Writer of Stories.

Writer of Stories.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

'Fandom', and how it's kept me sane.

Here I am again, ready to lift a few things off my shoulders. Unfortunately, I feel like the only times I’ve written in this blog as of late are when I have heavy topics to discuss, but what can you do?

If you’re one of my readers, or merely a follower on one of my book-related accounts, you might have noticed that I’ve been a bit absent. There are several reasons for this - the most important one being something that a lot of you already know about – but today, I’m going to be addressing something a bit different.

For me, the past two years have been a time of tremendous personal hardship. I hit a very low point. My struggle with body aches and fatigue reached an all time high, I gained a significant amount of weight from the inability to do much of anything, and I had stressed myself out with deadlines to the extent that I was considering giving up writing altogether. Not to mention, my lack of recent releases made me feel insignificant and lackluster compared to so many of my peers when I attended my first book event in months. At first, Book Con made me feel jealous and disappointed with myself. Then, after a talk with a good friend at a bar, it motivated me to push forward. I started writing again. However, after another flare up of health issues, I stopped. Again.

If you remember, I was publishing two books a year. That was an enormous responsibility that I unnecessarily put upon myself. I felt an obligation to my readers to give them the books they wanted, and at the same time, I felt an obligation to stay relevant. Being self-published meant I had to push myself 10x further than other authors, because 100% of the work landed on me. I had to market, distribute, write, edit, plan, create, and design all on my own. And when I hit a road block after losing my motivation towards finishing The Mind Breaker Accounts, I thought I had failed. I thought because I wasn’t writing what I really wanted to, that meant I should just switch gears and everything would be fine, but even after starting work on the Small Circles short stories, I still couldn’t get back into a steady rhythm. I was wounded, and I was becoming depressed.

I crawled into a hole, away from social media and away from the book world completely. I stopped posting. I stopped sharing. And I hoped that people just wouldn’t notice. For the most part, they didn’t. And that, above all other things, is what made me crash.

Now, before this story takes a very dark turn, I’d like to take the time to say that I am perfectly fine. I am in a much better place than I was before, and I have no intention of going back there. But what got me out of it? You might be surprised, then again, you might not…

The Walking Dead.

Yep. That’s right. I don’t think there’s a single living soul on the universe that isn’t aware of my deeply devoted passion towards that television show. I attend the cons. Collect the merchandise. And well, there are no words for Norman. Until a year ago, I was a traditional viewer of the show. I was slightly more obsessed than your average viewer, yes… but putting that aside, I was not an active member of the fandom. Then, last December, I started an Instagram account. At first, I was just going to post random pictures of Norman Reedus or anything TWD related, and it was mostly because I got the feeling that I had bombarded my followers on bookstagram with shit they didn’t wanna see. It took about a month, but then I started gaining a following on my new account: rednecksaints. After I started looking for other TWD accounts, I realized that a lot of people were using Instagram as a platform for video editing. I’d seen plenty of fan-made Youtube videos, but I hadn’t realized people made them for other social media outlets. Having a limit of 15 seconds (now it’s a minute, whoo!), I thought, “I can totally do that.”

And I did.

I’ve played around with video editing in the past, but I’d forgotten how fun it was. I started posting my edits, and pretty soon, I hit 1,000 followers. At the time, that was the amount I’d reached on my book account, so I was impressed that I was able to match it. Then, I hit 2,000. The fact that people liked my stuff that much gave me a huge boost of self-esteem. I was creating content for a fandom that I love, and sharing it with people who love it just as much. I started thinking, what was it exactly that was so rewarding compared to what I was doing before? I came to realize that it was all about instant gratification. Creating a video, posting it online, and having comments or likes within minutes was so much more satisfying than the pressure of book sales. I don’t earn a prophet on the content I make. I do it because I genuinely enjoy it. It’s fun. And for the sake of my mental health, I kept at it.

After a while, I did start to miss writing. It’s my first love after all, and I’m pretty sure I’ll always come back to it. I tried working on the short stories again, but I was so deep into the TWD fandom, that I couldn’t think about anything else. So, I put my writing skills to use and started a fan-fiction. By doing this, I was able to exercise my creative muscles and hone my craft in a way that had zero pressure. Posting new chapters was exactly like posting my videos. I was able to get feedback almost immediately, and the people that were reading didn’t have to spend money to hear what I had to say. It was the best feeling in the world.

Fast forward to today, and I’m an active content creator in The Walking Dead fandom. Some of you might be disappointed. I know not everyone understands, but that’s why I wanted to explain. It might seem silly, or even juvenile, but being involved in this fandom has literally kept me from going insane. If I didn’t have all of this to focus on, I would have fallen off the wagon. I would have lost a major part of who I am. Needless to say, I’m not walking away from writing novels forever. I loved what I did, and I got so much fulfillment from sharing Small Circles with the world. But I’ve learned that each day is a stepping stone, and for right now, I have to focus on the small things that make me happy.

I have no one to please but myself. And currently, I’ve never been more proud.