I keep getting 7 books that impact me, and 10 albums I love from facebook friends. So now that I’m in Vancouver, I thought I’d open with my lists of Josh this year. I’ll talk about them in Part 2, but I thought I’d touch on my goals for this year in my writing and podcasts here in Part 1.
Just Joshing (The Interview List)
So this is who I’m chasing. And yes, there are some big names on here. But I figure, why not?
Bonus two: Heidi Heilig, Kripparian, Diane Birch
The podcast is expanding already this year. I interviewed my first streamer and have some amazing guests already interviewed heading into Just Joshing 350 but these are the people I want to interview this year. Brandon Sanderson is the man, and I want to have a magic match with him. Lights is someone I’m a big fan of. I really dug Skin and Earth and listen to her music often when I write. Gail Simone would just be fun, but the one I’m secretly hoping on this list I finally get to?
Samantha Beiko. I’m a big fan of Sam. I became one two years ago at the Auroras. Scion of the Fox is on my reading pile right now, and I just dig her comic Krampus is my Boyfriend. She is a one of a kind talent who shines no matter what platform she appears. I want to sing something terribly on stage with Sylvain Neuvel. I met him in Ottawa and he is cool beans man. Youtube wing and a prayer on Youtube. It’s amazing. I may fly to montreal just to do it.
People I want to interview again
By Your Leave
I want to interview Fonda again because she’s done comics now and I’m more jealous. She’s also an amazing writer period, and I can’t help saying nice things about her. Sofia Evangelina gives me no excuses not to succeed. I feel like I could have done better by Kate Heartfield and I really like her books, and By Your Leave was definitely a fun experience.
Chris Marrs? Because I know there’s more to her and I want to hear that story.
I want to definitely write more this year. Last year I wrote a lot but wasn’t as productive as the year before. I’m close to finishing draft one of Phoenix Grand Prix and have started Cloud Diver 2. I have big goals for both this year. But first..
Release the Cloud Diver.
It’s really, really close. We’re finalizing the internal stuff right now, and I got some ISBNs to buy and copyrights to finish. That’s it. This bad boy is ready to fly.
If you listen to my podcast with any regularity, you will find that my interviews are often conversations more so than question and answer type deals. There are reasons for that. I thought today because I don’t do craft too much on my blog, that I’d give an insight with how I approach interviews and what exactly I’m seeking when I do a podcast.
I started doing interviews at a site called comicbloc back in 2003. I had seen some of my favorite writers in comics such as Dirk Manning and others break into the industry and thought it would be a good path to start with. I figured that big name artists and creators would not be interested in chatting with me, so I made an emphasis on focusing my time with independent creators and publishers. Years later, I realize that my path hasn’t diverged as much as I thought it would, but I digress.
When you start doing interviews, questions and answers are a great start the ice breaking process. Questions to me are like small talk. It’s a way to find commonality with the interviewee. Generally I don’t know people very well the first time I meet them and have to figure out the ways to chip at the exteriors people have.
On a written platform, these kinds of interviews have a ton of merit. For one thing interviews are snapshots of the person you are engaging with. People want a sense of who the person or their project is on the other side of the process.
From a purposes of media, the big advantage is time. There are what, maybe two thousand words max you can do on a page like this? How many minutes does someone have reading an article from a mobile phone while they are on the train to work? Questions and answers really condense a topic into a very manageable kind of bite. Even on a podcast, if an interview is only about fifteen minutes, this works quite well. Questions and answers are great small talk, and in that kind of time, small talk works.
If this is the kind of interview you do, there are challenges with those limitations.
If you are going to do an interview like this, you need to figure out the story you want to tell. Interviews are storytelling as well, and you need to pick your angle. For one thing, how many questions do authors get about their appearance or genre or about a famous story they did. One of the biggest compliments I have received from my guests on my podcasts is that this isn’t a standard interview. I don’t ask the same questions anyone else does. I have a specific focus when I engage with the people I’m talking to. So my questions have to deal with that focus.
This lesson didn’t come quickly to me. I remember especially with my first few interviews that my questions were very generic. And that’s fine for a beginning. At some point though, you do need to ask yourself what you want to know about the person you are dealing with. Having that kind of planned out makes the questions that come to you easier.
