I’ve always struggled with my creativity.

I don’t mean that in a woe-is-me, suffering artist kind of way. I mean that, whilst I deeply enjoy creating content, I’m not always very good at it, and I’m always very slow at it. Consider that I started writing 22 Scars in 2012, and didn’t publish it until 2017. The Broken took significantly less time – from inception in 2018 to publication in 2021. These aren’t epic fantasy tomes that justify a lifetime to write (or read); they’re relatively fast-paced contemporary stories that read in probably a few days.

The same, of course, is true of my music; I’ve been working (on and off) on the music for The Broken almost since I started writing the book, and it still isn’t really ready for release. (This may be more to do with my lack of vocal talent than anything else.) And whilst I have written other music in the meantime (including an orchestral-metal instrumental symphony), it’s just always such a struggle to really get anything done – at least in any reasonable amount of time.

I have so many things I’d like to do; I want to write a symphony and a requiem (I’m actually working on that one now), and finish my fantasy books (under the pen name Satis), and maybe delve into sci-fi at some point, too. I want to write more books along the lines of 22 Scars and The Broken. I want to create.

But perhaps more than creation, I seek validation. I scour the internet daily for new reviews of my books – usually coming up with nothing new – because I really, really want to know what people think of my stories. I used to dream of being a millionaire writer, but I think that’s probably not too realistic, and also not really a great goal; if I really wanted to make a lot of money from writing, I’d write easy pulp fiction, or maybe paranormal romance, and sell it monthly, because it wouldn’t matter how good it was – it would only matter how much of it there was.

No; I don’t want to make bucks off my writing. In all the time that I’ve been publishing, I’ve never even recouped my editing costs from actual sales of my work. All I really want is for people to just read it, and enjoy it. And maybe tell me what they thought.

If I were to armchair-analyze this need for validation, it probably comes from being told as a child how precocious and talented I was, and having my parents constantly swoon over every thing I ever made. When I started to make it into the wider world, and realized that I really wasn’t as talented as I thought I was (or perhaps not even at all), I developed a deep mistrust of praise from anyone I actually knew. How could I know their adoration was genuine? So now, I seek validation from the only people I truly can trust: strangers on the internet.

So when I see a new review pop up on Goodreads, or Amazon, I get heady and excited – even if it’s a negative review – because it means someone, somewhere in the world, took the time to actually read my words, digest them, think about them, and – whether they knew I would read the review or not – tell me what they thought.

The vast, vast majority of my reviews have come from free giveaways. I will forever be indebted to Larry, who runs Voracious Readers Only, a book giveaway platform that essentially distributes my books for me at a minimal cost (to myself), giving thousands of readers around the world the opportunity to discover and enjoy my books without me essentially having to do any work. The over 200 reviews on Goodreads right now for both 22 Scars and The Broken are almost entirely due to this effort.

But I want more. I want more validation. More readers. I don’t care about the money – I just want people to read my stories.

Please read my stories?

I suppose that sounds a little selfish, really. But deep down inside, it’s all I’ve ever really wanted. I never sought a career in the creative arts, though I certainly could have, because again it was never about the money. It’s not even about fame – I don’t want people to know who I am, necessarily, or scream my name at concerts or book signings. I just want to know that I’ve been able to reach people with my thoughts.

That, I think, would be enough.

Enough, to know that someone, somewhere, was moved by something I thought of. Moved to the point of needing to tell the world about it.

And by extension, me.

Yes – selfish. But also very, very satisfying.

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