Category Archives: Writing

Overlord Bunny Goes Pro!

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Folks, this morning I found something amazing in my inbox.

As of today, I am officially BlizzPro‘s newest editor.  This means that I will regularly be contributing news articles to their most glorious of websites so that you, the players, can stay informed of the most exciting changes in Blizzard Entertainment’s gaming lineup — live events, PTR thrills, patch notes, the works!

What does this mean for my blog?  Well, probably not too much.  I’ll still be writing original gaming articles here (I’m hoping with the same frequency), and of course, you can always catch me on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.  If you’re not much for the social networking but all about the gaming, I’m also noobing it up pretty regularly on Battle.Net as BunnyOverlor#1766 or on Steam as BunnyOverlord.  Noticing a pattern, yet?

I’m also hoping to start livestreaming my gaming adventures on my Twitch channel — I’ve done one “test” show with the fabulous Miss Bonekitty and a whole horde of stinky zombies just asking to be set on fire, but I’m still working on some technical stuff with it as well as figuring out a regular time that works for everyone.

I don’t have any articles up on the site yet, but that will be changing soon!  In the meantime, head on over to the sparkly new BlizzPro Forums and say hello!

A million thanks to all of you for your support and reads, by the way — I legitimately could not have done this without you all listening to my voice and spreading the word.  I may not be as internet-famous as some, but damned if I don’t have quality over quantity.

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Publishing This Book ISBN A Pain In The Ass

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In 2012, I did something I never thought I’d actually be able to accomplish — I wrote a novel.

My NaNoWriMo winner’s certificate is framed and hanging up on the wall above my desk, right under my Sirens of the Deep Mermaid Camp diploma, because I may not have been able to give my mother a degree from Harvard, but dammit, I was able to prove that I can write and apply waterproof makeup.  I’m just as proud of them as anyone would be of a Ph.D (though how badass would a doctorate in Mermaid Sciences be?  Answer: extremely).

I’m proud of my manuscript, too, although for a month or two after NaNoWriMo ended I almost threw it in the trash because of the sheer amount of snobbery coming from others in the writing community about anything written in that thirty-day crunch — I’m pretty sure that if any of them knew I actually cranked out over 50,000 words in just twelve days, they’d burn me at the stake as a heretic.  I read article after article on self-publishing where some “established” authors went so far as to say that anyone thinking they’d produced something of merit for NaNoWriMo was deluding themselves.  It was my first venture into the social aspect of being a writer and rather than getting that special feeling of empowerment that comes from being among like-minded people, I got a nasty case of heartburn and three panic attacks.

In a way, I understand where some of them are coming from.  Most people can’t write that quickly and end up with an A+ project at the end of it.  NaNoWriMo attracts a lot of amateur writers, and while I will support and encourage the absolute shit out of anyone brave enough to pick up a pen and paper (or a keyboard, I guess, because none of us have legible handwriting anymore), there’s a good chunk of them who could probably benefit from a few more practice runs.  And that’s okay!  There is zero shame in that, because we all have to start somewhere if we want to learn what works and what doesn’t.

I’m not saying I’m the next Sylvia Plath or Stephen King or anything like that, but I began my writing career in early childhood.  School, of course, taught me the Art Of The Stringent Deadline, mostly because I was a horrible procrastinator who’d wait until the night before a huge essay was due to even write the title on the page.  Very few of my classmates could pull such a feat off and still get a passing grade.  I was cranking out five-page manifests, single-spaced, in about two hours and receiving an A every single time.  In my freshman year of high school, I was the youngest person to ever be accepted to the school newspaper, and I didn’t even apply for it — my English teacher submitted one of my essays to the instructor in charge of the paper, who immediately waived the “you must be at least a sophomore” requirement to get me onto the staff.  There, the deadlines got even tighter, since we published once a week, and if we got our articles done early enough we could spend the whole time dicking around in the library pretending we were researching stuff instead of looking up genitals in the encyclopedias there.

Also, I’m pushing 30, so I’m old and therefore have had plenty of time to practice this whole working-quickly-and-well thing.

I’ve had poetry published a couple of times (not in those scammy hardcover books where everybody gets accepted), but I’ve never actually held on for the long haul and finished a novel, much less published it.  Of course I have fantastic dreams of getting my book picked up by a major publisher and ending up with a movie deal and merchandising rights, but the chances of that happening are miniscule.  Besides, I don’t write for the money — if you do, you’re in the wrong business, because your royalties paid amount to somewhere between “jack shit” and “six cents” — I write for the possibility that someday I will walk into a library and find my book sitting on the “New Arrivals” shelf.

And that is where the trouble starts.

I will be self-publishing my book, which is absolutely great, but the vast majority of publishing houses offering such a service do not include ISBN numbers for free.  Obtaining one costs about $125, and that’s not even touching the fees I’d have to pay if I wanted to get it copyrighted (I probably do, because I don’t want to have to shank anyone for stealing my work).  It may not sound like a lot of money to most people, but I’ve been unemployed for five months, so coughing up that much is impossible for the time being.  Without an ISBN number, my book won’t end up in any libraries.  I’m a huge supporter of libraries because of how many amazing authors they’ve introduced me to, and the way that they open up access to reading material for those who don’t have twenty bucks to shell out for their own copy of a book.

“So just make it available for free download,” some might suggest, but that still doesn’t put my book in libraries, and, believe it or not, there are still plenty of people out there who don’t have an e-reader or the patience to read through a whole novel on a computer screen.  I definitely want an electronic version out there, but while I’m a Kindle owner who will extoll its virtues to anyone bored enough to listen, an e-book doesn’t look spiffy on a bookshelf.  You can’t feel its weight in your hands or smell that amazing papery book smell, nor can you run your fingers over the glossy cover and yeah, okay this just started sounding like porn, I’m sorry.  But I think I’ve made my point.

Plus, no matter how proud I may be of my work, or how many times people tell me “no, it’s good, you’re fine,” there’s still the pesky matter of that Impostor Syndrome thing where I somehow still manage to believe that it’s crap and I’m an embarrassment to myself.  I’m actually afraid to read back over it.  I tend to read as I write — right now, I’m hearing every word in my head, analyzing each sentence, each word choice, making sure that the syntax is good and I haven’t written “homosexual” instead of “homogeneous.”  It saves me from having to go back and edit everything later, because if I do, I will inevitably find some unforgivable sin that only I notice and end up trashing the whole thing.  I can’t tell you how many finished short stories I’ve lost that way.

(My high school poetry notebook, however, really was deserving of the trash bin.  I was listening to a lot of Kittie at the time because I was a teenager and didn’t know any better.  To be fair, I’m pretty sure everyone has at least one shameful relic like that lying around.  Some even end up getting it published.)

I’m at a loss, really.  Even though I’m not looking for huge profits and have zero expectation of becoming a bestselling author, it’d be really nice to make at least maybe five bucks from book sales at this current stage in my Jobless Bum history.  From everything I’ve found, however, if I want to be able to get my work out there, my only option is to go through somewhere like Lulu, which means no ISBN, no major distribution (at least going through Amazon, well… hey, freaking everything’s on Amazon) unless I wanted to order a bunch of boxes of them to pass out at local bookstores, who wouldn’t sell them anyway because of the ISBN.  Everything pretty much comes down to that silly number.  Do I get it out there sooner and sacrifice my chances of possibly doing something greater with it in the future?  Or do I hold on and wait for the day that I might actually be able to go at this the complete way?

