Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sequels, Though Feared, Are Sometimes Necessary

As anyone who follows my social media posts knows, it has been quite some time since I've done any serious writing. It's been almost four months, to be exact. In the career of a writer, that's an eternity, and long enough to make one feel out of practice and out of touch with one's own work.

I find myself, however, to be in a position where I am compelled to write again.

The problem I've faced, which has prevented me from writing for a further three weeks, is that I have no idea where to start. This is the first time in my entire writing career when I've looked at a blank screen and had no idea what to fill it with.

There have been ideas. I've had it in my head for years now to write a horror novel, but I can't make myself do it yet. Most recently, it came to me to try to write a novel set in the future involving spousal abuse, putting a dark reality into a fantastic world and creating unusual. I cannot make myself write that, either.

However, today I was overcome by an idea that I had at one time thought was the most stupid idea I had ever heard. It occurred to me that Warren and Aaron's story may not be finished. So much is yet to be explained and so many stories left to be told that perhaps Antioch is only the beginning.

Yes, I am talking about another Antioch. The dreaded sequel. The whole dreaded series, perhaps. Book after book of Warren and Aaron's relationship troubles. Obviously, though, we won't be picking up after the events of Antioch, but rather before them. The question is, how far before them?

Now before you kill me with a spike, I want you to consider this: Just about every idea I've come up with to try to avoid doing this could have been summed up as “Antioch in X,” where X represents some variable. Antioch in space, Antioch with female main characters, Antioch as a horror novel, etc.

It all leads in the direction that points toward another Antioch.

I sent texts to a few people that I knew had read Antioch and became invested in the characters, reaching out to them about the possibility of a sequel. I expected to be destroyed, maimed, perhaps even shunned for considering the idea so early in my career.

This was not the case.

So many people have read this book that it blows my mind. Yes, I wrote it hoping to get readers, but the response has been enormous and ongoing. The Antioch site continues to get steady traffic with no intervention from me. The post of Antioch on Authonomy continues to generate positive reviews by other authors with no inquiry to read their own novels, which is rare on that site. With no help from me, Antioch remains above the 2,000 rank in a sea of almost 10,000 unpublished novels on that site, having made it to 55 when I was an active user.

I am not bragging. I am thanking you. Everyone who read and supported my novel, and those who continue to read and support it. I am thanking you from the lonely wastes of depressionland. Your comments and your feedback mean something. I get through the day sometimes by reading all the comments and looking at the stats and knowing that something that I wrote meant something to so many people. I know it, and it the most surreal thing on earth to think that if I had just kept pushing, I may have made it further than I did, but to know how far I came. I had no idea that something that I wrote would get such a response.

Aaron Dunn is not so much a character, but a mirror by which I see myself. Broken, tired, sometimes unwilling to go on, I see myself in him and it hurts and it's freedom and it's indescribable to know that in parts of the world as far removed from my tiny universe as Germany and Russia, he's a mirror for others as well.

So yes, I will be writing another Antioch. I won't go into a lot of detail, but you can rest assured that it will not be called Antioch 2 or Antioch 2: Insert Secondary Title. I'd like to think that I'm more clever than that.

So to everyone who reached out to me, wanting to know how Aaron met Warren, how he became such a fucked up human being and what makes him keep going, I want to thank you and tell you that you are not alone.

I, too, want to know. Because in knowing these things, I will know myself.

Expect this to come to fruition within the month. It will be live, just like the original. I expect you all to be there, because this is what is supposed to happen.

After this, who knows? Maybe I'll write my short stories or another novel, or maybe I'll stop writing altogether if I'm feeling dramatic.

But for now, the story will continue, in some form.

Aaron's and my own.

Be there.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Guess How Many Fucks I Give?

After months of avoiding the internet (both because I did not have it at home anymore, and because I no longer felt a part of my own online presence), I have decided that I am ready to begin a small comeback as an online writer.

