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If You Love It, You’d Better Put A Ring on It

This post is being echoed here from Mad Genius Club, if you want to join the discussion there, also. Which you might want to do, if you’re a writer.

I don’t normally do that, but this week is crazy. We just came back from Fyrecon (and I’d forgotten how exhausting teaching is.  I mean, I love it, but I guess I’m out of practice — or just old — because it beat the living daylights out of me.) AND we’re getting up at 3 am to make it to the airport, to make it to Liberty Con.

If you meet me in Liberty con and I look like a zombie? Don’t shoot. I’m just tired.
And somehow in the middle of this I need to finish two short stories and a cover and iron and pack all the clothes, and do the boxes so lovely DIL and #1 son don’t have to deal with poo incidents.)

I’m exhausted, it’s been a very hard week, heck, a very hard year.  All I want to do is go to my office, close the door and write.  But that part is a good thing.

And it brings us to the theme of this post: If you love it, marry it.  Which is not about marriage but about writing. H*ll about any career, really, no matter what it is. But this is a writers’ blog, and it’s important to talk about this, because people don’t.

No one stays in love constantly. Note I didn’t say no one stays in love forever. That’s different. But no one stays in love constantly.  Not with a person, not with a career, not with a house, not with a city, not with a state, not with parenting/your children, not with your hobbies. NO ONE. EVER.I don’t know how many people are like me: when I thought of marriage — and I want to point I never thought anyone would be brave or stupid enough to marry me — I didn’t think of the dress, the wedding, the cake, the flowers.  In fact, I was so bereft of an opinion on this that other than preventing mom from dressing me like a cream puff, or alternately (because she thought that was my taste) like a nun, I let her run the whole show, from rings to flowers to cake. Because I didn’t care. I just wanted to get through it and then be married.

No, when I thought of marriage I had a very specific image in my mind: what I wanted to be part of.  I don’t know when I saw them, or even in what country, or for that matter how old they were, because if this was the 70s they might have been in their sixties (don’t let anyone tell you differently, people aged HARDER. They still do in many other parts of the world.)  But I was walking in a rose garden, and I saw a couple. They were both white haired, and walking slowly.  And they were not talking, but they held hands, and were obviously attentive to each other in the way you are when the other is important to you.

Coming from a family that had, at the time, never had a broken marriage, I thought it was like that.  You married, and then you were in love forever and ever, and it was all golden sunsets in a rose garden.

Unless you’ve never been in a relationship, I don’t need to tell you it’s not that way.

I’m not casting aspersions on my husband. He’s brave, possibly a little crazy, to have married me.  I don’t think he’s stupid. I also don’t think anyone else would still be married to me 34 years on.  Because I’m not an easy person to get along with. Like most brave, a little crazy and very very smart people, he’s not either.  And since both of us came pre-shattered, it’s a good thing we married young, when mind and emotion were still flexible and could be healed into a new pattern.

I love my husband very much. At the moment, I’m also very much in love with him, which is not the same.

There is loving, which is a constant thing. And there is being in love, which is a heady, silly thing, where you want to be together all the time, and can lose hours holding each other’s hand and…

The second one is effortless and dizzy-making and it’s what most people refer to as “being in love.”  And it comes and goes.

The first burst of it usually burns out in two years.  And no one tells you this, so many people when they hit that place, particularly if life is being difficult at the time, as it often is in early marriage — short on money, overworked, trying to figure out what the next step in career is, often having moved — think it’s over. They think they were mistaken about loving this person, that it was a mistake to get married, that they must get out and pretend it never happened.

These people often (not always. Some figure it out by the second marriage) go on to have a lot of marriages all ending between two and five years.

You see, they confuse the heady feeling, the sparks and electricity, the “my feet don’t touch the ground” for the thing that lasts forever, and when it doesn’t they think they’re doing it wrong.  And they don’t realize it comes back.  Note what I said above: right now I’m very much in love with my husband.  I’m lucky, this is on more than off.  But the off periods, what carries me through is three things: 1-I still love him, meaning I care for him. His happiness is still essential to mine. 2- I know the “in love” rush comes back and oh, my, is it worth it.  3-I am committed. (And sometimes I should be, in another sense.)  I gave my word, and I exert my will not to be forsworn.

I realized yesterday, when talking to the boys, that careers are the same way, AND NO ONE TELLS YOU THAT.  So, it’s even harder to understand/stick with it through the bad times than with marriage where SOMEONE might give you an inkling.

I think Kris Rusch was trying to tell us this … lo, 20 years ago, when she told us that writing careers follow the W curve, over and over again.  That is a plotting “format” where the character hits bottom, reaches top, hits bottom again.  In the plotting the W keeps going every up, even in the low points.  Is it the same in the real world writing career? Maybe? I’d be tempted to say no, but the only way I’ve seen it NOT be is if you give up, stop pushing, and/or are very, very ill.

But I didn’t understand what Kris was saying. Because I had no idea. And the understanding didn’t burst upon me till yesterday.

Now when I say careers and that this applies to all careers, I’m exaggerating a little. Because if you’re doing something to make money, but that’s not where your heart ever is, then it doesn’t apply there.  It’s like when they found out arranged marriages are often happier. That’s because you don’t go in expecting the “highs.” So, you accommodate easier to the lows. And I’d argue the happier. I suspect they’re more often “stable” and “functional.”  Which might be better. Or not.  I wouldn’t trade being in love for all the stability in the world. There is a high you reach, a thing of magic that wouldn’t happen without that.

So, this applies to all careers that are vocations.  I’m not going to argue what vocation is. It’s more than a passing fancy, though, or what brings you bliss. In fact, it’s often like a tragic love affair, and it doesn’t bring you bliss at all, as you bang your head on that wall. (Like 90% of my career. I have to pay for my luck in marriage, somehow, I guess.  To quote a Portuguese poet “Fate sells all that it gives.”) But it’s, to explain it to those who might not have grown up with the concept, what you were born to do. The thing that’s so much a part of you you can’t pull it off without stopping being you, and also being a little maimed your whole life.

If there is a grand, ineffable plan, this is the part you’re supposed to play.

Vocations can be for everything. I’m not actually kidding when I say I knew someone whose vocation was being a cleaning lady. She was almost supernaturally good at it, she was never happier than when cleaning other people’s houses, and she had always wanted to do it.

My sons, for their sins, both have vocations.  Perhaps it’s hereditary, since both their father and I do (and their father needs to get back to his math and music, which means I need to make a lot of money to get him out of indenture.) Theirs are not for artistic stuff, but they are for “arts.” In the sense some sciences are half art.

Both of them — as is the way of vocations — discovered them young.  They think they chose in their teens, but I saw signs going back to when they were toddlers.  (Weirdly so did my brother, who spends very little time with them because overseas.)

Along the way — and considering they’re both still in protracted training — there have been ups and downs. Both of them have come home with stars in their eyes and flying high after working — actually working — in internships or practice at their chosen metier.

And both of them have hit head first into bureaucracy (university scheduling, btw, is an abomination onto Noogan.)  Both of them have been tired, discouraged, confused, and tired of hitting their head upon a wall.  (Younger son just found out that engineers don’t find jobs through linked in.  This is driving him nuts because he doesn’t know HOW they find them.  And he needs a part time on for his final year in school, and is terrified he won’t know how to apply for a full time one when he’s done, either.)

