This Little Party is Just Beginning

It’s been two weeks now since I posted anything on here.

Really, my post before this would could have had a few other alternative titles: you know, like “Fed Up,” or “Exhausted,” or something more responsible along the lines of “I Love You All, But I Need To Take a Fucking Break.”

So let me tell you what I’ve been doing since I last wrote here, and what I plan to do.

The very day I wrote that last post, I went to my friend Noah’s birthday dinner and then hung out with him and my friends at a Tim Horton’s: including my friend Andrew whom I haven’t talked with in ages. We just talked about geeky stuff and nothing more strenuous than that. That was about the last time I have seen my friends so far, but it reminded me that I needed to get more time out that I have, well, honestly been getting.

I’m can’t remember a lot of what I did after that. I kept meaning to write something here and I just … didn’t. I even started to get ideas again and have them become more coherent in my brain. I bought the second issue of The Sandman Overture, and then the book Darth Plagueis: the last of which I’ve been meaning to do for a while now.

And during this time I knew that I had a few ideas for more Sequart and Mythic Bios articles. I want to look at Gwendolyn MacEwen again, at an interesting form of comics, at a Batman fanfic comic and the second volume of the new Sandman. The material is all there. I’ve contemplated writing about women in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, but figured it had already been done before and didn’t include it here: though some of that did make its way into an article on Sansa Stark on GeekPr0n. Perhaps that will happen one day.

I also thought about eventually making that article on Anakin Skywalker and how as a classic science-fiction swashbuckler hero he is at a severe disadvantage merely existing in the extreme black and white Force-powerful Star Wars universe. I have also been meaning to write something for my friend Anthony with regards to his second novel Beloved Demons.

And, of course, after one playthrough so far I also want to look at Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest. It’s fitting I guess, when you consider that this past while I’ve been depressed.

Me and my Head

At first it was all exhaustion, but then I started to get perfectionist and disillusioned and side-tracked with procrastinating. Also, I began to feel concerned that I would get restless and feel empty again: having no sense of accomplishment writing at least two hundred words a day.

So I didn’t do anything at all.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been maintaining my one post a week on GeekPr0n, as it is my job but also something I like to represent my skills well in doing, but it’d been a lot of white noise in the back of my head. Of course, that white noise is ultimately a lot of ideas that lack a structure or starting point that threatened to drive me crazy.

But now here we are. I’m writing something on here again. And now, we come to the next part of this post.

I took one proactive measure that I’m proud of. A few days ago I went downtown and made good on my Day Pass to Bento Miso: a collaborative workspace and community. Game makers utilize the space considerably, but there are a whole variety of different people that go there to work on their own projects, network, and attend particular events. I must have the strangest luck in the world in that the few times I’ve visited outside of the Bit Bazaar events, I’ve always come when most of Bento Miso’s members are at conventions.

The fact of the matter is that, as I have said before, I do need a space away from home to work, but not just on anything. There are some other projects I’ve been meaning to focus on and I have not had time or the concentration to do so. And I just need something new. So I decided to join Bento Miso as a cohort. 🙂

I remember that night, walking down Queen Street from Strachan, thinking to myself that the street didn’t feel nearly so old anymore or filled with ghosts. In the spring time, looking at Trinity-Bellwoods Park and walking down the street to take a streetcar to the subway, it felt like it was new again. I mean, here I was outside going downtown on some adventures and a new quest.

I think what I’m trying to say is that for the first time in a while I felt more like me again: no longer hiding and starting that process of making new opportunities and perhaps even connections. Who knows, right?

And I do have plans. I’ve thought long and hard about why my Patreon account hasn’t been followed or supported. And I realized that my work right now, on Mythic Bios, is good but scattered over a variety of different subject matters: all of them geeky, but not always specific or focused. This was always ever meant to be a supplement to the main writing that I planned to do.

Kris Straub, before he created Broodhollow, spent much time creating works to get to that place where he could make something akin to an ongoing master project or, if you’d like to get more profound about it, a magnum opus.

So here is what’s going to happen.

I am going to be writing on Mythic Bios once a week now. I simply can’t always write two posts a week like I used to. I need time to work on other projects and details in my life. I will, of course, break my own rules from time to time, but expect a post either Monday or Thursday. I will most likely alternate.

