Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sue and The Bureaucrats - An Excerpt

(No new news here, just another excerpt. Enjoy!)

"You have a bit of your father in your eyes son, the way you looked at me just now. Not the crazy mad kid that I have raised for all these years, I figger that comes from your ma. But the cold hardness of a man who has faced his fears and found himself stronger for it. You got that in you, you know?" Sue was not so sure he did, but not wanting to contradict the sheriff now, simply nodded."Alright, enough beating around the bush. I was following your pa one night just before you and your ma drifted into town, he had left the saloon early and headed for the hills. I think I was able to catch him unawares because I didn't follow him directly. I watched which direction he rode and made a guess as to where he would end up in the pine bluffs just north of town. He was taking the trail, which goes all the way around the bluff, so I just cut across and went straight up and over, cutting the distance in half. Even so it was a close thing. Had I come upon that clearing thirty seconds later, I would have just ran into a scary old man in the darkening evening." The sheriff took off his hat and rubbed his bald skull with a handkerchief. Sue was surprised to see beads of sweat forming all over the man's head. Once again he was impressed with the great weight of dread this man inspired in people."I rode over the top of that bluff and down into a wooded valley just off the trail. I tied my horse to a tree and set off on foot towards the trail, hoping that I would be able to see him as he passed so I could get an idea where he was headed. But then I saw a flash of light off to my left, and..." here, words seemed to fail him. He appeared to struggle with himself for a moment, then continued in a shaky voice, as if he disbelieved the words coming from his own mouth."Kid, I tell ya', that light was not like any light you have ever seen. It wasn't from a campfire, or a candle, or a lamp. I even traveled to the city once and saw some guy light one of them new 'lectric lights, and it was nothing like this. This was a cold white light that seemed to come from the sky, like a star was leaking light down on just this one spot. And in the spot where this light hit the ground stood your pa." He shook his head, but continued nonetheless, his eyes boring into Sue's with an intensity that excited and alarmed him in equal measure."He was standing in that light, and talking to someone, just like I am talking to you right now. Then he reached out his hand and made a little gesture, and the light was gone. I was so dumbstruck by what I had just seen that I must of made some kind of a noise, and his head snapped around and found me hiding in the brush at the edge of the clearing. At first, he looked mad, and I figgered that my time on this earth had reached its logical conclusion. I thought of reaching for my gun, but my arms wouldn't move. After a second, he smiled, that grim humorless smile of his, and waved me over to him. Just like I couldn't draw my gun, I couldn't resist his invitation. I walked over there, and he laughed, and held out his hand as if to shake it. I was still too scared to move, so I didn't shake his hand. Then he spoke to me." The sheriff shook his head, and a nervous laugh escaped him. "Just like we were old pals and I hadn't seen him just talking to a strange light from the stars. Asked me how my family was doing. What do you think of that?" Sue shook his head, not quite sure what to think. The sheriff continued: "I couldn't really answer any of his questions, just sat there like a fool with my mouth hanging open, and then, out of nowhere he asked me if I ever met an alien before. I wasn't even sure what that word meant, and I told him so. He laughed again, and asked me if I had ever met anyone from another planet. I was still pretty perplexed, so he pointed to the sky, and said 'from the stars, up there. you ever meet someone from the stars before?' Well, to tell the truth, I still had no idea what he was talking about, and I guess he could tell that by looking at me. He laughed again at my confusion, and then he reached out and clapped his hand on my shoulder. 'Sherriff, I think you may be the first man I have met on this planet who has had the guts to even try to figure out who or what I was, let alone follow me off into the darkness. I want to tell you a few things, and it is important that you try to remember them word for word, since you ain't gonna understand most of what I gotta say. Pretty soon I am gonna disappear. Shortly after that, a lady and her boy are gonna show up in town looking for me. When they do, I want you to make sure that they stay in this town. When that boy becomes a man, he is going to be a lot different from his peers, and he will need a little nudge in the right direction. I need you to give him that nudge. Bring him to this spot, and give him this guitar. If he is the person I think he will be, the rest will come natural to him. Can you remember all of that?' he asked me, and I stood there with my mouth gaping open until he laughed again, and slapped me on the back. 'I knew you could. I guess there is no reason for me to stick around here. You remember what I told you and make sure that boy gets here when he is ready. Don't bring him too soon, or too late. I think you are the kind of man that understands what I am trying to say. Have a good evening!' he smiled friendly-like at me, and then walked back to the center of the clearing. He pulled something small and silvery out of his pocket, and poked at it with his finger a few times. Then the light came back, shining right out of the sky just like before. He turned around, tipped his hat at me, and then dissapeared." sue stared at the Sheriff, trying to guess the meaning of his words. Was he putting him on? Of all the folks in town, only the Sheriff had never ridiculed him for his station in life, for his name, or for the strange things he did or said. Was he finally joining them in creating some hugely extravagant joke to ridicule him? Yet watching the play of emotion across this hard frontier lawman's face he didn't think so. This was a hard man, one of the hardest he had ever known, and yet he was scared to the core at the memeories he had just spilled. Not scared for his life, not scared for his soul, but scared like a person who just realizes how small they are in the grand scheme of things. The way a man will feel who has been raised in a city when he is first confronted with the wide openness of the prairies, or a towering rock tower in the desert. The feeling a man gets looking down from a great height. It is not fear of death, it is fear of the unknown, fear that forces exist in this universe much greater and more powerful than anything our pitiful intellect can imagine. As Sue pondered this, another thought entered his mind. While the fear in the eyes of this man he had known for so long was strange and discomfitting, none of the things he had told him in themselves caused him any fear at all. Quite the opposite in fact, as he pondered the thought of people who came from the stars, or who called down starlight from the night sky and then disappeared into it, he felt a twinge of familiarity, as of a forgotten dream suddenly remembered. Excitement rose in him as he realized that this crappy town, and the hundreds like it that he had wandered through with his mother were as small and insignificant as he had always thought them to be. Suddenly the universe had promise, and the future held hope. Suddenly he was on his feet. "Let's go! Take me there now!" The sheriff nodded, as if this was exactly what he had expected. Tossing back the rest of the whiskey in his glass, he pushed back from the desk and stood up. "Alright son, let's go and see what it is your pa left for you."
© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Monday, November 5, 2007

Who would play Sue?

(Photo is Christian Bale in "3:10 to Yuma" )

If I was casting actors to portray my characters, I would have to choose Christian Bale to portray Sue. Mostly because his character in "Batman Begins" has pretty much the same attitude at least when the movie opens and he is in prison in Asia. He fights because he is pretty much pissed off at the world, and being as pissed as he is, he is pretty good at fighting.
Of course, nowhere in my novel does Sue get training from a secretive Ninja master to polish his skills. Instead he stumbles on an interdimensional trip across the universe in pursuit of his father who "gave him that awful name." (Who of course, would be portrayed by Johnny Cash, were he alive to do so!)
Here is another small excerpt. Presented sans explanation.

