I know… the Devil is Working Hard To Make It Seem Like You Don’t Exist. When you see what’s going on in the world, and you know you’re no part of it, it does feel rather hopeless, as it did last year, when you see mass groups of people rising up in common anger, indignation, but ultimately a purpose. A purpose that may be far different from your own.
We as Christians know that you can’t put your faith in human beings. All these calls for “justice” and “equality” are futile notions because we know the justice and equality they’re talking about isn’t universal. Meaning, it isn’t justice and equality for everyone, just them and their ilk, and their feelings.
With Black Lives Matter particularly, even after the Chauvin Verdict, we already see them and SJWs moving the goal post. They got their desired verdict but it’s not enough. It’ll never be enough. Let me repeat that. It WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a long essay. I’ll be brief.
A lot of people are sharing their thoughts on Derrick Jaxn…I have some too. I first found out about this guy from one of my relatives a couple of years ago. I can’t remember which cousin or aunt posted his videos, but when I first heard him speak…I was impressed.
As a guy who believes in treating women right, regardless of race, I liked Derrick Jaxn’s message. He was basically telling men how they should be treating women with respect, honoring their wives, to stop cheating. All good things. But one thing I started to notice rather quickly…was that’s all he did. Bash men. It seemed like women could do no wrong, it’s never a woman’s fault. It’s always the men who are doing wrong to women. Men are bad. Men are dogs. And understandably…this created a huge swath of men, on Youtube and the Real World, who began to hate Derrick Jaxn. It was like he was throwing men under the bus and making himself holier than thou.
This was years ago. Since then, his following has grown. Mostly female followers. Almost every comment from his female fans was praise towards Jaxn and hate and spite towards men. There was almost no accountability towards the women, and when he did post a video encouraging women to get better, it was usually followed up with more men bashing. As in, women could do well…if only men weren’t so bad. Particularly, black men.
I suspect the only men not affected by this are those who are already in a committed relationship, men who don’t care how others see them, or men who don’t know what’s going on in the world. For the rest of us, it really is like… “What did you expect?”
If anyone “feels offended” or “feels uncomfortable” by something you did or said, it can be used as a weapon against you, regardless of intent. By now, most men who have witnessed the MeToo Movement and the Kavanaugh debacle should be aware of this. No, those situations weren’t just about feeling uncomfortable, but involved more serious allegations…but enough’s enough.
Most recent examples are Jim Carey flirting with a female interviewer, when she says, “is there anything you haven’t done.” and he says, “Just you. That’s it. We’re all done.” They went after him for that.
Lavar Ball was giving a live interview where a female interviewer says, “Alright, lets switch gears” and Lavar says, “You can switch gears with me anytime.” They went after him for that. If she never made that awkward eye gesture, this wouldn’t even be a thing.
Chris Matthews recently resigned from over 30 years of television for, among comparing a Nazi comparison, telling a GQ columnist in 2016, “why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet” as she was getting her makeup done.
We’ve seen this go on for years. If the answer is “just don’t watch the news,” the question becomes, “then why are they showing it to us in the first place?” Are there real scumbags and sexual perpetrators out there. Absolutely. I can’t stand them. The guilty ones deserve all the jail time they get. F**k em. But you know what happens when the wave of outrage gets washed over the innocent men…We adapt and overcome.
Here, we have a man named Yung Joc. He’s a rapper, but now driving a ride share service to make legit money, an honest living. In the backseat, you have a couple of females making fun of him. They’re saying things like “what happened? You fall off?” Meaning, you failed in your rap career and you’re no longer popular.
Now, this might sound “funny” or a trivial thing…but this is a huge problem. Especially in the black community, these are things people don’t like to talk about because some are afraid it’ll make us look bad in the face of other races.
Two things. One, consider all of our black men who are in prison for things like selling drugs and committing crimes just to pay the bills. Secondly, consider the our young black boys (children) who are raised in single-mother households, struggling to get by and having to resort to selling drugs…just to keep the lights on. T.I, Jay-Z, even Outkast are some rappers who talked about doing this in their younger days and guess what…a lot of young black children look up to these figures.
Why do you think they go down this route? Is it really because they can’t get a job? Or is it because getting a job at McDonald’s might get them clowned by their peers? This needs to stop. Respect and reputation means everything to a man. It just does. Continue Reading
As a grown man, I really hate pointing the finger at others when it comes to my own pain and sorrow. That being said, I’m not so stubborn as to ignore the reason if it’s due to what someone else has done.
If You Take Away Traditions…Christmas Blues By Rock Kitaro Date – December 27th 2019
This usually happens every Christmas and Birthday, mainly because I’m blasted with reminders of how the rest of the world is celebrating their traditions, how everyone seems to have someone, how everyone is living their lives and how completely different they are from me. God knows I pray for the strength and faith to keep my head up despite that which I lack, but I confess, it’s tough.
