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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It’s Almost Time Now

Sometimes you have this dream. You have a dream, or a memory of a good moment in your life. And you run with it. At some of the worst, or most challenging points in your life you let it fuel you. You let it keep you going.

You keep telling yourself that one day if you work hard enough, if you’re honest enough, if you’re brave enough, or if you maintain that dream in your heart that you will attain it. After preserving or holding onto that memory you will find the means to bring it back to life.

But more often than not what really happens is that you hold an ideal in stasis. It never changes, even as you continue to do so by virtue of being made up of flesh and imperfect recollection. Sometimes it rots and becomes a heavy weight inside you that keeps you from moving on.

Somewhere along the line I realized that this one vision of what I wanted just wasn’t going to happen. It simply isn’t possible: at least not in the way that I held onto. A little while ago, I gave up on a Twine novel idea of mine. It was going to be the first Twine creation I ever made and it was going to draw from my life in a heavily abstract but emotionally poignant manner. There were some interesting ideas in that work, and at some point I may rework them into something a lot less long-winded and laboured: something smaller, sleek, and to the point. There is another work I want to continue as well and, perhaps, it may be more doable.

But here I am at the crossroads, or the threshold where I knew I was getting to for a very long time now. The truth is, once I realized that dream was over, I’m wondering what my next one is going to be. Perhaps parts of the old can be integrated into the new. I do know that I want to make new articles and stories. I want to be writing.

And I want to be paid for my writing. Some of you have been reading about how I Have A Disability, and how I am also dealing with Depression. It sucks to be virtually unemployed for about three years, and practically house-bound for a good portion of it: remembering the good old days even if they didn’t actually exist. I will always be dealing with those struggles. That’s just how it’s going to be.

By the time this Blog entry gets posted, I am going to my first orientation at the LDEEP. It is a program that helps people with learning disabilities find employment and perhaps begin to shape their career paths. I’m not going to lie to you: a part of me is afraid. My routine is going to be different very soon. I most likely won’t be able to keep the hours that I have, and my time may well be used differently. I’ve been in something of a twilight world for so many years now that sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to do, or how this is going to work out.

I’m also, through a legal clinic, attempting to get ODSP and get — unironically — the Social Justice Tribunal to reconsider my status: to get me the aid that I need. My hearing is next year. We will see if the clinic will take me on as a client and all I can do is deal with bureaucracy with bureaucracy and hope for the best.

I’m lucky that I had the resources to find this help and that I also have access to psychological counselling: which may give me some more resources in dealing with my anxiety. I’ve realized that I’ve had anxiety and panic attacks my entire life: I just didn’t name them until now. And now that I know them for what they are, I can make strategies in dealing with them.

But what it comes down to, for me, is the fact that I know I can’t go back. I can’t look back. I need to be at the point where I can finally move on and begin that process of actually living my life. So this is my Blog entry to start off this scary but exciting week.

There’s this thing about archetypes. They might be a constant or an essential idea, but they are never in the same form twice. Not really. The myth is the same in essence but different in form and execution. It’s adaptation. I’m terrified of not feeling comfortable or lost in memories anymore. Maybe that is a good thing.

Maybe it’s an old idea waiting to be reborn again.

Looking Outward

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This Is Not Five Nights At Freddy’s

You find yourself in an enclosed space.

It is a small room: filled with dust and the relics of past happiness. There are a series of windows in front of you. You keep toggling through them. You are hoping that you will find — or not find — what you’re looking for.

Before they find you.

It’s already a concession that you are in the room, but you tolerate it. The hoops you have to jump through for the small amount of money you earn rivals that of the things that you watch watching you.

Your ears perk up as you wonder if you heard a noise. Your stomach clenches as you think you see something from the corner of your eye. But you are just seeing things, hearing things, letting the darkness and the uncertainty in the shadowy corners of your vision get to you.

But you know better.

Every sane part of you wants to get up out of this sunken seat that smells like sweat and mould and ass. Every last part of you is screaming. And what is left wants to run away. But you need the money, you tell yourself. and there are still debts that need to be repaid.

You flip through the different screen and lens of the computer in front of you. Sometimes they leave you a message on your machine. Other times you know you can hear them moving around. You fear hearing the phone ring: even as you dread silencing the ringer more … knowing you’ll get that message either way.

Whether it’s a voicemail, a text, a letter in the mail, or feeling them hover over your shoulder you know you have no privacy. You know it’s only going to get more intrusive: and you can only avoid eye-contact and hide behind your mask — your playing pretend at not having feelings — for so long. Eventually, those doors are going to open. Remember: this is not your home. This space belongs to them.

Freddy Fazbear Mask

So you count the six hours you have to stay there. You count the five days your body gets locked up with tension. Just five days and they can’t touch you. In five days you can pretend that they haven’t found you already. You can imagine that they didn’t come into your space, thinking you weak, unmoulded, untried, and try to stuff who you into an exemplar of what they are: crushing everything you were into a shapeless pulp and red mist gone, like dead dreams, by morning.

FNAF Gameover

And all you can hope for are those two days where the texts don’t get you, the voice-mails never reach, the letters wait, and everything else only hovers in your nightmares: where you are not a withered animatronic and silence is not a scream of innocence lost.

This is not a game, kids. It’s real life.

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