Sue was about halfway through the bottle of whiskey when Mama Lisa and her girls came in. Residents of the local house of ill repute, they were on the prowl for customers and they quickly fanned out through the bar. One perky redhead fixed her interest on the scowling young man drinking intently near the doors."Hey there, care to buy a girl a drink?" she flounced down on a chair and latched on to one of Sue's arms. He looked sideways at her, his impaired brain working out a response. He decided to be surly, and instead of responding, slid his glass in front of her and sloshed some whiskey in it. Undeterred by the unfriendly response, she giggled, a high pitched laugh that rippled throughout the bar. "What kind of a girl do you think I am? I don't drink whiskey, at least not this early!" She snuggled up against him, and spoke quietly in his ear. "How about a nice glass of wine? Wine always makes me feel friendly..." she left the implication hanging there in the air, hoping this young boy was not already too far gone to catch her meaning."Don't seem as though you need much help in that area." Sue snapped, reaching across and recovering his glass. He tipped it back and drained it in a gulp and did his level best to ignore her. She decided to take another tack."I don't remember seeing you around here before, what's your name?" she trilled at him, one hand twirling his hair idly. Sue started at this question, and quickly checked to see if she was trying to make a joke. Apparently deciding she wasn't, he answered with the same surly tone."I don't have a name." The girl's eyebrows raised in curiosity, and she decided to pursue this line of questioning further."Aww come on cowboy. Everybody has a name. What does your Mama call you?" now more interested in this apparent mystery than in her pseudo romance she had pulled back slightly and was looking intently into Sue's face. However at the mention of his mother, Sue's face darkened even further, and he decided he had had enough of this game."Never mind my mama. I think you need to find someone else to harass." he snapped and scooping up his glass and bottle disentangled himself and moved away to another table. The girl, being a professional could tell when a man was not interested in what she was selling, and instead of wasting her time trying to change his mind she moved on to more fertile pastures. Two miners just off shift at the local gold mine were competing for the attentions of another of Mama Lisa's girls at a nearby table and she determined to help them resolve the conflict by offering herself as a consolation to the loser. One of the miners was immediately more than happy to abandon the battle and turned to the redhead."Decided you want a real man tonight instead of a boy?" The miner laughed, wrapping one arm around her shoulders and pulling her close against him."He didn't really seem to be in the mood for company tonight." she shrugged. Then added "and he wasn't too sure what his name was. Poor little guy..." she giggled and snuggled up closer to the miner. The other man at the table laughed out loud and said in a voice purposely loud enough to carry to the other table."I know why he's so shy about his name. I would be too if I had his name..." and then leaning towards Sue's table to ensure that he caught the next few words, "...or should I say 'her' name?" he guffawed at his clever humor, and the two girls, well trained by Mama Lisa tittered out of habit although they didn't really get the joke. Sue, on the other hand knew exactly what the man was getting at, and felt that familiar rage rising in his chest, felt his face and neck turning red."I hear tell his daddy was a big man, but when he was born he couldn't stand that his little boy was such a girly little thing, so he named him Sue and then left town before he had to face the shame of having thrown such a disappointing little whelp." the miner was on a roll now, and the girls were still giggling uncertainly, although they had begun to sense that this conversation was quickly passing from harmless fun into something dangerous and ugly."Aww, forget about him. How about that drink you were going to buy us? Let me go get a bottle of wine for us all to share." the redhead tried vainly to redirect the conversation, adding her trademark lamely "wine always makes me feel friendly, if you know what I mean..." she pushed herself up against the miner, hoping that her advances would distract him from his apparent aim of picking a fight."Besides, he's just a kid. I don't care what his name is. Let's go back to my place and have that wine." Her attempts were futile. The miner had seen the reaction his words had caused in Sue, and had decided that it would be good fun to release some energy by pounding on this apparently soused teenager for a little while."Yea, its a good thing you didn't take him back to your place Sally, you might have been embarrassed when he asked to try on some of your frilly things. I hear she likes that kind of..." the miner's insult was interrupted by a whiskey bottle at high velocity that impacted his head directly between his eyes. It shattered and splattered all four occupants of the table with shattered glass and whiskey. The girls screamed and instinctively deserted the table and made a beeline for the doorway. This wasn't the first bar brawl they had encountered, and they knew that once drunk men started swinging, it was no place for a lady, even if she was a working lady.To his credit, the miner took the whiskey bottle to the head rather well. He was of course stunned, and the alcohol and blood dripping into his eyes stiung and blinded him but nonetheless, he had the presence of mind to grab the edge of the table and fling it up in front of him as he rolled out of his chair onto the floor. This unthinking reaction served to save him from Sue's follow up attack as the chair he had been sitting on impacted the table where the miner had been split seconds before. The miner scrabbled at his face trying to regain his vision while rolling away from the table and trying to get to his feet. For a split second he remembered the rest of the story that had been related to him about this kid named Sue, the part that warned that he was a powder keg when provoked. But more pressing matters than reccolections of ignored warnings were at hand. He had regained his feet just in time to meet Sue's flailing attack. Fists windmilling and feet kicking wildly he waded in to the miner to exact vengeance for the earlier insults. However in his blind anger, he forgot the miner's companion who had rolled to the side and recovered much more quickly. As Sue flailed at his partner, he picked up a chair and swung it at Sue's back. Fortunately for Sue, the swing was badly aimed and timed and he had bent to aim an uppercut as the chair struck. Still, it knocked Sue off his feet and the miner quickly followed his surprise attack with an attempt to plant both of his hobnailed boots in the middle of Sue's chest. Sue rolled out from under his attack and lashed up and scored a hit on the man's groin with one foot. He groaned and hunched over, giving Sue an open attack on his face, which he took immediate advantage of, windmilling both feet in a lashing attack on the man's face. One kick landed squarely on his jaw and broke the bone with a soft crunch. He collapsed uncouscious to the floor. Sue struggled to his feet, only to be met immediately with a flying tackle by the first miner. He was driven to the plank floor and his breath was knocked from his lungs. Feeling his advantage, the miner's hands found Sue's throat and he quickly got a grip and began squeezing. Sue panicked, feeling consciousness quickly slipping away and his hands scrabbled at the iron grip of the miner while his feet tried to inflict damage where they could. The miner had too much of an advantage however, and black spots began appearing in his vision and his flailings weakened until blackness overtook him.
© 2008 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NaNoWriMo2007 - Day One

Why a picture of The Man In Black? Where have you been? Look back a few days to see where the inspiration for this story comes from...
NaNoWriMo started last night. Midnight Halloween eve. I even stayed up to be there and start typing at the first possible minute. This turned out to be a horrible mistake. I should have left the house at least, whether or not someone was agreeing to meet me there. Sitting home on the couch watching the Halloween episode of MASH where Norm from Cheers gets a pool ball stuck in his mouth was not exactly the inspiration I needed to get started. Add to that the fact that I was insanely tired and somewhat let down about NaNo so far this year and I get waking up this morning to fear and loathing.
Perhaps the year two curse that I managed to avoid last year was not gone, just biding its time. Here it is, one year late but no less potent for its tardiness. Nonetheless, here is the first few paragraphs that I managed to hammer out before giving up and going to sleep at 1:30 AM.

