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Return to Form... and an Old Post-Apocalyptic Book!

Hey folks, sorry for the massive hiatus, literally three months since my last update, life has been sort of hectic of late. Living overseas is never easy, and some days are a lot more stressful than others. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about, I’m here to talk about updating the Post-Apocalyptic Writing Guide!

The cover was a very expensive gag… that nobody has got, so I will be changing it to something a bit more appropriate.

The cover was a very expensive gag… that nobody has got, so I will be changing it to something a bit more appropriate.

It’s been a year since I released the guide, and it’s garnered some great comments and reviews… but the things with guides is that they have to stay current. With that in mind, I’m going to update and re-release the guide. A version 2.0, if you will.

Because of this, I’m opening the floor to my Post-Apocalyptic tribe - if you’ve got something you think should, or shouldn’t, be in there, then let me know! I’ve got my own changes that I want to make, sure, but I’m happy to listen and take on board any thoughts or criticisms that Post-Apocalyptic creators and fans have. I want this to be the quintessential guide, and for that I need all of you. There’s already a long list of names in the front, people who’ve helped out, and I’m more than happy to have yours in there too.

If you’ve already got a copy, then flip through it and take some notes. If you haven’t got a copy, then just email me at JJShurte@Gmail.com and I’ll send you one for free. One of the tribe, S.T. Campitelli, has already written up a five page document that’s full of some really helpful stuff, I’m seriously impressed and doubly grateful. But I don’t care who you are, as long as your a fan of the genre, I’m open to any and all input.

Thanks in advance, and best of luck out there!

PS - Yes, I’ll try to update more.
PPS - Yes, I’m still working on my fiction… when I can.

Life Update

I've been off the radar for a few weeks, but there's a half decent reason for that. I quit one job, moved country and then started a new job. It's been fairly hectic, but then stepping outside your comfort zone always will be. I'm in a whole new world, and it's proven to be a challenging and exciting adventure... for the most part. 

For those who don't know, I used to live in Australia where I worked in a bottle'o (for you Seppos, that's Aussie slang for "Liquor Store"). It was a decent enough gig but I was always going to move onto something else once Days Too Dark had been published. While originally I had planned on joining the Australian Army as an officer, part way through my application I busted my back and ruined any chance of that happening. So, to steal a line from Fallout: Tactics - I squared my shoulders and set myself to the task ahead. 

I arrived at TESOL! An ex-girlfriend had suggested I charge her friends money for conversing with them because they'd be willing to pay stupid amounts of money to improve their language skills. While my relationship with her didn't last (wonder why?) the idea for a career path did grow into something more concrete and lasting. I started a teaching course and after several months, and another girlfriend-turned-ex, I have found myself in Taiwan.

Just your typical cityscape here in Taiwan.

Just your typical cityscape here in Taiwan.

The initial two weeks of training was interesting. 53 people from a bunch of different English-speaking countries all thrown together and forced to be with one another 24/7 proved to be... a little volatile at times. Not to mention the massive age difference between the different applicants. Being someone in their early 30's, I found myself having to rouse on some of the younger and more reckless applicants. They may have resented me for taking on the role of big brother, but if you're going to be in a country where you don't look like 97% of the population it really doesn't pay to get shit faced and run around the streets, humping inanimate objects and screaming the name of the company that just hired you. College is over, grow the fuck up.

Life... finds a way.

Life... finds a way.

I was also forced to room with a guy who should have been quarantined because he had Strep-Throat. Luckily I didn't get it, but I did get some crazy cold that felt like nothing I've ever had before. Foreign land, foreign bugs. 

It's all good though, most of us got through the training and we've all been scattered about the island to our various branches. Most of us made some friends from the original group, but I suspect that for the most part the majority of the group will fade into memory. Some of us are here to explore the island and culture of Taiwan, others are here for teaching experience. Some will stay for just a year, if that, while others will likely stay for longer. 

Taiwan is great, the food is to die for and the people here are pretty damn awesome. For me, the thing that stands out the most is that fact that the whole island has this amazing dystopian/post-apocalyptic aesthetic to it. I know, I know - what're the chances that a guy who has a blog about post-apocalyptic fiction would end up in a place that totally meshes with his tastes? Well, if you've seen some of the pictures I've been sharing you'll see that it's not joke.

Look at this shit! How awesome is this?!

Look at this shit! How awesome is this?!

Because Taiwan is in the tropics/sub-tropics, the buildings are going to get damaged by the environment no matter what the locals do. So, from what I've heard they just decided to abandon all hope of maintaining the exterior of buildings and instead focus on the interior. So you get these building that look really run down and dilapidated on the outside, but you walk inside and they're clean, fully functional and modern. It's a total mindfuck. 

Along with this, in an effort to reduce the effects of the heat and humidity, there are trees and plants all over the place. People have trees on their roofs and little bushes growing where ever they can squeeze them in. The drop in temperature you get when you walk under the shade of a tree here is amazing and as a guy who is both large and covered in hair, I will take advantage of the shade whenever I get the chance.

How awesome is that? Ah, I haven't felt like this since I wandered the earthquake ruins of Christchurch... 

How awesome is that? Ah, I haven't felt like this since I wandered the earthquake ruins of Christchurch... 

Oh yeah, speaking of body hair. On my first day I was walking around this memorial shrine when some random Taiwanese woman walked up to me and called me a monkey several times. Considering both previously mentioned ex's had called me a monkey at one point or another, I didn't think much of it. Kind of funny though.

Anyway, I'm here for the next year (at least) and I'll be teaching English to little kids as a day job. I'm still going to be writing, it's what I was born to do, it's just that the day job that I use to facilitate that writing is in the northern hemisphere. And honestly, teaching English is more in line with writing anyway, at least I'm working with the language as opposed to selling alcohol to people. 

Fuuuuuuck I am so glad to be out of that job, you have no idea.

