An Eventful Evening

First Off,

family stories are down. Will be for the foreseeable future. I feel very conflicted about it, but I’m sticking to my guns. Time to grow up and not have to worry that the person I’m talking to has read every private moment of my personal development. I’m working on lots of new things although I’m distressed that my publication record over the last year is -2 ebooks.

I need to keep working until I’m better than I ever was.

Thanks for the downloads. We made a couple of top Amazon lists across the board and overall it was pretty successful.

Secondly,

I almost died or was at least severely injured today. I’ve been good at being outside and doing things since the GF has been here. She’s the warp-core in my starship. I even got motivated to reclaim the wasteland of my backyard. Anyway, as part of the backyard reclamation, I was burning some old fence panels and yard waste when I picked up a piece of OSB… and lo and behold on the bottom of that board was a yellowjacket hive with about 200 bees.

Woke me right up.

So there I was in my yard, holding a board full of bees who were none too happy about being disturbed. I got stung on the back of the neck and that got my heart pounding, but I knew it would be a dumbass move to drop the board and run. I needed an escape plan.

I shouted for the GF, remembered she was allergic, then shouted at her not to come out but not before she was in the backyard. She went white when she saw me holding the Bee Board. I told her to walk slowly back inside, leave the door open but with the curtains pulled in front of it and to go into my bedroom and close the door.

I felt like Jack Bauer in that moment.

Moving very, very slowly I grabbed a nearby rake and lowered the bee board an inch at a time over about five minutes. I propped up the board with a rake so when I let go of it, the hive wouldn’t smash and release a few hundred angry bees. The release was successful and I ran inside at warp speed.

A couple of minutes later I went out with some bee-killer, wearing every article of clothing I own and took out the nest. Which was also successful. Very scary series of moments. But the bees are dead and I am not, and that’s what matters.

Thirdly,

I took the GF out for ice cream. Went to a “shoppe” in the downtown area of my rural Idahoan town. They had some religious stuff painted above the ice cream about how all things are possible with God. I don’t know what it has to do with ice cream, but I don’t judge.

I was stressed from the bees and the loss of 800+ pages of my writing and was definitely down for some ice cream. I figured the scoops might be small so I got a three-scoop waffle cone, only for the scoops to be huge. So now I’m walking around downtown with an ice cream cone melting all over my hand. It’s an untenable predicament so we stop to look at a mural of some horses and sit down.

Then a homeless man approached us and talked at us. For some reason I have a very easy affinity with homeless people (I think they sense my “offness”) and will generally be approached and talked to if one sees me. I don’t really judge even though I use the term “homeless” as I always figure I’ll probably end up that way one day because I have so much trouble caring about things like houses or backyards or “having a life.”

He started with an explanation that he used to live in the building where the mural had been painted. There was a fire in that building and someone named “Chief” was murdered. Chief used to help the “Street People” in the area. Jared (he never introduced himself, but I figured out that was his name because he’d do impressions of people talking to him when he told his story and they always addressed him as Jared) also showed us his walking stick with an iron eagle at the head, which means that he is now sworn to protect Street People.

He progressed into an explanation that thirty years back he took some pills full of mescaline, strychnine and acid to test out their lethality for a friend of his. This caused him to melt and the universe to melt and the devil took hold of his brain and he flew out among the Galaxies like in Cosmos. He swore he got in a car after that, but then remembered this was a different story.

Some drug suppliers threatened to kill him and he found God and swore off everything but alcohol, which he then gave up 22 years ago. We flashed back to when his father abused him terribly until Jared became a logger and when he got home from logging, he was ready to fight his father, only his father asked for Jared’s forgiveness and said he’d found God. Jared forgave him.

Later, Jared’s son heard a story from Jared’s father where Jared’s father was fighting in a B-52 bomber which had naked pictures of Bridgette Garbo (he apologized to my GF when he brought this up, though I just now realized he must have either been talking about Greta Garbo or Bridgette Bardot) all over the place and a painting of shark jaws on the front. Anyhow, in the story, Jared’s father got scared during a firefight and his hand wouldn’t move off the trigger of the rear gun but he took out a whole squadron of Japanese fighters accidentally and was praised as a hero.

