I Hate Blogging

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People Watching in the ER

I rolled into the emergency room of Mission Hospital in Asheville NC some time after sunset. Literally, I rolled because my legs wouldn’t work. Well, my wife rolled me in a chair we stole from labor and delivery. It had stirrups.

I couldn’t see the lady behind the computer from my lower vantage point but I heard her fingernails on the keyboard. “Name and date of birth.”

I gave her my name and date of birth.
“Reason for visit?”
“My legs don’t work.”

She stepped out from the counter holding a stack of papers. Curly hair dangled over her glasses like a blonde and much more uptight Mrs. Frizzle, for those of you who remember The Magic School Bus. She wore nursing scrubs but she would have fit in better as an angry librarian.

“Have they ever worked?” she asked.
“No,” I said, “I just now found out, after twenty eight years, that most people can walk.”

She looked at me past the glasses on her nose. A chain dangled from the earpieces and around her pencil neck. Her lips pressed together until they were whiter than the skin around them.

“Normally, they work fine,” my wife said.

I rolled, or my wife rolled me, to the triage area. A nurse who looked like Ed Sheeran and Arya Stark’s love child and went by the name Aaron put a pressure cuff on my arm. I had to hold a thermometer under my tongue and a pulse checker thing on my finger while the cuff tried to sever my bicep.

“One thirty over eighty, that seems high to me,” I said.
“It stopped, I don’t know why it keeps doing this.” Aaron pressed a few beeping buttons and the torture device activated again.

“Where the hell am I?” a man who looked like the first Dumbledore posing as Charles Manson in a biker jacket shouted. I thought for a moment that he would get out of his chair and rampage the triage. He didn’t.

A toe headed baby boy with blue eyes stared at me. Maybe it was the shopping cart of a wheelchair or my green skeleton pajamas but something about me fascinated this kid. I waved at him. He climbed his dad, who looked like Skinny Pete from Breaking Bad and Eminem swapped faces.

Slim Skinny blew a raspberry on baby Steve Rogers and the kid laughed a more earnest laugh than I had heard since before we dropped my daughter off at my in laws. He reminded me of her and I wished I was home snuggling her instead of looking at these people.

“Alright,” Aaron said, “head to the blue waiting room.”

Yes, this trauma center stayed busy enough for separate waiting rooms. The green one was where Dumblemanson and Slim Skinny sat, it was for people awaiting triage. The purple and orange waiting rooms were under construction. Everyone there had to wait in the blue one.

We stopped at the security center for my wife to get a visitor’s badge. A big and bald security guard took her picture and printed it out. A nurse approached the station.

“We’ve got to get him to a room.” She she ran her hand over her face.
“Oooooooohhhhhh, can I get a drink?” A ghostly wail emanated from the waiting room.

“Where are we going to sit?” my wife asked.
“Um…” I said.
“I don’t want to sit near that.” She pointed to the man calling out life the ghost of Jacob Marley.

She wheeled me over to a snack machine and got herself a coke. I sat in the canteen area and made jokes about my situation on Facebook.

“Would we hear if they called me in here?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said.

A guy who looked like Mateo from Superstore sat next to a Dom Deluise look alike. The big and hairy one spoke softly enough for me not too hear him. The other one, though, had a voice like Vizzini from The Princess Bride traveling through an amplifier.

“How did you get there if you didn’t take I-80?”
“But I-40 doesn’t go that far.”
“So, you just get straight on 74, or do you take another road to get there?”

The sound of someone attacking Starship Enterprise interrupted the human mapquest. I looked up to see the stereotypical North Carolina resident with a five year old girl sleeping on her chest. She checked her notification and went back to whatever time wasting Facebook game she was playing.

I thought a nurse would come to get me after two hours of listening to human mapquest give directions, the ghostly moans of Jacob fucking Marley, and a goddamn space battle. Instead, a guy doing his best to emulate Dolph Lungren walked by.

“You don’t work here, you’re just a visitor,” I said under my breath, or so I thought.

He looked back at me like he dropped something and suspected that I stole it. After a while, he came back and silently faded me to say anything. I didn’t, I sat there staring at one particular tile on the floor.

I came out of the ER six hours later with no answers but a valuable lesson on writing.

