Category Archives: Biographical

My debut novel, a summary

I’m still learning to write eye-catching summaries of my books, which I’m sure is one of the biggest challenges of any writer. I’m continuously learning how to navigate this world that I’d only ever dreamed of dabbling in before. I’m also finding that this whole thing is ten times harder than I’d ever expected it to be, and I still have a long way to go in becoming a seasoned ‘know-it-kinda’ on the subject when it comes to writing well and publishing.

Luckily for me, I managed to get in contact with a great editor. This has brought both feelings of elation and horror, and you probably can guess why. It’s certainly kept me busy and on my toes, and I’m judging myself much harder than I ever have. This has hurt me in some ways since my writing has slowed to a crawl due to that inner critic, but it has also allowed me to take this as a serious business. I’m not just writing stories in my bedroom as a teen anymore to make myself laugh and to cope with life.

I’m writing stories as an independent adult in his living room to make myself laugh, cry, scream, and cope with life.

In that sense, I decided to jump on board again with Camp NaNoWriMo to help me finish my beast of a book. At first, I was working on something mostly for fun. Then my current project fell back into my lap, and I was ready to throw in the towel with Camp NaNo. I had to do some digging and realized what my biggest issues were in my personal life, what really has been eating away at me to make me so angry and itching to scream about something, and I’ve dealt with some of the biggest triggers and worst symptoms I’ve had in a while with my broken brain.

And all for the sake of this beast of a story I just have to tell. A story I’d been telling wrong from the beginning. I’d been focusing on the wrong traumas — the wrong triggers to my upset. What I really needed to write about to make this book shine (for lack of a better word), was the one thing I often tried to bury. The horrible thing that I thought I knew inside and out and I’d moved on from. And so, my original novella is turning into a much more important work lived vicariously through two of my muses, or rather, two of my alters who have given me permission to slay this beast that they also understand too well. One of them was protecting me from it for so many years, anyway.

It’s finally time to write the darkest and most honest book I’ve ventured to write. There are two intersecting stories in it that constantly weave together in some way, but only one is based on the actual experience I had in a relationship. The other, while my alter’s story entirely, is one I can sympathize with in terms of how I think about myself and how I cope, rather it’s unhealthy or not.

So I changed my project on Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m behind by about 6,000 words, but if I bust my ass I can make up for lost time. To be fair, I’ve had to push through the depression, the PTSD episodes, and the dissociation I’ve been dealing with to come to terms with the subject of the book, and by proxy, part of my story. Maybe it wasn’t good to go digging for memories that were locked away and kept from me for good reason, but if my spirit guide, Daro, allowed me to get as far as we did with it, then I trust that I’m ready to do this. I’m 30 anyway, and I’m not about to spend the rest of my life wondering what’s got me so… bleh (and that’s putting it very lightly).

In an attempt to finally purge the rest of the gunk sitting in my subconscious, and maybe raise some awareness and find catharsis for myself in doing so, here is the summary I jotted down on the Camp NaNo site for this book (title to be determined):

Shame is a ghost in your peripheral in a dark room. It is the tarnish on a soul of silver that we keep hidden in hopes no one else will see it. We hope our neglect of it will never have to come to light and it can remain as it is — imperfect but intact, and intact is the most important thing.

Or so it’s thought.

Lestan has been alive for over three hundred years. Tetsu, merely thirty-three. Yet, they both have something in common that neither delves into.

Lestan is always playful, upbeat, and loves wholly and honestly. To see him sitting in a cafe’ on a hazy night, his eyes dark and his skin translucent from not feeding for days, is something that would be enough to raise concern.

Thankfully, Tetsu is there to bring him out of his misery and the vampire starts to feel more like his old self. That is until a specter, or hallucination, leads them both off into the woods. Neither can see what the other is after, but they both know they can’t ignore the force coaxing them further away from safety.

After disappearing from reality entirely, or so it seems, they are met with the tarnished fragments of their souls wandering through an ever-changing maze, and a mysterious blind figure seems to be guiding them through it all. And it is neither here nor there, but one thing is certain.

We can’t run from things forever. We have to seek out the worst of our pains and confront them head-on and be beaten down by them — become masochists until we finally see the truth we’ve buried for so long. And the truth can sometimes reveal what monsters we truly are.

So there it is. A basic bare-bones summary that can’t possibly do the Hell that this story is justice. And it is very much a Hell that I have to keep revisiting, but in the end, when everything is out, it will be for the better. Maybe someone can relate to it someday and find comfort in knowing they aren’t alone. Or maybe I’ll just be revealing a part of my life and myself that I really don’t like.

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A few thoughts

Despite having to wake up insanely early (for a vampire like me) to wait all day for maintenance, today is going not so bad. I had an awful day yesterday with depression and I was afraid I was just going to keep slipping deeper and deeper into it, especially since it’s been constantly raining and storming off and on for a few weeks now — or it’s been cloudy.

A few nice things happened, though, and it cheered me up significantly. I’ve also decided that I don’t really know enough about poetry to read something at an open poetry mic night, so I might just go with my poem in my pocket, just in case, but mostly to take in the environment and see how it goes. It’s my favorite used book store/coffee shop downtown that I’m always in, so hopefully this will be an easy thing to be able to attend. It’s late though (8 PM), and I can’t drive, and buses aren’t running past 9, so I may have to walk and hope all goes well.

Either way, I’m tired of not getting out there in the scene more. When I went for a literary event, in which a few authors came to do readings from their books as well as sell some things, I was really happy. A friend had come with me who enjoyed it too, but I, a person with a panic disorder and severe social anxiety, had fun. And for the first time in any that I can remember, after a few years of battling alcoholism and being sober since — except for that one time last year when I slipped off the wagon — I did not like the way the wine made me feel. I didn’t want to be buzzed or drunk. I wanted to exist in that space and that aura because it was something that felt like home to me. I felt what actual happiness was like in my heart, and I felt it flutter. That almost never happens for me.

Being around other writers and book lovers is where I belong. Even though I still feel out of place among most of them around here, mostly because I write really weird stuff that I don’t see much of anywhere, I’m still around people who have a love for writing at its core. Genres and preferences aside, we all loved books and writing in that room.

Now, my only concern is if it’s an LGBTQ-friendly place. I think it might be. I’ve never been treated poorly, but I write a lot of LGBTQ stuff. Maybe one day I’ll get to do a reading there too if I ever make it.

