22 September 2017

So What About Voodoo?



First off, lets call it vodou or vodun, voodoo is a corruption, and there's the rub. Voodoo is the word you use to describe a brand of donut, or a mountain bike, or a club promotion. I've been finding it difficult where to start out with this strand of discussion, after over a decade I realise it should start there.

Imagine that there was a Jyoodayzm Donuts, or a Katholik Mountain Bike or a Hinndou Club Night. How would worshippers in the specific religions whose names are corrupted there feel about the appropriation and association? Less chilled, I imagine, than practitioners of vodun, as far as I can tell they just don't talk about it, let alone get up in arms about the zany, dangerous branding mark their religion has been rendered to in Western society.

Having spent some time and done some research I think the reason for that is all to do with the latent power such casual misappropriation delivers back to them. Vodun uses, song, chant, repetition, rhythm, life and sweat to do its work. Repeating its name in whatever context flows that power back to the mighty river, so the practitioners and respectful observers of this spiritual powerhouse will tell you.

I'm a full on born again Discordian (or maybe it was just a dodgy No Hot Dog Bun round my Friday hot dog), this does not preclude me from also getting my vodun on. But I don't. Am I a non-believer?

I don't think that's my problem here. Actually if I was a proper non-believer I would have no problem dabbling. I would dabble in lots of things if I were a non-believer, because I wouldn't believe that it could do any harm.

I think, rather, that I don't have the passion to commit to these practices. I am passionate about my Discordianism, especially as I discover that beyond being a faith it is also a challenge, being a Discordian is not easy.

In fact I don't believe being an anything is easy, but less honest religions arrive at your door saying that if they dunk you in an adult sized font then the Bearded Sky Daddy will insert his own son into your cardiac region and off you go. I mean, come on, that's a con, right? It's a step away from being a Nigerian prince wanting to put $$$ in your bank account.

Vodun, like Discordianism, is not easy, and I respect it too much to pretend.

So, Starfall is my one act of respect to those deities and also to the dark gods that lurk in Britain's past (and more on them later). One of the points of Starfall is that in the world of loa there isn't much difference between the two.

As I concluded work on the first major edit of Starfall I reckon I could sense that Legba was giving me the nod. It's like Neitzsche said, the mighty things are mirrors. Actually he didn't say that exactly, but the poor guy had his own preoccupations.

As we get closer to Starfall I would like to return to talk more about the relationship the novel made for me with vodun, but for now the man at my shoulder is telling me to still my tongue and open my ears. So I shall listen.

20 September 2017

The Discordian Problem


The Discordian in the room is not hard to spot. They're the one sitting in the corner by themselves laughing at everyone else.

I think that's the core of the Discordian problem. In my every day life I am about to start work on a "very important project" this is a project that could have a big impact on people's every day lives and improve the quality of life for many. When you're a member of the big bearded sky daddy club doing something of merit is consolidated by your laminated pass to the holy of holies. You integrate the spiritual with the mundane via the instrument of religion.

So when you have a joke religion that's not a joke, or is it? No. Only joking it's serious. Seriously joking.

Is it a joke or is it serious?

Yes.

It becomes enough of a problem working out how you feel about your ambivalent membership of this church in the first place. I mean, you're the frickin' pope of this so-called (no, definitely is) religion and you don't even know whether it's real. Also, you're probably not a joiner. You know that the guy saying "Hey, follow me!" is probably leading you off a cliff. The guy that says "You can trust me" just wants to clear out your bank account. People who make promises are the kind of people who fail and break promises.

Basically, you're a pope alone, you're not going to encourage anyone else to sign up.

The wisdom of this is that most religions don't help you to keep perspective, or, at least, they should but they are very, very bad at it. Most religions have a propensity to bypass their safe guards and fuel dangerous amounts of self-serious egotism and destruction.

Actually Discordianism is not exempt from this, a lot of Discordians are insecure, cynical trolls who exist to gross you out, point and laugh, not necessarily in that order. What Discordianism does right is that it points you towards the more rewarding parts of its own practice equally badly.