I've laid out an intense writing schedule for the next year, I hope to get a few projects done. I don't know if I'll make it or not, but I'll give it my best. I've got one book that's about to be announced, more on that later, and then a stand alone followed by a 5 part series. I'm pretty excited to bring all of these projects to life.  

But enough of that, a whole new world awaits! 

Diesel vs Rock

They say your willpower evaporates as the day passes, used up with each little choice that you make. With that in mind, I hope you appreciate the honesty that comes with a 6am blog post. I just tried to drunkenly wipe the piss stains off the left hand wall in my bathroom... besides finally learning that I part to the left, I've little left to give.

The other night I watched three movies that stared the Rock; Rampage, San Andreas and Jumanji 2. Tonight, I've watched two films that start Vin Diesel; The Last Witch Hunter and Babylon A.D.. You might consider the fact that I watched one more movie with the Rock than Vin Diesel in the lead as a sign that I prefer the Rock over Vin, but that would be a miscalculation. I watched one more movie with the Rock in it because I've already seen everything Vin has done and typically I couldn't be fucked watching anything the Rock stars in...

I honestly don't even care...

I honestly don't even care...

A few years back, on set of one of the Fast & Furious films, the Rock made some comment about butting heads with another male lead. It didn't take a fucking rocket scientist to figure out that he was butting heads with Vin Diesel, the series previous male lead. Vin had been doing his thing for years, the Rock had been making waves in Hollywood and the two had finally met in Vin's money maker series - the Fast & the Furious.

The thing with these two actors is that they've got vastly different philosophies when it comes to their careers. While Vin Diesel is not above doing a film to make some money to fund his passion projects, the Rock is all about the money makers. Vin Diesel will go from mainstream blockbusters to arthouse films that barely make a dent, but you can tell that they're something that he's personally invested in. The Rock, on the other hand, never takes a risk and only ever stars in roles that he knows are going to make mega dollars.

You see, while Vin Diesel is an artist, the Rock is an entertainer. 

You can take the actor out of WWE, but you can never take the WWE out of the actor...

You can take the actor out of WWE, but you can never take the WWE out of the actor...

I've got a cousin who married a sports and wrestling fan, the kind of douche-bag that works a dead-end job while he buys every video game console and gambles his kid's lunch money away then complains that my cousin doesn't put out enough. He's a big fan of the Rock.

Me, on the other hand, I've been a fan of Vin Diesel for years now. He misses the mark a whole lot, but he puts his money and name on the line for what he believes in. Vin Diesel is an artist to his core, and he's not above doing a shitty studio acting gig to gather the cash required to produce the films he really wants to be in. Vin Diesel wants to be in movies that make you feel something, that tell a decent story, the Rock wants to be in films that make money.

Easy to make, guaranteed to make bulk cash. Do what you gotta do to make the art happen...

Easy to make, guaranteed to make bulk cash. Do what you gotta do to make the art happen...

While Vin Diesel has done films such as Pitch Black, Knockaroung Guys, Babylon A.D. & The Last Witch Hunter, the Rock has only ever done blockbusters. The most artistic films the Rock has done are Southland Tales in 2006 and Moana in 2016, besides that it's back to back trash that appeals to the lowest common denominator. Don't get me wrong, the Rock works his arse off, it's just that he puts all that effort into making drivel that appeals to the widest audience possible. 

A reboot with the most vanialla cast possible...

A reboot with the most vanialla cast possible...

When's the last time the Rock took a risk? When was the last time he made a small budget film that he made for himself, as opposed for a massive audience? Snitch, or maybe Faster? Even they had a cast of big name actors to lend the film some weight. The dude is a money making machine, no doubt, but he's not exactly making anything of worth...

Vin Diesel misses as often as he scores, but at least he's fucking trying. The Rock makes shit for school boys and beta losers who knock up chicks just to tie them down. Explosions and tits and corny one liners that appeal to the perpetual boner in every male in existence, he's got them all following his cookie-cutter career like he's bloody samoan-jesus. The Rock is 50 Shades of Grey for men, mass produced trash that appeals to their lizard brains but offers nothing of any substantive value. 

Concept art like this had me hooked, for years, just waiting for a film's release

Concept art like this had me hooked, for years, just waiting for a film's release

I get excited when another Vin Diesel movie is announced, I look forward to seeing what he's devoting himself to next. I can't even be bothered yawning when the ninth movie with the Rock in it this year is announced, because I know it's going to be some WWE/Michael Bay-esque tripe. 

Pay attention to what actors spend their time on, some are passionate about crafting stories while others are only passionate about gathering fame and money. Figure out who you want to give your money to, because you get a say in who succeeds. 

 

Mad Max - Mental Health in the Post Apocalypse

There is this scene in Mad Max Fury Road that resonated with me, much more so than the rest of the film already did. Max and Furiosa have led the escape from Immortan Joe and Max is driving the War-Rig through the desert. It's a long journey but eventually the group comes across a transmission tower. The ruins of the old world are already sparse in the Wasteland, we saw some oil derricks and flare stacks at the start of the film but that's it, so this relic of the old world already stands out. What makes the situation even more strange is the fact that there's a naked woman atop the tower.

It's Megan Gale, butt-naked, in the middle of no where... if that doesn't set off alarm bells.

It's Megan Gale, butt-naked, in the middle of no where... if that doesn't set off alarm bells.

The thing is, Max takes one look at this scene and shakes his head... because he's not having any of it. 

Nope!

Nope!

Now, you could pass if off as Max's survival instincts being so finely tuned that he can spot a trap a mile away, but I think there's more to it than that. See, if this whole scene was to simply showcase how crafty Max is, they could have placed anything as bait - food, fuel or weapons. The sorts of things that Max, and any man, would *need.* But the trap wasn't set with a bait that a man would need, it was set with a bait that most men would *want.* This is where the writers got it right and where the Vuvalini got it wrong.

