Looking Back

Is this something that is important for us to do – looking back? Whether it is or not, it is something that all of us do. It can lead down that nostalgic path, as I posted in an earlier post, show us the error of our ways, as in our workplace, when a boss points out our failings, or it could easily be a way to see how far we’ve come and if those changes have been good. However you look at it, because we do have a memory that is longer than just one day we do have a tendency to continually look back.

In this post I’m looking towards this more as a writer, and what a writer has released in the past. If you have been around a published writer – writers in fiction who have written a number of novels – you can hear, in their conversations, their views of their early (as in their first) work. And I have to admit that I’m no different. So I guess the question becomes – is it important for a writer to look back on these beginnings, or should he or she let it lie? And I guess, again like so many things in life, each writer, each individual will give a different answer. Yet, personally I feel that it is very important to look back, to read one’s earlier works, and to see where one is presently.

In anything that we do, be it work, a hobby, or life, we should be improving. Since experience gained should allow us to perform better, understand what we are seeing, and applying those learned lessons to what we need to do. By not looking back one cannot have a beginning point to measure their personal growth, and as a result what is being seen in the present has no basis in fact, and the improvements or experience gained could and can be imagined. It is only by seeing your beginnings can you truly see your personal growth. When you do look back, how do you see yourself in your mind’s eye? What is the image of yourself that is there? Interestingly for me, when I’m looking back, in general, I see a picture of me at about 5 years old. This represents, in my mind, the innocence and inexperience that became a starting point of who I became.

Usually the first books published by authors are generally not the first books written. In fact, many times it’s at least 3 or more novels out that becomes their first published work. So one would think, incorrectly, by that time they would have their craft down and the stories would be perfect. Ah, if only that was true. If it was, then all of we writers would have many successful stories and books, and be living the imagined luxury that ones who do not write think that we have. In truth, if an hourly wage was attached to what we earn, it wouldn’t generally be enough to make minimum wage. If fact it could easily fall to a few cents or less per hour. (The term – Starving Artist – does come to mind.)

As in all fields of endeavor only a very few at the top make those kind of figures that all of us strive to reach. Most, even with the ability to self-publish, never reach the point where anything that they write reach the public, and if it does, with what is available out there for the reader, they never break even financially. So for most it becomes more of a hobby, and like most hobbies, it can be quite expensive. Still if one considers it a hobby it is still important to gain the experience, to see improvements, to overcome those obstacles that are in the way, to find ways of doing something better, to learn from others, and to be proud of the experience gained. And most importantly to be proud that you’ve completed that novel. Many try their hand at writing but very few, and the percentages are in the single digit, ever finish.

Yet, in every case, to see that experience gained we must see our beginnings, otherwise it is dust in the wind – imagined, with nothing to show for the effort. And this is especially true in writing. For me this has become painfully clear as I edit, and revise those first two books that I wrote. Again, because I consider it a good story (both are part of a series), and the characters within that story are strong, I want to see the series out there where readers can enjoy their fictitious lives. In the near past, with a posted excerpt of the 6th book that I’ve written, I talked about the joy of editing that story, and also earlier, had talked about the pain of working those first 2 manuscripts. I had reached a point in them (the first 2) that I was heading for my final edit, but discovered that more – much more – work had to be done before I could enter this final edit. So once again they have been pushed back so that I can make these corrections.

And for me, my first released book was The Woman in the Snow. And this is my 3rd book written. It took a minimum of 8 edits and revisions, with my wife doing the 9th to get it in print (metaphorically, since it’s an E-book). Yet, when I’m looking back and reading the story now, and after writing a full 7 novels, I’m almost embarrassed by what I see. Love the story, again love the actors within the story. What happens and how it happens work fine, the descriptions and scenes are good, but if wrote it now it would be a better story. No it isn’t horrible. In fact I’ve received 5 stars on it from a reader. Yet when I compare it to the way I write now, the difference is night and day. And another sign is comparing the edits, which has steadily reduced as each new novel is written. Presently I find that I need only half the edits of book 3, and probably could even cut one of those if I desired.

