All You Have To Do Is Bleed - Part 3
In the winter of 2008 I gave Dorgo a dowsing rod as a tool, a divination wand to help him solve magical crimes. I began writing up a storm and was almost finished with "Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser" when the company I worked for since 1978 closed its doors. Once again my world was turned upside down. But I persisted, I became a bull dog, determined to finish the book and get it published. But a weird thing happened during the final proof for the publisher: I discovered a theme running throughout the six novellas that make up the book. That theme was loss — the loss of family and loved ones, the loss of wealth, comrades, and the loss of one's soul. This had all crept into my stories unconsciously. I didn't plan on it: I was just writing pulp fiction.
But there it was: a theme. Loss.
Since then I have published five novels and seven short stories, with a two more novels on the way, at the time of this blog. (I have also written numerous articles and book reviews for Black Gate e-zine.) But I swear — I never set out to write about loss in any of those stories. The theme just keeps creeping in: my fear of loss, my fear of growing old, of dying all alone and no one finding my body for weeks. There are some minor themes, too, such as my need to search for something that is missing in my life, something I may never find.
So I guess I had to go through some very personal pain, experience some very heavy-duty loss, before I could write anything of any substance, of any value and merit and even meaning. All this, like some cosmic or divine plan, had to happen, could not happen, until I lost my job, and more importantly, lost the two people I loved the most in this world: my parents. My writing could not take any kind of coherent shape until I had my world turned upside down a few times. Since then, besides losing my job, losing love and suffering one heart break after another, I've lost many more family members, friends and loved ones. I guess writing is way of processing all my grief, despair, fears and heartaches. It slips into my work without my even realizing it. It has helped me cope, but I still have a long way to go before I reach a place of happiness again. But this is what happens when you write, when your emotions are channeled through your words. For me, it's a form of therapy, as much as it is a need and a desire to entertain people. I was blessed with parents who always believed in me, supported me in everything I wanted to do and tried to do. They knew I'd get published one day. Sadly, it all had to happen after they were gone. I'm still searching for that kind of love, that kind of support, that kind of happiness.
In the immortal words of my Mom, “Hang up the fucking guitar and write, damn it! That's what you were born to do.”
I guess I should never have doubted her.
So that's why I write the way I write, the way I want and try to write: from and for the heart. I'll leave writing for the brain to the scholars and academics out there. I want you to feel what I feel, what my characters feel, and if I've touched even a handful of readers out there, then I've succeeded.
Writing may be easy for some . . . for me it's really hard work. But for all of us who write, it's the same:
All we have to do is bleed.
The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser
Winner of the 2017 Golden Book Readers' Choice Award for Best Fantasy.
Available on hardcover, paperback, Kindle, and Nook editions
Mad Shadows II:
Dorgo the Dowser and the Order of the Serpent
Available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook editions.
Until next week . . . goodbye and thank you!