Better than Fiction

This website is going to undergo some changes soon. It was originally intended to be a way to showcase my writing, build my fanbase, and maybe get some freelance writing clients. It didn’t work out though. Every time I tried to get serious about my writing career and get organised and disciplined, it stopped being fun, and I would find myself putting it off.

In the process of putting it off I found myself making friends, starting a local handyman business, and actually having a life away from my computer desk! I was surprised to discover I love the work, and that I’m beginning to like my life.

It’s unlikely that I’ll stop writing. I’ll just stop trying to force my creativity to clock in to a 9 to 5 schedule. I’ll write when I want to. When it’s fun. I know that the writing market is hard to break in to. I know that to get in requires discipline, and I just can’t do it. Yeah, yeah. I know there’s no such thing as can’t if you really want to do something, and apparently I don’t wanna ‘get serious’ about writing and taking all the fun out of it.

I’ve written articles talking about my determination to succeed, but it started to seem like a poor investment of time and effort. Especially since I’ve been able to make money faster by actually getting out into the real world and talking to people. With writing, I would have to spend years writing a book that might not even sell, and then try again, and again. By helping real people (instead of fictional characters) I’m getting instant feedback that people like my work, and it feels great!

I think I’m getting to the point where I’d rather live my own real-life adventure than create fake ones. There are exceptions of course. I love running my roleplay games with cool people. Again, I think it might be the real-time social feedback I get. I love it. I want more interaction. More friends. More real life please!

So, this website may get a makeover at some point. When I feel like it. To change it from being all about me trying to be a professional writer, to be being about whatever the fuck I want to write about that day. Perhaps even run an exclusive rp story-game similar to The City of Gate or The N-Viron Network. Both of which continue to be fun.

I want to get people talking too. Maybe make this our own little social media clubhouse. I want to know what you want this website to be. I hope you want to interact here and make it our little home away from Facebook. I could create pages about topics you want to discuss, or for a game as I previously suggested.

I dunno. I suppose it’s okay if I just continue to use it just to blog mutely into the ether, but the way I’m going, I’m likely to abandon this website altogether if I don’t get to use it to make myself a few more friends. You can challenge me to write about specific subjects, ask me anything about anything you want, and suggest other things I can do to make this page a fun place to be.

I really want to change the name. I’m trying to tone down the self-aggrandisement, and just be myself. Hopefully this will also reduce the number of self-pitying posts too. Failing isn’t something to lament. It’s a lesson. Sometimes it just means you’ve found a better path to walk. Or at least a more fun one anyway. 😉

Sincerely, have a great day. 🙂

 

Really?!

I was going to try and write an article for the Games & Geekery website this morning. Actually I was going to write it last night, I was super tired and ended up falling asleep instead. I knew I only had one odd-job client scheduled for today though. I could get the article written in the morning and then go paint garden furniture in the afternoon.

However, I got a message from one of my Facebook contacts who happens to also be interested in participating in my sci-fi RP group, The N-Viron Network. He seemed determined to talk despite telling him how busy I was. However, one of the things I was busying myself with was playing with Heroforge.com (it occured to me that I could create custom minis for the characters in The City of Gate), and that I should always be available to help the players.

In general I like to help people. It makes my day to brighten someone else’s. It’s part of the reason I like doing odd-jobs so much. I also love talking about the rp games I run, and writing in general. So when he started the conversation, not with ‘Hi’ or ‘Do you have a minute’, but ‘Do you like Campbell?’ (as in Joseph Campbell, the author of ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces‘) it seemed like it might be an informed discussion about character creation.

HeroForgeScreenshot (1).png
One of the Knights of H’Vannah, from The City of Gate

I made myself available. I’d been looking forward to seeing what kind of character he might come up anyway based on our previous discussions. He seemed to be leaning towards creating an antagonistic player character determined to tear down the infrastructure of the N-Viron Network last time we talked, which would have made things challenging, but interesting.

However, he quickly stopped talking about The Hero’s Journey and claimed he just wanted to chat and develop our friendship. In my experience people on Facebook who say they ‘just want to be friends’ are selling something. I explained that I prefer having a specific topic of conversation because I’m a bit of an introvert. Conversations need to have a point to reduce the risk of awkward gaps in which you don’t know what to talk about. He claimed to be an introvert too, and that’s why it’s easy for him to listen. He proceeded to dominate the conversation at every opportunity!

HeroForgeScreenshot.png
Majister, and Elder Draconic Vampire from The City of Gate

He began by saying that he prefers to dig deep into topics that make people feel vulnerable. ‘Like dreams, desires, wishes, fears, etc.’. I agreed that being upfront about your weird stuff is a good way to find out whether or not you can really consider someone a friend. What I didn’t tell him is that I also recognised this as a sales technique. People are easier to convince when they’re vulnerable.

The conversation became a series of soundbites about success and motivation, whilst also criticising my writing style and undermining my confidence. If he’s kept going until I was utterly crushed, I might have been desperate enough to buy what he offered, but he got frustrated with me and quit talking to me first.

HeroForgeScreenshot (2).png
Skritter, the last of the Ratkin. Another NPC from The City of Gate.

His first attack on my self-esteem came by asking why I still lived my parents. This put me on the defensive immediately. I don’t still live my parents. I moved back in with my parents after over a decade of living in the US, because I was feeling emotionally vulnerable and financially desperate following my divorce. He then told me about his string of failed relationships, mentioning that he would sometimes ‘get all bipolar on people’.

Then he asked me when I was going to move on, ‘you’re not going to live with your parents forever are you?’ I was expecting a pitch at this point, some magic way that I could make money and regain independence. Surprisingly he said, ‘I don’t know how you can earn money to get out of this’, and that’s when the self-help quotes started up like, ‘what you fear most is the thing you must do.’

HeroForgeScreenshot (3).png
Myche, a magically modified elf from The City of Gate

I happen to agree with him. Sometimes doing what must be done is scary, but you have to make the leap. I found the prospect of quitting the day job to write for a living terrifyingly intimidating, but I did it. In fact I find most regular obs intolerable now that I’ve become used to working for myself. I’ve put myself out there and invited constructive criticism and feedback, despite how vulnerable this makes me.

He also said, ‘If you hit your lowest, you can start anew’. This too I agree with, and I told him all about hitting my low point and using it as an opportunity to explore my psyche and figure out what had brought me to this point and why I was getting in my own way. That by doing so I identified several learned behaviours that were holding me back. He then told me that what I had done was impossible and that I was fooling myself, and seeing only what I wanted to see, while continuing to tell me (just like my ex-wife did) that I just had to cut the bullshit and be myself!

HeroForgeScreenshot (4).png
Greta, from The City of Gate

Apparently I should only be myself if I do it the way he approves of.  ‘Tap into your emotions and your subconscious mind’. I’m pretty sure I had just told him that I did that very thing. I had been using a computer analogy, telling him that I was basically using meditation to edit my source code. He didn’t like that. Computers are logical (though anyone who’s ever used a computer might disagree), while emotions are not. While I agree that ‘logical’ isn’t necessarily the correct word, I do find that emotional reactions make more sense than they’re given credit for.

Regardless of his insistence that I was wrong, I tried to use a different metaphor, that of the mind-palace, to explain how you might choose to navigate and organise your thoughts and emotions. He seemed interested in this concept, but quickly moved on to expressing his opinion that the key to happiness is being aware of, and in touch with, your emotions. At this point he was beginning to sound like a broken record.

HeroForgeScreenshot (5).png
Lynn, from The City of Gate

I suggested he write a self-help book, which is when he said there being easier ways to make money than writing, and bragged about having lived in one of the most expensive apartments in Romania, and how he’s very good at selling online. Once again I was expecting a sales pitch, but got none. Since he didn’t, I did. I told him about my Patreon campaign and invited him, since he was so affluent and successful, to help support my writing.