I’ve found myself talking to them when their idealized vision of what the career would be — their dream career, what the work would be like in G-d’s ineffable plan — hits the very complicated times we live in, between government funding, private ventures, laws and stupid regulations, and people, always people.  People who are petty or malicious. People who care more for power-fiefdoms than for doing this job well, this magical thing that holds their hearts.

Usually I tell them it’s like that all over. I don’t know anyone that goes into their chose career and meets with nothing but unalloyed praise and success.  Or if I do, poor things. Because having it too easy in the beginning makes it hard to develop the resilience to last.

Worse, you fall out of love. Even if things are going well, the novelty wears off, and the mundane everyday of a career, like the mundane everyday of a marriage is not made of rainbow and sparkles.

There is comfort in knowing he’ll be there when you wake up, comfort in knowing you’ll have breakfast together. But if you’re seeing sparkles and hearing music, you should check your medication.

In the same way, you grow more competent, and you don’t notice. This thing makes up your every thought and you don’t notice. It’s hilarious, now that the boys are trained beyond the ken of mere mortals (or mom) to hear them decrying how much they hate their chosen vocation, then falling to thinking/explaining/speaking in the lingo of it, and in a way that shows they are OF it. They can’t pull it out without killing part of themselves.

Yesterday, I tried to tell one of them “you fall back in love with it.” “You recover the fire.” And he looked skeptical. So I asked my husband “How often have I fallen in love with writing, after hating it, or after periods when it was dead to me?”

Being a mathematician, he didn’t say “Many.” No, he thought and said “Seven. And you’re on the upswing of enthusiasm again on the eighth.”

And he’s right. There have been times I only continued writing because we needed to pay the mortgage, or baby needed shoes.

No artistic (or possibly any) profession is ever “fair.”  It is a meritocracy in the sense that when the stars align, you need a modicum of talent to hang on, to turn that curve, to stay on top. As a lot of the dahlings of the establishment have found, all that promo can get you ONE bestseller.  And then you stall.  Or worse, if you really have no substance, you fall.

But getting that push, or, in indie, getting that reach? That’s part luck, part personality, part timing, part… who knows?  So you can be a very good writer and never sell much.

However when I came in, between selling to the net, letting computers do the walking, push model stocking shelves with fads and books no one objectively wanted to read, publishing was in the middle of committing suicide (it’s getting there. It’s a slow death, as always for behemoths.)  And my career got off with a bad start with a book released around 9/11 and those numbers in the computer forever.

It wasn’t the first time I’d fallen out of love with writing. That had happened through the unbelievably stupid (on my side and theirs) slog to first publication: the rejections that made no sense; the ever stranger hoops you had to jump through to even submit; the years of writing three novels a year while looking after toddlers, rebuilding houses, refinishing furniture and moving every couple of years.

But I always came back. I came back in pain and despair. I didn’t KNOW that the love would come back. Or that the sparks and music could return. Sometimes I thought that it would be gritting my teeth and walking into the hurricane forever.

Weirdly it does come back. Sometimes a long time, sometimes very short. And sometimes it comes back mingled with pain, like a tragic love affair.

Eight times. I am fifty six. I’ve been at this, full-or-part-time, unpublished and published for 34 years. I’ve broken eight times. Completely and utterly to where even the thought of writing hurt, and each word came out as though pulled by forceps.

And there are days I’d trade it all for a glass of water, and it doesn’t need to be good water. But I can’t because it’s part of me. And that’s a good thing. Because some days I can’t wait to write and all the rest — even eating and sleeping — are a distraction.

I’m at the very beginning of my eighth time of falling in love with this crazy career.  Indie now, and the freedom, and I can do all these things I dreamed of when I was young. I imagine it’s like in marriage when the kids are on their own and you can have time for yourself (I imagine husband and I will find out, someday. 😉 )  Also I realized, through teaching at Fyrecon (Utah, last week. Yeah, that’s why no cover posts. Sorry) that I actually no only know this craft, but I know it to such an extent I don’t know what I know. It’s part of me. And yeah, I love it.

I suspect there will be a longer period of being in love and the golden glow of it.

But there will come times I’m tired, I’m broken, again, and the sheer “everydayness” of writing means I feel I don’t love it. It’s just what I do.

Humans are firefly creatures, off and on, off and on.  Our continuity of personality is…. flaky at best.  I am myself in the essentials, probably, at least the last ten years.  I would probably b*tch slap the twit I was at 20, and not just on politics, either. But in a way this year of transition — aka year from h*ll — has been scouring and molding me and changing me, to the point I don’t know if I am the same I was a year ago. Let alone five, ten, 20 or 30 years ago.

Everyone is like this. Everyone changes with time.

If you want to do anything worthwhile, to commit yourself to something that lasts forever, be it a marriage or a vocation, you have to DO IT.  You have to make that promise. You have to wed yourself to it. You have to want it so much that you want it even when you don’t, that you stay with it even when it’s the last thing you want to do.

The alternative is to accomplish nothing that takes more than a few months and a passing enthusiasm.  And perhaps that’s okay, I don’t know.  It’s not a choice I have.

I am what I am and this is what I was born to be.

As my Mormon friends say “For all time and eternity.”

For better or for worse.  And you have to cross the worse, to get to the better.

But it will come.  The better will come again.

And then it’s all worth it.





One of the problems we’re dealing with with the left right now, is that they’ve lost the distinction between light and dark.

To explain: when I was taking art, our teacher told us, the first year, that you can tell most student art, because it looks washed out, like someone left it out to fade.

That’s not true, of course, but most students are afraid to use dark colors, particularly in big concentrations.  Because if you do, it can be so hard to lighten/soften them if you went too far.

OTOH, if you don’t use the dark, you lose both the light and the mid-tints. Without that contrast there, everything runs to a sort of grayish indistinct, a mishmash of stuff with no sense to it.

The problem of the left is that they started taking grey and calling it black.  Actually it’s worse than that.  They decided dark pink is black. Which makes the resulting painting a swirl of meaningless colors and tones.

Look, as long as I’ve been alive, anyone who runs against the communist/socialist/Marxist is “literally Hitler.”

Of course, the closest that the modern era has seen to Hitler, and far out-stripping him in sheer numbers, were the Marxists Mao and Stalin.  But it’s different when they do it, because their hearts are pure, I guess.

Seriously, the problem is this, and this is the reason that these comparisons make sense to them, even if your average Marxist does no actually know this history or the gestalt behind the philosophy he expounds:

Marxism billed itself as a scientific political-economic system. It was supposed to look at history and sociology and codify it in the light of science, and therefore be able to extrapolate what would happen.

And what would happen would be that the workers would revolt, take over the means of production, establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, and then somehow automagically, the state would wither away, and you’d have a stateless society where people had changed so much — the famous homus sovieticus — that they’d willingly hold all in common, economy would consist of people exchanging everything for free, from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs, and–

Other tommy rot of the sort. The thing was never scientific of course. You can’t have scientific history (you can have scientific economics, but it’s different from what idiot Marx thought. Economics is always descriptive, not prescriptive, as a science, and also what the man didn’t know about economics could fill several universes to bursting. The man had never run a lemonade stand or worked for a living. Among other problems the concept of distribution was opaque to him and led him to think distributors were “stealing.”) because you can’t know all of history. History is made up of a ton of little things. Look at the fall of the tsar, as an example (I had a rather disturbed dream about it, so it’s in my head.) would it be the same if the tsarovich hadn’t had hemophilia? If he and his wife had had three sons and one daughter, and one had been healthy?

