The Plan

It’s been tough.

I’ve been going through a lot of personal issues lately. And these issues have been further compounded by writing problems.

In my last post, my last real one aside from reposts of my other work, I was inspired by Brandy Dawley to actually attempt to personify or give form to my inner critic or judge. If you haven’t seen it already, you should check out her Medium article  On Creative Paralysis, Feeling Naked Online, And My Inner Critic Whose Name is Chad: which is what inspired my Mythic Bios post “Time.”

I’ve been thinking about why I haven’t really been creative writing for a while. Originally, last year now, about the time I saw Stan Lee, Alex Kingston, and Michelle Gomez at Fan Expo I was charged enough — re-energized and inspired — to attempt writing full-time for Sequart. The idea was that I would write my 15K words on the side while I re-innovated my Patreon, and only doing so after having something of a centralized creative project or clear series of goals with regards to said project with which to work towards.

But 15K words a month is a large commitment. And perhaps even more than that, there is a difference between writing something that is analytical as opposed to being creative. It’s true that I am fairly creative in expressing myself and my words and viewpoints in my critical writing, and that does tide me over, but it really isn’t the same. Sometimes I become very mindful of the fact that I am not really making anything original. I’m not making something that is mine. While I have made good contacts and gotten my critical writing out there, and got to examine some fascinating creative processes, I can’t really take credit for them. They aren’t my own: at least not the source material that I write about.

This feeling can fuel Imposter Syndrome considerably. I may have to actually cut back, or down, on my analytical writing into the near future. There are some topics I definitely do what to still address and I won’t rule them out, but I need to make the space to create my own primary material once again.

So what will I do instead? Well, I have comics that I need to catch up on reading. And films and television shows that I definitely need to watch. I do require inspiration to continue my good work. I also need to take care of myself and possibly get to the point where I can go to bed at reasonable — read sane — hours.

And this leaves us at what I want to ultimately do in the future. Well. The good news is that recently I have sent out three creative pitches to the Toronto Comics Anthology. It just felt time to put my money where my mouth is. But that is only a start.

I need to go through my notes and my notebooks. I need to type out and I edit what I have of at least perhaps three or four creative worlds I’ve left for far too long. I need to decipher my notes, type them out, and make sense of it or discard what I have and start fresh.  Then I need to go back to my Patreon, however daunting it may be and challenging as you need to have a strong following and project to get anywhere, and redesign it accordingly. I am not a graphic artist or illustrator or even a video maker, but perhaps I can do something about replacing my picture on the top border, and making my funding goals clearer for me and anyone who potential wants to back my work.

I still have some critical pieces I want out there, but I think what I will do is return back to the Mythic Bios approach to these matters and write the personal into the critical as I used to do.

All of this is easier said than done, and I have said similar things in the past. I realize I can’t force a lot of this, but if I make the space and just record what I have, and read and write and not force it, I could form something else. I know I can still do this. I’ve been working on a public fanfic that is now forty-five chapters long and counting. I find that I actually thrive on just writing, on doing some research when I need it for a day or so, but then just writing on wards and writing more to back up what I wrote before. I am stronger when I just keep going. This and actual feedback through kudos and comments really does help me, and it is something I should definitely bear in mind. I just need to find the format and the media for it as I am not sure, for example, that A03 is the best place to publish original work.

I find I am at my most powerful when I am painfully honest. And that is scary. But if I have any hope of getting to where I need to be, I need to be at my best. I know that hard work is not a guaranteed method of success, but a lack of work is a guarantee method of no success. It isn’t even failure. Failure doesn’t happen when you don’t even try. And not trying is inaction and nothing. But reading and writing aren’t nothing, even if they are just focused on a fan work.

The point is, I hope to make some changes and to continue the ones that I have begun. I hope that those of you that still follow this Blog and my media will be there to see what I will do next.

Time

Not too long ago, an acquaintance of mine, Brandy Dawley wrote something about her inner critic and what it looks like, how it acts, and what it represents in a Medium article called On Creative Paralysis, Feeling Naked Online, And My Inner Critic Whose Name is Chad. I wasn’t originally going to write this, at least not today or tonight. I’ve been very depressed lately, especially with regards to my creative writing. And I’m just going to tell you all now that my inner critic, my judge, my arbiter-out-of-control doesn’t have a gender, or an interesting aesthetic, or is even all that interesting.

My judge is Time.

What can I tell you about Time that you don’t already know? I’m not talking about kindly old Grandfather Time, or even Fotamecus: a chaos magick sigil turned into a servitor, Egregore or complex thought-form, and eventually new god of time, if you want to learn something more obscure. No, I’m talking about the old man with the scythe. I’m talking about Cronus or Chronos who castrated his own father, and ate his children out of fear. But not even that. Think of this grey cloaked figure with a scythe, or maybe more of an impulse that tells you that it is bigger than it really is, while also greatly under-exaggerating the size of its heart: which is, like a singularity, a large implosion with a very small, dense, pitiless centre.

Time is capricious. It likes to tell me that I have plenty of it, sometimes, or that I have all of its attention. It can lull me into a false sense of confidence, or complacency. Time waits as it encourages me to procrastinate, or bears down on my chest and stomach, on my esophagus, and ticks away on the corner of a YouTube video I’m watching to calm down and clear my head. And all that time, it keeps score. It writes down, much in the way that I’m not, everything I’m doing except for what it thinks I should be doing: what it alternatively whispers and shouts at me what I should be doing.