(Side note - Can I just point out how bad it is that this trap was even set in the first place? You never really stop to think about it while watching the movie, because the outcome is averted... but look at the intended situation. There's a woman as bait, which means the intended victim was a man. This man would walk along, see a naked woman (who was screaming for help, mind you... so, as unlikely as it is in the Wasteland, he could genuinely want to help her) and go towards her. The trap would spring, Valkyrie would cease to be a helpless maiden and become the warrior-goddess she is and, backed up by the other Vuvalini, would proceed to kill this random guy. It's a subtle nod to the fact that the Vuvalini aren't much better than any of the men in the film. This is backed up by something The Dag says later on, but I'll get to that another day.)

Brutal survivalists to the last, nobody is innocent in the Wasteland.

Brutal survivalists to the last, nobody is innocent in the Wasteland.

Max is someone who is haunted by his past, by the things he's done and by the things done to him, hence the title of the franchise. All throughout Fury Road we see him being hounded by visions of friends and family, those he's lost along his journey. In particular, there is a little girl that haunts him every step of the way. The only hint we get at Max's relationship with this little girl is when Immortan Joe's favorite wife, Splendid, falls from the War-Rig and is run over by Immortan Joe himself. There is a momentary flash, to Max's past.

This is what we see - Max cradling the little girl, as she lay dead or dying. 

This is what we see - Max cradling the little girl, as she lay dead or dying. 

This is actually a very important scene in the movie, with the apparent death of one character bringing back memories of the death of another character. Throughout the film we're hearing whispers and seeing flashes of people who are long dead, they meld into the world and seem to harry and haunt at Max at every turn and this scene shows them for what they are - invasive thoughts. Max is someone who is traumatized by his past, to the extent that memories of his past will flash in his brain continuously and without warning. He's lost people close to him, so losing more people makes him think of the people he's already lost, and so he avoids people at all cost. 

"Here they come again. Worming their way into the black matter of my brain. I tell myself they cannot touch me. They are long dead. I am the one who runs from both the living and the dead. Hunted by scavengers. Haunted by those I could not protect. So I exist in this wasteland. A man reduced to a single instinct - survive."

When Max sees Valkyrie standing naked atop the transmission tower, he's not making an intellectual observation about it being a trap. His brain is activating self defense protocols and throwing up walls, telling him it's a trap to protect him from potentially getting close to someone only to lose them later on. There's a reason the Vuvalini used a naked woman as bait, they know that most men will want a woman - as a potential partner, for base physical release or even simply as a meal. The problem here is that Max is having none of that, we can see this early on in the film when he first meets Furiosa and the Wives.

Six babes... and all he can see is the water.

Six babes... and all he can see is the water.

Max is not interested in getting close to any of these people, he even tries to ditch them before being forced to let them on the War-Rig with him. It's part of his whole story arc; having to learn to stop running, face what happened to him, and let others get close to him again. Max's brain isn't allowing him to even remotely consider relationships, let alone sex, at this stage in his life. He's been so traumatized by losing others that his brain is operating under the assumption that the safest path now is to avoid all emotional connections, for fear of subsequent pain.

So when he saw Valkyrie sitting there, he thought the same thing that any guy would think. But then that thought was overridden by the urge to get as far away from that as possible, simply to escape the possibility of more pain in his life. It takes a certain level of trauma for a guy to see a naked woman and think "threat" instead of "awesome!" And this is why this scene resonated with me, because I've actually been through something similar. Anyone who has read my book, Days Too Dark, probably knows that it's largely based on my life - which, as I always put it, has been "interesting." 

Back when I was eighteen I came home from work one night, I stepped into my bedroom and found two random girls in bikinis laying on my bed. I would like to say that I turned on the charm and tried my best to woo them, because that's what any normal teenage guy should have done... but that just wasn't what I was. No, my initial reaction was spin around and throw up my fists, then stalk through the house looking for the people that were obviously trying to kill me. I saw two scantly clad babes laying on my bed and alarm bells started blaring in my head.

"Threat! Threat! Threat!" 

"Threat! Threat! Threat!" 

You lose people, you get betrayed, you get abused - your brain blows any potential risk way out of proportion and does its best to protect you. And why shouldn't it? That's what it's there for. If our ancestors saw a sabertooth tiger out in the wilds, they didn't stop to wonder if it was dangerous, they just fucking ran. This is because those that didn't run never got the chance to breed, simply because they were too busy getting shat out a few days later. Our brains are good at making shortcuts to save time and increase our chances of survival... which sometimes leads to overreactions in the modern world. If a situation, perhaps one involving other people, consistently results in mass amounts of pain and suffering then your brain is going to do it's best to get you out of similar situations.

The problem here is that once those shortcuts are ingrained they're very hard to get rid of, and this is where mental and emotional health issues result. You still want a connection with others, but your brain is operating under the assumption that it's going to result in pain and/or suffering, so it puts a stop to it. Max saw a naked woman standing alone in the desert and his brain perceived the situation as a threat. I saw two hot chicks in bikinis on my bed and my brain perceived the situation as a threat. Both of these reactions are the result of past traumas and they take a lot of time and effort to work through, to undo the lines of defense that your brain has erected... for your protection. 

I'd tell you what happened with the two girls in the bikinis, but that will ruin a part of the story in the sequel to Days Too Dark... needless to say, it didn't go how you'd expect. Although I didn't get the movie treatment, where a character can move on from all their issues within the time-frame of a single movie, I did spend the time, effort and money to move on from a lot of these issues. And I think that's important, because without help it's entirely possible to end up as someone like Mad Max - someone who runs from the living, and the dead. And I can tell you from personal experiences, that it's not as cool or as badass as it sounds. 

There's nothing cool about always looking over your shoulder for something that's never there.

There's nothing cool about always looking over your shoulder for something that's never there.

