Permanency or Exigency?

I had a random thought the other day that I discussed with a good friend. I won’t bore you with the entire conversation but the overall gist was how events, even massive life altering ones, have temporal assignment. (Also, just for reference it was partially inspired by this.) For example, I was 14 when the World Trade Center was attacked and remember the events of that day vividly. The world as I knew it drastically changed in a matter of hours.

My brother was 1 at the time. To him 9/11 is an abstract. He understands it as an event that occurred, but not with the same consequences or weight that I place upon it. He grew up in a world where there was no “before 9/11” or before the “war on terror” ever existed. There is this rift between our experiences and we are only separated by 11 years.

It gives me pause to think about how events we consider to be this fixed points in time might eventually be mere memories of a bygone era. What will these events be considered by future generations? What will they believe to be the defining moments of human history?

 

(By the way, i believe I will make Thursdays theme Thoughts. Will see how it goes)

 

The Sentry Gathers…

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Now What?

So really am trying to post on this as much as possible, but I am unclear of what to write on Wednesdays. This blog is a mixture of journal and writing samples/exercises so I need to figure out what I could write on Wednesdays, preferably with some alliteration. I am leaning toward something like Wednesday Writings where I either explore some element of writing, e.g. story structure, narrative devices, etc., or post some examples of what I am working on. I mean all that study and time from college aught to be put toward something, right?

So, that’s where I am currently at and I am starting to realize that I will definitely have to manage my time better if I want to be able to pull this off. For this post, I won’t be writing a long post like the previous ones, but I at least want to leave a preview of things to come. With that in mind, I think the best way to start an exploration of writing is with one of the classical structures we are all familiar with, Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth. The Hero’s Journey will be the focus of next week’s post. Hopefully you’ll be around and like it.

 

The Sentry Gathers… 

Writing Without Knowing It

So in keeping with the pseudo promise/contract I made with myself in my last post, I am writing on this blog and will try to do so daily. Some will be short, others long, and many of them will be seemingly random, rudimentary rants of a rather ridiculous nature. See, barely the second post and I am already relying on alliteration. This will definitely be interesting. 

Anyhow, I wanted to try to have a theme per day that relied on an alliterative mnemonic device like Flash Fiction Fridays and Monday Memories. Actually  those are not too bad so I guess will start with those and figure out other names for the rest of the week. Again, this is something I am trying and I do expect to fail considerably for the foreseeable future. Please, if you are reading this be patient and expect this to slowly develop. However, you can expect for these posts to be rather random at times because that is just kind of how my brain works. If you ever have the pleasure, or misfortune depending on your prerogative, you will understand.

So the following post was intended to be a Monday Memories post which would have been published yesterday, but I used yesterday’s post as more of a finality of thoughts and purpose which will probably be more a Tuesday or Thursday post…maybe…we’ll see. Anyhow, this kind of writing will be reserved for Mondays from now on and will basically be a trip down memory lane of events and stories that influenced who I am and my writing to an inexplicable level. Hopefully, you anonymous reader will enjoy these ruminations and might find some substance in them. On to the show!

 

First Time 

Awkward. Awkward and clumsy would be more accurate for my first time. Awkward and clumsy but filled with youthful naivety and eagerness. My inexperience definitely showed as it poured out of me but I wanted to make sure I at least finished what I set out to do. It wasn’t great, it was barely good, but after some effort I was happy with the results. I think.

(Oh and just to be clear, I am talking about the first time I ever really wrote something you sick perverts and weirdos. Though to be honest the preceding paragraph could also be applied to my “first time”. To a lot firsts, actually. Huh… Digression OVER!)

As kids we were taught the basics of academic writing in grade school, at least in Texas. My teacher, Mrs. Leinhart, thought the best way to teach us kids how to analyze essays was to learn how to actually write them. As we were all still pretty young, we learned the four simplest forms of essays: how-to, descriptive, compare/contrast, and narrative. Really, if you could write a descriptive essay then you were set for how-to and compare/contrast. It was the narrative that held the most promise and difficulty for our inexperienced minds and voices. 

