Me — One Year Anniversary

The blog is a year old today! What began as five hundred words (almost) every day has ended up being 342 posts of an average length of about 644 words (excluding the fiction which is typically over a thousand words each). Before I started, I had a total of about ninety thousand words written, most of which were spent on different drafts of my first book. It would have taken you half an hour at most to read through all of the short stories I had written, and my biggest accomplishment was The Archive, my personal wiki for all the nations, events, and denizens of Nacre Then.

I’ve written three times more words in this past year alone than my combined writing history prior, all because of this blog. I’ve grown immensely as a writer and have learned a lot about myself and the craft.

Before I started the Daily Dose, I hated writing. I called myself a writer, but really I just had this universe in my head that wanted to get out. Writing has never come easy to me, and truth by told it still isn’t. But I’ve since found stories and characters that I want to write about. I’ve finally found a broad story in Nacre Then that I want to tell (the anthology that doesn’t focus on one character), I’ve discovered Lisa Stenton, and my brothers and I are starting to explore Naya, a new world we’re building a game out of. The Daily Dose was the inspiration I was looking for to become more than I was, and I know that the future will only bring more growth.

I’m coming to realize how far I have yet to go, too. I’m still not a great editor, and for some reason I get bored with stories that go on for too long. This means that if I want to finish something, ten thousand words is the limit, and once I get there I move on to something else without making the edits I know need to happen.

Still, I think I’m ready to start looking to publicize myself. I want to start publishing my standalone short stories like “The Amazing Sightseer” and “Fortune’s Fool” to name a few. I don’t know if I’ll finish Rise of the Riftguard by the end of the year, but if I do I want to start presenting myself to publishers with it.

All that said, I’m pondering some (more) possible blog changes in the future. I don’t have anything solid yet, or even a plan for when I’m going to be giving this more thought, but I think I’m going to combine “Me” and “Life” posts into one, since they’ve always tended to bleed together. In it’s place, I want to add a second “Weekly Short” post to up my fiction output. The problem is, I don’t know what day this should be. The middle of the week works best,but it would require shifting everything around and I’m not quite sure I want to do that just yet.

So, here’s to another year of growth and learning. Let’s see what the future holds.

Me — Being a Creator

(This week’s audio recording: “Warstorm“, is one of my earliest Nacre Then successes. Despite it being nearly two years old, it’s evolved very little!)

 

One of the most difficult things about forcing myself to write a minimum of a thousand words a week is that sometimes I just have nothing to write. I realize that many established authors write over two thousand a day (most notably in my line of experience is Brandon Sanderson, who does more than that even) but I can’t hold myself to the level of incredibly wealthy and famous people. Sanderson himself explained that five hundred to a thousand per day five days a week is still a novel a year, and though most of my words are spent on this blog and not fiction, it’s still an accomplishment.

Right now specifically, I’m running into a multifaceted problem. Obviously, a writer should write something they enjoy. If you’re not excited to write it, you probably shouldn’t be. My head is currently filled with half-fleshed ideas that are either not ready to be written or are too large-scale for me to tackle, and the small stuff I can write quickly as a weekend story doesn’t really interest me. Here are the things that have my attention right now.

My primary focus is the third novelette in The Aftermath of the Rupture. I’ve got one major contradiction in it that I’ve yet to figure out, and until I know exactly how things will work I can’t even get started. On top of that, a moderate to severe change in the current canon of the society of Torreth is having me slow down a bit, even if those changes won’t see prevalence until the fourth novelette at the earliest.

My second larger project, and the most likely candidate for receiving the next longer story of ten thousand words, is another Spark story. My brothers and I have been giving it a considerable amount of attention these past few weeks, and there’s a story I can’t wait to get rolling. Since we don’t want to solidify anything in the actual plot of the game just yet, this will be another prequel, but it will have a considerable amount of worldbuilding in it. I hope to get it started some time during February.

Lastly, Lisa Stenton is always in the back of my mind. I really like the character and the mysteries she’s finding for herself, but I’m hesitant to jump into anything too quickly. For example, I want her parents to come home soon, but I don’t want to give the reader all the answers to everything immediately, and I’m unsure how to do that just yet. I like opening this box (world) slowly. One big question at a time. So, while I figure out how to introduce her parents, Lisa will be getting more and more lost as to what’s actually going on. (As a side note, when I wrote “Spiritwalkers” and “Suicide Note”, a lot of the big questions didn’t have answers at the time of writing them, but writing this next story, I am now equipped with pretty much all the answers. Even the ones to the questions I’m raising in it, and I’m actually pretty happy with where I’m taking it).

