Many of you are probably wondering what happened to me– did I get arrested? Die? Give up? And no, it’s none of the above.

Remember when I called the Other Job a cancerous mass that’s slowly consuming my life? Well, the Other Job is why I’ve been more or less absent the entire month of June.

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People don’t like unrest. They don’t like challenges to the status quo. Or, at least, that’s what I’ve noticed about a certain percent of the population every time something like the death of George Floyd happens. I guess we (marginalized groups, the poor) are supposed to just shrug and keep going every time one of ours gets murdered.

What happened to George Floyd should never happen in a free and democratic nation; and it doesn’t escape me that we are far from living up to the freedom and equality the United States allegedly stands for. I support those protesting for change. I support those rioting in outrage. Silence and complacency kill.

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For many of us, the world is falling apart. A large section of the populations is struggling to survive without income, while in “essential” sectors, such as healthcare, retail, and transportation, employers are working their employees into the ground to keep up with the booming demand.

Depending on the source, anywhere from 50% to 78% of US workers live paycheck to paycheck– and the general consensus is with the higher of those numbers. The vast majority of Americans also have no emergency savings. When your workplace folds up or is ordered to close, and you find yourself quarantined at home with no income, what are you to do?

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Wondering where the blog posts and Patreon content are at? Well, so am I.

All joking aside, though, I know exactly where they’re at. I have a couple of blog posts and a ton of writing planned out– I just need time to work it. The Other Job continues to eat an extremely excessive amount of time– 75 hours this week– and I’m running on empty.

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…well, sort of, but not really. They tried, but there weren’t going to be enough masks to go around, and the people who work in the admin building are much more important than the cargo employees who accept freight, load aircraft, and have contact with the general public.

In short, the company took action in a way that was completely on-brand for them: an attempt was made for a few brief hours at halting the spread of the contagion. Here’s how it went down.

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It’s looking less and less like I’m going to get the opportunity to use my resignation letter. That makes me kind of sad.

It’s a really good resignation letter. It’s sharp, succinct, and pointed. ‘Here’s a list of some of the worst ways in which you’re failing your employees. Here’s a list of the stuff we’ve put up with until now. Here’s why I’m leaving.’ The ‘fuck you and enjoy the bed you’ve made for yourself’ is silent but strongly implied.

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I’ve written about the situation at the Other Job, chronicling how poor management decisions, lack of staffing, inhumane working conditions, and abusive leadership eventually led to a mutiny in late 2019. (You can read that article here.)

I wrote about the conclusion to the mutiny, in which Human Resources got involved and the abusive supervisor was forced to step down (but not terminated or removed from leadership.) The company’s solution to the mutiny, it seems, was to do little more than shuffle the deck.

In late December, a new supervisor was finally hired. He was an excellent choice: he’s smart, perceptive, and has handled situations like this at multiple other companies. In fact, I have a feeling that upper management may be regretting their decision.

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A while back, I saw an interesting question posed on Twitter.

Imagine you’re talking to movie producers making a movie of your book. They want to change your MC’s sexual orientation or race or both! How would you feel about that?

And the answer is… well, it depends.

Thinking of main characters like Adrian in Necrotic City, it wouldn’t bother me a whole lot. He was designed to tell a story. He could be a person of color. He could be gay, or bisexual, or asexual. (And in fact, I deliberately never said that much about his orientation for that reason.) Changing those things about him wouldn’t fundamentally alter the story I wrote.

That’s the key concept here, though: it wouldn’t fundamentally alter the story.

Continue reading “Would You Be Willing To Change Your Main Character’s Identity?”

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The author is tired. Not the “wow, that was a long day!” kind of tired, but the “struggling to keep up with an avalanche of deadlines and obligations month after month after month” kind of tired. The tired that comes from never being able to get caught up, and from an Other Job that’s perpetually short-staffed and disastrously managed.

If you’re one of the author’s Patreon supporters, you may have been reading the Iceball Planet stories. They’re inspired by the hellish conditions, poor management, and rampant safety violations at the Other Job. Management keeps saying things will get better, but they never do. They get worse.

The author is tired, and he has reached his breaking point. Last night he considered, for perhaps the first time in his life, just not going back. Poor planning from upper management means that things are about to take an abrupt turn for the worse… and the author is far too tired to deal with this.

To that end, the author is going to take a brief break from blogging to job search and evaluate his options, and will return in 2020. There probably won’t be a post next weekend, and possibly the one after that (but we hope the author will be back before then.) Posts to Patreon and social media should continue as they normally would.

The author would like to thank you all for reading this blog and supporting his writing. And if you’re not already subscribed to his Patreon feed, you should definitely check it out! There’s a lot of cool stuff over there, from monthly short stories to excerpts from works in progress, deleted scenes, and insights into the author’s writing process. Signing up costs as little as $2 a month.

Looking forward into 2020, the author hopes to get caught up and bring you more awesome short fiction, published novels, and interesting articles. We also hope he’ll regain his sanity and stop referring to himself in the third person. Until then, please stay safe and be kind to each other.

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Recently someone I know asked, How important is it to have positive male role models in your work?

I find this question interesting on a number of levels. The first is the obvious qualifier: male role models.

I and my childhood friends may have grown up in the ‘80s, but we escaped a lot of the gendered BS– You know, the that’s for girls/boys, you can’t have that. Or, you can’t act/dress like that, people will think you’re a *gender other than the one you were assigned at birth.* (Not to say that those attitudes weren’t, and aren’t, still alive and well– just that we escaped them.)

So I find the emphasis on male role models peculiar. Wouldn’t a good role model be a good role model for everyone? Or are we specifically talking about good examples of how to be male? The latter seems weird and unnecessary.

As a child, I looked up to a wide range of characters. I liked Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, but I also greatly admired the crew of the Pride of Chanur in CJ Cherryh’s Chunar Saga. I considered both Morgaine and Nhi Vanye, of Cherryh’s Morgaine Cycle, to be equally good role models. *

Good science fiction smashes the pointless constructs of our present day and age, or turns them on their ear, or points out where we are headed if we continue on as we are. Like it or not, gender roles are one of those constructs. I think it’s more important that a main character be a relatable person with positive attributes than a good male/female role model.

If you remove the gender qualifier, you have another interesting question. How important is it to have positive role models in your work? And the answer is, I’ve never really thought about my characters like that.

I generally want my main characters to be people the reader can both associate with and look up to. Basically, if someone loved my work so much that they tried to emulate one of my main characters, would it make the world better or worse? I enjoy writing characters that would make the world a better place if they were real.

I definitely think that characters which exemplify positive characteristics, without being unrealistic, are important. Art is a reflection of society; but at the same time, society is absolutely influenced by the art and media it consumes. Authors have something of a responsibility to leave the world a better place than we found it– not only by giving readers an escape from the horrors of the world, but also by showing how people can make the world a better place.

*Editor’s note: sorry for the Wikipedia links, but they’re the easiest place to find all the info about a book’s characters, setting, and plot in one place.

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