The important thing that these 3 early works show me is my personal growth in my writing. And for me, as I look back to my earlier works, I can plainly see the improvement in all aspects of my writing when I compare my present writing to those beginnings. While my characters and their actions in those first books were as they should, they were 3 dimensional, and seemed real – someone you might like to meet, yet in the present time all of who they are (all my fictional characters across the 7 novels, especially the last 4) are so much stronger in those later works. They have become more real, as has their adventures. To me the progression from those early works to now is easy to see.

And because the improvement is there, and is obvious not only to me, but my wife, then it means, even if nothing ever comes of what I send out into the world, it was a good direction for me. If those later works were no better than the early works, then I would only be fooling myself, trying to convince myself that writing is a good direction. And if any of us really think about it, if we are not improving in whatever endeavor we have decided to tackle, then it probably wasn’t a smart move on our part. And if we are smart enough and not allow our ego to get in the way, we will move on to something that we are really good at doing. Putting this particular failure behind us, and marking it up as experience. Adding a new thread to that personal tapestry that is you.

I guess, in a way, that I can apply this to the posts that I’ve been making. Over time and as I approach my 200th post I can see improvements in these short presentations. From the eclectic subjects, to the short stories, and of course the excerpts of my books, and even the length of the posts, have grown more consistent and stronger over that time. Back when I began in 2011 never having anything to do with blogs, and having no idea where this would lead, or even what I would be talking about, the future was a clear as mud. As an author it was pointed out that blogs were important, critical really, so that you the reading audience would know who I am. So with some trepidation I began, and to my surprise over 3 years later am still here, and still writing. Again, like last week next week’s post is open. As most writers will tell you the well of creativity sometime dries up and leaves one scrambling for a subject. While not quite that bad I can say that it is close. I’m presently working on a short story which will be posted in the near future, but it isn’t ready for prime time or completely written, so it is for the future. And I have a few other posts sitting in the wings, but they are not complete as of yet, so it will be a surprise, not only for you, but I guess I can say for me also. Let’s remember that we are approaching the 4th of July, and if you haven’t studied that time in our history, it leaves one to not appreciate what transpired. Remember those sacrifices, and celebrate the freedoms we have. Have a great week and see you here next Saturday.

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Touching Me – Touching You

Not a very original title for sure. Yet, when you think about the title, Touching Me – Touching You, it can have several meanings, and several uses. After attending a funeral (more of a remembrance of his past life) in the near past it led me to thinking about life (as such unwanted events have a tendency to do), as well as the fact that absolutely none of us live alone. Even when we try, somewhere, somehow, and by someone, we touch each other.

No this touching does not have to be the physical kind, although we are physical creatures. Again, within the scientific community it has been shown that physical touch is critical in the development of each and every one of us. And without it we become far less than what we could be if that contact had been there when we were babies. I suspect that if one looked back in the archives of this blog that after the funeral of my father back in 2011 that I had similar thoughts. Yet, what is said here bears repeating, and probably repeating often.

In this modern complicated world it is easy to allow the day-to-day grind to get in the way and push us into the direction of withdrawing within ourselves. Since there is plenty of entertainment available it is easy, after that complicated day of problems, issues, and solutions, to withdraw and not want to talk, or make contact with anyone. And this easily could include your spouse, your pet, and your children and the resulting chaos that is a part of their early lives. After all there is too much of the same at work, why repeat it at home?

Unfortunately time slows down for none of us and we eventually and much too quickly find ourselves on the other end of life, heading towards that final time when we leave this physical world behind, and pass on to whatever may exist. And when it does arrive, it is, at this time that the ones who are left behind begin to search for the reasons as to why, and why at this moment in time? In today’s world this man was young, and while death is a constant companion to any and all of us, it is always sad to see one leave at a time in their life that seemed too early. Yet, among Christians is the hope that there is much awaiting in the future after the physical death, and one isn’t called home until what one has been placed here to do has been accomplished. So we must assume that whatever it was that he had to accomplish is complete. And with a job well done he was called home. And home is a place that all of us yearn.

It is, and many times sadly so, during this time after someone has passed on that the stories from their lives come forth. The ways that this person has influenced them, or not, and who this person truly was is often revealed. You learn of the small and maybe great miracles that they had brought forth because of some small act of kindness that probably was promptly forgotten as they moved on with their lives. You learn of the friendships developed over the years – who was close, and who barely knew them.

