Like A Million Bucks, That Wonderful Feeling

This isn’t going to be a very long entry.

What’s coming up is going to be my last full week at the LDEEP Program and, while that’s true, I understand now that the real work is about to truly begin.

I have plans. I always have plans. A good part of those plans is to take what I am good at doing, and what I enjoy, and actually begin the process of making a living from it. And I know what I’m good at doing. I am a good creative consultant when it comes to ideas for stories and editing them. I can tutor adults in subjects in and around the humanities. I can even create writing commissions on subjects in which I am familiar. And I can create content. I am even in the process of making focused and collaborative content. I already have a name for what I want to do. I just need to build on its body of sorts.

And, as such and if all goes well, I might have help.

In fact, I already do. I just want to say that before this week begins I had some excellent tidings happen last Friday. As you know, I am working on story and content for a video game with a group of my friends. Last Friday was the first time I’d ever gotten paid for something I had directly written, or aided in writing.

Admittedly by my friend and the leader and founder of our group it isn’t much, and I will continue to need assistance for a while, but it’s amazing how sixty dollars can feel like a million bucks when someone thinks of your work enough to pay you as the professional that you are: to give you money for something you are good at, and enjoy, doing.

Somehow I feel like I’ve made more progress in collaborating on this project than in a great many other things I’ve done this past while. It is definitely a good start and I don’t intend to have it end here. And it won’t. We believe in what we are creating and I already have some good ideas to expand on to make our game leave a distinctive mark. I can’t wait for the day where I can tell you more about that: and so many other things besides.

Until another time soon, my friends. You will be hearing from me and thank you for all of your continued support. It is greatly appreciated.

High School

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I’m Doing It: Towards the Final Week

And now: for Too Much Information Time. If you do not want Too Much Information Time, please stop reading this post. As I’ve said before, there are a plenty of good and viable articles and writings of mine that you can read instead. But if you do go on, know that these are challenges that I am dealing with and, at the very least, there is some positive problem-solving involved. That said, reader’s discretion — as always — is advised. 

I’ve never really been good with time. Not too long ago, I said that it’s an inescapable fact that projects are monsters that can get away from you but really, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves here, it’s time that’s the greatest monster of them all.

Usually, I’ve been able to update my Blog on Mondays and be able to focus on other things throughout the week. But last week, and a good portion of this one have been … something else I have to say. It’s true that I haven’t really kept you up to date about my fourth and, now practically, the fifth weeks of my time in LDEEP: an Ontario government-sponsored program that helps people with learning disabilities find meaningful employment.

One reason I’d been stuck on saying anything is because I reached a … curve, as it were. A lot of the syllabus that we follow is generic government-mandated material: mainly filling out questionnaires to determine our technical and intellectual skills, resume building, possible interview scenarios, and even cold-calling. We also had sessions on computers to look for jobs.

In the beginning, I could understand the questionnaires: as it would help the workers know us a bit more and eventually aid them in getting us the right placements. But after a while, I started feel a bit … restless. It probably doesn’t help that before I get a ride to the centre, I have to use the washroom three or four times before getting paranoid about being stuck in traffic for far too long. Irritable bowel is manageable when you are not facing a lot of stress. I don’t dare eat anything before I leave for that similar reason: even though it doesn’t seem to make much difference and, in fact, it might actually improve my condition.

I don’t mention this a lot, but especially before I even came to LDEEP I developed this feeling that anything outside my immediate vicinity is ultimately unsafe and I have to be on guard all the time. I can’t relax. I need to know where the facilities are and I need to have the freedom to move around and have access to them. If you have seen Toronto, this is easier said than done in a commuter city where public restrooms are few and far between.

It was … bad the first two weeks of the program as my body was adjusting to waking up earlier again and figuring out what the hell was going on. Actually, it feels like hell: a hell of discomfort and anger I have to work through and I am relieved to get around when I finally get to the centre thanks to my dad. But in the beginning I was all right because I insisted on doing work when I got there, despite some of my experiences before that, and I left — with the work there — and with a sense of accomplishment. I did what I needed to do despite my body and the panic attacks. I put them in their place.