I will still be working at GeekPr0n creating my articles for them as well and with more time, hopefully, I can send some more … unique work Sequart’s way again. But, more importantly, I am going to be creating Patreon-Only content. My plan is to create a serialized work, or series of works, and make it so that those who Support me will be able to see whatever it is I will post there. Anyone can contribute whatever they’d like and we will see what happens from there.

And that is just for starters. I need to make my Patreon more presentable aesthetically and outline what my actual goals are. Right now I just have what I can offer. These are two entirely different things and with something more concrete, I might be in something akin to business.

You can find my Patreon account right here:

Let me know if you have any suggestions. I have a few ideas for some serialized work, mainly fiction, that I think some of you might actually enjoy. In the meantime, this is just the beginning. There are other possibilities as well. And I look forward to seeing where they might go.

Of Dark Crystals and Brooding Hollows Traveling Down the Late Night Road

The thing about “there,” is that when all goes well you come back again.

I meant to write this the very … night I came back from my trip, but then I realized after talking with a friend that I was more tired than I believed. And then today I felt energized with purpose but now the exhaustion segment of this burst energy and gall on my part is coming into play: so much so I’m now writing this past Monday.

I even had this post all planned out to an extent but then I just felt like … I don’t know, tired and repetitive. Nevertheless, there are some things that still need to be mentioned. I was on the Greyhound bus back from Ottawa and, finally, I got my borrowed laptop to link into the free wifi connection. After catching up on a wide variety of Facebook messages and even some new Twitter followers, I went on the Broodhollow website and I found something there: that on the very day of my impromptu trip my Sequart article got linked to and mentioned in an update by Kris Straub himself.

It shouldn’t have surprised me, and I was secretly hoping that he would mention my work, but it’s one thing to hope and think about it but it is an entirely different situation altogether to see it staring at you right in the face–on a Greyhound bus back to Toronto in the fading early autumn sky–and just say, “Wow.” Before this point, I did comment on the site like everyone else, but here was name again, connected to my writing, associated with Sequart and–for that time and that time alone–front and centre. I found this a few days or so after another Twitterer suggested my work be printed as a “Forward” to the upcoming Broodhollow Kickstarter, to which Kris Straub replied:

“@MKirshenblatt unfortunately there’s no room! but he is worthy of it”

It was at that point that I went on my Facebook and wrote another status down–linking the exchange from above–and I wrote, “I hope that this is the longest Day of my life.”

And I still mean it.

Of course, I’m not perfect. After I found Kris Straub’s post, I saw two comments. While one of them caught onto a run-on sentence I made, the other pointed out an even more glaring factual error. It turns out, I actually made the Belgian cartoonist HergĂ© have an untimely death: in that while he actually died in 1983, I wrote that he died in 1938. One simple reversal of numbers read the wrong way–some dyscalculia (a word I also apparently misspelled on the Broodhollow site) if you’d like–but ultimately a goof on my part. I spent our fifteen minute rest-stop replying to both comments, thanking the posters, and then emailing Cody Walker and Julian Darius with the good and the bad–but quite fixable–news. The mistakes have long since been corrected.

In the past, this error would have positively mortified me but I realize that everyone makes mistakes and it is admitting to those kinds of errors, thanking the people involved for pointing them out, and then taking steps to correct them that let others know just what kind of professional–or person–you really are.

The highlight of seeing that post of Kris’ is one other fact for me. I was first introduced to Kris Straub’s work when my girlfriend sent me “Candle Cove.” After seeing it for what it was, I realized I wanted to make something like this: something that wasn’t just a run of the mill creepypasta that is a variation of so many others. And I realized that the best way to make something like this was to figure out how Kris made his. You can look at Horror as a Universal Power and Horror as Collaboration to see some of the process right there. I have yet to unleash my precious horror: to make my monster.

So I found the Ichor Falls site and read some of the stories I found there too. I eventually found Broodhollow as well though it took me a while to get around to reading it, but when I did I began to see some … connections to things and after following some of Kris’ own exchanges on both sites I realized that making an article on an author’s creative process–aside from it being a Mythic Bios thing to do–was, and is, a great phenomenon and opportunity to witness and document. I also believed that Sequart would really benefit from an article on a webcomic like Broodhollow in terms of its aesthetics choices and implications and so I sent it to them.