And we find out about both sides of the individual, even though the other side is probably downplayed quite a bit. Yet, here, this time, listening to these stories that were told, there appeared to be none of this. This man appeared to be a generous, loving man, who lived life as it was presented. He has a loving – a deeply loving – family that has been left behind. And it’s probably here more than anywhere else that you learn the true character of an individual – how he was at home. It presents that part of one’s life that is usually hidden from public view.

So as this post continues you may be wondering how any of this has anything to do with the title – Touching Me, Touching You. It does, and when you look over what has been stated so far, you begin to realize that everything stated above shows that result clear and plain. Every day we interact directly or indirectly with the people around us. Some we never know or will never know, but does that change the fact that somehow you may be leaving an impression, leaving an influence, pointing this one in a direction that could change their life? Even something as these few words in this blog could have an impact pointing someone in a direction they need to go, but did not know how.

None of us will ever know the impact that we make on those unknown ones who watch us from afar. But many times we are quite aware of the influences that we have within our personal group of friends. Yet, even here, it is not until one passes on that the full strength of those observances, and influences may become known. Known as the stories are told, and the testimonials are given as to how each of these individuals were personally touched and influenced by the one who is gone.

It is here that one begins to realize the vast net that each one of us have cast in our lives, never knowing what the consequences – good or bad – will be. These nets reach far deeper, and a far greater distance than any of us realize. And those influences can reach well beyond us as the ones we’ve touched passes on some small tidbit, some small piece of wisdom, some small thought, that left its influence on them and others. Others who felt it important enough to continue to pass it on. And as that net had entered the vast sea of life and of humanity, the ripples it created, far and wide, sinking deeply into this vast ocean, seemingly to disappear, only to rise again baring the fruits that lies hidden, revealing the truths for all to see. It is then that the realization hits that maybe this one was far greater than first imagined.

And when we look at the family, see the tears, see the attempt to hide their sorrow behind smiles, but the pain is plainly visible in their eyes, we begin to realize who this individual was in life. When we see the desire to have all of what is transpiring in front of them to be no more than a dream and to have just one more day, maybe even an hour or a minute with this individual it becomes so much more. It states volumes in those silent moments of who this person was, more than all those testimonials, more than any of the stories. For it is home, it is family where we are most vulnerable, most wanted, and most needed. And if we have been loving, caring, and giving here, then the rest follows naturally to those outside.

And I have to say that this is what I saw, what I witnessed. A loving man leaving his wife and children behind. A friend to many, a person who touched many, be it a personal friendship, or a business relationship. And probably like most of us will be remembered only by family and friends. Yet through this touching, he has influenced many, and will be remembered by the many. It has been said that we die twice – and for this I cannot attest – the first time is our physical death, and our second is when all who knew and loved us are no more, and there is no one left to remember.

Other than the loss of a loved one, there is always this: We always have our regrets of not saying something, having left something open that should have been taken care of, or so many other small and unimportant things that we never got around to doing. Once one passes it is too late. And as I heard the stories, the influences, it left me wondering, why is it that we wait until after a person is gone? Why do we not let them know while they are alive? I have no answers, but this seems common with all of us. Remember that no day is promised to any of us, and if nothing else funerals bring this reality to us personally, and that reality is this; someday it will be our turn to be the one who has passed on, it is something that none can avoid. So I leave you with a question: How will you be remembered? Will it be as this one, or will it be a lonely gathering where no one cares?

So think about those you touch physically, spiritually, and mentally, and know that every day of your life that you are touching those many around you, known and unknown to you. And when your time comes to leave this world and pass on, which comes much too quick for most of us, may the stories and influences you leave behind be as strong, and as positive, as it was for the one we sent home in the recent past.

In many ways when I write a post like this one I feel that adding this little bit at the end to mention what the post coming up next week might be, it seems jarring, breaking the mood and feeling that comes from what has been stated. So this time I’ll state that next week is open. It’s not that there will be no post, but that presently it is open with 2 or 3 choices. I haven’t narrowed it down to any particular one. Take to heart what is stated above. I can personally attest to the passing of time and the speed it seems to move. It does seem like yesterday and I was part of a growing family – young children, struggling to make ends meet, and facing that daily grind. Yet, here I am now in my mid 60’s wondering how I got here and what happened to yesterday? And if God is willing, I will see you here next week, because as stated earlier; tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.

