Do I Lead a Double Life?

I sometimes feel as though I lead a double life.

On the one hand, I am MJ Blehart, writer.  I seek writing jobs and to further my reach as a published sci-fi, Steampunk and fantasy author.  Further, I blog three times a week, with an occasional extra (like today’s political rant).

Double LifeOn the other hand, I am Malcolm Bowman, Brigantia Principal Herald of the East Kingdom of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  Voice herald, fencer, occasional archer, frequent volunteer.  I have held my Kingdom office for almost a year now, and been a part of the game for 26 years as of this fall.

For a long time, years ago, there was a pretty wide difference between who I was as MJ and who I was as Malcolm.  This was the cause of some problems, because to a large degree I was having a lot more fun in my persona than in my real life.

Why am I bringing this up?  Because recent events, I feel, have made Malcolm stand out more than MJ.  I don’t feel the need to get into a ton of detail, but Malcolm has taken a prominent place in my life that feels as though it is greater than who I am in the mundane world.

I know that this is not how my life really works, but I sometimes feel as though I have been more successful as a SCAdian than as real person.

This is something I have certainly seen in others.  There are a couple of people I know who, outside of their SCAdian persona, have no other discernable identity.  They live for their time in the medieval world, and nothing else matters as much.

I am striving to lead a singular life.

Double LifeWhat this brings up to me is that I need to focus on how to equalize my Real Life with my SCAdian life.  Part of that involves not measuring my successes as separate, but as equal.  When I succeed as Malcolm, I succeed as MJ.  My real life gets boosted by my SCAdian life, and not overshadowed by it.  Not unless I allow it to be that way.

I am certain that this stems from that period I when I was one of the people who had more in the way of my SCAdian world than my Real Life.  I cared far more about achievement in the SCA than I did about my career, relationships, and so on.

Escaping real life is good.  The SCA is an outstanding hobby, and I have made incredible friends that way.  But most of the time I am MJ Blehart, a writer striving to find a larger audience and further advance my career.  Life has recently handed me a chance to do more as a writer, and I am working on making the most of that I can.

MJ Blehart and Malcolm Bowman are the same man.  The former spends a lot of time at a keyboard in front of a couple monitors, the latter spends time behind a pair of rapiers or standing behind the thrones being loud.  Both of these personas make up the sum total of who I am, and I need to do better with seeing them as equal partners.  I have a single life, not a double life.

How Am I Breaking from Typical Story Tropes?

It’s fun to break away from the typical story tropes.

For years I have wanted to write a sci-fi “space opera”.  An epic along the lines of a Star Wars or a Star Trek, but as unique as I could make it.

One of the problems you face with these things is that there have been numerous epics created.  Beyond Star Wars and Star Trek, you get Babylon 5, Farscape, Firefly, and on and on.

Star Wars happened “A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.”  As such, the humans are not from Earth.  I like this idea a great deal, and rather than rehash all of the sci-fi books, movies and TV shows where the Humans are from Earth in the future, my humans come from somewhere else.

This opens up a great deal of options for my sci-fi.  I can create star systems, worlds and alien races with no ties to anything but my own imagination.

One of the things I most love about sci-fi and fantasy is that there are few actual rules.  Yes, with sci-fi you need at least vague plausibility in your technobabble and such.  Fantasy, however, has no actual rules.  You can do whatever you want, when all is said and done.

Playing with 21st Century tropes.

One of the things I loved about The Force Awakens and Rogue One was the ways they took a new approach to things.  The main characters were not white guys, but women and ethnically diverse actors.  They were all strong, mixed characters both likeable and not, and added a new dimension to the series.

Along the same line, Chuck Wendig defied the norms with several of his characters in his Star Wars: Aftermath series.  In all of these instances, several people lost their minds, and got upset because for whatever reason they think sci-fi is supposed to focus on white male heroes.

Drawing by MJ Blehart

This is the 21st century.  Sci-fi in the past broke many barriers along the way.  The original Star Trek provided the first interracial kiss on television.  Given many of our modern societies’ issues, I applaud taking new approaches to the material.

As I began to write my sci-fi epic, I took several different steps to my approach.  First, my humans are not well described.  Male, female, and maybe at some point a reference to height, but I never reveal their hair color or skin tone or any other descriptives.  As such, my reader can imagine them however they choose.  It is all open to interpretation.