This ongoing internal debate, ladies and gentlemen, is why Observe still hasn’t been made publicly available.  I kind of feel like a jerk about it because I talk about writing so much and how I’m a writer and write wrote writing writer written blargh, yet I really have nothing to show for it other than a one-draft .pdf that I’m too terrified to do anything with.

The life of an artist.

 

La Marsellaise Pour Une Lapine

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By now, if you’re a regular reader (assuming I have any), you’ve probably noticed a few changes around here.  Some post titles have been tweaked, names have been changed, and in general, I have become a Socially Acceptable Bunny.

A shitstorm occurred surrounding my Old Handle That Shall Not Be Named.  The confusion apparently stemmed from my use of a word which in French is innocuous, but in English is considered to be a slur.  Despite accusations made to the contrary, oui, je parle français.  I love France.  I adore the food, the films, the language, the music, the history, and Gaspard Ulliel’s butt.  Family legend states that we started off as descendants of French kings, but years ago somebody put their baguette in someone else’s basket and we got votekicked out of the country, landing in the Mediterranean where we noticed smokin’ hot tan chicks with big butts and proceeded to hump the bouillabaise straight out of the bloodline over the next several centuries.  Though we’re so far removed by now from our origins that we no longer qualify as French, I still have always felt an affinity for the language which is what led to me eschewing the study of Spanish in its favor, a decision that is admittedly questionable given the fact that I’ve spent most of my life in either California or Florida.  I was fluent in French at one point, although years of non-use has chipped away at my vocabulary.  Though I could probably still make my way through a vacation in Versailles without any trouble, it definitely doesn’t come as easily as it used to, and that is why you see me conducting all of my business in English.  (I can still read it easily, though, even if I can’t always remember exactly how to respond.)

tl;dr – Gaspard Ulliel’s butt.

Allô, chéri.

Allô, chéri.

I’m not going to go into much more detail about the events of recent history leading up to the name change, because my goal here is not to get sympathy or rally anyone to a “cause.”  I am, however, pointing everyone towards some updated links.  This blog’s address is now overlordbunny.wordpress.com.  My Twitter has been changed to @overlord_bunny as well, and other information, like my BattleTag and Tumblr, can be found on my About page.

After all, what’s in a name?  A rose, by any other name, would be Billie Piper.

Terry Deary + Four-Letter Insult = This Title

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In keeping with the spirit of my anti-bullying stance, I’m making a very serious attempt to not just come right out and call Terry Deary a douchebag.  Part of my struggle stems from the fact that as a kid, I absolutely lost my shit over his Horrible Histories series.  I was never one for Sweet Valley High or any of the super-fluffy books for kids out there.  I think the most vapid I ever got with my reading choices was the Nancy Drew series — the originals, not the cheesy ones from the 80s — and even then, I firmly believe that Ms. Drew, along with Encyclopedia Brown and Sherlock Holmes, helped me develop the critical thinking skills and attention to detail that I possess today.

But Horrible Histories, man… those were better than any fiction, detective or otherwise.  They were true stories.  They were often gory, a little creepy, and helped to cement my interest in the lives of those who lived so long ago.  Terry Deary’s dry wit and highbrow sarcasm so typical of British humor was an entirely new experience for me back then, something I much preferred over the fart jokes so prevalent in kids’ cartoons (I refuse to lower myself past dick jokes, thank you very much).  He taught me that it was possible to be funny and still intellectual, that it was better to have the audience pause for a split second to process how thoroughly you quipped the wit out of them before laughing than to have them giggling every time you say “poop.”  I actually still have these books sitting on my shelf and read them from time to time, even as an adult.  I plan to introduce my children to the series and buy the books I don’t have myself for them.

And then this shit happened.

“Because it’s been 150 years, we’ve got this idea that we’ve got an entitlement to read books for free, at the expense of authors, publishers and council tax payers. This is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature. We pay for compulsory schooling to do that.

“Books aren’t public property, and writers aren’t Enid Blyton, middle-class women indulging in a pleasant little hobby. They’ve got to make a living. Authors, booksellers and publishers need to eat. We don’t expect to go to a food library to be fed.”

In a stunning display of flawed logic that will leave you wondering whether or not this man could really have ever written a book, Terry Deary announced to the world that he believes libraries to be “irrelevant,” all because one night at dinner he had to settle for the sirloin instead of the filet mignon.

But first, let’s clear one thing up: if you want to be rich, being an author is probably about the worst way to accomplish that.  Talent has nothing to do with your success.  It’s all a matter of marketing, of convincing people that they should go shell out $10 for a copy of your latest book.  You could be the best writer in the whole wide world, but if you don’t have an effective promotional strategy, you’re screwed.  Similarly, you can be the worst writer in the whole wide world, but if you have an effective promotional strategy, you’ll get a five-movie deal and dine on salads made of hundred-dollar bills, leaving the actually talented authors to stare in through your misty windows like the Victorian street urchins that Terry Deary apparently thinks they are.  Unless you’re selling millions of books and have a bitchin’ contract, you’re going to be making mere pennies.  Using the figures listed in the article from which I pulled that quote:

30p recieved per £6.99 average book = 46 cents per $10.85 average book = approximately 4.24% of the price of every book sold goes back to the author.

Those are some pretty miserable returns.

The UK, however, offers a Public Lending Right program for published authors, meaning that every time one of their books is checked out, they get a small amount of money in borrowing “royalties” up to a certain cap ($10,250 according to the article).  Granted, it’s still not going to pay for your solid gold toilet seat or blingy necklace with “SHAKEDATSPEARE” spelled out in conflict diamonds, but it’s something, at least.  This is, however, not enough for Terry Deary, whose histrionic tantrum continues:

“If I sold the book I’d get 30p per book. I get six [thousand], and I should be getting £180,000… Why are all the authors coming out in support of libraries when libraries are cutting their throats and slashing their purses?”

To summarize, I think what he’s trying to say is “WAH WAH WAH, WAAAAAH.   WAH WAH.  WAAAAAAAAAAAH.”

What he fails to realize is how important libraries are for bringing in new readers, and thus new patrons of an author’s books.  Let’s face it, books are expensive these days (and they pretty much have to be if the authors want to see any payment at all), and while we’re not at “Victorian” levels of poverty, I don’t think most of us can afford to rush out and buy every single new book we find that looks interesting.  I don’t have a spare $20 lying around to take a chance on a title or an author I’ve never heard of, even if the reviews are good.  The first place I go is the library to give it a test run.  If I like the book, there’s an extremely high probability that I’m going to run out to a bookstore and buy my own copy, and Hell, possibly even pick up a few more of that author’s works if my budget allows.  If it doesn’t, I can guarantee you that I’ll at least be following their releases, adding their names to my birthday and Hanukkah lists and crossing my fingers that the gift-giving Gods are good to me.

Until, of course, they do or say something so remarkably despicable and irredeemable like Mr. Deary, in which case I will take a solemn vow to only buy their books secondhand so that they don’t see a single penny of my money.  As an author, myself, I would expect the five people who actually read my novel to call me on my bullshit in a similar manner if I were the one spouting off ill-conceived arguments against intellectual advancement.

Libraries are instrumental in convincing the younger generation to read.  When you take a 10-year-old kid from this current generation and tell them they can either spend 20 bucks on a new videogame or on a book, chances are they’re going to pick the option that requires a controller.  Tell them that they can buy their game but can also go down to their local library and read anything they want for free, without cutting into their precious XBox fund, and you’ve just opened up a whole world to them that they might have otherwise ignored.

