We had the good fortune of connecting with Bodhi J.M.S Ryder and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bodhi J.M.S, how do you think about risk?
To be honest, I’ve never been particularly risk averse. We live in a world where in order to get anywhere, one must take a risk, and depending on the goal, that could be small or enormous, but it’s really unavoidable right? My name is Bodhi Ryder, and I am an author, story creator, and CEO of a small art studio known as the Four Lords. I would say one of my most prominent risks was that after six years of university, I ultimately decided to drop out to pursue my dream of being a writer. I mean, that wasn’t to say that I didn’t “consider” what the university system had to offer. I perused the different creative writing teachers from SDSU, and realized that none of them really had any noteworthy works published. That being the case, I figured they would be teaching me through the teachings of other authors, and if that was their beta, I might as well stop paying them and do it myself. Which is exactly what I did. I remember sitting in a Rhetoric class when my teacher, a stoic woman in her mid-forties, and one who you might discover pretty quickly upon meeting, that her patience with dealing with university students had been tested, quite prominently, over her many years of teaching. She had the same monotone voice you might imagine in a teacher who had completely lost their passion for their work, and no thanks to the students who no doubt made her life into the living hell she so imagined it was. Anyways, she assigned the class a 1000 word essay, to which she received an ensemble groaning from near the entirety of the students. I remember sitting there, flipping my pencil through my fingers, and thinking to myself; “Did I just hit 330K words in my novel last night?” It was at this point I realized that I no longer had a place in the university system, and that if I was going to do something with myself as a writer, it might as well be sooner rather than later. However, taking these things into your own hands is indeed a risk, and one for which I couldn’t quite predict the result. I was free, away from the system and with my life in my own hands. It was invigorating, vitalizing, and, well, hmm . . . Full of questions. After discarding the availability of a teacher, I soon after realized, quite frustratingly, that whenever I had a question concerning something to do with writing, I simply had no one to ask for help. And being who I am, and enjoying the type of fiction that I do, I had taken it upon myself to start studying Tolkien, one of the greatest writers of all time. I read all of Tolkien’s work. And then I read it again. And then again. I remember finishing the Lord of the Rings, and restarting from the beginning in the same day. But I could never get around the difficulty that there were things I did not understand. Questions that I had, and to which, I could find no answers. I had questions, many of them, and no one to go to for help. This was the repercussion of a risk I took, and I had two choices. To stay the path, where the destination was nothing short of uncertain, or to give up, knowing that everything I was doing could be wrong, since I had no “master of the craft”, so to say, to help me along the way. Well, I nearly did give up, until later that evening when I was bussing a table at the restaurant I worked at before I realized, “Fuck this, anything is better than wiping the table of some arrogant pissant who couldn’t be bothered to leave me more than three dollars on a 40$ tab.” Also, it should be noted that I was an absolutely terrible server, bartender, and anything of the sort. So, I had no choice, and I chose to stay the path. I decided it was alright to not know the answers to everything, and that in time, as I grew as a writer, those answers would become clear. And, it just so happens, I was right. Because of the risk I had taken, I was given something I could have never predicted. A unique writing style. You see, when many people are taught from one source, they tend to derive a style from their teaching. But because I had chosen to have no teacher, other than the great authors of the past, I was forced to learn in my own way, struggle after painful struggle, and the result was that I gained something I could have never foreseen. To this day, despite that risk, I would never take back that choice. It has made me into the writer I am today, and to this day, I still have taken no teachers other than the ones whose novels I read. That’s not to say that I often don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. On the contrary, and much to my ego’s sheer disappointment, it happens all the fucking time. In life, there are many different ways to do every little thing imaginable. But I can’t imagine a world in which greatness can be attained without taking risk. Often times, risk leads to failure, but failure does not necessarily mean one has failed. Failure, as I’ve come to learn, is merely the road one walks to the town of Success. So get out there, chase your dreams, and if you have to take a leap of faith, do it with the thoughts of the people who have leapt to the greatest of places, and came out on top.