He was big and bent, gray and old yet the tall stranger with a scar down one cheek and one glass eye stood out among the frontier villagers like a god among men. All of the men deferred to him, and the women tittered and giggled at anything he said, or didn't say. By and large, he was silent, simply observing the work around him with a wry grin. Nobody was sure exactly who he was and where he was from, although there were some whispers that he was a wealthy merchant from far away San Francisco. So far in his time in this small frontier town he had done nothing but sit all day in the saloon playing poker, smoking cigarettes and sipping whiskey. Although he had a canny way with the cards, nobody could say whether he won more than he lost; only that he was obviously not a greenhorn and obviously not hurting for money. What everyone agreed upon, although nobody actually would have voiced was that he was terribly frightening. Even the local toughs who were wont to harass anyone new in town until they had proved either unentertaining or dangerous had given him a wide berth, even tipping their hats politely as he passed. There was a solemn coldness about him that gave no doubt but that whatever the townspeople or life in general could throw at him he could handle, and most likely had done so before. He carried no guns or any other weapons that were easily apparent, and truly needed none. His freezing glare alone was generally sufficient to make any man have sudden thoughts of his own mortality.
Nobody had invited him to the barn-raising, but he showed up nonetheless. He seemed to be amused by the activities going on around him, but with no apparent desire to join in. Normally, anyone who showed up at a barn-raising event was expected to work as hard as everyone else before joining in the festivities afterwards, but Elijah Graves seemed to be the exception to that rule. He watched the men as they worked together to raise the four walls of the barn, watched as they fastened the roof joists in place, watched as they cleaned up and prepared for the pot luck supper. Only then did he move from his place to get a plate of food and return to his seat.
Charity Austin was in a foul mood to begin with, and had no expectation that an evening surrounded by local townsfolk would improve it.
"Mother, I really do not feel well. Might I go home and go to bed early?" she asked plaintively, averting her eyes.
"Charity, we have discussed this. It would not be proper for a young lady of your status to be traipsing through town at this time of night all alone. You will be patient and leave when your father and I are ready to go."
Her mother answered her request without even glancing at her. Her eyes were full of her husband, sitting on a rocking chair next to the mayor and sharing a laugh at something the man had said. Charity breathed a deep sigh, and resigned herself to her fate. Her father was pushing hard to be selected to the town council when the next position came open, and her dislike of these primitive frontier gatherings was nothing but an obstacle to such aspirations. The lump in her stomach only got heavier when she spotted the group of girls standing behind the plank tables serving food to the townsfolk. The were all chatting gaily with each other, looking sideways at a group of young men who also did their best to pretend that they young women did not exist. Charity quickly looked away before any of them made eye contact with her. The last thing she needed was another confrontation with them like last week. Her mother seemed to be oblivious to her status among the girls in town, and was constantly pushing her to be more sociable.
"Dear, isn't that little Jenny Cushman over there?" Her mother indicated the apparent leader of the group of girls; a stunning petite blond with piercing blue eyes and a laugh that had apparently captivated any man within hearing distance.
"Yes mother, that is the girl who embarrassed me in front of the entire school last week." Charity replied bitterly, refusing to look in the direction indicating. Her mother either ignored the remark or didn't care.
"You should go see if you can help her with the serving. She seems like such a sweet thing. Perhaps you two could become friends?" Her mother asked pointedly.
Charity was under no such illusion, either as to the possibility of befriending the mayor's daughter, or the reasoning behind her mother's question.
"Mother, she made me look like a fool in front of the entire school last week. Don't you remember the note that Miss Johnson sent home about it? After you suggested that I ask to be her study partner, she gave me the wrong book to read and when I stood to read lines from it I found out that this book was nearly pornographic! I thought that the teacher was going to have a heart attack!" Charity could still feel the heat of the stares of her classmates as she stammered through an apology to the class for what Jenny had insisted had been a practical joke that Charity had tried to get her to participate in.
"Yes dear, but that wasn't her fault. You really should get to know her better." She grasped Charity's shoulder and pushed her gently in that direction. "Go ahead. I am sure she would welcome your help."
"Mother, I will not!" Charity hissed, trying to keep her voice low. "That girl is a snake!"
"Charity Austin! I cannot believe the words that I am hearing coming from your mouth." Her mother's wide eyes expressed her apparent shock. "Then we shall go speak to her together. And you can apologize to her for being so uncharitable."
Rising to her feet, Mother grabbed Charity's hand with an iron grip and set off towards the serving tables. Charity resisted, but her mother was unstoppable when she had her mind set, and she certainly did not want to attract any further attention to herself by causing a scene.
Elijah Graves was beginning to bore of this party. It had definitely been interesting to see the primitive building techniques used to construct the agricultural structure earlier in the day, but as soon as the social activities began his interest began waning. He had finished the food on his plate and was finishing a very satisfying after dinner cigarette. The hard cider that had been served with his meal was just beginning to give him that mellow, relaxed feeling that he so enjoyed and he didn’t want to waste it on these strange, petty people and their confusing social antics. He handed his plate to a passing girl who blushed and nearly dropped her load of dirty dishes by trying to execute an extravagant curtsy with her hands full. Standing up, he wandered off towards town, barely acknowledging any of the people he passed with a slight nod of his gray head.
© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Monday, October 29, 2007

No quite as highly anticipated...

Two days 'til NaNoWriMo.

Strange how I am not as stoked as I was a couple of weeks ago. I am still excited to begin my story, but not really sure that I will have the drive that I did last year. Still, I can't wait to see where the Boy Named Sue ends up travelling with the Infamous Space Pilot Ace Pedona and his Techno Idiot-Savant Sidekick The Tinker...

I am thinking that this book will encompass both Sci-Fi and Fantasy worlds, since I was reading some fantasy stuff the other day that really sounded like fun. Not the kind of fantasy that takes itself WAY too seriously, nor the kind that you must be a genius like Tolkien to write. More like the Myth Inc. type of stuff. Fantasy that allows characters to cast spells and travel through dimensions, but not so stuffy that you get bored reading the descriptions of the incantations.
To use a Sci-Fi phrase that I picked during NaNo last year: Hand-Wavium. The most powerful element in the literary universe. You don't describe every detail about how that anti-grav propulsion unit works, neither do you divulge the history of magical inter-dimensional doorways. You just "wave your hand" and it works. I get bored reading (and writing) overly detailed explanations. I just want to get on with the story.
So don't look for anything like that in my stories. I explain enough to make it somewhat plausible, place it far enough in the future (or far enough away from reality) that you can't really question it, and run with it.
I guess this is a lesson I learned from writing a novel by the seat of my pants and worrying more about wordcount than quality. Writing a story for me is more about discovering a new story that I have never read before than it is following a set path. Although I do take some pains to create an outline, once November 1st hits, I rarely if ever stick with it. It just kind of takes off and I follow it. Hopefully it tells a story that is at least fifty-thousand words long before I get bored with it. This has happened for the past two years, but the first year more than last year.

OK, speaking of getting bored; I am bored with my NaNo ramblings. So I will call it quits for today. But I will be back, just after midnight on October 31st, to post my opening paragraph.
I know... you are on pins and needles. (If anyone is actually reading this, you just might catch a faint whiff of sarcasm there...)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Diapers and Real Life and etc...

I should write about changing diapers. I should, but I don't think that I will. Perhaps I will just change the diaper instead. I mean, my lovely wife has been home all day changing diapers, among the other five thousand tasks she does each day. Why shouldn't I take just one of them off of her shoulder once in a while.
OK, so no thousand words today. Just a couple dozen about real life. Worry not, next Wednesday night, at the stroke of midnight I will leave real life behind and begin writing in earnest. Then, a thousand words in a day will be a slow day!
Happy NaNoWriMo!
(Oh, but I have written something recently. I haven't counted the words, and it took more than one day as well as some help from a fellow Wrimo, LazyM of the Austin Penguins.)

Friday October 26, 2007 - 04:41pm (EDT)

© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Monday, October 15, 2007

One Thousand Words...

