The End

So, plot twist: As of today, I will no longer be regularly updating Myths Retold. I’ll still post periodically, but the posts will probably look more like this than like this. I’ve re-geared my Patreon to support my other creative writing projects (including Face a Week, which I’m very excited about) so check that out if you want stories, novel chapters, and swears on tap. I put all this info at the top of the post so that if it really pisses you off, you can skip straight to fucking off without having to read the rest. If you want to know why I’m ending this project, though, let me do the thing I know how to do: let me tell you a story… 

A little over six years ago I was sitting in my Berkeley apartment, possibly a little drunk, ranting over chat – in a style that would soon become standardized – about the backstory of the oracle Tiresias. That story reminded me of the story of Oedipus, which reminded me of another story, and finally the friend I was talking to recommended – probably more out of a desire to shut me up than anything else – that I start a blog. I threw together a Blogger site in a matter of minutes, copy and pasted our chatlog into it, and named it “Myths RETOLD” (but with the url “bettermyths”, for reasons I still don’t understand.)

myths-banner900.png Over the next couple of weeks I updated the site obsessively, pouring in all the stories I’d been brought up on, most of which were Greek and Roman. I showed it to my friends because I thought it was pretty funny, and because I’ve always wanted people to tell me my work is good. One friend told me the blog had serious commercial potential – all I had to do was pick a regular update schedule and stick to it.

So I started updating three times a week, at regular intervals. I started doing videos, and taking requests in exchange for donations. People asked me what I would do when I ran out of myths to retell, and I laughed and pointed out how many myths there are in the world. I kept my update schedule going as I drove across the country, one time even recording a video in the car during a long-haul drive to New York City. By the time I got back to LA, 2011 was just beginning and I was already tired. It turned out that the limiting factor wasn’t the number of myths in the world, but the energy I had for the project.

Then, in February, Neil Gaiman casually made me famous. He’d somehow gotten wind that I’d retold a myth he made up for American Gods, and his one tweet about it got me about seventy thousand hits in a day. My website was suddenly flooded with people saying they loved my work, that they wanted to see more of it, that they wanted to give me money for it. I started selling shirts, which I made myself with a stencil and spraypaint, then moved to having them screenprinted. I migrated the site to my own server, and a cool-as-heck vampire volunteered to redesign it so it didn’t look like garbage. The Huffington Post linked to my site, back when people gave a shit about The Huffington Post, and pretty soon I had an email from Perigee Books asking if I wanted to be a published author.

Zeus_Grants_Stupid_Wishes I’ve wanted to be a published author pretty much since I was born. Of course I said yes. And of course I kept updating my site while I worked on the book. I was useless to Perigee without my “platform,” after all.

In Fall of 2011 I moved to Chicago for grad school, and as I studied creative writing at SAIC, I tried not to spread it around that I was paying most of my tuition with an advance for a coffee table book of myths. I struggled to balance the writing and editing process for the book with my grad school responsibilities, and was mostly successful. But I was tired. More tired than I’d been when I got back from New York. More tired than I’d ever been. I talked to my advisors about wanting to quit, but knew I couldn’t – at least not until the book was out.

At the same time, my writing style was starting to change. I was getting feedback from my editors and my readers about the subtle insensitivity and imprecision of my work. I started to pare down the “fucks,” and did away with words like “pussy,” “pansy,” and “retard” altogether. More importantly, I was changing as a person. I wasn’t fresh out of college anymore. I was seriously studying what I hoped would be my lifelong career, adjusting to a life across the country from my family, figuring out all the tricky bits of “buying a week’s worth of groceries” and “having an identity”.