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Well, I am the leader, or in the terms of our company, which we very much consider to be the like of a pirate ship, the Captain. The Captain of a crew of artists whose aim is to write several of the greatest stories ever told. I have the great pleasure of working with immensely talented human beings, who have helped me to grow exponentially over the years, and who continue to allow me to keep growing as we sail on through the seas of uncertainty. We have been working on stories for over a decade now, and have published several novels, novellas, and graphic novels, most notably as a part of a series titled, The Curseborn Saga. I have also worked on novels outside of this franchise, including The Monastery, and The Tale of Caesura, though the latter is still in production. I would say that it no way in hell was any of this easy. I dropped out of school to follow my dreams. Always a great thing to say at the end of a story, but in the meantime, while you’re paddling your little dingy down the river of broken dreams, it can be quite the disheartening experience. I have been rejected by over 200 agents and publishers, and for many years, the problem was mostly because I couldn’t write worth shit. To be honest, writing is a craft that one could hone their entire life, and still have much work left to be done, so expecting to forge a career based on something I had only spent a few years on was, well, pretty much the same as trying to flick a needle through a pinhole twenty feet away. That being said, it has been done, and the one thing all successful people have in common is that they did not give up. If you haven’t given up, you haven’t fully failed, and that is a miraculous thing. Failure, adversity, and challenge is something that seems to bring out the best in mankind, and so I suppose I was betting all my chips on that one beautiful aspect of ourselves. Along the way, I’ve learned that good business is honest business. All that crap you see in the movies about manipulation is utter nonsense. It’s easiest, simplest and truest to never try to be something more than what you are, because eventually the truth will come out. It always does. Funny, how when I started writing and working on this as a career, I feel like my resume was more fluffed up than ever, and as time passed, it seems it has become simpler and less ‘decorative’, as it became more truthful, though my opportunities have only risen as a result. I suppose it was the act of being humbled. Failure tends to do that in all the right ways. I’ve also learned that the intention of something is by far the most important thing. As an artist, my greatest fear is and has always been losing my passion for art, and having it replaced by something with an intent of avarice. The reason I fear this is not particularly because I believe deep down that there is some shadow lurking inside, but rather, because I have seen it happen to others. If something can happen to another, why should I assume that it cannot happen to myself? They say there are three types of people in the world. The ones who learn from their own mistakes, and they are wise. The ones who learn from the mistakes of others, and they are happy. And lastly, the ones who do not learn from either, and they are fools. Well, I have been a fool and that is no place to be. So I aim to learn from both my mistakes and the mistakes of others, and so I treasure my passion more than anything. There is no money in the world that can buy someone passion, and it would be recommended to take note of this. Money is only a temporary solution to suffering, but one’s passion for their work, whether it is dancing, or drawing, or singing, or writing, is a deep well of happiness that be drank from time and time again. It can heal the sick, heal the heart, and bless the mind. It should be guarded, cherished, and never taken for granted.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them to Brick N Bell, a beautiful little coffee shop down the street. Afterwards, I might take them to Coffee Cup, a local restaurant that I have been eating at since I was a kid. When I was growing up, I used to play Pokemon with the owner’s sons, Robbie and Ryan Reef, and still to this day, the food hasn’t changed and is still absolutely amazing. Afterwards, I imagine I might take them down to Horseshoes, a little local surf spot that I’ve liked for awhile, or depending on the tide, perhaps Blacks Beach. I love the cliffs at Blacks, and if you’re paddling out surfing, it’s so nice to be able to look inward from the ocean and not see rows and rows of buildings, but breath-takingly sheer cliffs, rising up from the white sand as if guarding some distant castle. I love to climb, and to be honest, San Diego does have some pretty cool climbing spots, including Mast Boulders out in Santee, or Mission Gorge. Super fun routes for bouldering, and depending on how strong you are at trad or sport-climbing, there’s some fun stuff in Mission Gorge too. To be honest, San Diego is truly a lovely place. I’ve yet to find anywhere better, honestly, and I’ve traveled and lived all around the world. After riding a bicycle across Spain I did find a little place just south of San Sebastian called Zarautz, which is probably the closest beauty I could find to compare, but still, it is no San Diego. We are truly blessed and lucky to be living in such an amazing area of the world.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow, this is really quite the undertaking. There are so many people that deserve thanks, that I fear I could not name them all were I to be given all night and an entire notebook to fill out. But that being said, I will do my best. First and foremost, my mother, grandmother and family, for all of their support over the years. They have always had my back, always encouraged me to go on in the hardest of times, even in those times where one loses faith in oneself. I’ll always appreciate you for this, and will never forget your love. To all my friends, my greatest friends who are as brothers and sisters to me, Mika, Pete, Andrei, Chelsea, Dane, Shane, Marcus, Thomas, Gabe, Fabio. There are so many, many more, and for all kinds of different reasons. There have been those who support me both spiritually and mentally, and to all of you I give my love, and from the deepest place in my heart, my thanks. My wife, Hannah Sol Marie, who has been a light in my life. She has been the lighthouse to which my ship could sail safely in the night. The wind that has carried me through even the most powerful of storms. She is a blessing, and my heart is forever yours. And lastly, my brother. You have been as much a rival as a friend, as much a brother, as an enemy, but only because you have been both sides of the coin, have I been able to learn as much from you as I have. Eternal respect and love, and I can only imagine the things you will do in the world one day.
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Trevor Barber Terry Anderson