Saturday Thoughts

When you are me… And those of you who know me the best know this, you have moments of inspiration, and those moments can be, and generally are few and far between. Once upon a time… Because all good stories begin as such, or so a battle-hardened revolutionary from a universe that exists solely in my mind (or does it?) once said… Once upon a time, I was a child who thought he would be the next Stephen King. Those of you that know me know this as well. My mind overflowed with ideas. Did you know that I wrote my first short story when I was my oldest Minion’s age? If you read my author bio, attached to ENDWORLD – A Novel you did. I started my first novel at 15 too. Only a couple of people know that. It was called THE OAKS, and it was a ghost story that featured a specter modeled after Jerry Garcia. Yep! I did that. I haven’t the slightest idea what happened to it. It’s likely downstairs in storage on one of the many hard drives that for some bizarre reason I decided to amputate from my first, three computers and keep. They’ve been sitting in a sealed shoebox now for decades. There’s no way anything on them could likely ever be recovered. So I can safely assume at this juncture that THE OAKS, and so many other stories and started novels of mine are lost to time, and youthful stupidity. Ever hear of a disk drive Frank? Of course I have. But where’s the fun in that?

I never became the writer I thought I would become in my youth. Two novels, completed and one left to finish (the story? Done, but my edit is ongoing, and has been on an extended hiatus since February of this year). Dozens of poems and short stories, not to mention novels started but never completed, journals filled and yellowing in my secretary desk downstairs, and this blog. Frighteningly? This is the most sustained and consistent writing I have ever done, which is pretty sad given how often I post something these days. When you look up “prolific” on dictionary.com you do not see my face. But honestly? I am okay with that. I’ve written more than many write in their lifetimes. And I am proud of my accomplishments. So for the small segment reading this (all 25-30 of you, sarcasm as always fully intended), let me get this out of the way right now: This is not meant to be a depressing post. This is not your old buddy the Madchronicler crying “woe is me” or seeking attention. There is no need to call or slip into my DMs on social media and ask me if I am okay. I am fine. Better than fine honestly, and way better than I’ve been in years. I’m writing this with a bit of a smile on my face so in the immortal words of that eminent sage of modern wisdom and hilarity Wayne Campbell, “chill INSERT NAME HERE. Take your Ritalin.”

To dial it back a bit, while I have never been prolific as a writer so to speak, when inspiration strikes me? It hits hard. Like a semi barreling down I80. And I go from writing these little ditties every couple of months to banging out whole, 300+ page novels in a year. Sadly? Those 300+ page novels generally take a lot longer to finish and one year ends up being four. Or in the case of CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD, six. For those of you reading this that are waiting for HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD don’t worry: It won’t be 2025 by the time I publish it. I’d wager end of year this or Spring 2023 at the latest. So once again, “chill INSERT NAME HERE. Take your Ritalin.” And to be honest? I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing over the last couple of months, but nothing that has seen the light of day. Literally. Everything I’ve done has been presented after dark to a group of my besties for between 5-8 hours every couple of weeks as we, ever-closer to the big 5-0, have embraced the geekiness of our youth and the once-cult, turned mainstream attraction that is Dungeons and Dragons. I’m 10 or so sessions into my first stint ever as a Dungeon Master, or DM to those of you that know the lingo and to be honest? I’m having a blast. But writing a fantasy role play for a bunch of high school and college buddies is not the same as composing a blog entry or, more importantly, writing a novel for public consumption. But still? Inspiration again. I’ve been driven to each, new session like I’ve rarely been driven to anything, save for writing a novel before. So as my buddy Tigger would say, “same difference.”

But the inspiration to force a bunch of middle-aged guys to face off against Warforged and Drow, not to mention Hobgoblins and the occasional Thug is not the same the inspiration that goes into composing a novel. And that’s where I find myself this unseasonably cool and clear Saturday night in mid-August. Once again, facing a question of inspiration.

