Things I’ve Learned

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There aren’t a lot of secrets to blogging, or writing in general. There are rules, and there are things that you learn that work for you, but there’s no hidden knowledge, nothing behind the curtain that will guarantee success.

The practical parts of writing will serve you pretty well if you stick to them and try to improve every time you sit down to write.

Write as much as you can. That can mean every day, some days, or even a single day a week if that’s all you can get. Get as much written in your writing time as you can.

Read. Read anything and everything. Don’t limit yourself. Getting better is a matter of learning what others do and applying it to your own habits and processes. A writer who doesn’t read is just someone putting words on a page.

Keep it constant and consistent. Try to stick to a schedule, and hold yourself to it. The more comfortable you get with it, the more of a habit it will become, to the point where it becomes automatic.

Always be open to learn. I can’t stress that one enough. Your mind needs to be ready to absorb things, new ways of thinking, of creating.

Don’t take it too seriously. Have fun with it.

Just stay the course, don’t give up, and push yourself each day. Try something new, or get that thing finished. You’ll be surprised how much you can do if you just stick with it. I’ve had my down moments, and when they happen, I just remember a couple of these little tips, and just like that, I’m back and getting the work done. It’s as simple as that.

You can do it. I believe in you.

Fragment

So there she was, sitting in the corner of the shop, tuning her guitar. I saw her almost every night, sometimes playing, sometimes behind the bar, smiling, singing, glaring, staring off into space—all of it. She’d gone through the range of human emotion in the time that I’d walked by this particular coffee shop. I can’t remember how many times I’d done it—weeks, months, maybe a year already. I came this way after my shift, without fail. There were a few times I took a different route at the beginning, but once I saw her, I kept on this one route. Going home this way was longer, a little bit. I had to take an extra elevator, and I had to walk a bit of a roundabout route to get there, but it was comforting to see her every evening.
And yes, I know that sounds creepy. I would walk by a coffee shop, look in the window, and see a beautiful girl whom I’d never spoken to going about her day. Yeah. I get that. I didn’t do anything creepy though. Just walked by, glanced in, went about the rest of my day. There were no fantasies, no carefully constructed unrealities that made her into a whole person, no elaborate meet cutes that would bring us together—none of that. Just me, walking, comforted by the fact that she was there. She probably never noticed me. She was always busy around that time of day—night?—evening?—early morning?—can’t really be sure, working on a space station and all. There’s clocks everywhere, and the lights get brighter and darker depending on what the numbers say, but people couldn’t tell. We were in a vast, gigantic, metal and ceramic box hurtling through space to who knows where, living our lives, doing our best to pretend like we were still on Earth.
The district towers reached up and down so far, that when the light was right—probably around “dawn” or “dusk”—their bases and tops disappeared. We spun, but we didn’t feel it most of the time. All of us had our own place, but some coupled up. Made it less lonely. Some liked living alone. Earth was crowded, and then you got on this thing and bam, you’re suddenly able to live by yourself, and not get in trouble for it. People loved that. It made monitoring for warning signs a bit more difficult, but the freedom of your own, real, actual, physical place tended to perk people up more than bring them down.
Anyway, I’m getting off base. I was talking about me. My walk home. From my job to my home. I would see her every night, but she wouldn’t see me. Looking back, I wish I had the courage to do what I did sooner.
So one night, I’m on my way home, and like always, I see her. There she is, being her radiant self. She was kinda tall, maybe six feet? Didn’t realize that before. I’m about five and a half, so you can see what I mean. Her hair was down. She wore it down when she wasn’t making coffee for people. It was auburn, I think. A kind of deep reddish brown, a color that changed in the light. Like a spectrum of red when the light hit it at the right angle. I wonder what it would look like if we had natural light…
Oh well. Can’t win em all.
Her skin was lovely. It was tan, dark. Ruby underneath, like when someone puts on makeup, it brings out that, uh, undertone! Undertone, that was it. The light would bring out the undertone. I like that word, don’ t you? Lovely face, too. Soft cheeks that bunched up in that cute way when she smiled. Eyes the color of…what was that damn color? Hazel. Grey when the light—ah, you get it.
Something about the light. Something about how she caught it. I got the feeling that it didn’t happen as much up here as it did when she was back on the planet. But my, she was beautiful. Just a vision.
But there I was, on my way home, and I see her. Nothing out of the ordinary. But something takes me. A little thought. I get moved by something, and not the guy trying to get by behind me. No, it was something like, I was moved by a spirit. Fate. That kinda thing. I decide that I’m gonna make a change. I grab the door, and I open it. I freeze for a sec, a small bit of a sec, so small no one notices but me, but my mind just races. I feel like I’m standing there for an hour, thinking about what could happen if I step inside. All of those damn what-if’s, every single possibility hitting me like a meteor shower. But I keep stepping, and like that, I’m in. I’m inside this little coffee shop I’ve seen for ages, and I’m there. I’m there.
Whoever made it did their best to make it look homey or something. Lot of yellow lights, not those harsh white ones in the work areas. Dark, finished wood. Comfy chairs, pillows, a few low tables near the stage. Bits of lights hanging from the ceiling—antique stuff, like Christmas lights. Most of them didn’t work, but it was a nice touch.

