My last article described a darker time in my life. I’ve grown in the years since, but I am still exceedingly haunted by those days wherever I go. Talking about it makes it better for a while, until it reaches back around and the bad rises again—each progression worse than the last as everything that builds up between episodes crashes against its cage with a single intent.
That last time had affected my life to a major extent was a year and a half long stretch that began mid-2016—the same time I was preparing to publish my first book. Five guesses what triggered it.
Needless to note, the stress of spending 10 years of writing until finally getting the opportunity to publish my book had strained my capabilities to their limits. I was young and inexperienced, unaware of so many of the mistakes I was making along the way, failing to disinfect the wounds before sewing them shut. For 10 years I tricked myself into believing in a fantasy that I could do it alone. This is nothing I haven’t already said before but to summarize it for those who haven’t kept up with my articles, this is a recipe for disaster.
By the time I published the book and reality set in, it was too late to reverse course. And I curse myself for everything that happened afterward.
The book was always meant to be a failure. I hadn’t developed a plan to advertise it, to get the word out. I foolishly believed that if the book was good, with a powerful story and a strong cast of characters, people would happen across it and just read. After all, that’s how I end up reading most of the books I do. I really wanted to mimic the success stories of big-name authors who started out independently (forgetting that for most of them it’s taken years to get where they are now, and those lucky enough to find their successes stepping right out the door are an astronomical rarity). I found there’s nothing worse than lying to yourself and, in an instant, realizing the concepts of deception and its neighboring spheres of tangibility are inherently and completely different.
Every lie to myself shattered like a mirror on the wall—but that’s no longer a secret, is it?
In the months before and after, I had thrown aside a lot of close friends I made when I started this new life after high school. I ignored them, fought with them, and swore at them… It’s not a short list. I betrayed their trust in me as well myself. The people I clung to for years were suddenly gone and I had few others to turn to but a couple I hadn’t pushed away.
I cannot remember how many consecutive nights I spent crying myself to sleep. I’d wake up from nightmares, screaming at the top of my lungs. You don’t need to know the details. This went on for weeks… months… Everything neared the edge of oblivion for me, my failures compounded for the first time since I was a kid. Every ounce of pride I had in my work vanished. I destroyed a lot of my artwork—notes and conceptual papers that outlined a multitude of ideas and internal monologues I’d written down. I forced myself to relax through a process of martial meditation (Aikido, swordsmanship, etc…)—anything that I could use keep my head together, to keep myself metally focused and physically fit on anything else but the world around me. These practices helped me through a difficult time I thought I had nobody.
*A side note to anyone reading this—do not practice martial arts when your brain is full of distractions. I have more than a share of scars on my face that occurred due to recklessness upon entering a session. I cannot express how dangerous this can be.
As it turned out, that wasn’t the end of my stupidity.
I met a girl I really liked—even after I promised myself never to fall for anyone due to betrayals I experienced in the past. I ignored every internal warning and did what my heart was urging me to do, against all logic and better judgement. To describe her, she had the widest smile with bright, shiny teach, and the sweetest demeanor anyone can imagine, a profoundly admirable laugh. Although it was her personality that caught my attention. Those subtle expressions we all give off upon seeing something we enjoy. It’s something I have never been able to place with people, making them difficult to read, but what I saw in her was unique next to everyone I’ve known—what makes us all individuals in our own ways. I spent months working up the courage until I finally took the chance to ask her out, and when I did, I did and said all the wrong things. I regretted it from the moment I opened my mouth to say the words. Understandably, this caused interactions between us cold, uncomfortable and awkward.
It worked to feed that extreme depression I’d fallen into—everything I planned had shattered around me, cutting through whatever defenses I had like a thousand pieces of glass flying at me in a torrent of endless heartaches.
I didn’t know what to do.
The situation between us worsened in the months following, but eventually I was able to get a hold over my emotions. When I did, I worked to heal the tension between her and I, however I could. A hundred kind gestures she hasn’t notice and never will, I hope. I discovered during the course that, even as we remain civil, our personalities clash. I learned to move on. Even then, I cannot deny my interactions with her didn’t leave their own scars. Now and then, I would bump into her as I went about my days, and because I was still recovering—my reactions were always more or less weighed down by this sense of intimidation, flinching every instance I saw her.
Even today, when I talk to her it’s like talking to a brick wall—except a wall would at least echo what’s said back at you. That’s… mean for me to say, but they are my feelings on the matter.
I fought this wave of emotional vulnerability however I could, becoming productive. In the months after the release of my first book, I wrote and edited a short novella called “The House On Einsam Street,” keeping my head busy with anything that could lend me a sense of normalcy. It was important that I continued writing, even when it had been writing that created so much of my pain. If I hadn’t, along with my physical exercise regime… I don’t think I would be alive right now. Writing has always been the one aspect of my life I routinely dove into and returned somehow better than when I went in. I didn’t want that to change. I use my ability to write as an escape from everything bubbling to the surface, everything I failed to do, every challenge I was not equipped to handle because of my past and the challenges I faced then.
I accepted these failures and, more importantly, took them as they were meant to be—a learning experience that will improve upon what I’ve already built, tearing myself down to make me better.
I woke up from a nightmare—one of many I had in the mess of those days. While I cannot describe the contents of what I saw, exactly… I do remember one moment, one illuminating light that inspired me to put down words about this nameless thing as soon my thoughts were together. I saw the image of a girl without a face, sitting in a painting with raven hair and a creeping allure. This dream felt so real. I remember looking at the portrait through a long hallway—I ran away, down a set of stairs. But there the girl inside the painting followed me, canvas and frame, all—right there, atop the stairs as I stood on the bottom step.
For me, nightmares were never anything really frightening—in fact, I found them more entertaining than what most others consider “normal” dreams. Yet for some reason, this faceless painting of a girl somehow managed to send me chills.
That feeling stuck with me.
There was never much of an outline for Einsam Street outside a character and location sheet to track the fundamentals within the story. My problems would disappear whenever I buried myself in the work—everything void the darkness that enwrapped me for a long time. I felt confident. I knew that, like my previous work, it’d amount to a stale response and few sales. I choose not to wallow, instead pushing ahead because I needed to see it through.
I spent the following three months finishing the story for release independently—understanding and prepared for the lack of attention it would gain as mentioned above. Selling the book wasn’t the reason I wrote it. What it did was help me to crawl out of a dangerous situation that negatively impacted my physical and mental health. I like to think the experience has made me a better person. Since then, I’ve tried to be generous with my dealings with concerning others, to make them happy and smile around me, even if it’s just for a moment.
Hope is a powerful tool when used correctly. That’s cliché for anyone to say, but true, even for hard-liner skeptics. I had little but my hope that someday things would be better.
That’s what carried me through the tribulation.
My next article will return to discussions about the nature of my writing and the worlds I've created. I've been pretty busy editing my new book and preparing the query letter for possible editors and/or agents. So I may not be able to release a new article every week as I have previously.
I would like to thank everyone taking the time to read about what I'm doing. I'm not sure if anyone does read these, but I'll continue to write them, nevertheless.