I recently wrote a story that included a lot of backstory, something that, at the time of writing it, I couldn’t get away from. I needed it for me. When the it was finally all written I cut that whole thing, making the story fully half as long as it used to be.
See, thing is, I like the backstory that I wrote. I wanted it to be there. But it just didn’t work for the story, and so I did the hard thing. I killed it.
In the old days, of which there were several hundred thousand, Arthur had not been called Arthur. Had not been called anything, as the druids of the trees didn’t talk to one another. They sang the music of pictures, of feelings, and his name had been the feeling one felt looking up at the stars, which might now roughly translate to “Tiny and Insignificant Considering the Further Magnitude of the Universe.” They touched, their roots intermingling, and they existed as a hive mind. He’d loved them all, his siblings. Oaks, birches, maples, pines. Each with their own voice, their own identity, all building to create one enormous organism. Time passed, and all they knew was satisfaction and contentment.
Until the men came. Naked at first, with their rock knives and spears, axes suited for nothing more than the destruction of saplings.
(STORY - You meet Oscar, one of Arthur’s friends.)
When they’d met, Arthur had been sexless, possessed of the androgenous beauty druids were known for. Separated from his home when loggers razed the forest, he’d wandered West like many other homeless tree and rock spirits, where the mortal pioneers hadn’t yet conqured. He’d spent a summer in the great Rocky Mountains and another in an abandoned cave on a cliffside. Then, one day, speeding along the prairie in idle boredom, he came upon a group of travelling mortals and a fellow druid that travelled with them as a slave. He fell in behind the slave skipping alongside the machine he would soon learn was called a wagon.
"Hello," he said to the druid. The slave, a dark-skinned boy, winked at him.
"Why do you travel with this group of mortals, disguised as a mortal?"
"Oh friend, that’s an easy one. It’s because they’re so interesting. Go and see that man up in that wagon and tell me he doesn’t interest you."
Tiny and Insignificant Considering the Further Magnitude of the Universe and Who Would Later (Much Later) Be Called Arthur flew up to the wagon to take the slave druid’s advice. There were several men in the wagon, and several women, but the one he was supposed to be looking for became immediately apparent, because this man was different from the others. Something about his spirit was strong, enticing. He felt himself become extremely attracted to this one man, the tall one with the silver hair and the hard green eyes, and he understood what the slave druid had meant. He flew back to the boy, and said, “He is interesting. It is understandable why you would want to travel with him, but still, why have you chosen to become the shape of a dark boy? You are a slave to them.”
"Naw, not to them. I’m HIS slave. Calls me Oscar. He pays me an awful lot of attention because he believes he’s got me owned, you know? Master Mesmerson, he’s somethin’ else."
"I would like to travel with him too."
"Sure, friend. But he’s not going to pay no attention to YOU. Can’t see you. Not unless you take human form."
Who Would Later Be Called Arthur nodded. He would think on this. He left Oscar and flew off into the night to take refuge between several large boulders, and began to imagine how he would present himself to the man with the hard green eyes.
The next day, as the sun rose and the dew melted from the tips of the prairie grass, the wagon came upon a naked indian woman. She was beautiful, and mute, and near death. Several of the men in the wagon wanted her for themselves, each saying how they’d make a wife out of her and the women in the wagon wanted to kill her. But the man called Mesmerson called them all off, and took the naked woman for himself. He clothed her, fed her, and spoke kind words. She rode in the wagon and he paid her all his extra attention. The slave boy came around every so often and frowned at her. When this happened, she winked back, and Oscar grinned.
Now, on the porch, Oscar was saying “You were craftier then. I wasn’t as crafty, or I wouldn’t have let you take that magic man away from me.”
"And he was craftier than both of us."
Oscar snorted. “How were we supposed to know he could see what we were? Heck.”
In the years that followed their first meeting with Mesmerson the magician, they’d settled in Montana and he evenutally let on that he’d known all along what Oscar and the indian woman were. And then, he’d asked them to stay and help him start a town. The indian woman had agreed, the druid within her possessed by a strange loyalty to the man. Oscar, who’d been just fine being ordered around until he found out he no longer had his secret, left. He always came back, but only for bits and pieces of time. Meanwhile, the magician grew old and sickly and even the indian woman couldn’t heal him. He died, and the druid dropped the image of the indian woman and took Mesmerson’s. After a few years it even started to think of itself as Arthur, which had been the magician’s first name.
