My Life

The Beating Heart of Fandom

Today is T-14 days until my 40th birthday, and the Reconnection Project has empowered me more than I ever thought it would. Today, I start the process of moving beyond me... Let the games begin.

Fandom is an action and a community.

The Last Air Bender from Shore Leave 32

When I say fandom is an action, it is a bunch of actions.

  • Reading and writing Fan fiction
  • Creating, sharing, and discussing Fan theories
  • Listening to, writing, and singing Filk
  • Sharing, making, and viewing Fan Art
  • Fan Vids
  • Fan films
  • Cosplay
  • Costuming
  • Roleplaying
  • Fan games
  • etc...

Every fan has their own way of participating in fandom. I used to participate a lot more than I do now. And that changes today.

When I stopped everything in the depths of my depression, I stopped playing in the fandoms I love.  I cut myself off from the fan communities I used to not only participate in, but I cut myself off from the people I used to interact with.

Community and fanac (fan activities) go hand in hand, especially now in this age of the internet.

We are defined by our actions

I cannot say that enough to myself or to you.

Ideas in your head stay in your head and if you aren't careful, they will cage you in there.

Life is action. If you want to live a life of compassion, you have to engage in acts of compassion or you are not compassionate. The same is true with everything.

If you want to define yourself by what you love, you have to engage in loving actions.

In fandom, that means, we have to share what we love and promote it. Don't let yourself be passive. Passivity is silence, and silence is nonexistence.

Take your voice back! Take your life back! Share your love with the world. 

Some people might think this is a silly or trivial thing, but it isn't.

My love for Yoda says something about me. He represents wisdom, inner strength, and the ability to find humor in any situation. These are all qualities I admire and desire in myself. When I see my Yodas around the house, it works as a symbol which draws up all these connections in my unconscious mind and strengthens those qualities within me.

Some people might think that is taking all this too seriously, but that is how mythology works.  It is a subtile effect on us, but it effects us all the same. By choosing to surround myself with these images, seeking them out, and sharing them, I am participating in the mythos. Ever time I quote Yoda, I am participate in the mythos and strengthen those qualities in me. 

Don't think that these are some kind of solemn acts. Solemnity isn't required for actions to have effects on our selves. Sometimes they are moments of catharsis, and sometimes they are pure frivolity.  

Today's Task: 

Find at least one thing you love and participate in it.  Share a picture, a video, read some fanfic, watch a fanfilm, or at the very least watch or listen to something you love.

Let me know how you are participating in the things you love.

Let your light Shine

Today is T-15 to my 40th Birthday and I feel like wrapping up in a blanket and ignoring everything because my allergies struck back. A trivial problem, but when you are trying to build up momentum any stumbling block can knock you back down.

One of the biggest problems we face is when we are judged for what we feel is a problem in our lives that when compared to other problems in the world seem trivial. Our problems are ours, and we have to deal with them as they face us.

Now, don't misunderstand me.  I am not saying it is ok to whine about our state in life or wallow in your own misery.  In fact, we have to do the exact opposite.

Obstacles

Whether big or small, obstacles will always crop up. Their severity is all too often dictated by our mood when we stumble upon them.  If we are at a particularly low point even the smallest thing can throw us completely off our game.

What is your light?

Our light is a combination of things.

Light Empowers

Whatever empowers you is part of your light.  Whether it is music, dancing, drawing, writing, cooking, baking, knitting, it is important for you to know it and have it at hand when the time comes.

One of my biggest recharging stations is music.  I love to listen to it, and even more to sing along. I don't have a good singing voice, but I don't care.  I love it. As I write this, I feel lucky by Mary Chapin Carpenter came on.  I am not a big Country music fan, but I love that song.  I had to stop typing and just sing along. Here's the video if you want to join in.

Now that feels a lot better.  I don't exclusively listen to happy go lucky music.  Right now, Reptile by Creaming Jesus is on and I am singing along to it too.

Both songs work for me, but I have always been a Goth at heart.  Neither of these may work for you, and that's fine.  Find what works for you, and embrace it.  We have to take moments to refuel or we can't complain when we inevitably run out of gas.

Light from Within

Light also comes from within us. This isn't where I tell you that you have an ineffable light deep down inside you and you have to let it shine.  You do, we all do, but that isn't what I am talking about right now.

There are things you do that are uniquely you that can fight back the darkness when it comes for you.

It might be your sense of humor, or wit, or a quirk in your perspective that comes from a very honest and vulnerable place.  This light can be the hardest to find and harness, but it is key to fighting off the darkness.

For me, this is my imagination. Whether I let myself day dream for a minute, rework a old myth into a new story, or just wander through some old memories, I find strength in the words and images arising from my unconscious mind.  That is why the first thing that I struggle with in dark times is my ability to imagine.

When you find that unique thing inside you, learn how to harness it to make yourself stronger.

Today's Task

Find one thing that refuels you and makes you feel alive and do it for no less than 15 minutes.

I am going to give a private concert to my dog and cat, and to his chagrin my husband who is working out of the house today.  What are you going to do?

There's not enough Love and Understanding

It is now T-16 to my 40th Birthday, and it happens to be Brian's Birthday today.  As I write this, he is playing Civ VI, his present with the biggest smile on his face.  It is hard to express how much I love him.

