News From The Darkness: A Personal Update As I Clamber Toward Daylight

Musing

Where have I been?

How am I doing?

What’s happening with the Doc Wilde books? Or any other writing I might be doing?

It’s time for a general update, and probably past time for a Doc Wilde update since Kickstarter supporters and other fans are patiently waiting for me to get the next book out.

First, if you would, read my post from back in February, “I’m Back. Ish.” It covers some important ground and remains pertinent, especially regarding the state of Doc Wilde, and whether the coming books will be illustrated or not. (And there will be coming books, it’s just going to take a bit longer.)

Now, since that post, which itself was part of an effort to drag myself back into the world and into health and productivity, things have improved somewhat, but I’ve also had a realization: I’m in convalescence. I’m making progress, but I’m doing so far more gradually than I’d like, and far more gradually than I tend to allow for. I’m fighting a depression monster that has had me pinned beneath its claws for many years, a monster which has beaten me and ruined my plans over and over and over again, a monster that has laughed at everything the psychiatric community has thrown at it from therapy to all sorts of drugs to electroshock therapy.

I have had to accept something about myself that batters what pride I still have: I have a disability. I look in the mirror and I don’t see someone who’s disabled, but I look at my life and I certainly do. And I fucking hate it, and I hate that I have to struggle, and I hate that it’s so goddamned hard, and I hate knowing how much I could accomplish if it weren’t a factor, but none of that actually makes any difference because it it what it is and I have to deal with it.

If I don’t, it will kill me. Continue reading

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The Sharp Knife of a Short Life

Mom

My mother died.

I don’t remember her, not on any conscious level. But her absence has been a void in my world that I…

I can’t even begin to express.

But the love she gave me, in her short life, all she got to live, before I was even really aware…

Has kept me alive.

Has made me a man who truly loves, and who can accept love.

Has kept me alive.

Has nurtured hope, even when I can’t make myself stand.

Has kept me alive.

I don’t even have a photograph of her. But I feel her smile in me. Life with her would have been so much goddamned better.

But she has kept me alive.

Mom, this song of the week is for you….

The Band Perry – “If I Die Young”

I’m Back. Ish.

Tim, with hat

Hi.

Nice to see you. Yeah, I know, it’s been a while.

I’ve been largely offline for months, and so socially out-of-touch that calling me a shut-in would be sadly appropriate. In that time, I haven’t accomplished much to speak of, either; I was in almost full retreat from the world and I let most of the things I’d been juggling crash to the ground.

I stopped doing social media. I rarely answered the phone. I mostly left my cave only to get the mail (about once a week) and to go grocery shopping (every week or two). I even stopped reading my personal email for the most part, and as a result I now have over sixteen thousand unread messages in my inbox to dig through.

Basically, my motivation and energy collapsed into a black hole and I went with it. It was a surrender to fear and failure, but also a release I needed to keep breathing. At first, I thought that I’d get back to things tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that…but as time passed, I was more and more weighed down by my own indolence, and I came to see that this break from responsibility, and from the world, was very possibly necessary for my actual survival.

How did I get to this dark and dreary place?

I had some physical health problems. Nothing major, but enough to wear on me. I felt weak and, because of the depression, unable to care for myself as well as I need to.

People close to me had health problems, including someone who is now fighting cancer and relying on me for help as she undergoes treatment.

My beloved cat, Scamp, was killed by a coyote.

I ran into professional obstacles. My indie-published version of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, beautifully illustrated by Gary Chaloner, wasn’t exactly selling like gangbusters in spite of great reviews and responses from people who read it. As I write this, the book has a 4.6 stars out of 5 rating on Amazon, and it has had rave reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and folks like Daniel Pinkwater and Zack Stentz (a screenwriter of Thor, X-Men: First Class, Fringe, and other notable productions). But it has only received 17 new reader reviews since its release in May 2013 (the rest were from its earlier edition from Putnam), and that’s not enough activity to help it rise in Amazon’s algorithms to be seen by more potential readers. I wanted very much to continue the series as planned, in fully illustrated volumes as nice as this one, but I was losing faith that the market would support that.

