When I turned 30, I sat down and turned the little Star Wars stories I’d written between ages 8 and 18 into a full -blown novel. I never tried to get the story published, of course, but I enjoyed the process. With the ending of the Skywalker saga last year, I toyed with writing a sequel. I haven’t (yet), but I keep arguing with myself about the project.
I had multiple reasons for not attempting to publish the first novel. Lucasfilm had its own set of stories, many of which mine was not as good as or compatible with. Plus, it was just for fun—fan fiction. Also, as a first novel, it had any number of first-novel faults. However satisfying it was for me personally, it just wasn’t that good.
So now, 31 years later, I find myself mulling a sequel. I’ve written a few more novels since then, so it’s not a question of ability. At age 51, I’m simply struggling creatively. I don’t write much fiction at all. playing around in the SW universe is easy. I know that place. Many of its environments and “rules” are already established. Writing fiction there is fun. All I need to do is move my own characters 30 years forward in time and adapt them to the stories depicted in Episodes VII-IX.
But why write such a story? Why put in the work if it’s only for my own amusement? Maybe to prime the creativity pump. If I put in the time for that story, other ideas might come to mind. I’ve done sillier things to kill time. I just need something to fill the dusty, empty space that has occupied my life over the last year or so.
This morning I was journaling about the Hot Ones YouTube show, which interviews celebrities while having them eat progressively spicier chicken (or vegan) wings. It occurred to me that celebrity interviewers are akin to the remoras that attach themselves to sharks and other large marine animals. They’re tolerated by the larger fish because they often perform a useful “cleaning” service, cleaning up parasites and other bits of junk that collect on the larger animal.
In the celebrity world of Hollywood, interviews and interviewers are tolerated because they help the movie star sell seats in movies. It then occurred to me that I perform a similar function in the aerospace business. Here’s how I put it on Twitter, with a little added flourish from Scott Adams:
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing…each to his/her own ecological, professional, or social niche, I guess. It’s just that I used to have bigger dreams for myself. I was going to be a creator, an author, a dreamer of big dreams. For the past 20 years I’ve shifted to writing and editing the dreams of others–people with more creativity, more education in the sciences or engineering–to the point where I’ve doubted or just given up on my idea of being a “big fish” on my own one day.
Welcome to middle age.
Time for that annual literary check-in: how am I doing? What am I doing? What haven’t I done yet? Why? Because that’s what I do. Continue reading “51”
Wrote this a while back in a different form. Still not certain what to do with it, but it’s a complete vignette on its own, so here it remains. Continue reading “Fiction Experiment: Last Chance”
I’m not expecting any great “transformation” or personal insights during this period of enforced isolation. They could happen, mind you, but I’m not expecting or forcing any. What follows are my thoughts about the state of my soul before and during this shared crisis called pandemic. Continue reading “Forced in on Myself”
I was direct messaging with an internet friend recently about what to do to find a “mission” in life–always a big thing for me–because I like a solid reason to get up in the morning and be motivated. What I came up with as a potential project was to start researching technologies to make the world a better place. Today I’ll take a shot at explaining what I mean by that and then, over subsequent posts, I’ll discuss individual topics or technologies of interest. This could be a hit, it could be a flop; in any case, it’ll keep me entertained. And being the harmless egoist I am, that’s pretty much why I’m doing this. So let’s start with something “simple,” like answering, “What do I mean by ‘make the world a better place’?” Onward! Continue reading “Making the World a Better Place”
I participated in an hour-long online on “How to Write Stories That Matter,” hosted by Jeff Leisawitz. I keep trying different things to kickstart my internal creativity, but quite frankly nothing’s helped. “Writer’s block” is putting it kindly. I found the session quite useful–it’s not Jeff’s fault that I’m stuck. Still, I appreciated Jeff’s inputs, perhaps the most useful/important for me being, “Write about what hurts.” Continue reading “Writing About What Hurts”
Today’s writing prompt is on the nonfiction side: Describe your morning routine using the most eccentric words and phrases that come to mind. Hoo boy. You asked for it, you got it, pal. Continue reading “Writing Experiment: A Lofty Beginning”
Depending on what you do and how public it is, you can usually tune out most of the critics in the world. However, there’s one critic you can’t avoid, and that’s the one looking back at you from the mirror. Continue reading “Taming Your Inner Critic”
I have been writing stories since I was eight years old. I have the hard copies to prove it. For the next twenty years after that, I was writing a lot of fiction. It was a mix, really, though mostly mainstream and science fiction or somewhere in between. Once I started writing to pay my bills, my fiction productivity dropped off tremendously. More to the point, I began to lose interest in storytelling at all. The reasons for that are a bit complicated, but I’ll give it a shot here. Continue reading “Relearning an Old Skill”