Coming at someone with that kind of agenda may seem disingenuous, but the truth is very often you go in blind. It’s easier to engage with a subject if they have an idea of what they are talking about. Gradually I became more comfortable with the questions I was asking. This process took a few years.
I did it this way for years, even when I started doing interviews on my blog. Until I met Simon Rose.
Simon is an amazing children’s writer and publishes some outstanding books for that genre. I remember coming into the interview with about a page or so of questions. I threw those out of the window immediately after we started chatting. Simon was such an engaging individual on his own, that I realized that the questions I would ask him would get in the way. So I didn’t. I just did a back and forth conversation with him, which turned out quite well.
After interviewing Simon, I threw away the concept of questions. Don’t get me wrong, I still use them from time to time. Like I said, questions are like small talk. They are great to break the tension and get to know someone enough to engage in a conversation. But once you are through the ice, you need to have substance in the conversation. I am a big fan of Rolling Stone interviews with people. There is a real sense of a conversation being told in the magazine and I dig that. It feels realer, is more engaging, and it’s a better soundbyte.
I said above that questions and answers for about 15 minutes is engaging. If you’re good at them, you can do a half hour. After that though, I start to disengage. Maybe it’s because my attention span isn’t what it used to be, but I think it has more to do with the fact that questions and answers don’t sound real after a while. No one tlaks that way in real life. We engage in more of a back and forth and we improvise as we interact. That’s the real experience in enjoying someone’s company, and that’s the experience I try to accomplish on my podcast.
Most of the time it works. I have scared a number of guests when I say not to worry about questions beforehand. I don’t worry about what we are talking about. I have a couple of icebreakers but by and large, I really don’t have a gameplan, with a few exceptions.
The big advantage to my approach is that it feels organic. It’s more like how people talk, and it comes across much more genuine. Questions with this approach are used to continute the momentum of the conversation, but not drive it. This kind of interview really lets people see who the person is.
This approach does have a couple of flaws. The first one you can overcome, the second…not so much. The first one is that if you don’t have a goal with the conversation the chat will go everywhere. My goal with my podcast is to showcase who the person is. That is far more important to me than anything else going on. Because that is the goal, the interviews work. I’m not interested in making someone look bad, and it gives the person the freedom to talk about whatever they want to. If the goal is specific, the road to getting there doesn’t matter.
What does matter however, is if the person is comfortable enough to engage you on this level. Some people aren’t. And no matter how you try to find openings, they will only go so far. You have to accept that.
If I know I’m dealing with a guest like this, I develop a set course we start with. I find that some people are very guarded (rightfully so in some cases), but are open to back and forth on certain topics. Those interviews do require a little more care, and is maybe the middle of the road with the style I enjoy than question and answers.
Finally, I’ve learned to improvise. Every person you are talking to is different. Some people can laugh, some are intense. What everyone has in common is that everyone has a story. Your job as the person doing the interview is to find it. You ask questions, you engage, you talk. Their response tells you everything you need to to get a story.
It’s why I love my podcast. Every week there’s another story being told.
There’s so much still to do. I still got the first bit of content to upload. I got my first bonus podcast and I got my first blog all that needs to be up there. Are my tiers right? Did I put something up there that I couldn’t deliver? What if no one cares? What if everyone sees me fuck up?
I’m terrified right now. My heart is beating. I can hear the world a little louder right now. I can see colours a little more vividly. I notice the dirt on my computer (need to dust it) and I’m just kind of heeby jeebying and jittery around wondering just what I forgot.
Probably a lot. It doesn’t matter though. I’m hyped. I’m pumped. And my adrenaline is on a ten.
I wrote the previous stuff above about a week ago. I’m nervous and excited for this new chapter in my life to begin. It’s started and it’s been…quiet.
It takes audacity to think you’re worth money. The challenge is making people believe it. It’s one thing to ask for help. When I did my GoFundMe weeks and months ago, I got a lot of help, a lot of shares, and a lot of support. But this is a little different.
