Sunday, November 29, 2009

Officers Down

Just read the article about the four fallen Lakewood Police Officers. Every time I read about a fallen Police Officer it really gets to me in a way that isn't rational. I'm angry, like I can't think of enough horrible things I'd like to see happen to the person or persons responsible. I'm sad, the terrible loss to the families, the department where the officers worked, and the community at large. Then I think about all the people who, for various reasons, have an irrational hatred of the Police.

Maybe there is nothing rational about the relationship between Law Enforcement and the Public?

I think most folks living in the US have little perspective when it comes to how the Police should operate, who the bad guys really are, and what each citizen should do to keep their own communities safe. Coming up through High School, there's like one government class that talks about local and state politics, and virtually nothing that teaches young people about national politics, Law Enforcement, or international affairs. It's like we've created the perfect storm of ignorance and indifference in young people.

Grappling with powerlessness in the face of criminality is the standard in the US. Most of the time, regular folks aren't in the right place at the right time to take a stand. Read an article about a civilian who apprehended a suspect fleeing a high speed chase the other day. I marvel at how the criminal was willing to run from a group of armed officers, but surrendered to a single armed citizen. Who do the criminals fear more? ...and rightly so?

I should probably get my conceal carry permit.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Numenarch's Awakening

Our Finder and Keeper awoke blind and alone in the wastes of the Tenebrion sometime near the end of The Fall. Too weak for anything but words, he looked into the endless and impenetrable obscurity blanketing the Earth and despaired.

“Am I so lost now, that even my eyes have forsaken me? Would that I could see, my surroundings to comfort my heart, to put salve on this suffering, would I be alone? I hear no other voice save this wretched thing blotting out the world.”

Numenarch clawed his way across broken volcanic stone and ash, his hide hardening to the malignant forces that swirled angrily around him. He could feel the thing clawing at him, trying to taint the stillness of his being. The thing sought to betray our Finder and Keeper, it did speak lies to him, and show him the witness of false things. As the obscurity danced around him, it did express its false civility and offered the glittering of treasures and trinkets. To this, our Lord did raise his voice to the foul presence that haunted him, and even though his was but a whisper... it struck at the very heart of the Tenebrion.

“I can feel thee, O’ thing of false stars... I can hear your false wind and know you for your lies. Even as I turn to stone against you, there can be no denying all that dwells within me. I am not yours.”

Across the wastes, did our Finder and Keeper take his first steps in the freshly darkened world. He struggled for any memory beyond the collection of dull screams his mind had managed to salvage. Indeed, even as he grasped for some understanding of what had happened to him, he mustered something unexpected. Our Lord did laugh heartily at the villain’s expense. He looked with fresh eyes at the obscurity, seeing past it, imparting unto it only disdain and pity.

“Were that I was in Hell, I would surely not be alone as I am now. This dismal place would be alight with the foulness of regret and stink of shattered hopes. I would not have my dreams, and there would be no echo of my solitary voice. I know you O’ thing! Thou art a blackguard... a pitiable betrayer and I will not suffer you to bring coolness to my flesh. I am warm in spite of you.”

The Tenebrion howled angrily bringing down the maelstrom, emerald lashes of lightning falling to the Earth, rending stone and casting aside ash. Indeed, the false shadow did throw in with all its desperate hate, its malignant force casting a long and fearful stain in its wake. The noxious murk reared up ugly, scattering stones to summon the echoes of the dead to its side. Our Lord quieted in the aftermath of this display, placing the palm of his hand astride his chest.

“All that the world has suffered holds the trace of your passing, O’ thing, and for that I am a vengeful angel, a reckoning unto you. Despair in your iniquitousness and know that I am Justice to your crimes. I shall walk this forsaken land crafting a legacy that shall end when you do. O’ thing, false shadow and corruptor, I will see you cast down for your misdeeds. By my own two hands I will contrive the means to see you undone.”

Our Lord swore a binding oath in only the first few moments of his awakening, that he would end the Tenebrion’s hold on the world. It would be an Oath all we Shadows would come to know well. His promise would become our creed. Even as our Lord spoke the end of his words, the echoes of the dead, howling and vengeful did descend upon our Finder and Keeper. They clawed at his stony flesh and moved to suckle on the very fiber of his essence. He was dragged to the ground until suddenly he was as a thin rod against lightning, a conduit for the Powers Primordial.

“Hinder me not, lest ye rest disquieted by my fury.”

Our Lord reached to his side, grasping the hammer that had laid with him since before The Fall and struck a blow against the echoes of the dead scattering them like leaves at the head of a hurricane. He brought his hammer up again and this time sundered the Earth. It was here that the reverberation of those echoes called by the Tenebrion would echo for the last time, as our Finder and Keeper cast them down like bones from the hand of a soothsayer. It was then that he looked into the chasm he created and divined from what he saw these words.