How do you know? More importantly, how do you run the experiments, to compare and prove your thesis. You can’t.

More importantly, while you can look at a situation and take from it guidance to other similar situations, you really can’t assume they’re exactly the same. And it’s never, ever, ever prescriptive. You can’t say “I studied this old situation so this new one will be like this.”  And you certainly can’t make prophecies about the end of history and the new man, and call it scientific. or rather, you CAN if you’re a no-account grifter whose knowledge of REAL history and economics can be written on the head of a thimble with room to spare.

And what you write is not scientific and is self-serving religion.

The problem is the early Marxists, captured by the just-so story became fervent believers in this AS SCIENCE and as something devoutly to hope for.

No, really, these people viewed the annihilation of the human race as it existed (what do you think replacing it with homus sovieticus meant?) as a good thing. Probably because we’d crossed the threshold where you had to be sane to survive. The entire breed was technically too wealthy and was suffering from the disease of the sons of rich families: self-loathing and a belief in airy-fairy nonsensical just-so stories.

They also viewed it as inevitable. Anyone slowing it down was “reactionary”and “ignorant” and other things that meant they were standing in the way of “progress.”

Let’s get out of the way right now that Marx’s vision never worked as advertised. If you number the revolutions of the proletariat (defined as the industrial working class, but hell, I’ll even give you farmers) that have happened, you’ll count…oh, yeah, zero.

What we’ve had from Russia to China to the clusterf*ck in Venezuela is revolutions by grifter intellectuals (Marx’s chosen people) who claimed to be doing it in the name of the proletariat and who theoretically gave ownership of the means of production to the proletariat, while in fact keeping control and manipulating the vast, and increasingly more scared crowd of starving peasants to do their murder for them.

Which, btw, is what the left is trying. Because we don’t have starving peasants, they’re importing them by the million from the third world, in order to do a revolution in their name, and then claim that they are in control and it’s a “dictatorship of the proletariat” while in fact, the graduates of our ivy leagues do monstrous things to everyone and enrich themselves while destroying the nation.

Because Hitler declared war on Stalin, who was — of course — Marxist and therefore in their stupid little noggins a “good person” and “fighting for progress” he was evil.

They don’t really understand WHY he was evil. To do that, they’d have to understand his belief that he could manipulate everyone and create a new human race was de-facto evil, and if they understood that, they’d end up screaming in front of the mirror in the morning. So instead they attach to the touch-feel of things he did, without even understanding why they were evil, or how evil they were, or how destructive.

This is how we get idiot Occasional Cortex and the idiot Millenial Cultural Revolution Brigades who follow her, to think that putting migrants in camps at the border is EXACTLY the same as the death camps in Germany.

Because both Hitler and us not letting their chosen people in, in whose names they plan to get power, stand in the way of Marxism. Therefore we’re exactly the same and there’s no difference whatsoever.

Yep. Black and dark pink are exactly the same, even if no sane people would see it that way, because, you know, neither of them are yellow.

So we get, you know, people living in bunks and perhaps not getting to pick their menu, and not having the right board games, is the logical equivalent of death camps.  Not letting people of a different culture who have nothing to do with us and no claim on us waltz in and — btw — consume MASS quantities of our public services? It’s the same as taking your very own citizens, expropriating their wealth, making it impossible for them to work, and putting them in a camp where they’re either supposed to work to death, or be killed for their hair, the gold in their teeth and their bones which are then used as industrial materials.

They don’t realize there is a difference between saying “no, you can’t come in to our country” (which by the way EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD DOES, because a country without borders is not a country) and putting people in camps where you feed them a paste made of paper and old clothes, to find out if humans can survive on that. (This horrifies me more than the ovens, because of the sheer CONTEMPT of it.)

They don’t even understand the fundamental difference: no one in America wants to exterminate everyone of Latin (or Latin American) descent. (The stupid crazy idea that ICE is stopping everyone who can tan and deporting them is in fact bullshit.  While younger son gets stopped a lot, it’s because he drives a red sportscar (it’s what he chose to buy. We TRIED to talk him out of it) not because he tans. Hell, I tan and have an accent, and I have yet to be asked to prove citizenship, including in situations where I should be, btw.) (Okay, maybe someone does, but there’s 300 million of us. So there is more than a thousand people who want us all to wear tin foil hats, and there’s probably the same number who thinks everyone who doesn’t have blue eyes should be killed.  The point is, they’re not in power, and most of them are okay if kept medicated.)  There is no concerted effort to round up legal residents and citizens (BTW I’ve found that millenials don’t know the difference. They think if you come over the border you automatically become a citizen. ARGH.) of darker skin tones and put them in camps from which they can’t leave except by dying. Hell there isn’t even a disconcerted effort. There is NOTHING.

The people detained at the border aren’t detained because we want to kill them and all their kind. What is their kind, btw? since we’re getting a mix of people from all over.

They’re being detained because we’re a sovereign land. That means this land is for people who share a culture and beliefs, or at least agree to abide by our laws (breaking through our border immediately declares you don’t, guys.) Furthermore, we as a polity, get to choose WHOM we let in.

Most countries have this. The minimum requirement is that you NOT go on welfare/assistance for x number of years (some places ten.) Then there might be extra points if they need, say, doctors, or English teachers, or something.  “We were told to speed these people along” is a thing.  I’m honestly iffy on that part, because it’s too much of planed economy and usually crazy, but eh, something we have the right to do.

I used to believe the thing that most illegals wanted to come in to work and not to take advantage of our welfare system. It might even have been true, at one time. But at least since Obama’s presidency, everything I hear from friends who intersect with this stuff from health professionals to education professionals, to social workers, is that 90% of our resources are being consumed by people who are here illegally and who not only contribute nothing, but can’t even understand they SHOULD contribute anything, because they’ve been propagandized all their lives that America stole all their raw materials or whatever, and that the poverty in their country is our fault. So they’re here to steal back their stuff, or grift it from us, all the while hating us. Because they were told it’s our fault, and they have a right.

This is part of the Marxists attempts to weaponize peasants, even if they have to import them.

It’s also the only thing that explains the caravans coming in singing their countries’ anthems.  IOW as an invasion force.

Putting them in camps is a bit crazy. We should be confiscating all weapons and sending them back under armed escort.  But hey.

And the number one difference between death camps and migrant camps? If you’re put in a migrant camp you can leave at any minute, if you agree to go back home. I think we even pay for the ticket.

To the millenials and convinced Marxists, no, this was not true in Auschwitz. Most of those people just wanted to go home and back to work and their normal lives.  The idea that Jews (or the other persecuted minorities) were “invaders” was just Hitler’s insanity. They were just Germans.

Wake me up when the US starts rounding up anyone who can tan, puts them in camps and doesn’t let them leave.

I’m going to suggest we start by rounding up Occasional Cortex, put her in a camp and not let her out till she can reliably tell the difference between dark pink and black, form three sentences coherently AND know a modicum of history not Marxist indoctrination.  And for the love of heaven, while you have her, do something about her teeth.  It’s like she has a vagina dentata for a mouth.

Meanwhile, kids, and those who should not act like kids but do: STOP THE MORAL PANICS. You’re suffering from semantic confusion.

