Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Money Ain't A Thing?

In 2002, when I was still married to my first wife, our combined salaries put us well into six-figures. We had two nice cars, a nice house. We took trips wherever and pretty much whenever we wanted to. My wife had regular manicures and pedicures and massages and indulged her hobby of collecting expensive antique furniture and restoring them. Our kid had everything a kid could want and I don't think any of us was happy.

Just a year ago my annual income, when combined with what I made at the gym and from the occasional book or story sale, was almost more than the combined incomes of me and my ex-wife. But that was a year ago. Now, I am struggling like most Americans. I had to sell my dream house and leave Las Vegas after its economy imploded. I live in Austin, Texas now. I don't make shit at my day job but it keeps me so busy that I don't have time to train fighters anymore and barely have time to write. For the last few years I have been trying to find a way to write that best-selling novel like half-a million other writers. I have been planning to open that successful business that would allow me to be comfortably self-employed. I have been trying to find that idea or invention that would make me a millionaire. I dream of leisure even as I cram every waking moment with ceaseless activity.

It's easy to make quaint little statements like "Money isn't everything," "Money can't buy you happiness, love, etc." but the reality is that money keeps your kids from sleeping under a freeway underpass and eating at soup kitchens. Money keeps the bill-collectors at bay. Money even keeps marriages from falling apart. In many studies financial problems beat infidelity as the number one cause of divorce. Most Americans would rather you fuck their best friends than fuck up their finances. Those without money are more likely to commit violent crimes than those with it. Even the bible says: "A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things." So how important is money? Damn important. But will it ultimately make me happy?

I work too damn hard. I don't think there's anyone who knows me who wouldn't agree with that. As a result, a lot of what I do doesn't get done as well as it otherwise might have. I have tried to slow down but it just ain't in me. I'm like a shark and I need to keep moving. Would I slow down if I had money? Probably not much. I would just refocus that energy into other pursuits. Would that make me happy? It wouldn't make me a better writer but it would allow me to devote more time and money to marketing my work which might make me a more successful writer. It wouldn't make me a better trainer but it would allow me to spend more time training fighters which is something I love to do. It wouldn't make me a better father but it would allow me more time to spend with my daughters. It would allow me to provide them with music and dance lessons and actually make it to their recitals. It would allow me to fly up to Exeter New Hampshire to visit my son more often. It wouldn't make me a better husband but it would allow me to spend more time with my wife and to wine and dine her as she deserves to be wined and dined.

So, would more money translate into increased happiness? Damn straight! Do not expect me to relax any time soon. Not until I make my first or second million or maybe after my first billion.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

This I Fear

I am in the fear business. Knowing what scares people is integral to what I do. This has helped me to write some truly terrifying scenes. Often I am asked what exactly scares me. In truth, being human, a lot of the same things that scare you scare me as well. However, being a horror author, I have confronted those fears so often in my writing that most of them no longer have the same sting and many of them are merely an echo, a distant memory, of their former terror. Some of these fears are gone entirely with not so much as a whisper. So, what am I afraid of? Most of my fears are emotional rather than physical. Here are a few of those things that still keep me up at night.

1. Death. Hey, I'm human. The idea of dying with goals left unaccomplished, dreams left unfulfilled,and experiences left unhad, scares me as much as anybody. I don't have any fear of what lies on the other side. I'm pretty certain that when you are gone you are gone, but I am worried about being forgotten, my entire life amounting to nothing more than dust and stench. That's one of the main reasons why I write.

2. Failure. Even more than being forgotten after I'm dead, the idea that I might be forgotten while I'm still alive scares the hell out of me. I'm okay with the idea that one's reach should exceed their grasp but if your dreams are always out of reach eventually, even the strongest of us, would crumble under the weight of despair and disappointment.

3. Screwing Up My Kids. I think every parent's worst nightmare is that some unresolved issues of ours or some momentary lapse in judgment might ruin our children's lives forever. That our daughter's will wind up drug-addicted whores and our son's will end up in prison.

4. Being Hacked To Pieces By A Maniac. Why do you think I write about it?

5. Home Invasion. Having my family at the mercy of some gun-toting assholes and having to risk my life to save them but knowing that even after I'm shot down my family might still be in danger. That's a conundrum I can do without.

6. Torture. Again, why do you think I write about it? Being completely helpless while some lunatic does whatever he pleases with me would be about the scariest thing I could think of.

7. Large Moving Objects Underwater. Yeah, I know. I may not be afraid of snakes and spiders but I too have some irrational fears. Lets just say that if I was swimming and a whale swam up next to me, I'd probably faint and drown.

8. Large Bridges and Scaffolding. A reoccurring nightmare since I was a kid has been traveling across a crumbling bridge. As I have gotten older, the bridges in the dreams have gotten exponentially larger. In the last dream I was driving across it and it crumbled into the ocean and I had to swim. I can't swim. This one is so bad that I was driving past the new bridge that they are constructing over Hoover Dam and I couldn't even look at it. I have confronted this one many times, driving and walking over huge bridges, yet it persists. Another irrational fear.

9. Getting Old and Being Alone or Unhappy. This is one of those universal fears. We all know we are going to get old and we all hate it. The idea that we will outlive our family and friends or simply lose touch with them is scary to me. As is the fear that I will be single at 50 or 60, one of those old guys chasing young girls and going home to some lonely old apartment, kids who don't speak to him, a string of bitter ex-wives, dreaming of his youth when he was a handsome stud as his waistline expands and his muscle-tone diminishes.

10. Toxic Relationships. Friends, family, lovers, who take more than they give and seem to complicate your life and make it harder. Yeah, that's one of my biggest fears.

That's all of them. Yup, even horror authors get scared and that is how we are able to scare you. If you've read my work then you probably recognize some of these fears as they have appeared in past stories. Look forward to some of these fears, like crumbling bridges and large objects moving underwater, showing up in future stories. I'm surprised I've never written a sea monster tale. I will definitely have to correct that. So, what terrifies you?