My Creative Process

My gifted writing friend Ailsa Abraham tagged me, and asked if I’d join this blog hop. I’m supposed to answer four questions, and then nominate three others to share their creative processes, if they wish. I have no problem with this. So, here goes.

1. What are you working on?

That depends. How do you define working? I actually have a work in progress (WIP), but I’ve been at a dead stop working on it for over a month now, due to life. Life seems to get in the way sometimes, doesn’t it?

My WIPs title is The White Witch. The story of Mystica (a fairy), who becomes known as the White Witch. I wrote the original framework for NaNoWriMo 2011, and am finally working to clean it up. I fully expect to self publish it, when I finish, which will cause me to ask questions of my writing friends, and learn how to put a publishable story together.

According to my Psychiatrist, I’m supposed to have the story completed by NaNoWriMo 2014. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, look out JuNoWriMo 2014, when I’ll be making a big push on the story.

2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?

Honest answer. I have no idea. It’s a fantasy, except it’s not a fantasy. It’s actually science fiction, although that isn’t apparent in The White Witch. It has dragons. But they’re not the giant, fire-breathing kind. It has fairies, but they live in a kingdom. It has villages of humans, and of fairies, and of both.

How is it different from others in the same genre? I’m writing it. How’s that for an answer? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be explaining myself in the next two questions.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I write what I write because it feels like I’m doing what I’m meant to do. It has nothing to do with the mythical creations of right and wrong. Nothing to do with fame. Nothing to do with following a dream. None of those normal person reasons. I write what I write because it’s what’s inside of me, and writing is the only way I’ve found to bring what’s inside to the outside, where I can see it. I don’t write to make social commentary, or to create a marketable, and profitable, product. I write, because it’s in my blood. Because it’s part of how I cope with the world I live in, part of how I grow my understanding of this world, part of how I learn. What I learn about people, what I understand about life, becomes visible to me in what I write. That’s why I write what I write.

4. How does your writing process work?

Magic. There’s actually a technical way to describe how I write. In the field of Computer Science there’s a system development method known as bottom up development. Simplified, bottom up development consists of developing tiny parts of the full product. Developers write the parts independently from each other, and lay the foundation for putting the parts together, to build the product

This is how I write. I write flash fiction pieces. I write flash fiction stories. They happen in random time order. As they collect, I string them together into a proper sequence of events, thus building a story from the bottom up. Building a story from pieces, each of which started independent of the others.

I don’t craft a big plot, with an outline, and a timeline. I don’t map out the characters I’ll have in the story before they show up in the parts. I write the parts, and fit them together into a story. I described my NaNoWriMo 2013 effort as making a movie. Write scenes in the order they happened in my head. Then, glue them together into a cohesive whole.

My nominees:

TBD
TBD
TBD

In short, I don’t have any. But, if you’d like to share your creative process, feel free to join in.

Commentary : A Rough Time

I’ve had a hard week. If I was a mythic night of old, I’d say the dragons won this week, and I lost. But I’m not, and life’s not that simple, and clean-cut. Life has oceans of colors, not just black and white. Not yes or no. It’s not binary.

Life’s complicated.

Today, as I left my Doctor’s office, he reminded me, “You can call during the week. Any time during the week. If you need help to get through the rough parts.” He knows I won’t, unless I’m desperate.

I want, desperately, to learn to stand on my own. To learn to face the life that causes me such distress. To learn to live. Feel. Laugh, cry, dance, sing, play, care, sit silently, alone, help. I want to learn all the things I never learned.

My doctor knows I will face whatever comes. Not because I’m strong. Not because I’m proud. Not because I’m not afraid.

Because I want to learn.

Because I want to grow.

There are times I feel like an infant in a giant world. Like I just woke up from a decades long sleep, and have to learn how to live in a strange, new world. A work I don’t always understand. A world that hurts everyone.

Yes, I suffer from depression. No, it’s not something I can decide I don’t have. It’s a biochemical imbalance, aggravated by the life I see around me every day. It’s a serotonin imbalance, coupled with autistic wiring of my nervous system and brain cells. It’s so many things.

Then I remember what I see around me every day. I remember I’m awake. I’m aware. I’m learning. I’m growing. In a world filled with people who are sleeping. I remember I’m in a world filled with people who stopped growing long ago.

It used to make me angry when someone I worked with said they leave the job behind when they walk out of the building. They pronounced they work with this stuff 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and that was enough. They couldn’t and wouldn’t touch it at home.

