Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Compelled to Write Even When You're Sick


Image from public domain, but of course, courtesy of the immortal Charles Schultz

If you're a serious writer, nothing will yield you from the craft, be it a respiratory infection, stomach virus or God forbid, something more debilitating. The need to create, write and edit provokes powerful endorphins which plug you into your work and keeps you on task, though sensibility (and a nagging spouse) says get into bed and heal thyself.

Even while dripping sweat and bundling up at my desk while slogging through this respiratory infection I'm trying to shake off, I've laboriously kept to task with continued edits of "Saved by Zero." Only last night did I get a full night's rest when the others were filled with coughing spells keeping me up most of the time. It didn't help I'd had car issues last night which put me out in the cold again, good times. Thankfully, I have an understanding wife who had a damned hearty chicken soup and ginger ale for me at the ready. Only a truly bad day can siphon my desire to write, thus I fell asleep minutes after dinner, even though I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and immediately ran to my manuscript, as if I'd neglected it for months instead of only nine hours.

When I wasn't tossing and turning or grumbling about football scores, the coughing forced me out of bed and back at my desk. I'm used to strange hours in the company of a Word document, but even I have needed to get some stinking sleep at this point. One of my lead characters in this novel actually suffers from acute coughing spells, so she and I have been kindred spirits for more than a week. Donna, as your creator I've made your life hell, but I love ya, honey...

The Z-pack isn't much help, but I forget all about the heavy chest and random phlegm wads coming up once I have a hot cup of PG Tips and the manuscript up before my eyes. Editing is more strenuous than actual writing, particularly when you're trying to impress an interested party, so there's more dedication required when you're sick and trying to stay focused. Writers know how to soldier on when the muse is nurturing and the stakes are high.

You have to suffer the curse of the obsessed if you want to write, and while the underlying theme of "Saved by Zero" is uber-obsession leading to disastrous events, I'm pretty damned obsessed with my writing, guilty as charged.

It's enough when you have a day job to slug through when you're brain dead and leaving things behind including your door badge, much less half your lunch and the headlights on in your car. The dead battery only unraveled further problems, F-you very much. Maybe Donna's exacted her revenge upon me from the other side of the word processor. I was more alert on the manuscript that morning before work than upon the common elements of my day. Now that's obsession.

Cough, cough, hack, hack, let there be prose...

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