Have you ever been in an absolutely quiet, serene place, void of any distraction at all? Didn’t it feel weird?
Consider this: If you abuse your body, it creates problems and organs stop doing what they are supposed to do. So, if you drink too much, your kidneys and liver will fail to filter toxins properly, or if you smoke, you damage your lungs and have difficulty oxygenating blood. What about your brain?
Inane television shows, sound-bites, self-important celebrities, radio chatter, internet memes, Facebook status updates, tweets, and the general, incessant noise we surround ourselves with every day – subjecting a brain to such a relentless input of low-grade, sensational information, year after year, it’s not unreasonable to think that something had to give and it did.
I wrote this in September of 2013 and I was 49 years old, leaving an 18-year career with Microsoft and preparing to start work as a manager at AT&T. It’s an indulgent and heavy-handed write but I’m sharing it here for those who might find themselves in a similar career change and need some reassurance and more to the point, might try to do it alone.
By Mitch Lavender
I knew the way and the path was familiar even though this was a new pilgrimage.
Corporations are treacherous catacombs, filled with dead-ends and devastating fates for the unwary. Eighteen years, I have navigated these passages but too late, I realized I took a wrong turn. All around me, peers and superiors told me otherwise and that the path was true, but I knew otherwise. I knew, but it was too late.
There are places that authors fear to tread and rightly so. Some things are taboo and off limits, even in the fictionalized place where we create our stories and taking a certain plot twist can completely lose a reader or worse, make them angry.
I have a tendency to write dark fiction and that is thin ice to tread. It’s not hard to make a wrong move. It takes scruples and sense of self to avoid it because when weaving a story (i.e., pantsing), it has a life of its own; taking a direction that almost seems to be beyond the author’s control. The story is completely in the author’s control of course, but it can sometimes feel like it has its own personae and is making choices for itself, such as having your antihero become a predator on the weak, vulnerable or trusting. Who would like Batman if he was a rapist or child molester? Rapists and Child molesters, that’s who, and no one else.
A writing Exercise from Writing Excuses episode 4.24 podcast
Concepts to use in the story: Accountant for a church, Contacts that decrease your vision, and brain implants
Exercise: Develop character(s) and conflicts using the three concepts above. It can’t be silly.
The Whole Does Not Equal the Sum
by Mitch Lavender
Better living through technology – A mantra that is repeated to the point that it is not even thought about. No one considers what it means or if they believe it. They certainly do not question it. It was the very heart of the doctrine of The Church of π.
As I highlighted the paragraph of my beloved story, I imagined placing my hand on the chopping block, fingers splayed. I raised the cleaver. Let it begin. I brought the cleaver down swiftly on my pinkie finger. Chop. Delete.
My carefully crafted paragraph erased, I cleaned up the extra line and read through the piece again. Holding up my hand, I saw blood spurting with every heartbeat. Now the piece is imbalanced, as the following paragraph built upon the one I had deleted. It’s got to go as well. Chop. Delete. Blood spurted from both hands.
By Mitch Lavender
I took the card from him and shoved it in my pocket without looking at it. At an event like this, people handed out business cards like they were throwing confetti. I’m nobody to these people but they don’t know that. Because I’m so disinterested, they assume that I’m important. That’s my bad. They used to call it socializing. Now, it’s networking. Now, it’s opportunity. Now, it’s as good as it gets.
His name was Dale Staire. Something in the way the incandescent light reflected off his name tag made me think of the EKG machine flat-lining in my father’s hospital room when I was twelve. I decided to look him in the eye. It was twenty minutes later that I broke free from the conversation with Dale Staire. It turns out Dale was a makeup artist (or the way he would say it, ‘artiste.’) I broke away by dominating the conversation with things I knew from the research I have documented. Things so horrible, Dale Staire was too shocked to respond. He could hardly wait to leave my company.
Darren was the first to wake. Duct-taped together with the two other unconscious men, he groggily struggled against the restraints. His angry, dilated pupils wandered up and tried to focus on me.
“This won’t stop me,” was all he said. Then his head fell back to his chest.
Was he right? Maybe none of them would stop and what I’d done wouldn’t make any difference. Maybe Darren was full of it. Maybe I didn’t care anymore. I was reminded of Josh and how things ended up for him. It wasn’t a comforting thought.
Asshat Backstabbery. Two words that are universally understood despite the fact that they do not exist in any legitimate dictionary, anywhere. I’m listing five board games that feature deception and cutthroat strategy as a key way of getting a leg up (or a knee on the throat) of your opponents. These are games where being mean and pitiless are expected but more than that, you can benefit from capitalizing on an opponent’s weakness. Lifelong friendships are ruined, families divided, and marriages crumble.