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Author Status 4 – Writexistential Crisis

An existential crisis brought on by one’s writing.

The fear that your absolute lack of ability to get a response is actually proof that you don’t exist.

What happens when you get and use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and a blog in order to create an author platform, but despite following all the best advice you continue to go essentially unnoticed.

Something that makes you wonder if there is a point to continuing to post or publish as it seems that not only does no one care, no one even sees it.

Also: the reason I haven’t been posting those lengthy in-depth theories and analysis on writing which it seems no one particularly cares for anyway. That and it’s the end of the tax year and I’m busy with my day job.

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Posted by on April 2, 2017 in On L.C. Morgenstern's Work

 

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Author Status !? – The Stress Don’t Stop (because you published)

I am SO sorry for not having gotten back to posting regularly (it was supposed to go back to once a week – my bad).

As you might have guessed, this last …well, almost a month now if we’re counting from the Kindle release… has been hectic. I’ve only just published for the first time and have quickly discovered that – no matter how stressed I was during the publication process – it’s actually more stressful when you think the worst is behind you and then stumble upon the fact that [BLEEP of your choice] you now have to advertise the damned thing.

And if you’re an author like me, you probably know that having to do social media enough to build up a prescence – and a buyer base – is annoying because it takes a lot of time you could be spending on your writing. If your a technologically incompetent outcast with no social life, like me, you probably also know that – to those unfamiliar with it – having to abruptly create and manage a flood of social media platforms in order to market yourself is not quite your worst nightmare (that’s the one where everyone in the world hates you because you’re an embarassment and the spiders turn up) but it’s pretty close.

The one upside is that – while I was contacting my old fanfiction fans to let them know I was taking my fics down – I got back in contact with some wonderful people who used to like my fanfiction and whose opinions on my first published work I am now terrified and anxious to know. But I also really enjoyed getting back in touch with them, which is impressive given the whole “technologically incompetent outcast with no social life” bit. One of them even gave me some truly awesome ideas for posts which I will hopefully get to just as soon as I am no longer completely run off my feet.

The upshot of all this is that I will be trying to get back to a once-a-week posting schedule …soon. That and that you can now find me on several social media platforms. Technically. I’m still learning how to use them so I can’t promise I’ll be any good at responding, but still, I will work it out eventually.

Oh, and I’ve set in motion the beginnings of a youtube channel (in which I will do video versions of some of my blog posts, other similar content, and even do readings of bits of my books… just as soon as I work out how to use the sound and video editing software I have). …There’s also technically a Patreon account and a Zazzle store (both still under construction).

Expect all of these to slowly come to life over the course of the next couple of months.

 
 

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Author Status 2 – Destructive Distractions

So.

I’ve gone through the proof for my first book, the final cover has been decided and paid for (although the final print cover is waiting on the final formatting). I’m going to publish it within this month. I should be worrying about how it’ll be received.

I’m not. I’m too distracted by other things.

Ars Gratia Artis. L’art Pour L’art.

I’ve always preferred art for the sake of art, although I have always understood that for some artists art is for the sake of social change – warnings, improvements, commentary, etc. Nevertheless, when something in the world sufficiently bothers me I think about writing something to try to stop things from getting worse. The political situation on the other side of the world, in another country to which mine in no way belongs, in another hemisphere, upsets me. I want to write to warn those who do not see danger coming that actually the time to act was months ago, when they merrily sped through the DANGER END OF ROAD signs, but that they might stop complete disaster if they hit the breaks before they reach the actual edge of the cliff …instead of in a few years when they’ve plunged over and into the abyss while wailing that no one warned them this could happen. I want to warn them, even though they have not listened to any previous warnings, if for no other reason that then I can wash my hands of it and say that I tried. It’s not my country, though, so it is not my moral obligation to fix the mess they made.

Thinking about it makes me sick. It gives me nightmares. It brings my mind constantly back to the book in my house which lists all those from a single city, including a whole branch of my ancestors’ family, who did not come back from the camps alive. It reminds me that political prisoners and those who spoke out were the first to be dragged away, and that the world’s main resources for social networking and self-publishing are all trapped in the Silicon Valley – so how long before someone who writes something warning of the dangers gets a target painted on their back?