Mad Max Fury Road was a fantastic film that had so many layers of plot and backstory written into it, I truly believe that it's one of those films that will stand the test of time. Max's character was so well written, I keep coming back to him over and over just to bask in how flawed he is and how meaningful his character growth is. Far too often we see characters, such as Wolverine and Batman, that are said to have deep-seeded issues resulting from personal trauma... but then they're also shown to be these suave love machines that bed almost every woman they meet. You can't have it both ways, you can't have the cause without the effect... if they're not fucked up by what happened, then it obviously wasn't that big of a deal. Trauma isn't just a trait you can throw onto a character to make them seem dark and brooding, it has to have real and debilitating consequences in the story. Trauma has to be something that characters need to overcome... otherwise, what's the point? 

It was nice to finally see a male character with emotional issues portrayed in a fashion that's more realistic, and it was nice to see him make some headway towards better mental health.  

He's still got a long road ahead of him, but it's a start.

He's still got a long road ahead of him, but it's a start.

A Writing Update

Sorry for the lack of posting over the past few weeks, I've become strangely busy of late. 

Exactly this kind of busy...

Exactly this kind of busy...

Beyond the fact that I managed to complete the first draft of an entire project last month, one month ahead of Nano, I've also been trying to decide which project to start next. I've also been studying and practicing for my TESOL assessment and there's a tiny Taiwanese woman who keeps trying to kill me, for some reason...

So, I've been busy - but it's always been the good and productive kind of busy. I tried to play a video game and I couldn't, it felt like a waste of time. You know you're in a productive state of mind when something like that happens.

My social life has taken a turn for the worse lately too.

My social life has taken a turn for the worse lately too.

The two projects I could chose from were sort of neck and neck, and they're in the same setting but I decided to go for the bigger of the two. This will be book two to the book I'm about to release, so it makes sense to get a start on it as soon as I can since I know how slow and pedantic I can be. The other project was a much smaller side story to this trilogy, I may still do it down the line but it's just not necessary at this point. Better to focus on the main event and get it out and done with, that's where the action is. 

I've really got to learn to be smarter with my time and money, that's one thing getting this first book together has taught me. I am an absolute dunce when it comes to time management and finances and I need to get better if I plan on staying in this industry. I suppose you've got to make stupid decisions at the start so you can make smarter ones down the line, it's all about the learning process... and all that jazz. 

So my plate is kind of full and I'm trying to decide what I'm going to be doing next on a number of fronts. Not all of these decisions are as simple as choosing which writing project to start next either, so hence the blog has suffered. Sorry about all that, my bad. 

I am looking at getting the new Fallout board game though, I'm strangely excited by that. I've been meaning to lean into my nerdy side a bit more recently, it's a part of myself that I've rejected and ignored for far too long. There's a few people I know that can just enjoy whatever they want, however ridiculous, and I kind of envy them that ability. Board games and other aspects of nerd culture are just two things that I've always wanted to get more into but never managed to allow myself to do. It probably sounds stupid, but it'll make sense in a few weeks for anyone who reads this upcoming book.

There better be Deathclaws... 

There better be Deathclaws... 

On another note, this diet I've been on for the past three weeks has been paying off big time. I am seeing some seriously fantastic returns for the amount of effort I'm putting in, and once my six weeks are up I'll be able to tell you all about it. I'm still taking it easy because of my back, and I'm learning what I can and can't do these days, but at the gym I'm reaching the maximum weight that the machines have. There comes a point where you've got nowhere to go beyond just upping the reps you're doing, and so pretty soon I'll have to head back to the free weights. I'm just hoping that everything is in place and stable before then. 

Beyond that, my book is nearing completion and I've been doing the old back and forth with the graphic designer on the other side of the world. We're only awake at the same time for a few hours each day, but we're hammering through it to get it done. It's still looking good for a release this year, I just hope that everything stays on schedule for that to happen. I'll let you all know when the exact release date is when we're closer to completion, there's all this complicated behind the scenes business these days. Multiple platforms to release on, marketing and advertising, networking, all these different fields that I know nothing about but which I'll have to master at some point. 

Ah well, it's all part of being a writer.

Till next time!

Till next time!

Politics and Writing

Sorry for the radio silence recently, I've been swamped with a few projects all coming to a head at once. I'm having to pick up some slack in several locations for a really massive project that is nearing completion, and as annoying as that is I've actually learned a lot from the experience so it's not all bad. But it signifies that some changes are needed, I can't keep going like I've been going. 

In other news; I've been pumping out a metric shit tonne of words recently, for a project that I'll be releasing early next year some time. Besides that, I've been doing a final edit of the big one that will be released before the years end, as well as planning what I'm going to write for NaNo WriMo. I've been planning to do this challenge for years now but every year something pops up and I miss the chance, so this year I've been planning ahead.... and that's where the trouble started.

I had this idea for a Dystopian story.

See, in terms of the political spectrum, a Dystopia is often a Right-leaning government oppressing individuals who are more Left-leaning and progressive. The Handmaids Tale is a great example of this; women's rights are swept away as a Christian totalitarian government takes over the United States and calls itself 'Gilead' for some reason... it's all very inspiring for the modern day feminist movement, and there have been rallying cries of how it's a tale that needs to be told, and how gosh darn relevant it is in the era of Donald Trump.

oooooh you're being opressed! Soooooo original..... (Can you hear my eyes rolling?)

oooooh you're being opressed! Soooooo original..... (Can you hear my eyes rolling?)

And that's all fine, but...

People on the Left aren't the only ones who can experience a Dystopia - it's not a genre that's bound to any one view point or ideology, here - I'll rip a description straight from Wikipedia.

"A dystopia is a society characterized by a focus on that which is contrary to the author's ethos, such as mass poverty, public mistrust and suspicion, a police state or oppression. Most authors of dystopian fiction explore at least one reason why things are that way, often as an analogy for similar issues in the real world. Dystopian literature is used to "provide fresh perspectives on problematic social and political practices that might otherwise be taken for granted or considered natural and inevitable"

A Dystopia can be experienced by anyone, it's all relative. One man's utopia is another man's dystopia. For a long time, the focus has always been on how bad things could get if the Right gain too much control, but that's not the only Dystopia out there. What would a Dystopia *for* Right-wingers look like?

If you can read this then we're nowhere near this. Stop overreacting, this shit isn't as poingnant as you think it is... 

If you can read this then we're nowhere near this. Stop overreacting, this shit isn't as poingnant as you think it is... 

That's what I was going to explore, and I was going to grab a bunch of different ideas and current fears of people on the right and make this world that would be horrifically alien to them.

  • Sexbots - it's been popping up more and more lately, this is an absurd topic that has people from all walks of life freaking the fuck out.
  • Equality run rampant - Straight White Males have had generations of privilege, now they've entered an age where they're paying off that debt.
  • Feminism and Islam - because I felt like ruining my entire life by making fun of this team up.
  • Universal Income - because if we're getting laid without effort, why not get paid without effort as well? Another topic that people are talking a lot about.
  • New World Order - Globalism run rampant to the point of there being no borders anymore, the Right-winger's worst nightmare.
  • Self Grading College Degrees - because how couldn't this absurd trend cause problems?!

I had a vague idea of what the plot would be, it was going to be about this guy who is more white than most people can be in this world, and he's an ex-serviceman looking to find a partner despite a few issues he's got. Men don't marry anymore because divorce courts are so in favor of women and instead they just bang sex robots. Women have taken over the workforce but since they're allowed to self grade they're mostly totally unqualified and the global economy starts to crash as men simply bow out and women under-perform too much to be able to handle it. The worlds population is down below 3 billion, despite it being 2100 or something like that, people just aren't having kids anymore. Men don't want the risk and the burden while women put their careers ahead of children and see motherhood as a joke.

The protagonist would see all the issues with this ailing society and seek to end it, by destroying all the sex-robots.

He'd go on some merry adventure until he came face to face with the president of the world, she knows things are failing but she refuses to give up power and go back to the old ways of things, she'd "rather rule in hell than serve in heaven." And just as he's being carted away to jail, to become breeding stock to help boost the dying worlds numbers, he's rescued by a rebel group. They don't plan to stop the government, they just want to let it die so that they can step in and rebuild from the ground up. 

The rebels wouldn't have been pro-male or anti-women or anything stupid like that, just a basic egalitarian group that recognizes that one extreme is no better than the other, and that both groups need one another, that they *are* one another. And the story was going to end with the protagonist walking off into the wilderness with these rebels, not bothering to try and take out the Dystopian government but simply letting it fall on its own, like they inevitably do. 

So that was the idea.... absurd to the nth degree, like all the best dystopias are. 

The thing is, though... I hung out with my cousin and her two girls on Friday, and I got to thinking. Even though I classify myself as a Centrist, there's no way that this story couldn't be construed as Right-wing. And that's the point, obviously, I was going to write a Dystopia that bucks the trend and goes against what people are used to.

What happens when gender affirmative action and safe spaces go too far? Beats the hell outta me, but I'm sure it'd be just as bad as if Nazi's start marching down main street, just for different people. One extreme is just as bad as another. The very fact that it's your idea of Utopia means that it's another person's dystopia, that's how life works.

And so I'm going on a bush walk with my cousin and her two girls, we're talking about Wonder Woman and looking at water dragons and all that good stuff, and I realized that I just don't want to invest so much time and negativity on such a story. It would be a pretty shitty world to live in, but then I don't want to live in world of Nazi's either, and I think that such a book would only give them a stronger foothold in the world.

A pretty good movie, but it sure as hell wasn't a bastion of equality. 

A pretty good movie, but it sure as hell wasn't a bastion of equality. 

I'm not here to support either the Left or the Right, I've got a little bit of both in me. I support gay marriage but I also want people to stay the fuck away and not interfere with my own rights. I like a free economy but I also think there should be a safety net for those that need it. I'm all for multiculturalism but I also see the benefits of nationalism... sorry I don't fit into one camp or the other, I'm kind of complex. I find people who support either camp to be like sock puppets, hollowed out and someone else's ideas with someone else's voice.

And everyone thinks Centrists are wishy-washy fence sitters who lack convictions, so what the hell would I know?

But mainly I decided not to write the story because I don't want to be the guy that writes a Dystopian story about how horrible it would be if roles were reversed and women ruled the world... and nose dived it into the ground. As interesting as that story might be, it'd cop so much flak from everyone, everywhere, that I'd be hearing about it until the day I die. And honestly, I don't want my cousin's girls to read that story one day and wonder how I could write something like that when they were already in my life.

I'm not just a Centrist for shits and giggles or to save myself the trouble of having to pick a side, I chose to be a moderate because it allows me to observe. As a writer, I need to be able to step into anyone's shoes and try my best to think like they think, to feel what they feel. I can think as a Nazi one day, and as a radicalized anti-establishment freedom fighter the next. I try to keep my views out of a story when I'm writing it, and instead allow the characters to have their own views. That's kinda hard when you're bringing a viewpoint that's been warped by propaganda and inhereted beliefs. 

I will be the first to admit that I've had some issues over the years, issues with trusting women included. You don't spend three years, and thousands of dollars, on therapy for no reason at all... But I'm trying to move on from all of that, and this story would have been a massive step backwards for me. I'm focused on moving forward these days, and although that doesn't mean I'm ever going to become a flag waving feminist, is does mean that I'm going to try to live with love and respect for others, and treat them how I'd like to be treated. 

Except the characters in my post apocalyptic stories, I am going to make each and every one of their lives an utter fucking nightmare...

Things are a hell of a lot simpler in the Plains of Silence... 

Things are a hell of a lot simpler in the Plains of Silence... 

 

 

Anosmia

I have anosmia.

Shut up, I'll explain what it is. 