Don't get me wrong Discordianism is really hard. Other religions are built to be user-friendly by asking you to surrender, Discordianism is not user-friendly and reminds you to never surrender.

All of which leads to the biggest problem of all. How does Discordianism come into practice? Posting cool memes and laughing at stuff is fine, but how do you actively do things in a Discordian manner?

Sacredness is essential to faith practice, but in Discordianism sacredness is pretty stupid. The best way to worship Eris is to be deeply suspicious of worshipping anyone, especially that crafty looking goddess juggling apples in the corner and laughing at everybody.

The first practice of Discordianism is confusion. So if you're confused right now, feeling I've left a bunch of questions and no real answers, you are doing it right.

Which is just as well, because never forget, you're the pope.

18 September 2017

Unpicking the Evil Genius



It's been one week since I threw back the curtain, ripped off the rubber mask, threw the switch on my creation and identified myself as an Evil Genius. Let me tell you it's not as awesome as it sounds. Last time we discussed the Evil Genius as being the opposite side of the coin to the Impostor. An idea I still think has much weight. It's a polarity, at one end you feel like people are expecting too much of you because of past successes, at the other you feel people expect way too little of you because you haven't really enjoyed much success.

Logically there's going to be a sweet spot in between the two, enough success to feel validated, not so much to feel pressured. Honestly, though, who cares about those guys: sickening perfectly happy weirdos, I bet their home life sucks.

Oh, yes, extremely important while we're on recap. This genius/impostor scale relates to work, or work-type activity. It's not about whether you have loved well, or whether you have succeeded in almost any other way. This is about anything that gets you money with which to buy things.

Last time we looked at "impostors", successful people who cannot shrug a nagging doubt that all of their success is based on some kind of cosmic clerical error. At any moment, they feel, the mistake will be spotted and they will be ushered back down the hall to sit with all the other ordinaries.

Well, screw those guys too. At least they can cry over their stuffed bank accounts. Plus their neurosis is flavour of the month in pop-psychology, so there's tons written about them.

Not so for we, the evil geniuses. It doesn't help, definitely, that the name for our syndrome includes the word "evil" in it. I'm sure that doesn't test well. But hell the other one is literally the word "impostor" which is kind of evil. At least in this corner we have the word "genius" pulling us back up.

We also have a branding issue when it comes to the fact that there is a well known video game called Evil Genius. That makes for domination of the first couple of pages of Google results. In the end all I could dig up for this week is this article about creative people finding it easier to rationalise deceptions.

Which is not what we're about at all.

Hey, just because we're evil geniuses doesn't mean that we're evil, right? Or geniuses for that matter.

All we are is people who feel that life has dealt us a consistently poor hand and presented us with relatively few opportunities to realise our full potential.

Now, as it happens although I'm making with all this "we" and "our" stuff I am really, at this stage, just talking about me. The reason being that I haven't exactly been deluged by people identifying with this Evil Genius idea. Maybe I haven't reached the right people, I refuse to believe that there aren't more Geniuses out there struggling to put their finger on what's wrong.

I'll tell you all what's wrong (this week) we don't have no frickin' list*. If you recall last time I stepped through a list designed to help identify those Impostor people, I recall item 9, I mean item goddamn nine, was "you are really successful in your field". Had they lead with that the test would be a lot shorter because, you know what, most people really aren't.

Let's flip the switch here because just writing the opposite of the other list isn't maybe enough to form a good basis for the feelings of evil genius-ness. Nevertheless item one has to be:

1. You don't feel you've been quite as successful in your career as, perhaps, you should have been.

Nodding your head, then it's time to read on:

2. You have come to realise, at least once, that your superiors at work are less suited for their job than you are.
3. You are often surprised when people are shocked by work-related news that you figured everyone just knew already.
4. You feel like you may have missed out on opportunities because you overrated the abilities of those surrounding you, only realising you should have stepped up way after it was too late to do anything.
5. You figure nobody likes a smart person so you try to keep your head down and integrate well as a team player, this often leads to you being thoroughly shafted.
6. You stop at your limits while others attempt foolish things way beyond theirs and appear, magically, to fail upwards.
7. You trust people too much and believe that they will do things that seem obvious to you, later you find they were ONLY obvious to you and disaster befalls.
8. You are pretty keyed in to both your failures and your achievements and see them as, at least, balancing out. You would identify with the statement "I've succeeded more often than I've failed, but occasionally I failed big."
9. You have big ideas all the time, you often label them as "pipe dreams", at least one of these ideas has made someone else very famous.
10. You have been known to be somewhat ego-centric, you didn't like it as a quality so you are fiercely on guard against egocentric traits.

