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The Hot Mic - Mur Lafferty's Weekly Newsletter - Issue #4

The Hot Mic - Mur Lafferty's Weekly Newsletter
The Hot Mic - Mur Lafferty's Weekly Newsletter
We bid farewell to July, I’m always sad to leave. We did get a chance to go on a real vacation last week. And I’m here to say that a Thursday - Tuesday vacation can throw off your entire sense of time… which already was bad because of the pandemic and ADHD.
Speaking of pandemic, Delta is scary, vaccinated people can catch/carry it, and kids still aren’t vaccinated. Please keep all of that in mind, you may be fine, but you can still carry it around.
TOC:
  • The status of my projects (NEWS!)
  • Identifying the problem doesn’t always help.
  • Blaseball is dead, long live Blaseball
  • Shame reading
  • Evil Mur Returns: Why Bother?
  • In Case You Missed It

(description: Hot Mic logo, green mic on black background)
(description: Hot Mic logo, green mic on black background)
Project Status Reports!
Station Eternity is going out to blurbers. I am of course nervous as hell, partly because I’m an author and partly because I interviewed an expert about something and need to change some parts on the next edit round. And since it’s in copyedit stage, I have to be very careful what I change, lest I anger the Editor Gods.
Yesterday I had a hugely productive day and finished the novella I’ve been working on. I like it, but I am of course plagued with doubt. I need to polish it and get it into the editor and see what he thinks.
(inside writer baseball: it’s great when you have an editor willing to work with you until you get it right. But it does hold up your next advance payment, which sucks.)
Next focus is the outline for book 2 of Midsolar Murders, and catching up on Patreon fiction! (Are you supporting the Patreon?)
BREAKING: Long awaited novella news! I am working with Audible to make an Audible Original novella, tentatively titled “The Ophelia Network.”
Rough description: Blues Clues meets 1984.
Identifying the Problem Doesn't Magically Fix It
I am not a doctor. I am not an ADHD expert. These are thoughts from my personal experience. Please talk to your doctor if you have ADHD questions.
I’ve been doing research into ADHD since my diagnosis. I’m learning a lot of my problems can be traced back to ADHD: always late, can never guess how long a project will take me, hard to prioritize, and forgetfulness.
I have a friend who has been talking about her diagnosis on Twitter, and how much of a relief it is to finally put a name to something that she thought was a personality deficiency. And I get that, I do. But for me, knowing more doesn’t seem to be helping. Knowing that it’s just my brain chemistry that makes me forget things doesn’t help me remember, or make me feel okay about messing something up. Telling a friend “I have a bad sense of time, that’s why I’m late” doesn’t make them less angry with me.
It sounds like an easy way out of responsibility, like you’re lazy and blaming your ADHD (that some people don’t even believe happens to adults) on your inability to comprehend time.
We have tried constantly to destigmatize mental health issues because they’re as important as physical health. It’s difficult, however: my bank’s life insurance offering doesn’t apply to me because one of their only two questions they ask is, “have you ever been diagnosed with or treated for depression?” Way to encourage people to get help, assholes.
Lately I’m feeling that the more I know about ADHD, the less control I have over it. People talk about medication, and meds are great*, but my meds help only the problem of focus. They do NOT help my time awareness, or my inability to remember a lot of things at once, or my inability to prioritize, or impulse control when it comes to deleting my entire email list** in a rage because MailChimp made me angry. So I’m doing some research, but, dammit, researching is hard when you have all the brain problems ADHD brings. So I’m trying to read carefully. One book I’m enjoying is The Disorganized Mind by Nancy A. Ratey.
I have no good conclusion, just that the mere fact I have ADHD has been getting me down lately. Still, I’m trying to read more books and see what I can figure out. If you’ve found any good resources, let me know!
*A recent Twitter discussion about ADHD drugs and addiction got some attention this week. After reading the discussion, I figured out that people can say “addiction and dependence,” as in you have a compulsion to keep taking it, but they really mean “tolerance,” which means you need more and more of the substance to get the same effect. At least for my drug, people can develop a tolerance if they take it all the time, and the docs have to increase the dosage to make it still work. But that’s not addiction. I’ve been addicted before (smoking). I promise, it’s very different than taking a drug and realizing it does nothing for you so you have to up the dosage.
**Tell your friends about this newsletter! Cause I don’t have their email addresses anymore…
Here’s the awesome How To ADHD series on youtube.
How to Know if You Have ADHD
How to Know if You Have ADHD
Blaseball is dead, long live Blaseball
Oh boy. I’m going to try to talk about Blaseball from a creator’s POV and not a fan’s.
I haven’t played every game in the world but it seems to me that the decisions that Blaseball’s designers have made have been unique in gaming. Or maybe unique in successful gaming.
