Unintended Consequences

*I’ve had this post simmering in my save file for a while.  I haven’t run with it because, well, I’ve had other stuff to write/talk about.  I’m putting it up now because I’m behind on posting…and because the three other pieces I have simmering are not ready yet.  Then again, the complexities of having the right post ready to go at the right time fit right in with the title & theme of what I wrote a few weeks ago!*

Okay, so yeah, just like the title says…

Unintended consequences.

They’re pretty much the most powerful force in the universe, when you get right down to it.  They come from every walk, part and aspect of life.  They come from everywhere: those that come from personal choices, and those that come from others…

Those that come with a change in business direction….

Those that come with the passage of a new law…

Those that come any — every! — decision, as a matter of fact.

What got me to thinking about this topic are the unintended consequences of, well, the choices you make…the personal choices.  Well, the choices I make, anyway.

Some are funny and entertaining, and some are…not.

“Wait, you write for a living?  Can you help me find the perfect word for this note I’m writing?”

My vocabulary got almost infinitely better when I started really writing not because I needed to be a walking thesaurus, but because people kept thinking I actually was one.  Who the hell knew there was a difference between a dirge and a threnody?  I sure didn’t, until someone started asking me questions that led there…

“What would happen if I severed someone’s hamstrings, then just left him there?”

Oh, the questions you can ask.  Oh, good Lord, the questions you can ask!  All in the name of “research” of course.  And, yeah, I once asked a doctor I know the medical equivalent of asking a writer about words…  In this particular case, I asked my friend — *cough* just recently *cough* — how someone could survive disembowelment when out in the wilds, with no supplies, training or assistance.  “Is there something we should talk about?” he asked back.  No, no, Doc, of course not.  Nothing wrong here.  I’m not creepy, I’m a writer…!

And you know what?  He answered the freaking question!

B265CDCD-AF15-4CCC-AE18-3715A684E591Crap, I could walk into the local sheriff’s office and ask the best way to kidnap the richest person in town.  Not that I would, mind you.  Ask, I mean.  Not that I would ask…or do it.  No, really, no sir.  Dammit Jim, I’m a writer not a kidnapper!

Of course, one of the other unintended consequences is that people think I have it made.  “Wait, you’re a writer?  That’s so cool.  What’s it like to not have to work?”

How the hell would I know?  I’m broke, and I work my ass off.  Occasionally, I even find the time to write, too…

Harrumph.

Consequences, of course, are not all funny…

I went hiking off-trail a little while back.  Nothing new with that, nothing unusual.  It was snowy and icy, but that ain’t unusual, either.  I decided to climb down some rocks, to get to the river.  The climb was the decision, then came the consequences…  What I thought — what I hoped — was a sprained ankle, something minor just to make my foot feel like shit, turned out to be yet another (*sigh*) hairline fracture of one of my poor abused metatarsals…

Yet another letter from an editor.  Yet another frustration.  If not a complete failure, it was still…it was still that dream staying just out of reach like the mirage it had always been.

You don’t get that when you you’re in sales or marketing as a profession.  Oh, you get denials and failures, of course, but you don’t get…

You don’t feel…

Your soul isn’t bound up in any freaking sales deal, not the way it is in something you create.

That’s a consequence, too.

When you first start out writing, the consequences are summed up with one word: NO.  Often, all you can hear is NO.  Not just from editors and agents, mind you, but from family and friends as well.  You are so hypersensitive to that fucking word that every single (harmless) instance still gets to you.  All the NOs become the easiest way to keep score on just how badly the universe itself is out to get you…

I wish I could say those NOs were an unintended consequence, but anyone who goes into professional writing without understanding just how powerful and prevalent is the negative side of life has done exactly zero research and preparation.  Even when you’re successful and respected, even when you’re at the peak of your craft, you still hear that dreaded fucking word…it becomes, honestly, the writer version of PTSD.

And yet sometimes the unintended consequences work in your favor…

I’ve landed writing gigs not because I’m a great writer, but because I had the right interests…and because I knew the right people.

Most people give up after failing at something once or twice.  “Oh, well,” they think, “at least I gave it a try.”

They give up, and they get the prize behind door number one.  But those of us who are more — well, let’s be honest and call it what it is — those of us who are more masochistic, we aren’t gonna give up at one or two failures.  After a while — after you’ve learned to not expect success, but rather to accept it when it comes — it is only then that you really understand just how hard the path has been.

If you, as a writer, are anything like me, you have a life full of people telling you to do something else.  Worse, you have yourself telling you to do something else.

“Success will come another time,” those voices — including yours! — all say, “don’t throw yourself into trying to get it all now.”

Wrong.

You need to throw yourself in…throw yourself all the way in.

Look, I live with unintended consequences in a very, very real world sense far more than I do in a writing sense.  I break just about every rule of common sense and safety when it comes to living and hiking in a place like Yellowstone.

**Don’t read this next bit, Mom!**

I’ve been bluff charged by a full-grown male grizzly.  And, no, 700 pounds of muscle and teeth should NOT be able to move that fast!

I’ve been stalked by a curious wolf pack.

I’ve come between a mama grizzly and her cubs.

I’ve been bitten by snakes, clawed by mountain lions, and stung by scorpions. 

80D18CBE-10B3-4CE8-9991-C483EC431A6CI’ve been circled, a hundred feet down, by a hungry hammerhead shark.

Shit, I’ve even (kinda) broken my foot just crawling over some stinking rocks!

And none of those consequences — as unintended as they are — comes anywhere near the unintended unpredictability of my life as a writer.

Crap, this blog is the ultimate expression of that!  I (over)share a great deal about myself here, with no real thought or plan, and through that (over)sharing I’ve found friends and readers and a world I never dreamed of…

p.s.

No real reason for this song, other than that I love it…

 

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