I have realized that I have more readers than I thought, and though I am not anywhere near an ideal understanding of the craft of writing, I believe that after all of the hard work that I've invested in learning it, I have something to give the world.

All of my detractors are not so because of my writing, but because of my unfortunate need to voice my opinion, which I also am almost never convinced is wrong. So far, I haven't often been wrong. That's another matter, though. I'll get into that in a minute.

I enter back into this agreement with three understandings in mind, regardless of whether or not anyone else sees fit to adhere to or agree with them.

  1. I am a writer. That is the only label I will use on purpose and at all times to describe myself professionally. I am not a gay writer, or a white writer, or a male writer. Those things are merely the coincidental and sometimes unfortunate circumstances under which I was born. Labels for the sake of labels have no place in writing in my opinion. If you are a good enough writer, no one cares about your gender, sex, gender preference, race, religion or any other label that we use to separate ourselves from one another in daily life. One leaves those things at the door when sitting down to write, or the writing becomes secondary to your personal identity, which no one cares about and no one picked up your book hoping to know.
  2. In the past years and especially the past months, I have become immune to the opinions of others. We would all do well to adopt this outlook, because more harm comes from what credit we give to the opinions of others than from anything we could do to ourselves. It affects what we do with our lives and how we live. I, for one, will no longer be taking advice about my string of bad life choices from someone who has made just as many bad choices just because he or she deems it necessary to voice an opinion I could just as easily find on the web if I cared enough to go looking for it. There are people in this life who are convinced that they are the center of some private revolving little universe, made up of you and everyone else in orbit around them. Avoid them.
  3. I am in a bad place. I may be here for a while. I am in a place where I realize every day that I could have been something by now. I think: Why try to do anything anymore? So know that if I post something, it's a big deal. It means that I was able to get online and function as a marketer for a little bit. That's something I once took for granted, and everyone at one time likely wished that I would stop doing.

That being said, however incoherent and uninteresting all of that may have been, I will follow it with more dry news.

I am writing a Christmas themed story for a contest.

Why am I supporting Christmas?

Because I can. So fuck off. Atheism does not outlaw recognition of holidays, merely the religious aspects of them.

And I want to write a Christmas story. So I will. And when I win, I will get money.

Then, I'm going to write some stories for Writer's Digest's contests. And when I win those, I will prove that I can live on writing. Barely, but it can be done. It may be a few years before I can actually accomplish it, but believe me when I tell you that it will happen.

I'm sure you're all rioting because this isn't funny.

Level of care: 0.

However, I do have some fucks to give. I always have fucks to give. This is me giving a fuck. You ought to shut the fuck up and let me give a fuck.

See? I actually gave you a total of 6 fucks, including this one.

Life is about what you decide to do with it.

I am choosing new paths, albeit in the dark and without much assistance aside from the parents kindly letting me live in their house for a bit.

But what does that say about people who still have light and choose to do nothing?

I envy those people.

They are so determined to identify as a victim that they see and refuse the exit.

It must be nice.

And no, the exit I'm talking about is not offing oneself. That's not so much an exit as a red button. No one actually knows what it does, but some people push it.

I'm not that far gone yet.

So if you want something funny, go read a Garfield strip.

I am not the funny faggot today.

I am officially depressed. I am intermittently unable to get myself to reply to text messages from friends. I haven't written anything in months.

Maybe you understand. Maybe you get it.

I wouldn't know.

I just have trouble giving a fuck.

I can do what I'm asked to do around the parents' house, I can make it through work, and I can somehow lose time in between.

The root cause of all of this likely has something to do with my sudden, self-induced uprooting. Likely, though, it has just as much to do with leaving a life that I knew as comfortable for the strange and faintly alien world of my childhood.

I suppose I'll feel better when I'm back in Muncie.

In the mean time, I've got school to attend to, and a reputation as an artist to uphold. Somehow, also, I've got to figure out who the fuck I am.

Most importantly, I have to decide how much of a fuck I actually give about everything.

That's all.