One thousand words. This November, I will be trying once again to write Fifty Thousand Words in Thirty Days. Also known as National Novel Writing Month. (Also known as NaNoWriMo). For anyone with a calculator, you can easily figure out that this means I must write no less than an average of 1667 (rounding up due to a repeating decimal) words each and every day in order to succeed. This sounds pretty easy at first glance, I mean it is no big deal to type that much in one e-mail for some people. (And you know who you are don’t you? Of course that is better than those who are not yet aware that they can actually type in an e-mail message and think that hitting “Forward” is the only way to communicate via computers and the Interweb thingy…) But typing that much EVERY DAY is something just a bit different. Realize that if you have one of those days where you are busy from sunup to sundown, and never have time to sit down at the keyboard and hammer out your days allotment you will find yourself then next day having to type 3334 words to catch up. Then after two days of non-contribution you will be facing a defecit of no less than 5001 words. Now typing 5000 words in a single day is something that is seriously daunting.
Of course, the savvy Nanovelist has learned to take advantage of the occasional lazy day at work and any sporadic bursts of creativity to pad the daily average whenever possible. On some days the words just flow and you can curse your fingers for being so slow that you can’t keep up with the story as it unwinds directly from your imagination. You have hours of time to do nothing but sit and type and you pass that sixteen hundred sixty seven word mark before the carpal tunnel pain even begins in earnest. In a situation like this, do whatever is necceesary to avoid stopping. Keep typing till the well runs dry even if you have to bring your laptop in the john with you. (True story my friends…) These moments of literary feasting are what will carry you past the days of famine.
Writer’s block is what the world generally calls this situation, but sometimes it is worse than that. Sometimes it is merely what we like to call Real Life. Meaning your space interceptor squadron is just about to run down that wily and dangerous smuggler once and for all and your three year old informs you that he has to use the potty. Now this is a serious dilemma. If you put down the keyboard at this moment, you may lose momentum and forget where you were. Precious moments will be wasted as you struggle to find the groove you are in after taking care of this supremely important human need. Of course the consequence of delaying a request from a small human like this who is still learning that it is possible to exert some control over such functions is much worse than failing to remember how you were going to corner the bad guy. So you push back from the keyboard only to discover that this small human has also yet to learn the difference between “present tense” and “past tense’.
So when you finish cleaning up the “past tense” all over the floor and finding new clothes for the aforementioned human being in training (which of course were not in the drawer where they belong but rather in the dryer since this particular human being in training confuses present with past quite regularly these days) you pop in a Blue’s Clues video for him and get back to work. After staring at the screen, re-reading your last couple of paragraphs looking for that dropped thread of thought you finally place your fingers on the keyboard and….
The two oldest kids begin screaming as if a whirling vortex of time and space is about to consume them and banish them to a far corner of the universe. Of course, the real problem is much simpler: he is holding a pencil. Not just any pencil, but THE SPECIAL PENCIL THAT SHE GOT FROM HER KINDERGARTEN TEACHER ON THE FIRST DAY OF HER FIRST YEAR OF SCHOOL AND IT IS MY SPECIAL PENCIL AND HE IS GOING TO RUIN IT AND HE WON’T GIVE IT BACK TO ME AND IT’S MINE MINE MINE!
Of course this particular writing utinsel has spent the last four years stuck in the penci and pencil holder on the counter next to the phone. In fact, she had, up until her brother had the temerity to actually touch it, forgotten about its very existence. However, now that he has touched it the spell of forgetfulness is broken and SHE MUST HAVE HER PENCIL RIGHT NOW!
She lunges for the pencil and her brother, suddenly equally enamored of this precious artifact from Ms. Hunt’s private collection yanks it away, the jagged edge of the broken lead missing his eye by mere fractions of a millimeter. Then the sister gets a hold and the real fight begins. I am sprinting as fast as I can to break it up, nightmares of Child Protective Services grilling me about how I allowed my child to lose an eye settling in a lead ball in the pit of my stomach. My voice cracks as I try to match their squealing in volume, threatening dire consequences which that same social worker from the earlier nightmare would be very interested in hearing. Then it happens, the struggle for ownership is simply too much and the Dreaded Event occurs. No, the perfect eyesight which I have thanked heaven for so many times remains intact. But The Precious Kindergarten Pencil gives way under the strain of two equally frantic children and snaps in two.
To my son, this event is nothing more than an annoyance. He only wanted the pencil to poke at a bug out on the front porch in the first place. Now that it is broken, he is content to choose any of the other fifty pencils in the holder to torture the poor unfortunate cricket that he has captured.
On the other hand, my daughter is instantly mortified. Death is the only fair sentence for desecration of an artifact so precious and rare.
After calming the trauma of losing such a rare possession (which we soon found was not THAT pencil anyway, after she finished crying) I can now return to my story. Once again, I re-read the last few paragraphs, stare off into space as if I can actually see the small fighter ships converging on the crippled freighter from here in my living room, I place my fingers on the keyboard…
And my dear wife comes home. Naturally, this is a joyous event always, and always will be forever and ever and ever (I am not sure she reads this stuff that I write but you never know…) and ever… I jump up and cheerfully greet her with a hug and a kiss. Or at least I try to convey that emotion without removing my fingers from the keyboard and smiling.
“Oh, I see you are working on your novel. How is that going?” She asks, her smile masking her real emotions every bit as well as mine.
“Pretty good, I am really on a roll here, I should be able to pad my average and have some breathing room for the next few days.” I say, hoping that she catches the implied promise that I will not be pining for the keyboard for at least a minute or two if she will only let me finish this part right now.
“That is great dear. Only… I had kind of hoped to spend some time with you tonight…”
As I save my file and close my laptop, I reflect on how difficult it can be to actually type that “easy” one thousand, six hundred, sixty seven words each and every day of the month for a full thirty days. Real Life is truly the worst obstacle to overcome when attempting to create a new world from nothing more than imagination.
Oh well. There is always tomorrow, when she has a hair appointment. That should give me at least a couple of hours of uninterrupted typing…
(After all that, I have only written 1400 words. See what I mean? Not as easy as it sounds!)

Monday October 15, 2007 - 03:48pm (EDT)

© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Friday, October 12, 2007

It has been a while...

Wow. It has been a while.
So it is almost November. Know what that means?
So here, courtesy of my good friend, hero, semi-deity and fellow Penguin Flickguy, is the tagline for my novel this year. No, really.

A boy named Sue enlists the help of a space pilot named Ace to wreak havoc across the galaxy in his racing ship "The Piglet" with his trusty sidekick "The Tinker" who uses his techno-idiot savant skills to save the day, and destroy something very large, aka the summer home being built by a roving pack of alien bureaucrats that salvaged resources from the destruction of other universes in the course of their duties and used those resources to build said summer home.

See you in December! (If you are in the same asylum that is...)

Friday October 12, 2007 - 04:29pm (EDT)
© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

One Thousand (Whiny) Words... give or take.

I need a new job. I hate to complain, there are so many great things about my job. It really is a great job, and it is exactly what I have been working for since I got out of the Army.
So why am I feeling so discontent? I am not exactly sure, but I will try to explore why in the next thousand words or so and maybe come to a conclusion.
First, I suppose that I should explore the good things about my job. I will do this in order to remind myself why I continue to show up day after day despite the huge wad of anxiety I feel each day. I have a huge amount of autonomy to decide how to spend my time each day. Micro-management is unheard of, at least in my position. In fact, I think that the management forgets that I am here sometimes. (Oops, that would be jumping ahead to the bad things about this job. Hold that thought!) This allows me to come and go as I please, without much questioning about what I am doing and how long. The salary is above and beyond what someone of my credentials and experience should expect to earn. This provides a great living for my family that I am grateful for each and every day. There are some people that I work with that I really like, and some that I even look up to as role models.
So why all of the discontent and anxiety when I come to work each day? What is it about this job that has me dreaming of trout farms and novel writing?
Some of the “pros” of this job are very double-sided and also serve as “cons” as well. For one, the salary. Having become accustomed to a certain level of income, the idea of having to cut back is frightening to say the least. This contributes to a feeling of being trapped in my current position and is probably the biggest reason I loath this job. How insane is it that I hate my job because they pay me too much? The lack of direction is another double-sided benefit. This very lack of direction often leaves me wondering if I am succeeding or failing, since there is absolutely no input one way or another. Of course I hear about it if someone is frustrated with their computer. But is there anything I should be working on proactively that I am not aware of? Am I being completely successful if nobody is complaining about their e-mail access? As long as the FBI has not shown up to confiscate hard drives am I being diligent enough about enforcing information security? I suppose that my personality requires a great deal of external motivation to feel secure in my job. I don’t think I will ever again complain about a micro-managing boss, since I now know what it feels like to have a non-managing boss. That is not to say that he is a bad manager, just that he feels that he has no need to dictate anything to me, has much more pressing things to worry about and so completely leaves me alone. The freedom is great. The lack of input is terrifying.
There are other cons that are somewhat personal, and that I can only elaborate on in very general terms. Due to the complete lack of oversight, it seems that I am doing a great job. However I am very acutely aware of the things I do wrong on a daily basis, and I am even more acutely aware of the possible consequences of these mistakes. The fact that they remain undiscovered serves only to amplify them in my mind, rather than comforting me that I am perhaps blowing them out of proportion. I suppose that this could be my internal persecution complex at work, but it could very well be a valid fear that one day all of these mistakes will be revealed and the day of reckoning will finally arrive.
Am I just not cut out for a job with this level of responsibility? Does my personality just not respond well to the stresses of self-management? I worry that I am developing some very unhealthy neurosis, and then realize that this worry in itself could be a very unhealthy neurosis. Then I wonder if I am being a hypochondriac by diagnosing myself with unhealthy neuroses which of course is also an unhealthy neurosis.
I am killing myself with the unending worry. It is making me horribly miserable and bringing me to question the very decision to become an information technology professional. Am I even cut out for this kind of work? Is anyone ever “cut out” for a certain kind of work?
Or am I just running away from something uncomfortable or difficult? Should I just buckle down and force myself to keep my nose to the grindstone? Or is this a genuine sign that the profession I have chosen is not for me and that I must change or continue to suffer?
I am not sure, and I am not yet at one thousand words. However I am done whining for today. More on this topic later, I am sure.

© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Poetry of Fox News

So after a very hectic two weeks, I find myself with some breathing room and instead of simply sitting here playing solitaire or re-reading the news again I think I will try to hammer out a thousand words or so.
As usual when I do not have a specific topic to write about I intend to ramble about, collecting stray words from the frightening dustbin of my mind and attempting to string them together into some sort of coherent train of thought.
In that vein, I must remark that it has been quite a while since I wrote any kind of poetry. If memory serves correctly, I think that I was in Korea last time I wrote any poetry at all. I used to love poetry writing, and if I do say so myself was pretty good at it. I will see if I can dig out some examples to post here and let you, constant reader judge for me. (Of course, since I don’t think that there are any constant or even occasional readers out there it will continue to be my opinion that counts.) The problem is, I think that life has been too good for poetry. Or perhaps I have just let other concerns override my impulse to create. Right now, I am trying to think of something to poem about, and nothing comes to mind. Have you ever had someone say: “Hey! Do that funny thing that you do!” because they saw you doing it once. Only you can’t just do it on demand because you were only able to do it that time because it fit in. Now, on demand you can’t seem to make it happen. That is how it feels right now, trying to convince myself to write some poetry. First of all, I can’t come up with a subject. I am sitting in my office, with no tasks immediately urgent watching Fox news and waiting for something to happen. (OOH! I just thought of something I need to get done today. Writing down on the “To Do” list now…)
Fox news may be one culprit. This non-stop garbage is so mind-numbingly anti-intelligence and anti-creativity that it is entirely conceivable that it may be damping out any creative thoughts I might normally be able to come up with. Why do I watch it? Because it is the only station that is streamed across the network at work. I can listen to music instead, but I am tired of all of the music that I have, so that gets old too fast. Silence in the office is a no-go right off the bat since it drives me insane and makes me want to bite people and burn things. (OK, anyone reading this must understand that for the record, I have never really had the urge to bite anyone although I do enjoy a good fire… It is just something I say to make people laugh.)
Fox news is annoying to me because they are so slanted to the right. Now most people reading this might suppose that makes me a liberal-minded person. Not so! I am a very conservative person (NOT Republican… there IS a difference!) Why would I be annoyed at a news station who is slanted towards my own point of view? Because it feels patronizing to me, as if I am not intelligent enough to make up my own mind and therefore must be force-fed the proper philosophy. It is also annoying that they try so hard to pretend that they are being fair and balanced, and that everything they report on is life and death. (Including and especially all of the celebrity news. No kidding, they went COMMERCIAL FREE to cover the courtroom drama surrounding the death of that bleach-blond hooker in Honduras. For crying out loud! Is NOTHING else of importance happening in the world? COMMERCIAL FREE! They don’t even do that for the presidential election!)
As a conservative-minded person, I have come to the conclusion that most of the “conservative” media out there is horrible and completely irrelevant. I have pondered for some time why this is so. “Liberal” media sources, although they are as much or more slanted than the other at least pretends to be intelligent. One must be paying close attention to see the bias in the reporting on NPR, and in some cases, even the bias is helpful in understanding the issue. However conservative pundits tend to just cram their views down your throat without even a pretense of intelligence. It may be due to the overwhelming majority of conservative thinkers who are poor, working class folks who really may not be able to grasp a more intellectual view of the news. (OK, I just insulted a huge segment of the population. I apologize, but please stick with me.)
Perhaps the more sneaky intellectual manner of the NPRs of the world can be viewed as somewhat dishonest. By disguising their news as unbiased and intelligent, they may be misleading some who are not intelligent enough to tell the difference. Perhaps they listen to this news and think that they are getting a much more balanced and intelligent view of the news while in fact they are indeed being indoctrinated into the liberal mindset.
I know that I used to be in this category. I listened to NPR every morning on the way to work. I was very interested in the information they presented, and the intellectual manner in which they presented it appealed to me. Listening to conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh turned me off for the reasons outlined above. I felt that they were patronizing me by feeding me their philosophies without apology or excuse. However, I can remember two specific events on NPR that changed my mind, and opened my eyes to the intellectual dishonesty that pervades this kind of media.
During the 2000 elections, I listened to a series of reports on NPR. They ran a biography of the two candidates, Al Gore and George W. Bush.
Al was first. The half-hour report was filled with glowing praise of Al’s achievements and his thoughtful philosophy. He was presented as a man who was tormented by the injustice in the world and who rose above his priveliged upbringing to become a champion of the oppressed.
George was next. The picture they painted of him was frightening. A spoiled rotten brat of rich and powerful parents whose life was completely aimless and wasted until he suddenly learned that he could leverage the political clout of his family’s power for personal gain. The picture that remained at the end of this “unbiased” report was that this man who wished to be the leader of the free world was one temper tantrum from a return to the drug and alcohol-fueled irresponsibility of his youth.
These two stories were so obviously slanted that I was shocked. This organization who I had looked to for intelligent discussion of the issues had just given me a picture just as slanted and biased as anything I could find in conservative media. On top of that was the insidious way that they had painted the stories as “an unbiased biography of the two candidates.” In fact, it was a two-hour commercial for the Gore campaign.
The second event was a much smaller, but even more insidious story that sealed for me the liberal bent of National Public Radio and ensured that I would no longer depend on them for any kind of information.
A report on a movement in this country, and one woman in particular who hated children. For a half hour, they discussed how this poor woman was put upon by thoughtless parents of horrible little monsters who made her life difficult. She was disgusted by the thought that children were sweet, cute, and innocent. She viewed them as, in her own words: Crotch-droppings whose sole purpose in this world was to torture her and rob her of happiness. She of course had no children, had never had any. She worked at a rest home where she took care of incapacitated seniors and said that this was close enough to childcare for her. The story informed us that more and more American adults were beginning to feel this way, and that the rights of these poor citizens were being trampled on by uncaring parents who believed unfairly that they should be able to take time off work to care for their sick children.
I was appalled. The story concluded with this woman listing almost a dozen terms she used to describe children. “Crotch-droppings” being one of the least insulting. NPR broadcast this hateful diatribe as if it were an intelligent analysis of one person’s point of view. To me, this was hate, pure and undefiled. If this list of derogatory names had been directed at any other class of people, it would have easily been classified as hate-speech. But when directed at children, it was simply her right to express her feelings.
After this story, I turned off NPR. I listen to them occaisionally, when I find them telling interesting stories about science or arts. Even these stories are bent towards the liberal mindset, but at least now I am on the watch for the liberal indoctrination running underneath the interesting story. However I now know that this network of stations is far more biased than any conservative media I have encountered. They are just better at hiding it.
If Fox is annoying and patronizing, at least they are honest about it. Makes it much easier to see the slant and ignore it.
Plus, I have no option when watching news at work. I just hope it doesn’t smother my poetic creativity forever.