Sometimes Time likes to get fresh. It likes to throw something in my face and yell “Surprise! Deal with it! This is your only chance, but no pressure!” It gets relentless and manic: jabbing, kicking, and screaming at me about how I need to do this thing now Now NOW NOW NOW but it won’t always tell me what I am supposed to do, or how I should do it. And when I ask it why, it mostly answers in the negative. It tells me that if I don’t do this, I will suffer, I will remain in stasis, or I will rot from the inside like the spoiled creature that it claims and makes me feel that I am.

I’m not even talking about when Time decides to take me on a trip down memory lane. It’s like the TARDIS from Hell. It likes to show me everything I was, and what I’m not anymore. It likes to show me what I could have done instead, but no backsies. It likes to show me what I could have been, but how I will never have those chances because of my own ineptness: my own sense of paralysis.  It explains to me, in immense detail, how it will stretch out and test all of my friendships and relationships — all of my connections with them — and slowly, and carefully fray the emotions around them over time until I feel detached and disassociated from everyone. It tells me not to trust anyone or anything: how one day, they will all leave me, or I will leave them first.

And then, it takes me into the future. It takes me to a place where it confirms the worst of my fears. Time tells me that I wasted my life. It tells me that I am a loser for living at home after having worked and had scholarships at university. And then, Time likes to be cruel. It enjoys offering me opportunities, waving them in my face, and then right at the last second in an inverse of “no backsies” go “just kidding” and kick me right back into the metaphorical gutter that it took me from: sort of a reversal of fortune writ petty, and small, and banal.

Time likes to play “The Pit and the Pendulum” below me and over my head. It likes to wear me down and remind me of every stupid thing I’ve done, and how no matter what I have done since I will always be that whiny self-entitled child that doesn’t deserve a single thing he gets. It tells me that I’m useless. It says I’m too old, or that I’m getting too old to make anything that will turn my life around.

Time tells me that I am unkempt and that everything is shallow anyway. It tells me I am not nearly as clever or as smart as I think I am. It reminds me of the children that taunted me as a child because I talked too slow, or because I fidget and rock back and forth. It said that I used to be good at “passing” as “normal” but I’ve lost that ability. It says that nothing I do, no creation of mine I create, and no relationship I seek or make matters. Nothing I do will matter. Sometimes, when it is really cruel, it likes to remind me of how good things used to be and how horrible they’ve become now: how I made them that way. It tells me I’ve imprisoned myself, locked myself away, made myself think I am weak and pathetic and rubs my delusions of grandeur — of working hard to excel and be someone — right back in my face like shit.

Then it tells me my only future is around people who I will never relate to, and that I will be alone.

In this way, this version of Time as my inner critic and judge is like Chronos: like him it cuts away the good memories of the past by making me think I’ve learned nothing from it, and it eats my children by paralyzing me, and telling me that I will accomplish nothing but thwarted, angry, bitter dreams.

And Time has been louder these days. Like I said, it wears you down. You defy it over and again like screaming at a brick wall. But you get tired. You get drained. I’ve worked for so long for very little money. I know I should send out pitches or stories, but I don’t feel motivated to do them: as negative motivation from Time is a terrible reason to want to do anything worth while. I don’t even know where to go. But that isn’t true. I have a comics script I never finished because of procrastination and Time telling me it’s too late, and reminding me about my inadequacies. I have a Toronto Comics Anthology I could submit pitches to, but again too much Time has passed and I don’t feel the same way about Toronto as I used to: making it belong to another life. I’ve had talks I’ve put aside because of the fear that something will be over, even though it may well already be, or because I just let it go for too long. It mocks me about how my fanfiction is useless because I will never get paid and there is no reason to do it. It looks at my articles and tells me I am wasting my time reiterating matter I didn’t even create. And it tells me not to get close to anyone because I will end up losing track of the emotions, and by the time they lurch in me full stop they will be long gone.

My judge has the power to freeze itself, to slowly make me watch things change and do nothing to stop them. But it isn’t linear. My critic is definitely cyclical: as circular as this entire post has probably become.

A long time ago, someone I loved wrote a poem before she ever met me. It was called “Where Time Goes to Die.” And sometimes, when Time tells me I should have died in the Summer of 2008 when I was happy and I thought my life was just beginning and everyone was still with me, I wish it would just die. I wish Time would die and I would forever avoid that place where it perished.

Then I would finally be free.

But that’s not what’s going to happen.

What will happen, I think, is this. You see, my inner critic has a weakness. It doesn’t always realize this, but it’s there. Like I said, it likes to pretend to be bigger than it actually is. But what it doesn’t realize is that sometimes I can cut it up into little chunks. Into little bits. Sometimes, I can takes parts of it as well. Sometimes I eat it just like it tries to eat my creations. I take them, these pieces of my judge, jury, and executioner. I eat them one by one with my fork like the pieces of breaded cutlet I sometimes microwave at night.

Then I have dialogues with the parts of myself that Time thinks it has taken away from, or locked away from each other. We exchange notes. Sometimes we wear masks to hide from it. This becomes dialogue. Dialogue becomes interactions and the formation of scenes and descriptions. Sometimes I steal bits of Time when it doesn’t think I can even get out of bed. I take it and read something like Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles: which makes me remember my comics script and dialogue and wondering what might happen if I write just the dialogue of what I want to say and fill in the description later from I have already done.

My past selves talk with each other, to me, on the grapevine that the scythe can never really serrate that well. Then I recall the opportunities. I look at what I have done before and I wonder if I can adapt it into something else. Or I take some space and think of something I haven’t done before.

And then when Time wants to implode like powerful gravity, I just let it. Sometimes I just let it weigh me down and I don’t fight it. I feel it. I remember it. I remember this Spirit of Gravity and I think about its power, coming from a black hole and string theory, and if blackholes are wormholes and if I can harness the power of Wormhole Technology to do something completely ad hoc.

