Friday Freewrite

What’s Friday Freewrite? Find out here.

Wondering what will happen in the future. Will I have success with my writing? Who knows? I want to. Can I, perhaps, be the next Stephen King? It’s an audacious hope1, but I have a lot of ideas, and if I could dedicate myself to my writing full time, I could possibly have some success. Maybe. Who knows.

I would love to make a living by writing.2 I want so bad to be free of the shackles of having to work for someone else full time. It sucks.3

I also want to go back to school. I want to study math and physics full time.4

Oh God, please, hear my pleas. Get it? Please? Pleas? Actually, come to think of it, those two words are only different by one letter.

“The difference between pleas and please is just one letter.”

I swear, there’s ALMOST a teachable plattitude5 in there somewhere…6


Footnotes

1. Yes. Yes, it is.

2. I have a lot of self-discipline to acquire first. Just have to keep trying…

3. Sometimes I whine in my freewriting. True story.

4. I studied some in school before I was forced to graduate with a degree in Computer Science, and the experience changed me in mysterious ways. These two subjects continue to haunt me with their absence, and will probably continue to do so until either the day I pick them up again or the day I die, whichever comes first.

5. Should be platitude.

6. …and a year later, I still haven’t figured out what it is :)


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How Can I Rediscover the Magic of Childhood?

Your alarm clock rings at seven in the morning. You wake up. Yawn. Stretch. Groan. Great, you think. Another day. You go outside to grab the newspaper, wrapping a robe tight around your waist to block the cold, grumbling about work and the weather. You look up, ready to go back inside, and that’s when you spy a cluster of neighborhood children across the street, running, jumping and shouting like manic chimpanzees.

First you think, why aren’t they in school? Then you remember it’s the middle of July. When did I stop looking forward to the summer, you wonder. You ponder this mystery for a while, and when the answer comes, you sigh in resignation. It’s when I left childhood behind, you realize. It’s when I grew up.

Why is our adult vision constrained to such a narrow field of view, composed only of the ordinary, the boring and the mundane? Children, by contrast, seem capable of perceiving so much more.

In fact, it appears that our kids interact daily with a world unseen, a parallel universe whose existence is always just out of reach to the rest of us, and we secretly (or not so secretly) envy them.

You rightly wonder, “what magic power do children have that I don’t?”

Children look at the world with fresh eyes.

To a child, everything is new. They haven’t had time to articulate the familiar. They haven’t yet derived the abstract theoretical models that make the world predictable. To a child, shadows, reflections and moonbeams are magic, entities without explanation, realities which are to be accepted at face value.

Children don’t know that the wind is composed of loosely coupled molecules, driven about by pressure and momentum. They only feel the cool restorative touch of its invisible caress. Children don’t know that a rainbow is the product of a spectrum of electromagnetic frequencies refracted at different angles through a prism. They only perceive an inexplicable burst of multi-colored light in the aftermath of a storm.

This simple humble acceptance of the world as it is inspires wonder and stimulates the imagination.

Children are faced with a universe saturated in magic. They marvel and conclude that anything is possible.

If birds and planes can fly, why can’t people? If animals, people and other more exotic forms of life can exist, why can’t fairies, dragons and monsters?

Because anything is possible, the world of reality and the world of fantasy are inextricably linked; one connects directly to the other. Through humble awe and wonder, a child is issued a passport to the world of the imagination. Children pass back and forth between the two worlds so fluidly that unless we’re paying close attention, we might not even realize they’re gone.

We adults, on the other hand, take our limited knowledge of the world for granted.

We assume that things will always work the way they do because they always have. Our vision narrows, and anything that doesn’t fit into our empirical model of the universe becomes impossible.

Birds and planes can fly, but not people. Animals exist, but never monsters. There are people, but no fairies, orcs or gnomes.

One by one, the possibilities dwindle. Our vision of the world continues to constrict until we become stodgy old men, cynical and philosophically nearsighted; before we know what’s happened, the world of fantasy has evaporated. We experience sadness in the wake of its disappearance, but we have no idea where to find it again. Instead, we look on as our children pass back and forth between the worlds, and we spend the rest of our lives lamenting the loss of our imagination, convinced that it’s an inescapable consequence of growing up.

But adulthood done properly is actually childhood fulfilled.

What we need is not to surrender what we know of the world in favor of ignorance, but to surrender our skeptical attitude in favor of simple awe and wonder. We adults lose access to the world of fantasy not because we articulate a more complete model of the universe, but because in doing so we often refuse to believe in anything beyond it. We believe that all we know is all there is, and as a result we lose our sense of mystery and wonder.

