Tag Archive | novel

Do the work!

November is National Novel Writing Month! (Link)

I love NaNoWriMo! I’ve been participating since 2009…well, that’s a lie. I didn’t last year. I was too busy working 4,000 hours a day in 2012…whew! Glad that year is over.

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a fun, casual writing exercise. People from all over the world pledge to write 50,000 words during the 30 days of November. That’s it. Simple.

Yes yes, I know, November is already Mo’vember (link), but point of fact in the US it’s also National Aviation History/Child Safety Protection/Drum/Adoption Awareness/Epilepsy/Model Railroad/Native American Heritage/Sleep Comfort Month too…so we’ve already overbooked a bit. Why not toss one more in there?

NaNoWriMo meant to be as serious as an individual wants it to be. The site and organization that promotes it is hardly serious. Even the name is goofy. Yet if individuals want their words to count toward a serious piece of literature, or instead have it be a collection of fart jokes—no matter!—so long as you hit the word quotas.

The one thing I try and encourage people to do is NOT EDIT during this month. If you don’t like the flow or arrangement of your paragraphs, or don’t think this day’s work is really that good, who cares?! Keep going. Keep writing. Hell I don’t care if you put in two or three versions of the same paragraph back to back. Hit that quota. Fix and rearrange later.

Writing is the art of addition. Editing is the art of subtraction. If you try to edit while you write, you’ll end up with nothing. You’ll spend 20 minutes on your first 10 words, get frustrated and give up.

Most of my journalism students never listened to me on this point. They’d edit while they wrote because they knew if they just fussed and tweaked this sentence a bit more, it would be…just…well…maybe?…ugh!

Sure enough, they’d end up stuck and missing deadlines because a writer must first write, finish, and stop being a writer. Take the writing hat off. Then he or she can look over the work as an editor.

Now, 50,000 words seems like a lot. It is. It boils down to about 1,667 words a day, which seems like a lot too. Yes, you would be correct, it is. Any way you slice it, it’s a lot of work.

Cranking out 1,700 words a day usually takes me about two hours—a big time commitment for our perpetually consumed lives. Lots of people give me that “I can’t do that” face when I explain it to them.

Here’s the thing, though. For me, I can’t not do this. It’s not that I absolutely love pushing myself to write more than I want. I don’t…I often get to 200 or 300 words and want to stop. But, I view this just like I view physical exercise.

Rational people don’t love going to the gym/waking up early/being sore/etc. It’s true that people love the results of going to the gym, thereby believing they love the gym itself. However, if there was a pill or gene splice to get the fit and sexy results without the gym part, trust me, people would skip the gym.

Writing is no different. People say they would love to be better at putting their thoughts into words. People would love to say, “I wrote a book.”

Well, that’s going to take work. Even in our current age of unaccountability and ease, becoming good at a skill like writing still hasn’t been app-ified. Google won’t write novels or essays on its own just yet. For me, NaNoWriMo is a chance to refine my skills and develop my sense of self expression.

Now there are plenty of people who say “Ugh! Great, NaNoWriMo, the month of terrible amateur fiction!” I’ve been surprised to see some of the backlash on Facebook and other sites as the cause continues to pick up steam and attention. I flip the bird to these people. These are the same nay sayers and critics that have hounded me all my life. They are just louder voices echoing the ones inside of me that tell me I suck and I’ll never be anything because I’m not anything.

Screw that. Most of being extraordinary is first being ordinary. How about that for some trite little quip? You can’t be spectacular at something without being terrible, so why not pump out some bad fiction now? Now, when it’s fun and no body really expects life-changing words from us?

Because maybe—just maybe, the practice now will get us ready for when it really matters. Like when I’ve got to write a review on Amazon or something.


Novel Update: Preview of Chapter 1 (pt 2)

Hey friends, my blog output has been less than optimal because I’m writing my novel. Many of you are cool to ask how its going. It’s going. Ha!

In July, I gave you a snapshot of the first part of Chapter 1 (HERE). Check that out first, if you haven’t read any of it yet.

Without further ado, here’s the preview of the rest of the first chapter.

All rights reserved and all that lot.


There were sounds, muffled. Eve started to perceive them. In the moment between asleep and awake, real and imagined sounds mingled.

She moved, her neck and joints creaking as she floated in the cryo fluid. Her eyes were still clamped shut.