Love is such a strange thing.  I never thought this would be a part of my life, yet still here it is.  Our story is as strange and bizarre as it would have to be to get people like us together.  My life has taught me the most important thing anyone could ever know about love:

Love sneaks up on you

By that, I mean every kind of love. Romantic, friendly, familial, or just simple compassion, it just sneaks up on you. It doesn't come when you seek it out.  It seems to hide when you look for it, but when you least suspect it, there it is.  I was in a relationship when I met Brian.  I wasn't looking for anything else, but it happen anyway.

Friends from Shore Leave.

Romantic love isn't the only kind of love that sneaks up on you. Friends do as well. I never expected to make so many friends from New York, especially since I haven't been to the state since 1996, but now I have a circle of friends there that are as supportive, if not more, than any of the friends I have in the town where I live. How did that happen? 

Honestly Honesty

After an event I am not going to go into a lot of detail about took place in 1998-99, many people I thought were friends stole every THING that I had including my sense of self and how the world works. After that, I decided just be bluntly and blatantly who and what I am.

While I wouldn't recommend for everyone to be as open about their lives as I am, I will say that you have to be yourself.  

Stop caring about what others think about you

I am just me, and you should be you. If you spend any amount of time worrying about what other people think about you, that is just a waste of time.

The one thing most lacking in this world is honesty or integrity or however you want to name it.  Society will always pressure individuals to play a role, because it is a machine like everything else.  It packages, names, and grinds people down until they fit into the role it needs them to fill.

What is important to remember is that Society is made up of many subcultures, and those subcultures empower Society to behave the way it does.  If you are in a subculture that doesn't want you, find another that does.

I left the mainstream or popular subculture years ago because I am not the Cisgendered, Heteronormalized, Centrist demanded my the currant cadre of subcultures that make up the present coalition we call Pop Culture.  

I am not Cisgendered, so I identify as genderqueer, or more specifically as androgynous.  I planted a flag there, and made a home in a community that accepted me as I am.

I could never live a Heteronormalized life, so I found myself in the feminist and LGBT communities.

I am not a centrist, so I called myself out as a liberal.

So what subculture do I live in? Fandom. I love a subculture that defines itself by what it loves rather than what it hates (which is how fandom should be defined, even though sometimes people push the edges of that definition).

To me, that is the secret of life and how everyone should act.  When you focus on the things you love, you attract a loving community around you.  This is a how you attract love in every form.

Brian and I connected through fan activities, and we have now been together for almost 20 years.  All of the friends I have, I met through our mutual fandoms.  Love gives meaning to life.  Love gives us strength.  Love is all that matters.

Task for Today

Share something you love with a partner, friend, or a stranger.  Connect with those closest to you over your mutual love for something: music, shows, movies, games, etc.

Let me know what your results are.

Take back your life one thing at a time

It is T-17 days until I turn 40, and I am surprised at how that base 10 number is affecting me.  It is not that I feel old, it is more that I am looking back on my life to this point and wondering what (if anything) I have done with it.

This is a self portrait I made May 13, 2014, I think you can see how I felt.

I would never say that I have wasted my life, but the last several years have been empty and devoid of meaning and purpose.  I lost myself.  This isn't a midlife crisis or anything of the sort. A couple years ago I fell into the deepest depression I have ever experienced.  Through it, I disconnected from everything and everyone I ever loved.  I lost almost all of my friends, and I don't blame them. I was not a good person to be around.

Nothing made me laugh. Everything made me cry.  I couldn't feel anything at all.  I didn't/couldn't care about any aspect of my or anyone else's life.  It is hard for me to explain to someone who hasn't gone there what a black hole my life was.  I hope no one reading this has ever been in a place like that.  It was a vacuous pain no one ever needs to feel.

Since I came back, it has been really hard for me to reconnect to my life. Everything seems distant. Those connections didn't magically reform, and I don't expect them to.  I have to do the work, and that is what this series is about.

11 Years ago was my first Book Launch Party...

My Book Launch Party at the Wine Rack/Java Stop for Liquid Sky.

My first and only Book Launch Party was 11 years ago today...  When I think about it, it was my only book launch party.  Liquid Sky, my first novel had just come out.  You can see how happy I am in the picture.

If the depression I just talked about was the lowest I have ever felt, this was probably the best.  After years of writing, the fourth book I had written was right there in print for anyone to read.  Even now, when I think about it, I can't help but smile.

I don't know why I didn't celebrate the release of any of my other books. In fact, I hadn't realized that I hadn't until I started writing this.  That is something that has to change.

8 years after this, we bought the Wine Rack... Everything should have been great, but by January the next year I tweeted:

By July, I had completely fallen off the cliff.  It's not like everything was all good before that.  All this had built up for years, and the collapse took years away from me.  

Stopping Everything Stops Everything

Leading up to this depression, I had stopped podcasting, because I didn't enjoy doing it by myself.  I stopped blogging because I couldn't see the point of it.  I stopped writing because the stories weren't perfect.  I stopped going out because it felt pointless.  I stopped everything then everything stopped.

I am not saying my depression was my fault.  Depression isn't something that can be blamed on its victim.  What I am saying is that the problems mounted one on another until I was buried so deep I couldn't breathe.  I didn't see it coming. I couldn't see it from the inside.

Now that I am on the other side, putting my life back together has been more of a challenge than I want it to be.  Not like life cares.  Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Starting One thing at a time.

To get my life back, I realize that I am going to have to start up one thing at a time.

For me that means I have to start with my first love, writing.

