A Little Lullaby; or, Why Won’t This Work?!

[Note – I’ve been trying to get some pictures posted since Saturday night…no luck. God, I hate cell phones right now. I have 2-3 posts worth of pictures built up, so expect a deluge as soon as I can get the damned upload to work right. Until then, I’ll have to dust off an old, old post that’s been sitting in my Drafts section since about Christmas!  So, in the interests of getting something to post (albeit a day late), here you go…]

I’ve never mentioned just why I gave this blog the name I did. Believe it or not, there are reasons. And, as ever, those reasons have lines from various song to help bring them to life…one specific song, in fact, in this particular case.

The lines in question, for the blog itself, are:

“That’s when I know that I have to get out
Because I have been there before
So I gave up my seat at the bar
And I headed for the door”

Now, this song has a lot more going for more it. Which is probably appropriate, given that it’s eight minutes long. There are other lines/thoughts in the song that also have impact and influence. Some have come into play with Connor and Oz, while others are more specific to myself.

Perhaps the most important line of the song, at least to me as a person and a writer who is far more a dreamer than someone practical and grounded, is:

“If you’ve never stared off into the distance
Then your life is a shame”

Believe it or not, this song did not actually make into the playlist I was listening to when I created Connor & Oz. That does not mean, however, that it had no influence on them. It is, after all, a favorite of mine:

“The price of a memory
Is the memory of the sorrow it brings”

“If dreams are like movies
Then memories are films about ghosts”

“You can see a million miles tonight
But you can’t get very far”

By the way, points given for recognizing the song from the title of this post. Serious, serious bonus points given if you recognize it from the lyrics themselves. And, yes, recognizing the song makes you just as damned old as I am!

The song in question is, of course, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” by Counting Crows.



Sinners 3 : Saints 0

Last Friday’s post got me to thinking a bit.  Specifically, it got me to thinking about the future…and about my vision of it.

unicorn-poop-cookiesThe first stories I wrote were intentionally light and easy, largely positive/optimistic.  While I never tried to paint the Star Trek land of puppies and rainbow-shitting-unicorns, I also glossed over a lot of err, reality.  An awful lot.

In what I’m writing now, that “glossing over” ain’t happening.  I am focusing, very intentionally, on the darker side of life.  Corruption, inequity, marginalization, exploitation…you know, all the shit Gene Roddenberry said would be gone!

Now, one thing to keep in mind: I am a cynic.  Possibly even a borderline pessimist, some would argue.  I’m gonna stick with calling myself a cynic.  And no, the glass being half-full or half-empty doesn’t matter.  I just want to know which bastard stole my water!!

Ahem.  Never mind.

The thing that helps me most when I imagine the future?  Studying the past.

History is full of highs and lows, and the future will be no different.  I don’t, however, see the future as totally bleak and hopeless.  Quite the opposite, actually.  But I do see the centuries ahead continuing all the sins of the present.  We very much will continue to visit on our children and grandchildren all of our sins.  Just as our parents and grandparents visited theirs upon us, and their parents upon them.  Call it the birthright from hell.

Humans as a species don’t change much, and certainly not quickly.  Aside from utopian dreams and naive idealism, there is no realistic situation where human nature itself will change.  If we haven’t changed all that much in the previous ten millennia, what makes anyone think things will be any different a few centuries from now?

The technology and locations and names have changed, but humans are still doing the same shit we did back when Ramses thought throwing together a big pile of bricks would be fun.  Julius Caesar could step onto the scene today and have to change nothing but the language…

We will, quite simply, always have peace and war, saints and sinners, winners and losers.  And, yes, we will always have drugs and booze and hookers, too.  Just like we will always have art and literature and music.  Not to go all gnostic on you, but there is always bad to counter the good.

I’ve written in the past about the first items in those pairs I mentioned above.  In Connor’s stories, and in his world, I am writing about the second ones.  I’ve mentioned before that it is more effective and more interesting, for both writer and story, to write about broken people than it is to deal with the perfect (here’s a link to that post), and that very much still holds true.

I could be writing about suicide and alienation and hopelessness from the perspective of a quiet, wealthy suburban kid…but those stories would lack the power and visceral, immediate reality of writing about a couple of street kids.

Besides, in all honesty, it’s just more fun to write about the sinners than the saints…

The Other Stories

One of the hardest parts of writing – at least to me – is keeping all of the other ghosts at bay. You would think, with all of the focus and emotion and effort that goes into writing, that the other ideas would shut the fuck up for a while and just let you get on with things.


Not a chance.

Damned ghosts, they keep calling…

Even as I’m finally planning and writing the actual scenes for Silence, all of the other unrelated, unrealized characters and ideas keep fluttering around, making noise. Well, all except that damned passive-aggressive conspiracy theory story that’s been lurking in the background for fifteen years. That one knows it can piss me off more by just looming quietly at the back of my mind – very obviously, very annoyingly, and very aggressively quiet. Bastard.

It wouldn’t be so bad if some of those ideas were related in some way other than my own (overactive) imagination. But that would be too easy, wouldn’t it? Can’t have easy. Nope, not in this life of mine.

So, while I’m busy writing scenes about Connor in prison, I’m also contemplating stories about an exiled god, about a soldier sold into slavery on the far side of the world, about a deposed queen who will do anything to protect her kids…


I know there are folks out there who can write multiple stories at the same time. I think about that and all I can say is: “what the fuck?”

How on Earth can anyone do that? I most definitely could not keep the emotions and needs of all those characters straight. Writing is nutty enough for me, but trying to do two stories at once? I’d have to move right past booze and go straight for electroshock therapy…

Maybe I shouldn’t have killed Oz – him I could count on to always keep me on track. Connor, on the other hand, is as much a slacker as I am, and he’s letting me get away with far too much!

Recycling, and the Redemption of a Character

One of my big failures in Wrath & Tears was with Nat: she had a lot of potential as a character, especially as a note of dissonance in Connor’s world, but I never did right by her. I never developed the character the way I should have, as an individual. She was, to my shame, a servant of the plot…and of the real story about Connor and Oz.

I thought, even after I decided to start looking at doing a sequel, that she had been a one-time character; someone necessary to draw Connor (and by extension Oz) out of stasis and into action and conflict.

Oh, was I wrong.

She is more. Very much is she more.

I was sitting here doing some notes and thoughts on how Connor had changed between stories to help me get things moving from his POV when an urge struck me to look at Nat again.img_0014

*Insert evil laugh here*

I have certain themes and ideas I want to develop in this new story, but I wasn’t quite sure how I would introduce them. That just changed…thanks Nat!

I love it when a plan (or lack thereof) comes together!

Now I just need to spend…oh, I don’t know…countless hours of work to figure out how to pull this off! Shit, life would be so much easier if I hadn’t made the commitment to have every single word of Connor’s stories come from his POV…