People have to invest and dive in. And to do that, I have to put content there all the time. This is now an investment of my time and my worth. I have to believe in it.
But I also need a plan.
So from this moment onward that taking this step is a new frontier. I have to plan and build accordingly.
Keep building sponsors
Keep sharing the podcast
Keep doing shows
Step One: Keep Building My Sponsors
Words and Pictures has been great so far. On the podcast I had just given away my first graphic novel over the air. You can listen to the podcast here and see who won. But I want more sponsors and am contacting more people for the release. I’ve had some interests but we’ll see about more stuff in the future.
Step Two: Keep Sharing the Podcast
I’ve had some interesting places to advertise the podcast and the patreon in the next couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing people’s faces when they read some stuff in the next few weeks. I’m hoping it draws eyes on attention.
Step Three: Keep Releasing New Podcasts
Pretty self explanatory I think. I keep releasing two episodes a week. I’m nearly at two hundred and forty episodes right now and very close to the benchmark of episode 250.
Step Four: Release Books
Alice Zero is being worked on GIMP as we speak. I’m really hoping to be able to say something in the next week or so.
That’s a simple four point plan and I’m hoping it works. It’s something I want to get the job done right on. It’s going to be a challenge, it’s going to be a mountain to climb, and a challenge I think. But once it starts, it will hopefully keep going.
So I’m going to talk about my Patreon on Thursday, but today I’m talking about gratitude. I have learned in my life the importance of thank you. A long time ago I realized that I couldn’t do everything in this life on my own. I remember when I was working in Arizona and getting up early to look for a car to hitchhike into the next town. I remember one time walking by Trappers, one of my favorite restaurants at the time. One of the owners said hi to me, and asked how I was doing. I said good, and then was invited inside to eat. I told her that I couldn’t afford it – I couldn’t. I just had started this job, and I had been unemployed for about six weeks. She insisted.
I didn’t realize just how much people had helped me there until that moment. I still for a long time looked at my time there through a dark lens. Even now, there are still undeniably some dark spots there. But I can look back and see all the people who were there. I learned then that I couldn’t do this on my own.
No one can.
People step into your life and help you, and you need to be aware of this. I can think of my GoFundMe page. A friend of mine suggested I do this for my teeth, and I did. The results were unexpected, on many fronts. For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to focus on the good. I had a lot of people share my posts, and help. I am grateful for all that experience.
And it’s experience I want to dwell on here. Gratitude isn’t just saying thank you, it is a way of experience. When you go through hard times in your life, reacting to pain is a normal course of action. It’s easy to be angry when things go awry. Again, totally the standard course of operation.
But flip that. Take a bad moment in your life. Take where that leads you. Didn’t get that job you wanted? Maybe it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Maybe something better will come along.
Thank you doesn’t just show your appreciation. Thank you can protect you, can change you and heal you. This Thursday I”m going to be doing the safety meeting of my day job. I’m saying thank you in front of the audience. Some of those people don’t like me. Some have never spoken to me. But if it wasn’t for all of them, the ones that helped, the ones that don’t, I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t be in the position I am in. That alone deserves a thank you.
I may be overly thankful, but I rather that than not be thankful at all. Being thankful has helped me deal with things that have happened for me.
Thank you is powerful. Thank you gives you the ability to rewire your brain in a way that you can look at a hurt and learn from it and heal. Use it to change your perspective.
Finally, I just want to take a moment and thank God. My life has been a magical experience so far, and I know it’s only starting. Thank you God for making this journey possible.
First thing’s first, my latest column at First Comics News is live. In it, I talk about a comic series I really enjoyed last year called Portalbound. You can read about it here. Once you’re done, come back. I’ll be waiting.
Since I’ve been doing my part time schedule, I’ve been doing nothing but work towards my goals. This week in particular felt like culmination of a few different things.
My Patreon page is ready to go. I handed in my novel to an editor. I’ve written a short story, I started writing a limited comic book series. My collaborator right now is busting my butt (in a great way) to make the ideas the best they can be. I got another graphic novel nearly done, and my first book is just about ready to be released.
