Thursday, June 11, 2009

Arrival II: One year on















You know what the best part about making my first professional-rate literary publication is? It’s the fact that suddenly people want to talk about my work.

I can not adequately express just how much of a solitary exercise writing normally is. Not just the actual time spent in front of a keyboard in an internal world of thoughts and letters, but the fact that the details of putting words down in ink is one of the most uninteresting topics in the world for other people to listen to. We’re talking eyes-glazed-over type boring.

But now here I am living in downtown Portland at last. I’ve got my first pro science-fiction publishing credit, I’m on the verge of going back to school to finally complete my history BA, and suddenly people seem to like hearing about my writing. After three hard years, life appears to be coming back together all at once.

I have no illusions that all this can not be torn apart by a capricious world or through recklessness on my part. Yet for the first time in a long while potential seems to be jelling together into a concrete, realized reality.

Just over a year ago, back in Reno during the clustered swarms of earthquakes and with a sense of profound change in the air, I wrote about omens in my life and the feeling that I was hooking into a current of potential that was drawing me north. I feel the same way now, as though I am still riding that same channel of probability towards something significant.

Obviously much has changed with the world since I wrote "The Earth Also Moves...". We have a new president whose competency so far has been the antitheses of the old one. Our economy has taken a massive hit, and California is poised on the brink of the financial apocalypse that it has been marching towards for almost thirty years, but we have been extraordinarily fortunate in many ways as well. We avoided a complete financial meltdown during the closing months of last year, and the Truckee Meadows earthquake cluster seems to have played out. All that destructive energy apparently drained away in small shivers rather than in the monster trembler that Reno was overdue for. I had survived a staph infection earlier, and in December I would end up walking away with neither a scratch nor a bruise from a vehicle collision involving my little Hyundai and a Chevy Silverado that outweighed my poor doomed car by at least twice over.

And the good omens of specificity have continued on for me. My favorite of these was running into my first Suicide Girl on a Max train two days after I found out that I placed in the Writers of the Future contest. I was seated and wondering if my win was the start of something larger; if I could actually go on to make further sales, when I noticed a woman with a fantastic set of typeface tattoos covering her right arm two seats in front of me. And then I recognized the woman herself. That was seriously cool, a kind of flesh-and-blood, ink-and-skin oracle of the printed word manifesting her self from out of the medium's æther for my benefit. And prior to learning about placing second out of nearly a thousand contestants, there were all kinds of small, nice signs whenever I began to doubt that that anything would come of my entry.

The win itself was a wonderful portent, as for the first time in fifteen years I had started to grow tired of writing. Up until this year I had written--to steal a phrase from William Gibson--like other people watch TV. It was something I just did every single day. I loved it for its own sake, but the sinking feeling that nothing was ever going to come from it was starting to drain my enthusiasm.

The odd thing about all of this is that I am a positivist, or at least I used to be a strict one. I still believe that empirical observation is the root of all success and the prerequisite of sound thought, but there are times when I feel I am tapping into a parallel bandwidth, or that my intuition is somehow skimming through the massive physical complexity of the world in a way not possible for purely rational thought.

Sometimes I believe in karma as well. I do not know if it is just a psychological and social feedback system, or if there is anything divine or supernatural about it, but it does seem to work--sometimes amazingly well.

I feel like I am where I am meant to be, and that I am again starting to do the things that I was put here on earth to do in a way that I have not felt since my time in the Army. It’s a really blessed sensation to have.

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