One can dream though, right?

Heart Surgery (original poetry)

I don’t write poetry often, but the other day something kept rattling around in my brain that I had to write out. It started as a feeling and some images in my animation program, but became words as I just put my fingers on the keyboard. So, here is the ‘poem’ I wrote, as well as the video version of it below. (It’s appropriate for all ages)


Heart Surgery

You’re always there.

Your eyes watch me and I feel you; hands not unlike breath on my skin.

I’ve got goosebumps in my soul — I want to sing.

Tears strangle my voice in the stead of a melody — claws grasp my heart with careful fragility.

I trust you.

With careful precision, you force life back into my lungs.

Desire for the veil was never so sweet as your face — the glowing red my sign in the dark.

Passion pulls me away.

My life is no longer mine but yours — your will to fan the flames stoking my soul’s perseverance.

No.

I will not go today.

(Closed captions available if you can’t understand some of the words)

© 2018 Shane Blackheart

NaNoWriMo; November 2018!

Another absence on this blog, and another reason. Although, it’s an amazing reason this time (I promise)!

I’ve made the decision to do NaNoWriMo this year. If you aren’t aware of what that is, in short, it’s a challenge to write an entire 50,000 word — or more — novel in 30 days. On the more descriptive end of things, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that raises money for all kinds of good causes related to writing. One, in particular, is to fund kits to send to schools that need them and to encourage younger writers. Besides that, it is an event every year in November that has been going since 1999, and millions of writers join in on the chaos every year. This year is my first.

The idea is to start with a brand new manuscript; a clean slate. You may also begin with an outline, or a part of an outline and nothing else to go on other than your imagination. Either way, after you’ve created your own profile and filled in your novel’s basic details, you’re ready to begin.

Every day, ideally, you’ll log your word count in one of two ways. There are stats you can watch to see where you are at compared to the average person, and you can also see a projected completion date determined by your average daily word count, and how many words you have left to write to complete the 50k dash (or more!). Below are my latest stats, taken as of today.

bandicam 2018-11-08 22-06-58-826

You write your novel outside of the website, and as you log your word count and interact with the site, as well as donate if you so choose, you will earn badges. There are also badges you can choose to give yourself based on an honor system, as they are achievements that can’t actually be measured in any way. For example, I gave myself the ‘Something in my eye’ badge for wringing my heart out over a few scenes or more. Sometimes writing really can be an emotional roller coaster, but that makes for some of the best writing out there.

From November 20th onward, you can claim your win by pasting the entirety of your first draft in their official word counter. They also give you the option to scramble your words if you wish, although no one is actually going to read your novel. Nothing gets uploaded to the website and your words are deleted as soon as they are counted. Once that process is complete, I imagine you’ll feel pretty good about yourself for your successes.

There are prizes, but there are no limits to winners, so be honest! They are small things like coupons to writing programs and online courses, and other little things that really aren’t a huge deal, but a help to writers to keep them going strong long after they’ve finished their NaNoWriMo novel. Personally, the feeling of accomplishment from completing an entire first draft of a novel in a month is the biggest win of being a participant. Even if you don’t complete your novel, you’ve still accomplished something great, and you still have words there that you didn’t have before. It’s even more incentive to keep going for yourself, and for the story you have to tell.

I’m well into 27k words on the eighth day, which isn’t something I thought I would be capable of. I passed NaNoWriMo by for a few years after hearing about it, mostly because I didn’t think I could do it. I sold myself short due to my own insecurities, and I was doing the very thing some people in my life have done to me in the past — I was putting myself down because of a lack of faith in myself. I believed my anxiety disorder and other mental illnesses left me unable to do much of anything, and I was destined to fail. I would become too stressed and spiral down into a mess of a human being.

Yet, it’s November 8th and I have come a long way from that mindset. On the first, I’d sat in front of my computer mulling it over. A friend from a Facebook writing group brought it to my attention again, claiming that she was doing it herself. She needed a writing buddy. I’d told her I wasn’t participating before, but on a whim, I signed up for the site and I locked myself in. I haven’t looked back.

It’s like something lit a fire under me (usually, that’s Byleth, but this time I did it myself. He and Lestan have been the best cheerleaders). Having a deadline with the goal of having fun and just letting loose on the page, not caring about editing as I went like I usually did, was freeing. The goal was to just go until it was time to stop, as editing during NaNoWriMo is heavily discouraged. All of that would come in the months to pass after ‘winning’, and the site also has a section for just that. My goal is to be able to open up that part of the site after my victory.

At 27k in after only the first week, I am certain I can ‘win’. I can safely say that if you go into this as a lover of words, stories, and a passion for the art of writing, you’ll win too. Just keep at it and don’t worry about the numbers while you’re writing. Focus on the amazing story you have to tell, and the rest will come in time.

The best of luck to anyone who is participating this year. I hope to be able to make another blog entry when I’ve finally reached the ultimate goal.

Anywhere But Here [M]

RatingMature (vague and tasteful, but descriptive, love scene)

SummaryThis is based on an actual bit of headspace time I spent with one of my demon guides, Daro. When it’s hard for me to see reason after experiencing a traumatic event, I can always count on one of my guides to take me away from it all for just a small time. This was very strange for Daro, however. He is not one to be sexual in any sense of the word except on rare occasions. It seemed this was one of them.


I laid my head on the table over the soft blanket, my heart sinking slowly as all life seemed to leave me. I wasn’t dying in reality, but I felt as if my future was already dead. I didn’t know where to go in life since my dreams had ended before they could even begin, my life’s goal no longer within any sort of possible reach. I was a slave to my mental disabilities and my poor health, as well as the system that enjoyed all too much keeping the lesser-abled down where they belonged.

“Shane.” A deep voice broke over my lamenting and a tan, clawed hand crept onto my upper back. It hesitated before moving in a soothing motion, my muscles easing from the tension that had formed long ago. I smiled.

“Daro.” I glanced over to see a tall, golden-skinned demon with long black hair and silver horns staring down at me, his pale pink eyes piercing straight through my soul as they always did. Byleth was present as well, but he moved aside to let Daro gain control over my reality for a little while. Even he knew when he and Lestan’s kind of reasoning wouldn’t pull me back.

