Carryin' that weight

{Currently listening to: Garbage, "The Trick Is To Keep Breathing"}

It's been a crazy couple of years.  I've worked really hard.  I've been super lazy too.  I've tried new things.  I've drank myself into oblivion more than once.  I've asked some very serious and uncomfortable questions about myself and my life, and I even found what might be some answers (not all of which were pleasant).  I've felt better than I have in a long, long time and I've reached rock bottom lows that I didn't imagine existed.  It's been crazy and there were times I thought the crazy was going to take me with it.

Sometimes I curse my fate, even though I know there is no such thing.  Sometimes I'll say "why god?" even though I know there's no one listening.  It's like screaming "fuck you!" at the universe, even though you know it doesn't care.


“I couldn't get myself to read the want ads. The thought of sitting in front of a man behind a desk and telling him that I wanted a job, that I was qualified for a job, was too much for me. Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep himself clothed. So I stayed in bed and drank. When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn't have you by the throat.”
-Charles Bukowski

I've refrained, mostly, from posting about personal things in this blog.  I've always wanted this to be about my work.  Except that's hard to do, since the two so often intersect.  I'm dedicated to the task of writing, it is as much a part of who I am as anything else.   My work affects my life and my life affects my work.  To try and separate the two is mostly impossible.  And that is what has brought me to this point.  Due to the need for some sort of income in order to survive I've been forced to acquire employment doing something I'm not particularly thrilled about.  That's the way it is sometimes; you do what you have to do.

“It was true that I didn’t have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?”
-Charles Bukowski

I don't want to stop my work.  I keep telling myself I can't stop.  Stopping is death.  A slow, painful end.  It isn't going to be easy.  My new job is going to take a great deal of my time and energy.  I will do my best to keep going.  It is what it is.  Unfortunately, as you may have noticed, I was unable to get this week's chapter up.  I will strive for next week.  So long as my life stays on the rails.

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I'm not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you've felt that way.”
-Charles Bukowski

I like Charles Bukowski.  I often find similarities between my views on life and his.  I can relate to his world view.  And there are times when I read his words and I can't help thinking that he knows.  He knows what it's like for folks like us.  It's nice knowing that someone else gets it.  Especially when I keep running into so many that don't.

“If you're losing your soul and you know it, then you've still got a soul left to lose”
-Charles Bukowski

Or in the words of Shirley Manson of Garbage fame: "The trick is to keep breathing".

That I will.  No matter what.

From "the office", Friday, February 8,  2013, 12:15 am

On being a good writer

{Currently listening to: Ani DiFranco, “Outta Me Onto You”

    I follow a bunch of writer type people on twitter, and tumblr, and what I lovingly refer to as “The Land of Blog” and I've noticed something.  These folks get lots of questions about being a writer, as one might expect for someone in their position, but a significantly large number of these question revolve around the question of “being a good writer”.  “How do you know if you're any good?”  “What if people tell you that you suck?”  “Should I keep writing if I don't think I'm a good writer?”  Things of that sort.  It seems there are a lot of insecure writers out there.
    Now don't get me wrong; I'm super insecure.  I don't think a single day has passed in the past quarter century that I haven't paused to wonder if I'm really any good at this writing thing.  There are moments, all too brief ones, when I'm writing that I will stop and pat myself on the back for a moment, having executed what I believe to be a particularly deft turn of phrase.  I may even look back on a whole chapter and think: yeah, that was pretty damn good.  It doesn't happen as often as I'd like, though it does seem to occur more often as time goes by, but it's nice when it does.  Most of the time though I haven't the slightest clue if what I'm doing is what anyone would consider good.  The thing is, at least as far as continuing with the work, I don't really care one way or the other.
    First of all; good is subjective, obviously.  What one person thinks is good is not something that everyone else is going to agree with.  So right there the idea of being good at something creative becomes open for a lot of debate.  And all those people who are going to tell you that you suck (and they most certainly will, at length) are too short sighted and arrogant, not to mention bitter, jaded, and jealous, to waste time listening to.  Fuck those guys.
    Second of all (as I've heard every writer who has ever spoken on the subject say at least once); everyone sucks at first.  Like anything worth doing it takes time to learn how to write effectively and the process never ends.  Or at least it shouldn't, not if you actually care of what you're doing.  Really, in my opinion, if you're not always trying to get better (at writing, or anything else) then you should just stop.  You're wasting your time and everyone else's.  That may sound harsh but I believe that there's no such thing as the pinnacle of one's abilities.  There.  Is.  Always.  Room.  For.  Improvement.  Tattoo that onto your brain and never forget it.  If you think you're are as good as you could ever possibly hope to get then you are underestimating yourself.
    So what difference does it make if you, or anyone else, thinks that you are good at writing?  If you're still concerned then think of it like this: there are billions of people in the world and a lot of them do read from time to time.  It is statistically more than likely that there are a significant number of people out there that will enjoy what you write.  You just have to find them, which you will never be able to do if you stop working or refuse to share your work with the world because you're afraid.  But that's just to boost your confidence a little. 
    Now here's the cold, hard truth.  If the idea that you're no good as writer is enough to make you stop writing then you have nothing to worry about.  Because you weren't really a writer to begin with.  Being a writer isn't something you do because of something outside yourself that reenforces your desire to be a writer, it is what you need to do because something inside of you demands it.  You're either a writer or you're not.  If you're not sure... well there's your answer.