Further, I figure if they ever make a movie of this, ANYBODY could be cast in any role.

I give a lot more attention to my aliens.  But that’s because they need more description.  One race, however, has no gender definitions.  As such, I even invented new pronouns for them.

As if I wasn’t having enough fun with my story, I made a few other choices.  One of my primary characters is a middle-aged lesbian woman.  Another is a thirty-something omnisexual male (omnisexual because he has no preference not just regarding straight or gay, but towards non-humans).  Mind you, there is no sex in the novel (I feel no need to write sex scenes) but the topic gets discussed among the characters.  My aliens are not all humanoid in appearance, and even those that are may be sexually compatible, but cannot reproduce together.

Writing is joy.

I have had the desire to write a sci-fi epic space-opera for some time now.  I am thrilled to be playing with this story, and looking forward to completing and sharing it soon.

What am I Currently Working on?

I began to work on my fantasy series, The Source Chronicles, in 1997.

I was at work, bored, and tapped out this scene that popped into my head.  Then, two more scenes were written, and now I had three main characters, and the story began to take shape.

As I worked on the novel I first called Seeker of The Source, my characters took on qualities and identities I had not entirely expected them to.  Before I knew it, I ran into a major dilemma.  My villain ceased to be the bad guy.

My best friend from High School and I had a conversation when I was blocked, and he made a point that opened the channels, and the story continued.  In time, Seeker of the Source was completed.

I edited this, to a point, and moved on.  The prophecy I had written was broken into four parts, and I knew that meant there would be four books.  I began to write Finder of The Source.

I had acquired for a time an agent.  He did his best, but frankly when he took me on I was outside his normal genre.  This made it very hard to get where I wanted to go, and in time we parted ways.

Editors can change everything.

Lone was a friend of a friend.  She is a professional writer and editor, and agreed to edit Seeker of The Source.  At this point, Finder of The Source was also completed, and I had begun to work on Harbinger of The Source.

Lone did more than just edit my novel.  She taught me so much about the craft of writing, as well as how to edit writing, that my work would never be the same.

She taught me to choose a singular narrative, rather than jumping between characters without a break of some sort.  Lone gave me insight into better world building, and the series got renamed The Source Chronicles  (which is partially credited to Kristin, the friend who introduced Lone and I).   She taught me how to do better sentence structure, stronger character actions, and more.  Overall, I became a far better writer and editor, and cannot express how much this has meant to me over the years.

Since publishing the first two novels in The Source Chronicles, Seeker and Finder, I have continued to work on the series.  Deep into Harbinger, it occurred to me that it would be a long, long novel.  As such, I split it up, and Guardians was born.  The prophecy received an edit, adding a fifth section to match the revised number of planned novels.

Two years after publishing Finder, and more than that after taking a break from The Source Chronicles to work on The Vapor Rogues, my Steampunk series, and the as-yet untitled sci-fi epic I’m currently working on, I returned to Harbinger to start editing, before I send it off to a professional.

I have concluded my edits.  One of the most fascinating aspects of this process was finding where what I had learned from Lone got employed in Harbinger.  It was a subtle shift, but I saw it rather clearly.

Writing is a practice.

Once I send Harbinger off to an editor (and I am looking for a new editor), I intend to continue work on the sci-fi novel.  I also intend to continue Guardians, where I left off about five years ago.  My goal is to have it complete within 2 more years, and then the final novel of the series, Healers, will be written.

I am striving to do as much writing as I can.  In addition to my work on my novels, I blog three times a week at The Ramblings of The Titanium Don – my blog about Conscious Reality Creation.  Positivity, Pathwalking, and Crossing the Bridges between the worlds I live in and have created along the way.

I will set up an e mail subscription service to this blog soon.  Thank you for tagging along on my writing adventures.  Welcome, also, to my new and improved website.

New and Improved

Welcome to the new and improved MJ Blehart.

Photo courtesy of MBH Photography

I have been saying for some time that I would update this website.  After giving it a lot of thought and consideration, here it is.

This is still a work on progress as I develop the site.  Welcome to my worlds, and please enjoy!

Please note – all writing and photographs are ©MJ Blehart. Please do not use any of this material without permission.