My Life

Not Quite a Return… Yet…


I have a blog. Not that I’ve forgotten about it. Obviously. I haven’t even forgotten to post to it. I just haven’t posted… anything… in quite some time. Because I haven’t felt like it.

While I was never prolifically active online, I was reasonably so at one point in my life. When I was trying to build a career as a writer. That came to a crashing halt a couple years ago when my then-wife left me. Between transmogrifying into a single dad (after 15+ years of marriage), reentering the workforce (after ‘retiring’ to pursue my dream of becoming a full-time writer), and spending time figuring myself out… I just haven’t had the energy. The main stumbling block is that I stopped writing. And if I wasn’t writing, then what was the point of the blog?

I still don’t have the answer to that question.

So, tonight, for whatever reason, I’ll just muse a bit about some stuff I’ve figured out the past couple years. This too may then end up being just a random, isolated post, a brief surfacing of myself before I dive back into the reality of my now-life.

A major (to me) revelation that has emerged from the separation-and-divorce is that I’ve always been severely depressed. Over the years, I’ve been very good at keeping busy and productive. So much so that I kept ahead of the depression, for the most part. It was only when I ‘retired’ from BioWare and found myself with a lot more free time, that it started really affecting me. Around that time my issues with anxiety intensified too, though I didn’t recognize that either.

After BioWare, I became increasingly withdrawn and excused it as “I need to take care of the house” or “the kids need me to do this” or “I have another novel to write… Need to focus on that.” I avoided most opportunities I had for social activities. The depression intensified and I responded by working harder at avoiding to deal with it. Striving towards a writing career during this time period was a truly bad idea. This career path has a very negative side — rejections. A few years into my retirement from BioWare, despite some successes, I had accumulated over two thousand rejections (mostly on short stories but with a reasonable backlog of written novels, I was also getting rejections for those… which hurt a lot more than the story rejections ever had).

And then my paternal grandfather died.

One day I’ll write more about him, and his influence on my writing, but for now I’ll just say this was a huge blow. And again, I avoided dealing with it. I kept on churning out stories and novels and not selling them. There were things I should have done during this time — perhaps becoming involved in the local writing community or finding other activities to get me out of the house but I never tried. Just kept on writing, tending house, and hanging out with the kids.

Near the end of the marriage, I tried self publishing a handful of story collections and novels. I don’t remember if I’ve spoken about any of these on the blog — I just wanted to see how well they did on their own, without any marketing push from me (plus, I didn’t have the energy). I had had them ready to go before I knew a divorce was eminent and I ended up releasing them, sort of on auto pilot as my personal life dissolved.

In hindsight, I squandered opportunities releasing them prematurely and without a marketing push. I should have also involved peers, both in reviewing them and helping me get them ready (I’m terrible for asking for help). I think some more effort on my part, and some help from others, and these novels/collections, would have had more impact.

Still, they are out there now, and I can’t do anything about that.

Maybe in another post I’ll even list them or something, but that seems dreadfully exhausting.

Anyways, that’s my ramble for the night.

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.


  • Laurie Tom

    Hey Brent. Even though things have been rough, I’m glad to hear a from you again.

    Your books are probably not unsalvageable. You’d probably want to do a marketing push though to get them going again; update their covers, maybe retitle them for the relaunch, ask a few friends to leave an honest review, take out ads, etc. But people have relaunched older self-pub titles to better effect.

    I forget if you were ever part of Codex, but they have really good self-publishing threads now. All depends on your bandwidth. It could be a lot to jump in at once, but don’t give up. :)

  • Brent Knowles

    Thanks, Laurie! Great to hear from you and I appreciate the advice. My bandwidth is limited, so this will be a very slow ramp up :)

    I think I checked out the Codex a long time ago but never really dived in. Definitely worth another look.

    Hope everything is going well for you!

  • Laurie Tom

    I’m very busy, that’s for sure. I’m getting something ready for self-pub myself, so super nervous and hyper aware. ^_^

    Codex is overwhelming if you haven’t been there in a while. I tend to avoid anything that’s older than a day or two unless it’s specifically relevant to my interests. That helps keeps things manageable. Otherwise it’s a nice resource.

  • Callum MacKendrick

    Good to hear from you again. I don’t have any advice about the writing career, maybe marketing would help, but, even my semi-famous writer friends have trouble selling their books. Self-publishing in this winner-takes-all media age is tricky, I’m sure.

    As for depression it sounds like you already have part of the answer – staying busy. Being a single dad sure would take care of that part of the equation. Ask for help!

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