All By Design

I am a writer.

I haven't always accepted that fact -- in fact looking for more ways to dismiss the very thought. And though it would account for the greatest challenge of my life, it has also become the medium that saved me.

Just before I decided to make the jump into uncertainty, I went out and earned a Master's degree.This was an incredible challange because it required me to attend school while holding a fulltime job. If there was ever a time where my grit and tenacity was needed to get me through an obstacle, it was then.

Although I complaned and dreaded the work everyday, I was subconsciously building on my craft. Its amazing to me how years of toiling and struggling with an online business degree would develope the habits and traits necessary to stay a productive writer. To this day I dread putting words to the page, but I don't let it control me. It's a part of the process and I learned how to grind past it. 

Beginning my journey with an online MBA --while working full time at an IT help desk -- instilled an ability of putting in the long hours. My days were hectic and my nights were a sruggle to stay focused on school tasks and writing assignments. I definitely learned the value of the local coffee shop. 

And I hated it!!! I couldn't stand sitting in front of a desk for 9 hours holding a day job, to then head over to Panera Bread to log in a couple more hours with business theory and case assignments. But as hard as it was, it became a learning experience that l've applied for the rest of my life. I essentially learned how to become my own boss. 

With no physical teacher, classmates, and classroom to keep me on track, I had to be the one to oversee my own progress. I realize now that self-management is a trait that a lot of people do not posses, especially when it comes to the creative arena. 

All my life I never saw mself as particularly intelligent, talented, or naturally gifted at anything. However, what I do naturally posses is the ability to out work anyone, especially if I set my mind to it. If there is something I want to learn to do, I go out and do it. I guess it's my obsessive personality, that I can let something burn inside my head and that I cannot let die until I see it realized. My nature is to see it done, despite the odds. 

In Steven Pressfield's War of Art, he explains that one of the most common causes of failures among artists and writers is the inability to stay committed, and that life's challenges derive from a single unseen force, in which the book has coined as "resistance." 

What I learned in the relative short amount of time that I have started this writer's path is that enduring the suck and staying committed to your goals may be the sole ingredient to success. I thought that I would quit long before I finished my graduate degree, but I kept plugging away. The amount of work involved made the finish line seem almost impossible at times; I almost gave up before I began. But something kept me going. Perhaps it was the shame involved with throwing in the towel, that no amount of hard work could possibly feel worse than saying the words, "I quit."

And I am still taking swings at it. So something must be working. 

Below is a piece that I wrote that has no relevance to what I spoke about. But please feel free to indulge.

Take care and stay resilient my friends.

A single consciousness, 
void of religion, race, gender, or creed, 
filling the in between of space and time.

Eyes are but looking glasses.
Through them, I receive it's colors.
 To know that I am is a wonderful thing.

No days, no moments, no years. 
I listen to the messages in the wind,
thinking that my own self is a single agent
part of a larger whole. 

Short Story Part VI: Freedom

Without further ado, the conclusion of my short story with no title as of yet. I hope that I can use this story as a launching point into a larger world that I am already creating in my mind. 

The hardest part for me with completing the story was really how is it supposed to end. I knew where I wanted to end up, but the question is always how to get there. 

Stay tune for future posts as I continue to develop and create my body of work. And if you want to catch up on past installments of this short, click below.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

