Only two more posts, and Blogtober will be finished. I’m changing topics again tonight. I was going to record a new video on Sunday and post my first VLOG in 3 and a half years, but I just wasn’t up for it. I’m still not quite 100% physically. Mentally and emotionally, I’m doing even worse.
I have a good life. Maybe even a great life. My job is rewarding, and I’m respected in my position, and compensated well enough for my time. I published a book this year. I recently finished a short story, which is technically the first sequel I’ve ever allowed myself to write. I’m relatively healthy. My family is fine.
Yet, if I were to describe what I’m feeling, it is hopelessness.
It’s not too different from what I was feeling last year, right after we got into November. I was trying to work on a Cyberpunk story, and the reality of the world around me was too close to what I was writing. I couldn’t do it. And then, in spite of my efforts to avoid it, I felt a little bit of guilt about “failing” another NaNoWriMo.
Looking around, things still seem bad. There is economic uncertainty. People are dying in The Middle East. There is one political party in the US which has lost their way, and there is the other which lacks a fundamental quality that would allow them to succeed. I’m not going to elaborate on any of that right now. This post is not directly about politics.
There are problems I don’t know how to fix. Problems that are bigger than me, that are affecting my children right now, and I don’t see how things will get better in the future.
I look at the problems globally. I look at them locally. And I look at them personally.
I shouldn’t write this. I’m a damn fool to write this. But fuck it. Let’s let it fly.
The best possible scenario for my future is one in which I make a career as an author work. If you know me at all, if you’ve looked at this blog for even a few minutes, you should know that I’m continuously working towards this. I’m putting in the work, facing personal fears, and making plenty of sacrifices to give full-time author Brian C. E. Buhl the best chance he can of being a reality.
The next best possible scenario is dying quickly and relatively young, before my programming skills become so outdated that I’m no longer useful. It must be quick, so that my health doesn’t become a burden on my family. It’d be best to happen while life insurance is still cheap enough that those that survive me get some benefit from my passing.
I’m not trying to be morbid. While I don’t like our capitalist society, I fully understand it, and I can look at things through the lens of this society. I had an HSA going into this year, and just from basic care, it was completely wiped. I didn’t have any major procedures. I just saw my doctor a few times and had some blood drawn.
My blood pressure on Friday, at the doctor’s office, was just about as high as it was when I first went in. The reality is that the low salt diet isn’t really doing that much. The exercise isn’t doing that much. I’ll keep doing those things, because there is a slim line of hope that I won’t have to be permanently on hypertension medicine if I can get my weight low enough. But chances are, I have my Mom’s heart.
I don’t smoke. I rarely drink. I don’t consume nearly as much greasy food as my Mom. But genetics are genetics, and while I don’t have complete knowledge of the hand I’ve been dealt, I watched what my Mom went through at my age and a little bit older, and the outlook is not good.
The third best scenario is that I continue as I am, and I exercise and diet, and I put in the work to maintain my relevance in technology, or maybe focus more on management, and even though I can never switch to being a full time author, I keep writing and sacrificing and living pretty much exactly as I am living right now. This is a life of constant uncertainty, work, and sacrifice, with no real breaks. I’m constantly working on something, and yet there are always things never getting finished. Never ending effort, yet parts of my life grow increasingly neglected.
Yeah. I shouldn’t have written any of this. This is not an upbeat, happy post. It’s not the kind of thing that endears people, or encourages them to seek escapism in one of my stories. It’s not selling anything.
All this month, I’ve made mention of The Repossessed Ghost, because that’s what an author must do. Like a good writer, I’ve been making the narrative of these posts serve multiple functions. Writing every day in October helps me get in the habit of writing every day in November. Writing about tips and tricks to making fiction better helps remind me of these tips and tricks I’ve learned, so I can use them in November. And including some reasonable or useful content is a great way of buying good faith from the reader, so that they don’t mind a little bit of gentle shilling. It all overlaps and works together, and no one has to walk away feeling like they just stepped into a commercial.
That was going to be the point of the VLOG. I was going to talk about providing engaging content, to essentially pay the way and provide room for talking about the book. Because no one has every been swayed the words “buy my book” when they’re presented alone.
Make your scenes do double duty. Make all of the words count. Don’t just drop naked exposition on the page and hope your reader doesn’t get bored. If you’re going to reveal something about the world that the reader needs to know, make it entertaining! Hit them in the heart and the mind at the same time, and they will love it. They may not know why.
With posts like this, ones that I’m not super excited for people to read, I lean into the double duty thing, because I know that the ones that can handle what I’m putting down will read it all and understand, even if it’s super long. And everyone else will see the length and bounce right off, because who has time to read all that?
I’m not always that sneaky, but sometimes I am. The other long posts this month were mostly because the topics I tackled were big and needed all the words. This one is not one of those. I’ve reached the end of the month, and yesterday, when I was feeling light-headed and just wanted to sleep, I decided that I’m not doing NaNoWriMo. I sat in my chair, growing increasingly uncomfortable, rewatching all of the episodes of Make Some Noise on Dropout.tv, and I played solitaire. This was after spending hours trying to write an outline for a story that I don’t seem to want to write. At least, not at the moment.
Then, as I was falling asleep, the heart of the next novel revealed itself to me. I know what the beginning and middle of The Psychic Out of Time should be. I have a clue about the end. I know what the emotional core of the whole story is, and I think I actually could write it next month. But I still don’t have an outline.
There’s still tomorrow night, I suppose. I’m not doing it tonight. This stream of consciousness works to fill a blog post, and it helps with brainstorming ideas, but it’s… huh. I guess when I’m done with this post, I’m going to do some more brainstorming, and see what happens.
Anyway. Buy my book. If you haven’t done so already.