And I Can’t Get Up – A Blast From The Past From April 2019

And I Can’t Get Up – A Blast From The Past From April 2019


If you’re like me, you have trouble with the usual encouragement and sayings that are meant to give you strength/courage/optimism.

You know perfectly well what I mean. I’m not going to give sources for these, because I hear them from everywhere, and my mind isn’t really good at buying anything wholesale.  Hint, my mind buys it even less if it comes with a cute kitten.  I think I started hating motivational posters before I had my first job (Which this being the eighties was PLASTERED in them).  (Though at one time I did have the “hang in there” poster because the kitten was adorable.  So, I’m inconsistent. Deal with it.) We are naturally attracted to demotivational posts out of frustration with the easy pollyannaish motivational posts, and annoyance with the people who believe in them.  Hold on to that thought. It’s important. Seeing people for whom things seem to work, particularly things that our annoying brains tell us are far more complex than the poster/maxim/story is making them out to be causes annoyance. Frustrated annoyance. And a desire to believe the opposite.  If people tell you “Hang in there” you know you’re going to drop hard. You just know it.

Some of it is born of experience, sure, but be honest with yourself, you expected it all along.  Remember that too, it’s important.

One of the things that annoys me most is the saying that “the best predictor of whether you’ll succeed is how many times you fail.”  Mostly because that’s not how that works. That’s not how any of that works.

That saying is sort of the incarnation of survivor bias.  The more you’ve gotten knocked down AND still managed to get up, the more likely you are to succeed, sure. But that’s because you’re already by any definition a fairly exceptional person.

I’ll use writing for a bunch of this because it’s THE experience I have, but honestly, you could use anything, from your love life to your attempts and being the world’s best tiddly winks player.  (Why am I obsessed with tiddly winks? Well, my eidetic, brilliant brother spent something like 12 years devoting all his free time to playing tiddly winks, a game that in Portugal, usually was left behind at age six or so (for boys. Girls didn’t play it.) In retrospect, it was an addictive behavior. If he’d had video games, he’d probably have been addicted to that. It’s not unusual for very, very bright people to need to dull the pain of… well… of the world not being made for them. And if they have an addictive personality, even if they don’t fall into drugs or alcohol, they’ll get addicted to something REALLY weird.  For one of the worst times of my life, I was addicted to fanfic for a TV series that I never watched. Why? Well, it kept the brain minimally occupied so I could dream my life away without DOING anything. Yes, brother eventually stopped it. But meanwhile my parents kept joking his ambition in life was to be the world’s best tiddly winks player.)

Most people who want to be writers never start.  Laziness? Maybe. Perhaps. Sitting down and putting fingers on keyboard is not physical work, but it is work.

I’d argue though that most of the time the problem is not so much laziness as the fear of never getting better. I know that’s true for almost everyone who tries to draw anything.

And trying to write a story is a series of compromises. In your mind the thing is multicolored and gigantic, with 100 actors and 1000 elephants. But you can’t write that. It’s simply not something you can put on a page. No one is going to follow that sort of diffuse action. So you compromise.  You’ll tell this person’s story. Maybe 10 actors. And one elephant.

And even then, if you’re a beginner you’re going to botch it.  For instance, it’s perfectly normal for beginning authors not to be able to handle more than two characters on the page at a time.

So most people give up. Our model as humans seems to be “perfect first time, or I’m no good” but also most people don’t believe they can get THAT much better. (Hint, you can.)

I no longer remember the statistics, and since I don’t know how they collect them anyway, they’re probably meaningless, but it’s something like:of a million people who ever thought to write a book, one actually does it.  Of course, there’s no way of measuring how seriously they thought of it, so again, it’s just a vague indication.

We do have more solid ground for people who actually wrote anything significant AND submitted it, ever getting accepted.  The ratio is something astronomical like 100000 to one.

Why? Because most people give up after the first rejection.  On this, I’m going on my experience in many writers’ groups over the years.  Any number of people I met along the way wrote ONE NOVEL. It was a good novel, in most cases (two were brilliant.) They then spent the next five, ten, fifteen years trying to sell it, so single mindedly focused on selling it, that they never wrote another.  And the novel got rejected. It got EPICALLY rejected. It got rejected by every reputable outfit and a dozen of the oh, 100 or so I knew ended up falling for scams like “pay us to read” or “pay us to publish.”  When this failed to obtain success, they stopped writing. Well, honestly, they’d stopped writing years before, in favor of selling the one novel. But that’s something else. The truth is that they looked at that novel as “proof of concept” and since it didn’t sell, they knew nothing would sell and they gave up.