Yes, I believe that videogames are the next evolution of storytelling, but that doesn’t mean that I think books are an obsolete medium.  Say that the kid in question grows up to  be a game designer.  If he’s never had easy access to books, where is he going to pull his inspiration from?  From the real world, sure, but that makes a pretty boring game, unless you’re talking about The Sims, which even then is only entertaining due to the myriad ways in which you can murder your avatar.  From TV and movies?  Okay,  but where are they getting their inspirations and plot devices from?  What if he pulls it from other games?  Fine, I guess, if we want the 3287649035th Dynasty Warriors clone (of which 98% of them are themselves Dynasty Warriors sequels).  But it still all goes back to books, to the Greek mythology so prevalent in God of War, and to the almost Shakespearean tragedy that permeates the Final Fantasy series.  If that kid has spent their childhood spending equal time playing games and reading books, thus not only understanding game mechanics but also how to weave together an engaging story that will completely immerse the player in the game’s world, you’re going to end up with a masterpiece.

It also ensures that this kind of thing will never happen again.

It also ensures that this kind of thing will never happen again.

Admittedly, the vast majority of libraries could do with stepping into the digital world a bit more, adding the ability to “borrow” e-books for the Kindle and Nook — set it up right, and patrons would no longer even have to drive to the physical location to check out a new volume, but could log in to their local library’s catalog with their library card number and download it straight to their e-reader, where the file will delete or lock itself after a certain number of days.  Some locations have already begun offering similar programs, but with the drastic cuts in funding, few can afford to give it a go themselves.

Terry Deary’s arguments against libraries are founded in one thing: greed.  He isn’t selling as many books as he used to, so he’s looking for a scapegoat to blame it on, similar to the anti-download arguments found in the music industry.  His Wikipedia page states that he retired from writing in 2011, meaning that no new Horrible Histories books will be coming out, so his income is now solely from pre-existing material that has already been purchased by a good chunk of the reading population.  Sounds like a great time to put the old books in libraries and try to initiate more generations to the series, doesn’t it?  I believe his complete disconnect from logic and reality comes from his retirement.  He is now obsolete himself, probably feeling a bit emotional over giving up something he was so good at and thoroughly loved for, and likely realizes that this now presents a lower stream of income for him.

At least, I hope that’s the reason, because the only other option is that one of my favorite authors is a complete dick, and I don’t think any of us would be able to accept that without our hearts breaking in the process.

 

Everyone Is Afraid Of My Huge Rejection

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Sorry about the title, but I don’t think I’ve thrown a good dick joke out there yet, and my portfolio is 100% incomplete without it.

A few days ago I touched a little bit on the majestic failure that was my first phone interview.  I pointed out that none of us should let rejections faze us, something that is, of course, easier said than done, and that we should instead continue to push on through until we accomplished our goal.  I talked about the importance of self-care when accepting a “no” but otherwise didn’t really go into much deeper detail on how exactly to get past that ugly word unscathed.

Step into my bedroom (giggity) for a moment.

Don't judge me, I wasn't the one who picked the wall color.

Don’t judge me, I wasn’t the one who picked the wall color.

I’m about to make a horrific confession for which there is no redemption: this is my inspiration wall, which I got the idea for from Rachel Berry in an episode of Glee.

I watch Glee.

Truly, my life has hit rock bottom.

Despite the fact that I utterly hate the character of Rachel Berry with the passion of a thousand burning suns — I find her completely irredeemable — I found her inspiration cork board to be a great idea.  Her version showcases her five-step plan on how to achieve her goals of being a Broadway star.  I may have the same nose as her, but my singing voice sounds like a dying llama with vocal nodes, so a Broadway board really didn’t do me much good, and I don’t have a particularly good plan as far as how to get hired by Blizzard.  At the moment it pretty much consists of:

  1. Assemble portfolio.
  2. Apply for jobs.
  3. Preemptively move home to California in the hopes that this makes me a more desirable candidate.
  4. ???
  5. Profit.

Essentially, it’s the game industry version of dropping out of high school and moving to Los Angeles or New York City to get discovered.

My inspiration wall is more of a reminder to myself not to give up.  Though I’m beating up Shas on a regular basis, it’s sometimes hard to avoid feeling sorry for myself, or like this is all hopeless and I’m being foolish to even think I could possibly accomplish what I’m trying to do.  When I start to get depressed, I simply look to my right and see an onslaught of arguments as to why I should ignore my jerk of a brain and remind me that yes, I am a worthwhile and capable person.  These arguments are:

  • The “story” my mother wrote about my life
  • My NaNoWriMo 2012 winner’s certificate
  • The “Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Could Mermaid Like Me?” bumper sticker I got from mermaid camp
  • All of the sweet letters and cards from my friends that I can find
  • The email letting me know that I had gotten a phone interview
  • The rejection letter stating that I did not get the job
  • A collage of direct messages from fans and idols of mine, kind comments on Twitter, my blog stats since the anti-bullying post, and photos of myself doing the following: attending a gallery opening of my photography, in the middle of my first professional modelling shoot, walking in my first runway show, hanging out with one of my music idols, my first public bellydance performance, and posing for a “promo” shot at mermaid camp
  • A small award for “Best Boobs” from last year’s Valentine’s Day party
  • The veil for my upcoming wedding
  • A full-length mirror

Most of the stuff up there is pretty self-explanatory, but undoubtedly a few items will seem to be strange choices.

To begin, a lot of you are probably wondering why I have a rejection letter taped to my wall.  Why on Earth could I possibly want that staring me in the face?  Because rejection is an important part of succeeding.  Anything worth doing is worth fighting for, and nothing that really matters comes easily.  Someday, when I’ve made it onto the design team, I will look back through all of the rejection letters and smile because the missteps make the end result all the sweeter.  I learned a lot from that phone interview (comedy option: that I should not be allowed to talk to other humans ever) that I can apply to my next one — and there will be a next one.  At the time I’m writing this I have six applications in with Blizzard, all for positions that genuinely interest me.  I won’t settle for something I know that I won’t enjoy or for another company that I don’t really want to work for just to get into the industry.  Reach for the stars, or don’t reach at all.  The path may be a little longer to get there, but in the end, it’ll be a lot less time and energy wasted for everyone involved.  This one job didn’t come through.  ‘Kay, there’s still six other ones that might, and if those don’t, then there will always be more jobs opening up.  I believe in fate, somewhat.  Maybe if I had gotten this job I would have hated it.  Maybe I’m about to get a call for my ultimate dream job, and if I had accepted this one, I wouldn’t be able to take it.   At any rate, it’s a reminder to me to work harder next time, and that yes, I am fallible.  The humility keeps me hungry.

My wedding veil is there to remind me, like the letters and cards from my friends, that I’m loved, and that whatever I do, I’m not alone.  The Fiance is along with me for the ride.  Where a lot of people think I’m foolish or naive for going after such lofty goals, he’s a third party who believes that my work is genuinely good, and not just good, but good enough.  If the stress gets to be too much, I know I can turn to him for support.  It’s also an example of a dream that I never thought possible coming true.  I had resigned myself to dying alone because I truly felt that no one would ever be willing to put up with me while I went chasing after my goals, or be able to accept me for the weird nerd girl that I am.  I used to dream of finding that one person, my soulmate, to serve as a partner in crime, though I never actually believed it’d happen.  Since it did, there’s no excuse for me to give up on my other dreams.

