I figure one post a year, on the last day of the year, is just enough activity to call this blog ‘sporadic’ rather than ‘moribund’.
It’s a small victory, but I’ll take it. We need every victory we can get in these slowpocalypse days, as the great engine that is/was human civilisation shudders and groans and shits blood into the ecosystem that once supported it. We may not have much time left to enjoy them.
2022 was… look, I’m not saying I enjoyed 2020 and 2021, but there was a kind of dull certainty to lockdown, as well as some comfort in knowing that world governments were (at least theoretically) prioritising public health over economic growth. 2022 pulled away what little community and safety we had, leaving us a chaotic world in which our leaders had clearly decided that our money was more important than our lives.
But we got through it – well, most of us, I guess – and that’s worth celebrating. We may not have hope, but at least spite can keep us going.
So what will I be spiteful about in 2023?
Earlier this month I made all my various ebooks free – not as a sale, but permanently. They’d never made me much money, and I’d reached the point where adding up my royalties every year when doing my taxes was more work than it was worth.
But also, this has been a year of me gravitating towards idiosyncratic stories, art and games – work in which the creators prioritised their personal vision over wider exposure or commercial success. Coupled with my day job (I write and edit for a living, just not in a way anyone cares about) providing me both financial security and a certain amount of personal satisfaction, I’ve realised that ‘success’ as a writer no longer means ‘money and full-time employment’ to me. Instead, it means getting my work into the hands of those who might get enjoyment from it.
So yeah – free ebooks! These are done now, I’m (mostly) proud of them but they’re in my past, and I’d rather see them find an audience than bring anything back to me (except praise, please praise me).
If you follow this blog but haven’t read my books – and that sounds ridiculous to me, but who knows – you can find links on the site’s various subpages, or just go to my Smashwords profile for all the direct links. (All Smashwords, sorry – Apple don’t truck with freebies.)
Wrestling with demons
But what about future books? I may not want them to make me rich or famous, but I do want people to find and read them, and that probably means a) getting them published and b) ugh, finishing them.
I’m still trying to find a home for my YA fantasy novel Raven’s Blood, but with no success. Yesterday I got a rejection email from an agent I contacted in March 2021 – so I guess these things take time. I’ll rethink my approach and try again (spitefully) in 2023.
I’m also working on a YA urban fantasy about professional wrestlers, provisionally entitled Piledriver – except that I’m not. By that I don’t mean that I haven’t been writing it (although let me be clear, I haven’t), but that it’s no longer an urban fantasy. The more I worked on my notes and outlines, the more I realised that the fantasy elements (dream demons, the Benandanti, psychic combat etc) weren’t integrating with the rest of the material. So I’ve ditched all that, preferring to focus on the story of young wrestlers working out the business and their relationships, with maybe some non-supernatural mysteries in the background.
I’m already more excited about writing this story than I was the previous version – and the research for this one involves less reading and more watching sick wrestling matches on YouTube. So it’s win-win!
Is it enough win to get me to do the work in 2023? Let’s
hope spite so!
One thing that will probably/maybe help with the writing is getting off Twitter, which has taken up a lot of my attention and energy over the last few years. Hell, Twitter is the main reason I don’t blog anymore – I realised that I could reach far more people and get far more engagement with a 30-word quip than by spending two hours writing a post.
But Twitter is not what it was. Sure, it was a hellsite that harboured Nazis and terfs, and encouraged toxic interactions for clicks and likes, but at least the old owners pretended that they thought that was a bad thing. Now it’s the property of Elon fuckin’ Musk, and that apartheid failson has fully embraced and encouraged the worst parts of the platform, and indeed humanity, due to his bottomless need to be loved and admired by everyone despite being a sockful of dogshit with a full wallet and an empty head.
I’m not willing to validate this fucknugget’s actions with my attention or presence (let alone my money), so I’m out. I’m parking my Twitter account for a week after this post goes up – no interaction or reading, just leaving it up long enough to let folks know I’ve gone – and then deactivating it.
Where will I go? I’m thinking… nowhere. I’m thinking freedom from the constant pressure of knowing the thoughts of other people, even those I like. I’m thinking of no longer coming up with bon mots (or at least dick jokes) to get people’s attention. I’m thinking of
walking into the bush and never returning spending more time writing books and less time performing for micropulses of dopamine.
…I mean, yes, I set up patrickoduffy accounts on Hive and Mastodon, but that was just to lock down the username in case one of the other 5-6 PODs in the world get ideas. And yes, I’m on Facebook and Instagram, but I cannot stress enough how little I use or care about those platforms.
So let’s try raw-dogging life for a while, without the toxic prophylactic of social media. Fuck you, that’s a great metaphor.
Before I wrap up and get ready for a big phat NYE party – by which I mean watching RRR with my wife – I have something to plug!
Back in 2018-2019 I worked on the new edition of Greg Stolze’s RPG Reign, a fantasy system with a focus on both characters and organisations, and rules for playing organisations like characters. My contribution was not fantasy, though – it was LEVIATHAN, a modern-day horror-investigation campaign, co-written with Greg, where players run a Men-in-Black agency, learn about Australian weirdness and try to… prevent a pandemic.
In hindsight, our version of things was pretty unrealistic, but it was also more fun to play.
Anyway, Reign 2E has been a long time coming, but it’s here now! Reign Rules (the rules) and Reign Realms (the setting(s)) are both available in PDF, with print-on-demand options on the horizon, and Reign Realities (which contains not just LEVIATHAN but a dozen or so alternate settings and campaigns) is… maybe coming next week? I’m jumping the gun, I know, but I needed to get this in before the end of 2022.
So let me leave you with these images of LEVIATHAN pages, which aren’t quite readable but do promise intriguing mysteries (emus! ants! laboratories! Harold Holt!).
This is probably my last-ever RPG work – well, unless people I like ask me to work on something, like the last few times – and I think it’s going out with a bang. Hopefully y’all will feel the same.
OH GODDAMNIT I said ‘hopefully’.
I guess spite hasn’t fully consumed me yet. Typical.