With my apologies for, in my own mind at least, letting everyone down again, I want to share a little of my life lately.
For starters, I am now single. My girlfriend of approximately four years (discounting the three months she was seeing someone else before agreeing to a serious relationship with me) dumped me last Sunday. Via text message. I won't go into detail beyond that little gem, nor will I expound on her cheating on me on Valentine's Day with the guy she'd been seeing.
So, as you can imagine, my life's been a mess for, if I want to be honest, a year now. With that in mind it's a small miracle that I got Reagent Protocol finished and published this year. Now, that particular book hasn't been well-received, and I have some ideas on that, even though I still think the story and characters are in some ways superior to previous works. One of these ideas, simply put, is a lack of feedback while I was writing it.
Not so simply put, I have a method for writing that probably is a little less self-reliant than it should be. When I struggle with a sentence, or if I wonder about a passage, I like to ask people to read the parts in question and give me some feedback. Frequently, the simple act of posting the questionable content in a chat window, e-mail, or what-have-you, gives me insight. This insight usually leads to small changes, but the feedback I get from the friend(s) I shared with is frequently invaluable to me.
The fact that I don't have a professional editor to help me is also a reason why I find this particular exchange so useful and valuable.
I won't lie and say that the feeling I get when my friends ask me for more of the story to read (especially when it's unsolicited) is unwelcome. It's very encouraging, actually.
I've had none of that for a very long time.
The net result is that I wrote the last half (or more, I can't remember) Shawn Doolish part of Reagent Protocol without any appreciable amount of feedback and an unbelievable amount of personal stress from an unhappy relationship. Actually, I wrote the whole think with no real feedback. The reasons for this are several-fold. Many of my friends are no longer in my life in any way. Most of those have moved on, or at least moved away from the only ways I had to contact them. Of those remaining, none of them have the free time they used to, so I can't ask them to do more than peek at a line or two once in a great while.
Some of you would ask, why not ask the girlfriend for her help? Well, um, that's a good question, actually. It warrants a good answer. I'll give one, just not quite yet.
During the last two years I haven't been exceptionally productive, writing-wise. Actually, that's incorrect. Since I published Subject 12, I haven't been very productive. I wrote The Grand Granger and Reagent Protocol in these intervening years, but neither is especially long, nor particularly successful. Oh well, as teenagers say all the time. But I haven't been very productive, it's really that simple.
So, why? I've been distracted, depressed, busy, and in a relationship that appears to have been far more one-sided than I'd ever thought. My girlfriend was rarely supportive of my writing. Or of me, for that matter. When the chips were down and I really, truly needed support because my world was collapsing around me and it wasn't entirely internal, she was there for me. That's something that I respect her for, but as for the rest of the relationship it just didn't work. I threw everything I could into it; I changed behaviors and goals, spent money I couldn't afford to spend and barely had, sacrificed friends and damaged relationships with other people I cared about, drove an hour to visit her two and three times a week, and found myself including her in every decision I made whenever she was around (other than the food I ordered at restaurants), all just to be with and try to make happy a woman who felt that she was making me miserable. At least, that's the story she tells. To be honest, I believe she was unhappy with herself and her medical problems, and her refusal to compromise on virtually anything drove me batty. I wont go into more details, but I will say that her cheating on me wasn't the worst thing that happened, even if it felt like it at the time. The things she's accused me of indicate such a negative opinion of me that I honestly don't know why she wanted me around at all, and to be honest with myself, it really hurts to think someone I care about thinks so badly of me.
It was, in short, a bad relationship. It ate up my life, leaving me little else to subsist on. That little else did not include much writing; I did get some done on various projects, but not enough to say I did enough, and the quality has, no doubt, suffered from my distraction and stress. We fought constantly. Due to this relationship I've gained and lost over sixty pounds in the last year. If that doesn't tell you what my life has been like, I don't know how better to explain it.
That's not to say it was all bad. We did share some good laughs, some good times, and some good food. If I hadn't been trying to show her that I was changing, I wouldn't now own a fedora that I wear a lot (though it's borderline amazing that I found a hat that fits me). Yes, I said a fedora, not a damn trilby. If you don't know the difference you should look it up, because pimps, hipsters, and neckbeards wear the trilby, Indiana Jones and Humphrey Bogart wore a fedora.
But I seem to be getting a little off-topic, don't I? Sorry, I do tend to ramble.
At this point I should answer the question I asked earlier. Why couldn't I ask my girlfriend to read what I wrote? Because she didn't like it. Any of it. She says she enjoyed The Grand Granger, and I believe her, but there was nothing else she found entertaining, amusing, or at all interesting. She constantly got after me about my writing -- that I was complaining about being blocked (I didn't do it that often, but, yes, I admit I said I was blocked and it was bothering me.), or that I needed a "real job". She said I was waiting around for something good to happen, hinting that I needed to give up on my dream. She'd moan about how she lost the manuscript for her book, a poem collection, and never let me forget that at some point I apparently compared her work (which I've never read, I want to add, because she never shared) to someone else's (which I never did, having never read hers) whose work I described as being in an archaic style. Okay. So, I should give up on my dream because she lost her manuscript and gave up on hers. That was my takeaway.
Why would I get support for something important to me when she secretly hates that I'm trying to do what she couldn't bring herself to do? So, no matter what, I couldn't ask her for the support I needed, and having lost (and driven away) friends that used to do it for me (and would make her jealous that they were doing something she patently refused to do), I had nobody to do it for me.
This situation hasn't improved, but I'm going to try and work around it.
As for how I'm doing, I have to answer with a simple, "I'm okay, thank you." and not expound too much. I really am okay. I'm a little depressed, I'm pretty lonely, and I have two nights that I have to work between ten and fourteen hours apiece without any real break. It's decent money, but it's a couple of long nights, and this is the first year that I won't have any visitors to help break up the monotony. On top of this, I've watched almost everything I care to on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. Did I mention it's not a hard job? Well, it's not. My duties include staying awake, walking around, and making sure the drunks don't go through the area. Actually, I'm responsible for making sure people don't come in and steal or break stuff. But what it amounts to is keeping the drunks (Friday and Saturday night at a hotel with a bar, in a college town. Need I say more?) out and telling people to come back in the morning.
Those nights, though, are going to be very difficult for me if my brain decides to take a trip down memory lane. Or if it decides that it's time to go over every failed relationship I've had, and remind me of every mistake I made in the last one. You know, typical post-breakup stuff we all go through.
Anyway, I apologize for spending so much time talking about something other than what I've been writing. I just wanted you guys and gals to know why I haven't been talking much, doing much, or writing much. I also guess I just wanted to show everyone that yes, I'm a human being too, with all that entails.
Thanks for reading and for your continued support!