Treating people as objects, taking their property away, silencing them, banning them from the public sphere, making it impossible for people who dissent to earn a living, and destroying books you disagree with?  THAT’s being literally Hitler. (Yes, it’s also a few of your favorite things.  Look in that mirror and keep looking.)

Making people sleep in dormitories because they tried to waltz through your border to collect what the left told them is their due (i.e. to rob you blind)?  That’s not literally Hitler.

Not only weren’t the Jews breaking into Nazi Germany for the benefits, but most them would have been ecstatic to be allowed to go away.

Your bizarre obsession with this comparison is not only obvious semantic and historical confusion, it’s a screaming case of trivializing evil and borders on Holocaust denial.

No wonder, having lost the plot you now think Trump is just like Hitler because he makes speeches.  Did you ever hear Obama and his cadences?  Never mind.

Look, you drink water, Hitler drank water. You’re literally Hitler. And it’s twice as bad if you drink water while vegetarian. Just like Hitler.

Evil is evil. It’s not superficial resemblances. It’s thinking you can — and SHOULD — control people and history and you think that you have a right — nay a DUTY — to do so, because you know better than any given individual what’s better for him/her.  True evil is stopping at nothing in enforcing your will and forgetting other people are people too, and should have free will.

Look in that mirror. LOOK. It is not dormitories that make camps.

And we’re not letting you go all the way to camps. Because we’re not. Because some of us have sworn to devote our lives to fighting evil totalitarianism.

We know what it is. We know the stench of it.

We will not be confused.

And you shall not pass.

I was going to write a post…

I was going to write a post 4? 5? hours ago.  Instead, as always when I’m tired, the ADD is driving. So I’ve done a million things, but mostly hung out with friends…

One of them posted this (at himself, not me) early this morning:

It’s kind of true…  Add in that I’m tired though not sleepy, which is a weird state, and that I found out this morning —

Oh, yeah, let me back track: I got home to a strong smell of… well, poop.  I thought “well, it’s night time, the house is closed, must be the boxes.

But the boxes were pretty much clean, and nothing explained that smell.  Until I got a look at Havey-cat’s behind.  You see, he’s a Turkish Angora (no, we didn’t pay for him. We found him in a mini-golf course. So he’s probably not pure, but he even SOUNDS like them.) So, if you don’t shave his behind regularly, at some point he’s incapable of doing it himself.  Also, honestly, he only half tries. LEAST hygienic cat EVER.

We’ve been busy and not taken him in for a full shave.  So…  We shaved somewhat (we need to take him to the vet for a full shave) and then washed his behind (fun for the whole family!)

He was not only a mess, but he’d scooted all over the carpet trying to clean himself. At 10 pm, I was carpet cleaning.  And then I sort of passed out.

This morning, I realized though not as strong, the smell was still there.  And then I realized it was all over the dining room floor.  Fortunately wood, but still…


So, Fyrecon was very good, even if the lesson on giving your universe depth, because only three hours, and therefore — I realized — insufficient to create a whole non-earth world, turned into “How to make sure your alternate world isn’t laughable. What you need to take into account.”

I remembered again how much I enjoy teaching.  And how EXHAUSTING it is.  And the weird things I end up teaching.

So, definitely when I do online workshops, it will be no more than week a month (A week’s time. Not necessarily a week. I know some of you would benefit from having them on the weekend.)

AND probably only for a year (because it is exhausting.)

Since this is not a real post, I’m going to leave you to discuss what you THINK I can teach.  I think the building parallel worlds would translate well to online (but longer, much longer, as I’d have to give you hints/shepherd you on your own worlds.) And I was thinking a workshop on beginnings and perhaps one on character arcs.

What do you guys think?

Cats and Kings, Wax Seals and Rings

Hopefully there will be time tomorrow to talk of cats and kings, wax seals and rings.  Actually what I wanted to address is semantic confusion fueling moral panics on the left (the right too, but our moral panics are in general less panicky, because to get a good panic on you need a stampede and the American right’s (anyone to the right of Lenin, really) motto is “you’re not the BOSS of me!” even when the person is.  So the individualists fail to stampede.  We also fail to organize. You got to take the bitter with the sweet.)

However it’s just gone seven O’clock and we’re running half an hour late to hit the road and head back to Colorado.

And I’m telling my body it can’t get this lovely con crud it’s trying to hatch till AFTER Liberty con.

Fyrecon is one of the most serious TEACHING cons (for writers artists and creators) that I’ve ever attended.  I’m just sorry I missed the class on making your own patterns for plushies.  I mean, I can do it, but it might have taken me to the next level. Also, stop judging my hobbies.

On the writing side, even the “kids” listened closely and asked a lot of questions, and they were pertinent. (Kids take to mean high school and college.)

I like teaching, and it helped me figure out a few things to offer classes in.

Also we got to see friends.  And of course, like the Derp Canoe I often am, I carried the book plates all the way to Utah, then forgot to ask Larry to sign them, so I could bring double-signed ones to Liberty con. I’m sorry.

So… heading back the fastest (not the scenic, this time) route.  I have three short stories and a cover to deliver before Wednesday.  And I’ll write a real post tomorrow.

See you on the other side.










You Hold My Life In Your Hands


Yesterday, just as I was falling off to sleep, a disturbing thought hit me: so, my kids and their friends are fanning out into the world.

Because they are a gifted and responsible bunch and perhaps because my friends tend to be artsy-fartsy (eh. Guilty) and/or in entrepreneurial/self employed jobs, their kids seem to have gone out of their way to get the most responsible/serious positions they could. Which means many are in the military, health professions, engineering, civil-engineering or simply writing the software for all of the above.

So I was thinking of these goofy kids who used to get in epic battles over COMIC continuity, and who are now responsible for keeping people alive.  They hold our lives in their hands.  Or people’s hands at any rate.

And because I was falling asleep, I then thought “but we all do, don’t we?”

Which might seem weird for someone whose only (ah!) responsibility is to write a few blogs, make up stories. Silly right?

Yeah, sort of. Except I know my life was saved at least once (in terms of my not giving in to awful illness) because a book kept my spirits up.

And hey, I know the letters I get.  Sure, I can’t reach out with my words and kill you.  Probably a good thing, honest, given how many times I wake up like a bear with two heads.

But there are times to believe fan notes, that I have the power to keep you going one more day.  Which would mean I have the inverse power too, right?
And then there’s the other side.

Our world is so interconnected — hello, social apes! — that we all influence each other.  Do I know one of you reading this isn’t a surgeon who will be made more (or less) hopeful and alert by my post? Or an airline pilot ready to go out and fly a plane with 360 some lives in his hands?

And note above –most of the no-account, free0lancers that were my friends in my twenties and thirties raised hyper-responsible, hyper- powerful kids.

Mothers influence their children , and a circle of friends and acquaintances.

It’s a web. We all hold each other’s lives in our hands.

And there’s always been — always, since I’ve been alive — a deep and powerful current of “Humanity sucks, I hate it, let’s kill or prevent the lives of most people right now.”

It’s only recently the counter current got any hold, because it’s only recently we acquired a voice.

Remember that.

We’re fighting back against a deeply entrenched position. And it’s time.  We need a lot of hands upholding hope and the future, and a value for humanity at large and people in particular.

It’s time.

Richard Fernandez equates it to the principle of good (or at least the defender of mankind) finally waking up, almost at the brink of destruction.  Finally fighting back.  He explains it all not supernaturally, but through infective “thought memes”.

He’s not wrong. And I’m not wedded to how you explain it. What matters is that we do it.