I was, as my wonderful peers liked to call me, a bit of a “Teacher’s Pet”. (Frankly, I never understood why that was so insulting. I am being ostracized because I actually like learning and am good at school? Fine. I didn’t want to play with you guys anyway.) I did not disappoint given my grade school reputation. In actuality, I  even surprised myself. 

Mrs. Leinhart gave us our assignment on a Monday; 3 – 5 narrative pages on any topic of our choosing. We had two weeks to finish our last assignment of the semester. Of course, most of us didn’t begin to work on this assignment until about two or three days before it was due. I usually did the same thing, but for some reason I decided to start early (okay so the Teacher’s Pet label might have been accurate). I swear I had never started an assignment when it was due and would usually procrastinate to the last second before doing any schoolwork, but for some reason i just had to start writing this narrative piece. 

I had been on a Goosebumps and Strange Matters kick at the time devouring the library’s small selection, so when giving the free reins of any topic I went for a R. L. Stine inspired horror story. I don’t remember the exact details of the tale and to this day I wish I knew what happened to that short story. What I do recall is that it involved a kid learning his best friend is some sort of monster who has secretly been training him to fight and kill monsters like him. Eventually, it ends with this 8 or 9 year old kid killing his friend who has transformed into this giant amorphous worm creature and the rest of the monsters disappearing due to the death of their newest offspring. I also remember that the story was eventually about 22/25 written pages long. 

Beyond the actual story, I recall how much fun and enjoyment I got from writing this short story. It was the first time I actually had fun in school. For some reason I related the sense of enjoyment and accomplishment to school and not the story. Looking back now, it was definitely the writing that spoke to me and I wish I had realized it back then. Still it was the first thing I truly wrote, but it would not be for quite some time that the thought of writing really crossed my mind. That is a story for another time…

 

The Sentry Gathers… 

 

Writing – Why?

It’s been almost a month since I have written here and I am rather ashamed of that fact. I have been in limbo trying to get a job with no luck yet and that has definitely had some effect on my willingness and ability to put in effort into this blog, but in reality I am still just not sure what to do with this space. Also, if I am being completely honest, I am just scared. Pretty much my entire life my secret dream that I would only share with those really close to me (yeah I understand the hypocrisy of writing this on the internet, the most public of spaces, but most of those who will ever read this are still basically abstract concepts to me and not “real” individuals and my blog my rules so whatever) was that I wanted to somehow write for a living. I did not expect international success, notoriety, or even immense wealth from writing as those that ever achieve such measures are a lucky few. I did however hope, in the back of my head, that maybe I would be able to make a living off of writing. Nothing too major, obviously; possibly working at a publishing house, magazine, or even managing to publish a book with a small press. Just enough to pay some bills and support a family.

Of course, this seeming pipe dream also fuels most of my major insecurities and worries about writing; even on this simple site few will ever read. After all, what if I am really just a horrible writer with no voice or skill? What if I have nothing to say or no real stories to tell? What if everything I put out is just torn to shreds not by random internet trolls latching on to something to hate and deplete of beauty and joy but by people who actually have a rational and reasonable opinion because my stuff is shit? (Not the shit as that would be a wonderful thing). These are the constant thoughts that go on in my head while I stare at a blinking cursor on my laptop fingers poised to type what I am sure is going to be a waste of time and effort. Half the time I force myself to either save or publish a post or writing before my hand moves to delete the whole thing. So for anyone who has found a grammatical, syntactical, or simple spelling error in these posts, that is basically why. Also, fuck off. Like seriously why would you focus on errors when I try to write honest thoughts and emotions for you to consume for free? Hypothetical jerk.

Anyhow, I wrote this for a few different reasons: 1. I heard/read from someone that i actually admire, and would love to emulate, about the power of writing things down. While it sounds like some weird new age, zen bullshit, I have to admit that writing stuff down does seem to place weight and legitimacy to the abstract. I actually feel somewhat different after writing that so maybe it works…I don’t know but I’ll definitely keep trying this whole writing thing. 2. I want to start writing consistently. I am going to try to post more to this blog, but I also am going to write more in general because I think I need to. I know that sounds weird or somewhat idiotic yet it really does feel like it is something I have to do. I don’t know if I will ever make a dime off of writing or even be remotely successful in any measurable way, but I feel better whenever I manage to finish a short story or even one of these posts. So, I am going to keep writing no matter the eventual outcome. 3. I wanted a concrete record of these feelings and ideas, again writing things has power, as a contract/promise to myself.