On Stories

But the real highlight of this entire thing is that moment when I saw that Kris Straub referred to me as an author. He didn’t have to do that. He could have called me a scholar or a critic. Hell, he could have even called me a writer: a title which I’d been referring to myself as for quite some time anyway.

No. Kris Straub called me an author and that makes me know, if I didn’t know it before, that I have a future and I am seeking it right now even as you see this post. It means that much to me.

While I was staying with my friend, I was also thinking more about my own creative process with regards to my Dark Crystal Challenge. In the post directly previous to this one, I talk about and link to my short Story Sketches on the Dark Crystal Forums. I already mentioned how I decided to challenge myself and attempt further immersion of my creative imagination into the world of Thra by writing a story about YiYa: the first urSkek and subsequent pair of Skeksis and urRu to die before the Crystal is even cracked.

Mainly, what I sought to do was show that his death was not arbitrary and I realized I was being influenced by something I’d seen or heard about. It was only when I was at my friend’s by myself that I remembered. In Tezuka Osamu’s first volume of Buddha, there is a story about a wise man–a Brahmin–who is meditating in the wilderness and begins to starve. There are animals he befriends that help him but it is the rabbit that throws itself on the fire to provide him sustenance to survive. Yet instead of eating the rabbit, the Brahmin sobs and holds its body and, in that moment, attains enlightenment. Tezuka obviously got this from an older source that he incorporated into his Buddha manga series, but it stuck with me to the point where even when the names and images faded from my memory, the idea remained.

So I thought of urYa–the Mystic segment of YiYa–being of a philosophical bent and respecting and even loving all life on Thra. I thought of his counterpart, SkekYi–that part of him that always felt belittled or held back–wanting to greedily take everything on that world and destroy all of its meaning. And then I thought about the other Mystics and the Skeksis and how, at the time of the Creation Myths second volume–when they are recently split–and how they didn’t know or remember that they were all connected. I made it clear that YiYa had a limited form of precognition and that both of his aspects inherited this. But while SkekYi was enamoured with a future of despoliation and obliteration–so much so that he was so busy dreaming of those moments while freshly born from the Great Division–urYa was also seeing the future but had that presence of mind to know how to act in the here and the now.

The fact is: he knew that the Skeksis coming to kill him–SkekHak (that part of HakHom)–was destructive enough to eliminate him and urHom: the urRu segment of the original HakHom. UrYa could have defended himself even at that stage, but he chose not to. He chose to die so that SkekYi’s evil would never happen, and he knew that as a result SkekHak would kill his brother urHom and thus destroy himself: as they are both linked. But more than this, urYa knew that his Mystic brothers would see his and SkekYi’s simultaneous deaths and learn the lesson: that everything is connected. Those are the very words that UngIm tells Jen at the end of The Dark Crystal itself. In addition, urYa also knows that there are Podling and Gelfling representatives present at the Division and he hopes that this moment will teach them something about their future with the urRu and the Skeksis as well as the nature of their world and themselves.

UrYa is the rabbit that has attained enlightenment–or already had it–and he sacrifices himself so that others might have it as well. The Skeksis only figure out that they are connected to the urRu, however, when SkekHak throws his other Mystic counterpart–urHom–into the Lake of Fire and ignites as well. They only see it as a crude sort of material warning: something in keeping with their own nature. The urRu gain something else out of it entirely.

The thing about Dark Crystal, from what I have already observed is that you need the right amount of mysticism and exploration–along with characterization–to make a story there. And the story I made, as a sketch, was rough and I will admit that. But this is an insight I wanted to share with you all: just as I wanted to tell you that I wrote those articles for Broodhollow on Sequart to learn from Kris Straub. I am learning.

And one thing I want to learn is how to make a living, how to make some money in addition to recognition and fun, from what it is that I do. I have a few friends who say I should totally be doing this and while writing for free has its advantages, I would like to see if I can support myself from what I’m more than capable of doing. As such, I have some plans and I hope you will all stay tuned for them.

In the meantime, after my absence I have some other things to do and catch up on. As tired as I am, it’s good to be back and I hope to speak with you all soon once more.

I Think I’m Ready For Another Adventure

It’s been September for a little while now. Cool winds vie with warm air as Summer continues to want its time. The seasons tend to be greedy like that. And every year, at this time, I remember feeling a combination of fear and anticipation as school started again: as a whole new journey began.

