A Matter of Perspective

There is a scene towards the end of Children of Endworld in which one of the main characters–I’m not going to tell you which one–stands upon the precipice of a cliff and looks down at the ocean, smashing against the rocks below. He/she/it (yes, I wrote “it.” It’s a book about robots for crying out loud, did ya’ think I wouldn’t create robot characters?) considers “doing it”: He/she/it has been through much. He/she/it is mentally, emotionally and physically scarred. He/she/it wonders if “doing it” is better than the alternative, i.e. living in a world without love, joy or hope. Does he/she/it follow through? I’ll write more about that later.

I’ve been relatively quiet lately and for that, I am sorry. I’ve been preoccupied. Not much with writing though Children is about 75% done this cold and dreary night in early October, 2013. I’ve mentioned… “stuff” in one or two blog entries lately and that “stuff?” It’s still around. It’s even been compounded by other, unrelated “stuff.” Stuff + More stuff = One big Stay Puft Marshmallow Man of sh*t and right now? I’m covered in gooey, sugary deliciousness. But I’m surviving despite it. There are days where I feel like I’ve gone 10 rounds with Ivan Drago and the only thing that’s keeping me “up” is my heart and my resolve. There are days where I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a couple of hell hounds and Gozer the Gozarian. My mentality varies. But the one thing that has remained consistent throughout all the BS is that vision that I detailed in the first paragraph of this blog entry: That of a man/woman/machine standing upon the edge of a cliff, looking out over the angry ocean below and wondering if he/she/it should “do it.” That he/she/it? He/she/it is me, right now. I am standing upon the proverbial precipice of my 38 year life on this side of the wormhole of existence and I am wondering: Do I jump, or do I turn away?

Mind you I wrote “proverbial” for a reason. I’m not contemplating suicide. Nor am I sick and/or dying. The “stuff” in question? It’s not life threatening in the common, everyday sense of the term “life.” And I am sorry, but I’m still not going to go any deeper into detail than that. It remains mine and mine alone to contend with. But the sheer cliff face that I am looking over? I can most certainly write about that. Metaphorically, of course.

I never thought that I’d be 38 years old and married with two kids, two cats, two mortgages and soccer practice every Saturday morning. Let me get that out of the way now. I hoped for it but did I actually believe it? No. I really didn’t. Not until I met Nicole and then? Even then it took me a while to come to grips with that fact that I, too, could be happy. That I, too, could be a father and a homeowner. This was not the life I envisioned for myself some 15, very odd years ago when we all lived in and around “Oz” and no one lived anyplace else. I’ve come a long way from those Halcyon Days of my wayward youth. Yet still, here I am at 38 years young or old depending on your perspective at a crossroads. Arguably the most important one I have ever happened upon on the oft times winding road of my life. And the decisions that I make in the next couple of weeks and months are going to affect me and my loved ones for a very, very long time. Hence the extreme analogy of the cliff: Do I take the plunge or do I turn away?

It seems like an easy question to answer until you’re faced with it. Then it becomes the most difficult thing you’ve ever contemplated. And your choice will have consequences either way. The intoxication of the unknown or the comfort of the known? The world that lies behind you, back away from the precipice or the one that lies in front of you, cloaked in obscurity? One is filled with risk and the other? Not so much. What type of person are you? Are you the kind of person that embraces the questions or the kind of person that avoids them? And is your life as a risk taker or a home body sustainable? Questions, questions and more questions, all without answers save for one: I have no f*cking idea what to do.

Therein lies the rub, guys. I know I am faced with one of William MacNuff’s “watershed moments” and I know I need… I NEED to make a decision one way or the other. Do I leap or do I walk away? Sadly, I cannot decide which way is best. I’ve always been a moderate. Were I the President, I would be the Commander in Chief that straddles the aisle more than any President in history. I’m a hybrid: Both a city slicker and a suburbanite; a student and a teacher. Of course I am. I’m a guy that was raised by a woman albeit an incredibly strong woman (booyakasha, Mom. RESPECT). The only other Y-Chromosome in my house is the one my gender-challenged, almost 11 year old cat ‘Dorna possesses. I exist and have existed for decades as a contradiction: A practical artist; a dreaming realist. An oxymoron? How dare you call me a name you… you… you YOU you. But yes, I am an oxy… moron. And my current indecision? It is a direct result of that.

Each choice has potential positives and negatives. Sadly, very little is apparent on the surface. Most of it is speculation. Let me reiterate that I am not contemplating killing myself nor am I considering catching the red eye to Jamaica and cliff diving (aw HELL no). The cliff? It is a metaphor and metaphorically? I, like my character, stand upon a precipice. I, like my character is wondering “do I” or “don’t I.” I, like my character know that the decisions that I make in the next few weeks and months are going to affect me as much as the physical action of either jumping or turning from the cliff would. I am 38 years old and the remainder of my existence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence is hanging in the balance. Do I, or don’t I?

Perhaps the answer is evident in the actions of the character from Children that is standing upon his/her/its own precipice. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, guys: I’ve written the character too that point but I have not yet written what he/she/it does. Why? Because the Endworld books have always been reflective of my own life. An Autobiographical Fiction, if you will and until I make the decision for myself? Until I leap or don’t? I cannot make it for him. Or her. Or it. Damn, dirty metal bastards.

And with that? It’s back to “stuff.” G’night, all. Pleasant dreams. It looks like “Rocky IV” AND “Ghostbusters” are on right now. But I don’t think I am going to watch either. There’s a “The Walking Dead” marathon on AMC. Metaphorical? I leave that for you to decide.

Winky emoticon. Smiley face.

A Question of Inspiration, Written with a Pensive Frown

I’ve been debating where this blog posts belongs: Here on “Random Musings,” or over on the “ENDWORLD” site? It’s really a toss-up. I’m going to go with choice “A,” otherwise known as the site that I’ve neglected for almost a month. A month? Yep. For those of you that have been waiting patiently for me to take a little break from blogging congratulations: You got it. But now? Now, I’m back. Whether my being back is for the betterment of the blogosphere or not I do not know. I leave that for you, my faithful readers to decide. Whether I’ll be maintaining “Random Musings” more consistently moving forward is also a mystery. I’m knee-deep in CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD, right now. It’s occupying most of my creative mind, presently. At the same time, it is indirectly the reason why I am writing this. Hence my internal strife about where this blog entry belongs. Well sh*t, at least I figured that issue out.

I’d love to say that the going has been smooth, both with CHILDREN and outside of my burgeoning career as an author. But I can’t. The truth is? My life, AKA that thing that I do when I’m not posing as the Madchronicler or an author has been pretty crazy, lately. I’ve been dealing with and I’m still dealing with some serious sh*t. I’m not going to bog this post down with that info, however. Much of it has been resolved and that which hasn’t? Not to disappoint you guys, but it’s a bit too personal, even for “Random Musings.” Never fear, though: I may not be the living and breathing facsimile of a happy face that I normally am at the present time, but I’m not emo, either. I’m somewhere in between. If I were to describe my current state of mind as an emoticon, it would be a colon, followed by a dash, followed by a straight, up/down/north/south line. “Pensive frown” I’ll call it. Is that even a valid emoticon? I have no frackin’ idea. Let’s see.

:-I

Survey says? Well, it didn’t default to an actual emoticon like 🙂 does, but I believe that it properly conveys what I was going for if you look at it sideways. If you look at it upright, it looks like something one of my daughters typed in an attempt to acquire my computer.

Yes, I digress. Apologies. This blog entry isn’t directly about my personal life. It’s about my other life: The life of the writer/author/pseudo-insane, mad chronicler of his own, subjective universe. As a… whatever I just called myself, there are many things that I can overcome. Writer’s block? No problem. I just keep writing until I break through. A proverbial “dead end” in my story? No worries. “Click,” highlight and “Delete.” Start over. Rinse and repeat until it works. A power outage while I’m writing the closing paragraphs of my first novel? First, scream. Then? Scream some more. After a few moments, wait for the power to come back on and rewrite everything that I just lost. But there is one thing that I… one thing that many writers fear (I do not say “all” because I refuse to speak for everyone). That “thing?” A conflict with our muse or muses, i.e. that which inspires us to write.

It is no secret to anyone who has known me that in the past, my muse has been chaos. Bob Dylan once said that “chaos is a friend of mine.” That lyric reflected my life for the longest time. Someone once even called me “The Prophet of Anti-inspiration” (booyakasha, Marine. RESPECT). But over the last decade plus, that characterization has grown less and less significant. One of the reasons why it took me so long to rewrite ENDWORLD – A NOVEL and start rewriting her subsequent sequels is because the originals were birthed in chaos: A stage of my life which I have written about and talked about extensively off the record. For the record? I do not want to go back to that life. EVER. Let me make that abundantly clear. No more needs to be written, or spoken about it.

And I shouldn’t have to. The published version of ENDWORLD and the work in progress versions of CHILDREN and HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD come primarily from a different place. Different muses: Stability, happiness and security. All aspects of my life, now, that did not exist back when we all lived in “Oz” and thereafter, “State Pen” and no one, not even Marine lived anyplace else.

Therein lies the rub. Despite a few bumps in the proverbial road these last few weeks IRL, I’m still relatively happy. Compared to how I was back when chaos was a friend of mine I’m incredibly happy. But the portion of CHILDREN that I just started writing yesterday? It is dark. Very dark. It comes directly from that place that I used to exist in, 24/7, perhaps moreso than anything else I have ever written. And for the benefit of the story and the overarching plot-line, I cannot deviate from it. If anything, I need to go even deeper and darker now since The Endworld Series is a lot deeper and a whole heck of a lot darker than the original trilogy was. That may not be evident from what you read/are reading in Book One but trust me: By the time you get to where I am at, presently, any ideas that you had about “hope” despite William’s posturings to the contrary in ENDWORLD will be dead in the water. ‘Cause right now? 160+ pages into CHILDREN? There is none. There is only resignation to the inevitable. And that, unfortunately, is where I’m going to leave it, for now. “Spoilers,” as they say. Thank you once again, Doctor River Song.