The reason why I gave this the title of “if you take away traditions…” because I really do believe this is an aspect of my childhood where my parents have failed me. As noted, I am a grown man. I sincerely believe in the concept of “from here on out, you’re in control of your life…” but at this point I’m not so sure if it’s possible for me.
The traditions that were removed from me as a child were the joyous holidays and family traditions that were pretty much celebrated the whole world over. Christmas. Valentine’s Day. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Birthdays…all of it came to an end during my childhood because my parent’s religion was against it. But I don’t blame the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ve just come to the conclusion that if you’re going to strip these things from a child’s life, you need to replace it with something else. Otherwise you’re left with an abysmal void.
When heinous crimes are committed by men who look like me…I understand.
To begin, I have to set a baseline in the opinion that as human beings, I believe we all possess the power of empathy. It’s one of our instincts where we can sense how another person is feeling. Whether they’re happy or sad. Worried or excited. But more than just emotions, we can also sense when someone’s happy to see us. Whether they’re attracted to us. Whether they got something against us, like resentment or some unspoken animosity or envy.
Some of us are better than others. Some of us ignore this ability. And some of us go to great lengths to deny what they’re sensing to relieve themselves of some form of responsibility, (ie…claiming they didn’t know or saying they didn’t want to assume anything).
Aside from this ability, we’re also faced with the obstacle of doubt. Meaning, even when you sense something’s wrong, or someone’s feeling a type of way…the disbelief of others takes it toll. Not to mention people will lie to your face about it. There’s the practice of gas-lighting where we’re sometimes made to believe it’s all in our head, that we’re making something out of nothing, or that we’re just projecting. And sometimes they’re right.
Empathy is a skill that takes years to hone and refine. It can be sharpened based on our experience with people, our trials and errors. And not just you and your circle of friends, but also people who come from all walks of life, different backgrounds, races, gender, and culture. And even when you acquire this skill, it also takes time and experience to trust it.
When I was a kid called “sensitive” and they were right. I was extremely sensitive and not in just the “hurt my feelings” kind of way…I could sense or detect how the people around me felt. They didn’t need to say anything. I just felt it. Which brings me to the point of this topic…
Last week, I came across a tragic article where a man, recently paroled, was charged with killing an innocent college student in Chicago. Basically, this dude tried to cat-call her, she ignored him while trying to walk to her car but this asshole went and got mad for being ignored. He put her in a headlock, raped, and killed her. This poor girl’s body was found by her sisters and campus security. The parents, being good Christians, put out a message of forgiveness.
But the killer…his appearance perpetuates a stereotype. This man was big, tall, and black. I’m big, tall, and black. Thus…I understand why people are afraid of people like me. You can read the article to find out the full details. But in my dismay, I wrote the following comment:
“This is one of the reasons why I don’t blame people, especially women, when it comes to being afraid of men like me…big, black, obviously stronger than most. You try to live by example to show others that we’re not all the same and you can be cool and relax around people like me…but then stuff like this happens on a seemingly regular basis. And then we wonder why women cross the street just to avoid men like me. Or why women clutch to their boyfriends just a little bit tighter when I walk by. Or the sound of doors locking when I’m approaching. I’m sorry for the family of the victim. It sounds like she did everything she was supposed to do and still got killed anyway. Thanks to men who look like me.”Continue Reading
Here’s the issue with Sarah Jeong. For those who don’t know, she made racist posts about white people in the past, and despite this, the New York Times has hired her as an editor. Like the author of this video, I agree that people shouldn’t be fired or have their careers ruined for things they said in the past. People change. They improve. And i’m not on board with the mob mentality.
The problem is…this is the New York Times. Right now, journalists and the publishing industry are taking a beating battling the accusations of being biased and unfair leanings. If you’re in charge of a company like the New York Times, why would you hire someone who clearly has a racist past? And then go so far as to defend her by doing as so many have done, just pull the victim card.
This affects me directly because as many of you may know, I’m an author. Since I was 23, I’ve been trying to break into the publishing industry and have made huge gains. I’ve long since seen how the publishing industry has increasingly become left-wing in their politics. Most of the Literary Agents are women and if you look at their wish-lists, most of them are in search of stories with “strong female protagonists,” stories about LGBT characters, and intersectional conflicts.
I have no complaints about that. These are the cards I’ve been dealt. So I accepted the challenge and rose to the occasion, producing stories with a strong female protagonist that tackle many social issues. I’ve seen books published with horrible proses and age-old tired premises. These make the best-seller lists. They make the bestseller lists based on advertising, online marketing, and reviews. Therein lies the rub.