I always answered them, “Go ahead. Stand still. It makes you easier to run over.” No one understood. They just looked at me like I was crazy, and declared not everyone was nuts like I was.

My doc and I have spoken of this very topic. He’s very much aware of the way people stop learning, growing, maturing. They fought through 12 years of education. Then four or more years of college. Then through any testing and certifications they had to have for their profession. Then, they fought for the job they wanted. The one they’d worked for all their lives. And when they got it. When they became successful. They stopped. As if they’d reached the end of the journey, and had no where left to go.

When I think of that, of what it means, of what it says about people, my heart aches. And my soul cries tears of sorrow, tears of despair. And my depression grows. For to me, those people are waiting to die. Waiting for the end. Waiting for the working part of life to end, so they can enjoy retirement, and wait, in retirement, for the end of life to come for them.

I pray to God as I understand and believe God is, and to the universe, and to life, for all those around me to wake up, though I know most never will. And most of those who wake up will push themselves back to the peaceful escape of endless sleep.

I won’t contact my doctor unless I find I am unable to find my way through this week. Or the next. Or the one after that. Instead, I’ll use all I’ve learned, and practice, and grow, until I learn to stand, and walk through life, as I continue along the path life has for me.

And I’ll cry a million tears across countless nights, for those who stopped somewhere along their own journeys through this life, and are lost somewhere in time, and don’t even know it.

#FinishThatThought 47 : One Hosed Up Soundtrack

Sometimes it seems like whoever’s arranging the soundtrack to my life is watching the wrong thing. Like today. This morning, the alarm went off, I got up like always, and staggered downstairs. I turned on the morning news, and started feeding the cats, as I mumbled under my breath, “Don’t fall over. Don’t fall over. Wobble, but don’t fall down.”

And the news was playing that stupid song about being happy. You know, “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof. Because I’m happy.” Yeah. That one. I turned the friggin’ TV off.

Then there was my drive to work, in rush hour, along with zillions of perfect strangers. We sat there watching the police direct traffic as the fire trucks drowned the big Dodge Caravan that was burning itself to dust. And we all hopped on our phones, and called work to explain we were late because of it.

And the radio station was playing that James Gang song, “Cruising down the highway in my fine machine, lead pipes really singing, the engine sounds real mean.” I growled, and turned the damn thing off.

I went to the gym, and did my workout. I was sweating so much my t-shirt stuck to me. I thought my arms were going to fall off. They’d reached that point where they shake from exhaustion.

And the radio at the gym sang out, “Ooh, that’s why I’m easy. I’m easy like sunday morning.” All I could do was shake my head.

When I got home, I plunked my Taco Bell Burrito Supreme and giant Mountain Dew Baja Blast on the table, and turned on the news, to be greeted by another story describing how fast food makes you fat, clogs your arteries, and kills you.

It was one of those days. And that night I went to bed, and couldn’t sleep until the Brad Paisley concert ended at 11:00. The drums and bass guitars kept vibrating the painting on the wall above the bed.

Yeah. My life and it’s soundtrack are totally wrong for each other. I really should talk to whoever’s in charge of life, and let them know how screwed up the soundtrack is.

365 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Week 47 of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought. Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.

Commentary : Memorial Day

Welcome to Memorial Day in the United States.

I work today. To me, this is just another day. I realize there are people in my country that are greatly disturbed by my view. To them, I say my view of this holiday has improved dramatically in the past three years.

Unfortunately, I will never view Memorial Day positively. For me, it is a reminder of what I endured. Of a walk through the deepest, darkest, most demon infested corridors of Hell. A walk caused in too many ways, by the United States Military.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame the members of the US Navy, US Army, US Air Force, US Marines, and US Coast Guard. I don’t. I understand the sacrifices they have made, and continue to make, for the country I live in.

I do blame the Military-Industrial Complex. The Civil Service. The contractors (Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed, and others). Funny thing about that, I don’t blame them for the problems I have endured, nor do I blame them for the support they provided during the months when my new life began.

I blame them for being cold, ruthless, heartless machines, concerned about careers, profit margins, and public perceptions above all else. The MIC is a machine that eats people alive. It consumes souls. It crushes people, leaving empty, broken husks behind. And then, it disposes of those husks. Because people are resources. Human resources. Expendable, replaceable parts. If one breaks, so be it. Another human resource is always available to replace the damaged, broken part.