2022 has been an interesting year. You could argue that “interesting” can be interpreted in a number of ways and in both a good and not-so-good context. The good? A great job. An amazing family and support system of friends and colleagues. And the not-so-good? An ex-wife-remained-friend that went through a lot this year, only to come out on the other side of it with a smile on her face and, as she said herself the other day via a GIF, feeling “born again.” She may or may not be reading this right now but if she is? I want her and all of you to know something: I am damn proud of her. I’ve seen people go through less than what she went through and come out changed for the worse, and she has come through it renewed and inspired herself about the next stage in her life journey. I’m excited to see what she does next. To reiterate a point I made in my last post, divorce is hard. Hard on you. Hard on the kids if there are any. Hard on a lot of things. But if you can… If the situation allows you to, remember who you were before the day when you decided you weren’t any longer. Keep that close to your heart and mind, even when the love you once felt has departed and the confusion and all the other emotions that come with it are tempered. Because there may come a day when you’ll be thankful for it. I was. Shit, I am.

Necessity and responsibility have trumped inspiration this year. Yet over the last month or so, I’ve felt a twinge of it coming back. Growing stronger and more prevalent until it reached a fever pitch, earlier this week and I went so far as to cancel my scheduled D&D session with “The Party” in the hopes of devoting an entire weekend to working on HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD. Needless to say there was outcry, and said session did happen as scheduled last night (though admittedly, I may have taken a bit of frustration out on my motley crew of Half-Orcs and Genasis, Humans, Halflings and Changelings; fortunately they all survived). And this morning when I awoke? The urge to dive into the book was MIA. So? I got up and went about my usual, Saturday without the Minions routine: Breakfast, a bit of house straightening, grocery shopping and a nap. By the time 7PM EST rolled around I was resigned to not writing and turned on the Phillies game.

Yet through it all, there remained an inner dialogue between what I like to call Frank Prime and Frank Sol (shoutout to Matt Mercer of Critical Role fame for the inspiration with Pumat Prime and Pumat Sol (see: Campaign Two: The Mighty Nein)) about inspiration. Specifically what inspired me to write ENDWORLD – A Novel and CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD… And what inspires me, or does not inspire me to finish HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD now. And it was there, in the midst of my Saturday thoughts that I figured out something I’ve been apparently working on figuring out for a while.

The first two books were inspired by my past. Book One? My time as a late-teen and early-adult with my own Mighty Nein, the friendship and specifically the love I found and lost there. Book Two? My marriage, subsequent fatherhood and dissolution of the former. These were things that I knew, and have written about before but it was the next recognition that came as a surprise to me and when it hit? My eyes opened wide and I said… I literally intoned, “huh” to my empty house, and my confused looking cat who was simply trying to nap before hearing her hooman’s voice. Book Three? It is not inspired by anything that has happened to me before this moment in my life on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. The after-effects of Books One and Two remain for HEAVEN is… We’ll say loosely informed by my past, as is my life this night as I sit here typing these words. And those after-effects or mental aftershocks will never go away. But the inspiration for what comes next? It is the unknown. The ability to forge a narrative not based on where I have been but a true accounting of where I want to go. The long and winding road beneath a crystalline blue sky ahead that leads… Somewhere. To a door? Perhaps, though the road before me right now is quite clear. I envision a smooth and for once not rutted path through a grass-filled valley heading westward. Lush, summer greenery rises up into the foothills flanking me and the sun? It has just started it’s mid-day descent toward the horizon. I hear cicadas droning in the grass… Birds chirping as they go about their business. A light, slight and gentle breeze caresses my cheeks as I stroll, ever-onward into an undetermined future. As for what I will encounter there? That remains a mystery, but one that I am excited to investigate. I realize, as I sit here typing these last words in time with the crickets singing outside my open windows and the not-so-distant drone of semis and cars speeding by on I476 that this my friends and oft time casual readers?

This is peace. This too is how it feels to be “born again.”

May you all sleep well tonight and have the most pleasant of dreams. Thank you as always for reading the random musings of one psuedo-madman co-existing with you on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. And to Simeon Cobblepot, Pia Kha’shu, Gordjuck, Mondragon, Castor Raines and Ames/James/Amelia?

Roll for initiative.

F.

