Category Archives: Life

Ennui and the Writer’s Soul

I’ts been over a week since my last post.  I’ve been out of commission, seemingly unable to focus enough to write much of. . . well, much of anything.  What inspired my lack of inspiration?

To be perfectly honest– basically nothing,  I was somewhat annoyed by a poor job offer that I interviewed for, and the crashing down of some false hopes I had built around unreasonable expectations.  And I was somewhat annoyed about some other unrelated writing stuff.

But suddenly, all the words which had been flowing previously dried up for all my projects.  Poof, gone.  I couldn’t even focus enough to type previously written material into the post box and click submit.  I was seriously blocked.

I’ve been there before, and sometimes for much longer periods of time than this.  A little over a year ago I didn’t write for nearly 6 months when I was in treatment for my PTSD, depression, and anxiety issues.  The medication just completely stoppered me up, and through the better part of a year the only words that came out were a few fetishes and gifts for use in a Werewolf: the Apocalypse game, and some other gaming character background descriptions.

My mental health has always been somewhat of a struggle.  Maybe not always, I don’t know or can’t say for sure when I started having difficulty with depression– thinking back to previous hard times in my life through a lens of more recent experiences I could imagine them being triggered by this, but who is to say for certain?  I know for a fact I never had a panic attack before July of 2011.

I’ve recently been exposed to the word “ennui” which describes a listlessness arising from lack of occupation or excitement.  This nearly perfectly describes this last two weeks of complete inability to write.  Its certainly set me thinking about what caused it, and how to get myself out of this period.

Well, here I am, writing again, so I can say with certainty that I am at least coming out of my period of ennui, my writer’s soul is emerging from the wilderness and beginning once more on the path of the lonely, unheralded blog author.

Some strategies I engaged in to break my “slump” included reading an entire novel (Prine of Fools by Mark Lawrence), and tried to otherwise expose myself to stimuli that would induce writing.

But in the end, I am only now breaking my streak after the passage of time, and a general better feeling-ness.  Yet, in my bout of ennui, I found myself feeling that I was breaking some sort of unwritten social contract with those few of you who have liked, followed, and generally read this blog.

So, as part of my ongoing battle with the block, I am making the unwritten/unspoken contract with you, my readers manifest and specifically stating the writing schedule I intend to keep for this blog– I don’t promise I will never miss articles or deadlines, but I am promising that I will try to follow the following schedule–

Sunday– a piece of gaming related work, either for my Core 8 system, or for Pathfinder compatible content.  This may be new spells, feats, archetypes, abilities, NPCs, monsters, or encounters.  It may also be an examination of a topic related to gaming.

Monday– a piece in the Sun Cycle saga that I am currently writing.

Tuesday– nothing.

Wednesday– I’m reserving this for a second serialized piece that I am still unready to begin unleashing on the world.  Until then I may release one off and other stories here, but I may not.  Basically more to come in the future.

Thursday– nothing.

Friday–  This will be the spot for my weekly NBA coach rank during the season.  During the off season I will either post a sports related piece, or take the day off.

Saturday–a post on some topic, whether related to writing, related to some of my work, or life.  Basically anything goes, but this will be the spot for many of my ramblings of the non-specific variety.  May also use this to publish stories that don’t fall into any of my on going epics.  (Hence this post going up on Saturday.)

So, there you have it, my ennui busting schedule and contract with however few of you are reading the words I am publishing here.

A Normal Man

I know that somewhere deep inside

A normal man, of sorts resides,

but then again he may have died

that last time I heard the bullets fly–

And it could be that I buried him

somewhere way out in the deep sand

across the sea in that Arab land

and something else crawled in my skin.

 

Now I can’t say I know myself,

Am I who I was or someone else?

I used to think I was a good man,

but now I can’t tell grace from sin.

 

I can’t help if my eyes do stare

If you’ll come along I’ll drive anywhere

I”ll conspire in any plot you contrive

as long as it makes me feel alive.

 

And now the changelings moving in,

swallow another handful of my son’s ritalin.

Mix up another drink that end And Coke

cause Ill take anything to feel a little bit less broke.

Want to stare at the Sun till I go blind,

But if you want we’ll wander the desert my body to find,

and when you’ve finished my new design–

Dig me up, stitch me up, I’m goddamn Frankenstein.

Sherlock Holmes RPG and Being Stood up by Commissions

Some of you who know me may know that about a year ago I was commissioned to write a core rule book for a Sherlock Holmes based role playing game.  I had the bones of a core dice system (I like to call it the “Core 8 Engine”) which I still plan to adapt and expand for use in a lot of different possible settings.

The offer/rate wasn’t good– 2 cents a word, plus I maintained the right to use the system for other settings.  For a basically unpublished writer that seemed like a dream.  I talked with the individual over email and had the equivalent of a verbal agreement in email form.  I set to work, and while missing the deadline I had set for myself I eventually turned over a give or take 50,000 word document for review.

And then I never heard back from my client.  Some time went by, I chugged away on some updates and proofing/editing and then. . . crickets.  To this day 8+ months after my turnover I have not received any response.

I stopped bothering to attempt to contact the individual eventually.  I later learned he had done the same thing to at least one artist for the first project which the role playing game was originally supposed to have been the follow up to.  Clearly this person had unrealistic expectations about funding a card game and role playing game (as their cancelled kickspy campaign with less than one thousand of a 20,000$ goal funded will attest to.)    Kickspy is off-brand kickstarter it seems.

So what recourse do I have in this case?  As near as I can tell, not really any.  Did he break a contract?  Yes.  Did he steal my material and publish it?  No, I’ve ferreted the web for any sign of it, but there is none.  This seems to leave my copyright intact, which would make my own publication of the material probably the only real course to recoup the lost opportunity on the project.

Of course, I do not have the passion for Sherlock Holmes material personally.  Nor is this game at the top of my to do list, much less my “to hire artists to fill out for so I can publish” list.  I expect that eventually I will be publishing under the core rules of my Core 8 system, though I am more likely to start with Science Fiction, post Apocalypse/modern military, or dark ages fantasy setting than Victorian England– after all, if its my project again in its entirety, I might as well enjoy it as I toil away.

In the meantime, here is the playtest document for the game. I’d appreciate any feedback you might have for the system, the writing in the game, or discussion about what you would do in a similar situation.

Playtest Document

Love’s Favorite Quotes

A listing of all the wit and wisdom I’ve found it worth writing down over the years from all walks of life.  Many of these have been sitting in my journals and notes for long years, and I cannot guarantee I know the context in which they were all written or spoken or even the source beyond the name of the individual I attribute them to.

“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.” —Leo Tolstoy

“There are only two things necessary for salvation. . . money and gunpowder.” —George Bernard Shaw

“For even if men went mad all after the same fashion, they might agree with one another well enough.” —Francis Bacon

“It was the fashion to be young, a butterfly, and in love.” —the Brothers Kapek

“Man is a riddle in the world, and it may be the greatest riddle.” —Nikolai Berdyaev

“Man says time goes by too fast, but who has seen it fly?” —Johann Scheffler

“The funny thing about regret is that it’s better to regret something you have done, than something you haven’t.” —Orbital

“The philosopher, however, is able to engage in abstraction.” —J.G. Fichte

“No one will recommend madness as a way of salvation.” —Emmanuel Levinas

“Modern man worships ‘facts'” — Jacques Ellul

“These common presuppositions of bourgeois and proletarian are that man’s aim in life is happiness, that man is naturally good, that history develops in endless progress, and that everything is matter.” — Jacques Ellul

“It was just so depressing & ridiculous, like our relationship.” — Paige Miller Morand

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” —Leo Tolstoy

“In another world we shall understand it all.” —Leo Tolstoy

“There ain’t no monuments for all right. There ain’t no genius in half done.” — From Bubblegum to Sky

Behind the Scenes of the Sun Cycle

The Sun Cycle is a labor of love for me personally.  These first few stories which I am publishing on my site have been years in the making.  They fit into a larger world, originally envisioned as a campaign setting for 3.5 Edition OGL centered in the myths and stories of the middle east and other non-western traditions while drastically departing from the tropes of the Tolkien inspired society.

The release of 4th edition coupled with my own deployment to the very land these stories rely on for inspiration effectively killed the project, however I never fully abandoned it– I knew there was something in those pages I had done, even if it was only stories.

Storytelling, you will see, plays a central role in this grand epic– but that as they say is another story.  Here I would like to share with you a larger look at one of the few images I had commissioned initially for the original project– one of the new races you will meet in the Sun Cycle, the Parua.

The artist for this piece is veteran fantasy artist Michael Jaecks.  He has worked on Pathfinder illustrations and I was lucky enough to have commissioned a few pieces for the story world of The Sun Cycle several years ago.  Since then this image has been collecting dust on my hard drives, luckily making a few transitions to new devices in the span.  His work will speak for itself, but I think you all will see why I feel so truly blessed to be able to share this sliver of my imagination brought into manifestation through his hands with you.

 

parua merchant 1_edited-1