This is understandable, but completely contrary to reality.  So contrary it doesn’t even coexist in the same plane.  It’s part of the lies we tell ourselves and the world tells us “if your thing is good enough, it will be a bestseller.”  Doesn’t work like that. You’re not submitting your novel to some all-knowing perfect judge. You’re submitting it to a person who is flawed and has issues in his own life and views your story through their own lens. And sometimes their lens has bloody nothing to do with anything you could anticipate when writing the novel. For instance, one of my series took SIXTEEN years to sell, because it was weird, but also because the one house who WOULD have bought it rejected it with “we bought something very similar just last week.”  You know, in such circumstances I assume they’re lying. But I know what they bought, and yes, it’s very similar. And it went on to be a bestseller.

Let’s assume you’re one of the very resilient few and write a second novel and a third novel, while trying to sell the first. (I wrote nine. Three of those have sold since.)

The fairy of good fortune comes and touches your novel.  It sold. YAY.

Good for you. Be aware the chances of its becoming a bestseller is not dependent on quality, but on distribution, cover, and how much the house pushes it.  Heck, the chances of it becoming a GOOD seller are minimal.

Most people who sell a book never sell a second. I don’t know how many, but way in excess of half.

By the way, all of this applies to indie. Most people who put a novel up never sell more than a dozen copies. Discoverability is the problem, mostly. Just advertising your novel everywhere is not going to make it a bestseller (for one indie is heavily biased for series.)  I’m not in writers’ groups now, but I KNOW just from people who write me and who decided they were “no good” after a novel or a short story that the “drop out because of perceived failure” rate is about the same.

So, what about if you sell a second or a third, or a fourth novel?  Yeah. My career has died… eight times now.  Utterly dead. At one time it took me almost two years to sell anything to anyone again. I did a full relation of my career here.  Well, more or less full. I elided some set backs. And there’s been one more since that was written. Without going into details let’s say my own remaining option — ONLY option — is going indie with both feet. Whether I’ll ever recover my IP is something else again. No, I’m not ecstatic about any of this. More on that later.

One of the most bitterly funny things about me is that most people perceive me as an optimist.  One of you in comments yesterday asked where do you master the will and the optimism to try again.  Ah!

It has nothing to do with will or optimism.  Seriously. Absolutely nothing. It has to do with being alive and wishing to remain so.

My family is notoriously unlucky. I was born knowing that or at least imbibed it with mother’s milk.  Seriously “if we made baby bonnets, babies would be born without a head” unlucky. The stories of wars, investments and just general life in which we backed the losing side KNOWING IT WAS THE LOSING SIDE is extensive.

On dad’s side (you don’t want to know about mom’s truly) we tend towards melancholic depression, dark sense of humor and sad poetry.  Because I’m half mother’s daughter, my depressions can get way more active and self destructive. Which is why I learned to control them early.

To all this is added a disposition I’ve started calling “born owing money.” (Though in fact I wasn’t, mostly because my parents have a debt-phobia, one they passed on.)  You don’t approach the world as though it can give you things. You approach it as though you’re afraid of bothering it, and would much rather it didn’t notice you.

How much are all of these attitudes responsible for the repeated failures in my career.  I don’t know. When your lens is flawed, what do you see through.

I don’t believe in affirmations. Sometimes I’d like to, but I don’t. They’re like the motivational posters.  It does you no good to write on your mirror “I’m beautiful and everyone loves me” if you know with bone deep certainty that this isn’t true.

And yet, I know from observing others lives that what you start out with really influences the outcome.  And by that I don’t mean your gifts, talents, beauty, or even wealth.

A little man who looks like a monkey and smells like a diseased weasel but who believes he’s the master stallion of the world will have women hanging off him. A smart, handsome man who thinks he’ll never get a romantic relationship will die bitter and alone.

Part of it is that if you don’t believe something is possible, you don’t even see the opportunity when offered.  Part of it is that when you get it, and attempt it, you keep expecting it to crash. And part of it is that you don’t protest bad treatment, don’t ask for what you deserve.

i.e. Yeah, your beliefs about life and yourself can set you up for failure.

I realized last year I simply did not believe I could be successful in writing.  What does that influence? Well, everything. From how much I put in my writing, to how much I write, to how much I promo, to…

“But Sarah,” you say “I’ve really failed over and over and over at thing x. Why should I try again?”

And I’ve failed over and over and over again at becoming spectacularly successful, or at least having a publisher recognize the potential of anything I wrote. (Weirdly a ghost written novel for another writer made her career.  Odd, uh?)