In short, Blaseball is a horror baseball sim that developed a very dedicated audience in 2020. It’s been violent, chaotic, confusing, fun, irritating, maddening, and an obsession of mine. We just got done with the Expansion Era, after the violent end of the Discipline Era, and now The Game Band is taking another Grand Siesta off to work on the game while the fans sit here and lick our wounds. But during our break, we are getting a behind the curtain look at why the game went some of the ways it did.
I was surprised to see that a lot of the complaints we had about the game were features, not bugs.
From the official Blaseball Discord:
With the Expansion Era, we wanted to tell a story of expansion and excess, the potential harm that comes from slapping new system upon new system onto something built to be unfair— the story of who benefits from that confusion and challenge. That said and story told, if we continued to pile on more features like we have been, Blaseball would become impenetrable to new and old players alike. 
Looking back on our complaints about Blaseball: we didn’t like how it was unfair, as good teams attracted more players who put more money into getting perks at the end of the season–and had money to burn to allegedly sabotage other teams–while the other teams trailed behind. We didn’t like how new and complex rules were added every season, even if we liked the chaos they brought! We thought the major god of the Expansion Era was flat out evil, which came to pass as her changes were to benefit “consumers” who turned out to be literal sharks that attack players and devour their souls. The more consumers, the happier The Boss was.
Oh and she kept piling jobs onto the poor Monitor, not checking with it to see if it could handle everything she expected of it. Very Jeff Bezos.
So it was a horror capitalism sim all along, it seems.
Her image was a coin. We should have figured this out sooner...
Her image was a coin. We should have figured this out sooner...
(description: image of the Coin god from Blaseball, text “if We could have everyone’s attention)
[back to ADHD, I just cut half my writing so I could put that image of the coin, and then I forgot and cut something else, and my work got overwritten on the clipboard, and I’m screaming. But some of the blame is on the Revue UI because you can’t put an image in the middle of text! DAMMIT! I will try to recreate.]
So where was I?
The internal conflict I’m feeling stems from the fact that I’m not sure it’s fun showing us having us experience how an unfair system can get bloated and eventually fall down, especially since we don’t know that’s what we’re experiencing. Games can do a lot of things, and people try to academically study them so they can argue. Games can amuse, distract, make one think, be fun, annoying, infuriating, or a teaching opportunity. Sometimes it shows us the terror of a possible future (Orwell and Beholder are games that touch those topics). But in the case of most games, we know what we’re getting into.
With Blaseball, we had no idea. Fans in the first season didn’t even know it was a horror game until they voted to open the forbidden book and players started getting incinerated. (This house is in perpetual mourning for Landry Violence and Boyfriend Monreal of the Tigers and Breath Mints, respectively.)
I’m not leaving. Hades Tigers never look back, after all. In fact, I’m suggesting to others that right now is the best time to join Blaseball because they did a total reset- incinerated most of the teams, destroyed all the rules in a black hole, and then closed the door on the whole mess. They have promised us that Blaseball and the beloved 24 teams will return after some time to code whatever comes next.
I just wonder if the decisions they made will affect some fans’ opinions of the game. For example, incinerating the Breath Mints’ and Fridays’ entire teams early last season was definitely a dramatic stance to take, but then those fans had nothing to do for the rest of the season, no team to root for, no real hope for the future except for the vague advice that they shouldn’t start supporting (and making lore for) the replacement teams, Oxford Paws and Carolina Queens, because it was going to be a season of changes. So they sat and wondered and mourned. But how much to mourn? The teams will be back, but will the beloved players? Most of us knew that drastic things would be coming, so these weren’t big surprises, but after the shock, it was disappointing to try to figure out how to participate in the season when your team was incinerated.
Also, if you thought your team was just having bad luck, like the Breath Mints who struggled season after season not getting blessings and getting their their stadium sabotaged with dangerous weather (I won’t go into the details), and then you found out the game was designed to build an unfair system, how willing would you be to go back to it?
Well I can ask the Breath Mints fan in my house how angry they were. I’ll get back to you on that.
As a content creator, I question the decision to knowingly build something designed to break, and not tell the fans about it. In a zombie game, you won’t be surprised to have your head gnawed on by zombies. But in a farming game, that might be shock. (I just remembered there was a zombie farming game about 10 years ago on iOS devices. I wonder if that’s still around.)
Then again, the whole purpose of the game was to break, so if we had tried to avoid that, then we may have stretched the unfair chaos out more than we did. Who knows? I’m not a game designer, I’m just a fan eager for Blaseball to return and see what kind of system, broken or not, we get to play with next time.