By the end of the three week of the program and through the middle of the fifth, I started to have other doubts. One key issue, when you are dealing with learning disabled or gifted students, is that you can never make an educational program that is one size fits all. It’s just not possible. It’s even less possible when you have a results-driven mandate that you need to keep up in order to keep going.

I’m not going to lie. There have been a lot of interesting elements of the program that I’ve filed away out of curiosity’s sake, but I’ve felt that a lot of it just doesn’t apply to me. The fact is, I know what I want. I am a writer. I knew I would need to do some tasks for LDEEP, but I thought that we could take what I was good at, focus on what I was missing or what needed improvement, and have some more one-on-one sessions to get me there: complete with more networking to make employment for me possible.

I’ve said before that I also had to get used to interacting with a group again, and that hasn’t been so bad. I’ve made some really nice connections and the people there — including the workers — are good people just trying to find their way and help each other out. Some of us have gone through a lot. When you get beaten down so many times, you can begin to internalize it. But everyone in my program wants to get past that and get the employment they deserve.

But there have been times, particularly when left to our own devices on assignments I didn’t really understand or felt applied to me that I got frustrated. I will admit that there were a few times I was even tempted to leave.

I’m used to having things a certain way. I’m used to being able to eat breakfast at home and deal with my functions before interacting with people. Especially due to my past as a Master’s student, I’ve gotten used to being independent, leaving at my own pace, and learning the things that interest me. And I am a published writer. I have not forgotten any of this. Sometimes I’ve honestly felt like in pursuing this, I’d taken one step forward and three steps back in terms of my own independence: getting a ride to the centre, needing to get a lunch before hand instead of finding something on the way, and even dealing with different kinds of people and situations.

It also doesn’t help when I have to fight a burning feeling in my gut and not feeling safe until I’m out of traffic and near facilities — kind of like how you’d feel if you were playing a video game and Save Points were few and far between on your journey — just to do something that I don’t always feel applies to me, or get left doing something that Ontario Works had me do without much in the way of success.

I know what I want and what I need. And I did ask myself: “Why am I here? Why am I putting myself through all of this? What am I hoping to achieve?”

On Wednesday, the leader of our program called me into his office. Somehow, I knew he would, and not for any terrible reason.  We get along very well and I enjoy talking with him. But he does get busy. LDEEP itself is very busy and he and the other workers attempt to help as many of us as they can.

We had a long talk that can be summarized like this: he has to find me a job and it has been difficult. But I threw out a few ideas and he is going to help me out with them. One of them is a business plan: which will have roots with some of the things I’d been attempting to do for the past three years. It also helps now that, because of LDEEP, I know what my potential net worth — my salary — actually should be. I’m going to be consulting and editing someone else’s work and using the above, along with some of the program leader’s input, as potential templates.

There is also something else I could do in addition to this that might get some pressure off my back and advance my connections and knowledge further. I know that I am going to have to do some hard work no matter what I choose, but at the very least I can choose what work that will be.

And that’s what it is about for me. Personal agency. The fact is — another fact is — I’ve realized how far I have come. LDEEP’s nine to three schedule makes me keep daylight hours and I actually feel a lot better than I have in years aside from the morning departures. My headaches are more manageable when they happen and I actually go to sleep at midnight now.

It has also gotten to the point where, when I come in to the centre, I socialize and work with my peers and this, along with some directed activities, actually makes me feel better as I can focus on a task at hand: or, really, enjoy a conversation. We are all different in this program, and there is a lot we’ve learned about each other.

I also know what I am going to do now. I’ve realized that I can go to the workers and tell them about my concerns: that I don’t have to do all of this on my own. They are there to help us and I need to remember to do that. I might need some time in the morning and that shouldn’t be an issue. I might need clarification about a task.

And, even better, they might have some suggestions for me. Next week will be our final session. We will have assignments to do, but I have my own assignment now that I can begin to focus on starting Monday. I also feel a growing sense of relief. After next week, I can finally pace my own time again. I will still be going to the centre and interacting with the workers and my peers, but I won’t have to be there as stringently as before. I know my stressors and I can pace myself accordingly.

And look at how far I’ve gotten from where I was. On my Facebook today, I wrote something for my status. I said that I’m starting to feel like my life has just begun.

image

So, if you have read this far, here is your reward. As you’ve seen from the article image, I got my copy of Doctors in Hell: an appropriate title when all things are considered. So here is an excerpt below, just for you. I just got the hard copy today.

image

Perhaps, when you get right down to it, it’s not so much that I’m trying to get my life back. Rather, I’m beginning to realize that I have the potential to make a whole new life entirely. And that, my friends, is a very important feeling. I think I will leave you with that for now. Until next time soon.

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After Week Three: A Book and an Interview

Hell Prescription Form

A late, but timely prescription. There seems to be a case of DOCTORS IN HELL going around. You can prepare for the upcoming epidemic: now through both Kindle and Book. If you would like to warn people of what is to come, I hope that you will consider sharing this prescription and perhaps even investing into some reviews of your own.

And here is another infernal prescription for you: namely an interview of mine with Jennifer Loiske regarding my own strain of story in Doctors. Apparently in this case, I am the first of the fallen: namely the first Hellion to be featured on her site about our book. Bill Snider (ZombieZak) is right after me and while we are the first, we will definitely not be the last. Seriously, I hope — somehow, as I should have left that outside the gates by virtue and vice of what I have done — that you will check out the works of myself and my fellow Hellions.

My pandering to my readership aside, I think this is going to be a very short post. I’ve vastly overestimated my energies. The first week of my LDEEP program was a major adjustment, but even through the exhaustion at home I would still be able to write and engage more online. But now after the third week of the program, I find I’m more tired than before and it takes actual energy to write anything — or indeed do anything — after an early day and night. I’m honestly just hoping I won’t pass out at my computer again like I’ve, admittedly, been doing from time to time.

I am finding that I really need to pace myself. If I have time to myself for a bit in the morning and I can leave at my own speed, I am generally fine. It’s not an exact science and sometimes I feel like I have traded issues with my headaches for my stomach: though the stress management is universal. Deep breathing really helps: along with, again, having my own space. But either way, it is an ongoing experiment.

I do know, however, what I want. I want to do what I am doing now. I want to write the way I do, and get paid for it. That’s it. That should be one of my focuses. For now, though, I’m going to take a step back and enjoy what I’ve actually achieved so far, and see where I go from here.

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From A Lunatic Hero to A Beloved Demon: Farewell Anthony

While I’m writing this, I’m wearing my Lunatic Heroes T-Shirt: a green one.

In 2013, I was lost. I’d been writing in my Mythic Bios for a while to keep my mind off of the pain of a past of perceived independence that had slowly receded away from me and a terrifyingly uncertain future of continued unemployment. But I kept writing in here. I kept reviewing stories and games in the way that I knew how to get noticed. To be seen. For everything that happened to me and that I did to have meant at least … something.

I found out about Anthony the same time as many other people did: through Amanda Palmer’s Blog. She told us about him, his importance, their relationship, and the sickness that he was in the process of battling. She told us that she convinced Anthony to write down some of his most poignant stories. Between her, Neil Gaiman, Nivi Nagiel of 3 Swallys Press, and many others he managed to get his first book published: Lunatic Heroes.

Like I said, I wanted to be seen. But it was more than that. I read and heard an excerpt from Lunatic Heroes: “Bullfrog.” And that was when I knew I needed to read his work. I needed to say something about it. It tapped into that space where I wanted to go: into that place of personal writing. And I read it. I read it and I took my method, my need to go back and look at the source of things, and write a review about it. And after I did that I looked at the quotes that I related to the most and I found that while we had many differences, Anthony and I also had similarities.

So I wrote about the Lunatic Heroes we were. And something happened.

Anthony noticed my writing.

Actually, that is an understatement. After we talked on Twitter and eventually Facebook, Anthony and Nivi added a quote from my review to his Endorsements page: within the same space as Amanda Palmer’s words. Then he actually requested that I write a review of his next book Beloved Demons. It was not without some irritation, of course. I did give his first book four out of five stars and I said I wanted to see more from him: that I knew he could do even better.

They gave me the T-Shirt I’m wearing for my work.

