Long, Dark Days (thoughts from your troubled author)

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Sorry, this is a downer. If you don’t want to read my depressed ramblings, please stop reading here.

It seems as if every day this year has been nothing but a struggle to find some reason to live. I wanted to be an author and an artist ever since I was a child, but after self-publishing I found it not the victory I had hoped for. I don’t know if people just don’t read anymore, or if science fiction is a dying genre, or if there’s just too much competition and I don’t know how to market properly, but people won’t read my books even when I give them out for free. Even people I know will say they are interested in buying and reading my book but then they simply don’t. Whatever it is, I feel like a complete failure. Do people think creative work isn’t “real work”? My dad tells me that my art and writing “doesn’t pay the bills” whenever he wants me to do chores instead of working on things that require imagination. Maybe he’s right. It seems that the only thing of “value” in this society is money and the only “real work” is hard labor and nothing that requires thought and creativity.

Money is not the reason why I wrote Transmogrified, but the desperation to save myself from this endless nightmarish life has pushed me to publish it. I knew I was gambling but I had hoped for a major success so that I could make the life-saving decision to move away from where I am living now (in one of the least progressive parts of the country) and get back to my native California.

I am disabled and the resources I need for both my mental and physical health are not available where I live presently. My chronic depression has only gotten worse over the years since my parents forced me to move here right after I graduated high school. Every day it gets harder and harder to do anything: write, draw, read, do chores, interact with others, get out of bed, and not think of giving up on life.

My partner in California is trying to save up so we can both live together someday, but I can see that this will be a long road and I’m not getting younger or healthier. I didn’t want to have to rely on my partner to rescue me. Going ahead and publishing this novel — even though I was afraid to because it wasn’t “perfect” — was an attempt to rescue myself . . . but it’s not working. I wasted my precious resources on advertising that didn’t work and now I have to pay over $50 for it, plus a new $160 medical bill for a blood test to see if my liver could handle another antidepressant (after I just paid off the last one last month!). The antidepressant just made my symptoms worse (as they always do), so the blood test was pointless in the end. Nothing I do ever amounts to anything. Maybe I should stop trying to “do things.” It’s just making me poorer and more disappointed in life.

Perhaps you think I’m whining, but you don’t know my situation. I have not revealed everything because some things are too private and too dangerous to discuss in a blog. This is a bad time and place. Every day I feel the dread of living in my bones. I feel chained to this inconvenient body, my deformed heart constricted in my chest, my soul not free to express its true self, forced to conform or be harmed by others who may look upon me and see nothing but a “freak” and not a human being. I constantly have my eyes to the future as if that is where I came from, while everyone surrounding me lives in some terrible past I would never want to visit even if I had a time machine. Everywhere I turn to look for an exit, I sense that I am trapped, unable to move forward. I don’t want to live but I don’t want to die either.

We can’t choose when or where we are born, or who or what we are born as . . . but I sure wish I had had that choice. I would have chosen a much better life than this.

Transmogrified – Audiobook Sample Chapter (Chapter 1)

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No, I’m not making an entire audiobook . . . yet. Here is a sample chapter of Transmogrified. It is ‘Chapter 1: The Genetic Experiments’ read in its entirety.

I couldn’t get a professional voice actor, so this will just have to do for now.

Please buy my book if you want to find out what happens next!

Transmogrified – Themes & Interpretations

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Today I was thinking about the wide range of themes my sci-fi novel Transmogrified covers: bioethics, the impact of new technology on the world, disability, prejudice, social anxiety, shame, depression and suicide, child abuse, misunderstandings, empathy and compassion, facing one’s fears, how society progresses far more slowly than its technology advances, and so much more. Also, there are many different ways in which the book could be interpreted. For example, my S.O. recently re-read the book and pointed out that Dr. M’s story (whose problems often stem from how others treat him as a person with dwarfism) could be interpreted as a metaphor for what it’s like to be transgender. That was an interesting insight I had never thought of before, but when I looked at the story closer, that interpretation did make a surprising amount of sense.

