and the sentences are not coming easily. I’m trying to content myself with how the passages are building—one upon the next—but already I can see they’re made mostly of sentences I will later rewrite.

Orly feels more mature though. And that was I wanted.

But the point is, I’ve responded to my depression in a way that worked, in a way that allowed me to write—at least for today.

This morning I sent the final version of Scribbling the Eternal to my beta readers. I began writing it on December 4, 2016. According to howlongagogo.com it has taken me 2 years, 8 months, and 24 days to write and edit this book. I feel like I should feel happy or at least relieved that it’s finally finished, but all I feel is anxiety.

Weeks ago, I fell into a deep depression and it persists. I don’t really know why; I’m sure much of it is chemical, and my meds can only do so much. My psychologist believes a lot of it has to do with the book’s upcoming release. I’ve put so much into this novel that thinking about how it will be received just overwhelms me. My beta readers and two others who have read it in its entirety said it’s really good, so I hope my readers like it and think it’s a good sequel.

I never begin writing something until I know how the story begins and how the story ends.

Now that I’ve begun writing the final installment of the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy, I’m kinda sad knowing that it’s coming to a close (especially with the way the third book ends). What will life be like without Orly floating through my daydreams? Losing our daily conversations will create a void.

But there is a reason I’m not printing the word “Trilogy” on the book covers. I don’t want to commit to letting go of someone I love so much.

Monday, my interview on the This Is Writing website posted. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be on their website. Today, I did my first podcast interview for the Working Title podcast. I was so nervous and spent my last session with my psychologist talking about trying to overcome my shyness and gain enough confidence to do it. Speaking publicly is not something I look forward to, and I was particularly worried about coming off as awkward, stupid, or full of myself. My hands and head were sweating when the interview began, but about halfway through it, I realized that was no longer the case. The interview lasted fifty-three minutes and time just seemed to fly by. The interviewer said I did a great job, so I’m hopeful that when the episode airs in October, I’ll sound okay.

One thing I mentioned in the interview was that I stopped checking my book sales and reviews. I had been in the habit of obsessively checking them daily, if not multiple times a day. But I realized doing so wasn’t good for me mentally. Though the majority of my reviews on The Scribbled Victims are positive, when I read those reviews, I don’t allow myself to celebrate them. Conversely, when I receive a less than favorable review, I’ll dwell on it for days. The same goes for book sales. I don’t celebrate the days I make sales, but feel dismal on the days when I haven’t made a single sale. In other words, I’m in the habit of focusing on the negative.

It hasn’t been easy to break the compulsion to check my reviews and sales, but mentally, I have definitely seen the effects, and they’re definitely positive. I’ll eventually have to check my sales however, because I pay someone to manage my advertising campaign, and their payments are based on my book sales.

Even though I haven’t read my reviews in quite a while, a reader actually took the time to send me an email today which read:

Robert,

I read so many books. Mostly horror or fantasy, bizarro or new weird fiction; as long as the writing is incredible. I have read so many authors, Harlan Ellison being my favorite as well as others…

I have to tell you- You are an incredibly gifted writer. This book is so well written it is beautiful the story and characters.  Just magic. I can’t wait for your next book. 

Thank you for writing such a great novel and sharing it with me. 

Ron ******** 
Queens, NY

I’m going to do my best to celebrate that email.

I’ve continued to write on paper and I think I’m close to having the full story for the final book in the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy. I had a breakthrough idea today, a way to make my readers really feel something. I feel so motivated and overcome with passion for this new book that I feel like I could write it all in a week if I went away somewhere peaceful. I did that in 2015 when I was stuck on a particular part when writing The Scribbled Victims. I spent a week in a house rental in Puget Sound. It was perfect and I found a solution to the problem on the fourth day in solitude. I know I couldn’t possibly write the whole book in a week, but the sound of getting away somewhere to write sounds very appealing. I just have to pick a time and place.

Recently while working on the final book in the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy, I’ve stepped away from my computers and Scrivener and have been writing with pen and paper. There is something so freeing about this method. It changes my mood and mentality. On the computer I’m constantly backspacing over things I’ve typed in an attempt to refine my sentences, but on paper I care little about polishing and just let words fall out of my head. The words often come faster than I can write them down. This is a good way for me to work while in the story building phase, when the options are still limitless. This new story is blossoming into something bigger than I had first imagined it would be, and I believe the shift to paper is what allowed that to happen.