I’ve just completed the second major revision of Genesis Dimension, which is the first book in my sci-fi series, DimWorld. I had to put a new beginning on the story, but I also spent a lot of time trying to make Quentin and Eissa more complete and dynamic people.
Quentin is a lot like me, in many ways. He’s the main character in the series. While he’s a smart, capable guy, and he’s really good at what he does (IT Tech at a big energy company), he has a serious lack of self-confidence. And what do smart, insecure people do? They seek validation from people whom they deem worthy of recognizing their competence, such as their supervisor. When they don’t get it, at least in the form they are expecting, they take it as a personal attack, and the war is on.
While Quentin manages to develop confidence in himself over the course of the story, and therefore reduces his need for validation from outside sources, we realize that if the big disaster hadn’t backed him into a corner and forced him to grow, he probably would have spent his life trapped in that loop. This is fairly representative of my life. I spent years trying to get validation from other people. It started as a kid, trying to win my dad’s approval, and continued into my adult life. Every boss I ever had ended up as a victim of my scorn, because they didn’t spend enough time telling me that I was doing a great job. Even though I was doing a great job, I was a terrible employee because of my insecurities.
Eissa has her own set of problems. As a combat veteran, she struggles with PTSD. This usually manifests itself as anxiety attacks, but it also undermines her confidence because she never knows when something is going to trigger an episode, and that makes her reluctant to participate in the world. She’s also a lesbian and a Native American, and she has a very different understanding of the world than Quentin does. While they’ve been lifelong best friends, she still has to point out to him occasions of privilege and oppression. While he’s on her side and supports her in every way, he still doesn’t always understand the difference between his experience and her experience. Again, Quentin and I are a lot alike, and have had to learn similar hard lessons.
One of the wonderful things about living in the information age is the accessibility of resources and tools. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I have learned so much from them that it’s hard for me to believe that I made it so far in life not knowing all this stuff. Podcasts like Finding Mastery, StoryBrand, and The Liberator have taught me about being a better team member, a better leader, a better friend, and how to understand myself and others. I’ve used this knowledge to make the veterinary clinic that my wife and I own the best place in the world to work (and to get equine medical care), but I’ve also tried to apply it to the characters in my books.
All books have a message or two they are trying to deliver to the world, and mine are no different in that respect. The personal growth aspect isn’t the main point of the story, but I do hope that people will be able to connect with Quentin and Eissa and learn a few useful things from their journey. I know I’ve learned a lot!
Justin B. Long is an author, blogger, website developer, and the CFO of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. In his spare time (ha!) he likes to paint, read, canoe, and hike in the wilderness. You can subscribe to this blog in the blue block, and future blogs will be delivered to your email. Warning: Subscribing may increase your awesomeness quotient. Please feel free to comment, and share this blog on your favorite social media page! To learn more, please visit JBoydLong.com.