I love to tell stories.  I don't care if they are books, short stories, podcasts, or prose poems.  I just love to tell stories.  Even in my darkest moments, I tried to write, but I allowed the perfect to be the enemy of the good.  I wrote nothing because the stories weren't the greatest thing ever.  How stupid is that?!

My stories are my stories.  They are my heart.  Whether or not anyone likes them other than me, they are my stories.  I don't have to care what anyone else thinks about them.  All that matters is that I like them.

That is where I have to start.  You might have a different starting point, and you probably will, but each and every one of us has something in our lives that gives us a sense of purpose or meaning. I have to write something, anything every day until that connection comes back strong in my life.

Every day, leading up to my 40th birthday, I am going to find one thing to celebrate or reconnect to.  I hope you join me on my journey.  I am taking my life back, and I urge you to do the same.

Please share your journey with me.  Let's walk this road together.

It's time to break the chains (2016 Objectives)

I know you all are probably tired of hearing me say this, but the last couple years have been hard for me.  Depression is a thing.  As we start 2016, it is time for me to do something that I haven't done in a while, I need to set some objectives for the new year.

The break down I went through taught me a couple things.

  1. I am stronger than I thought I was (and so are we all).
  2. You all really do care about not only what we built here, but about me. (That helped me get through more than you know.)
  3. Fandom is what I am, not just something I do.

That third one might sound strange.  In my darkest moments, I found strength not only in my faith, but in Spock, the Doctor, and my love for all things Henson.  When I didn't feel like doing anything, I would listen to Rainbow Connection, and find the strength to keep going.  BTW, I have amassed quite a collection of covers of that song.  I think my favorite is by Amanda Palmer.  She also helped more than she will ever know.  I have never met her, and I probably never will, but her book The Art of Asking, and her music was a big help.

So, having said all that, I have some objectives for this year.

Objective 1. I want to Write more

That might sound overly simple.  I am a writer after all, but with everything that has been going on, I haven't been able to write nearly as much, as I wanted.  I tied myself down with planning, and did very little writing.  I am not going to keep it that vague.

Goal 1.1 I want to post 4 Short Stories a month to Medium

There are a lot of stories in me, and I just need to tell them.  I need to stop worrying if this story or that should be a novel, a serial, a novella, novelette, or a short story.  I should tell the stories that are in my head, and then listen to you all.  If you all want me to elaborate on or extend a story, then that is probably my next novel.  After all, what good is all my writing if no one wants to read it, right?

At any rate, I feel like that will be a good way to collaborate more closely with you all.  I like the idea, and we'll see how it works out.

Goal 1.2 I want to blog more, at least 5 times a week

This is a bit harder for me.  I am so tired of the nonsense hype cycle, and I don't want to be a part of it any more, but there are a lot of things I want to share with you all and discuss.  I am going to do my best to take the time to share those thoughts.  I have to stop keeping it all inside.

Objective 2.  I want to Podcast more

I love podcasting.  I really do.  So I want to set aside the time to do it more.  I even talked Brian into joining me on the podcast again. (insert appropriate happy dance emoji here).

Goal 2.1 Record 5 podcasts a week 22-45 minutes each

Project: Shadow lives again.  More themed episodes, but I will try to have a headline section for things that are actually interesting.  I am going to need your help with this.  I have a lot of things I want to talk about, but could always use your suggestions for show topics.


Two objectives that give me three goals.  It might not sound like a lot, but that should keep me busy in 2016.  I would really like to know what you think.  What are you doing this year?  Let me know in the comments.

The Big Friendly Giant and Seed of Creativity

Steven Spielberg is making a movie of The Big Friendly Giant. (squee)

The BFG was one of my favorite books when I was a kid.  It is hard to explain how much this book means to me. 

I grew fast.  I was almost always the tallest kid in my class.  When I read this book for the first time, I found two characters I could identify with, but so much more than that, I found a world that I wanted to spend more time in.  I pretended I was the giant, and acted out not only scenes from the book, but I invented new ones.

When I was in the third grade, I volunteered to write our class play, and of course, I based it on The BFG.  It was the first thing I ever wrote.  I even starred as the BFG, and I directed the play.  I even set up a foley artist (though I didn't know that word at the time) to do sound effects off stage.

This is one of those books that had such an effect on my life that I can say I would be who I am or doing what I do without it.

Igniting your child's imagination

Books like this one have a special power over our imaginations.  They are important for children, but in many ways, they are even more important for adults.

Somewhere along the way, many of us are taught to stop playing, stop using our imagination.  We are all lessened by this.  Imagination and play are tools to not only help us relax, but also to grapple with abstract concepts and work over problems in different ways.  Play is important.

I plan to see The BFG when it comes out, and I hope it awakens parts of me that went dormant long ago.  What reawakens your sense of childlike wonder and play?  If you can't think of something, what are you going to do to try to bring it back?

What's in a name? Are they sometimes sheer vanity?

Lately, I've been having a bit of an identity crisis. Not about who I am, but about what my name should be.  

Me on my 4th Birthday

I was born Charles Eric Dorsett. For much of my early life, I bounced between Charles and Eric. Eric was the obvious choice because Charles was the name of my father and Grandfather, so people calling me Eric in the family prevented confusion.  

In school, I switched back and forth, but in middle school I switched to Eric, and have stuck with that ever since.  

