Growing up, I hated to talk in public. I still do, but I’m more comfortable with it now. Before I started writing for real, I really just liked to stay locked in my shell and go through life quietly. Most of this I believe is due to my really bad self-esteem issues. This part of our journey together is about how my opening the doors to the written word has help to bring me out into the light.
I know I’ve said this a million times, but every time I look back at a story that was accepted for an anthology, I still doubt myself. In my mind I try to think of ways to justify my work seeing print above other people’s tales. I never have found a good enough answer to satisfy my unsettled mind. The past has seen many things be put to the page by me like song lyrics, a few story starts, and some comics a couple of us did the words and art for in school. All these things would all be tossed aside and eventually the tides of time would wash them away like the sands on the beaches. Was the stuff any good? Hell no. In middle school I drew a comic about a guy who looked like Gambit named Weezer and his mechanical bird Biff. Terrible stuff, but did I enjoy it? Yes, I did.
This is where my personal issues began. Other people wanted to see it, but I would stuff it back in my folder and never take it out again. The songs I wrote? Gone. Each piece disappearing in silence because the words were never uttered aloud or read outside of me to myself. Why did I do this? I always loved to create, but I was always afraid of what everyone else would think. I didn’t want them to hate it and mock me or point fingers and laugh. This is why doing the writing has helped me grow out of that protective sphere I built around myself.
Today…do I care what others think? Nope. Learning to put myself out there for the world to see has been very hard for me, but the more I do it, the easier it becomes. Each piece I send to an editor was easier to send out than the last one was and so on. Deep down, I still have a panic attack every time I know someone has read my work. Breaking down the walls around me and allowing myself to be picked apart is still a little painful to my freshly hardened skin, but the wounds have healed and the scar tissue makes me stronger. Opening up has allowed me to even read some of my work in public, twice. I think I did ok, nobody ever tried to throw stuff at me or cursed my mother for giving birth to me. I guess I did alright then.
Am I out from under the shell? Yes, I am. Every time I post here, I sweep the last remnants of the shell further away and the new me comes out to play more and more. There are three people in the author world who have really helped me loosen up and free myself from the chains of self-doubt. Without Armand Rosamilia, Julianne Snow, and Jason Darrick I’m not sure if I ever would have broken through the shell. These three have been great council, readers, critics, and most of all…friends. My wife has also been a great help and I can never repay her enough for the latitude she grants me when I’m working, or moaning, or complaining.
I never could have traveled this far without help. To all the presses, editors, readers, and friends who have placed their feet along my path, this part of the journey is dedicated to you.
Oh, “Stonewall” is no longer tied to an anthology and the rights are back with me. I pondered how to handle the story and I’ve decided I’m writing the short story into Southern Devils so everyone will be on the same page when the book begins. On that front, I have planned out the rewrite/edit schedule and it might be a short novel now. The work should be done in a month before it goes out to beta readers and the next round of editing. If Southern Devils finds a press and is released, I will either see about including the original short with it or find another means to let you read the short story.