So I work through it. I do the little things that Time doesn’t think are all that important or worth its notice except to make delicate, beautiful, egg-shell bombs. But eventually, one day Time will reach too far. It will offer me something that I can grab back. It will step onto one of its deadly little Easter eggs. I will have more friends. More allies. People talk about Time. I’ve already talked about Time here and what it likes to do. Some people might not like that very much. Some people might not like that at all.

I will take Time’s regrets and uncertainties and create a world out of them of my design. I will take my pain and I will write with it. I will create new life. And then, one day, when I send in more pitches, and better more defined works of which I will have enthusiasm, and I sleep better, and eat well, and people will talk about my name to other people and places all across its surface, I will make the that place. I will create that space. I will make the site of the area of the grave of the ground where Time — my Time — goes to die.

And I will point and laugh. And I will be utterly satisfied.

Some of What I’ve Been Going On

Again, it’s been a while.

Some of this post is just an update on some of the things I’d been working on, but the rest of it is about some of the journey and what it has led to so far.

A little while ago, a YouTuber named the Gentleman Gamer told his viewers that he was opening himself up to answering some questions. The Gentleman, also known as Matthew Dawkins, is a game developer and writer for Onyx Path among other places. I have meant to write about him in the past, especially about his own reviews and the games he’s run that I’ve been privileged to see on his channel, but what I really want to do here is post the response he made to a question that I posed.

What advice would he give to an aspiring RPG writer.

The Gentleman gives out a lot of excellent advice here that can be applied to the art of creative writing and making creative writing an occupation in general. There are also a few points about his experiences that have a nice parallel to my own.

He explains that he got “under the fence” through backing a certain reward for a Kickstarter Campaign and getting to do some writing to that regard. I actually did something similar. A while back, I backed Ink Works’ Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of Myst and Beyond. I wrote an Age, or a scenario for that universe called the Age of Ser’eti. There are differences between what he did and what I had done, but at the very least it is something I can put on a resume or a CV if applying to a job to write for RPGs. It is good advice if you, at some point in time, have the resources and the will to do it. It leads in well to what I planned to do, and what I am doing now.

Many of you that have been following me also know I sent in a writing sample to Onyx Path for the 20th Anniversary of Changeling: The Dreaming. I sent it and a cover letter in and, well, given that I heard no response I can safely assume I didn’t get the job. It’s just as well anyway. Changeling is not my White Wolf/Onyx Path area of expertise or general knowledge. I wasn’t even interested in it at first, until I started thinking about the premise behind it and the ways that I could interpret those rules and backgrounds to tell an interesting story. What really helped was that, at the time, Onyx Path was looking for fiction and not rules-based material. I knew I could tell a good story about the Fae and learn as I went along. Indeed, I did a lot of research on past versions of the game, stories, and folklore. I honed my story down and I thought of how my own perspectives could influence future stories and writing that I made.

I tried. I actually took time away from something else I was writing to send out this entry. And even though I didn’t get in, a lot of what the Gentleman says is true. You should write about what interests you, that this shows what you do, and if not wait until something that does interest you shows up. I would also add that if you can find an angle that intrigues you about something you might not originally have found in your realm of interest, you can do something really fascinating with that as well.

No, what I took a break from in sending in my writing sample was an article, a part of a series of articles on a comic, that I am writing to be published on Sequart.

I have also decided to write for Sequart full-time.

It isn’t much money, but I will get some pay in addition to becoming a “shareholder” of the site, developing my networks and making my presence better known. It will change Mythic Bios, as many of these plans for articles I have would have made their way here, but I haven’t been on this Blog in a while and it has been changing regardless. At the very least I can put my foot through the door of professional writing. I’ve already done so. I’ve written for Sequart and GeekPr0n about comics and geek culture. I’ve also published two short stories in print.

What I need to do, quite honestly, is to just keep at it. This is a way to find a crack through the door or under it to get to where I need to be: wherever that is.

I think I just wanted to update my Blog, let you know all know what’s been going on, and to show you my attempts and my failures so that you can learn from them. So I can learn from them and continue to do so.

I will be back here, eventually. I might post pieces here that I can’t publish elsewhere and more personal items as well. In the meantime, I have some work to do. I’d like to thank the Gentleman Gamer for taking time to answer my question. And I hope that everyone is well. Take care all.

Constructive Anger Turned Outward

I haven’t done this in a while.

So I’m going to try something new. I’m going to write a Blog post on here without using images. I think that, with a few exceptions, I will save the images for articles based around a specific topic and that the “life writings” and updates should stand on their own. It’s less an experiment and more I just want to get stuff out.

First, let me tell you what I’ve been up to since my last post. Suffice to say I got side-tracked from my comics script. It’s still around and waiting next to bed side on an old footstool. If I haven’t mentioned it already, I am going to focus on captions and dialogue and then fill in the rest: hopefully having a template to recreate the process more quickly for future endeavours.

But as it always is with me, I got side-tracked. I actually submitted a writing sample to the 20th Anniversary of now Onyx Path’s Changeling The Dreaming. It is something different from what I usually make, but it draws from the well of some of my interests and I figured that I should take this shot. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but I just had to do it in-between writing some articles that I’ve also been working on. These aforementioned articles were actually supposed to be one opinion-piece fan geeking article on a webcomic with which I’ve really grown attached. It’s on subject matter I’m not as familiar with, but I will do my best to make it work. That’s a point of pride for me.

I am also awaiting word from the government with regards to some financial matters linked to my disability which I hope will be resolved fairly soon. I’ve also been role-playing with my friends almost every Friday: continuing our homebrew D&D game and now we’re starting a Star Wars campaign which I’m really enjoying.