On the Past, the Now and the Soon-To-Be

Lately, I find myself thinking a lot about the past. Where I was. How it pertains to where I am. And just where the f*ck I’m going. 2022 has proven to be a taxing, and quite unexpected year, and not in the greatest of ways: A year filled with challenges and limit testing. Not all bad of course. Some good. But many of the trials have been less-than-savory. I won’t delve into the particulars at this time. If you know me outside of this Blog, you are aware of them, and if you really don’t know and want to know more? Reach out “offline” as we say in Business Development. Or “slip into my DMs” as we say in the Social Mediaverse. God, that sounds even more off-color when I type it out, and slightly pervy when it’s an invitation. Apologies if anyone is offended.

This little piece of Mental Flatulence is not about what’s going on in my life, and the lives of those I care about on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence in 2022. As I said in the first sentence of Paragraph Uno, it’s about the past. My past. How it is affecting my “now” and how it might affect my “soon-to-be.” And maybe what is on my mind this beautiful April day under an endless deep, blue sky (with just a hint of cloudiness on the horizon) applies to you, as well. We’ve all got a past, right? And some of us think about it more than others. Hell, some of us live in it. I try not to. I’ve always endeavored to focus on my present but every so often, something triggers a memory. One memory leads to another, and the next thing you know your old buddy the Madchronicler is halfway down the rabbit hole without a rope to grab onto or a parachute attached to his back. Falling. And the only way to slow that fall is to write about it. Enter? Blog post.

In roughly two weeks my oldest minion is auditioning for a musical at her school. “Annie JR.” She’s 12 years young going on 16 some days, as you’d expect from an almost full-fledged teenager. This is not her first audition. She’s been in a number of productions to date–“Moana JR” last fall and “Aladdin JR” before that to name a few–but this particular audition holds special significance for her given that she is entering 8th Grade and at her school? Every 8th Grader, regardless of skill level gets a part. Or so she tells me.

Don’t get me wrong: The kid has skills. Mad ones. A voice. The ability to be dramatic (like all pre-and-full teens sure, but better… or worse depending on your perspective) and act. The ability to dance. She’s honestly the complete package and I’m not just saying that because I’m her father. She’s a bit shy but who isn’t at that age? I was, and I know that eventually, she’ll come out of it. But despite what she considers a guarantee, she’s nervous. She has her heart set on playing Miss Hannigan and for those of you unfamiliar with “Annie?” Take a moment and Google, Bing or Safari/”search up” (as my kids say) Carol Burnett Annie. You won’t be disappointed.

Now, I understand the need to keep a child motivated. But I further understand the requirement to set achievable expectations with them, and while I firmly believe she has what it takes to not only win the part of Miss Hannigan but knock it out of the park, there are… Considerations. Competition to be specific. And she has some. There are a number of girls in her class that are also blessed with mad skill, not to mention boys, and I wouldn’t put it past her school to introduce a Mister Hannigan versus a Miss. This is, after all 2022. I’ve been working with her… Keeping her level and assisting her in whatever limited capacity I can to keep improving/keep getting better. And while I’ve been doing this–and here’s where I get to the part where I tell you why I’m writing this Blog post–I’ve also been remembering my own time “in the theater.” God, I hope that doesn’t sound conceited because when I wrote it, I heard Mister Howell from “Gilligan’s Island” in my head (I was going for Danny Kaye from the “Choreography” number in “White Christmas”).

I won’t delve too deeply into the particulars of my experiences as a member of The Royal Masque, Barricade Productions and the short-lived Ogontz Theater Company (abbreviated OTC; yep! I came up with that one) because A) I hate to come across sounding conceited and like a braggart–Mister Howell I am not–and B) I don’t want to make anyone associated with those fine companies of talented actors and actresses, many of whom who have gone onto great things embarrassed that I’m referencing them. But… As Norman Osborne/The Green Goblin once said in “Spider-Man” and recently said again in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Ya’ know, I’m something of a scientist myself.” Replace “scientist” with “actor/singer” and you’ll get where I’m coming from. And over the decades since my last, utterly forgettable appearance as a member of the chorus in “They’re Playing Our Song” (save for an unauthorized and substance-induced, staged bar fight on closing night that got me and a handful of others forbidden from ever acting in a Penn State then-Ogontz, now-Abington production again; ah to be 19 again, sarcasm fully intended), I’ve dabbled with the idea of getting back into it. I even went so far as to schedule an audition with The Swarthmore Players a few years back to be in their spring production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” But I never went. Life interfered, as life seemingly always does and I cancelled. Yet the itch… the desire has never gone away and to be honest with y’all? I don’t think it ever will.