He said no. I wasn’t terribly surprised. Usually when people have to tell you how rich they are, they aren’t. They are just trying to convince you they are so that you buy their money-making scheme. I’m also aware that only about 10% of pitches result in a solid sale, because I’ve actually studied sales and marketing back when I worked in sales and marketing!

HeroForgeScreenshot (6).png
Granma, from The City of Gate

He went on to tell me that he’d be more interested in reading a book like ‘The Grey Man‘ than my work. Which is fair enough. I’m aware that not everyone is going to like my writing style. My main goal at the moment is to expand my audience and find more people that do. Pitching to people that don’t like my stories is just a waste of time. I made the foolish mistake of asking him how he gained an audience large enough to make him wealthy.

He told me I had to tap into my ‘real, real, real self’ and put myself ‘at risk of being judged’. To risk ‘being considered weird’ and having ‘people make fun of you’. All things I already do, as anyone who subscribes to my WordPress blog already knows. I told him that I already do this and he claims that I’m not really being vulnerable. He read some of the blog and said I write like a scientist.

He cited his own articles as an example of how to write authentically, deeply and with vulnerability, and found almost all of his articles to be about how to get rich (no surprise there) and lists of the things he’s grateful for. The same generic shit I’ve seen on countless blogs that make money through affiliate marketing.

He called me a brat at this point and I called him condescending, and he decided we should never talk again. However, his assessment that I don’t write with emotion or vulnerability bothered me. I feel like I’ve bared my soul in this blog, but what if he’s right? What if the reason why I don’t have a huge following already is because I don’t make people care?

Or maybe he’s just a douchebag. Let me know what you think, I’d appreciate the feedback, no matter how much it may hurt.

By the way, do you like the minis?

Is Anyone Listening?

Every so often I write another post declaring that I’m going to get organised and start writing like it’s my full time job, and yet I still find myself procrastinating. Even my attempts to identify and eliminate whatever it is holding me back has just become another way to procrastinate.

I can’t blame relationship stress, because I’m not in one. I can’t blame trying to find time to time write while working a full-time job, because I don’t have a job right now except writing. I can’t even use the fact that I don’t have a steady income as an excuse, because I’m living with family who support my desire to write full time. I can’t blame loneliness or homesickness either, because I’m home with my family.

I really have no excuse. I just need to develop the discipline. What I’d like ideally is for people who like my stories to let me know they like them, and pester me for more. I know this sounds egotistical, but I also know it works. My parents have read The Haunted Story: Dead Letter and they want to know what happens next, but they also don’t want to read it until it’s finished.

As a result, I’ve been making myself write more of The Haunted Story: Investigation every day. Sometimes I miss a day or two, but for the most part I’m making progress.

Would you be willing to help me?

I used to do weekly updates to Hermes925. I’d be willing to do something similar for The Haunted Story, and perhaps even start doing Hermes925 updates again, if I was getting some encouragement from my audience. Some reassurance that people want what I’m writing. While it’s true that I’m writing these stories for me, I’d also like to know that I’m not wasting my time.

Everyone likes to feel good about what they’ve chosen to do with their lives, or at least know that people are listening when they speak.

Do you ever feel like no-one is listening?

If I’m being ignored, does that mean I’m not good enough?

Despite feeling happier than I have in years, I can feel the depression still lingering beneath the surface. Telling me that all of this is futile. That whining about it won’t help. That I’m deluding myself.

However, I’m also running an RP group on Facebook called The City of Gate that’s been going for years because the players are genuinely interested in what happens next. I know I’m never going to get the same level of participation and feedback from my stories as I do from my roleplay games, but a little would be nice!

I also know I won’t get any feedback if I don’t post anything, so I’m going to start posting my work-in-progress again. If you like the story, please tell me, so I don’t have to rely purely on empty hope and my own unreliable discipline. Talk to me. Please.

Thank you.

