Christmas Noir

*insert wailing and gnashing of teeth*
A ms in progress has gone missing, my Very Special Christmas story, crossed unnaturally with Detective Noir. Apparently it didn’t make the lifeboat when I changed computers. Well. I know what is to be done about that.

I felt my way to a tiny table in the dive, put my beer and laptop on the table and, once the one had started my motors, started the motor on the other.

The file was missing.
I knew how it had gone down.  Everyone did just what they were supposed to.  The IT rat, the hardware, it all worked just like it was supposed to.  But the file was gone, just the same, because it wasn’t a part of the what was important to the Fat Wallets in the corner offices.  Now there was nothing but me, sitting in the coils of stale cigarette smoke and looking like a sap, and a computer with nothing good to show me.
I knew what that meant, and I knew what to do about it.
I limped back to the bar.  The same slack-jawed tender was there.  It wasn’t his fault, but I had to fight down the urge to feed him his flannel shirt and maybe some teeth as garnish.
“Whiskey.  One shot, neat, water back and keep the sound muted.  Get me?”
“Bad day?”
I gave him a look I usually reserve for street punks and people who talk during trailers at movies.  “That question is part of what needs to be muted.  Get me?”
The look had slipped a couple gears, or maybe the bartender was tougher than he looked.  He stopped talking, though, and poured my shot.  He threw a splash more into the glass.  Maybe the look wasn’t slipping.  I tipped him heavy, to let him know I’d seen the splash.

Continue reading “Christmas Noir”

MAMBO BLEND (a nearly allegorical recounting of my one attempt to stop drinking leaded coffee)

The rain tapped counterpoint to deep-throated drums last night, and the steady thunder is still pounding in my temples and behind my eyes.  Looking out the dark window of my room, I thought for a moment I saw the outline of a skeletally thin man dancing in a ring of trees, shaking a fetish and casting graveyard dirt toward the house. His shadowed face seemed not to move, but I could hear, just below the current of my blood, chanted prayers I could almost understand.  The moment passed, and there were just trees, and the pain building in my head.
This morning I rose without waking, and moved with shuffling gait through the house. I acted out the rituals of the day without feeling, spoke without thought, ate and drank without affect. There was no periphery in my sight, nor in my thoughts; what I looked at was all there was to existence, that, and the pain that underlay everything.  I made and drunk potions that seemed necessary at the time I did so, found them without savor, and I am unchanged. People speak to me and I answer, and do not know what has been said. I act, and do not think to wonder what I am doing, nor why.
The darkness is still all about me, pervasive but not menacing, and the echo of chanting is still resounding within it in rhythm to my underwater movements.  Somewhere, I know, living things bleed out their lives and shadowed men shuffle and stomp in dance.  I lift my cup, and smell only graveyard dirt.
Somewhere, there is unquiet within me, but it is far, far from where anyone will ever hear it again.
Papa Cemetiere croons from over my shoulder, “No more decaf.”
Unfeeling, I nod to my skull’s beating rhythm.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Wow. Steampunk Heart is finished.

So.  My writing ‘to-do’ list was nicely granular.  So far I’ve:

  • Write
  • Be pleased with writing as a process
  • Be pleased with having written [if you don’t think these are discrete elements, you haven’t tried it]
  • Have people read the stuff I wrote
  • Evolve my writing to promote others’ enjoyment of reading it
  • That went well.  And quickly.  Which means, I suppose, that I’m up to:

  • Send some of my writing out for consideration
  • Well, then.  That’s quite a jump from ten days ago, when I wasn’t writing, hadn’t been writing, and would probably never write again.

    Now:  where does one send a Steampunk Poe pastiche, and what does one call it besides “The Steampunk Heart”, which is arguably the worst name ever?

    Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

    Taking an instant over the function of a glacial movement

    On so many occasions, I have analyzed and determined and enacted, and, in the end, I find that my plans all come to the same thing:  I have a Genius Idea that, given my extraordinary superhuman energy and no new obstacles, cannot fail.

    …er.  One of those givens appears to not be as true as I’d like it to be.  Perhaps two.

    Typically, the plan is something like “I will rise early each day, grasp my pen in a relaxed yet firm grip and …” which fails for want of sleep, or “Daily I will take a lovely half-hour and …” which fails for unexpected events that call for that time slot, or — stuff like that.  Moreover, there is an inertial mass of multiple views of my life, all with their own obstacles and slants on any given goal, working together as a unit.  We shall refer to this henceforth as Pangestaltic Inertia, neologizing a bit from geologists.

    Now, that one I think I can correct for.  But let’s wait.