Over the last couple years though, a lot has changed. I have learned to accept myself, even finally admitting to myself that I am genderqueer. Maybe it's that, or maybe it is because I am closing in on 40, but I have started to feel like Eric is someone I used to know, and not the person I am now.  

Is this just vanity?

There is a part of me that feels like it is.  I have fought so hard all my life not to care what people call me that to find myself obsessing over whether people call me Eric or Charlie strikes me as vane.  It isn't though.

The only real power we have in this world is to decide how we want to present ourselves to the world.  I won't be offended if people call me either name.  This is something I need to do for me, regardless of whether or not anyone chooses to call me Charlie or not.  This is about the label I put on myself, and how I feel about that label.

How is Charlie different from ERic?

To the people who know me, there really isn't a difference.  I have grown and changed so much, especially over the last few years, that anyone I haven't seen for a while would notice a huge difference.

I am no longer as fearful and angry.  I have found some measure of peace in my life and comfort in my own skin.  I smile more.  My sense of humor is no longer based on making fun of myself.

More than anything, I am no longer the self-destructive person I used to me.  That, more than anything else, is probably why I have been thinking about this so much lately.

This is a metamorphoses more than a reinvention.

The changes I have gone through have been slow, but steady.  I am not deciding to change who I am, I am just naming a change that has already happened.

There is nothing wrong with reinvention.  I have had a few of those in my life, but this is something different.  This is just me naming myself more honestly.

Do you understand what I am going through?  Have you ever been through something similar?  Let me know it the comments.

We won our #dignity and #freedom as #LGBT in America

I am still in shock. My body is shaking, unsure whether I should laugh or cry, dance or scream. Maybe there is a way to do it all at the same time. 

Honestly, I never thought this day would come.  I remember how I felt the day my state banned my rights by constitutional amendment. It hurt, but I knew that my state and country default to hate and denial of dignity. We have never been good at respecting basic human rights.  

I want to feel like this is a victory, because it is, but I still don't feel like I am awake.  Reality has merged with my dreams in a way that I can't believe happened.

This feeling, smiling while on the verge of tears, is one of the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced.  Today, I am finally a full citizen in my country.

The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times,” Kennedy wrote in the 34-page opinion. “The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.
Supreme Court Affirms Constitutionality of Gay Marriage - US News

The tide of progress marches forward, and our understanding of liberty and oppression grow over time.  As science continues to offer us a better understanding of the world as it is, we see the foolishness of past generations in the clear light of wisdom.  All humans are equal.  All humans.

It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality … Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm. The imposition of this disability on gays and lesbians serves to disrespect and subordinate them. And the Equal Protection Clause, like the Due Process Clause, prohibits this unjustified infringement of the fundamental right to marry.
Justice Kennedy, “The Ideals Of Love,” And Other Key Quotes From The Huge Supreme Court Victory / Queerty

To read the court calling the discrimination I have lived with my entire life "unjustified infringement" is one of those moments beyond words.  I have been married to the person I love for almost two decades.  Married in the eyes of God, but not in the state I live in.  To be told that our relationship was a danger to the country hurt.  Now, we can start planning a wedding...

These words now cover my community too:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
— Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

It is hard to express my joy.  I am sure this post makes me sound like a rambling idiot, but I had to say something, and I had to say it now.  I am an equal citizen in my country.  After 37 years of second class citizenship, I am now equal. We are now equal.

Why I need a new working way to go and know

Imagine my surprise when I loaded my Thinkup and saw this insight.

@cedorsett said the word “need” more than any other on Twitter last month, followed by “new,” “working,” “Going,” and “know.”
My ThinkUp

If you follow my Twitter, you might not be surprised, but I was.

A lot has changed over the last year, and I am really not comfortable with the state of my life right now.  We bought a restaurant, and I thought that things wouldn't change all that much since Brian had been running it for several years.  Everything changed.

Not just in Brian's life, but in mine.  I am probably thinking about this a bit more than I should since today is our 18th Anniversary, and we spent most of the day dealing with the restaurant.  I am not bitter about, but it does show how much things have changed.

Days off have disappeared, and we spend most if not all of our time working on that business.  That is part of the price for owning a business, but part of it is a result of the breakdown of our culture.

I am not saying what you might think I am.

I am a writer deep down in my soul, and I believe that artists of every kind are the trustees of culture.  We present our images and words to the culture and the culture in turn reinterprets them and incorporates them.  Our images and words are important, and they have an effect on the state of the culture.

So, I find myself thinking a lot about where my work, as small of an impact as it may have, is either contributing to the problem or the solution.

The problem is that I am not sure how exactly to perform this self-evaluation.  I hope I am doing well, but this is one of those situations where my intentions are only a tiny fraction, the rest is up to my readers.

My Readers are the Greatest People I Know!

I am not just saying that because they give me money, but because I have met many of them, and they are kind, compassionate, and bright people.  That say far more about them than it does about me.

I feel like my job needs to be not only to write more, but to make space for them to meet each other so we can do so much more together.

need, new, working, going, know

When I saw that collection of words, it did something to me.  I would like to say that it focused me, but in reality, it made me wonder what it has to say about me.

I need- I need to confront the issues in my life the way I always have, through stories and images so I can dig into the deep issues before me.

New- I need something new.  I have become obsessed with new, and while I know that there are no new stories under the sun to tell, new is about excitement.  That is why I am so thrilled with the stories I am working on.  They are exciting to me, and I hope they will be exciting to you.