From my comfy chair, Wednesday, January 30th, 2013, 10:08 pm

The fine art of nerding

{Currently listening to: The Pillows, "Blues Driver Monster"

    Longest chapter yet.  We shall see how that bodes.  I never intended for it to come out that long and even after I'd rewritten it for the eighth time I was still amazed at how long it ended up being.  I kept reading through it trying to find where all the damn words were coming from.  It feels like a reverse TARDIS chapter: smaller on the inside.  I fought the urge to break it into two parts for a week before finally deciding that I just couldn't do it.  It works like it is and that's that.
    I'm a huge nerd.  If you haven't figured that out by now then you haven't been paying attention.  But this is my big nerd chapter.  Here's where I nerd out on all that I love about Science Fiction.  It's also where I get to do the three things I enjoy most in writing: 1. Pretend like I know science.  2. Make up words.  3. Make references to stuff.  Look closely and you'll find echoes of a ton of different influences lurking in there.  This chapter actually comes much later in the first book than I originally thought it would and I've been itching to work on it for months.
    Also finished reading Warren Ellis' Gun Machine last week.  I tried my best not to let that bleed into the work.  Not entirely sure how successful I was.
    I then I became sick, which is the excuse I will give you for the brief and somewhat tardy nature of this entry.  Next week I will hopefully be more "here" mentally and all that jazz.

From my bed, Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013,12:18 am

Not what I intended to say

{Currently listening to: Foo Fighters, "These Days"

    A funny thing happened between this post and the last one.  As I was contemplating this post it occurred to me that perhaps I was clinging to an old way of thinking.  Part of me wanted to offer up explanations (but not apologies, never apologies) in the hopes of preventing any undue offense at the content of this week's chapter.  I was going to go on about how seriously I take this subject matter and how I wasn't glorifying it.  But the more I thought about it the more I realized that I just didn't care.  What I thought I wanted to say sounded hollow and pointless.  I wasn't being honest.  So here's the truth.
    You can think whatever you want about this and most likely nothing I have to say will change your mind.  It's not my job to tell you what to think any more than it's your job to tell me what to write.  I've grown tired of making excuses and trying to get people to understand what I'm trying to do.  If you get it, great.  If you don't,  too bad.  I'm thankful for every reader I have but I'm done falling over myself trying to make sure nobody gets upset.  It's possible that I've been the only one who thought such things were necessary anyway.  The first step was writing it down.  The second is accepting that not everyone is going to agree with it.
    Back to work.  See you all next week.

