“You seem like a really nice kid and so I don’t want to give you the two hour rant that’s just the extended Sparknotes version of ‘never give up on your dreams’ or some fucking sentence like that which, worst of all, is true. But, like, I don’t know your dreams and so that’s basically a non-starter. Hitler never gave up on dreams, even though everyone said he should. Mind you, a misplaced dream will probably end up as an Adult Swim one-shot that never got green lit. Not, you know, genocide. Instead, I want to offer you some practical advice so you don’t end up like me. Rich, successful, and dreadfully unhappy. Like, I’m getting divorced two years from now. Nobody’s supposed to know but it’s scheduled in my Google Calendar like it’s a fucking tooth appointment. A girl broke up with me in secondary school and I didn’t talk to anyone in two months. This life isn’t better, and I don’t know where to go from here. Like, look at it this way, I worked on The Aenith Aurum Archive for six years. all one hundred thousand words each, handwritten and bound in leather I bought from the guy in my town who made handmade leather goods. I talked with my college roommates at the time about stuff like finance and trade and politics that they were all studying and so stuff like the woods of Retoke, fisheries in the river town of Quall, marshes in the nearby Quam where the water turns to silt and sludge and the deep tin mines of Krint are all based on real things I heard, you know? I reread those books occasionally and I remember not just the world I built with those friends I had who have gone onto bigger and brighter things. Parts of those entrepreneurs and politicians and their formative years ended up in my epic fantasy. One or two have passed, but a few of their scarce and hallowed words live on. Through my shelf. You know, I probably sent out 500 submissions for my epic fantasy, but publication was only ever just that. An epic fantasy. And that’s fine. But what I should have done was kept buying the leather, binding them, shelving them and adding new stories, new characters and new lands to The Aenith Aurum Archive as I made new friends and learned new things. Look, I know you probably like The Owlcat Chronicles. You won the Twitter contest, got flown out here, nice hotel and nice comped meals, now you’re sitting to me prior to the launch event. Dude, this is the first time I’ve been able to talk face-to-face with another person, truthfully and honestly, and I’m not going to squander this opportunity. So I hope the food, the accommodation and flight was deece but this is my turn now.

“The Owlcat Chronicles fucking suck and were a creative mistake.

“I wrote the outline with a zoot in my mouth on a paper napkin and should’ve had the good sense to throw it in the trash as soon as I sobered up. Instead, I copied the outline, no script at that point, and I sent it out. First submission was a success and my agent seemingly sold the rights to it overnight. Fast forward two months and I’m in the middle of a board meeting talking about this exciting new series and I’ve never been in a board meeting before, don’t really want a series and I’m only excited about the paycheque. Staff writers talking about roadmaps and merchandising. A diversity consultant for a children’s cartoon about an anthropomorphic owl that is also a cat and gets paid two thousand dollars an hour. Another person who gets paid to call up that Funkly business that make plastic caricatures of the stupid characters. Funkly? Funkey? I don’t fucking care. They added Birdo and Purren not for any character or plot reason but because we needed a minimum number of characters in order to acquire a certain number of merchandising rights. I mean, how fucked up is that? Imagine if your existence was predicated on commerce? You pray to God and he tells you that the totality of your life boils down to little figurines people keep in their work cubicles in order to ‘personalise’ it? What a sick joke.

“I don’t hate you kid, Honestly, I don’t. And if I wasn’t two thirds of a way through a bottle of Jim Beam, I probably wouldn’t be talking about the squad of vampires surrounding the collapsed vein that makes up my artistic career. But I am, so…I am.

“I tried, man. I re-pitched The Aenith Aurum Archive to a few networks after season five wrapped on Owlcat and they just said they can’t bankroll it because of the failure of that stupid series that George guy did. Well, that’s what you get when those so revered network TV writers take over the work of actual hardworking fiction writers. They tanked the show and not the fantasy genre.

“I swear, sometimes I think they just hate anything done sincerely or well. It’s all just one big pool o’ piss and everyone’s yelling at the guy with the hose. ‘Careful, fucknuts, you’ll get water in our sacred piss pool!’ I don’t care, I really just don’t fucking care anymore. That’s the privilege of the rich. I feel like I got into the wrong club with a real ID, unlike when I left school and tried to get into a real one with a fake ID.

“My dream was an epic adventure, not the witterings of twelve pseudonymous writers who have put together this fucking tie-in book filled with spelling errors and concepts I’d never even added. You know I didn’t even write this slop, right? It’s the most hollow and meaningless piece of shit I’ve ever read and it’s going to launch the careers of three lobotomised television writers who wouldn’t know an original idea if it broke into their house and blended their pet iguana.

“I feel like the best thing to do before other people show up is for me to literally just kill myself, but then you’d get blamed, so my advice to you, if you’re still thinking of being an aspiring artist, is probably just the thing you learn as you progress forward and your dreams don’t become a half-dreamt book but become a nightmarish screenplay or a haunting Netflix series that becomes a mockery of your love for self-expression because everything you wanted in there gets pulled by their soul-sucking advisory boards and replaced with vacuous shadow puppets.

“If you were to build a time machine, you wouldn’t go back and stop people like Ted Kaczynski, you’d go back with 17 books of first-class stamps.

“I think I’m gonna be sick.”