Keep Working

A while back I posted that I had my first story accepted by a journal. That journal is coming out in October this year is called Kansas City Voices. I will most likely post the story on this blog some time after it is published, but for now it is the waiting game.

I haven’t written a few weeks now and I’m feeling a small withdrawal from it. I need to get back at it. Unfortunately I’ve been spending my time doing other things. Though I honestly can say that video games have also been on the back burner a bit so they aren’t the culprit. Right now, I’ve been spending most of my time working on my new house. Yeah, I know, grown up stuff, but it’s fun actually working on a house you actually own. I just wish I had more time to get the things done that I want to get done. But that’s the kicker. It’s always about time. There is never enough of it, and even when there is we usually lack the motivation to do what we wanted or needed to do. On the plus side, I do have my office set up so I can get back to writing when I do find some time. Of course my first priority should be working on the book, but I’ve actually been wanting to get a few short story drafts put together. There are several reasons for this. One, I need to write more short stories and send them out for publication. And two, I want to. I don’t have a lot out in the world looking for publication and the story being published in October is my first. I need to get those numbers up. Those are rookie numbers. Which of course I am just getting started. I just need to keep working so that maybe one day I can work as a full time writer.

It’s good to have a dream. It’s even better to have achieved that dream. And the next one, etc. Just remember to take action or else that dream will remain a fantasy. Nothing comes easy. Work harder, or at lease keep working.

“Politics” in Writing

I see a lot of authors today getting hate for sharing their political opinion on their social media profiles, which is completely idiotic. Many people who are hating on the authors they supposedly like are disillusioned by the pedestal they have lifted that author onto in their own minds. They believe the author should stick to simply writing stories and stay out of politics. This thought process had me wondering two things. What is the definition of politics, and how is it that writing and/or stories are considered completely separate? I understand that readers are tired of hearing about politics and go to these authors to help escape from the current troubles of the world, and they are justified to do so. All they have to do is go pick up the book the author wrote. Complaining about the author stating their opinion on social media is not only unfair to that author, but only adding more hate into the world, which is something I think most authors are trying to avoid, or in fact do the opposite of.

Writers are first and foremost observers. We observe and then try to capture “human” moments within our stories because doing so creates a story that really connects and stays with a reader. It affects them in some way that will make them remember it, or think about it or the topic it represents. There are many books written with direct political influence or written about politics themselves. George Orwell wrote 1984 about the current political climate in 1948. He simply transposed the last two digits in the title. Ironically enough, 1984 has returned to the bestseller’s list. When it first came out in 1948, it was banned in several countries, many of whom were run by a communist party. And if anything should peak curiosity, that is investigating a banned book.

Usually it is banned because it represents an ideal that governing parties don’t want spread among its citizens or followers. But why would they not want that? Because they might discover a new way of thinking that contradicts what the party’s ideals. The definition of Politics (after a quick search) is currently “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” Power here being the main word. How does that saying go? “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Anyone who blindly follows is no longer a free individual but only the tool in the hand of someone in “power.”

The current political climate is not good. Recent events are causing tension between countries and individuals. We are divided and are being divided further by those in power and the people they claim to protect us from. The human population has never been able to stop its continual self harm. There has always been violence. It has only changed names throughout the years. Right now, it is known globally as terrorism. War is no longer fought openly. People fear the shadows but they also fear their neighbors. And people expect observers not to comment on this? They expect their favorite authors to simply ignore what is happening in the world? No. If you like an author, presumably you like the books they write, then go read the book. Don’t get mad that they have an opinion on the current events of the world. They are using their popularity to spread the word and help others. Most authors I see on social media aren’t spreading hate, but only trying to help. They have created or are helping promote organizations that help the victims of the current political conflicts.

Most authors have good hearts. They comment on observations and capture human moments to make us feel a range of emotions. Their ultimate goal is not to only write a good story, but to help people grow into better human beings. Yes, politics effect our everyday lives and authors give their comments about certain events or certain politicians. If you don’t like it, put down your phone and pick up their book. You may not realize it, but you’ll still be reading their social commentary. It’s just hidden in a well written story that helps you escape from this world if only for a time.

In Relation to Authors

It’s strange how we as readers develop images of the characters we read. We somewhat do the same and characterize the author as well, if you pay the author any mind. We develop a view of who this person is. This person who wrote this great work that made us laugh, cry, teeter on the edge of our seat, etc. That person who made us feel emotions with the way they intricately weaved words together into a compelling tale. We create an image of this person. Put them on a form of pedestal in a similar manner that we do with actors and TV personalities. Maybe less so as they are behind the scenes, but they are the reason most actors get to act. They created the characters.

There is one author in particular that I have a strange thought process about. Of course he remains on a pedestal not only because he is a best selling author, but an awesome person and I hope to one day meet him. I’m talking about Neil Gaiman. I’ve read a handful of his books and some of his nonfiction. What I find so strange about my own developed relation to him as a reader is that I find his work better when adapted. His prose is great, don’t get me wrong there, but I believe the adaptations of his books are more impressive then the books themselves. This might be because I’d seen a few movies based off of his work before I read any of his books. The prominent one that comes to mind is Stardust. I saw the movie years before I read the book and found the book lacking, which is often the opposite when it comes to movie adaptations. The movie seems to have a lot more within it as far as magical elements and character development, but the movie of course wouldn’t have been possible without the original material. Gaiman is a master of magic. The movie is great and may contain my favorite Robert De Niro character portrayal. Cracks me up every time.