So I had to put my money where my mouth was, especially after he threatened to come to Canada to “hang a rat” (please read his books if you want the context to that particular phrase). It took … a lot more time to review Beloved Demons. While I go into a lot more detail about the circumstances around it in my review, there was a terrible ice storm in December 2013: so much so there was a blackout that essentially eliminated most traffic lights and electronics. I felt alone in this great, icy darkness that had once been my parents’ house and my virtual hermitage.

During this time, somehow the postal worker came and delivered Beloved Demons. I had to wait for my power to come back and actually focus on writing something on this work of Anthony’s. I felt intimated. I had to make sure it was good. I had to make sure it was right. And when I did finish it, from the appropriate place of darkness and ice and fear of mortality, Anthony and Nivi took the time to edit the post and link to it on Anthony’s Endorsement page.

Suffice to say, it got five stars.

Basically, if you go on there, you will see that Anthony placed my reviews about his books among the ranks of such people as Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman. He didn’t have to. I would have been content just to have my reviews on his books retweeted or hyperlinked. To place my opinion, even in the context of reviewing his works, in the company of Neil and Amanda really … it really meant a lot to me.

No, it still means a lot to me. It told me what I had to say was worth writing: that what I am doing is worth a damn. For me, in my admittedly biased way, it told me a lot about the person that he was and will always be: at least to me.

Anthony and I exchanged emails and witticisms on Twitter. I showed him some of my stories and he gave me nothing but encouragement. I sent him a copy of Poets In Hell: the volume containing my first print published short story. I introduced his work to my psychotherapist. Anthony even made a crack about me getting my budgie drunk after seeing a FB picture of him wearing one of his bell toys as a hat. I listened to his other short story sketches. I met Neil and then, when I met Amanda I asked her to say hello to him from me if she go the chance. And, when I reviewed Neil’s Ocean at the End of the Lane and Amanda’s The Art of Asking I made a point of illustrating just how the three of them influenced each other, and were influenced by one another.

I am so glad I got to show Anthony my reviews of his work and my other articles showcasing the literary effects he had on two of his best friends: both of whom have also influenced my own creative expression.

I’m sad that he’s gone. Anthony always seemed like he was fighting: that the cancer was just the latest manifestation of an enemy he had been in combat with his entire life. But, in the end, he won. He won in a lot of the ways we will hopefully be allowed to win. It might be somewhat trite, but there is immortality in being remembered by your words and the people that love and care for you. Not everyone gets this, but I am glad that C. Anthony Martignetti — my friend — got to be one of those people. I’d like to believe that he crossed that line: from lunatic hero to beloved demon. In doing so, he made and became his sign on a living door to the real stories: the true ones.

My only regret is that we never ended up talking on the phone, or meeting up to have some owl sandwiches.

Owl Sandwhich

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Week Two, Hell, Awareness, And Readjustment

The title is not what it seems especially when you take into account the graphic that you’re, no doubt, seeing at this time. It’s funny: I could have written this post up earlier in the weekend but one thing I’ve noticed in having a set schedule in the morning now is how much more tired I am when I finally get home, or finally get to the weekend.

There are a lot of things I wanted to do this weekend: like work on my “Serpent and The Fox” or more background material for the game I’m collaborating on: especially the latter after my sessions at LDEEP.

It’s still taking a while for my body to adjust to being up and functioning again at daylight hours: especially during what is now pretty much the summer time. It feels weird. It’s hard to explain really. Sometimes I feel the stress taking over my body and it seems to react on its own. Having IBS also doesn’t help matters and, to be honest, I could really do without it. It can make travel … interesting: especially in traffic.

At the same time, though, it’s not an exaggeration to say that my head has been light and airy. For a few years now I’ve generally only gone outside later in the day and in limited bursts. My interactions with other people were cursory or perfunctionary at best. Sometimes, even now, I need some space and I find that I need to move around in order to feel comfortable in my body in another space as well. I’ve always had that last element in the form of fidgeting: and it manifests through needing to express excitement and channel nervous energy. But I have also been taking it in stride and working through my body to get my tasks finished. I mean, if I have to deal with matters I might as well get as much from doing so as possible. That is my philosophy now.