All that said, even when I can put myself into “writing mode”, its never easy. In all honesty I nearly gave up writing a full story yesterday, (and, if we’re going on technicalities, I still only wrote the first half), but a big part of being a writer is to do it even when it sucks, which is far too often. The whole point of the blog is to force me to write. If I give up, it means I’ve failed myself, and I can’t let that happen.

So rest assured that, even if I don’t publish as much fiction as I’d often like to, I do consider it the most important part of my blog, and I do have plans!

 

Life — False Expectations

You ever think about something that’s going to happen, and you can’t help but dread it or hype yourself up with anxiety, only to find out that it wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought it would be?

If you’re anything like me (and I’m inclined to believe most humans are), you get anxious at everything, even if the stress levels vary. Planning a party, performing on stage, going to events you doubt you’d enjoy, doesn’t matter.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I’ve brushed on this before (though it was like seven months ago), but when we think about future events, our brains have a habit of romanticizing them, warping them and branching off into all the possibilities of how that scenario will go. Most often, they branch off towards either the worst or the best cases.

When you go on a date, pessimism will say you’re going to do any number of embarrassing things, say the wrong words, or run out of things to say and be left with an awkward silence. On the other hand, optimism will tell you that you’ll be incredibly charming, suave, take your pick of any positive adjective. You imagine it’ll go amazing and everything you could want to happen does.

Only, that’s not how the world works. In virtually every scenario you plan, the reality will end up being somewhere in the middle. It’s just a bell curve probability. If you’re a chronically anxious person, I want you to think back to all the situations and events you were particularly worried about. I’d be willing to bet pretty much all of them turned out okay. You might remember a particularly embarrassing moment from that event, but in hindsight, it was ridiculous to assume the apocalypse would happen that day, right?

Your gut will tell you any number of awful things occur if you go to that party. But your gut is a drama queen and blows up possible scenarios when the likelihood of most of them seeing fruition is zero.

The best thing to do is to shrug off your mind’s impossible pre-conceived notions of how something might fail catastrophically. This is why, when you’re planning on torturing somebody, you don’t tell that person what you’re going to do to them. Instead, you make sure they know they will be tortured, and you leave them to fill the blanks. The scenarios they will construct in their mind will be far, far worse than anything you could really do to them. As a side note, you probably shouldn’t be torturing people. Trust me, it’s a bad habit.

All that being said, try new things! Be adventurous! Even if nothing pans out spectacularly, you’ll come out of things with more insight into your personality and, in general, a more experienced person. Alternatively, if you never try anything because you’re too scared, what is going to stop you from being scared of everything? Don’t let your fear of what might be stop you from having to ask yourself what could have been.

Life — Finding Our Identity

One of the most frustrating parts about growing up is that on top of getting an education, a job, and leading a productive life, we also have to figure out for ourselves who we are. We’re given millions upon millions of seconds filled with data and our brains have to organize it as a side job (the main one being actually living). We learn what we’re good at, what we hate, what we can’t handle, what we’re scared of, and society asks us to come up with a simple conclusion to our identity.

I don’t know how other people fit on this line, but for me this means living in contradiction. I cannot handle being disorganized, but I’m also too lazy to clean my desk up. My Google Drive (where I keep all my writing for both school and fiction) has so many sections and subsections of folders that you may have to open five folders to get to the document you want because everything is so neatly categorized. This, ironically, means I can lose some files in that labyrinth. Thankfully there’s a search bar on Google Drive, but if I use it often enough, there’s no point in organizing everything so much!

I’m taking a course on human sexuality right now. Recently I’ve learned that according to some people, there is almost no relation between gender and sexual identity. On top of that, romantic attraction and sexual attraction can be entirely separate from one another. People can marry somebody they enjoy spending time with, yet mutually agree to share sexual intimacy with other people.