“I… am not good with comfort. I apologize for that. I do, however, believe that you may do whatever you wish. You have accomplished everything you’ve set out to do in life, Shane. That does not end here.”

“I feel like it’s the end. I feel like my future is blank because the only thing I’d ever wanted to do – the only plan I’d had for my life is now no longer there.” I felt emotion welling up within me and tears burned behind my eyes. “It’s so stupid. At least, it probably sounds stupid. Who gets this emotional over wanting to tell stories, or to be heard?”

“It is as good a reason as any.” Daro smiled down at me, his hand moving slowly over my back. I then felt it – a wave of energy that made my stomach flutter. That wasn’t a usual reaction to his presence. I then remembered the last time I’d started making changes to my body for my transition, and Daro had developed the same sort of energy then. I felt self-conscious at that moment as I noticed the dark and aggressive energy coming from him.

“You aren’t normally like this, Daro.”

“No, but your energy is quite contagious and strong at this time. You are early in your transition.” His hand’s movements turned to something more sensual, his fingers sliding over my still very tense muscles as if they were tempting me. I wanted him to take me away from here.

“I don’t want to be here.” I sighed as another rush made my stomach spin. “Take me somewhere else. Please.”

“If it is not for self-destructive reasons, then where would you like to be?”

“Anywhere but here. I don’t want to even be alive right now.”

Daro closed his eyes and chuckled quietly as I closed mine in like. The soft blanket against my face brought me comfort as I sank into it and the feeling of the large hand on my back that was rubbing in circles. I started to drift off until I saw nothing but the blankness that was already present in my mind.

*** 

When I opened my eyes, I was lying on a stone floor. There were thick blankets beneath me and pillows everywhere, and I could feel a faint breeze coming through the natural windows in the stone walls around me. A few pillars surrounded the room and vases of lotus flowers and leaves were scattered about. The sun was setting and gave an orange glow to the already flickering candles around the blankets on the floor, and I realized then that we were most definitely not anywhere in current space or time.

My attention was brought back to where I lied as the blankets shuffled around me. Daro’s athletic form crawled over me and I watched as his sleeveless black trench disappeared, leaving him in the black silk harem-type pants he usually wore. My heart was in my throat as I realized it was all that he was wearing. “This is so weird. You’re not usually this kind of a… romantic?”

He smiled before I was surrounded by black hair and left breathless with a kiss, his lips full and soft as they teased mine open. I grabbed onto his toned arms and wrapped my fingers around his tribal band mark, squeezing as if I were uncertain of his presence. I didn’t want him to let me go. He chuckled against my mouth before releasing me and throwing some of his long hair behind his back.

“You may find that I can be romantic when the mood calls for it.” I gasped as his claws tickled up my shirt and back down to my shorts where he tugged at the hem. “Your energy has been quite contagious. I can no longer contain myself.”

“I’m sorry. Is it hard to deal with? I know you aren’t really that sexual.”

“Not at all.” Daro nipped at my jaw before trailing kisses to my neck, and then left his mark there as if to claim me as his own. I lost the ability to breathe as he slid my shorts down and his fingers slipped between my legs. Despite the bliss that I was in, this was all strange to me. Daro had rarely, if ever, displayed such eroticism before. It consumed my mind until he sunk low, tossing my shorts to the side before diving between my legs to make me swoon. My hands shot down to run through his hair and my back arched, my mind growing fuzzy and forgetting all of my worries. It hit me then just how much I wanted him.

He trailed his lips back up my stomach and came up to kiss me again. It was like a game as our lips teased, nipped, and ghosted over the other’s. Embarrassment burned up into my ears as I realized how heavily I was breathing, but nothing could make the excitement calm within me that he’d created. It was an entirely new side of him that I never knew I needed to see, but it was one I wanted to see more often. It was caring, gentle, playful, and loving. Everything he had created there – the flowers, the fantasy-like setting, and the atmosphere – it was all for the sake of this moment.

I was jolted back once again as he nipped my neck more aggressively than the last time, his teeth leaving little bites down to my abdomen and down my thigh. He paused as he was lifting my leg, sitting back on his knees to glance at me from beside my raised knee. “Forgive me. I am feeling rather aggressive. I am not entirely comfortable with such an aggressive emotion.”

“Is it a bad thing? You’re not going to hurt me, are you?”

“Hurt you?” He chuckled. “Never hurt you, Shane. Although, I suspect you enjoy this kind of aggression.” He accentuated his words by nipping my leg once more and then paused to remove his pants. I looked away, not sure of the exact reason for doing so. We hadn’t been intimate many times in the past, and I was always aware of how much I wanted that kind of thing from him throughout the years. His beauty never escaped me; it was exotic and mysterious and it held a certain kind of danger to it, but nothing that was a threat to me.

He’d always held an air of dark mystery about him. Being purposefully vague, never answering my questions fully, and remaining stoic, calm, and collected during even the worst crises. I never feared him, but I always desired him. It was something I’d brushed to the side often due to his mostly asexual nature, his willingness to humor Byleth due to the Fallen Angel’s insistence more than anything. It wasn’t even that Daro didn’t enjoy it when it happened either. He would always become claimed by the passion of the moment sooner or later. I often wondered if he hid more than he had to at times like those.

“Daro, why aren’t you a sexual person?”

“Because I am not a person.” A playfulness glistened in his eyes as he came back to kiss me again, teasing entrance between my legs. “I am much more than that, although I am not immune to stronger emotions such as this. Even I have moments where I cannot remain as calm as I’d like to be.”

“But what do you feel you have to hide?” Despite my breathlessness, I had to know. I knew I wouldn’t get another chance to have him so vulnerable. I was rendered speechless with a more insistent nudge.

“It seems…” A quiet moan interrupted his speech as he slid fully inside. He remained still as he supported himself on his hands beside my head, his eyes closed as if to control himself. “… It seems I cannot always control myself around you.”

“Wait…” I gasped as he thrust forward. “Daro…”

“There are things I must never admit, although Byleth has done such a thing.” A clawed hand turned my head to the side so Daro could tease my ear, whispering as he rocked his body into mine. “I care for you in ways I should not.” His words quivered as he began to lose control, his breath hot in my ear as he lost himself to the sensations between us. I wrapped my legs around his waist and gave myself over to him fully then, my body sliding back against the blankets on the stone floor. I noticed that it had grown darker and the candles were our only source of light.