Right now I have something of a functional resume and cover letter that I plan to use as a foundation to network and from which to create other elements. Chances are, again, I will be looking for collaborations and contract work, but I wouldn’t rule out using these resources from which I would create my own job. It wouldn’t be the first time.

One other nice thing about LDEEP is the fact that a lot of the work we do stays at the centre. This allows me to come home, rest, and even do some of my own creative work. It isn’t always in my face and it has its own place where I can engage it with help. So that structure does help a lot. And I am dealing: still trying to find a balance of work, rest, and eating as I finished the second week of my program.

Also my flip-phone, which was nearly a decade old, dislocated its head and I had to get a new phone. Last week I wrote a GeekPr0n article on the Netflix series Sense8: which might as well be an extended metaphor for wireless, online and long-distance relationships. My new phone is, by necessity of my career plans and current work, linked to the Internet and while the process of getting and programming it — and sometimes unlocking the damned thing — has been stressful, I feel a lot more connected to some of the people I know. It makes things a little better for me and sometimes that’s all you can ask. That said, I’m also getting to know people in my course and even though we are different, it is still nice to get to interact with other people face-to-face.

And now, for the Hell element of this post. It’s not living in daylight again, or going out more, or doing a ton of work, or even readjusting my body. Rather, it is more information about my upcoming published story. Allow me to reintroduce you to DOCTORS IN HELL.

Doctors In Hell Advertisement

It is a beautiful advertisement and I just thought I’d share it with all of you: to show you I am there and that this is happening again. It’s also nice to see my name, with my fellow Hellions, all front and centre. A lot of last week was me filling out an interview and biographies and other minutiae after my days at LDEEP. Each interaction left me with a sense of accomplishment.

My story in Heroes in Hell Volume 18: Doctors in Hell, “Let Us Kill The Spirit of Gravity” continues just after Nietzsche runs into Lilith for the first time. It can be read on its own, but “When You Gaze Into An Abyss” from Poets in Hell is also a nice read, in my relatively biased opinion, before you start this one.

And you can order it on Kindle today. :)

In this sense everything here is not so much that a road to hell paved with good intentions, but rather that an idle mind (read an ever-busy mind) is the devil’s workshop. And I am going to keep working in it, and at it. I promise.

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One Week, Doctors In Hell, The Serpent And The Fox, and The Se’reti Empire

Here is my update for this week. I got through the first week of LDEEP. Right now I am still in the place where I’m trying to figure out where to go from here. The major challenges for me are waking up early and the differences it’s had on my bio-rhythms.

But I think what has really gotten to me is the fact that I’m adjusting to being in something of a classroom setting again and being around people in the morning. I’m lucky in that the people I’m working with, my peers in the program, are very nice and we are trying to figure out similar issues together. Our instructor and advocate is doing a good job relating the government-mandated material to us and giving us extra information and personal anecdotes that can come in handy later down the road.

Yet this last week, it was difficult for me. I had to remind myself that it was okay for me to get up from my chair around the table if I needed to do so. Usually I spend time on my own on my bed with my laptop and I’m generally not around people. Another issue is that our work space is somewhat out of the way for me to get to so I need to rely on my Dad or public transportation to get there and it: causes me some stress.

It’s strange. I’m still hoping that I will get some contract work and flexible hours so I won’t have to wake up so early after my time in the program is done, but after my body was really adjusting to this new schedule last week I also realized I somewhat miss being around people and, when I have the energy to not be so introverted, socializing and helping others can be nice. Just as a part of me would be relieved to have time to myself again as I had before, another part is terrified at losing a sense of structure and getting bogged down in the fog of war in my head again.

I’m also not sure if a job can be found for me: one that can pay reasonably and that I’d actually like. One thing you learn as a learning disabled person is that sometimes you need to find a different criteria for yourself and make your own way. If you have an excellent helper, then they will work with you. Very soon, I will be working with our instructor for one hour to determine what it is I can do and what I want to do. I mean, I want to be a writer. That is not going to change. And I have some ideas. I think what I will do is I will write them down when I get the chance and we can see where to go from there.

So aside from the fact that I act on negative modifiers, especially for motor skills in the morning, I feel like … something is happening. We will just have to see. However, I do have more news.

