When Low Meets Dark

A little over a year ago, for the first time in seven years, I thought: “I want to quit.” I knew even as I thought it that I wouldn’t. I wanted to, but I would never let myself. Still, thinking “I want to quit” was a strange thing for me. I had gone through hard times in my writing before, of course – some really hard times that I thought would never end – but I’d never reached a point that felt quite so defeating. I didn’t want to keep trying.

I’m fine now, if you’re worrying. In fact, I’m quite happy these days, so why am I sharing this now? Because I want any other writers and artists out there (and people in general, when you get down to it) to know that this happens to me – that it happens to everyone. I want you to know and understand and believe that there are low, dark places that we sometimes slide into, and that’s okay. Sometimes we run and jump, sometimes we slip, sometimes we can’t get out, and sometimes it’s where we want to be. Sometimes cool, quiet places are where we need to be to heal; sometimes it feels like drowning.

Writers are told to get on social media. We’re told to network and build platforms. We’re told to be personable but not overly personal. We’re told to keep things positive and fun. We’re told to share the good news and pretend the bad news never happens. And from a sales standpoint, this is all good advice. From a human standpoint, it can be dangerous. It’s easy to get online and follow writers and authors and assume that what we see is all there is. It looks like everyone is flitting around, cheerfully dogged, living lives full of success and releases and acceptances and news.

Please don’t let that be a thing that pulls you down. I promise you, we’re all struggling. If someone’s genuinely not struggling, they probably aren’t trying that hard. For those of us who live this and care deeply and want great things, the rejections can be heartbreaking. The failures feel permanent. The risks seem too ferocious, and the options too few.

It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to embrace the struggle. It’s okay to step away for a while. It’s okay to acknowledge that this is one hard-ass road we’ve chosen, we artists, and that sometimes it’s overwhelming. I believe that. I allow myself to feel every step of this journey, and I try not to run from it. So when I think something like, “I want to quit,” I don’t pretend it never crossed my mind. I acknowledge it, I give myself a break, and I reach out to someone who cares about me for encouragement or support or just simple understanding. We all sink into those dark, low places, but we’re never truly alone unless we want to be.

But we must always come back to the important things. Low and dark is not forever. You have pulled yourself out before, and you can pull yourself out again. Don’t stay in too long. If you need help, there are people who will help you. Please, please ask for it.

Even in the midst of my lowest point as a writer, there was a certain peace that came with knowing I’d get through it. That’s the thing about people who’ve been through a lot. We’ve survived the unthinkable, and we know we can survive it again, coming out the other side not just stronger, but softer and brighter and more sensitive in all the best ways.

I was right; I did survive it. You can too. And you will.

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Posted in Depression | 24 Comments

All Hallow’s Read Giveaway Winners

Image by Parée Rica.

Well, my fiends and spooklets, it’s Halloween day and my All Hallow’s Read giveaway has drawn to an end. Thank you so much to everyone who read, commented on, and shared my posts this October! I’ve had such fun sharing my work with you all.

Now, for the winners. First, I tracked down a suitably magic hat — with plenty of character (because that makes the magic thicker).

Then I gathered up all of the entrants (plus the number of times each entrant commented) and wrote them all out on slips of paper. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any magic paper, so pumpkin orange had to do.

And finally, I drew three names: the winners!

Congratulations to the three winners! Listed here with last names to avoid confusion (we had a Melissa and a Missy):

Melissa Crytzer Fry
Andrea Blythe
Cynthia Robertson

I’ll be emailing you soon to get your shipping address and scary book choices. Remember, you can choose any of these three:

It by Stephen King
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Big congrats to the winners, and thanks again to all who played.

I hope you all have a happy, spooky, and magical Halloween!

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Posted in Updates & Announcements | Tagged | 6 Comments

Light and Liquor

This poem was first published in the 2014 HWA Poetry Showcase Volume I, an anthology by the Horror Writers Association. I have another poem, “Fiend,” in this year’s collection, Volume II, as well. You can buy the ebook for $2.99 on Amazon and add the book to your Goodreads shelves!

Light and Liquor

By the time I’d make it to the mine,
well before the sun rose every morning,
I was tired and thirsty.
I worked all day like the devil sat
right here on my shoulder,
and sunlight was gone by the time
I came out of that Hell.
I used to tell my wife, “Honey,
when I die, don’t bury me.
Place me above ground
so I can finally see the light.”
I thought she knew I meant it.

By the time I’d get home each night,
the only thing that could cut
the film of mine-water from my tongue
was a sharp, cold quaff of liquor.
After two or three, I’d lean back,
cross my coal-stained hands on my belly,
and say, “Honey, when I die,
stash a little bottle in there with me,
won’t you?” I thought she knew
I wasn’t kidding.

Lungs and liver failed at once,
put me out of my misery…
but now I’m down here in this hole,
alone, buried in darkness—
just like when I was alive—
and the wood sags with moisture
and things worm through damp dirt
and water drips on my shriveled skin,
and damn, but I’m thirsty.

© Annie Neugebauer, 2010.

This post is part of my All Hallow’s Read Giveaway! For full contest rules, please see here. If you’re entering, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog emails so you’ll see when I announce the winners. Good luck!

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Posted in My Works | Tagged , | 26 Comments

The Lurking

This poem will be published in Collections VI, an anthology of the 2016 Merging Visions Exhibit by the Denton Poets’ Assembly and Visual Arts Society of Texas. I’m looking forward to seeing the art created to pair with it!

The Lurking

It slugs along the concrete,
groveling for scraps,
a mummy of rejected parts.
An atrocity, its body
is soft and patchy
with hair, scales, and flesh—
and letters.
Always fueled by my discarded
turns of phrase,
it skulks in the background
of the cellar,
gathering power pieced together
from my unwanted.

I am in charge here,
I remind myself
as I toss another poem below,
and I only need worry
if I were to give it
something sharp.

© Annie Neugebauer, 2010.

This post is part of my All Hallow’s Read Giveaway! For full contest rules, please see here. If you’re entering, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog emails so you’ll see when I announce the winners. Good luck!

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Posted in My Works | Tagged , | 17 Comments