Free

A poem, conceived in the wild and incubated at the Bridge:
 
I am NOT a slave.
I know it in my bones
But it’s easy to forget in the maze
A truth drowned by the lies of plastic and steel.
 
Freedom there is pain
Freedom there is rage
Freedom there is impossible
 
So I chain myself
And hate it.
I chain myself
And love it
And hate myself.
 
Continue reading Free

We All Suck at Joy

Regular readers, if any remain, no doubt have noticed that there have been no posts on Story by the Throat! in a long, long time. There are a number of reasons for this. There are a lot of things pulling on my mental and physical resources that make it difficult to do such a simple thing as write blog posts.

I’m going to be real with you for a moment. My life is not what I want. like, really, truly deeply falling short of what I dream and yearn for. Oh yes, I have many pleasures, many wonderful, enriching friends, many creative and fulfilling pursuits available to me. And of course I live a life of incredible privilege compared to most of the world. But still somehow I find myself beaten down by life until I can barely even remember my dreams, much less pursue them. I drive many miles to work long hours at a job I hate, for a world machine designed to chew me up and spit out the bones. The joyous work I dream of doing–celebrating story, poetry, music–is unsupported in society outside of a corporate-sponsored celebrity system. The precious work that awaits me at home–husband, father, simple liver off the land–increasingly declines as the job exacts its toll. It takes the best wine from my cup and leaves me with dregs.

It’s like I’m running a deficit on spiritual resources; everything I do, everything I attempt, requires a loan against a soul reserve I can’t back up. And acts of love, of creativity, of joy, are the most draining, so it’s much easier to sit and anesthetize the ache with entertainment and frivolity. My time and energy are drained away until I have none left for the pursuits I care most deeply about.

And I’m not alone. I think many of us, maybe all of us, are suffering in one degree or another from this soul disease. Someone I love has found themselves stuck, trapped in a life that looks far different from what they planned, hemmed in with debt and workload and isolation until even the ability to hope for more is numbed.

Continue reading We All Suck at Joy

They buy why you do it

Simon Sinek gave a fascinating TED talk in September 2009 called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” I wasn’t drawn to it for principles of “leadership” in the typical sense, but Sinek said some wonderful and thought-provoking things about purpose and vision, which really moves me in light of my recent drive to grab hold of my dreams.

Sinek’s repeated refrain is, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” If you simply talk about what you do in rational terms, it might be useful to people, but still fail to draw them in. But if you lay bare your purpose, the reason you make your product, offer your service, you’ll connect with people who are attracted to that purpose. Sinek says, “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with the people who believe what you believe.”

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Continue reading They buy why you do it

Would you like to buy a dream?

Recently I made a declaration of sorts on Facebook. My frustrated creative urge was reaching critical mass and I realized something: I have no reason to be timid or apologetic about making, sharing and even selling art. I had a big ball of angst in my belly about asking friends for money, even for something dear to me that I’ve lavished with hard work and care.

So, SbtT now has a publishing arm, Story by the Throat! Press. This consists of me, Joel P. Shempert, making games and selling them and playing them. Right now, I’ve got a PDF of my first game, Spectre of the Beast, on sale at RPGNow, and I can sell print copies of both Spectre and my new game, The Dreaming Crucible, in person or by mail order. Click on the link under the site banner for more details! In the meantime, think of this as a combination manifesto and press release:

All right folks, I’m going to be frank. I got dreams, big ones. But right now it’s difficult to take even small steps. Work sucks away the premium of my energy, fatherhood drinks up on the rest, and marriage subsists on the fumes. Dreams? Well, dreams suffocate, living on as lingering whispers of despair at their passing.

Well, NO MORE! Continue reading Would you like to buy a dream?