Working- Like many, if not most, of you, I am working all the time.  My mind never stops racing, except during meditation.  I have started reading more comics, and find places to recharge.

Going- I feel like I am going no where, but I am really am.  We all are.  The trick is learning to see it.

Know- I know who I am, and I know what I like and what I want to see in the world.  I have to make it a priority to bring them into reality.

Do those words resonate with you?  If not, what are your words?  Let's start a conversation and make change starting today.

A Look forward to 2015: There and Never Going Back

2014 was a crazy year, and I mean that literally.  I spent most of the last quarter in deep depression, and I am glad to say that I am doing a lot better now.

I started out the year working on a Zine, technically a micropub magazine (dashPunk).  I wish things would have gone that way.  I was really excited about the project, even though I knew it would have been a lot of work. 

On January 29, I brought Project: Shadow back and started working on changing the nature of my work.  I wish I would have stuck with it, but more about that in a minute.

I didn't go ahead with the Zine because I felt like it wasn't a good fit for what I was trying to do.  It cost so much to do something that should be a lot easier, and I wasn't willing to charge people enough money to make it profitable.  I didn't want to loose money on the project, so I abandoned it.

I should have seen what was coming before I did.  On July 14, I noted in my journal that certain things were starting to freak me out.  On September 22, the depression hit.  It held on like nothing I have ever experienced before.  It smothered me in its embrace until December 16. 

I learned a lot while living under those shadows, important things.  I learned who my real friends are, and just how many people included me in their life as someone who could be useful to them.  My friends weathered the storm with me.  I am grateful to them.

As you know, I like to give names to important parts of my life.  I think I will remember this period as The Pruning.  I learned what was really important to me, and I cut away everything else.

On my Social Media life and Business

I want to start looking back by looking at the numbers starting with those from ThinkUp.

Number of Posts

  • In 2014, @cedorsett posted a total of 829 tweets. At 15 seconds per tweet, that amounts to 3 hours and 27 minutes. @cedorsett's followers probably appreciated it (ThinkUp).
  • This year, I posted a grand total of 963 times on Facebook. If each status update and comment took about 15 seconds, that's over 4 hours dedicated to keeping in touch with friends (ThinkUp).

I feel like I haven't been social and open enough about what is going on and what I have been up to.  While it sounds like I spent a lot of time posting, that came in fits and spurts. 

  • My longest tweeting streak lasted for 26 days, from August 4th to August 29th (ThinkUp).
  • I posted at least one status update or comment to Facebook for 57 days in a row, from January 1st to February 26th (ThinkUp).

Words per Month on Twitter

Words per Month on Facebook

As you can see from the graph, I started out the year strong, and had a increase around Shore Leave, but the general trend line was down.

Part of that was my disillusionment with social media, and part of that was the depression that crept up on me throughout the year.  I need to be more open, and I am looking for ways to share more and to be more helpful to you all.  If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them.

  • I entered a grand total of 10,071 words into the Twitter data entry box, reaching peak wordage in January, with 2,650 words. If @cedorsett were writing a book, that would be about 37 pages (ThinkUp).
  • I tapped 17,031 words into Facebook's status update or comment box, topping out with 5,520 words in January. If Eric Dorsett were writing a book, that would be about 62 pages (ThinkUp).

The most interesting thing to me is that I talked more about writing on twitter and my books and books in general on Facebook.  I also talked more about movies on Twitter.

Moving forward

I need to go back to what I had originally intended to do.  I need to "think out loud" on the blogs and through my social posts.

On that front, I set up a Known site and I plan on making that my social hub, but I will repost from their to my other accounts.  I don't enjoy Facebook, and I really never have.  After 8 years on Twitter, I don't feel like I am getting out of it what I used to.  I am not leaving those services, but I feel like I need to build out a site has the social qualities I want it to have.  That is what I hope the Known site will become.

For now, I am the only one that can post there, anyone can comment and like.  Early on, I will invite others to post individually.  Hopefully, once it is up and running, I will open up the registration to everyone.  The reason is, when I first set up the site it was open, and it was flooded by spammers.  I locked it down, and am now looking for ways to fix that problem.

I want to get the podcast up and running again, but I need your help with that.  I need to know what you want to talk about, and how it can be of service to you.

This year will hopefully be a turning point in my life and my work.  I hope it is for you too.  I can't wait to see what we can do together.

Don't you know it's gonna be alright

A friend of my shared a story today about a Transgender Kid who left a suicide note on Tumblr asking for the world to change (read it here).

Stories like this trash my spirit. I only hope that we are moving forward in some ways...

What we need more than anything is a cultural revolution that reconnects us to compassion and hope and breaks the chains cynicism, nihilism, and isolationism have wrapped around our necks. Only when we learn to stand up will things change.

One moment, I need a musical break, sing a long if you know it, if not, it has the words.

For years, decades, centuries, people have tried to change the world, and as Joseph Campbell said:

When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.

Every time I quote that, my friends sigh, and tell me that I just don't get it.  We talk for a couple hours until we finally get back around the point.  We cannot change other people, we can only change ourselves.

This is one of the most troubling aspects of modern social movements, our solution is always to pass a law, change a law, or enforce a law.  If history has taught us anything, we have to see that law is only a minor part of the change we need.

Yes, anti-discrimination laws are important, and so are hate crime laws.  They won't accomplish anything if we don't take wise action to change ourselves in such a way that it encourages others to take on the same change.