This is what Memorial Day reminds me of.

This is why I do not celebrate Memorial Day.

There is much more I could say. But I won’t. Too many people have already had too many problems dealing with my attitude toward Memorial Day. Too many people can’t understand, or won’t understand, or refuse to understand, what happened in 2010.

Now, I’ll get ready for work. Because, this is just another Monday to me.

I’ll continue to thank our service personnel each day, as I always have.

Enjoy your US Memorial Day, people. In the way appropriate for you. Let me deal with Memorial day on my terms, in the way appropriate for me.

Commentary : I Hide

It’s Wednesday. The day I have my weekly session with my doctor. There are several things we agreed about today. Several things I finally said. I’ve avoided saying them for nearly four years.

“This winter tore me up.”

“This winter was hard on a lot of people.”

I felt like saying, “Yeah, doc. I know.” I didn’t. I did what I always do. I thought first. I searched through my scripts. My databases. My knowledge. For the right thing to say. There wasn’t any right thing to say. I was in psychotherapy. And my doc knows how my mind works. He knows what I’m thinking.

“This winter tore me up bad.”

“I know, Mark.”

I thought of her. My spouse. My best friend. She whom I’d willingly die to protect. She without whom I’d be hopelessly lost. “She doesn’t know.”

My doctor nodded. “No. She doesn’t,” he put his papers down. “No one knows.”

“Yeah.”

“You hide.”

“Yeah. I hide.” I’d never admitted that. Never.

“And you’re damn good at it.” He doesn’t smile much, when we’re talking. He didn’t smile then. “You’ve had a lot of practice.”

“Yeah. I hide.” I knew there was no sense in hiding that truth from him. He already knew it. “I always have. I learned to. I had to learn to. I learned to hide. To keep what I feel, what I think, what I believe, hidden. I learned to observe. To tear apart. To analyze. To study. To build programs. Scripts. How to appear normal. How to blend in. Because I learned, if I did that, if I followed the scripts, and blended in, everyone shut the fuck up, and left me the hell alone.”

“I know.”

I wasn’t finished. “They stopped saying, ‘You can’t be like that. You can’t live like that. You can’t be that way.’ They shut up. And left me alone.”

We were silent for a bit. Only a minute. Maybe a hair more. Until I spoke again. “I’m going to take a walk in the morning.”

“Good! You need it.”

“Yeah. I need it.” I sat there, on the sofa in his office, as I have far more times than I can count, and I finally spoke the truth. “I don’t walk 5 and 6 miles because it doesn’t hurt.”

“I know.”

“I walk because I have to walk.”

He sat there, waiting for me to continue. We both knew he’d do that. We both knew why. “I have to walk. It’s how I cope.” I could have stopped there, but it was time to bring the truth out. “It’s how I cope with the anger. The frustration. The stress. Of living in this world.”

“I know. And it’s good. You need to walk.”

“She doesn’t understand. No one understands.”

“I know.”

Yeah. These aren’t the exact words we spoke today. But they’re close. I told him of the time I posted a message on Facebook. “I said no one knows. No one understands. How hard it is for me to keep going. To keep dealing with this.”

It’s true.

No one understands. Oh, people think they do. You have no idea how many people think they do. But, unless you’ve lived through this. Unless you face this in your life. You have no idea.

I the past few years I’ve found a few special people. They understand. They live with this same nightmare, or another nightmare like it.

I hide. Because the truth still stands. If I hide. If I put up a façade. If I blend in, and appear close to normal. People shut up. And leave me alone. They talk to me. They spend time with me. They don’t understand the person they think I am is a lie. Isn’t real. Isn’t me.

She knows I need to walk. She knows there are times I have to walk. She’s even said, “Walk. I’ll be here when you get back.” She knows. And I know it disturbs her. Especially when I’m wounded so visibly she says, “Go for a walk.”

I wish there were words, magic, miracles, anything at all, that would let me explain why I walk to her. Let me show her that I HAVE to walk. And I have to walk for miles. I have to walk, even if it hurts.

Do you know what it’s like to walk seven miles, or more, in August, when the sun is burning the grass, and it hasn’t rained in weeks, and you can see the heat coming off the asphalt streets, and the humidity is so high you feel like you could cut the air with a knife.

Yeah.

It hurts.

But I have to walk.

It’s walk. Or go insane.

You have no idea. You really have no idea. The price I pay. Every day. To live in a world I never made.

