Thursday Thoughts

I’ve been feeling much more energetic lately. Life feels pretty good right now.

This will just be a bit of a ramble today. I know I’ve been really off my schedule lately, and I’ve been harder on myself than I probably should be. Creativity and drive have been in short supply lately, and I’ve had to make tough choices in how I expend that energy. Unfortunately, that means this blog has fallen by the wayside while I deal with that stuff.
Getting the Patreon set up has helped a lot. It’s given me a lot more clarity and focus. Work needs to get done now—I can’t let people down when actual money could be on the line!

Been trying to choose which project to focus my energy on for the summer. I know I need to do something larger in scale, something that will keep me occupied for the next few months. Two of my huge projects stand out, and a choice will have to be made soon.

Jotting down a lot of podcast ideas in the past few weeks. There will be a special Patron-only podcast launch, but I do have a few others that I want to pursue. The Patreon podcast is going to be me working out a format and doing a lot of experimentation, so hopefully something will come out of that.

Impending Patreon Update!

So I’m still tinkering with Patreon–what rewards to offer, how frequent those rewards will be, what kind of material I’ll be publishing.

Right now, I’ve got pretty much all of the BTS material I’ll need for the first few months. It will be a variety of things: old drafts, material from other projects, notes, art, etc. Probably going to toss in a few audio goodies as well.

The podcast is exactly what it’s going to be: about 15-25 minutes of me talking about things each week, talking about whatever comes to mind.

I’ve got an idea for a fun essay series for the non-fiction posts, and I’m going to work on getting those outlined and ready to go soon.

Fiction is in flux. I’m working on nailing down what I want to publish for the first three or four months. Helden and Mags was my first instinct, but it’s not to the level I’m comfortable sharing. I think I’m going to take this time to really dig into the editing and revision process, and work on material that I’ve already created.

Stay tuned! I’m going to be launching on June 4, and I’ll try to post as many updates as I can.



I’m struggling to find purpose in writing. I’m struggling to do that in other areas of my life as well, but it feels the most acute in writing currently. Achieving a certain level of material and financial comfort pushes the search for creative meaning to the front of my mind.

After years of thinking, rethinking, overthinking, and chipping away at the question, I broke through my issues with gender identity, sexual identity, body image, money, and employment. I’ve done a lot of independent reading on political and sociological topics, dedicated myself to learning and reading as much as I can, and just generally pushed to be a better person all around. But finding that animating spark, that bit of inspiration that would enliven my artistic life still feels elusive.

I got into writing because none of the other artistic outlets were doing it for me anymore, and maybe it was high time I got back to the thing that made me want to be creative in the first place. Characters and ideas that had been gathering dust in notebooks for years–anywhere from one year to over a decade by mid-2016–were suddenly given new purpose, new life, placed in a new context that allowed me to be playful, imaginative, and introspective at the same time.

That fire has cooled over the past 18 or so months, and as I’ve settled into writing as routine rather than novelty, getting to that animating spark is becoming more important.

Weekend Relaxation

And here we are. Sunday morning. I had a nice, relaxing weekend. Friday was spent not doing too much—slept in slightly late, snacked over and over until about 5pm, did some last minute cleaning, and then watched The Disaster Artist with close friends.

I enjoyed the movie. It was a biopic, which comes with its own demands on structure, performance, and presentation. James and Dave Franco were perfectly adequate as Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, respectively, but I couldn’t shake the impression that the film did the bare minimum to relay the narrative. It assumes familiarity with The Room, and many of its scenes would definitely fall flat if not for that prior knowledge. Sestero’s admittedly slight source book goes in a few different directions, and they would have worked well as a way to further contextualize Wiseau’s weirdness and outright dickishness (the simultaneous depositing of several checks, his specific order at every restaurant, etc.)

James Franco’s performance also never really rises above the level of very accomplished impression, which is a criticism I have of biopics overall. Even the best only just clear the bar, while the rest rely on makeup and carbon copying accents and mannerisms without much thought beyond reproduction. The Theory of Everything was an excruciating watch because of that. Franco has a wig and the weird eye, the strange accent, and the movement down, but I never felt like I was watching anything other than an extended bit from SNL. The other characters are perfectly fine, but Dave Franco gets special mention here for actually doing the work of bringing some nuance to his performance of Greg Sestero. There’s more there than simply makeup and replication. He really pushes himself to actually act here, and it shows—he’s got some measure of depth, of nuance, of actual character compared to his brother’s surface level impression.

