The Truth, Horror and Faith and Their Coexistence

I was going to sit and write about my book, about my thoughts on Along the Splintered Path and where I see my writing going. I may still write about some of that here and I guess part of this will be about my writing. But I would like to start with something else.

I will try to keep this short.

I want to state, quite clearly, with the revelations of last week and the mindset that I have, the way my heart feels deep inside, I will not preach to anyone. It is not who I am. It is not who I wish to be.

I think opportunities present themselves to the willing Christians out there who genuinely want to share their faith. I don’t, however, believe that I can approach anyone (especially folks I don’t know) with one agenda: to witness and witness alone. I think (mind you, I think) that witnessing is an important thing, but I also think there is a time and a place and the right circumstances have to be in place in order to do so.

I want to say something that may offend a few folks and if it does, I’m sorry. This is how I feel. This is how my heart feels. There are far too many Christians out there doing nothing to help better the world. Flip that coin over and look at the other side: There are far too many Christians forcing themselves onto people and running people off from the Lord. Neither of these approaches gets the message out there. Neither passiveness nor aggressiveness works.

The Bible says: By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)

To paraphrase here: They will know us by our love for one another.

A heavy handed approach rarely ever works these days. Compassion and love and gentleness and understanding do. Yes, I said understanding. Our world is such a diverse place to live in and people are so different in many aspects. We shouldn’t try to change them, but accept people for who they are. Trying to change people is a personal agenda. There are no two ways around it. However, Jesus commands us to love one another and it is that love that leads to understanding.

There is a lot of bitterness toward Christians and rightfully so. Too many Christians either do nothing or are too heavy handed in their approach. There has to be a balance and when there is balance there is opportunity. Find that balance and the journey, I believe, will be that much more rewarding for you.

One more thing and I will move onto something else: If you are a Christian, then your actions will speak louder than your words unless your words are spoken with an angry spirit. Just something to chew on.

***

The world is a vampire
–The Smashing Pumpkins
Bullet with Butterfly Wings

Welcome to my nightmare
–Alice Cooper
Welcome To My Nightmare

It’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God, I know I’m one

–The Animals
House of the Rising Sun

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door and it has been painted black
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facin’ up when your whole world is black.

–The Rolling Stones
Paint it Black

You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day.
Tried to run
Tried to Hide
Break on through to the other side…

–The Doors
Break on Through

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
Focused on the pain
The only thing that’s real

–Nine Inch Nails
Hurt

Obviously, these are lyrics to songs, all of which I love. I think lyrics are some of the most powerful words written. Regardless of what the song is, someone (and it may only be one person) will get something from it. That makes song lyrics so powerful.

The lyrics above could be considered dark by many. For me, they are beautifully rendered truths that someone felt as they wrote them.

I said that to echo something a friend of mine said recently when trying to figure out the next step in my writing career and whether to continue writing at all. That friend would be Steve Lowe, my sick-o bizarro writer friend.

AJ – I would have to think that everything you have written reflects a period of your life and what you were experiencing, something that you felt compelled to document and seen through the lens you were looking through at that time. I see nothing to be ashamed about with that.

Several others chimed in with their thoughts, all of them uplifting and giving me some reassurance in, not my stories or my abilities, but what I’ve chosen to write.

I’m proud of my work. I’m proud of the stories I’ve managed to get published over the years. I’m especially proud of Along the Splintered Path, my three story e-book collection. They reflect me during a period of my life and that life, as I’ve said before, is an open book for anyone who wishes to know about it.

Admittedly, I’m heading into a new phase of writing, but let me say this: Horror and Faith can coexist. They have since before the serpent first tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.

I’m a horror writer. That’s the bottom line. I’m a horror writer, and for the last week or so I’ve debated, prayed, and discussed with folks the very idea of writing what I love to write and balancing it with my faith.

I’d like to think my stories are told honestly, that there is truth in the words and actions of the characters. It’s that truth that I enjoy writing about.

It takes a special person to write horror. No, I’m not talking about monsters here. I’m talking about the horrors of the world; the way the world is today. True horror is all about good and evil. Not just good. Not just evil. Both of them and the battle that takes place between them.

There is a lot of redemption in horror stories. The good ones rely on the spiritual warfare going on inside a person’s heart and mind. Good horror reflects on life and the decisions people make. Good horror is truth and it is that truth I wish to continue to bring you. I hope I continue to succeed at that.