Part VI
The stack of bills sat like untouched diamonds buried within a hellish under belly. They stared into me, unrealized of the surrounding reality. I can’t imagine the amount of blood that has been spilled for every single one to find their way into this black duffel bag. I’m the hunted now and there is no returning to what I once knew. The 9mm made sure of that.
Slinging the bag across my back and tucking the pistol behind my waistband, I exited up the cellar stairs, into the unknown. A black SUV, tinted windows, is already waiting to carry Angela and I into a new beginning. The dirt and mud across the tire treads made me think of other runs that truck may have done in the past. Hopefully, they were lucky.
To make this as quickly as possible, I left our two luggage cases at the cellar opening; we weren't going to need the Jeep any more. I did a quick scan to see if Angela made her way down the stairs yet.
The driver side window rolled down. I wait for my guy to say something, but all I could hear are the surrounding trees.
I get impatient, “Hello would be a nice start? Could you have parked any God damn farther?! Give me a couple. I’m waiting on Angela.” Nothing. The silence was thick and the dark SUV sat there and watched.
Grabbing the two luggage cases I left by the cellar door, I make my way towards the dark SUV. I barely make out the silhouette of the driver, but the closer I get the colder the air becomes. Then I see my guy, but he doesn't look right. Tense and grim, an expression like stone. 
I don't feel betrayed when the bullet flies through the windshield. I'm not even mad when the interior of the glass is suddenly painted red and a bloody head leans out the driver side window. It all happens so quickly before I realized that it was all over before it began. 
I drop the bags and make for my pistol, just before the back doors opens. This was all on me and I need to make this as tough for those bastards that are after me. 
Then I see her black hair, without as much as a struggle, stepping outside the back seat of the SUV, accompanied by two large thugs in black. Angela’s eyes look beautiful and terrified, staring back at me with all the questions in the world and me with no answer but cold steel in my hands. I can't focus. How could I have let this happen?
A man, wearing a sharp Armani suit, exits the passenger side door. Sebastian Nikolov, friend from the past and as ruthless as he is brilliant. He is going to make certain that this will end on his terms and I am well past redemption.
“You gave us a bit of a slip, but in time, a rat always leaves a long enough trail of filth behind,” Sebastian taunted.
My voice cracked, “I made a bad call, I was only trying to start fresh.”
“And so you make a move for my cargo payment? You thought this out carefully,” Sebastian walks over to Angela, as he withdraws a pistol from behind his breast pocket. “You know how much I do not enjoy these exchanges, so I will ask for what you know is mine only once.”
I've seen too many of these so-called  “exchanges” to know all too well that someone on my side has no negotiating power. My leverage is gone and he has everything before I even give up the bag. Without a word, I drop the bag and swing it towards the nearest goon. 
“I can’t have you acting brash once we let your lovely lady go,” Sebastian noted.
The gun by my side is useless from the point I killed the runner -- nothing more than an image of all the mistakes I’ve made. I toss it at their feet and Sebastian nods in confirmation. 
“I’ve always respected you as an equal, Doc. Your services to me have been invaluable and I will forever be in your debt. Therefore, take this gesture of allowing your freedom as my humblest gratitude.” Sebastian motions and his men return to the truck.
Tears in her eyes, Angela makes the long walk back to me, back to where she belongs. Back to her home, or wherever we will make it. Back to the happiness that we once remembered -- real and frail in the chaos of a world. I smile at her, letting her know its all right. She smiles back at me, assuring me that she is strong for me, through everything; I will forever be grateful to her for it.
Then a gunshot echoes in the darkness and time stood still. I put my hands to my own chest; I couldn’t feel a thing. Maybe the bullet passed a vital nerve. Maybe I was dead already. Then I see blood soaking through a shirt atop of a belly that is not my own. A belly that cradles the small, fragile body that was to be my son. Angela still stays strong as her body fell to the dirt.
The world goes dark and all sense of existence leaves my body; I see her lie helplessly. I hold her in my arms, unsure of time and space. She looks up to me, with an assurance that everything will be okay.
“Stay with me,” I said.
“I see you now, David. Don’t let this...take a hold of you” The color from her lips begins to fade; she's drifting into darkness. In an instant, we're no longer against the earth, but an abandoned space of bright light. The realization is unlike any feeling that I have ever experienced on earth.
Bathed in the light, Angela smiles, "Your time to reveal yourself to the world will come.” A small boy, from long ago, deep in a memory, appears behind Angela. Those same eyes, with the innocence of a promised tomorrow, looks up at me. Angela places her hands around the young boys shoulders. I touch his head; the same black hair nestled between my fingertips.
Then in an instant, they're gone with nothing but my blood soaked hands. Angela's body lay in peace and I weep with a sudden burst of pain.  I knelt there, left behind to bask in my newly bestowed freedom.

Short Story Part V: The Call

I am happy to share my next installment of my running short story below. This has taken me some time to develop and put together and I can already say that I have felt some progress along the way.

What I have found interesting of the process of uploading my story bit-by-bit is that it has allowed me to revisit the world and give it some fresh air. Allowing myself to grow as a writer, giving myself time to leave a project and let the details settle in your mind--marinating on the world and characters that you created.

I get excited when I am able to give a new perspective on details that I couldn't see from the first draft. Believing in the process and trusting in the journey really becomes key to producing content and finding that unique voice--something that becomes crucial to achieving success.

Blogging my process has also been an interesting experience due to the opportunity of providing running commentary to every bit of the story. The platform to reflect on the choices I made and articulate some of the challenges I had to overcome has been valuable for me and perhaps helpful for you.

The installment below is really about overcoming dialogue and how to translate needed info without becoming overwrought with cringe-worthy exposition.

My greatest obstacle has been crafting real and authentic dialogue. Less is more really becomes the trick, trusting that your reader will put the pieces together.

It's all in the subtext. Human's are never honest. 

Let's hope I handled it well below.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Part V

It was just past 3 AM when my cell phone rang.

“You running late?” I answered. 

It cracked on the other end, “They've been eyeing me. They already thinking that I'd get to you.”

“Well what's the play? Three days and no movement. Not good."

“I’m up the trail.”

I saw the headlights casting an ominous glow across the forest landscape; a beacon of hope in the uncertain darkness. 

“Pull up around back," I said.

Angela was groggy and dazed as she entered the kitchen. 

“What is it?” Angela whispered half cognoscente.

“Just get your coat on.” I'm starting to feel my pulse race.

“Did he just show up?”

“Yes, that’s why we’re leaving. Wait for me in the living room. I have to go to the cellar for one last thing.  

“Oh," Angela is disappointed. 

“You knew what this was going to be. Quick and sudden.”

“Yes, I know but...why now?”

"I just told you. He called fifteen minutes ago.”

“He’s three fucking days late and he just now show’s up, in the middle of the night. What has he been doing this whole time? ”

“Look, the guy's that are after us, they watch every angle. Every freeway, every bus, every airport. When they're after somebody for fifty large, anyone who knows us is a bargaining chip. My boy is risking his neck for us."

Angela ' s eyes well up with tears again. But before I let her say anything. 

"I’m leaving your shoes and coat here when you’re ready. I have to go down stairs.”

I grab my jacket and run out the back door.