There is value in life and humanity. Dead nothing might be beautiful, but who is there to admire it.

You hold my life in your hands. We all hold each other’s lives in our hands.

You can’t always be good, and a force for life and strength and light. No one can.  We’re humans. We’re fractured and cracked wide.

But you can strive and work to uphold light and life and good and hope and that the future can be better than the past. You can do the best you can and on balance, positively, save more than you doom.

And that’s enough. And that’s plenty. And that should be more than what we need to fight back.

Because darkness and nihilism are exhausting and dreadful.  And light propagates light.

Go and carry the light. Go and build. Go and push upward, and push others upward, too.

You hold my life in your hands.

You hold the future in your hands.

Be not afraid.


Stand up and be heard – Unfreedom of the Press, pt. 2 by Amanda S. Green


*Sorry I didn’t post yesterday.  This is the hotel room with the FEWER plugs I’ve ever seen, (at least plugs that work) and my connecting on the net for any length of time requires my having a place to plug phone AND computer. (The phone eats battery on Hotspot.) Today I found a place to plug in in the area Fyrecon takes place.  So post times might be weird, but I CAN post tomorrow.  Today we have Amanda with a guest post. (Hurray, the Hamsters got it to me!) – SAH*

Stand up and be heard – Unfreedom of the Press, pt. 2 by Amanda S. Green

There is a fallacy in this country that many people still believe. It’s a simple one and one that’s easy to understand. We expect those in the media to report the facts without obvious bias. We expect them to be fair and impartial in their reporting, leaving opinion and emotion to the editorial page. Unfortunately, that era of journalism is long past—if it ever really existed.

Before I get to the second fallacy, one Levin falls victim to, let’s talk about the book, Unfreedom of the Press. Mark Levin does a decent job in an early chapter of giving a history of the media in this country. He talks about the early pamphlets and presses and how they were the product of those who fled Europe to escape religious or political persecution. They were slanted but, unlike much of the media today, they also were meant to cause discussion and philosophical debate. Those behind the pamphleteers and the press braved seizure of their printing presses, imprisonment and worse for speaking their “truths”. But they persevered.

They were, in short, the foundation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press.

In the next chapter—the third, I believe—Levin jumps to modern media. Referencing the “party press era” that followed the Revolutionary War and lasted until around the Civil War era, he draws comparisons with todays media. During those early years, Levin points to newspapers that were basically nothing but mouthpieces for a single party. He uses a few examples to move into what we see in the media today.

To say much of the MSM is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party is putting it mildly. The problem is how Levin handles the problem. He steps out of the realm of drawing comparisons between the “party press era” to flogging a dead horse. And this is where many of the critics of the book zero in. He sets forth page after page of examples of how the media has targeted Donald Trump as the newest, and worst, evil to ever walk the face of the Earth and doesn’t look much further.

While I agree with him about the MSM and how it has handled the Clinton loss and Trump presidency, his move from quasi-scholar to screaming mouthpiece for the Oval Office detracts from the message of the book. It turns it from a lesson both sides should take to heart to what could be seen as a partisan attack on the media—which is exactly how the media is playing it.

In short, it takes it away from being an instrument to encourage dialogue and discussion to diatribe.

If he’d wanted to be more effective with his arguments, he would have taken a broader approach in condemning today’s media outlets, especially those who are the “major players”. An example of what he could have done is seen in a recent article that appeared in The Federalist.

In the Federalist article, Mark Hemmingway gives a number of examples of how the media either soft-pedals stories to fit the narrative or they outright adopt the narrative of those who want to see our nation fall. Reading some of them is like listening to Ilhan Omar extolling on the virtues of certain Middle Eastern regimes or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez schooling us on economics and the joys of socialism.

But not going beyond the “They hate Trump!” mantra, he is more effective with his condemnation of how much of the MSM “reports” the news today.

If Levin wanted to really show how many in the MSM—not to mention certain members of the Democratic Party–would dearly love to see the foundations of our nation crumble, he would have done well to go beyond their hatred for Trump. He would have listed some of the many stories where they’ve tried to write the narrative and then show how other media outlets, both here in the US and elsewhere, have covered the same story.

While there might not be crickets along this line in the book, it is close to it because his “Trump! Trump! Trump!” bandwagon drowns everything else out.

To be fair, he does discuss how the MSM uses techniques that mingle fact with propaganda. How, if you look at the front page of a major paper, you will see maybe half the stories that are true representations of what happened and half that are, shall we say, slanted to the max. But, in doing so, he gives more information about the whys and wherefore of this technique than he does of examples his readers could identify with.

In other words, there is no “ah ha” moment.

You know what I mean. That moment when the examples suddenly come to life and you remember reading that exact article or one like it. That moment when you look back and realize how the article took the so-called facts and manipulated them, leading you—or at least trying to—to the favored conclusion.

The lack of this “ah ha” moment is a major weakness in the book. Those of us who already understand how the MSM attempts to shape our thought process get it. But it is those sitting on the fence, those who sort of understand what has been happening but aren’t quite ready to accept it without concrete examples who are being lost. Levin misses a wonderful chance to bring more folks over to his way of thinking by failing to move past the “They all hate Trump” mantra.

A perfect example of this how Iran shot down our drone the other day. I first heard about it yesterday morning when I turned on the news. Yes, yes, I know. I’m a masochist. I watch a few minutes of morning news each day to see what lies the media is trying to feed us for the day. When they finally mentioned the incident, it was well buried under more “acceptable” stories. I’d already read about it after seeing a link on Drudge and at a few other sites I visit regularly.

But there was basically nothing but passing mention of it in the MSM until Trump started talking about striking back. Why? Because Trump said something. He was going to take action! Trump bad!

Even now that he’s walked back taking immediate action, they are still trying to spin the story. Lost in it all is the action by Iranian forces to shoot down our drone.

Another example is how we aren’t hearing any outrage from the MSM or the Dems on a map that showed up on the New Zealand government’s website that removed Israel. Instead, it showed “Palestine” and “East Jerusalem” as the capital. The map has since been removed—after outrage which, again, the media hasn’t covered—but the internet doesn’t forget. There have been similar occurrences, incidents Levin could have included in the book and didn’t.

And that is my biggest complaint about the book. Levin falls victim to his own political blinders. He took a very important topic and limited it to basically anti-Trump condemnation. While I, too, am tired of seeing how the media is doing all it can to perpetuate the Dems’ hatred for POTUS, I believe the danger of what is happening goes much deeper than just their attempt to drive Trump from office.

Our MSM is not—yet—a state run media, but it is damned close. It is a true party-run media. It makes little effort to be fair and honest in its reporting, especially when it comes to politics or certain “social” issues. It has lost touch with what much of the country is interested in and has turned into nothing more than a mouthpiece for parts of the Dems and their ilk.

Freedom of the press is their cry. But their truth is they only want it to be their freedom. They want to silence the those who don’t believe in their narrative. Our best answer is not only to stop giving them our money—them and their sponsors—it is to question and challenge them at every turn. It is up to us to find alternatives to the MSM and, when we can’t then to make them.

We are the new pampleteers, the new town criers. But we have a duty not to fall into the same trap the MSM has. The same trap Levin eventually fell into with this book. We give opinion. We welcome discussion. But we also give the facts, making it clear which is which.

I know, I know. I can hear some of you now saying that we can only defeat them by playing their game. But the dangers that come with playing that game are great and do we really want to go down that path?