Update!

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Currently, I’m in the process of creating. Well, I’m a writer—I’m always in the process of creating. To be more specific, I’m in the process of creating a new project, which I talked about a little in an earlier post, called Terminaburg. The project itself has been in various states of planning over the years, but this year I went into overdrive plotting and outlining what I wanted to do.

This is currently a pretty massive project, and right now I’m in the plotting stage. Ideas for how to structure it are getting brainstormed and worked on, and the overall structure for the project is getting close to locked in.

Getting the project to that point is key right now, especially with the personal deadlines I have set. If I want to get everything out without any hiccups, I’ll need to get down to writing this thing as quickly as possible.

I’ll probably post updates about it in the future, and I’ll make a big deal of it as we near January, when it will truly start. Just keep following me. I promise you, it’s gonna be pretty cool,

Ryn

Ryn meditated. He did this every day. This was where he could expand his mind, connect with the universe, find himself.
He was very concerned with that last part. Being a Scion meant he didn’t have that experience when he was younger.
The school was initially hesitant to accept him. He was a full Scion, meaning he had been built from the start as a machine. This usually meant that their brains didn’t function as an independent entity. He was a worker in his colony originally. Higher Scions were built or given organic brains, which didn’t have an upper limit on data storage. That allowed them to live as close to people as they could.
Ryn, however, had broken out of his original programming, and had become a thinking Scion. No one knew how it happened, but one day, he simply asked, “Why this?”
His supervisor heard this and immediately sent him to the ruling council.
This stirred something in Ryn. He couldn’t articulate it yet, but he felt fear. He knew that something wrong had been done, and now he was going to face the consequences for his actions.
Much to Ryn’s pleasure—another emotion that he felt, but didn’t know yet—this was very much what the Council had wanted. For years they had longed for the ability to become independent thinkers and real beings without the messy process of getting brains. Brains were expensive, and frequently acquired through less than legal means. A full Scion coming into his own and asking a real question was the breakthrough they had longed for for centuries.
Many schools and universities were contacted, but turned down the offer. Why should they take a robot who can just download all of the necessary information? It could just cheat on a test and pretend it was learning. The council was discouraged about this turn of events. They didn’t care about the raw acquisition of knowledge. They wanted a Full Scion to learn the ways of thought because they wanted to test it against the Brained Scions. They were sitting on the most advanced of their kind, and everyone thought of him as a simple robot.
Eventually, an academy that specialized in meditation and cosmic connection allowed Ryn to enroll in their school—the council footed the bill of course. It was a private university, and private institutions could be swayed with the right amount of monetary persuasion.

Why It’s Important

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Why do I do what I do? I’ve thought about that a lot, and most of the answers don’t seem to get at the whole thing.

Part of it is a passion for writing. I like it when people see what my writing, and their reactions always push me forward. I LIKE putting words on the page, I LIKE doing what I’m doing, and I LOVE knowing that people read it. Just getting that thrill of putting my words out there makes me happy. But that’s only part of it.

