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My heart is breaking, hands are shaking

Oct. 13th, 2017 | 05:32 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: To tired to be anything else
music: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats - S.O.B.

A convention for next year will not be paying for my hotel again. It’s an expensive convention, one of my largest and also one of my most important. Without them providing the hotel, I’m genuinely not sure I’ll be able to attend. But I also have to acknowledge that I’m simply not a big enough draw for them to pay out the money for the hotel. Not when they could use that money to (easily) book a bigger guest.

Likewise, my publisher has had to scale back provided services and amenities that they offer (if they ever offered, but that's a discussion for a different time).

I can’t afford upgrades to my website. You’d think plug-ins for Wordpress aren’t that expensive, but ten dollars here, twenty dollars there, it adds up. And when you are prepping to begin selling short stories and books independent of your publisher? The nickel and diming is just getting ridiculous.

I have to confront the reality that I am a failure as an author.

Not as a writer. As a writer, I think I am relatively successful. But a writer is an artist. An author is a profession and, well, I suck at this. Even if I reject the milemarker of being self-sufficient as an author, just breaking even is not a thing I have achieved.

I have to decide how much longer I want to tilt at this windmill because, holy hell, I simply do not have it in me to keep this up.

In 2009, I shut down because I saw a book being torrented. I wonder if that shut down was coming regardless of uTorrent. A few years later, I came back to publishing because of my current publisher; the publisher who now will no longer be providing financial support for conventions (or really even supplies).

It’s not that I don’t want to be an author any longer. I just don’t want to continue to suck at this. I’ve been at this for almost two decades and feel indie at best. I just really don’t feel like I have the strength, or the interest.

If I were to stop, if I were to fold it all up, I don’t know if or how I’d keep writing. Maybe I’d go back to LiveJournal. Or maybe I just wouldn’t release it. I find that abhorrent, but I also grow tired of having good ideas that go largely ignored.

I’m only still staying here because I owe it to my stories. But I feel like I’m failing them by being so bad at this.
What kills me is that its not about the money. It's not about the fame, either, or the conventions or the fans or any of that. Don't get me wrong, I will gladly and eagerly accept those should they come my way. But that isn't why I'm doing this.

I want my stories to be seen. I want them to be looked at. I want Lindsay Ellis to do a review of the Crossworld Saga. I want to see 'Red Moon Rising and Philosophy'. I see this stuff with Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Twin Peaks, X-Files, and I...I'm jealous. I want my stories to get that kind of attention, to get that kind of evaluation. Because they're better!
Yes, Xelex is a better, more interesting villain that Sauron. The knights are a more fascinating construct than an FBI agent who takes his work way too seriously and his partner devoid of pattern recognition. I don't deserve this; my characters deserve it.
I'm not pursuing success for my art for me; my stories are what matter. And they deserve better. They're too good and they matter too much. Maybe only to me, but they deserve better.

***

I don't know what's coming in 2018, but I've got a little bit of steam left in me. We'll see.
I think in general, I'm going to try to make it to the end of the decade. I'm not a hundred percent sure what my metric for success is, or should be. But I think if I haven't reached it by 2020 (or maybe EoB 2020), I may hang it up.

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Entropy and Nihilism

Oct. 6th, 2017 | 05:46 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Too apathetic to be lost
music: Traffic outside

I'm not gonna lie, this is gonna get dark...Collapse )

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Running Low

Sep. 29th, 2017 | 05:11 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Militant Ennui
music: Nora Jones - Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)

In Crossworld book 5 (which at this point, I don't think will ever see the light of day), Vincent falls to his knees before Jessica and asks her to tell him he can stop. Jessica is sympathetic but tells him 'I think we're passed that point'.
I don't really have too much context for this scene. I'm not sure how it would play out, nor do I know where in the narrative it goes. Before a book goes into full development, I just write out random scenes whenever one comes to me. When its time to write the book, I gather them all together and work the plot backwards from those scenes, warping the basic idea I have in a way to justify all (or as many as possible) of the scenes into the narrative.

