And I bow as I step onto the dance floor, and the strings strain, and the bodies around us move. Bodies of abusers and saviors. Rose dances with Olsen, Destiny with Tiger. The music plays, we all twirl, and I take each of the next stories out onto the floor. The waltz is the most proper. The waltz has the arms wide, the circle, the spinning. The waltz doesn’t pull in close and breathe in the ear like I do with my wife. The waltz doesn’t get “tangled up and tango on.” The waltz holds back. It looks into the eye, holds at a distance, and the waltz appraises. The waltz appreciates.
There’s a scream across the battlefield as a hundred thousand warriors of bullies and abusers roar hatred in my direction. The Round Table lines up behind me. They bang sword on shield. You are about to read about the women standing along my side. They form the front ranks now. And when the horns blow and I collide with my abusers, it will be The Shieldmaidens waltzing with my enemies and dancing beside me as the blood and the hate flies.
I introduce you now to the women of my life and my past. I introduce you now to The Shieldmaidens.
I’m going to lose my mind. And T is going to be there when it happens. Bekah has a partner when it comes to holding her husband together, because T will be watching it all go down and she will be helping patch holes and put things back together. They will be a team that watches it all happen and makes sure that when it is all over and the books have been written, there is something left of me to live a life of happiness and joy. If it all can be put right again, it will be Bekah and T who do it.
T reads everything that I write as I am writing it. She will read this chapter well before I am done with the book. She watches and she comments and she keeps it all in her head as well as she can. The truth is, no one sane can keep it all in their head. But T is part of the team that looks for inconsistencies and issues that rise up.
When I finished The Great Hall and the first act was complete, I was broken. I had just written 25 books in seven years. My fingers would spasm and move as I talked, as if I was typing everything that I said. I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t calm down. I was at the breaking point, and we were trying to figure out how I was going to live. Because at that point, we were starting to come to the realization that I was a junkie.
I had written so much that I was addicted to it and I needed to be dried out. I needed to be watched so that I wouldn’t start a new book while Bekah was sleeping. I needed to be made right again. And T was there.
See T and I have been through tragedy and celebration together. She was at the first and second Festival of Goats singing and drinking. She came a day early so she could help set up. And after The Great Hall, when I was drying out, she was there.
She lives five hours away as she drives, which is a bit crazy. And she showed up. She talked to me and Bekah and we came up with a plan. She sat with me while Bekah slept. She talked to me into the wee hours to make sure I was not writing and to listen to every crazy thing that came out of my mouth. She kept telling me it was going to be alright.
And I believed her.
And she was right. I came out of it just fine. I had decided that one day I would just die at this desk. I would write until my body could not write anymore and I would just shut down. When I finished Teardrop and was writing the final three chapters, Bekah had to type them for me because my fingers just couldn’t do it anymore, and T wanted to come down to talk me down. When I finished Normal Street and was broken, she did come down and we talked about it. We talked about what I had written and how I was going to be okay, and that was when I told them my master plan.
We had all talked about the second act, how impossible it was going to be and how bad I would get, but I sat them down and very calmly, Adam and Prince told them what was going to happen. We both predicted a life where I would revert back to a childlike existence after I had done all the books. Prince and I told them that I was prepared to do it. I was prepared to lose my mind if it meant that I could do the impossible. I had the hard talk with them about how far I was willing to go and just what I was willing to lose when I went there.
They both agreed to it. They both said they would do whatever they could to get me through, but both of them are ready to watch it all happen and throw up any supports needed.
When T found out I was writing at the pace that I am doing this book, she listened very carefully. I know that when I am done with this and I have been to The Desert, T is going to have a conversation about whether she needs to come down and get a look at me, talk to me for a while and decide if I need professional help.
See T is a nurse and she knows how bad psych issues can get. Bekah and her keep a line of communication open, and when I look bad, they talk about it.
I mentioned checking myself into a psych ward when I finished Teardrop Road. Bekah and T talked about it and what they would do. T said the only thing the psych ward would do was let me sleep until I was rested and monitor my meds. Get me back up to the correct levels and then send me home. See Bekah and T know that at this point no therapist can help me. I have too much backstory for the therapist to catch up on before we can even begin to have a conversation about what I am going through. And no therapist alive would allow me to go where I am headed. So Bekah and T know that they are what I have. They are going to watch and treat, put it back together when they can, and let it fall apart when they have to.
T is my greatest weapon. She knows everything that is going on with me and she knows everything that is going on in my books. She can see through all the symbolism and she can see what I am really dealing with. She is in constant contact with Bekah and they are in this together.
That is how invested she is in my work, my world, and my sanity.
She recently read the secret project I am working on called The Silent War of the Sour Eye. It is a tale of what is going on in the background while my fantasy world spirals out of control. It is the story of a war between two time traveling wizards who are battling it all out and nudging and slicing to make the world what it is. It can only be found in my newsletter as a freebie and there are not a lot of people who even know what they are looking at. It is confusing, and a single short will connect to sometimes up to six different books and short stories. No one who has not read everything I have put out can follow it. It is a maniac’s scream into the world and it is the very pinnacle of my madness.
When T read the latest short story in that book, she finally had to pull me aside and ask me a question that she has never had to ask me.
“How are you doing this?” she said. “This is not even kind of possible. You now have two separate worlds going on and they are colliding and crashing in silence. How is this done?”
And when she asked, I just burst into tears. Because I don’t know. With the addition of The Silent War of the Sour Eye, I have doubled the intricacies of my work. I have now added a piece that it would take a team of very talented people to even keep track of, let alone one man to write. The Sour Eye is the very definition of madness. Even T doesn’t know how I am doing it.
But she will be right there while I do, holding me together and taking it all apart to examine what I am writing and how I am surviving it.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep.