Hubris: 10 January 2021

This is Hubris: 10 January 2021 edition, the newsletter where I have the audacity to think I’ve written something worth reading.

My current pet peeve is people who try to win arguments by citing how much money they make, or how many social media followers that have. As if the real world is a strict meritocracy. There are plenty of people who earn egregious sums of money but are still dangerously bad at their jobs. Having the multitudes tracking them on Twitter, TikTok, or whatever doesn’t mean their opinions are factually correct or deserving of attention. It’s a false equivalence at best. At worst it says terrible things about their own self-worth, as if their only value as a human being is that one metric and their ability to lord it over other people.

Less is Now

The Minimalists: Less is Now is a fantastic documentary. So far I have watched it 4 times. At 53 minutes it is concise in its messaging. It came about at the right time, as I’m reassessing my priorities and trying to be more flexible in these uncertain times.

Their story is my story. Being successful but miserable in a well-paid corporate job. Having a marriage unravel because stress and money and unrealistic expectations of life. Taking a minimalist path and finding peace and happiness.

It’s on Netflix, along with the first documentary about The Minimalists. Check them out.

I am a Literary Snob (Apparently)

So there’s a person of my acquaintance that regularly chastises me for not including pictures in my books. They don’t need illustrations or diagrams. It increases the cost of production for me and the price point for consumers for no reasons. Everyone else does it, though, so they think that’s a reason I should do it too.

This same person recently called me a snob because I don’t think listening to an audiobook is the same as reading a physical book. Yes, there are studies that show that both provide some of the same benefits. You’re not learning spelling and grammar, though. The ability to re-read something I didn’t quite understand, parsing out the words, is hard to do with audio. I sometimes like to re-read passages for the beauty of the prose.

Anyway, I pointed out that audiobooks don’t have pictures and that seems to have shut them up.

My 2021 Writing Paradigm

Since I don’t do resolutions and the state of the world has caused me to abandon goals, I’m now using the word paradigm. Having a pattern to the way I work will get me where I want to go. If I develop good habits, I shouldn’t have to think about deadlines. The work will get done, in a reasonable time frame.

Anyway, since mid-December the paradigm is writing a minimum of 6 pages per day. The writing has to be on an active project or it doesn’t count. Typically I have 2 or 3 active projects going at once; if I get stuck or bored, I move to one of the others for a while. That’s an old habit that keeps me moving.

I don’t have to stop at 6 pages, so if I’m on a roll I can keep going. Any extra pages, however, don’t roll over. If I write 10 pages, that’s not 6 today and 4 banked toward tomorrow. I still need to do 6 tomorrow. After I’m done with my 6 pages, I can work on anything else I want, including this newsletter and any essays I want to write for this site.

So far, it’s working. It’s far less stressful, and I’m better able to get other tasks done. Writing is the core work, after all, so it should be the centerpiece of my day.

In Case You Missed It

Hubris: 3 January 2021

This is Hubris: 3 January 2021 edition. It’s the newsletter where I have the audacity to think I’ve written something worth reading.

Happy New Year! I want to wish all of you good health and happiness in 2021.

My new mantra is a quote from George Washington Carver: “Start where you are, with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied.” The only way things get better is when we deliberately set out to make them better. No matter how small your actions may feel in the context of this world gone mad, they matter.

New Year, New Bujo

The past two weeks have been a pain in my butt. I’m happy to be down to one bullet journal. Moving between the old journal for last year, the new one for this year, and a separate project journal has been a loathsome juggling act. Hopefully having one book at a time, with all of my information in one place, will work better. If I have to get a new journal every quarter because it fills up quickly, that’s okay. My daily process will be streamlined. I’ll have an archive of old notes, threaded across books, to refer to. And I’ll have a valid excuse to go shopping for new journals.

Inside Baseball

I’m kind of resentful. News sites covering my publishing niche won’t run my business’s press releases, but they linked to a post on my personal blog. Of course it’s their prerogative to publish whatever they want. It just seems kind of crap, from an editorial policy position, to not run a new release announcement because it’s not on Kickstarter, but validate some offhand “inside baseball” comments.

This is where I point out that I just paid my rent a few day ago, for the 55th month in a row, with money earned solely from this publishing niche. I make a modest living in a space where people complain that it’s impossible to pursue this as a full-time job. I have over 150 bestselling titles in this category. But please, gatekeepers, continue to not take me seriously. Acknowledge that I know what I’m talking about when it’s expressed in a personal blog post, but ignore my products. I’ll be over here, in my modest little kitchen, being quietly successful.

Before anyone starts in with “oh, Berin’s being negative again,” no. I’m not. I know my worth, I know my accomplishments, and I recognize them even if very few others do. Last year I published 12 books, 8 issues of a zine, and two regularly updated blogs. This coming year I intended to go bigger, be bolder, and to become so good that they can’t ignore me any longer. I’m not being petulant. I’m getting ready to roar.


I’m tired of struggling to find balance between the Mr. Rogers side of my personality, and the Incredible Hulk part of me. There is no dichotomy. I am me. These are tools in my toolbox. When someone needs compassion and understanding, I have it within me to provide that. But if what they need is a brutal kick in the head, I can do that too.

Clearly you don’t break out the sledgehammer when you need the precision of a scalpel. It is entirely possible to misjudge situations, or to react inappropriately. That doesn’t mean you throw the tools out. You just need to understand how to select the right tool for the job at hand.

Katie’s New Year Art Sale

As I wrote yesterday, Katie is having a massive 50% off sale in her web store.

I’m having a super-duper big sale to kick-off the new year! If there are any pieces of my artwork that you have been wanting to purchase now is the time! There will be pieces of my artwork pulled from my online shop on January 11, 2021 and no longer offered for sale. So, to reiterate, if you’ve been wanting to purchase a specific piece, you have ten days to do it!

Go check out the sale on Katie’s website!

In Case You Missed It

That’s it for Hubris: 3 January 2021 edition. Tune in next week for more of whatever the hell this is. 


So Here’s the Plan

Since September I’ve been evaluating my habits. Heading into 2021 I want to use my bullet journal more effectively. I want to have a clear picture of the projects I’ll be working on. Anything that I can do to eliminate unnecessary tasks, streamline my workflows, and create more time for self-care is at the top of my list. This extends to the maintenance of this site, the operation of my business, and the management of my personal life. So here’s the plan.

No More Daily Blogging

I’m dropping back to a weekly post on Sunday. It will be a cross between an open letter and a newsletter format, with quick snippets on what I’m up to at the moment. The idea is to share less, but to make what I do choose to share more meaningful. Think of it as a more curated experience.

On an irregular basis I will be posting essays. These will be more of a deep dive into a topic I care about. Not so long that they’ll be difficult to read online, but more polished and well-researched than a typical blog post. When I say irregular, I mean I’m making no schedule. If I have the time and inclination to write one every week, then that’s what will happen. If it’s one per month, or one per quarter, that’s what it will be. The point is to strive for quality over quantity.

Oh. I will also continue to plug my books as they’re released.

Twitter and Email

Both my personal and business Twitter accounts are back to broadcast-only. Basically, they’re an avenue to let people know the respective blogs have been updated. I’m going back to checking email once per day, after dinner. That also applies to personal and professional accounts. Anyone that needs to reach me urgently has my phone number. That’s the plan.

The Business Site

I’ve already stripped the business site back to a basic information site. You can learn about the current product lines, a little about the company, and use the contact form to email me. Those will all be freshened up in the coming weeks. New products will be added as they’re published.

Here’s the plan: I’m not blogging there any more. My reasons for this are varied, but mostly have to do with the efficacy of blogging as a marketing tool for my publishing niche in the 21st century. It’s not the best way to grow my business. My time is better spent elsewhere.

I’m Taking the Holidays Off

This is my last post until after the New Year. I’m taking a couple of weeks off, not just from blogging but the internet in general. When I’ll be back is up in the air. It could be the first week of January, it could be later than that. Rest assured that when I’m back I’ll be back. There will be weekly posts, and hopefully a new essay or two.

Of course, if there’s any big news I’ll jump in and post it. I just need a break. According to WordPress I’ve blogged every day for 273 days. That streak began with daily covid updates. I wrote and published 11 books and 8 issues of a zine this year. There’s physical and mental health stuff that I need to deal with. On top of that is the wait for an immigration decision. Plus, you know, endless pandemic and political nonsense.

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

Be safe out there. Please be smart. Find joy where you can. I’ll see you again next year.

In Case You Missed It

so Here’s The Plan


Ashcan Hubris: 6 December 2020

This is Ashcan Hubris: 6 December 2020 edition, the weekly newsletter where I believe I’ve written things worth reading.

How do I give thanks for this without sounding ungrateful: I’m happy that after today, I won’t need to deal with another holiday for 18 days. Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, Black Weekend (for my business, not as a consumer), Katie’s birthday, Finnish Independence, all in a row. It’s nice to have two weeks off until Christmas. No special meals to prepare, no rituals to observe, I can just chill.

Bullet Journal Blues

I cannot wait for 1 January. At this point I’m working out of 3 separate journals: the main one for this year, the new journal for next year, and the project journal. The new journal will have the project spreads incorporated, not in a separate book. One journal. That’s it.