I keep at it because I believe in doing the work. I want to be a writer, or a blogger, or someone that people know through a specific kind of content. In order to do that, I have to take the time to actually get the work done. Carving out part of my day dedicated to creating content is part of being a creative. Working on your art, learning from what you write, truly pushing to improve with every post—that was something I avoided for a very long time. Making the conscious effort to begin my career as a writer brought on a lot of realizations. Following through on promises made to myself and others, making the time to create, committing to the process, creating with intention and the desire to improve—those were important moments in my growth as a writer. Again, that’s only part of it.

There’s just this sense of wanting to give of myself and give everyone something useful. Anyone audacious enough to write feels like they have something important to say, no matter how much they may try to downplay it. Several thousands of words have been written over the last year, and more in the last decade of my life. I’ve worked through a lot of personal stuff to find my creative groove. Those methods and habits have helped me shape my process into something that allows me to create the best art I can right now, and I’m always working on tweaking it. I want to share those things, along with the fictional fruits of those processes, because I truly believe that they’re important for people to read. Even if only a single person reads my material and takes away something, that will be enough for me. But that’s only part of it.

That’s three parts. Three reasons that writing is important to me.

Starfall

The manned probe was the first of its kind. It was built for a crew of 5 people, and its mission was to fly beyond the bounds of our solar system. Engines and rockets were built using what few blueprints remained of the Nazi superweapon that had threatened the world only two decades ago. In 1965, man attempted to truly venture beyond. There were a lot of speeches, a lot of high minded optimism, and a lot of men on earth hungering for a life away from it. They were the ones who wanted it, but not the ones who did it. That fell to a few lucky astronauts who weren’t so keen on something so risky.
Captain George Reeder didn’t remember his crew’s names anymore. There was no way to send a transmission when the craft exploded. A wave of light bombarded them. He distinctly recalled a crewman mentioning that it wasn’t coming from the direction of the sun. It tore through the ship, and in an instant, it was reduced to a mass of debris.
George watched as his 4 crewmen choked and died in the vacuum of space. He remembered their drifting forms, still in the airless void.
For some reason, though, George didn’t die. He simply hovered in space, unharmed, but without a way to propel himself in any other direction, he spin in circles as he hurtled past the planets.
It was a disorienting experience, initially. He couldn’t figure out a way to slow his spin, and very quickly vomited out everything in his stomach within hours of the accident. He could reposition himself, but the spinning never ceased. He learned how to not let it bother him, and after what seemed like an eternity, he was able to simply sleep.
And sleep he did. There was nothing else to do, and he had no equipment or tools to communicate with anyone or anything. He was a man, spinning endlessly, shooting through space at an extremely fast speed. Immortality meant nothing if he had to spend it bored out of his mind.

Years passed. He spun. He felt himself leaving the solar system.
He wished he could finally be home. Everyone thought he was dead, and, if he was honest with himself, he was. There was no trace of him, and no trace of his crew. The ship had been reduced to nothing, and the rest of his crew was most likely turned to ash.
But then the light hit him. It didn’t happen instantly, though. George saw it moving towards him for a very long time. It moved very slowly—relative to his position in space and its distance from him. He waited for a very long time, trying to think of what it could possibly be.
It was a curtain of light, shining in a nearly endless array of color. Beams of gold seemed to fly from it, giving it the look of a spiked ball.
He hoped it would kill him. If he died, then everyone back home mourning him wouldn’t be lying to themselves. He wouldn’t be forced to come home again, and tell them that they lied to themselves, and that he was actually alive all this time.
He wanted to die, but if his body could survive years in the vacuum of space, then he feared that nothing would truly be able to kill him. He was afraid that his immortality was total and all-encompassing.
There was no comfort in that. He feared that he would suffer forever without any way to lessen or even end it. And what is an existence of suffering without a way to end it, or even mitigate that suffering?
It was horror. It wasn’t living. It was simply a way to mark time until the end came, and even then he might survive it.
I will never be, ever again, he thought. His mind was consumed almost exclusively by thoughts of what he’d like to do to die. He imagined a chair with a noose, breaking his neck when he kicked it from under his feet. A fistful of pills along with a bottle of his favorite bourbon. That would be a nice way to go. Just kick back and let sleep take you.
He could put a gun to his head and pull the trigger, splattering his brain all over the walls. Destroy his ability to live instantly. That would be pretty nice. He would like that. A simple and easy way to end his suffering.
It would all be a hell of a lot better than the life he had to live right now.