His latest book to be adapted is American Gods that is now in its first season as a TV series. I’ve yet to delve into it but have heard only great things. I was reading the book when I found out they were adapting it. Consequently, I found out Ian McShane was cast as Mr. Wednesday shortly after I started and throughout the book I read Mr. Wednesday in Ian McShane’s voice.

I enjoy Gaiman’s nonfiction and love seeing interviews with him. He has a very distinguished voice that is of course English accented and deep and dreamlike. A voice that you can just listen to for the sake of listening. Right now there is a fundraiser that will hopefully reach its goal as the reward is Neil will read the entirety of the Cheesecake Factory menu. And the fundraiser will help refugees, so go donate. Search #Neilcake or Neil Gaiman Cheesecake and you’ll find it quickly.

Neil has become one of my favorite authors (and people) the last few years, and I think is the first author I seem more interested in their non-writing lives than their published work. I did enjoy his Norse Mythology book that came out recently, but of course I’ve always loved Norse Mythology and have several other books that I can compare his versions to.

Authors do seem to always be hidden by their work which is something that points to their success, and I think some authors step out from behind the curtain once they reach a certain level of fame, such as Neil Gaiman has done. And Stephen King and J.K. Rowling as well to name a few others. All of them have used their fame to promote good in the world too. They promote charities and have created some such as Rowling’s Lumos project that I myself have donated to. I hope to one day be able to walk among them. To write as well and as broadly as they have. To inspire others and do good as they continue to do. That is a hope I share with everyone.

Almost through the craziness (for now)

I’ve broken through Chapter 6 and still need to write Chapter 7, which will reach the minimum requirement as far as length for my thesis. At this particular moment in time, I am finishing my final class, finishing my thesis on top of taking that class, in the middle of moving house, upgrading said house (new floors and paint yay), and of course working. It’s one of those times where I know I’m going to look back and wonder how I did everything. But everything is exciting. I’ll admit I am ready to be done with classes and hope to use that new free time to work on the book and hopefully finish before this year is out.

Aside from that update on the business of my life right now, I know I’ve been lacking on writing stories on this blog (something I hope to pick up on once I finish my current craziness). So, for today, I decided to take about 20 minutes and just write something from scratch. Let’s see how it goes.


 

Flood Incoming

He could hear the water sloshing at the bottom of the stairs. His wife was on the second step, just above the water level. She had taken off her shoes but hadn’t taken the final step into the basement. He watched her from the top of the stairs, rolling back and forth in his wheelchair.

“Are you sure we shouldn’t call somebody?” she asked.

“I’ll call as soon as we get the water shut off. They aren’t open on Sundays anyway so they probably won’t be able to someone out till tomorrow at the earliest.”

“What about Gary? Can he come do it?”

“It’ll be easy. The valve is behind the panel next to the washer. It’s only about twenty feet from where you are now.”

She placed a foot in the murky water and withdrew it quickly.

“It’s freezing.”

“It’ll only take a second. I know you can do it.”

She hesitantly placed her foot back in. The water was threatening to rise onto the second step. She had her second foot in now and was on basement floor. She took one step into the room and screamed.

“Something moved,” she yelled while retreating back to the stairs. “Oh my god, something brushed against my leg. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.”

“There is nothing down there, honey. It’s our basement. It was probably just the mop floating around.”

“No. It was something alive.”

“There is nothing alive down there.”
“Yes there is.”

“How? How could something have gotten down there?”

“I don’t know. It was probably a rat. Oh my god Carl, if there is a rat down here, I swear I’m getting a hotel until you get an exterminator.”

“There aren’t any rats,” he said, but he wasn’t completely sure himself. He rarely went down to the basement.

“Can we please call somebody?” his wife implored.

Walter, their Boston terrier, snuck around his wheelchair before he could grab it, raced down the stairs, and leapt into the murky water.

“Godamnit. Grab Walter and shut off the water before the whole house is flooded.”

“Don’t yell at me.”

“I’m not-” he caught himself and lowered his voice. “I’m not yelling at you, but you have to go shut off the water. The longer you take the worst it will.”

“I know that Carl.”

“Time’s a wastin.”

She stepped back down into the brown, opaque water. Walter swam up next to her, paddling and panting, and followed her over to the valve.

“Oh my god.”

“You’re doing good honey.” He encouraged her.

“I hate you.”

He chuckled. She screamed and sloshed back and ran up the stairs. Her feet dripped on the living room carpet.

“Did you get it?”

She shook her head yes.

“Now, was that so bad?” She glared at him and he smiled. He knew it to be a simple task. She continued to glare. His smile faded.

Reading

I’ve been reading Misery by Stephen King which is about an author who finds himself kidnapped. It’s pretty messed up. I’m only halfway through but King writes a good nut job. I’ve kind of had a dry spell as far as reading lately. It happens, but it also corresponded with a dry spell in writing. The two are linked. When you’re reading you can focus and your mind sharpens and ideas form. It’s also good to read for other reasons too, but reading can feel like coming home after a long trip. It can be rejuvenating. It’s beneficial to the mind. This applies to everyone and not just writers, but I’m not sure it applies to all reading material of course. 

I think I’ve said it before, but I’m always up for recommendations. What’re you reading?