As future log items for next year come up, I switch to the 2021 journal. Yes, I could put them in this year’s book. Copying items over it double work. As I finalize what projects I’ll be working on in the coming year, I’m setting up spreading in the new book. Projects that are being closed out are finalized in the old project journal; ongoing things are being migrated to the new book.

It’s a lot of back-and-forth. I think it will be worth it, though. To only have one journal, or at least only one at a time (until it’s filled and I start the next one) will make life so much easier. No stress about what’s written down where. I won’t have to make notes and create mini-indexes in different books to point me toward what is where. This system has worked well, don’t get me wrong. It’s just a lot to deal with when my executive function issues are flaring up.

Tabletop Design

A friend recently gifted me with a copy of Tabletop RPG Design in Theory and Practice at the Forge, 2001–2012, by William J. White. It’s an academic work about tabletop roleplaying. Apparently the publisher had a Black Friday sale, and brought the price down to something resembling reasonable. While I was somehow expecting something pretentious, the book is quite good in its examination of how TRPG design has been discussed.

It’s also made my aware of why I find current design discourse options frustrating. The Forge, for those not aware, was a forum in the early 2000s for designers. Definitions of terms were set, and could be linked to. Longer articles on bits of theory and practice were published and discussed. The tone was pseudo-academic, which some people found off-putting and admittedly it sometimes could be. But, there was a touchstone for talking about tabletop roleplaying, an a common language to be used.

The problem with discourse on, say, Twitter is that there is ease of reference. You can’t easily refer to a previous thread on the same topic, and build on it. That leads to the same subjects come up over and over and over again. The same arguments are hashed out. It’s Groundhog Day, every day.

There’s also the matter of The Forge having a singular purpose, as opposed to the generality of social media. You went to the forum to talk about tabletop roleplaying design. You weren’t also there, under the same account, to kibbutz with people who only wanted to discuss politics or pop stars. It was an immersive experience.

The Best Time to Read

For most of this year I’ve tried to read after dinner. It’s been my routine. My logic was that it’s a low-spoons activity, and actually relaxing. My mind is drawn away from the stresses of the day. The intrusive thoughts that come with anxiety are distracted, making it easier for me to fall asleep. The problem is that when I am beat, and brain fog has set in, it’s difficult to concentrate on a book.

An acquaintance recommended reading in the morning instead. Studies seem to conflict, but there is some research that says reading retention is higher earlier in the morning. Engaging your brain as early in the day as possible tends to keep you more engaged and productive throughout the day. Plus, starting the day off with a relaxing activity sets an easy going, low-stress tone.

After trying it for a few days, it works for me. Reading first gets me energized to write. My productivity is higher. I’m not running out of spoons until a couple of hour later in the day. If nothing else, it keeps me away from the internet longer, and assuages my guilt over not getting enough reading done. I save the period after dinner for tasks like accounting (somehow I can still math when I’m low on spoons) and doing light housework.

In Case You Missed It

Ashcan Hubris: 6 December 2020 Edition

Ashcan Hubris: 29 November 2020

This is Ashcan Hubris: 29 November 2020 edition, the weekly newsletter where in my foolish self-confidence I believe I’ve written things worth reading.

Explaining the Joke

Starting today, this weekly quasi-newsletter is now officially named ASHCAN HUBRIS. There are several reasons for this change. Most revolve around my odd sense of humor, so I’m more than happy to explain.

First, the more I have to tell people what hubris is, the more I’m going to lean into it. The original iteration of HUBRIS was a zine that carried the tagline “The Journal of Cultural Horror”. It was basically and op/ed rant zine about the damage caused by other peoples’ arrogance and dangerous overconfidence. The tone was decidedly not humorous. I ended up packing it in because the research I had to do in order to write thoughtful and informative essays was affecting my mental health. There is some dark and demented stuff going on in the world, in case you haven’t noticed.

“In reality there is, perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history. For even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, (1784)

The most recent iteration, the weekly thing here on the site, carried the tagline “wherein I believe I’ve written something worth reading”. I’m keeping that for this latest evolution. This is about my own hubris, the foolish pride it takes to throw one’s words out into the void and expect anyone to care.

Ashcan Hubris

Which brings us to ASHCAN HUBRIS. An ashcan can be a waste container. The rubbish bin. Trash can. Literally a burn barrel when the contents end up as ashes. Ashcan Hubris is a collection of my writings; links in the newsletter, an actual anthology in the zine I have planned for 2021. It is a self-effacing, juxtapositional joke. [HOLD FOR LAUGHTER]

An ashcan can also be a comic, banged out quick-and-dirty with limited distribution to secure copyrights. I have seen some lo-fi zines referred to as ashcans as well. Both of these definitions fit with what I’m doing here.

In Case You Missed It

Ashcan HUBRIS: 29 November 2020