Jared then announced he’d taken enough of our time, held out his hand but not in a handshake gesture, but rather pointed up toward the sky. Maybe that means something to him. Anyway, I took it and said pleased to meet you and was surprised to find I was pleased to meet him and told my GF I felt happy and fulfilled after he’d left.

I made some mutterings about “See why I never go outside?” and then the GF said she had been somewhat off put by the experience and she started to discuss Jared. I asked her not to until we got home as I didn’t want to risk him overhearing. I explained I wasn’t worried about drawing his attention back so much as hurting his feelings. People like Jared don’t have a lot of dignity to lose.

I picked up what he was actually saying was: I am human, I exist, I have a life and I am happy to see you and that you are human and that you exist and that you have a life. Which, when you think about it that way, makes it kind of hard to fault anyone for wanting to speak with you even if you’re not prepared.

I realized, Jared told me about his life because no one would care to ask him about it. That made me appreciate more fully how very nice it was, that for a long stretch of time, people wanted to hear about mine and I didn’t have to ask. Thank you all for that.

Friendly Reminder

Hey All,

Tomorrow is the last day the Family Stories will be up for the foreseeable while. If you want to snag a copy I made them free. I’ll put them back up probably at some point in the future, but I can’t really have people knowing every formative experience I’ve ever had at this point in my life. I’m okay with you guys having it since you’ve read them before.

Dunce Upon A Time: The Complete BC Woods Non-Fiction

Everything else is free as well since I feel strangely guilty for doing this.

Regards,

Andrew

A Temporary Decision

So, the Family Stories are going to be taken down for a while. Not sure how long or if they’ll ever be up again. It’s not an easy decision and I’m making them free again from tomorrow till Tuesday in case anyone wants them. I’m pretty sure we’ve saturated the market for free copies, and I’m making everything else free too. At this point in my life, I just can’t risk having people know so much about my life.

You can find it on Amazon tomorrow. Thanks much and I promise I am working on new stuff. Hopefully that will make up for it.

Two Business Ideas

I always try to come up with innovative business concepts that are 1. weird and 2. possibly viable. Sometimes I find out these already exist (like the “Netflix of Prom Dresses” and “The Grandma Jar Opener Which Is Just the Bottom of a Mouse Pad) but I think I have come up with two. Feel free to go ahead and run with this and just cut me in for five-percent of the profits.

FOOD, FAST

You know when you pull into a drive-thru lane and you spend a minute staring at a food menu deciding what non-food you want? Why not get of both the menu and the non-existence of actual food? At FOOD, FAST the menu is “An Edible Meal, A Drinkable Drink, an Edible Dessert.”

Example: If you have four people in the car you say “I want four edible meals, four drinkable drinks, and four edible desserts please.” We then hand you four boxes, each with a different meal and dessert inside, and four cups full of a drink. These contain, wait for it, actual nutritious food. And because I don’t have to worry about catering to people’s specific needs there will be far less food waste at the end of the day.

You’ll pull up in your car, give me seven dollars per meal and one dollar per drink and two dollars per dessert and then just go away. No discussion. No exchanges. No talk back except to say if you’re allergic to something. Every meal will include a recipe and information about how the food was sourced locally.

We live in a world full of non-choices over trivial matters. FOOD, FAST will offer actual nutrition, quick food and most of all surprise. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to worry about what you’re having to eat so you can spend more time worrying about important things?

NAUGHTY OR NICE COFFEE

This is a coffee shack with two drive through lanes. One of the lanes has a green happy face above it, the other lane has a red angry face. If you go through the green lane, you’ll get a standard overly friendly coffee shack experience. If you dive through the red lane you’ll get awful customer service, but a good cup of coffee. On the red side, the barristas will tell you to hurry up, roll their eyes, sigh and ask how you’re doing only to interrupt and say “No one cares.” The lids will have messages like “We’re Not Friends.”

