So here I am plugging away at my current novel — an occult mystery set in Victoria, BC, exploring a lot of the city’s urban legends. It’s one I’ve been involved with, on and off, for a year. Sadly, various things keep coming up to distract me from it: work, the regular chores of life, other writing projects that seem a little more time sensitive.
I just finished editing a fantasy novella (in the process changing the place from being Italian Renaissance-inspired to Ancient Egypt-inspired), and rather than patting myself on the back and giving myself some time off to celebrate, I leaped back into Guardian of the Garden City. Because I need to get that done. I’m in a place where I feel I can’t rest on my laurels. I can’t enjoy my successes but have to push forward to the next success. I have to keep going.
In the last year, I have:
- Won the Gene Day award for an anthology I edited, planned, and co-wrote: Epic Canadiana #2.
- Finished the aforementioned Egyptian novella.
- Got a comic about sasquatches (drawn by the amazing Eric Johnson) published in Pulp Literature.
- Seen Cloudscape’s latest anthology, Bones of the Coast, do phenomenally well in Kickstarter. Oh, and I have a story published in that too!
- Oh, and I have been running Unknown Armies, my favourite rpg of all time, and the players seem to be really enjoying that.
So, most people have been telling me that creatively I seem to be having a decent amount of success. It’s not like I’m in a rut or anything. And when I see that list, it looks pretty good. The whole world seems to be going to Hell (Trump, Brexit, the death of Umberto Eco), but I seem to be doing okay for myself.
And yet… emotionally I still do feel like I’m in a rut. That I can’t accomplished what I need. I still focus on what I didn’t do, not what I did do. I don’t focus on the fact that I got “Curse of the Woods” published in Pulp Literature, but on the fact that it’s the only thing I got published in a magazine this year. I don’t focus on the fact that I finished editing Servant of the People, but that I have not yet finished writing Guardian of the Garden City. It’s not that everyone seems to have a good time at my Unknown Armies games, but that I often feel the adventures do not have as good an arc as they’re supposed to. I can recognize what I’m doing intellectually, but it’s hard to respond to that emotionally.
I read a really interesting interview on the Mental Illness Happy Hour, where the comedian Paul F. Tompkins was interviewed about his depression. He pointed out that it’s impossible for all our wishes to be granted, and if somehow they were, we’d go insane and just demand further and further things. We’d become Howard Hughes walking around with boxes for shoes, Salvador Dali demanding giraffes, all the rock stars filling their mansions with drugs. All their sane wishes came true, so they had to start focusing on insane ones. The key to happiness to learn how to be satisfied with what we have rather than always wanting everything to be perfect. Because if somehow things became perfect, our brains would break.
It’s something that’s much easier to accept intellectually than emotionally.