Category Archives: blogging

Calling an early halt to 2016

I don’t get depressed.

I was depressed for most of this year.

Both of these things are true.

I don’t get depressed. Except when I do, like everyone does; when I get sad or down or lost in a funk for a while. That’s not proper depression, that’s not the clinical kind that actually matters and is hard and needs treatment and understanding, the kind many of my friends and loved ones suffer from. I don’t dignify my brief, occasional moodiness by calling it ‘depression’; I just get into a funk for a bit and then forget about it the next day.

Or, alternatively, fall into a hole for eight months and never realise I’m in it.

My own emotions are a bit of a mystery to me. Again, not in any kind of clinical or on-the-spectrum way; I just don’t pay too much attention to them. I’m generally either vaguely perky or I’m not, and I’m too focused on external things to be all that attentive to (or even interested in) internal states.

So when I get depressed, I don’t usually realise it until afterwards. Which isn’t that big a deal when I’m mopey for a couple of hours. When it’s 200+ days… that’s more complicated.

I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a cunt of a year.

Without getting into boring details… yeah, mine too.

There are writers who work best when they’re depressed.

I am absolutely not one of them.

I’ve written pretty much sweet-FA this year.

Guess how that made me feel.

Also, it was dark, it was cold, my knee hurt, my back aches, it got really hard to access American Netflix, waaaahhhhhh

And then, a couple of days into September, I realised I was in a hole. It suddenly hit me: oh man, I’ve been depressed all year.

Which was basically the first sign that I’d stopped being depressed – or had, at least, begun the process of ceasing being depressed.

I only become self-aware when I’m chipper. I’m like the world’s shittest AI.

Maybe you feel like this too.

If you do, it’s okay to acknowledge it. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to forgive yourself.

It’s okay to be better at this than I am.

Please, for your sake, be better at this than I am.

What’s the point of all this fragmentary introspection?

It’s to say that it’s been a tough year, and that I’ve not accomplished much. (I wrote about this a while back, when I was still pretty deep into The Funk.) It’s become a lot easier for me lately – new job that I enjoy, good times with friends, it’s not cold and dark and raining every fucking day – but I’m not entirely out of the hole yet. Most of the way up, yeah, but my legs are still dangling down into the void. Just a little.

So now that I’m aware there’s a problem, it’s time for me to focus on a little self-care for the rest of the year, to maybe try some of the things Delilah Dawson has talked about as ways to combat depression. And that probably means taking a break from writing – or trying to write, and failing, and getting sad and angry at myself for failing – for a month or two. To build up my strength and energy again, rather than feel sapped and achy whenever I sit down in the Writing Bungalow of a night.

Which also means taking a break from blogging for a month or two. Because none of us need more irregular waffle about stories, wrestling and maybe something I saw on TV.

What to do between now and January 2017? Get some exercise. Lose a little weight. Head over to the US for about three weeks with my wife to visit family and see the sights of Portland and San Francisco. Pick up a freaking book and read it, goddamnit (because oh yeah, my ability to concentrate on reading vanishes when I’m depressed). Live a little.

And when I resurface, I have three things on my to-do list:

  1. Shop Raven’s Blood around agents until I finally find a home for it and the whole Ghost Raven series. (I’ve been doing that, but I’ll do it better.)
  2. Plot, plan and take the first steps on a new project, the YA wrestling-urban-fantasy series I’ve been alluding to lately, something I’m currently thinking of as ‘The Squared Circle’ (name almost guaranteed to change).
  3. Write something short, fun and punchy to get my juices (eww) flowing again.

I think we all know what that last one means. Let me paint you a picture:

The Obituarist III: Delete Your Account

And with that – yeah, taking a break. Remembering how all this works again.

I hope I see all y’all on the other side in a couple of months.

Don’t let them catch you riding dirty.

No-one puts Bloggy in the corner

Okay, let’s talk turkey.

This blog’s been pretty crap for the last year. Maybe the last couple of years.

Not very coincidentally, the last couple of years have had their difficulties, and it’s been hard to manage all the demands on my time, energy and good spirits. When there are ten things that need attention during a week, and nine of them involve the day job, completing a book or the people I love, it’s just too easy for item #10 -‘write a blog post that doesn’t suck’ – to get dropped into the too-hard basket.

I put too many things in that damn basket. It’s less a basket and more a dumpster.

But I’m tired of throwing things aside. I’m tired of giving up on tasks that I’ve set myself because I decide that I suddenly have something better to do. I’m tired of writing throwaway posts full of hollow ‘wisdom’ that no-one reads or bothers to comment on.

I’m tired – so, so tired – of my weaksauce bullshit.

So here’s the deal.

One blog post, once a week, Sunday nights (Melbourne time).

One blog post, once a week, that’s about something that’s actually interesting, not just housekeeping. Something that I can actually talk about engagingly and meaningfully, rather than just being open questions and neophyte big-noting.

One blog post, once a week, that people might actually read.

…and it’ll probably have silly pictures, yes.

Ironically, this particular post? A bit light on content. I’ve got a project deadline, and I can’t devote too much time tonight to blogging. This is more like the introduction to a period of greater quality, rather than the quality itself. A blog preface, maybe.

But come back next Sunday, when that project’s wrapped up and I have a head full of OPINIONS. Opinions and uncredited images sourced from around the web.

I’ll try to make it worth it.

On a semi-related note, I went through my blog list on Feedly last week and cleared out a few blogs that had gone silent over the last couple of years. And now I am left with a much-diminished set of writing blogs that I follow – Chuck Wendig, Peter Ball, Foz Meadows, some fellow hopeful-up-and-comers. The rest have shuffled off to, I dunno, maybe Instagram. Or finishing books.

So if anyone’s reading this, let me know – what other writers have blogs that you follow? And what makes them worth your attention?

Transmission resumed

…and we’re back.

Spider-manBackInBlackSti

NEWSFLASH: House-hunting and moving are THE WORST. Like, worse than leprosy.

Okay, maybe not, but they’re sure as hell time-consuming. The last two months have locked me into a space where all I did was a) look at houses on real estate apps, b) text real estate app listings to my wife, often while she was sitting next to me, c) look at houses and be disappointed, and finally d) put everything we owned into boxes into a feverish yet determined rush. That left me no time for writing books, writing blog posts, writing emails or even getting drunk.

And come on, I can get drunk ANYTIME.

1182775-homer_drunk_on_couch

But the great national nightmare is over, and we are living in a new house. It’s a bit more off-the-beaten-track than we used to be, with fewer bars and cafes within walking distance, and yeah, I miss being able to go to the cinema on 90 seconds’ notice, whether or not I ever used that dread power.

On the other hand we have a library room, the tram isn’t far away, and there’s a back yard that the dog is slowly realising is there for him to roll around in.

Also? I HAVE A WRITING SHED.

…okay, technically it’s a writing bungalow. And the writing part is currently playing second fiddle to the storing-boxes-full-of-stuff part. But damnit, I now have a detached office where I can go to write books, complain about the cold and scowl artistically, so suck it Wendig, you’re not so special.

Ahem.

IMG_1691

I know it doesn’t look like much right now, but once we move some boxes, install a coffee plunger and hook up the smoke machine it’ll be so rad, bro.

As for what I’m doing in my shed?

Not a huge amount just yet, as there’s still a lot of unpacking and furniture assemblage that needs doing. But once we have some bookcases out and can cram them full of stuff, I’ll have enough physical and mental space to get back to work properly.

First job? Taking another revision pass through Raven’s Blood, because it’s not quite where it needs to be just yet, and I could do about 50% more with it if it was about 5% better. Once I finish doing that, it’s back to work on Raven’s Bones, and seeing if I can fit more fantasy superhero action into the story without all the seams bursting.

On top of that, blog posts! Honest. It’s time to get back on the regular posting wagon, and I swear to you, my adoring (or at least patient) public, that the long and terrible silence is finally over.

…but not right now, ‘cos I have to put together a futon.

Ciao for now.

SHED.

And we’re back

*yawn*

*stretch*

*checks alarm clock*

OH HELL, I OVERSLEPT

…I mean, here I am, back just as promised!

So, did you miss me?

It’s been a hectic emotional rollercoaster, these last two months, full of doing stuff and learning things and not blogging. But my batteries have recharged, my notepad is full of ideas for blog posts (one of which just says ‘Doom Cock’, but I’m sure it’ll make sense eventually) and I have news and opinions to share once more. I’m glad that y’all hung around during the downtime.

So, let’s have a quick essay on what I did on my winter holidays.

I wrote stuff! Which is good, as that was the whole point of taking the break. I worked on Raven’s Blood, which is still behind where I would like it to be, but I’m very happy with the material I’m writing – so if I take more time but create a more polished draft, that’s probably a win. I’d still like to have it finished or close to finished by the time GenreCon comes around in October, though. I also did other writerly things, such as a freelance editing project and creating some wikis for various time-wasting nonsense activities.

I appeared at PAX Australia! I thought our panel on writing RPGs would get about 10 people, but it was more like 200 and another 50-odd standing outside. Crazy! I think it went well, and the feedback was very positive, so that was great. Overall I was pretty impressed with PAX – well, at least as far as the space and support they gave for tabletop gaming. Most of the videogame stuff left me cold, and I agree with Ben McKenzie that a lot more needs to be done to improve the stance PAX and the Penny Arcade founders take on problematic elements in gaming. PAX was also where I announced my return to the world of RPG writing, as I’ll be working on a product for a setting dear to my heart over the next few months or so. More details to come soon!

