My True Fear

2018 has been a strangely illuminating year thus far. I don’t know how to describe it any better than that.

Towards the tail end of 2017, I thought I’d had everything figured out. I knew exactly what I was doing both on the writing front and on the streaming front, and I deliberately ignored the voice in my head that had begun to tell me that things were not going to go according to plan. It whispered its warnings and I would shout my denials in response. As we all know however, denying reality doesn’t change reality, and only ensures that reality will smack you in the face that much harder when it inevitably does so.

Which has kind of been the story of my last week, truth be told.

The first reality smack I had to deal with came from the Twitch streaming side of my life; when I finally had to face the fact that Destiny 2 was not going to be the kind of “home base” game that I was hoping it would be. I’ve known for a while now that I couldn’t be anything other than a variety broadcaster (that is to say, a broadcaster who streams multiple different games), but I still wanted to have that one game I could call home. A single game that could form the foundation of my channel and while I still went out and explored more linear, story-driven games like The Last of Us. Unfortunately, Destiny 2 eventually proved to be wholly incapable of filling this role, and my entire plan for Twitch went up in flames along with it.

The second reality smack hit the writing side of my life, and is so recent that my cheek still stings. I’d thought (as my previous blog post no doubt demonstrates) that I had finally figured out what it was that was preventing me from moving forward with my various writing projects. That this deep-rooted, semi-conscious fear of The Demon was the one and only thing that kept sabotaging my efforts to finally finish a book and get it out into the world. Based on this “knowledge” I charged headfirst back into writing this infernal project and paid no heed to the whispers in my brain telling me that The Demon wasn’t ready for this yet. Yet again, my instincts were warning me that this was a bad idea, that I needed to give The Demon 2.0 more time to settle and adjust to the dramatic new direction I had taken the story. So of course I ignored these warnings, and crashed straight into a brick wall after little more than a week.

This impact finally got me wondering “Okay, what is actually going wrong here?” Because it’s clear that something was, and yet I couldn’t quite place my finger on what it was. I was more motivated than I can ever remember being before, I’ve gained enough small successes as a Twitch streamer to have real confidence that I’m on the right track with it, so seriously… what is actually going wrong with me here?

That question bounced from one corner of my mind to another for a good few days, and I couldn’t figure out an answer to it until I caught the latest episode of ProfessorBroman’s (a fellow Twitch streamer) “Ask Broman” podcast. In it, Broman expresses the thought that people who have a chip on their shoulder tend to be more successful than those without, because that chip gives them that little extra bit of drive to not just be successful, but prove all their naysayers wrong. Now, as someone with a pretty significant chip on his own shoulder, this wasn’t an entirely new thought for me. But to hear it come from someone else? To hear someone who has already achieved the level of success that I aspire to? For some reason, that’s what allowed it to really sink into my brain and light up a thought-bulb that had only ever flickered before.

You see, I don’t think it’s The Demon 2.0 and all the memories that come with it that I’m afraid of.

I think what I’m really afraid of is success.

I think what I’m really afraid of is my dreams coming true in a way that I simply cannot dismiss or ignore.

I think what I am truly, deep-down terrified of is that if I actually do succeed, if I do actually manage to build a life-supporting career out of being an author and a Twitch streamer, I’ll lose that chip on my shoulder and no longer have the same drive or passion that I used to achieve that success.

And what tells me this fear is real is that I can’t talk my way out of it. I can’t come up with some kind of rational, step-by-step plan to overcome it and move on. It’s the kind of fear that sucks the air from your lungs and steals the warmth from your blood, leaving you to suffocate alone in the freezing night. It’s ever-present, inescapable, and will drown you in despair if you give it even the hair’s breadth of a chance.

And I’ve been giving it a lot more than that for years.

I don’t know what this means for my New Year’s Resolution to free myself from fear, because this fear doesn’t live in my head. This fear lives in my soul, and has lived their for so long that I don’t know if I can exorcise it. What I do know is that my journey is no longer about using the chip on my shoulder to prove “them” wrong. It’s now about using that chip on my shoulder to prove myself wrong. I need to prove to myself that losing my shoulder-chip will not rob me of the drive and passion that’s kept my head above water, and there’s only one way that I know to do that.

Keep. Writing.