Those are things I’m publishing myself. As far as being published by others, so far, I have one thing that will be published in a magazine. I have a novel I can’t wait to get back to next month that I feel might be worth going for a big five deal, but I also got a short story I want to submit somewhere. All in all, things are moving.
As for the podcast itself, the YouTube library has improved. There are currently one hundred thirteen episodes you can listen to right now. More are to come.
I’ve done more interviews with more diverse people than writers. The show is evolving into more of an arts show than just a literary one. Not that the literary episodes are going away. I feel this is a natural evolution of the show. Art, inspirational stuff, health and well being are all things I’m into, and you’ll see more stuff over the course of the coming weeks and months. Writing is still going to be a thing, but it’s not going to be the only thing the podcast is going forward on.
Speaking of the podcast – and this whole journey in general – when I made this decision back in October last year, one of the challenges I had to face was how was i going to increase my podcast audience. The numbers are definitely up compared to where I was a year ago at that point in time, but I wanted more. Fortunately, as I was thinking about this I had the opportunity to interview the Octavia Book Bindery company (Thanks to Chris Carolan for the recommendation) the conversation I had with Robert Angus after our podcast made me consider a lot of things, sponsorship being one of the key things.
Sponsorship is the topic here. Once that conversation happened, I began the pursuit of sponsors. I found a local sponsor that I thought would fit what i’m doing right now.
Words and Pictures is a comic shop located in Calgary Alberta. Their address is #6 – 2610 Center Street N.E. and their facebook page is located right here. They specialize in two areas in the medium. The first of these is back issues. Words and Pictures has an incredible selection of silver age comic back issues ranging from classic issues of Showcase, the Flash, Green Lantern, Jack Kirby’s Fourth World runs to more modern books like Fatale, Thief of Thieves, Walking Dead and more.
The second thing Words and Pictures specializes in is Graphic Novels. Words in Pictures has one of the most diverse and incredible graphic novel selections in the city, and one of the better ones I’ve seen in comic shops I’ve been to. Starting in March, by listening to the podcast, you’ll have the opportunity to acquire amazing graphic novels. Stay tuned.
Now I know this sounds like a commercial (guilty as charged) but at the same token, this is a start, and other sponsors will be joining Words and Pictures soon enough. I’m really excited about this partnership and others, and where the podcast might grow.
I have a sponsor. Cool right?
I got a lot more I want to talk about and a lot more I want to accomplish. But I’m really proud of the start so far this year. I’m nervous, I’m scared, and I feel jubilation. The best is yet to come.
Before I begin with the topic I’m blogging about today, I thought I’d post some of the chaos and mayhem I’ve been a part of since 2019 began. First off, my column at First Comics is back up and running. You can click here to read the latest buzz. Not only that, but my friend the Great Colleen Anderson had me do a guest blog on how my career has pretty much gone, and how I started a podcast and what I learned from it. Read it here, if you’d like to learn about happy accidents.
I’ve talked about self worth in the past. I’m not covering what I have before. Instead, I’m going to look at it from the point of view of products. In short, what you offer.
I don’t focus on that enough. Part of the reason is that my podcast tends to focus a lot about my guests and who they are. Having a clear sense of who you are is important. If you don’t know who you are, you don’t really have an idea of what you can offer. That’s not quite the same thing as talking about what you really do offer, and that is what I want to tackle here.
I’ve had a lot of different opportunities come my way since I won the Aurora. I’ve got a lot of cool guests I otherwise wouldn’t have as a result, that noteriety has allowed me to hit one of my bucket lists goals as an author and get into a science fiction magazine. I got three books out, and my fourth and fifth are going to launch soon, including my first novel.
What is that worth?
I actually had to put a number to that recently. I had an unexpected request for something that made me think about it in detail. What do I offer? How much do I believe that is worth? What will I really get for it? If there is a topic that screams imposter syndrome, it would be this one. Writers and artists in general dismiss their own work (me included) because it’s something on some levels we take for granted.
We know on some level it’s good. We may not have a way to quantify that good thing, but we know we’ve created something from nothing with a book, or added signal to the noise with a new podcast. That time you’ve spent working on it has got to count for something right?