Also, as some of you know, Gary had to leave the series because of scheduling concerns, and when I hired artist Tess Fowler for the second book, she ripped me off. This was a blow to my budget but even more to my confidence. With that unfortunate trauma fresh in mind, I was faced not only with finding another artist but with the fear that this sort of thing could happen again. And, as noted above, I wasn’t even sure whether I should stick with the plans for illustration at all.

And all that was stressing me out like crazy.

So, I sank. I disappeared. I hid. I hibernated. As much as I could, I recovered.

My only real joy during this time came from my son, who is now away at college and thriving and who is an exemplary human being who makes me very proud, and my hot tropical sweetheart, Nydia, who is always there for me and ever understanding of my battle. (Happy Valentine’s Day, baby!)

Thank you, also, to those of you who may have messaged me, worried by my absence. I’m deeply touched by your concern and hope this post answers your questions. It’s times like this that you find out who your friends really are.

Now what?

Now…I drag myself back into the light and try to rebuild.

On the personal level, I’ll be tentatively reacquainting myself with the world at large. I’ll be back on social media. I’ll start digging through my email. I’ll keep fighting the ever-hungry darkness that is my depression, and I’ll try to start taking better care of myself again.

On the professional level, I’ll ease myself back into writing, and I’ll be putting a great deal of thought into how best to expend my energy and resources.

As for Doc Wilde…I remain committed to the character, and to his fans. I remain committed to the folks who supported us on Kickstarter, and to the promises I made to them. I’m sorry it’s taking so long, but I’ll make good. The ultimate state of these books will depend on how the market continues to receive them, and if I am able, I will deliver fully illustrated volumes to match the first book. If the market remains soft, I may be forced to settle for nice covers. Regardless, the books will come. (In the meantime, friendly word-of-mouth and honest reviews on Amazon and other sites could be very helpful, and would be very appreciated).

So, onwards and upwards. I’ll be around.

Down on Kinglet Road (ABC Wednesday, 3/26/14)

Kinglet

I was seven or so when we moved to Kinglet Road.

Our new house was a single story brick suburban box, one of many such in the new development named “Bonanza” because, apparently, of how much it didn’t resemble the Cartwright ranch on TV. The whole development was built on top of a landfill, and when I dug in the back yard for dinosaur bones I would find rotting trash instead.

This was sort of a workable metaphor for Bonanza in general, and for Kinglet Road especially.

Though it is now a loathed place of painful memories and anti-nostalgia, Kinglet Road had potential. When we arrived there, our backyard ended on deep pine forest, and that forest became a refuge for me through my childhood. I spent many days exploring alone, getting away from my various cruel stepmothers and my vicious drunk of an old man. I developed my woods sense there, a sensibility that made me very comfortable leading wilderness trips as an adult. I remember streaking nude along the paths like some pint-sized Tarzan, clambering into the trees to spy on people, howling like a wolf when I was the only one around.

My memories of the old homestead are dank and sharp-edged. All the dark struggles I fight still were launched there in abuse and neurosis and simmering parental rage. Childhood at Kinglet Road was no gilded dream.

As Thomas Wolfe has been quoted so often it’s a terrible cliche, you can’t go home again. Not that I would want to. Home may be where the heart is, but my heart is not in that suburban box on Kinglet Road. For me, home isn’t a place you come from, it’s a place you’re going to, a place you build yourself. Just like family.

Now, Kinglet Road is surrounded by development, and to live there is to know stripmall paradise intimately. All the wild beauty I enjoyed and escaped to is gone.

And, thank the gods, so am I.

K

I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter L. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.

Also, feel free try to check out my adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of DoomIt’s been very well reviewed (KIRKUS REVIEWS: “Written in fast-paced, intelligent prose laced with humor and literary allusions ranging from Dante to Dr. Seuss, the story has all of the fun of old-fashioned pulp adventures.”) and is great for action-adventure lovers of all ages.

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

For another fun ABC Wednesday post, visit the Carioca Witch here: Bringing Up Salamanders.

Find many more posts by others, and more info on ABC Wednesday, here: ABC Wednesday

When I Was Younger… (Song of the Week, 3/7/14)

Friends

…so much younger than today…

Since I referenced this song earlier in my post about depression and suicide, it only makes sense to have it as our Song of the Week. Enjoy.

(And help them.)

“HELP!” by the Beatles

Help! I Need Somebody… (ABC Wednesday, 3/5/14)

Helping Hand

[Wednesday falls on Friday today…it’s been that sort of week]

Do you understand suicide?