This seems reasonable as a first draft. If some or all of it applies to you then feel free to drop me a line. It would be good to know that I am not all alone in this condition. Maybe if the Evil Geniuses of the world were to help each other out a bit then some good would come of it... which I guess might lead to:

11. You're not really a joiner and tend to be cynical of "success guru" material.

That last bonus point just means you have a brain, and, hell, how could that not be the case my evil comrade. Next Time: Evil laughter and mountain bases, the echoing mirth of loneliness.

* Well, we have this list but that's not what I really meant.

15 September 2017

Getting Out There



In just over a month you, dear reader, will be able to buy a fresh copy of Starfall from the usual outlets. A paper and ink copy will be, I imagine, something of a rarity as the cost for dropping a paperback of this epic is pretty high. The e-book will be more reasonably charged at whatever you feel like giving me for it.

I have done something with Starfall that I have never done before. I sent copies out to reviewers. I haven't done this in the past because it hasn't been totally obvious who would be interested in reviewing my output. In the case of the three Chicago Shadows books they were super odd, police procedural? Horror? I still don't even really know.

Before that you'd have to go back in time over a decade to 2005 to my self-publishing debut, when I was new to Lulu and kindles were not a thing. So I would have had to buy and mail out individual copies of the books to get them reviewed. Back in those days I was vehemently anti e-book because Amazon hadn't made them so ridiculously easy to procure and acceptable to read.

I began writing Starfall in 2006, and it has been a source of long lament that the book I wrote for my wife has not seen the light of day for as long as we have been together (almost). When I think about it, though, what better time to put the book out than a time when I can email reviewers .epubs and .mobis, a time when digital collaboration has never been easier.

I got a couple of suggestions from a writing colleague and, once I had digested that list, I had the appetite to google for myself. I didn't have to google long before I found this immensely useful list of contacts. I worked through that too.

I do recall that back in the mists of time a writer would have to seek out obscure almanacs to get lists like that. Unsurprisingly the internet has changed the game. Good job too. Most authors are authors on the side, we don't have time to seek out, transcribe, and file any more. Much aside from anything else we have to maintain a public profile, however measly, and some of us have to typeset and publish our own books.

Not that it's all plain sailing. The problem with easy access to a resource (such as a reviewer) is probably often abused. I didn't just bang out fifty identical emails with e-books attached and spam the entire bunch of reviewers, no, not at all. I asked each one that I submitted to whether they had the time and capacity for another needy book baby.

Also, I didn't automatically submit to a reviewer just because they exist. In each case I tried to seek out a review policy to see if I failed the reviewer's requirements, which I did on occasion. I also didn't try to contact people who were not easily contactable. If I didn't know how rude a lot of authors are about getting their work out there I'd wonder how reviewers with no obvious inbox got books to review. Obviously, they may also not do reviews via request.

As I wandered through this gallery of web pages, seeking out the method for getting in touch with the reviewers, I realised that we have come to an age when you should really take some control in the matter of how people access you, or at least the public you. Anyone who visits this blog has some access, but then anyone who visits any blog has some access to the person who runs the blog. I don't really think that's enough any more.

I really do love to collaborate on things, podcasts, story collections, guest posts, anything I have time for I will do at this moment. So I set up the You're Invited! page to let people know that I was open for business. Now I know that people have a way to get in touch with me if they do want me to be on a podcast, or to write a story, or anything else.