She started to perceive the actual cold—the freezing fluid. Her body began to shiver, though the fluid was warming steadily. She stayed still for a few more minutes. There were tubes in her nose and mouth. She could feel her tongue against the breathing apparatus. Her jaw ached. Her head ached.

Eve went through the routines from training, mentally mapping out her arms and legs, almost reconnecting with her body. She perceived her toes and moved them, then her feet and legs, then fingers and arms. The fluid became bearably warm, though her body still shivered.

Counting to three, she forced open her eyes for a second then squeezed them shut, the fluid stung a bit, more from the cold than any irritant. A moment later she opened them again. Her cryo tube lights were on, as was the interior display screen.

There were no alarms, no klaxons, no signs of a shipboard emergency. Eve was being allowed to wake up at her own pace. She sighed, relieved, and floated for another few minutes.

The display screen’s large font made it easy to read through the fluid. The system was on standby, waiting for Eve to push the button to start the opening process for her tube.

During emergencies, the ship would take the liberty of doing that for the tech, unceremoniously dumping the groggy traveler onto the freezing deck in seconds. Eve was thankful for the normal wakeup.

Eve began to shiver again. She opened her eyes, found the ENABLE button on the display and pressed it. Some loud metallic clunks and hisses sounded through her tube. A seal cracked and the cryo fluid began to drain away. Eve sank a few inches to the cushions of her tube. The still colder air of the ship’s interior hit her nose and slowly washed over her face and body. She reached up to rub her eyes. The wires and electrodes tugged at her arms.

A final crack and hiss and the tube lid lifted up and away. The room was dark, save for the spotlight from the ceiling on Eve’s tube.

Eve sat up and gagged out the breathing mask. She clung to the edge of the tube and endured her first coughing spell, one of what would be dozens over the next few days. Her skin squeaked and pulled against the leather cushion pads. The sensation of gravity still felt new.

She caught her breath and relaxed, still shivering but more awake. Her breath shot out in ragged plumes into the dark of the room. She noticed some status lights shone through. On the far wall was her medical diagnostic screen, still reporting data from the probes and sensors attached on her body.

She looked down at the probes, then at her arms. They were heavily muscled. In fact, her whole body had been toned and developed in cryo. She ran her fingers along the lines of her abdominals and biceps. She wasn’t sure how to take her new muscle-bound self. She also didn’t much like that it probably meant a deployment on a high-gravity planet or moon. Such missions were unpleasant even with the additional muscle mass.

Sighing, she started peeling off the probes and wires and coughed some more. She looked through the dark at her medical screen. She was now dead, according to her readout. There was another set of readings. Eve looked to the left and right past the empty adjacent tubes. There, about three tubes down, was another tech, still in cryo sleep.

Another tech? It was unusual, but not unheard of. The crew compartment could support up to 10, but in Eve’s years of service, she never heard of more than two on a deployment.

Eve signed again. Another tech meant a more involved mission—not the wake-up/boom/go home missions she enjoyed. That, or it meant a training operation for the second tech. Either way, it would keep Eve awake longer than usual.

Eve groaned as she swung her legs over the edge of the tube. She rubbed her eyes again and yawned. Her shivering had subsided a bit, but it was still very cold inside the ship. The heating elements must not have been on very long.

She eyed the deck, knowing space would have kept the metal at an uninviting temperature during the trip. She looked over to the far wall. Under her flatlined medical display she could make out the faint outlines of the bins with towels. Showers and personal effects would be down the hall of the crew compartment.

She held her breath and hopped down. The searing cold of the floor caused her to hop like a lunatic over to the wall.

Eve yanked open the drawer and dumped several towels on the floor as makeshift sandals. She cursed, and pulled out another and started rubbing her legs and arms to get warm. The cryo fluid was full of nutrients and would be quickly absorbed into the skin. Still, her first order of business would be to get to the showers and fully wash the sleep from her.

She was closer to the readout screen now and looked it over. Chief Warrant Officer Evelyn Roel, Chief Technician (Level 5), it said. Next to that was the emblem of her component, the FUS Auxiliary, showing her as one of those drafted into military service.

Eve looked over at her companion’s readout. Her eyes were finally focusing as they should, though they, like most of Eve’s body, hurt from transit. Lieutenant Cassandra Matthews, Technician (Level 3), it read. An officer, Eve noticed. Again, not unheard of. And at least she was a level three, which meant she wasn’t a rookie. What did give Eve pause was her component: FUS Regular Forces—a volunteer. That was unusual. Eve tried to remember the last time she served with a regular.

