How I Write… Confessions of a Raging Introvert

I’m a slow motherfucker, everybody. Most people I know complain I dawdle around and waste time. What none of them get is the speed of my mind–it’s just slower than everyone else.

For years, folks, I faked that I wasn’t an introvert. I still do a pretty mean impression of an extravert when I go out. But it’s starting to get old. Nowadys I don’t feel like I have enough time to fake what I like to talk about. I’m just going with who I am now.

My introversion is part of the reason my literay output has been next to nothing the last five years. I only have so much mental energy to go around, and rather than give me energy everybody I know and every chore I need to complete is a drain on my limited resources. I’ve finally just had to accept that with the way my brain works I only have enough energy to do one thing with my life. Either party, have friends, a relationship, or write. For the last five years I been busy chasing tail instead of writing. Maybe, at age 38, I’m finally mature enough to just get the work done.

I had a story idea a while. Well, I had the urge to investigate an idea I had about people that I wanted to write about. So I started writing, thinking I was laying down some good shit. After 20K words, I gave it a read, and discovered I’d written a big pile of shit. I would say out of those 20K words, maybe 3-4K were any good.

Now, I have this idea that some people can write out of the box. They got the right kind of brain to basically structure a story as they go along improvising it. That ain’t me. My guess is this happens with the more extraverted writers. You know, when extraverts talk out what they want to say versus an introvert who thinks it through before they talk. I’m the latter. It’s a lesson I keep failing to learn. Every one of my stories starts out as an idea, and in a rush I take off writing.¬† The result? Shit. I go back to the drawingboard, re-think what I’m trying to say with this idea, what’s the point, then I start buildong it out from there.

The point is, as an introvert I really need a lot of time alone, just to think about what the fuck I’m doing in life. My stories are an extension of that need.

This newest idea I have, which should reach novel length, started out as an insight I’d had by living life and observing people. Like usual, lacking some kind of impulse control, I just started writing. I thought I was being brilliant, too. My big idea was I’d mix essay and narrative. But what I accomplished was the destruction of each. The essayistic portions ended up being preachy, telly, and boring. A few of the scenes came up breathing, but they were very thin. That’s no big deal. It’s another feature of my slow mind. I can’t think of details on the spot. I have to add them in on later passes. Actually, this¬† isn’t necessarily due to my slow brain, it’s due to my pathological focus on the BIG PICTURE and UNDERLYING SYSTEMS that govern human behavior. You know that forrest that some people see because they can only see the individual trees? I can’t see the trees at all until I know there’s a forrest.

Erlier this morning I took a walk. Wait. Let me start earlier than that. Before my walk, I tried to re-write the opening scene to Crazy Bitches. I got some decent conflict in the scene, but after I read it back, I couldn’t figure out how the fuck it would fit into the idea I was writing about. Being stubburn, I tried thinking of a solution. My brain tried to weave the threads of implication into the greater idea of Crazy Bitches but the scene, the whole fucking concept of the scene, seemed out of place. There’s only one thing you can do when you have that problem. Scrap the scene. I saved it, thinking maybe it would be the start of another story. I know it won’t open Crazy Bitches.

So, I was frustrated. I daydreamed for a while, but I do my best thinking while I’m walking around. On that walk, I began thinking very precisely about the idea this story is meant to express. The basic idea is something like American culture is sexually abusive and destroys people. But when I went off half-cocked, I started writing about a guy who hooks up with a girl who kinda develops a fatal attraction for him and starts doing crazy shit. Hence, Crazy Bitches. I failed because the idea wasn’t just about men and women. It’s about the cultural emphasis America has and its effects on men and women. The first version saw me making my narrator, who’s already damaged, the protagonist, and the antagonist the girl he screws with. Unfortunately, in order for the story to work, the protagonist has to be relatively undamaged at the beginning of the story. The antagonist has to be America. The narrator, who is yours truly, Bob Collins, can be damaged. A damaged narrator is good, as he’ll be able to chart the protagonist’s decline in character as he succumbs to contemporary American cultural prejudices.

I wouldn’t have come up with any of this if I hadn’t taken that walk. But you might be diffrent. You might have a quick-thinking mind that could move from the idea to a general structure in a few minutes. It took me two weeks and 20K of wasted time and writing before I took a couple hours of a solitary walk to figure it out.