But I think what I really want to talk about right now is anger.

The obligatory Jedi saying aside, I had a massive encounter with anger yesterday. But the truth is, I’ve been dealing with anger for a while. What happened yesterday was that the anger turned outward. I’ve been trying to change some Greyhound ticket times. What happened was I found out while Greyhound allows you to order and print tickets online, they do not allow you to change times online, or even do it on the phone.

Yesterday was a Comedy of Errors and incompetence. I had to print my old tickets to bring to a Greyhound Station which, for me, is a bus and subway journey from Thornhill to Dundas Station and the Bay terminal. My laptop didn’t read my printer. I’ll admit that there was some screaming, swearing, and a lot of thrown objects at this point. But I got them and left. I guess it tells you how angry I was as no one in my house really bothered me at this point.

I got to the Bay terminal to stand in a very long line only to move to another line and watch as the Greyhound terminal’s systems went offline. Twice. I finally got to the booth and was dealing with a staff member when their system went off again. I had to go get a meal and take a break from that for a while. By the time I came back, their systems still weren’t working. At this point, I just waved at one of the staff members and asked him about the entire thing. It was a good thing I did. I got basically an IOU that waived off my $20 change fee. If I had just paced around or left and grumbled, I wouldn’t have gotten that. I went home.

At home I was watching a stream some friends had and at the last second, my Internet crapped out. It’s been doing that sporadically and without warning. I thought it had been fixed. I admit, I screamed at the Rogers modem-router a little bit and called it a whole list of obscenities. But after a while, I decided on something. I found out what was flickering on the thing and left a note for my parents to deal with Rogers as they know their account number. Even if it isn’t fixed, at least I know that I actually did something about it.

I guess what I’m trying to say in the roundabout way that some storytellers tend to talk is that I actually took my anger at being heavily inconvenienced, losing time I could have used writing to deal with petty details that shouldn’t have even been issues, and actually got assertive about it.

I seriously hadn’t felt so angry in such a long time. Not like that. I was genuinely furious. Of course, it’s never just about these things. I’ve been mostly housebound these days, walking outside close to home, or getting rides to my friend’s place. I haven’t gone downtown on my own initiative in … I don’t even remember. I think it’s been months. I certainly hadn’t even been on the TTC in ages and yesterday it was one of the few things that didn’t fuck up for me.

I have anxiety attacks. I think I’ve always had them, but it’s only in adulthood that I call them what they are. Sometimes they manifest as headaches, other times stomach issues,  hypersensitivity, tensing up immobilization, or the feeling of my body wanting to run away from my head. It doesn’t help that I overthink things a lot and I’ve been feeling trapped as all hell.

I didn’t want to go on the TTC yesterday. I didn’t want to have to deal with that potential stress and have to deal with changing ticket times in person and potentially lose time for it. I wanted to get things out of the way and minimize the stressers as much as possible. I’m already anxious about going to Fan Expo, and seeing Kevin Smith later in the night. I haven’t gone there in a long time for a lot of the reasons above.

But any panic I felt yesterday was somehow converted into pure rage. And somehow that fury, instead of being destructive, actually empowered me to do things. So now, I’m almost finished writing this entry. I’m going back to Dundas today. I am going to the Greyhound terminal to get my tickets sorted out. I will be visiting the Silver Snail when it isn’t closed like it was yesterday evening. And in a week, I plan to see Stan Lee at Fan Expo while I still can. Then see Kevin Smith later.

I’m going to hopefully finish my articles this week as well and have time to put finishing touches on my perfectionism. I’m going to actually to actually go outside and go downtown again to do fun things: to train myself to a point where going outside again is not an intimidating chore. It won’t always be perfect and I know there will be cycles. But, for now, this is what I’m going to do. I’ve already trained myself to wake up earlier again and put myself back on something of a diurnal schedule. I can do more. I can accept my limits, but I can do more.

The social anxiety can wait for another time. I have things to do. I hope to get more things done and see you all back here. Take care everyone, and remember to excelsior.

A Step Back Into a Much Larger World

It’s time for another retrospective.

In May of 2005, I was twenty-three years old. My girlfriend and I had broken up for the last time and it was as pleasant as you could expect. I was sitting in a movie theatre, with my brother who’d already seen the film, watching Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. My disillusionment with the Prequels had been growing for some time: from the three-hour commercial of The Phantom Menace to the atrocity that was Attack of the Clones. I wasn’t even pretending to like them anymore because they were Star Wars. It had gotten to the point where I spoiled myself on what happened in Sith because, frankly, I was just so tired of the entire ordeal.

After much anger, sadness, disappointment, and bitterness — and all the other stages of grief — I had to accept that this would be my final Star Wars cinematic experience: surrounded by ashes and a haze of post-adolescent hate. In fact, The Clone Wars not withstanding, I was almost relieved that it was finally over and I would have time to ruminate on what could, or should, have been.

Anakin Gets Burned

Ten years later, in December of 2015, I am sitting in another theatre. This time I am there with my girlfriend. I don’t really know what to expect when we’re both sitting there waiting for the film to start. I’d heard good things, but I also know about the power of hype. The mere fact that George Lucas was no longer involved with Star Wars was enough, but I didn’t want to raise my expectations.

But when that introduction, followed by the logo and the scrawling opening narrative somehow, despite the passage of time and adult cynicism, that I was seeing a Star Wars movie again: in the cinema, in good company, and that there is at least the hope of it only getting better from there. The fact that Revenge of the Sith was not my last Star Wars experience and that The Force Awakens is the first of the new, was a gift in and of itself.