    Over the past few weeks I’ve been in the possession of unaccustomed stability and perspective, brought about by taking a week off of Life and getting lost at 9,200 feet.  Heroically, of course.  I’ve not done anything amazing with this stability, as I wasn’t certain I could maintain it.  It’s a month old now, so I’ll put it to work a bit.

    What I discovered when I returned from the heights, was that most of the world staggered along without me.  Badly, but it did stagger.  What’s more, I had no loss of self-esteem for not having been central in the solutions for a week.

    That sounds like I could lessen the unexpected events by withdrawing some of myself from other things.  Go back to being an employee instead of pseudo-management and pseudo-savior, for instance.  OK, started that, and things are doing very nicely.  Good.

    Last night I borrowed some brain from my darlin’ redhead, and noted that, while the “disengaging” part of the plan was working, that isn’t the same as attaining something.  So I resolved to take some time out during the day (now, for instance) and go attain something.  Re-engaging with things I care about while disengaging from things I don’t.

    Good, again.  Good.

    But there was that Pangestaltic Inertia waiting for me.  I could see it, had seen it before, I knew how it would be.  I’d get a few minutes with a keyboard and utterly not write.

    *sidewise jump for a moment*

    So.  These days, I am The Guy at work.  People come up with clever development plans and they don’t work, not at all, and the people get lost and despair.  They come to me, weeping, and I soothe them.  In nearly every case one of two things is paramount as problem:  the person is working from unchecked assumptions or the person is trying to do multiple things at a time.

    *jumps back, counter-ways*

    I’ve spent a month checking my assumptions, and checking progress on the actions of those assumptions, and so forth.  I’m good, there.  I should disengage from some things, re-engage in others.  So, if Pangestaltic Inertia is still overwhelming, I must be trying to do multiple things at a time, and thereby sabotaging my progress.

    Let’s see.  ”I wish to author” [verb usage, there] — when I say that, I initially think I mean “I want to write something.”

    Dandy.  So write a brief bit about what I had for breakfast.  No, I really mean “I want to write something interesting”.  Ok, write about — no, I appear to mean “I want to write something interesting that other people will read — and enjoy — and that one of them will want to publish — for money — that will eventually become –”

    Oh.  Well, nailed that diagnosis, didn’t I?

    So, the list of actions I actually wish to take:

    • Write
    • Be pleased with writing as a process
    • Be pleased with having written [if you don’t think these are discrete elements, you haven’t tried it]
    • Have people read the stuff I wrote
    • Have them enjoy that Outside of my control.  Bad Scott.
    • Evolve my writing to promote others’ enjoyment of reading it
    • Send some of my writing out for consideration
    • Repeat the last two steps for the rest of my life, which will improve the success rate of publication as well as my enjoyment
    That’s a lot of steps to do at once.  Glad I noticed.
    Today I’ve done the first three steps.  I am sufficiently pleased with myself.  I would like for this to have been fiction, but one makes starts on these things, and traditionally I’ve always started by exposing myself in public.
    Consider yourselves flashed.

    Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

    Writing Ritual Workshop – Three Card Ritual

    Sunday, I attended the Rite to Write workshop by the glamorous, clever, and VERY energizing Jen Violi. It’s difficult to say whether the workshop was healing using writing or writing using healing…either way, it would have likely been beyond me a year ago, as I had some issues with things that are not measurable/reproducible.

    There was this one bit, in the workshop….

    It’s difficult to say exactly what this was for, or what it did. All I can report is that it appears to have done something in [balancing me/adjusting my perspective/clearing old thought forms/cheering me up].

    These days I’m all about What Works, rather than What I Can Reproduce And Explain Empirically. So.

    This was the procedure.

    0. Determine a focus, a situation that is unsatisfying and would do well with restructuring, or with a new resoltuion
    1. Select three cards from a tarot deck
    2. In order of selection, dub them “Beginning, Middle, End”
    3. Write a story with a paragraph devoted to each card, relating allegorically to what was determined in step 0; you have 15 minutes. Start with “Once upon a time”, to encourage you to not recite history, but something removed from it a step or two.
    4. Read the story aloud, preferably to someone else.
    5. Remark (or let your audience remark) on the indirect cues, ie tone of voice, patterns of emphasis, facial expressions, change in diction or meter or whatever might indicate emotional emphasis
    6. Rewrite the story; same three cards, same step 0, same order, but resulting in a victorious or positive story; you have 15 minutes.

    This should not produce anything but two hastily-written stories. In fact, the outward signs are two hastily-written stories. I seem to have found something more in the exercise, though.

    My step 0: “I haven’t been writing, or doing much of anything else for me. I love writing, I feel good when I do it or have done it. Now most obstacles are out of my way and … I am still not writing.”