The New York Times is one of the most influential entities when it comes to that advertising and the reviews. Yes, some conservative authors have made it onto their lists, no doubt much to their chagrin…but its a small percentage. And if companies like the New York Times are hiring editors, basically the gate-keepers to commercial success, with clearly racists, misogynistic, gynocentric ,…basically anyone who has proven that they can’t possibly be perceived as fair and impartial…what’s the point?
That saying comes to mind. “If you’re so smart, then why aren’t you rich?”
To me, the answer is clear. It’s because I’m not willing to do “just anything”. I won’t stoop to bashing others for shock value, I won’t pander to an audience and contribute to the illusion that’s continued to keep the young and impressionable blinded from the truth. And more importantly, I won’t jeopardize one of the few things I actually love about being alive. And that’s writing about what I want, because I want to.
That’s why I’m so glad I’ve been able to reconnect with my heavenly father. In my twenties, I was so distant from him. I cared so much about being seen as great and wonderful in the eyes of “the world.” But I’m not part of the world. Ever since my parents embedded me with a Christian foundation, I never have been, no matter how much I tried to run from it.
The Lord is my salvation, my shield, my king, my shepherd, my judge, my refuge, my fortress, my vindicator, my creator, my deliverer, my healer, my protector, my provider, my redeemer.
Thank you Jehovah for stretching out your wings and bringing me back to the fold.
Well, Rock! If you endeavor to do what is good in God’s eyes, then why do you care about the New York Times and Sarah Jeong?
…I never said I stopped caring. I still want to be a published author and until the day I die, I won’t give up on that dream. But I no longer care “so much”. It isn’t a priority. Now, I seek first the kingdom of heaven. If you don’t know what that means, send me a message and I’ll happily point you in the right direction.
With the conflicts squashed between Majestic and Sailor Jupiter, G-Force and the Sailor Scouts are finally able to finish their movie together. However, Majestic soon learns that Chris’s future doesn’t just depend on their success in the entertainment industry, he’s also depending on Ken and Ryu’s help in future battles. Turns out, Chris comes from a clan of Mortal Kombat warriors with the powers of Sub-Zero…. He’s destined to become Sub-Zero.
Chapter 4: Sub-Zero
The first week of the movie shooting went well. The second week started off good…but ended with a fight between Serena and me. I had enough of her complaining and gave her a piece of my mind. Ken intervened with a kick that bruised my ribs something fierce. Ken…he was usually a cool dude, but I saw from his eyes that he’d mess up anyone who messed with Sailor Moon.
Ken also started teaching Chris and I proper Shotokan Karate. He taught us to utilize the body in self-defense. His style used an array of kicks and powerful punches as well as these crazy acrobatic moves.
Our schedule was hectic. It was hard to ever find time to relax and just have fun. Chris found it easy to have fun, while I’d focus on training. I remember Chris throwing water balloons at the girl one time. He could always be depended on to lighten the mood.
Every morning since we started shooting the film, Chris and I would run as fast as we could to school as part of our training. During class, we’d do push-ups as quietly as we could without disturbing everyone. Chris out would tire out and quit before me. But I was more determined.
From three to eight, Chris and I would join the other cast members to film the movie. At about seven, mom and dad would occasionally visit us on the set and serve us dinner. When I got home, Chris and I would spar for a while, using techniques Ken taught us. Of course, Chris would pucker out early so I’d have to practice by myself. I didn’t stop until Dad made me. The next day we’d wake up and do it all over again.
“Hey, Rock. Can I ask you something? When will black people ever stop…”
Alright, let me stop you right there. *frustrated chuckle*
Before I begin, I have to introduce an idea that probably goes against the popular opinion. When people use the word, “ignorant,” to describe those who make racist or even sexist remarks, I don’t believe the word should have such a negative tone. Some ignorance is innocent. Some people honestly have no idea what is offensive because they haven’t been exposed to diverse cultures.
It reminds me of this 16-year-old kid from my days working as a pizza delivery driver. He jokingly told the manager, a playful dark-skinned man from Africa, that he reminded him of a monkey. Understandably, the manager was upset. But I saw the remorse in the kid’s crying eyes. He was truly innocent in his ignorance. He didn’t mean to offend. He just didn’t know any better.
If you were raised in one city, one culture your entire life with very little diversity, it’s understandable why you might be ignorant to the hardships, stigmas, or stereotypes of another race. I don’t think those individuals should be slighted for their ignorance. I don’t even think we should look down on them for being raised with that lack of diversity.
If you’ve ever been to some of the lesser-known areas of the United States, you’ll realize why minorities are called, minorities. In Colorado, I attended my cousin’s graduation. He was only one of four black students graduating amongst 200. It’s not White People’s fault that large groups Blacks haven’t migrated to parts of Wyoming or regions of the Northwest.
And when people say, “Well white people should learn the plight of (insert race)!”