I started updating twice a week instead of three times a week. Summer came, and I took more than a month off to go live on a farm in Northern California. I worked on a novel. It was nice. I didn’t miss the site. But I knew I was going to have to start updating again when I came home. The book wasn’t coming out until March of 2013. When the book did come out, it only made my website more important. My own reputation was the only real marketing the book had, and the (at least perceived) responsibility for its lackluster success fell mostly on my shoulders. I’d long ago run out of myths I knew from my childhood, and was mostly reading myths on the day I was supposed to be re-telling them. On good days I’d spend several hours reading an actual ancient text before distilling it. On bad days I’d just read Wikipedia. I noticed that people didn’t respond nearly as well to myths they didn’t already know (which, generally, meant anything that wasn’t Greek, Norse, Shakespeare, or a Fairytale.) I tried to balance this with a desire to represent other cultures, which I in turn had to balance with my lack of a comprehensive knowledge base in many other cultures.

I finished grad school. I worked in a restaurant. I started updating once a week. I was told that my book hadn’t sold well enough to merit a sequel. I took a class to become a certified EMT. Then, on my birthday, someone on tumblr posted a screenshot of my table of contents, and suddenly my book was outselling Hero with a Thousand Faces on Amazon. I made back my advance almost overnight, and suddenly my publisher did want another book.

SUCK MY NUTS JOSEPH CAMPBELLLLL So, of course, I wrote another one. And, of course, I kept the site running while I wrote it. I put more effort into researching the second book, making sure I had good sources for my stories and trying to weave a coherent philosophical thread through the goofy myths. I didn’t want to just do boner jokes and say fuck anymore. I wanted to write something meaningful. But that wasn’t the project, really.

While I was working on the book I met Philosophy Bro, who introduced me to a whole bunch of other amazing creative people tangentially associated with Cards Against Humanity. It was Philosophy Bro, aka Tommy Maranges, who introduced me to the concept of a “forever project,” and how it’s sort of anathema to creativity. He was stuck in sort of the same boat that I was – we’d started our sites around the same time, and now we were keeping them online while we wrote books based on them.

george washington big

Now my second book (which I think is better than the first, despite not being as popular) has been out for more than a year. Tommy’s book is out too (you can buy it here) and he’s already moved on to bigger and better things. But I haven’t. I’ve become dependent on this project. Dependent on the money it’s brought in, yeah, but mostly dependent on the notoriety. Every week, strangers visit my website and tell me I’m good. That’s hard to give up. But I need to give it up. Because, truth be told, I’ve wanted to give it up for almost five years.

Maybe this sounds like whining. This website, and the people who read it, have given me a lot. I’ve learned an incredible amount – about mythology, about humor, about writing, and about social justice. I’ve been able to kind of support myself as a writer. I’ve experienced the professional editing process, I’ve sold stuff through the internet, I’ve marketed two books. Hell, I have two published books, with an imprint of fucking Penguin, which is a thing kid-me would be going fucking bananas over. I’m not trying to discount all the good things that have come from the drunken decision to post a bunch of myths to Blogger six years ago. But it has been six years. And I’ve written more than six hundred of these. Hell, I started this site before I could legally drink, and I’ve been running it so long that I am now tired of drinking. I want to do something else with my time now.

So I’m going to. I’m going to write novels and design games and catalog swears and record raps and invent faces. I know I won’t have trouble filling my time. I also know that I’m not the only “content creator” who’s struggled with this dilemma. There’s so many of us, all exhausted, all trying to keep up with the internet’s short attention span by constantly reaffirming our presence. But all good things must come to an end, as they say. And I’ll add to that: Anything that doesn’t end isn’t good. So I’m ending this good thing, knowing full well that it may cost me the attention, the respect, and the reassurance of the people I have entertained over the years. But I will make another thing, and hopefully people will like it, and when that thing ends I will make another thing, and another, and another.

Thank you for six incredible years. I hope you’ll follow me to the next thing.

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63 thoughts on “The End

  1. Better Myths has been responsible for many, many hours of lost productivity at work, and I don’t regret a single one of them. When I need to kill some time, I like to click the “random” link and read the resulting myth out loud to myself, pausing frequently to giggle like an idiot. My Norse Crisis Flowchart T-shirt still remains one of my favorite T-shirts, and I have used it to direct more than a few friends and co-workers to this site as well.

    So, while I’m sad to hear that you’ll be ending this project, I have nothing but respect for you and your decision. Thank you for the hours and hours of amusement, not to mention the extremely well-phrased lessons in your more “serious” posts. I wish you all the best, all the luck, all the success, and all the fun in your future endeavors!