Which places me in an all-too-familiar pickle. Not just with “the theater,” but with other instances that I have been faced with in the past ranging from school to writing. If my past is any indication–and it is, else I would not be writing these words right now–I always… get close. I pull a Prometheus and fly just close enough to the Sun to touch it before the wax upon my wings melts and I plummet back to the Earth and my… say it with me guys and gals, my once-and-still “mundane, routine existence.” As Catherine sings in “Pippin,” “I’m your average, ordinary kind of woman.” Replace “woman” with either “man” or “the Madchronicler” and you’ll smell what I’m cooking. God. That didn’t sound right either, did it?

Do not get me wrong. I would not trade my life for anything. Not my family or friends, not my job or… sh*t, anything. But I can’t help but feel–as the day creeps closer toward afternoon, the end of my lunch break and 80 degrees for the first time this year–that there has to be more. It’s blatantly obvious to me at the ripe old age of 46 pushing 47 that I’m not achieving, and honestly never have achieved whatever potential God instilled me with. My skills? Never fully utilized. Hidden behind responsibility and a steady paycheck. Is it too late for me to… I don’t know, become what I was supposed to become? Or is this my destiny: To exist as an average, ordinary member of the societal hive mind and pass on my once-dreams to my children in the hopes that they will achieve their potential in the days, weeks, months and years to come? And would that be so bad? To teach them as I was taught, and sit as a proud member of the audience watching them? After all, I’m a few years shy of a half a century–God it pains me to write that–on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Isn’t the future theirs?

Perhaps this is a mid-life crisis. Or perhaps I’ve simply had too much time lately to think and… I’ll say it: Regret. Regret never following through on my dreams. Regret settling (man I hate that word). I can’t shake the thought that in some universe, perhaps closely adjacent to this one I did write the next great American novel and made it into Oprah’s Book Club. In another one? I am the bearded, suit-jacket-with-the-patches-on-the-elbows wearing college professor that I envisioned myself becoming. And in another? Jesus Christ. No, literally Jesus Christ, starring in a touring production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Well, maybe not Jesus. His range is too high. And not Judas–same problem. But Pilate? Herod? Perhaps either/or. Whether these alternate realities on other sides of the proverbial wormhole of existence exist or not I will likely never know in anything more than a fictional, musing (random musings, perhaps?) capacity. There is only here. Now. And what I do with this life in this universe. And really? What remains is a decision. My decision.

Everyone still tells me that I have the power to become whatever I want to be. But how truthful is that? In life, we the people make choices. And with those choices? Rewards. But also risks. I’ve shied away from the latter in my recent past because there is no margin for error any longer. When I was 19 it was easy to get fashnookered (AKA f*cked up) and stage a bar fight in an amateur production of a little known musical from the 1970s. I like most 19 year old’s gave zero f*cks about anything. But now? I have kids that need me, family and friends that count on me and clients that I support. Not to mention creditors that I answer to but who doesn’t? Sometimes, adulting sucks. But throwing caution to the proverbial wind does not come naturally anymore. One slip and I may find myself without a roof over my head, water to drink or food in my belly. And I would not wish that upon anyone, least of all my minions. So? As T. S. Eliot wrote and Prufrock intoned, “how should I presume?”

Sadly? My aforementioned decision is not forthcoming right now, as much as I might want it to be. And my past is little more than a distraction. I have chosen and choose not to live in it. I chose and choose to focus on my now and if, perchance, an opportunity presents itself in my “soon-to-be” to become more than the guy writing this piece of Mental Flatulence in the waning moments of his lunch break (damn… this only took an hour?)? Well, I guess I’ll simply have to cross that bridge when I come to it. But I can’t help but feel–as the morning segues slowly into the afternoon and I measure out the time left between now and when I have to go pick up my minions at school with coffee spoons–as if my time is running out. Godd*mn that sounds bleak. What can I say? This Blog is supposed to be filled with “the sometimes insightful, but many times inane observations of a self-proclaimed Sh*thead living on one side of the proverbial wormhole of existence.” You may agree with me, and you may not. But despite the bleakness inherent in the words I just wrote? Somehow… some way I feel better.

