I love them. It’s why I write.
When I finished reading Game of Thrones many years ago I was dumbfounded. Someone did it again, wrote an epic that I absolutely loved. Then what happens? HBO makes a show about it, doubling the power and intrigue of a fantastic world with dragons, queens, kings and sellswords.
Lord of the Rings did this for me as well. But there was an element of childhood awe about it. Game of Thrones does not cater to children. It is a world that could be considered a possibility, a dark age with the decades long winter and ruthless lords. I have always been fascinated by this time period — probably because it is far removed from my reality. To imagine this time period is safe and exhilarating. We can peek into what was possible and still be safe. Game of Thrones is complete fantasy, a world created by George R.R. Martin, and has no bearing on a realistic history, but there is a what if lurking behind the veil. What if there were dragons, giants and Others (White Walkers for the ones who only watch the show)?
I’m glad there are people out there who create vast worlds with their minds and share them with people like us. As a fledgling writer, I live in the what if world. All writers do. Each scene is a what if with causality. It’s exciting and I hope to be among those people someday.
This post is for a story I wrote called, Big Fish. You can read it here or just click on the picture below. It’s a peek into the world of two contract killers who decide to use an unconventional method for the disposal of a body — a big body.
I hope you enjoy the read. If you do, please like, comment and share. It helps tremendously. If you don’t like it, do the same thing!
One must fail to succeed. I’ve been told this ad nauseum. It keeps me from quitting, because success hasn’t happened yet. I wouldn’t say I’ve failed necessarily, but the climb can be excruciating. I can’t help but to us the Mt. Everest or K2 metaphor, both difficult, if not seemingly impossible, mountains to climb where death is a real possibility. Clearly, death isn’t possible while sitting at a desk and making shit up, but the death of my soul when I get rejected or find a massive hole in my plot is real, and it hurts. What I’ve come to realize is that my ego is getting pummeled.
Ego is the sense of self, self-importance, personal identity. Well, mine is wrapped up in writing and succeeding at doing so. I’m 44. I have kids. They ask when I’m going to be done with my book. “About three more years or so,” I say. My ego cringes. They look at me like I’m nuts and my daughter says, “I’ll be thirteen?” I die a little inside and say, “Yep. That sounds about right.” She makes a sound of exasperation and gets on with her day while I try not to reel on the fact that when this book is finally done it will have taken me eight years — I don’t try to explain that I have finished the book twice but the rewrites are where the real magic happens. I didn’t start this endeavor with any notion that it would be easy, I started because on my death bed I didn’t want to regret not doing it; so, it’s a long game, a slow burn and hopefully people will like the what I write.
Okay. What If I finish this thing and its wildly successful? Hell if I know, but I’ve been told it’s a one-in-a-million chance and it’s no good for the ego because I’ll always be chasing the dragon of success. I wonder if maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, but in my heart of hearts I know it would most likely not be a good thing — at least that’s what I tell myself.
It’s organized chaos. These days, we live by the calendar. I don’t know what’s happening from one moment to the next unless I’m fully engaged, looking at or talking about the schedule in the calendar.
I don’t remember it being this way when I was young. Life didn’t seem so scheduled back then. I did what I was told and had fun not paying attention to much else but the world in front of me. The simplicity of youth. Now it’s complicated. Kids’ schedule, my schedule, my wife’s schedule, my damn dog has a schedule sometimes. The gerbil might even come up on the calendar now and then. It’s ridiculous. And necessary, right?
What if it wasn’t? Oh glory. Another name for vacation could be Calendar Free Week, unless of course one schedules while on vacation. I refuse. No scheduling on vacation. It ruins the relaxation — I don’t want to have to do anything. I want to choose to do something, spur of the moment is my favorite.
Our family needs the calendar. There’s too much going on not to have it; but someday, when my wife and I are old and gray, I’d like to think that we will pay attention to nothing but the day ahead. The moments will unfold before us like life’s little surprises. we’ll walk a dirt path to a river, pond, a lake or the ocean. We’ll relax among the bugs and birds while the sun shines on our smiling, schedule-free faces. A utopian idea, I know, but what the hell, it’s fun to think about when I’m in between scheduling.
A persistent villain.
When it comes to writing, I’ve been called a grinder. Talent lurks in the shadows, but mainly I work my ass off. I’m persistent, I take criticism on the chin and push forward. I’m teachable and determined to succeed. This hasn’t come easy. I’m not known for self-discipline.
I learned late in life that I can’t just snowboard, surf, party, go to work and all will be right with the world. I didn’t party so much, but man did I get good at surfing and snowboarding. To this day I stave off the adolescent who wants to stay up late, eat cheesecake, binge watch an awesome show, leave my dishes in the sink and still have life be awesome. It’s sad but true. Now, I self-parent.
I work from home. No one is putting me on a deadline, telling me what to do or checking in on my progress. It’s all me. I’m getting better at it, but I know I can get good at it. When I keep that in mind, I persist. Small accompliments, like publishing a short story, are victories — a positive feedback loop telling my subconscious that the discipline I have self inflicted is working.
Waking up every day to grind out a story, not knowing where it will lead, is Sisyphean. Although Sisyphus’s chore was a punishment from The Gods, it fits in the metaphor of what I do every day. Wake up, feed kids, get kids to school, come home, write, exercise (sometimes), pick up from school, make dinner, go to bed, repeat. At the end of the day I can say that life is pretty good, discipline is just a part of it.
It sneaks up on you.
As a writer, being alone at a desk and putting words on a page is what must happen. I can’t be in meetings, having a conversation or multitasking when I write. The world I write about is in my head. Alone. Weird but true.
When I’m on day five of not going outside, not shaving, wearing the same sweat pants and I stink, I need to get out. No big deal. I shower, shave, put new clothes on and walk the dog, go to a coffee shop or just stand outside for a while. I’m still alone, but I look better. If I look better, I feel better. What I’m missing in these moments is someone to tell me to get my shit together, get outside and talk to an adult. It’s a positive feedback loop that involves another person. This person is usually my wife, but sometimes she just shakes her head and is thankful the kids are fed.
When I don’t have solitude, I crave it. When I have too much, I force myself to interact. There’s a balance and I’m still trying to find it.
It’s rage inducing.
It’s a cliché, I know, but it still affects me. I wish it didn’t. If only I could find an inner calm, appreciate the fact that I’m in a car, that I have music, that I’m comfortable and safe. Nope. If someone in front of me slows me down because they won’t take an aggressive left at a green light I snap. If someone doesn’t use their blinker to turn, expletives fly from my mouth. If someone is driving too slow, and I’m running late, I hate that person for five minutes; my rage focuses on their perceived driving inadequacies.
Is traffic the villain here? The construction that causes a lot of the traffic I’m complaining about is a byproduct of human population increase. This would mean that all humanity is my villain, and I would be falling into the trap of becoming a villain myself. It’s Sisyphean — fighting the inevitable growth of humanity is an absolute fruitless struggle that would never end; and it’s a total waste of time. As you know, time is not on my side.
I’ve realized lately that when I let myself get wrapped up in hating traffic, I’m having a bad day because of something else going on in my life. If I’ve worked out, meditated, eaten well and slept well, traffic is just another thing — this is a healthy adult lifestyle, right — but it’s tough while trying to launch a new career at the age of forty-four with two kids who go to different schools on opposite ends of the city.
Personally, I can’t wait for the self-driving car. If I were to do the time/life calculation on how much time I spend in traffic I might end up in a psych ward. So, I must come to terms with the fact that I spend a lot of my life with other humans in the river of cars going from point A to B. If I don’t, I lose. I don’t like to lose.