Anyway, I hope my readers enjoy the novel and that it resonates with you on some level. Maybe you can relate to some of the characters and their struggles, or maybe you see a reflection of the present world in the “future world” of the book, or maybe you will find a whole new metaphorical interpretation of your own. That’s the fun of books. There are many layers to explore and you can discover new things with each new reading. I look forward to the reviews and conversations sparked by Transmogrified.

Goodreads – T. VanEeckhoutte Answers “Author Questions”

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On Goodreads, I answered some “author questions” and I thought you might enjoy reading them, so I copied and pasted them here (I hope I’m allowed to do that). The questions from Goodreads are in bold text and my answers are in regular text.

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

It took me at least 15 years to write, edit, and self-publish my first novel, Transmogrified. In that time, I read a lot of fiction, non-fiction, and advice on how to write and edit stories. I wrote short stories for the Kindle as an experiment, just to get my work out there in some form.

Writing, like art, takes many hours of consistent (and persistent) practice over many years. I aspire to improve my writing over time as I gain more experience. I try to practice writing or drawing every day, even when it’s hard to get started. I would say that if this is your dream, keep plugging away at it. Get as much advice as you can on the craft of writing and get constructive feedback from others who have read your work before you publish. Also, do your research and learn to proofread and edit your own work. You may not agree with all the advice you find or get from others, but keep it in mind, think about it, try it out, see if it works for you first before rejecting it right away. I know other people have said this before, but I think it’s best to learn the rules of an art before you decide (carefully and thoughtfully) to break them.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

As a perfectionist, I have to learn not to get hung up on perfection, especially with my first draft. “Just write something,” I tell myself, “Even if you think it sounds stupid.” I know I’m going to end up rewriting and editing a trillion times later anyway.

Sometimes I have to just sit there and write, even if I don’t feel like it at first. Getting started can be incredibly difficult (although it used to be easy as a child, but as an adult I tend to criticize and self-censor a lot). I’ve had to set a timer for 15 minutes or 30 minutes, and just start writing something. Once the time is up, if I think I can go further I’ll set the timer again. I’ll keep going until I run out of ideas, then take a break. I’ll go do something else (art, chores, reading, exercising, etc.) and then start the process again the next day. If an idea comes to me while I’m doing other things, I sometimes write it down on a notepad or speak it into a recording device and save it for later.

Also, if I can remember my dreams, I find it’s best to write them down as soon as I wake up (or I end up forgetting). Sometimes dreams can generate interesting new ideas.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

I am very introverted and dislike travel, so not having to deal with a lot of people in a noisy, stressful, over-stimulating environment is perfect for me.

What are you currently working on?

I already have written a few chapters of the follow-up to my first science-fiction novel, Transmogrified, but I’m not sure if I want to continue working on that right now, or if I want to work on something different for a while. I have a lot of ideas, so it’s hard to choose. Maybe an art book to accompany Transmogrified? I have contemplated it. Also, I had the idea of gathering up my short stories and possibly some of my poems into a single book, but I’m not sure where to go with that yet.

How do you get inspired to write?

When I was a small child, I started drawing cartoons and created my own characters. Then I moved on to drawing comic books featuring my characters. After that, around 5th grade, I started making little chapter books. The books kept getting longer and longer as my writing improved and I got new ideas. I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and as a child I created artwork and wrote stories for fun. I did it as a way to express my thoughts and feelings and to escape from the boredom or harshness I encountered in the real world. I still need that creative outlet today, perhaps more than ever.

Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

I got the idea back in high school from teachers saying to the students, “You’re going to be the guinea pigs,” whenever they were testing something new on us. I had the amusing thought, “What if I made a story where someone literally becomes a guinea pig?” The story started off as a comic book about a man who gets turned into a guinea pig by a “mad scientist,” but the story has evolved and matured a lot since then and the novel is quite different from the comic I started with.

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Source (my Author Page on Goodreads):

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13506234.T_VanEeckhoutte?from_search=true