#DirtyGoggles2014 : And Portland Was Gone

Title : And Portland Was Gone
Word Count : 650Twitter Handle : @LurchMunster
Category : Steampunk

“Miss Sally, you must come with me now!” I grabbed her hand, and pulled her along behind me.

“Mister Henry, what’s going on?” She planted her feet, and refused to take another step.

“Please, Miss Sally! There’s no time. I’ll explain on the way.” Yet, she refused to budge. “I don’t want to die, so I’m going. I’d like to take you with me.”

“Die?”

“The waves will be here soon. We may already be too late.” I turned and ran. She paused a moment, then followed.

I could understand her confusion. It’s not every day the ground in Portland shakes. Portland, so different and so far from San Francisco, home of the 1906 earthquake. Stories of that disaster spread far and wide. The quake had been bad, certainly, but the gas fires caused by the quake had been far worse.

My father had explained the 1906 quake to me. Told me of the big crack in the ground, he called it a fault line. “Two parts of the Earth are sliding past each other. But they’re not smooth, so they stick together. Pressure builds between the two parts, until the stuck part breaks, comes unstuck, and the two parts rapidly slide to where they should have been.”

He wanted me to know Portland was not as safe as everyone believed. “There’s a fault in the ocean. A big fault. It’s stuck. It will slip, soon. When it does, it will cause giant waves from the ocean to strike Portland. Portland will wash into the sea.”

I’d always thought he was a bit crazy, my Dad. He’d made a balloon, a big one, for all his family. He kept it in the shed behind the house. When I’d moved a couple of years ago, he’d insisted I have a balloon too. “You must keep it ready. When the ground shakes you must promise me you’ll take the balloon to a safe height.”

“Be realistic, Father. The ocean is hundreds of miles west of Portland. Surely, waves from the ocean won’t reach us.”

“I’ve studied the history in the rocks and ground, my son. I know. I’ve seen it. The waves come in ever 360 years or so. And it’s their time. They will come someday soon.”

I couldn’t argue with my Father. He was a crazy old man, thinking waves from the ocean would wipe Portland from the map. But he was my Father. So, I had a balloon of my own, stored in my shed.

That night, at Miss Sally’s home, celebrating the full moon with close friends, and neighbors, the ground shook. Glasses slipped off tables, crashed to the floor. Confusion reigned, “What was that?”

I knew. I knew instantly. The fault my Father warned me of had slipped, causing an earthquake. As Miss Sally followed me, I explained my Father’s warning. “Waves from the ocean? Here?”

“I’m afraid so.” I opened the shed, and pulled out the gondola. The balloon rested inside. I opened the valve to the compressed can of hydrogen tied to the balloon. The hydrogen quickly filled the balloon, causing it to float from the gondola. “Miss Sally, please, climb in.”

She did, as gracefully as she could, taking care to keep her skirt positioned to protect her modesty. When she was in, I climbed in also, not nearly as gracefully as she had. The hydrogen tank continued emptying into the balloon, and shortly, we lost contact with the ground.

“I’ve never been in a balloon before, though I’ve always wanted to ride in one.”

I held her hand, “Miss Sally, I’m glad you are safe.”

As our balloon cleared rose, we looked to the west, and watched as the waves my Father warned me inundated Portland. Waves two hundred feet tall. One after another. In an endless procession. Until all the earth below us became a sea.

And Portland was gone.

#Rebirth : A Waste Of Time

“Have you watched him?” Kelly smiled as she pointed toward Edward.

“No.” Kelly admitted. “I’ve never been here with him.”

The two walked through the Camellia garden, taking their time, drinking in the colors and shapes of the Camellia blossoms filling the trees. “You should watch him.”

“Why?”

“Because.”

Cynthia watched Edward walk among the trees, with his camera. Edward stopped often and took another picture of another Camellia bloom. Sometimes, he took a dozen pictures of booms on a single tree. Sometimes, he took a dozen pictures of a single bloom. “What am I supposed to see?”

“Him.”

Him? She saw him five times a week at work. She talked with him, ate lunch with him, swapped birthday cards with him. Edward was her friend from work.

They followed Edward through the trees, keeping him in sight as he moved from tree to tree. He moved in circles, and zig zag lines. He stopped at a tree, took pictures, then looked around, spotted another tree, and made his way to it.

Cynthia checked the time on her watch. Twenty minutes of walking from tree to tree. “What is he doing?”