Finally, the mirror.  When I go to my wall and reread these things, I can glance at my reflection, and remind myself that I am the one who accomplished all of these things.  These are the experiences I am made of.  I set out to write a novel, and I did.  I wanted to be a mermaid when I was five, and it may have taken me twenty years, but I did it.  I don’t always like the girl I see staring back at me through the glass, but I can’t deny that she’s pretty remarkable with a grand and storied life that most people would probably think was at least three-quarters fabrication.  Also, I had no other place to put the mirror.  My bedroom is kind of small.

Is it hokey?  A little bit, but it works for me, and I think that we all need reminders of our own worth and ability once in a while.

I also created a special playlist in iTunes for myself that I put on whenever I’m filling out applications, making connections, writing, or feeling lost.

Again, it’s cheesy, but by surrounding myself with positive messages and affirmations, I can stand up tall, no matter how many times I get knocked down.

This doesn’t just extend to a single situation, either.  I’ve started to apply it to everything else in my life.  I make a mistake?  My bad, and I won’t do it again, but I’m not going to hide under a rock and cry about it for the rest of my life.  Somebody’s a jerk to me?  I’ve got even more people on my team.  Setbacks are a part of life, and every road has bumps in it.  Even once we achieve our goals, that doesn’t mean we should get complacent.  Keep doing whatever it is you do as passionately as you did on the way up.  Pretend like you’re still at square one.  Fight to get noticed, and once you do, keep fighting to prove that you deserve the attention and accolades.

The point is that rejection is nothing to fear.  Without rejection, we don’t learn anything.  It forces us to be flexible and creative, to reevaluate ourselves and keep from becoming stagnant.  Rejection doesn’t mean we’ll never be good enough, it means we know what detours we need to take and what we need to improve.

Realizing just how much you have in common with Rachel Berry, however… that’s something to worry about.

The Early Works of Overlord Bunny: Evidence for My Murder Trial

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The Fiance and I are in the process of getting together what we need in order to leave Florida behind and return to California, the state where he was born and where I spent a good chunk of my life.  Since this requires money and moving a ton of boxes is a total pain in the ass, we’ve been going through our stuff to see what we can sell or donate.  It’s pretty basic — getting rid of games I haven’t touched in years or am unlikely to ever play again, DVDs I’ve watched to death, and sorting through my book collection which has reached proportions bordering on ridiculous.

In fact, I have so many books that most of them are boxed up and kept in storage because I do not have enough room for the bookshelves required to host them all.  This is why I found myself digging through a moderately-sized cardboard box last night which I thought would be filled with books, but ended up being chock full of stuff from when I was a kid.  I know I sure as Hell didn’t save any of this stuff, so I can only guess that it belongs to my mother and I somehow ended up with it.  I’m glad I did, though, because it gave me some real insight into the childhood I don’t remember much of (PTSD will do that to you).  In fact, since pretty much all I have to go on with regards to what I was actually like as a kid is the contents of this box, I’m convinced that I was less a mini-overlord and more a mini-Ted Bundy.  Or Aileen Wuornos, I guess, but she was really unimaginative and the whole point I’m trying to make here is I was a creepy kid and everything I’ve found will probably be used as Exhibits A-Z at my murder trial someday.  “We never saw it coming!” my family will say, and the prosecution and I will then stand up to call bullshit.  If my kid ever brought home the kind of bizarre crap I did, I’d probably stop loving them.  It’s that bad.

First up was a folder stuffed with papers from my preschool years, including a “report card” of sorts from one of my teachers.  I remember exactly three things from preschool:

  • I was accused of punching my teacher in the face and busting her lip, which I vehemently deny to this day as anything other than an accident — she was leaning over me while I was sitting down and I jerked my head up at just the right moment to headbutt her in the jaw
  • I punched a boy in my class named Aaron because he refused to wear a dress.  Our normal dress-up group was one member short because Ada was sick, and somebody needed to play the mother, and I was always the eldest daughter so Aaron was the only choice according to three-year-old logic.
  • I taught everyone in my class a lovely little game on the playground called Funeral, where one of us would pretend to be dead and another would pretend to be the rabbi saying all of the prayers in Hebrew and throwing flowers on our “corpses.”  Then we’d drag the supposedly dead person into one of those little run-through tunnel things and leave them there, lather, rinse, repeat until the mini-rabbi was the only one left alive.

If I had been the teacher sending this particular report home, I probably would have phrased what she said as “she tends to be bossy” or something like that.  Instead, she wrote “She is a controlling person,” which makes me think that I was a complete freaking sociopath.  I was THREE.  I wasn’t even a person yet.  I was still trying to eat my shoelaces and occasionally peeing my pants which I consider to be two very important criteria for being considered a functioning person, and I failed both of those.  And controlling?  Not just bossy, but overseeing playtime with a steely glare and my arms crossed over my chest, waiting for someone to step out of line so I could tie them to one of the little plastic chairs with a jump rope and cut them with safety scissors until they agreed to obey my commands?  I mean, I may not fulfill the typical serial killer trifecta, but shouldn’t a three-year-old exhibiting behaviors that adults can only describe as controlling be like, a substitute fourth or something?

I managed to shake it off as the teacher in question being a little melodramatic.  Then I pulled out a homemade book, constructed from wallpaper-covered cardboard and purple printer paper held together by metal brads, and was once again worried.  But not about the design aspect.  The color of the paper really pulls out the accents of the wallpaper I chose, which is actually a combination of two different but extremely complimentary patterns.

Oh.  Goddammit.

Oh. Goddammit.

The title page tells me that I wrote this in Mrs. Knoebel’s class in 1994, meaning I was just about to turn 7 (having a summer birthday meant I was forever screwed out of being able to have cupcakes in class, which may just be part of my motive, who knows?).  It’s a compilation of five original short stories and fully illustrated by me, the author, though I feel slightly uncomfortable admitting my own guilt in that regard.  Granted, all little kids write and draw nonsensical crap that their parents are then obligated to read while smiling awkwardly and promising that it’s the best thing ever and they love it.  I imagine this is how 50 Shades of Grey got published.  The problem is that, thanks to knowing what I know now as an adult, the stories do make sense.  Too much sense.  I present to you now these early works of Overlord Bunny in their original, unedited form, along with my professional grown-up commentary and analysis.

Chapter 1: Amanda and the Princess

Amanda was riding her horse, Eva, down the path in the forest.  One time Amanda fell off of Eva.  She wasn’t hurt and she giggled.  She got back on.

Suddenly, she saw a castle.  A beautiful princess greeted her.  When Amanda stepped inside she turned into a princess.

The princess and Amanda lived happily ever after.

As for Eva, she became the royal pony and had babies.

On the surface, it sounds pretty innocuous.  It’s just a story of an intrepid female adventurer stumbling across a bit of good fortune and apparently remembering the “little people” by sharing it with them.

Except I had this little tendency to create characters in my stories based off of people I knew in real life.  In this case, Amanda was a girl who used to beat me up all the time.  Eva… well, that’s my name.  I could have written myself as the lucky princess-to-be, but no, I wrote myself as the service animal who, upon being accepted into the royal palace, was penned up and left to be bred and used for the amusement of my captors until the day I died.  I’m pretty sure this was David Parker Ray’s MO.  I’m also relatively sure that it’s considered a fetish among the BDSM community.

So let’s run with that last part, since no one actually died, at least not in the story.  We’ve got Eva in a submissive position to Amanda who… rides her?  Like… RIDES her?  And Amanda lives happily ever after with the princess?

Did I write lesbian fetish porn when I was 6?

On a side note, high five to my mini-self for being progressive enough to write about a princess hooking up with another princess.  Guess I wasn’t such a bad kid after all.