Eve stood draped in towels and noticed the other tube was still locked down. She was the only one waking up. That was odd, but Eve wouldn’t be able to access any ship systems or status reports until she’d dug out her visor from her equipment. For the moment, she was content the ship didn’t seem about to explode.

Eve shuffled along the floor toward the cryo bay door in her makeshift sandals. She felt the walls. The heating elements were on, but the cold of space would take some time to shrug off. The ship was minimally heated and even the crew compartment stayed cold during the voyage. It would take a couple of days for the bulkheads and walls to absorb enough heat to take the biting cold edge out of the air.

Eve made it to the open door and hit the light panel. The ship seemed to notice part of its crew was awake and turned on some lights. Floor and ceiling banks flickered on, their cool blue light added to the idea that Eve was in a meat locker. Even with the lights on, the crew compartment was dimly lit.

She shuffled out into the passageway, the lights faded in the cryo bay and activated in the hall. The ship was tracking her movements, at least.

“Morning, ship,” Eve said, and coughed.

She continued shuffling down the hall. The smooth lines and panels of the crew compartment gave a cold, yet softer impression than the more utilitarian build of the remaining ship spaces she’d see later. Eve tried to imagine comfortably shuffling along the floor grating and exposed pipes and wiring of the maintenance spaces. Here, she could nurse her aches and hobble into the showers like an old woman if she wanted.

She walked into the shower room. Again, a space built to accommodate up to 10 people. There was a bank of sinks and mirrors on the right. The shower modules were in the middle and went farther back into the space. Behind the shower modules would be benches, lockers and equipment bins—where her clothes and personal effects would be, so long as the loading drones had loaded the right containers at the expedition station.

Eve shambled over to the sinks and tested the water. Warm, then hot. Good, Eve thought. She looked up at herself in the mirror. There were bags under her irritated eyes. She looked haggard, but most did after waking from cyro sleep. She noticed her face had slimed a bit, no doubt from the physical conditioning. Specifically though she wanted to check out her implants. She wore her hair longer on the top and left, leaving the right close cropped around the interfacing nodes. It was a hair style normally not allowed in the service, but was tolerated for techs, especially level fives and their unique hardware. She ran her fingers along the visor seating points on her temples. There didn’t seem to be any inflammation. She brushed aside her auburn bangs to better see the interfacing nodes. The grey metal plates blended with her skin well enough, even if it meant living with the bald patches. The port was clear, again no infections.

She took a second and made some faces in the mirror. Her jaw and neck still hurt. She noticed the tense areas and stretched and yawned, then shivered. It was still freezing. Her mind turned back to the showers.

She shuffled over to the module, second from the left, her usual, and activated the controls. Turning it on maximum heat, she waited for the steam to begin bellowing out into the dim cold space. The ceramic shower modules would become comfortably warm in no time.

She hung up her covering towel, leaving the two piles on the floor, and stripped off her sleeping suit. Dialing down the heat a bit, she walked in to the comfortable warm embrace of the shower stream. She laughed, leaning against the module wall and letting the water leech the creaking cold from her body.



Novel update…preview of early chapter

So, the novel is coming along. Will have it done by September, then off to the editor…cover design, formatting…copyediting back and forth…then shoot to have it out by Christmas on a Kindle near you. That’s the plan, anyway!

Since people are awesome enough to regularly ask how it’s going, I wanted to share a preview of what’s down on paper in the first portion of the book.

It’s sci-fi, so there’s that. I wanted to see if the opening chapters could explain what the heck is going on without a lot of prologue, so let’s see if it works here by not giving any intro. You’re welcome!

It’s raw at this point. And you might find a couple of typos or poorly written sentences. We’ll consider those proof of your genius if you can catch ’em all!

All rights reserved and all that lot.


Eve laced up her boots and sat on the table in her assigned examination room of the infirmary. After a few hours of tests, questionnaires and waiting, she was running thin on patience. However, the leisurely chatting of the civilian attendants in the hall told her she’d have a little while longer to sit.

Eve looked around the room for the ninth time, looking over the posters warning service members about the dangers of STDs, the upcoming flu season and being watchful for signs of suicidal thoughts.

Three young corpsmen slowed their walk as they passed her room’s open door. They looked up at the sign that said ‘Pre-Deployment’, then to Eve.

“Afternoon, chief,” one of them said, smiling.

Eve forced a smile and wave. They continued on, watching her as they passed. She couldn’t tell the rank—couldn’t tell if the men outranked her. She didn’t care. Neither did the medical types, usually. They seemed pretty casual around each other, a welcome break from the more hard-nosed components.

A nurse came in with a data pad. Eve sat up. The nurse walked straight over to the room’s terminal, entered in some commands and walked out again. Eve breathed deep and sighed. The air was freezing and odorless—almost unnaturally so.

The rooms were bright with dingy light from the fixtures. The whole infirmary seemed old and worn out. Floors seemed musty. Shelves looked a bit dull and worn. Eve remembered when the clinic first opened, it was after her third deployment—maybe fourth. She wasn’t sure.

“Afternoon, Chief Technician…Roel? Is that how you pronounce it?” a woman said as she entered the room, her eyes fixed on a data pad of her own. She wore the uniform of a doctor and Eve was able to spot rank, thankfully.

“Yes. Afternoon, ma’am,” Eve said, sitting up.

The doctor walked over, sat at the terminal and faced away from Eve as she scrolled through the data.

“I’m sorry things have been taking so long this morning,” she said vacantly. Eve was sure she wouldn’t hear any response. “Looks like we’ve been putting you through all the paces this morning,” she continued.

“Pre-deployment screens, yes,” Eve said.

“Exciting, yes?” the doctor turned around and smiled wide-eyed. “The reason we’re here and all, right?”

“Sure,” Eve said.

“No no, I’m serious,” the doctor got up and closed the door, then returned to her terminal chair and looked Eve in the eyes. “We are honored every day for our part in service to our dronemasters.”

“Dronemasters?” Eve asked with a slight laugh. “Command is back to calling techs dronemasters again?”

“Look,” the doctor leaned in. “I spend most of my days dealing with people trying to get on light duty or out of muster or recovering from something they picked up from a one-night stand. It’s good to have a real reason to come in to work. People notice when we send a technician off to the fight. There’s a buzz in the air. People go out to see the carriers launch. Reminds them why we’re all these billions of miles from home.”

The doctor slapped Eve’s knees and spun back around toward her terminal. “So live it up a little. Soak in the hero worship. You’re the only one of us who will ever get close to actual combat.”

Eve had heard this speech before nearly every deployment of her career, each from different doctors saying it as though it was the first time. There had been other adoring stares and curious onlookers then too, whispering about deployment and all. But it was more for them than for her—this feeling like they were doing something that mattered. To Eve, it was another deployment. One closer to the end of her conscription. Nothing more.

“It looks as though your brain scans came in…” the doctor said, her voice drew out in to a strange echoing. “Who ordered those?”

Eve caught a shiver and noticed the cold again. She was always cold these days. She wondered why? And the echoing? Sounds often seemed to echo into nothingness. Eve looked at her hands. The scene faded in and out slightly as if she was about to faint.

Was something wrong? She seemed to feel fine apart from the cold. Was she sick? She looked to the doctor, but the scene had slowed, like a vid playback on half speed.

Was this cryo? It might be. Yes, yes it was. Eve remembered it now. She was in cryosleep, on the way to another deployment. Moreover, she was dreaming in cryosleep—something that was not supposed to happen—something the doctors always said was impossible because of the temperatures—about processes and brain waves. But Eve had been dreaming in cryo for several deployments.

She had tried to talk about it during checkups and pre/post deployment tests, but no one seemed to take it seriously.

“…I’m sorry?” Eve said, back in the dream, noticing the doctor had turned as if waiting for an answer.

“Yes, I see you do drift off. Does that happen often?” the doctor asked, eyes back on the screen.

“Does what happen?” Eve asked.

“Daydreaming, your mind going somewhere else, does it happen to you a lot?”

“Sometimes yes,” Eve said.

The doctor started typing something. “How often?”

“What did the brain scans say?” Eve asked. “Is there a problem?”

The doctor kept looking at the screen away from Eve.

“Is there a problem?” Eve repeated the question.

“What?—Oh, nothing you need worry about. Nothing that will stop the mission,” the doctor said.

“It’s the Gloom isn’t it?” Eve asked.

“What?” the doctor seemed surprised. She turned around from the terminal and looked at Eve.

“I’ve been in service what—21 years? About nine or 10 of it awake. I’ve heard the rumors about the old techs—how the Gloom erodes our brains, slowly burning us out.”

