When Will Your First Book Be Ready?

A good friend asked, yesterday, when my first book was coming out. Of course, I answered with a, “When it’s ready” answer.. Isn’t that what everyone that’s never published a novel answers? “When it’s ready.”

But here’s where things get different. With me, “When it’s ready,” may translate to “Never.” It’s an anxiety and depression thing. It’s a war with myself thing. A conflict I’m all too familiar with, and have struggled with all my life. These days, when I think of writing the 2nd and 3rd drafts of “White Witch”, then getting beta readers, and finding an editor to help me clean it up, an artist to help me with the cover design, and learning what I’ll need to learn to publish my book, I panic.

Yes, I panic.

And until now, this morning, sitting here, writing these words, I’ve never admitted I panic at the thought of completing my first novel. But I do. Every symptom, every signal, shows. My fingers vibrate like the tines of a tuning fork. My left wrist does its “I can’t support any weight” number. My chest constricts, all the muscles in my neck, shoulders, and chest behave like I’m lifting a five-drawer file cabinet over my head. My pulse rate pushes up to near 3 digit levels, and I have to force myself to take full, deep breaths, to breathe normally.

See. I know. I just don’t talk about it. I hide it, and pray it goes away. I pray everything goes away. As I have all my life.

Because I want to fail.

Yes. You read that correctly. I want to fail.

It’s a hard thing to explain to people. A thing that makes no sense to anyone, except me. It’s not a refusal of responsibility. It’s something deeper, much more complex that not wanting to grown up and be responsible. Because I am a grown up, responsible adult.

It’s a fight even I have trouble finding the words to explain. The only words I’ve ever found are, “I want to fail,” which doesn’t really explain what I feel. So, let me explain a bit more.

In October, 2010, my last career came to a spectacular end, with me out on medical leave for 13 weeks. If you’re not familiar with the story, perhaps I’ll explain it someday. My doctor will tell you I wanted out of that job, and my subconscious did what I had to, to get me out of that job.

Here I am, in 2014, back at full-time work status, in another job. One I wasn’t even working to get. It just kind of happened. Like the last job I had. Like things always have. I’ve explained countless times, “I don’t have to look for work. Work always finds me.”

I know why this happens. It happens because I’m good at what I do. I’m not top ranked, far from it. It’s one of those things my Doctor and I have talked about many times (after 4 years of therapy, I’ve lost count of how many times). I’m damn good at what I do. Whatever I decide to do, I do it well. This past week, my doctor explained it to me this way, “Mark, if the best people at this are in the 99th percentile, you’re in the 97th, or 98th. Your not the best, but you’re damn good. Exceptionally good.”

Yeah. That’s the problem. Everyone knows that. Everyone who knows me knows that. And I can’t escape that. I can’t escape people knowing I’m good at the things I choose to do. And it’s not just in the land of computers, and computer software. Things would be far simpler if I had such limits.

I write, too. As more and more people are finding out. I write. And I’m not bad at it. To the point where I’ve been told, and have lost count of how many people have told me, I’m not bad at it, and should write a book.

I take pictures, too. With a $400 (US) Canon point and shoot camera with a 840 mm optical zoom lens. Not even a real camera. A point and shoot camera. A camera a lot of people look at, and laugh at, because it’s not a “real” camera.

Yet, even with that “toy” camera, I take pictures people like. I’ve heard many times, “You’re a photographer, right?”

Wrong. I’m not. I just take pictures. Snap-shots. I’m not a photographer.

I’m not a writer.

I’m not a computer genius.

And I struggle, every day, with the idea, the thought, that I am, and that people think I am.

Could I start a computer services business? Yes. Easily. Would I be successful at it? Almost certainly. Then why don’t I? Because I want to fail. Because the thought of meeting those expectations leaves me gasping for breath, and needing to take a long walk to make it through yet another panic attack.

Could I write, and publish, my first book? Yes. For me, it would be surprisingly easy. Would it sell? Who cares? That wouldn’t be the point. Do I want to? Yes. Then why don’t I? Because I want to fail. Because the thought of completing my first book, and publishing it, and putting it out in the world, triggers another panic attack. And leaves me terrified of the knowledge I would publish more stories. The first book wouldn’t be the only book. And again, I end up taking long walks to de-stress myself, and beat back the panic.

There you have it, people. What I’m really saying when I answer the question, “When will your book be ready?”

Me. Screaming at life, trying to run and hide, because I know where that next step leads, and I’m terrified to take that step as a result.

It’s not “when will the book be ready?” It’s actually, “When will I be ready?”

And I don’t have an answer to that question. Other than to look at my hands, and scream at them, “Stop doing that!” and then go walk until my heels bleed.

That’s what terror is.