    I drew from an animal-oriented deck.
    The Wheel, showing all animals
    Eight of wands, showing ants trudging in a labyrinth
    Nine of swords, showing a crow on a shattered stump, lightning behind him

    First round:

    One upon a time –

    –there was a man who could be anything. The secrets of how to share the strength of all things was his when he could focus to employ it, to take part. He knew to soar, and how, what it was to play and frolic in the waves or dance through the plains. The myriad possibilities were overwhelming to him; with all good things open to him, how could he choose what was right and proper to do? And the maelstrom of potential success and fulfillment bewildered him.

    There were those in his life that he had chosen to love, and they had their own abilities and problems, different from his. They could do for themselves, but they chose not to — for whatever reasons — and so were unhappy. The man (who could be anything) decided to help his loved ones, and do for them what they did not do for themselves. Their needs were not sated, but multiplied, so the man split himself endlessly in the form of millions of ants, to fetch and find and carry and dig and care for. Soon there was nothing of him that was not split among the millions of ants.

    The world, in form of a mighty black bird, found ants nourishing and pecked away at the man. Little by little, his split power and self was eaten until there was only an ant left. He took shelter in a tree, but the storms and the bird tore at it until it was shattered and uprooted, and he was trapped.

    Okay, my inner 16 year old was alive and well. I got that.

    I was paired with a lovely woman about thirty years my senior. We traded thoughts (having written oddly similar stories) and then rewrote.

    Take 2:

    Once upon — you know.

    There was a man who could see the world. He not only could see what was in it, but could see the patterns of how it moved, and understood the reasons and the ultimate good of it. Knowing these things split him endlessly at first, but understanding the patterns of all things, he was able to guide his attention into a new vision of order, a grand march of majestic grace and power.

    There were malefic entities in the world, and these took the form of the tiniest of creatures; ants. The endless scattered ants of trivial pain and petty frustrations bit at him, ran at the edge of his awareness and distracted him. With his new understanding of the patterns of all things, hew as not moved to resentment or anger — that burden would be too great, and not needed — but recognized that the pettiness and trivia need not be so great. He spun his understanding, guiding the ants through a labyrinth of his intention, spinning off the malefic portion each carried and leaving the ants to be merely ants, a part of the whole.

    The trivial pains and petty frustrations he gathered up and laid at the base of the rotted stump of the tree of good and evil, piercing it through nine times (once for each of the charms Oden learned on that tree, so long ago) to hold them in place; if they needed to be malefic, they could do it there. Seeing that he had freed not just himself, but the ants as well (and perhaps even the malefica, which wants its own poisoned kind for company) he took wing — for understanding can let one do that — and returned to the majestic grace of all things, to see how he could take part in the beauty of the interwoven patterns.

    So here’s the odd bit:

    I’ve been writing, now.

    I wonder if I’ll ever be smart enough to understand how this stuff works.

    Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

    A Section From the AuthorWay

    I write the words
    Tracing paths of golden pollen on the page

    I write in beauty
    Beauty in the sentence before me
    Beauty in the sentence behind me
    Beauty on the next page
    Beauty on the page before

    And in beauty will I edit
    And in beauty will I edit
    And in beauty will I edit
    And in beauty will I edit

    The writing magic raises me in its pen
    And I am come to the page, blessed

    Sa’ah naaghéi, Bik’eh hózhó

    Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

    Trilby, Part II

    I keep finding that I’ve just gone through some decision that, a week ago, I’d have made badly, only now I’ve made it well.  I’m asking for what I want, no difficulties, no will needed, no tooth gritting.  I don’t even notice it until afterwards.

    While I was nice enough to me today, and have had a nice day thereby, I still haven’t written.  Dunno if that has anything to do with anything.  Sat at the computer for a while, and just surfed until I got up and found food and a book instead.  My current goal is to do the things I want to do, but not make them duties, nor flog myself until I do them.

    Y’okay.  Rome wasn’t burnt in a day.  I’m pleased enough, and have another appointment on Wednesday.  Meanwhile, I’ll just make certain that I spend a certain amount of time each day giving myself opportunity to procrastinate.

    Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

    Crawling is still forward motion

    Woodwork is moving in tiny bursts, as I come to repeated dead stops to create jigs to perform the next task.  Writing is moving in tiny bursts, as I drag myself to the keyboard once a fortnight for a half hour, 2/3 of which I permit to be taken by minor emergencies.  Work is a full day ahead of deadlines than it was last week.

    I am utterly failing to answer emails.  I am losing contact with most of the world as I try to juggle events.

    This balance and perspective thing is difficult.

    But.  Progress.  However hard to detect.

    Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry