It’s Been A While

Oh, indeed it has. I struggled with my writing for a good month. Distractions at work and in myself left me disinclined to write. I played at changing projects. But I have three years and 5+ books invested in this one. And the time to switch isn’t right after you’ve started the last book. Every time I’d start toying with something else, the run-in for this kept dancing in my head. “But I don’t want to write this now.”

“Too Bad,” came the driver in me, who does 90% of my writing. Ironically enough, it took playing around with my primary distraction, Football Manager, and writing about that in my other blog, to get me at it again. And the response it received encouraged me that yeah, I can do this writer thing when I apply myself.

So this morning, I dusted off my notes, picked up where I left off, and rattled off 3000 words like I had been doing it yesterday. Then I wrote another 1200 on the other blog for good measure. And honestly, I think it helps to have the other outlet. That all I do isn’t invested in my Magic-infested Punic Wars gone mad monstrosity. But more, going over it again yesterday made me realize, it’s goodish. Hard in places, because epic fantasy goes places shorter, more episodic prose can’t. Unless it’s Grimdark, then that’s all it knows. But there’s hope, love, honor, and faith to be seen in it too. And unlike certain HBO promoted series that never get finished, I might actually reward my characters for that from time to time. 😛

Ideas have never been a problem for me. It’s always the doubt monster, telling me that what I’m currently working on is carp. That’s why I was always pretty serious about the 2000X5 rule. If I churned out 10,000 words a week, chances were good I could get too far into a book before the Doubt Monster could get at me.

So to keep myself accountable, I’m getting this blog moving again too. Even if it’s just status updates. If you don’t see anything here for a week, drop me a line and tell me to get writing. 😛 If you do, and it says I’m doubting, then kick my butt some more. If things are going well, you don’t have to say anything. 😉

But for now, hashtag me #amwriting.

Why So Apocalyptic?

Ace of Spades has an interesting discussion on it here: Blame it on Obama!

Now that I have the DHS’ attention, (Which would not be the 1st time with one of my blogs. (*cough I dared mention Tea Party positively. Guess who visited the next day? cough*) let me explain: Hollywood follows the angst of the age. This ought to be axiomatic. Patriotic war films played on the fears of the enemy. Then the revisionist ones turned on our own fears of how our military was misused (Platoon, BlackHawk Down.) Westerns did the same with antiheroes becoming the “We’ll take ours” replacements for the libertarian heroes of another age. And John Wayne himself played on both sides of that divide. As Davey Crockett in the Alamo, and the first, and perhaps greatest of Western anti-heroes Ethan Edwards of The Searchers.

The 70s saw a spate of disaster movies that played on fears of corrupt government, running out of energy, 3 Mile Island to infinity, and so on. And then came Hollywood’s claim that the 80s were all about Greed. Funny, I was a teenager then. I don’t remember it the way Gordon Gecko claimed it. I would say it was the last time you were allowed to feel good about being American. Lots of people now talk about how ‘inevitable’ the fall of the USSR was. But they don’t seem to remember how Academia at the time was certain the Soviets would triumph. Red Dawn anyone?

Now, to the extent that Hollywood can be honest, they’re looking at the nihilism of our age. The disgust at the lack of progress we were promised. The difference between the world we imagined and the world that is. And the era of apocalypse is here. Zombies, “climate,” the Sweet Meteor of Death. We’ve always had some interest in the grinning mask of the Four Horsemen. It’s why the one book of the Bible anyone will stop to listen to interpretation of is Revelation. Why the core of communism is a reinterpretation of Amillenial Christian Eschatology in atheistic trapping. They admit this much. But they won’t touch the why. Because the why gets too close to the truth of the last decade: Big Government hasn’t delivered. It hasn’t overthrown Big Corporations, because they’re the ones who buy the seats at the table. It hasn’t helped the little guy. They’re still just as poor. Real wages have stagnated, so it’s not helping the middle class either. And there’s just not enough justice in Social Justice to justify the triumphalism. Not enough progress in progressivism. It’s been a decade as the hamster on the mill, and things just seem to be slowing down. Even the steampunk I love hints at this. The future we dreamed of isn’t the future we have. We recast it as Jules Verne and HG Wells’ future. But it’s the same fact: We went off track. The golden future was gilded.

The good news is: We aren’t finished yet. As long as we’re alive, there’s time to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and right the ship. But first, we need to be willing to say, “We can do for ourselves. Thank you very much,” to our so-called betters who would like to do everything for us. We are not pets. We are people.

Time is a Gypsy Caravan

Steals away in the night. To leave you stranded in dreamland. Distance is a long range filter. Memory a flickering light left behind in the heartland.–

Thus spake the Professor. Neil Peart, aka the Jimi Hendrix of Drums. And I’m feeling those words this week. The nature of life is that the things we value rarely are allowed to leave us in the manner we wish. Happy endings are for stories and dreams. Life can only give us good chapters. If we do not sully memories ourselves, human nature ensures small, petty people will do the same. All we can do is turn back from the bitter end and look to the parts that warm our heart. And hope that those things are enough.

So I give you the greatest Power Trio of all time, Rush:

Pain Is a Message

We go through lives seeking the path of least resistance. This is not unique to humanity, electricity, water, and herds do the same thing. Much of the time there is nothing wrong with this. If the familiar fields are green, the herd eats and waters well. But for the lemming, that comfortable journey has a less than pleasant ending. Safe is ultimately an illusion in this world. No matter how much we insulate ourselves, helicopter parent our kids, or GPS our lives, there is pain.

And that is not always a bad thing. Pain isn’t death. Pain is a message we’re stretching our limits. Pushing at boundaries we haven’t crossed before. Now if we incur pain through acts of stupidity, then it may rapidly be accompanied by actual injury. But the life lived on the couch avoiding pain and contact with the world is wasted.

Nothing worth having is easy. Nothing worth doing comes without risk. Growth does not come without pain. Without stretching our muscles to build them up. Our hearts to cut away what holds us back and make room for something new. Our beliefs to adjust them to the world that is and adapt to new experiences. I doubt there is anything profound in this, except that we have inured ourselves to that message. Inoculated ourselves against pain, and in doing so, stunted our growth.

No life worth living comes without pain.