Never waste an opportunity to watch people interacting in public.

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An Excerpt from my First Draft

I couldn’t think of a blog post this week. So, here’s what would have been the beginning of my novel, The Western Sunrise, if I hadn’t cut it. This scene won’t be in it but the characters and world will be the same. 

Soran gazed at the western sunrise. A strong wind ruffled the feathers of his robe and blew ripples in the violet waves of grain. Black hair, braided and matted like tentacles, danced in the breeze. He spat out whatever strands drifted into the creases in his lips and the holes in his nose.
Sharp angles the same shade as his hair contoured his vermilion cheeks which matched his feather coat. Bony pieces of various animals, too small to be useful, rattled on a string around his neck. Dirt sifted between his toes and the morning dew was cool under his feet.
Red eyelids closed over rings of gold with illuminated specks of sunshine sprinkled across their diameters. He filled his lungs with air. Black lips rested on one another in a straight line. Somewhere deep within him, vibrations permeated through his nerves.
Once, he was a prodigy. He might not have been the youngest of his tribe to call himself shaman but no one alive could remember one younger. A few years ago, he would have been able to feel the rotation of his planet and its orbit around its star and point out with the accuracy of a spear flinger his exact location in his galaxy.
Now, he could only detect the residual vibrations of the closest matter to him. He may as well have been a novice all over again. He knew in his heart that he had no business joining a hunt but he couldn’t bring himself to admit that to the rest of the hunting party.
“Do you sense anything?” Tren, one of the hunters accompanying the shaman, asked.
“I just need a moment,” Soran answered.
Tren, like his fellows, wore a knee length garment of woven red linen with no sleeves. Streaks of red and black once covered his arms like rusted iron deposits in the onyx mountains to the east but now the red had faded to the color of the soft wood beneath a tree’s bark. He carried a spear three quarters of his height and its flinger dangled from the rope he wore as a belt.
Five men, not counting Soran, stood around Tren. The red and black of youth still covered every inch of their exposed skin in twisting streams. Sap from the weaver trees held their hair out of their faces and up in spikes like the ends of a ball barb plant.
“We don’t want to be out here all day,” a man who looked much like Tren said.
“It’s going to take as long as it takes,” Soran told him.
Soran’s physical form and the world it clung to faded like mist away from his conscious mind. He no longer felt the breeze through his matted locks or the moist ground under his feet. Tren’s next comment fell on his ears but his mind only heard the buzzing of ambient energy.
He fell. Or rather, when his conscious mind left his body, the sensation of falling overcame him. Gravity lost its hold on him, he had no form for it to grasp. His stream of consciousness flowed through the hidden dimensions of what sentient beings called reality.
Waves washed over him in every color of the rainbow and a few his physical eye couldn’t detect. The grass that had been the color of amethyst but now it radiated the spectrum. The waves of the sun beat down the hardest and its energy sizzled through the air.
The hunting party ceased to be solid creatures and became patterns of thought clinging to the probability of being alive. Thoughts of hunger and boredom and anticipation cycled through to start again. They rippled out and converged, bouncing off one another back to the source.
Vibrating strands of the energy that made up reality wove together. Soran pushed his consciousness out from the strands that made up the prison of his physical body. His stream of thoughts ran into the crossing strands.
His mind tried to bludgeon through the waves of reality with his own energy, it just bounced off the hidden strands. He pushed harder. The energy seared through his mind like lightning.
The immediate strands gave him nothing, the purple grass, the breathing of his hunting mates, the air around him, but nothing he could use. His face was stone, he didn’t betray anything to the hunters. But, behind the curtain of reality, he bashed his ethereal head on the wall of energy.
His vision, if it could truly be called vision, blurred. He could no longer tell what frequencies the strands occupied. He pushed the vibrations. Though he was but a cloud of thought, he felt his own energy heating like the morning sun.
“Soran.” A stream of thoughts collided with his own. It didn’t say the word, but Soran’s mind understood the meaning of the vibration.
“Who’s here?” Soran’s consciousness called out.
“Soran,” the presence insisted.
“Whoever you are, this tribe is under my protection,” Soran pushed.
“Soran!” The force of the voice pushed Soran’s mind back to his body.
Soran’s body jerked, a shock traveled into his brain and out through all of his extremities. His eyes blinked open. His whole body still felt warm from the energy of the higher dimensions. No, not from his journey, this felt physical rather than spiritual.
Tren stood in a haze of black smoke. His hands pressed into Soran’s shoulders. He sent waves of energy into Soran’s motionless body. Soran’s head shook back and forth. Acrid smoke scratched at his eyes and tears formed in their edges.
“The field is on fire,” Tren said.
Soran stood up and pushed Tren’s arms away. His golden eyes widened and his nostrils flared. His body forced air into and out of his lungs without his mind’s consent. His muscles tightened and tried to stabilize him as the world spiraled around him.
“Are you back with us?” Tren asked.
“The field is on fire,” Soran said.
“I just told you that,” Tren said.
Soran looked around. He couldn’t see the sky so he didn’t know how long he had been attuned to the higher dimensions. He couldn’t see the other hunters. He couldn’t even see the violet waves of grain that always grounded him. But, he could smell the smoke and the heat of the flames.

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Writing With a Busy Schedule

Setting time aside for writing is all well and good. But, what do you do when that isn’t an option? Do you just stop writing? Do you just give up what you love because life doesn’t want to let you? No. You take whatever time you can and work with it.

Write whatever you can, whenever you can.

I have a wife and a toddler and more family than I know what to do with, and a debilitating medical condition. Some people would say that I’m blessed, I don’t like to use the b word. Some would say I’m fortunate. I’m not complaining about them, I love my wife and daughter and I tolerate my family, but they throw a huge bag of hammers into my writing time.

I don’t have enough hours in a day to write, read, spend time with my wife and daughter, blog, get in a bit of Xbox(which, it turns out, is important for keeping myself creative), go to the doctor as much as I have to, and let my family see all they want of the only grandchild and I know I’m not the only one.

Lots of writers have families and jobs. Plenty of writers have medical conditions. I’m sure plenty have spouses and children and other commitments that I’m not even considering. So, what is a busy writer to do?

Conventional wisdom says to set time aside for writing, J. K. Rowling has said this is the most important part. That sounds good. It makes a lot of sense. But, it doesn’t always work in the real world.

You have to write whenever you can.

It’s important to read in order to write effectively. But, that’s just one more thing to add to your to do list. Steven King has been said to always have a book with him. The same concept can be applied to writing.

I write on a used Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro and I always have it with me, just ask my wife. Granted, I get on Facebook more often than I should but that’s how I keep in contact with my fellow writers of my Fiction Writing crew. Whenever I get a thought, I write it down to develop later.

On long car rides, when my daughter is asleep and my wife isn’t saying much, I try to draft or outline. It’s quiet and there’s really nothing else to do.

My daughter loves Disney. A good bit of my day involves sitting on the couch with Frozen or Inside Out playing in the background. She is pretty self sufficient, so I can make an attempt to draft while she runs around the living room. Though, the writing can be interrupted by sudden bouts of toddler rage.

Waiting at the doctor’s office is the worst and I spend more time there than the average senior citizen (I’m only twenty eight, by the way). I’m not a very social person so it’s not surprising for me to bury my face in my tablet. Sometimes I read ebooks but, more often, I also try to write or outline while I sitting there waiting for some lab coat to tell me he has no idea what’s wrong with me. Sorry, got off on a tangent there.

Of course, I try to get up early while my wife and daughter are asleep. I’m talking about three in the morning kind of early. On those days, I can get over a thousand words before either of them wake up and have time to play Xbox.

But, sometimes, you have to learn to keep up you’re focus with frequent and unavoidable distractions. It takes a Zen like attitude and unwavering dedication to your craft. It’s hard to keep up but, when you’re as busy as I am, is the only way.

My disability does make it more difficult to focus, so I’ve got to work around that. On a good day, I can get a thousand words. My record is two thousand. But, I see all my writer friends getting five and ten thousand words a day and it can be disheartening.

But, the key is, just write as much as you can whenever you can.

There’s always going to be someone better than you and someone worse than you. You can’t get bogged down comparing yourself to other people. If you have a busy schedule and can’t get any free time to just write, that’s ok. Write what you can when you can. If you stop judging and just let it happen, it’ll pass by before you know it and you’ll have a fully developed novel on your hands.

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