Writer in the Iron Mask

So I’ve been feeling pretty down this month. I haven’t really even had the energy to write, which is why it’s been so unusually quiet around here. And it’s always a bad sign when I can’t write.

You know what happens to writer’s who can’t write, right?

After much soul-searching (read: playing video games into I went into an almost zen-like trance), I have finally come to recognize my problem: I’m lonely. Not lonely like the protagonist of a romance novel, where they’re only  lonely because they haven’t gotten laid in a while. No I lonely as in I literally go weeks without seeing another human being. Other than my parents, that is, who are shooting down the luge track of senility so fast they don’t count anymore. This came to a head when I went to the awesome, awesome show Aeterno Elementum back in early November. These are guys I’ve known for about a year now, and who I’ve written numerous glowing articles about, one of which even got published in the local paper. It was while interviewing several cast members in a crowded greenroom that it hit me. I was suddenly feeling very ill-at-ease, and I felt as if the entire room as judging me like some kind of inquisition, it was an eerily familiar feeling that I haven’t had since my depression went into remission in 2007.

The spoken word and I have never really gotten along. In fact the Howler Monkey has been known to have far more coherent conversations than me.  That said, I’m not completely devoid of charisma and I dare say I have a bit of charm. I’m not Morgan Freeman, a man with a voice so powerful he could tell me the moon was actually just a cardboard cut out floating overhead and have me believe it, but I’m also not Jack the Ripper either, I communicate in other ways besides murder and written notes (though those are my favorites). After all I’ve had my fair share of dates, I even conned convinced a couple girls that I was actually charming enough to pursue a relationship with. They sure as hell weren’t into me for my  body, I’ll tell you that.

Picture totally unrelated. Probably.

The difference was that way back in 2007, I was around people constantly and so my social skills were constantly kept practiced, and gave me plenty of opportunity to refine those skills as well. Up until I joined the surprisingly full club of writers who dropped or were kicked out of college, I was pretty comfortable around people. Then began my wonderful journey to do what I as born to do; to write. Thus began this blog way back in 2010. Cut to nearly three years later, and I’m so close to accomplishing my goal of creating a sustainable career on my writing that I can almost taste the Pulitzer Prize. Unfortunately in those three years I’ve spent most of my time on the computer…writing. Alone. The only real socialization I get is with my parents and good (and only) friend Hali.

Unfortunately they don’t count. No disrespect to Hali of course, but there’s an art to talking with strangers or acquaintances. It’s easy to be charming when you’re hanging out with your best friend, because you’re relaxed. There’s no pressure to impress, no holding back your vast arsenal of dirty jokes, no uncomfortable awareness of your own behemoth body as you try and make yourself look presentable. (That last one is probably just me. Probably the second one too.)

Like everything else, being social is a skill, some of us are born with an innate talent for it and then there are those like me, who still retain the ways of our ancestors and dare not leave their caves. Like our ancestors though, we are social animals and that lack of social activity has been to my detriment, without me even realizing it. So what do I plan to do about it? Throw myself into a mosh pit and have small chat while they smother beneath my immense girth? Probably not.

Honestly I have no idea. All I know is that I need to do something about it or risk going completely mad. I’m the Man in the Iron Mask, trapped behind a cold shell of detached computer algorithms and glowing lights. I just hope that when I finally take the mask off, I don’t find the face of Leonardo DiCaprio underneath!

Oh god, put the mask back on! Put it back on!

I know this isn’t usually a thread about my personal grievances  but I needed to write this all down so I appreciate you all reading. Thursday I’ll be back at my normal routine, writing about writing. Thursday I’ll be tackling troubles with dialogue and the critical importance of dialogue in a story.


  1. Hi there,

    A bold and brave thing to talk about yourself in such an honest way. I just want to give you a big support in going out and forcing yourself to meeting other people. I always read and enjoy your posts very much, so there is no doubt in my mind that you are an interesting person. I learned a lot about stories from you, so there at least 1 subject there that would interest other people.

    But then again, be prepared to drop it all together and just go along and enjoy talking to them people, without the pressure. It will probably make you a better writer too, trying to understand their motives etc…

    Thanks a lot for all your great blogs, looking forward to reading them in the future, but first, go out and meet some new people!

    Hope this helps.