Have a great day 🙂

The Book Factory

When I was running the Creative Writers group, I had an idyllic hopeful notion that it might evolve into a full-fledged business. I had dreams of an office building with the words ‘Creative Writers’ Press’ emblazoned on it. Those who work there would write for a living, with supervisors to keep them on task and accountable.

There’d also be in-house editors, cover-artists and proofreaders, and books that sell particularly well (the company would handle the marketing, but individual authors would be encouraged to brag about their latest book on social media also) would earn bonuses for the authors.

Even though my first attempt to find a group of like-minded individuals failed, the idea still persists. I wanted to start over. Create another group that would give writers the support and guidance they needed to keep writing. I’m currently reading a book called “How to be F**king Awesome” by Dan Meredith. I highly recommend it. In it, Dan mentions creating an accountability group, and that sounded like a fantastic idea.

Part of the problem was that Creative Writers got too big to handle, and drifted far from my original vision. I was unable to steer it back on course, and attempting to do so was frustrating, depressing, and spirit-crushing. So to avoid the same fate, The Book Factory will be a secret group, accessible by invitation only.

This will also (hopefully) prevent trolls, time-wasters and those that want to use the group purely to promote themselves from joining, or at least make it easier to spot them and remove them before they take over. If you’re out to prove that you’re the best writer ever and the only true expert in the group, you’re welcome to start your own group or fan page for yourself, but The Book Factory is not for you.

If you’re serious about writing, but find yourself procrastinating despite your best intentions (just like me) perhaps we can help each other out. Find me on Facebook and message me to join The Book Factory group. Hopefully we can start churning out books and making a living from it instead of playing Skyrim (or is that just me?).

MjollBearded.jpg
If you give Mjoll the Masque of Clavicus Vile and steel plate armor, you end up with this amusing combo. Nice beard Mjoll!

I play way too much. As I’ve mentioned in the previous article, I do believe that I’ll have better luck staying motivated and disciplined when I have a separate room for writing, away from my Xbox, and with my family around to keep my spirits up. It wouldn’t hurt to have some support from the online community too, and also help others to keep up with their writing.

I am pleased to say I have at least one story in print. A short story called ‘Murder Inc.’ in the “UbiquiCity” anthology. I had to replace my copy because a guest at the hotel I work at bought it from me. We had been talking about artificial intelligence, smart technology and dystopia masquerading as utopia. All of which are themes of both the UbiquiCity collection, and my own work-in-progress, Hermes925 (which I really need to finish).

I need to show my progress on my other WIPs too. So far they’re all hand-written, and I’ve gotten good feedback and encouragement in the past from posting the second draft on this website. In the meantime, I have a bag to pack, a room to organise, and lots of stories to write.

Have a great day 🙂

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

Going For It

If you can’t watch the video, this is basically what I talk about. I’m going to actually push myself to become a full time writer. Since I no longer work at The Brown Cow Inn, because I walked out, I now have plenty of time to treat my writing like my job and spend an 8 hour shift or so doing it. Either actually writing something, or looking for writing opportunities form full-time jobs to one-off gigs.

I suppose I could even include any social media marketing as part of that, so I suppose the video I made, plus this accompanying article both count toward my 40 of work this week :). As I mention in the video, most of today was spent, very pleasantly, in the company of my Grandparents. First I attended a superb christmas dinner at The Gables, on Abbey Rd in Barrow in Furness. It was delicious, I highly recommend it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After that we went to Matalan. Grandad was going there for a new sport coat, so he recommended I take a look at the suits while I’m there. Laura’s having a masquerade ball theme for her birthday party, plus it’s always a good idea to own a suit. I found a nice looking black pinstripe 2-button suit jacket with matching pants and a vest totalling only £79.

I’m not, as yet, endorsed by either Matalan or The Gables, but I’d be more than happy to be if it meant I could keep writing and get paid for it. I also happen to mention Xbox One, Skyrim, Argos, Bosch and Sony in my video. If Microsoft, Bethesda, or the other companies I just mentioned would like to reward me in some way for mentioning them, I’d be very grateful to them.

