I often joked that the Other Job was eating my life, and that’s why my presence as an author was slowly fading. I did an undeniably poor job of keeping up with friends, staying active in writing groups, and staying on top of schedules for my blog and Patreon– not to mention actually writing books.

But in a very real sense, the Other Job consumed my life. I lost touch with most of my local friends outside of work (although I made new friends at work.) After I got out and started to try to reconnect, I learned that several of the people I knew had died. Others are gone, moved to parts unknown.

Worse yet, for me, the other job consumed my ability to write and be creative. It happened so gradually that I didn’t even feel it happening, and what I did notice was easy to attribute to stress and lack of sleep. As in, “I’m just tired, I’m sure this’ll be easier after I get some sleep.” Or “I’m just stressed out– I’m sure I’ll be back to normal when I’m not.”

So it came as a shock that, once I left the other job, things didn’t go back to normal. I wasn’t the same person, and I still couldn’t plot complicated stories or focus well enough to write. And that was absolutely horrifying.

Continue reading “The Aftermath of the Other Job”
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2021 was a rough year, but in November things began looking up. Among other things I finally left the Other Job, a workplace so incredibly, dangerously, dysfunctional that I wouldn’t have believed it could stay in business if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

I spent November and December coping with residual rage from that place and getting back in the practice of writing on a regular basis. It took some time to figure out how to pick up all the pieces– of myself, of my writing, of my connections with friends and fellow writers– and to hit the road again. Now that I’m no longer working 12 to 18 hours a day with a host of urgent problems constantly jostling for attention, I can focus on what’s important.

As much as I’m still struggling with the fallout of leaving the Other Job and trying to get back to where I was before, I feel like 2021 is going to be a good year. Here are some of the things I’m hoping to accomplish.

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We make a lot of sacrifices in the service of becoming successful. We sacrifice leisure time to take on additional duties at work or spend more time writing. We sacrifice time with our friends and loved ones. We sacrifice our hobbies and the things we do for fun. We sacrifice our health, both mental and physical.

But it’s worth it, right? If we just work hard enough, one of these days it’s all going to pay off. We’ll be able to pay off our student debt, or afford to buy a house, or be able to send our kids to college, or land a book deal that we can support ourselves with, or develop a big enough following that we can live off the proceeds…

We spend our lives following this mirage of success. One day it’ll pay off. One day we’ll get where we’re going, and we’ll finally be able to relax, catch up with friends, spend time with our loved ones, and do the things we enjoy. People chase this mirage until the day they die– which is likely to happen sooner rather than later if you never give yourself a chance to relax.

We need to talk about this.

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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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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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After running my Patreon page for a little over half a year and seeing what garners the most interest, I’m looking to update my tier rewards to reflect what I’ve learned. If you’re already a subscriber or looking to become one, don’t worry– you won’t lose access to anything you have access to now.

I plan to move some rewards around and add additional rewards to several tiers. The hope is that this will this attract more patrons, as well as making it easier for me to fulfill my obligations each month. (The latter has been difficult at times, what with the Other Job eating between 65 and 75 hours a week since the start of this year.)

Here’s a breakdown of proposed changes.

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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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This wasn’t the blog post I was going to do, but the other post is still in production and this piqued my interest. I was scrolling through Twitter and came across this tweet, and it made me think.

“I feel so lucky to be writing at a time where there’s the Twitter #writingcommunity for support. This process would be so much lonelier & so much more discouraging without it.”

My first response is one of puzzlement. Wouldn’t we all write anyway? There will always be the attention seekers who wilt if there isn’t a steady supply of praise and encouragement, but I like to think those are a small minority among the author population. 

Continue reading “The Writing Community”

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