I’ve already gone back and taken a second look at The Wolf, and you know what? I’m honestly surprised by how well it held up to my “own-worst-critic” gaze. That by itself has given me a much needed boost to my self-confidence as a writer, and has confirmed for me that my first step towards overcoming this fear of mine is finishing and publishing The Wolf. It won’t be the first brick I lay down in this career construction project of mine, but I feel like it’ll be the most important.

Until next time. 😉

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Freeing Myself From Fear: My 2018 Resolution

I spent six hours writing a whole different draft of this blog post that wound up coming out as something akin to a horror movie; dark, threatening, and with almost zero light at the end of the tunnel.

Not exactly the kind of tone you want to set for a brand new year, is it?

But in taking my fingers off the keyboard and eating some lunch while a few episodes of The West Wing played on Netflix, I realized that the reason the previous draft of this post came out like a horror movie was because I’d lost focus on the real reason I was writing it in the first place.

My one, solitary New Year’s resolution.

To free myself from fear.

Now, obviously I could go on about how fear is an innate, biological response to certain stimuli, but I think that’s a bit too literal a take for the purposes of this post. After all, I’m a writer, and where’s the fun in writing if you don’t get to indulge in a free few moments of theatricality? That said, all kidding aside of course, I think this could be the most important new year’s resolution I’ve ever set for myself. Because looking back on my life, especially in the wake of my 2017, I have been an incredibly fear-driven person. There are so many things I wish I could’ve gone back and done differently, now that I have a much higher level of self-confidence than I did way back when. And even today, here now in these present times, I still find myself doing or not doing certain things because I’m afraid of what could happen. I’ve been afraid of getting hurt, I’ve been afraid of losing something dear to me, I’ve even been afraid of being afraid in some instances. And in each and every one of these cases, these fears have stopped me from doing something that hindsight has told me unequivocally I should’ve done.

So for 2018, I say no more. I say not again, and I say never again.

Because the thing that 2017 has shown me, repeatedly and with startling clarity, is that the big and exciting changes that I’m sure we all hope for in our own ways? They don’t happen if we let ourselves be cowed by our own fears into the same old dreary routines that we so desperately seek to break out of.

For the longest time (far too long in the eyes of most, probably even myself if you pushed me to it), I didn’t get a normal 9 – 5 job because I was afraid that it would mark me a failure, and because I was afraid I’d fail at it. I was afraid of dealing with people on regular basis, I was afraid of screwing it up and letting people down, and I was afraid of getting fired because I screwed up and let people down. But then in July of 2016, I found something that mattered more to me than not being a failure. I found something that mattered so much to me that I was willing to risk failure (my actual greatest fear) in order to make something happen.

I found GuardianCon, and the Destiny Twitch community that made it possible.

So I got my first job.

I got my first job and I used it to pay for my cross-country trip to GuardianCon 2017. That was the first time I’d ever booked, bought, and went on any kind of trip completely by myself, and that in and of itself was a whole series of fears that I had to face. But you know what? I faced them. I faced them, I overcame them, and I had a truly life-changing experience because of it. One that I am still feeling the ripple effects of all these months later.

Which brings me back to my New Year’s Resolution.

To free myself from fear.

There is a very specific person I have to thank for this. Someone that I’ve met through Twitch who continues to be a surprising source of inspiration to me. Not just as a streamer, but also as a person. Because this resolution is actually the result of a conversation that I had with them months ago about fearlessness and not getting what you don’t ask for. It was a conversation that wandered back into my head yesterday morning as I was out for my morning walk, trying to figure out just what the hell I was going to do with all the different writing problems and projects I had rattling around in my head. I was honestly starting to freak out a little over it all, and then in walks this memory, almost out of the blue. So I start thinking about it and as I’m starting to think about it, I begin to realize that there was actually something there. I could feel it, like this subtle tugging at my heart, as if something’s trying to pull me towards this specific direction. So I went back to the conversation and staring turning it over, pulling apart the various lines and exchanges, and looking under just about every other word and letter, trying to find the answer to a question I couldn’t quite remember asking.

And then I found it.

I was afraid.

I was still afraid.

I was still afraid of the one thing that I kept telling myself I was almost ready for.

“Just one more book,” I would say. “Just this one or two, or maybe three more books, and then you’ll finally be ready to tackle the big one.”

My heart felt like it cracked under the weight of this realization.

All this time, all this planning, all this work… and it was all because I was still trying to run away from the one book that I told everyone means more to me than just about anything else.

The Demon.

This book, this story… quite frankly, it scares the hell out of me. Because that’s just it, The Demon is Hell. My Hell. It is the fictional distillation of the Hell that I’ve spent the last thirteen years of my life trying to crawl out of, and every time I’ve tried to write it in the past, I’ve felt the remnants of that Hell boil back to life in my soul. Because to write The Demon is to travel back to that Hell. To write The Demon is to stand on the edge of that abyssal pit and look back down, to feel the infernal heat of it burning through my flesh and to see the monsters writhing within the flames, screaming and screeching that my true place in the world is back down there with them.

So I run away. I run as far and as fast as my mental and emotional legs will carry me, paying no heed to the fact that there’s still a great, big, gaping hole back there that leads straight into the depths of Hell. And even from a distance, the gleeful, taunting shrieks of the beasts that live within it echo through the breeze. In the moments where I hear those echoes, I know the only way to silence them for good is to travel right back to the edge of that pit and face them down once and for all. To accept all of the pain and grief they’ve inflicted on me and use that acceptance to break the final chain of theirs that’s still wrapped around my heart.

And yet, as ever, it’s the fear of failure that stops me.

What if it doesn’t work? What if it’s not enough? What if they do actually convince me this time that it’ll be better for everyone if I just jump right back into their pit and get this whole charade over with? These questions and all their myriad permutations are what fly through my mind every time I try to sit down and seriously think about writing The Demon, and every time those questions have the same answer: “Eh, don’t worry about it. We’ll think of something else. There’s always a different story you could write to try and launch your career as an author.”

Except that this isn’t just about my career as an author, and that answer is rotted to the core with fear. Fear of failure, fear of pain, but most importantly, fear of my own past. Fear that if I look too far back for too long, my past will somehow consume my present and ruin my future. Which might sound like a not-unreasonable fear, were it not for the fact that this fear itself is a child of that past and listening to it now really will be my past consuming my present, and potentially ruining my future.

And so to this I say no more. I say not again, and I say never again.

I say that 2018 will be the year that I free myself from this fear.

I say that 2018 will be the year that I finally finish The Demon.

 

Happy New Year, everybody. 😊

Unleashing the Horsemen: Taming of The Wolf – Part 7

To say that the author half of my “GamingAuthor” equation has been a grind this week would be an understatement, though you wouldn’t know it just by looking at the numbers. If I averaged it all out, I was writing about at least thousand words a day, even on days where I was streaming and had to split my writing sessions in two. That was something that I’d tried to do before while I was still working at my local grocery store, and I’d failed at it pretty completely. So the fact that I was able to succeed at it this week is not an insignificant accomplishment for me, and it’ll definitely be something I try to maintain going forward.

However, this also starts to touch on one of the two big reasons why writing turned into such a grind for me this week. That reason being that I was just having a great week on Twitch. I picked up a new game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, to satisfy my craving for a fresh and exciting RPG experience, and boy oh boy did that game live up to all the hype. I’ve sunk nearly 20 hours into it already and have barely scratched the surface of all it has on offer. On top of that, I saw more than a few familiar names in chat while I was streaming it, and that’s always a special kind of gratifying. It’s the thing that makes Twitch streaming such great fun; getting to hang out and talk to people from all over the world in real-time while you collectively share in your enjoyment of video games.

So I’m sure you can imagine how going from that to the cloistered, solitary practice of writing a book was a… less than exciting process.

In addition to some personal life-type stresses, the simple fact of the matter was that pretty much all I could think about on Friday, Saturday, and yesterday was how much I wanted to be streaming again on those days. Sure, they were my days off from Twitch and sure, I had a book that I needed to finish, but what could it really hurt? I could always pick the book back up once I got the streaming bug out of my system. The thing is though, I know that thought process, and I know all too well what kind of trap it really is. It’s the trap that sucks you into procrastination, the trap that leaves half finished manuscripts collecting dust in your computer’s digital drawers, and convinces you insidiously that whatever plans you have can always wait just one more day.

Needless to say, I would have none of that.

I kept my nose to the grindstone and my fingers to the keyboard in spite of how violently my mind was rebelling against me at times. I kept telling myself, over and over again ad nauseam, that all I had to do was write one more word, one more line, one more sentence. I reminded myself of the cartoon I’d once seen of two men digging for diamonds. One is further back than the other, but charging full-steam ahead, all systems go. The other is turning back after giving up, crestfallen and exhausted, even though he’s just a hair’s breadth away from breaking through to this massive cache of diamonds! I refused to let that be me, and so even though I actually hated the thought of trying and failing to write for even one more second yesterday, I forced myself to keep going.