This is the part of society nobody talks about. The world paints us this picture that we can only be attracted to the opposite gender, but studies have shown that most people can be physically attracted to both on different levels. It’s actually quite rare for somebody to be exclusively attracted to the opposite gender. We’re left to figure all this out on our own, if we ever do.

The future is a scary thing. I have no idea where my path leads. Am I going to be a published novelist? At best I would say the probability of that is fifty percent, and even then I’m including the chance that I make a life somewhere else and then publish in my old age. Now, the probability of me making money off of something related to Nacre Then? I’d say that’s over ninety percent, but I can do that in so many ways other than writing novels.

Life is scary. This post may be a bit scatterbrained today. It could simply be that “identity” is such a broad subject to condense into five hundred words, or it could be that I have a lot of half cooked ideas I wanted to include. Either way my point still stands. We’re all just specks of dust floating on an ocean. But it also gives me some hope. I don’t know if I’m going to ever become an actual writer, but wherever my life is going to lead me, I’ll end up there regardless. I imagine I’m on that ocean of life, manning the helm (of that speck of dust I suppose), yet not really sure whether steering the wheel actually does anything. Sometimes it feels like I can steer it in the direction I want, but maybe the winds are blowing in that direction and it’s simply a coincidence. I don’t really know who I am or who I’m supposed to be, but I know that I’ll find out in time.

 

Life — Patience

I’ve noticed that as far as life changing situations and circumstances go, most of the good ones take time. Everything that we want to be different takes time to enact, whether its a gradual change, or one big change that takes preparation. There aren’t a whole lot of times you wake up and a neighbor wins the lottery and is kind enough to help you solve your financial problems.

Looking over the things that I typically post about (and the things I used to post about), there really isn’t a whole lot of change. Sure, my blog is less than a year old, but nothing big in my life has occurred. As I said yesterday, I suspect a change like this is forthcoming, even if I have to force it to happen. I could very well make my position worse, who knows. All I know is that while I do consider myself ‘happy’ right now, I’m not content. I’ve felt this way for a while, and that may or my not be apparent.

This is further proof that everything takes time. The best advice I can give on that front is simply: Patience. I would say my blog has accomplished virtually nothing. The only real results I’ve seen from it is the fact that I can now reliably write a short story every week, and I know I couldn’t do that even a year ago. I would say I’ve learned a little more discipline because now I write every day, but since it hasn’t influenced my life in any other way (that I could tell), I would be hesitant to even say that.

Again I’m reminded of that million word barrier to entry in the professional writing world. Currently, my writing tallies up to about two hundred thousand words worth of fiction (two hundred thirty if you go by publishing standards), and about one hundred twenty-five (or one hundred fifty) thousand words from the blog alone. It’s easily twice as long as any stand-alone piece of fiction I’ve written, yet I don’t feel comfortable adding the two numbers together and saying I’ma  third of the way to that goal of one million.

But you know what? It doesn’t matter. If I see my becoming a professional writer as an inevitability, (which the optimistic part of me constantly whispers,) it doesn’t even matter how many words I’ve written. I’ll get there one day, and all I have to do is wait. It’s either a gradual change, or one that requires preparation. Obviously this one is gradual, but for a lot of things, as is my case, it can be so gradual that it appears not to be moving at all.

I don’t feel as though I’ve grown as a writer since I started in February, but I’ve written over sixty thousand words of fiction between now and then. I’ve increased my entire total output by around thirty percent in the span of a few months! I can’t pretend that I haven’t grown as a writer.

So, as slow as stagnant as things may seem to be, we’re always changing. The best part about all this, is that we can’t not change. Time doesn’t allow for stagnation, so regardless of any choices we make, we’re constantly learning and growing. You’ll find yourself where you want to be, in time. Just be patient.

Me — Making Life Changing Decisions

One of the best and worst parts about my current position is that there are so many things I could do with my life, and I have no idea how many paths will make things worse. Right now, where I am doesn’t work. My blog needs changing (as always seems to be the case), my improv troupe is–let’s just say–unsatisfying, and day in and day out, I’m honestly sort of lonely. Problem is, what do I do?