But overall I think it was a perfectly fine movie. I don’t think I’d ever watch it again—better to actually rewatch The Room and reread The Disaster Artist, which is a much fuller accounting of the weirdness that went in to the production.

We watched it as we always do when we see movies at home: subtitles on, pauses for restroom breaks, wisecracks and running jokes as the movie wears on, conversations that go on longer than the bathroom break time, etc. We had good conversation, we drank wine (too much in my case—super cheap and very drinkable box wine is apparently my weakness), we ate italian food, and then we saw our friends off as the movie ended. It was an enjoyable night.
Living like I do, it’s refreshing and energizing to see people you love and care about and just enjoy everyone’s company.


I’ve been reading lately (yes of course that’s what a writer should do). I finished House of Chains, the fourth installment in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. It was fine. The ending was a tragic thing, and there were a lot of good character moments, but it didn’t really cohere into something bigger–certainly not like the thrilling and devastating second half of Memories of Ice.

I have read a ton of comics lately. Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing and Batman are exactly the kind of large scale storytelling that superheroes really excel at, and Snyder is a wonderful writer, if a bit wordy in places. He really likes big bits of text sometimes. Jeff Lemire is imaginative, a great horror writer, and extremely good at capturing heartbreaking emotion. Both Animal Man and Swamp Thing together offer up a wonderful epic of body horror and the grotesque in the mode of superhero adventure stories.

I also read Kissinger’s Shadow by Greg Grandin. I’ve long heard the things said about Henry Kissinger, but I’d never actually taken the time to actually look into an accounting of his actions and influence. This short book offers a concise overview of those things, creating a portrait of a man who committed monstrous acts against the world. I will definitely be looking into the man more, because I feel the need to be informed, and as research for future fiction projects.

So that’s that. I’ll maybe have more tomorrow?

Five Things, April 2018

Hey everybody! I’m back. Hopefully I’ll be back to a regular schedule now.

  • Batman, by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo: I decided to read comics again. It was a good decision. Snyder writes a hell of an action/adventure story, showcasing a Batman who is by turns determined, hopeful, sad, and most of all, dedicated to his mission. Greg Capullo also shows off strong storytelling, a mixture of dynamism and moodiness (bolstered by inker Danny Miki) that makes action scenes leap off the page. And they worked on the book together for nearly the entire run, aside from a few fill in artists. That kind of creative consistency is what pushed this book from good to great.
  • The Death of Stalin, dir. Armando Ianucci: If you’ve ever liked Veep or In The Loop, just see it. It is top to bottom amazing.
  • Swordspoint, by Ellen Kushner: Why yes, I did need a novel about a bisexual swordsman and his self-destructive male lover.
  • Legion Season 2: I hold fast to my assertion that Legion is more a triumph of presentation than content, but my goodness is it a wonderful show. It’s just the kind of weird sci-fi storytelling perfectly suited to Marvel’s mutants.
  • God of War (2018): Been playing for about eight hours now. I have been a Kratos fan since the first GOW game, and while he did get worse as a character as the series progressed, the fundamental sadness and anger that defined his character was pretty compelling. Foregrounding that, giving him a source of tension in his son, Atreus, shifting the gameplay from its Japanese-style action roots to a more open and rhythmic third-person action game, and simply making the tone one of quiet mourning adds up to an incredible experience so far.

What a Relief

Sketched out a couple of characters this morning. Haven’t done something like that in a minute, and it felt really good—honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to happen.

Writing fiction has been really tough for the last few months. There was my burnout in October, which led to me taking an unintentional break from writing (that didn’t last for very long, even though I really tried to make this one actually stick).

November was quiet. Didn’t do much actual writing, but I did a lot of journaling and tried to sort out my thoughts on a lot of things.

December was mostly the same as every other December—in a state of reflection over the past year, thinking about what happened, how I processed it, how I’m going to move forward, and what I can do to make that happen. I suffered a lot of stress, anxiety, and depression in 2017, and it only felt more intense and close as the calendar rolled over into 2018. Doki Doki Literature Club didn’t help either, but it’s actually helped more than hurt overall—but that’s for another day.