Yesterday, while doing my lunchtime kung fu routine, I stopped mid-form and said aloud "This is dumb". I was run over with the realization that this isn't martial arts (at least not as far as what I want from my martial arts); this is dancing. I looked at much of my martial training program and was just struck with 'why am I doing this?'. I hold a twenty minute horse stance every day. Why the fuck am I doing that?

I'm reading a book on social media for writers and the amount of work that's needed is just...exhausting. Given how unrespected of an art form writing is - even by the authors within it - I find myself growing increasingly disillusioned at the notion of 'success'. Sure the money would be nice, as would the critical evaluation of my work, but at the end of the day, any real success as a writer comes not from being a good writer or a good storyteller...but from developing a good movie concept. JK Rowling didn't become richer than the Queen of England off the books. Not even remotely close. She became richer than the Queen of England because she inspired one of the best and most successful movie franchises in recent history. George RR Martin didn't get a fraction of his success or wealth off his writing (his writing kind of sucks). He got it because underage incestuous rape is popular right now and Peter Dinklage is made out of charisma.

One of the hallmarks of a serious Depressive crash is the sudden loss of interest in hobbies and activities. This certainly fits the bill. Also, at 36, I'm ripe for a major life crisis. This certainly fits the bill.
Or maybe I've finally run out of fucks to give.

My marriage hangs by a thread. I try to consider what would salvage the situation, what would be the first step towards righting where we are. All I can think of is some variation on 'you can stop'.

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Theory of a Dead Man

Sep. 15th, 2017 | 05:37 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Regressing
music: Mudvayne - Happy

Hypothetical: What if Depression is the mind attempting to remain engaged? What if Depression is, in a sense, a form of ADHA?

Fear is often misunderstood. It is simply the senses amped up to 11 and, without something to focus on, the mind focuses on imagined scenarios, typically boiling down to pain, pain of injury. Most of our fears of death are focused on the pain the cause of death will invoke or the emotional pain of not being around to whatever. Fear is the result of adrenaline, which supercharges our body but it also supercharges and focuses our attention. Fear is, in a result, our senses going haywire, like a fire hose that has broken free and is spraying wild. Let spray, it will be useless and do damage. But focus it and it can be a powerful tool, almost unrivaled.

In conjunction with adrenaline is noradrenaline. For much of history (or at least as long as we've known about adrenaline and noradrenaline), scientists thought noradrenaline was released after adrenaline, as a calming chemical. We now know (or at least suspect), noradrenaline is released before. If adrenaline is amping the senses up to 11, this is amping them up to 9. If adrenaline is the flight hormone, noradrenaline is the fight hormone. Noradrenaline is the chemical responsible for feeling 'in the zone'. It is the optimal level of arousal/stimulus, healthy anxiety. It is when you are certain of the outcome and in control of circumstances (and what is more important in a fight than knowing exactly how it is going to play out, having control over the affair?). Adrenaline is for when you don't know the outcome. You go wild because you have lost to control.

So, if fear is pretty much just about sensory direction and focus/overload, how might that play into Depression? If the mind is devoid of stimulus, or at least adequate stimulus, might the brain turn inward? And thus, by turning inward, might the brain automatically go to certain thoughts? Now, this sounds like Depression might be a habit, and I suspect there is a certain level of habitualization when it comes to Depression. Certain habits of mine can help trigger crashes, sometimes just as simple a thing as walking a certain way through the house. But the chemical predisposition of the brain and the body would make certain thoughts more appealing and/or easier to access. Given that we don't fully understand the mechanism of thought, this is an unprovable hypothesis for now.