“I shall know sorrow, and I shall know triumph in equal measure... but you O’ thing, shall eventually come to know nothing, returning to whatever foul place spawned you.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Head full of fury.

It's all there. I can see the ideas clearly, the words form, and they have the substance of inspiration. After doing almost fifty pages last week, I almost feel like I pulled something in my brain. Like a runner limping, the words flow out onto the page clumsily, falling oddly, my true intent tainted somehow. So I went ahead and ate too much, stared at the screen too much, and sought stimulation to the point that I cannot sleep.

I have to laugh at myself.

The protagonists of the story I wrote last week, garner their profound abilities and paranormal powers from sleep, and by staying out of the primordial light. They must rest themselves, enjoy the true comfort of shadow... and not the false darkness that comes with seeking things not ours. My subconscious was speaking through my hands... telling me that even if I would have strength, it is wasted without focus. That focus comes from peaceful slumber, not endless tenacity.

You can't simply decide you'll run a 50 mile marathon one day and be automatically prepared for it the next. Our will is nothing without a tempered vessel to sustain it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


It feels good to get to reach a benchmark, a stopping place, the 7th day. Writing is like watching a storm pass overhead... you don't know where it comes from, how long it will take to pass by, or whether you'll see a bright sunny day, or a starry night, in its wake. Writing and arranging fifty pages this week felt like that momentum I've spent the last sixty days building up to.

We spend so much of our lives starting things... so much of which never gets finished in this life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Everyone with any real personality or presence crafts the substance of their own reverberation. Y'know what I'm talking about? That feeling you get when a person walks into the room, their vibrations carried along by their gestures, the sound of their voice, the color of their eyes, etcetera. Conveying the feeling of a fictional character's echo without making the piece needlessly wordy is an interesting challenge. Too many details can mislead the reader, while too few can allow the character to operate under false pretenses and come across false to the audience.

Running down a subconscious or knee-jerk emotional response to every character that graces the page shouldn't be necessary, but I find myself thinking about these things as I write. What do they smell like, are their hands rough or smooth, do they button their shirt sleeves, does their handbag look gaunt and starved... or overflowing... with stuff. So I set about making my small sketches, and writing a first impression page for fictional people... all eccentricities intact. In my own life this attention to detail is a reminder that at heart I'm probably a detective or a lawyer playing at being a writer... I don't care.

In the real world the echo a person cultivates or crafts comes from a host of personality traits, conscious and subconscious. Pride, self-awareness, brutal introspection (my favorite), and so forth, all contributing to how a person interacts verbally and non-verbally with others and their environment. Now, the way these echoes commingle on the page when two strong characters meet for the first time, verbally spar, or fall in love can be dramatic, interesting, and provocative. I love using words to weave the ethereal elements of two or more characters... it makes this difficult process so worthwhile.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Collecting Dust

I've decided to shelve my Urbandark project.

Our creativity in familiar fiction extends only to the limits of our experience. Writing stories about dark and sprawling urbanscapes, granting those places dignity, mystery, and personality feels like lying. The biggest city I've ever lived in is Boise Idaho.

Maybe after I'm 50 years old, well-traveled & worldly, I'll pick up the project again. For now, it will sit where so many other of my projects have ended up...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Violent Knit Picking

Talked to my Dad today about our shared family trait. In the things that would be the tools of our work or recreation, we cannot tolerate flaw or blemish. For the past week I've taken a hard look at my Storytelling Sciences writing system. Specifically, the mechanical language surrounding violent conflict. The irony is that I've set things up to take too long, delaying the telling of the rest of the story.

My initial reaction was to do as I have always done. Delay my other works to make improvements to the core. Can't go having the flaw spread to the mechanical language of every world building project I touch later can I? After all I could reduce the number of interactions to resolve combat scenes by half, making it easier on my contributors. Certainly the idea should appeal to my minimalist nature.

So I lock down unable to do anything for two days contemplating a 60 page rewrite. Two perfectly good days lost because I gridlock over yet another edit. My own advice has always been that anything beyond five edits results in diminishing returns, and that any storytelling system is granted a measure of personality by its flaws. My system was supposed to transcend all that, be better somehow.

Worthless. I have to move on.

Because I cannot grapple safely with my own flaws, I can't tolerate them in anything else lying within my realm of influence. This gets in the way of my work. I can't have that. I have to let go, or find a compromise and quickly. Having no clear solution, possessed only of desire complicates things. Knowing a problem needs solved isn't even half the battle... and I cannot divine how I'm going to work this out.

So much for moving on.

Marking the sections that need revision made me feel better... somewhat. The peaceful elements of a story are so much easier to regulate, the variables being less chaotic... the results so much less final. Not every good story needs violence, but for the ones that do, orchestrating it properly is important. There are rules.

1. Keep it real. Violence shouldn't be portrayed with a theatrical flair. It isn't romantic, exciting, or fun - it's awful.

2. Respect the roles. Fictional depictions of violence should never glorify the aggressor or deprive the victims of their dignity.