And you know what? It paid off.

By making myself power through, I was eventually able to drag myself to a point where the words started flowing again. They may not have been flowing in a direction that I originally wanted them to, and I may have resented them for taking the story off of what I felt was the right track, but that wasn’t the part that mattered. The part that mattered was that I was writing, I was getting the story out of my head and down on to paper, and if this new direction truly didn’t work out, I could always go back and change it later.

Because of this, by the time I was done yesterday, I’d written nearly 1,500 words and finished yet another chapter.

I’d say that’s a pretty solid accomplishment for a day where writing The Wolf was the literal last thing I wanted to do, and it’s kinda confirmed something that I’ve been kicking around in my head for most of the week. When I was still working my grocery job, I set a daily writing goal of 500 words. Not a huge number, but something that I felt was legitimately doable even on what amounted to ten-hour workdays. Now, I turned out to be wrong on that account, but it brings me back to perhaps the most important thing I learned about myself from that job.

I can push myself pretty crazy far if I set my mind to it.

So that’s why in the wake of this week, I’m setting myself a new writing goal: 1,000 words a day, even on days that I’m streaming. If I can maintain that pace, that’s essentially one complete draft of a novel every two to three months. Now, this doesn’t take into account all the pre-production work that goes into a novel like character building and plot development, but as far as the Horsemen are concerned, this pace could allow a blistering rate of completion. Which would be great, considering how my plans for these books have shifted a bit lately.

In any case, that’s been the story of my life this week. It’s been about as smooth and pleasurable as a sandpaper massage, but all that really matters is that I got through it, and there’s about 7,000 new words making themselves a home in the manuscript I call The Wolf.

See you all next week. 🙂

Unleashing the Horsemen: Taming of The Wolf – Part 5

8:56 AM, Pacific Daylight Time – September 17th, 2017.

That was the exact time that I finally cracked my knuckles and got back down to the nitty-gritty of writing The Wolf yesterday. This after nearly a week of trying and failing to re-plot the rest of the book after deciding to completely upend the previous chain of events that I’d forged through three previous drafts of this novella. So many repeated failures at this made me realize that the only way I was ever going to really figure out where this new direction was going to take the story was to just sit down, and write it out like it had been part of the story all along.

In hindsight, this was clearly the right thing to do because while I started writing yesterday at 8:56 AM, I didn’t really stop writing until 10:34 PM.

More than 13 hours later.

I mean, to be fair, it was probably closer to ten hours of total writing time. Because, you know, I did eat and go to the bathroom a couple times, but I think the point still stands: I put in serious work at the keyboard yesterday. By the time it was all said and done, and the dust had started to settle, I came up out of the writing trenches with eight new pages, nearly 4,200 words, and two complete chapters added to The Wolf.

All in a single day.

I haven’t written that much in one sitting since March of 2013, and the eleven-day marathon that resulted in the The Wolf’s first complete draft.

My heart tells me this is a good sign, but my brain is still so hungover from all that writing that about all it can do is gurgle incoherently and give a vague thumbs up of approval. Or is that the middle finger? I can’t really tell from this angle…

In either case, I can feel the peak of this project approaching. Just one, maybe two more chapters, and all the hardest parts are over. The characters will all finally be established, all of the exposition will have finally been delivered, and all that will remain is the ever-exhilarating rush towards the climax. And even before that, there are still one or two scenes left that get me just as excited in and of themselves!

I won’t say that I’m close to finishing The Wolf. I’m too superstitious at the end of the day to risk jinxing myself like that. What I will say however that I feel closer to it now than I have since completing that first draft more than four years ago. I’ve already crossed the mark where all the other drafts have fallen apart and wasted away, and despite having been reduced to near-mush by all the writing yesterday, my brain is still pushing me to write out another two to three thousand words. And that I know can only be a good sign for things to come. 🙂

Unleashing the Horsemen: Taming of The Wolf – Part 4

I’m gonna be completely honest, everyone.

I got zero writing done this week.

Destiny 2 entirely consumed my life.