Hopefully they see this without me having to send them emails and letter seeking their endorsement, but I realise I may have to do something this to solicit work or sponsorship from businesses. I’ve been determined to become a full-time writer before though, and I still haven’t accomplished it, or even tried terribly hard. I would like it very much if my readers, friends, and family would help keep me on task.

Pester me me for new articles on Games & Geekery, or new personal posts, or more of Jaime’s journal entries in Hermes925. Keep me motivated. I can be my own worst enemy sometimes. Despite knowing that, when I pick up a pen and start writing something almost always comes out, I still find myself unwilling to try if I don’t already know what it is I’m going to write.

I’m not going to do what I’ve done in the past and beg. It doesn’t ever work anyway. I intend to work for every penny I earn. If you want something writing, let me know. Even if it’s just a one-off speech or presentation, let me have a go at writing it for you and we’ll agree on what it’s worth.

I’m going to do some more work on Hermes925 tomorrow. Hold me to it.

Have a great day.

I Should Be Writing

If you’re able to watch the video, please do. If you’re at work, or you reading this in bed while your partner is sleeping, or can’t have the volume on for some other reason, you can skip down and I will paraphrase what I mention in the video.

I should be writing, but I’m not quite certain which of my many projects I should tackle first. I’ve been neglecting my writing lately, and I’ve decided to make a real effort to get back into the habit of writing everyday, even if I’m tired. Which has been a big part of it.

Working at the Brown Cow can be exhausting. Even when it’s slow we’re supposed to keep busy, and I’m often so tired when I get a day off that I’d rather nap and veg out playing Skyrim. Skyrim is one of my favourite games ever and I’m having some fun with the Xbox One mods. I’m disappointed that I can’t get the Sheogorath follower mod to work though.

My Dad, who is doing very well in Kidwelly, told me on his last visit that I should write my story. My autobiography. I’m not so sure about this since I’ve always thought my own life wasn’t terribly interesting. I’m aware though that it’s just because I’m used to it that it seems boring and normal, whilst other people seem so interesting in comparison.

I’m going to skip over a bit here and get to the point. I think I’m going to give it a try, but I’m going to add my own twist on the classic format. It’ll be a branchpoint series. The first book will be as true as I can make it, from my perspective. My actual story. The sequels will be ‘what if’ scenarios.

The scenario that immediately leaps to mind when I imagine doing this is the night Monica called me up, at 3am, crying and apologising for sleeping with some other guy. At the time she hadn’t been back in the states that long, we hadn’t actually said we were exclusive. In fact I was surprised that she’d stayed in touch at all.

I think this was a defining moment in my life. I told her that it was okay, we never said we were exclusive. It’ll be alright, we’ll just be exclusive from now on. This meant I was mostly celibate during my remaining time at college and beyond. My only chance to get laid occurred when she or I could afford the flights and the time off to see each other. A rare event.

11196275_10155563337225650_4159955847467593024_n

What if, instead, I had told her we were done? That it was over? That I could never forgive her? This part is true, I never really forgave her for sleeping with someone else. The first sequel could explore what college life and beyond could have been like for me if I’d never committed myself to a monogamous long-distance relationship.

In addition to the auto-biography, I also need to work on Hermes925, Hermes360, Games and Geekery, a YouTube channel, and this blog too. Even though I’m feeling more motivated to write I’m still not going to be able to make time for them all every day, and work at the pub, and be able to recover from working at the pub, and make time with my new girlfriend too.

Laura, I believe, is part of the reason I’m feeling positive and motivated. The ‘staying single and focussing on writing’ plan was not working. I spent too much time moping. More writing will happen, just not as much as I’d like. At least not while I still have to work.

15193422_1074983392648405_73270666440538475_n

I only work part time, and I live rent free with my Grandparents, which is really lucky. That means that out of the $200 or so a week I get from working at the pub, I can save $100 a week towards potential self-publishing costs and still have $100 for food and fun. If I could get some kind of sponsorship, or receive enough fan donations, I could write full time. There’d be a lot more writing and videos.

