Bracing for Impact

Turmoil and change are often great fodder for creativity. The threshold between what was and what will be is the perfect recipe for fiction. Every story is about becoming or undoing (or both – see The Stormblade Saga…) and the personal experiences navigating change are what feed an author’s prose.

With my life both tucked away in boxes and also impatiently waiting to be set loose on the open road, I’ve found myself spending a lot of mental energy simply bracing for impact. Much of what I’ve wanted to say has been restricted in one way or another as well, but I’m finally free to acknowledge a few realities:

a) My wife’s job situation has been sorted out and all systems are a go for Discovery’s launch.

b) My fiction sales are terrible and I have a college tuition bill to pay.

The first one is no surprise. My wife works as a project manager in the IT sector and she’s incredibly good at what she does. However, it wasn’t possible to talk openly or plan for our nomad future until she’d hammered out the specifics. (Apparently, lots of her current and former colleagues browse LinkedIn where my posts sometimes circulate…)

During the downtime though, my plan to post about our mobile adventures got muddied. I’ve started to see signs that more people are adopting this lifestyle out of necessity and not choice. With rising housing costs and stagnant wage growth, quite a few articles have popped up lately about people living in parking lots. Add to this reports that Millennials, who often aren’t buying houses like their parents, are driving a surge in RV purchases (the one industry outside avocado toast they haven’t “killed”), and I have the feeling this is less a burgeoning lifestyle choice and more of an impending crisis.

Blogging about that takes on a completely different tone.

As for my fiction sales, well, they are terrible in an incredibly subjective sort of way. I say that having sold or given away close to 20,000 copies of my novels and while it sounds like a great number, it isn’t.

Lots of those are freebies used to hook new readers, but a significant portion are sales. However, when you consider this figure is over the course of four years, and that I’ve had to pay for cover art and edits for seven books along with advertising during that same time, well, it quickly equals nothing in the way of profit. And since my son’s university doesn’t take free fiction in lieu of tuition payments, I’ve been looking to expand my freelance work amid all the other life-altering chaos.

(Originally, our cryptomining business was meant to help cover college and then some but has been struggling. That’s a post all it’s own which mostly has to do with human greed over embracing change. There is a trend here. It is not promising…)

Sure, he’s an adult, and he can now legally bury himself in debt to cover his education. So, why should I pay for it? My wife and I paid our own way through college…

But that was before tuition far outstripped inflation and the textbook industry became little more than a scam. Students are now assumed to be taking out loans to be settled on the backs of stagnant wages. Their credit reports, trapped in single-point-of-failure security nightmare institutions like Equifax, will be marred before the ink on the diploma is even dry.

And we wonder where all those home sales went…

Remember what I said earlier about transitions and change? About why Millennials, or anybody, shouldn’t have to live in a parking lot unless they want to?

The least I can do is try to break the cycle in my own little corner of the world.

As a society, we’ve been teetering on the precipice of a titanic shift. Could be good. Could be bad. I don’t even want to try and call it at this point.

But from an author’s view, I do know a lot of people want escapism in their fantasy and science fiction right now because of this uncertainty. Even in their non-fiction, they’ve long retreated to echo chambers and comfortable spaces where their views aren’t challenged.

I cant’t blame them. However, it isn’t quite what I my experience of this transition demands that I write. Beneath the jokes and the snark, the messages are reflective and even critical of humanity. Real sacrifices are made. Life, even for superheroes, is messy.

This is what we need most right now, not alternate realities to hide in or pundits to confirm our biases. We need to rediscover contemplation and reflection as well as become fully engaged with what’s actually happening around us. Pretending we aren’t in free fall won’t get us anywhere.

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