The Force Awakens

And then there is the second notable geeky thing that I undertook this year. A week ago, I finished Ty Templeton’s Comic Book Bootcamp Writing Classes. What can I say? I learned more about writing in four months than I did for years. It was intense. Between Ty’s engaging and witty lectures, spontaneous collaborations with my classmates, and writing assignments on the spot, I felt as though I were Luke Skywalker getting a crash course in Jedi training.

Yoda Training

Seriously, I’d studied writing and novels before. I had even created some of my own comics scripts from what I could piece together from scholarly and professional books. But if there is one thing Luke could tell you is that it’s one thing to glean information from books and Holocrons, and the occasional visit from from a Jedi Master’s Force ghost but it is a whole other to have an actual interactive teacher: someone who passes on lore and knowledge but also knows how to create exercises to challenge you, and to encourage you to share what you have learned.

One of the main lessons I take away from Ty’s class, if anything else, is the following. Perfectionism is death. If you spend so much time trying to think of something perfect, it will never happen. You have to just keep going. Just take some time, have an idea, and run with it. You will be surprised at what you might create.

I found that the ultimate challenge for me was our final assignment. The idea was that at the end of our course, we were going to send Ty a script for either a television show or a comic book. I chose to make a comics script for a twenty-two page comic. My plan was to take one of the pitches I made for the course and flesh it out into a crude outline. Then I was going to sit down and use the script format Ty taught us and give him an actual script.

What really ended up happening was that I left it for too long. I was on a creative streak and then life happened. My aunt passed away towards the end of the course. Obviously, I had great difficulty concentrating on anything afterwards and I almost gave up completely. And I could have. There were no marks riding on this final assignment. No money. I was already working on another project and it would have just been easy to let it go and sleep.

But something … wouldn’t let me. Part of it was the encouragement from my peers and loved ones. But another part of it was that I knew that this was what Ty had been talking about. While in the professional world it might not have been acceptable to hand in something so skeletal, or even miss a deadline for life reasons, I thought about what was important. In this case, it was to tell a story.

So I sat down and typed out a comics outline. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever written, but I think it got the point across. The truth is, the most important thing about the final assignment of writing course was that if we met the deadline, Ty himself would provide “copious notes” — suggestions, critiques, and insights — to what we had given him. And feedback from a professional in the field is utterly invaluable. I just couldn’t turn that down: even if what I wrote was not much to work on.

Still. I did that.

Luke Skywalker's Lightsaber

It’s funny though that, even now, I am getting new ideas for the series that I came up with in Ty’s course. That this course and its assignments gave me that much is another well-earned gift. But finishing that final assignment, even with such a basic and most likely flawed outline, was an achievement. Four months before this course, I was filled with almost nothing but stress and frustration at where my life was not going despite everything I was putting into it. Four months later, I feel like I truly graduated from Ty Templeton’s Writing Bootcamp: and that is something for which I am definitely proud.

And this is how I want to end the last post of this year: not in anger, or disappointment, but in the promise of something new. There is plenty of time for sarcasm and hellfire, but right now my batteries feel recharged. And perhaps there might yet be room inside me: for more wonder.

Oh and, one more thing. Please consider taking some of Ty’s Comic Book Bootcamp classes. They are completely and utterly worth it. Happy New Year, my friends.

Looking Outward

Anthony Martignetti From the Mouth of the Wolf

I met Anthony Martignetti in 2013. Actually, that is something of an exaggeration on all accounts. I read about Anthony at the time and not long afterwards I read his memoir Lunatic Heroes. Then I wrote a review of it and sent it to him. After all, he had put his email address and Twitter handle at the back of the book: and Amanda Palmer had his information on her Blog.

It was about that point that Anthony and I started talking. And while he took issue with the fact that I gave Lunatic Heroes a four out of five (I knew that he could do better: that he had more stories to tell), he liked my review. He put a link to it on his Endorsement page and he and Nivi Nagiel — his editor, writer peer, and friend — sent me a green Lunatic Heroes T-Shirt that I wear when I know I am going to be facing something particularly tough with which to deal.

Then we sometimes played games of witty pithy words on Twitter. There was even one point he accused me of getting my new budgie drunk as he wore his bell as a party hat. And then he challenged me to write a review of his next book: Beloved Demons. It was challenging: not just because it was about his adult life this time around, but also due to the fact that I had other projects and Toronto had been hit by a freak ice-storm that made me aware of just how powerless I really was. That pun was unintended, I assure you, but I suspect Anthony would have appreciated it.

The last time we really talked though, and I mean really interacted, was outside my parents’ house for a change. I was staying overnight at the Toronto Global Game Jam of 2014. I had my own computer and everything. So here I was at this computer at George Brown College’s School of Design, surrounded by creatives in a field that sort of related to my own, and having come from a particularly bad day with Ontario Works and bureaucracy when I got an email from Anthony.

He sent me a link and, sure enough, all the work I’d done with Nivi to polish my review of Beloved Demons had paid off and he included a link to that article on his Endorsement page as well. It inspired me. It encouraged me even more when I sent him something that I wrote and he gave me some feedback on it. He promised, when he had time, to give me a more indepth critique of the work and to look at some of the other things I sent him.

But there was one thing he sent me during that time, when my own loneliness was changed by into gentle solitude by the creatives around me, that I won’t forget. In response to the story that I sent him, Anthony quoted an old operatic and theatrical Italian saying:

“In Boca al Lupo . . . crepi il Lupo.”

I admit I actually took a while to find a good translation of the idiom, but ultimately it seems to amount to this: “In the mouth of the Wolf … may the Wolf die.”