It's early days so no one's asked yet, but I have a little bit of confidence in the fact that I haven't missed opportunities now. That's what all this accessibility stuff comes down to, opportunities are rare, and you shouldn't be passing them over. If people find it utterly impossible to work out how to get in touch then that's what will happen, on the other hand you want to control the flow. Otherwise you will miss some things and those people who are really determined will just find some other communications channel, appropriate or not.

13 September 2017

If You Can Read This, You Are A Pope!



My favourite Discordian Facebook page lead me to this little gem recently. Some rando asks what's with this Discordianism thing? He even admits to being a bit confused. Confusion is the catnip of the Discordian, latent or active. And in they come all seeking to help by contradicting each other wildly. It makes my heart swell with pride.

There's a mixture of different approaches to thoroughly failing to assist with the confusion in any way. The very first answer begins "a) five tons of flax" the next one helpfully signs off "If you can read this answer, you are a pope!"

Thereafter we are treated to further jewels of the Discordian art such as:


  • "an 'objective summary' of the religion could never be accurate"
  • "Objectivity isn't really a Discordian value; the common failure mode of the practice is 'dire assholery.'"
  • "It's a joke religion taken seriously to various degrees by various people that sprang out of the proto-hippie and New Age scenes by both mocking them and absorbing their more interesting elements."
  • "The world is chaos. Order is self-deception."
  • "If it's any consolation, you get the same fictions once you're initiated. I'd ask for my money back, but I initiated myself, and have no one else to blame."
  • "I have no idea what an earnestly practicing Discordian would even look like -- probably one of those homeless people you see yelling at themselves on the street."
  • "...if you don't understand the point of a religion that is a joke you will not understand it either"
  • "It *is* a joke. It's a lot of jokes. But, as stated above more than once, it's also serious."
  • "I found it very difficult to refrain from just posting a simple FNORD and leaving it at that."
To increase the fun, some answerers are answering as if they are not Discordian, but this merely serves to increase the confusion, so they're probably latent. Hell, all people are really latent Discordians, the question is to what extent you accept that, like all religions. I mean, that's a religion-y type thing, isn't it?

Discordians tend to be poor at identifying what's religion-y and what's just pure control-mania. Like the rest of the world then, I suppose.

Were I to take issue with any of it. And, hell, as a Good Discordian® it is my duty to take issue with the whole by-gosh-darn-it lot. It's in the misidentification of Discordianism as being pro-chaos in the same way it is anti-order.

That's not nearly complicated enough to be the truth.

We like to view things, as human beings, in these neat little dualities, night and day, love and hate, good and evil, order and chaos, salt and vinegar, death and taxes, lions minus tigers equals the root of bears divided by "Oh My!" squared,

The truth of this illusory conundrum is exemplified by the description of "Eristic" (pro-chaos) and "Aneristic" (pro-order) principles that give us lenses through which we can all view the universe. The problem is they're both as false as each other. The universe is a single eternal moment of unending uber-chaos.

Fiddling with either of the illusory constructs just equalises the amount of "chaos" and "order" that are perceivable. So, attempt to make something ordered and it will just increase apparent chaos, go out of your way to cause apparent chaos and order will kick back. The reason for this is that all you're doing in such circumstances is putting greasy finger marks over the lens through which you're viewing the world.

What you really want to do is rip the concept-lenses off your eyes altogether and stare into the joyous face of true chaos.

Actually, don't. It's probably scary, likely it will leave you in a bad place. Instead find a hot dog vendor and ask them to make you one with everything, basically that's almost the same thing.

11 September 2017

Are You An Evil Genius? I Am


Recently there's been a lot of people talking about Impostor Syndrome. The first time I ever heard of the condition it was from Neil Gaiman, who has experienced it. Now it is a phenomenon widespread enough to warrant multiple feature articles. Or, possibly, it is just another angle on picking apart the lives of the famous and their business cousins, the successful.

I have never experienced success, fame or impostor syndrome. Actually, that can't quite be true, I have experienced success in securing employment on multiple occasions. However, I have never felt, in any of these positions, like I was about to be exposed as a fraud. Sometimes I have felt like I'm doing fine, and other times...