That’s what anxiety is.

That’s what I live with. Every breath and every heartbeat of every day.


#MWBB Week 50 : Dogs Of Lust

[WARNING – This content is for mature readers only! If you are easily disturbed by violence, especially sexual violence, read no further.]

It was Friday night, and Tommy sat in his room, exploring the Internet with his WEB browser. Friday night, and all his friends were out. Billy with Jill. Sam with Robin. Frank with Sharon. Every one of the guys with a girl.

Tommy sat in his room. Looking at the only girls he could look at. The ones on the ‘Net. “Let the bitches talk to the other guys.” He checked his firewall, and security software before clicking on the link, and declaring he was old enough.

“Are you over eighteen?” He laughed. “Twenty-fucking-two. Yeah. I’m over eighteen.” That let him through to the pictures and the videos.

“I asked her! Goddamnit, I asked!” He had. He’d asked Diane, the hot red-head at work, if she’d like to go to dinner.

“With you?” She’d laughed. Laughed, damn-it! “I’d have to be out of my mind!” She’d walked off, laughing.

“Yeah. Bitch.” Tommy watched the screen, as a guy tied a girl up. Tied her hands to posts, her knees to her wrists. Then he took all her clothes off. “Yeah. I know what I’d like to do to you.” He imagined it was Diane the guy was tieing up. He imagined he was the guy. “I know exactly what I’d do!”

He watched the video, as the man had his way with the girl. As he did anything he wanted. Everything he wanted. She couldn’t stop him. She pleaded. She begged. But he did what he wanted.

He watched every detailed picture. Then, he connected to the mesh network. He had to talk about things. With his guys. His buds. They talked about being turned down. About no one dating them. No one even going to dinner. About what they wanted. What they’d like to do. “Girls are for screwing. That’s what we’d do.”

Their conversation quickly grew to five guys, then twenty-five. And it kept growing. Guys from all over, not just guys in town. “All of us. Sitting at home. ‘Cause we can’t get any.” He typed the words. And saw the answers. One “Yes!” after another.

Except for a couple of guys. “Maybe we shouldn’t ask any more.”

Tommy couldn’t help it, “What do you mean?”

“If we can’t get anywhere by asking, maybe we shouldn’t ask?”

It was Friday night. Tommy was at home. Alone. His high school girlfriend had left. “I’ll be free of you!” That’s what she’d said. Hell, she’d never even let him kiss her. He couldn’t hold her, kiss her, or anything. And she left for college. And he’d been dateless since.

“Yeah. Maybe we should stop asking.”

“And start taking.”

They all said that. They all agreed. “It’s Friday. And the night is young!”

Tommy called his friends Ted and Phil. They were part of the mesh network. They knew what was going on. “Let’s stop asking.”

They got together, went out. Patrolled a few bars, a few clubs. Found a girl. Walking by herself. At night. Alone. They didn’t ask.

Tommy slept well that night. He’d done everything he wanted. So had Ted and Phil. And that little bitch hadn’t been able to stop him. He and the boys had fun. So much fun, they agreed to do it again. Next Friday night.

So did all the guys on the network. “I needed that. It felt good.”

“I got what I wanted. I took what I wanted.”

Tommy knew what he’d do. What they’d all do. If no one would give them what they wanted. They’d take it. They’d do what they wanted. Girls were meant to be fucked. And fuck them they would. No more games. No more playing around.

Next Friday, Tommy, Ted, and Phil would do what they wanted to Diane. The red-head. The one too good for him. She’d learn.

And Tommy knew, he’d sleep damn good every that Friday night. Damn good indeed.

669 Words

This is my entry for week 50 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. The song this week is “Dogs Of Lust” by The The. A dangerous song indeed. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

#SinfulSunday 24 : Salty

I woke up that morning, cold, and painfully stiff. It hadn’t been any fun to get out of my sleeping bag, and get to my feet. Dew had settled on everything in sight, and a fine misty fog filled the air. I didn’t really care how I felt. I’d finally convinced her to come with me on a camping trip in the mountains.

I’d slept outside the tent, under the trees, and the stars. So she could sleep inside the tent, and have some privacy. Now that I was up, I wanted to see if she had slept well, and was OK. I tapped on the tent’s entrance, “Are you in there?”

“No, I’m over here,” she answered. I looked toward the edge of the camp site, where the trees began, and the sun was filtering through their leaves. She was wearing tiny shorts, and a tank top t-shirt. She smiled, “Let’s take a walk.” I followed her into the trees. She stopped, standing in the sunlight. “I need a hug.” I walked up behind her, and put an arm around her waist. “Better?”

“No.” She reached back, took my other arm, and pulled it around her, pressing both my hands against her, pushing herself back into me.