However, i also want to have some sense of order to this blog so I will try to have specific post for certain days. Don’t know how it will quite work yet, but I think each day will have a theme for a post (this one feels more like a Tuesday or Thursday kind of post). I will probably experiment with it for some time until I get into a rhythm.

I am pretty sure I had this before, but I really do hope you will bear with me and continue along with this odd experiment/journey. I will do my best and provide as much entertainment as I can. It will be an interesting ride. Well, that seems like a good place to end, so I guess I will.

The Sentry Gathers…

I Hate Neil Gaiman

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Seriously, just look at his smug smirk. Kidding, obviously (have to remember that sarcasm doesn’t always translate to the internet). I am actually a huge fan of Mr. Gaiman and his work (probably more so his work). I remember being handed a copy of “Good Omens” from a friend and never looking back. Since then I have read many of Gaiman’s other works and have completely loved “The Sandman”, “American Gods”, “Black Orchid”, “Neverwhere”, and several more. Ultimately, it is this amazing list of work and his prestigious ability to seemingly create incredible worlds and words in virtually any genre that make me hate Neil Gaiman…just a little bit. As someone who would love nothing more than to be known and remembered for the words I was able to string together to create emotion and inspire imagination, it is frustrating to read what Neil Gaiman has produced and not be a bit disappointed knowing you will be unable to make something that can compare.

So for that Mr. Gaiman, I hate you…just a little bit, but I still look forward to the next great thing you write.

 

The Deal With Normal

Hopefully, you will find an actual clickable video above this and not just a hyperlink. Sorry, still testing out this whole blog/website thing. Either way please take a moment to fully watch the video as it is only about 90 seconds long.

When did “normal” become a bad thing? To clarify, this is not meant to be in terms of sexuality, race, social class, other pseudo-intellectual terminology etc., blah, blah blah, further disclaimer, blah and if any attempt to discuss what I am writing in those terms will be justly ignored…and possibly mocked. What I mean is when did the pursuit of extraordinary go from being celebrated and revered to being the only true means of expression and self worth?

I get that most kids dreamed of being an astronaut, or the President, a star athlete, a world renowned painter, or in my case an author, but like most dreams they either were put aside in pursuit of other goals or never came to fruition. It would be interesting to meet the kid that dreamed of being an accountant or manager, but I think they only exist as comedic relief in sitcoms (George Michael, anyone?). From there most of us found other means of fulfillment through our connections with friends, family, community, our hobbies and interests, and, amazingly yes, even our not so glamorous and mediocre jobs. Frankly, it was okay that basic cable wouldn’t want to do a series about our lives or jobs and that maybe the greatest achievement and notoriety we would gain would be in the form of gratitude from a friend or the smile in our children’s faces. This after all was normal and the life millions aspired to. We might never be under the bright lights and glares of cameras, but being in the glow of the stars with good friends was usually more than enough to have lived a good life.

The video posted above is nothing more than a marketing ploy, but it still rings true in its message…at least in my limited experience and observation. It reminds me of an episode of “Parks and Recreation” where the character Tom describes Jerry’s “sad” life of working at good government job and then going home to his nice home, beautiful wife, and amazing children. While I know this is most likely intended as a means of sarcasm showing how foolish Tom actually is, I can’t help but feel many would agree with his sentiment. Somehow a life not in pursuit of a dream is not one worthy of note. Why is it so wrong to merely be content with what we have and have managed to accomplish? Is having a stable job really so bad just because it is ordinary so horrible a fate?

I am not advocating for people to stop pursuing their dreams because frankly that would suck and we would never have the amazing art and technology we currently have, but maybe we shouldn’t put down “normal” as much as we do. After all, while the extraordinary may make leaps and bounds, it is normal that keeps everything moving at a steady pace toward the same destination. Imagine, where would be without the steadying hand of “normal”?