Exorcising The Demon: Week 2

I was almost certain this week was going to be a bad one.

I was almost certain I was going to get nothing done with regard to The Demon’s exorcism, because for the first few days of the week, I didn’t!

I chalk it up largely to the fact that I had to shift character perspectives, essentially. While The Demon takes it’s name from one of the main characters, the story itself is actually about both of my main characters, and the struggles they go through as partners. So when I finished one of their individual backstories last week, I couldn’t think of any more efficient way to proceed than to finalize the other’s individual backstory.

And that was a lot more challenging than it sounds.

The reason for that challenge was because these two characters are fire and ice, yin and yang, darkness and light. They come from two radically different backgrounds, and so have radically different views of the world and ways of thinking, so stepping out of one of their lives and into the other required me to spend a few days altering my own head-space accordingly. Not a particularly easy task when you’re still juggling some of last week’s leftover stress.

But! That is where the good news finally begins, because once I did get my head-space readjusted, just about everything started falling and clicking into place. I finalized five backstory chapters in three days, and that was with making some very significant changes to two of them. I even almost made it to six backstory chapters finalized, but quite frankly just ran out of time before I could get there. Either way, the individual backstory for Main Character #2 is now complete as well, and I caught myself the other day almost wanting to skip over the rest of the backstory and get a head start on writing The Demon in full.

I know better than that however, and with the individual backstories now wrapped up, the time has come to begin finalizing Fire & Ice’s history as a team. What brought them together, what kept them together, and what damn near tore them apart before The Demon even began. That is going to be some tremendously juicy stuff to write, and barring a sudden hurricane of free time and inspiration, it’ll probably take the next two weeks to properly finalize it all. Either way, it’s sure to be one hell of a literary ride, and I’m sure my Twitter postings over the next seven days will reflect just that.

Catch ya next week. 😉

Side note: I’m almost certainly going to start refering to my main characters as “Fire” and “Ice” from here on out in these posts because as soon as I wrote it the first time, I realized that not only are those words the perfect encapsulations of who they are, but it’s also just a lot more fun than my previous plan of designating them MC#1 and MC#2.

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Controllers: Having to Pump the Twitch Brakes

Here’s the problem with going full-speed ahead with something: when obstacles inevitably pop up, you don’t have time to adjust course before you hit them. And because you’re going full-speed, when you hit them, you hit them hard.

That’s what finally happened to me last week.

A bad day turned into a bad few days, which in turn transformed into a psychic avalanche of stress and negativity because I’d hit a massive obstacle with bone-crushing force, and it’s still got me limping a little bit as I’ve stumbled through the last 48 hours.

A little over three weeks ago, I thought I could get a head start on making my dream of writing and streaming full-time (and making a living from it) a reality if I just pushed myself hard enough. I was convinced that I was strong enough to turn this journey into a sprint instead of a marathon, and so I poured all I had and more into that sprint, thinking that I could close the distance from where I was to the finish line in just a few short months.

Then reality stepped onto the road in front of me and I was already going too fast to dodge around it.

I’ll spare you all the bloody, gory details of what happened during that collision, but just like I had with The Demon almost two weeks ago, this collision forced me to confront a painfully harsh truth.

I can’t keep trying to sprint this marathon.

Writing a novel is a slow process, building an audience on Twitch is a slow process, and I’d been trying to do both of those as fast as inhumanly possible while simultaneously working a traditional job. The amount of stress and pressure that was putting on me was more than just insane; it was stupid. It was stupid because I knew better, and because I was warned by a very good friend in advance that burning myself out would be a very real risk if I really did try to go all-in on being TheGamingAuthor the way I was talking about it. But, as has historically been the pattern with me, my excitement and my enthusiasm trumped my logical rationality and sent me careening into a mental car crash that I hadn’t braced myself for.

So what does this all mean?

It means that I’m gonna be pumping the brakes a little bit on my Twitch streaming. I made a promise to myself a long time ago that if I ever got to the point where my streaming was causing more stress than it was happiness, I would pull the chute on it and never look back. Now of course, the reality of it is that I’ve met far too many incredible people and had far too many incredible experiences with those people quit Twitch entirely. I know myself well enough to know that even if I tried to, even if I said out loud and publicly that I was going to, I would still find myself clicking that “Start Streaming” button again in (at most) just a few months time. I know this because it’s the same thing that happened with my writing, several times as a matter of fact. And yet here I am, still writing.