And let’s face it. The unexpected capitalism horror brought us things like necromancy, when The Seattle Garages found a way to bring an incinerated player back, with terrible consequences. Also The Unlimited Tacos forced the hatching of Pitching Machine because they purposefully put all of their pitchers entombed in peanut shells. The Kansas City Breath Mints did a mind-boggling act of expert-level organization when the blaseball player/investigator Uncle Plasma was investigating the Mints (long story, but isn’t everything?), and the Mints figured out a way to steal him permanently for their team that one hour or so he was with them.
Then there was the time many seasons back that the Hades Tigers became immune to incineration as a team, which protected us many times, especially in the last season, even though the team was deceased in the end anyway.
This kind of bizarre play is encouraged by the Devs, and they roll with the punches we give the game, and by listening to us they can make an even better game.
I love this freaking game. But I’m watching to see the long term fallout of the carnage of the Expansion Era.
(Mur is a fan of the Hades Tigers, but is also friendly toward the Breath Mints, Sunbeams, Tacos, and pretty much everyone except for that Firefighter fan who was a dick to her that time.)
Shame reading
A long time ago I made a bookshelf on Goodreads called the Pile of Shame. These were the books I should have already read because of popularity or I was friends with the author. I thought public shame would help me get through them. Nope. (Shame almost never works, and yet we still use it with ourselves and our kids. Huh.)
So I read two disappointing books this summer:
I have been wanting to read more thrillers like The Guest List and all those snowbound books I read that I have forgotten the names of. So I tried out Riley Sager’s Lock Every Door and was not enjoying it, but kept reading. Then it had a twist where … OK I can’t find a way to use spoiler tags in Revue’s UI, so I guess I won’t spoil, but it was vastly annoying. At this point I was hate reading to see what the book could teach me. And I did learn, so that’s a bonus.
Then I tried to read The Ax, a horror? book by Donald Westlake, which feels like it would have been ground-breaking fifty years ago, not 1997. Stephen King wrote similar stories a few times (off the top of my head there’s “Cain Rose Up” and Apt Pupil and Rage). But maybe it was the perfect time for white white-collar men to be dissatisfied with life and go on a violent rampage where they’re totally the hero because it’s hard to suddenly have problems and you really should start carving people up. (See this, in some extent, also in Fight Club, American Beauty, and even one of my favorite movies, The Matrix…with less carving. But some carving.) So after hearing this dude whine about his layoff, and talk about his wife like it was the 50s, and then start killing people (AND whining when he accidentally had to kill a victim’s wife too, that poor man and the killing he had to do…), I did the thing I never have done before which was turn to the end and read the last chapter. I wanted to know if he got away with it or someone put his serial killer ass in jail or in a coffin.
Since i mentioned how much I disliked it, you can guess as to what it ended with.
Good lord I’m writing a lot about the books I didn’t like and not covering the books I did! But if I did that, I would be showing my shame and my author friends would find out I hadn’t read their books yet. But I am working on that. Honest.
Why Bother? #1
When the portal opens up and we can peer into the mirror universe, we can see the Evil Mur, who hosts a podcast called “Why Bother?” She gives the worst writing advice. Don’t listen to her.
I’m serious. She’s evil. it’s in the NAME!
Hey all you writers who aren’t as cool as me. I am announcing my new podcast, called Why Bother? It encourages you to take the easiest way to a creative career, with tips on cutting corners, advice on who to bribe, and who to suck up to and who to ignore in your easy street path to becoming a bestselling novelist.
It will stream on Twitch, on no specific schedule. I also might be drunk. Catch me when you can. I dare you.
(Tip #1, never tell people when stuff is coming out or be consistent with your releases. It keeps them on their toes and always wanting more.)
[shit did I just start a new podcast? “Evil Mur” – no kidding.]
ICYMI
Not a lot going on in podcast land because I took some time off. More links next week!
Roll Credits!
You can support me on PatreonJemi, or just buy me a Ko-fi. That helps support my many creative projects.
If you can’t support via financial ways, I totally understand, it’s been a painful few years. You can still help by telling a friend about my work, or leaving a review of my podcasts or books, or forwarding this newsletter!
Just want to catch the podcasts? For I Should Be Writing, you can subscribe on iTune or take this RSS feed and plug it into your preferred player. For Ditch Diggers, use these links: iTunesRSS, and Spreaker.
Or just search I Should Be Writing, Ditch Diggers, or Mur Lafferty on any podcast site.
Podcast credits: ISBW production by Summer Brooks, ISBW theme song by John Anealio, DD theme song by Devo Spice, art by Numbers Ninja, site design by Clockpunk Studio and hosted by Libsyn.
This newsletter is BY-NC-ND 3.5 Creative Commons licensed.
See you next week!
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The Hot Mic - Mur Lafferty's Weekly Newsletter
The Hot Mic - Mur Lafferty's Weekly Newsletter @mightymur

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Mur Lafferty 8311 Brier Creek Parkway Ste 105274 Raleigh, NC 27617