Chapter 2: Five Little Eggheads

Five little eggheads, silly as can be
Look at what these sillies see
Veronica sees tea, she’s going crazy
Iggy sees pickles, he’s feeling hazy
Naomi sees love, she feels happy
Carl sees the movies, he gets popcorn
Kenny sees a surprise…
SURPRISE!  IT’S TEA TIME!

Where do I even freaking start?

I really don’t know what the Hell I was talking about.   I tried looking to the accompanying illustrations for help but all they show is a bunch of anthropomorphic eggs surrounding a teapot and some pickles in the background, and oddly enough, Carl is missing from the group.  I don’t even know where I got these names from, but I would guess Veronica from the Archie comics I used to collect, Naomi from Naomi Campbell being the big supermodel at the time… Iggy, Carl, and Kenny remain a mystery.

I’d just like to know what kind of tea Veronica’s drinking that makes her feel crazy.  Peyote?  Shrooms?  The picture of her shows that her eyes are unnaturally large and dilated.  Maybe that’s what happened to Carl.  In the dark of the movie theater, Veronica tripped out and ate his face, the blood dripping down onto the popcorn he wanted so badly like so much liquid butter.  After wiping her mouth and picking the remains of Carl’s five o’clock shadow from her teeth, Veronica walked back into the group photo, hugging her pink teapot tightly to her chest.  “You make me feel so good,” she whispered as she flashed an eerie, cryptic smile that gave the three surviving eggheads chills.

Iggy’s having a pretty extreme reaction to pickles.  He’s slipping into an altered state at the mere sight of them.  Perhaps Iggy is a survivor of abuse, reminded by the phallic shape of the pickles of the horrors he endured.  He sits at the kitchen table every night to drain a bottle of bourbon, his head in his hands as he remembers the birthday party clown that smelled of cigarettes and rubbing alcohol and all of the false promises made that fateful day.  Reliving it during the testimony he gave at the trial was the hardest thing he’d ever done but he knew, oh, he knew in his heart that he’d saved countless other little eggheads from Monzo’s greasepaint-stained clutches.  But now Monzo was up for parole.  Iggy couldn’t let that monster back out onto the streets.  He claimed he was reformed, cured of his unnatural urges, but Iggy knew a man like that would never change, never stop.  The night of the parole hearing, Iggy was hungry, and not only for justice.  He took a quick detour through the drive-thru burger joint just down the street from the courthouse.  “A double cheeseburger,” he called through his car window, then paused and reached between the seats, allowing his fingers to trail over the cold metal of the gun he’d stashed there.  “Hold the pickles.”

At least Naomi’s reaction to love is perfectly normal.  But why does she merely see love, instead of experiencing it for herself?  That’s the question she asks herself every day as she looks in the mirror, studying herself from every angle.  Her impossibly thin frame is reflected back to her as the very picture of obesity.  “No one will ever love you, you fat pig,” she murmurs as she pinches an imaginary handful of flab on her protruding hips.  A single tear rolls down her face.  It’s as if Iggy looks right through her, no matter how many times she’s been there for him while he deals with his demons.  “I can’t love you, Naomi,” he had sobbed into her shoulder at the restaurant last night.  “I’m too broken.  I can’t… I can’t…”  She had pretended to shrug it off, nodding in sympathy as she numbly ate one of the pickles he’d pulled off of his sandwich and tossed onto her plate.  It was the first thing she’d eaten in three days.  But he never notices, not like Carl did, always shoving his greasy, buttery popcorn at her and acting offended when she turned it down.  The mere memory of all those calories makes her nauseous even now.  It doesn’t matter, anyway.  He’s perfectly happy with Veronica these days, Veronica, the adventurous one, the party girl, the one that all the boys have wanted since the first grade…

I might be reading too much into this, though.  If anything, it might just be the first signs of the obsession with tea that haunts me to this very day.

Chapter 3: The Easter Bunny

When Peter woke up he found a basket with an egg in it.  He was surprised to see it hop away.  It was the Easter Bunny!

He went home and told his children about the stranger.  He cautioned his children to be careful around humans.  Peter was also telling the children about the bunny.

Peter became best friends with the Easter Bunny.

How the Hell does a grown man (I’m assuming he’s an adult, since he’s telling “the children” about the Easter Bunny) mistake a rabbit for an Easter basket with an egg?  Unless, of course, the Easter Bunny we see depicted on advertising materials and chintzy Hallmark cards every year is not his true face.  No, perhaps the Easter Bunny himself came into existence only through the interference of human scientists.

Kenny was just a humble assistant back in those days.  He thought the entire practice of animal testing was barbaric, completely deplorable, but he was just a poor college student trying to make those loan payments in any way he could.  The internship paid like shit, but at least it was money coming in, unlike the free labor internships his classmates had taken.  They razzed it for him daily.  “All that studying worked out, eh, Egghead?” they’d ask, but it was all in good fun.  They liked Kenny.  He had a way with people that probably stemmed from his ability to see the magic in the world around him.  It was impossible to be in a bad mood when you were hanging out with Kenny.

The test subject on the table before Kenny made him cringe to even look at.  The fluffy white rabbit sniffed the air, blissfully ignorant to its caved-in back, or the gigantic tumor that had begun to grow in the crater where its spine used to be.  If the experiments were successful, their laboratory would be heralded as the birthplace of genetic reconstruction, manipulating genes through radiation and a cocktail of cellular catalysts to regrow bones, limbs, organs… anything at all.  The possibilities were supposedly endless.  This rabbit’s spine had been carefully crushed into powder by the scientists (“under anaesthesia,” they had told Kenny, as if that were somehow supposed to make the whole thing better) and a substitute mesh put into place to protect the fragile spinal cord and serve as a template for the bone they were hoping to regrow.  But they had overestimated their research.  A weak layer of bone had begun to grow over the mesh, sure, but the rabbit still could not move anything below its neck.  The mesh hadn’t held its shape, either, and an extreme case of scoliosis had set in, the inverted curve pressing against the poor creature’s vital organs.  Worst of all, the radiation and chemicals had caused horrific tumors to grow all over its body.  At first, the scientists had removed them as they appeared, but with the rabbit’s current condition, they were no longer certain that it’d be able to handle the stress of surgery.  It was just a matter of time now before its body gave out.  The failed experiment was uninteresting to these men of science now and they had left it to die.

That is why Kenny now held in his hand a syringe filled with the telltale pink of liquid sodium chloride.  “Poor thing,” he whispered, reaching out with his other hand to stroke the top of its head one last time.  “You can sleep now.”

“I have no interest in sleeping.”

Kenny jumped back from the table, the syringe clattering harmlessly on the floor.  His mouth opened and closed as if speaking, but no sound came forth.  The rabbit turned its head and focused its small red eyes on the quivering intern.

“For months I have waited,” the rabbit spoke haltingly as if struggling to form the words with its mutated vocal chords.  “I have laid perfectly still to avoid drawing suspicion, to lower your guards.  Now I have my opportunity to be free.”

“How… how?” Kenny stammered, crawling back over to the table and marveling at the creature before him.

“I am the thing that should not be.  You and your kind have created me, a God among the lagomorphia.  My children have fallen to your scalpels and poisons.  I am dying, this is true, but I am still strong, thanks to you.”

The young intern’s brain could barely process the information being given to him.  “I’m sorry.  I never thought anything like this would… could… happen,” he said, momentarily recoiling at how weak the apology sounded.

“Surprise,” the rabbit chuckled darkly, and in a flash of teeth and fur, his liberation had begun.