A Taste of History Past – An Excerpt

I felt that the next book that I would be releasing is the first in the Discovery series, “The Ones Before”. But alas, as I printed it out to work the final edit I found some glaring errors that will need to be corrected before its release in the near future. So I turned my attention to the 6th book that I wrote, and the 3rd in the Survival series, “A Taste of History Past”. It turned out to be well written, a pleasure to edit, and I flowed through the first edit in just over a week. I thought, “Wow, that’s easy.”

This one had been on the shelf for a while. Time for me to be away from the story so it was like picking up a favorite novel that I hadn’t read in a very long time. I feel that it is a great story. (No surprise there, after all I wrote it and I better feel that way or toss it.) So I know that the reality of it is that this will be the next book released. While there has been great progress made in the first two of the Discovery series, it has become obvious that there is still major work ahead of me. I still have hopes of releasing them this year along with the 7th book that I’ve written, which is the 3rd book in this unreleased series. If that seventh book goes as well as book 6, then with the successful release of the first two, the 3rd titled, An Ancient Fire, should follow in a short time. Now to the setup for this excerpt, and again remember there is still at least 2 complete edits ahead of me, so what is written here can change.

This excerpt takes place early in the book where Kal, the protagonist of this story, and his mate Jura are outside where she is teaching him the use of the staff. With what they have planned for the future it is a skill set that he needs, and she is more than willing to teach him.  In the ancient past their society was male and warrior dominated (revealed in the first 2 books of this series), and with the passing of time the society has changed to where the sexes are both respected for who they are and what they can do.

Now with this brief introduction here is the excerpt from the book: A Taste of History Past.

Kal was black and blue from the beating he was taking from Jura as she taught him the use of the staff. And what hurt more was the fact that she seemed to be enjoying it. He had to admit that she was very good with it, and that there was much more to its use as both a defensive weapon, and one that could be used to attack. Every  time that he figured that he had it down and was about to best her, she came up with some other subtle move and he found himself on the ground and many times in an embarrassing pose as she would place the point of the staff on his chest, showing once again that he had been bested. Shaking his head he said, “I never realized that there was so much to this thing. I thought that this was only going to be an after-midday practice and I’d have it down. You know it looked so easy when you started making those moves, and showing me. But you warned me that it was going to take a lot of time to master, and I have to admit that I thought you were very wrong about that, but it’s very obvious that I’m a long way from your skill.” Again shaking his head before continuing, “And you say that your brother and sister are better than you? That’s really hard to believe. So I guess the question is this, how long, oh mighty learned one, will it be that I’m at least capable of using this simple tool?” He, although carefully, bowed towards her, which brought laughter to her lips.

Returning his bow with one of her own, she said, “Oh you’re progressing. I’d place you in the advanced beginners. As I’ve told you, I’ve been doing this most of my life. And once my parents finished their training with us, we, my brothers and sisters and myself, would play games where we would form teams, and as you would expect most of the time these teams were females against males, although there would be a game of chase that we played where all of the rest would chase one of us, and we had to use the staff against the rest. I must admit that those were very intense games, but it forced us, even though we weren’t realizing it, to become much better. Especially when one of us would come up with something new to try, sometimes this something new would work, and sometimes it would fail miserably. And even though we didn’t know it at the time our mother would monitor our progress, and if we really felt like we were good and as she called it, too big for our breeches, she’d come out with that smile of hers and have all of us come at her, and she’d promptly beat all of us. It wasn’t until later that we learned that she had been the champion of her area, and that’s how she and my father met. Both had been the best at this in their respective townships, and he, my father, couldn’t believe that a female could beat him, when there hadn’t been a male that could challenge him that lived anywhere close.