But let's say that it is true, just for the moment. We are then faced with where does Depression originate? The brain, or the stomach? Increasing evidence is mounting that the stomach, specifically the small intestines, are deeply involved with the brain and thought. Many (most?) neurochemicals are actually produced in the gut, and a lot of the body's regulatory functions take place south of the ribs, not north. There is an evolutionary connection between the brain and the intestines as well. Humans have a much shorter intestinal track compared to other primates, and with the shorter intestines came the inability to process much of the fibrous matter that compose most primates' diets. The exchange seems to have shifted us towards a fat-based energy system, which saw a corresponding transformation of the brain. Not just in size but vascularity as well. While our brain more than doubled in size evolutionarily, the amount of arteries and veins rose by an order of magnitude.

Now, there are problems with this theory. If switching from a plant-based diet to a fat-based diet engaged our brains, it stands to reason we would have evolved from carnivores, not mostly-herbavoric omnivores. So while this evidence is compelling, the argument is not conclusive.

In an effort to put on some muscle during the winter months, I've switched to a diet protocol known as ITFYM, or 'It-fyem', or 'If It Fits Your Macros'. This means that so long as you take in adequate amounts of protein, and stay within your target calories, you can eat whatever you want. A calorie is not a calorie, but the distinction is only so much, right? Yes and no, and calories are something I'd prefer to discuss at another time.

Now, as great as having Crunch Berries for dinner is, I have noticed two very serious crashes since I went on this protocol. It is entirely possible that these are unrelated. I definitely had crashes following the stricter Slow-Carb Diet. Yet I cannot help but wonder what role sugar intake may have played, as sugars can ravage one's intestines, especially simple sugars.
But that leads into a discussion about digestion and how carbs are just sugars and starches, and starches are just really complex sugars and all that. I've done way too much studying on that.

I find myself considering the ketogenic diet again. There seem to be a lot of benefits to it, not the least of which are increased vascularity to/of the brain. I tried it once to unremarkable results, but I'm not sure I ever actually made it into ketosis. I am curious if it would benefit me in my fight against Depression, but I also balance the long history of low-carb diets with increased Depression.

I don't know. I just know that right now, I have a very bad case of hiraeth.

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Stiff Overhead Right

Sep. 8th, 2017 | 05:56 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Tired
music: Urban Country - Gonna Need A Grave

A productive week.

Professionally, my plans for our hormonal training system at the kung fu school continues to (very) slowly crystallize. I feel like I'm knocking on the door of something here.

Writing, my project is also coming together. It continues to fight me, it's got so many moving parts. I think I'm getting it to where it's got to be in order for me to start writing it. Even if I get everything done I want to get done, I'm going to be playing catch up for all of 2018. But if this works...sweet mercy, I'll be a genius.

Sadly, that's part of what bothers me. This project is proving infinitely more complicated, difficult, and demanding than I had expected. And I was hoping to resume Teach The Sky after I had it going. If I'm going to be playing catch up for a year? And I'm not confident I can squeeze more writing out of myself. I'm already producing a novel, eight short stories, and a panel or an article every twelve weeks. Sometimes more, when it comes to the short stories or the panel. I don't know how much more I can add, especially since I was hoping to go back to daily stories.

RocKaiju is finally moving forward again. My publisher is tackling it with real gusto and we're editing away. Only eighteen damn months late. I've told him I want it available for a convention in December, which he says is possible. We'll see. Independent of the publishing house, I'm looking to produce a book or two on my own this winter. Not a hundred percent sure how I'll pay for it, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I feel like the world is fast approaching a breaking point. It seems like Trump's removal is inevitable...but then, I feel like we've been saying that since he was sworn into office...and then we were saying very similar when he was campaigning. I'm not sure what to think. I just know I don't trust my fellow Americans like I used to.

In other news, I've been upping my strength training, and kind of stunned what I'm working with. I may reach some goals sooner than I expected, which would be cool. Not seeing the muscle gain I was hoping for, but that was an ancillary goal, so I'm not too concerned. Lost most of my six-pack, but my measurements haven't actually changed (for better and worse), so I'm not too worried in any stretch.

Still no word on my next belt test. I'm not in too much of a rush, but with all the politicking going on, the delay is making me more and more anxious. Part of me is dreading it because the school has a long history of training you for A, and then testing you on B, with the gap in knowledge (allegedly) meant to simulate the stress of a real fight. It's stressful, alright. I want to train and I want to train hard, but I also want to train smart. And I don't want to do a thing just because it's hard. Any fool can exhaust and beat-up on a person. That's easy.
There are no tough people in the world; only the trained. Trained by life and experience, perhaps, but trained. Training is merely instruction on how to respond to stimulus, and controlled exposure to stimulus until the desired response is produced. Training should always be harder than the test.

Irma scares me. Not so much in that it is a hurricane, in that I fear it is a harbinger of the doom of the world. I fear Climate Change is beyond the point of no return. I fear my nephews and nieces will grow up in a world of certain doom. I fear drought, famine, and hardship are what our parents' generation has left us to tilt futilely against.
Fortunately, some of us are skilled - nay, trained - at tilting at windmills. ;)

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...where we came in?

Sep. 1st, 2017 | 06:02 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Somber
music: Urban Country - Gonna Need A Grave

Obscure reference, I know.

I feel like Nero, playing his fiddle, while around me, all of Rome burns.

Life is good...for me. My publisher FINALLY started editing my novel. RocKaiju is plowing through the process. This damn thing better be ready by the end of the year. If I go to MAGFest without production copies, I'm going to be pissed. Not-signed-with-this-publisher-any-longer kind of pissed.
Writing is going well in general. RocKaiju 2 is about a third done. Everything else is coming along. I'm slowly building up the backlog of short stories for my site, and making good headway on my project for next year.
Given that I'm just now writing what will go live in January, and that I have a five-tier production process, it will take more than a year before I start getting any breathing room. I'll spend 2018 rushing episodes through production so that I'll have them ready for release. Still, I'm confident it will be fun.

I find it interesting how many writers talk about their projects in terms of 'fun'. Many talk about their audiences and their hoped responses. Not invalid at all, but still. I want to enjoy what I'm writing. That's my first goal. Everything after that is gravy.
Hopefully lucrative gravy, but gravy none the less.

Training is going well. I just cut a whole lot of stuff from my routine and have focused considerably. I feel like maybe I'm back on track, though I'm not sure what I'm back on track for.

All is good. I play my ditty, while around me, flames.
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The Shirts We Wear

Aug. 25th, 2017 | 05:18 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Bitter
music: Parademics - Avengers

Guess who got their first concussion?
I'm pretty sure it wasn't my first, but I don't recall a time when I could definitively say, 'yep, that was a concussion'. But Tuesday, when I slipped on the cat dish in the kitchen and landed squarely and firmly on the back of my head, I exhibited just about every sign. Temporarily paralysis, seeing spots, pain like you wouldn't believe, and a contusion that would scare a penguin (which, admittedly, I imagine is quite easy).
The symptoms have been abating each day but I'm still not back to 100%. It's embarrassing for many reasons, not the least of which is how much I have trained a backwards breakfall. I can break a fall on concrete, and have! At 5:30am in the morning, on tile? Apparently not so much.

Old specters of doubt are haunting me. I had a long conversation with a coworker about a perspective boyfriend she was considering. The standards I gave her to weight whether or not this relationship sounded like a good idea weren't terribly high, but they still unnerved me. I ask, 'how did I get here'? And find all the answers terribly disappointing, if not embarrassing.

The country continues to spiral a drain of catastrophe. I can only lay so much blame on the likes of Trump and Putin. Many a voter, who vilified expertise and knowledge, are every bit as responsible, if at least culpable. The cult of the everyman's infallibility, of the hallowed Mainstreet USA, has soured on me.

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Playing My Nero Fiddle

Aug. 18th, 2017 | 05:55 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Quixotic
music: Bonnie Tyler - Ravishing

You know, I recall reading somewhere that Nero wasn't crazy and that he was actually a really good emperor. I don't care enough to look it up, but I recall learning that we misunderstand him about as much as we misunderstand Columbus, Paul Revere, and Tutankhamen.