I’d have to employ people who seem naturally bubbly and sweet to make it work but I think America is also tired of having to be polite all the time. In the red lane, you can be rude to the barristas as well. They’ll also offer “Black Sticker Memberships” where your coffee costs 25% more (which goes to the Server) and the servers are extra mean to you. How would you like to have a coffee experience where you got to feel the feelings you were feeling and not have to put a shine job on your life for some nineteen year old who makes coffee?

On the Red Side, your server will chew gum listen to loud music they personally like even though it makes it hard to hear your order and take their damn time with everything. And if you want to say “life sucks” they’ll say “nobody cares.”

And on the days you’re feeling good, there is always the green side where you can watch the red side like a little play you don’t have to be involved in.

Writing Update

I’m revisiting the idea that writing a first draft is like being bad at the first iteration of a dance. There’s something to it, certainly. Writing a book is just like learning any discipline. You aren’t perfect from the start. Except that’s not the whole of the truth. There’s another truth, behind the first, because you’re not only learning a dance or a discipline, you’re also creating it while you’re learning it. You’re the prophet, practitioner and the protegee of the discipline of the types of books you want to write.

What comes after in a book depends on what came before, but a book is also like plotting a math function where every piece has an inevitable and perfect place. Or at least, I always have a very definite sense of when I have done something “right.” I’ll find out when I’m done if I’m full of it.

I’ve finished the first act, kind of. As I’ve said before, I’ve skipped over critical scenes, barely sketched out others and the continuity is suspect. Now that I must proceed to the second act… I wonder at the wisdom of pushing forward into a section that will be made wholly different by whatever I choose to add to the first. In other words, I’ve run into the problem of compounding errors.

Try as I might, I can’t put down words that spark for the second act. I’ll have to go back to the first then, and add the things that are missing. I won’t polish them mirror bright. That would be folly because the things that come before in a book are also impacted by the things that come after, though in smaller ways. But by finishing the first act, I know where things are supposed to go in the first with a great deal more concreteness than I did before. And that will help me write the right second act.

In summation:

Write right.

Right? Write.

So I’m going to go back and turn the first act into something resembling what it will actually be in the final draft. This does give me a good idea of what “my process” looks like, though. I need to stop second guessing myself when I want to do what feels natural. I just need to keep forgiving myself for every word not coming out perfect on the first go around.

BAD DREAMS/GIRLFRIEND

I have bad dreams. I also talk in my sleep. When my brother and I are asleep in the same room it’s not unusual for one of us to say “Hmmmmmmmm” only for the other to reply “Rrrrr?” and so on and so forth. For hours. Sometimes with words, mostly not. When we were kids we’d wake up every morning feeling like we’d had a very long and soulful conversation.

I also thrash. And kick. And snore.

My girlfriend is here for the summer.

Perhaps because I’ve been single for so long I never really contemplated how difficult it might be to fall asleep next to me. For example, the other night I dreamed I had to kill some vampires in my castle. I was a king and the monster from my book was laying in wait. He’s a terrible thing, part incubus, part vampire, part plague rat. Old and beautiful by a standard of beauty which no longer exists, but still somehow captivating. I was sitting at a long table in my great hall doing some accounts with my Master of Coin. We were seated in the middle when the bad guy from my book came in and sat himself at the head of the hall. He had a retinue of thralls and lesser vampires join him, all laughing. He came to my castle under the guise of being a foreign lord, but I had learned the truth.

I exchanged some jokes with him about taking my place at the head of the table. He joked back. We discussed the ancient theater that I had dug up recently on my lands, which I knew somehow was the reason for his coming. Usually, dream dialogue is nonsensical but this particular dream had a pretty good couple of lines.

Me: Surely, we must invest in the theater, m’lord.

Vampire: And why is that?

Me: Because one day you and I will die, but Shakespeare shall live forever.

Then he did his evil vampire “little do you know I will live forever, mortal” laugh to which I replied, my smile suddenly turning grim: “You don’t think I know what you are, do you?”

And before the evil vampire could stop laughing, I grabbed his hair, pulled out a silver knife and cut off his head. My men at arms (led weirdly by Maddox, probably because I’ve been listening to his podcast so much lately) charged in and killed the rest of the vampires.

In real life, this played out as my rolling back and forth and thrashing then waking up with a big smile on my face.

