On Change

*Taps keyboard*

“Is this thing on?”


Been a while. Eight months, actually. I made the above joke last time, too.

It’s tough to figure out what to say, even to an ambiguous, undefined audience, after an absence of so long. Almost like catching up with distant relatives you haven’t spoken to in eons, whom you barely remember. Where does one start?

I guess to pick up where I left off last. When last we left off, I was looking for a job.

I found one. I start in a few days. I am hopeful that the rigid structure of gainful employment provides me with some opportunity to return to some semblance of a schedule for this blog, and my other writings, which we’ll get to later. I am, however, also terrified of change. Most people are. In fact, if you look at world politics, the very dichotomy of modern political thought is the conflict of conservatism vs progressivism. Those words have literal meanings grounded in the context of being against and for change, respectively. And the very universe itself is an advocate for change; existence tends not to stagnate. But perhaps I’m getting a bit too existentially beyond myself.

The point is, I have long accepted that change and progress is inevitable, that that things change is the only constant about them. In a few days, my life is going to change completely. It’s rather daunting. Soon, at last, I’ll be working the 9-5 and sleeping on a schedule akin to that of ordinary human beings. Vastly different to my current way of life! I have no fear of this inherently. My fear arises from the impact this will have on my ability and time to write. Most of my most creative writing is done in the wee hours of the morning (2-6AM), though it is often rife with grammatical errors. This timeslot is untenable for a life on the job. I daydream constantly, and always have since I was a child; I am ever considering a dozen variations of my stories. But I only find the means to settle on the ones most creatively engaging at hours most inhuman.

This poses a grand problem, and one that I do not yet have a solution for.

Again, in theory a rigid, structural schedule may wind up helping my writing. But the fear arises from the unknown of whether that is true. Fear, as ever, is tantalizingly paralyzing. But we can’t let it get the better of us, lest we get nowhere. Lest we stagnate. Improvement and growth necessitates change, and the author’s tragedy is to grow into a better version of themselves with every word written—to look upon their past works and know that they could write them again, now, better than they are. A job, even one completely unrelated to writing, will undoubtedly have a hand in making me a better author, provided I find the time and mental wherewithal to keep with the hobby.

I find myself changing in other ways, too. I have often been reserved and not particularly talkative, even with close friends, let alone strangers. But today I went for a haircut and did the impossible—initiated and held a conversation of small talk with a hairdresser. I was aware, at the time, that such an action was unlike me. Now, here I sit in retrospective reflection, still bewildered by it. I discussed the existence of my autism in the previous blog entry eight months ago. I still possess some of the behavioral inclinations common to autism, but have found even those beginning to wane as of late. It’s bizarre, and in many regards impressive, how a willing mind is capable of course-correction. I do not think I will ever be ‘cured’ of my autism, but the effects it has had on me are demonstrably lessening with time.

I also find the subject of my writing to be changing. While I have not abandoned Crown of Thorns outright, I have not touched it in over a month. The very sentence I left its next story on lingers in the back of my mind. But at the forefront is a new story entirely, a change in theme, genre, and paradigm.

I have long been a fan of most things Warhammer (not unlike Henry Cavill). Recently, I got my father into scratching the surface of the setting by reading Dan Abnett’s Eisenhorn series, which is widely regarded as (one of) the best ways of getting new readers into the universe. But as a dedicated fan of the universe, and as a self-defined author, Dan Abnett’s Eisenhorn both does merely scratch that surface of the universe, and also suffers from a bit of narrative issues I am personally not satisfied with (the sort of stuff some weirdo on a train might chat your ear off about for your 40-minute ride and that you would subsequently forget about). I, therefore, decided to write my own Warhammer story for my father, to begin to push a little deeper into the universe without being too overwhelming.

And I wrote it fast. As in, the fastest bit of fiction I have ever written. As in, 78,000 words in a couple weeks—under a month. And it came out well, if I do say so myself—I’ve shared the story with a handful of not-Warhammer friends and all have enjoyed it thus far. I have, however, been hesitant to share it with true Warhammer nerds like myself, as some details may not be perfectly accurate to the setting. (If I could tell you which, I would have fixed them already.)

I have also already begun work on a sequel. While “only” a few chapters in, the outline for the sequel suggests the finished product would be well beyond 78,000 words. Possibly longer than my as-yet published works (which are around 110-120,000 words). And I have reasonable groundwork for another two sequels beyond that.

The problem, however, is that I can’t do anything with these stories. I don’t own the copyright to Warhammer and Games Workshop (GW), the overseas, British company that does own the copyright, is highly unlikely to bother with me much. For the record, GW does hire a variety of authors to write about their universe, with works published from the “Black Library” but the means through which they accept submissions involves them putting authors to a task about a specific subject they want something written, generally as a bit of ‘fluff’ (lore) for an upcoming physical product line. My tales, which are about a very specific thing, aren’t likely to see physical light of day until GW decides they want their subject matter, if ever that happens.

But in the meantime, I’m enjoying writing them all the same, and some around me are enjoying reading them. At some point, though, I do have to change back to writing some more Crown of Thorns.

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On Growth

“Fear is the mind-killer.”

  • Frank Hebert, Dune

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. / Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. / It is our light, not our darkness / That most frightens us.”

  • Marianne Williamson, Our Deepest Fear


*taps mic*

Is this thing on?

When last we left off, I was reviewing my first book in the wake of having published my second, and it seemed as though I was entering a sort of writing renaissance for myself in which blog posts might become more frequent again.

