Leaving the Known Paths

Though I’d been up since three AM because of fire alarms going off–due, I was told by the office people, because someone was cooking at that time of the morning–I wasn’t as tired as I expected.  There were things I should have worked on last night, but I screwed around in Blender while The Graduate played in the background.

This was prime writing time, and I missed it.

Well, I didn’t miss it:  I ignored it.  I could have been doing something worth while towards getting the next story started, and I potted it.  Save for a quick short story the first week of September, there hasn’t been anything new written since the end of July.

Yes, I know:  moving in August and then again in September, that takes a lot out of your available time and energy.  Still, last week I was ready to go, and this week as well, and though I want to write, I haven’t felt the need to make a story.

There has been a strange funk that’s laid over me for a while now.  Where I once had great need to write things, these days I feel like the person I once was:  the one who said they were a writer, but who only wrote stories in their head and never truly developed anything.  I know, in part, what’s driving this:  fear.  Not fear that one day I’ll be successful; oh, hell yeah, bring that on.  If I could make high five figures every year writing I’d be happy.

No, it’s the other fear.  The one where you spend a huge amount of time and energy putting something together, but when it’s over only you and a few other ever see the results.  Yes, I write because I want to see the story as a living, breathing thing.  But I would love to do this all the time, and do well enough that I could make a living penning entertainment for others.

It’s not an easy path; it’s a damn hard one, if you’ve ever done this for real.  The known paths are the easy ones, because they’ve been walked by everyone, so they’re nice and smooth and you don’t have any worry of getting lost because the path is so well trod.

This novel that’s next, it’s scary.  It’s something I’ve never tried before.  It’s a bit out of my comfort range because it’s huge, and I’m going places with it I’ve never gone before.  I just went over a list of characters in my head, and there’s twenty-seven characters with speaking parts in the novel–and I’ve probably missed a couple.  Sure, some of those characters won’t have more than a scene or two, but they are there . . . twenty-nine:  I missed a couple of students.  See how that works?

I’m off a lot of paths I’ve walked with this one, but I imagine that’s the way most writers are when they are starting something big and new.  By now one would think I’m used to this, but no:  I always feel a little apprehension when I start a story, because there’s always this notion that I’m going to end up writing something silly . . .

But I won’t know if it really is silly until I start, right?

Promises of Lightness and Dark

This is what comes of fooling around on line all night and then getting a good night’s sleep:  you look at things in a different light, and ideas pop into your head.  Maybe they’re not good ideas, but they do come up, and you’re a damn fool not to do anything with them.

I really was intending on working on my NaNo Novel last night, getting the lexicon worked out, because I truly do need that cat in the bag.  But I didn’t.  I waited for a package that didn’t come, and by the time I’d stopped waiting, it was getting on six-thirty.  So in for a shower, getting nice and clean, and I pop back out and it’s already seven-fifteen.  I did go to plug in my external drive–

But I had people wanting to speak with me.

The one part of The Burg that is so much like being back in Indy is having little or not personal contact.  Yes, you can speak with people at work, but there is no one here who you can hang with after the day is over and chat up, and maybe go out for a couple of drinks afterwards.  I have this lovely balcony and sitting out there is nice, but it would be wonderful to have someone over to speak with.

At the same time, during one of the conversations, my mind started working on its own side project.  I was reading what they typed, and I responded one way, but in another part of my brain I saw myself typing something else.  Something that was dark and not a little strange.  I know, you’re saying, “You, honey?  Strange?”  Shocking, right?  Sometimes I surprise myself.

While I have a lot of story ideas, very few of them are dark.  Maybe that’s because I have enough darkness surrounding me and while I might not write the most uplifting prose, I at least have something close to a happy ending by the end of the tail.  What I saw last night, what was being typed on the other side of my mind–it wasn’t happy, it wasn’t light, it wasn’t a good ending.

Or was it?

Every so often I dip into the horror.  Every so often I imagine the dark spaces in life and wonder what exists there.  Oh, sure, cannibal hillbillies and shambling zombies and things going bump in the night are good favorites.  But what if someone was drawn into the darkness, and embraced it willingly?  Not because they’re crazy, but because what was promised . . . touched them in a special way?

At the end of the novel Hannibal, Clarice ran off with Doctor Lecter because she’d spent too much time staring into the abyss, and when it stared back, she shrugged and said, “Ah, fuck it:  this isn’t that bad.”  Sure, you can say the drugs and the brain washing played a part, but I’m of a mind that after all those years chasing the darkness, she finally caught it and allowed it to become her own.

I need some dark writers.  The people in my stories better watch out.

All the Troubles I’ve Created

Everything is moving forward.  The Scouring zoomed past the eighteen thousand word point last night, more or less.  I say that, because though I use the word “zoom”, it was more like a stumble over the line to get there.  My focus was crap yesterday for some reason, and most of the day was spent adding a few hundred words here, another hundred there.

But as I’ve said before, you keep adding up those words over the course of a few hours, eventually you’ll get a couple of thousand written, which I did before heading off to bed.  Just a shade over two thousand, mind you, but I still made it.

Since I’m all about bringing the enjoyment of how I write my Into the Attackstories, and since I’m all about bringing the pain to others, I did a screen shot of my Scrivener layout last night . . . and there it is!

This was the first time I did a split screen and wrote on the top while watching the word count build up on the bottom while I had the part in Outline mode.  And the fun part is, you do see the numbers for the Word Count move as you type, edit, and delete.  For some reason I enjoyed writing this way last night; call me crazy, but then most do.  I think it has more to do now with where I’m at, but where I’m going.  And as the Status Column goes from “To Do” to “Work in Progress” to “First Draft”, I’ll feel a greater sense of accomplishment.

The going was slow because of a few distractions yesterday–who doesn’t have them, I know–but there’s also that feeling of pending disaster whenever I have to start working on pending disasters.  Killing Time is coming to the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning, and I’m laying the ground work.

I’ve had this situation happen before:  it’s like the shakes coming on after a long night of drinking and drying out the moment I have to get in there and start writing some disturbing stuff.  I have three pretty clear death scenes in my head, and when I start thinking about putting those things into my computer–I don’t know.  It’s not that I mind killing off my characters; I think it has most to do with how it’s going to read for other.

I had this same thing happen back when I was writing Couples Dance last year.  I started getting the Butterfly Fear (that feeling you get in your tummy when it feels like there’s a million mad butterflies trying to break free) when it was time to write some of the most bizarre sex scenes–and if I’m saying “bizarre sex scene”, then you know it was strange.

The thing is, I powered through it, and wrote out the strangeness, and the world didn’t implode.  Once more, my mind was playing tricks on me, which is something it totally enjoys doing, and which I should ignore more often.

There will be writing today.  More than likely it’ll happen this afternoon, but I’ll get it in, and get it done, and by this time tomorrow I should have over twenty thousand words in the story bank.

Where I never have to worry about making a withdrawal.


Stretched Out Before the Future

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about writers, its that we’re a stubborn, yet fearful, bunch.  We’ll get into a project and stick to it until the bitter end–and then, when the end is in sight, refuse to let go of the creature we’ve spawned.

Over the last year I’ve noticed that there are two things that seem to scare writers the most:  research and editing.  Research has always been a friend, and editing is slowly becoming a welcomed roommate.  But why do these fill our hearts with fear?

Editing is something that seems to get the better of us each time.  I read it a little today, when someone asked, “When do I know my novel is perfect?”  One might as well say, “When can I let my children go out into the world?”  For some people that answer is always, “Never,” and they hang onto their rugrats like they were bars of platinum–at least until they realize that they’re thirty-five and spend entirely too much time on the “Kawaii Crossplay” website, and maybe it’s time to throw their ass into the street.
Perfection is a will-o’-the-wisp:  you’ll never find it because it doesn’t exist.  Or, better yet, for my science fiction writer friends, it’s like getting to 1c, the speed of light.  You can get close, closer, closest; you can get to .999999c; you can push those engines all you want for decades, but you’ll never hit 1.0c.  Not gonna happen, at least not in this universe.

You can edit and rewrite and re-edit your story all you want, but in your own eyes, that sucker will never hit the level of perfection you’ve set for yourself.  You’ll drive yourself nuts trying to get it to where you’re finally convinced you can publish it–right after this last polish–

I look at editing like I look at action scenes:  I try to keep it as short as possible.  Try to get the story where you want it during the first draft, get rid of the typos in the first edit, clean up the story, plot holes and all, in the second, and go over it again to make sure you have things right.  Let someone else look at it, then edit again where needed.  After that, get it out to a house for a look-see, or start formatting it for self-publication.

It’s time to put it in the street.

Then there’s research . . . oh, my.  This seems to scare writers more than editing.  (If a sampling of a few ebooks is any indication, there are a lot of scared writers out there, ba-da-boom!)  I love research, because this is where you learn stuff.  Even if you think you know everything there is to know about a subject you’re going to weave a story around, you’ll find something new that’s gonna surprise you.  I had this happen when I was writing Her Demonic Majesty, and the bit of information I discovered when I was about seven chapters into the book helped change an important scene for me, and developed how the MagicPunk City of Chicago should feel.  What I found was completely unknown to me, but not anymore, since I have that information bookmarked in the Scrivener project.

Take all the time you want for research–up to a point, that is, because if you stretch research out for too long, you’re still looking for that level of perfection you’ll never find.  That final bit of data is keeping you from the real thing you’re suppose to do, and that’s write.

Wouldn’t want to be accused of shirking your duties now, would you?

The Outside Looking In

I am a fan of Zen Pencils.

I’d never heard of it before last September, just as I was in the final stages of preparing for NaNo 2012.  I don’t remember who posted this strip, the first that I saw, but I remembered it vividly, so much so that I went back to read it many times.

Why did it touch me?  It may have had something to do with NaNo, with some of the people revolving around NaNo, or some of the people revolving around my life.  I was posting excerpts from my project, showing my chapter layouts and my time lines, and there were more than a few snipping remarks about how I was doing NaNo “wrong”, that I needed to “just write”, and that all this prep meant I was incapable of writing anything “imaginative”.  There were a couple of people who objected to the title of my work, and, of course, a few who were like, “Why are you even bothering?”

The “Why are you even bothering?” crowd are always easy to figure out, by the way:  they’re the ones who feel since you’re never going to make big money off your work, why don’t you do something else–you know, like clean the house, or pay the bills, or something?  These are usually the sort whose most imaginative thought of the day is wondering if they should change their underwear, and if so, what should they wear.

In other words, they got no idea what makes a person like me tick.

Since that first encounter with The Zen, I’ve not only visited the site often, but I’ve showed it to others.  Some have ignored it, some have loved it.

This last one brought back way too many memories.

I have written many times throughout my life.  I’ve tried a lot of things, actually:  I’ve always loved art, loved reading, loved music, loved writing.  I was never content to do things that were–shall we say, easy?  I was never a good artist, but on a couple of occasions I let my imagination go, and the end result was to get some intense praise from the instructor.  I didn’t just read, I was off into advanced stories and concepts long before high school.  I didn’t just listen to music:  I found things that made me think and wonder, and devoured the sources.  And my writing?  I was doing nutty stuff even in the mid-1970’s.

However . . .

There were always people around me who thought my art was “strange”.  By the very fact I read I was considered a “weirdo”, and I even had one person who’d been a friend for years stop talking to me because he thought I was “nuts”.  I was always being told I listened to “freak music”, and that I should stick to stuff more popular.

And no one gave a shit about my writing.

I finally took up writing in a serious way in the late 1980’s, and kept at it for a while.  I once brought my spouse to a writer’s group I was in–more a collection of friends than anything else–and I read what I was working on at the time.  On the way home I asked my spouse what they thought, and they comment was, “It was crap.  I hate when you write stuff like that.  The only good story you ever wrote was your first.”

My first story that they knew was a quick, fast, first person horror story that was filled with so many clichés that H. P. Lovecraft would have killed it with fire.  But, to my spouse, it was the best thing I ever wrote, and they were of the opinion that I should go back to writing stuff like that.

Between a life time of hearing stuff like that, and having to deal with my other problems, I gave up on writing for a long time.  You start believing that everything you do is crap, that you’re never getting ahead.

You become a willing participant in killing your dreams.

These days, I write in a vacuum most of the time.  I know there are few people around me who care about this work, but screw them:  I do this for me.  I have a daughter who wants to be an artist.  I encourage her to draw, and to draw as much as she can.  She posts some of her work on her Tumblr, and has gotten great feedback.

I don’t have to tell her to do anything differently than is being told here.

When I am down, when I feel I am wasting my time, when I feel that all that I do will be for naught, I think about what has come before, and what could be next.

And then I use my time.

The Voice of the Guide Vocal

Well, I’m back into the cycle of not being able to sleep, as I find myself awake for about two hours now, and it’s 3:40 AM as I write this, so it’s safe to say I’m not sleeping well–again.  The only good thing about this is being able to see some of the demented crap showing up on my Facebook page this early in the morning.  These people are my friends?  How did that happen?

So I’m awake, starting to write (but only here; my head isn’t clean enough to work on my story), and listening to music.  Later I need to do a Skype test, because tomorrow I need to speak with someone via that medium, and I have a new mic I want to try.

Yesterday was a whole day of writing.  Besides the blog post, I managed a little over fifteen hundred words on Chapter Four, which is starting to become a monster chapter.  The big scene in it is coming up today, so I’ll get that dusted off and written, and perhaps get into Chapter Five after that.  I think I can finished Chapter Four in a thousand words–I think.  I have to see where the story is going.

Really, this story is going off wildly in some ways.  For the current chapter I only had two images in mind, but so far I’ve covered one of those, a list of fetishes, and some swearing in Latin.  I’ve yet to get to the second image, and once I do I wonder if another will come to mind–

Probably not.  The voice in my head that is pointing me down this path seems to feel that after the last image is written, the chapter is finished.

That voice is my muse, but it could also be something more mysterious, like The Guide Vocal, which is from a song, in case you didn’t know.  The Guide Vocal doesn’t say much, but it’s first stanza speaks volumes:


I am the one who guided you this far
All you know and all you feel
Nobody must know my name
For nobody would understand
And you kill what you fear


I’m down with killing what you fear, because I finally understand that concept from the point of the writing game.  That’s, to me, the killing of your dream–because like it or not, writers fear their dream.  We wonder what will come of this exercise some of us do daily; we think about what would happen if we make it; we consider the possibility that we’ll write and write and write, and little will come out of it save fifty thousand a year and the satisfaction of getting to do what you like doing.

But there is a dark side here, oh yes.  It’s the always-with-you-fear that nothing will happen, that we’ll write and write, and at the end of it all we’ll have a hard drive full of stories and a lot of postings that show up on free sites.  It’s the fear that we’ll have wasted enormous quantities of time, and we’ll remain hidden in the shadows.

I struggle with this every day.  I always wonder if, with the stories I have on my computer, I should bother writing anymore, because I’ve only published two things, and they’ve not really went anywhere.

Ah, but this guide vocal is not my Muse.  I’m not sure what it is, but it’s a completely different creature.  For now it’s there pulling me along, showing me a path.  I know, however, that in time the following will occur:


I call you for I must leave
You’re on your own until the end
There was a choice but now it’s gone
I said you wouldn’t understand
Take what’s yours and be damned


Of those last few lines, I have my own ideas what they mean.

Your mileage, however, will likely vary a hell of a lot.



Guide Vocal lyrics by Tony Banks, copyright 1979.

Into the Haze of Life

This is one of those days that I know will redefine one.

The last few days have been sorta crazy.  I don’t mean crazy as in, “Oh, wow.  Wild stuff going on; better get goin’ on this.”  No, it’s more like, “I’m totally losing it; I should see about getting checked into the facility.”  As in, I’m really on my last good thread, and if it’s cut, I’ve got serious stuff to deal with in a major way.

Last night I tried writing.  My heart didn’t feel as if it were in it.  I did my best, but these things that are happening, it’s eating me alive.  Maybe I’ll get more done later, because even when I’m feeling as if I’m going to have a heart attack at any moment, I need to do something towards my craft.

For if I don’t have my craft, then I have nothing.  There is nothing else waiting for me.  Give up my writing, and I might as well start looking for a nice place to rest for the last time.

I know that sounds extreme, but there really isn’t anything else at this point.  The Undisclosed Location has become less of a place to crash between trips to the job site, and more of a prison of them mind.  At this moment, I’m not there, I’m at The Real Home, though a return to TUL is likely tonight.  Maybe.  Possibly.  It all depends on what transpires during this morning.

There are things to do today.  I’m dealing with things the best I can.  I’ve got support on this end, and I’ve been getting support from other people as well.  I’m not completely alone at this point–which is something that I do feel when I’m at The Undisclosed Location.  It’s nothing but alone there.  It’s the feeling of nothingness, of being isolated from everything but the local Wal Mart down the street, that’s one of the things putting a lot of strain upon me.  It’s helped to be a great writing local, but it’s not helping with anything else.

So many things to deal with:  the job, loneliness, isolation, fear, the feeling that I’m screwing up everything . . . oh, and one other thing.  Something that’s really defining me at the moment.  But nothing I’m ready to speak of yet.  That time is coming, but it’s not yet.  Just like all the events that are surrounding this little episode, I have to leave it for another place and time.

I have to conclude that one of the reasons this current work in progress is taking so long is because I’ve got entirely too much shit on my mind.  My plate is full, and I can’t seem to clear it these days.  There is more calling for my attention, and I don’t have the means to fit it in right now.

Bouncing off the walls, I am.  It’s not quite gotten to where I feel like I’m about to do something totally stupid, but it’s feeling very close.  Objects in the rear view mirror are always closer than they appear, and this one has been tailgating me for a few weeks.

Okay, I’m off.  Even with everything swirling about my head like mad, I can still write.  At least I write here.

See?  Everything’s okay.  Really.  It is.

Morpheus Dreams in Black

Not a very good night, not at all.

I get back to The Undisclosed Location, and it all start crashing down.  Mood turns bad, feeling turn back–it’s as if there is a black shroud waiting for me when I get in.  Everything just feels wrong.  I could have started on the next part of Diners, but I know it’s not going to do any good, it’ll end up maybe 200 words at the most, and they won’t have any feeling to them.

So I’m off to bed, and I fall asleep.  It’s fitful, though:  I’m pretty sure when I wake up, it’s early.  Like 1 AM early.  Like, “This is when I wake up all the time down here any more,” early.

I try to relax, try to fall back to sleep.  I think I did, because I end up having what I think is one of my black dreams–

They are like this:  something is going on.  I’m in the middle of it.  In this case, it was a card game.  We–a couple of other people, and me–were playing, but I can’t see who the people are.  It’s like playing ghosts; there are just outlines of people, nothing real about them.  And no faces:  I never see their faces.  I hear voices, but never see faces.

Then everyone vanishes, and I go looking for them.  And this is where it goes bad, because whenever I leave the area where I’ve been, everything beyond that area–in this case, a room–is pure blackness.  And I mean, I look a few feet away, and there’s nothing to see.  It’s something of a frightening thing, because it makes you feel so isolated, like you are the only one in the world, and though you might hear the voices of other people–and I do, I hear them calling to me, telling me to go somewhere to meet up with everyone else–but there is nothing to see.  Maybe once in a while I’ll see bright light shinning through the blackness, but that’s it.

There’s nothing else.  It’s all dark.  It’s all blackness.

It’s not something you want to wake up to, because you feel as if your dreams were trying to say, “You’re isolated from the world.  There’s nothing out there; it’s all you, and there’s nothing else.”

The last couple of weeks have felt like that.  There’s nothing out there, there’s no support.  I do feel very much on my own these days, and it’s not something I’m enjoying much these days.  I’m not in the mood to give up, but I also feel like there is nothing else out there, nothing to hold onto, nothing to touch.

I’ve felt that way too many times in the past, and I don’t want to feel it any more.

Morpheus needs to stop showing up with dark dreams.  He needs to make my dreams feel the way they used to, when all I had to deal with were smart-ass girls with red hair telling me to get off my butt and get to writing.  I miss the dreams I used to have.

I want to know that they’ve not abandoned me.

That somewhere, in the darkness, they wait with open arms . . .

Chasing the Fear

What I want to know is–why am I up at 4 AM?  Again?

The entire life seems to be in flux at the moment.  Project with work that seems to go on, but is still so close to the end.  Work in progress that seems to go on, but is still so close to the end.  Novels out for review, for a possible purchase . . .

So close to the end, but it seems like it’s so far away.

Ah, it’s just like everything else in my life:  it’s moving from one sort of set up to another.  It’s just that it’s taking so much time, and I want it now!

Time to learn patience, Grasshopper.  Otherwise it’s going to pull you apart, and it’s going to be messy when it’s all over.

Part Ten of Diners at the Memory’s End started last night.  I hopped in pretty well, getting almost 700 words done before the need for sleep caught up with me and forced me off to bed–which, if you’re following this post right now, didn’t do me much good, since I was lying away for about an hour before I starting writing.  I would have gotten into writing a little faster, but I needed to look up something about a local in the story, and that meant I needed to pull up something from Transporting

I spent about an hour going through the chapter in question, reading what I’d actually written twenty years before, and edited a few times since.  There is something about the writing:  it’s sort of wild and raw, but you can feel the main character’s feelings coming though so well.  You can see the relationship with Cytheria beginning, building little by little during what was, pretty much, a very drunken dinner with a fellow doctor.

And the chapter was long:  about 5,600 words.  But so much was said, that I’d loath to cut any of it, because it is all so very good.

Can’t wait to sell this.  Of course, that means editing it, and that means getting all my other projects out of the way before I can do that.

So what needs to be done:  finish the current story, then maybe do another–I have an idea for something that’s either going to be straight-up erotica, or maybe erotic fantasy–then get ready for NaNoWriMo.  Then when that’s over, launch into editing Book One of Transporting, and maybe start shopping it–and the rest of the books in that trilogy–out come the start of 2013.

Yeah, really seems like I have it all down pat, doesn’t it?

The fear here is that none of this will amount to anything.  That I’ve written all these things, or that there are things out there to be written, and in the end, no one, outside of a small circle of people, will ever see them.  That they will linger forever on the Internet, or maybe even on a bookshelf of a store, and nothing will ever come of them.  They will be an experience in my life that went nowhere, and thousands of hours will have been spent chasing an endeavor that was all for naught.

The money can be something that would keep me writing, but I really want people to see my work.  Be entertained.  Be amazed.

Maybe even fall in love with the characters who dance in my imagination, and make life worthwhile.

So I chase the fear, and hope for the best.  Hope that, at the end of the road, there is something waiting for me.

I’ll ask Cassidy and see what she says–

Even though I know she’ll tell me to keep running.

Nothing Much is Nothing At All

Nothing.  That’s what this weekend felt like.

While Saturday wasn’t that bad, Sunday was a total waste.  I was fighting an infection in my left earlobe, and this general feeling that nothing was right.  I was tired, because I wasn’t catching up on the sleep that I haven’t been getting down at The Undisclosed Location.  I ended up munching away on junk food when I pulled into the apartment, and I was up until midnight before going to bed.

And when did I rise this morning?  About 4 AM.  Finally got out of bed at 4:30.  Still the same.  Three, four hours of sleep, and a day full of exhaustion.

The worst was that yesterday, other than the blog, I wrote nothing.

It wasn’t just not writing–I didn’t feel like writing.  I thought about finishing off the scene I’m into right now, with Albert and Meredith in their game, whacking out aliens left and right.  I knew, however, if I did, I was going to produce some might crap.  Whatever was written was going to suck mightily, and that wasn’t wanted.  The idea is, when I write, not to suck, and if I’d written last night, it was going to suck.

Ergo, I walked away.  There was no way the story was going to get a crap section.

The last couple of weeks have been this way, a fight to get some sleep, get through the day, get through the story.  The lack of sleep is becoming an acute problem, because it’s affecting me throughout the entire day.  By the time I manage to pull myself through the day at work, it’s back to the apartment, eat, then try to write.  Sometimes I’m doing very well:  other times I feel the struggle to get anything done.

There’s no stopping, but there’s also the feeling that something is coming to a head, and it won’t take long to get there.

There is also the feeling I’m struggling with this story.  I don’t want to struggle, but it happens.  You work through it, make the words come out.  There’s the feeling I messed up the time line, which is possible, as I’ve thought about what should happen after this current part if finished.  Tonight I’ll fix this; I’m nothing if not anal about my time lines.

Too many things going on at once.  May was crazy; June is even more insane.  Who the hell knows what July is going to bring?

Something new and good is needed, and needed very soon.  For it does seem as if I’m working in a vacuum here all of a sudden, with no feedback, little human contact, and even less human touch.

It’s the feeling that I need some kind of confirmation that everything isn’t for naught.  That this is going to work for me, because . . . the alternative isn’t worth my time.  The alternative is The Downhill Slide–  I refuse to go there, however.  It’s never going to be an option.

So many thing happening at once; no clear resolution in sight.  It’s like life, only with a great emphasis being unreal.

We all know how much life can suck, even in the best of times . . .