“What rumors?” the doctor laughed, “Who here have you talked with?”

Eve sighed and stretched her legs a bit. “No one here. Techs don’t see much of each other. But I’ve talked about the it before—“

“—Yes, it’s been noted in your records that you’ve brought it up—a preoccupation about this ‘Gloominess’ or whatever the fear mongers are calling it. There’s nothing to it. Quantum interfacing is harmless with the right equipment and medications.”

“But I dream.”

“What?” again, the doctor was surprised. She looked a little shocked, like Eve had mentioned something off limits.

“I dream in cryosleep, and it reminds me of the Gloom. There has to be a connection,” Eve said.

“Nonsense. It’s impossible. Nobody dreams in cryosleep. The brain can’t achieve the levels of—“

“—Enough!” Eve raised her voice. “I don’t see the damn point of all this talking, all these questions, if no one ever listens to what I have to say! I go through this before every damned mission. I answer them the same, I answer them differently and nothing changes. All I get is looks from you people and the same pills.”

The doctor’s eyes narrowed a little. “You have been taking your pills, right? Because that might explain why—”

Eve put her hand to her forehead, the headache was back. “—Yes, yes, blue pills for the implants, yellow pills for my synapses. Yes. But they don’t stop these damned headaches.”

Silence. Eve took a second and calmed down. “I’m sorry, ma’am, I didn’t mean to get angry.”

“It’s alright,” the doctor said. “Nervous about the deployment, I bet. Well, and ready to get out of the infirmary too. Ha!”

The doctor didn’t seem phased at her outburst. Eve sat quietly while the doctor worked, then asked, “About the headaches…the headaches are worse too.”

“You find a boyfriend during this in between time at the expedition station?” the doctor asked, ignoring Eve’s comment.

“What? No,” Eve said, annoyed. “Techs don’t mingle much with the troops. You know that.”

“No. Some do. And it would be good for you to find a good lay while you’re here. Plenty of guys would be putty in your hands after some war stories.”

Sex? The doctor was pushing Eve to have sex? She frowned and shook her head.

“Or women, if that’s your thing,” the doctor continued.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Every body needs some body, as they say.”

“I’m fine,” Eve said.

“Look, the scans say there’s nothing wrong with you…,” the doctor paused. “Headaches happen. Just keep taking your anti-rejection pills for the implants and the synapse invigorating medication for the best data throughput.” She paused, then said, “…But I do think it would do you good to find some companionship. Being on deployment out there alone with naught but drones would be taxing for anyone—even just once—let alone for however many deployments you’ve been on.”

“Seventeen,” Eve said. “I’ve been on 17.”

“Quite right,” the doctor smiled.

The scene seemed to fade out slowly. Eve remembered this happening many times before. Much of dreaming in cryo was slow and plodding. Dreams seemed to build themselves up in parts so that the light then colors then shapes then voices all arrived separately, as if thawing out from her mind.

Eve wasn’t quite sure how long she had been in cryo. Transit times to and from deployments could be anywhere from several weeks to nearly a year. While in the dreaming scenes, time seemed to move along normally, the interim periods of darkness and muffled light and sounds could very well have been days or weeks for all Eve knew. In fact, it’s how Eve supposed those first few years of her non-dreaming cryosleep passed. But somehow, her mind grew around this long slumber and adapted to expressing itself while in cryo—like her implants allowed her mind to adapt to perceive the Gloom, the workspace of the quantum technicians.

This dream space was very similar to the Gloom, dark and cold. Perhaps it was the similarity that made dreaming possible.

The Gloom was unofficial nickname for the never used official yet unwieldy term: Mentally Constructed Visual Representation of the Quantum Space. It was where quantum technicians went to perform their repair duties on the intricate and evolving data centers of modern combat drones—a sort of trance-like state where technicians would use their implants and visors to peer into the circuits and hardware of drones to “see” the pathways of electricity and information as patterns and structures of light and color held aloft in an infinite cold black world.

It was where techs like Eve spent much of their time during deployment, repairing and pruning down the reasoning functions of the always-evolving intelligences of modern drones. Where machines could repair many aspects of themselves—replace limbs, weapon systems, armor plates, they could not, by design (and thankfully by the limits of their nature) fix or alter their programming.

Interfacing with the quantum space to fix the drones’ quantum algorithms required a human mind.  Machine programming would break down and scramble when brought into the data stream of the quantum space.