I say, why should they? Unless they really want to know of their own volition or have a friend or loved one who’s of a different race that they want to draw close to, I don’t believe anyone should be morally coerced into learning the hardships of another race. I think those who do shame others into learning, either want others to feel their pain, or use their victimhood as some kind of badge of moral superiority. There could be other reasons I’m sure, but its something to think about and just cause for self-reflection.
On New Years Day, I watched Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix specials. It was highly anticipated. I enjoyed his last two and lamented his absence from the entertainment industry. Chappelle’s has a disarming voice, his comedic tones aren’t forced and he presents a discussion in the midst of his levity that prompts people to think, not out of guilt, but curiosity. I applaud him, truly I do.
But sadly, my elation turned to horror when he started talking about Colin Kaepernick and the whole issue of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. As an American, I respect their right to protest, I even respect the fact that it is essentially a peaceful protest. I disagree and dislike their protests, but as an adult who is taught to love thy neighbor, I understand and respect it.
However…when Dave Chappelle told his Los Angeles audience that Colin Kaepernick “took a knee during that anthem for us…” and that “everyone who takes a stand for somebody else always gets beat down…”
I was utterly disappointed. By “us” is he referring to relatively rich black celebrities, athletes, and public figures? I suspect not. I’m reluctant to put words in his mouth, but I believe its safe to assume, by “us” he’s talking about Black People. If he was specific and went so far as to say “Colin Kaepernick took a knee during that anthem for the racial injustices in America,” I wouldn’t have had a problem with it.
But when Black Celebrities take it upon themselves to tell a general audience, what Black People as a whole do or don’t want, this is a very big problem.
Allow me to explain.
The best way to understand this is to use the logic Dennis Prager had when he explained why you shouldn’t take God’s name in vain. During a question and answer lecture he gave with Ravi Zacharias, Prager clarified that people shouldn’t “carry God’s name in vain.” Meaning, one shouldn’t commit murder in the name of God, or steal in the name of God. Basically misrepresenting God’s name for your own self-interest is the sin of taking God’s name in vain.
Furthermore, he goes on to explain that if “an Atheist commits torture, and a religious person commits torture, it’s actually worse if a person tortures in the name of God than if an Atheist tortures. Because the Atheist has done pure evil, but has not ruined the possibility of taking God seriously.”
Do you see the correlation? I know gears are beginning to grind upstairs.
Prager says, “There is a direct relationship between all the murder in God’s name taking place in our time (referring to Islam), and the ascent of Atheism. Because nobody does the case for Atheism like the person who does evil in God’s name. And nobody makes the case for God, than the one who does beautiful things in God’s name.”
“Rock, are you seriously comparing Black People to God?”
I’m comparing race to religion, my friend. And I think the logic holds water. My biggest fear is that a majority of White People who aren’t racist, who don’t care about the color of your skin will eventually get fed up with being made to feel guilty or bad over something they never even did to begin with. I say that, because I know how it feels to be oppressed into caring about an issue that doesn’t apply to me one way or the other.
You don’t realize that you’re being forced to care about an issue out of some misplaced or exploited guilt, not at first. But eventually, the tactics lose their potency. You grow up. You hear or read logic that combats that which shamed you in the first place. Then comes the resentment. And if you’re not careful, that resentment can either fade in which you return to neutrality and love everyone regardless. Or…it can turn to animosity and a need to stand up against that which oppressed you to save others from falling down the same traps you fell for. That animosity can turn to hate. That hate can be passed down to your children. And so, the cycle never ends.
It wasn’t until I heard Mr. Prager’s reasoning that I was finally able to articulate my problem with Black Lives Matter.
You see, I’ve always said that my main problem with Black Lives Matter is the freaking title of their movement. They’re carrying the name of Black People. And when they do bad things like call for violence against whites, or disrupt an intersection, or applaud the murder of cops, they are essentially making a case for those who would and could be potentially racist against us.
More importantly, what if you are Black and you don’t agree with the Black Lives Matter movement? What if you’re Black, and you don’t agree with Dave Chappelle, or Jay-Z, or the dude from Grey’s Anatomy? What if you’re Black and you don’t believe in the idea of institutional racism? What if you’re Black you see how the media lies and manipulates the facts just to drum up racial tension. Meanwhile, a white father of three can get executed by a cop in a hotel hallway and the media just glosses over that.
When Dave Chappelle took it upon himself to tell a Los Angeles audience that a NFL player was standing up for “us”…I think educated individuals would see this and say, “We know what you’re talking about all Black people. It’s a bit misleading but we know you’re not saying that Kaepernick is representing Black people as a whole, just those who have faced racial injustices.”
It’s the same with those videos that start with “Dear White People”.
I see that and I’m shaking my head like, “Dude…you guys are pushing your luck.”