The way that I put it to myself is that I felt like all my potential wasn't being accessed. It used to be a feeling that I got from work situations alone. All this talk about impostors though has lead to me re-evaluating this stance. Fact is that there are many areas of my working life, as a coder and a writer, where I feel like I've been unfairly overlooked. How awkward and un-British an attitude to have.

So awkward and un-British in fact, that I got a list of 10 common features of the syndrome from this article. I thought I might consider these just to check I'm not going astray here.

1. You tend to admire and overrate the abilities of others and underrate your own ability.

Nope. I do admire, and have overrated, the abilities of others. I admire them all the time. I admire my colleagues at work right now. Where I go wrong with overrating people is more trusting them to do something I thought would be obvious and then finding they have not, in fact, done that thing leaving us in an awkward position. I have never underrated my own ability. I have, on occasion slightly overrated it but compensated as time went on by making guarantees rather than promises.

2. Others may see you as competent, but you still see yourself as incompetent.

I don't even know what to say to this. As a kick back to thinking I owned the bloody joint in my late teens I have realised that in the "real" world a person waits for certainty that their action is appropriate. I think that I might actually have a relative of this where I don't do things because I believe I am not "allowed" to do them because it would appear as if I'm trying to take over the world. Only occasionally do I get admonished by people saying: "You could have just done x, you know, that would have been fine." This tends to suggest I am cautious and mindful of my own hubristic tendencies.
3. You have a hard time acknowledging objective measures of your competency.

I don't have any objective measures of my competency, as either a coder or a writer. Both disciplines are highly subjective. In the case of writing this is fine for everyone. People involved in systems development get a bit more bunched about that.

There are many pseudo-objective ways to work out whether someone will be a good coder and I have fallen foul of some of these when job interviews have ended in rejection because the prospective employers believe me not to be the "right kind of coder", I tend to brush this off as cold feet about having someone as brash and confident as me in the office.

When it does come to writing I have spent three decades developing the traditional writer's "thick skin" when it comes to criticism. I submitted a story to an excellent short story collection once upon a time. My story received a couple of kind reviews and one review, that I cherish, by somebody who just didn't get my story at all, the whole thing weirded them out to the level of complete rejection. It is one of my favourite reviews of my work because you can feel the visceral confusion from the words, I mean, come on, that's a reaction!

Anyhow, people have consistently been either kind or, in writer's circles, keen to point out my shortcomings in writing. It's really hard to get a measure of what kind of writer you are because people are not often known to stage interventions for people who can't write telling them to just give up.

One thing I do know is that most low-selling authors I come across aren't actually bad writers at all, whatsoever. They may, possibly, edge into mediocrity, but often from the top end, so their writing is only just better than average. Some low-selling authors I have encountered are actually really good. The problem tends to turn out to be that the story they are telling is just not compelling for large amounts of people.

For example, there are not many people who have an enthusiasm for "Star Wars Underwater" stories. There is probably some kind of niche market there but usually people just don't respond to that mise en scene. No idea why, just is. So if you're a writer with a passion for soggy space opera you have the problem that most people have other stories to read that rate higher on their casual-interest-ometer. Their aquatic laser battle is not necessarily bad, just not compelling.

On the flip side of this writers like Stephen King (yeah, that guy again) do the exact opposite of that. They involve people in genres they would not otherwise have ever read. There are many people who don't like horror books that I've met who still enjoy King's work.

Is Stephen King a better actual writer for that? Well, as it happens he's such a good writer he's useless for comparisons like this. Stephen King's writing is on a level of natural, in-born talent that it is no good for the basis of comparison. So let's shift slightly.

Iain M. Banks was a fantastic writer, sadly no longer with us, who wrote compelling, weird SF epics, space opera in the grand tradition of literary space epics, with a smattering of liberal political satire in there. I love Iain M. Banks (and his contemporary fiction alter-ego Iain Banks).

But was he a good writer? Yes, he was a fine, serviceable, solid writer.

Is he a better writer than some less successful writers I've read? No. Not at all.