Basically, I can't smell. You know how blind people can't see, and deaf people can't hear? Well, anosmics can't smell. The thing is though, since it's not blatantly in everyone else's faces, it's pretty rare to find someone who actually knows what it is. Right now, for example, Squarespace is telling me that both 'anosmia' and 'anosmics' aren't even real words. But then there's a squiggly red line under the word 'squarespace' as well, so I shouldn't judge them too harshly.

Selma - Queen Bee of Anosmia-town! 

Selma - Queen Bee of Anosmia-town! 

I don't have some sob story about how nobody understood me as kid, and how everyone thought I was making it up to get attention. That's all true, but I'm not going to waste your time going on about it. I'm sure we've all got better things to do. Mind you, I've got a book coming out soon, with an anosmic character in it, and I sort of do all my venting there. With that in mind, my reticence here is somewhat more self serving that I initially let on. I know how much people hate spoilers though, so... 

Dewey Cox magically got his sense of smell back randomly... that shit pissed me off.

Dewey Cox magically got his sense of smell back randomly... that shit pissed me off.

It is true that it's not exactly represented that well in the media, but I don't particularly care about it that much. I read some article about a guy who thought anosmics being referred to as "nose-blind" was seriously offensive... motherfucker needs some real problems. It's nice to see characters in shows and movies with anosmia, but it'd be pretty stupid of me to be asking for them to be included in every show just for the sake of inclusiveness. 

I loved The Nice Guys! Ryan Gossling's character was anosmic, and I look like Russell Crowe!

I loved The Nice Guys! Ryan Gossling's character was anosmic, and I look like Russell Crowe!

Yeah, I'm handicapped. I've got no sense of smell at all, and because of that I've also lost most of my sense of taste as well (they're linked... and you thought you were done learning!) I'm not going to sit here and write out some positive "I'm not lesser, just different" BS speech though. If I could magically get my sense of smell back, I'd be willing to do some pretty terrible things to make it happen - because it would greatly improve my life.

I honestly don't understand all this hate from handicapped people about not being seen as equal to everyone else though. Like... if you can smell, and I can't - then we're not equal. You've got an advantage over me, and while that sucks I'm actually okay with it. That doesn't mean that you should treat handicapped people like shit, but you don't have to tell us we're equal just to make yourself feel like a goodly and inclusive (and auto-fellating) individual. 

If your life depending on sniffing out who farted, would you seriously pick this guy as your proxy?

If your life depending on sniffing out who farted, would you seriously pick this guy as your proxy?

Also, just in case you were wondering about the scientific link between anosmia and being a psychopath... I wasn't actually born like this, so I'm kinda exempt from that association. People do like to bring that up though, for some reason.  

Now, you may think it never comes up, but there have been a few life threatening situations that I've just stumbled into because I can't smell. I don't get to enjoy most of the foods that most people get to enjoy, I've never smelt perfume, can't tell if food is cooked or spoiled, I've never smelt sex and the notion that oranges have a smell has always weirded me out for some reason. It's not all bad though, you can fart around me and I won't care, I've never had to smell a rotting corpse...  and I have this neat little trick, it's sort of a body-hack.

Ya'll spraying pheremones around and I've got no bloody clue what's happening.

Ya'll spraying pheremones around and I've got no bloody clue what's happening.

See, when you can barely taste, it doesn't really matter what you eat. This means that I can eat the blandest shit imaginable, day after day, and not get sick of it. This sounds bleak, but it's a fucking godsend for someone who has weight issues and makes dieting a hell of a lot easier. Ask people that see me in person, most will attest to seeing me eating a salad straight out of a bag and then downing a plain chicken breast, every day, for 6 months.  

So I try to make the best of it and not go on about it. Sorry if anosmia doesn't fit your criteria for what "disabled" means, it doesn't fit the governments either, so fuck them too. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing, I'm getting along well enough as I am.

Seriously though... what the fuck are these people even doing?! Does tiling your head back make you smell better? It always baffles me when I see people doing this. 

Seriously though... what the fuck are these people even doing?! Does tiling your head back make you smell better? It always baffles me when I see people doing this. 

 

   

Tolstoy, my Birthday and the Number Nine

I've finally finished War and Peace!

I can honestly say that it took me a long while to get into it, but as things started to wind down I realized how invested I'd gotten in the various characters. It's still a weighty tome that I wouldn't recommend to casual readers, but if you're looking for a classic story to invest your time into then look no further.

On a more personal note, today (9/9) was my birthday. It just so happens that the 9th of September was Leo Tolstoy's birthday as well! While I didn't plan on finishing War and Peace on today of all days, I refused to let the chance slip by. So yes; I spent most of my 32nd birthday on my own, powering through the last pages of some 19th century Russian literature. 

Leo Tolstoy - If you're going to share a birthday with someone, you might as well share it with one of the most legendary pillars of your field!

Leo Tolstoy - If you're going to share a birthday with someone, you might as well share it with one of the most legendary pillars of your field!

And then I went to work, so yeah - today hasn't been the best birthday ever but I certainly got a lot done. I went and got myself some birthday presents as well, because that's just how we do these days. That's a whole other story that I'll have to get into at a later stage, there's a lot involved in it.

But anyway, I went down to JB-HiFi and grabbed a few DVD series that I've been keen to see. Since Netflix went all Negan on Australia, my favourite streaming sites have all been blocked so now I'm forced to go and buy DVD's like a common pleb. Life's really tough sometimes...

Anyway, here's what I picked up!

Not a bad haul, if I do say so myself!

Not a bad haul, if I do say so myself!

Wynnona Earp was a total mistake, I meant to buy the new Van Helsing series - I just saw the badass monster hunter chick at thought they were the same thing. My bad! It does look good though and it's gotten good reviews, so I'm keen to see how it plays out.

Zoo is a recommendation from a mate on Twitter, Z.E.D.D Radio - he told me that it's the single greatest post apocalyptic series ever created and that I should totally raise both my hopes and expectations for this fantastic series because there is a literal 0% chance that it will disappoint me. I am *super* excited!

(psssst! I know it's shit!)

(psssst! I know it's shit!)