Thanks as always for tuning in, my oft-times casual readers. We’re a long way from Denis Rodman and a thunderstorm this afternoon. Booyakasha. Respect.

F.

On Balance

Today, I did something that I have rarely, if ever done, not only at my current job, but in most jobs I have worked in over the long and winding course of my life. I took a sick day. While that may seem inconsequential to many of you reading this right now, it is pretty monumental for me. I’ve always been the person that worked through the pain. Even when my head was splitting or I could barely sit up, or I was rocking a fever of 103 I “mowed through.” Because that is how I was raised. I watched my mother suffer through cancer and treatment and never miss a day. I watched her fiance and my pseudo-stepfather do the same until it got to be too much for him and he was forced to throttle back. Mom survived. Larry didn’t. But the lessons I learned from them stuck with me, and remain with me now.

But today? Today was different. It’s been a long time since you’ve heard from your old buddy The Madchronicler. I know. July of last year to be exact. That seems… Kind of shocking given my history. While I’ve never been the most consistent writer, I’ve never let it go for so long. I’ve never gone this long without updating you on my own, subjective life, universe and everything, or interjecting an opinion or five into the interwebs via this platform. Yes, the last six months have been a bit of a whirlwind. Where I envisioned myself last July in February of 2022 did not come to pass for a number of reasons. Were I to update you on all that has happened and all that is currently happening we’d be here all day or night depending on when and even where you are reading these words and to be honest? There are things I either cannot talk about yet or am unwilling to talk about. So? I won’t. What I will say is that I’m good. And also not so good. It honestly all depends on the day. But I’m here. And I plan to be here for a while so if you were hoping I was gone forever I am sorry to disappoint.

Also? The Minions are great. They’re keeping me busy but that’s what you get with a 12 and a nine year old. I embrace it. And the network of loving friends and family that has surrounded me for as long as I can remember is good, too. It’s even grown a bit, but I’ll avoid that topic for now, as well. Those people… You have kept me smiling and for that? I say “wus.” Booyakasha. And respect.

But pleasantries aside, back to today. Today, a pesky cold and a hectic schedule finally caught up with me and I concluded that it was time to take a break. So? Six hours of PTO (I did work a bit; sorry to disappoint) and a couple of naps later, I’m feeling better. Still not at 100% but I didn’t just “vedge” and nap all day. I did a lot of thinking, as well–thinking that was not accosted by my nine to five gig as a Business Development Consultant for once. And that thinking is the clearest thinking. And a lot of it centered on and around balance. I’ve written, or at least I think I’ve written about balance in the past. Light and dark. Yin and Yang. Good versus evil. And how in all of the above cases one needs the other to exist in balance. My life in many ways has been a case study of all of the above. I tried to do good but ended up causing pain. I walked away from things because their inclusion in my life threw my balance off. Finances and a life, a relationship with another person and one with myself or my children. And there have been moments in my life when I got there. Yet more often than not those moments quickly passed. And it’s taken me until tonight to realize one, singular, indisputable fact.

Balance as I always envisioned it cannot and should not exist. Don’t run me off WordPress yet. Give me a chance to explain.

Bob Dylan once wrote that “chaos is a friend of mine.” I jokingly adopted that adage when I was younger. Hell, the surname Madchronicler is a derivative of it. Little did I know however that as I got older, my once-self mocking characterization would become canon and an every day part of my life. Now, at 46 years young/old I am faced with things that I was only faced with in passing before. Life and death. Mortality. The prospect of financial f*ck-ups. Hurting others and being hurt. And I have realized that chaos is not and never was a friend of mine. Chaos f*cking sucks and should be exiled from this universe on one proverbial side of the wormhole forever.

