Friday, February 7, 2014

He Put the Ten Commandments in the State Capitol, and you won’t believe what happened next!

A little while ago a judge erected a statue of the Ten Commandments at the court house in his state capitol. You probably didn’t hear about it because there are many more important things in the world, but if you did, you might have heard that some people were upset about it.

The first great protest came from the Satanists – all eighteen of them who lived in the major metropolitan area, and several thousands of their friends who donated funds online. The Satanists delivered a hulking goat-headed statue of their lord and demanded that, if Judeo-Christian religions could be commemorated, then so must theirs.

The local Hindu Temple called the governor the next morning to inquire how many of their gods were allowed representation. Methodists, Roman Catholics and Unitarian Universalists called up asking if that one statue in the capitol was their only shot, because each caller had his or her own idea of what belonged, and really, shouldn’t every denomination have its representation?

Atheists lobbied for a statue as well, perhaps one commemorating the atom, the substance of which all humans are made. Their lobby was shot down by a majority who claimed the absence of a statue was the best statue to atheism, and given that most of the capitol had no statues, atheists were technically overrepresented.

Soon Christians were protesting that, as they made up over 70% of the local population, they should get seven tenths of the state capitol covered in their statues. One per denomination was offensively dismissive of their numbers and sincerity. Soon came great granite crosses, recreations of The Mount, and busts of the Lord in contemplation, and agony, and ecstasy, and in a diversity of ethnicities, as the Black Baptists and Roman Catholic groups seemed to differ as to how their Lord had looked. Even local Archaeological Society, a secular institution that worshipped historical accuracy, modeled the most plausible visage of Christ and had it 3D printed and donated it to the increasing crowd of idolatry.

Within one week people summoned to the court house could no longer navigate the number of religious icons in order to reach chambers. Several people who were one hearing away from sentencing for high felonies had to be dismissed – a miracle, in their eyes. The judge who had installed the original Ten Commandments was never found, and it’s suspected that he left town on one of the trucks carrying all the statues, so as to avoid the sheer of tonnage of press chasing him. There’s a statue of him hunched over reading at the court house now, though the stone commandments he would have read have since been removed.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bronchitis and Guilt

Bronchitis is a lot like a baby turtle trying to eat a strawberry.
This may make more sense in Paragraph 3.
Bronchitis and guilt. Of the two, guilt will kill you quicker. Guilt will make use of your bronchitis, your student loans, the girlfriend you disappointed and the holiday you never make special enough. Any of those elements are dangerous, but guilt uses them all.

I'm a delusional sort. Scratch that - humans are a delusional sort, and it's the rationalists I distrust. One of my delusions is a guilt complex that I'm never doing enough. For the last week I've been relatively silent because I've been relatively bedridden with a splendid case of bronchitis. That's an infection of the bronchial tubes that cakes my lungs with solid snot, throws off my internal temperature, locks my joints, saps appetite for the nutrition necessary to fight it, and drives my neuromuscular syndrome nuts. By Thursday I'd pulled muscles in my back, both biceps, and pulled both hamstrings, simply from coughing or contorting in discomfort. It was such that I could no longer lie down without excruciating pain, and thus had to alternate between exhausting myself by sitting up for any relief, and lying down and making the muscles worse.

I am doing much better, and thank you for asking. But I also felt pangs of guilt over not continuing my novel, even when my head was so fogged I couldn't speak an entire sentence. I even felt the pangs when, in the sort of nonsense despair excessive pain causes, I worried my whole novel was garbage and had to be thrown out. Even when I was sure the work was worthless, I felt vile for not transcending and doing the work anyway. The Joker would laugh at me, and The Joker is never wrong when he thinks you're funny.

Writing is beautiful, and prose is one of my great passions in life. This morning I'm excited to be able to think straight and consider these characters again. Yet the anxiety I soaked in this weekend is the kind of mindset that you may wind up with if you become too attached to goals. I've argued it before and won't go on at length now, because I desperately need to sleep a full night soon or it's off to the hospital. But please, think about how stupid John Wiswell is because he's driven the next time some successful author tells you to lock it down and work harder.

For now I think what the last few months were like. Everything was held up in October for Viable Paradise. Then...

November: wrote my first screenplay.
December: wrote four short stories.
January: wrote 51,033 words of a new novel.

For these fruits, I think I'm not doing enough. The Joker would bust a gut.

I've got about a week left before I head to Massachusetts for Boskone, where it turns out I'll be reading in the Flash Slam competition. If you're in the Boston area, I'd love a little cheering section. I can't wait to practice, just as soon as my voice comes back.

I'm trying to figure out when I'll have enough wherewithal to write more of the novel. Maybe Monday? And whenever, how much I can get done before I ship out. I think the break is actually helping the plotting in a way I'll have a better handle on next week. Too funny if not writing for a while is the best aid to writing better fiction.
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