So here’s what’s going to happen going forward: I’m still going to be streaming, and when I do it’ll still be on Mondays and Tuesdays, but they will be streams of whim and opportunity rather than necessity. That is to say, I will only be streaming if and when I properly feel like it, and not because I feel like I have to do it in order to achieve some sort of pre-determined goal. I know that’s essentially basic-level advice for anyone who wants to even start streaming, to do it because you love it and not because you want (insert want here), but that’s still a stunningly easy thing to forget.

So here’s to not forgetting, and to having even more fun on stream than we’ve had previously, even if we’re not streaming as often.

Cheers. 🙂

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Quills: Exorcising The Demon – Week 1

So. Here we are. The end of the first official week of this literary demonic exorcism. All things considered, it’s gone both better than I’d feared and worse than I’d hoped. And because I don’t like ending things on low notes, let’s start this progress report with the snags, hiccups, and high-speed collisions that decided to pay me a visit this last week.

First and foremost I suppose is the fact that it is just damn challenging to write a book and work a job at the same time. I’d made some great progress on Monday and Tuesday (my weekend, essentially), but then when the time game to return to work on Wednesday, the mental and emotional gears in my head ground to such a sudden halt that the whole damn machine nearly came apart. That was a very hard thing to deal with, and quite frankly I’m still trying to get that machinery back into 100% working condition. As a result of all this, pretty much zero additional progress was made after Friday.

However, prior to Friday, I’d actually made some very significant progress. I did in fact solve that painfully stubborn “magic” issue I mentioned last week, and it turned out to be less of a magic issue and more of a character and logic issue. Once I realized that, the solution to it all was almost stunningly obvious. I got nowhere close to finishing all the backstories for all my characters, but honestly, my setting that goal in the first place was an almost comical underestimation of how much work I really had to do in that regard. What I did accomplish was arguably more important, in a way.

One of the most important relationships in The Demon is the relationship between one of my two main characters and his mother. For all the years I’ve been working on this story, that relationship has always existed as a kind of amorphous necessity of the plot, rather than the actual interpersonal dynamic between two fully-realized characters with their own distinct motivations and personalities. In going back through this section of the backstory, I was able to finally and properly explain not only who this MC’s mother really is as a person, but the how and why of their relationship as it exists in The Demon. This is a doubly huge step, as it also allowed me to at last formulate a proper conclusion to one of the most important plot-threads in the entire novel.

To say nothing of what that conclusion does for both of their character arcs.

With that success under my belt, I intended to switch over to the backstory of my second main character and finalize the first few chapters of that story as well, but that’s when Friday happened and the whole damn train nearly came off the tracks. I did manage to make a dent in it though, and while it resulted in one of my supporting characters having to do something that I strongly disapprove of, that action made so much logical sense for the story that I simply couldn’t write it any other way. And I’m fortunate enough with what the story of The Demon is that I can actually voice this disapproval to this supporting character through one of my main characters, so I suppose it all balances out in the end.

In any case, that’s the wrap-up of what all went down last week. The first goal for this next week is to finish up MC #2’s origin story and if I accomplish that, to at least start on the origin story for MC #1 & 2’s partnership, which is where the real meat of The Demon’s story (both backstory and the novel itself) lies.

See you all next week.

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Quills: Exorcising The Demon – Week 0

I stand on the precipice of Hell, with only my darkness and my Demon to guide me through. With closed eyes and a final breath, I take that final step and fall willingly into the abyss.

I hope you’ll forgive my brief indulgence in theatricality. Sometimes, particularly with matters that lie as close to my heart as The Demon does, I just can’t help myself. I’d like to think that’s at least one of the things that makes me a good writer, but now we’re really veering off the point of this whole blog post.

And that point is this: for the next… however long it takes, I thought it would be a good idea to post weekly “status updates” about this whole authorly exorcism process. Because as you may have guessed, The Demon is in fact a story about demons and demonic powers, and I’m just not the type of person to let a good theme languish from disuse. And since the whole goal of me finally writing this book is to get it (and the attending personal demons) out of my system, what better thing to call it than an exorcism?

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I may or may not have a slightly twisted sense of humor.

In any case, I was actually inspired to start this weekly progress report-type series by fellow writer and blogger, Nicole Evans over at Thoughts Stained With Ink, who’s doing something quite similar with her “Quest for Happiness” series of posts. For me though, “Exorcising The Demon” is going to be more exclusively writing focused, as I thought that not only would it be fun to give you all a series of small peeks behind this writer’s curtain, but that it would also be a nifty trick for keeping me honest and consistent with my progress. Not to mention for keeping my head above water when all the history baked into this novel threatens to overwhelm me.