The only thought in my head was, “Wow.”

Then she pulled off her top, and stood there, naked from the waist up. My arms still wrapped around her. She reached up, and gently pushed my head toward her shoulder. Not knowing what to do, I kissed her shoulder. She sighed, and asked, “What does it take to get you to see the obvious? As salty as I am right now, I’d think you’d be able to figure out what I want.”

She looked me in the eyes. “You can figure out what I want, can’t you?”

Just on a hunch, I let my hands run up her body to her bare breasts.

All she did was smile, nod her head, and whisper, “Yes.”

343 Words

I wrote this piece in response to the prompt for week 24 of Rebecca Grace Allen‘s Sinful Sunday Flash Fiction challenge. It’s 143 words too long, and it isn’t terribly sinful. But at least I wrote something.

If you are 18+ years of age, feel free to go read all the entries in this weeks challenge. They are, very much, “Sinful”.


A Snippet From NaNoWriMo 2012

Yes. It’s November of 2012.

Yes. I’m hard at work on my 2012 novel for NaNoWriMo.

That’s why I haven’t been posting much the past 7 days.

But, since a few of my NaNoWriMo friends are posting clips on a weekly basis, I figured I’d join in, and put up a small snip of what I’ve written so far. In all it’s unedited, raw glory. So here it is. A snip of the story of the world named Cylinders, and the black magic dragon named Merlin…


Sword lead Rose to the entrance of one of the large castles. There, he stopped, turning to her, and kissing her gently once more. Gods, but he loved the taste of her lips. The touch of her lips against his. He felt so alive when he kissed her.

“We’re here.” He gently squeezed her hand. “What’s inside will change everything, Rose. It will change everything.”

“What’s inside, Sword? Please, tell me.”

“Someone I want you to meet.” He looked into her blue eyes again, having to close his own eyes to break free of hers. “They’re not like us, Rose. They’re different. From anyone you’ve ever met. Anyone you’ve ever known.”

“Is it safe to meet them?”

“Yes! Yes! It’s safe.” He smiled. “I’ve visited them several times. They’ve never been dangerous to me. They’ve always been kind.” He squeezed her hand once more. Feeling her delicate, graceful fingers press gently against his hand. He wished he would never forget that feeling. “You know I’ll never let anyone hurt you.”

Rose leaned forward, and gently kissed him. “I know.”

“You know I love you,” he’d never said the words until then.

“I know.” Rose smiled, and looked into his eyes. “I’ve always known.”

Sword’s heart raced in his chest. He wanted to take her away. Anywhere. Just the two of them. Where he could be alone with her. Show her how he felt toward her. But it wasn’t the time. It wasn’t the time.

He turned toward the castles entrance. He took a deep breath, and slowly let it out. It was time. Time to take Rose into the castle. Time for her to meet them. The machines.

I Don’t Know At All If I Can

The card came in the mail yesterday.
A sympathy card.
From her.
One of my favorite cousins.
Expressing her sympathy
For me, and my family,
With the passing of my Mother.

It was a beautiful gesture.
Totally unexpected.
There was a picture inside.
Of her and her spouse.
Never met him.
But he looked OK
In the picture.

I found myself looking
Up at God.
“She better be happy with him.
He better be taking care of her.
He better not be
Like that first guy was.
You got that, Lord.
She deserves to be happy.”

And then I saw
The handwritten words
Addressed just to me.

“It has been a long time.
If you can give your cousin a call.”
And then she wrote her number down.

And I don’t have a clue at all
What to do.
Not one clue.

I hear so many voices
They could fill the Roman Coliseum,
Screaming at me,
“Pick up the phone,
You ding-bat!
Give her a call!”

And I want to.
Oh, God,
Do I want to.


What do I say?
How do I say it?
Whatever it is?

I called a friend in February
Of 2011.
Wound up calling her a lot.
She was wounded.
And lonely.
And so very ill.

I’d call her up,
And I’d listen to her voice.
I’d listen for as long
As she wished to talk.
And I’d almost never say a word

People just don’t realize
How hard it is
For me to talk.
They just don’t know at all.

I’ve known my lady 35 years.
And there are still times
I just can’t say a thing.
Times no words come out.
When I talk with her.

It’s another way I’m wired
A little differently.

I remember meeting Deb.
Face to face on Mother’s Day
In 2001.

The only time I’ve seen her
In real life.
I’ve seen her picture many times.
But we’ve only met
That one time.

You know what she said to me
When she got home
From the trip her and Scott were on?

“I was sitting right there,
At the table.
Just across from you.
And you didn’t say a word.
You didn’t say anything.
Anything at all.”

