Where I’ve Been, Where I Am, Where I’m Going

It’s been a long while since I’ve written on this blog. Anyone who’s followed me has also noticed my social media presence took a nosedive. Well, for those of you who are still interested, I’d like to explain what’s been going on, and where I’m going next.

THEN…

I started writing this blog ten years ago (yikes), just hammering out thoughts on God, art, and goofiness. But lately, three things have kept me away.

The first is time. In 2021, I began graduate school to become a mental health counselor. It’s always interested me, but in 2020, God really started poking at my soul. My church, my town, and my world are stuffed with people who need mental and emotional healing from various wounds and traumas. So for the last two years, school has taken a large chunk of my time, and I still have one more year to go. I’m proud of this journey, and excited for where I’m going.

However, it’s also brought about the second problem: pain. Or more accurately, a realization of the pain that’s been there for years. Long story short, I realized a number issues eating at me. One was ADHD. I’ve always had problems with consistency (you followers probably know this), and now I know why. I was also diagnosed with Social Anxiety, which explains why I’ve always struggled to make and keep friends. And then there’s the Generalized Anxiety disorder and issues with complex trauma.

Yeah, it’s been a…interesting ride.

I’m okay, first of all. The ADHD diagnosis is actually a relief because it explains things, and helps me know how to move forward. I’m seeing a counselor about the other stuff, and overall, I’m making good progress. This time of self-searching has been incredibly helpful and healing. Better yet, it’s made my relationship with God even stronger. There’s still a lot to go through, but overall, I’m all right.

So what’s the third thing? Fear. Fear that spins off the anxiety and spirals into a terror so deep that my brain doesn’t even process it; it just hits the off switch on my will to write.

I’ve always been afraid of criticism, particularly ridicule. And the internet is not a nice place. Writing a blog about your beliefs exposes you to the worst the internet has to offer, and I’ve had a few encounters. Writing itself is already a vulnerable process, and rejection is regular, and painful. So is silence. Add in our hyper-charged “discourse,” and it’s very easy to get hurt.

A few years back, I wrote a book that I really, really liked. But it was controversial—now more than ever, probably. So I tried it out on someone from the “other side,” so to speak. The reply I got was not simply criticism. It was the single cruelest, bitterest, most hateful diatribe I’ve ever received. And their friend joined in with equal vigor. This went beyond hating the book—they specifically, in their own words, wanted to hit me with everything they had. They were trying to hurt me.

It worked.

My writing has been stuck ever since. I’ve had successes, but starts and stops. Nothing consistent. Nothing I wanted to share. Or risk.

So I quit trying. Oh, I’d write, but I’d put zero effort into getting it seen. And if I just ignored it long enough, the desire to write would go away. So would the pain.

NOW…

I hate how much of myself I’ve stuffed in a corner. I hate how much power I let that critic have over me. I hate how dependent I am on unconditional approval, how frightened I am of ridicule. I hate how long I’ve put off even writing this because what if someone’s a jerk in the comments?

All my counseling and introspection has centered around one general idea: I’m afraid to take up space. I’m afraid of rocking the boat and making others uncomfortable. I disguised those feelings as righteousness, or compassion, and there’s some truth there—I don’t enjoy making people uncomfortable. Yet these pious words only disguised cowardice. I withdraw because I might bother someone. What I say, what I do…even who I am might be too much for somebody.

But you know what? That’s their problem, not mine.

I don’t want to hurt people…but I will. That’s just life. Whether I want to or not, if I’m going to be a human being, I’m going to bother somebody. I’ve tried to live at peace with everybody as the Bible commands (Romans 12:18), but even Jesus couldn’t make everybody like him.

And he never called it sin. He let them deal with it.

While God will hold an account of my sins, including every stray word (Matt 12:36), other peoples’ emotions are not my responsibility. Emotions of others should be considered, absolutely, but not worshiped. Even love and kindness are abrasive to people who can’t stand discomfort. Jesus loved perfectly, and they hated him—still do! If he couldn’t win that game, how can I?

So I’m not going to play it anymore.

Throughout my life, I may say, do, or be things that make others unhappy. But that doesn’t make it wrong. Not inherently. I will certainly sin. I’m sure I’ll hurt people unnecessarily, and have to apologize. But the point still stands: just because someone hates me doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

Scary, innit? I feel like a far-right or far-left pundit saying, “Screw your feelings, you’re not even human, and anyone who tries to correct me is evil.” That’s not me. I want to show the tenderness of Christ (Isaiah 42:3), and his compassion. But I also want the boldness. I am responsible for my words and actions, but other people are responsible for their own emotions. If they don’t like what I do, they can talk to me, and we can work it out. Or we can go our separate ways if we must. I’d rather sin doing what God’s called me to do than sin ignoring him. I’m doing being the “good” boy.

And I am going to write again.