I have health issues, anxiety mostly. Thinking about politics makes it worse. It keeps me from sleeping and it distracts me from what I want to write about. Do I have a moral obligation to write about it – at the cost of my own health, in a best-case scenario? I don’t think so. I am not the only person in the world who can stand up and do something, and it is not my country. I am not obliged to bail them out at the cost of my own health. Could I write a terrifying tale warning them of things to come if they don’t stop hiding their heads in the sand? Certainly. Would they heed the warning? No. They haven’t heeded anyone else’s so far, so why would a quiet voice from the other side of the world change anything?

The part of me that gets angry – the sense of justice, I suppose – wants to fight, both the political problems and the copyright issues that come from fanfiction (trying to get it justified as “Transformative” so you don’t have to ask permission to write it is basically trying to ignore the author’s right to be recognised as the author, which means recognising their right to control their work).

The part of me that is my pitiful sense of self-preservation argues that I am literally (and I do mean that in the correct sense of the word) making myself ill from anger and I cannot actually change anything anyway, no matter how hard I try. If there comes a day when the fight is something directly related to you, it argues, then fight. For now concentrate on your health and on becoming a successful writer. If nothing else, one day if you have to drag them to court to keep control of your copyrighted material (which isn’t even written and published yet), you can slap the damn transformative works organisation people with the bill for all the anti-anxiety meds you had to take to be able to write while worrying about them possibly succeeding in their hopes of using ‘transformative’ to take control of copyright away from writers (it doesn’t matter if they’re not officially doing that, making fanfiction transformative as a loophole will have the same effect down the line – too many fans on their archive already don’t understand why they shouldn’t make money off copyrighted material and some even link their funding accounts to their fanfiction profiles). “No negative effects on the copyright holder’s ability to make art and money” my arse.

The part of me that is disgusted with humanity in general looks at all the warnings in politics and the arrogance of fan writers who want to make it impossible for artists to say “Don’t make adaptations of my work without my permission” and it says “Just let them get themselves killed. They had warnings. They ignored them. It’s on them now.

The part of me which grieves for humanity and the suffering current events are causing is making it impossible to write for my next project or research for the one after that. I can’t concentrate to write.

The part of me that’s currently keeping me from complete insomnia and regular panic attacks has been hiding out in Glen Cook’s books. That’s also slowing down my writing, but unlike AO3 and politics, it isn’t making me cry and forcing me to take valerian and other such things so that my chest muscles will unclench and I can breathe. I need to get more Garrett, P.I. and Black Company books, The Tower of Fear just isn’t impressing me. It’s nice to see non-Medieval-European fantasy for a change, though, I’d started to think fantasy in non-western settings was a myth.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2017 in On L.C. Morgenstern's Work

 

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Project Status 4 – Folding and Fury

Not getting distracted from your writing is important. So is not getting stressed out by obligations so that you can’t write. This blog isn’t getting me people to talk to – which is why I started it – and it’s crushing my ability to produce my actual stories, so from now on it’ll be an if I feel like it/have news production schedule.

 

Project Status 4 – Folding and Fury

I’ve been trying to get a writers group working for a few months. Last month I began doing a content edit/critique for the only regular apart from myself. At the same time he agreed to do a light punctuation edit on my nearly ready to publish characterisation advice book. Since then I’ve read almost as many pages of his work as there are of my work, always getting his chapters back to him promptly, while he has only done seven pages of my work and has – since giving me those seven pages – been utterly silent and non-responsive on the subject of my work since. Nevertheless, he always responds near immediately to the return of his own work and talks about taking the edits in right away, so he clearly has the time.

I’m feeling very used right now.

I keep telling myself that maybe he forgot (but I’ve referred to it in emails about his work, so he’d have to be deliberately not acknowledging those bits) or that he’s busy (but not too busy for eighty something pages of his own work, taking in the critiques, and – if he told accurately – rewriting parts of his chapters) or that maybe he hates it and thinks he’s being nice by not saying anything (which is a break of agreement, unintentionally cruel, and unlikely because he seems like the sort of person who would – carefully – say something or at least lie to get out of it). You’d think that after all the times I had my helpful nature abused by other students in Uni I would be used to this sort of shit happening, but apparently not because I still got blindsided by it and it still hurts. I’m furious with him for the radio silence. I’m furious with him because, whether he meant to or not, I got used. I’m furious with myself for not seeing it coming. Mostly, though, I’m scared. If I can’t get this situation sorted, then my writers group will fall apart before it ever truly got to form and I will be, once again, without anyone to interact with. Blathering here is all well and good, I suppose, but with no one ever responding to me here and the rest of the world treating me as non-existent unless they want something out of me (a content critique, incidentally, is a service that can be a profession and is often paid for when friends don’t do it for each other)…

I’m furious. I’m feeling used. I’m tired. I’m tired of being used, of being angry, and of being friendless. I’m tired of putting in so much effort and getting nothing back. I’m tired of trying to build things, like this blog and the writers group, only to be walked over again and otherwise ignored – of trying so hard and watching everything fall apart anyway. I’m tired of being a failure.