Fox News, droning on and on.
Stories of Anna, Britney and Paris
Far more urgent than Ahmadinejad and Maliki
Interrupt our sales of Head-On and PAD treatments
To ensure that we know the future of baby Dani is secure.
At least I can see
The bias in the coverage
Instead of the whisperer in the dark
The sinister and subtle
Network of the People’s Republic

© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Hitchhiker's Guide to... ohh look! Something shiny!

One thousand words for April 4, 2007. No specific topic once again, I suppose I will work on selecting a topic rather than simply rambling on about random topics…
Speaking of random, I have been reading “The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide” for the last few days so a review of the story so far seems to be a good random direction for today’s entry. “The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide” is a compilation of all five Hitchhiker novels and one story in a single leatherbound volume. It really is a very nice book, makes you feel as if you are reading something a little more substantial than you really are. But that illusion fits precisely into the theme of the book, which seems to me to be that nothing that happens in this Universe is really random or meaningless. Nor is it planned or significant. It just is, and the more you struggle to change things the more they simply do whatever the heck it is they were going to do anyway. At least that seems to be the general theme to me right now, although it may change suddenly at random somewhere in the third novel (which is where I am right now.)
So the first novel was brilliant. I have to confess, although it will surely hit my geek cred that I saw the movie before reading the book in the first place but in this case it was a good order in which to go. It helped me visualize some of the unvisualizable things in this book. I am a very big fan of humor with a straight face, and there are very few jokes in this book that are told with even a glimmer of a smile. I used a British voice to narrate in my head, since that is the best accent in my opinion for speaking pure and unadulterated nonsense with a grim and serious face.

OK, so writing book reviews is much harder than it looks. I feel like this is the appropriate place to add an example of the serious absurdity which I so enjoyed listening to the British voice in my head relate, but I am too lazy to open the book and find one. Is that really important?

Gaah! I just discovered that not only am I too lazy to open the book and select an appropriate excerpt, I am also too lazy to type a thousand words today.

Pulitzer, here I come!

Wednesday April 4, 2007 - 11:43am (EDT)
© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Friday, March 23, 2007

Waiting on Computers, Part III (I think...)

Waiting on computers again… (Part 3 I think, although I could be wrong and I am too lazy to go back and check.)
Once again, I am babysitting a computer. This time, it is running a complete set of diagnostics to see if there is a hardware fault that is causing a blue-screen (BSOD) fault. (BSOD is Blue Screen Of Death. Not much for me to do, just hit OK every now and then. So I find myself doing completely unproductive things like surfing the web. What has ever happened while surfing the web that has ever been beneficial to me? Just off the top of my head, not much. NANOWRIMO was one, but nothing else comes to mind. Now think of all the times I have gotten into trouble or at best wasted time that could be devoted to productive pursuits. So now you understand why I write these “Waiting For Computers” pieces.
My exuberance over the possibility of entering into a multi-million dollar real estate deal has cooled somewhat. I still think it is something that I would be capable of handling, but I no longer believe that my friend and I could possibly come up with the money to get it kicked off. At a minimum, we would need around $600,000 to get started, and if we both sold everything we owned we could not come up with half that much. Plus, if the whole thing collapsed in our laps we would be fighting over cardboard boxes in an alley to put our families in. So, no I will not be the newest real estate magnate in the greater Dallas Fort Worth area, at least not this week. My imagination is still sparked however, and I will keep my eyes open to similar (much smaller in scale!) opportunities to jump into a new way to earn a living.
Meanwhile, I continue to sell my soul to my employer for at least eight hours a day. It is not really a bad life, and I don’t wish any of my loyal readers to mistake this for a complaining session. As far as wage-earning jobs go, mine is right up there with the best you can possibly have. I realize this, and am grateful for the blessings which a higher power has provided for me. However…
I still pine to leave this grind for the freedom (or captivity as some have told me) of self-employment. I have been warned before that self-employment is even more confining than otherwise, since you cannot be fired. However, the idea that all of my trials and tribulations are of my own volition and not at the whim of someone else simply because they sign my paycheck is an irresistible dream. Perhaps I have been indoctrinated in the capitalist doctrine of my homeland, perhaps I am a foolish dreamer. The dream remains nonetheless.
Reading books by the likes of Robert Kiyosaki and Suze Orman promote this dream. They preach that money should be the servant, and not the master. In my current situation, I do my best to make this so. I give generously to my church both because I believe it to be a commandment of God and because I realize that giving money away willingly gives me power over money. I try not to stress about the material things I don’t have that are not neccesities and I do my best to differentiate between the two. I spend my money and invest it in ways that I am comfortable with, not because someone else tells me to or because it is what everyone else is doing.
However as my friend and I re-discovered in our dream to invest in real estate, sometimes you have to have money to make money. Bottom line: My intake right now is absolutely sufficient for the neccesities of life. It is not however sufficient to move upward or to expand my financial position, at least not rapidly. I am moving upwards slowly, my 401k is growing nicely, my mutual fund is not losing money, and the stocks that are losing money seem to have bottomed out even though the one that is up has also seemed to level off. Given twenty years, I might conceivably have a comfortable portfolio. Right now, I could sell everything and not have enough to buy a car. Oh well, I don’t need to be Warren Buffett, I just need to keep the babies in diapers and the kids in new clothes as they outgrow them.
I really am grateful for all that I have. It may sound like I am a whiner, but I like to think of myself as more of a dreamer. The trick will be to get the dreams up and running instead of rotting in the back closet.
Rotten dreams in the back closet of your mind is probably a good indicator of the old age disease of crotchetiness and overall grouchiness.
I want to be one of the old folks that sees life as a party, and the loss of my memory just means I can’t stay mad at anyone for long.
Not quite a thousand today and the computer is only eighteen percent of the way through the hard drive integrity check but I am out of words.

Friday March 23, 2007 - 03:41pm (EDT)
© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Dreams, Failure, and Fear

Credit for the photo goes to:
Have you ever had someone put an idea in your head that is so attractive and seems like such a great idea that you suddenly believe it could really happen? At the same time, you are terrified beyond belief at the prospect that you might really be pushing your boundaries and getting close to accomplishing something really, truly great.
Am I really capable of this? Can I really do this? For me, the questions is even more basic than these. It is: Do I dare try?
I think this has been my basic obstacle my entire life. I am good at dreaming about the hard stuff, planning it, even beginning it. But in the end, I have failed because I do not dare to try. I do not dare to put myself in a position to fail spectacularly. In a way, this gives me the appearance of success. How many businesses have I had go bankrupt? How many rejection letters from publishers? How many dreams have I watched go up in smoke? The answer sounds impressive: None. But beneath the surface, we examine the reason for this impressive answer. Because I never tried. I have never submitted a manuscript to be rejected. I have never started my own business to be bankrupted. I have never pursued my greatest dreams to see them crash and burn. Instead they rot and moulder in the back of my mind, where I can pull them out and polish them off when I need an ego boost, but hurriedly stash them back when I have to return to reality.
Hard work is something I am not afraid of, in fact I relish the feeling of collapsing into bed at the end of an exhausting day. This is most likely what fuels my dream of owning a ranch. I remember the crushing labor of a farm worker from my youth. I love the feeling of seeing a problem, seeing the solution, enacting the solution, then standing back to admire my work. I am good at pursuing solutions to problems. I can think outside the box, approach it from several different angles until I find the one that works. I can even admit when something is over my head and ask for help, although that one is harder than the others.
What I dread is failure. Having someone point their fingers at me and say: Look, he failed. He no longer has a perfect record of no broken dreams. He finally pulled that rotten moldy dream out of the closet, dusted it off, polished it up and then promptly set it on fire and watched it burn. How can he live with himself? How can he stand to think of the damage he has done? How will he take care of his family now?
I took a half step towards a dream once. I actually paid $2,000 for a course in purchasing tax liens for fun and profit. I felt pretty daring jumping off into the cold water like that, without even an exploratory swim to see how deep it was. I was going to free myself from the drudgery of the wage earner by investing in real estate. It would take just a few years and I would be free. When I collapsed into bed at the end of the day I would know that my sweat and blood had been shed for the benefit of my family and not to make someone else rich.
After a few weeks, I found that it was not as easy as they made it sound. (Of course, what really is?) This dream required me to call people, write letters, and worst of all to risk failure! I truly could not find time to sit down and focus on it. Family, church, work all conspired to make it hard. Not impossible, just hard. It seemed that the people I needed to call were only available while I was working. I couldn’t call while I was working, I tried writing a few letters but got no responses.
I had leapt into the cold water of trying to make a dream work, but I quickly scrambled back on the bank and sat there shivering. This was just too hard! I couldn’t find the time to devote to it!
This dream, like the others finally got tired of standing around and wandered back to the closet. It sits there today, moldering and wishing that I could find the time to bring it back to life.
Today I got an email from an old friend proposing a new dream. It is reachable, although it will be some very difficult work to make it happen. It will involve facing some of my most deep seated anxieties and fears. However, underneath all of these fears is chiefly this: The fear of failure.
Loyal reader: will I accept the offer and make it happen? Perhaps if someone else is depending on me to do it? Do I dare? Can I face failure?
(Only 849 words, but then I didn’t intend this to be a regular entry…)

Thursday March 22, 2007 - 04:26pm (EDT)
© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Plot Ninja

(Photo courtesy of: )
Feeling a bit lazy this morning, but committed to shutting Stanley up I have decided to write one thousand words in a free writing word association style. I have no topic for this piece, no idea where it will go and neither do I much care. I am simply insisting that I continue with my idea of writing one thousand words per day and posting them here for you to read. (Both of you…) Dang, I had to nix about fifty words because I deemed them too sensitive to place in a public place like this. Sorry loyal readers, but I still have to try and keep my day job and although the likelihood of someone from work actually reading this, connecting it to my Real Life persona and then informing management is infinitesimally small I don’t like to take chances. Not that it was about any huge crime, or something completely dishonest and criminal. Like I said, I am all about managing risk and that means (at least in my book) eliminating it. So I ramble on about nothing at all instead of risking my family’s livelihood to entertain you. (Both of you…)
Free association can be fun, but it can also be somewhat frustrating. Such as when your brain is still half asleep and refuses to engage in word spewing mode. Therefore, I must turn to some time tested word padding tricks learned from the NANO experience in order to get to my thousand words before noon. Plot ninjas…
Suddenly, a bright light flashed at the window of Will’s office. A millisecond later, the shock wave of a small explosion reached him carrying millions of shards of glass that a moment earlier had been his office window. He flinched instinctively, a million tiny points of pain suddenly arcing through his consciousness. Smoke filled the office, and Will became conscious of human forms moving swiftly and noiselessly around him. The acrid smoke burned his lungs, and he coughed weakly, his mind still reeling in an attempt to grasp what had turned this mundane Thursday morning into a sudden maelstrom.
The smoke began to clear, and his eyes focused on a human shape crouched on the office chair against the opposite wall. It was covered entirely in black, with a narrow slit where the eyes should be. The jet black handle of a wicked looking katana protruded from behind the form’s back, and other menacing shapes were positioned along the belt line. Will had never before encountered a real ninja, and never expected to in his lifetime. And certainly not at the office. What had brought this oriental mercenary to his desk? A thousand similar questions pounded through his harried mind until the dark shape lifted a hand, and placing a single upright finger where his mouth should be signaled silence. Will was still too baffled to disagree, and sat frozen in his chair, staring at the demonic vision before him. The ninja’s other hand reached out and flicked the door to the office shut, the latch snicking softly closed. Cool damp air poured in from the shattered window, and Will’s burning lungs ached to take a long deep breath to clear out the smoke. But he dared not move, waiting for the ninja’s next move.
What happens next? Does the ninja assassinate Will right there in front of his spreadsheet? Or does he introduce himself as Will’s long lost twin brother and invite him on a quest for adventure and treasure away from the dreary world of computer monitors and service level matrix reports?
I don’t exactly know. I didn’t start with anything but a need for a plot ninja, and there he is. Sitting across the room from me. The office door is locked, but I can hear hurried footsteps on the tile floor outside. Worried voices, inquiring about the explosion and the smoke. Still, the ninja sits in his feral crouch, one finger signaling silence, the other resting lightly on the door handle.
My heart is pounding in my chest, pounding so hard that it hurts. Am I having a heart attack? What is happening? I open my mouth in an attempt to say something, but the ninja’s hand flashes off of the door handle and up towards me. I flinch, expecting a razor edged shuriken to bury itself in my skull, but he only holds his palm towards me, once again signaling silence. I obey, the image of the shuriken still foremost in my mind.
Someone knocks on the door, a worried voice asking if I am alright. A slight shake of the ninja’s head emphasized by his outstretched hand keeps my voice silent. The tension is awesome, my heart pounds even harder and the room begins to spin. Never in my life have I faced death in this way. I always imagined that I would be brave when my time came, that I would turn and face it with dignity and poise. Right now however, I am wondering if I have soiled myself in fear. I can’t tell, because my body is somehow numb and I cannot feel anything. Except the weight of those steel blue eyes peering out of the blackness of the mask.

Dang! I was sure that would be over a thousand, but it is only 800 and already I am tiring of this ninja. I guess there could be a story here, but I don’t want to get started on something that will need several thousand words to resolve. I only need two hundred more. I think I can ramble on at least that much right?

The voices in the hall become even more frantic as they fail to open the door. Unfortunately, the only key is in the office with me. They have been threatening to make a copy for months, but never seem to get around to it. They will have to find someone with the tools to jimmy the lock, or knock the door down. Someone has gone outside and is now trying to look in the window and see what is going on. The ninja gestures at the floor, and in one swift movement is himself on the floor beneath the window. He gestures at me again, impatiently to join him. My body obeys despite screaming alarms of impending doom. Clumsily I slip out of my chair and crawl over to the wall, collapsing on the floor next to him. One hand reaches down and grasping my shirt pulls me upright. I am now sitting beside the ninja, I can smell his spicy odor and hear his quiet breathing behind the mask. He leans close and whispers in my ear. At first, my terrified mind can not comprehend what he is whispering, and I shake my head in confusion.

YES! 1166 words! I made it! Sorry I didn’t resolve the whole plot ninja thing. You do understand it was just an exercise right? I never meant it to turn into a complete story…

Thursday March 22, 2007 - 10:00am (EDT)

© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Shut-Up Stanley!

Entry for March 21, 2007

“Why are you not a writer for… something? You have a gift!”
So says my #1 fan, in response to a thank-you not that I wrote. So I begin to ponder my few feeble attempts at starting down the path to being a professional writer and I start to wonder myself…
My ponderings remind me of something that happened just a few days ago. My wife has been sick. I don’t know how it goes at your house, but when Mommy is not 100% the entire train goes off the tracks. I do my part on a regular basis, washing dishes and straightening up the kitchen, but now I am called upon to go above and beyond “my regular part” and help keep the house from resembling something you see on Cops. The floor needs to be swept and mopped, and each time I walk past the cocoa spill next to the stove, or the trail of grass and dirt from the backyard door I feel a serious twinge of guilt.
From my reading on the nature of internal anxiety, I have learned that a phrase such as this is “weak” and implies that I am not able to do anything about the situation. This is true, my internal voice for this phrase is high-pitched and whiny and wishes he had the strength to do something about this problem. It is the same internal voice that whines about my inability to focus on a career in writing.
Same weak voice, same weak idea. Why don’t I? I have plenty of great ideas to kick it off. NANOWRIMO winner for two years running is one example. This blog, where I have committed to write 1000 words per day is another. (When was the last time I actually did?) I have the talent, I don’t seem to have the persistence.
I read stories of authors who have finally made it after years and years of submitting, editing, being rejected, revising, and above all, trying again. For some reason if I can’t hit a home run right off the bat I get discouraged and give up. I write in this little blog where I am safe. Nobody really reads any of this junk, and if they did they would most likely give up waiting in the months between entries. I try to imagine myself up against a real deadline like a professional writer would have and my stomach clenches with the stress. Ahh! What happens if I write horribly! What happens when I can’t come up with any new ideas after a month or two of writing? Where do I go for new material? I can usually crank out around 1000 words on any topic. They may not be great words, but I can come up with something. But not on a regular basis. That is hard, and above all that internal chatterbox cannot allow me to do something difficult.
Already I have run out of steam writing this. Checked the word count and I am only half way there. I suppose that I should bring in some outside material here to pad out the piece. To stretch towards the deadline. But hey! Isn’t that work? Wouldn’t that be hard? Stanley disapproves.
For some reason, I have fallen out of favor with my favorite blogger, Dave Barry. I was on a streak for a while. I submitted articles that he posted on his blog several times over the course of a few weeks. Now, the well has run dry. I have submitted several articles that should have been shoo-ins for this blog, but they are ignored. Is it possible that I have offended his Daveness or the high and mighty blogerette? Perhaps. How do I get back onto their good graces? Is it possible that they saw my blog entries bragging that I had been featured on the blog? Wow! That would mean that someone famous actually read my blog!
Unfortunately, this brings me no closer to my goal of actually earning money for my writing. Unless Dave reads this and would be kind enough to post some helpful advice to the comments section…
I guess I just go back to the basics. I need to write something every day, just to polish my abilities. (CRAP! There goes that whiny weak voice again. Let me start over…)
I WILL write something every day. I WILL finish writing and editing my novel and I WILL submit it to someone. At least I will have a real rejection letter that I can look at and say to myself: “I DID something, instead of whining about how I NEED to do something.”
I will update you, loyal reader on the status of this writing and editing. I plan to have my rejection letter before NANOWRIMO begins again. Then I can brag to my fellow part-time novelists about my off-season adventure in writing and rejection.
Or perhaps, I can brag about my new career as a writer…
Either way, Stanley had better keep his whiny mouth shut and stay in his place in the shadowy back recesses of my brain where he belongs.
What might I accomplish if I could only convince him to do so?
Yesterday, I stayed home with the kids while Emily took one of them to the dentist. Stanley REALLY wanted me to take a nap. He reminded me that I NEEDED to clean up the house to help out while Em is sick, but that I really NEED to take a nap more.
I told Stanley to shut up and I cleaned up the house.
I can do it. I can silence that chatterbox. I can get rid of the weakness of feeling powerless to improve my life.
I can be a writer. I WILL be a writer. I already know the first steps. I have already made some of them. I have the talent, I have the tools. Up til now, I have only lacked the willpower.
Shut up Stanley. I can, and I will. (See! 1026 words, just like that!)

Wednesday March 21, 2007 - 04:09pm

© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Dave Barry read my e-mail!

For the second time in my life, one of my heroes, Dave Barry has acknowledged my presence in the universe by posting a link I sent him to his blog. The first time was a few years ago, when I sent him a link to the Colonblow website, which he promptly posted to his blog. (Naturally, this was humor that could have been made by the Daveness himself!) Here is the discussion that ensued from that fortunate event:

After a few weeks of following the blog faithfully, I guess I got back to actually working at work again and quit following it. Then, last week, for some reason I decided to look it up and see what was going on with the blog. Still the same collection of weirdos and freaks that had previously hung out here. While following one link, I found another story that made me laugh out loud. I decided to send it to the Dave, and once again, a very famous person not only read my e-mail, but posted the link to his blog!

Wow! I am almost a psuedo-not-really-famous person now! Two times!

Woo Hoo!

(now back to your regularly scheduled life...)


After such a smashing success at sending links to be posted by the Dave Barry blog, I got a little carried away and sent a few more. Good news and Bad news: I got a real-live actual reply to my e-mail from the Bloggerette! (Judy, Dave's assistant blog-sitter). Bad news, my link was rejected because it had already been blogged. Actual text of the message below:

-----Original Message-----
From: tweetywill

Sent: Thu 1/4/2007 1:16 PM
To: Dave Blog (MHPC)
Subject: Can't resist this one...

Sorry to pepper you with more stories, but this one must be seen to be
believed. I have read your works on the insidious conspiracy of small
animals to harm humans, and this site has all of the evidence in one

Look for the full coverage of the Squirrel Menace after the story.



"Dave Blog (MHPC)" wrote:

I think we blogged that one a long time ago. metro seems to take US
stories from a while back and give them a funny twist.

But thanks --


**End of Update**

OK, now go back to your lives. Really. I mean it this time.

Still here?

Thursday January 4, 2007 - 02:31pm (EST)© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved