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the action of pausing or hesitating before saying or doing something.

"Blake felt intense hesitation before releasing his novel."

In 2017, I'm ashamed to admit that I was a fervent viewer of Gary Vaynerchuk's content. A group of friends and I had started a YouTube channel and wanted to make content ourselves. I became obsessed with producing stuff, anything really. I was out of college and felt like I needed to do something. We had podcasts, videos, a blog, art, and some poetry. In the midst of this "just get started" philosophy, I rushed into writing a novel. Well, what I called a novel at the time but now, is at best a short novella and at worst, reserve toliet paper for the next pandemic.

Malcolm's Symphony was my take on the Dexter idea. I wanted to do a different type of ending because the show had left many feeling unsatisfied, myself included. It was my first time ever producing something on my own. And while it was a blast working with my cousin on the cover, learning how to format and figuring out how to self-publish--ultimately, it was rushed and not given the attention it needed. What I thought was a novel was far from one.

There were two things people said to me about it that still haunt me to this day. One was a family friend who read it and told me it read like a screenplay. He asked if I was interested in writing for film and television. This, it seemed to me, was telling me that it wasn't a book because it was bare bones. The filming would have to fill in the gaps. It's fine if it read like a screenplay, if that's what I was writing but I thought I had a novel. Then another coworker who was also a writer, kind of laughed at me and said "bro, this is a rough draft".


It was already published and in the world by then. My ego crashed. It was humbling to say the least. And he was right. It was a rought draft, if that. One key thing he pointed out that I remember was about a shotgun. At one point near the end of the story, the main character gets a shotgun he used for hunting from his closet. It was a key moment in the story. Besides the question of how often people use shotguns for hunting, there was the question of where the hell the shotgun came from. The coworker told me I need to have talked about the shotgun earlier so it doesn't seem out of nowhere. While a small point, it made obvious to me that I didn't plan or plot the story well. It was rushed. And I had much to learn.

Well, today, I have learned a lot. Of course, there is much more to learn. There always will be. I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I think about Malcolm's Symphony existing. I'm embarrassed by it. There have been numerous times I've debated pulling off my social media and Amazon page. But when I started this whole writing thing, I told myself I wanted it to be a journey. I wanted whoever followed my writing now, or eventually one day, to be able to see the progression. The learning experience. That everything isn't always perfect and polished immediately. I love that experience when following a rapper or artist. Seeing them grow and master their craft.

Which leads me to where I'm at today. Hesistation. Feeling nervous about this next project coming out. Since Malcolm's Symphony I've published three poetry books and some short fiction here and there. I did publish a couple short stories through Ahoy Comics (with one more being accepted just a couple days ago). But I haven't put out a long piece of fiction, a novel. Mainly because I've been working on two for some time and was also sending them to agents/publishers. But also because I've been scared. Those critiques still torment me and make me fear I've done the same with Reintegration. But I also know I haven't. While I may be better today after writing Reintegration and Free Dom along with the practice I've had with all the short stories--I still think Reintegration is a huge step forward. A gigantic step away from Malcolm's Symphony. And when I look back at what's behind me on this writing road, I can smile and say that I've enjoyed the journey. And perhaps you will too.

Reintegration comes out on Amazon and Kindle October 18, 2021.

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