I do not think of myself as an artist. I am not very fond of the stereotype that is an artist. I suck at drawing, but I have written songs and books, so I guess my paintbrush is a pen or a keyboard. In any case, good ideas are hard to come by and even more difficult to implement. In my case, I created a world that my stories live in. Once that moment of inspiration has left, it can be very difficult to get the idea into a solid form that makes any sense. I guess that is why they call it writer’s block.
But just as things seem to go nowhere, inspiration can strike in the most unlikely of places. These inspirations can cause the story to go into a completely new direction. It could be good or bad, change can work in the favor of the story. I have had many strikes of inspiration lately. Some of the inspiration has come from positive events while others have come from negative events. Either way, my story, both in books and real life, becomes stronger. What I thought might happen doesn’t. Where my life goes, like my story, is still up in the air.
We take walls for granted. Wall separate the area you sleep in from the area you shit in. Walls were erected throughout history to keep foreign invaders out of a kingdom. Walls make sense. We also build up metaphorical walls around us so we do not get hurt. Often after a painful event, we build walls around us to keep us safe. Even though these walls make sense, are they good? We all do it. It could be from a nasty breakup, the death of a family member, a tragic event, or a friend’s betrayal. We don’t want to get hurt again.
While walls might stabilize our present state of mind so we can deal with our own emotions, they are detrimental to our development. Just as we cannot grow if we stay within our walls, neither can we let people in. We have all been hurt by someone, and while we say we want to let people in, our actions contradict that. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t have walls, but we need to know when to tear them down.
I have been following my character’s (Evan Willcox) approach, and it has not been helping. I followed the approach because it is me. It is how I would have reacted to the underlying situations in the books. Sometimes it takes an unbiased outsider to make you see your mistakes, to tell you that you’re doing it wrong, to think. I have built walls that have been standing for years. I built walls so high that I could no longer feel. I did not want to feel. Unfortunately, it has been unfair to my family, friends, and those who have tried getting close to me in the past.
How long have these walls been standing? After a lot of reflection (and still more to go), close to twelve years. Not knowing whether my youngest son would survive for nearly two years takes its toll. I thought I had to be the unwavering rock the family needed to survive. I could not show weakness. I buried my emotions deep in the dungeons of my soul and built the strongest walls I could. Unfortunately, I took care of those walls for too long. Every time someone knocked some bricks loose in my wall, I would repair it and add another layer. This practice is self destructive. Over the last twelve years, I have grown, but I have been confined by my walls. I can no longer do that. I do not want to end up like Evan Willcox in my books. It is weird how a sci-fi action/adventure book can be a prophecy of what is to come even though I had no idea at the time. What is even more surprising is that in this fourth book, Evan Willcox either self destructs or tears down his walls. I guess I wanted to tear down my own personal walls, but I had forgotten they existed. I wrote about it without knowing why I wrote about it. I believe everything in life can teach us many lessons. We just have to have our eyes open enough to see them and our minds open to accept them.
I read an article that a robbery suspect might be suing the good Samaritan who subdued him during a robbery for “excessive force.” Excuse me? The guy tried to rob a Starbucks with a knife, and when a hero tried stopping him, the hero was stabbed in the neck before stabbing the suspect a couple of times with his own knife. Son, if you did this in Ohio instead of California, I would have just shot your ass. Technically speaking, I would have drawn my legally concealed firearm and held you there until police came or you can running after me. At that point I would have shot your ass. Well, if Starbucks didn’t allow conceal carry, I wouldn’t be doing business there, so I guess they can feel free to rob Starbucks.
ANYWAYS… I guess I should get to my point. Responsibility. TV shows and movies portray a myth that if you take responsibility and accept what you have done, you will sleep better. That is not the case. Look, I can understand the desire to not be blamed for bad shit that we cause. I really do. I have done some shit in my life that I did not want to take responsibility for, but I did. As much as it sucked, I did. Mistakes from my past still haunt me to this day, not because I haven’t accepted it or taken responsibility, but because they were stupid mistakes I should have never made. I am embarrassed by some of my mistakes. I can still feel the consequences of these mistakes. Having asked both God and those affected for forgiveness does not wipe out my guilt. Some say that beating yourself up and reliving the sin is a sin in itself. The pain of the mistakes will fade over time until it comes back at 2:00 AM and hits you in the face like a shovel, waking you up with the feelings of panic and dread.
These pains and struggles follow Evan Willcox in The Event series. (Yay! I actually tied something back to the books!) The character of Evan Willcox is based off me. I have made a considerable amount of mistakes since I began writing the series, but the torment I feel over some of these mistakes are shown throughout the books. One of my goals in writing is to show people that they are not alone with their struggles. We all have our demons, and we all have our crosses that we must bear. I do not lay my soul out for everyone one to see because I am brave (because I am not). I do it in the hopes that one day, I can help at least one person realize that even though life is hard, and we make the dumbest of mistakes, life is still worth living. I do not want pity, nor do I want others to take pity on the people struggling. I want those who are stronger to lend a hand to those who are currently weak, for people to think about the welfare of someone else instead of their own–for us to act like compassionate human beings once again.
Time is limited. We all know this. We all wish we had more time. Time to sleep. Time to play. Time to get shit done at work. Then, there are those moments that we never want to end. We want time to stop, cherishing a moment forever. Those are rare. There is nothing like feeling the calmness of someone you care about sleeping on your chest, feeling them breathe, maybe even hearing them snore a little. There is no safer feeling than being wrapped up by that person’s arms.
There is so much bullshit in this world that it is easy to get caught up in the drama. Society makes it difficult to make it through life. We make it, but we are not unscathed. We carry the cuts and bruises of life. Stress can literally kill a person. Even though we wish for more time, we will not get it. We have to prioritize. We usually suck at that. We do dumb shit like watch TV instead of doing dishes. Then, when we run out of clean dishes, we panic because we have to get the kids to soccer and football practices, and we do not have the time. We then say we do not have enough time to relax.
We need downtime though. I enjoy writing and exploring back roads. Yesterday, I drove down to Parkersburg, WV taking old state and county roads instead of the interstate. It was a relaxing trip. I took my time. I enjoyed some scenery. Instead of mindlessly watching some worthless TV show, it was good to get out and enjoy something real. I am learning to stop and cherish these simple pleasures in life. In thirty years, I will never remember what happened on Game of Thrones, but I will look back about how peaceful it was traveling on State Route 821 through the southeastern part of Ohio and how someone felt in my arms. Those are the memories I want to look back on during my last days on Earth.