I am getting published again in Janet Morris’ shared Heroes in Hell universe Doctors in Hell. In my story “Let Us Kill The Spirit of Gravity” we get to meet a fallen angel and the Earth Beast of the Apocalypse. But the most important element will be how Friedrich Nietzsche and Lilith, the First Woman, actually come into an accord that they hope will get them out of hell. I mean, good luck on that you guys. You are going to need it. The book isn’t out yet, but I will let you know when it is. In the meantime, here is a link to the book as a Kindle on Amazon.

Doctors In Hell

I also mentioned that I am working on a game with some friends. But what I haven’t yet is that I’m working with Angela O’Hara on some projects as well: including my Twine “The Serpent and The Fox.” Angela is an excellent illustrator and artist and it is my hope that we can make my story of interlinked haikus have some appropriate and beautiful illustrations to go along with it. I really want to get to work on that Twine, but I am also learning that with something like a “day job” like LDEEP, I have to pace myself accordingly.

However, I have another excellent bit of news for you. A few days ago, I got my copy of Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond.  It is a table-top RPG based off of the world of Myst and its Ages. Scott L. Hamilton, C. Eleri Hamilton and their team did an excellent job creating this book and I look forward to reading it and hoping others will play in the sandbox that Cyan Inc. has authorized for them. But I … actually wrote a sample Age in this book. You can find it on page 196. It is called “The Ser’eti Empire.”

Unwritten

It’s funny … I actually created the Ser’eti in 2000, when I was nineteen years old. I always wanted to write an Age for Myst and learn D’Ni Writing. Years later I got to be a part of the Guild of Writers for this project and now I got credited again in print. It kind of feels like I’ve gone full circle in a lot of ways. And it was totally worth it. I also love the illustration that Miguel Santos did for my Age. Thank you Miguel, wherever you are.

So there you go. I am still getting out there and I am working relatively hard. The funny thing is, being out from nine to three five days a week has gotten me tired but I still have energy to write things when I get home. I don’t know how that happened or if it will continue to do so, but I like that aspect of this part of my life so far: and this positive and creative energy that will hopefully not lag too much into exhaustion and nerves.

All I can add is this: thanks for continuing to read and let’s see what’s going to happen next.

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Changes and Collaborations

So last week was my Orientation Day for LDEEP: the government assistance program that will help me find some work appropriate to my skills. Starting tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be attending workshops from nine in the morning until the late afternoon.

Am I nervous? Yes. It’s been a while since I have had my time structured in this manner. To be honest, I would have preferred to keep more flexible hours. I am definitely not a morning person and, while it’s occasionally a lark to be up in the morning, I am much more of a night-owl. I do a lot of my thinking and writing at night.

I am used to keeping my own hours and, hopefully, I will be able to do so again with perhaps the added benefit of having excuses to go outside, socialize, and get a job that is appropriate for me. This is definitely going to take some getting used to with regards to my routine and I hope I will be able to ask the right questions and take note of advantages when I can.

Things are changing. But they are not all stressful: or at least not stressful in a bad way. I am getting another story published soon — which I will keep you posted on as I get more details — and I am actually working on another creative collaboration. This time I am working with some friends of mine on a video game. Again, I can’t go into too many details as we are still conceptualizing a lot of the world and its minutiae, but I am really excited about it.

Perhaps more than the potential of getting some pay of my part in the collaboration, I get to work with some people whom I’ve known since high school. I will be honest with you: I’ve looked forward to working with these friends of mine for years on a project that could go public or, indeed, any game project at all. We are all talented in our own ways and I know I will do my best to flesh out what we have.

When I am working with them, working on material for the game, I actually feel enthusiasm and a sense of purpose that I don’t get often. For a while now I’ve been working on critical articles or within the sandboxes of other established worlds. This time I am helping to make a world and its background. It’s that feeling of this is what we should be doing. This is what I should be doing. It is my hope that we will continue working on this project and that we will have something awesome to show the world: or at the very least to ourselves and our other friends.

And there are other things I am planning to do besides.

That is pretty much my most recent update. I’m not sure where I am going with all of this. We are just going to have to see. I hope that some of you will join me in the journey.

High School

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