Tag Archives: post-apocalyptic

Spinning Out of Control

Spinning out of ControlLife has a way of getting in the way of art.  It sometimes seems to me that either you make your life all about art, and to hell with the rest, or you valiantly struggle through your life, crossing all your t’s and dotting all your i’s, and you never get a sodding bit of art done at all.  And then there is all the drama and chaos.  I’m feeling hemmed in right now.  I, me personally, am fine.  But between the time I spend trying to live a sane sustainable life, and the shit storm that is constantly battering the glass walls of my personal bubble, I’m finding it harder and harder to be creative.

And it’s like this shit storm just keeps getting bigger and bigger, picking up debris in its wake and spreading it across the face of my world.  You know when you buy a new car (new to you) and say it’s a Volkswagen Beetle or whatever (you pick) and suddenly you just see them everywhere on the road – or it’s because you’re playing Punch Buggy, but the point is that they go from being invisible to almost all you can see?  Is that what this storm of disaster is all about? Or is the world really going to hell faster and faster, like the spin cycle on a washing machine?

I don’t honestly know.  For me things are very much the same as they have always been: slightly better maybe, but with slightly less time.  I’m trading time for comfort.  But that’s just me.  Everyone else and everywhere else seems to be blowing apart at the seams, or at least in need of a few denim patches.  Oh yeah, and that time thing, it’s a bitch.  It brings me back to the first thought.  I spend more time working, more time fretting about things I cannot change in the lives of people who seem bent on destruction, and less time doing the things I really love: making stuff.

For me, making stuff is a huge area.  It’s writing, it’s creating Pan Historia, it’s painting, it’s learning new skills, it’s books, and museums, and pulling in inspiration from all around me to turn it into moments of insight and art.  But when life starts to feel like a buzz saw, saw dust flying until it chokes, and your eyes start to blink and tear up, where is the time to be found for the creativity?

My reaction?

Take a nap. Play a mindless game.  Lose myself in some meaningless movie made for TV.

Waste the precious moments even as I scream about losing the time: it was so hard to find, and as I get older it is an ever vanishing resource.

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Warming Up

The lure of good soil...

The lure of good soil...

If you follow my blog regularly you know that I recently moved. Life has radically altered, and yet… it must, by the nature of what I do, remain the same. I still need to get up in the morning, log onto my computer and begin my day. Besides any paycheck job I might eventually get I brought my work with me when I moved. I still need to work on my community site Pan Historia, I still need to work for any clients I get online, and I still need to be a writer. The challenge is fitting in the old into the new without losing why I came west in the first place.

There have been a lot of disruptions to my writing and Pan schedule. It’s been harder for me to find the time to do my fiction writing, or to write for my blog. New family obligations have popped up – and then there is the draw of the outside. Back east so much of the year was spent in cold, sleet, snow, ice, and wind that I had little temptation to unseat myself from my writing and take up other activities. Even in the summer I was rarely moved because I dislike humidity and New England summers are often very humid. I can’t even image what it’s like down south so don’t start with me.

The upshot is that it is very easy to get up from my computer and to take myself outside (which I wanted in my life, a big part of why I moved in the first place), and very hard to get back into my routine which I need to keep as well. It’s my writing that has suffered the most. While I have not completely succumbed to writing inertia I have only completed three posts for my collaborative fiction stories at Pan since moving into my new place, thus my stories are languishing. It’s not easy for my fellow writers to work around me. My blog has also suffered. Not being in the full flow of writing and thinking about writing means that I have fewer ideas for my blog. I hate to just write for the hell of it. Yet, here I am.

The purpose of this blog post (for me) functions just the same as warming up before an athletic event. Even though the sun is shining on my garden right now, even though the guest bed needs folding up and putting away, even though there are still boxes to unpack and sort and decide what goes back into storage, I am going to write. Even if I have to work later into the night to meet my deadline for my client, Bardic Web, I am going to write.

The lesson in all this for any writer is that no matter what you need to make time in your life to write. It doesn’t matter if you love the outdoors, or if you are on a job search, or if you are a single parent (I know of what I speak) you have to make that time and keep to it. It may not be as much time as ideal, but make it regular and make it priority.

There. Now I have warmed up my fingers a little bit. It’s time to go slip into the skin of a man who has endured natural disaster and a nuclear holocaust and is now living under a bitter sky.


The Bitter Sky

Just a quick update on my nuclear winter science fiction collaborative fiction project at Pan Historia: I got the novel underway with title and right now the first new writers are joining up and putting in their ideas for the overall background scenario. I named the piece “The Bitter Sky” and it’s inspired by a line of a Shakespeare sonnet that reads “thou bitter sky” about winter. The graphics are still pretty spare but I stopped being quite as interested in window dressing as I once was and prefer to have the bones of a collaborative story well structured and strong before going for the rest. In this case I consider the bones to be the believable future scenario where two types of survivors clash over limited resources in a world devoid of sun, poisoned by ash and radiation.

I set the story in the United Kingdom because a) the initial cause of the natural disaster was the eruption of a mega volcano in the United States that would have destroyed most of the northern American continent and b) I used to live there and c) it would probably have avoided a nuclear strike in the crazy fallout from the volcano’s eruption. We have a very good writer from England on the new team and he’s been able to give us all invaluable suggestions that make the setting authentic to British culture and how it might have devolved in twenty years of nuclear winter. My memories of Britain are fading, sad to say, so I definitely need the tips and reminders.

So far the writers the story is attracting are some of the very best Pan Historia has to offer, particularly in the scifi genre, and I’m very excited to be working with writers both familiar to me (from 666 West End Avenue, FLESH, and Turnskin) as well as writers I have not had the challenge and honor of working with before. I’m equally excited to be working on an original science fiction story once more. The last time I wrote scifi at Pan Historia was for the much mourned novel Forever is Too Long (I think I got that write) which was created by a wonderful published author who occasionally frequents Pan Historia. It was set on a huge seed ship that had been drifting in space too long and some of the crew are awoken from stasis and cultures are developing within this massive labyrinth. It was very challenging for me, in particular, because I took a character that came out of the head of another writer, a scientist, and I had to make him both convincing and mine.

I might consider posting my fiction from The Bitter Sky on my writing blog once we get going, but for now it’s still in the planning stages.


Nuclear Winter Science Fiction Novel Idea

Driving to New York City on Saturday afternoon I was inspired to start a new scifi story at my community site Pan Historia. The afternoon had grown prematurely dark from clouds that seemed heavy with snow. The forecast had been vague, anything from 1-12 inches depending on where you were, but the sky looked ready to deliver Armageddon. The afternoon light, as we approached the early evening of winter, became sullen and bruised with menace. I have a tendency towards motion sickness when I travel by car, if I’m not the driver, and so I looked out the window at the winter landscape of Connecticut and then New York State.

I imagined that this light would be similar to the light caused by a layer of ash in the sky – nuclear winter – and from there my mind started running over a future scenario where it the Earth suffered from such a nuclear winter for at least a whole generation. Could people survive? How did they survive? I could easily imagine that a small population could manage by using generators and other power sources to grow food in bunkers or underground facilities with artificial lights, but I also tried to imagine if there could be survivors on the surface. Would they live by scavenging, cannibalism, or what?

There was a section of woods on the journey where the trees had largely died and they were strewn around like dominoes tumbled. This is what nuclear winter would do to the woods over time as the trees died and then rotted. The idea caught hold so thoroughly that I spent a couple hours thinking about it. I imagined the Morlock type scavengers gathering wood to burn, as well as the survivors from the bunkers. There would be conflicts. When I returned home to Vermont and was able to again login into Pan Historia I started doing a little research on the science. My technological survivors would, of course, also have to be scavengers as well as act defensively against the dangers of the twilight world I envisioned. Most of the theories of nuclear winter did not suggest the length of time I imagined, at least not for nuclear bomb fallout, so I looked into mega volcanoes, and I could postulate a situation where that might keep up for some time, particularly if there were also nuclear detonations and perhaps fires burning for years, such as would happen at dumps and oil fields, adding to the dust filled atmosphere.

Those survivors that lived outside would be like sick animals, our Morlock types, scrounging for scraps of food. They would suffer from UV poisoning from what light did come because of the damage to the ozone, and of course water would be contaminated. They would be short-lived and reduced to brutal lives. The clash between the two groups could provide a great deal of drama for long-term collaborative story-telling which is my specialty and the specialty of the writers at Pan Historia.

For those of you new to the concept of Pan Historia but interested in collaborative writing, getting in at the beginning of one of our role play collaborative novels is a great way to get started. More experienced members of the community would be more than happy to mentor you, and you wouldn’t have to feel like you were intruding on an established storyline. I’ll be creating my new ‘novel’ just as soon as I have fixed on a good title for it. There has been good interest in the concept so I hope to see a broad range of writers bringing their ideas to the world we create.