We must look beyond the surface, so that we can once again perceive the world through a fresh pair of eyes. We understand that a rainbow is the product of light of different frequencies refracted at different angles through a prism. Instead of saying that’s just the way things are and shrugging it off as a solved problem, we might instead dig into the mystery a bit further.

Why does light of different frequences refract at different angles? And what, for that matter, is light? Suddenly, we discover that there’s a whole new set of mysteries, waiting to be explored. We’re plunged into a winding rabbit hole that takes us deep into electromagnetism and the other fundamental forces of nature, things which simply exist for reasons that we don’t yet understand.

Once again, everything is new, and we find that we can use our imaginations once more. If electromagnetism can exist, along with gravity and the strong and the weak nuclear forces, why not other fundamental forces of nature that we haven’t yet discovered?1

The reason why we search for what we lost in childhood is that we’re still children.

We might have bigger bodies, and we might know more about the world and how it works than we did in our nascent existence. But inside, we’re still that five-year-old kid we thought we left behind so many years ago. This is good news, because it means that what we thought we lost when we grew up was really never lost at all! Awe and wonder are accessible to everyone, children and adults alike. We might have learned some bad habits in our old age, but it’s never too late to change our attitude.

Adopt a new outlook, and the magic you thought you’d lost what seems a lifetime ago will return in spades.


Footnotes

1. When I first started studying Math and Physics in 2006 (God, I’m old), I dreamed up a fifth fundamental force of nature that governed interactions between objects at a distance. I came up with a mathematical model to define its properties, then plugged it into real physics to discover how it would behave if it were real. I spent five years combing through the math and making sure everything was consistent, and when I was done I had a new realistic magic system ready to use in a new fantasy series. Now that’s imagination!


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Friday Freewrite

What’s Friday Freewrite? Find out here.

For my head on a silver plate.1

They served up my head on a silver plate, steaming, piping hot, eyes gouged open, popping from the heat of the oven, mouth agape, as if the lifeless stump could still feel pain.

They feasted on my head, those creatures, with their long jagged teeth, clacking on bones like knives grinding against stone.

I watched all of this from the vantage point of eternity, eternally distant, eternally close, a paradox whose words are the only way to describe in human terms such a super-human experience.

They had the rest of the villagers’ heads on pikes, lined up around the rim of a crude stone-framed fire. Orange light danced across their fetid bloated features like ghosts, as if their souls had returned to their homes only to find them broken and abandoned for so long that they’d reverted to some alien (?)2 state.

Those creatures gorged on human flesh until their blackened stomachs, pregnant with rotting meat, threatened to explode.

And when they could eat no more, they slept, hibernated in their buried caves for either a hundred or a thousand years.

They were lost to memory, but not to time.

They would feast again.


Footnotes

1. Coldplay’s Viva La Vida was playing on the radio at El Pollo Loco. These were the last lyrics I heard before sitting down to freewrite, and I decided to base my freewriting on them.

2. I wrote down a question mark because at the time of this writing, I was looking for a descriptive word and couldn’t figure out what it was. Since I was freewriting and had to continue on, lest I get trapped in the tedium of language and lose whatever idea was streaming out of my head at the time, I left a marker to remind myself at a later date that this was an idea I wanted to develop a little further.


If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Friday Freewrite

What’s Friday Freewrite? Find out here.

Climbing. Searching. Always seeking, never reaching. I lift my eyes, wretched creature that I am1, shielding my vision lest my eyes be blinded by the searing fire of distant perfection.

I’m nothing but chaffe2. I’m nothing but ore; gold riddles my innards, but only sparsely.

Yet, let me be smelted. Let me burn in your fire, so that I may be pure, so that what is gold is3 within me may sparkle and shine with the radiance I have longed so much to see.

Footnotes

1. When I wrote this, I was waiting in a church for confession.

2. Should be chaff.

3. Even though I’m not supposed to be paying attention to these kinds of details while freewriting, in practice, when I have a very specific idea, I tend to go back very briefly and make small corrections in cases where the idea coming out of my head would otherwise be obscured.


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Friday Freewrite

What’s Friday Freewrite? Find out here.

I have the most curious desire1 to forsake everything I know, a job, a house, nice things, to travel the world, to write, to see things most people only dream of seeing.

I want to be free, free to write, to see things, to be what I was made to be. I hate being stuck in a 9-6 job, sitting by the window, watching the ocean from the 11th floor, people scurrying about like ants, boats coasting along the water like children’s toys in a bath tub2.

I hate not being a part of it. Life is so much more. There’s a whole world out there, and every day, from 9 to 6, I’m missing it.

I want to sail to Africa, backpack through the middle east. I want to get on a rocket that won’t ever stop until it’s touched the furthest star.