    May the gods smile upon you. Except for Zeus. Fuck that guy. Wait, no, don’t. That’s exactly what he wants.

    -Alice
    <3

  2. Mate, I don’t know what to say. Like it seems a wee bit absurd to lionise some geezer who writes myths incoherently on the internet, but I’ll be a filthy liar if I said that reading the stuff you put out doesn’t make me as happy as can be. So yeah, on the offset it seems pretty sad that this glorious clusterfuck is coming to an end. But still, I’m so bloody glad that you’re moving on to bigger and hopefully better things, because that’s what you want to do. Let it be known that I’ll totally pay more money for the stuff you put out, and I’m totally gonna cash in that ‘swear of the month’ option you’ve got going on on Patreon. So go forth, write some cool shit, and I wish you luck in all your future endeavours, you fucking magnificent creature.

  3. Knock yourself out man – this feels a bit like when people move on from the workplace, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Mythsretold has been a friendly face around the internet for ages, that guy you’re always relieved to be stuck in the kitchen with instead of Sandy from Marketing. I’m sure we’ll see you around in the next thing.

  4. My heartfelt thanks to you for your work ethic, your incredible sense of humor and all that you’ve created – I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

    Good luck!

  5. It will be sad to see you go, your myths and books have been a large part of cheering me up on bad days and never failed to pull me out of a funk or make me laugh. But there always comes a time to let go and begin anew somewhere else on something else. I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors and I will eagerly await the opportunity to throw more money at your new stuff, whatever it may be.

  6. I couldn’t tell you for the life of me how I first stumbled across your wonderful site, but I can tell you for damn sure that I loved every single story I read here. This blog has brought me so much joy, and I literally can’t believe how sad I am to see it end. But if you’ve managed to put this much love and effort into something that you didn’t even want to do anymore, then I can’t wait to see how your dream projects turn out. So I’ll take comfort in that, start backing you on Patreon, and look forward to your next thing, and the things after that. But all that, as they say, is a story for another time.

  7. Your writing on this site has made me ridiculously happy, but I can understand why you need to end this phase. “Anything the doesn’t end isn’t good.” Very true, at least for creative endeavors. I hope all goes well with your new projects.

  8. I have loved your work from the first time I saw it (so many moons ago) and I’ll admit I’ve been less present following since there haven’t been too many good Norse myths lately. But I check back time and again, and often send people your way. As a reader I’m sad to see you go.

    But as a writer myself, trying desperately to carve out my own corner of the literary universe….. Fly, sir. Live the dream so many can’t. I may miss your updates here, but we’ll always have Loki’s nuts tied to a goat. <3

    You'll be amazing, wherever your words take you.

  9. Thanks for the laughs, introducing me to myths I’d never heard before & making me think about ones I had. Best of luck on your future endeavors.

  10. Let me be another one to thank you for all the awesomeness.

    I will continue to drop by from time to time whenever I need a reminder on the absurdity of All This, and your RSS feed will be moved to the honorable category of “rare updates” in my reader.

    Well done!

  11. And to think I was reading this back when you used to walk around shoeless! All the best to you, good buddy. Ending things takes courage. You brought a lot of people a lot of joy, and I hope your next project makes you happy too.

  12. Aw, dang. Doctor McNinja, The Toast, and now this, all ending at once. The Internet sure is a funny thing where just a tweet or a tumblr screenshot can flip everything on its head.

    There will never be anything else quite like this again. I guess I should go back and watch those videos sometime. I’m sure they took a lot of effort and I wish they had gotten more views, but I must admit I prefer arbitrary line breaks and randomly capitalized words. (Perhaps you’d consider getting someone to transcribe them?) And I really ought to look at the Patreon content too.

  13. Only discovered this site 3 weeks ago and have already tore through the first 2 years of Myths while not doing my job in work!

    Gonna be sad when I finally reach this post legitimately but Ill have to check out your paetron site by then.

    Good luck!