Or are they really so thirsty for a race war that they forgot what happened on Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921.
Unfortunately, and I suppose this boils down to the crux of the matter, we live in a society where people don’t like to think, either for themselves or critically at all. Even on Facebook, it’s gotten to the point where one has to make a picture out of a statement just to get others to read it.
It’s difficult to discern what is true. More than that, if you’re of another race, living in a community that isn’t so racially diverse, and all you have to go on is the sayings of your favorite comedian, celebrity, or athlete to teach you about Black People, its very easy to be misled into thinking ALL black people agree with that public figure.
Diversity isn’t just about race or the color of your skin, it’s about the culture. Cultures have sub-cultures. Think about the 1950s, where you had the Greasers and the Socs. Think about the high school stereotypes, the jocks, the cheerleaders, the stoners, and so forth. Even when we grow up and develop our own interests, there are always different cultures and groups springing forth from a larger group.
It’s the same with Black People. Growing up, my favorite group was the Backstreet Boys while everyone else was listening to Juvenile, Masta P, and DMX. I was tormented relentlessly by my own race. The way I dressed, the way I talked, my mannerisms, and the fact that I saw beauty in all races, not just black girls, I was bombarded with slurs like Oreo or a Carlton. Black students would accuse me of wishing I was white. Some girls would accuse me of thinking I was better than everyone else.
I didn’t think I was better than everyone else. But clearly, I was different. Which is why I get a little bent out of shape when I see commercials and people romanticizing that notion, as if being different is a cool thing. It isn’t. When you’re really different, you’re not accepted. You begin to feel like something is wrong with you. And if you’re like me, you start to get angry. Some people pity themselves and get depressed. I balled my fist and threw down.
And you want know why I was different? Because when my parents told me to “just be yourself no matter what…” for some reason I took that to heart. The only time I ever fit in was when I was pretending to be someone else. I hated that. I was fake and sometimes, my friends could tell. This isn’t freedom.
So when black students in middle school would ask, “Oh, Rock wishes he was white.”
I’d deny it. At the same time, I wanted to tell them, “I wish I wasn’t black.”
Why would I? Black Pride? Pride in one’s African heritage? Pride in the fact that our ancestors were beaten, tortured, and forced to slave labor? What pride is there in any of that?
It wasn’t until I grew up and learned about the struggles of the Civil Rights movement that I understood what it meant to have pride in my race. I already had pride as an American. But pride in being an African descendant came later.
It’s easy to follow the trends and stand up for the marginalized opinions these days. Try doing it when buses were torched, churches were bombed, the KKK pulled off hits like the mafia, and whole communities rose up to lynch men for f**king whistling at a white woman.
There’s my pride. In the face of death and permanent bodily damage, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, John Lewis, the nine students attending the high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, Medgar Evers.
Even before that, the abolitionists, many of whom were white, like William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimke, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and of course the eloquent former slave, Mr. Frederick Douglas. These are my heroes. They fought for equality. They fought for liberty.
So why has it suddenly become popular and apparently acceptable that people are calling for segregation? I suppose that’s for another essay. Allow me to end with this.
“AMERICANS ARE MORE DIVIDED THAN EVER!”
We’ve all heard this vitriolic rallying call by individuals from both sides. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a tactic they use to make others feel bad for not jumping on the bandwagon of any given ideology or agenda.
Personally, I like that America is divided. I think we should learn to accept this. How can there be this call for diversity, yet the same ones expect unity? With the advent of the internet, more Americans are exposed to philosophies and concepts from around the world. It would be nice if we were united at least on one centralized theme, but I think the more secular we get, the lesser the chances of that happening.
AMERICA IS DIVIDED!
When have we ever been united? On what are we divided? What country on earth, would you say, is united? And if we should unite, what should we be united about?
This is the United States of America. I believe we are united by the laws of the United States Constitution by which we are governed. But that’s it. Our preferences, our ideologies, how we choose to live our lives, and who we choose to worship, that is our freedom. That is our liberty.
Just because you were born of a race or ethnicity, it doesn’t mean you have to live your life according to the most popular culture associated with it.
“The Literary Tempest and Combative Seas” A Stage in the Sky Update by Rock Kitaro Date January 23, 2017
DNA ft. Suzanne Vega – “Tom’s Diner – Long Version”
If this is your first time here allow me to introduce myself. My name is Rock Kitaro. I’m an author specializing in the themes of revenge, rivalry, and rebellion. However, I’m thinking about adding romance to that list because “love” is almost always the main source of motivation for my characters. They just don’t know it. Neither do I.
I haven’t reached my goal of signing with a traditional publishing house yet, but I will. And when I make the best-sellers list you can look back on this piece as a proof of perseverance. I hope it encourages others who are coming up to plan on running the marathon, don’t quit after the sprint.