After that gag real of a TV series we've got Taboo, now this one has interested me for a while now. It's created by, and stars, Tom Hardy - so I'm guessing that this is his big push into more artistic, less blockbuster, territory. I loved him in Bronson, so I'm very interested to see what he gets up to when he's not on someone else's leash.

Preacher - I've head people go on about it, and it sounds interesting, so I'll give it a go. This was really an impulse buy, I am hopeful though!

American Gods - I was a bit iffy about this, I read the book a while back but got the shits when I saw that they were changing the story to give Shadow's wife, Laura Moon, a bigger role. She's literally a cheating whore who died with some other dude's cock in her mouth, she doesn't need a bigger part. Shadow don't need that bitc-uuuuugh, sorry. I don't like cheaters. So as you can see, I'm still a bit conflicted about this, but I loved the book so I'm sure the show will be great.

Anyway, that's what I'm going to be diving into over the next few weeks. I'm renowned for my binge watching capabilities, so it shouldn't take me too long to get through these. I'll just have to keep my studies up for TESOL since that's the main goal in all of this.

One last thing before I sign off, however, since now is numerically the most suitable time to do this.

Just so you know... I have a thing with the number 9. 

Obviously the fact that I was born on 9/9 plays a role in this, then Tolstoy being born on the same day melds into this as well. And, just to give an example of how crazy this fascionation can get at times, add up all the numbers for the last page of War and Peace...

I'll just sit here and wait while you go get a calculator...

I'll just sit here and wait while you go get a calculator...

How crazy is that?! 

It's just a gimmick I use to drive certain mates crazy from time to time, but it's actually gotten kind of fun to see how many places it pops up. Obviously there's a whole lot more to it than just this, you don't make a trend with just a handful of occurrences after all. The number 9 plays a pretty important role in my upcoming novel as a numerological motif, and for those that read this - now you've got an idea of why.

Also, just FYI - there's also this amazing animated post apocalyptic film called 9, that was released 09/09/09. 

If you haven't seen this then you have to, it's a great movie.

If you haven't seen this then you have to, it's a great movie.

How doubly crazy is that?!

How this plays into my upcoming book will be revealed later on, so consider this one of those teasers for a trailer for a movie that isn't out for a while yet. It's not enough to tell you anything of worth, just enough to piss you off. Do you remember when the just did trailers, and not teasers? Gods, those were the days...

Anyway, it's late and I'm rambling and I've got to go read a the intro of a book about Shakespeare and the Eternal Recurrence before bed. Hope you all had/are having a great day, cheers for reading.

Peace

Real World Update

When I first started this, I mentioned that I was in a dead-end job. I sell booze, which in itself is never that interesting, especially when you take into account that I don't drink, can't smell and can only barely taste... seriously, I don't know why people take drink recommendations from me. 

Anyway, it's a job that was never going to go anywhere and the pay is shit. People who stock shelves at night get paid more than me, and they don't have a $9000 fine hanging over their head every time they walk in the shop because some kid had a fake ID. But that's all alright, because this job was never meant to go anywhere, it was meant to pay the bills and fund a few projects while I did some personal development. It's paid off too, in the three years that I've been there I've made leaps and bounds, just not in any way that's quantifiable. 

It's all coming to an end though, and I'm looking at moving overseas at the start of next year, most likely China, to teach English. With this in mind, certain things are coming into focus.

I had a guy walk in tonight and steal a bottle of wine. I saw him do it, he stuffed it into his over-sized jacked, I had a laugh with another customer about it before she left. He pretended to ask something stupid about some vodka and then made dash for the door. I tried to talk to him, I legitimately wanted to tell him that what he was doing wasn't worth it, but he bolted from the shop. So in the spur of the moment I called out "Run, Forest, run!"

Probably not the most mature thing to yell at a thief... 

Probably not the most mature thing to yell at a thief... 

People steal things all the time, it's not that big of a deal, I just grab some security footage and send it off to the cops. The cops love me, half the time I manage to get a photo of these people's ID's and I attach that to the report as well. The cops then just rock up on their doorstep and charge them, nice and easy. Occasionally I'll get someone who comes back in after they've been fined and they'll abuse me for reporting them, as though I'm in the wrong...

It's pretty much exactly like this.

It's pretty much exactly like this.

The thing is that booze is not a need, not unless you're living in a wasteland where you need it to sterilize a wound or something. I'd let someone go if they ran out with a loaf of bread or something basic like that, but I've got no problem with making a tape of someone stealing wine simply because they feel like a drink but can't or won't pay for it. The problem is though, once this kid gets caught, it's seriously going to fuck up his life.

Just... trust me, these characters from Jericho spend a lot of time brewing booze for a hospital.

Just... trust me, these characters from Jericho spend a lot of time brewing booze for a hospital.

Shop lifting sounds like a minor offence, but imagine every job interview he's going to have in the future. He's going to have to answer the questions; what he stole, why did he steal it and has he done it again recently? It's going to follow him around like revenge porn, and although I'm technically in the right here, I'm also to blame for this. The problem is though, if I let it go and he doesn't get caught then he'll just keep doing it until something really bad happens. Best he learns this lesson early on, there's a better chance of him righting his ways.

I just wish he didn't come into my shop and drag me into this situation with him, I'm only working this dead end job to pay the bills while I write.

And after that this woman comes in, crying, which happens often enough, and I ask her what's wrong. Turns out the car crash that I'd been hearing about all night had involved her husband, some young guy had plowed into him and he was at the hospital. I did what I could for her, which is not much since I'm a freaking night shift worker at a bottle shop, but I helped her out. I've been in her shoes and I've also been in her husbands shoes, so I had an idea of what to say, so she left well enough. 