Freewriting. Loosening the pen and the mind, when I get stuck and don’t know3

Blue, rough fibers4, streaked in blue and green, a foreign pattern. The woman flopped it about her, swatting away at flies by a dusty old well that hadn’t provided for decades. Ancient symbols festooned the marble band that wound around the rim, their meaning lost along with the water.

The woman looked up at the sky, shielding her eyes from their oldest nemesis, that big flaming ball of fire in the sky that roasted and scorched and killed with indifference.

Footnotes

1. I’ve had this desire for a long time. Maybe someday it will come true…

2. Should be bathtub.

3. If I’m freewriting and I have no idea what to write about, I sometimes write that. You’d be surprised how often I stumble onto a new topic simply by keeping the pen moving, even if the pen doesn’t produce anything interesting for a while.

4. After freewriting on one topic, I abruptly switched to another, this time a random visual that popped into my head while I was complaining that I didn’t know what to write about. I remember where I was when I wrote this. I was sitting down at the Starbucks inside Barnes & Noble in Long Beach. I was hosting a meetup group, and was waiting for the one person who had RSVPed to arrive. It’s amazing how much you can recall when a specific memory is attached to a strong sensory perception, even if it’s one that’s imagined.


If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

A Case of Mistaken Identity, Part 10

You can read part 9 here. Reading for the first time? You can find part 1 here.

I rushed headfirst into the closet. It wasn’t until I brushed past hanging coats and pants and nearly bumped my head against the wall that I realized the doorway to the other world had already closed.

I felt as if all the wind had been knocked out of me. I slumped against the wall, closed my eyes and covered my face with my hands.

I’d been so close.

Tears squeezed out of my eyes unbidden, and I was overcome with despair. I would never get home now, I thought. I was stuck in a hateful world with a hateful mom and a hateful brother. I would never see my real mom again, and my double would continue to enjoy the life he’d stolen from me justice-free.

“Mom.”

I stopped crying. I looked up and cocked my head so I could hear better.

“Mom.”

I heard it again. I knew that voice. It was quiet and filled with pain. Tom.

Despair vanished, replaced with the raw instinct to survive. I scrambled off the floor and ran from the closet. I paused in the doorway, looked for signs that Tom had seen me, then jogged silently toward the stairs.

I heard him call again for his mom. Each time his voice grew softer, farther. I moved down the steps as fast as I could manage without making sound.

I halted when I reached the bottom. Once again, like the first day I’d come to this place, vertigo and a sense of otherworldliness swept over me as I took in the living room before me, all at once familiar and strange.

Then Tom called again from upstairs, and the spell was broken. I dashed for the front door. I panicked when at first it didn’t open, and it took me a moment before I realized I had to undo the lock. I ran outside, sailed across the concrete path and darted off along the sidewalk, into the moonlit night.

I ran. I ran some more. I didn’t stop. I looked around at the houses in my neighborhood. Mirror-Eugene’s neighborhood. The houses were similar but different. The street was more rundown than my own, as if it had suffered years of neglect. It reminded me of some of the more destitute communities in my own world, which I sometimes saw pictures of on TV.

I ran until brief pinpricks in my right side blossomed into sharp stabbing pains. I slowed, and only when I stopped did I realize my breathing had grown ragged and that I could barely stand. Adrenaline had abandoned me, leaving me weak and disoriented.

I gazed about, lost. At some point I’d wandered away from the area I recognized, even more dilapidated than where I’d started. Large concrete structures loomed overhead, stained and chipped with age. Many were surrounded by chain link fences, some of which were topped with barbed wire. Plumes of smoke rose into the air, illuminated by the moon and artificial lighting so that they seemed like spirits rising into heaven.

I would have been scared had I not been so exhausted. I leaned against a decrepit wall and closed my eyes.

I thought I’d only take a minute to rest and catch my breath.  But when I opened my eyes again, the sun was up, I was on the ground and I wasn’t alone.

Continued next week…


If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Friday Freewrite

What’s Friday Freewrite? Find out here.

Hey, this would make a great blog if I could tie it to books!1

We walk around with plastic smiles on our lips, pretending to be happy, void of meaning, empty, our hearts a vacuum without meaning. We search, yearning for Truth, meaning, a place where we belong, and we don’t find it. So we drown ourselves in booze, drugs, entertainment; we get caught up in surface things so we won’t have to feel the deepest longings in our heart and our pain at having them unfulfilled. We try to dull the pain, even though it only masks the symptoms, and doesn’t cure the disease. And so the disease, without us feeling its presence, silently eats away at our souls, until nothing is left.

2


Footnotes

1. Sadly, this blog has yet to be written…

2. Yeah, that’s it for this week. I wanted to post more, but this was all I had written that day, and it stands too well on its own for me to add more.


If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.