  14. Wow. I still remember when I fist found this, how your retellings got me interested in mythology again, so I took classics in high school and ended up touring Europe because of it. I can very clearly track how your blog changed my life. There was a period of time where I was suicidal, and on one particularly awful day you updated this blog and saved my life. I’m so thankful for the writings that you’ve given us, and for what you’ve unintentionally done for me.

    So thank you, so much. I hope that your future projects go well, just as much as I hope you will continue to be your amazing self.

    <3

    • As someone who has also struggled with thoughts of suicide, your story means so incredibly much to me. It’s not often as a writer that one gets any concrete proof that writing has any real positive effect on the world. I am deeply happy that I was able to help, and grateful to you for telling me this.

  15. Dude, this almost made me tear up. I’m sad to see this site fade away, but like you’ve said all good things must come to an end.

  16. May my tears speak for me, for I am at a loss of words. Okay no not really but I am quite sad. I’ll still be able to enjoy your previous works, and that is wonderful, and while I’m saddened beyond comprehension (okay so maybe I’m being overdramatic, but still it feels like it), I am convinced that whatever you make later on will be just as epic as what came before. Thank you for making my day time after time.
    Best of luck and fortune aplenty,
    A (yours truly) random asshole from the internet.

    • You’re not a random asshole. I recognize your name. your suggestions are probably responsible for around 1% of the posts on this site, which is a fair figure considering how many posts there are.

      • Really? Lot more than I figured. Well I guess I have something to brag about. Speaking of which, I’ma use this opportunity to brag that my little pet project of translating your stuff into Hebrew has reached its 300th-post mark (even though it’s a rather small percentage and still nothing is posted into the public view and I’m not sure you or anybody else cares much but what’s stopping me from telling you anyway?).

  17. Thanks for the years of entertainment, good luck in whatever you do next. I’ll look forward to seeing what it is.

  18. Thank you so much for all the fun– and knowledge– you’ve shared here (I’m still pumped that you did a Robin Hood ballad I recommended a few years back– thanks for that, too!!), and wishing you so much luck with your future projects. I’ll definitely be on board for whatever’s next!

  19. “I’ve learned a lot… about social justice”

    Sounds to me like you got indoctrinated like so many others while doing a humanities course at a Chicago university. Just SJWs ruining another nice thing, it seems.

    Go enjoy being an activist for things based entirely on faulty and incorrect data.

    • Addendum: I honestly noticed that you had taken a turn toward social justice a while back. The last 40 or so of your myths have had subtle nods towards their rhetoric. Saying whiteness is bad, christianity is a white thing… things like that. Things which are entirely subjective dislike without any basis in fact.

      I even took a break of a couple months from your blog after noticing that.

      Honestly, why man? You’re an intelligent person. You know how to look up data, check facts, do research. Why fall for the ideological propaganda of SJWs, which is nothing but subjective, opinion based fear & hate mongering?

  20. I am going to miss the hell out of your myths. I hope you keep the site up for a while so I can catch up on some of the back issues. But, all the best to you in your future endeavors. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

  21. Hey man, sad to see the myths stop but I’m so proud and happy for you that you got to do this, and that you found your next thing! I’m looking forward to seeing it, whatever it becomes. In honor of your next big thing, and to say goodbye to THE MYTH TRAIN, here is my saved list of favorite quotes from your myths:
    – and Percival is thinking THERE ARE SO MANY FUCKS THAT I WANT TO KNOW THE WHATS OF
    – a fuckton of witches
    – I HEARD YOU ARE SOME KIND OF BARBARIAN WITCH ROBOT DINOSAUR
    – I WOULD BE AS VIRTUOUS AS A SACK FULL OF POPES
    – you solved your problem with the first wish
    the second wish could have been for anything
    a sex robot
    a gun that shoots out parties
    the moon, but with a cock
    ANYTHING
    – AND FAX MACHINES ARE A WAYYYY INEFFICIENT WAY TO RUN AN EMPIRE
    – is there a secret grove somewhere
    just full of fuckyou trees?
    – Here’s what you should know about Bereg’s magic sword:
    it’s called Anglachel
    it’s made of black iron from a fallen star
    forged by a dark elf who hates everybody

    Love, THE FUCKING BUN 🙂

  22. Thanks for all the hilarious stories and videos. Your patreon says you’re working on SciFi novels–I’ll keep an eye out for them. Best of luck, and thanks again!

