2015 – Some final thoughts then back to the grind

“And that was when things got a little crazy…”​

Well, kind of. Actually, my day-to-day life is as close to routine as it’s ever been, for better or for worse. But there were definitely a good deal of individual events that shook things up.

Just have to start with saying this was a way better year than 2013 and 2014. Not that it’d be too difficult since those years had a tendency to pinball between “rough” and ‘fucking godawful” with tolerable bits in between.  But still, this year was overall pretty solid.

So it started with an apocalyptic snowstorm that left me pretty much snowed in for days and crippled my home city, a rent payment issue on the side of the realty company that owned the building I lived in up until September and a really nasty stomach flu (I shit green for a week). So… yeah, like I said, it’s not hard to be better than 2013 and 2014.

But that was really almost all the bad stuff right up front. Aside from that, well, I did a ton of writing. That’s always good, although in December my productivity is way down because of the holidays. That’s pretty much normal, and I’m starting to ramp up production on stories again. In addition, my body is in the best condition of my life (or it was the week before Thanksgivng, heh!) since I’ve started to really get the hang of eating healthy and going to the gym regularly. RTX and UnCon were a blast as always, and they may well have been the best ones of each yet this year (I was fortunate enough to be able to tell at least some of the people who work on RTX that it was possibly my best vacation ever since moving). I also went to a fuckton of New England music shows, usually to see my own friends. During my time up here for the holidays I’m doing that as much as possible, including this very Saturday in Derry, NH.

Speaking of “while I’m up here,” on big life event that happened is that I moved to Austin, Texas. I decided it was time to have an adventure, and the fact that I wanted to be done with snow for a little while effected my decision. I will be living there until about next September and August.

Aaaand we’re getting to future goals, so why not go ham and list them all?

1. More writing. Duh. I plan on doing a full NaNoWriMo style production cycle in April in addition to next November. Because why the fuck not? As always, I’m going to try to get things published for money, but that’s going to take a lot of work, and a lot of luck.

2. Great American Road Trip. As of now the plan is to leave the Austin apartment in mid/late-August with two of my best friends and drive back to Boston in time to move in to somewhere on September 1st. Obviously this plan is in an extremely general, rudimentary phase so far.

3. Youtube! As some of you know I do a cooking show. Unfortunately I broke my camera shortly after I filmed Bacon-Wrapped Sriracha Chicken, That’s now fixed so I plan to film like a loon and set up an adsense account in case it takes off. Not that I expect it to, it’s mostly just an alternative creative outlet, but still.

4. Physical improvements. I plan on doing a two-week Buff Buddies post tonight, tomorrow or Friday to talk about those, but as cliched as it is to talk about this at New Year’s, I plan on taking the improvements I’ve made this last year and building on them. The short version, I finally fucked up over Christmas on both diet and training, and starting this week I’m back on the fitness wagon.

5. Blog more. Again, linked to the adsense (on the wordpress, not the RT journal but I’ll post everything but Buff Buddies or specific RT Community stuff on both) but I hope to do one a week of anything from short story samples to random thoughts. Let’s call it Sunday nights, think that works?

6. Curse more. It’s my natural way of speaking, dammit, and I plan to fucking embrace it.

As for just kind of general stuff, still single. It happens. I do have some funny stories about that but they work better in person or at least in my voice than in the written form. Also, probably the only bit of bad news that has hit me in recent months is I’m going back to freelance at work. That’ll… cause some issues of it’s own. I did manage to net a raise in doing it because sometimes making sure people ​aren’t​ taking you seriously can be as valuable as making sure they ​are.​ But I have no security, and I’ll probably try to score a part-time job for a buffer zone especially if none of my artistic goals take off financially just yet. Adding that to my list of things to do, I guess. 

Well, that’s bad news, but there’s also one bad possibility. PAX East is off the table in part because of my uncertain financial short-term future. It’s looking like UnCon may wind up joining it, but that’s still up in the air. I’m prepared for the worst, which is to completely miss it for the first time since it’s been called RvBTO (still it’s best-sounding name). 

That being said, the year is looking hopeful. I’m going to two New Years parties and a few more shows before I head back down to Texas, then I’m there for the long haul, possibly straight up until I move back up to Boston. And I look forward to testing myself, living on my own with no security and uncertain dreams. Because one way or another I can already tell I’m not coming back the same man I was when I moved down there, and it’s up to me to make sure a better man comes back than left. 