That was October of last year.

So, you might ask, what happened to make me fall off the face of the Earth?

Well, I grew.

I have never written with the motive of doing so therapeutically—I don’t doubt that I have written therapeutically in the past, just without the intent to. However, today I see many of my friends and colleagues doing so, and I gotta say, perhaps that might be wise. So that’s where we are with today’s blog. Gonna get a little personal in here.

I’ve spent much of the last five years unemployed. To my own credit, I haven’t just been sitting on my hands the whole time—a few gigs here and there and a bit of continued education have dotted and beefed up the resume of my life. But I have never known stable, persistent work. There’re many reasons for this, and depending on who you ask in my vicinity, they’ll probably give you different ones. Some will point to my autism, which admittedly is not nearly as severe for me as it can be for others. Some will point to the general anxiety that is cripplingly prevalent on my father’s side of the family. Personally, I think the true cause lies somewhere in the middle, as I believe no one’s life is anything but complicated.

To put it bluntly, I have a crippling fear of commitment to the point of entrapment. It’s ironic, actually, because I think of myself as a very loyal person. But my fear stems from that loyalty itself trapping me into a fate I’d be unwilling to escape from. Could I see myself ever leaving a job I’m unsatisfied with, either merely to quit or to leave for a better one? Frankly, no, I can’t. And so, a fear of the unknown is created, a fear of the hypothetical eventuality of my possible employment that is frustratingly and, at times, overwhelmingly impedimental.

And, yet, I think I’m growing in spite of this fear all the same. It’s strange, and perhaps a little worrisome, as one of the themes in my books is the paralytic nature of fear. That I can be self-conscious of my own growth even in a suppressive environment of fear may unfortunately poke a hole in my books’ plans, or at least require further thought be put into the presentation of their plots.

In any case, I’ve begun to tackle and strike out at elements of my fear, albeit not the source mentioned above. I’ve long struggled with simple communication elements such as phone calls or emails (something some may attribute to autism) but more recently I’ve made significant strides in acquainting myself with both and, in effect, ‘getting used to them.’ I had always been hugely self-critical of both me as a person and my own accomplishments, thinking little of the things I’ve done—such as writing and publishing a book (or two), for instance—which has inhibited my motivation to submit applications for positions I may or may not be qualified for.

When I stopped adding to this blog last October, I was discussing how I was beginning to look for agented representation in the publishing world. That was a lie. I’ve long been looking for such representation, but as with job applications that I may or may not be fully equipped for, I’ve exhibited extreme reluctance to ever submit a single manuscript for representation to an agent for whom I may or may not be a perfect match. I’ve never once reached out to any agent. I do hope this changes soon.

I think it may.

Today’s world is one of profound horrors and struggles. War in Europe. Hunger in Northern Africa/Southwestern Asia. Environmental collapse and cosmically existential threats. It’s hard not to think about such things, and my rambling here probably doesn’t help. To some extent, these extremes put my own problems into perspective, but succumbing to the fear that surrounds these topics is just as paralytic and inhibitive as any other source of fear, mine included. Optimism and hope are the enemies of fear. Wield them. Grow with them in hand.

I think I’m beginning to, after many long years of not.

Well, that got a little emotional and almost preachy toward the end, huh? Maybe I can try to steer away from all that doom, gloom, and zealotry into something more mundane…like writing! That’s what this blog is for, anyways.

Growth in writing takes many forms. (Duh) Perhaps one’s grammar improves, perhaps their style becomes less monotonous and more enthralling. These improvements do come with time and practice, as most things do. The easiest ways to grow as a writer originate from criticisms of your work, some of which I talked about in my previous blog entry. But not all criticisms are inherently negative critiques; some come in the form of questions and curiosities, questions your readers are asking about your works that you may never have considered. I believe these to be the most valuable, and seeking them out—finding a reader dedicated and thoughtful enough to provide them—a paramount goal of an aspiring author.

“How does humanity even survive in this world?” was a question a close friend of mine asked of my novels, in which monsters and demons (there is a distinction!) prey upon mankind in a dark-fantasy narrative. I didn’t really have an answer at the time, and now that I think I have one, it remains a question I’ve come back to to make sure my answer still applies, even as the stakes and suspense of my world intensifies.

“What are the physics of Hell?” was a question I only recently found an answer for, after many years of pondering it. For clarity, the question asks of my fictitious plane of villainous demons, and not any biblical sort—you’d need a priest to begin to answer that one. But I look forward to finally incorporating my answer for my world in my future works, to further build upon and ground my fictional universe in a reality that seems ever more plausibly like our own. I find this hugely fun.

Sometimes your characters are the ‘friends’ that ask questions of your works (though I’d be cautious about befriending fictional entities) and oftentimes these are the most valuable, as it is your stream of consciousness beginning to find plotholes or areas for expansion within your world. One of my characters, in a scifi adventure I wrote a bit in high school and have since curtailed, once asked another what love was. I gave a bit of a lackluster answer at the time, but—obviously—the question stuck with me. And now, in the Crown of Thorns series, I’m writing a whole collection of novels within which finding a salient acceptance of love is a huge story beat.

Now, on account of writing this blogpost, I find myself questioning the nature and extent of fear, questioning whether my previous understanding of it is still valid. It may not be, and that’d be great to learn from!

There is no such thing as a stupid question, especially when it comes to writing. If ever you’re asked one, give it due to consideration, and I can wholeheartedly promise you that you and your works will grow in turn.  

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