He was so totally entranced by imagining increasingly elaborate ways to kill himself that he didn’t notice when the light hit him. It filled his vision and bombarded every inch of his body in the most intense heat he had ever felt. His uniform burned away, leaving him completely naked in space, trapped within a golden ball of radiation.
He didn’t resist it at all. He had hoped for this moment for what felt like eternity. He could finally die now! He could know that all of the framed photographs wreathed in flowers, the pomp and circumstance of his and his crew’s funeral, the tears the entire world would shed for him and his comrades—it would all be completely true now. No more holding out hope, no more looking up at the stars and thinking “maybe they’re wrong”.

But something happened. He stopped spinning. He started moving in the opposite direction. He started moving back to the solar system, and very fast. Faster than he thought possible.
His muscles tightened and felt like they were going to explode. His mind opened to the vast possibilities of the universe. He saw himself as a part of it, a cog in the vast machinery of existence.
And he grew so strong. Stronger than even he thought possible. The light was giving him life.
And he hated it. This was the true toll of his power.

Coffee? Maybe

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I don’t drink as much coffee as I used to, which is weird. Since I started writing my coffee intake has lessened, and I’ve actually managed to write even more than I did when I was drinking up to six cups a day!
The obsession writers have with coffee confuses me sometimes. My intake was well over normal, and I felt like I just couldn’t get anything done. Just a bundle of jitters and frayed nerves.
Cutting back definitely helped me out a lot. I was finding focus coming more easily to me during my working sessions, especially when I started a new round of medication. The process was all about finding what worked for me and how that could improve my life.

These days, I have my morning cup and that’s really it. I sometimes treat myself with an afternoon cup on colder weekends, but that’s about it. Coffee and I are finally good.

Captain Ron

Captain Ron was the galaxy’s most accomplished mercenary. He was a lonely man who lived in the shadows of his coming death, and with it, the extinction of his species.
His life was always war. The Dogmen of Sarrak-4 were soldiers all. He rose quickly through the ranks, eventually becoming captain of his own ship. He saw action from just outside the galactic core to the farthest reaches of the spiral arms. He never lost a man, and was not above fighting himself.
The Dogmen resisted entrance to the Consortium—they would not have a seat in the senate, and had no say in any negotiations as a consequence. They waged war against them, demanding a seat at the table, but the Triumvirate never wavered—entrance into the government must be earned, by blood and by deed.
Ron joined this war at its end. The Emissary from Sarrak-4 had been killed in single combat during a dispute with the Kharite Champion, the Triumvirate member of the planet Khar. In retaliation, a Dogmen capital ship directly attacked Origin Station, the seat of the Triumvirate.
Everyone on board was killed, and soon the Consortium turned its full military might Sarrak-4. Ron’s ship was captured and his crew killed. It was only after he valiantly killed 7 Kharite soldiers alone did he see the video. His home planet, the seat of his civilization, shot through like paper.
A voice could be heard on the video feed. “Let this be a lesson to any who would threaten us: the Khar are the sword of the Consortium, and we will never hesitate to wield our full might.”
That day, he disappeared to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, never to be found again.

There would be rumors, of course. A heist at Origin Station by a Dogman. An entire battalion of Kharite soldiers ambushed and killed. A Scion-Separatist rebellion that culminated in an official recognition of a new species of AI. The exposure a Doza-led slave ring that led to the dismissal of the Dozan member of the Triumvirate.
Ron would never admit to any of them. He would do the job he was assigned, take his money, and run. He wanted to die at this point, but it seemed like nothing would let him. He kept doing more and more dangerous jobs, hoping that someday it would happen.