Kelly giggled. “He’s remembering.”

“Remembering what?”

Kelly didn’t answer. Cynthia shook her head. Twenty minutes staring at trees. Taking pictures with no rhyme, no reason. He had plenty of pictures. How many pictures could he take of Camellia trees and their flowers?

“He has thousands of pictures of Camellia blooms.”

“He does?”

Kelly’s smile was a relaxed, happy smile. “And he still takes more.” She watched Edward moving around a specific bloom, trying to hold his camera to take the best shot, with the best framing and background. “Don’t you wonder why?”

“It’s a waste of time.”

“Is it?”

Cynthia wanted to scream, “Yes! I have things to do! Places to go! A life to live! Deadlines, and commitments. I can’t be here, wasting time, wandering through a bunch of trees, looking at stupid flowers!”

“Why is it a waste of time?”

“What?” Surely, Kelly knew she’d asked a stupid question.

“Why is it a waste of time?” Kelly’s grin told Cynthia she knew everything, every reason taking pictures of flowers was silly, and a waste of time.

“You know.”

“So tell me.”

Cynthia took a deep breath and shook her head. “It’s his day off. He’s got things to do. A home to take care of. Laundry to wash. Dishes to wash. A lawn to mow. His family to take care of. Groceries to buy.”

“Yes. He does.”

“He doesn’t have time to wander around, taking stupid pictures.”

“Watch him.” Kelly resumed watching Edward, her eyes alive with color, and light, as if seeing something beautiful, something special. Cynthia had seen that look, she knew what it meant.

“What are you watching?”

“Just watch.”

She watched Kelly, as Kelly watched Edward. She realized Kelly was stopping at the same trees Edward stopped at, looking at the same Camellia blooms he looked at, watching him to see where he went, what he looked at.

“He always finds the prettiest blooms.”

Cynthia looked at the Camellia blooms too. Pink, red, white, and variegated, pink and red, pink and white, red and white. All of them different. Some just starting to open. Others in full bloom. Bright green leaves, others dark forest green, others almost pastel green, dark green, almost black veins laced through them.

The petals of the booms weren’t solid colors. Some looked like velvet. Others were like the leaves, veins of color laced through them. Pink with pink veins. Red with black veins. White with white.

She found herself carefully examining Camellia blooms. Their colors, their textures, their shapes. She found her eyes drinking in their colors, trying to burn them into her memory, so she could see them when she closed her eyes. So she could dream of them at night.

Cynthia watched Edward move from tree to tree, “He doesn’t care about the pictures, does he.”

“He doesn’t.” Kelly smiled, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.

“He’s not here to take pictures.”

Kelly didn’t answer, moving to another of the Camellia blooms Edward has stopped at. Cynthia joined her, the two of them drinking in the sights Edward lead them too. Cynthia forgot about time. About responsibilities. About everything.

“Do you understand?”

Cynthia felt lighter. Less encumbered. Less trapped. She closed her eyes, and had to smile. “I want to look at more flowers.”

“Tell Edward.” Kelly pushed her toward Edward. “He’s been here dozens of times. He knows where all the flowers are. When they bloom. When they peak. When to find them.”

“I can’t. I don’t want to bother him.”

Kelly giggled again. She marched up to Edward. “Cynthia wants to see more flowers.”

Edward grinned, nodded, and off he went. They followed him, through the camellias, to a paved path to another part of the garden filled with Azaleas in full bloom.

He smiled at Kelly. “Will this do?”

All she could do was nod.

“You’re welcome,” and he smiled. She’d never seen his eyes so alive. She watched him walk through the Azaleas, many so filled with color, and with blooms, she couldn’t even see their leaves. Some towered over her. Some were tiny bushes, barely knee-high. Some lined walkways with walls of color. Pink, red, almost orange, white, and even blue with white middles. Oceans of blooms.

“I told you to watch him.”

Cynthia giggled.

“Do you know why?”

“He remembers, doesn’t he.”

Kelly laughed.

“He remembers what life is.”

Kelly drank in the colors and fragrances of the Azaleas. “Yes, he does. And every time he comes here, it brings him back to life.”

Cynthia couldn’t argue with her. Just by watching Edward, she’d felt her heart and soul wake up from the sleep she put them in each day when she became a responsible grown up.

“He remembers.”

“Shut up, Kelly. I have Azaleas to look at.”

They both laughed.