I had to believe that when I started the podcast. I have to believe that when I write something. I have to believe in me.
There is nothing like a pay check for something you create. Nothing. Your work, your effort being rewarded in a quantifiable way that can put food on the table or pay a bill or your rent (or much. much more). There is nothing like it. If you’re even half serious about this, this is why you do this. Because on some level, you want to be appreciated for it, and you want to see yourself rewarded. It takes a certain kind of audacity to want that and make it happen.
And you know what? You need that kind of ego. A little megalomania is a necessity when you are going to sell your product, and to a lesser extent, yourself. It’s healthy. You need that self worth and value and you need to project that to your clients and readers that you can do the job required.
That does take a little chutzpah. But I don’t care who you are in any field. You have to believe in yourself to do the task in front of you. That confidence translates, even if you have no real idea what you are doing.
Could you imagine what a working union could do if their workers believed they were worth every penny and more that a company would pay for? That faith would move mountains, and probably inspire places for more profit.
As I get farther along with another book coming out (more on that next blog) I become more and more comfortable with who I am and what I do offer to publishers and more. As a writer and a podcaster, I know what I can do. I know what that’s worth. And I won’t budge.
That also takes some stones. A friend that I had coffee with a while ago was appalled at the idea of people asking them to do work they make a living with for free or for exposure. They refuse. I came out of that coffee with even more respect for this person than when I walked in. They model for a living, and for all their beauty, know their worth. You can see it in how they carry themselves. That refusal to sell themselves short adds something to them.
But this will happen all the time. People will ask you to do things and offer exposure as a payment. Very rarely is it worth it. I was looking to get on a podcast not too long ago to keep growing my brand, but they insisted that I sponsor the podcast in order to do this. Now this may work for them on some level, I have no idea, but the reality is I don’t feel I should be paying for a commercial.
Is there any situation where exposure pays? Some for sure, but the reality is that if they have the kind of platform that people are looking at, you can bet that they can pay for it.
You cannot sell yourself short with anybody or anything. You can’t seem uncompromising either, so to steal from an old friend, you need to figure out where your resentment meter is. The resentment meter works like this. Ask yourself a question when you hear an offer. Would you resent doing the job for the amount being done? If the answer is yes, then you shouldn’t do the job, you’ll resent it.
Simple right? So you calculate the proper amount in your head where you won’t resent any of the headaches and possible problems you can foresee. If that amount is reached, you can put your resentment aside. Always start higher than what you’d do the work for. That way if you get it, great, but if not, you can negotiate. But never ever deviate from whatever that baseline is. Ever.
Selling yourself short is probably the greatest sin artists do. Artists are not as respected as a lot of other talents. Every bit of value you get for yourself you have to fight for. You are worth whatever you set in your mind. So always aim high and to go higher.
Remember what you offer. If they really care, they will meet what you are worth.
That’ll do it.
Here’s a podcast to listen to. I’ll be back in a week to count to zero.
So I’ve listed my writing goals and podcast goals with Betting on Me Parts 1 and 2 and All In Parts 1 and 2.
So what’s left to talk about? The pipedreams and the big stuff. I really hate the word real. Real is a frustrating word. It doesn’t really mean anything. To quote one of my favorite movies “if real is nothing more than what we can see, smell, touch and test, than real is nothing more than stimulation.” I hate that definition. I mean real has to be more than that right? Otherwise, nothing is real, because senses can be manipulated.
And I never liked the word real when it was told to me in the classroom. I was always told I should set realistic goals and have realistic expectations. I had no idea what the hell that was supposed to mean either. Realistic, and real from what I’ve seen in this life, most people look at those words and see some kind of mediocrity. We need to have realistic jobs, or realistic expectations.
You need to have some out there stuff. Stuff you shouldn’t necessarily expect to happen, but stuff you’d like to happen and put your name into the hat.
So what are my goals now that I’ve hit the beginning of this wild journey.
Get a big 5 book deal – This one is the big one. It’s not impossible. I have a lot of friends that do have deals. I’d like to be one of them at this point. I have a novel I’ve been writing that I’ve had to put off as a result of the last month. I’m working on it again. I’m going for it. Let’s see if I can make this happen.
Redacted – this one has already come true. Stay tuned Thursday.
Hit 10000 listeners per week – this one may become more ahem… “realistic” as time goes on. Right now it’s out there.
I have more but that’s the point. There’s a lot of things that are possible. They just need to be asked for. I’m’ asking for them. Heck, one of them has already come true. Another one may happen in a couple of years.
But, there is this “real” part. Some of this is out of my control. All I can control, is my integrity. I’m going to show up and do my thing. What will happen will happen. But I will put myself in the position to succeed.
And that’s my wish for everyone that has read this this year. Thank you very much for your support. I’m going all in and I hope you do too. You’re worth it. Don’t let anyone else’s real, get in the way. Find what makes you find your inner happiness and go for it. You only got one life. Stay true to you and follow where it may lead.
Take chances, don’t fear failure or mistakes, learn and grow and just keep going. You can do it. I know you can.
So there is one last thing I want to announce here. I’m starting a write club. But it’s not going to be like any other write club out there. Write club for those of you that don’t know is a club where writers come together and create. It’s a cool idea, you can talk to awesome people and learn from each other. It’s great in theory. I am however a bit of a wanderer by nature. One spot isn’t exactly what I want to do.
One of the other things that is going with me this year is that a lot of my friends have cleared out. My sister is leaving alberta, and a few other friends are disappearing. I want to meet new people. I want to keep opening doors.
So I will not have a set location. Every Saturday at 6:30 pm, I will be somewhere creating. Most of the time it will be in Calgary somewhere. Thursday I will announce where I’ll be. If people want to come, come. If not, that’s fine. I’m going to be expanding my horizons either way. I can’t control the outcome, but I can put the invitation out there. So this is the Wandering Writing Group. Feel free to join the caravan.
Looking forward to doing this:
The best is yet to come. Stay inspired and Happy New Year.
I guess I can’t deny that Just Joshing has done well. It was started much like everything else I do in my career, by accident. Robert J. Sawyer was going to be interviewed for this blog like everyone that came before it, until he mouthed the word podcast. I hadn’t thought of a podcast. The idea of a podcast seemed kind of out there. Could I do it? Why wouldn’t I do it? Should I do it?
There was no reason for me for me not to do it, and while I didn’t know what I was doing, it wouldn’t be the first time, nor likely will it be the last.
I’ve done two hundred episodes of Just Joshing. I’m interviewing awesome people, and always getting the chance to listen to people’s stories of how they made and went for it is still a high. I don’t think that will ever change. I get laughs, tears and hopes laid bare. When I interviewed Elizabeth Whitton, I realized just how trusted I am with my show and with the people I interviewed, and I think that more than anything is the biggest thing. I’m humbled by people’s faith in me. I’m flattered and do my best to live up to it. Here’s Elizabeth’s episode to listen to if you wish:
Two hundred episodes later and an Aurora on my desk, where do we go from here? For starters, we keep to the mission statement. My podcast is about promoting writers primarily, but also other artists to the world at large. There are amazing stories out there that people should listen to and be inspired by.
This year I want more listeners and I want to see if I can at least get some income from this. So I’m pursuing that a number of different ways. On the small scale I’m acquiring sponsors. I may have an announcement or two on the way, but it’s already begin. I also intend on doing some kind of advertisements on the show, but not many. Honest, I would prefer sponsors. So starting in January there will be some cool giveaways and other stuff heading to the podcast.
But I also have big plans this year. One of the things I’m hoping that happens this year is that I do my first ever 24 hour podcast for charity. I’m aiming for September 2019. My plan is to rent Loft 112 in Calgary and invite people to the studio and do cool stuff. I’m hoping to get music, art stuff and other activities going on for a cause. Which cause? I’ll probably not seriously start looking at it until April, but it seems like a fun challenge.
Also, I’ll be doing a special San Diego convention show with Joe Compton. Joe Compton is the host of GoIndieNow and we had a lot of fun chatting at When Words Collide this year. We want to work on something together and have a real cool idea. More on this later. In the meantime, have a listen to Joe Compton.