His novels could be wilfully bizarre to the point of breaking the narrative. He allowed huge swathes of tangential detail to obscure the plot progression. His novels occasionally felt like their structure was only just achieving coherency. Sometimes his novels were peopled entirely with characters that it was impossible to like. This made his novels, on occasion, hard to finish.

Iain M. Banks "got away with" things far more than Stephen King (and that guy gets away with plenty). So, in the end, some authors who sell far more modestly than these two are doing stuff way better.

What I'm saying is, at some level, it's random. At some level what I am passionate to tell a story about you may not be passionate to hear one about. At another level sometimes people are stupidly famous and wealthy because what they want to say and what loads of people want to hear intersect.

So how can I call myself incompetent? I believe I just tell stories no one really cares about beyond a select audience consisting of me and my wife. Fair enough.

4. You have a hard time accepting compliments for your accomplishments

Nope. Love compliments. They make me feel warm and fuzzy.

5. You discount the value of your abilities and talents.

Nope, I try very hard not to overestimate them, actually.

I have come to a point in my life where I remind myself daily how stupid most people are compared to me. If you are a friend of mine, don't worry about me secretly looking down on you. You too are just as or even more intelligent than, I would estimate about 75% of the general population because my friendship is snobby like that. It's rare I can stand the company of people far less intelligent than me.

But all you have to do is join an anti-Brexit group on Facebook and that will quickly lead you to people who are willing to wallow in the stupidity of others. We live in a Western world currently claimed and run by rich nincompoops. Stupid is the new black.

One thing I know is that these idiots with their hands on the levers have effectively (probably at the behest of someone who is intelligent) convinced a bunch of intelligent people that they're worth far less than they are. All those graphs of real-terms wages sinking like stones since the 70s are proof positive that clever people are being devalued because they're willing to stand in the same place as not-clever people who are also being devalued.

I think that all the people are worth more, but it is the clever people who should really be raising a proper stink about it. We are a bargain and we find ourselves too often in a place where our income is constricted or even removed by people who couldn't even do half of the crossword we did at lunch for fun. We should be fighting for ourselves so we have the resources to fight for people too dumb to be able to, because they're getting sold short as well.

So, no. I know how much my talents and abilities ought to be worth. I also feel they're not being given a fair price.

6. You believe that everyone is capable of doing what you do, if only they tried.

No. Not everything, and certainly not the writing. I am super happy with some moments in my writing and firmly believe they are the product of my talent and are super good (not every precious word, you understand, just moments). I think I can do a lot of things that a lot of people just couldn't do. I have met a lot of developers, however, who could fix all the bugs and add all the features I can add just as well. Let's not over-estimate here.

However, that pool of development talent is, itself, a relatively small amount of the population of the country. The number of otherwise intelligent people I meet who describe themselves as "not technical" and then go on to literally dazzle me with how far the words "not technical" can take you into the realms of techno-phobia tells me that I am still part of a kind of technical elite. It's just the others in here with me are far more visible.

7. Despite repeated successes, you view each new challenge as your undoing. You believe you will be found out.

Not at all. Actually I believe I have only rarely been challenged enough. No one has ever asked of me something tough, or at least not very often. The last time someone asked me to do something complicated that may have been beyond my talents it kind of was and it did come back to bite me. My only solace was that it was tough because no one else around me had ever succeeded properly in doing the very same thing. So I am just the latest in a massively long line of failures.

I am a fast learner, and a good student, but I cannot learn if I don't have an instructor. In that case I couldn't even teach myself to do the thing I had been asked to do. Although, now I think about it, I didn't actually try that hard. So I failed because a) I had no model for success and b) I didn't even try to teach myself how to succeed in the endeavour. So, no surprise there then.

Other than that I guess I'm still waiting for the big challenge.

8. You attribute your successes to luck or “fluke”

Ha. No. Every success I have had was well earned. I have failed at things for good reason sometimes but I have also failed at things because of the reverse of "fluke", or can you have a bad fluke? Whatever. I have failed at things because I was unlucky, but I have only ever succeeded at things because I am competent. The world is too hard for any success to be luck. The reward for modest competence is sometimes out of proportion but all success by everyone is earned, be sure of that.