Sighing and with a distant smile she continued, “I’d really would’ve liked to have been there to see that match. Both of them talk about it now and then, and there are smiles on both of their faces as they’d recall it. We’d sit and listen as they would recount the encounter from their side. I’m sure like most stories that it has grown over time, but it still was quite a tale. They were very good at describing their battle, and we all could see it in our minds, and since we’d been using the staffs ourselves we could see the moves and counter-moves that both had made. And after a long time and many matches that ended in draws, she beat him with a move he had never seen before. And even to this day when they talk about it you can see that smile of triumph on her face as she had beaten a male in a battle. Something that our distant ancestors would have thought was quite impossible. But she did it, and after that they developed a strong friendship and now they have been mates for what seems like a life time.” Again she paused, and then laughed, “You know what, it has been a lifetime, and they’re just as much in love with each other now as they were before any of we children were around. My dad really adores her and says that if she hadn’t defeated him in that contest that they may have never become what they are today. So I guess even though this was a long statement to get to this point, don’t feel too bad by being defeated by me, I grew up using this thing, and have had champions training me, besides the competition that one’s siblings add to the mix.”

“Well, I admit that makes me feel a little better, but only a little. I’d seen others work the staff and it looked so easy, so I never considered it something I’d be interested in, but you’ve shown me that it’s far from easy, and that I’ve only begun to understand the very basics, including the choosing of a good staff.”  He smiled inwardly, only because it probably would have hurt to smile outwardly. Still as he looked at his mate he, at times, found it hard to believe that she would have accepted him when he asked if she would become his mate and he hers. After all she was lithe and had a hunter’s flow to her movements, smooth and graceful, and in his eyes a beauty that rivaled any that he had ever seen. And he just a lowly village bound baker who had done nothing spectacular. Not the type that would attract someone like Jura who had lived in the outback, and never really comfortable within the confines of the villages and townships. Someone who could probably have had any single male as a mate, and to his surprise she had chosen him. And with their time together he was learning so much more that this beautiful, complicated, and intelligent female had to offer. And of course, being a male her physical side, and her naked beauty drove him crazy.

As time had passed, and both their love and strength in the relationship grew, he couldn’t see any time in his life where he would not want her around. They just worked well together, and even though he had heard about couples who had been mates for many turns completing each other’s sentences or thinking in the very same way, coming up with the same conclusions at the same time, he had just shoved this off as myth within those special relationships that some have. Yet, he could see that it was beginning to happen inside theirs, and so with personal experience he now believed. Again, as far as he was concerned, it was another one of those signs that said that they were just right for each other. Yet, at times like these where her experience far exceeded his own he could feel his wounded male ego trying to get in the way. After all he was supposed to be better at such things. “Okay, I can accept that, but are you sure that you aren’t just humoring me by saying that I’m probably an advanced beginner? Watching you work that staff makes me feel clumsy, awkward, and completely uncoordinated. Absolutely anything I tried you countered it and countered it in such a way that you made it appear to be of no consequence or no effort at all, almost like you were bored.”

She laughed, and then teased him a little, “Ah has my little male had his ego hurt because his mate, a female no less, can easily beat him?” This got him going for a moment and she laughed again. “See, I know what buttons to push to get your pride showing. Now why not just go run a bath, both of us did a lot of sweating and kicked up a lot of dust while you practiced out here, and then I’ll join you in the tub and really show you how much I care.”

If you had caught last week’s post (Time Travel – Really?) you would have known that my wife and I attended a funeral for one of her cousins who had passed away. As always happens with me, I find myself looking over such an event from a deeper perspective and so next week’s post “Touching Me – Touching You”, will reflect upon my thoughts and feelings that I came away with. We both know that sometime in the near future that we will be facing another one of these events as another relative (who is a walking miracle) is a 4 year survivor of the most aggressive brain cancer (GBM) that there is. Most live only a few months after it is discovered. In rare cases people have survived up to 12 years, but eventually all succumb to the tumor.

Time Travel – Really?

In the recent past I had a dream (and yes we all dream) about this very subject (Time Travel). As any who follow know, Science Fiction is one of the genres that I write, and there is a possibility that this dream could end up as a short story in the near future. As I’ve said in a past post one never knows where the inspiration for a book or short story may come from.

After that dream I remained awake for a while as my mind ran in many directions dealing with space-time. Now I’m no more than a layman and do not claim to know physics, or anything about quantum mechanics or the theories that are put forth as to the beliefs of where and what each represents. So what will be stated here will be comments by a layman – and here for you is a light-hearted thought experiment to think about. It was Einstein that put forth the theory that space was tightly tied with time, thusly the term space-time. One doesn’t exist without the other, and light being the limiting factor as how fast you can move through the universe. Yet, both theorists and the writers of Science Fiction, find ways beyond these limitations. Because of those vast distances that space presents light is too slow if one wants to leave the local neighborhood and travel beyond.