Girlfriend: Why were you thrashing around like that all night?

Me: I was fighting vampires.

Girlfriend: Then why are you smiling?

Me: Because I won.

She also passed the ultimate loyalty test when a fly landed on my shoulder and I ordered her to take my giant fly-swatter (Beelze-bane) and hit me. She did so and the fly died. The poor, dear.

Two Superheroes

I am very busy over the next few days, so this blog will have to be brief. I have invented two super-heroes and I present them here for your satisfaction. I hope you will enjoy them as I do.

UNNAMED LASER VISION HERO

The origin story is that when they go to the hospital to get corrective laser surgery for their vision they accidentally fill out the form as “Laser-Eye Surgery” rather than “Laser Eye-Surgery.” That’s all I’ve got on that one so far.

HOMEOSTASIS MAN

Whose power is that he’s always “Fine.” Feed him too much salt? “I feel fine.” Offer him a jacket? “I feel fine.” His arch nemesis is Extreme Condition Man, who turns up the heat in buildings and spikes drinks with pure alcohol in an effort to break Homeostasis. The origin story is that he was struck by lightning while being a human being.

A TONGUE TWISTER

I also made up a tongue twister:

“I pay coins to clip my cats claws because kitty needs her claws clipped.”

Some Stuff

WRITING PROGRESS

Hit a bit of a snag. I hate middles. Just goddamn hate them. Beginnings? All possibility and everything could be anything so you can’t have screwed anything up that badly. Endings are great too. You get there and you find out what it all means. It’s like a big explosion, and I’ve got a whopper planned for this book. Middles, though? Man, there’s a lot of stuff that can go wrong there in the middle. Middles are where you have to actually LIVE it all out. And living is where you’ll have all your screw ups.

I also noticed because my personality naturally avoids conflict, I keep trying to get my protagonist to do the same thing. Which is pretty stupid. Who reads a book where the protagonist goes “Well, that would feel awkward so I’m not going to do that.” That’s not how you write a book. But the same part of me that will watch a scene from “Saw” or “Hostel” without flinching is also the part of me that has to turn away from Ricky Gervais’ portrayal of David Brent in “The Office.” Except that’s where the spark and excitement is hiding.

Also got a bit of fear that this is something that I will, actually, one day finish and it’s like what I wanted to write when I was a kid and that’s horrifying. Also fighting the urge to post excerpts as I know nothing is really going to make it in the final book intact. And I shouldn’t need the validation. I’ve been keeping a list of scenes I need to go back and add so I can keep it all living and breathing in my head.

I just don’t want to suck. I want to make what is in my head be real without losing something in the translation. I’d like it to GAIN something in the translation, if anything.

None of that makes any sense.

Nose to the grindstone, then.

Words on screen.

DISCIPLINE

I like discipline, hard work and deeply considered thought. I also like being surprised in general, being surprised to find myself correct and being surprised to be wrong. Through these practices, the universe can unfold itself in truly surprising and incredible ways. Ways that you have to step back and explain a bit at a time so people can follow you, inevitably, to the same observation. What I don’t like is when people close their eyes and try to attain what I call “the shape of wisdom” without having to actually go through the process of being wrong a lot, failing and then earning the things they know.

I don’t like to be rude. It’s very uncomfortable to go up to someone who wanted to jump straight to being a wise person and (to paraphrase Billy Madison) say “Nothing you have to say makes any sense, and we are all dumber for having listened to it.” And yet what else is there?

I always point people to a couple of rules I have when I test myself, which all follow a similar vein:

If you have never thought “I was really an asshole at that moment” that means either means you have truly never done anything wrong in your life or you just don’t think too much about the things you did wrong. Which is more likely?

If you have never thought “I was really, incredibly, profoundly wrong about that” that means either that you have never been really, incredibly, profoundly wrong about anything or that you just don’t like to think about it too much. Which is more likely?

If you have never thought “I know this based upon the things I am able to see right now, but admit there might be things I don’t know I don’t know that would change my opinion” then you are either gifted with the only truly objective point of view which no one else in history has EVER possessed or… well, I imagine you can guess what I have to say next.