Allow me to begin by saying that the reason why I’ve exercised restraint in posting so much this past year was because I thought it would be prudent to say as little as possible. Ever since I was 23, I’ve committed myself to succeeding as an author in the publishing industry.
I’ve sacrificed weekends, holidays, vacations, money, and heart-felt relationships to get this far and I don’t want to ruin it by shooting myself in the foot. I thought that being an artist meant freedom and liberty through self-expression, but that’s a problem if your opinions aren’t welcomed by those whom you need to progress in this industry.
It’d be one thing if I was a non-fiction writer in which my platform was built upon provocative opinions as if that’s exactly what you were going to pay for with my books. However, I am a fiction novelist. I have to present myself to agents and publishers as someone worthy of investment. Allow me to explain.
“Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan” – popularized by John F. Kennedy
They say that silence is a sign of consent. I don’t think so. I believe that a wise man knows when to exercise patience, bide his time, and strike when the time is right. At present, the scene is chaotic. The waters are rough. Those who sail these seas are bound to get lost, stranded, or shipwrecked. Some have made it though. Some because they had head start. Others, because they don’t mind riding the waves created by the first adventures. And there are those who have emerged because they’re that damn good, far better than myself. Like, Roshani Chokshi. Her writing is ridiculously beautiful. And that’s alright. That’s okay.
With so many every day bravely joining the fray, I can’t help but wonder if my patience is really a sign of cowardice. As I get older I see my peers entering the next stages of their life while I continue on this road I’ve been traveling for seven long arduous years. Then, I think of the scene from HBO’s “Rome” where a young Octavian says, “The graveyard is full of middling swordsman. Best not to a swordsman at all than a middling swordsman.”
When I started self-publishing in 2011, I had no idea what I was up against. I didn’t think of trends or what was in-demand for the market. I simply wrote what I wanted in my own voice with the hopes that others would like it too. I had no idea about the highly selective nature of agents or publishers. I assumed that if you created a great, original story and show them something new, you’re in.
I won’t go so far as to say I was naïve, but I will say there’s more to it than that. It appears that after the success of books-turned-movies franchises like “The Hunger Games,” “Twilight,” and the “Maze Runner” everyone and their mothers have flocked to the publishing industry with the next best idea.
In 2012, when I self-published“The Three Kings of Ybor,”my e-books were just seven of 300,000 published that year on Amazon Kindle. I predict the number has only increased over the years as Hollywood continues to blast trailers that start with that deep husky voice saying, “Based on the best-selling novel.”
This isn’t a complaint. To realize what you’re up against and state it clearly shouldn’t be considered complaining. It makes things difficult but not impossible. In fact, it only makes the reward of success that much sweeter. If Lord Byron’s climb to success was but a hill on the beach, then mines will be to the top of Mount Everest. And beneath my feet will be the millions of books published by those shipwrecked, stranded, and lost.
But still…just as one wouldn’t climb Everest in the middle of winter, it’s best not to join the arena when destruction and obscurity is certain and swift. Until then its best that I build my ships, fortify its defenses and stock up for a voyage in which I might not reach land for many years. And build, I have.
By the end of 2015, I finished my flagship masterpiece called, “The Pierce Syndicate.” I promoted it to Literary Agents for a just a little over a month. This isn’t nearly enough time for me to call it a viable campaign, but something happened to me.
I confess, I became doubtful. Not because my story wasn’t ridiculously awesome but because “The Pierce Syndicate” is a huge project, well over 46 chapters and separated in two volumes. I put myself in the shoes of an editor at a traditional publishing house and asked “why would I take a chance on such a big project from a new author?”
The answer is, I wouldn’t. Not without recommendation. Especially these days where the entertainment industry leans heavily towards pop culture, an area I don’t like to be associated with.
Thankfully, God took pity on me. In the depths of my doubt, I honestly feel that the greatest creator noticed me standing alone under that single lamppost in the night’s freezing rain. He saw me look up to the sky and ask him, “What should I do?”
I think he smiled. Because in the span of a three-day weekend I dreamt of a new story in its complete entirety. I couldn’t believe it. The entire story, beginning, middle, and end just hit me like an epiphany. If that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is.
In February of 2016 I set about writing “The Slave Quarters,” a crime mystery featuring my characterCloud Beaudry and his bundle of sunshine, the conniving ghost Maggie. I’m afraid of writing the plot here because it’s never been done and I don’t it to be stolen. But the coolest thing about this story isn’t even the plot. It’s the first-person narrative in which you’re put in the shoes of a very manipulative (for a good cause), misanthropic detective who’s chalk full of hidden agendas and ulterior motives. I think that’s what makes him so human though. Because I believe almost everyone has ulterior motives. The only difference between Cloud Beaudry and most people is that he’s aware of it. It’s very entertaining, just wait and see.