It has been proved that gravity actually deforms space-time, and has influences over it. That is why we rotate around our sun, and our sun around the Milky Way Galaxy. Because of the ability to deform space-time the theories abound in finding ways to use this to our advantage (warp drive as an example), overcoming the limitations that light restricts us to. Yet it becomes more weird when we really look at what light does (What is light really? It happens to be a wave of energy that we can see with our eyes. It is only one of the many that exist.). It is a natural time machine that those who study the universe are well aware of. So unlike H G Wells in his book, The Time Machine, there is a real and natural one that we take for granted, and that is light itself.

When we begin to look at light and the fact that it is both limited, and the limiting factor for the speed that one can travel (even though it has been proven that one cannot travel the speed of light but only up to a certain percentage.), it makes distances that one must travel in space to reach even something within our own milky way galaxy to be unattainable for any of us. We do not live long enough, and thusly why, in certain science fiction stories we hear of sleeper ships, or suspended animation, or other ways to move across the vast distances that is space. Yet, in many fictional stories we deal with time travel, or space travel, and because space and time are one it would seem that we face a paradox.

Time travel – to travel either to the future or the past is one of the many subjects that is discussed, or covered in both the scientific journals and fiction. Yet, if space-time is together we face a dilemma. First off while we feel that we live in the present, do we? Consider this; sunlight that is falling on us at this very moment has spent millions of years in the interior of the sun, and when it emerged it took 18 minutes to reach us. So are we living in the present, or the past – never able to actually catch up to the real present? Okay are you with me so far?

If what has been stated is accurate, then we know that the light from those very distant galaxies is deep in the past, simply because of the time it took for the light coming from those galaxies to reach us. So, from what we understand, when we finally reach the time where we can take advantage of the methods of space travel presented in the modern science fiction novels, will we become instead of space travelers, time travelers? After all, it has been demonstrated that that light is from the past, so any travel away from our home world would project us into the future.

And when we begin down this road of thought, it makes one wonder if space travel is even possible. After all, any movement away from your point of origin makes you a time traveler, and this begins to present so many other paradoxes to you, as that space traveler, well beyond what Einstein proved with the dilatation and compression of time itself. (Of course there are other effects that happens to one as they approach the speed of light, and that is for another post in the future.) If there are ways, through the theories presented, to avoid this aspect, then  we are still traveling either forward or backward in time simply because of the speed of light.

So after our travels, are we returning to our past, our present, or our future? Since where we are at that very moment when we begin our return trip will determine this, and so the answer to these questions would be yes. Yes to all three possibilities, and all at the same time – yes to all of the above. We will have changed our orientation and again because of what light does, what we see, where we travel, and the direction will determine which of the three it will be. Leaving you with another question; and that is this – what will your past really be? Because of your new and present orientation would that mean a different past, a different time-line?

While there have been written many a good fictional story about time travel and the consequences from such, I never considered the fact that we are natural time travelers whether we want to be or not. Light does this for us – makes us be a witness to the past every second of every day. Makes us live in the past, as far as light is concerned, even though we see it as the present. And all light that we see approaching us from space is not new but truthfully quite old, again presenting us with the past, with the future out there for any to see, if they would only travel in that particular direction – making them, and us, well, time travelers.

So I guess I can end this with the same question as the title – Time Travel, Really? Are we, or are we not? It appears that whether it is true or not comes down to your perspective, and that is personal, leaving you the one who must decide for yourself. So, once again, are we time travelers or not? And finally to all of us out here in this real world – Here’s to the future . . . ah . . . past?

And on that final note here’s, well I think we move forward, what I plan to post for next week, next Saturday, and I hope to see you here. It will be an excerpt from book 3 of the Survival series, with book 1, Time of Isolation, book 2, Desperate to Survive, and then this one, book 3, A Taste of History Past or That’s a Fine Myth You’ve Gotten Me Into. As it stands at this very moment in time (Is it the past, or is the present – good question and I really don’t have an answer.) this will be the next book released. This weekend I’m attending a funeral with my wife as we celebrate the life of one of her cousins who died much too young. And we are truly looking to his past, with the children of he and his wife representing the future. God Bless, and have a great week.

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