So. With all that now out of the way, where do we stand as far as progress currently goes?

Well, the good news is that because I’ve been working on The Demon for about twelve years now, 90% of all the world-building and character building is already complete. The only thing I have left to do in that regard, as I’ve previously mentioned on Twitter, is go through all of it and make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. This is actually a vitally important step in my mind, because The Demon has a ton of different moving parts to it, and a lot of those tie directly into the other books and stories I have planned for these characters.

Because The Demon isn’t just a one-off novel. It’s the first in what I’ve been planning and weaving into a series. In fact, The Demon was originally conceptualized as the second book in the series, but that’s another story for another time.

So, the goals for this next week (and likely the next several) are to finalize and write out all the backstories for all of my characters to make sure that everything lines up and ties together properly, and then to solve a painfully stubborn issue I’ve been having with this world’s “magic” system and how it affects normal people. I say painful because this magic issue plays a critical role in how and why another book in this series plays out the way it does, so until I solve it, I can’t properly plot out this other book. And the reason that’s an issue is because The Demon and this other book (we’ll call it The Assassin) take place simultaneously, and actually intersect in a couple of places!

Like I said, a ton of moving parts.

In any case, that’s where the exorcism currently stands, and hopefully by this time next week we’ll have crossed at least one of those goals off the list. Before we can do that however, there is a beautifully clear sky outside my window right now, and I’m gonna get out and enjoy some of that!

See you all next week.

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Controllers: Time Twitches Into A New Schedule

As many of you know, the primary reason I started this blog was because every now and again, I’d start to type a tweet that would soon grow into a thread five or more tweets long. And while Twitter has vastly improved its functionality in this regard since I first starting using the platform, there are still times where I’m just not comfortable with the 140 character limit per tweet.

Now is one of those times.

I’ve been mentioning several times for the last couple of weeks that I’ve been playing with and experimenting with changing my streaming schedule to allow for a better work/life/streaming balance, and after this last week in particular, it’s something that I’m officially pulling the trigger on.

As of now, my new streaming times are Mondays & Tuesdays, 5PM to 9PM Pacific Time.

I know this is going to be a significant disruption for some of you, particularly my international viewers, and I am sorry for that. The only reason I’m making this change is because it actually does allow me to have a better stream/life balance. Streaming in the middle of the day with my previous was putting an enormous strain on me because it allowed virtually no wiggle room in the event that something came up on my side of the screen. Mondays & Tuesdays are my weekends, essentially, and streaming from Noon to 4PM wound up making it so that if I wanted to do anything else with my day, I had to cancel a stream. Not a situation I was cool with.

By moving to a 5PM – 9PM schedule, not only do I get to end my day with awesome people and awesome video games, I have more freedom to not only keep writing on the days where the words just won’t stop flowing, but to also enjoy more of my life outside of being TheGamingAuthor, and that’s important to me.

So I hope you’ll all bear with me through this schedule change, as I know that in the end, it will allow me to be both a better streamer as well as a better writer and in the end, that’s gonna be the best thing for both of us. 🙂

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Quills: Fear of The Demon

“Every idea we’ve ever had in our entire lives is in this one film.”

That’s a quote from Lana Wachowski from an interview clip that’s part of the making-of documentary for the original Matrix film, and I include it here now because it perfectly encapsulates how I feel about one of my many book ideas. We’ll call it The Demon, and just like Lana Wachowski said about The Matrix, pretty much every idea I’ve ever had in my entire life is in this one book.

And the thought of writing this book scares the living daylights out of me.

The Demon first came to life more than ten years ago, during my sophomore year in high school, and in my mind I’ve been nurturing it and helping it grow ever since then. It’s an amalgamation of every desire I’ve ever felt, every belief I’ve ever held, and every thought that’s ever run through my mind. It was born from the desire to find some way, any way, to express all of the pain and anger that fifteen-year-old me felt at the time, and as I’ve grown and matured, so to has The Demon. It’s grown and matured to a point where it is no longer merely the adolescent fantasies of a boy desperate for a sense of power in his powerlessness. Instead, it’s become a message to other boys just like him. A message that says “No matter what kind of darkness haunts you, no matter what kind of monster torments you, you can survive it. You can survive it, you can defeat it, and you can use it to become stronger than you ever thought possible.”

