Resolution # 3

No more mental health days. I took a lot of those last year, missing more time at the day job than I care to say. Sure, I had good reasons. My brain trying to kill me. Anxiety over our crumbling society. Anger at people on both sides of the political aisle. Sadness over sick and dying friends.

But I want to keep going. Doing the things I need to support myself and my family. This isn’t about pride or so-called toxic masculinity. This is about refusing to let them win. This is about living life the way I want to live it.

This is not to say that I will, going forward, neglect self-care. Quite the opposite. There are plenty of ways to take care of myself without fucking up my livelihood.

Walks after work with only an audiobook and my camera for company. Hitting the heavy bag. Taking care of my fish and the outdoor cat who visits almost daily. Meditative tarot readings. Blogging here every damn day.

The list goes on. I’ve got this. You’ve got this. Happy New Year.

2021 – Real AF

I’m almost finished reading HITMAN, the autobiography of retired wrestler Bret Hart. It’s easy to forget that wrestlers are artists. Throughout the reading of the book, I’ve found myself nodding my head to parallels in the life of a wrestler and the life of an author. All the years of paying your dues. Mutual respect between the honorable ones. Backstabbing among the less honorable. Unhelpful coping mechanisms for loneliness. Pride when you manage to pull something off just right.

Writing is hard. I also love it. It’s important to take time to appreciate things unrelated to what drives you. Family is an obvious example. Also, hobbies outside your vocation. In my case, watching and reading about wrestling, my fish tank, music and comic books.

As soon as I finish HITMAN, I’m doing a buddy read of the 90s DC comics arc ZERO HOUR. I remember the ads for it vividly. I can’t remember why I didn’t read it at the time. Since I was ten or eleven, chances are I got interested in other things. My interests fluctuate a lot even now. Probably even more so back then. I’m excited for it though. My friend has been a DC fan forever. He swears that even outside of BATMAN, their output is better than Marvel, which is interestingly not the consensus. Then again, he and I have never cared about the consensus. I care even less as an adult.

Am I a lone wolf? I don’t think so. I have a wolfpack, real as fuck people I know I can rely on.

Anyway, it’s a New Year. Rot in hell to the trash fire that was 2020. Big things are coming in 2021 and beyond. Got all sorts of exciting things in the works. In the meantime, check out PANDEMONIUM if you haven’t already. Good reviews are rolling in!

Today will be spent with family, though I’ll probably sneak in some work on the Wesley Southard collaboration. Speaking of Wes, he’s got a new book up for preorder right now. Take advantage of that preorder price.

Be well, everyone.

Resolution # 2

Take days off from SERIOUS writing.

I say SERIOUS because on these days off I will still blog daily, as promised. I just won’t do the big 1-2,000 word writing sessions. While I do think it’s important for writers to write as much as they can, in the same way athletes should train as much as they can, I think it’s equally important to find time for other things. Relax. Recuperate. LIVE YOUR LIFE.

“Find the thing you love and let it kill you.” Fuck that, I love lots of things, and me getting killed helps no one. So, yeah, days off.

Because of the holiday, I took four days off from major writing projects last weekend and came back stronger than ever. I spent time with my loved ones. I finally took care of that awful cloudy water in my fish tank. I got my office in the garage looking nice and homey.

There’s more to life than writing. I know I’m not supposed to say that. I know we writers are supposed to live and die by the pen (or the keyboard), but I ain’t interested in what I’m supposed to do.

Recovery

My dinosaur book EXTINCTION PEAK made Horror Bookworm Reviews top five of the year, so that’s pretty cool. Someone on Facebook told Ryan Harding and I that PANDEMONIUM was their favorite book they read this year. I heard about both of these things yesterday, but see my previous post and learn all about why I hardly had the energy to write anything.

I’m recovering from whatever illness decided to hit me hard Monday night and through Tuesday. Again, I doubt it’s COVID because I’m already feeling better, but who knows.

Anyway, I’m a little over six weeks sober. I don’t deal with much in the way of temptation. I’m in a lot of pain, but alcohol doesn’t wash that away. It only exacerbates it.

Despite everything, I did manage to put down some words on the blob romance collaboration with Wile E. Young.

I’ve also been thinking about the New Year and resolutions. I generally shy away from them, but this year was such a trash fire, I think a clear strategy for how I plan to improve my life and the life of those around me is absolutely necessary. I suspect the next few blogs will be dedicated to exploring these resolutions and what they mean.

Black Horizon

I spent the week of Christmas Eve on a cruise ship. Between the delicious drinks and fantastic food and spending time with family, I found much to enjoy, but staring across the black water and trying to find where it ended and the black sky began brought me the most peace. Sometimes serenity comes with the focus of knowing where you’re headed. Other times it comes from the mystery of an unclear horizon, of blackness as far as you can see. The Abyss may stare back, and sometimes that’s scary, but other times it’s gaze is hypnotic and calming.

Despite making a tremendous amount of progress during the last half of 2018, I can’t say I know any better who I am or what tomorrow holds. However, I know what feels good, and what I’d like to keep doing as long as I’m able. I want to be a good father. I want to be a good husband. I want to keep writing. How I keep the lights on while doing those things is another matter entirely, though I’ve considered going into some form of teaching. I’ve learned a lot about literature and writing (both in terms of craft and the field itself) over the last ten years. I think people can benefit from that wisdom, and I think I’d find much joy in giving back.

But we’ll see. The horizon is black.

My new novel (or novella, depending on your definition) is available for preorder. At the risk of being found guilty of hyperbole, it is the craziest thing I’ve published to date. It begins in a familiar way, the sort of small town horror first popularized by Stephen King with ‘Salem’s Lot and continued by the likes of Brian Keene, Bentley Little, and Blake Crouch. However, in the second half, the story takes a dramatic turn. I guess anyone who’s followed my personal journey over the last four years or so could point to the middle of the book and say, “a-ha, this is the moment where Lucas Mangum lost his mind,” and they wouldn’t be wrong. The second half becomes more hallucinatory, drawing inspiration from William S. Burroughs and the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky. If you’re not reading close enough, the narrative may even appear to unravel, but it’s still there, even if it’s buried underneath psychedelic theological metaphor. I’m thankful Sinister Grin Press saw fit to release it, and if this crazy little book sounds like something you’d enjoy, you can read an excerpt or preorder it right here.

I caught the movie Bird Box last night on Netflix. Sandra Bullock gave a great performance. The film is full of tension and great scares, and it’s truly heart-wrenching at times. It’s basically The Road but with Lovecraft’s cosmic monsters.

Right now, I’m reading Scummer by John Wayne Comunale. If you’re into punk films like Repo Man or Combat Shock, you’ll really appreciate this book from an aesthetic point of view. Plus, Comunale’s really come into his own as a writer, and he displays impressive chops here, transcending his bizarro roots and finding horror in unexpected places.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Remember, just because the horizon is black, or you find the Abyss staring back at you, it’s possible to keep moving forward and fighting the enemy within.