Once upon a time I knew how the world worked. I had ideas of right and wrong. Marijuana was bad. Alcohol was bad. There was a right way of doing things and a wrong way of doing things. This Josh had all of life’s answers.
We all I think have a little of this in us. We are all raised the way we are and that teaches us things. A lot of it is generally pretty good. But like everything else in life, all things change, and life has its own way of telling you how things really are.
I had a lot of advantages moving around. I get to see the trends and tides of cities rising and falling as I move to towns. I got to see Windsor Ontario at one of its peaks. I got to see London Ontario’s Downtown decline. So I can see the ebbs and flows of a city. Living in Calgary right now, I can see some of the same mistakes that the city is making that Ontario made.
But I also miss stuff. Shielded. Overnight I got to see things like Marijauna creep into the culture, and a lot of other things just seemed to happen overnight. Suddenly, I have no idea how the world works.
You try to keep to some of your principals, and even now, I don’t think that’s a terrible thing. Some things always work. Integrity, follow through, honesty are all things that work. It makes things difficult sometimes, but I don’t see this stuff ever not working. Or at the very least, I know I will not last long when it is required for me to do otherwise.
But you have to be wise to see that some things are different. I’ve mentioned marijauna. I’ve never subscribed to some of the arguments I’ve heard. Some of those arguments that are commonly said do not do the plant any favors. That said, I cannot deny what I read on medical reports. I cannot deny what I’ve seen in terms of it being a pain killer or a cancer fighter. I’m not even against it completely as an anti depressant, although here I acknowledge some caution. I personally believe the goal with depression should be to do it in as minimal amount of any kind of drugs as possible. I’ve seen it help people, but I’ve also seen it as a crutch for people with depression as well. So if it helps you, sure. Just be careful.
This was not an overnight approach. This was a process, and this was me checking and rechecking my facts, and my biases. This has applied to a lot of views in my life. How I view religion, sexuality, different approaches to lifestyle not my own. I started in a very ordinary place.
These things really got to change for me when I got to spend two years living in a mormon community. I’m not going to bash the religion; rather, I think this would apply to purely any one religion or one mentality in any community. I saw how unhealthy that is. It’s one thing to see small towns have their share of sex and alcohol. That I have learned is the norm in this life when it comes to small towns. It’s another when it goes to the extreme. On a small scale, trying to make people conform to one ideal or one way of life, just doesn’t work. People don’t fit any one particular mold. Much like new wine, the old skin of these ideals just doesn’t apply or fit and it makes people revolt. The dichotomy was quite different. I know a lot of people that were ostracized for no other reason than being themselves.
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
That’s my all time favorite Shakespeare quote. For all his wondrous writing, that is maybe the most profound thing he ever said. During my time in Arizona, an individual called me the weirdest person they ever met. I’ve been called weird, and crazy and been ostracized because I just can’t help but be me. I realized after being called that, that maybe I was doing the same thing to everyone else.
I changed one thing. I no longer cared where you came from, or who you sleep with, or what you believe in. I care about what you do. Who you are when you face your own obstacles and when you try to do great things. That seemed to be a better approach than the one I had before.
I have been awarded for this. Look at the variety of people that have come on my podcast. I’ve been blessed to meet so many amazing people. Each of them trying to do great things in their own right. It’s easy for me to be a fan of people like the ones I chat with. I see them fight and struggle and go for it. How can I not admire that?
They are true to themselves. And that, more than anything, is something we should admire in people. No one wants to be judged. We all want to be heard. And the real secret to eliminating judgment is not to compromise our standards, rather to accept that everyone’s standards are different. We are all divided on how we scale the mountain of life. There is an infinite amount of ways to do so. Some of them I don’t understand, but I don’t have to understand. That’s not my job. My job is to encourage, and build and let people reach for whatever happiness they can find.
I still make mistakes. Even now I’m not perfect. I have biases, I make assumptions. I’m as flawed as everyone else, maybe more so in some things. Life is always changing, new questions are being asked, new possibilities come to life all the time. Sometimes I’m still playing catch up to things.
