In the first draft of the Knights Templar creepypasta, as well as the first draft of the journal of Clive Bennett, I wrote as “Saul Micaiah.” I nearly went with that as a pen name and it took a lot of wrestling to end up using my real name. I know that there is “wisdom in many counselors” so I asked friends about my decision. Some of the feedback I got was mixed, on the surface folks thought the fake name was obvious, and suggested some might wonder why I was trying to hide? To some extent I was. My day to day calling (read “job”) connects me with folks who might find this subject matter too dark or supernatural. Others may automatically see me in a different light if they know what that calling is. Even the name “Saul Micaiah” is a combination of an obscure Jewish prophet, and a name shared by a Jewish King and Christian Apostle, the latter of which I was trying to reference, because of his training in Greek Rhetoric. If someone knew who I was, how would it color their perception of my writing? I wanted my work to stand for itself and be enjoyed by all.
That was the heart of it. I want you, and everyone else, to read and enjoy this for what is. We can agree to disagree. I don’t expect you to think like me or behave as if you believe what I believe. I want us to escape some of the division of our world together, in fiction. Maybe we will find some common ground along the way. Maybe you will see yourself in some characters more than others. Maybe even if we disagree on some issues, we can share our hobbies together. Hopefully you will see me writing characters of various beliefs authentically, even if they are opposites of my own. Yes, my worldview will come out in fiction, and often good stories feature a well taught lesson, but my stories aren’t a platform to “preach,” I have another platform for that.Read more: Why I Nearly Wrote Anonymously
As a child of the 80’s I grew up with some amazing cartoons and comics, and in a time before social media. I rarely knew much about the people who made the content I consumed or the toys I bought. I’ve been amazed to see how far nerds have come. I can recall being bullied for reading comics and playing with toys a little too long. I can remember when comic book movies were rare, and openly mocked. So, when I got a chance to interview or interact with childhood heroes, friend them on facebook, interact with on twitter, and eventually Instagram, I took it. I’m not the only one. Now creators are accessible in a way they never were before, and I knew that would impact how I wrote.
I’ve had some amazing interactions with some celebrities and individuals inside the “nerd” industry. I heard one of the oldest voice actors in the industry say edgy jokes in his cartoon character voices, helped another voice actor use skype for the first time and I became friends with a toy industry professional enough to be asked to sit with them, and other designers at a nice dinner. I enjoyed getting past our hobby and a sort of fan/celebrity relationship and talking about world issues big or small, or even just raising children. I’ve taken a tour of a toy design studio. I’ve been blessed to be given previews of upcoming toy items, even asked to give feedback on those items a time or two. Those are moments I’ll always treasure, but there have been negative moments too.
I can remember as a kid, I didn’t know what every celebrity believed about every little topic. The stories mattered; they were the focus. Yes, there were worldviews and ideas infused throughout, usually in a more subtle way, and there was more ambiguity then. Now I’ve watched writers, artists, designers, and voice actors rise in celebrity and with the constant 24-hour connections I’ve seen very talented people say deeply hateful things. Sometimes I was broadly in the category they were attacking. I’ve seen them directly bluntly attack one another in ugly ways or even attack their fans. Some have convinced me they don’t want certain fans to listen to them or buy their product. I know more about some author’s political views than I do politicians paying for campaign ads. I’ve seen them turn moments where fans wanted to know more about their characters and process, into opportunities to preach to them, often in very emotional terms, and without the insight, depth and clarity I appreciate when I read actual more academic treatments on controversial issues. Much of it has been off putting to me and at times, tainted stories or brands I love. Not due to differences in views, but how they have treated other people with whom they disagree.
I know I can be, and have been, a jerk. I strive to love all people and focus on discussing ideas I disagree with more than people who hold those ideas. I’m sure I’ve done that imperfectly. I’ve grown as a person, and hope I continue to do so. Many of the people I’m thinking of, likely have as well. We have all had to adjust to a world where things are recorded on social media forever. Where tone doesn’t carry into text. We all have moments where we lose our cool or go too far. I don’t want some offhand comment I make, to prevent, or influence the perception of what readers see in my stories. I want you to be able to pick up one of these stories, or listen to them, and just enjoy them for what they are.
I settled on taking the risk, writing with my real name and being transparent. It may cost me a few readers who won’t be able to separate their disagreements with my views, with me as a person and the stories I write. As for me, I hope you enjoy the work, regardless of what you look like, where you’re from, or where you are going. I don’t think we grow when we isolate ourselves to only interact with people just like us and there is too much division already out there, I’d like to be a part of unifying more individuals together, and restoring civility, if I can. That is one of the reasons I’ve already worked with people on this very project, and the toy project, who hold different views than my own on issues ranging from minor to the biggest questions we ask about life and its meaning. I enjoy time with my dear friends whom I have strong disagreements with, who come from different backgrounds or worldviews, but we can still converse and learn from one another. I hope that if we connect, however we connect, we can begin with what we have in common, agree to disagree when necessary, and if nothing else, enjoy the stories together.
Thankful for your time
-Sam B. Sears