However, that’s not to say I made zero progress on the writing front. In finishing Chapter 3 last week, I actually cut it off several pages before the original end point, and that randomly opened my eyes to a new (and probably better) direction to take the story. Obviously I can’t say much because spoilers, but it all hinges around a relatively minor detail and the realization that I don’t have to rely on an admittedly awkward lie I had my main character tell to explain it in The Wolf’s original draft. A lie I had him tell in order to avoid a conflict I didn’t know how to resolve.

But in taking this new pass over The Wolf and approaching it from a somewhat different mindset, I realized that there is a far more interesting way to deal with this little detail, and to actually take the story into what I feel is far more compelling territory. Largely because I’ve learned to embrace conflict in my stories, and that the lack of it in this next section of the book is one of the things that honestly held it back in the previous draft.

That’s not to say this new direction is all sunshine and daisies though. A big part of why I chose The Wolf to be the first of my Horsemen was because I already had the entire story locked down, and it wouldn’t take all that much work to get it fixed up and ready for life in the world. By pursuing this new narrative direction, I’m sailing off into entirely uncharted waters, which means a whole lot of extra work that I hadn’t planned on. It means entire plot and character arcs need to be re-thought at best, and re-constructed at worst. Thankfully I’m not entirely at a loss for how I can make this change and still preserve the overall shape of the narrative, as well as the few key scenes that drive that narrative forward.

The real test, quite frankly, will be if I can pull myself off of Destiny long enough to take all this theory and put it into action. 😛

Unleashing the Horsemen: Taming of The Wolf – Part 3

*sigh*

I think I have to say it…

In all of the seventeen years that I’ve been writing fiction, I don’t think I have ever been as agonizingly frustrated with a chapter as I’ve been with Chapter 3 of The Wolf over the last several days. The purpose of the chapter is, on the surface of it, simple: reunite my main character with his love interest, introduce the supernatural elements of the story, and have them make lovey-eyes at each other for a while before throwing them back to the wolves. From a plot perspective, this is one of the easiest chapters in the book to write. However, from a character perspective… oh boy…

You see, I have this nagging tendency to always think of my characters first and foremost as real people, with real desires and motivations. When a certain plot event takes place, my first thought is “If this were real life, how would Character X really react to this?”. I find this approach to be really fun normally, as it helps me discover points in the story where things happen solely because the plot demands it, and not because my characters would actively choose that path for themselves. From there it becomes a bit of a game for me to figure out what it would take for Character X to make Decision A, and then restructure things accordingly.

I tend to call this my “Christopher Nolan Approach”, named after one of my favorite directors in Hollywood who seems to make his movies based around the philosophy of “If we can do it for real, we’re gonna do it for real.” It’s an approach I take with my writing because I find that even in a purely fantasy setting, the more a story can tie itself to the reality of the human experience, the more inherently compelling that story becomes.

However, with this latest chapter of The Wolf, that approach failed me.

With this latest chapter of The Wolf, that approach lead me down a rabbit hole of fear and despair that threatened to entirely derail the story I was trying to tell, and more importantly, the feelings that I was trying to evoke in the reader. That right there is what told me that I was going way off track with this chapter, and after two days of still trying to make this off-track direction work, I finally had to accept that I couldn’t have my cake and eat it too. I could either embrace the reality of it, or sacrifice that reality to make the chapter emotionally satisfying. And considering that my whole goal with The Wolf is to write a story that would make those who read it smile and feel all the warm fuzzies, that choice was really no choice at all.

So I said goodbye to strict realism, and opted instead to simply make people feel good.

Just this once at least. 😉

Now all that’s left is to actually finish this chapter and give my writer’s brain some desperately needed rest. Catch you all next week. 🙂

Unleashing the Horsemen: Taming of The Wolf – Part 2

I got incredibly lucky this last week.

As many of you may know, a few weeks ago one of the two hard drives in my computer died on me. And when it died, it took all of my writing folders with it. Thankfully, a majority of that data was backed up on a USB drive and had also been copied onto my laptop. So a few days ago, on a whim that came out of nowhere, I went looking back through that USB drive to see just how much of The Wolf was still there. Lo and behold, I found two partial drafts of the manuscript itself and when I read back over them, I realized that however unsteady things may be in my head, the story as it exists on paper is still wonderfully solid.

And having two different drafts from two previous attempts at re-writing this book gave me a wonderful opportunity to compare and contrast my own writing. To compare where my mind was, where it is now, and make a decision about how best to move forward for the sake of the story. Part of that decision was to craft a new first chapter by actually mixing and matching different parts from the different drafts, and doing that finally gave me a version of chapter one that I can actually be proud of.