So the question plaguing my always plagued mind, presently, is a simple one: How do I tap back into that mentality? How do I once again hold hands with chaos while maintaining the for-the-most-part happy medium that is my life, my muse and my inspiration, currently?  There’s really not an easy answer to that question. When I write, my mind goes places. It becomes the story and the characters that I am writing. Not to the extent that I lose touch with reality, at least not anymore, but to a certain extent, I live through things with them. Their fates aren’t always predetermined, despite treatments and outlines. Look no further than the character in ENDWORLD–and if you read it/are reading it, you know the one I am talking about–that I had planned a future for. That future? It never happened. He/she suffered a much earlier demise than I had initially planned. What can I say? It wasn’t my fault. I don’t write my stories. They write themselves.

Really. No sh*t intended. How many of you just looked up from your computer, your tablet or your mobile device, rolled your eyes and said “yep. That confirms it. He”–meaning me–“is certifiably insane.”

If you think that I am, so be it. I am not going to tell you what to think of me. I’m a big fan of just being me and letting people decide whether they like me or not. In the interest of “just being me” I’m going to continue. If you’ve had enough? If you think I’m cuckoo? No worries. It’s been fun. You have my best wishes moving forward. Booyakasha. RESPECT.

But if you don’t, here’s s’more food for thought. I’ve always seen myself as a vessel: A conduit through which tales are told. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. IMO (and this is a BIG “in my opinion”), every story that ever existed or will exist actually existed pre-being written, somewhere in the proverbial ether of the imagination. It is the writer/author’s job to reach out to it. The story selects the writer/author, and not the other way around (so much for Free Will, huh?). Thereafter, one of two things happens. Either A.) Said story rejects the writer/author’s advances and waits for someone more attractive to some along (an eventuality that was quite common back in my own, personal dark ages), or B.) Said story accepts the author/writer’s invitation, invites he or she… invites you to sit down, and reveals itself to you. There’s really no language to what it reveals. At it’s core, a story is thought: Thoughts, jumbled and without order. Your job… my job as the lucky sonofab*tch that The Endworld Series picked is to take those ideas and give them order. Form. Henceforth, William MacNuff’s story.

There is a danger in this, though. I swear this is not a digression. This past weekend, I saw “Pacific Rim.” Great movie, BTW. I highly recommend it. One of the main concepts of “Pacific Rim” is the idea of “drifting”: Two minds, synchronized and working concordantly to achieve the same end. In the case of the movie, that end was the effective operation of a big, honkin’ robot called a Jaeger. That idea–drifting–holds true in many cases. Husbands and wives employ a form of drifting to manage their household effectively. Children? They employ a form of drifting to drive their parents and thereafter, their substitute teachers batty. And authors? They drift with their story. They become of one mind with it. And therein lies the danger when you get to the part or parts of the tale like the one that I have gotten to: The dark part or parts. In order to properly explicate the story you have been chosen to convey, you need to allow the darkness in. Even if it is completely contrary to who you are 24/7… even if it scoffs at the ideas of stability, happiness and security… even if chaos is your worst enemy, you NEED TO HOLD HANDS WITH IT FOR HOWEVER LONG IT TAKES TO FINISH. How do I tap back into the mentality of my early adulthood and remain a “pensive frown?” Simple: I let it in.

No lie: It is a scary prospect. It is not one that I relish. But there are scary prospects everywhere I turn these days. Just because this one seems so doesn’t mean that I can’t handle it. I believe that I can. I believe that I can go to that place that I need to go and stay firmly routed in my reality on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Fifteen years ago? I would never have said that. But now? I am older. Stronger. Wiser. All the sh*t that has gone down IRL over the last few weeks? It’s helping. The chapter that I just wrote yesterday? Well, let’s just say that it pulsates with a range of emotions and leave it at that. Yet it is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is so much more to come and things just spiral deeper, and deeper into sh*t, sh*t and more sh*t. The good news? There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m pretty ciked about writing THAT part. But first, I need to get there. And to get there, I need to invite my old friend chaos over for a spot of whiskey. Maybe a little “Highway 61 Revisited,” too. “Desolation Row” always has been my favorite Bob Dylan song. “They’re selling postcards of the hanging. They’re painting the passports brown. The beauty parlor is filled with sailors. The circus is in town.” But only after the girls have gone to sleep. Because despite my posturings to the contrary, they are not chaos. They are, and always will remain the proverbial light at the end of my life tunnel (as opposed to the above referenced story tunnel). And I love them for that.

Optimally, I’d love to take a couple of days off and just write it until it’s done. But that’s not feasible, despite the fact that my vacation time re-ups next Thursday (yay, August). The idea of just writing is not a feasible one, presently. It hasn’t been for a while. But hey: That’s the life I chose. It’s a challenge. And like every challenge I have ever been faced with, I will rise up and accept it. That’s what Frank Marsh, writer/author/pseudo-insane, mad chronicler of his own subjective reality does. Love me or hate me, hopefully you respect that. Respect me. Booyakasha, my friends.

You guessed it: RESPECT.

:-I