2018. Damn, what a mind screw. What I can remember from the beginning (which isn’t much), started out just fine. I was in a strong relationship with a future and then the rug got pulled out from under me a couple of weeks in. Actually, I pulled my own rug. A decade of being a functioning alcoholic finally caught up with me and put actions to my feet…and words in my mouth. I was too drunk to care. A few weeks after that, Diary Of A Gonzo Ghost Hunter was released by Black Rose Writing and I got to re-read a very depressing portion of my life. It continued to slide downhill from there. I entered another relationship and the drinking scared her away as well. Then, I had a moment of clarity.
I was driving home around 4am on Memorial Day. Coming from a party (who would’ve guessed?), I took a turn down a road I’d traveled both drunk and sober a hundred times…and threw on the brakes. I was traveling full speed down someone’s driveway rather than the street. In a fraction of a second, my rational thinking kicked in and I made the decision to strike the car in front of me, taking my own life, rather than swerve into the house where I could’ve possibly taken the lives of a family. My tires and brakes stopped me in time before either of those scenarios could play out. I sat there for a very long time reflecting on my decisions. That was May 28th…and I haven’t touched another drop of alcohol since.
After a couple of weeks of shakes and jitters, my brain began to search for other things to do rather than drink. Simultaneously, A Taste Of Home was re-released from Black Rose Writing, I was approached about the And Hell Followed anthology by Death’s Head Press, I started the Hunt County Writers’ League with author Patrick Harrison III, I picked up the guitar, took a gig as a freelance writer for the local newspaper and a magazine, and began writing a new novel, Extinguished. It was exhausting, but my brain enjoyed the distraction. Unfortunately, my dating habits also went into high speed mode and, at 44 years old, I began to live the life of a stupid teenage boy. Holy fuck, I’m glad that’s over. Endless, meaningless relationships that continued to take me further and further into a black hole of depression in which I have yet to escape. Sometimes, it sucks to be a local, small town celebrity. I mean, I would never call myself that but others view me as such. If they only knew.
The final nail in the coffin was when I got involved with a hard core alcoholic who continuously reminded me I was never too far from completely relapsing back into my drinking habits. I developed some sort of PTSD that made me wish for death. I would lay awake shaking at night in hopes she would just disappear from my sight. You see, I’ve never been much for hurting the feelings of others (although my ex-wife would completely disagree) and I didn’t want to put the poor girl out on her butt. I had no choice. I took a deep breath and sent her packing. Luckily, the only things in her luggage were various bottles of alcohol. I’m still alive, but heavily damaged.
As the year began to close, I was picked up and dusted off by someone from my past. Slowly, she began to reintroduce me to a more family-like lifestyle and I spent the holidays in the presence of people who loved me rather than in isolation. Far From Home was finally released from Black Rose Writing and I felt as though things were beginning to go in a good direction. It’s amazing how one little email can send you back to square one…
I’d flooded Black Rose Writing with novels this year and they showed no interest in Extinguished. They said it was good, but I was told to concentrate on marketing my three 2018 novels instead. Now, from a money standpoint, I can see where this is a good decision on their part. To me, this was a near death experience. Extinguished is the first novel I’ve written during complete sobriety and it means EVERYTHING to me! So, now where do I go?
So…here I sit on New Year’s Eve. I have tickets to a Dallas Stars game tonight and I will be attending sober. I’ve sent the new novel to two more publishers in hopes that one will take a chance. I plan on continuing my freelance gigs as well as beginning the final novel in the Home Series. In the new year, I must learn to accept the things I cannot change but abort the changes I cannot accept. I knew becoming a writer was destined to take me on amazing adventures…but amazement is a point of view. What others see as amazing, I interpret as heartache, pain, and stress. It’s all for show, right? Anything for my fans, right? Wrong.
I don’t have a New Year’s resolution. No, I will choose to live in the way I should’ve lived all along. I will take care of me. I will do as I please by my terms. I will love the ones who love me back and abandon the ones from my past who insist I jump through hoops like a trained pet. I will no longer bow to the wishes of the publishing industry but take matters into my own hands. I know a good story when I write one and it’s not worth the tiny amount of royalties they throw at me for doing so. Every year could be my last and it’s about time I started living that way. “There’s always next year” no longer exists in my thought process because…there’s always THIS year! I will write, sing, play guitar and, most importantly, continue breathing. It will all go straight to Hell if you cease to do that. Just ask anyone who’s ever attended a funeral.
And Hell Followed (containing my short story Hell Paso) releases January 15th by Death’s Head Press. On to the next adventure…