Metapost: On Pseudonymity, Publishing Updates, & More Metaposts

Hello all,

I had a good weekend for writing, finding the time to work out a new short piece, First Souls, (that I will be posting within the next day), and getting some good solid editing on some other work. Runner B stopped mid stride in the last couple weeks, as I’ve found little time to work on it from home. I’m currently on paternity leave, so my time to write is dictated by the nap schedule of a capricious id that cares little for quiet, uninterrupted working time.

First Souls was something that bubbled up between running and a bout of what I hope was food poisoning last week, and it needed to get on the page. If I didn’t give it a shot at life, it would have eaten away at me while I tried to work on Runner B. I will return to Runner B, but for some reason it’s proving more challenging than I’d thought.

I’m trying to take writing much more seriously now, scheduling out the tasks I need to address, including research of markets, agents, and publishers. Finishing Runner B is next on my task list, followed by final drafts and submissions of two other pieces. No more rejections or acceptance letters have come back in, and I’m about to send queries to some of the more tardy markets to see if I can goose them into a response, if only to free up the pieces for other submissions.

Two other things of note on the publishing front:

First, I’ll be publishing anything I sell under my real name, so if you see one of my stories under the name “Cameron Suey”, know that is indeed me, and not a plagiarist with better business sense. Likewise, you’ll probably see me posting here as “Cameron” rather than “Josef” from now on.

I started writing completely anonymously, on 4chan, with little thought of what I was doing other than having fun, which was a philosophy that served me well. When I later chose post under a name for purposes of identification, I chose a pseudonym for a couple of reasons that are now charmingly defunct. At the time, I was working for a videogame developer, and was worried about doing “outside creative work”, for no real reason in retrospect.

I was also giving developer interviews for a couple of games, some I was quite proud off, and others that were just fun to work on. It meant I got to travel to europe nearly a dozen times, and it was some of the most fun I’ve have had while still getting paid. But if you’d googled my name you’d see a few videos of me being an affable stooge for a big company. It didn’t seem to mesh very well with somber and brooding horror fiction.

Overtime, those concerns became moot, as I no longer work there or do PR. “Josef” is a much cooler sounding name than my given, but it is a character from a Kafka novel, so it’s really not a pseudonym I could continue with beyond the realm of this blog. I did think about submitting work to publishers as Joseph Kay, but that seemed a little too precious.

Second, as I continue to submit pieces, I’ve also toyed with the idea of collecting all my older pieces, and finding an illustrator to do a simple image for each story, and then self-publishing them as an ebook, likely on amazon, but also selling a DRM free epub from my website. Obviously any stories I am actively selling would not be collected, but these would be cleaner final drafts of the stories available here. I’ll likely have a lot of questions for you about this. Would you pay 3-5$ for an ebook only collection with illustrations? Is this a terrible idea? Heard any applicable success stories of short story collections doing well as an ebook? Horror stories?

It’s still something I’m toying with. I’ll likely start polling you for more concrete feedback on that and other ideas later.

I also wanted to say thank you to those of you that answered my questions about where you heard of this site, it was quite interesting. What I found is that so many of you have been reading my blog for years, and that’s completely awesome. I hope to continue earning your attention. I also found that word of mouth was the best way that people found out about me. So, to all you that have posted links, or recommended me on forums or other websites, thank you, and please feel free to keep it up. I think the best way I can build an audience is by making content that you can’t help but share. So I’ll try to keep my end of that bargain up.

I find as I start taking everything more seriously, I’m taking more notes, having more ideas, and generally finding myself with more to say. I think I’ll be posting more metaposts in the future, non-fiction discussions of the genre, books or films I’d like to recommend or wax about (and I have a great deal). All on the topic of horror and writing, of course. If you’re only interested in stories, just ignore the posts labeled “metapost”. If for some reason, you want more updates (still writing and horror focused) you should follow me on twitter.

If I start blogging about housework or tech news, you should feel free to mock me in the comments, or stop reading. Like all writers, I thrive on attention. I look at the damned site statistics every day, and obsess over every peak and valley.

Stop reading, and I’ll know. That sounds more like a threat than I meant it to be.

Here’s the first segment of First Souls.

The waitress brings us our coffee, dishwater pale murk in cracked porcelain cups. Behind the thin surgical mask, her face is unreadable, but her gaze flicks from me to my companion and back again before she leaves without a word. Mickey watches her go and then fixes me with that stare that locked us together only an hour ago. For a long moment, the silence continues, as our eyes confirm what our hearts seemed to know the instant we passed outside my office building.

“Okay, Dale,” he says, his voice hoarse and still raw, like my own, but with an accent I can’t place – perhaps a district on the other side of the city, perhaps another country. “I’m going to ask you a couple of questions, but I think I already know the answers.”

I pick up the coffee, finding it smells as weak and thin as it looks, and contemplate taking an exploratory swig. Around us the few lunchtime patrons of the dingy coffee shop are listlessly eating, lifting up paper masks to shovel in crumbling and greasy burgers, backsides squeaking on red vinyl seats. Those that aren’t are staring at us, at our uncovered faces.

“Okay,” I say, “Shoot.”

“You had the sick. But you didn’t report it, or go to quarantine like you were supposed to. Didn’t tell anyone.”

I nod, scared to say out loud that I’d broken the law, and willing him to lower his voice. He smiles a little, showing one blackened and rotting canine.