The blog is the easiest fix. Right now I’m thinking of changing the weekly schedule, adding a ‘Learning!’ section to the blog and replacing Tuesday Life posts with another fiction section (meaning I’ll be writing fiction at least twice a week!). There, problem mostly solved, if all goes well. As far as the loneliness thing, it’s not a big deal. It’s a tertiary problem to the ones I already have, so I’m not too worried about it. I suspect it’ll solve itself eventually, anyway.

The biggest problem in my life is my improv troupe, in all honesty. I don’t want to get into any details (since, however unlikely, it’s possible some could read this) Imagine you work at a coffee shop, and the original employees were all best friends and every day you worked was always a blast. You have some great memories, and you can look back on it with a smile. But eventually, as you work, people leave, find better jobs, move away. Eventually you’re the manager and you have to teach all these new people how to make the coffee and they’re just not up to your own standards. What do you do? Quit? Fire people that are under-performing? Is hiring new people justified in that case?

I don’t want to quit. The people in that troupe are pretty much the only friends I have. On top of that, improv has changed me so much for the better, and I don’t want to let go of that part of myself. In the beginning of that theater class, I was looking for a way to leave and avoiding social interaction completely. Now I regret not having taken a second theater and even considered auditioning for a sort of game show (albeit briefly). There’s no doubt that my life would be vastly different from the way it is now, and in all likelihood it wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is now.

So, I don’t really have any clue where I’ll be standing a few months from now. I really think some big change in my life is on the horizon, but I don’t know where to look for it. I feel like in some aspects of my life, the foundation I’ve built my position on is cracking. At this point, filling in the gaps isn’t working. It seems to me the most logical solution is to find a new foundation to start over, and while it sucks to begin again, fixing all the cracks in something that hasn’t been tended properly for so long is simply not worth the cost, if its doable at all.

Do you ever get that feeling?

Life — Getting Stale

I think the single largest problem with being the sole author on a daily blog is that in all honesty, I don’t have enough to say to justify it. I’ve been looking through my posts, and the ‘Me’ and ‘Life’ categories are very similar to one another. Most specifically, in the life advice posts I bring up something that I stress about or difficulties I’ve faced, so in a way it’s often a reiteration of something I’ve already said. If you look at the blog tags, “responsibility”, “work”, and “stress” show up a lot because I try to talk about how to handle things like that.

So, even if these blogs are good reads as standalone pieces, I can imagine how stale they must be getting for any consistent reader. (It’s not why I don’t have consistent readers, however. I’d attribute that to the fact that I don’t advertise myself at all.)

It’s a tough problem. I need to be writing every day just so I get things written and so I can force myself to write even when it isn’t easy. But it’s hard to write unique pieces of advice twice a week. My life really doesn’t happen that quickly, which I suppose speaks for my youth. I can’t write posts distinct from one another because, to me, I’ve already written everything that’s on my mind. If I don’t write for a few weeks (or, even better, a few months), I know I’d have a lot more to say, but that defeats the entire purpose.

Which leads me to consider one of two options. First and foremost, I could simply open myself up to more things. Watching new movies, reading other blogs, that sort of thing. Perhaps introducing new perspectives will give me ideas of what to write about. I’m not sure how fruitful this option would be, though. I imagine it would go well for the first week but a month from now I wouldn’t be doing it at all because I may lose interest. Still, it’s an option.

Second, and a more feasible option: I could add new categories to this blog. I’d say it worked pretty well cutting the reviews to once a week in lieu of adding an improv section (since I can talk about improv games for several months yet to come). The problem is, I don’t know what I’d add. I could theoretically cut one of the weekly Life posts and one of the Me posts, dedicating one to an entirely new section and making one day a ‘wild card’ where I talk about anything I want. It could work, but it wouldn’t solve everything. I’m pretty sure the ‘Me’ and ‘Life’ posts will still be just as stale, but perhaps it will feel a lot better simply by virtue of reducing their frequency. Another problem to this idea is the fact that I have no clue what a new category would be. There really isn’t a whole lot that interests me as a person, unfortunately. The only thing I could think of is adding a “Learning” section where I explain science and math stuff. I’ll leave that open to consideration.

On another note, perhaps I should start looking into how to gain an audience. That way I could get feedback and start getting some community interaction. If there’s one thing I love, it’s talking (and even debating) points of view with people. Especially people I don’t know who have insight I could never hope to find on my own!

In the meantime, stay tuned. I do hope to figure this out soon.