I mumbled his name over and over again as he returned to my neck, our bodies still rocking against the blankets as he nibbled at the bruised skin. I was completely consumed with my lust for him and my mind felt far away as the end approached quickly, my body arching into him as my release overcame me. He grew much more rough with his movements then, goosebumps forming on his arms beneath my fingers as he lost the last bit of control he’d managed to keep.

I watched as he rose up onto his knees and grabbed my legs, lifting them as he quickened his movements. The pleasure was so intense that tears rolled down the sides of my face, and I felt light-headed from the distant buzz and my lack of ability to breathe. It had to be a dream.

I was reminded of the reality of the moment as he thrust deep one last time before shuddering, his claws gripping at my legs like a vice. I bit my lip and hummed with pleasure through all of it, my insides filling with him. He fell onto his hands beside my head, struggling with his control as he moaned through his release, his body rocking and riding the wave until he started to calm. It was then that everything grew eerily silent.

A faint buzzing throughout my body caused a distant ringing in my ears. Our labored breathing seemed to echo around us as we both came down, and the candlelight flickered in the still-present summer breeze. I was the first to finally come around and I ran my hands through his hair, coaxing him into a kiss that he accepted fully. When we parted, I saw in his eyes a feeling of utter exhaustion, his natural glow from them dimming in the dark. It worried me. “Hey, are you okay?”

He huffed a laugh before closing his eyes to hide them from me. “I will be fine. You need not worry.”

“What in the hell’s possessed you? You aren’t acting like yourself at all.” I grew even more concerned as he sat up and pulled me with him, hugging me tightly.

“One of the stronger emotions I often try to bury.” He rested his chin on the top of my head as I relaxed into him, my bones melting into his embrace. “But that is not important. What is most important here, is that you realize your worth to continue with your life. I would not see it any other way.”

“You’re avoiding the subject.” I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face. He sighed before releasing me just enough to look into my eyes, and took my jaw into his hand and lifted it to guide me into a kiss, one that I knew was meant solely for a distraction. All too often I couldn’t get him to speak clearly to me, but I was determined to do it this time. I released him from the kiss and mused at the look of concern on his face. “Daro, what emotion are you burying?”

“Shane.” He sighed again, his unease growing.”There are things I must not speak. Not yet.”

“Well, what can you say? I mean, there has to be some vague way you can express it that I might get without you having to say it outright.”

He watched me for a moment in silence, the breeze coming through the windows causing strands of his hair to drift across his face. I smoothed them aside as he seemed to finally come to a conclusion in his mind, and spoke carefully. “There are certain words and feelings a demon must never admit or express – a demon prince is held in much higher regard. Byleth is free from the rules and unspoken laws we set for ourselves. It is why he is free to express himself as he so wishes, as he is a Fallen and not a demon.” Daro ran a clawed thumb across my lower lip in which I bit at playfully. He smiled. “I care for you, Shane, more than you may ever know.”

“I guess that’s good enough for me.” I laughed. “Man, we’ve come a long way. It’s taken you longer than everyone to come out of your shell, and even then you only lose control for a moment before you return to your stoic self.” I hugged him tightly again, my head resting on his chest. He smelled like myrrh. “It’s not my intent to undo you or who you are. You’re just the biggest mystery life has brought me and I want to figure it out. Not only that…” I looked up at him again, trying not to blush. “You’re hot as hell.”

Daro leaned back on his hand while the other still rested around my waist, a genuine laugh consuming him that was quite rare. I’d never seen him laugh like that for as long as I’d known him.

***

I opened my eyes and I was once again lying face down on the rainbow blanket, Byleth and Lestan’s presence returning. There was no longer a breeze and the dim lighting of my apartment came back into focus, and Daro was kneeling beside me on one knee. He opened his eyes to search me, making sure I was alright before standing and returning to his usual self. Despite everything that had happened just then, there was no sign of him losing his composure. I knew the truth though, and I’d seen a side of him that I suspected none ever had. It was all I could do to keep from grabbing him by the waist and hugging him from where I sat, to which I gave into easily. Byleth’s hum of amusement reached my ears as I clung to Daro tightly.

“Thank you.”

~ ©2018 Shane Blackheart

10/7/2018 9:06PM: Tonight’s Adventures (A conversation)

Sometimes I write out conversations between me and my alters/guides. It’s an interesting way to keep a journal, anyway. I definitely want to post more of these, but they are usually riddled with foul language because Byleth doesn’t really care about what he says. With that warning, this is what we were up to tonight. This was between me, Byleth, and Lestan.

***

“Sugar, you’re drinking and you shouldn’t be.” Byleth paced around my desk and computer chair, keeping an eye on me as my leg kept up with its nervous jitter, bouncing as if I were ready to run a marathon. I scoffed.

“I’m not drunk though. I’m still able to type.” Despite that, I did feel rather woozy.

“Rather woozy?” Byleth rolled his eyes. “You’re supposed to be picking up a pizza in fifteen minutes and you’re,” he lifted his claws in quotation, “‘woozy’.”

“Hey, it burned going down so it’s going to get me a bit messed up. Well, not messed up entirely, but numb enough to not care that my dreams are basically going to be flushed down the toilet.”

“Stop it.” Byleth latched his claws onto the back of my chair that was still vibrating with my leg’s nervous jitter. It seemed my excess energy was on a… roll? Is that even a thing? “No,” he interrupted. “It isn’t a thing. Lestan and I are walking with you when you leave. You shouldn’t have even drunk straight from the bottle.”

“He’ll be okay.” Lestan crossed his ankle over his knee and leaned back on the couch. He seemed bothered, his expression darker than what his voice suggested. “The bottle will be gone soon enough and then we won’t have to worry…”

“Soon enough?! Are you expecting – and enabling – him to drink it until it’s gone to get rid of it faster? What the fuck, Lestan?”

“That’s not what I was getting at and you know it.” Lestan grew slightly irritated. “I just mean that Shane won’t buy anymore after this one, right, love?”

“Right. That’s my plan anyway.” I was beginning to feel warm. The liquor had definitely kicked in. I also realized that it wasn’t such a good idea to drink directly from the bottle. It really did burn like hell going down.

“Because you’re not used to it.” Byleth left my chair and fell into the wooden one at the L part of my desk. He crossed his arms and watched me, his expression mostly blank, although I could see some sort of sympathy behind his red eyes. He snorted a laugh.

“Look at you getting all flowery with your words and assuming you can ‘see what’s behind my eyes’ or some shit.” He closed his eyes and looked to the side, but soon after returned his gaze to me from the corner of his eye. “Yeah, I do care about you, you know. If I haven’t made that fucking clear enough already.” I stopped to rub my forehead, but was brought back to the page. “Hey, don’t you stop writing. It’s been a while since we’ve talked and I won’t let you lose your mind and forget about this conversation too.”

“Wait.” I sighed. “We talk all the time. I just don’t always write it down.”

We write it down, sugar. You should’ve caught onto that by now.”

“Well, yes?” I guess I’d missed that part somewhere along the way when the small bouts of dissociation would happen. Lestan chuckled from where he sat on the futon sofa.

“Baby, it’s okay. It took you years to come to terms with who we are to you. I can understand a bit of confusion here.” He stood and came to stand behind me, ruffling my hair lovingly. Byleth lifted an eyebrow and sighed.

Cornyyyy.”

“Hey, Shane’s allowed to be silly when he’s drunk and forget a few things.”

“I’m not drunk!” I flashed a stubborn expression before I focused on the screen again. Or… was it really me focusing? I felt slightly spaced, but my phone’s alarm brought me back to reality. Byleth stood and Lestan backed away to approach the door. Byleth was the first to speak.

“It’s time to grab that pizza, sweetie. Let’s hope the guys at the counter don’t catch on to your slight inebriation.”

***

As we walked back through the front door, I set the pizza aside and pulled off my binder, threw on my shirt I’d been wearing before, and took another quick swig from the bottle of Malibu banana rum. Byleth was less than pleased, but started chuckling as he set eyes on the computer screen. I’d started to type but backtracked. “Shane, you should have kept it as a ‘tit corset’.”

“Nah. It was too ridiculous.”

“It is a tit corset. One you won’t have to worry about much longer if everything goes right.”

“Yeah… I hope.” I turned on Byleth’s playlist on the big screen through the PlayStation and settled in to eat some pizza. Like I needed to clog my arteries any more than they already were. He reclaimed his chair at the L in my desk and leaned his head in his hand. He seemed perturbed.

“Which I am,” he confirmed. I knew he was because I’d taken another swig from the bottle like he encouraged me to do the exact opposite of, and I was feeling pretty good to not really care. That brought a scowl forth from the Fallen Angel and he sighed.

“I’m just going to focus on my music and singing, and pretend like you’re not disobeying everything that I’ve asked of you tonight.”

“Hey, we had mind-blowing sex earlier, so don’t give me a hard time.” I flashed him a comical judgemental look, to which he lightened up and returned to a more positive mood.

“Oh, we did. [Redacted].” I shrugged in response, stuffing my face with pizza. Attractive.

“You’re a Fallen Angel. You have magic spit. We’ve been over this.” He broke into laughter at the ‘magic spit’ bit.

“Let’s just hope your body is done being difficult with sex.” He smirked. “[Redacted].”

“Like I said. Fallen Angel. Magic spit.” Lestan chuckled from where he sat on the futon sofa, his expression calm and at ease as he watched the images on the TV. ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’ by Billy Paul was currently flowing from the speakers, Byleth’s corny but groovy taste in music flooding the apartment.

“Hey. Corny? Bullshit. It’s classic seducing music, sugar. At one time in history, this was the sexiest song on the radio.”

“One of them, maybe. There’s a sweet romantic vibe to it now.” I smiled, a warm and fuzzy feeling consuming me. “Awww, Byleth, you’re such a romantic!” He laughed humorlessly and seemed to clam up with embarrassment.

“No, fuck the embarrassment part of that line.” He jabbed his claw in my direction. There was definitely a slight blush in his cheeks. “No, no there isn’t! Stop. I like the classics because they make me want to fuck something, okay? No romance involved there.”

“But,” I teased, “you are a romantic whether you admit it or not. You call me sweetie.”

“That is true,” Lestan chimed in from the futon. He slipped out of his leather jacket that he’d still been wearing. “Byleth, you aren’t fooling anyone. You’re very romantic. I saw the way you kissed Shane earlier.” He flashed Byleth a teasingly flirtatious expression. The Fallen Angel was becoming flustered.

“Seriously, if you both don’t quit I’m just going to take my music in the other room and say fuck all of you.” No irritation was in his voice, however. A small smile was playing on his lips and there was a glint in his red eyes. His mood had improved despite the teasing banter and he relaxed into his chair, falling into the lyrics of the next song that had started to play; ‘Little Wing’ by Jimi Hendrix.

A silence fell then, I eating my pizza and Lestan relaxing in the background, watching Byleth as he sang to the song that it was switched to – ‘You Don’t Own Me’ covered by Masquer. The song was appropriate for a brat king such as Byleth.

“Damn right it is, sugar. Don’t tell me what to do…. Don’t tell me what to say…” Despite Byleth being a Fallen, he definitely still had the voice of an angel. “I was an angel. The beauty of my voice or my devilishly good looks didn’t disappear because I fell.”

“Mr. Vain King.” Lestan stood from the futon and approached Byleth, who turned in his seat to welcome the vampire. Lestan straddled his thighs while standing over him, teasing the Fallen Angel’s golden horns. Byleth bit his lip.

“Would you have me any other way? And you keep talking like that, mister. Call me King a few more times and I’ll make sure you won’t be able to speak… In the best way, of course.”

“Reduce me to a mumbling mess, my King?” Lestan chuckled as Byleth hummed, the vampire’s hands sliding through the Fallen’s jaw-length blonde hair. Hands crept back up onto Byleth’s horns and he huffed a laugh.

“What are you trying to do? Get me so worked up I can’t sing? Make a distraction for Shane over there?”

“Maybe.” Lestan grinned and caressed one of Byleth’s horns before the Fallen wrapped an arm around the vampire’s torso and pulled him into his lap.

“Alright, vampire. You’ve got a deal.”

“We didn’t make a bet.”

“As long as Shane doesn’t drink any more rum tonight, I’ll do whatever you want.” Byleth trailed a claw down Lestan’s front, causing the vampire to sigh. “Anything, sugar.”

“Wait, why is this on me?” I pouted, still buzzed, although I suspected more than that. “Do what you want.”

“Oh no, sweetie. That’s the breaks.” I sighed in response to Byleth’s ridiculous stipulations. He cocked an eyebrow at that line. “Stop drinking and you get to see wonderful things.”

“Sorry, baby. I have to go with Byleth on this one.” Lestan ghosted his lips over the Fallen’s as he turned Byleth to face him once more. “I’m not passing up the opportunity to have control over the brat king.”

“Whatever.” I sighed hopelessly and chuckled. “I won’t drink anymore, but don’t go overboard. I want to be able to eat my pizza.” Byleth hummed his approval and gave his full attention to Lestan then, their lips meeting in a deep and much-needed kiss. I returned to my pizza, finally deciding to let the alcohol wear off.

(For the record, Byleth’s taste in music IS corny, but amazing.)

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From my Memoir: A Night with Mary

An excerpt from my memoir, in which I relive a memory of one of my very first experiences with friendship, a birthday party, and trauma incited by an urban legend.

***

My anxiety disorder formed into what it would be for the many coming years of my life. I still wet the bed well into my fourth-grade year, although I would always be reprimanded for it. I was punished whenever it would happen, my fear of the alarm clock in the middle of the night not enough to keep me from wetting myself. That horrific sound of metal striking metal as the sharp ringing of the purple clock would wake me from a deep sleep, often causing me to panic and slip beneath my bed sheets as I looked out into the darkness of my room. I feared the dark more than anything, and at times I would fear the silliest of things. I think I remember having a sleep hallucination of Jesus once that caused me to panic as the desire for it to go away gripped at my heart. It seemed that even as I child I found no comfort in Christian images or the idea of it. Regardless, I would climb out of bed once my bravery was there, no matter how small, and crept to the bathroom. The next morning my bedclothes would be wet, and I would be chastised and punished.

My pediatrician, Dr. Suk Kang, was a shining light in my life and also the reason for my parents having finally understood why my bedwetting wouldn’t cease. Not only was he one of the best doctors around, he was kind and very invested in my healthcare. Every time I visited him he would give me a quick kiss on my forehead or cheek and smile widely, happy to see me doing well. His accent was strong and he spoke broken English, but he spoke it well and was also a friend to my parents. He absolutely adored Disney and we often brought him posters and memorabilia back from Disney World, or any time we saw something relating to Disney for him. He always put them up in his office, and his place of practice was a Disney Wonderland in itself. Everything from the wallpaper to the decor was Disney centric. I always loved seeing him even if I was afraid of the doctor’s office in general.

He informed my parents that my late bedwetting was no fault of my own, but due to my body’s lack of producing a hormone to be able to hold it while asleep. I developed this eventually, of course, but it was a constant strain on me and my parent’s relationship, as well as me and my friends. I could not spend the night with others unless I had Pull-Ups with me to my own embarrassment, or friends would have to sleep on the floor instead of in my bed with me. I often got made fun of for this in school, and I remember having to wear Pull-Ups even during the day while I was there. The bullying started very early for me and caused a fear in me that led to agoraphobia, which is a fear of public places or certain places in general. I was afraid of everything and everyone.

This became worse and worse over the following few years. The other kids who I had thought were my friends turned out to be humoring me and nothing more. I had maybe one or two true friends in elementary school who I cherished and who did not use me as the butt of a joke as the others often did. I was pushed, physically assaulted on the playground, laughed at, mocked, and any secret I dared to trust my first best friend with, or who I called my best friend, became public knowledge and another teasing point for the other kids. A birthday party and sleepover at this best friend’s house ended up being one of the few childhood memories I have that is so vivid. We were still only in elementary school.

The girls and I were standing around in my friend’s room. There were two twin-sized beds there, one for my friend and the other for her older sister. There was a dresser to the side by the door and a large mirror over it. The room was of average size, but the memory of the small details are hazy now. I just remember spending a lot of time there and a lot of my childhood memories of any semblance of friendship formed there as well, but as we all stood there and faced the large mirror, a new memory was forming that wasn’t so pleasant. The girls were attempting to invoke Bloody Mary.

As most people know, the legend of Bloody Mary is an infamous one that is often brought up during parties. Back then it was popular due to the success of Alvin Schwartz’s ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ series, illustrated with ghoulish amalgamations by the talented Stephen Gammell. The urban legends within the series of three books were not softened for children at all, except to be worded in a way that would be easier to understand. This led to the book going through a short time of contention with school librarians, and for a time it was almost banned from public school libraries. The gruesome nature of the stories remained the same and survived the legal struggles, and the Bloody Mary legend could be found within their pages.

I don’t believe I’d read about the legend yet, or even had read the ‘Scary Stories’ trilogy, but I was introduced to the traumatizing practice that night of looking into a mirror to conjure a violent spirit. She was to appear with blood on her skin and a vengeance that would pull the conjurer into the mirror, lest the foolish conjurer switch on a light instantly. The light remained on while we all stood in front of the large mirror that night, and I don’t remember if we switched it off at any time, but the fear was there. I was scared, but I was surrounded by my friends. That is, until they asked me to leave the room. As I stepped out into the hallway, I was alone to watch the bedroom door as it closed in front of me. I stood there for some time, my anxiety eating away at me as I heard the room erupt in laughter. I knew deep inside it was at my expense, but I stood there anyway, hoping that something special would happen and it was all just a joke.

The door was opened by my friend who was still giggling, and they invited me back in. I don’t remember what happened then, other than the party seemed to resume for a short time before I was coaxed into going into a dark bathroom by myself with a small flashlight. I didn’t want to do it. I was afraid of the dark and I knew that to try the Bloody Mary chant alone, as was suggested by the girls that I do, I was invoking danger upon myself. I believed in it wholeheartedly as any child would, and I was shoved into the bathroom before I could protest any further. The door was closed behind me and weight was pushed against it, and no matter how hard I pressed into that door with my body or pounded on the wood, no one would let me leave. I was trapped.