As he hopped down from the table using the intern’s lifeless body to cushion his landing (a final, well-deserved indignity, he thought), the rabbit noticed that Kenny’s cell phone had fallen out of his pocket.  With a bit of effort he managed to use his paws to manipulate the slide-to-unlock feature on the touch screen and sort through his contacts.  It was the perfect list for the rabbit’s vengeful purposes.  Kenny had stored the phone numbers and addresses of all of the other scientists.  One other name gave him pause.  “Peter Smith,” the rabbit mused, taking a moment to glance at the name tag clipped to Kenny’s bloody jacket.  Also Smith.  A brother?  A father?  It mattered not.  It was yet another opportunity for revenge.  A plan immediately began to formulate in his head.  He would investigate this Peter Smith — the irony of the name not entirely lost on him — and befriend him.  Perhaps this Peter had children of his own.  If only he could get close, he could remove the Smith family that had become such a stain on rabbitkind once and for all.

And this, my friends, is what happens when you let a Jewish kid write about Easter.

Chapter 4: The Grave

“Cathy!” Cathy’s mother called.

“Yes?” Cathy answered.

“Would you get some water from the well?”

“Yes,” Cathy said.

It was night when Cathy got home.  As she passed the graveyard, she noticed the gate was open.  So she went inside.

As she passed a grave she stopped to look at it.  The grave was open.  Suddenly she lost her balance and fell in.

That was the end of her.

Ah, yes, how could I forget the rip-roaring literary romp that was The Grave, where a young girl’s blind and unquestioning obedience to her neglectful mother results in her death?  It took Cathy all day to reach the well and retrieve the water, a perilous journey for a young girl.  What kind of mother would send her child on such an errand?  Maybe if Cathy’s mother hadn’t spent yet another day drinking, she would have been able to drive to the well herself.  Her alcoholism had cost her a well-paying job down at the factory, the last employer left in that dying town, after her inattention had led to a spoiled batch of dried tea to make it through the quality check and into the teapots of consumers everywhere.  One of the main components in that tea, as it turned out, was rye, and the result was a case of ergot poisoning so severe that a college girl three towns over had torn her date’s face off in a movie theater after drinking a few cups of it.  The lawsuits flooded in as similar cases cropped up across the country.  Cathy’s mother had been given a choice: accept charges for criminal negligence, or resign.

The electric company had been the first to cut off service for nonpayment.  Now the decaying, dirty house was without water.  Cathy’s mother would often drive across town to the water treatment plant, outside of which was a small cistern of sorts for the reclaimed water, easily accessible if only one had the proper tools.  She’d fill a few gas cans with the rancid-smelling water and return home before anyone was the wiser.  As a result, young Cathy spent much of her time too sick to go to school.  Between her frequent trips to the bathroom she’d find herself caring for her mother and the household, too sweet and loving to complain about the great burden that had been heaped onto her shoulders all too early.

That is why Cathy was the one who had to fetch the water, why the inherent curiosity of childhood was able to lead the unsupervised girl to the edge of an open grave where the heavy, fully gas can threw her off balance and into the yawning earth, snapping her fragile neck in the process.  When the groundskeeper came to check on the supposedly empty grave in preparation for that day’s burial, he found the dead child and, after a short police investigation, Cathy’s mother was arrested for child endangerment, but due to mishandling of the case by the prosecution she managed to get off scot-free.  The local community, however, was out for her blood, leading the authorities to place her in a protective relocation program somewhere in the Midwest, where she now attends weekly AA meetings and has been sober for three years, but is still haunted by the memory of her daughter’s broken body that seemed even smaller in her coffin.

The illustration accompanying this is of a gravestone and an empty grave featuring not only Cathy’s first name, but also her last.  I thought it was a bit too specific so I did some research and found out that the name on the gravestone is that of an adult who used to volunteer at my school and pissed me off one day.  In my mind, the only recourse I had was to infantilize and kill her in my story, making her a helpless victim as I saw myself.  Because, you know, this is perfectly healthy reasoning for a six-year-old.

Chapter 5: The Spooky Old Woods

On a dark night Danielle got lost in the spooky woods.  Her horse, Amanda, was scared.  Suddenly a spooky figure staggered through the trees.  Danielle could make out the bone-white hands reaching out of a pure white shirt covered by a black cape with a red inside.

The creature headed right over to Danielle.  Danielle collapsed on the ground.  As the creature went in front of her, Danielle disappeared forever.

Amanda’s saddle was flying while she was running.  Her mane was full of knots.  While she ran around Creak-Squeak River, she tripped and fell into the river.

Years later, archaeologists found a horse skeleton in the river and the skeleton of a little girl in an old rotting shack.

Granted, I’ve seen horror movies with less coherent storylines than this, but way to go, six-year-old me.  She either disappeared forever or her corpse was found years later.  Which is it?  It can’t be both.

Amanda makes yet another appearance, but this time, it’s as the subservient animal, and she’s ridden by Danielle, another former classmate of mine.  At least I was working through my self-esteem issues at this point, but both horse and rider met pretty grisly ends.  It’s a prime example of killing two birds with one stone.  No one gets to be a princess this time!  Instead, your body gets to disappear, leaving your family to spend the rest of their lives searching for some kind of closure over your death!  Did I say two birds?  I meant two birds and the whole damn nest.  Though, where were the parents anyway, and why were they letting their child ride a horse by herself through the woods at night?  Must be some of that garbage hippie new-age parenting where you let the kid do whatever they want and hope they don’t grow up to be entitled assholes (spoilers: they do).

I suppose the real question here is who or what killed Danielle?  Was it really a vengeful spirit from an ancient Indian burial ground, awoken from its eternal rest by the steady stream of archaeologists digging for artifacts ?  Or perhaps the shack belonged to a serial child murderer, hiding in the woods, waiting for his next prey to come riding on by?  And if so, what happened to him?  Did he die of old age, his crimes having never been discovered, or is he sitting on death row awaiting execution?  Maybe Danielle was the last victim, the one he refused to speak about during interviews.  “Where is she?” Danielle’s family would plead, and he would merely flash a sociopathic grin in response.  How many years have passed? Is there anyone left to mourn her?

I don’t know what’s up with the name of that river, either.  Stupidest river name ever.

So yeah, I was a really weird kid, which makes sense, because I’m a really weird adult.  I suppose I’m a pretty benevolent weirdo, though.  I don’t stalk the streets looking for victims (yet).

The Realities of Marrying A Creative Person

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Back in November, The Boyfriend became The Fiance, despite my best efforts to convince him that he’d be better suited as The Smart Guy Who Ran Screaming In The Opposite Direction, not because I think I’m hideous or abusive or anything, but because I know being married to a writer, designer, or ANY creative career-type person can be a real pain in the ass.

I’m not saying that people like us should avoid marriage or relationships altogether — quite the contrary, I think our creative nature and the unique way in which we see the world allow us to keep things dynamic and avoid the stagnation that plagues so many long-term couples.  This isn’t a “STAY AWAY” to the non-writers who love us.  It’s more of a disclaimer, a list of very unusual problems that can crop up in our relationships that most others don’t have to deal with, at least not in the same context.  The challenges are there, but they’re definitely workable as long as both parties take the time to consider things from both sides, and that’s what I’m hoping to illustrate now.