All of this starts with compassion.  Compassion is simply living by the gold and silver rules:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
— The Golden Rule
Do not do unto other as you would not have them do unto you.
— The Silver Rule

When we act according to these simple rules of compassion that every culture on earth has come to over time, we start building the world that we want to see.  We only have control over our actions.  We have to take responsibility for our own actions.

How can we expect others to treat us with respect if we will not grant them the same courtesy?  How can we expect society to celebrate difference if we demand conformity?  The path forward it to demonstrate through our lives, our jobs, our entertainment, and our businesses that diversity and compassion make us stronger.  If we do not demonstrate the basic interconnectedness of all people, places, and things, we have no hope that others will see it.

In every encounter, be kind, be compassionate, and celebrate the differences between people.  Only through living a life that makes others envious of our joy, hope, and prosperity will others start looking for ways they can have the same thing.

Become a beacon for compassion.  Live compassion in all your words, thoughts, and deeds, and you will be the change that we need.  When others ask you why your life is so different, tell them, but make they want to ask.

One by one, we will realize that we are all interconnected, and that our actions effect everyone and everything.  Eventually, this will change the world.

Planning for National Novel Writing Month with Wattpad and Penflip

It might sound like a strange question, but it is something I think about a lot. Alright, I think about it too much. Since I am a writer it does matter, but there is a nagging doubt in the back of my mind that I might not be thinking it enough or in the right way. 

I look at tools like Wattpad and Penflip, and I start wondering how I should be telling stories. Part of me wants to start serializing my fiction, so I can get stories out quicker. 

I make analogies to TV.  The Wattpad release is like the show airing on TV or streaming, and the book is like the boxset.  The difference is that those studios make money off both the airing and the boxset.  It is hard to think about money, but I have to make a living.

So, I started a Patreon account.  I haven't given up on the idea, but the fact that my readers and listeners didn't move to support the project worried me, but I think it will take time and the right project to make it work.

The problem is, we are on the cusp of National Novel Writing Month, and I want to join in.  I love the challenge and the community, but I find myself wondering if I am just falling back into my old habits and working on a traditional novel.

I have an idea, and maybe it will work.  I am going to keep working on the outline for NaNoWriMo, and I will be the first to say that it is neither new or original, but I think this year, I will take part in NaNo, but unlike previous years, I will post each chapter as they are finished on Wattpad.  They will be raw and riddled with errors, but it would enable me to get some feedback quickly.

It would help get me into the habit.

I will post raw stories on Wattpad and run the beta group on Penflip.  I am excited about it.

The Difference between a Tailspin and Downward Spiral: A Personal Journey

I had a strange realization today.  I have been in a downward spiral since 1999...

The Year Trust Ended

In 1998, Brian and I went on pilgrimage.  We had a glorious trip, that filled me with so much hope for the future.  When we got back to Maryland, our house looked like it had been through a war.  There were holes in the walls and trash covered everything.

To make a long story short, my best friend and roommate stole my identity and my inheritance.  The family values judge didn't punish him because it would be a shame for his daughter to be deprived of a father. 

We moved to Emmitsburg.  Without a conviction, I was responsible for the debt he accrued in my name.  My faith in law and order was shattered.  Times got hard.

On numerous occasions, I came home to find dead animals on our doorstep.  I will never forget the tears I wept cleaning up their blood.  I would often come home to find our landlord in the house eating food out of our refrigerator.  I lost my sense of security.  Every time I heard a noise in the night, I was sure someone had come to kill me.

One day, the landlord kicked us out of the apartment for having a cat that he knew we had when we moved in.  We were broke, and over burdened with debt that wasn't ours and need a place to stay or we would be homeless.

We begged family for a place to stay, and reluctantly found a place with family that the we hoped would be place for us to get back on our feet.  We were wrong.  We were treated like failures, and they threw away half of my property.

At that point, I had lost everything but Brian.  I entered the one of the deepest depressions of my life.  Everyday was a struggle to get up and allow myself to live.  We knew we needed to start over.

Restarting Life

Brian got a transfer to California, and we packed what little we could into a car, a Ford Probe, and a car topper, and we headed west.  We had so much hope.

I loved California.  We moved there in 1999.  This was one of the happiest times of my life, and that happiness masked the damage I carried with me. 

It took me a long time start making friends.  I thought it was because of my age, or because I was new to area.  I know now that wasn't true.  I held the people I met at arms length, and never really let any of them know me.

This happy state could not last.  Events happened so fast.  Brian lost his job, the energy companies started gouging the state, and there was no work anywhere.  Then, Brian was in a car accident.  He was alright, but the car was totaled.  We felt we had no other choice but to move back east.  We rented the only moving van available and left the place that we loved.

I never dealt with any of wounds I collected in Maryland, and I added a new one.  I truly believed that everything I every loved would soon be taken away from me.  So in early 2004, we left California.

I couldn't stand up

My emotional wounds had taken a toll on my body.  When we stopped at my parents house, I was shocked how sick they were.  We decided to stop here.  I realize now that my desire to help them get back on their feet was a projection of my own need to get my own life back together.

I was shocked to learn that I had let myself go to the point it was almost impossible for me to stand up.  My back and my knees, which I damaged separately many years before, would not hold me up.  I had to build myself back up.