The “Slave Quarters” took me only three months to write from beginning to end and it was the coolest thing about 2016 by far. I enjoyed it so much. I’ve never been on a cruise. I’ve never been to Disney World. But if I had to pick between a cruise, Disney World, or spending three months writing that book, I’d gladly choose writing the book. Because I am able to travel through time and space. I smell, hear, and see things that don’t exist, that haven’t happened. My ability is that good. Articulating it is always what I have room to improve on.
By July 2016, I started querying it to Literary Agents. This was a campaign that lasted from July till the end of October. And while I know this is a process that every author has to go through, it wasn’t enough for me. The period of July through October is four months. To spend four months of my life just mailing query letters and receiving rejection after rejection (which is to be expected) would drive me insane. I needed to keep creating, keep writing, keep building more ships! I needed more cowbell!
Thus…by the end of July and after reading the “wish-list” of over 100 literary agents who clearly want strong female protagonists or stories centered around women as the main character, I revisited a dream project that I conceived back in 2009. Lol, again, this is an original story that hasn’t been done and the last thing I want is for someone to read this and steal my characters, thus ruining a genre that I’m hoping to resurrect.
I will say that the title is called “The Knights With No Lords”. The main character is a strong female protagonist, but if you know me, then you know I’m a practitioner of the Byronic model. My characters struggle with a sense of what’s right and wrong, mainly because their dark selfish desires are obstructed by the knowledge of what’s good and decent.
I confess, “The Knights With No Lords,” is probably the toughest project I’ve ever worked on because the female lead is seventeen. I already told you about my imagination. Sometimes I have to go places I don’t want to go in order to write emotional dialogue that feels true. When it comes to the romance, I drew on my own personal experiences. While frustrating, it’s also funny as hell. There’s always some virtue or personal conflict preventing me from being with the woman I want. Again, not pleasant, but still entertaining nonetheless. It’s led to thoughts like this:
“If good girls fall for the bad guys, then who do the bad girls fall for?”
I’ve presented that question to a friend of mine and he said, “nope. The bad girls still fall for the bad guys.”
Haha, I don’t know. Either way, “The Knights With No Lords” explores the idea. I’ve finished it just before Christmas and I’m now in the process of editing it. I’ve even enlisted one of my closest friends to help on that endeavor. By April, I plan to have it copyrighted to start sending it to query agents.
We’ll see if my female protagonist is good enough to win the hearts of those agents. And I do feel a little sad in saying that. Part of me acknowledges that I wrote this book for agents more so than the reader. But maybe that’s what I needed to do all along. Either way, I won’t stop building my ships. My android and thumbdrive is full of premises and projects just screaming to be developed. It’s all a matter of patience, diligence, and perseverance.
That’s the main thing I wanted to share with you. I haven’t been posting on this website in a long while because, as you can see, I’ve been a busy man. And I know there are producers and agents who would say, “But still. You gotta keep giving people something. You have to keep your online presence known.”
And to that point I won’t say I that disagree…but more so I just have a greater deal of self-respect for my work. I’ve come a long way from launching vessels that wind up lost at sea. Twitter and Facebook may have been a viable marketing platform in the past, but now it’s
oversaturated with peddlers of their products.
If you tout your own work it doesn’t have the same strength as someone else saying on their feed, “You gotta check out this author!”
In my seven-year journey I’ve been through the trials and errors. I’ve marketed myself through social media for at least two years and you need money to advertise and draw customers to your books. You really do have to spend money to make money and I’ve racked up a debt. I’ve done crowd-funding campaigns. I’ve reached out to my family and friends. I’ve contributed to other blogs, supported other authors, and made myself a part of writer communities.
Again, these aren’t complaints. Football players practice in the sweltering heat to prepare for Sunday. Olympians train and sacrifice so much just for one summer to reach gold. Singers and actors exercise discipline and practice for their roles. If you make up your mind to do something and fully commit yourself to it, you’re going to have to work hard and it won’t happen overnight unless of course you know someone or wore born into money.
There have been so many times I’ve thought about quitting. The pressures of life, commercialism, societal expectations, familial responsibilities, devotion to God, intimate relationships, and the tense corporate ladder that I’m expected to climb. It’s like they’re all a bunch of Apaches firing arrows at me as I ride my steed with no cover in sight.
If you were to ask why am I trying so hard…because there are a multitude of authors who have succeeded and maintained healthy relationships with spouses, children, and cool circle of friends. They’ve attained that proverbial balance that people keep telling me about. So why can’t I?
The easy answer is that I’m just different. I wrote another article about that so I won’t get into it. I will tell you there’s a quote from Pres. Theo Roosevelt that resonates deeply with me. He wrote: “Dark care rarely sits behind the rider whose pace is fast enough.”