Honestly, we don’t have to. We just have to keep speaking out and challenging them. The fact their number of subscribers and viewers proves they are losing the battle. What we need to be prepared for is that they are going to double- and triple-down on their attacks on the foundations of our nation as they get ever closer to their final end. That means having in place our own alternatives and supporting them. It means reaching out to those who have been sitting in the middle, trying to figure out why that have that prickly feeling at the back of their necks when they read or hear much coming out of MSM outlets.

Give them a fair alternative. One that will be critical of both sides of the political aisle. One that remembers why this nation was founded and what our core values are. Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, etc.

“Molon labe!” is our rallying cry. Let them know we will not let them take away our freedom, our country or our voice.

(Help Amanda drink enough to keep snarking the unbelievable twaddle that passes for deep political thought these days.  We’ll collect for her liver transplant later. Hit her Pourboir jar now! – SAH)

But for Wales, Richard? – A Blast From The Past From October 2017

But for Wales, Richard? – A Blast From The Past From October 2017

As you guys know I’ve been reading about von Braun.  Mostly I’ve been reading about Von Braun because I visited Huntsville for TVIW and got curious.  Before that all I’d heard bout him, as a person, was, dropped in a conversation “I figure he was a true psychopath who didn’t care, so long as he got to space.”

After reading four biographies (two for, two against) I regret to tell you that I’m not sure that was true.

I come neither to bury Von Braun not to praise him.  I doubt if he knew, in himself, if he was a villain or a hero.  And I doubt he was a psychopath.  The reason I doubt he was the later is that he didn’t take to a totalitarian regime like a duck to water.  Instead he tried to compromise his soul a little at a time, a vestige of humanity and decency obviously holding him back.

If a man of his intelligence, not to mention charisma, had wanted, he could have been in the “high councils” of the oligarchs, but mostly he seemed to do the minimum necessary to a) not get killed and b) keep the rocket program going.  And before you say the rocket program hurt the allies, he himself admitted “When a country is at war, a man wants his country to win, even if he hates the regime.”  And before you poo poo that, remember that a country is not land or borders. It’s your family, your friends, the places you love.  He also admitted he didn’t feel bad about bombing London because the allies had destroyed Berlin, a city he loved.  All these responses are very human and very normal.  Flawed, painful, morally tarnished, maybe, but human.

I’ll confess my bias up front.  One of the “against” bios (the other just kept repeating “Nazi, so bad.” which is senseless) was specious enough to make me want to come to his defense.  Among other things they quoted his words about milking the golden cow in a context that made it sound like it was about the US.  It wasn’t.  It wasn’t about Hitler’s Germany either.  It was about the Weimar Republic, for whom Von Braun had started the rocket program.

Also, they narrated hearsay about the Americans not treating them well enough “overheard by his driver who didn’t talk about it for 60 years” and then talked to the Nation which might as well be the organ of CPUSA.  I’m here to tell you that criticizing your host country is the first phase of every acculturation/immigration.  I saw it with my fellow exchange students, who were here by choice and who suddenly talked about how much better it was back home.  It’s a group bonding exercise in unstable circumstances.  It means nothing.  (No, I didn’t do it, but I’m fairly weird.)

These things predisposed me to “like” him, but the pro bios were also a little weird.  I find it mendatious to say that the Von Braun attached to Mittelwerk — the labor camp attached to Dachau — must have been his brother.  Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but suggesting it as an excuse is a little goofy since Magnus Von Braun was also imported to the US.

And the “he was a loving father and a good neighbor” doesn’t cut it either.  Because, you know, here’s the thing, Pratchett had it absolutely right when the torturer has a coffee mug with the saying “World’s Best Dad.”

So on the character of Von Braun I’m going to say “I don’t know” and in fact, I doubt he did.

The thing that none of the bios seem to take into account is the corrupting power of a tyrannical regime.  This applies with boots on to things like Fascism and Communism but it applies to minor tyrannical regimes too, where behavior you consider unethical is required of you in order to get something you want/need.

Dave Freer commented on the Harvey Weinstein case here — Wiles —and said we writers do things like that too, though usually not sexual (and if you met the average writer you know why.)  He is right.  We’ll get back to that later, just keep in mind that like the Hugos are the Oscars for ugly people so is the book business Hollywood for ugly people.  We’re not (usually, though I’ve had attempts, when I was much younger) required to put out, but we betray ourselves and sell our souls in myriad other ways.

Did Von Braun know that people were being worked to death to build his rockets?  Impossible not to.  Look, guys, seriously, I suspect even the uninvolved unconcerned Germans knew about the Holocaust.  Could he/they do anything about it?

What precisely?

The movies make it seem like everyone rises up at once and overturns a dictatorial regime.  That is not the way real revolutions work.  Time and again, we’ve seen that it’s when a regime softens that it’s overturned.  Before that, attempting an overturn is suicide and often death to all your family and friends too.

He’d started building rockets under Weimar.  He’d come to the Nazis attention.  After that, he’d continue building rockets and like it, and do what he had to do to keep himself and his family alive and well.

One of the biographies claims he tried to/got some prominent scientists out of concentration camps to “help” and live with them and eat what they ate in an attempt to save them.  I haven’t tracked this down to verify, though at least one (French) professor claimed after the war that he was offered just such a position, in an attempt to better his lot.  This professor refused because he didn’t want to aid the Nazi war effort.

In the same way Von Braun was arrested (and let out on probation) twice, for saying that rockets built by slave labor would be defective.

On the other hand, when he came to the states, he brought with him people who were unavoidably more guilty than him, obviously so.  And tried to bring others who were too “dirty” to make it here.

Surely that’s proof he was a villain?

No.  It’s proof that he was human.  You hang around with a group of people long enough, you’re going to like some of them despite despising their opinions or actions.  I didn’t feign my liking for a lot of my liberal or even outright communist colleagues and bosses in NYC.  I can see where they went astray, I despise what they do, but I like them as people, and think some of them are salvageable.

And I’m very glad I’m not the ultimate judge of anyone’s soul, not even mine.

All I’m going to say about Von Braun’s character is that until you withstand his temptations and his fear, you don’t know what you’d do.  It’s very easy for people who are free and at no risk of being killed summarily or having their whole family destroyed, to say “I’d stand above it all.”  But very few people do.  I find it helpful that in the New Testament the man who was chosen to lead the church, in the same circumstances denied the man he believed to be the son of G-d not once but three times.  It’s a good demonstration of frail humanity faced with dictatorship and corruption.

You don’t know what you’d do in the circumstances.

I do, and it doesn’t make me proud.

Sure, I came out politically, when I could afford to, when there was indie and Baen.  But before that, I not only swallowed a lot but said ambiguous “supporting” things when the discussion turned to keeping those undesirable libertarians/conservatives and their “hatred” out.  Because otherwise I’d have lost my sole opportunity to make money with the skill it had taken me almost two decades to acquire, and babies needed shoes.

Looking back it feels a lot like the quote from A Man For All Seasons:
It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for Wales, Richard?

And yet people do, for far less important reasons than getting man to space, or even winning a war so that your family estates aren’t plundered (and if you don’t think that matters you don’t understand attachment to the land) and your family sent forth, homeless and destitute.

Almost every writer, unless they’re dyed the deepest red, made the same compromises.  It’s a bad thing, even in that scale.  Like the actresses giving up their dubious virtue for a role, we give up a part of ourselves when we do that.