The Demon has become the exact kind of book I wish someone had written for me when I was a teenager, and for at least the last six years, I’ve done everything I could to avoid writing it. Because to write The Demon is to return to the place in my life that inspired it. To write The Demon is to re-live every awful memory, re-open every old wound, and to do so again and again every day until the book is completed.

And that’s just half of it.

The other half is, quite frankly, far more childish. Yet it needs to be admitted all the same.

I have been working on The Demon in some fashion or another for twelve years now. The tale has definitely grown in the telling, and one of my favorite things to do (in general, not just in writing) is to imagine new scenarios for the characters in it. To concoct new challenges for them to face, new enemies for them to fight, and to think of ways I can integrate all these new things into the existing story. These characters have become like little mental action figures for me to play with when I get bored, and if I ever actually write The Demon, I’ll have to stop playing with them. And just like any child with their favorite toys, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to give them up like that.

These were the harsh truths I tweeted about Thursday morning, and with them came a whole slew of other, uncomfortable realizations. Like the fact that my decision to shift my focus towards writing short stories wasn’t really to rebuild my confidence as a writer, that’s just what I told myself so I didn’t have to face the truth: that the real reason I’d made that decision was to buy myself more time before I had to face The Demon again.

But there is no more time to buy anymore. That time ran out the moment I decided to go all-in on being “TheGamingAuthor”. Because going all-in on TheGamingAuthor means going all-in on the “Author” part, as well as the “Gaming” part, and going all-in on the “Author” part means finally facing The Demon and exorcising it once and for all. Otherwise, The Demon will continue to lurk at the back of my mind. It will continue to haunt my heart and lure me away from any other story I try to write, because that’s what it’s been doing for the last ten years.

And today’s the day I say “No more.”

Today’s the day that I square my shoulders and walk right up to the one story idea that I fear as much as I love. Today’s the day that I take The Demon by the hand, look it in the eyes, and say “I’m ready.”

Because finally, after all this time, it’s the truth.

I’m ready.

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Twitching With Joy: My Reaction to the Twitch Affiliate Program

As I write this, my washing machine is rumbling away, the dishwasher is buzzing right along side it, and I’ve just finished cleaning and reorganizing all the wires in my office. Oh! And I’m also eating lunch.

If you can’t tell, Twitch’s announcement yesterday has got me in a bit of a mode.

For those of you who may not have heard, or aren’t familiar with Twitch, here’s the deal: Twitch.tv, the online broadcasting platform that allows gamers to stream their gameplay and interact with viewers live on the internet, has unveiled a new initiative with the express purpose of better supporting small and emerging streamers.

Streamers like myself.

I struggle to overstate how big a deal this is for me. For better or worse, I’ve committed to “TheGamingAuthor” brand I’ve started building over the last two months. I love both writing and gaming with a passion that defies description, and it’s been my dream for more than a decade at this point to make a living from at least one of them.

And Twitch just made that far easier to do.

Now, that’s not to say that it will actually be easy in practice. Far from it. But prior to the announcement of the Twitch Affiliate Program, the only path one had to make a real income from Twitch was to be accepted into the Twitch Partner Program. This program provides the streamers in it with a bevy of tools to help them monetize their channels, but also requires that prospective Partners have “[a]n established and steadily growing audience and chat.” For perspective’s sake, I follow several streamers who already have audiences that number in the thousands and still aren’t partnered.

Which is not, by the way, a shot at Twitch. The requirements for Partnership make perfect sense from a business perspective, and Twitch is a business at the end of the day. However, the result of this division between Partners and non-Partners has meant that there are hundreds of thousands of streamers out there who work just as hard as Partners do at maintaining and improving their channel, but don’t reap any of the same financial benefits.

The Twitch Affiliate Program changes that.

Which gets to why I’ve been in such a mode for the last four hours.

I am not one of those streamers who already has thousands of followers, nor am I one of those streamers who streams every day. For me, the “finish line” of Partnership was so laughably far away from where I currently am that I’ve largely been taking my time with Twitch. Experimenting with different styles, setups, and games to in an effort to really find my groove as a streamer before going all-in with it. And then right as I feel like I’ve finally found that groove, Twitch announces this Affiliate Program, and reveals that the qualifications to become an Affiliate are such that I am right on the cusp of it!

If there was ever a surer sign that it’s time for me to go all-in, I cannot imagine what it could be. 🙂

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