1. Long-Winded, Boring Rants

You know how bored and frustrated you feel when the person you’re talking to just won’t freaking shut up about a subject you could care less about?  Enjoy that experience every day for the rest of your life.  When creative people, especially nerdy ones, get excited about something, we just can’t let it go.  We have to share our joy with everyone around us.  It doesn’t immediately cross our minds that the person sitting next to us on the bus might not care about the influence that Sylvia Plath had on our early work or the intricacies of the storyline in a really great game we just played (and especially not our proposed changes to make the overall gameplay experience better).  Unless they’re creative in the exact same way that you are, there’s a pretty good chance they’re going to find themselves smiling and nodding to be polite, and they’re saints for doing so.

This isn’t even limited to writers.  Artists, you do the same thing.  The Fiance is absolutely brilliant in 3DS Max.  I’ve seen him create things in a matter of hours that look so real, I’m convinced I could reach out and pluck them straight off of the screen.  And whenever I tell him this, his eyes light up and he launches into a diatribe that lasts for a minimum of 20 minutes, the only words of which I understand are a few connectors here and there and “vertices.”  He says vertices a lot.  And something about maps.

In a relationship context, both parties have a responsibility here.  For one, those doing the ranting — when you feel the verbal tl;dr coming on, stop and consider your audience.  Try giving the annotated version instead.  When you see their eyes start to glaze over, you’ve gone too far overboard.  Those with the glazed expressions, don’t hold it against them.  They’re not doing it to show off or to be annoying.  They’re absolutely thrilled, and they want you to feel it, too.

2. The Challenges of Steady Employment

Nobody wants to go to work in the morning, but for creative types, having to get up and go to a decidedly non-creative job is the equivalent of being sucked into the Hellraiser box.  Those of us who haven’t been fortunate enough to find a job that allows us to use our talents are going to have to struggle through each day, leading to high incidences of burnout, especially coupled with the propensity among us to suffer from mental health issues.  Steady employment outside of our desired fields is going to be an almost insurmountable challenge for us.  It isn’t because we’re lazy or “losers” even though the media loves to portray us all as drug-addled high school dropouts who spend all day watching TV to help, like, the creative process, man.  Creative people also tend to be more sensitive and emotional, meaning that what’s a minor annoyance to other people is potentially agonizing to us.

And so a lot of us can’t really hold down a typical 9 to 5 for too long before we reach our breaking point.  Finances are a huge sticking point in any relationship, meaning that it’s hard for most people to deal with a significant other who may not be able to keep the same job for more than a year.  Even with the most understanding spouse in the world, don’t think that we’re ignorant to the repercussions of our actions.  The guilt I felt after quitting my last 9 to 5 was indescribable.  I felt like I was a screw-up, like I was a lesser person, or weak because I couldn’t suffer through it anymore.  I was lucky that The Fiance understood and supported my decision to do what I needed to do for my own sanity.  It’s a rare kind of patience that’s required.

If you find yourself sitting at the kitchen table across from your significant other who’s just come home with the news that they’ve quit their job, try to understand that they really did stick it out as long as they possibly could.  They are aware that their choice has consequences and it was made only as a last resort.  Console them.  Encourage them to seek out a career that will actually make use of their talents, but don’t nag at them about it.  I made this mistake once with The Fiance, inundating him with links to postings for 3D modelling jobs until he felt so overwhelmed that we had a five-day argument over it.  At first I was offended and couldn’t figure out why he was being such a dick when I was just trying to help, but then I thought about how I’d feel if he kept shoving design jobs in my face.  The constant pressuring would have driven me nuts, too.  Casually mention a job opening if you see one, but leave it at that.  Don’t insist that they send over their resume and portfolio right away.  If the ball is placed in their court, I guarantee you they’ll spike it right back over the net.

3. Freelancing

I am a freelance writer.  Even when I had a part-time retail job over the holidays (which admittedly wasn’t too bad since I got to sell tea, something I actually enjoy very much), I introduced myself as a writer trying to break into the game industry, never as a barista.  I wasn’t ashamed of my job, but it just wasn’t me.  I knew it’d only be a temporary fix until I could get hired for The Dream Job, so it never felt right to call myself anything but a writer.

I stand by my frequent statements that freelance is a fancy word for unemployed.  There’s no guaranteed paycheck.  You may be rolling in money one month, then find yourself selling all of your gaming consoles because you haven’t found a gig in five.  Freelance gigs don’t usually pay well, either.  Say you write for a website that pays you $100 per article, and asks for one article per week.  “Holy shit, $100?!” you may exclaim, but when you break it down, that’s only $400 a month unless you find something else to supplement it.  As an independent contractor, you get completely shafted come tax time.  Ending up with no return but no tax owed is about the best outcome you can hope for in most cases.  If you choose not to claim your freelance income on your tax return, LALALALALA I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT I AM NOT AN ACCESSORY TO TAX FRAUD!

Being a freelancer also requires that you be your own PR and marketing department.  It took The Fiance a while to realize that when I was constantly glued to the Twitter app on my phone, it wasn’t because I was discussing the latest celebrity gossip.  It was because I was introducing myself to other writers and people working in the game industry, trying to make my existence known and get some buzz going for my portfolio.  When I celebrated hitting 40 followers on my Twitter account, it was because that meant I had 40 people outside of my circle of friends and family who knew who I was and what I did.  Making digs at your freelancing significant other for “always being on Facebook” is hurtful.  Understand that even if you dick around on Facebook to avoid working, for us, it’s actually an important part of our job.  As of now, I’ve got my own Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn (HA!  No link for you!), and this blog in addition to the Twitter that started it all.  I even registered a new email address for the Overlord Bunny media empire.  I check each one every day.  My email inbox, Facebook, and Twitter are constantly open in separate tabs so that I’m instantly aware of any updates.

At the same time, I’ve also had to learn that there are a few times when the social networking machine needs to be put on standby for a while.  I’ve started to leave my phone at home when we go out to dinner, or leaving it on silent in another room while we cuddle and watch Netflix.  And of course, it absolutely gets turned off if we’re boning.  I somehow doubt it’s professional to answer the phone with “Hello? GET THAT AWAY FROM MY ASS!”

4. Weird Behavior

On our first date, I noticed The Fiance (then The Boyfriend) taking photos of random buildings with his phone as he was talking to me.  I thought this was pretty odd, so I asked him what he was doing.  “Reference photos for modelling,” he said solemnly, then went back to photographing a tree he later told me had amazing textures.

I’m notorious for stopping in the middle of whatever I’m doing to rummage through my purse in search of a pen and something to write on.  I’ve written chapters of novels on everything from receipts to napkins to my own hand, which I then refused to touch anything with until I got home to type it up solely with the other hand lest I risk smudging it beyond legibility.  I also occasionally find myself unable to sleep because an idea’s popped into my head, and my brain won’t shut off until I sit up in bed writing till after dawn, which is usually about the time my shorthand stops making sense and I end up losing about half of it, anyway.

In short, I hope you have a sense of humor, but if you don’t, you wouldn’t be here.  As a note to my fellow creative types, however, please, please, please try to shut it off at important events like funerals.  People tend to get upset when you’re sitting in the back of the church scribbling down notes on the program that the usher just handed you while muttering “this sentence sounds like shit, what if I…” under your breath.  Triple offensive points if it’s erotica.  Also, significant others tend to get disappointed if, after a particularly good round of sex, you come back and ask them to describe one part of it, not to be sexy or kinky, but because you’re stuck on this one part of the sex scene in your book.