Of course, after a while and as my Master’s work came to a certain point I had fewer–if any–new courses to look forward to and dread. Even so, in 2009 of this time I had Dragon Con as my next great journey–all the way into Atlanta–followed by forays into new places and meeting new people. But eventually by 2012, even that sense of movement began to ebb and fear–that natural fear of impending change–turned in on itself and became a deep sense of internalized anxiety followed by a sense of burn-out and a whole lot of being practically sedentary: in almost all the ways that mattered.

For about a year or so, my only real movements were–aside from meeting from friends–very reluctant journeys into practical matters and solitary walks. I can’t even remember a lot of last year’s September, but a lot of it was writing, writing, writing and the slow and inevitable realization that despite one inclination to shun connections and being the North American equivalent of Hikikomori–a recluse or a shut-in–I was now talking a different journey into making voice actually heard and slowly opening up in a different space in my life.

I’ve told you all about some of the somewhat modest developments in my life over time, including these recent ones, and I want to tell you a little more before going on my next journey.

I am working on The Dark Crystal Gelfling Gathering story and continuing to explore the world of Thra and its characters through story sketches. This is a recent one: it is the story of two urSkeks–though of one in particular named YiYa–who die before the Crystal is cracked. It is a brief look at YiYa’s existence, of a role that he didn’t have enough time to gain, and an attempt to give his demise some meaning aside from being a throwaway character. I tell more than I show, there are undoubtedly grammatical errors and perhaps some choppy sentences, but it is literally another foray into the world that I plan to look at with a little more depth. A journey does not happen all at once, but in increments and with setbacks and some insights along the way. The urSkeks came all the way to Thra to heal themselves, but they also got to explore an entirely different world and find out some things about themselves in the process. It is a nice background for me as I will continue on with how the Gelfling operate.

In other news, Sequart has published the second half of my article The Stitching Together of a Mythos: Kris Straub’s Broodhollow: which, in turn, focuses on a more neurotic young man named Wadsworth Zane undertaking a train ride of his own. And with Kris Straub’s comment today on my Twitter, stating that “@MKirshenblatt’s dissection of broodhollow and its origins is everything i ever wanted” fuelling my sails further I am also going to go on my own train ride: to Ottawa.

And by the time you read this, I will be on my way. I won’t be gone long and it is a relatively ad hoc journey. In fact, it’s almost completely out of character for someone like me: or the person I’d turned into this past while. While I am going out of some practical concerns–such as developing my skills and resources further to actually gain employment and even go so far as to create my own job–I’m also enjoying the prospect of meeting some old and new friends and, really, to get something akin to a vacation.

Some people might think to themselves, “But Matthew, you’ve not had a paying job or gone to school in almost two years. You’ve had about two years of vacation.” And that’s all very well and good an opinion, except that they would be wrong. I have been out of school and work for almost two years, it’s true, but almost two years of unemployment, of anxiety, of being shut-in, of not really having my own space, of doing a checklist and a report for Ontario Works, of looking for work, of networking, of constantly writing everyday–as enjoyable as that may be–is not a vacation. What it has been is almost two years of work and struggle and rarely, if ever, letting myself fully relax.

But I have been waking up. As much as I want to retreat back into the tiredness sometimes–especially when it gets stressful–I find I’m like I always am where when I am up, I’m up. I have built up a certain kind of momentum but I also recognize that I am going to have to take some paths I didn’t even think about and that sometimes they happen suddenly and that life does not stop when you want it to and–perhaps–that is a very good thing. Life happens when you make other plans and life happens when you make any kinds of plans, or you think you are going to be on a certain track for the foreseeable future and this is true of gods and monsters and careers and relationships of any kind. And even now, I don’t intend to really take a break.

It’s almost fitting that while I have a Project or two to catch up on, I will also no doubt be reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring on my journey by Via Rail on my seat by the window: watching the space I’ve been in for so long pass me by. A part of me is scared to be leaving the familiarity of my surroundings–both my comforts and my inconveniences and so relatively suddenly too–but there is another part of me, a part I’d almost forgotten about that is excited and looks greatly forward to meeting up with some awesome friends and to learn new things together.

To my friends and loved ones I love you all, and I will see you again on Monday because in the words of Bilbo Baggins–my favourite Hobbit–I think I’m quite ready for another adventure.

Looking Outward