Seeing your own life as a myth

I had always told myself that the only thing that could ever make me move back to Poplar Bluff was to utterly fail at my life.  No wonder I felt I had to stop here.  I viewed myself as a failure, and in some ways I still do.

What I realized today was that I told myself I was over all that, but there is a difference between getting over something and letting go of it.

In everything I have done since the events of 1998, I never took time to deal with the wounds I collected.  Instead, I focused on overcoming the events.

I still have a hard time:

  • trusting myself.
  • trusting my judgement.
  • trusting others.
  • believing I deserve good things.
  • believing I have any talent.
  • believing I am good for anything.

After all, I trusted someone I shouldn't have.  It was my friend that set us down this path.  It was my lack of judgement that lead me to trust someone, who everyone told me I shouldn't.  If I am such a back judge of character, how can I trust others? 

I have always hated myself, and so I convinced myself that I deserved all the bad things that ever happened to me.  I caused them and brought them on myself.  Since I believe myself to be such a horrible person, how could I possibly believe that I am capable of doing anything good or great?

I thought I had worked through these things... and that is the problem, I worked through them, I didn't conquer them.

A tailspin or a downward spiral?

The difference between a tailspin and a downward spiral is control.  In a tailspin, the engine has stalled and you are falling toward an inevitable crash.  In a downward spiral, I am just going down, I can choose to go back up.

When this all started, we were in a tailspin.  Events were out of our control.  The tailspin is over.  It isn't easy to see that while in free fall, but we got the engine started again in California.  We landed here in Missouri.

I did not rise up because I thought I had.  Standing up is not the same as rising up.

Today, I rise

Today, I forgive all those who hurt me over the years, especially myself.  I let go of the past.  These are not just words.  I cannot hurt myself any more on account of things that happened so long ago.

Join me.  Let go.  Rise up.  Stand up for yourself.  Be who you want to be, not who people think you are.  This is hard work, but together, we can make it.  If you are struggling to rise up, contact me on social.  We can do anything we put our minds to.  We have proven it over and over again.

Thank you all for your support over the years.  I could not have made it through without you.  Now, let's rise up to the sun and prove our wings are not made of wax.

Good Reads feels like a place to be alone, so I started a new group

I have been a member of Good Reads for a long time, and I just can't seem to wrap my head around it. 

I cannot get into the groups.  I have tried, but the conversations are rarely interesting.  If you know a good group, please invite me.

I cannot get into the stream... The site feels disjointed.  I rate and review books I read, but it doesn't seem to be more than that. 

I want Good Reads to be a place I can go to talk about books.  Maybe I am using this site wrong.  I have looked through many tutorials, but none of them have helped me.

So, in hopes of making Good Reads work the way I want it to, I started a Project: Shadow Book Club.  I hope you join.  I will give this a year to take off, and I will post there even if I am just talking to myself.

I am reading Kaiju Rising, and made that the first book of the month.  It is a collection of short stories about giant monsters destroying cities, but it is so much more.  I have really been enjoying the book, and I look forward to discussing it with you.

I also set up a poll for to select the book of the month for October.  You can vote on the four books I added or suggest one of your own.

Lets get this book fandom doing what it should: discussion and sharing.

Play like a kid, no seriously, do it!

I spent the day playing with my characters like I did when I was a kid. 

IMG_0747.JPG

I love this, and I recommend everyone find something they used to love to do as a kid and DO IT!  Reconnecting with that childlike magic is worth the effort. 

For me, I used to carry around all these journals and just write in them. It was one of my favorite things to do. It got so bad that in high school, I carried a second book bag around with me that had all of my journals and stories in it.  

I forgot how freeing it is to just write and play with ideas without being critical of the words I was writing. I feel amazing.  

Join me. What did you used to love to do as a child, and what was it like to do it now as an adult? 


Awake to Dream, overcoming fear and money to do what you love

With a lot of effort, I have worked through my struggles with perfectionism.  The stories will be what they are. 

I have even gotten past the horrible idea that my work has to measure up to some illusory standard of originality.  My stories will be mine, and my influences will inevitably show through.

Moving forward has been a struggle.  I bet a lot of writers go through this dark time, but they label it writer's block.  Sometimes that is not the problem at all.

It isn't always Writer's Block

I called my problem writer's block for such a long time.  I thought it was an issue with my creativity or maybe my project flow.  None of this was true.

The real problem was that I had reached an Entrepreneurial Dilemma.  I had an idea for stories I wanted to tell, but I knew that I wanted to be able to make money off them, and that paralyzed me.

After years of not caring about my sales numbers, I started to focus on them to the exclusion of everything else.  The question of how to monetize my fiction took over, and caused me to forget why I wrote stories in the first place.

Community is more important than money!

Over the years, I learned that if I told stories that people cared about, my readers would take care of me.  How did I forget this?  I decided to expand my craft in a way that cost more money, so I set up a balance sheet.  I started asking myself how I was going to make back the investment...

It is amazing how stupid money can make us.  I am not saying that I shouldn't have asked the question, but I missed some of the other factors that should have mitigated my concerns.

I love making art.  It is fun.  If I would have compared the amount I was spending on supplies to how much I used to spend on games and movies, I would have seen the value of what I was doing.

A story that a writer doesn't care about will never move a person to the same degree as a story the writer loved and enjoyed.

As I expanded my job description from writer to entertainment designer, I forgot that my first job was to entertain myself first.  Do I have to make my money back?  Yes, but if I don't, I spent the money as part of my entertainment budget. 