I backed away and I tried to calm myself. I was told that I was not allowed to turn the light on, and being as easily controlled back then as I was being a child, I listened. I didn’t want to disappoint my friends or lose them, so I looked into the mirror. With nothing but my anxiety and a small flashlight to guide me, I tried to stutter out the Bloody Mary chant three times – loud enough for them to hear. I began to cry. I was terrified and my heart had started to race against my ribcage. I was at the door again, pushing on it and pounding against the wood. I was begging to be let out but no one would listen. They stood against the door, pushing against my efforts cruelly to keep me trapped in that small room of danger. I cried louder. I screamed. I pleaded to call my mom because I wanted to go home. I just wanted to be safe again, and I knew that my mom’s presence would be enough to show me that everything would be okay.

After a short time, an older woman’s voice was tense out in the hallway in question as to what was going on. It was my friend’s mother. She finally released me from my dark prison and I stumbled out into the hallway, tears streaming down my face. I repeated over and over that I wanted my mom. I wanted to go home. It was all I could manage to say after the trauma I’d experienced, and it seemed that my friend and her sister weren’t too happy about their mother’s reaction to it all. Words are muffled in my memory and the rest became a blur as my parents were on the phone with that woman, I snuggling with my Winnie the Pooh security blanket I’d latched onto as an infant, and then they were in the driveway late at night, guiding me into their car as I tried to come down from the shock that I’d experienced.

To this day I am still afraid of dark bathrooms. Mirrors bring me discomfort in the dark and I don’t dare to look over my shoulder at them. The pounding heart and the racing mind – the fight or flight sensation that I still feel any time I have to walk across my hallway to get to the bathroom at night in my own apartment as an adult… It just won’t go away.

©2018 Shane Blackheart

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‘End’ is Such an Empty Word

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END.

As I finished typing the simple three-letter word, I fell back into my computer chair and stared at the screen. The cursor was blinking at me on the document page as if it were tempting me to write more as it always had, but this time it felt odd to look at. I rarely finish things after all, so the forever blinking of the cursor didn’t seem as foreboding as it used to. It usually meant minutes upon hours staring at an unfinished story, the cursor beckoning to me to just try and to just do something and maybe things will start to flow to move that little cursor down the page. I had started my writing today with that feeling, but I ended it with just three simple words.

Yes, I finally finished my first longer piece of work. Totaling 135 pages in Google Docs, 55,796 words, and page after page of an emotional rollercoaster. It all started as a dream I’d had one night a year or so ago and it ended up blooming into this gigantic, complex, crazy world. I never thought I would see it to the end, and I can’t say I won’t miss it not ever being the end. I feel sort of empty now that my biggest project is finally complete. I’m so used to things never being finished that I always felt whole in that vastness of incomplete work – I always had something to do and some work to look forward to. Now? I hear crickets. The tension has left my muscles and I am breathing calmly, and I am staring at three simple letters that have caused me so many emotions.

It may seem silly to be so excited over this. There are authors out there who have published several books and continue on to their next project, not skipping a beat (or skipping a few beats to get a breather in). But for someone like me, who has little to no self-esteem or faith in myself to do much right, to accomplish this is to accomplish a goal I set out for myself. The next steps will probably be that much harder. It always is as you climb up the endless ladder of goal-setting.

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Now, to edit all of these pages. I have to go back through it all and make a second draft and a third, and possibly a fourth. Then the formatting, the query letter, the summary that’s good enough to sell, and submissions to agents with no prior experience of my own to speak of. Goodness knows I’ll need one to navigate this hell I’ve just opened up for myself, and not the good kind of hell. I’ve already attempted to gather beta readers, close friends and friends from afar, but all I hear on the line is crickets. I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands since my support system is so small and practically not there, save for two or three loyal friends. I’ve accepted that I’m very much on my own for this one and no amount of teeth pulling and pestering is going to get me any response aside from the usual defensive response or endless reasons as to why no one can seem to find time for my manuscript, but have hours to post memes and watch endless Facebook and Youtube videos. If I sound slightly bitter, I admit that I am, but not so much bitter as I am hurt.

I wish I possessed the magical key to unlock this support system I see so many with. Reaching out for help and asking for help gains me silence. I see others receive answers where I am ignored, and I see friends uplifting and promoting other friends’ work but not mine. At first, I was afraid it was due in part to the fact that I was no good as a writer or creator, but I found over time that it would only be true if anyone would ever take the time to set aside and actually read my work at all. It genuinely makes me feel undervalued as a friend and I wonder what my friends’ friends’ do that is so great and different with their writing that is different from me. What they’ve done that is so different from what I’ve tried.

I promote others and help where I can. I support all of my friends when I can as well where I can. I spend a lot of time doing this when I stumble across their things. I will always do it without expecting anything in return because I love and support my friends, but it does sting to not feel that love back. I can be humble until I’m blue in the face, but in the end it does get frustrating when you put hours and, in the case of my books, a year or more into something and no one wants to even bother to open it, and this is despite their claims of the synopsis sounding very interesting and good. I’ve gotten that across the board when I give the synopsis. So why, then, can’t I get anyone to open to the first page?

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Maybe they genuinely don’t care. Maybe I’m not worth their time. Maybe I am fooling myself and people are just being kind so as not to hurt my feelings. But I cannot get answers if no one will tell me anything, good or bad. Even writers who have written things that aren’t up to par get feedback! It’s endlessly frustrating and I’ve found myself close to screaming out of that frustration.

How do you figure out how to not be invisible to people anymore? How do you do this, even though you speak so loudly, approach people directly, and try with all your might to do everything in your power to be heard, even among loved ones, only to be ignored or brushed aside? My whole life I have felt like a ghost drifting amongst people, and only a few can even see and hear me, and even then that’s a toss-up.

Being invisible when you work so hard to not be is exhausting. I know I started this entry with a positive outlook, and I still have that, but it brought up so many other feelings that I’ve been battling with throughout this process. It doesn’t feel good to know you have something you’re very proud of to tell the world, and no one will listen.

But to end on a lighter note, I am proud of my writing, at least. I am proud of myself for accomplishing the feat of writing an entire book to completion, and I am happy that I can continue to write even though I may be the only one reading it sometimes. I can only dream that one day I won’t have to say that and I can have others enjoy these things with me.

Ramblings to a Dead Tree

This bit of writing is from an entry I made in my newest journal. I tend to have a bad habit of buying new journals even though I haven’t filled the last, but I also do the same things with books – I haven’t finished half of the ones I own but I MUST have that new book I just found! An antique book? Rare or out of print? Hard to find? Give them all to me. I just add them to the stack of things ‘to do’ that I never get around to. Such is the life of a bibliophile. Being obsessed with antiques makes it worse.