Thank you for visiting Type AJ Negative and for reading. There is no greater sadness for a writer than to have no readers.

Until we meet again, my friends…

A Change Is Upon Me

For the last seven years writing has been my life, my desire, my passion.

There have been moments of success. There have been moments of failure. There have been around four hundred rejections. There have been a little over a hundred seventy publications and I don’t know how many short listers. (Yes, I know lister is not technically a word. It is now.)

I’ve learned what I like and dislike about writing. I’ve learned about how to put stories together and to just let them breathe. I’ve learned how to edit, not necessarily my work, but others’. I’ve learned that everyone has their own tastes in things and not everyone will like what I write. I’ve learned just how tough this business is and how thick your skin has to be to survive.

I’ve touched a couple of people and probably hurt a few along the way. If you’re one of the ones I touched, then that makes me happy. If you’re one of the ones I hurt, the I’m sorry. And I mean that from the top of my heart.

Seven years.

That’s a long time to live and breathe writing, to wake up thinking about stories and to go to sleep with plots and characters on your mind.

It’s an investment of time and effort and determination and disappointments and the occasional joy.

I have had some nice things said about my work and then I’ve had some not so nice things said. A few editors have brushed me off and that’s okay. It used to bother me. Not so much now.

In those seven years things have taken a backseat from time to time. My wife. My kids. Sleep (not like I really did much of that anyway). My faith.

Yes, my faith.

(Okay, before you continue, if you wish not to hear the rest, which is partially about religion, go ahead and click the X button in the upper right hand corner. I’m not going to be preaching, but I also don’t wish to offend anyone who believes that God is a man made entity.)

I’ve always been a firm believer in Christ and what you’re about to read is, in my opinion, an intimate account of something that happened to me today. For the record, I wrote this as a letter to a couple of writers I know, two people I hold very dear to me in the writing world. I’m not going to give their names, but they know who they are. Both of them have recently gone through something similar and the need to share it with them bordered on urgency.

My letter reads (for the most part):

Today I was broken. Broken.

My heart hasn’t been in the right place for a long time.

Today, amid things going on in my life, God reminded me of a message I heard recently. A message about Judas, about how he betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins. The preacher man went on to say that there were some in that congregation that are like Judas, who will or have betrayed Jesus.

I sat in my office this morning, frustrated, sad, very much down. There was a hole as big as your first in the center of my chest. I sat to write a letter—it’s what I do when I need to work things out. In the middle of this letter I recalled the message.

Tears formed in my eyes.

I left my desk and started down the stairwell to see a friend of mine.

More tears came.

I reached the door to his floor and couldn’t go through.

More tears poured down my face.

I made it to his office and he wasn’t in there. I stayed there until he came back.

I broke down. I broke down and cried and we talked and I realized that my entire life I had believed in Jesus, prayed to him, but I had NEVER given him everything. We held hands and prayed and I cried and he cried and I cried some more.

When we were done, that hole was gone and I felt refreshed, though exhausted. I felt the burdens were lifted. They were still there, but I wasn’t carrying them by myself.

I just wanted you to know that I’ve given everything to God. Everything. A renewal of faith if you want to say. Me, personally, I think it was more of finally letting go and giving God control.

Thanks for listening.

A.J.

Does this mean I’m no longer going to write? No. Does it mean I change the way I write? No. Does it mean I might change certain things within my writing? Absolutely.

Is this the end of Type AJ Negative? I hope not, but I have a strong feeling I’m going to lose some followers. I’ll probably lose some friends as well, which is sad to say.

I still plan on interviewing people who wish to be interviewed. If you’re one of them, drop me a line at theunderwriter36@gmail.com. If you just want to talk, drop me a line as well. If you want to interview me, please do. I’m an open book.

I’m going to be honest here: I don’t know what this means for my writing career. I’ve got a lot of praying to do and after that, I have a lot of open eared listening to do. Not to friends or family, but to God.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you and I hope you come back. I’ve always thought I was a gracious writer, an accessible writer. That’s not going to change and if I’ve endeared you to my work or me over the last few years, don’t go away. My heart is in the right place. My soul is in the right place.

I’ve always been upfront with my readers. That’s not going to change.

I hope you stick around as I pursue a new path; one that I hope isn’t so splintered.

As I told my friend, Petra, earlier today: Life is a work in progress. It’s a manuscript that will never ever be perfect, but we have an editor that looks out for us, that helps us to polish our manuscript for the world to see.

Until we meet again, my friends…