3. Be concise. The reader will draw their own conclusions on how much something hurt without the author laying out every ounce of pain and suffering.

If only it was realistic to have two hostile parties resolve their differences... every time, without it coming to blows, my job would be so much easier.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Fraternal Order of Police

Just got a call from the Fraternal Order of Police wanting me to give $25.00+ American. Don't know why, but every time I get a call from them I feel a sense of irrational resentment. I could literally feel every measure of control, every filter, every drop of artificial civility I had draining quickly away. I was reduced to single word, yes or no, answers.

"Don't you want to support your local Police Officers?" The pitchman says, his voice full of false concern.

I simply said yes. However, I wanted to bring up the fact that my young adolescence was tainted forever by my Father's choice to wear the uniform. I wanted to make the pitchman understand what every Officer's family endures to support them, and therefore Law Enforcement as a whole. I wanted to tell him about every time I was verbally or physically assaulted for showing my support for Law Enforcement. I wanted him to understand what the true price of supporting Law Enforcement was... and it wasn't $25.00 per family unit.

Being a member of Law Enforcement means accepting that you will be in harms way. They cannot be weak. They cannot be slow. They cannot falter or let their guard down. I used to resent my Father for these things, because it left little time for anything else. Now I just resent an indifferent, and undeserving, society that makes what my dad does necessary. Most don't deserve to be protected... Justice would be allowing the wolves to run the world red with the blood of sheep. Let them know the horror of standing at that terrible precipice for awhile... see how they like it.

"Don't you believe that what our Police Officers do is important?" The Pitchman chides.

I wanted to tell the pitchman that I have all the traits, teeth, and temperament of a Sheepdog, and that I would give anything to be different. I even spent some time being a wolf. If you haven't chosen a career path that caters to your natural predisposition, you feel guilty around anyone who has. If you do choose that career path, you will utterly lose yourself to it. The more I come to understand my Father's choices, the more I have come to resent my own. It is a legacy that taints and spoils everything I do, no matter how much I try to wear wool.

So when the Fraternal Order of Police calls asking me for my support... I just wanted to say this... The Job has taken more than enough from my family, leave us alone.

I feel like writing something so black right now... you'd have to sit in a shadow to read it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dealing with Death - Thinking out Loud

[World Building]

Step 1. Provide the setting with people to provide life and vibrance to the tapestry of the story.
Step 2. Address how those people deal with death.

Everyone has rituals. Write about what you know.

When I see a shooting star I think of my friend, Roxanne Lee. (Rest in Peace)

When I put my hands into the earth I think of my grandfather, Hal Walker. (Rest in Peace)

Tying the infinity of the sky and the simplicity of the earth towards dealing with the same emotion. More than that, it is what interests people... readers. I think about how many police shows, murder mysteries, horror movies... the sheer weight of media in circulation that deals with, warps the idea of, and consults the purpose, of... death. There was never a civilization that wasn't obsessed with it and most tell their stories and show the color of their culture by how they dealt with it. Entire groups of people spending their entire lives preparing for death. In the wake of every sentence I write, literally everything I say will seem like a lie if it isn't absolutely saturated by this grisly concept.

It's like drawing a line from the beginning or birth to the end or death with every story. Genesis -> Terminus

Pondering the weight of every word and how it looks forward to the end while representing the memory of the beginning takes practice, diligence and something else. It takes mental health. So...

A. Skate away from death for the black and unpleasant thing it is.
B. Redefine death by granting it artificial civility... a fresh coat of paint only a work of fiction could grant it.
C. Embrace the concept that all things are finite and give the end some measure of dignity.

I think the choice of A, B, or C will depend largely on what tells the best story. Like a given methodology employed by a culture to deal with death, there may be no right answer.

I suppose...

In that regard... it isn't how people grapple with uncontrollable forces, but the means employed to resolve and accept those same circumstances.

Friday, November 6, 2009


The struggle to have a sense of ourselves beyond just what we have to do everyday is never ending. Aside from what we do, what else is there to actually give us substance? I have this fearful feeling that this is merely more of my nasty habit giving meaningless things meaning. All the same, I cannot shake a sense of every person I meet having some deeper, more spiritual archetype. Within that realm, I would struggle to even quantify those archetypes, or how they differ from whatever internal spark gives us motive for our actions.


I'm sure there are more. It makes me wonder about all the the things unknowable about the very essence of our being, the choices we made possessed only of that spark, and how it would come to influence us in the temporal theater. I should not grant myself such thoughts, but there is some comfort in death... knowing so many questions will be answered. A strange function for all of life's mysteries, but wholly acceptable. For the time being, I'll simply explore my observations with my writing and gauge the reactions of my readers. The closer I get to these truths, the more likely my written words will jive with the sensibilities of the audience.

Everyone likes the feeling that comes with having made sense of something. The confidence and mechanical reinforcement that comes with grasping all of the motes of a shining idea is like nothing else.