Entertainment Design is a way of Life

I am not saying that Entertainment is not a business.  It is, but it has to be born out of the heart of the designers.  You have to love what you are doing if you ever want others to love it.

I am sure if I searched my old posts, I would find a place where I said that before, but there is a difference between saying something and doing it.

The stories I have written came from my heart, and the new ones will too.  They will find readers if they are worthy.  All I can do is my part.  Stress is the death of creativity.  I will enjoy the road forward, and I hope you will join me on the way.

A New Year Dawns

attachment-52cc753fe4b0fad58a9652b9

with your help, 2014 will be amazing!

I really want to thank everyone for making 2013 such a great year.  Thanks you your support, last year was our best year.  Please keep spreading the word, so much more is comming this year.

Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi, you are my only hope!

This year, I am bringing back Project: Shadow and the Zines!

Project: Shadow is the site that started it all.  A community site to share the things we love and working on.  Well, I relaunched just before the new year, and I invite you to join me as I rediscover all the things that I love, and I cannot wait to see what all you have to share.

The Zines will be a collection of serials that will come out every 2 weeks.  Hopefully, they will launch soon, but they will not come out without your help.  For those of you who want early access, join the beta reader's group and help me to get the stories ready for release.

This will be a big year.  I can't wait to see what new wonder 2014 holds for us.

Popular is not the same as good or successful

  image by  The Comic Fan

image by The Comic Fan

I am getting a little tired of people equating popularity with quality.  Firefly was not popular, and if we compare it to Star Wars or Star Trek, that would make it a total failure, but is it?

I bring this up because on 4 separate occasions today, someone tried to win an argument by telling me that the project in question made a lot of money or that it was popular.  If that is the standard we are measuring things by then:

  • Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith was 14.9 times better than Serenity
  • War of the Worlds was 9.2 times better than Serenity
  • King Kong was 8.5 times better than Serenity
  • Twilight was 7.6 times better than Serenity
  • The Twilight Saga: New Moon was 11.6 times better than Serenity
  • The Twilight Saga: Eclipse was 11.8 times better than Serenity
  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 was 11 times better than Serenity
  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 was 11.5 times better than Serenity

I am not ready to turn in my brown coat for a sparkling vampire...

Popular is Common

That is why a lot of fans are starting to complain about Doctor Who (I am not one of them).  The show's popularity has come from a hollowing of the characters and shallower plots.  That is how you appeal to a mass audience.

It is not a guarantee of popularity, but it is nearly a requirement.  The only way to appeal to a broad audience is to lower the work to lowest common denominator. 

There are exceptions to the rule. Frank Herbert's Dune is one of the best selling Science Fiction books of all time.  That is the result of a rabid fan-base and curiosity spurred on by the Movie and Miniseries, both of which were over simplifications of the book.  Why?  To garner as wide an audience as possible.

Music video by Marilyn Manson performing This Is The New Shit. (C) 2003 Nothing/Interscope Records

There is nothing like over engineered pop Shock Rock to make the point.

Quality matters.

As media is becoming more disintermediated, content creators like myself have to focus on character, setting, and story.  While I would never say my stuff is perfect, I have followed my interests, and not what I thought would make me the most money.

Postmodern life has lost its flavor.  The homogenized, plastic fantastic modern world was sheathed with a pasteurized mock-rebellious and faux-individualistic veneer.  Manufactured rage like the Duck Dynasty publicity stunt are the new normal.

People can relax now, they did something.  Placation is simple.  One well placed manufactured crisis and both sides vent, and get to feel like they won.  Theatrics.

I took that tangent to point out that even our news is poorly manufactured.

If there is any hope for our society regaining any credibility and flavor returning to life, we have to start caring about things again.

Care about what exactly?

Honesty and integrity.  I may not be a great writer, but my fiction is honest.  It is what I love.  It comes from my heart.  I am not alone.  There are others.  Emerian Rich and Matthew Wayne Selznick, just to name a couple.

If fans are unimportant, because what will make them happy will not appeal to a mainstream audience, then the math is backwards.

We cannot afford anymore to give up on the things we love.  I love Star Trek, and that love is not being reciprocated, so I am creating my own scifi series to fill the niche.

Passion drives us, not money, not popularity.  We have to stand up for ourselves, only then, together, can we bring the passion back.

The Return of Project: Shadow

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
— Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, Dune

Last year was rough for me.  It's not like any thing in particular happened, well, now that I think about it, that is not exactly true.

2013 has been a year of anxiety and fear for me, and only now, as I sit here writing this post  does it start to make sense.

My first memory of the year is the morning someone kicked the door into our house.  Nothing was stolen.  No one was hurt.  The dog barked, and scared them off.  I am not sure my anxiety levels ever return to normal after that.

So now on the cusp of 2014, I have decided to start new.  I'm going to reboot my life and career, and that starts with the return of Project: Shadow.

Some of my diehard readers will undoubtedly say, "Project: Shadow has never gone away."

If you are one of them, I would like to say, thank you for reading my  tumblr blog. While it is true I continued to post over there, we all have to admit it was a half assed blog.  I want to get back to blogging like I used to.

I miss the sharing and the community.  I need to refocus my mind away from fear and back towards the things I love.  After all, true love casts out fear.  I invite you on this journey with me.

I look forward to your questions and comments.  Together, we are Project: Shadow.