What’s this all mean? Absolutely nothing. I work the way I work because my brain functions best that way. If yours does something else, you better listen. Until you pay attention to who you are rather than trying to fit in to a style or a group of people, you won’t be shit. So, listen to yourself. Either that or…

How to Start Working Even if You Don’t Want to Because You’re Drunker than You’ve Ever Been, or Some Other Debilitating Condition Has You Laid Up

I been drunk for almost five months. What else is a guy like me gonna do with his life? I’m practically illiterate compared to some of my contemporaries. None of my stories feature teenage romances. Can you believe that? None of them! If there’s gonna be a teenager in one a my stories you better believe she’ll be fucked (up the ass) in the end. That’s just what Bob Collins is about.

Bob Collins stories ain’t rainbows and love blossoms. Maybe they’re Cleveland Steamers and golden showers. Did you read what passes for my bio? Can you really expect happy endings from a Bob Collins story?

Hell, no!

A Bob Collins story is more like drinking too much at a bar, passing out, and waking up in a bathroom stall with your face smooshed against the floor tiles, all befouled and coated in unwashed layers of piss, crap, cum, and puke–while your buddies stand over you cracking jokes at your pathetic ass.

That’s right. You’re so high and mighty during the day, so capable at your job, or at least you’re trying to delude everybody into thinking so… But at night where are you? Shitfaced drunk with someone else’s turds rubbed up against your tongue.

That’s a Bob Collins story.

But there hasn’t been many Bob Collins stories. That’s the point and it’s a big problem when as an author you want to make a living by selling your work.

In order to do that, you have to do two things: 1) Produce work; and 2) Make sure that work is worth reading. When I say “worth reading” I mean it’s done well enough that someone (hopefully many someones) gets so much pleausre out of the experience they toss some coinage my way.

I haven’t done a good job of that.

You see, I wrote a fictionalized version of my one and only marriage, The Sexually Adventurous Life of Bob Collins vol. 1, and it was an okay book. For a first book. The thing is readable, but it ain’t giving no one any wood. Which means I been doing my best to improve on it. The stories I’ve done since them, yeah, they’re technically better, but they don’t have no “ooomph”–there ain’t no pop. And the title I chose for the first book was a bad title. I mean, hell, there was more than one volume to be written so that part wasn’t a lie and there was a lot of sex in that book, so that wasn’t a lie, either; but the story wasn’t about vast sexual experiences. It was more about how I fell in love with this woman and then learned to hate her. You know, the way relationships go.

The book has been selling, but not enough to keep a guy with my tolerance in alcohol for very long. Another indicator that my game has to improve. Not just in the writing, but also in the authoring and publishing.

What it comes down to, drunk or not, is to do the work. It’s time to cut out distractions. No more dicking around. I don’t need two whores a day. What I need to do is plaster my ass in a chair and write. That’s the only way to do this career. Just do the work.

The thing is–and I generally don’t admire people–I look around the internet and I see writers of all abilities who’ve done the work. That impresses me. Against my will, I’ll admit it inspires me.

Like I said earlier, I had some short stories I got going. Some worked, others didn’t. I couldn’t in good conscience publish inferior product. What, you expect a man with and eleven-and-three-quarter-inch dick to shaft you? I might give some of my sexual partners the rod, but I don’t screw my readers–unless they proposition me. And I couldn’t publish none of them stories because my laptop crashed. Now, those stories are legends.

I been so depressed. That book, The Sexually Adventurous Life of Bob Collins vol 1, I wrote that motherfucker back in 2008. I started it back in 2006. Now, it’s 2012. Since then I’ve barely gotten shit together. Like I said, a few inferior short stories. But nothing good. I mean, TSALoBCv1 was my first book. I’m cutting myself a little slack with it. Someday, I might even withdraw it from the market. I haven’t decided. All I know is I have to produce more. But what do I do instead?

I drink myself silly. For 5 months. I started drinking back in January and I haven’t stopped since. My liver is a little tender, but that ain’t so uncommon with me. I been wandering all over the world, fucking and drinking, searching for an idea to tackle. I don’t want no bullshit teenage love stories either. I wanna write something important–or at least is more important than another goddamned doomed magical high school couple.

For 5 months I’ve been drinking to help something come into my mind. (No wisecracks!) I think something finally did.

Today something happened. I got inspired. With a story idea. Something that has some meat in it, some weight. I’m gonna start working on it if I can hold off the booze long enough to stop touching myself.

And that’s what you really got to do. You gotta do the work. If I need to close myself up in a closet for 3 weeks while I pump out a first draft, well, guess what, Bob, you asshole, that’s what’s going to happen. Because this laziness. It ain’t you, Bob. It’s fear. Get rid of the distractions. Face your fear. And write.

Why Does Bob Collins Write the Way He Does?