SOON…

Like I said, I’ve been writing in starts and stops, so here’s what’s happening as of now.

First of all, I’m going to blog again. It’s going to be sporadic as I figure this new “me” out, especially because I’m still in school. But life is piecing itself back together, so I’m hoping to get into a groove soon. I will still talk about God and art, plus a fart joke or six. I’m a dork, I love humor, and I love Jesus. That’s me, that’s what I write about. I’m also going to put together a new website, and new social media presence, so stay turned for that.

As for actual books…

I am about to launch a new novel: Goldenguard, an Americana fantasy about a man who has to save the friends he left for dead. I’ll put up a special post soon with more details, but the book itself is done. No, seriously…DONE. Written, edited, currently being formatted. My cover artist had to take shelter from Hurricane Ian, but the art is coming, and I can’t wait to share it. More soon!

And then there’s that controversial book, which is called Hypocrite. A contemporary novel about a Christian woman who’s trying to help a new believer find her footing in the church while also hiding her own secret from them all. It’s exactly what you think it is. I wrote it six years ago (yikes again) during NaNoWriMo. It was perfect almost from the first draft. I still love it. It’s gonna piss a LOT of people off, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I will hopefully be releasing that one some time after Goldenguard. Next year? Fingers crossed! I’ll talk more about that one soon, too. This post has gone long enough…

I’ve also tweaked Ferryman. I swear I hired a grammatical editor, but…woof. Many little things have been fixed and I made a couple other adjustments to help the story flow better. It’s ultimately the same book, but the “patched” version is now available on ebook and paperback. Click here for those.

Dodecon…is off the table. That shape-shifting labyrinth of a book is giving me heart failure! It needs work, years of it. I’m still writing it, but it’s not coming out any time soon. Several of you were excited for that one and, well, so am I, but reality is reality. It’s going to be a great book, just not today. Full disclosure, it might become a graphic novel. I’m toying with lots of ideas.

I’m also working on a Christian fantasy book called God Save the Queen, the story of girl trying to become a ruler while the world crumbles around her. And the bad guys are this world’s version of Americans. Why? Because I’m an American and I thought that’d be a fun challenge. Also, the magic system is based on Eastern chakras. Why would a Christian do that? Because it makes for a fun magic system, darn it. And I’m not sorry for that. The story is Christian, exclusively so, and that’s what matters.

Let’s see, what else? I’ve done a few short stories and flash fictions I’ve been dying to share, I’m currently in NYC Midnight’s Rhyming Story Challenge (awaiting the results of round one!), I’m still toying with the idea of a Christian urban fantasy superhero thingamajig, but, eh, that is ROOTED in the idea stage. I’m also getting into Dungeons and Dragons (hit me up if you play) and that’s generating ideas, too.

So much is in the works. And it feels good.

Let Us Hear the End of the Matter

It has been a rough couple years, and I can’t say it’s perfect or back to normal. I’m still feeling out this new freedom to be me, and my writing is still finding its groove again. Still, I’m ready. I’m ready to live and write boldly. Considerately, I hope, but out of love, not fear, and love challenges when it must. Jesus loved and died for the world, but he also confronted people. If I’m going to be his follower, I have to actually follow him. Even to agony and shame. May I be brave enough for it.

I’m going to be who God made me to be. Everybody else can deal with it.

And I’ll screw up. I’m human, after all. Y’all can deal with that, too.

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6 thoughts on “Where I’ve Been, Where I Am, Where I’m Going

  1. Great to see your blog, Michael. Welcome back! And congratulations, for you have accomplished a lot (going to grad school, plus your writing projects and a new book!), despite l-i-f-e- (sometimes a four-letter word, pun sort of intended yet not intended) that gets in the way, bringing with it fears and insecurities. I understand all too well.

    “I’m going to be who God made me to be. Everybody else can deal with it.” Great line that shows your strong faith, your confidence in God, and His confidence in what you can do!

    Keep up the good work; you make a difference, and your words bring encouragement to me. I completed a book manuscript two years ago, but fear has kept me from working at getting it out there. I’m going to remember your “I’m going to be who God made me to be” line. Fear does not discriminate. As a grandmother who has been on this earth for nearly seven decades, I thought I’d become wiser about dealing with fear, but it does not discriminate, and I still need reminders.

    Also, God’s will for His people will override any naysayers! So, as Christian soldiers, let us march on in confidence and faith as we put on the full armor of God!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad my own struggles have been able to inspire somebody else, too! Yeah, no, fear is an equal-opportunity employer, but God is…like…and equal-opportunity employer with a pension? This metaphor betrayed me, but you get the point!

      Like

  2. A wonderful update. You were one of the first bloggers I ever followed. So glad to hear from you again. I too struggle with consistency because of ADHD. I pray God’s best for you as you write for Him.

    Liked by 1 person

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