Four Years

For four years I’ve made Yellowstone the central focus of my life.  For four years I’ve wandered every inch of those 2.2 million acres, exploring backwoods and treading ground seldom touched by human feet.  For four years I’ve lived and learned among the bison and bears and wolves.

For four years I’ve…stagnated.

And if that ain’t a topic for a post, I don’t know what is.

Look, if Ted from Accounting stagnates and lets inertia take control, just what does it really matter?  No offense to Ted, but spreadsheets and balance sheets are the very definition of stagnation.*  For someone, on the other hand, who has thrown himself into a life of creation and creativity?

*To a non-accountant, anyway.  Sorry, Dad.

Yeah, stagnation and inertia don’t work out too well.

The trouble, as any high school physics kid can tell you, is that inertia continues unchanging and unchanged until some other force acts to change the math.  Well, in writing — and in other creative fields, I imagine — inertia is just as powerful as it is in physics.  When you are rolling along, pounding out the words?  Yeah, then there is a powerful inertia to the creative process.  Then there is a inevitably to the flow of words that gives them all the power in the universe.  Yep, even in the writing world p=mv.  Oh, wait, you don’t know that one?  Err, you should probably go and find that high school kid again.

Unfortunately, the opposite holds true as well.  When the words stop…

When the flow of ideas and thoughts and creation are held in check…

When the v in that equation equals zero…

At that point, all the mass of those ideas and thoughts and words settle down more heavily than a nerd at a nonstop showing of all six of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien films.*

*Not that I’ve ever done that.  That would be wrong.  And shameful.  And I would totally never do it.  Ahem.

Look, I’ve given a lot of writing advice in the five or so years I’ve done this blog.  Much of that advice has been complete shit, but some has been pretty damned good.  Kinda like my writing, actually.

Err…never mind, let’s stay on the point, shall we?

As a writer, you can’t give up that inertia of creativity.  You just can’t do it.  If you do, re-starting any form of movement is far, far harder than the slow inertia with which you started the process.  Those creative ideas and thoughts, they don’t like change.  They want either to be flowing freely and fast, or to settle and conglomerate until the world itself erodes and disintegrates in the entropic cascade that is the fate of all unwritten stories.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally had a long talk with myself.  It was a talk about inertia and momentum and entropy.  It was also, as I mentioned to a couple of family members, a talk with myself about existing versus living.

We writers — you and me, and more others than either of us can count — have a way of living through our words that non-writers can never truly understand.  Oh, they can experience it.n  Shit, we damn well hope they experience it, because that is what pays the freaking bills!  But their experience is vicarious; they don’t live the stories and words, they experience them.  

When a writer stops living and falls to merely existing…well…

You either go back to that gray-and-tan fucking cubicle you once escaped, or…

Or you change the math.  You change the value of v.

I don’t care, by the way, how you change the math…just do something.  Try a different brand of coffee.  Go sit on a mountain in Nepal.  Smoke a joint or ten.  Buy three hours with triplets in a brothel.  Abandon paradise.

It’s time for a change.  The unwritten words are a fucking elephant on my chest.  If I don’t change, those miserable little bastards will kill me.

So it’s time.  It’s time for me to give those old words of parting:  Ave atque vale Yellowstone.

It is time, also, to remember that it is the words and stories that define who I am, not the surroundings.

Heading off into the unknown, by the way, doesn’t get any more comfortable or easy, no matter how many times you have done it before.  It is stepping off a cliff into a black void of worry and fear…

But it’s new worry and fear, and that is the change to v that I truly need to keep what little is left of my sanity and recover and re-empower who I am vice where I am.

Oh, and with that black void of uncertainty in front of me?  The old Egyptian blessing* comes to mind: “God be between you and the dark places you must walk.”

*Thank you Stracynski, and B5, for that one!

[Musical Note: I fought with a few songs for this one.  In the end, I went old school.]

History For The Win

As much as I loathe the current state of US politics — and the civil war I think is currently slouching its way towards Bethlehem as a result of those politics — the political/history nerd in me gets just all sweaty and excited by the bullshit accompanying the UK’s weak, vacillating, and laughably inept “departure” from the EU…

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t take much to get me sweaty and excited…erm…umm…

Okay, moving on now: it also does not take much to get me to gleefully go back and re-visit various events and eras in history.  The fact that for the past three years the UK has managed to make a race for 7th-grade-class-president look competent, professional and — dare I say it? — enviably grown-up has just added to the sweaty excitement of that urge.

For a nation that prides itself on never really having been torn apart by a civil war, Britain has had a remarkable number of — ahem — civil wars.  As much as I want to turn to the War of the Roses for thoughts and examples, however — or even to the “Shipwreck” between Matilda and Stephen — there just is no way I can bypass Cromwell.  C’mon, the guy overthrew the freaking King, made Parliament supreme…then overthrew the very Parliament he had put in place!

There is a reason, by the way, why folks say there is no such thing as a “new” story.  It’s all been written before.  Well, hell, today’s corollary to that introduces the fact that there is no such thing as a fictional story, either.  No matter how bad the screw up, humanity has found a way to do EVERY stupid thing you can possibly imagine!

I’m sorry, Britain…but, God, do I love this shit…

Anyway, here is Cromwell’s lesson, his last speech to Parliament before shutting it down.  This is, I should add, appropriate for Britain and Brexit, yes, but also incredibly apt for the United States of today (it is also simply one of the most wonderfully vituperative pieces of spite you will ever read):

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!”

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?


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…