9. However, you take full responsibility for all your failures!

Yeah, I did it above, so at last something we can agree on. I can tell you why my actual projects have failed in forensic detail. The flukes I talk about above are mostly people rejecting me for jobs I am amply qualified for and probably at the right place to integrate well into. The process of getting accepted for a job is a wibbly-wobbly thing. I have not failed a technical test since MVC was hot and I sat two tests in a day that had dedicated MVC sections before I really knew what it was. And I got one of the jobs where I failed that MVC section because the employer believed I would "pick it up" (which I did).

As for projects which are within my power to bring in successfully and I didn't, I always consider, deeply, afterwards, why I failed and can tell you in detail why that might be. I may run down my failures at another time, because they're interesting. But suffice to say, for now, I know how to say that something was my fault.

10. You are likely to be highly capable, competent and successful in your field.

Ah, well, here we are then. A broken back one. The first two, probably, I am pretty sure I am both capable and competent, but successful? No. It's no wonder I don't feel like an impostor when it would be hard to work out, professionally speaking, who would want to be me.

This all leaves me very much feeling like the opposite of an impostor. I feel like I am better than the performance of my accomplishments would represent me. I have succeeded where it didn't count and, on a couple of notable occasions, I have turned in an understandable failure where it meant something afterwards. I guess this is one of my shortcomings, I can't tell up front, often, where a failure will "count".

I can't help but feel that, nevertheless, I have often succeeded in completing my objective and tend only to have failed when I failed to understand what I was doing until after I'd failed at it. I think that constant and repeated failure is, in fact, a major contributor towards eventual success. There are others who agree with me. At my age, what I should have done is fallen on my face more often up to this point, I guess.

Hey everyone, I have failed to fail! A lot!

In all seriousness, though, it is troubling when minor failures, like failing to get a job, bring out a reaction along the lines of: "Well, hell, yes, I could tell they weren't looking for someone as awesome as me and my awesome-ness was too at risk of breaking their company culture". That's a dangerous train of thought.

Not that feeling like a fraud when you're not can't have some deeply negative consequences if you're not careful. But, hey, those folks are being warned right now. And it only applies to people who are highly successful. Maybe part of their impostor-ness comes from the rest of us, all those people who are way under-valued, I guess that's a possibility. Maybe impostor syndrome is just a vague memory of that time that the impostor believed they were worth more than "this" whatever "this" might have been. Maybe all impostors started out like the rest of us the...

Oh, now, wait a minute. What are we called?

There's been very little in the way of attempts to define the opposite syndrome here. And I'm not talking about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, because that's only tangentially related. Nor am I referring to the obvious identity crisis that follows people who have lost their job. Although the people in the latter category have no name for their condition either (other than "unemployed" har har).

Over the course of writing this post I have come to the conclusion there must be tens of thousands of us, and probably not that many impostors, in the world. We're not given fancy articles in the Guardian because we're not successful, but we all feel as if we should be more successful. We feel as if the world is unfairly ignoring us, not tapping into our potential and reaping the rewards of seeing what we can do. We feel as if, no matter how much we are valued by our friends, family and current associates, we aren't valued in the place where recognition resolves into cold hard cash. People try to euphemise this as "aspirational" thinking but to aspire means you're not there yet, you're on the way. I'm talking about you arrived, took a seat in the coffee shop and have nearly finished your cappucino and still nothing has happened. You're not aspiring, you're overlooked and no one seems to have noticed the error.

There is only one archetype that views the world through this lens, the "Evil Genius", I had, orginally, been going to say "Mad Scientist" but that's way to STEM biased, you can be an evil genius in the arts, indeed I am. That's it guys, those of us who feel that we're way beneath where we should be in the world are Evil Genii. It's good to say it.

Just because I'm an Evil Genius does not mean I have to use my genius for evil, right?

8 September 2017

Smashwords Interview



Smashwords have a feature where the site will interview you, in a broad, author-y kind of way. I went through the process.

You can view the interview here.