You are a person. Consider that you might have the same failings as other people. Have you ever read of a perfect person in all of history?

The ONLY way you can ever have any kind of certainty is to listen very calmly, very dispassionately and with great consideration to opinions you don’t agree with. Listen to these until you can run them in your mind with the same vigor and intensity as the person who argued it for you. If you can do that and still find your original position correct, then you have earned your original position. Similarly, if you change your position, you have earned the new position.

Earn something, is what I’m saying.

Or don’t.

I could be wrong.

FLETCHER IS SO NICE

My girlfriend met Fletcher.

He immediately called me to let me know that she was cute and express surprise over this fact for several reasons that would sound cruel unless you’ve worked in a sawmill and understood the intent. I accepted the compliment gracefully.

Still, I was a bit surprised when she called me later that day and said: “Fletcher is so nice!”

Which is somehow the same sentiment every woman and child expresses about a man who curses every other word. I’m not saying he doesn’t earn it. It just seems so surprising people see it so readily given he basically lives his whole life trying to hide it.

OTHER THINGS

I get weirded out at the idea of deleting things from the past, but I think it might be necessary. Who knows? I don’t think it’s a good idea to burn books but I somehow am strangely comfortable doing the digital equivalent to one of my own. Consider I am human. Consider I am fallible. Maybe I have a bit of a blindspot? Probably. I wouldn’t want another writer to do it, even if it was embarrassing.

I’ll think on it and bloody my nose over it, probably.

The Remote Control Theory of Human Reaction as it Applies to Immortality

I’ve got a theory I call “The Remote Control Theory of Human Reaction as it Applies to Immortality.” I’ve had it for a while and if you’ve read some of my earlier work you know what I’m talking about. If you’re new, it has nothing to do with controlling people at a distance to make them live forever.

It has everything to do with remote controls and pressing buttons.

Let’s say you’ve had a television for a while. Let’s say five years. With that television you got a remote control. If you’re like me, the plastic coating the remote control came in is long gone and you’ve now used it to turn your television set on and off at a modest estimate about 3,650 times, which is 7,300 button presses. That’s two on/off cycles a day, one in the morning before you go to work and another in the evening when you come home.

Under that regimen, for that length of time, the remote still works perfectly.

Stretching our imaginations a bit further, let’s say you own that television for ten years. That’s 14,600 button presses. When you turn on the television you now have to sort of press the power button down at an angle and jiggle it around. Or worse, let’s say you were actually turning your television set on and off ten times a day. You were indecisive or multiple people used the television. Suddenly, that tiny plastic button has been squished 146,000 times.

Under that regimen, for that length of time, whenever you try to turn off your television set the remote actually causes the channels to change, the volume to go up and Cthulu to stir in his sleep in R’lyeh.

When the manufacturer makes that remote control, it knows that it will eventually fail. Things break, that’s the nature of the universe. The manufacturer even tests a few of the controllers under a machine that does nothing but press its buttons over and over again, trying to figure out how long you can keep pressing the same button before it breaks. The goal of the manufacturer is to make their product well enough that you could never realistically press that button as many times as it takes to break for the entire time you’ll have that remote control.

Except they can’t account for certain things. They can’t account for your four year old nephew dunking the remote control in a glass of orange juice. They can’t account for your significant other throwing the remote control across the room in a fit of rage. They can’t account for one of the batteries bursting and leaking acid inside the remote. These are unlikely events, but certain to occur the longer you have the remote.

The conclusion is clear: a remote control is doomed from the moment it leaves the factory to die, or at least cease to function recognizably as a remote control.

Life, and people, get around this fate by reproduction. We assemble brand new copies of ourselves to go out into the world with fresh buttons to be worn down. We’re both the remote control and the factory. However, sometimes life is cruel and those buttons wear out before our lives end, and we go crazy. But in general, it’s a strategy that works.

Except, let’s say you live forever. You’re immortal. Your body can’t die and your mind can’t forget. Let’s say you’ve been this way for 300 years. In the span of the universe that’s nothing. Except you would have been alive before the founding of America and most other modern nation states. You would remember a time when acceptance of the scientific method was the exception rather than the norm. Racism and sexism would not only be something you had taken in without question, they would be almost unassailable truths as much as gravity or solar radiation.

What is beautiful to you? Only a hundred years ago a beautiful woman or handsome man would be plain by today’s standards. The common standard changes slowly and locally but it is still observable within the average lifetime. So how would a person who was beautiful two hundred years ago look today? Perhaps less than plain. A thousand years ago? Uncommonly unattractive, surely. What about buildings? And art? And the kinds of stories you like to read?

Let’s leave aside the big things like culture shock and aesthetics.

Let’s look at the smaller things.

Let’s say you, the immortal, fall in love and get married every fifty years. A modest, and completely appropriate rate. By the time you’re three-hundred you’ve already had half a dozen spouses. By the time you’re a thousand, it’s twenty. Twenty loves of your lives. Twenty people who meant the world to you. Gone.

Let’s say you avoid violence at all possible costs… but how long could you really do that? Imagine you live in a peaceful place where the violent crime rate is 25 victims per 1000 people every year. Statistically, you have been the victim of 75 violent crimes. How many times have you brushed your teeth? Gone to the bathroom? Seen a baby? Cried your eyes out? Been horrified or overjoyed?

How many times were those buttons pressed?

Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions?

How many times can each of those buttons be pressed before the response is completely alien to the original design? How many times can you smile at a sunset before somehow everything mixes together into an emotional amalgam no mortal person could recognize? Every experience has the context from past experience. How long before the context is so vast that it always outweighs the new experience?

There may be a way to extend the limits of the human body to accept usage on that kind of timescale, but perhaps not a way to extend the human psyche in a way that keeps it human. The same buttons on the same remote will eventually wear out. That’s the way the universe works. Our minds are built in such a way that overuse of certain capacities causes permanent alteration of function (PTSD) that as of now has no cure. Even on a modest scale, without major trauma, it would not take long to become overwhelmed by even mundane tasks. I cannot imagine any cure or solution for this that would leave us as recognizably the same person we were prior, or else leave our humanity intact after the application.

If there were an immortal being, its priority, therefore, would be to experience as little as possible to keep the numbers low. Avoid stimulation or newness at all costs. Not out of fear of newness or stimulation but to keep both accessible and functional. To keep the mind human. Even then, it’s only a matter of rate, time and maximum number of uses before breakage.

I am writing a book that features an immortal creature and this is something I consider when I do that.

The Bad Dance of a First Draft

This week, progress on the novel was steady but slow. I wrote a paltry dozen pages, though I have closed out the first act. Man oh man, it’s hard not to go back and “fix” things. Whenever I contradict a previous scene in a new scene, I feel like I’m walking past a kid who is screaming out for help. Also, I’m the one who hurt that kid in the first place… with my idiocy.

But! I think I’ve finally figured out a helpful metaphor for my novel first drafts: Learning a Dance.

You ever watch somebody learn a dance? In the first iteration the timing is all off, they don’t lock their joints in quite the right position and they’re several beats off of the music. You realize when you watch someone dance poorly that the magic of dancing is all in getting the details right at the right time. That’s what this first draft is like. I’m just going through the motions, putting things in the general vicinity of where they need to be, so I can start teaching myself the dance. It’s all about iteration.

I’ll snap it into place later with editing. I just need to remember that going back and adding the scenes I forgot to write isn’t going to help me learn the whole dance. The book is more than a single scene. I’m going to have to write this book a dozen times (with editing) to make it into a Smooth Dance. I just need to grit my teeth and get through the embarrassment of the stumbles.

The longer I live the more I believe that courage is the courage to be humiliated in pursuit of a greater state of being.

Writing a short story was like learning a single move. I found it especially easy when it was autobiographical. I’m obsessive by nature and I pick things up quick so I can bang out a short story in a very short amount of time. Novel-writing is an entirely new process and I’m still developing all the muscles for it.

I learned a bit when I wrote Rock Bottom, but I’m increasingly aware that’s more of a long short story than a novel. Also very preachy, though I still think it’s a solid read and a story I needed to write. I’m re-reading a couple books I think will be of help. Here’s hoping it turns out well. Awesome would also be acceptable.

