On Hiatuses, And Creatures of Habit

Okay, look…I know I haven’t posted in a while. I also know that I’ve failed to fulfill the semi-promise I made in the last IWSG post to have several posts queued up…

I mean, shit, even my freaking MOM got on me for slacking on my blogging!

Okay, so, I’ll ritually drown myself in beer in abject humiliation, if that will make you feel better*.

*It sure as hell will make ME feel better!

When you get right down to it, the bottom line is that I kinda needed a break from blog writing. I enjoy the hell out of writing from my seat at the bar, but sometimes…well…sometimes it can start to feel a whole lot like homework. And, to be honest, I’ve always pretty much sucked at homework — I was always that kid madly scribbling away on an assignment five minutes before it was due. Thank God for a certain gift for extemporaneous bullshit with which I have been, err, “blessed”…

Ahem…that’s enough of that, thank you very much.

It wasn’t all about taking a break, however.

Nope, there were — as usual — other forces at play.

In a lot of ways, I am one of those people who likes to just make shit up…and I’m not talking about my stories, I’m talking about life in general. When I travel solo, my detailed itinerary looks a whole lot like:

1) Get off the plane
2) Do random shit
3) Return home

Crap…if you’ll recall, I am that random idiot who just up and moved to Yellowstone on nothing more than a momentary whim…

But that is just part of me. That is the personal me.  When it comes to work — especially when it comes to writing — I am very much a creature of habit. I like to have the same schedule every day. I like to go to the same places to do the same things. I like the rhythm that predictability brings, and the (surprising) freedom.

But…

But

BUT, those habits can turn me to the Dark Side, too. Yet another recollection for you: I took a job a few months ago, to help make ends meet. Err…well…it was mostly to temporarily use and abuse my employer for the health insurance, actually, but they’re abusing the shit out of me, so we’re about even I’d say.

The problem with that job is that I (far too easily) fall into it’s rhythm, rather than my own. That job’s obnoxious, creativity-killing rhythm, in fact, is the main reason why I left working for other people in the first damned place!

But, for the moment, I work my forty hours…and I get into the habit and rhythms of that schedule. Sadly, that rhythm makes it all too easy to forget that writing is supposed to be Job One. I don’t generally have the time to go to the coffee shop as much as I’d like…and I certainly don’t have the time/energy to go the taproom as much as I’d like — let alone as much as I need in order to truly keep up my writing.

I’ve mentioned before that writing for me is a thing of momentum and regularity. I need to be producing scenes & stories regularly in order to keep up that momentum. When it breaks? Yeah, when it breaks it’s not just one step back, it’s “go back to Start and begin again.”

Sigh.

The ghosts, by the way…

The ghosts that are my characters and stories…

The ghosts are fluttering.

Actually, they’re not so much fluttering as punching me in the face in order to get my attention.

Shit, let’s be honest here: the ghosts won’t leave me the fuck alone.  And the only way I have to exorcise them is to write them…shitty-job rhythm and habits be damned.

Remember what I said way back when? Writing is not what I do, it’s who I am.

Well, shit…

Now, remember…I’m a video game nerd. I’ve played thousands of ‘em, to the point where I seriously hesitate to add up just how many hours I’ve spent in various games. Even more, in the past I’ve taken a professional role in the industry: some of the first freelance writing jobs I ever landed were for video games.

All of which is a long-winded way of leading into my favorite quote of all time*: “Well, shit.”

*Game, movie, book, you name it…

I fully realize that I…err…”missed” posting twice last week. There are a lot of things I could claim as an excuse for that, but let’s just say that I don’t want to bore you with all of my personal crap and leave it at that, shall we? We can all just assume that I was, err, distracted and leave it at that.

I did, however, watch the news last week.

Hooooo, boy, did I watch the news.

I didn’t actually want to watch the news, by the way, and I definitely didn’t try to, but how the hell do you MISS all the bullshit going on in DC last week?!

Okay, so…I watched the news…

Well, shit.

Last week was that specific moment that future generations will look back on and say, “Oh yeah, they were screwed.”

But…oh…is the screwage is just getting started, my friends…

Never mind. We don’t particularly need to dive into my specific brand of prognostication-cynicism at this point.  As much as I love politics in general, I hate modern US politics. I also hate writing (openly) about them.

Look, I’m a libertarian, yet one of my best friends is a died-in-the-wool communist. And you know what? I just don’t care.

Others ask, “how can you be friends with him, with someone like that?”

I can be friends with him because I like him…and because I base my opinion of a person’s value as a human being on what they do more than what they profess to believe. And — honestly — if there is no room in this universe for different opinions*, and different types of people, then we truly are screwed…not just as a society, but as a species.

*Err…except for Nazis. And true racists. And assholes. And cat-lovers.

_MG_2344pUmm…track…hello? Where are you? I seem to have lost you?

Ahem.

Do you have any idea how long it has been since I actually drunk-blogged a post? Yeah, it’s been that long…

But — and let’s be honest here — did you really think there was any other way I would touch on the Kavanaugh hearings?! I may have my own opinion about the DC circus, but I’m not going to presume that my take has any more importance or validity than anything already out there…and I’m certainly not going to dive into that particular briar patch!

