Friday, February 17, 2017

Ugh. Again.

I swear, every time I think I'm essentially recovered, I either end up sick again, or I come down with something new. Back at work this morning, but... ugh. This headache had better go away.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Most Unusual Story Idea

A while back, I put up a post inviting my noble readers to ask me anything. In response, Lydia came up with a series of very interesting questions. This is, I think, the third of her suggested topics:
What is the most unusual story idea you've ever come up with? If you have used it, can we read it? If you haven't used it yet, why not?
Boy, howdy.

One of the great truths of writing is that there is no new thing under the sun, and that novelty is much more in the execution than in the idea. And, as with most authors (I suspect), my writing tends to come back to certain certain themes and certain character types. We may contain multitudes, but they're our multitudes.

So I will say, without apology, that I usually tend to write either warrior-sorcerers, or some variation of (usually an expansion on) werewolves. I like characters who are versatile; I like characters who are caught in between things. (In D'n'D, I tend to play either half-elves or half-orcs. Same basic reason: I like blending archetypes, and setting up tensions between them.) But if that's my "usual", what's my "unusual"? And what would it take to qualify as "most unusual"?

I have a lot of weird dreams. Most of the memorable ones are extremely narrative -- that is, they either form cogent, coherent plots or they seem to be trying to do so. But that isn't governed by my preferences, and a lot of those bits of weirdness have been written down precisely because they feel like story ideas. Unusual story ideas.

But I think possibly the weirdest, least typical story idea I've had is the Chained Man. You can't read it... not yet. Among other things, I'm not sure if it's a mature YA story, or a full-on adult Dark Fantasy novel. I haven't gotten that far into it yet. I'm still throwing up spears and waiting to see where they fall, if that metaphor makes sense.

It's the story of a construct, a reanimated man bound by chains that run deep into the earth, for whom every bit of movement is an effort. It's the story of what happens when his master sends him out to retrieve another construct from the clutches of an invading hero. It's a story of what happens when things go horribly wrong, and the Chained Man begins to discover that almost nothing about his life is what he thought it was.

But you can't read it yet, because I haven't finished it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Creek Walking and Moss Flinging

I have taken the boys and their grandfather down to the junction of two creeks, where we spent over an hour getting our feet wet, seeing what kind of objects float best, and practicing our moss-flinging skills. It's Texas, so the weather was perfect. The place is a bit more torn up than I remember (erosion and shifts in the soil have not been kind to the concrete), but it's still a good spot to splash around in. (In my youth, my friend and I used to ride our bicycles through here.)

When we came back from the creek, Firstborn and Granddaddy had hot chocolate. Secondborn, meanwhile, crawled into his grandfather's bathtub and stayed there for forty minutes. Still, it was a very successful outing: the boys loved it, everybody got some sunlight and exercise, and the shoes that I threw out afterwards were so old that they needed to be thrown out anyway.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Teenage Goals

Lydia also asked:
When you were a teenager, what did you think your life would be like at this point? How many of the goals you had back then have you reached? How many of those goals have changed over the years?

When I was a teenager, I really couldn't picture myself living past twenty-five. So the short answer looks like this:
Q. When you were a teenager, what did you think your life would be like at this point?
A. Over.

("It is a sobering thought, for example, that by the time Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years." ~Tom Lehrer)

I wanted... I don't know how to express it, really. I was a strange, precocious, mostly-solitary kid. I did a lot of writing - two or three hours, every night. I wanted to have a tribe, to have people who understood me and with whom I belonged, but I was also well aware that I wasn't very good with people. I didn't date much -- not because other people weren't interested, but because I was so baffled by the social rituals involved in dating. I didn't get it, I didn't have a lot to offer (in the sense of knowing what I would need to do to conduct and maintain a romantic relationship), and as a result I really didn't try.

I think I did eventually achieve most of those goals, though it wasn't easy sailing. I did find a tribe of sorts, but at the time I didn't realize that it was possible (let alone inevitable) that sometimes you just outgrew your relationships with other people. And, of course, I did manage to reconnect with and eventually get married to the Beautiful Woman, which definitely counts as a win.

I did think I'd have published something by now, and with some minor exceptions that hasn't yet happened; but I got a wonderful wife and two extremely awesome kids instead, and I consider that a more-than-fair trade.

The best way I can think to express what I was like as a teenager is something I wrote in response to... no, never mind, I have no idea how to summarize that. Just read it.