But when a system is corrupt and oligarchic there is no way to go around.  And so we keep doing it.

Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore.  And I had the opportunity to escape.  More or less what Von Braun did.  I’m trying to make good on my second chance, impaired only by stupid health tricks.

But I wouldn’t stand in judgement.  Like the people who escaped the USSR and who were party members, or “little pioneers” or like Pope Benedict being in the Hitler youth, if you stand in judgement of these people, you’ve never experienced even the nano-version of it I and other writers/actors/people in fields where gatekeepers are few and implacable have experienced.

I don’t know if Von Braun sold his soul for a shot at space; I don’t know if he sold it for safety for his family and himself.  I know I sold mine for Wales, metaphorically speaking.  I have no high mountain on which to stand, and my only redeeming realization must be this: that I realized a bad system makes good people bad.

One of the books went on about how evil Von Braun pushed for the Americans to “win” space when the USSR would have done just as well, since it was all for humanity.

Perhaps having experienced the corrupting effects of dictatorship and distorting ideology, he wanted space to be free.  (Yes, I know, he wanted the US to have an orbiting station and bomb any country that misbehaved.  Heinlein modified it and used it in Space Cadet.  It would have gone very badly, particularly if the US gave it over to the UN.  But I can also understand the appeal of the idea for someone who believed in the US.)

People who have sold their souls try to reclaim bits of it in the weirdest ways.

Let that serve as his epitaph.  And our ladder to freedom and redemption for the rest of us.  Do what you can, where and when we can, and may our efforts achieve more than our poor selves can manage.

The Natural Man


One of the things that would puzzle any time traveler about our time — arguably more than our gadgets, our extraordinary ease of life, or how discontented we are — is the word “natural” in everything, as an unalloyed good.

Well it might not have surprised certain dippy (though only proto-hippie) philosophers of the eighteenth century, but it would surprise anyone else with half a brain or the capacity to reason.

It should take even us by surprise, if we thought about it for two minutes, and weren’t simply translating the word as “good” in our back brains with no rational thought.

Of course “Natural” is the “improved” and “atomic” of our age.

One of the really fun things of living in a time capsule, with books, as I sometimes think I do, is to stumble on these keywords for the past, now and then and go “uh.”  And yeah, in the fifties atomic  was it, even when it made no sense whatsoever.  “The new, improved, atomic shoes.”  Yeah.

That “Natural” yogurt you just bought is no such thing. Which is a good thing, since natural yogurt is basically milk that has gone off, and no, it isn’t particularly good for you, and certainly doesn’t stay good on a shelf in “winter temperatures” for a couple of weeks.

Also natural man, in his natural environment grows to maybe 3 1/2 feet, is toothless by twenty and dead by thirty.

The idea we have that it would be best to be “natural” is all part of the romantic movement and its philosophers.

(BTW this has nothing to do with the natural rights in the Constitution. Or rather it does, but more on the basis that it prompted a lot of thinking back to that which exists without interference. Our natural rights are negative rights. The ones any human has if they’re not taken away.  The bizarre, novel and highly UNNATURAL idea in the Constitution is that government exists to secure these rights. As opposed to you know, to any type of government or leadership among humans being the first instrument of taking those rights away.)

The whole “Natural Man movement” of which Jean Jacques Rosseau (though not only him) was a prophet, was something different.  I don’t remember if it was Rosseau or another of the deranged people of the era who penned this DELUSIONAL thing where  “Natural man” basically lay under a tree and eat the fruit that fell from it, and copulated at will, etc. without care.  Until evil civilization.

I know that recently on twitter there was a twit expounding on how NATURALLY toddlers want to share everything they have. So communism is natural and greed/capitalism has to be learned.  This led to a bunch of parents asking her if she’d ever had a kid or, you know, seen one up close and personal, ever. Because like dogs and cats, kids will play with/eat something they don’t want just to keep a rival from having it. Grown people will share, at least with those they’re closely related to, because there seems to be an inherent sense of fairness in great apes, as well as a sense of “band or tribe.”  Beyond that, sharing or living in communitary societies is an act that it is profoundly unnatural and will only happen when some overriding imperative (often religious or doctrinary) pushes it.  And even then, it only works in relatively small groups.

Let’s face it, what the “natural” pushing movement of the eighteenth century was was a bunch of over-civilized twits, dissatisfied with their lives, trying to blame someone or something else — in this case all their ancestors, and the slow climb of civilization — for their troubles or their Weltschmerz.  Which is a highly civilized thing to do.

Unfortunately it hooked up with the idea of fallen humanity and the Judeo-Christian idea of paradise, only removing the supernatural element. Which means removing the one thing that might make it work. Because a state of Edenic happiness is highly unnatural to man, this ape who was born to survive and endure.

The problem is however not how ridiculous the whole idea is. It’s how far out on a limb (a natural limb, with a tiger creeping along from the other end, and a bear waiting below) humanity has gone on this “natural” thing without its making the slightest bit of sense.

The Freudian idea, for instance, that humans are born with all these impulses and needs which, if thwarted lead to neurosis and “repression” — at least the Freudian idea as interpreted by pop science. The man itself was more nuanced — has led us down a limb of “all of us should sleep with whomever we fancy all the time, to avoid being crazy.” and “If a responsibility makes me unhappy or thwarts my desires at the moment, it is bad and should be ditched.”

This is not just insanity, it’s complete insanity.  The only way complex society works is that we hold on to a highly artificial set of values.  For instance, we don’t kill infants for disturbing our sleep, no matter how much they do it, day after day and night after night for no other reason than that they prefer to be carried than lying in their bassinet like normal human spawn. (He’s twenty seven, so chill. I obviously didn’t kill him.) For instance, we get up in the morning, even though we don’t feel like it, to go and do work we don’t particularly feel like doing, because at the end of the month this gives us money to continue living (and maybe do a few things we want to do?)  For instance, we don’t eat whatever crosses our sight without regard for whether it’s a pet, belongs to someone else, or is unsanitary. Other things: we write angry songs/blogs/stories rather than bash a rival over the head. We wash regularly, even on days we don’t feel like getting out of bed, much less washing.  Etc.

The entire vast edifice of civilization is built in fact on humans repressing themselves, or sublimating their non-constructive impulses.

If you want to see people acting “naturally” with very few repressions or any act of will to prevent them doing whatever they wish, read some true crime books (I fell into a streak of some of those last week.) These are people who act on their “natural” desires in the middle of our highly unnatural society.  Only idiots or malicious ideologues would consider them examples of how one should live.

When a few years back I went on a streak of reading about the indo-Europeans, I came across several digs, in the steppes of Russia, where they would find a man living with several women (well, their skeletons) and if you analyze them, you find that the women are his daughters, and so are the babies they bore.  That too is natural.  When that lunatic in Germany kept his daughter in the basement and sired seven children on her? Perfectly natural. Go back far enough, and I suspect most — if not all — of us are descended from such unions.  It is only the voice of civilization, the understanding that to hold together above an animal level we must restrain such impulses that makes it unusual and repugnant.

In the same way Cain and Abel and Romulus and Remus are natural brothers. Trust me, raising two boys, I saw plenty of struggles for supremacy and dominance. I’m very grateful the boys are civilized and one of them didn’t bash the other’s skull in, so we skimmed through it with a few bruises and sulks, and now they’ve hit the portion where they’re becoming friends or at least buddies.

But there is in our society that impulse, the same that considers “natural” high praise to “return to nature” in the idea that in nature they will find all the dreams that civilization has denied them.

This doesn’t consist of studying real humans and seeing the immutable characteristics — like a tendency to band together and display. All part of being social apes — but an airy-fairy Rosseaunean dream, that goes something like “Society doesn’t share with me, or coddle me, and I have to work and I can’t sleep with my friend’s boyfriend/girlfriend, and I’m expected to look after my own kids, and–” and then imagining that because the desire exists — feelings are REAL! — for something different, it must mean that something is “natural.”

This is the force unmaking society and pulling it apart. Because when each individual — naturally — completely fails to repress him or herself, when there’s no sense of deferred gratification, no sense of “yeah, I want this, but I want this other thing more” there is no civilization and no future.

Without the ability to have our mind suppress natural impulses in the search for other, better desires and dreams, we’d all still be following mammoth herds and living in feast and famine.  And there would be about 2 million of us across the world.

Of course a lot of the “natural” pushing people of our time think that would be fine and dandy.  But they imagine that they somehow would hold on to jets and the benefits of civilization while the peasants starved to a “sustainable” level.

Never happen, of course. The Natural Humans would have them roasting on a spit in no time.  But never mind that.

I’m now going to take a very unnatural shower, and wear unnatural clothes and go about doing some unnatural work.

To keep civilization going, and spite the would be “natural” tyrants.

Seems Like A Good Time For A State of the Writer


Sorry I’m so late with this.  I’ve been fighting some kind of weird virus, this time brought home by the kind, sharing efforts of #2 son. Mostly stomach, URI and ABOVE ALL extreme tiredness.

It was so bad that over the weekend (It was on the way out, but whomped me hard after I overdid it with house cleaning. So Saturday and Sunday I had brain fog and could barely stay awake.  I was starting to wonder if my thyroid had gone off kilter again.  However today my head is clear, though I slept late and might need a nap once this blog is up.

This week I’m teaching at Fyrecon. So if any of you guys are in the area and want to come on down…

Other things being considered, because we still have that massive hole in our finances due to the Norwegian Airlines fiasco (I will explain it, honest, probably after LC.)

One of the things you guys have asked me to do for years is publish a collection of my political essays.  Beyond the fact that it’s going to be a pain (but not impossible) to collate, there’s the issue that I don’t want it on Amazon, because I am not PRIMARILY a political non-fiction writer.  Or at least I don’t want to be one. (Which is why the implosion of PJ as far as payment for me is a help. It helps me refocus on what I really want to do.) So I don’t want people looking for my latest novel to trip on it. Because my books are, if not apolitical, not primarily political (I’ve been doing a re-read of Simak and realized that I still enjoy his stuff, though I disagree vehemently with the politics embedded in it.) I don’t want to turn off readers I don’t need to turn off.

Which means I don’t want it out there in Amazon.

But I still need to pay the 10k we’ve gone in debt due to the snafu. And we probably need another 10k to get through till indie picks up.

Which means… I’m going to do a book of essays and offer it for private sale here. Probably sometime in July. Probably towards the end.

I’m also going to be teaching a limited number of writing workshops, this year only. Because we need to make it through May next year, after which we should be okay (though it will probably take a couple of years to recover from the she lacking we’ve got these last two years, in terms of “it’s not a disaster, but it will cost you money to get over it.”)  That too will be advertised here.

However, those things will be done with great care so as not to stop the writing, which is FINALLY going again.  After all the health issues, I got into this pattern where I wrote for three or four days, something happened and I lost the thread of it, then I started again.  So I have several almost-finished books.

How do I know this is not just one of those outbursts? It feels different. I actually have started day-dreaming stories in detail again. And the writing is coming easily, not like pulling teeth. I think a great part of it, is the reading of books I read while young, which I’m doing again.

And that’s the state of the writer.

Blogging will be unpredictable the next two weeks, because of Fyrecon and Liberty con, after which things should settle down a bit.

I’ve received book plates for Guardian. I’m going to get Larry to sign them this week, then I’ll sign them, and then I’ll tell you guys where to send the SASE for one, okay?

And I think that’s it. Except I might go take a nap. Because if I don’t rest a bit these next two weeks, most of July is going to be recovering from the two cons.

Eh. Things are getting incrementally better. The keyword being incremental. I wish I had the recovery times of when I was 20, but I don’t.  So…  I’ll try not to kill myself with work.

And now I’ll go nap and write.

The Hamsters Ate the Prompt and Sunday Book Promo!


The Hamsters Ate the Prompt

Lately I’ve been on the receiving end of pranks via the Internet Hamsters, Email Division.  Things arrive, don’t arrive or get put into trash or spam seemingly at random.  Thus it must have been with this week’s prompt, which I didn’t check earlier, because I’ve been under sustained and ongoing attack by a weird muse, as well as re-varnishing living room floor, to remove “crazy cat pee stains” the crazy cat (Euclid).

Note the picture above.  If you feel like writing, use that as a prompt.

Sunday Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com.  One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

FROM ALMA T. C. BOYKIN:  Clearly Familiar: Familiar Tales Book Five


Wandering wolverines, catfish in the sky, owls that can’t fly straight… Welcome back to the Familiar world, where magic and the mundane coexist (and collide).

These short stories introduce some new characters and revisit familiar (and Familiar) ones, including Morgana and Smiley Lorraine, Dr. William Lewis and Blackwell, and Shoshana Langtree. Sorcerers gone mad, heavy weather, and the thin line between insanity and magic, all standard fare in this Familiar place and time.

FROM EDWARD WILLET:  Worldshaper (Worldshapers).


From an Aurora Award-winning author comes the first book in a new portal fantasy series in which one woman’s powers open the way to a labyrinth of new dimensions.

For Shawna Keys, the world is almost perfect. She’s just opened a pottery studio in a beautiful city. She’s in love with a wonderful man. She has good friends.

But one shattering moment of violence changes everything. Mysterious attackers kill her best friend. They’re about to kill Shawna. She can’t believe it’s happening–and just like that, it isn’t. It hasn’t. No one else remembers the attack, or her friend. To everyone else, Shawna’s friend never existed…

Everyone, that is, except the mysterious stranger who shows up in Shawna’s shop. He claims her world has been perfect because she Shaped it to be perfect; that it is only one of uncounted Shaped worlds in a great Labyrinth; and that all those worlds are under threat from the Adversary who has now invaded hers. She cannot save her world, he says, but she might be able to save others–if she will follow him from world to world, learning their secrets and carrying them to Ygrair, the mysterious Lady at the Labyrinth’s heart.

Frightened and hounded, Shawna sets off on a desperate journey, uncertain whom she can trust, how to use her newfound power, and what awaits her in the myriad worlds beyond her own.

FROM CEDAR SANDERSON:  Possum Creek Massacre (Witchward Book 2).



Renowned for her witch hunting skills, Detective Amaya Lombard knew that being summoned from the coastal rainforest of Oregon to the backwoods hollers of Kentucky meant the case was something special. From the moment she arrived at the magic soaked scene in an abandoned farmhouse she knew how bad it was going to be. She had no idea just how complicated it was going to get, professionally and personally. Now she must catch a killer before they catch her. The roots of evil plunge deeply into the past, and the blood soaked history of Kentucky’s witch warded houses and barns may hold the key to keeping her alive in the present.