“Yeah. Me too, I mean, obviously. Look at us. We look like shit. But, you got better. They say 1 in 10 do, and you took a chance. No family, no close friends, you weren’t worrying about passing the sick along. Or maybe too scared to let that stop you.”

I nod again, something like excitement and night terror churning in my gut. I think I knew all this, that he and I were the same, when we saw each other this morning.

I came out of the office building, fighting the paranoia and nausea, pulling my necktie loose. I couldn’t be around my coworkers, couldn’t look anyone in the eye. Guilt from ignoring the quarantine, from lying, but something else. Something wrong, in every pair of eyes. Ever since the fever broke, and I lay awake and sweating in my bed, the sheets clinging to me, feeling remade. It’s worse than the sick ever was.

Mickey was there, just outside my office building, crouched on the edge of a planter box, sucking a cigarette down to an ashen nub, dressed in torn jeans and a stained green nylon jacket, worn thin by time. Our eyes met and we froze, held in place like two sparking nodes of an electric arc.

“We should talk,” was all he’d said, and he led me to this cafe around the corner.

“So,” he continues, “We were sick, we hid it, we got better. But it’s not really better is it? There’s something wrong.”

“Yeah…” I croak, and take another mouthful of bitter coffee. “Something’s wrong. But… I don’t think… it’s not with us.”

“No,” he smiles in agreement, the black tooth sliding into view, “Not us.”

If you’d like to read the whole draft and offer some feedback or criticism, drop me a line, and I’ll share the password for the post with you. (Up now.)

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7 thoughts on “Metapost: On Pseudonymity, Publishing Updates, & More Metaposts

  1. Raltar Creed

    Well… I’m semi-dissapointed by this news.

    I’ve been reading and loving your stories for years, but if I knew you were a video game developer… I would have really given it a second thought. Hopefully you know by now that video game developers are some of the most vile and evil people currently walking the face of the earth, and that is why you are making an effort to turn your writing into a profitable career.

    Luckily, it looks like most of your work on SWG was BEFORE the horrible disaster known as the “New Game Experience”, so I don’t have to add your name to the list of people who will be publicly executed in the event I ever become the ruler of the planet earth. However, I am still a firm beliver in the policy that anyone who EVER worked for SOE (or any affiliated company) should be banned from ever obtaining any future employment in the gaming industry. No offense, but the removal of these people from the “gene pool” of game development can only lead the industry as a whole into a brighter future.

    I guess this also answers a lot of questions about where your inspiration for “Dogs in the Drywall” came from. I’m going to assume that “The Twins” were some of the very fine employees at LucasArts? Perhaps you can understand why I feel most of these people should be disallowed from ever developing another game as long as they live?

    At least you never worked for Sega. That is something to hold on to…

    With all of that said, I hope your writing takes off and becomes a new career for you. I will operate under the assumption that you were one of the many avid gamers who believed (through no fault of your own) that the gaming industry was an honest business where creativity and intelligence were rewarded, but by the time you discovered otherwise you were too far into the mess to dig yourself out easily. If your writing does become a success, I hope you will never touch another video game again as long as you live. I know I won’t.

    And yes, I would buy a DRM FREE (that part is critical) version of your stories.

    1. Hah! You can see why I might have had some trepidation at first when it came to real names. To address your last assumption, yes, that would be a safe bet. I came in as a bright eyed college graduate and Star Wars fan dreaming of new stories, and over the course of a half decade had much of that spark for games extinguished. I never worked for SOE, my involvement on Galaxies was limited to being a QA tester on Jump to Lightspeed, and helping EA Japan do translations for the short lived Japanese version. Never at Sega, but I confess I did apply I once.

      I will say, the specific gentlemen you are like to blame for the NGE would likely agree with your opinion. Assuming we’re talking about the same folk, they are some of the finest people I ever worked with, and they found themselves in an unwinnable battle. More often than not, the faces and names attached to a game are not to blame for the mistakes, or for the successes. I know this personally, very well.

      You’re right about the “industry” aspect. With few exceptions, most artistry in games is ground out by committee. What you get is what’s deemed safe or profitable. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy a lot of my time there, or make quite a few lifelong friends. With only a few exceptions (yes, absolutely the inspiration for “The Twins”), most of the people I’ve worked with have been passionate, fun, and talented. But the tension between art and commerce is painful. Working there made me who I am, and I rather like that, but I’m quite glad I no longer do.

      I could go on, at length, which is a fine sign that I should I should stop. There are great people in the industry I’ve worked with, and terrible people. And I’ve seen those great people make terrible decisions, or be forced into them, only to be blamed for them or forced out of a company later.

      My desire to try to make a living from writing has less to do with escaping the games industry, but any industry where I don’t own my art. I owe it to myself to try.

      And yes, that’s one important lesson I’ve learned from the industry. No DRM.

  2. Sam

    I really couldn’t tell you if it’s a good idea or not, but I’d buy the book, and probably tell some people to as well.

  3. Platinum

    Just going through the archives now, i have never been a fan of horror/thriller books or the like, sticking to David Gemmell, Raymond E. Feist (Though i did enjoy Faerie Tale) & J.R.R. Tolkien, but your short stories have enthralled me. Sorry if my grammar, spelling, or anything else sucks, i am just a simple fan of reading & books in general and thought I would let you know that these stories have pulled me in to a WHOLE different area of future reading and i am grateful & glad there are still new things to surprise me and draw me deeper in to the literary world.

    On a separate note, awesome stories dude 🙂

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