I also appeared at the helm of @WritersRotation – a curated Twitter account where a different writer tweets each week. That was fun, and hopefully some of the account’s followers will come by the blog and check out what I’m like on an ongoing basis. (Spoilers: drunk and full of excuses, mostly.)

I read some cool books! Specifically, I read Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker, which is just a wonderful absurd romp, a riot of London crooks, aging spies, robot bees, pulp adventure and the uncertainty principle. I also read Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts, which is just about the exact opposite – an emotionally wrenching story about spurned and idolised women, long grudges and longer sadness, and one of the most moving and gruelling stories I’ve read in a long time. And YA at that – kids these days start the hard stuff young. And I started Chuck Wendig’s The Blue Blazes, read a bunch of comics, saw some adequate films (and one goddamn awful one), watched cartoons… you know, the usual stuff.

I quit my day job! Not to write full-time, no – one day, yes, but not today. Instead I’m moving on after seven years – seven years! – in educational publishing to a new and exciting role in… well, in educational publishing, but of a different type and for a different market. It’s a big move, and in many ways a difficult one; you don’t work in one place for so long without putting down roots. Still, I’m really pumped for the new job, which starts in two weeks. Here’s hoping that a) I enjoy it, b) they decide to keep me and c) it leaves me with the time and energy for writing.

I lived my life! I ran some games, I saw some shows, I drank some drinks. You know, quotidian stuff like that. And I learned that our cat’s health is fading. That wasn’t such good news, and it’s been hard for all of us here to accept that and make decisions about what to do about it. He’s still with us – he’s sitting on my lap right now – but he won’t be at some point. Which is also part of living life, I guess. So it goes.

Stories begin. Stories end. Stories go on.

And on that note, this story is done for the evening. It’s good to be back on the word wagon. Thanks for sticking with the ride.

Incremental as anything

This site is coming along slowly – more slowly than it probably should, I dare say, but I’m getting there.

The main addition at this point is the information on Hotel Flamingo on the Books page. If you don’t know about my mosaic e-novella, go there and find out about it. And come on, buy a copy, baby needs a new pair of shoes. Cheap shoes.

I’m hoping that by the end of the week I’ll be able to add the anthology Godheads and Other Stories to that page. All that remains is to finish the last story, which I’m working on, and to receive the cover from the designer, who I need to check in with tomorrow. If the final cover is still a way off, well, I might put together some sort of underwhelming placeholder for the time being, just so I can get the book up by Saturday morning. We shall see.

I’m currently debating whether to add info about my old RPG credits to that page. I don’t get any royalties from them, so listing them with links won’t make me any cash, but it might help demonstrate that I’m a real writer, honest. Or it might not. Still contemplating that.

I might also try to get a stand-alone story or two up on the Downloads page, which is currently empty. I’ve got some flash fiction that could be fun.

But all that has to wait for a little while. Tonight I’m donning my freelancer cap and writing about beer. Which is a subject close to my heart.

If you’ve got suggestions about things I could add, feel free to leave a comment. Preferably not one of those spam ones I’ve been deleting for the last couple of days. Such industrious little things they are.
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Day Zero

So. Here we are.

I’ve been keeping a LiveJournal for about 9 years, and I used to think that was enough. And there was a time when that was enough. But times change, and if I want to be taken seriously as a writer – and on reflection, yeah, I think I do – then that means my own site, my own domain name, my own platform.

It’s something I’ve been considering for a while, and given my laziness I would have probably continued contemplating it for another year, but I got the domain name and hosting/design services as a present for my birthday, and that was enough to finally get me off my arse.

(Huge thanks to Josh and Peter from Soupgiant for putting all this together for me. You guys rock.)

Now that I have it, what do I do with it? Well, I’m working that out. At first I thought I’d move all my online activity to this spot, but on reflection that seems too extreme. There’s nothing wrong with diversifying, and we tend to use different tools for different jobs. (Unless it’s an iPhone, which is apparently meant to do everything.) So I’m probably going to keep my LJ going for more personal/social stuff. Then there’s Twitter for fast communication, Facebook for… okay, I’m not really sure what I use Facebook for at the moment, and other outlets for other stuff.

But this here? This is for being the professional (or at least semi-professional) writer dude. It might take me a while to work out what to put here, where to put it, and how to tweak the layout, but bear with me. It’ll shake out soon enough. I hope.

If you have suggestions as to what to do here, where to put things, better colours to use for the page… whatever, I’m all ears.

(Incidentally, I figure most everyone reading this knows me or at least knows of me. If you have no idea who I am and just discovered this blog by accident or through curiousity, you can find out more about me in the Biography page.)
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