Old Paths

Ah, more ME STUFF. Yes, it’s all about me, which sounds like a good movie title, except it seems so similar to the classic, All About Eve.

I’ve been editing the third book, Six (with Seven), in the Incomplete States series. It was the first of the four books that I wrote. I finished it over sixteen months ago.

Reading and editing the book rekindled memories of how I hunted for a writing process that worked for me. I was initially a staunch proponent of outline and research. I took that route because everything that I read said, that’s how you write a novel.

It didn’t work for me. I was restless, frustrated, and bored with the process. I tried modifying it. Reading of Orson Scott Card’s process, I attempted something of the same. I attempted to flow-chart what I would write. I used Post-its, white-boards, butcher paper, and story boards. As none worked, I chucked them all with the decision, I’ll just wing it.

I started writing in notebooks. I’d edit and revise each day’s work, typing it up on my computer, and doing further editing as I went. I later learned many writers use this organic process.

That first resulting novel was a disaster. I still have it, with promises to edit and revise it someday. Meanwhile, it was a tremendous learning experience. First, I’d written a novel. That buoyed my self-confidence, but then, it needed so much work that I sank like a house in a Florida sinkhole.

The next thing that happened is, I shoved that monster aside, and wrote another novel, and then several more. Each time, they needed work, and I was too impatient to fix them. Eventually, slowly, I gathered, ah, editing and revising is part of the writing process. I wrote more, I edited them, and published them. Then I grimaced because I see the errors in the published work.

They needed more work. I needed more patience.

With my panic and self-doubt somewhat subsiding, I began to think more about my writing process, and what that meant. Insights into myself and my process grew. 

When previously reading wonderful books, I lamented that I’d never be that good, capable, creative, or talented. Now, I think, how do I write and tell stories like that? Instead of bludgeoning me to the point of retreat, those other writers and novels establish goals.

Which brings me back to this novel and series. I started out blindly with a half-baked concept, and then went down different paths until I found a path that worked. Those other paths were still in the novel, and required that I read them and decide, keep them in, or cut them — or revise them.

Done writing, editing, and revising today.

Thursday’s Theme Music

I was watching an episode of The Americans last night. I enjoy how clothing, cars, news, and pop-culture, like music, is used to convey the year.

They used “We Do What We’re Told” by Peter Gabriel (So, 1986) in the episode I watched. I thought the music was effectively employed, with the lyrics fitting the situation and the characters’ thinking and decisions.

The song’s words are simple and repetitive

we do what we’re told
we do what we’re told
we do what we’re told
told to do

one doubt
one voice
one war
one truth
one dream

h/t azlyrics.com

I thought the song’s appropriate for now, when so many people seemingly respond to news by saying, “Hey, I believe him,” without applying any critical thinking to it. I imagine them telling others in a few years, “Hey, I was just doing what I was told,” or, “I was just following orders.”



Exfloofmation (floofinition) – a sudden cry or remark, especially expressing surprise, anger, or pain, in connection that a pet has done; a sudden noise, expressing surprise, anger, or pain, made by a pet.

In use: “Seeing the vomit, he said, “Not again,” in exfloofmation, only to hear his dog release an exfloofmation in the other room that sounded like he was in pain.”


Future Me

I read a recent article about how we see ourselves. The article’s essence was that a study showed that people could readily see how they’d changed, but didn’t think they would change in the future.

That’s an odd conclusion. Looking back on how and why I change, I can appreciate how the world changed, forcing me to change. Mentors, friends, and family members have died. Their influence remains, but it’s faded.

Sometimes, I think of it like dominoes. I’m in a long row that’s been set up to fall over when tapped, part of a pretty design. Matters that tap me over include my changing body. My hearing is damaged and my vision has lost its acuity. My metabolism has slowed, as has my physical energy, and my muscles are weaker. My joints are stiffer, and my athleticism and coordination have diminished. My sleeping patterns have changed. I endured illnesses and injuries which changed my trajectory. I’ve gained weight and developed gluten and dairy reactions.  I mostly bloat. Before I bloated, I didn’t understand what people meant when they said, “I feel bloated today.” Now I understand.

Our food chain has changed. What impact that has on me, I probably won’t ever know. I was introduced to new foods, and dishes from other cultures, and I was introduced to better quality food, increasing my awareness of what quality means, and how it influences me.

Technology has advanced, enabling me to hear more music, inviting me in as a witness to more amazing events and moments. I usually have a laptop or tablet nearby to keep me connected to others. I’ve never met many of the people who are in my circle of friendship. Science has advanced, giving me more to think about. Researchers, psychologists and sociologists have gained insights into how our bodies, societies, and civilizations function. Engaging TED Talks and blogs help socialize new information. Big data analytics keep expanding on what we know, or what might be going on.

Our society and government have changed. Events like 9/11 changed us. I make more effort to understand the world than I used to make. After traveling and living outside of the United States, I became more watchful about politics, equality, justice, and our environment. As our politics have changed, and groups like white supremacists and Nazis have grown, I’ve been forced to question what I know. Likewise, revelations of sexual assault, news of murders, and lies by politicians and others sharpen my desire to know the truth and understand.

I’ve read many more books since I was young. I’ve written books. Both activities encouraged thinking, and from the thinking has come change in my views, approaches, appreciation, and understanding.

My brain has changed, apparently from triggers built in at some genetic level. I’ve become more impatient. Lessons learned through betrayal, resentment, success, and failure have fostered changes to my behavior. I work on improving myself more than I used to, when improving myself meant working out or taking classes.

I’ve lost hair on my head. My hairline recedes and my baldness expands. My hair thins and grays. Meanwhile, the rest of me becomes hairier. With my aging and changes, I became more invisible to a larger segment of population.

Or maybe that’s just me and my perceptions. They can change.

I can extrapolate some ways that I’ll probably change. I think I’ll be more withdrawn, speaking less, and enjoying small talk less. I hope to be writing and publishing more, but that’s a hope that I’ve been nurturing for over twenty years. My future diet will probably be more limited, I’ll be less active, and pop culture will seem more alien. I’ve always disliked talking on the telephone, and avoid it when I can. I suspect it’ll be hard to get future me on the phone.

I’ve been fortunate that I’ve escaped being caught in disasters. That luck can change. It feels, sometimes, like the hazardous air from the wildfires of the last few years have changed me. Certainly, that smoke, combined with the blazing heat, increased my depression, depleted my energy, and sapped my will. It certainly changed my summer and expectations.

Then, there are the other people in my life. Their changes, illnesses, success and failure will change me, too. That’s one constant that’s not likely to change.

All these variables will cause changes in me. I don’t know what I’ll be like in the future, but I don’t think that who I am now is who I will be.

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