So, I made a commitment to this journal that I have yet to stick to. I haven’t written in it again, but at least I made an effort to start. The cover reads ‘Fucking Brilliant’ anyway, so I figured it would be best for things I thought were… well… fucking brilliant. As is expected of something like that, what I wrote at first did not live up to this goal. It’s an entry from a few weeks ago, but I wanted to share it here regardless, mostly because I managed to weave senseless rambling with flowery words.

***

From May 17, 2018

I got this notebook to jot down genius ideas or stories – to dedicate one notebook to a single subject – yet here I am sitting outside my counselor’s office waiting for my appointment. The sun is out, the weather is hot, and the breeze feels nice in contrast to the sun’s warm rays. I’ve had a rough couple of days so it is welcome. I lost a friend, but I think it was a long time coming. ‘Exes for a reason’ comes to mind. I think I’m just done with people using me for money – using me in general. But that’s not what I wanted to write about. No. I’d intended to draw.

While on the bus, I felt inspired emotionally by a few things that I can’t put words to. I know, how can you be inspired by something that escapes you? Maybe I’m manic or maybe I’m going insane from being perpetually broke the moment my SSI check goes into my account. Maybe I just grip my pencil too god damned hard when I write and the pain distracts me. No matter the reason, here I am, writing drabbles of senseless mind-clusterings. (Is that a word? My word processor didn’t mark it as an error, so a word it is!) Such is the consequence of being a manic erratic creator. I bet this all sounds cringey and stereotypically embarrassing too.

But at least I am writing. Not in pen, but in pencil. Mistakes are my forte’ after all, as is senseless rambling, but I’m becoming self-deprecating. I’m good at that too. And again. Is there even a point to this rambling or is it a way to communicate with a faceless listener due to my loneliness? Although I do have Lestan, Byleth, Daro, and the others – my alters, others, or whatever you’d like to call them – I am physically lonely. All I’ve ever wanted is a physical companion; that hopeless romantic notion of a soul mate for true love. As a transman, I feel that’s impossible, so I converse through graphite with a dead tree.

But I am lonely. I can’t drive and I’m stuck in life with very little – at least I have that little, though. Unfortunately, being a transman who doesn’t look like a lovechild of the Hulk and Chris Evans, along with mental illness and being on disability, as well as having no car, is the recipe for loneliness. No one is interested in who you are anymore. Everyone just wants an easy ticket to romance with no effort and no baggage without realizing that everyone has baggage. Some are just better at hiding it than others.

But it’s time to see my counselor now. Hopefully, good news for top surgery is to follow within the next month or two, and progress with my projects.

[End of entry]

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I’m never really alone to be truthful. I do have my alters or others (I haven’t yet found a good enough word for them that feels ‘right’, although the medical term would be ‘alters’) to keep me company and provide me with companionship. They even give me a nudge and ask to take over when things get to be too much, and usually, I let them. But the physical companionship of another person is often lost with me. I’ve been single for quite a few years now and am still trying to find a date despite my looming failure of it. Life gets lonely no matter how many friends you have and no matter how big your support system is. It’s no replacement for that special kind of relationship that only is shared with one special person – your person (or persons if you are polyamorous).

All of my attempts to confess to people I’ve liked has ended in me never hearing from them again, or them disappearing shortly after. It has made me feel pretty undesirable and unloveable, and I know that it’s popular to say: ‘If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?!’ (thank you, RuPaul), but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Sometimes a special person is all you need to learn to love yourself, especially when you’ve had a life of others convincing you of how worthless of a person you are and believing it.

I’d like to think I am capable of being loved in that way. I’d like to believe I am desirable and that someone is out there for me, but I’ve given up again. I’m overweight, my teeth are a bit messed up because I broke my jaw when I was thirteen, I’m dysphoric on the best of days and don’t pass as a cisgender man yet, I have mental illness, and I’m on a fixed income due to disability and unable to safely operate a car even though I do have my license.

But I take care of myself. I live on my own and have two awesome cats. I pay my own bills and do my own grocery shopping. I get by. I make art in several different mediums by either sketching or drawing digitally. I have a Youtube channel and I make animations and voice act them, as well as organize everything and write the scripts. I am a writer above all of that and have aspirations of being published one day to be able to have accomplished my dream I’ve had since I was a child.

I love video games, anime, and long conversations about deeper subjects. I have an entire family who also comes along for the ride, although I can only show you them through drawings and voice recordings they’ve come to the forefront to do and not physically. While it seems overwhelming, they’re an awesome bunch who just want to see me live and strive to be the best I can be and to, of course, find what makes me happy. 

I’ve repeated a few times now in this blog that there is so much more to me than my illnesses and my financial situation, as well as the shortcomings in general. But no one wants to get far enough romantically to see any of it. No one sees that as any value compared to the small things that are out of my control. I just wish I could get lucky someday and meet someone and we can have a mutual interest in each other, and the shortcomings will seem so much smaller than the greater things that make us who we really are.

Manic Depression – Poem

I’m not one for writing poetry, simply because I’m not really that good at it. Although, while searching through my writing today to compile things for my autobiography, I found my WIP of collecting all of my retained journal entries in chronological order. As I scrolled through the entries, I found this line of text that stood out from the others, and while it isn’t a work of art or the best poem out there, I thought it had a lot of meaning to it. I remember when I wrote it. I was homeless then and at my wits’ end, ready to take that final step off the precipice.

But I am here today, still reading these entries and feeling the emotion that I poured into them at the time of their creation. Here is the poem I wrote while at one of my lowest points in life with just a little bit of grammar correction to read better.

Your footsteps beat within my ears like hearts,
their thunderous soles shaking the ground beneath me.
So dark yet so bright;
the illness inside me is retching.

Unkempt hair clings to my scalp –
nausea graces my insides.
I need you caffeine,
but your drug is sickening.

The sky is black and bright,
the rain is wet and cold.
It soothes my burning skin.
My energy cannot escape

Explosions beneath my nerves;
anger in its molten form.
All is not as it seems.
Everything is too much.

I am sick.

©2018 Shane Blackheart

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