Regardless, the image stands.

So Charlottesville was a thing that happened. And holy hell, the aftermath. Just when I thought Trump couldn't get worse. And just now, it was announced Bannon is out of the White House? I feel like I should have shouted by now on my 'We're All Doomed' Bingo card, but it's too full and I don't know which way to claim victory.

I'm pulling Red Moon Rising out of retirement for a short story. I remarked on Twitter that it was a shame I wasn't writing that story...then I remembered I set my own production schedule. So there will be a short in a few weeks that will be little more than Everett and company punching the KKK in the collective face because if we can't have justice in the real world, by god, we'll have justice in fiction at least.

In other news, I think I've finally finished recovering from everything earlier this summer. With the conclusion of my week off, I'm feeling anxious to get back to it (writing, drawing, training, language, etc). I wouldn't say I'm eager, but I could be mistaken for eager.

Plus, there's the solar eclipse on Monday. That will either be cool or the nightemarish monster that is the present will complete its transformation as was predicted in the Tome of Yog'Soloth.

Maybe Ultraman will show up. That'd be cool.
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Where do we find ourself?

Aug. 11th, 2017 | 05:14 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Somewhere between despondent and thoughtful
music: The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey - Misty Mountains

A dream led me to an old altar, but I had no prayer.
When I saw the goddess later, she wasn't quite the silvery moon I remembered.
I don't want faith; I want the faith I thought I had.

Things remain...I'll just leave it at that. Things remain. Bad, good, consistent. As they were. As they seem to be the norm. Static.

I've thrown myself into this new writing project and I have high hopes. I just honestly hope it will be sustainable. I've been having to slash myself left and right to keep moving forward. It's a struggle.

In twenty-two months, it will have been twenty years since I graduated high school. Holy hell, that just doesn't seem right.
I had a promise I made to myself if I made it to that day and I walked across that stage. Still haven't kept it. I need to get on that.

Dread fills the air and eating dust leads to an empty belly and a spiteful tongue. But for now, we're still here.
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Last Dream

Aug. 4th, 2017 | 05:24 pm

I had a med-check with my psychiatrist this morning. When asked and with some reflection, I decided that things are going well. Now that much of the stress of the move has passed and we're in the black, though certainly not on a financial even keel, a lot of the strain has let up. Things are far from ideal, what with three months until my dad is clear, my mom's situation deteriorating, and, well...*just gestures at the state of the federal and state governments*...yeah. But at least my mind is clearing and my enthusiasm is returning.

Part of that enthusiasm is I've begun work on my longest project ever. Titled Last Dream currently because I'm about as original as a store-brand Pop-Tart, this was a rip-off of the original Final Fantasy. A game I hadn't even played at that point, i was so inspired by the tale (or rather, the strategy guide), I crafted this tale. While not the first saga I'd conceived (that aware goes to the Dark Warriors saga, for which I've sort of already started on), it does predate Crossworld and even Red Moon Rising/Teach The Sky.

It's currently my plan to unveil Last Dream (and I'm sure it will get renamed before launch) this January, updating monthly with short stories in a long-form serial. I'm currently conceiving of each year of stories being a television season (so 12-episode seasons), with currently 7 seasons planned. Looking at the material I want to cover, however, that may not be enough time.

While the overall story is mostly (?) hammered out, a lot of the little bits are not and they tend to be what inflates as the narrative goes on. We watch Star Wars for dog fights and the Death Star getting destroyed. We remember Star Wars for Han at the Cantina and Luke beginning his journey. There's still so, so much work to do. But it's neat to finally see this story moving towards fruition. I mean, it looks almost NOTHING like what I had originally conceived, but again, I wasn't even a teenager when I originally came up with this story, so that's probably a good thing.

I'm working very hard to make 2018 a good year. While the world has gone to hell, 2017 really hasn't been that bad of a year for me either, not in the long run. It's just those short runs that can kill ya.

Be good to yourself.

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