If you’d like to help, go to paypal.me/AntonyMCopeland and donate what you feel I deserve. If I can generate enough income this way then I can produce more writing, more videos and get my books on the shelves faster. If not then perhaps the articles and videos will draw enough attention for me to get a publishing deal and not need to self-publish anyway. So you can actually help by sharing my content too.

My Sister just challenged me to finish Hermes925 and have it published by the summer. Challenge accepted! I probably won’t actually succeed, but the deadline (even though it was a joke) while help keep me focussed. She’s right. I should finish Hermes925 first. With luck and determination I will have a book published by the end of the year.

This is all about making me a writer. So I’d better get some writing done.

My former stance against “Have a great day” was silly and depression induced. I’m bringing it back.

Have a great day! 🙂

 

 

Around And Round We GO

For those of you that managed to catch the previous post before I deleted it, I’m feeling much better now. I had hit a low patch which may have been triggered by this self-help book I’m currently trying to write.

Thankfully work was really busy yesterday making me feel both useful and keeping my mind too busy to dwell on the miserable thoughts I’d been having. I’m not sure how much of my scribblings during this slump in my normally positive and ambitious mood will actually make it to the final version of the book, but I think it was a useful exercise to explore and observe the depths of my depression for a day or too.

I have actually been diagnosed with depression, and anxiety, one doctor suggested I may have hypomanic depression. In which case the times I’ve felt the presence of faeries or other spirits (such as the monster on top the wardrobe) may be just sensory hallucinations, a symptom of my disorder. This is a concept I’ve been battling for some time.

I’d love to continue to believe in majic/magic/magick. It’s comforting to think that you could alter the world around you by willpower alone, or with the aid of Gods, Goddesses, faeries, ancestors or the raw power of the universe. Some belief systems would even blame the negative thoughts on daemons, devils, trickster spirits, ghosts or other malicious entities.

the_demons

 

If these entities, both good and bad, are just illusions produced by mental illness, then the voices are my own. My true self trying to help me make sense of the the world. So instead of trying to ignore these thoughts, perhaps I should listen and discover what it is they’re trying to teach me? What I’m trying to teach me.

I’ve come to the conclusion, for now, that I did make it all up. I know I have an active imagination. The things I once imagined were true seemed true based on what I thought I knew at the time. It no doubt helped me cope. I’m sure I will think about this more in future, and I may even end up coming back to the idea that there is magic in the world after all, and I was just temporarily jaded and delusioned.

I had hoped to spend the last two days I had off getting a lot more writing done, and take advantage of the cold I’d been suffering from. Instead I found myself wallowing in self pity and thoughts of futility. I even considered giving up on writing. What would be the point? Well, the point is, because I can and I like it. It doesn’t matter if I never sell a single book. It doesn’t even matter if I’m madly successful and die rich. Either way I’m going to die.

graveyard

What does matter is that I’m alive. I may as well enjoy it, and I enjoy writing. I also enjoy company, and working, and time to myself, and finding time for all of it will no doubt continue to be a struggle. That’s okay. I can accept that. It’s all part of the experience, and there’s no need to be so hard on myself.

Would anyone like to see the binned article? Bear in mind I was feeling very low, almost suicidal, when I wrote it. It’s been pointed out to me that sometimes it’s helpful to see that someone else is going through emotions similar to your own.

I know it’s a pain to comment on the blog, but signing up is worth it. You’ll be able to comment on all of my articles and blogs, as well as the blogs of other WordPress users. You could even create your own blog if you wanted to. 🙂 You can also comment on Facebook or Twitter of course, where I’ll be sharing links to this article. I’m going to make sure my contact info is up to date also if you prefer to text me.

I’m not going to sign off with the “Have a great day :)” that I used to do. It’s sort of condescending, and if you’re not having a great day it’s like a kick in the shins.

Choose your own adventure 😉