I’m tired of not being able to make myself give up. I’m tired of knowing when to fold ‘em but not doing it because part of me is still too stubbornly optimistic to admit that it’s pointless. I’m tired of being torn between the remains of my self-worth wanting bloody revenge on those who wrong me and the exhaustion of experience telling me that if I could just give up that last kernel of self-esteem I could give up completely, instead of repeatedly finding myself in these situations and being trapped – unable to figure out how to fix it and bitter that I’m too damn stubborn to be capable of giving up.

Fuck it, I’ll publish it anyway – without waiting for him to bother to do his edit.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in On L.C. Morgenstern's Work

 

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Author Status 1 – Pressure to Produce

In this modern, social media obsessed world, beginning authors are constantly warned that they absolutely must have social media – which they must keep constantly updated – in order to get noticed and Make It.

Have a twitter. Have a facebook. Have a blog. Have a goodreads. Have a youtube channel. Have a website. Have a, have a, have a, have a, have a. Update, update, update, update, update. Write, write, write, write, write – but never on your projects, because you always have to be on your social media. You will gain readers, publicity and network by constantly being on social media, the advice goes, even though you are aimlessly shouting into nothingness and ignored by the world because you don’t have a social base to read all the things you write about on your social media. The advice always ignores the possibility that you – as a writer, all too often naturally tech-bane and hermit-like – won’t be able to gain a following because you have no following to start with. Somehow, magically, if you keep chattering into nothingness instead of writing, you will magically gain a following. Somehow. That’s always how the advice goes – step 1: make social media, step 3: make it in writing by telling your social media base about when your next book is coming out. The unspecified “They” of popular wisdom don’t even realise they’re missing step two.

Worry is not conducive to writing. To any truly creative process. Yet the popular wisdom is always the same: post regularly and often, and slowly go mad from the anxiety of trying to get the impossible goals of each day met so that you “stay relevant” – even if you never managed to be relevant in the first place. You can never have the peace of mind to write, really write, because you constantly stress that you have to come up with something for your next blog post or you’re behind schedule.

It crushes your heart from beneath your rib cage – squeezing and squeezing, day after day, enough to hurt but not to kill – until slowly all the joy and creativity have been pressed out, because in the shrivelled little heart that’s left when worry loosens its grip, there is no more room.

Come up with an intelligent topic. Write a little essay/blog. Hope desperately that the universe will, for a change, send some tiny acknowledgement that you exist. That the space you think you occupy is not vacant. That someone, somewhere, noticed you. That you are at least made of cellophane, rather than being so non-existent that even cellophane cannot notice you. That there are 7.4 billion people in the world and surely, surely, one of them will notice. Just for an instant. Will confirm that you are there. That you can be heard. But it never happens. And week after week you stress and stress because you worry you’ll disappoint someone if you are late to post – even as you know that it is impossible because there is no one to disappoint – and you’ll miss out on the chance to not be alone anymore. If you are truly alone. Can something that doesn’t exist be alone?

Stress and stress, on and on, worrying about making sure you get something up regularly, so that you can stay relevant (something that has never been relevant and has never existed cannot stay relevant, but the anxiety that you might fail – or disappoint – remains all the same, crushing from the inside out. Always the inquiry of why giving up is not an option is beaten down with the all powerful chant of Have to. Have to stay relevant. Have to have a blog. Have to tweet. Have to goodreads. Have to, have to, have to, have to.

Eventually the nails of anxiety’s crushing hand have dug in so deeply that crushing, stabbing pain beneath the ribs – pain from the inside out, attacking from where you are supposed to be safe – is a constant companion. You get used to it, but you never get numb to it. The anxiety makes it hurt too much to write, and every day that goes by without writing anxiety digs its claws in deeper, and the hurt becomes greater as creativity bleeds out uselessly from the shrivelling, aching organ. Even when you manage to keep tabs on everything you go unnoticed, as if you were never there, and each day nothing is achieved you have failed. Indeed, you have failed before you have even begun.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in On L.C. Morgenstern's Work

 

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