5. Insecurity

Creative people are some of the most insecure individuals you will ever meet.  When job-hunting for our respective fields, we have to put on a brave face and really sell ourselves as if we thought we were the most badass individual on the face of the planet.  I think we all have our little catchphrases that we say in our heads to try and pump ourselves up before an interview.  Mine is “bitch, I am flawless.”  Yep, that includes the bold type.  The voices in my head are great with typography and formatting.

Impostor Syndrome is not technically considered an actual mental disorder at this time, but with how prevalent it seems to be, I wouldn’t be surprised if it made it into the DSM in the near future.  If you don’t feel like clicking the link, Impostor Syndrome basically means that you feel like everything you do is shit and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot, or that if you actually do succeed at something, it had nothing to do with your own ability and everything to do with luck, other people’s ignorance, people just being polite, et cetera.

Every single creative person reading this has just pointed at themselves and yelled “THAT’S ME!”

Not only do I fight with this myself, but The Fiance is convinced that his entire portfolio is crap despite the fact that it is anything but.  I spent six months of our relationship thinking that this warehouse scene he had apparently rendered in 3DS Max was a weird photograph of an empty building he’d taken for reference.  He’s been told by other people, including some who actually work in the game industry, that he’s actually extremely talented, but he refuses to listen.

It’s not that any of us are looking for attention or praise.  In fact, we hate it, because it makes us feel like we’re lying to people.  If we hand you something we’ve just completed, it isn’t because we expect you to tell us that it’s good, it’s that we expect you to alphabetically list every single flaw so that we can try (and, obviously, fail) to fix it.  This is where the conflict comes in.  Most people think we’re just being attention whores, and we think that the people around us are being insincere.  What will it take to convince us otherwise?  I have no freaking idea.  If you figure it out, let me know.

6. Droll Eye For The Creative Guy (Or Girl)

Depending on your particular creative field, you’re probably going to be absolutely zero fun to do certain activities with.  It’s impossible to shut off your inner critic.

The Fiance can’t take me to movies anymore and he’s almost afraid to show me any games.  I will grouse about what I perceive to be flaws with the storyline or, in the case of the games, gameplay mechanics, for hours afterwards.  As a former dancer — the non-naked kind, thank you very much — and choreographer, I’m also a real dick about any kind of dancing shows on TV or in music videos.  Meanwhile, I’ve quickly learned that if I want to watch a 3D animated movie with him, or introduce him to a new band I’ve discovered — he’s won awards at indie film festivals for his original scores and compositions — I do so at my own risk.  It’s almost as if there’s a veil around everything that only those of us with backgrounds in those particular fields can see through.  To everyone else, a movie is just a way to kill an afternoon, and a game is either awesome or kind of crappy but for no real reason.  I equate it to being a little kid who sees Mickey Mouse take off his costume head.  The magic is gone.  Suddenly you can see the frayed stitching on all of the other costumes, and you notice the cleverly hidden mesh that the actor looks through.

This makes it downright depressing sometimes, not only for ourselves, but for the people around us.  It’s important to remember that while we may see a million and a half technical flaws with something, that doesn’t mean we have to kill a layperson’s enjoyment of it.  A simple “Eh, I didn’t care for it” will suffice, rather than a detailed breakdown of low poly versus high poly models and the importance of UV maps.

(Hey, I guess I AM learning some of his 3D stuff!)

7. I’m So Ronery, So Ronery…

As the significant other of a creative person, prepare to be alone a lot, especially if they’ve managed to make a career out of what they do.

Each blog post I write takes me an average of about three hours, including edits, revisions, and the addition of media when necessary.  During these three hours, I cannot be disturbed.  I’m so focused on the work in front of me that I essentially go blind and deaf to everything else.  The Fiance can sit there and talk to me the entire time and at the end I will not be able to tell you a single word he said, although I apparently answer “yes” or “no” questions without realizing it, leading to some awkward moments when I find out I’ve agreed to something I have no memory of.  Either that or he’s trolling me, which is also a possibility.

Even with my shut-off mechanism, I still get horribly annoyed when someone tries to talk to me while I write.  I feel awful for it, but it’s the number one way to get me to snap at you.  If it’s for something important, however, like asking me what I want to do about dinner or telling me that you were just struck by a piece of falling meteorite and need to go to the hospital, it doesn’t trigger my rage response.  But this doesn’t help in the case of a neglected spouse who really just wants to spend time with you and talk to you about your day.

The guilt of this one has been eating at me a lot lately.  I’ve been spending more time applying for jobs in my desired field, networking, and writing than I have talking to him.  He’s lucky if I manage a solid hour of conversation per day.  He never complains or makes me feel bad about it, but the disappointment is almost palpable when I tell him I’m simply too busy to run heroics with him or can’t focus on a conversation with him because I just really, really need to finish this paragraph.  I actually have talked with people in the game industry about this, since they frequently work unpredictably long hours and yet still somehow manage to do things like not die alone.  One of them told me about a coworker who, when asked how his wife handles his seemingly constant absence, shrugged and replied “I gave her a credit card to do whatever she wants with.”

This is perhaps the most challenging obstacle to overcome for a couple.  The creative spouse isn’t coming home late because they’re going to the bar every night, or having an affair (Hell, even if we wanted to, we’re way too exhausted to cheat).  They’re late because their job requires them to be.  Even armed with this knowledge, being left on their own so often is too much for many spouses to handle, something that isn’t surprising at all. It sucks to be ignored as a kid when your parents are too busy at work to play with you.  It sucks even worse when you grow up and the person you’re married to does the same thing.

The only way I’ve found to combat this is to make at least one day off a special day.  No phone, no work, no distractions from anything other than spending time with your significant other.  It doesn’t have to involve leaving the house or cost a ton of money.  Some of the best dates I’ve had with The Fiance involved ordering a pizza and watching Doctor Who in our pajamas.  Obviously this isn’t always possible, so having a home office can help a tiny bit, too.  Even if you have to bring your work home with you, at least you can be in the same space instead of locked away in a dim office after hours while the dinner on the table gets cold.  Or share your lunch breaks during the week, if you can arrange your time off together or your spouse doesn’t work.  An hour together is better than nothing.

And As A Closing Note

I know that this post was decidedly unfunny, and I apologize for that.  But much like my article about my battles with depression, it’s one that I really felt needed to be written, if not for the general public, than as a way for me to show that even when I’m working, I’m thinking of The Fiance.  I want it to be known that I’m aware of the unique challenges we face in our relationship.  One of those is that I may be moving to Southern California within the next month or two without him.  He’ll follow when he’s able to, but in the meantime, we’ll be on opposite sides of the country.  Though I’ve been resisting this move for a while, he is the one who insisted I make it a reality.  The first time he brought it up, he mentioned that he really thought I had the talent to make it as a game designer.

“You haven’t read any of my stuff,” I argued.

“Yeah, I did.  You left the first draft of your book in Dropbox so I read it.  It was really good.”

I never knew this until two months after the fact.  He didn’t want to bring it up because the was worried I’d be mad at him for reading it and, anyway, he knew that I probably wouldn’t believe him.  (Of course I don’t.  IMPOSTOR SYNNNNDROME!  Flash!)  But it touched me to know how deeply I had his support.  I warned him that when I do get hired, it’ll mean lots of time spent working and not a lot with him.  He shrugged and told me he was fine with that, that he’d make sure to have dinner ready for me when I got home and that he’d take care of the chores so I could focus on my work.

When a relationship includes a creative person, or, as in my case, two, it really becomes more of a partnership than anything else.  Together, we’re an unbreakable team.  It requires a little more work and a whole lot more understanding, but the rewards are definitely worth the effort.

Also, the sex is awesome.