Things got really heavy in January and February. I was struggling to write, struggling to function in a way that wasn’t just surviving, and struggling to stay positive in a world that didn’t feel like it was going to get better.

I started therapy to help me work through my addictions and compulsive behavior, and unintentionally began a process that would lead me to where I’m at right now.

Which, obviously, I’ll talk about more another day. Maybe not tomorrow, but sometime.

I feel good when I get it out.

Times Past

When I was younger, I pretended to be a girl sometimes. I would play, have those kinds of imaginary adventures that children who love fantasy and sci-fi have. Giant robots, lightsabers, magical girls, big castles full of pining princesses praying for their prince to rescue them—depending on the day, I could be either one. I could be a robot that wasn’t a boy or a girl, and really took advantage of that design quirk. Clothing could range from big suits of powered armor to an incredibly revealing schoolgirl outfit—not in reality, of course. I could at least get away with playing if people were watching, but clothes? Nope.
And I’d never play in the company of others who I thought would judge me—which, in the mid to late 90’s, meant everyone, even my closest friends and trusted loved ones—this would be a completely solo venture. But in that world, that tiny world that existed in my own head, I could literally be anything, and I never really had a preference beyond overpowered and the center of attention in that particular, fan-fiction-y kind of way.
I was a new Sailor Scout—Saturn! (This was way before I knew there were more, cut me some slack—but looking back, “apocalyptically powerful, emotionally distant, and the wielder of a cool spear” was, um, actually a pretty good guess!)
Or maybe I was a super spy, comfortable in either a tux or a slinky black dress, able to use my wiles on anyone, as good with seduction as I was with a gun or any one of the dozens of gadgets I had on my person. I could move easily between one or the other—whatever was needed to get the job done.
How about an android, without any actual outward gender characteristics? Just a cool robot doing cool robot things.
I could be the pilot of a mech suit or some other powerful transforming machine, hidden in my cockpit, unseen and silent.
A prince or a princess, wishing to be saved or doing the saving.
A powerful wizard; a monster; an ancient heroine; a dimension-hopping, gender-flipping agent sent on a special mission through the multiverse. There was only me, and I could be anyone I desired in this little corner of my imagination.
There wasn’t boy or girl here. There was only Jeff, and Jeff could be whatever he, she, or they wanted. Why did I have to choose anyways?
But all of that had to end sometime.
Puberty set in, and the restrictions of masculinity began to assert themselves, reconstructing my body in a way that removed that ambiguity of childhood. Now I was seen as a boy, with everything that entailed. There was no way I could convince anyone—even myself, by that point—that I was anything but Boy.
So that part of my imagination was closed off, boarded up, cemented shut, and concrete poured over it to build out new parts of identity. Those parts of me were so hidden, it sometimes felt like they never existed in the first place, and I just forgot about it.
Except for those time when I’d see someone, almost always a woman. For a split second, I’d feel a deep, painful, longing. A desire that went beyond being with, a desire to occupy that space in a way that wasn’t lust. A yearning, a wish to exist as feminine.
I’d push it down and go on pretending.

Then and Now

Yesterday, Facebook (blech) did what it does and showed me *memories*. <boratvoice> My wife </boratvoice> and I had been tagged in over one hundred photos together. It gave me a convenient excuse to go through my old pictures and see how I’ve changed in the intervening years, especially after the massive upending of identity I’ve just experienced.

Here’s a photo from 2011:


Very Boy. Nice boy haircut, stubble, no makeup, nothing fancy. Not outwardly a mess, but probably working through a lot of stuff inside, unable to articulate it yet.

And here’s me two nights ago:


Absolute mess. Genderless and loving it. Freshly dyed hair. Full face of Urban Decay products. Forced to take a selfie in the bathroom because that’s where the light was best. Ecstatic to live fully in my own truth for the first time in my life.

It took a long time to get here, but damn it feels good.

Well maybe…

I’ve been wondering for a bit about what might be missing from my creative life. Fiction is getting written, but certainly not enough for how much effort I’ve put into it. I’m still fascinated by all of my stories, and I dearly want to expand on them in the hopes of truly sharing them with the world.
But lately, especially after dealing with all of this emotional and gender stuff in March, I have the distinct worry that something might be missing from my life. A creative outlet that really allows me to engage honestly with myself and my emotions.
Maybe it’s time I picked the music thing back up. I’m not totally sure, but maybe switching it up will be good for me in the long run.