But? It cannot be. And will not be because chaos, like so many other things needs to exist in balance with its much less annoying counterpart, peace. Chaos has been and will always be a part of life. The key is not elimination, but willing incorporation and that’s the lesson I have learned and felt the need to write about tonight. I’ve tried for so many years to get to a point of “balance” as I referenced above–you remember; that which cannot and should not exist–that I didn’t realize what I was really striving for was peace. But peace alone is… Kind of impossible. The way to achieve true balance is to accept that chaos is a real and inescapable part of life, and not run from it, but figure out a way to cope with it. That person who “did you dirty?” Rather than hold a grudge against and maybe even hate them, figure out a way to work with them toward a common end goal. You don’t have to like or love them, but if a civil relationship breeds a good result? Do it. That’s balance. Not everyone may agree with me on that and that’s fine. You don’t have to take my advice. But anger breeds and enhances chaos. And there may come a day when you are happy you decided to work toward a common goal with them, rather than tell them to piss off. The same can be applied to many things too, not just interpersonal relationships. Just my $0.02 folks. Take it for what it’s worth.

Today on my sick day I redefined what balance is for myself and who knows? Maybe for you. That wasn’t my goal but if I did? I’m glad. Today I realized that true balance can only be achieved by accepting chaos not as a friend, but as a shadow when the sun is in the east, and peace as the same when the sun is in the west. I understand and accept that I will always have good and bad, light and dark moments. I will cause pain, but I will also cause joy. Sometimes I’ll get it wrong and others? I’ll be right on the ol’ money. I guess that’s why I’ve always been fascinated by the “Gray” Jedi in Star Wars lore, or the True Neutral characters in Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe it’s why I’m a political centrist. Who knows? But I feel better and more ready for what comes next because of it. As for what that is…?

I’m not entirely sure, but I know that part of it starts, or maybe ends with “the sea has no memory.”

Winky emoticon. Smiley face.

F.

Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood…

One of my greatest joys when I was younger was sitting out on my porch in “J-Town” as a thunderstorm rolled through. There’s nothing quite like a thunderstorm in Summertime at the end of a long, hot and humid day. I’ve described the experience at length before. I even wrote a blog post about it, many moons ago when I lived in Broomall, and everyone lived everyplace else. That time? Past. Like the once-oppressive heat that marked today, as rolls of thunder and distant lightning echo through my new home in Swarthmore and I endeavor, for the first time since finishing HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD, to write.

A lot has changed for me since that late, Friday night in April. It is now mid-July. I won’t dive into the particulars of all that has happened. Needless to say my life is, in many ways renewed. It was long overdue. To anyone that has suffered because of it, I apologize. You know who you are. But I needed a fresh start. I needed to refocus on a path… MY path forward. I spent many years putting the needs of the many before my own and in the process of doing that? I lost myself. I had to rediscover who I am. Have I? Yes. Does that mean I know my way forward? Sadly, I’m still working on it. But I’m close now.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both.” You know that one, right? “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. It’s always been a favorite poem of mine, right up there with pretty much anything T. S. Eliot wrote. For many years, there was only one road forward for me. Yet that road? It officially ended a few weeks ago. So here I am, once again looking at two, and only two possible ways forward. Down one? Continued stability and normalcy. And down the other? The road NOT taken. A riskier path. And the latter, while intriguing, scares the living bejesus out of me. It’s been a bit since I took a risk. So the question is: Do I? Do I take the road less traveled and if I do, will it make all the difference as it did for Frost?

Many have told me, as I sit here writing in silence, my only accompaniment the sound of the storm, raging outside that I am still young, even now as I balance on the precipice of 46 years, on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Yet I do not feel it. I feel far detached from that dreaming child that sat upon his mother’s porch in “J-Town” watching a thunderstorm roll past. In truth? I feel old. Despite a renewed sense of self there remains the feeling that I’m past the halfway point of my life less extraordinary and a desire to DO. Now. To live while I still can. That is the allure of the road less traveled. The well-trodden path? Easier. A slow downslope into peace, but without fulfillment. Excitement. And despite the occasional ache in my bones I still crave it. So what do I do? How do I proceed?