I was raped when I was a kid. Ever since then my world has been full of bad people.

No one I meet is a good person.

They’re all sons a bitches out for one person–themselves.

All of these assholes taught me something. Behind closed doors, everyone is a cocksucker. Only a rare person will behave morally even when they’re guaranteed of getting away with a crime.

I know. I’ve been around these people my whole life. From poor to rich, they’re all the same.

Can you tell me why for every one Mother Theresa there are ten Pol Pots?

I’ll tell you why. Because a good man is a rare man. And the common man doesn’t want a good man around. All the assholes and bitches have spent centuries trying to breed out good qualities.

Do you know what the guy who raped me said when he was done? He said, “Hope you have a good life.”

Hope you had a good life?

It was like he wouldn’t be happy with just hurting me, he had to know he’d effect the rest of my life.

When I told my mom about it, she just told me I was blowing it out of proportion.

So, if you want to know why I write the way I do, America, you can thank yourselves.

In Writing, Nothing Replaces Hard Work

Nothing replaces hard work.

Nothing.

That’s the way it is in Bob Collins’ world. So if you got some other opinion like “smart” work replaces hard work, read the sentence before this one again. It says in my world nothing replaces hard work. That’s an opinion and you just can’t argue them things. Case closed. In your world it might be something else. I don’t give a shit. You’re in Bob Collins land when you come around here.

Like I said, nothing replaces hard work, but that might be because I’m a slow thinker and I don’t write too fast, so I have to write extra hard.

No matter what I write, I gotta rewrite it like 20 times before I get it somewhat readable.

That’s the case with a little story I’ve been working on. It’s called ONE MEAN VAMPIRE. And I’ve been dicking with it for a month and a half. The motherfucker is around 11k words right now, so for $.99 US it’s quite a bargain (whenever I get it up for sale).

But it’s been a hard road to write this little masterpiece. Every night I’m bashing my head against the wall, writing a paragraph, then bashing my head against the wall again because I don’t know what to write next. The same way it was hard writing vol 1 of my autobiography. One struggle after another. That story went through many iterations before I distilled it to what you can now buy here.

I know this is just the way my writing career will go. When Dean Wesley Smith says this new world of ebook publishing will benefit the fast writer, I just throw my hands up. Once again, I ain’t optimized for the world and I’m gonna pay for it one way or another.

That only leaves me one choice.

I’m gonna do what I learned what to do now. Keep my nose to the grindstone and produce what I can. The only way I can.

It might not be your way. But it’s the only way I got.

How to Pick a Sidekick

This is a guest post by a friend a mine, Marshmallow DeWitt.

For those of you who have never heard of me, allow me to introduce myself: My name is Marshmallow DeWitt, and I must say it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

I’ve been in the private investigations field for a decade and half a decade more, plying my trade in everything from unsolved murders to missing pets. The missing pet cases I could leave alone, as Ace Ventura has the market cornered; but when Ace is unavailable, people turn to me, not only for my infallibe logic but also cooking tips, which I offer as part of my package. My workload grew to epic proportions not long after I found Lady Chesterwick of Ullrod’s tabby cat in the thin branches of an oak tree. After the word of that case spread far and wide, my workload grew to epic proportions.

(note from Bob: Marshmallow’s epic proportions still ain’t as big as Big Ole Cock. Carry on, Marsh…)

In order to meet my obligations to the people that need me, I had to find myself a sidekick to handle some of the more mundane jobs that quite frankly I do not have time for. If this sounds to you something like Tomothy Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work Week, it is no accident–he stole the idea from me. After firing quite a slew of attractive young ladies (who refused to sleep with me), I made a list of five essential traits a sidekick must have to successful.

Here they are.

1) Lower intelligence than the private investigator

Under no circumstances should your sidekick ever show you up in front of a client. Clients are sneaky. They will hire your sidekick behind your back just before they fire you–for a lot less money.

Do not let this happen.

Sidekicks are allowed to save their private investigator from harm, however they should never look better than their PI when they save his life. Acceptable examples of lifesaving include slicing through ropes if the PI is tied to a chair, holding your hand while you dangle from a rooftop, or slipping the hot blonde at the end of the bar a rufi after she shot you down three times.

2) possess a minimum of physical beauty, but always be well-groomed

A well-groomed sidekick reflects well on you as an employer. But make sure he is uglier than you, that way you will have no problem giving him orders.

3) must have asthma

This way, even if you are overweight such as myself, your sidekick will never outrun you–as long as you first steel his inhaler.

4) make sure he’s white

Black sidekicks is racist.