I knew, somehow, that I could use this. I knew it even before I found a smooth enough translation and it was appropriate. In a small, but meaningful way that was the apex of our conversations: our relation to each other.

These words stayed in my head as I introduced my own therapist to Anthony’s work and they had actually had their own interaction. I am glad I did my part to help them meet at least on some level. But I wasn’t entirely accurate when I stated that the Game Jam was the last time Anthony and I interacted.

The last time we actually talked was when I sent him a copy of my first published story “When You Gaze Into An Abyss” in the Heroes in Hell anthology Poets in Hell.  It too was appropriate, all things considered. Anthony emailed me back to let me know that he got the book I mailed him and that he would read my story first.

I never met Anthony. I only talked with him online. He had touched many peoples lives: and that doesn’t even include the books he wrote after Amanda all but had to strong-arm him into doing so. I always knew he had been sick, and sick for a long time, but it’s weird. Even with that knowledge there are times I still find myself expecting to see something on his Facebook page, and I even ponder sending him more things. But I never really forget that he’s gone.

I’ve been sad for a little while and it took me a while to actually put one of the reasons into words. Last week, there was a memorial service for Anthony: held by his writing group the Souled Out Artists. I unfortunately couldn’t attend as it was in the States, in Boston, I have been dealing with anxiety issues, and I just didn’t have the logistics for a stay there. But I were to be perfectly honest, those are just part of the reason. Anthony said, once, that he and I should one day meet for owl sandwiches. He also said he wouldn’t have minded a phone call.

The fact is, I didn’t know whether or not he was being facetious. I didn’t dare ask, but jokingly said sure. But as I said, we never did physically meet. And I never phoned him. I regret that sometimes.

Many people that attended that service, or didn’t attend, actually knew Anthony personally. And, in retrospect, I would have felt weird being there. I was just a person on a fringe of lives that happened to appreciate his writing and influence. I wasn’t a family member, or a patient, or a student. At best, I’d to think we were casual friends that sometimes had time for each other for non-serious things and an appreciation for good writing.

I am glad that people went to Boston to the Souled Out Artists to celebrate Anthony’s life. His stories will continue on as living signs in the people that loved him. And his idiom of the Wolf will be an epigraph at the beginning of a novel that I plan to release one day: and it is all thanks to him.

Anthony understood the importance of mythology. He knew that the Wolf was symbolic of a great many dark things. And in so knowing, he created stories that fulfilled his old Italic proverb.

In the mouth of the Wolf … may the Wolf die.

Those are some words that I hope I will continue to live by. You can find more about Anthony’s stories here. Trust me: they are worth reading.

wpid-wp-1447229690679.jpeg

What I’ve Been Doing For Over A Month

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, so I think it’s about high time for an update.

A lot of things have happened during the time I’ve been gone. I’ll admit that some of my previous plans … didn’t go well. In fact, it’s not so much that they failed in that they just didn’t happen. I had some expectations and assumptions and while the results of these didn’t pan out, at least they were learning experiences.

Still, I admit I was disappointed. And there was a period of time where I honestly got fed up and depressed: where I was actually having panic attacks. I honestly didn’t really know what else to write in my Mythic Bios during that time: where I was regrouping and gathering up my strength again.

But it hasn’t been a total waste. I’m still writing my GEEKPR0N articles. In fact, I covered the beginning and end of the Toronto After Dark not too long ago. It’s always awesome to get to attend on GEEKPR0N’s behalf: to be among such enthusiastic horror and gorehounds and know that people are reading my reviews on those films. If you are interested, I wrote about Tales of Halloween, The Hallow, Patchwork, and Deathgasm.

In addition, I’ve been taking classes: specifically Ty Templeton’s How to Write Comics in his Comicbook Bootcamp Program. Working with Ty and my peers has been pretty awesome. It’s the first time in a decade that I felt like I was in a creative writing class that actually inspired me and genuinely felt constructive. The first seminar focused on writing techniques, story-making, and how to write for an audience. The second seminar, which I just started, focuses on how to world-build, create pitches, and write for a publisher. In all ways we are encouraged to think creatively: to work outside of the box while understanding just what that box is. I don’t know how much of this information I’m absorbing — as I’ve stated before that I have a different manner of learning and retaining knowledge — but what I have gleaned is excellent. And it is good to feel something to encourage my sense of purpose again: even if it is as bittersweet as finding it on College and Spadina with all those memories of that place.

In other news, I found a lawyer through the Social Justice system who is willing to take on my case to get me onto ODSP. It is a relief in a lot of ways and at least some of the pressure on me has been lifted. I know it is just a start, but a start is a good thing. Everything I’m doing is going to help me in some way.

I will admit it. I am not where I want to be right now. Sometimes, at my worst I honestly feel like I am in hell. But I have to keep reminding myself to moving forward. After all, the only time travel that any human being is capable of accomplishing is going towards the future. Slowly. Gradually. And inexorably.

Perhaps while I’m at it I’ll get to make more new memories in the process.

12065705_10153786689582125_5628166252022257967_n

A Business About Storytelling, Game Development, And Other Promises

Aside from the fanfiction I posted the other day in a previous post, it’s been yet another long while since I’ve posted on this Blog. Obviously, a lot has happened since I last wrote here so I will try to catch everyone up.

The LDEEP Workshop actually took another week longer than I’d originally thought. Now I am seeing the head of the program every Monday and Thursday. What we’re doing now is we are working on a plan of self-employment. It is going to be centered around two aspects: assisted storytelling, and the creation of some collaborative works. Basically the idea is that I will be helping other people with their writing, or telling their own stories while making my own with fellow artistic collaborators.

In retrospect, I’d been heading in this direction for quite some time even before LDEEP. Even before it had a name, even before I had a Patreon account, I knew this was something that I had to do. And if all goes well, I may even be able to get assistance for this. But it will take time and effort on my part. I am still not home free yet and, honestly, even when this becomes a reality I still won’t be.

There have been challenges even now. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I am doing the right thing or if someone as numerically challenged as myself has any right attempting to run a business. There had also been times when I was frustrated with LDEEP and how many of its workshops, while informative, didn’t really apply to my ultimate goals. And very recently I had to turn down a job offer that, while it might have given me some money, just wasn’t feasible for me due to distance and misunderstandings.

Yet these things have worked in my favour when I really think about them. I was having a lot of trouble articulating a good business plan. The head of our program told me to “make a story with numbers.” And I struggled with it. I admit, it slowed me down a lot. I wanted to create actual content. I wanted to keep writing on this Blog. I didn’t want to be bogged down by details. And I was looking for someone full time who could help with future administrative duties: to leave me with time to create.

But right now I am the only one that can make this happen. And I realized I was going about this all the wrong way. I’ve mentioned many times before that I have a learning disability: specifically in the realm of mathematics. So, one day after dealing with a lot of other issues, I realized that what I should be doing is writing out “the story” first and add the numbers, with assistance, later on. Basically, for lack of another better analogy, I am working on the thesis of the thing and gathering the research and evidence afterwards to back it up.

It was still work but I managed to create a first draft of a plan. And it is still, like everything I do, a work in progress. And I will definitely keep you posted once I finally make something a little more substantial to work with.

I have also been working on a collaborative game with a team of people who happen to also be made up of some of my childhood friends. And I have accomplished a lot. I have not only created a sample list of pre-generated character names and six factions, but also an extra seventh faction that I hope to use in a tutorial along with a creative event scenario. There is, like everything else, a lot more to do but I am pleased with mine — and my teammates’ — progress. So while I am not a programmer or a graphic artist, I am a writer for a game and so this is actually some game development on my part: which makes me really damned proud.

I also can’t wait to say more about the actual game itself, but I will wait on that until we have more done and when our team leader thinks it appropriate.

The graphic story collaboration I am making with Angela O’Hara is still happening, but we have both had to take time to deal with our respective workloads. But I know we are both still interested in its creation and I look forward to sharing that work as well.

So many promises now, I have to say. I feel like, for all the challenges and tribulations I’ve faced, I have been doing some good work. And that in itself is a reward. But I plan to do so much more: just as I also plan to share so much more with you, my faithful friends and readers.

Until next time.

Looking Outward

Like A Million Bucks, That Wonderful Feeling

This isn’t going to be a very long entry.

What’s coming up is going to be my last full week at the LDEEP Program and, while that’s true, I understand now that the real work is about to truly begin.

I have plans. I always have plans. A good part of those plans is to take what I am good at doing, and what I enjoy, and actually begin the process of making a living from it. And I know what I’m good at doing. I am a good creative consultant when it comes to ideas for stories and editing them. I can tutor adults in subjects in and around the humanities. I can even create writing commissions on subjects in which I am familiar. And I can create content. I am even in the process of making focused and collaborative content. I already have a name for what I want to do. I just need to build on its body of sorts.

And, as such and if all goes well, I might have help.

In fact, I already do. I just want to say that before this week begins I had some excellent tidings happen last Friday. As you know, I am working on story and content for a video game with a group of my friends. Last Friday was the first time I’d ever gotten paid for something I had directly written, or aided in writing.

Admittedly by my friend and the leader and founder of our group it isn’t much, and I will continue to need assistance for a while, but it’s amazing how sixty dollars can feel like a million bucks when someone thinks of your work enough to pay you as the professional that you are: to give you money for something you are good at, and enjoy, doing.

Somehow I feel like I’ve made more progress in collaborating on this project than in a great many other things I’ve done this past while. It is definitely a good start and I don’t intend to have it end here. And it won’t. We believe in what we are creating and I already have some good ideas to expand on to make our game leave a distinctive mark. I can’t wait for the day where I can tell you more about that: and so many other things besides.

Until another time soon, my friends. You will be hearing from me and thank you for all of your continued support. It is greatly appreciated.

High School

I’m Doing It: Towards the Final Week

And now: for Too Much Information Time. If you do not want Too Much Information Time, please stop reading this post. As I’ve said before, there are a plenty of good and viable articles and writings of mine that you can read instead. But if you do go on, know that these are challenges that I am dealing with and, at the very least, there is some positive problem-solving involved. That said, reader’s discretion — as always — is advised. 

I’ve never really been good with time. Not too long ago, I said that it’s an inescapable fact that projects are monsters that can get away from you but really, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves here, it’s time that’s the greatest monster of them all.

Usually, I’ve been able to update my Blog on Mondays and be able to focus on other things throughout the week. But last week, and a good portion of this one have been … something else I have to say. It’s true that I haven’t really kept you up to date about my fourth and, now practically, the fifth weeks of my time in LDEEP: an Ontario government-sponsored program that helps people with learning disabilities find meaningful employment.

One reason I’d been stuck on saying anything is because I reached a … curve, as it were. A lot of the syllabus that we follow is generic government-mandated material: mainly filling out questionnaires to determine our technical and intellectual skills, resume building, possible interview scenarios, and even cold-calling. We also had sessions on computers to look for jobs.

In the beginning, I could understand the questionnaires: as it would help the workers know us a bit more and eventually aid them in getting us the right placements. But after a while, I started feel a bit … restless. It probably doesn’t help that before I get a ride to the centre, I have to use the washroom three or four times before getting paranoid about being stuck in traffic for far too long. Irritable bowel is manageable when you are not facing a lot of stress. I don’t dare eat anything before I leave for that similar reason: even though it doesn’t seem to make much difference and, in fact, it might actually improve my condition.