But I try to be open. I try to understand. I may be ignorant, but not out of hatred, but of a lack of knowledge. I am trying to fill the gaps I can. Really, I think that is all we can do in the end.
The hardest thing to do in this life is believe. This isn’t just about God (although that in itself is a blog post and a half) but faith is in everything you do and don’t do.
It takes guts to believe in anything. The greatest irony in this world is that in order to go for something more than what you already have, whether that be a relationship, a career choice, or any other kind of goal you can imagine, it takes faith to begin it.
You have to believe that you can do it. And that’s hard sometimes. My goals are to write and make a living at doing my creative pursuits, whether it be writing, or podcasting or something else.
No matter what, there are times you are questioning what you are doing with your life.
I remember wanting to finish a comic book. I had been working on it since I had been apprenticed in Taylor, AZ. Circumstances had come to the point that my production had been ground to a halt. I could not pay the artist I wanted to work for. Rent was high for my wage, and it was a very, very slow crawl to save money. And right when I was about to start being able to pay my artist to move forward, I was fired due to some very interesting circumstances.
I had to hitchhike to another city just to work, and make it on time as there is no buses out there, and this kept getting pushed back farther and farther away. I wondered whether or not I’d ever leave Snowflake Arizona, let alone finish that comic book I was working on.
When I came back to Calgary I had to rebuild and recover for about a year. Finally, I was able to finish the book.
Veritas is the book by the way. Credit to my sister for taking this picture.
I always am impressed when someone finishes something with this kind of magnitude. It took me so long to get so far on this book that every time I see anybody do something I appreciate the sacrifices it took to see that idea go to print. It’s awesome. Kudos to anyone who follows it through.
That was my goal and I did it. There were times I thought I’d never do it. I just kept on and on and on. It was all I could do. I did it, and I’m not ashamed to admit I cried. I had wanted to do something, show something from that time and I could look at myself proudly. I had seen this through.
At that point, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Of course, after some time passed, I wanted more. I wanted to get back into books. My plan was to do poetry again. I had this grand idea of publishing an ebook version of a new poetry collection and sell some at cons.
That plan went out the door immediately as this longer poetry pieces morphed into this entire story told in poem form. I got an amazing illustrator, and we made something I’m very proud of this day.
One of my first customers bought the book, liked it and asked what the heck I was going to do with it and my plans. When I told her my master plan she told me she was opening up a publishing house and wanted to publish my books.
So this became a thing.
I learned a very important lesson that I still apply to this day. Nothing ever works out how you imagine it to. There are ups and downs that just are never quite planned for. But that sometimes leads to a greater truth, and that’s that sometimes things work out even better than you ever planned.
Even the podcast was an accident. I had the opportunity to interview Robert J. Sawyer about three years ago for his book Quantum Night. It was a random word from him that pointed me in the direction of the podcast. I never thought about doing one, and decided ultimately to try.
Which leads me to right now. I never set out to do this for awards. I love meeting people who do amazing things all the time. This podcast has given me the opportunity to meet some incredible individuals. Just to listen and talk to them about what they are trying to accomplish is inspiring.
Last week I had an email in my inbox I never expected to get doing the podcast. The Aurora awards are given out from the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA) for work in excellence in science fiction and fantasy.
I was shocked that I was a finalist. I never sent in a nomination for myself. Someone else did and people agreed with them.
That, truly, is amazing to me.
Thank you all very much for this very cool honour. I never thought I’d get an Aurora for this podcast. I’m fine with it. It is an honour to be nominated with people like Clare C. Marshall, S.M. Beiko, Mike Bryant, and Steve Swanson. That’s a cool list of people to go against and root for.
Not to mention everyone else going into their own rewards. Good luck to each and every one of you.
Which leads to my last point on faith. You can’t be guaranteed of anything, but as often happens, when you work on something and put the dedication and time, somewhere along the way, you get others to believe in you too. And that, truly is the most amazing thing of all. I’ve already won. I mean sure, I would love to get that award, but this is something I never asked for, and to be able to get this chance…wow. More than I could have hoped.
I already have a goal for next year however, and that’s to get an aurora for something I am writing. Right this minute, it feels pretty good.