It took me a long time to realize this was the right thing to do. I had so many goals and dreams for this site and for myself, but sometimes you have to realize when you’re going down the wrong path.
This site was born from my love of speculative fiction and all my loving complaints about when it goes wrong. Sure, it was also about my goals as a writer, but in the end I think the fan side won out.
When I started this site, and began my journey as a member of the online writing and particularly speculative fiction writing and reading communities, I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for. But with the benefit of hindsight, I think I understand my past self a little better.
I first lit the fire in the Chimney over ten years ago, and it’s been for the most part an enjoyable ride. I met a lot of cool people in the writing community, had some wonderful conversations and debates, and I’ve learned an enormous amount about both writing and myself.
What I really wanted from the writing and speculative fiction communities was two simple things: to learn how to produce writing I could be proud of sharing in public, and the feeling of belonging to a broad community of people who all shared our common interest.
You may note that I have never published anything since starting this blog. That’s due to a variety of reasons, the biggest of which is reading standards that far outstrip my writing ability. A problem many people in the community have admitted to experiencing.
I’ve never stopped writing. There are hundreds of projects in various states of un-publishingness sitting on my hard drive at this very moment. I am very proud of some of them and I love all of them. Just yesterday I began nursing a story idea through the long gestation of pre-writing, and I honestly think it’s pretty fucking cool. I hope someday you’ll get to read it, among many others.
You probably won’t know you’re reading it. Most of you have probably realized by now there is no such person as Atsiko Ureni. It’s merely a nom de guerre. One of the great things about the early interbet was the ability to be whoever you wanted, with no one to prove you wrong. I’m not saying I lied about anything. I haven’t. If you followed my twitter you would have seen my constant notes that I’m a cis white dude from a middle class American background, and how that might color my opinions and should inform others’ understanding of them.
I’m definitely an introvert, and I have some mental health issues along the anxiety spectrum, so the ability to present only the best parts of myself to the public and be judged on only that was an enormous weight off my shoulders in terms of sharing this aspect of myself with others. I don’t have a lot of offline friends that I can dig into my love of story-telling and story-consuming, but when you’re just shouting to the void you don’t have to worry so much about boring your friends or annoying them with your obsessions or hot takes. The people who engage with blog-style interaction are those who have already chosen to do so and those who would be annoyed by such focus or enthusiasm automatically filter themselves out.
You may have gathered from the above that I feel I have made significant strides towards my first goal in writing this blog. I haven’t hit the NYT Bestseller List yet, but both my writing and my story-telling abilities have improved by leaps and bounds.
Unfortunately, although things seemed quite hopeful for awhile, I haven’t been so lucky in my second goal. That’s not to say that the writing and speculative fiction communities aren’t wonderful. They often are, and I’ve had a lot of positive experiences. But most of the successful friendships I’ve encountered in them–between others, I mean–have necessitated something extra. It might be actual published material from one or more members, or real-life connections, often through the convention community or by collaborating on projects like group blogs or podcasts. Alas, these are not things I have been able to provide.
So maybe one day I’ll be back to chat and goof around with all the wonderful people that speculative fiction and writing have brought together. Perhaps you’ll even know me by my “real” name. But for the moment it’s time for me to take a step back and really put my energy into meatspace life and push to actually write and publish fiction rather than commentary. So, until then, so long and thanks for sharing all of this wonderful knowledge and story recs!
(The blog will stay up until wp takes it down, but I’ll no longer be posting or responding to comments. Apologies to those who may have been waiting for continuations or elaborations on the many and various post series I’ve begun and never concluded. I hope you’ll be able to someday have the satisfaction of seeing my writing philosophy in action on the page, instead of just on the blog!)