As if by accident, the human mind, when properly implanted with processing nodes, could not only make sense of the raw chaos of data of the quantum space, but also rendered it with poetic simplicity. Light and color in patterns against blackness. Order, and chaos. Data and information, flowing in streams and structures, like blood through veins and organs. Technicians would “see” a program in the Gloom—see its structures and its components, and with the help of attendant drones and tools in the real world to aid the tech’s sluggish physical responsiveness while in the trance, could perform feats of unparalleled technical panache.

Quantum technicians were the only reason any human was required near the front lines of the Former United States’ galactic holdings at all. The need for repairs in the Gloom was the only thing that kept humans in the game.

Where most of the FUS citizenry didn’t care where its drone militaries gained their victories, so long as it kept their domination of space intact, those who paid attention knew that quantum technicians were the key.

Some considered this human inclusion in this advanced technological process providential—nearly divine. Techs were a sorts of shamans of technology—highly trained, undergoing years of painful training and implantation, to become amongst the most celebrated professions of the new age.

Techs were responsible for crafting the programs and data structures that kept the FUS world-dominating AI-managed economic organizations running. Techs shaped and molded the very natures of the algorithms of these entities. They tended to do very well for themselves—at least the ones heralded as war heroes did.

But Eve was a conscript, forced into service along with thousands of others too poor or convicted of too many crimes to be of any use to the emergent FUS corporate and national governments.

Eve’s crowning achievement was in her long fight to gain acceptance into the quantum technician program. The price was a much-extended term of service and constant disdain from her more nationalistic superiors. But she was confident in a more comfortable life at the end of it all—if it ever ended.

She seemed to drift for a while more in the blackness. Perhaps for days…weeks. Some dim steams of blue shimmered in the distance. It might be the beginnings of the next scene. She put her grasp of seconds and minutes out of her mind, pushed out the constant cold and just was. She’d become very practiced at being at peace here. She smiled, the frozen air biting at her teeth as she breathed deeply.

Another scene never came. After a period she opened her eyes in the dream again, some flashes of light came through in the distance.

But something was different. She could feel herself being slowly pulled toward the flashes.

She was waking up.



Writing a non-masterpiece

Many of you probably know, I’ve been writing a book. It started last November as part of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which is an annual contest where people agree to produce 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s meant to be a fun exercise—people can take it seriously or just use it to create anything, really.

I took it seriously enough and was able to hit 50,000 words in the allotted time, but the book wasn’t done. I set out to keep writing. Time is as it is, however, and I neglected the novel for a couple of months. It sat and languished on my desktop while I moved on to other life projects. I was nearing the end of my time in the military, after all, and I needed to focus on completing the last few work-related projects before I continued. Ok that, and I started playing my video games again. Darn those pixels are so enticing!

So now that I am actually nearly complete with my time in the military, I am looking forward to spending the next month finishing up the manuscript. I have nigh but a college class and some random out-processing appointments to compete with my intentions. While the out-processing process may sap more of my strength than intended (more on the latest paperwork debacle later), I have made some boasts about how the book will be finished in 30 days. That, and no more video games. Not good for the soul.

The book is a first novel, so it’s no masterpiece. That’s what’s sort of liberating about the whole thing. Many people seem to get caught up in trying to make their first work some seismic event. It reminds me of what I went through in journalism school and, now that I’m an instructor at said school, what my students go through with their assignments. No matter how many times I try to tell them the exercises they undertake while at the training school won’t be seen by anyone except God, them and I, many of them still slave, stress and freak out to make it as perfect as possible. Many do a passable job, but, as novice journalists, the stories are at best, passable and at worst, trite.

I fully expect this first novel to be one of those options. Hopefully, realizing that a first novel will hardly cure cancer, I want it to be a badge I can sew on my life sash and move on—perhaps to another novel, or to another chapter in life altogether.

Writing a book is one of those things, you know? It’s in movies, it’s in the introspective conversations of men and women at retirement parties—writing a book is one of those things, like a college degree, that can prove to someone, maybe one’s self, that we have the discipline to stick with something long enough to create something cool. It’s like having kids—not the sex part, that’s easy, but the 0-18 year mark of a person’s life. Except it’s not THAT much of a commitment and, in the end, if I screw up a novel, it has eternal, but not as severe consequences as would a life ill-raised.

So here we go, wish me luck, or a broken pen—whatever writers wish on each other. I shall now push out again from shore after a few-months-long picnic of sorts, and continue down the river.


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