Saturday, January 21, 2012

An Excerpt from a Chapter of My Life

I've never been one to share the details of my life. I'm quiet. I'm shy. I tend to withdraw when life gets tense. If you met me for the first time, you'd never guess that. You'd never profile me as a serial thinker. In fact, I'm pretty good at acting dumb, while packing mental heat at the same time.

It's not the best way to live, bottled up feelings and all. I get that.

Today, I'm breaking the mold. I'm breaking the ice. I'm going to share with you what it's like to be me. I'm going to write an excerpt from my life.

To begin with, my wife and I have four children, ages 16, 14, 12, and 10 (3 boys and 1 girl). We have been married for almost twenty years and are still dating. I take her out twice a week. As you can imagine, my wife needs to have adult time. We both do. We home educate all four of our kids, including two other boys who we've sort of adopted. Our life, as you can imagine is full of odd smells, loud noises, wrestlemania and food… lots of food and dirty dishes.

My wife is an amazing person. She works extremely hard, is a wonderful teacher, mother and friend. She takes on the brunt of our craziness.

I, on the other hand, am a writer. My mind is occupied with a million dreams. I think of new ways to create characters and twisty tales and how to package those ideas into something coherent. I have two blogs to manage. I wake up in the night and jot down my nightmares, or write a blog post to relieve some of the mental pressure. Sometimes, if I wake up to get a drink, I'll pick up my phone and check my sales when I should be sleeping.


Don't get me wrong, I make every effort to spend time with each of my kids every day, asking them questions and listening to them, putting my arm around them, and observing their growth and silly, sweet things that they say. But sometimes I let this writing thing, this platform building stuff get out of hand. Sometimes I think it's too much. Sometimes I want to unplug it all and never look back. On occasion, the best thing to do in this hectic writer life of mine is to just grab an xBox controller and play call of duty for a couple of hours with my 12-year old son.

If you're a writer working a day job, and you want to be involved with your family, I'm sure you understand the pull. It's very powerful. The force will wear you down if you let it. And to be honest, I'm teetering on the brink of to-the-bone wear down. I've been feeding The Kindle Book Review Miracle Grow, I just released Twisted Vengeance a month and a half ago, and I'm about to embark on the release of The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. That's two books in two months.

That's too much.

I'm not complaining. I know what I'm doing. I manage my time and make every moment count, but doing so takes so much focus that it's physically and emotionally draining. Strange thing is, I think I thrive on the madness.

That's me. That's my life.

Now it's your turn.

Are you familiar with the insanity? If you're new to indie publishing, let me warn you; as rewarding as it can be, writing and everything that goes with it can consume you. Indie publishing has the potential to occupy your mind like moss on a fallen timber, slowly enveloping your mind until you and the soil below are one.

It's the nature of the beast. It's a mental thing. It's a monster thing.

Fortunately, writing blog posts like this remind me that I am the ruler of this animal, and why I've had this longstanding love affair with the trade. The beast is mine to control even when I've lost my grip of the leash. His teeth may sink into my flesh and begin tearing, but I can always break its neck with my words and a few quick strokes of my pen.

So there you go; I've bared my soul and spilled my guts. I'm weak. I'm faulted. I'm a writer.

~Jeff Bennington
Bestselling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance & Creepy
Look for my forthcoming non-fiction, The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe.


  1. Thanks for giving us a look inside, Jeff. I think multi-tasking has to become second nature to writers, particularly indies. Your life sounds amazingly fast and furious but very cool! Looking forward to your next book :)

  2. Jeff, I really appreciated this piece. I, too, work a day job and spend a great deal of my time with my family. But I am also working the indie hard and understand how it can consume a person. Right now, it's Saturday morning and I am reading and commenting on your blog and some others. I am managing Twitter and responding to emails, when I told myself I would take this time to work on the next chapter in my sixth novel. I am studying the book business every day and trying to keep up with all the changes.
    You've got what it takes to distinguish yourself in the writing field. Keep with it. We're all in this together. I'll see you on Triberr.
    Regards, SW

  3. Jeff,
    Stephen said it all... well, almost all. I'm estranged from my two children, long ago grown, and my grandchildren. My life is the product of my choices and regret isn't a choice. On the other hand, I appreciate you taking the time to share your family with me; I probably appreciate it more than you can imagine.
    Have a warm, happy, fun-filled day.

  4. Jeff, having just started writing (in earnest) again after a seven-year hiatus, I completely relate to what you wrote and others put in comments. The pace of changes in the indie publishing world have had my head spinning, not to mention the use of technology in ways that weren't available before. I find it disturbs my writing focus a great deal. Some days I want a cabin in the woods with no internet connection, and then I think that would be foolhardy because you can't build a platform from a cabin in the woods. It makes my head want to explode! I am trying hard to take it one day at a time, or, 'bird by bird,' as Anne Lamott says. Thanks for sharing your story and letting others know that we're not alone!

  5. I feel for you. I have been lucky (or unlucky, depending on perspective) to be unemployed for the last year or so. In May I decided to jump on the indie bandwagon and between helping aging parents, volunteering, writing, promoting, blogging and more, I have never been busier, but never happier (other than the stress of money lol). A newbie author has been tweeting with me and she said she's been promoting a lot and she's exhausted and said "writing is easier". I laughed and said I agreed. This is a crazy roller coaster ride, but it is rewarding or I wouldn't do it. I am seeing things pick up in terms of sales, but the better part is the positive reaction to my stories. That is priceless.
    Thanks for sharing and best of luck to you.

  6. I always admire a brave heart and when it speaks the truth as you've done, it offers others more than just a story. So thank you, Jeff. I keep wondering who created this racetrack we all seem to find ourselves on, who opened the gate, and most importantly, why are we running so hard? I'll get back to you if I get any insights. Until then, know your blog gave a bunch of us a chance to feel drawn together not only along lines of stress but also through a like-minded love of writing.

  7. I love your analogy of publishing occupying your mind like moss on a fallen timber. I feel like that tree in your picture sometimes: totally consumed with being a writer. At least my kids are grown and almost out of the nest.
    I never realized how much work it would take to get my book 'out there'. All writers, not just indie writers, need to understand how much work is involved after you type THE END.
    Thanks for sharing your story. And tell your wife she's wonderful!!

  8. "packing mental heat" remind me of my husband - few people know him well enough to know what's under the surface, and I'm proud to be one of them.

    FOUR KIDS?! ALMOST ALL TEENS?! YIKES! I have two boys 13 and 10, and having a blast with both. My day job has been MommyLoves - an home-based, online novelty apparel and family products business - since 2003, and as of 1/1/12, I have switched my focus to FT writing and publishing, and helping others do the same. I still run MommyLoves, but at arm's length. I have outsourced all the work, but maintain the website and product offering. It's scary, but I am so energized, I can't sit still sometimes. Still, my real job is the kids, husband and home, so juggling has become an art...sometimes Michelangelo, sometimes Thomas Kincaid, sometimes Kindergarten scribble.

    Writing/Publishing discipline is the hardest for me right now. I love finding and reading blog posts like yours, and I could stay in that focus all day if I allow.

    Being a project person, and having a large number of projects running through my hands and brain, I need to keep my focus in order to get anything done...REALLY DONE! Luckily, I have a husband who keeps the household machine running and oiled with income!

    Wish Me Luck, and thanks for helping with this post.

  9. @Trish ~ Hi. You are correct. fast & furious. Cool? Yeah, I'd have to agree. It pretty much feels like the weekend every day… after 1:00 pm anyway.

    @Stephen ~ Thanks, man. I appreciate that. Study hard, things are changing so fast, who knows what the indie world will hold this time next year.

    @Bert ~ I jut felt a knife plunge into my heart. I can't imagine. Thanks for commenting. I'm glad this had some sort heling/hope/comfort. Thanks for dropping by.

    @Laura ~ The cabing thing sounds great! Only problem with that is, the last time I stayed in a cabin, it was haunted. Seriously.

    @Renee ~ I feel your friends pain. Thing is, it only gets more exciting after you add more titles. On the other hand, multiple titles help feed readers to each other, so it can be easier in some respects as well.

    @Christina ~ Thank you for your comment. Please do add further insights. As far as the gate is concerned, I saw it crack open a couple fo years ago and started running before I knew what I was getting into. The gate could've opened up to a flaming abyss. I don't think the "race" is quite that bad.

    @Marsha ~ Hi there. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. As far as the log analogy, I sat down and tried to visualize how I was feeling and that was the first picture that came to mind. It fits so well. But we all have to die some day. Ashes to ashes dust to dust, right? I guess that makes that image even more perfect.

  10. I get it. I empathize. I so totally relate. On every level. And I think you're doing a great job for your followers.

  11. I made a promise to myself when I dedicated my life to writing: I was going to be honest. Honesty was going to be the character of my characters. I began with me. My blog spills the beans, warts and all. It's very liberating and, I believe, has permitted me to populate my stories with three-dimensional, believable characters. I recommend it...

  12. @Marie ~ Thank you.

    @Jack ~ That's excellent. Sometimes total honesty has got me in trouble, but that's another story.

  13. Jeff, I really enjoyed the post, reading about you made me feel I wasn't so alone anymore. I guess all of us who decide to go down the indie road find ourselves short of breath, assailed by all the things that need to be done - from editing and book covers to marketing - Too much! Yes, I too often let go of the leash and find myself run under. I never finish what I set out to do or so it seems...

    And you've taught me something: to open up. I find that very hard to do on Internet. But you're right. I'm sure it helps. Blow off the steam. That can be done on one's blog, sure. Never done it. Hey, that's yet another thing I should contemplate doing and add to my (already overly long) list of things-to-do!! Argh!

  14. I have trouble opening up as well, but I've realized lately that if I don't, I'll probably never establish the connections I need to to sell books someday.

    Anyway, I know how crazy it can be. There's never enough time to do all the things you want to do to work on your career in writing. I gave up all my hobbies for awhile in hopes of making more time for it and wound up sick as a result.

  15. @Claude ~ That was very kind of you to respond like that. Thank you. And yes, maybe you should.

    @E.B. ~ Thank you for being transparent. Sorry you got sick. I think I'm prone to that. Peace.

  16. I think being a writer/artist allows one to let out their inner muse, in one way or another, either by a stroke of the pen, a few solitary minutes at the keyboard/ivories/strings, or whatever outlet is your has to come out eventually, or you go nuts with all those voices, movie pictures, and/or songs stuck inside your head. :)

    Keep up the good work, Jeff! :))


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