So, why not just lay down?  Why not give up?

It depends.  Is it something you CAN give up? By which I mean without significantly losing part of who you are and what you want from life?

I could give up sewing or art tomorrow. I probably won’t, but I could. They’re “interesting” occupations, not part of what I am and how I’m made to function.  Not the thing I’ve wanted all my life.

I’ll eventually have the kids move out of state (probably) and see them only a few times a year. That’s fine. My relationship as a mother is something created to be given up (if successful.)  If we’re lucky, we’ll replace it with friendship.  But could I give up my marriage?  Well, we’ve had our ups and downs, but I fight for it because no I couldn’t. Not without losing a significant part of myself.

The crucial question is “And if you give up, then what?”

For something that’s central to you, the answer is usually “I don’t know. I do nothing.” or perhaps “I’ll just drift.”  That might not be the answer, in those words, but it is what will happen.

In the few times I thought I HAD to give up, I undertook bizarre, mind numbing activities. To avoid doing the beloved thing, because that hurt.

So, where do you find the strength — ah! — and the optimism — ahah! — to get up again?

You don’t. You get up because you have to. Because there’s nothing else on the other side of giving up.

Look, we tend to think in static categories.  “I’ll just give up.”  Or “I’ll succeed.”  Or “I’ll fail.”

But none of these are permanent. Nothing stays still, not even our emotional states.  All of them are followed by “and then what?”

Even those who succeed will EVENTUALLY experience failure.  Trust me, I have a ton of friends who are bestsellers. Most of them have experienced catastrophic failure more times than success.

“The key is to get up one more time than you fall down.” Sure, but how. From what?

From a fear of what happens if you don’t.

I hesitate to write this, because the person might read this blog and know himself. But if he does, perhaps it will help, because it’s high time he understood it.  Hell, we saw it happen and we didn’t understand it.

Decades ago, when we were young and green as grass, and Dan was just starting up his career, we met someone about our age (a little older)who wanted more than anything to be a writer.  His education and background were different from ours and he thought this was massively important but it wasn’t.  When we were all young, he was starting out in a profession with just as much potential as Dan’s, and he was moderately successful and made just a little less than Dan.  And hell, he had advantages I never had in writing. For one, he was a native speaker of English. For another, he had some vague idea of how publishing worked.  Very vague, but better than mine.

Over the years, I wrote and wrote and wrote. It took me 9 years from first sending anything out to selling a short story at semi-pro rates. It took me 13 to sell a novel (and that series crashed hard.)

I’m not made of iron. I’m naturally pessimistic. Sometimes rejections hit so hard they disabled me for months. Not just being unable to write, but sometimes spending months crying and trying to hide it from Dan and the boys.  One day I had 60 some rejections ON MY BIRTHDAY.

But there was nothing else, so I kept writing. Along the way I stopped here and there, tried to give up and got some really spectacularly stupid addictions (fanfic for TV series I’d never watched, for instance.)  And carried them on for months/a year before realizing it was not just making me useless, it was making me hate other people/resent them for no good reason.  Like, I hated everyone who was still writing — even my closest friends — even though they had NO success.  Because they were writing, and I couldn’t/had given it up.  When I started being mean to my kids, because I was hurting and someone else had to hurt, is when I realized I had to pull up. Even the stupid addictions are hard to give up. Trust me. It was difficult.

Along the way I had some successes too. Some critical acclaim. A couple of awards. Series that sold well enough I had the income of an underpaid secretary now and then for some years.

Our used-to-be-friend?  Not so much.

He had a story accepted and the magazine went under without publishing it (note this happened eight times with the first story I sold. It killed magazines.) and this seemed to be it for him. He wrote a few more stories because all our friends were writing them, but some of them he seemed to think he was being clever and mocking our idea you could just write many stories. He seemed to think he was writing very bad stuff.  In fact, that’s some of his best, but never mind.

And he became more and more invested in the idea he’d write a novel, it would be a world-shattering success, he’d be set for life.  This is not the way things happen.

I don’t know if he tried it. One of our kids thinks he did. And got rejected.  Possibly.

What I know is that year on year, as the “defeats”– and he seemed to view MY successes (such as they were, dear lord) as his defeats — accumulated he did less and less and less. He restricted himself more and more.