I think some of you are going to hate me for how much more viciously it stabs at your heart, but that’s kind of the point in the end. 😉

After wrapping up chapter one though, I got another shot in the arm of gratification when I started re-reading chapters two and three from the more recent draft. I realized while doing that just how much of those chapters still worked. How many times the different scenes actually hit the emotional mark I was aiming for. So rather than re-write them entirely or re-construct them with parts of the earlier draft, I was able to just do a simple revision for clarity and emphasis. That’s not the kind of moment I often get to have with my writing, so it’s a special kind of sweet when it happens.

Now however, comes the real challenge. Chapter three of the most recent draft wasn’t finished. That ending and everything I’d had for Chapter four actually did get lost with the death of my hard drive, and I can’t for the life of me remember what emotional mark I was aiming for beyond the point that chapter three got cut off at. Now, given what The Wolf is about and what all has to happen with the rest of the story, I’m not at all concerned about finding another proper emotional mark to aim at. However, I still remember how I felt about the chapter and pages that I’ve lost, and I can’t shake the feeling/fear that whatever new target I take aim at just won’t be as powerful as the last one I actually fired at.

I realize that this fear is likely irrational and unfounded, but it’s one that I will definitely be struggling with for the next few days as I get back to work.

Such is the life of a writer. 😛

Unleashing The Horsemen: Taming of The Wolf – Part 1

 

Anxiety is not something I’m used to feeling. Especially not with regard to things that usually excite me and make me happy.

And yet, that’s exactly what happened the day before yesterday.

In hindsight, I know exactly what set it off. I’d once again caught myself doing multiple things at once and trying to rush through them as fast as possible, rather than take my time and make sure they all got done properly. Add on top of this a small dash of self-inflicted relationship drama, and for about 36 hours, I found myself almost completely paralyzed with indecision and fear.

Then late yesterday afternoon, from seemingly out of nowhere, everything changed.

I could say that if felt like someone had flipped a switch at the back of my mind, but the truth of it feels… a little bit bigger than that. For my money, it felt like all this anxiety was being caused by one broken nerve in the back of my brain that kept short circuiting. Then after I finished lunch and a couple episodes of The West Wing, that nerve had been completely disconnected and replaced with a whole different kind of nerve; one that plugged perfectly into place like the final piece of an electrical jigsaw puzzle. The paralytic fear and anxiety that I felt dropped away almost at once, and in their place rose an almost zen-like clarity and focus. All I could see were the tasks I had in front of me, and all I had to do was walk forward and accomplish them.

So that’s exactly what I did.

Now, the boring list of house-cleaning chores aside, the big-ticket item on that list of tasks was finally sit down and get back to work on unleashing the four horsemen of my apocalypse. The first of these is The Wolf, and the first thing I thought I had to do was re-create the various character biographies I’d need to make sure that my characters would be actual people, and not mere automatons moving in service of the novella’s plot. I say I thought I had to do this, because before I typed a single word, I pulled out one of my USB drives that I’d saved my old writings onto and started reading through some of the old notes and histories I’d already written down for The Wolf.

To say that I was stunned by how much of it was still a rock-solid foundation to build a story on would be an almost criminal understatement.

The reason for this, I suspect, is that I wrote all of those notes in the same style and voice I planned to write the novella itself in. That is to say, the first-person perspective of my main character. And since the thoughts and feelings of my main character haven’t changed in the three years since I’d last worked on The Wolf, there was largely no need to go back to write them all again from scratch.

I say “largely” no need, because there are a few things that I still want to go back and tweak. I’m not at all happy with how poorly the relationship between my main character and his mother plays out considering how central an element his family is to this story, and I’m also not happy with how loosely I let myself play around with the nature and history of my werewolves. So the big task for the week ahead is to go back and do just that. Craft the final, iron-clad rules and backstories for my werewolf characters, and then go back and write a consolidated, comprehensive family history document for my main character in the same personal journal style that I used before.

All my ducks are already hatched for this story. I’ve just got to make sure they’re all in their proper row. 😉

The Four Horsemen of My Apocalypse

From an outside perspective, I realize that it’s incredibly silly to name something good and exciting after the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but from my perspective, it’s all incredibly fitting. The way I see it, these four books represent the best shot I’ve got at finally bringing an end to my old world and my old life. The world and life that were dominated by darkness, anger, doubt, and fear. The world and life that raised me to believe that I was not, and would not ever be, good enough. So from that perspective, hell yes I would name my efforts to destroy that world after The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!