I've had to deal with some crazy shit in this store over the past few years. For about a year and a half I had a running transcript of the stupid conversations I had with people posted up on Facebook. I had to stop though, eventually it all just got too absurd to make a joke of it anymore. I've had customers skull whole bottles of wine right outside my door, a woman has asked me to knock her up, I've had a guy screaming at me for over twenty minutes because I wouldn't serve him, I've had to stand against three guys harassing a carload of girls, I've watched a truck crash into a traffic light, I've seen a kid get hit by a car, I've had multiple customers drink themselves to death, I've been one of the only shops in the area to not get held up in a crime wave...

It's probably got something to do with the fact that I look like Old Man Fenix...

It's probably got something to do with the fact that I look like Old Man Fenix...

I've kind of been trying to hide away from the world these past few years, working in the bad part of town and keeping to myself while I put some things together. The problem with the world is that you can run from it, but you can't hide from it, and it's usually pretty damn good at sneaking up on you. There has been some seriously crazy shit go down in that shop, and as much as I appreciate the chance to work a solid job, I'm kind of glad to be leaving.

Anyone who works with booze gets sick of people's shit pretty damn quick.

Anyone who works with booze gets sick of people's shit pretty damn quick.

I was in a bad way when I first started working there, and although I've still got a few things to work out, I'm doing a whole lot better these days. I'm not desperate enough to steal a bottle of booze, and I haven't been in car crash... recently. With all that in mind, as shitty as things seem at times, I'm actually doing pretty well. I've just got to remember that. 

I am looking forward to getting out of here though, and this TESOL course is my ticket to do just that. 

I get that there's more to China than just the Great Wall, but I wanted to end this on a positive note.

I get that there's more to China than just the Great Wall, but I wanted to end this on a positive note.

Why I Became a Writer

My old man is pretty much the reason I became a writer. He was full of wild and unbelievable stories and he's the one that got me writing in the first place, though probably not in the way that you'd expect.

Subtle nod to the most famous post apocalyptic father/son duo.

Subtle nod to the most famous post apocalyptic father/son duo.

My old man was a stevedore, he loaded and unloaded cargo ships. He traveled all around the world, to some of the most remote locations, and unloaded ships there. Half the time he was going to places that didn't even exist yet, he was there to unload the building supplies for mining or logging camps that were destined for the middle of some island jungle. You can't go to these sorts of places and not come back with some crazy stories.

Pirates, rabid Razorbacks, minefields, fossils of prehistoric birds, tidal waves, guys blowing their legs off while fishing with grenades and WW2 era Japanese swords lodged in trees in Papua New Guinea. He'd seen it all, and afterwards he'd come home and tell me all about it.

That's actually a fairly accurate depiction of the kind of ships he worked on...

That's actually a fairly accurate depiction of the kind of ships he worked on...

The thing with my dad though, was that despite having all these amazing stories to tell me, he rarely read or wrote because he was dyslexic. It's why he continued to be a stevedore well into his sixties, it was a hands on job that allowed him to travel and didn't require him to do much of either. The problem was though, when you've been in a job for that long you tend to get promoted to management, and managers usually have to write emails and reports and all those boring, desk jockey things. 

That's actually a fairly accurate depiction of my old man... weirdly enough.

That's actually a fairly accurate depiction of my old man... weirdly enough.

Which is where his nerdy, nine year old kid comes into the picture. 

I'd be on the computer, playing Dark Earth or Fallout, and this gigantic hand would suddenly drop down onto my shoulder. My dad was pretty stealthy for a big guy, but that's a story for another day. I'd close the game with a sigh, I knew what I needed to do.

When that happened, I was going to be spending the next fifteen minutes to an hour transcribing and editing an email or some report. He'd sit behind me and spout random things about subjects that we're way beyond my comprehension, or he'd be having a go at some employee that wasn't pulling their weight. My job was to write it all out, and edit it to make sure that it sounded right. After he was finished, he'd always end with, "now, read it back to me. Then send it."

Practice makes perfect.

Practice makes perfect.

The cool thing about this little ritual we had going was that I've got a pretty good typing speed, I know how to spell and, although I don't do it the way you're meant too, I can touch type. I've got a pretty good idea of sentence structure and formatting, and I've got an idea of when things don't sound right - especially in dialogue. Beyond this, I'm also not bad at remembering strings of words that're shouted at me, and I'm usually able to regurgitate them with a fairly high level of accuracy. 

The downside to this training, besides the countless hours of gaming that I missed out on, is that this was all on the job learning. I know what I'm doing, I just don't know why I'm doing it or even what "it" is called. I know where all the commas and full stops go, but throw a semicolon at me and you might as well be speaking Pitjantjatjara. I can still only barely tell you the difference between a noun and a verb, and don't even get me started on adverbs and adjectives. Please, don't get me started, I wouldn't even know where to start from.

They... change things? I dunno.

Let me just reiterate; I have a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing, with minors in English and History. I got through all of university and I still didn't learn this stuff, either because they figured it was so basic that we should already know it or because they just don't teach it anymore. It's one of the reasons I'm so glad that I'm doing this TESOL course; I'll have to know grammar if I'm ever going to teach it. Learning how to teach kids how to read/write/speak English is as much for my own benefit as it is theirs. 

I get that this probably isn't the best thing to be divulging to the world this early in the game, but I've always been a fan of a unique origin story. My old man passed away a few years ago now, and although we didn't always see eye to eye, he's the one that go me interested in storytelling and, whether he intended to or not, he's the one that trained me how to write. He showed me how to have some crazy adventures of my own too, but again - another day.

Would it have been that hard for me to pick up a grammar guide and learn how to do this? Probably not, but then I am notoriously lazy and I got a weird kick out of being the lone sorcerer in a class full of classically trained wizards. (sorry... D&D joke there, props if you get it)

I am making amends for all that though, as I am finally studying up on something that I should have mastered a long time ago. It'll take me a while to get used to all the technical terms for the in's and out's of English, it is a bastard language after all, but I'll get there.... because I would really like to get out of here, and teaching kids overseas is my best chance of doing just that.

Let's just hope it's not like this...

Let's just hope it's not like this...