5) make sure he has a good understanding of how to cook all of your favorite dishes

I like to eat. My sidekick should feed me.

So, those are my five essential traits for hiring a good sidekick. But, there is one more…

Must be an attractive female of loose morals.

If you know anyone like this, please have her get in touch with me. I desperately need a new sidekick.

*********************

Bob says: Speak for yourself, Marshmallow. I roll solo.

Winning The Fight Against Depression

When I was 25 I hadn’t been laid in four days. A dry spell like that might be normal to the men out there who are anatomically proportionate. But me? After all a the branding I’d done in Lakewood, I shouldn’t a gone more than a few hours without going to bed with a girl.

But it’d been four long days since a woman threw herself at me. I was starting to think the world was coming to an end.

I was entering the biggest depression a my life, sliding down in the void deeper and deeper each day. But I didn’t realize it.

I did the only thing I could: I holed myself in my bedroom, refused to eat, drank only one beer a day, and masturbated furiously.

That ain’t a way to live life–masturbating when you got a tool like mine. But it continued for me this way for five months. I lost fifty pounds and was hurting in a bad way.

I was depressed and riddled with anxiety. I needed help from a doctor, a psychiatrist–and just about every drug they could give me.

But I didn’t have no money and I didn’t have no insurance. I was fucked.

So what does Bob Collins do in this bleak situation? Usually, Bob Collins would rent a hooker for an hour. But I was broke. Then Bob Collins would roll up in a defeated ball and wait to die. But instead I found some kind a inner strength and told myself: “Bob, you can’t go on living this way no more. You got a fine piece a meat that needs to be shared with the women a Lakewood. Find a way to share it.”

It was a realization. Or, as James Joyce called it, a epiphany.

That’s when I realized it was all up to me. No one was gonna help so I had to start the long and arduous process a recovery all alone.

It wasn’t easy and I didn’t take no shortcuts with pills an therapists (because a my financial limitations). I just faced down them demons each and every day, the way a bullfighter faces down a bull.

This is what I learned.

LISTEN TO THAT VOICE IN YOUR HEAD.

It’s the depression talking, not your normal you.

If that voice says you’re dying, listen to it, then tell it to go fuck off. Do something, anything that makes you feel alive. Because you ain’t dying. You’re depressed. It ain’t the same thing. In my case I went for a walk to make myself feel better. That first walk was only about ten minutes long, but after being locked up in my bedroom for five months it was a major step. It could be anything, depending on what you need. Just fucking make yourself do it. Do something that makes that voice a depression scared.

DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU DONE IN YOUR DEPRESSION.

If you haven’t showered in five days, take five showers a day. If you’ve been locked in your room for a month, go outside and refuse to go back in until you’re either frostbitten or sunburnt. If you haven’t talked to no one in a week, have a conversation with someone until you just can’t stand stand listening to them no more.

Just make yourself do it. That’s the whole secret. Don’t give up. Don’t chicken out.

I KNOW THIS WORKS BECAUSE I SOLVED MY OWN CLINICAL DEPRESSION LIKE THIS.

I dragged myself out a my depression one day at a time. When I first started on the road to recovery I was so weak I could barely stand for 10 minutes straight. My mind was always telling me I was dying a something. But everytime my depressed mind said I was dying, I yelled back ten times I am alive and I am fine. Sometimes the struggle wasn’t a day at a time, it was more like one minute at a time, just trying to limp from one minute to the next. When your body chemistry is screwed and wacky, you gotta fight through that and you gotta know there is light on the other side a all a this. Everything can be put back together. There’s no problem you can’t handle.

It’s like what Rocky Balboa said: It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.

After five months a solitude, after my body had atrophied and turned to eating its own muscles to get the nutrients I couldn’t swallow, I forced myself outside, I forced myself to talk, and I forced myself to get better.

At first I was scared to run into people and the thought of a real conversation made me wanna hole myself up in bed again. But instead a getting knocked out a life, I started saying hello to everyone I saw. Maybe they thought I was crazy, but fuck them. I was scared to talk, so I went out and made myself talk.

I got myself out of a hole doctors said only medicine would cure.

Well, fuck that.

I ain’t had a spot a depression since then. That’s 12 years a mental toughness. If a mental weakling like Bob Collins can do it, you can do it too.

Of course, I had to do it the hard way because that’s just the kind a guy I am. Plus, I didn’t have no money or health insurance.

But that’s beside the point. Just know you can dig yourself out too if you need to. It ain’t easy and it ain’t a quick fix, but it lasts longer than the pills do.

XOXO

– Bob