I don’t mention this a lot, but especially before I even came to LDEEP I developed this feeling that anything outside my immediate vicinity is ultimately unsafe and I have to be on guard all the time. I can’t relax. I need to know where the facilities are and I need to have the freedom to move around and have access to them. If you have seen Toronto, this is easier said than done in a commuter city where public restrooms are few and far between.

It was … bad the first two weeks of the program as my body was adjusting to waking up earlier again and figuring out what the hell was going on. Actually, it feels like hell: a hell of discomfort and anger I have to work through and I am relieved to get around when I finally get to the centre thanks to my dad. But in the beginning I was all right because I insisted on doing work when I got there, despite some of my experiences before that, and I left — with the work there — and with a sense of accomplishment. I did what I needed to do despite my body and the panic attacks. I put them in their place.

By the end of the three week of the program and through the middle of the fifth, I started to have other doubts. One key issue, when you are dealing with learning disabled or gifted students, is that you can never make an educational program that is one size fits all. It’s just not possible. It’s even less possible when you have a results-driven mandate that you need to keep up in order to keep going.

I’m not going to lie. There have been a lot of interesting elements of the program that I’ve filed away out of curiosity’s sake, but I’ve felt that a lot of it just doesn’t apply to me. The fact is, I know what I want. I am a writer. I knew I would need to do some tasks for LDEEP, but I thought that we could take what I was good at, focus on what I was missing or what needed improvement, and have some more one-on-one sessions to get me there: complete with more networking to make employment for me possible.

I’ve said before that I also had to get used to interacting with a group again, and that hasn’t been so bad. I’ve made some really nice connections and the people there — including the workers — are good people just trying to find their way and help each other out. Some of us have gone through a lot. When you get beaten down so many times, you can begin to internalize it. But everyone in my program wants to get past that and get the employment they deserve.

But there have been times, particularly when left to our own devices on assignments I didn’t really understand or felt applied to me that I got frustrated. I will admit that there were a few times I was even tempted to leave.

I’m used to having things a certain way. I’m used to being able to eat breakfast at home and deal with my functions before interacting with people. Especially due to my past as a Master’s student, I’ve gotten used to being independent, leaving at my own pace, and learning the things that interest me. And I am a published writer. I have not forgotten any of this. Sometimes I’ve honestly felt like in pursuing this, I’d taken one step forward and three steps back in terms of my own independence: getting a ride to the centre, needing to get a lunch before hand instead of finding something on the way, and even dealing with different kinds of people and situations.

It also doesn’t help when I have to fight a burning feeling in my gut and not feeling safe until I’m out of traffic and near facilities — kind of like how you’d feel if you were playing a video game and Save Points were few and far between on your journey — just to do something that I don’t always feel applies to me, or get left doing something that Ontario Works had me do without much in the way of success.

I know what I want and what I need. And I did ask myself: “Why am I here? Why am I putting myself through all of this? What am I hoping to achieve?”

On Wednesday, the leader of our program called me into his office. Somehow, I knew he would, and not for any terrible reason.  We get along very well and I enjoy talking with him. But he does get busy. LDEEP itself is very busy and he and the other workers attempt to help as many of us as they can.

We had a long talk that can be summarized like this: he has to find me a job and it has been difficult. But I threw out a few ideas and he is going to help me out with them. One of them is a business plan: which will have roots with some of the things I’d been attempting to do for the past three years. It also helps now that, because of LDEEP, I know what my potential net worth — my salary — actually should be. I’m going to be consulting and editing someone else’s work and using the above, along with some of the program leader’s input, as potential templates.

There is also something else I could do in addition to this that might get some pressure off my back and advance my connections and knowledge further. I know that I am going to have to do some hard work no matter what I choose, but at the very least I can choose what work that will be.

And that’s what it is about for me. Personal agency. The fact is — another fact is — I’ve realized how far I have come. LDEEP’s nine to three schedule makes me keep daylight hours and I actually feel a lot better than I have in years aside from the morning departures. My headaches are more manageable when they happen and I actually go to sleep at midnight now.

It has also gotten to the point where, when I come in to the centre, I socialize and work with my peers and this, along with some directed activities, actually makes me feel better as I can focus on a task at hand: or, really, enjoy a conversation. We are all different in this program, and there is a lot we’ve learned about each other.

I also know what I am going to do now. I’ve realized that I can go to the workers and tell them about my concerns: that I don’t have to do all of this on my own. They are there to help us and I need to remember to do that. I might need some time in the morning and that shouldn’t be an issue. I might need clarification about a task.

And, even better, they might have some suggestions for me. Next week will be our final session. We will have assignments to do, but I have my own assignment now that I can begin to focus on starting Monday. I also feel a growing sense of relief. After next week, I can finally pace my own time again. I will still be going to the centre and interacting with the workers and my peers, but I won’t have to be there as stringently as before. I know my stressors and I can pace myself accordingly.

And look at how far I’ve gotten from where I was. On my Facebook today, I wrote something for my status. I said that I’m starting to feel like my life has just begun.

image

So, if you have read this far, here is your reward. As you’ve seen from the article image, I got my copy of Doctors in Hell: an appropriate title when all things are considered. So here is an excerpt below, just for you. I just got the hard copy today.

image

Perhaps, when you get right down to it, it’s not so much that I’m trying to get my life back. Rather, I’m beginning to realize that I have the potential to make a whole new life entirely. And that, my friends, is a very important feeling. I think I will leave you with that for now. Until next time soon.