I know that I am being vague and that is intentional. For it feels too soon to start speaking of what lies down each path. There remains a step for me to take before I can reveal all. The final step in my so-called renewal. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I? I took BLANK, and that has made all the difference.” Which one do I choose? I know where I am. I know where I want to get to. But do I endeavor to “cash in” on a few, long held dreams before doing so? Or do I stay here. Live. Exist. Maybe write another book or two. Has the time… MY time for dreaming passed me by? Does there come a point where we really are too far along for dreams… A point where our reality is what it is and we need to accept it as such? I wish I knew. All my life I have questioned. Is it time to stop asking and just… Be?

So is the state of your old buddy the Madchronicler’s mind this evening, friends. The storm that was raging outside has passed. There are more storms in the forecast for later tonight. Let them come. Let them renew me as they did when I was a child and make me feel alive, and in amazement at the majesty of nature’s fury. My porch now? Nothing like my mother’s, but big and covered enough to allow me to sit. I think I will. Sit, and consider. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood?” I’ll let you know when I decide which one to follow. I’ll let you know if it made all the difference.

FM.

On Beginnings and Endings

A coy observer of the title of this blog post will remember that back in November of 2018, I wrote a piece I called “On Endings and Beginnings.” This is an intentional juxtaposition of that title, and it is in no way, shape or form related to that little piece of Mental Flatulence. Quite the contrary: This is a rumination on writing, not life though some will claim that for many, writing IS life and vice versa. Never for me, though. Life is my daily, 9-5 gig. It’s spending time with my friends and family. It’s paying my bills, cleaning my house et cetera et cetera. Writing is a luxury. A desire? Yes. Oft times an obsession. It’s my pre and post-9-5 gig. It’s spending time with the characters in my head. It’s not money driven though there IS house cleaning involved. Editing they… Sh*t, I call it, and even though I have arguably the greatest editor I could ask for (booyakasha, Amy. RESPECT), I still have to clean up my own mess before I hand it off to her. Et cetera et cetera. So let’s talk about writing. Specifically? The ENDWORLD Series. A bit about how it started, and more about how it’s going to end. Not THE end (no spoilers; I promise). But the inevitable conclusion of what has, in many ways been the longest constant in my 45+ year existence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence.

A casual observer will likely note that this post belongs over on the ENDWORLD site, linkable HERE if you are so inclined to check it out. Argument made. But this FEELS like a Random Musings post and not a book-related one. Anyone who knows me knows the story of how ENDWORLD came to be. It was originally written as a fictional autobiography… A reflection of my life at that time which drew upon three main inspirations: The Terminator movies, The Wonder Years and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Many, if not most of you reading this also know that what it once was is not what it is now. It grew… It evolved. It still retains remnants of what it once was but at it’s core, it is now so much more. It’s a rumination on spirituality. Love. Loss. Dreams and ideals… Goals not achieved because of selflessness. And most importantly? Sacrifice, and its importance because as Spock once said, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” William MacNuff, formerly Roland MacNuff is my tragic hero. He is me, but not as I am. He is me as I always HOPED I would be. That is what The ENDWORLD Series was, and remains now, a few years shy of 30 since I initially started writing it.

This year? I will finally finish the process that has been an ever-present part of my life for almost three decades. Yes, this year. I know this now. Not because I want to finish it… I don’t. As is the case with almost everything in my life I hate endings. I find it God awful hard to say goodbye. But I will finish it because I have to. I am beholden to MY better angels, and the people that care about me and that I care for to be done with it, once and forever all. Forever more. So this will be the year. Get your red pen ready Amy. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.

The knowledge that the end is only a couple hundred pages away makes me sad. There’s an emptiness on the other side of it that I simply do not want to face. Yet I have known for years… Decades really, that the key to unlocking all the other stories that have formed in my mind is to finish the first one. THIS one. So with a heavy heart and a reasonable, albeit not crippling amount of fear I commit to, and surrender myself to the inevitable. It’s true that the end has been written for some time. Don’t worry. I promised no spoilers and there won’t be. It’s also true that I’m not entirely convinced that everyone that has graciously bought, read and enjoyed the first two books will like said ending. But that is a chance I need to take. Because as I have said before, authors don’t write books. They are merely a conduit. A storyteller. Books write themselves. That was one of the first lessons I learned as a wannabee novelist 26 years ago now. But I hope… Nay pray that you understand it, and the rationale behind it when you have the final manuscript in your hands. Some of the greatest tales ever told have a questionable ending. Sad. Confusing. Aggravating even. To defy your instincts as a writer and “play to your base” is how some authors roll. But not me. I’ve spent too much of my life going with the flow. I can’t sell out on this. My apologies in advance. Remember: If you hate it… If it scars you, I’ll offer you a refund. That’s about as close to a money back guarantee is your ol’ buddy the Madchronicler can offer.