I will admit, however, to having played my own personal drinking game during the 9+ hours of testimony last week: every time a party talking point came up (Team R or Team D), I had to drink.

I was, ahem, pretty much gone by 9:00am…and it just got worse from there.

In other “news”, I do have a 2-part post planned for later this week…or maybe for next week. The first part is a long-delayed astronomy-nerd post, then the second is intended to take that into the realm of how reality affects writing sci-fi.  I am also working up a microfiction piece that is decidedly NOT flash fiction…

At Play

I sat down at my favorite little coffee place to write this morning. I had a good topic in mind, one inspired by a discussion I had about depression and anxiety and the realities that affect so many people. Like so many people, the guy I was talking with didn’t think those things were “real.” He thought they were just expressions of “weakness” on the part of those who fight those particular demons…

The post I had in mind was going to be honest and blunt, and not the most uplifting thing in the world.

But I sat down to write in the coffee shop.

A young mom was in there, with her two sons. The boys were maybe 18 months and 3-4 years old. While she sipped her coffee and read on her phone, the kids were playing, rough-housing, and in general just cracking each other up.

I’ve mentioned before that soundtracks & music can (quite literally) make the scenes we want to write. Well, there are more soundtracks than just music…

It is, I discovered, well-and-truly impossible to write a post that is “honest and blunt, and not the most uplifting thing in the world” when you are laughing your ass off at the innocent antics of two young kids. At this particular moment, the bright plastic trucks lie forgotten and the 3-4 year old is “losing” a wrestling match so his little brother can pin him…

How do you write about the darker side of life in the face of that? How do you tackle difficult subjects surrounded by the simple joy of play?

EBEA97F7-1D7A-4965-AD56-A33CBD8EC562I wanted to be grumpy today…now I’m chuckling and in a good mood.

Harrumph!

God Speed, Captain

I put-off typing this post. I put if off because I wasn’t sure I wanted to write it — I wasn’t sure it was any of my business, just as I wasn’t sure I had anything to add to what has already been written.

In the end, however, the subject is a nexus of two of my interests.  The subject is someone too important to me to ignore: John McCain.

It’s worth the time, I finally decided, to write a few hundred words…especially when the immature and petulant partisans on both sides have come out of the woodwork to add their acid, hateful comments to every story and eulogy about Senator McCain.

It is especially worth it when the current occupant of the White House is the most petulant and immature of all. He hated McCain, I get it…but, Mr Trump, maybe it’s time to grow the hell up and at least try to act like someone worthy of respect.

Enough of that. I don’t want to dip any deeper into the sleaze of our current politics, I want to honor a man I respect…a better man than I could ever be.

I do, however, have to start with politics.  Politics were not just important to the Senator, they pretty much defined the last 40ish years of his life. So, from the start, let me say this: More often than not, Senator McCain gave me a headache…a big, splitting, miserable, political headache.

But…

character-war-soldiers-character-military-demotivational-posters-1313084604ButCAPTAIN McCain earned the right to give me that headache. Captain John S. McCain, as a matter of fact, earned the right to do whatever the hell he wanted.

If ever you want to question his dedication and courage, if ever you want to question the heart and soul of Captain McCain, just go back and read the words of his fellow “guests” in the Hanoi Hilton. Even the commandant of the camp — the man who tortured the prisoners, lest you forget — commented after the war on McCain’s courage and commitment.

The North Vietnamese knew what they had in John McCain — they had not a prisoner of war, they had not a pilot, they had propaganda gold. The commander of US forces in the Pacific happened to be, erm, close to John McCain. It was, after all, not every newly promoted Lieutenant Commander who received a congratulatory note from a four-star admiral signed “Love, Dad.”

That was the gold, that was what the North Vietnamese wanted to use: the son of the commander-in-chief of all US Pacific forces.

Special treatment, McCain was offered. Release after just a year in the Hanoi Hilton, he was offered. All to embarrass his father, and to discomfit and demoralize the US Navy.

McCain refused.

When others were using every excuse in the book to dodge the draft, from “student deferments” to “bone spurs”, McCain answered his captors with one simple word: No.

After that one word, he suffered four-and-a-half more years of torture in that camp.

How many of us would do the same?

How many of us would have the courage, or the commitment?

How many of us would be willing to pay that kind of price for honor and loyalty?

The US Navy teaches its sailors and officers many things, but it all starts with a simple phrase, a mantra really: ship, shipmate, self. Those are your loyalties, in that order. You focus on saving your ship first, then you focus on saving others, and only after that do you think about saving yourself.

Captain John Sidney McCain lived that credo. Every single minute of his life after that one simple “No” was the very essence of that credo.

McCain’s father and grandfather were heroes in their own right. They were men who paid the price in blood and service for the rank and honors that were theirs. But it was Captain McCain who was the true hero of the family.

C9C7B5E7-9108-4CB5-80AB-9CEE9ABAFDA2So, as often as Senator McCain gave me a headache, to Captain McCain I can only say: fair winds and following seas, sailor.