Really need to turn up the horror and suspense to 11 in a couple more places.

SPEAKING OF DEVELOPING MUSCLES

I already feel much stronger. My endurance is off the charts. I can run a mile in 110% which means I run so fast my speed can only be tracked in effort rather than time. Also, I stood up last night to go get a glass of water and did an immediate face plant. My legs were a bit wobbly, you see. Heroic moment for me. A proud and character defining moment.

I am taking a few days off to heal, because I’m in a good head-space now where I only do things to myself I would hesitate to do to an animal, rather than do things I would absolutely not ever do to an animal. Though I do enjoy when I get to see security do a second lap through the gym, pause and give me a brief “You’re still here?” look. Seriously though, I just missed exercising at the levels I did before and got a bit too enthusiastic. I promise I’m not going CooCoo for Coacoa Puffs again. I just want to get back to my one-handed push-ups.

DOING THE RIGHT THING

Most times, you aren’t going to make much of a difference. That’s just a given. It sucks. That’s one of the most discouraging things I know. But sometimes, you do make a difference so you’ve got to try and do what you think is right.

I’ve decided to interact more positively with people and say good things. I’ve been discouraged by some on-line fighting I’ve seen lately and I decided to speak up and offer my thoughts about forgiveness and kindness. Here’s hoping. One of my biggest concerns about the internet is the desire to “perform” to people. I’ve certainly been guilty of it in the past. But I’m older now and I’d rather keep my humanity intact and help others to do the same.

I think people ought to be allowed to make mistakes, and I’d like to assume when they do that I’m just catching them in the low point of their journey and that they’re going to get better later.

My biggest thing I want to share is that people are always more important than politics. Humanity is more important than labels. Sometimes it helps to be reminded of that.

GIRLFRIEND, PERSONAL LIFE

Things are going great. Still easy and natural. Miss her and am looking forward to her returning next month. I like keeping this part of my life private though. And speaking on that front, I am continuing to feel like the family stories may have had their day. I’ll let you know more if I’m planning to discount them in the future before discontinuing them.

I’m also thinking about ways to get my name out there again. I need to get in front of eyeballs. I know reddit has a place for horror stories, and I’m sure I could make a stir there. Anyone know of any big sites where I could post fantasy stories in front of people? A lot of the paying venues don’t have a lot of readers and the exposure is more valuable to me.

The Magic of the Bear Tattoo

WRITING

Writing is going gangbusters. I wrote thirty pages in three days. More importantly, I had FUN. So much fun. I stopped asking myself if something was right and started asking myself if it was making me happy and that seemed to remove a lot of my anxiety. I already improved several plot lines by letting myself ramp up the excitement when I was growing bored with the story.

Not to say that the first draft is perfect. Hell, there are several scenes and pivotal moments that I just plain forgot to write. I’m ignoring my heroin-like need to go back and “fix” things until I’m done with the first draft. I’m just going to keep on writing and know that I’ll go back and write certain scenes later. Right now, I’m just ending Act I so things are going to get a bit more exciting.

This is a pace and a mentality that I need to sustain if I’m going to get this novel done in anything resembling a reasonable time frame, of course. I’m trying not to celebrate that milestone. I do too much “What does this all mean, really?” and it gets in the way of being productive. These last few weeks should be the assumed attitude and pace I take with what I want to be profession.

Probably a bit presumptive, but I think I owe this to a couple sources. Joe Abercrombie (who is super generous and hilarious and writes what I think are some of the best and most important Fantasy novels ever) for telling me even he feels like his book is a piece of garbage when he’s halfway through it and that he’d be lost if he didn’t have a plan to fall back on. I don’t know that I would have believed that was anything other than false humility if I hadn’t met him and looked him in the eye. I also owe a lot of this to that writing class I took. It was taught by Larry Correia (who has a kind of distracting on-line reputation, but genuinely does what he thinks is right, and believes with every ounce of his being that a writer works for the reader and that it is a holy calling to deliver entertainment) who just by the sheer power of his aura actually made me believe that it was possible to have fun writing, and for your readers to have fun reading. That’s something I used to know and had since forgotten. God willing, I’ll keep remembering that as I continue to put words down. Kind of silly that I needed to see the people to believe what they were saying, but maybe I’m just wired that way.