And though it took us years to realize it, he came to first resent us, then hate us.  It manifested in a hundred different ways, all under the flag of continued friendship.  We felt sorry for him and tried to help him, but every time we saw him, it became more unpleasant.  Until two years ago at the end of the year he went too far and at a time when we had neither financial nor emotional resources to handle it.  He has tried — at least twice — since then to “avenge” himself by bringing crisis into our life, at a time when he thought we were at a party or enjoying ourselves. (We weren’t, but that’s something else again.)

Normally I hate losing friends. I hate cutting off contact with anyone. This time I realized I was ridiculously relieved.

I realized over the years he’d acquired the habit of belittling us, attacking us verbally, inflicting his presence on us at the least wanted times, and generally being a pain in the ass.


See the thing above.  This was an immensely talented individual who fell down a couple of times and decided that was good. He’d just lay down and rot.  But he couldn’t help knowing what he’d wasted. And he couldn’t help resenting those of us who had gone on to do ANYTHING.  Anything, even my halting, painful, not very profitable career seemed amazing to him, and also like “if there was any justice, I should have had that.”

From the amount of times he tried to bleed us (financial emergencies. Loans never paid. Etc. etc. etc.) he also viewed us as “very wealthy.” (We’re okay.  We make do. A little stressed now for reasons that should pass in a year. But mostly through the miracle of living beneath our means, buying from thrift stores, etc.)

You can’t lie there.  You can’t just lie there.  You’re alive. You can’t stop. Because you can’t. Because that’s not how humans work.

Not getting up is a choice, and not one that ends in a static option. You’re not just going to be there, forever, world without end. No. You’re going to become bitter, resentful, envious of everyone and everything, even JUST those who are still trying.  You’re going to say “I wish I had their optimism” without having a clue if they have it, because they must have SOMETHING you lack.  You’re going to think it’s their academic education (ah!) or their higher class background (ahah. Doesn’t translate between countries) or that they’re prettier than you, or have better clothes, or … Lord alone knows.

And in the process you’re going to destroy everything, including the regard of people who once cared for you. You’re going to push everyone away. Most of all you’re going to destroy yourself.

The opposite of trying once more isn’t just laying there.  The opposite of trying is dying. And a horrible death in bitterness and self-destruction.

The example I gave is NOT the only one I’ve seen, it is just perhaps the most spectacular example of it I’ve ever seen.

When you fall and decide you can’t get up, you’re choosing to reign in hell, rather than serve in heaven. You don’t have to be religious to understand that. Milton knew a thing or two about people.  You are NOT lacking strength or optimism.  Because those aren’t needed to get up again, and try again.  You can do that from nothing but stubbornness.

No. You’re choosing to lie there and die because your pride is hurt. You should have been an amazing success.  Don’t they recognize your genius? Fools! you’ll show them.

But the only person you can destroy is yourself. And you do.

This is why I crawl up, on bloodied and hands and knees and try again. Despite total pessimism and lack of strength. Over and over and over again.

If they made a motivational kitten poster of me, it would be too bloodied and gruesome to hang in an office.  My spirit animal is Inigo Montoya.

Will I succeed? I don’t know.  I am actually trying to convince myself success is possible, because I’ve realized mind set is important.

Will I lie down and die? No. Because that’s not an option. Failure is not just a static state. It’s decaying and bitterness and giving yourself in to evil. And I’m not doing THAT.

So.  Up on bloody knees. Despite weakness and despair, up.

There is nothing else.

57 thoughts on “And I Can’t Get Up – A Blast From The Past From April 2019

  1. My first book wasn’t a commercial success, although the print run sold out. But it concluded a contract, I added to the total body of knowledge about my field and about my topic, and people liked reading it. To me, that was a great success.

    My first fiction books didn’t quite go thud but they weren’t roaring successes. To date, my one roaring success happened because I accidentally caught the eye of a fan of a rather different book. But my books are still, to me, successes. I’ll never be Larry C. or J.K. R.

    I don’t know how many people I work with at Day Job. But occasionally I find out that a connection was made, or something the person learned from me paid off a hundred fold later on. That’s a success.

    I’ve landed on my nose several times, changed careers twice, and made some spectacular messes. But I’m still trudging along and writing and doing other things.

  2. One writes because you live through writing, in telling stories, Stopping writing, telling stories is dying a little.
    Write to live.

  3. Sometimes one writes because the alternatives might be a bit drastic. Or because the story you want to read hasn’t been written yet. Or you’re bored, broke, and have a laptop. Or because you don’t want to disappoint somebody. Maybe yourself.

    Maybe you write to pay a few bills. Maybe one bill. Maybe it’s a coffee, once very couple of months, in return for weeks or months of work. Maybe it’s nothing at all, but the readers like it (why?).

    Maybe you write to sneer at fate and predictability. After all, who expects a mechanic, plumber, carpenter, or electrician to write splattergore fic on the side? Or elves and dragons? Or gasp feeelthy sci-fi?

    Maybe you write because its fun. Maybe you keep writing when it’s not because you want to finish the story. Maybe you write to keep a promise. Maybe you write as a duty, and wash your hands after.

    Maybe you write to capture worlds that wouldn’t exist until stabbed into paper with ink and pen. Maybe you write to remind people that evil can be defeated, and that good is worth the sacrifice. Maybe you write because it would be silly not to. Maybe you write silly things because the world is too serious otherwise.

    Maybe you write to keep the demons in your soul in check. Maybe you write to find a way out of the hell you’ve found yourself in. Maybe you write to make someone laugh a bit, to ease the burdens of life for just a touch. Maybe you write to work something out that’s been bothering you, and fiction just makes the process easier.

    Regardless, sometimes you just can’t not. Write.

    That’s when you know you’re stuck.

  4. I’m back writing the sequel to Solist At Large because of all the crap that has been going on in my life…

    …the choices are really only to write or to open up my wrists until I find a new job, Mom’s home from the hospital, and there is something that looks like “a point of stability” in bad light while blindfolded. And all of Dad’s (well-meaning but frustrating) career advice or Mom’s (annoyingly cheerful) ice cream koans just makes it worse in some ways. The stubbornness that keeps me going makes me generally miserable and I grew up knowing that all of the fun mental issues came from both sides of the family-and in different types.

    The only reason why it hasn’t driven me to drink is that I’ve seen where that leads.

    Writing is the translation of all the ideas that you have in your head so that other people can comprehend and read it and enjoy it enough to buy the next story you write. I know I’m a terrible infodumper if I’m not stopped-I get fascinated by things. I have to be careful about that. I have frustrations about the continual use of the word “says” or “said” and I can drive myself nuts trying to find an emotional word that coveys the character’s expressions. And my current writing muse is a bit niche and that is always hard to reach.

    It’s a terrible profession and the only really good thing is the (woefully inadequate) checks we get or the occasional good review somewhere. And that the monkey is off our backs for a while.

    But the only choices are to deal with these issues, deal with my life, or just slam my head against the wall until something breaks.

    (There’s something so very Portuguese-and German, and General American Mutt about that, isn’t there?)

    1. My mother (God rest her soul), remarking on my pig-headedness, always would shake her head and say “You can always tell a German, you just can’t tell them much.”

      So yeah, you write because you have to. No matter how beaten you are, you get up again, and put pen on paper or fingers on keyboard because YOU. CAN’T. NOT. WRITE.

    2. There are plenty of things I disagree with in your work, but you definitely have both a story and skill at keeping it rolling.

      I also think that you and Phantom are both very likely to make big bucks from writing. Because of that storytelling mojo.

      So yeah, I am hesitant to offer advice, because clearly you have your nose pointed in the right direction. Maybe aim to deepen as you go along, without losing the fun. But I suspect that writing in quantity will teach you what you need to do.

  5. “You can’t lie there. You can’t just lie there. You’re alive. You can’t stop. Because you can’t. Because that’s not how humans work.”

    For any hardcore Forgotten Realms D&D lore fans, Shar the Nightbringer is an evil goddess of pain and despair, bent on destroying everything. Her followers are encouraged/forced to give in to the kind of meaningless, hatefilled existence that you’ve described.

    Interestingly enough, ambition is evil in her dogma, as trying to improve your lot in life is considered sinful. Which amuses me because it means that clerics of good gods have a lot of leeway to play ‘tempter’ for once, as people really aren’t made to live that way. And of course, there’s the classic ‘devil on your shoulder’ too, since D&D devils have Ambition for a middle name.

    1. Sounds like some people I knew back in the old hometown were followers of hers, right down to hitting me with the same sort of constant disparagement that Sarah described…

  6. As a child writing was catharsis. It became an obsession.

    At the moment I’m stalled, but I’m not sure why. Taking care of my parents took so much out of me that writing had to take a back seat, and it just gradually fell farther and farther back, as if I was running a race and only one of us could win.

    Even now I look at the books on my bookcase and I’m not interested. I want to read my own. But I’m not writing anything new, not even editing really, and I’m not sure why. If I understood why I might be able to fix it.

    1. I saw a picture of a girl with an umbrella and a cat by her feet. It was a painting on this site. That Girl is now a wizard in training in a book I am trying to write. I didn’t ask for it, it just happened. Maybe you just need the right inspiration to wake your muse up, they do fall asleep if you ignore them too long, my did, now she won’t shut up. Happy trails.

    2. Stress can shut down the writing, but so can sleeping poorly, antihistamines, decongestants, aspertame . . . too many carbs. Check your habits and heath, and see if anything helps.

    3. Lay it out for us. What were you writing? Who were your characters? Where did you stall? What was going to happen next?

      1. I have five active books, maybe another half dozen I am editing on some level. Tree Spirit is technically finished but it’s not cooperating with the content edit and it’s the third in a four book series. Book four (Spirit Ringe) is complete, and I actually put it up on Amazon just so I could have my own copy. Demonborn turned into three books and I am still working through the ramifications.

        The sequel to Guardian is stalled because I don’t want to write the next scenes. I should discard the ending I already wrote. I think it’s getting in the way.

        Archived is my favorite right now, although I haven’t opened the file in more than a month. When I wrote on it last year I had an amazing scene that just seemed to write itself. Of course when I transitioned to my new computer that scene was lost. Add in GloryRoad, which is now two books (Seshallass) going on three, and Infanta.

        I tried to start something new (which is my usual solution) and it fizzled. I don’t know. Justsitdownandwrite doesn’t seem to work either.

        Maybe it is diet related. I don’t know.

        1. Wow, that’s quite a lineup.

          One trick I’m still trying to master is letting my subconscious do the work. Usually if I’m stuck on a project, there’s still some part of it that excites me. Maybe it’s something I’ve already done that I’m proud of. Maybe it’s a goal I haven’t reached yet.

          Whatever it is, just thinking about it seems to help. Not trying to solve the problem; that just reminds me that I’m stuck. But once I start thinking “Wasn’t it cool when…?” or “I can’t wait until…”, it isn’t long before my subconscious gets in on the fun. It might take a few days of doing other things, but sooner or later, I’ll get some insight I can use.

          In your case, you might try revisiting the scene you lost from Archived. Not to rewrite it, but just to play it over again in your head. Clearly there was something about that scene that you loved. What was it?

          (And the habits/health/diet angle is definitely worth pursuing. Sarah had a great post on that a couple months ago.)

  7. I write because the muse demands it, I’ve had rejections and rightly so. No bloody knees and feet, can’t really feel them much anyway. The addiction I have is writing, and I can tell I am improving. Good enough yet I do not know. Will I make it, yes, why, because I am too crazy not to. For some reason the left really likes crazy people. Although I will settle for eccentric. It would help having money power and good looking girl friends. Until I acquire those I will keep writing, I want my Houseboat on the sea parked at my Lighthouse. Have Laptop will write, until I get a spacesuit. Then me and Mr. Musk are going cruising to the moon, or mars, who cares I’ll have my space suit and towel in my bug out bag with me. I’ll be ready for anything as long as I bring my laptop along….

    P.S. The editing is improving at least.

  8. I started writing because a Fan Fiction story I liked just ENDED at chapter 5. I wanted there to be more, so, I wrote it. I’m up to chapter 41 now…

    Then, there were other stories I wanted to exist in the world. There are things I want to say. I started writing some of those stories, too. It just goes on. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what happens next, but I keep grinding away.
    Susan Ivanova: “You’re saying just because I’m holding this right now, I’m Green Leader? But I’m human!”

    Former Green Leader: “Rules of combat older than contact with other races. Did not mention aliens. Rules change…caught up in committee. Not come through yet.”

    Susan: “Bureaucracy. Ya gotta love it.”

  9. Embrace the suck.

    This place sucks. Must be for us.

    Were you Infantry somewhere?


  10. “A little man who looks like a monkey and smells like a diseased weasel but who believes he’s the master stallion of the world will have women hanging off him. A smart, handsome man who thinks he’ll never get a romantic relationship will die bitter and alone.”

    sigh I’m really trying not to die bitter. It’s difficult when the copium for dying alone mostly consists of “the grapes would be bitter anyway”

      1. Quit, nothing. I don’t even know how to start.

        I’m old enough that most of the men my age are already married and have kids in high school, and I have no idea how to find the ones that aren’t.

        I’ve started going to church again, partially in the hope that once people get used to my presence, I might be able to find someone who can introduce me.

        Because apparently I have this crippling idea that if I go up to a man and introduce myself (on a personal level, not a professional one), that would immediately disqualify me from consideration for wifehood because it would be forward and aggressive.

        1. Only the men you wouldn’t want to marry anyway would judge you like that.

          From the other side, a man ‘hitting on’ a woman by introducing himself risks being accused of ‘toxic masculinity’ or ‘male dominance’.

          The left-wing loonies have thoroughly screwed up the dynamics between men and women. The old customs might not have been perfect, but at least they generally led to men and women getting together. This ‘woke’ bullshit, not so much.

          Just remember, most men are attracted to women, and most women are attracted to men. It’s a basic biological imperative, baked into our DNA and reinforced by 500 million years of natural selection. Social status games are a relatively recent innovation. 😛
          “Don’t open that!! It’s the original can of worms!”

    1. Especially when that particular area of one’s life is such a nightmare to navigate even in a much healthier culture, which ours…isn’t…to say the least. It’s even worse when you know there are a few things about you that make you all but unacceptable even in saner sub-cultures, too.

  11. I do what I do because I think it needs doing. Sometimes I get paid. Sometimes I don’t. But I enjoy the challenge of it, even if the actual process sometimes resembles crawling over broken glass or staring at the equations until drops of blood form on the forehead. But I don’t know what else I’d do.

    For Sarah it’s writing. For me, it’s trying to get us off The Rock.

  12. Eh, I was never cut out for a life of idle relaxation anyway.

    Puddleglum had two very, very important things to contribute to the world and all our philosophy of it. The first is the one that everyone remembers, that he chose to stand by the better world even if he couldn’t believe in it in his heart at that moment, and gave one of the lasting heroic speeches in literature…

    But the second is that he took action. He stepped on that fire knowing it was going to hurt, and he rounded up the kids and left.

    So I keep going, because that’s what I choose to believe in, and that’s what we do – we make the world a better place, for ourselves, those we love, those we come into contact with, and future generations.

  13. And maybe, the one person that I was put here to affect has already been touched, and the whole rest of my life is incidental? How would I know? I can only keep on doing what I know to be right, and trust the plan that is bigger than me to do the right things…Giving up means that I don’t trust the Planner and I’m not going there.

  14. S.M. Stirling wrote a rather profound sentence in his novel Conquistador. Not quite so affirmative or optimistic.

    ‘You can try and maybe fail, or not try and always fail.’

    For some of us, that might be better written as,

    ‘You can try and probably fail, or not try and always fail.’

    I suppose you could go more Galaxy Quest and scream, “Never give up, never surrender!” Which makes Heinlein’s reference to Rodin’s “Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone” in SIASL even more poignant. Sometimes the weight is too much to bear, but that caryatid never gave up trying, no matter how hopeless.

    Nobody gets out of life alive. The universe is stacked against us from even before we were conceived. Every second it’s trying to kill us. Yet every heartbeat, every breath, is our defiant response of “Hell No! I Won’t Go!”

    And even in the face of another beat down, some of us can achieve the serenity to smile, and remind ourselves that, “You haven’t beaten me yet.”

  15. I’ve learned I don’t have a choice. If I don’t create, I get sick. And I’ve been sick most of my life, so I’m not quitting now.
    Work interferes but is necessary because if I don’t work and pretend I can make enough to get by, I get so anxiety ridden I can’t create. So, work until forever maybe.
    But create create create.

  16. I’m at one of those spots where I don’t know what I want. Writing has been fun, though I’m sort of stuck on the current WIP again. I suspect its ambition out strips my reach right now.

    Thinking I should start scribbling out more of my fanfic ideas to keep putting words out which I figure out the story mechanics. Did figure out the motivation of the character who had brought Strange Thread to a dead halt.

  17. Can’t add more than this blast from the past came at just the right time for some other areas of my life. Still sorting out the whole why I write thing on that part and it’s having to take a back seat to some much bigger post-move priorities anyway, though.

  18. I see my “career” glidepath here described fully.
    Had a book in me for 20 years, check.
    Picked away at it without ever finishing, check.
    Somebody liked the part that was done, told me to hurry the hell up and finish it, checkity check. (Encouragement is key, ladies and germs.)
    Finished it. CHECK! Big check.
    Tried to sell it, didn’t even get a callback.
    Finally said F- IT and put it up on Amazon. (Which took 6 months, and was pretty hard because of making the cover, but did it anyway.) Check. (Unfair Advantage, by Edward Thomas.)
    Got quite a few dozens of sales (almost all from you guys here at AtH and Mad Genius Club, you all rock, go team!). Check.

    Somewhere in there my mother, the one I wrote the book for in the first place because she’s always been the SciFi Queen in the family, stopped being able to read books. Dementia. My biggest fan can’t fan anymore. Well… shit.

    So now here I am, can’t show off for mom anymore, clearly not going to be the next JK Rowling, or even the next Larry Correia.

    But, I like to know what the characters are doing. The story machine is stuck at “ON” and the story keeps coming out. So I write it down. Seven more goat-choker novels sitting, finished, proof read, ready to rumble. But no covers, and no real recompense for all that work. So haven’t released the second, and the third, fourth, etc.

    I will, eventually, jazz myself into motion and post the rest. Not because I’m Getting Up Again and Pursuing My Career Like a Man Should. That’s not what’s happening here.

    More like I did all that work and it would be UnScotsman of me to let it go to waste.

    Besides, my fans didn’t get to meet Alice Haddison, Nammu Chen, the Vengeful Wolf, the Goddess of the Loyal, so many cool people. I’d be a d— for keeping them to myself. That’s the real reason.

        1. Many thanks O Great One, but I’m good here. I’ve got a House Artist here at Chez Phantom who will, eventually, finish something.

          It’s hard to get kids to do work for money sometimes. I’m constantly surprised that they blow off paying work to do school instead. ~:D

          1. What did you feed them, and how much do you charge for the formula? I’ve got some test subj— er, ahem, young people who might benefit from a change of diet.

            1. They worry too much. 😦 I keep telling them the marks are pointless and all they need is a pass, but they insist on getting 90+ on BS assignments that are make-work.

              You know how kids rebel against authority? Turns out if the Authority is some busted old biker b@$t@rd like me, who’s Seen The Elephant and measured his tusks out there in the Credential Wars, who tells the Young Relatives to take it easy and enjoy life because school is BS… they rebel against that.

              Who knew? You want your brat kids that never listen to be happy and enjoy life, yell at them to work harder. Little twerps!

    1. “clearly not going to be the next JK Rowling, or even the next Larry Correia”

      Well, here’s the thing – you don’t know that. It could happen. There’s never really any way to tell what will capture the public’s fantasy. Mistborn was Brandon Sanderson’s third attempt to get a book published, and it’s the one that finally made his name. You never know how things will turn out. Twilight’s silly by our standards, but yeah. Sometimes it just works out, and you’ll never really know why.

      And as I write this, I remind myself that I really need to finish reviewing the text of the sequel to my one novel that I published on Amazon years ago as an e-book, and that sold exactly one copy.

      1. That is true. I -don’t- know. The one thing we know for sure: if I don’t even try, nothing will happen.

        Chance of something vs. guarantee of nothing, I’ll be taking the chance. ~:D

        1. Writing does two things for me-
          1-It might make me money.
          2-It stops the voices in my head from demanding that I pay attention to them and play in their imaginary world forever and ever…

          If book #8 or #9 or #16 gets me decent money, I’ll be happy. I just have to increase my writing speed to get there.

  19. I had an aggressive, high-grade, stage 3 myxofibrosarcoma in my right cheek.

    It was not something I could negotiate away. There was no possibility of a compromise. It was either that neoplasm or me.

    It took a lot of nasty chemo, 10 weeks of radiation, and 4 surgeries to free me from that. And I will never be the same. But the cancer had to be killed and removed completely in order to save me.

    People make choices. Some are depressed and suicidal. Some are malicious and murderous. More are decent and kind, even to strangers. Some rotate through those attitudes/roles.

    After all, the Austrian Corporal loved his girlfriend and his dog.

    I am a fan of a game called Phoenix Point. One of the game endings requires the player to wipe out most of humanity in order to defeat an extraterrestrial evil that seems unstoppable.

    Strangely, that’s my favorite. The other choices essentially require merging with a fascist, merging with communists, or merging with those who want to coexist with and control the evil.

    Sometimes you just have to cut your losses in order to be free.

  20. “, you’re choosing to reign in hell, rather than serve in heaven.”

    And you’ll find no kingdom there

    1. They will find they serve in Hell.

      “What? You believed the travel brochure?”

  21. I write fiction because as, as best I can tell, I’m a much worse person when I stop, and because I feel like reading something that doesn’t really exist on the shelves yet.

  22. I picked a an impossibly big project to do, or maybe it picked me. It needs to be done, but nobody else has stepped up to the job. If that means I get to trudge…or sometimes crawl.. through mud and blood to get visible results, so be it. There’s Story in it somewhere, but it hasn’t quite come out yet.

  23. The Brits from Jolly attend their first rodeo. And meet someone who recognizes them from their YT channel, before they get a thousand feet from the front gate.

    It’s hysterical. The Buc-ees video is also good.

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