She told me how disappointed
She had been.
That I hadn’t spoken with her.
Hadn’t talked.
And she was right there.
Right there.
She could have held my hand.
We could have shared stories.
We could have talked.
Like people talk.
Like friends.

And I sat there.
Damn near silent.

I would have loved to talk with her.
Tell her how beautiful she was.
Tell her how the pictures I’d seen
Were pale imitations of her.

Tell her stories of the kids.
Listen to stories of her kids.

And I couldn’t.
I couldn’t find the words.
I couldn’t find a way.
I couldn’t.

I just sat there.
And listened.

And now,
My cousin has asked me
To give her a call.

And oh, how much I want to.
You will never know.
You will never understand.

And I don’t know at all
If I can.

I don’t know at all
If I can.

Choices (1)

I found myself wondering
As I walked along today
About what would happen
If I had the money
Of Bill Gates.
So that I could buy
Anything I wanted to,
Because the price of things
Never entered the equation.

Of course, I started
With the car.
“What kind of car would I buy
If I could buy any car that’s made
On the planet Earth?”

Would I buy a Lamborghini?
Or perhaps a Ferrari?
Would I buy that Ford Mustang
Shelby GT 500 Convertible?
Perhaps I’d go overboard
And by the Bugatti Veyron
16.4 Super Sport?

Perhaps, instead of buying
Just another car,
I’d buy something
From the land of trucks?
Like a fully loaded
F-450 King Ranch.
One of those trucks that scares away
All the little cars around these days.

As I thought about
The kind of car I’d buy
It occurred to me
That all those thoughts
Were what I’d been taught
By this world
That I live in.

And the truth is
That I’d buy a car
That would be a big surprise
To everyone.

Like a Mitsubishi i Electric Vehicle,
Or a Nissan Leaf.
Something I could really use.
Something practical.
Something I could use
Every day.

Then I thought about
Other things.
Like going on a camping trip.
If I could do that
Any way I wanted.
How would I do that?

Would I buy
A big honking RV?
One of those buses.
With sides that pop out.
And a full bath.
So you can get a shower.

The kind you can hide in
When the weather’s bad.
That has an air conditioner
That can turn the heat
Of Death Valley
Into a nice spring day.

One with TVs everywhere.
And a big satellite dish.
So you could watch TV
From wherever you are.

And I realized
That I would not do that.
I’ve learned
That I’d like to stay outdoors.
In the wild.
I remember all to well
How much fun I had
Last spring
When I slept outside
In my back yard
In my tent.
All by myself.

If I’m going camping
I’m not going in a home
That’s better than my house.
I’ll take my tent
And enjoy very much
Just being alive.
Where I can hear
The birds sing
In the middle of the night.
Where I can hear the sounds
Of a river or a creek
If there’s one nearby.
Of the sound of the ocean
If I’m camping at the beach.

I don’t want to go camping
Encased in a mobile home.
Protected from everything.
So I can just be numb.

I thought about
The mobile phone.
And what it is becoming.
How damn near everyone
Now owns
This creation called
A Smart Phone.
Some big piece of glass
And metal.
With a touch screen no less.
So that they can use it
As a phone.
Or a camera.
Or a game system.
Or half a dozen
Other things.

And I thought about
How I don’t want one
Of those things.
Because they strike me
As a waste
Of time and resources.

I’ll stick with just a basic phone.
Without all that other stuff.
One that I can use
To make phone calls,
And write text messages.
One that I can have with me
In case some one in my family
Needs to get in touch with me.

That other stuff
Is just like icing
On a cake.
It would make me
Fat and lazy.
So I don’t want it
At all.

Another question
Popped into my head
While I was on my walk
This morning.
Would you buy an iPad,
Or a Netbook?

Now I already know
From the sales figures I’ve seen
That the iPad
Outsells Netbooks
On it’s own.

It’s not even close.
Thanks to the iPad,
The netbook’s
All but dead and gone.

But you now.
I’ve played with an iPad
Many times.
And I find
It doesn’t work for me.
That with a tablet,
No matter what kind,
I can’t type
One damn thing.
On a touch screen,
I get pushed back
To the days
Before I learned to type.
And I have to
Hunt and peck.
One stupid letter at a time.

Thank you,
But no.
When the Netbook that I’m on
Right now,
Finally bites the dust.
I’m going to search the ‘Net,
And find a new one
To replace it.

And in doing so,
I’ll save a ton of cash.
‘Cause the truth is
You can almost buy 2 Netbooks
For the price of one iPad.

There are so many questions
That I asked today
While I was on my walk.
But I know
From the answers
That I have
To the questions
That I asked.

I’m doing well.
And I’m OK.
I’m just a bit different
It seems.
From a lot of people
That I’ve know
In this life
That I’ve been given.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.