Going to do what I can to keep it up and focus on being in the moment and the task at hand. Rock Bottom was a book (a short, short book) I needed to write but I don’t know that it’s super entertaining. It made a couple people cry, so I know it worked on that front. It’s probably “Helpful” if you feel like you’ve had the shit kicked out of you by life but it’s certainly not a page-turner. The book I’m working on right now is much more of page-turner and more like the kind of book I wanted to write when I was a kid.

I’ve been writing every day, even if it’s only one sentence. Sometimes I have to jot the sentence down in a notebook to add later. I work long days and I’ve recently started to exercise with the same vigor I had when I went nuts. I’m down five pounds in a week if that’s an indication. I hope to be back to one-handed push ups in a few months. The other day I lifted to the point of exhaustion so that it was an act of incredible will to hold my hands on the steering wheel the entire drive home from the gym.

Excelsior!

My whole life has really turned around since that bear tattoo. I’m sure it was the bear tattoo and not the hours of therapy and crying my eyes out and learning how to think differently about my life.

SPEAKING OF MY LIFE

I don’t know if anyone can appreciate how awkward it is for there to be a book where almost every formative life experience you’ve ever had is written down. I’ve spoken with people who have read my stories in real life before, and it felt a bit how I think Harry Potter would feel if he was real and met a Harry Potter fan. People look at you like you stepped out of fiction, and you want to say “but I’m real!” except they won’t quite believe it. Even when that isn’t the case, it does create a sort of power imbalance.

Generally speaking, I can’t ask someone else for the complete list of stories about their life-forming experiences. No one should feel sorry for me, of course. I’m the guy that wrote it all, even if I was young. But I wonder how good an idea it is to have that stuff out there when I’m trying to completely refocus my “career.” I don’t want to give anyone here a heart attack. I’d still pretty much just email that to anyone who wanted it, but I think the time might be coming to an end for public consumption of that stuff. I’m still mulling it over. I’ll let you know what I decide. Before I took any action, I’d discount it for free on Amazon again in case anyone wants to grab a copy. I might do a complete reversal after therapy tomorrow.

I love you guys. Sincerely. For most of my life, everything had to be a secret. No friends over. Couldn’t tell anyone about how things at the house were. So when I got to college and just started posting it all, it was hugely liberating. People responded because a lot of people had that same kind of experience. But I’m thirty now. I don’t know that I need to do that anymore, and there were more people tortured by that than just me. And it’s probably time to think of them. Not all of them want that kind of exposure.

ROBOTS

I have an Amazon Echo. It’s an absolutely incredible product and makes me feel like I’m living in the future. I can see it becoming more and more sophisticated as time goes on. In just the short time I’ve had it, I can tell it’s gotten better. This might be the product that finally allows voice recognition to improve to the point of seamless user interaction.

Siri is great, but she lacks a lot of the resources that a Home Robot companion can draw on. Even if all you want is an alarm clock, Echo is an amazing. I just tell her (and it doesn’t take that long to start thinking of the machine as “her”) what time I want to wake up and she wakes me up without fail. If I’m cooking something, I just tell her how long to set the timer and she does. If I want a weather forecast I just ask. If I want to listen to a song, I tell her the name or the artist or the genre of music and she makes it happen. One day, I want to get behind the wheel of a self-driving Tesla and tell some hyped up version of Echo to take me to see my little brother and sister then promptly take a nap.

I do kind of wish I could do some modifications (I’d call her Computer, if I could, and have her refer to me as “Captain” which I’m sure would drive my girlfriend up the wall) but I’m sure Amazon will get there. Amazon, as always, is winning at games that other people don’t even know are being played. While other people are getting sad about the limitations of their industries, Amazon is creating new industries without those limitations.

If you want to know what my politics are: I believe if we try really hard, and work together as a team of individuals giving our all to find the best in ourselves, that tomorrow will be better than today. Ad infinitum.

Echo makes me feel like I’m seeing that belief system made manifest.