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WOW it’s a blizzard here in Northern Ohio! Most schools are closed today, as well as local businesses. Fortunately, my day job is remote, so I don’t even have to leave my kitchen table to get a good workday in.
I spent last night editing Parasitic Host. This book’s vastly different than Moving Through, and while I’d consider both novels “dark comedy” in some regards, this one is DARK dark. It falls more into the “new adult” category, since it takes place on a college campus. More details later…I don’t want to put the cart before the horse and talk too much about a book that’s still in development.
I’ve also been binge-watching the James Gunn’s Peacemaker on HBO. This is easily one of the best shows I’ve seen in the past few years, and John Cena really impresses me as an actor. While the title character is the show’s main attraction, the character Vigilante really steals the show. Also, he has a pretty cool last name, but I guess I’m biased.
With just a little under two weeks left until the release of Moving Through, it seems appropriate to give a little background on the book. I promise I’ll try not to be too self-indulgent.
I wrote the first draft of Moving Through fourteen years ago while I was a Senior at Coshocton High School. I’d written a few other books by that point, and I was keeping a nightly writing schedule and sending short stories out to various magazines and contests. I never got any of these short stories published, but I won a few statewide contests and got plenty of support from the CHS faculty and a few friends around school. I knew writing was what I wanted to do with my life, one way or another, and I experimented with a lot of different genres and styles. But Moving Through became more than just a story for me; this project dominated my attention, and I even lost nights of sleep working on early drafts.
Then I went to college, and Moving Through got put aside for the most part. I worked on projects for classes, partied hard most nights, and found a passion for Theater. I’d go months at a time without thinking of Moving Through, but every now and then the story would invade my dreams, and I’d end up returning to it.
I’ve revised the book many, many times. I changed characters, deleted whole sections, added and subtracted subplots, and even tried re-writing the story as a screenplay. I didn’t know if the book would ever go anywhere, since no matter how many times I rewrote it or found renewed vigor for completing it, I always ended up unsatisfied with it. I did, however, end up scoring a girlfriend after submitting the first chapter to a writing workshop, so that was pretty cool.
A decade went by, and I worked for online magazines, local newspapers, film crews, slaughterhouses, and traveling sales jobs. Time was flying by, and post-college blues hit hard. I still worked on my own projects most nights, but nothing felt inspiring anymore. So…I tried something different.
I wrote under a pseudonym, allowing me to experiment with EXTREMELY dark stories for a very niche audience. I published one of these novellas, and enjoyed the process of taking it to horror conventions, promoting it on radio shows, and gaining a bit of notoriety from the story. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you want to find it, I’m sure you’ll find a way. I gave the last existent paperback copies to be auctioned off at Ariescope Pictures’ Yorkiethon 6 last year, which raised money for dogs, so at least some good came out of the experiment.
Writing gross-out horror for an extremely limited audience was fun, and I’m still keeping up with writing those books, but I kept going back to Moving Through. The book was becoming my white whale.
Then I lost my younger brother to cancer in 2019, and everything came crashing down. Emotions I’d never experienced before took over my life, and the vivid nightmares and late-night hallucinations took me to some dark places.
My brother left me a video recording before he died. In that recording, he told me how proud he is of my writing and that he wants me to keep doing it.
Writing something that was truly satisfying was no longer just an option or a lifelong dream: it was a promise. I knew I had to finish Moving Through, once and for all finding the definitive version of the story and ditching the hundreds of pages of rewrites and hackneyed subplots that might’ve made the book more “mainstream.”
Grief and insecurity had always been a big part of Moving Through, and when I wrote the first draft all those years ago, I only knew a part of how bad those feelings could get. The story’s 100% fiction, and not a single character is based on any one person, but there’s an intimacy and truth to this final version that was lacking in earlier drafts. It was an exorcism; all my demons and worries were pulled out of my soul and trapped on the page.
If that all seems trite to you…okay. I get it. But I can honestly say the final product is everything I ever wanted the story to be, and even if it doesn’t connect with everyone who reads it, it’s the story I set out to tell fourteen years ago. We face tough times. We move through. We face even tougher times. We move through those, too. Life’s rarely easy, but there’s humor and hope even in the ocean-floor-lows. While I hesitate to call the book “mainstream,” and I doubt it will ever reach the levels of John Green or J.K. Rowling, I hope it helps someone out there who’s fighting their own demons, whatever they might be going through.
Rise up and rebel against the dark times. Smile in the face of dejection. If you look inside yourself and see a billboard reading “Give Up Hope,” DEFACE IT with a giant spray-painted “Fuck You!” Move through. You’re more resilient than you think.