Happy New Year, and as I always say to people when I know they’ve got a job of work ahead of them, best of luck. To all of us.

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2015 – Some final thoughts then back to the grind

What I Owe to Star Wars

Since Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is right around the corner I think this is a good time to talk about the impact of Star Wars.

I tend to step back from sating things like “all,” or “everyone,” or “no one.” Always, never, those are dangerous words. Very little is 100% true, but I will say that most people who are nerds or geeks, most people who have chosen to take on a nerdy career path owe something to Star Wars. Even in the most indirect ways, but as time goes on the butterfly effect is so far-reaching that very little in geekdom is not touched by it somehow. How many sci fi writers can you think of that were not influenced by it, either conforming to the genre it codified or rebelling against it? How many people were molded by those works afterwards, the grandchildren of Star Wars?

My story is a little bit different. When I grew up, I played Nintendo. Stick with me, it’ll circle back. NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, I would buy those and never buy a rival system. Mario, and later Zelda, were my jams. Metroid Prime was my go-to SciFi. Insert joke about how pretty much that’s all Nintendo does that’s worthwhile here.

I had seen Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (When I was a very small child still simply called “Star Wars” by most people) and the other two actual Star Wars movies as a kid (the original trilogy is what I’m getting at), and I liked them a lot. They were fun even for my dumb kid self, and as a child I didn’t realize there was more levels to them than just cool space swordfights, didn’t realize the contrast between galactic scale and individual scale that made each plotline more powerful than it would be on its own, the symbolism, the myth-making, homages to movies I wouldn’t see and like until my late teens. I just saw awesome lasers and swordfights in space.

The prequels were coming out at the time of this story, Episode II had been out for a while, and while I didn’t think it was all the great I thought it was just simple, dumb swordfighting fun. Looking back, I can see how someone with an emotional investment in the series could see such a poor, mediocre action flick as a betrayal of a much better franchise, and in that way be worse than the sum of its parts. And they’d be right, I think, looking back with my ability to analyze things as an adult. But in 2003 a much better Star Wars iteration came out, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for PC and the original Xbox.

That game was friggen incredible. I would count down the days to the weekend so I could go to my best friend’s house and we would play it on his Xbox, getting repeatedly ruined by the Rancor in the Taris sewers. Watching the Sith glass an entire planet as populous as Earth or even more to kill one woman. A ship’s translator learning the ways of the Force and discovering, in the belly of the whale that was the Sith interdictor ship literally called the Leviathan ​that he was the most feared Sith Lord of his era, Darth Revan. Maybe because I didn’t know it going in like I did with the “classic” Star Wars twist in Empire, but that twist punched me so much harder than anything in any of the movies. More than Darth Vader being Luke’s father, more than Leia being his sister. To this day it ranks as one of my favorite plot twists ever. And because of that game I bought an xbox to play it myself.

And if I had not bought an xbox, I would not have ever bought The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. And would therefore never have become a writer. Or bought Halo and started watching Red vs. Blue. So in an indirect way I literally owe what my life is now to Star Wars. Never mind that Knights of the Old Republic II is, despite being woefully incomplete, even in its current state the best installment of Star Wars across all media by miles and has influenced my style and the morality of my characters enormously (seriously, if there’s any other material where a character very rationally claims that the Force, essentially a non-anthropomorphized view of an omnipotent and omniscient God, is an evil, terrible thing and isn’t really refuted by the story or shown to be a loon, please tell me because I want so much more of that). That’s a whole different post. 

And I know this isn’t the only story.where Star Wars, directly or indirectly, changed someone’s life forever. So for those reasons, and the ones with the whole “it has the power to fix so much of what we discovered is broken in the SFF community in 2014-2015” thing thanks to its casting choices, I really hope it’s more like the real movies and less like the prequels, a story that is grand and glorious in scope, stakes and consequence but able to shrink down to the level of why it is important that Han says “I know” and not feel schizophrenic in its delivery or tone or lessening the impact of the enormous events that happen around the main cast. 

Best of luck, Force Awakens. Please be what SFF need you to be. You really well may be our only hope. 

What I Owe to Star Wars