  23. You’ll have a hundred wellwishers before things are done, this is for sure! I was in high school way back when I found my way to your happy corner. I’m reasonably sure I once offered you a Canadian threesome (the offer stands). But I know what you mean. Looking out the ass end of college, I wish I could say I was moving onto something more.

    So you get the hell out there, work on that book, and fly. And if you’re ever stuck for a story, Anansi is probably still up on your ceiling, hiding from death. The little fuck owes you for the bump in his street cred.

    Good luck!

  24. Your videos on Candide helped me have good grades when I forgot to read the book and had a quizz on it the next day. I learned more about mythology and obscure (at least to my white culture) myths on this website than in any classes. I go on bettermyths to cheer myself up when I’m down.
    Basically, man, you’re good, and yeah, I will still try to read every one of these myths (there are a lot but I have also a lot of time I could use to do productive things but don’t), but I’m also gonna follow you everywhere. If this project, one you were tired of for a long time, is that awesome, how cool will the others be, right ?

  25. I found your site relatively recently, and from the first post I read, I was hooked. You have an amazing talent for making anything at all enjoyable, the way we all wish we could. I read your posts to people when I want to point out the idiocy of immortals.
    As a fellow writer, however, I am so happy for you. I’m overjoyed to hear that you are moving on and moving up. You should always strive for more and, even though you could stay where you are, you are making the brave choice and moving forward. I will use you as a role model, and remember your words. “Anything that doesn’t end, isn’t good”. They will stick with me.
    Good luck. Thank you so much for the things you have created, and best of luck to you in the future, I look forward to seeing you go far.

  26. Best of luck to you, and thank you for some truly remarkable retellings. I shall always treasure your retelling of the Kalevala set to the meter. (“You know what? Fuck this meter.”) And yes, elves are truly high school.

  27. Thank you for all the myths you’ve posted. I was one of those who discovered your work through your first book’s contents, and I’m so glad I did. It was your website and your book that reaffirmed my interests in mythology.

    Best of luck for all your future projects. I would be lying if I’m not a little sad that you’re stopping, but I’m glad that you are – if there are better things you want to do, then you have my whole support. I will keep an eye and an ear out for your future projects.

  28. I’ve loved your work, and my children love your books. My eldest took “Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes” to college with her. It’s been a great run—you’ve accomplished a wonderful bit of magic here, but when it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on. Go do the next thing with a happy heart! We’ll be cheering you on.

  29. Fly! Be free! Explore life! But come back and visit us sometime ok? I’m gonna miss your stylish myth retelling. You wouldn’t believe how happy I am that you’re back to writing faces! It’s good to know you’ll still be around.

  30. I love your books, and I love this site, and I have never properly told you what your project here has meant to me over the years, but it’s a LOT, I promise. I’m so sad there isn’t going to be more, but I totally get it, too. I will absolutely follow you on to the next thing, if you’ll just leave a breadcrumb trail. But this site won’t go away, will it? I have still not read it all, depending mostly on the Myth Chosen by Fate! button to decide what I’ll read when I visit. I never devoured it all because on dark days, I loved that there would always be something new to find that I hadn’t already read. So this’ll all still be here…right?

    Seriously, though, sir…thanks for all of it, and I can’t wait to see what you do next.

    • Oh no, the site’s not going away! I’m not an asshole! I mean, I’m not constantly an asshole! I mean, I’m not an asshole about this one specific thing!

  31. Hey man I am so happy for you and how your life turned out. I haven’t been a regular reader but have a fondness for that one time I got to do a guest post and swear bunches. Yay for being a writer. Yay for letting go of forever projects.

  32. Man I’ve been reading this site for years, and I recommended it to other people just a month ago. But yeah, a point in times comes when it’s time to let go of just about anything…. and it may be time for this one….
    Please please please plug your new projects on here so we can find them

  33. man i’m so happy and excited for you. i’ve loved your stuff forever and i know you’re gonna do even more, even greater things!! you’re an inspiration

  34. Aw, man. You’ve never failed to make me laugh every time I’ve been here. Shame that you gotta end something so great, but I understand that you need to move on to bigger and better things. Thanks for the memories, bro. Godspeed.

  35. Oh man. I check in once every few weeks to have a little marathon of new myths you’ve uploaded while I was gone, and being greeted by this post made me so sad. There have been many nights where I couldn’t sleep, so instead I stayed up to read your myths until 3 AM. But I get that you’re done with this and I will follow you to your next thing. I’ll be sure to pick up one of your books or return to this website whenever I need to be cheered up. Good luck with all your future projects. You deserve to feel happy about what you’re doing with your life.

  36. Thanks so much for these past few years of entertainment. I’ve had your page bookmarked for about as long as I’ve owned a laptop! I’ll definitely still be coming back to read and reread all the myths you’ve already posted. Good luck in the future!

  37. I actually do remember how I found the site! I was linked to the Arthurian section from a conversation about how Lancelot was a bad loser (that is, really really bad at losing to anyone even when trying his hardest not to win). That was, holy balls, 5 years ago, and I’ve been following silently ever since.

    I still link to the 12 days of Christmas myth on facebook every year.

    Sad to see this amazing project go, happy to know you’ll be spending your time doing things you want to do. Thank you for your knowledge, your perspective, and your time.

  38. 600 myths is more than enough to keep most of us entertained hitting the ‘random myth’ button indefinitely, especially since re-reading one I’ve already read continues to be plenty rewarding!

    This is so fair, and the project’s provided a number of really great things, and your reflections on learning about cultures and social justice and stuff are some of those great things. Best of luck on the next ones!

  39. It’s sad to hear but I don’t think anyone can fault that decision, from the start I thought it was crazy how often you put content out, and not small content but huge posts every time. Enough that I haven’t been able to keep up and go through small bursts at a time and still feel like I’m miles behind. There was always going to be a limit, either the number of myths or the number of myths you can fit inside your head without it exploding.

    I think you’ve far surpassed the limit anyone else would’ve had, and that’s work that won’t go unappreciated

  40. Hey sorry I’m late to comment, but I didn’t want to miss a chance to say thanks. I might not be checking in as often as I used to but your content was still just as engaging. I loved hearing and learning about myths from other cultures from your perspectives. Thanks for all the work you put in and I hope a fresh start does you good.

  41. I can’t believe I’m tearing up over this shit. I was sad as fuck already and I figured I’d revisit bettermyths to catch up in the months I missed and maybe slip into a better mood. Of course that didn’t work, but either way, god fucking speed, I know how tough the creative struggle is.

    I know you might never read this but I just want to say thank you for everything.

  42. Aw, man! I was comin here to say “yo, people be reposting your Norse Crisis Flowchart thing without attribution”, and here I am faced with this news?

    Glad to hear that you’re moving on for reasons of strength, though, and not some “OH GOD THIS IS TOO MUCH PRESSURE” thing, or some horrible family crisis not involving giants.

  43. It’s been so long since I checked this site. I’m shocked to see it’s over, but congratulations on moving on. I “found” this site probably 4 years ago when I came home from class one day and my brother had left it open on my computer because he knew I’d enjoy it. I didn’t follow it continuously, but I have checked back once in awhile. I loved your retelling of Norse Myths, but I think my favorite was Molly Whopee or whatever. It was basically a more badass Jack And The Beanstock with a strong female lead and I loved it. I’d never have heard of it without you which would have been a real shame.

  44. I, as one of said strangers who happened to find your myths today, would like to add my voice to the din and affirm that these retold stories are fucking brilliant and I wish you luck with the future. xx

  45. I can’t believe I’m tearing up over this shit. I was sad as fuck already and I figured I’d revisit bettermyths to catch up in the months I missed and maybe slip into a better mood.

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