    1. Just sticking to my foreposter! 🙂 You are a great person im sure, so dont be shy to show it in the real world as well! 🙂

      Btw., maybe youve heard of “star citizen”. Wether the project interests you or not, they have a writer who writes a series of short stories within the star citizen universe: https://www.robertsspaceindustries.com/category/spectrum-dispatch/

      I really like them, just wanted to share this with you, hope you will enjoy them as well! 🙂

      1. You have no idea how great it is to have a dedicated group of people reading this. Thanks so much for writing in and continuing to read my blog! I’ll definitely keep you updated on how my adventure in socializing in real life goes.

        I’ve not only heard of Star Citizen, but I’ve been eagerly anticipating its release since I first heard about it. I fell in love with Freespace 1 and 2, and have put countless hours into making my own campaigns in Freespace 2’s wonderful mission editor. I’ve been extremely ticked off that the space-sim genre apparently died after Freespace. Seriously, there really hasn’t been anything released in the past ten years that even remotely resembles Freespace 2 or something like the Tie-Fighter series.

        I’ll definitely go through the stories and read them! Maybe they even need a second writer! 😉

        1. You as a second writer? That would definitely be cool! 😀

          Freespace 1&2 were two of my very first steps into pc gaming! I remember as if it was yesterday (indeed its 12.5 years in the past ^^), when i used quarter of my pocket money to buy me the “gold games collection 4” in which there was Freespace included 😀 I loved the game, and yeah, not even freelancer, even though it was a great game, could excel freespace in its quality as a space-(combat)sim. For years i was longing for a new freespace when the franchise was sold and lost any hope for a revival.

          Im pretty sure the Squadron 42 campaign will live up to the quality of freespace and, thanks to technological advance, will top it multiple times 😀 Im so glad the crowdfunding found such enormously positive resonance so that they could reach all the great stretch goals. Im sure they can pull it off, CR is a genius on the field of the space sim! Cant wait for the game to be released xD

  2. Hey,

    You are doing an excellent work, here it’s my favorite place to learn about writing: the case studies are interesting, your observations are subtle and your style is really enjoyable.

    Regarding your social life, it will probably take a bit to learn how to balance your work with your social life, but from what I’ve read so far you are an intelligent person, I’m sure you’ll find ways to do it.

    Thank you for your blog and good luck,

  3. I definitely agree with what has already been said. Although it may sound trite, I have found it very true that sometimes all we can do is take it one day at a time. Keep up the good work (and keep working on life). 🙂

  4. Hi,
    I would suggest that you join some club or association dealing on something that you like. I have been a little part of my life like that and I can say it is not healthy.

    Hope it helps.

    P.S. And keep going with the blog, it has been (for me) an enlightenment about writing and the flow of stories (good and bad) 😀

    1. I’ll definitely keep going with the blog! I’ve also been looking into writing clubs or taking some creative writing classes somewhere, just to get into social situations again! Thanks again for the words of support!

  5. “Like everything else, being social is a skill”

    That is the key. Talent may get you started but hard work, study and practice is what gets the job done. If it is not coming naturally to you then you need to study. Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends and Influence People” is consistently one of the highest rated business books for a reason. I took a Carnegie course to move me ahead in sales. I am by training an engineer but more and more have dealt with customers and worn a sales hat. That course, based significantly on the skills in this book, amazed me.

    The book which started it all gives you a blue print upon which to build your social interaction experiences. If you are having problems with natural interaction then study the book and approach those interactions as an exercise. Follow the instructions and you will find two things happen.

    1. You will significantly improve your interpersonal experiences. You and those you deal with will get more out of the time you spend together.

    2. You will find that the formulaic method of approaching scenarios will stop becoming an exercise and simply become part of your style of relating. You will still be you but you will be able to comfortably interact with others. You will gain confidence and with that you will naturally acquire poise. Eventually you will not even think about the process you are following but will simply smoothly and naturally interact with others.

    If you have a fear of interpersonal relationships it is often because you feel ill equipped to partake in them. At the minimum the book will help remove the fear by giving you a path to follow.

    1. Thanks for the advice, I’ve heard of Dale Carnegie’s book of course but always thought it was mostly for people going into a sales/marketing kind of thing, not for just people trying to improve social skills. I’ll definitely check it out! Thanks for the advice and I’m very grateful that you took the time to write in and show your support, it’s a really great to be getting so much support from my readers!

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