And those efforts are four books.

Four books who I named on this blog just yesterday.

The Wolf, The Demon, The Vampire, and The Coven.

These four stories are some of the nearest and dearest to my heart, even if The Coven actually started as a bit of a joke. They’re also the four stories I have that are closest to being writing-ready. That is to say, of all the disparate story ideas in my head, these four are the ones whose plots are already constructed, who’s worlds are already built, and whose characters are already fleshed out. All that’s left to do with these four is refine the material that’s already there, and then write the books themselves.

So without further ado, let’s introduce you to my Horsemen.


The Wolf

The Wolf is one of the oldest of the Horsemen, born from my first attempt to get my writing legs back under me after one of the worst cases of burnout-induced writer’s block I’ve ever suffered. It tells the tale of a heartbroken young artist who’s struggling to overcome a traumatic car crash that took away the girlfriend he cherished, only to find out that the crash was caused by a bloodthirsty werewolf out for revenge.

I wrote the first draft of this novella way back in 2013 at an absolutely psychotic pace; averaging 3,000 words a day and completing said draft in just eleven days. After that followed a year’s worth of adventures, misadventures, and flat-out mistakes that resulted in The Wolf getting chained to the back-burner for the last several years. I always made sure to keep it fed however, going back and making subtle tweaks and changes here and there. Fleshing out this character and shifting that piece of backstory closer to the front. As a result, this old dog still has one hell of a bite, and I can’t wait to finally break this chain and let it go running off into the world.

Out of all these stories, The Wolf is the only one that’s had a draft written through to completion, and that’s why it’ll be the first of the Horsemen I set loose.

The Demon

Long-time readers of my blog will be well familiar with The Demon. So much so that it almost doesn’t need an introduction. It is by far the oldest of the Four Horsemen, tracing its origins all the way back to my Sophomore year of high school. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been working on The Demon in some form or another for almost half my life, but being crazy doesn’t make it any less true. If The Wolf has my heart, then The Demon has my soul.

Telling the story of a boyfriend and girlfriend who find themselves at the center of a plot to ignite the Apocalypse, The Demon is without doubt the most complicated and ambitious story I have ever tried to tell, and it’s only grown more so as the years have gone on. Which is why I’m no longer going to try and write it all out all at once. There are simply too many moving parts, and I have three other Horsemen all vying for my attention. So the plan for The Demon is to break it up into three or four separate chunks that will be tackled before and in-between the other Horsemen. There’s a small part of me that still thinks I’m crazy for attempting to write a story like this, but at the end of the day, I’ve just fallen too far in love with these characters and their lives to let their story flounder in my head.

In the grand scheme of things, The Demon will probably be the fourth of the Horsemen I set loose.

The Vampire

With the exception of The Demon, I’ve put more work into developing The Vampire than any of the other Horsemen. That’s because as much as I love vampires as a whole, I didn’t want to write a story about them if I couldn’t think of something different to bring to the table. An extraordinarily difficult task when you consider just how long vampires have been such a prominent fixture in fiction, and how many different versions of them have been created over the years. And once I did finally create my vampires, I then had to come up with a story and world to put them in.

Thankfully, figuring out the story was the easy part, and The Vampire quickly became a kind of dysfunctional father/son road trip story where the father is a near-fanatical vampire hunter, the son has been turned into a vampire, and they’re both out for revenge against the one who destroyed their family.

The Vampire will be the second of the Horsemen I unleash, but the fun thing about it is that if I can build the world properly, these characters have more than one story for me to tell.

The Coven

For better or for worse, The Coven actually originated as a joke between me and a friend of mine a few years ago; a joke inspired by the hilarious podcast “Your Book is Why Daddy Drinks”. My friend thought it would be funny if I wrote a book specifically as fodder for that podcast, and my brain immediately went “Challenge Accepted!”

The thing was though, the more I kept working on this idea, the more I started to see that if I toned down or removed the parts intended to be podcast fodder, The Coven could actually become a legitimately good story about love, betrayal, witchcraft, and war. Once I threw in a few threads of Little Red Riding Hood to try tie it all together, I realized that this was a story that I had to tell at some point and really, what better time than the present?

However, because it’s the youngest story of the bunch, there’s still a healthy amount of work I have left to do on building not only the world, but the overall plot itself. As such, The Coven will likely be the third Horseman that breaks out into the world.