Arthur had since taken to watching over the town, keeping it safe and doing what it could for its residents. It didn’t matter that they couldn’t see.
My first novel was about an old man and a young girl and their journey to fix whatever had gone wrong with the world (all the color and detail had been lost, tastes disappeared, everyone else had either disappeared or had become some strange zombies). Anyway, the idea was that the closer these two came, spatially, to their destination, they would age. The girl would grow older and the man would grow younger, until they would, by the climax of the book, meet in the middle and fall in love.
What made this cool was the idea that if they started to go the wrong way they could tell just by their aging. Also, that this was a world in which their destination was a writer who had fallen ill and was no longer writing - and the old man and the little girl were former characters in the worlds he used to create. The zombies were all of the background characters who were never fully realized, and all of the other people disappeared because they were only part of an assumed population and, again, not realized at all.
It was a fun thing to write, and I did it almost five years ago now, while I was a junior in high school. I had this feeling that I was writing something that was more something than anyone else. Creative, weird, meta, I don’t know what that something was. But I might revisit that world at some point. Shouldn’t I? I’m getting a brainstorm at the moment, just thinking about it.
It’s all because of this Benjamin Button movie that just came out. Old man gets younger, young girl gets older. That’s what made me think of it.
"We should be afraid, very afraid because our apathy is leading us to perdition. It is time for all Christian Americans to raise the battle cry and take our nation back!"
I will be extremely honest. This is the part of America that I am afraid of.
Some points to think about: “Prayer warriors” taking the country back - crusades? Mosques are apparently all funded by Saudi Arabia, and exist in America somehow. Barack Obama, being Christian, will steer our nation away from God and toward Allah, because those deities are distinguishably different. Barack Obama’s not allowed to have anti-white feelings, because of how nice white people have been. McCain might not win, but God will - he would make a better president anyhow.
I don’t like to step on anyone’s beliefs, and I believe the author of this blog is a genuinely nice person. But when your beliefs are all about stepping on other people’s, and you’re making them public, it’s soooo fair game.
I was going to write a long ranting post about what the state of blogs on the internet has become but I started to and it didn’t make any sense.
Instead, I’ll just say that, as expected, my comment on that person’s blog was never accepted. Of course it wasn’t.
I don’t care, I just want to point out that if that person disagreed with me and had valid reasons to think that I was wrong, he/she would have posted the comment and then debated it. Or maybe there was a fear that I would convert his/her only readers. After all, who goes to a biased blog and wants to read other people’s viewpoints? Bah, not me.
“Ed [redacted] wrote at 9:04pm
lol congrats! Just let me know what hospital to avoid from now on. :-/ haha jk”—Facebook wall post, congratulating someone who just graduated Nursing school. Here’s a tip, Ed: try to avoid any/all of them.
I was searching for things for my philosophy paper and I came up with this…and though I don’t like arguing with people online, I read the first comment and then I couldn’t help myself. My response is awaiting moderation which means it probably won’t ever see the light of day, but here’s what I wrote anyway.
"There is an assumption inherent within your argument that those who are wealthy deserve to be (or have done the right amount of hard work and saving necessary to become wealthy) and that all those who are poor are irresponsible and deserve to be. The truth is that in any society there is an equal distribution of inequality in matters of wealth. Say, for instance, that you start everyone off and have them all work equally as hard for x number of years, at the end of those years there will be 0 situations where all the participants have amassed the same amount of wealth (independent of spending and saving, even). And if there is an effort to help the group that is in the poorest condition, it is those in the best condition (who have, in a sense, already been compensated by having wealth in a society where wealth is hard to come by) who will be the most affected monetarily. I encourage you to read about “justice as fairness” as illustrated by the political philosopher John Rawls and his example of the “difference principle.”
While Socialism might be a buzzword intended to make people think twice about whatever ideas might be connected to it, its base is in that idea of justice as fairness. And if you want to provide an unbiased view of what socialism is for your readers, link to an unbiased information source. Such as: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism
Lastly, the illustration of the GPA distribution is a laughable comparison to the redistribution of wealth. That is a situation where if everyone does work just as hard, they can still end up with the same grades, given that they are of equal capability and intelligence. The performance of one person shouldn’t have an effect on any others. Even if it were true, and it has been - there was already an established distribution of grades within universities - not to promote fairness but to promote inequality and competition, called grading on a curve. And even in that situation, who is to say that those who get the best grades deserve them? Flip your supposition: the girl who slacks is the one who gets the 4.0 and the girl who studies hard is only barely passing.
I should rename this blog to “Adam Holwerda’s Not-Quite-Dan-Meth Experience”
And, while we’re on the subject. I’ll talk a little about the title of this blog. The reason it sucks and will probably be the reason I’m never hired by anyone ever because there is an apparent bathtub-based drug connotation inherent in the word “meth” (who knew?) is because of a stupid joke that was part of my standup routine about eighteen months and nine days ago. It went, “I’ve never almost died, but I did have a near meth experience. What happened was I went to WalMart, and I was walking down an aisle and slipped on the floor and knocked a bunch of stuff on the ground. Lye, ammonia, Sudafed, iodine, and Lucky Charms. It would have been bad, but Lucky Charms aren’t in meth so the reaction didn’t take. I called a manager over to complain about whoever Wal-Mart had stocking the crystal meth aisle, because…I mean, the cereal aisle was all the way on the other side of the store. How do you screw that up?”
…crickets. And that’s why it’s not there anymore. I should get back to writing my philosophy paper.
Also Dan Meth is a good animator and I am now following 40 people.
Like some after-school pusher trawling the playground, my Uncle has gotten me hooked on William Gibson. Neuromancer is great. If I can’t be on permanent psycho-metabolic overdrive, at least I can read about it! (or through it.) The book has long strings of appealing jargon, paranoic set pieces, neon and sleeping pods. The works.
There’s even an aspirational character named Molly. She has blade-embedded burgundy nails and a dancer’s body.
Can I get a girl who likes cyberpunk? I’m not a huge fan of William Gibson (Pattern Recognition was like a weird bad dream) but I do need to read Neuromancer before my verdict is final. But seriously. A girlfriend who reads SF would be crazy awesome.
…is much better suited to be audibly heard than is a novel. I find that I’m continually putting stories on my MP3 player instead of books because a story I can listen to in roughly half-an hour, delight in, and move on. Also, you can fit a lot more stories into a gigabyte than you can books.
Just yesterday I listed to Harlan Ellison’s “Jeffty is 5,” read by the author. It was like having a complete experience. It started. It middled, and then it ended.
When am I going to have an experience like that with an audio book?
Currently I have three books. The Stand (which I’ve read several times and is a comfort book), Duma Key (which I need to finish), and the Picture of Dorian Grey (which I want to have read but don’t want to actually read, so I figure listening is the way to do it). BUT I DELIGHT IN SHORT STORIES!
I want to have some of my stories as audio files…but not in my voice. Anyone willing to read a story or two of mine? As if this post wasn’t already about me. Now it’s about me more!
This morning, driving to work I watched a baby rabbit fling itself into traffic Fur matted against its frame with dew Ears pinned back to match, a white streak Screaming in harmony with the tires
When I was nine and an explorer I found a hole that breathed and shivered And counted off three tiny heads I plucked them up with eager hands Held those vibrating lives between palms Until each bounded away into the ferns
Drivers slow, swerve But the early morning is too much The white rabbit disappears beneath A tire and is not crushed
My sister arrived in time To tell how their mother would find them Smell their human stink and rip Their throats out one by one I ran to my mother sobbing That I’d killed them
Not crushed, not flattened I want to look away but It is like a hairy water balloon Filled with twigs And cherry gelatin dessert Popping
I’m thinking about a creat-o-binge which would begin this weekend, on my way to Alabama. I have about ten stories that are almost done but I just haven’t bothered to finish.
I want to see how many of them I can finish by New Year’s.
Then, I was thinking about doing a Thing-A-Week (a la JOCO) which would be some kind of finished piece of writing every week. Poetry, fiction, nonfiction…or at least “finished-ish.” The goal here is to get myself writing more or less full time so that when I’m no longer being asked to write papers about things I don’t care about and take classes that ultimately won’t matter, I can be in the habit.
This is too interesting. I’m wondering if there’s a way to make the same sort of mirror occlusion system without a the physical aspect - imagine using a rapidly spinning field of plasma, or some electromagnetic field that would scatter the image in the just the right way.