So? Let’s mark this moment for posterity. A bit earlier, over dinner I finished a read through of the first, and only 131 pages of the HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD manuscript. It is rough. Yet I did not clean my house. I did not break out my own red pen and edit it or make any wholesale changes. There will be time for that when the first draft is completed. I am picking up the story exactly where I left off. On page 125 (confused? Remember: The ending is written, and now you know it’s six pages long which, again, is NOT a spoiler). William MacNuff and a handful of his brethren are in a bit of a pickle, and it’ll be interesting to see how they get out of it. Even I’m a bit curious. You may be reading this right now and asking yourself why I’m blogging and not… noveling? Authoring? Writing. A little known fact about the original HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD: I paused at roughly the halfway point for around six months. I was bracing myself for the eminent race to completion. True to form, I’m doing it… I DID it again. Not stalling. Committing. Resolving to complete the story that I so desperately want to keep telling. But everything has an end, and The ENDWORLD Series is no different.

I’ll leave y’all with this as a “thank you,” not just for reading THIS blog post, but for reading all of my musings and stories over the years. Mind you that this is relatively unedited (albeit redacted to avoid spoilers per my earlier vow), and only a small sampling of what is to come. But if you haven’t read CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD? I’d look away now. These words could change but… well? Here it is. The beginning of HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD. Book Three of The ENDWORLD Series. By Frank Marsh.

PROLOGUE – Forward

Time present, and time passed are both perhaps present in time future, and time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present all time is unredeemable. What might have been is an abstraction remaining a perpetual possibility (T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton).

The sea has no memory.  

I’m not sure where I heard that before. Some pre-Administration author or poet wrote it. Someone whose name was lost along with so much of what existed before. I stand here, my tarnished boots in the sand, staring out over the endless expanse of water that stretches out to the horizon before me beneath a gray, late Fall or early Winter sky. Not a dreaming python, and not deadly if you provoke it. But peaceful the way it undulates hypnotically before me. Somehow… someway I understand, and I close my eyes and feel the way the chilling, sea breeze blows against my cheeks and whips my long, mostly white hair out behind me.  

The sea has no memory, I whisper to myself, and feel a moment’s respite from the nagging pain of hunger in my gut and the way my mind drifts like a fallen leaf, or a piece of wood upon the water. I open my eyes. It is hard. More difficult than it ever has been before because I am tired. So tired. Time has passed. I am unsure of how much as time has no meaning here. A day… a week… a month, year, decade, century or millennia is infinite. Forever. Everything else dies but time? It marches ever onward like a dutiful humachine, it’s only purpose to taunt us… it’s only meaning to give a vague, sense of structure to the All. In the end? Laughable. “Only to die, as all must in time, the demise of a fool to fact.”  

Remelius Vincent really knew his shit, sarcasm fully intended.  

* * * 

You know who I am. You know my name. You know where I’ve been, the things I’ve done, all I’ve lost and what I’ve gained if you’ve followed me this far. For the unindoctrinated, my name is William MacNuff, and I have been many things in my life. But what am I at this juncture, as I sit here once again by candlelight, writing these words in shaky longhand on a faded and yellowing piece of paper? I wish I knew the answer to that question. Perhaps you can assist me with it as I endeavor to tell, and likely finish my story because although there are relatively few constants in this place save for time, or the lack thereof (depending on your perspective) one thing is undeniably true…  

This is the end. My beautiful friends? The end.  

Jim Morrison really knew his shit too, no sarcasm whatsoever intended.  

Goodnight and sweet dreams all. Time to go. There’s novelling/authoring/writing to do.

F.