Morning Meditation

Curveballs. Life is an ace with these.

Finally, after a month and a half, I’m back at the thriller project. Needless to say, this will delay things a bit. But the goal is still to have three books out early next year.

The trouble with any new series is you’re mostly writing on speculation. Even if you try to engineer some marketable, perfect book, it’s always a gamble. And lately, when the paying opportunities come up for writing, I can’t say no.

This past month has been client projects and the mysterious Hollywood gig. On top of that, we’ve made some major changes in our life. Aside from our RV, we’ve adopted a second home.

I’ve always felt a kinship with New England. Lovecraft created his cosmic, existential madness around here. Steven King the same though in a more claustrophobic, terrifying way.

All this went down in a sleepy little corner of the country that exemplifies the word “bucolic.” That contradiction suits me.

Life is complicated. So are my stories. On the surface, Crimson Son might be your typical young adventure adult novel where Spencer fulfills some grand destiny. But the fight scenes are brutal. The world he inhabits, unforgivingly real.

I’m an oddly grounded escapist. Never willing to let my readers truly forget their reality while offering up crazy scenarios. It’s one reason I wanted to give thrillers a try.

I’ve also found myself thinking about Ace. Wondering how his battle turns out. Eager to drop the bomb about Atofo’s afterlife….

That story got almost too real as the world went crazy.

Recently, for a client, I proposed a story that really explored the human side of the trade of rare earth minerals. It wasn’t pursued because of very similar concerns I expressed with the Ace Grant series.

But when I heard those same arguments coming from someone else, it sounded…strange. I had a very different take away.

I’d done careful research for the pitch. Treated the subject with the gravity it deserved. A refusal to allow a writer to explore the world outside of themselves poses a lot of problems. Chief of which is limiting their expression of empathy.

The trouble with the rare earth minerals trade involves the exploitation of disadvantaged people. Rich countries seeking mineral wealth in countries where workers can’t effectively protect themselves. Where laws are bought and sold and where the poverty is so extreme, even the crumbs off a glutton’s table feel like a miraculous gift.

As a writer, the best way I can help is to write about these problems. Take that away, I’m silenced.

In my personal life, I can’t exactly elect to not use rare earth minerals for instance. These are the components that power our digital world. While part of me longs to return to simpler times, I’m not eager to write a book with a quill or even a typewriter.

Sure, I can instead become an activist on the subject. Sign petitions, protest, rage on social media (for all the good that does), all those things. But writing fiction is my own little superpower and the best way I can contribute to society.

Of course there are very real concerns with representation in our society. I’m not discounting these at all. The best narrator for a story is someone who has lived that experience. And people from disadvantaged communities have too often not been allowed to speak.

I’m fine with staying silent on their behalf. But I do hope at some point it’s okay again to write outside ourselves.

The thriller project is much closer to home. Like still in my front yard (something I might soon actually have…another reason behind all the recent delays). But not getting to know your neighbors seems to be at the core of America’s problems. Or, more precisely, not leaving our own neighborhoods.

We’ve siloed ourselves into religious, political, and racial factions. A self segregation that does irreparable harm to a country meant to be diverse but unified. All our politics, right or left, seem to be based on highlighting our differences for good or ill but never proposing ways to work together to achieve greatness.

As a self-confessed hermit, I’m guilty of this. But requiring writers to be social creatures seems like a different kind of crime.

Some heavy thoughts as I sit down to work my way back into this new series. Sure, there’ll be action, adventure, mystery, but also some introspection.

I can’t avoid it. It’s part of who I am. Part of who we are.

Alright, back to the fiction. Time to get my protagonist out of whatever horrible dilemma I’ve put him in and right his world. At least that part is a guarantee.

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