Getting Political

I haven’t posted on this blog in months. That’s because nearly every time I sit and write something, I have to fight of depression. Rare is the day when I finish anything.

There are two major causes of this. The first is that I continue to be unemployed. I’m not in any danger of being homeless or on the street. My parents are giving me a place to stay as long as I continue to look for work. But the lack of financial independence has contributed to my anxiety. Worse, the more my unemployment drags on, the more it feels like searching for a job is a futile effort. But I press on because there’s nothing else I can do.

Secondly, politics. I will not sugarcoat this in an attempt to be apolitical. If I did , I would be being dishonest, both to myself and to you, my readers, however many of you are left. The election of Donald Trump and his subsequent executive orders have me worried about the future. I worry about my friends who are people of color and LGBT+. I worry about healthcare and whether I’ll be able to afford the psychiatric medication that helps keep my depression in check. And I worry that we may be on the verge of autocracy, as crazy and hyperbolic as that may sound.

resist

Photo from the Donald J Trump resistance

So I’m going to get political, and so is my writing. In fact, two weeks ago I wrote a story and finished it. It takes places in what is either a possible future or an alternate present. In this story, an autocratic America is fighting against a rebellion. This is not the story of the resistance, however. Nor is it a story of soldiers. There are no heroes in this story. It is a story about the general public. It is about political apathy and its consequences. And more than that, it is my new mission statement as a writer. From now on, expect to see more overt political messages in my writing. Not every story of mine will be an allegory or specifically anti-Trump, but my politics will be reflected in what I write. If that bothers you, read something else.

I’m going to do everything I can to publish this story. If I can’t sell it to a magazine, I will publish it here. And then I will keep writing, because this is not just about one story, but the entirety of my art. It’s about using art as a platform to make a change. It’s about not letting my anxieties stop me from writing. And most importantly, it’s about being honest about what I believe.

Time to make science fiction great again.

Excerpt from “The Cult of the Sun”

I recently discovered a game on steam called Elegy for a Dead World in which you explore a dead planet and write stories about it. It’s an amazing game with many writing prompts that you can use to spark your creativity. I thought I’d share a little bit of what I have so far for you guys. Consider this an excerpt of a rough draft, so it is by no means complete or polished. It’s a bit of Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Horror, which I think is appropriate given the fact that it’s finally October.

I was once here, before the surface froze and food became scarce. I grew up here, laughing and playing with the other children on the street. I trusted my neighbors and looked to our elders for guidance. I could never have imagined that they would hurt me or my family.

This was my grandfather’s house, where I was raised. Somehow, its one of the few structures still standing. Grandfather always said it was a sturdy, tough little building. The kind of building that was built to last.

As I approach it, I try to think of happier times, when the street was full of people and grandfather would call me inside for supper after a long day playing with the other children.

Grandfather’s library is covered in dust. The books we had to leave behind are still here, scattered among the shelves. I hated leaving them behind. I have always been a voracious reader, incorrigible in my quest to devour all kinds of knowledge.

This is where I learned about the other worlds, back when I was just a boy. I knew vaguely about their existence, of course, but I assumed that they were all like my own. Then, one day, I found a thick red tome entitled “The Worlds of the Galactic Union.” Reading that book filled my mind with images of far off cities and civilizations, all alien to my own experiences. I resolved to visit as many as I could. I never even imagined that when I finally got my wish, it would come at such a dreadful cost.

This was our news terminal. The holographic projector used to display the heads of our local news anchors, reporting on the goings on both in the city and throughout the Caesura System. They kept chatting all day, their voices carrying throughout the whole square, remaining audible despite the din of people going shopping in the market.

When the Cult began to take hold, it used this terminal to broadcast religious messages and propaganda. The friendly faces of our newscasters were replaced with this glowing yellow orb, a symbol of the sun that once warmed the planet. The voices that filled the square told us to repent, that we would die if we continued to live such a sinful life. The messages are gone, but the glowing orb remains.

Here, in this temple, they sacrificed my grandfather, and that’s why I ran. I remember the high priest cutting my grandfather’s throat, leading the others in a chant as he did it. I wanted to look away, but one of my neighbors forced my to watch. “It’s for the good of everyone,” she said. Desperation had driven her to religious fervor, just as it had the rest of our community.

The Cult of the Sun preached that the sun of our planet was our god, and that He was angry with us. They said He was punishing us for our sinful ways, and that if we wanted to survive, all harmful thinking must be purged from our society. We had to destroy any work deemed sinful or blashphemous and sacrifice those who did not conform to the ways of our god.

My grandfather was found guilty of keeping illegal texts of old Earth religions. He consented to be sacrificed on the condition that I was spared.

A Cover Letter

To whom it may concern,

Thank you for considering my application for the position of Specialty Assistant at your local establishment. Ever since I graduated, I’ve wanted the opportunity to really dig my teeth into the barrier between the real and the unreal. I think this position will finally give me that chance.

In addition to a passion for the work, I bring a considerable amount of practical skill to the table. I have extensive knowledge of grimoires, skinning knives, and bloodstone amulets, as well as prior experience with Microsoft Office. I also have great customer service skills. Once, when I was working as a cashier at Heinen’s, I was able to quiet a particularly disruptive customer by removing the flesh from my face, allowing them to see the terrible visage that lurked underneath. Needless to say, they never caused another disturbance again.

Thank you for taking the time to review my application. I can be reached via phone every evening between the hour at which the wolves first begin to howl and the hour at which the cock crows. I will follow up via summoning ritual in two weeks time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks Again,
That-Which-Should-Not-Be
86 Desolation Lane
Thornwood, OH
Phone: 555-1134

OK, so I know I said I’d write something every week and I’m a few days late. Sorry about that. Anyway, this just popped into my head the other day while applying for jobs. 

Hello Again

I just wanted to take moment to talk about what I’ve been up to since I last posted . As I said in the notes of the last poem I posted, I lost my job testing software. I’ve been looking for work since. I tried applying to a couple of full-time writing positions, but none of those have panned out yet, so I’m looking into other options.

As you might imagine, being without a job has not mixed well with my depression, and some days its just hard to get up out of bed. To combat this, I’ve been making a point of getting up and doing something every day. For instance, last week I got a hair cut:

20160902_134633.jpg

Other things I do to keep myself busy include taking a walk to the coffee shop by my house every day and helping my parents take care of my Grandpa, who lives by himself and can’t get around much anymore. I actually really like helping out my Grandpa, because it lets me spend some time with him while I still can. It also helps that taking care of someone you love who needs your help makes you feel less like an unemployed loser who doesn’t do anything useful with his time. Or at least that’s how it works for me.

I’m also trying to get back into the swing of things with writing. Even before losing my job, I barely wrote anything because I was so busy with work. Writing is my passion, and I let it slip away from me. Well, now I’m going to get it back. I’m going to gradually increase the amount I write until I’m writing every day.

This means that I’m going to update the blog more. I’m going to try to post something new each week, whether its a poem, a story, or a blog post like this one. So keep any eye out for future writings and ramblings from me as I try to get myself back on a regular writing schedule.

The Song of Old Gerald

They say that Old Gerald, he liked to play Tak
for coin in the tavern at night.
But Old Gerald cheated and often his games
would end in a hideous fight.

He’d pulverize men and bloody their noses
for calling him out on his tricks,
and when he was done, he’d take all their coin
and give them a few extra kicks.

Then one day a man with fire-red hair
and a six string-ed lute on his back
walked into the tavern and pulled up a seat
right where that old cheater played Tak.

He watched Gerald cheat and swindle his way
through game after game after game,
and when he had had his full of deceit
he stood up and called Gerald’s name.

“Gerald,” he said, “you’ve bullied these men
and taken from purse after purse,
but if you do not return what you took
I swear that your fate will be worse!”

Then Old Gerald laughed and drew his sharp steel,
for he had far more bravery than wits,
and Kvothe the Arcane called fire and lightning
and blew poor Old Gerald to bits.

Now some say that Kvothe is gone from this world,
but the two of you may yet cross paths,
so if you should try to cheat me at Tak
remember the Kingkiller’s wrath!

Yet another song inspired by the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss as well as Tak, the game Rothfuss created with James Ernst that comes from the world of the books.  The Kickstarter for Tak is still going on, so you still have time to pledge and get your hands on this wonderful game.

A Demon Went Down to Tarbean

Well a demon went down to Tarbean. He was looking for a soul to steal.
He was in a bind, ’cause he was way behind. He was willing to make a deal
when he came across a young man carving a capstone down by the docks
and the demon jumped upon a wooden pillar and said, “Boy, let me tell you what:”

“I bet you didn’t know it, but I’m a Tak player, too
and if you care to to take a dare I’ll make a bet with you.
Now you’ve got a mighty fine capstone, boy, but give a demon his due.
I’ll bet a capstone of gold against your soul ’cause I think I’m better than you.”

The boy said, “My name’s Daerwick and it might be a sin,
but I’ll take your bet, and you’re gonna regret
’cause I’m the best there’s ever been!”

Daerwick, polish up your board and gather up your stones,
’cause a demon’s loose in Tarbean and he’s cornered you alone.
And if you win you get this shiny capstone made of gold,
but if you lose, the demon gets your soul!

The demon drew a board with fire and said “I’ll start this show!”
and sparks flew from his fingertips as he gathered up his stones.
When he placed a stone upon the board it glowed with evil light,
like a putrid sea of sewage lit by the moon at night.

As the game went on, Daerwick said, “Well you’re pretty good, old son,
but sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it’s done.”

Dragon in the valley, run boys, run!
Tehlu’s in the light of the midday sun.
Six-string wore a ring that was made of bone.
Taborlin the Great called the name of stone.

The demon bowed his head because he knew that he’d been beat,
and he laid the golden capstone on the ground at Daerwick’s feet.
Daerwick said, “Demon, come on back if you ever want to try again.
I’ve told you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best that’s ever been!”

Sorry for the lack of updates, everybody. I went through a bout of depression related to work. I’m doing a lot better now, though!

Anyway, I wrote this parody as way to calm down and start writing again, and also to promote the Kickstarter for Tak, a game from the world of The Name in the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. The Name of the Wind is one of my favorite books, and if you’re a fan of fantasy you should definitely check it out. Please also check out the Kickstarter for Tak, because Tak is an amazing game.

AlexAloiTV

I haven’t talked about it on the blog yet, but gaming is a pretty big part of my life. My weekly Dungeons and Dragons game is the biggest contributor to my interacting with people outside of work. I’ve been playing D&D ever since my freshman year of college, and it continues to be one of my favorite passtimes besides reading and writing. Well, now I’ve officially jumped on the streaming bandwagon. Starting tomorrow, I’m going to be streaming several times a week on my Twitch channel.

To start, I’m going to play through the classic computer RPG Baldur’s Gate II. But later this month I will begin streaming a Dungeons and Dragons campaign that will follow the new Curse of Strahd module. It is the latter of the two streams that I am most excited for.

Curse of Strahd
The campaign in question.

Dungeons and Dragons is, in my opinion, a good passtime for writers. It is at its heart a kind of group storytelling experience. Each player creates a character, except for the Dungeon Master, who creates the many: the villain, the players’ allies, and all the little side characters in between. Even when playing a pre-written campaign it is impossible for the Dungeon Master to leave the world free of their influence, as they are still in charge of how each character acts.

The interaction between players and their Dungeon Master creates a unique story experience no matter what module you’re running, and it is for that reason that I find Dungeons and Dragons just as much fun to watch as to play. I hope you’ll toon in so you can see what I mean.

The Baldur’s Gate II stream will take place every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:00 PM EST starting tomorrow, March 29th. The Dungeons and Dragons campaign will be streaming every other Saturday at 7:00 PM EST starting April 9th. I hope to see you there!