From my comfy chair, Thursday, January 10th, 2013, 9:17pm

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2013: Onward

{Currently listening to: Jeff Buckley, "Yard of Blonde Girls"}

    I was actually going to write something else for this week's blog post but it occurred to me that I might want to get a few words in before things start to get a little... crazy around here.
    Next week's blog post is already in my head, it will say many things that I feel need saying, but I don't think it will really mean anything until you've read next week's chapter, which said post will address directly.  Suffice it to say that I'm going to have some explaining to do next week, at least as far as some people are concerned.  The subject matter is going to get a little dicey and things are going to happen that may make some people uncomfortable.  It is my sincere hope that those who feel in need of further explanation will come here for it and not just walk off in a huff.  All I can say is that I'm playing the long game here people, there's a story I'm telling, and sometimes things in stories don't immediately make sense because the story isn't done.  I'm asking you all to trust me.  When we finally get where we're going I hope you will feel it was worth it.
    So the gang's just about all here, at least as far as the "good guys" are concerned (don't worry the "bad guys" will be catching up soon enough).  I use quotes because, as you may have noticed, things aren't quite so black and white in the world of TSoFM and they're going to get less so the further we go.  Over the course of the next few chapters we're going to start delving into the larger story that, so far, has only been hinted at as well as setting the stage for the climax to Book I.  I know, exciting!
    There's going to (hopefully) be some changes coming to both blogs in the coming months, aesthetically and structurally, so look out for those.  I'm also going to (finally!) be putting up the official The Science of Fighting Monsters facebook page in the near future.  Even thinking of going crazy and slapping together a website.
    I know I keep thanking everyone for reading and guess what?  I'm going to keep doing that.  Because I really do appreciate it.  If you feel so inclined please spread the word.  Shares and likes and reblogs and retweets and all that noise are always very much appreciated.  Seriously, I get teary eyed.  That's not hyperbole.  There are actual tears.
    Look out 2013, I'm coming for ya'.

From "the office", Saturday, January 5th, 2013, 8:58 pm

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Always Improving

{Currently listening to: Yoko Kano, "Space Lion"

    The Science of Fighting Monsters has been a lot of fun so far, it's a kind of project I've wanted to try for years, and I'm glad to finally see it out in the wild.  But TSoFM wasn't just about creating something that I thought would be cool and fun to read.  It was a challenge to myself.  By starting this project I knew I was going to come face to face with several of my shortcomings and I wasn't going to succeed at this if I couldn't find some way to overcome them.  Here's what I mean.

1.  Regular Content Releasing = An Exercise In Getting Off My Ass
    It should surprise no one to hear me say I don't handle deadlines very well.  I've said as much before and even if you missed that all you have to do is look at how well I keep up with my stated release schedule.  It's a work in progress but the important thing is that I am making progress.  More importantly this method of putting my work out there keeps me moving.  I have to keep working.  I have to get up every day and write.  Lazy is no longer an option.

2.  2012: The Year I Stopped Caring About The Audience
    Okay, that's not entirely true.  I care about the audience and I care what that audience thinks.  You have to.  Any creator who claims that they don't care about their audience is either missing the point of this whole "Art" thing or lying.  I want to make something that people will enjoy and that they get something out of.  But too many times in the past I've given up on things because I didn't get any kind response or feedback from people.  I always thought: "if people aren't enjoying it enough to bother saying so then I might as well not bother".  It sounds stupid but there it is.  My need for validation was so overpowering that I couldn't keep going without it.  This time I have forced myself to keep going.  I still love feedback but I'm learning that I don't need it.  Most of all I'm coming to realize that even if people do hate it that doesn't mean I should stop, it just means I need to work harder.

3.  Accepting That It Is Never Going To Be Perfect
    There is no greater barrier to completing anything than being a perfectionist about it.  Because it can't be perfect.  We know this.  It's obvious.  But there's a big difference between knowing it and living it.  This is by far the hardest thing I've dealt with since I began TSoFM.  Most of my "delays" have been due to being unhappy with what I had and wanting to keep working on it.  In the end I just had to say "that's it, that's as good as I can make it right now".  The biggest barrier to my progress as a writer has been being unable to finish things.  I'm finally learning to do that and it feels pretty damn great.

    There are more but those are the big ones.  I guess the point I'm trying to make is this: sometimes you have to make yourself be better.  You have to be honest about what wrong with you, the things you want to change, and then put yourself in a position where you won't succeed unless you change.  You have to toss yourself in the deep end so you have no choice but to learn how to swim.  That's my advice for 2013, make yourself be the person you want to be.  Good luck and thanks for reading.

From my comfy chair, Monday, December 31, 2012, 8:25 pm

That Ol' Crazy Season

{Currently listening to:  Spinal Tap, "Christmas With The Devil"}
(Best.  Christmas.  Song.  Ever.)

Merry, happy, joyous everything to all of you! 

If you give each other stuff, here's hoping you got all the stuff you were hoping to get, and that you gave other people stuff they liked.

If you have loved ones, here's hoping you get to spend the day with as many of them as you can.

If that sort of thing isn't happening for you this year, my heart goes out to you.  Stay strong, you never know what tomorrow might bring.

And let's try to keep all this "peace, love, and togetherness" stuff going after this day is over, whadyasay?

Thank you to everyone who has joined me on this strange, silly ride.  You rock.



From "the office", Tuesday, December 25th, 2012, 11:45 am
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