He finished burying the bodies. He was supposed the head of a security detail for a new colony. They paid top dollar for the mythical Captain Ron. A sickness claimed the life of the entire crew, and the security detail.
There was no one left but Ron. He threw the shovel aside and went to the comm tent. There was a bottle of Alkt on the table with the comm device—it was to be a celebratory drink when the colony was up and running. Ron drank half the bottle in one gulp. It burned all the way down, and his stomach felt like it could catch fire.
He fiddled with the dials, trying to find something. No one was out this far, he knew, but maybe he might get a lucky signal.
A twist of a couple of dials pulled up something strange. It looked like an old Kharite faster-than-light broadcast channel. The encryption told him that it was probably a secret relay channel that no one had bothered to use anymore, possibly for decades.
He couldn’t make out the language clearly, but it wasn’t Kharite. The transmission came with a host of pictures depicting a planet not unlike his own—blue oceans, continents, white cloud cover. It made him tear up a bit.
Also included were coordinates. They were old Kharite standard galactic coordinates, and they didn’t match up with any known world in the Consortium database.
“Come to Earth, we have Godsteel. We are looking for someone to train soldiers for a new era of war. Come to Earth, we have Godsteel. This message repeats.”
He ran it through the translators on hand, and couldn’t find an exact match, but he constructed enough of it to know “Godsteel” and “War”.
He’d work for free if he had to.

How I Got Here

I’ve been reading for a very long time, probably my whole life. I don’t remember the very earliest stuff, but there’s a good chance it involved some kind of book and some kind of reading. My parents liked to tell me that I taught myself how to read, which I’m still skeptical about, but I was reading beyond what a kid my age should be reading from the start.
Writing was also a big part of my life, and always has been. For as long as I could hold a pencil, I was telling stories with words. They weren’t all very good—in fact, I’d venture that exactly none of them were good—but I was writing. Putting pen or pencil to paper and creating some kind of world with nothing but my own imagination was the most thrilling feeling to me. I couldn’t give it up, no matter how hard I tried. Grades suffered, parents got angry, teachers shook their head at my untapped “potential”, but I kept going. There wasn’t anything else but the writing, and if I wanted to be a writer, how could I do that if I didn’t write?
During my high school years, I read everything I could get my hands on—fantasy novels, science fiction, terrible manga, terrible comic books, classic comic books, secretly classic comic books that more people should read (*cough*Milligan/Allred x-comics *cough* the fact that they don’t get the recognition they deserve is criminal *cough*), literary fiction, old books, poetry—just all of it. I played a lot of RPG’s too—KOTOR II and FF IX were favorites of mine that I played over and over. I discovered George R. R. Martin and devoured the first three ASOIAF books in rapid succession (still waiting on that one). Neil Gaiman’s Sandman showed me that comics could be more than superheroes. Watchmen showed me that superheroes could be both more and less than superheroes in the most moving and heartbreaking ways possible. Fiction and creating it were all I wanted out of life, and that seemed to be moving somewhere.
And in all that time, those 4 years of high school, when I saw Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, and dug through piles of used back issues of comic books, I started to create my own heroes. They were little more than rips of other characters—a Cyclops copy here, a self-insert mutant who could touch Rogue skin to skin without being injured there—but the ideas kept flowing out of me. I made little teams of teenage heroes, each with their own *extreme* power, and called one of them…
[I’m doing this for 1.) dramatic emphasis, and because 2.) I’ve only typed this out a few times before in public, and 3.) it has never gotten easier or less embarrassing.]
Tiem Pzycotik. Having no internal editor or sense of shame, I pressed on, fleshing them out and making more and more stories. There was a world being created, and I didn’t want to lose it. Superheroes and all of their flashy and not-flashy powers, set against villains who were evil zombie-robot-samurai or just plain mutant zombies, or even just a guy with a robot suit and a bad attitude. It was all mine, it was all here, and I was going to stay on it.
Life got in the way after high school. I made several mistakes in trying to figure out my place in the world, first listening to too many outside voices and shoving myself into a place where I didn’t fit. I tried to study music for about a year, had a nervous breakdown, and failed miserably. I came back to my parents’ home as a failure and a disappointment.
This story is really getting away from me, I think we’ll have to continue it another day.