This is about the point where that anxious, paranoid, and self-doubting part of my brain starts trying to tell me that this is all crazy. That it’s all too much and that I just can’t do it because of how much it really is. Which is in turn the point where I remind that part of my brain that this adventure is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and that so long as I remember to breathe, everything will be fine.

So here’s to breathing, and to finally ushering in this long-awaited Apocalypse. 😉

A Hard Reset

So… I had a bit of an adventure on Tuesday.

Monday night, I started hearing a really loud, rhythmic clicking sound coming out of my computer, and at about the same time, I noticed that my computer’s performance was plummeting. The broadcast of another streamer I was watching on Twitch kept freezing, other programs were taking far longer to respond to instructions than they should, and that damn clicking noise would not go away. So, I opened up the side panel of my PC’s case to try and figure out where the clicking was coming from, and almost immediately found that it was coming from my system drive. For the non-tech heads out there, the long and the short of it is that the hard drive that helped run my entire system was dying and if I wanted to keep using my PC, I needed to replace it ASAP.

Which I did. Even threw in a little upgrade that’s made my computer boot up in seconds instead of minutes. Solid State Drives FTW!

Unfortunately, this upgrade came at a cost. Because I got caught so flat-footed by the drive failure, and hadn’t been as diligent as I should’ve been in backing up my files, I lost everything on that drive. My music, my movies, my pictures, and perhaps worst of all, my writing. Not all of it, mind you. About 80% of everything I’ve written over the last five years has been saved not only on a flash drive, but copied over onto my laptop as well. However, with literally only one exception, all of my most recent, relevant documents went down with the hard drive.

And believe it or not, I’m actually not mad about this.

A little annoyed, sure, but here’s the thing: I’d actually been wondering about making a completely fresh start for quite a while now. Because the thing about having so many different writing files from so many different drafts from so many projects from so many different years is that it tends to get a bit cluttered and confusing, and after a while it becomes just a bit… much… to keep it all straight. So even before my drive crashed, I’d been thinking on and off about just wiping everything out, and starting completely over with a perfectly clean slate. Because as immensely valuable as notes are, the ideas those notes contain are still stored relatively safe and sound inside my brain and on more than one occasion, a hard reset on some of my writing projects has actually enabled me to craft a better story than the previous one.

This reset just proved to be a bit harder than the one I’d had in mind.

So what’s all this mean going forward? Well, for one thing, it means I’m going to get off my ass and get blogging here again. For another, it means that I am truly starting over from square one. Whatever plans I’d had before the drive failure, scrapped. The exorcism of The Demon? On hold for the moment. My life is in a much different place than it was when I’d first started that process, and now unlike then, I actually have the freedom to take my time with all the stories I’ve wanted to tell and write them out proper. I say this because over the last week or so, I realized something critical:

What I’m doing as TheGamingAuthor? Trying to build an audience as a Twitch streamer while simultaneously trying to build a career as an author? It’s insane. More importantly than that though, is that it isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. And I’ve been trying to sprint this marathon since February.

I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m not going to put any more pressure on myself to succeed like that. It’s not going to happen that way and I’m finally going to stop trying to force it to.

So here’s the plan going forward. I’ve got four stories in my head that are already (or at least mostly) fully formed: The Wolf, The Demon, The Vampire, and The Coven. Working titles of course, but the point is that these four stories are the ones I have that are the most ready for prime time, and so they’ll be the ones I work on first. The Wolf, The Vampire, and The Coven are all novellas, while The Demon as many of you know, is a full-length novel. And the order I’ve put them in earlier is roughly the order that I’ll be writing them in.

With one possible exception.

The Demon is a huge project, and the more I’ve worked on it the last few months, the more I’ve come to realize just how many moving parts it truly has. And given that The Vampire and The Coven are much simpler, shorter stories, I’ll actually be breaking The Demon up into smaller chunks that I’ll be working on before, in-between, and after my three novellas. By working this way, I’ll be able to avoid burn-out on any single project, and the bouncing back and forth will help me work with my ADHD rather than against it.

And yes, adults can have ADHD too.

So that’s where things stand as far as my writing life is concerned. It’s gonna be a crazy ride over the next few months and years, but I’m looking forward to it. This is exactly the path I’ve been trying to get my life on for the better part of a year now, so finally getting to even this point has been a dream come true.