Pres. Roosevelt wrote this after his first wife and his mother died in the same night. To cope with the pain, he ventured into the Wild West and kept himself busy with the rigors of frontier life.
I dare not compare my pain to Roosevelt, but there is pain in my heart. That’s why I can’t even go on vacation for more than three days before the angst surfaces. I wonder if this is the case with other workaholics. For me, keeping my mind focused on a story or project keeps my mind from wondering about old flames. It’s morphine to regret, loneliness, and despair.
I recently told one of my exes, someone who’s still one of my best friends, that I see her face everyday. I know that sounds creepy by today’s standards, but she understood and was touched. And I wasn’t lying. When I think about my exes, or enemies, or failures and embarrassment, the emotions rush over as if it’s happening all over again.
Oddly enough, this doesn’t work so well with the positives for some strange reason. For the positives, I have to seek in the real world what I’ve done and remind myself of how far I’ve come, or those who do support and love me. I’m not sure why I’m like this. But it doesn’t matter.
At this point, I’d like to point out that I’m not a miserable person. In spite of all the pitiful sad stuff I just told you, I really do like the man I’ve become. I’m tall, strong, caring, and generous. The few friends who have stuck with me over the years, I treat like jewelry because they are rare and extremely valuable. I laugh at just about everything and I have a strong relationship with Jehovah our heavenly father. I started reading the bible from start to finish about a year and a half ago and I’ve just started 1st Timothy.
Also! I’ve taken up boxing. It’s tough but I enjoy it. If you scroll down, you’ll read one of my essays about how I used to weigh 378lbs. Now I’m down to 215. I can run, jump, and fight like a son of a gun. So don’t pity me. I have my scars just like everyone else but I wear them like a champion! Not to mention, God’s blessed me with the ability to turn my negatives into a positives. Even when I step into the boxing gym, depleted and fatigued from the work-out the night before, all I need to is think about certain group of people and I’m Mike Tyson in his prime if only for an hour.
It’s like my life is a steamroller. To keep going I have to chuck coal into the furnace. With all the times I’ve stumbled and fallen down, my fuel supply if infinite. I have no doubt that I really am going to live life till the wheels fall off. But still…I plan to live life my way, seeking first the kingdom of God. We can’t all be party animals and thrill-seekers. Not all men are in it for the thrill of the chase. Some of us like to stay put and build.
There’s one other subject I’d like to discuss. It’s about Facebook and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying what I’m about to say.
Facebook has become a platform of pictures and political correctness. In 2016, I’ve posted hundreds of thought-provoking questions and theories that get little to no interaction. But let someone post a picture of their vacation, their material things, their visage (as if we forgot what they looked like yesterday) then people flocked to that with likes and comments.
People say, “You shouldn’t expect praise or likes or…”
All of that’s bullshit. Why post anything if not with the hopes that someone in this expanded universe would see it? There’s nothing wrong with admitting you hope people will like what you put out, and what’s worse than people not liking it, is people completely ignoring it. And as an artist, I refuse to rehash old gems once I’m published as if I just thought of something new, when in reality, I’ve had it for years. For that matter, I’ve decided on my 30th birthday to stop posting on Facebook. I’ve decided to stop scrolling down Facebook to see what my friends and family are up to. And dude, I’m telling you…it’s done wonders for my health.
If you try it, you’ll find yourself washed with that nostalgic freedom, to a magical time where you only found out what people were up to when they friggin told you. Ignorance is a bliss! A magical bliss where you can walk to work and smile at other humans without worrying how they feel about some stupid current event/fad/trend/movement.
It really was one of the best decisions of my life and I’m lovin every minute of it. So while everyone is riled up on a daily basis about what’s going on in Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles, I sand down the rails of my ships and check the hulls for leaks. I smile knowing that I’m drawing closer to God and wait patiently till the day that I cast off.
“But Rock. What if that day never comes? What if the seas stay rough and only continue to get worse? Don’t you think you’re wasting time? You’re going to waste your life waiting forever. There will never be a perfect time. You need to just go for it!”
I smirk, wipe the sweat from my forehead, and peer outward to those dark stormy clouds.
“You might be right. Knowing me, at some point, I am going to say fuck it and just go for it. Maybe I am wasting time building all these ships that might never see the open seas. My ambition isn’t so dulled that I’m contempt with having these magnificent pieces linger away despite the immense pleasure I’ve derived in constructing them. I guess that’s what you should look out for.”
“In the thick of the chaos as ships become tangled with ships, and cannons blare, and the torrential downpour becomes so heavy that you can barely see the light of day, look out that you’re not caught in the way of my formidable fleet. At least you’ll be able to hear me coming. I have a tendency to laugh out loud when I’m scared out of my mind.”