I do. I don’t want to do it, but I have it on my list of options. Worst case scenario sort of thing. This is because I have chronic, often debilitating depression, and it often makes me doubt I have the ability to maintain my life for its natural duration.

Lose the people I love, not able to take it? Suicide’s an option. Don’t sell enough books and fall into poverty? Suicide’s an option, better than living in a soggy box under a bridge. Fall into a permanent depressive funk in which I can’t even take care of myself day-to-day (which is what started to happen to me last year, which is why I re-entered therapy, got back on the meds, and had electroshock therapy for the second time in three years)? Suicide is always there.

It’s like the cyanide capsule hidden in my molar, ready to be crunched in dire circumstances.

Not a day passes that I don’t think about it, at least in passing. It’s a bloodsoaked thread woven through the fabric of my life, not dominant but always dripping. It’s been this way for years.

Do I think I’ll do it some day? No. Would I be surprised if I did? No.

So yeah, I understand suicide. It is dark and terrible and fucked up, but it can also be practical. Or at least seem so to a mind in pain.

I tell you that so that you know I’m talking to you from the darkness. It can be tough to tell most of the time, because I’m largely a low-key yet upbeat guy, forthright about my problems but not whiny or melancholy or gloomy to be around. But I live in the darkness of this disease, and I speak as something of an expert. And the thing I want to tell you is this:

Help them.

If you have someone in your life who suffers from depression:

Help them.

One of the hardest things to do is to ask for help. I will go days without doing the dishes, or taking out the trash,  or going to get the mail, or showering. I’ll avoid the phone and not answer emails. I am utterly useless during those times, and I am mostly without hope. During times like this, I lose all my faith that I can do the things I want to do with my life. I think of the places I’ll never go, the people I’ll never get to hang out with, the books I will never be able to write, and I despair.

I hate asking for help. So I don’t. But I need it.

So, if you know someone with depression:

Help them.

I think there are many lives lost that may have been saved had the people who cared about the folks in pain actually found meaningful ways to be there for them. It can be a burden, yes. But if you care for them, you won’t think of it in those terms, or at least won’t let them know you feel that way. Help them get the professional assistance they need. Cook them a meal every week. Help them clean their home (even little things like taking out the damned trash can make a difference). Talk to them, show them you care about them, show them you have faith in them.

Help them.

You may just save their life.

H

I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter I. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.

Also, feel free try to check out my adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of DoomIt’s been very well reviewed (KIRKUS REVIEWS: “Written in fast-paced, intelligent prose laced with humor and literary allusions ranging from Dante to Dr. Seuss, the story has all of the fun of old-fashioned pulp adventures.”) and is great for action-adventure lovers of all ages.

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

For another fun ABC Wednesday post, visit the Carioca Witch here: Bringing Up Salamanders.

Find many more posts by others, and more info on ABC Wednesday, here: ABC Wednesday

Here, Have Some Rock ‘n’ Roll (Song of the Week, 2/21/14)

rock n roll

As I write this, it is late enough Thursday night that it’s Friday morning. I had a long, dreary fucking day, the depression kicking my plan to be productive right in the crotch, and I napped quite a bit. I’m not getting enough writing done. I’m not exercising enough. I haven’t finished cleaning the Byrdcave.

But, that’s progress. If I’m not getting enough writing done, that implies I’m getting some writing done. If I’m not exercising enough, that must mean I’m exercising at least some. And if I haven’t finished cleaning the Byrdcave, that would mean that I did start cleaning it. And all that is true, though it’s weak tea for a guy who is really trying to pick his life back up after it was stomped flat by the black dog of depression.

Anyway, lots of napping during the day leads inevitably to being wide awake when it’s so late that it’s early. And I’m feeling pretty good. I started playing God of War: Ascension, which got my blood moving, and now I’m listening to great rock ‘n’ roll, dancing like no one’s watching (I’m actually quite good at that), and singing like no one’s listening (not quite as good, though I won a singing contest in a bar in Spain one time, long ago). Mark Twain would be proud.

What better time to write this week’s Song of the Week post, and to bring you into my private party by sharing one of the songs I’m listening to? Rock on.

“Fun and Games” by The Connells