To Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth and Touch the Face of Man

I wrote a book. You won’t hear more about it here because that’s not what here is for. Here is for this, this story telling, this shared moment when, hopefully, you read a thing I’ve written and we share that sondering moment where we both realize, for the first time or the thousandth, that every other life brims with time, experience, and meaning.

So, I wrote a book. The story lived in my head for nine years. I could have pushed it to a clean decade. A decade. A real anniversary for something to powerful, so intoxicating, so frustrating, to live in your head. If pressed, with a whiskey in hand, I would probably say it stretched back farther. Yes, there it is at 11 years. There again, buried in the arcane soil yet to be uncovered but there, at 13 years. That’s a good number, isn’t it? It’s probably older. We can’t know the genesis of things like these. You may pinpoint the epiphanic moment when you realized that you could write a book or that that character would make a good story better. I don’t know. Maybe you know exactly where, when, and how it happened. I don’t. As I read the lines I don’t always remember writing, lines I put away for days and weeks and sometimes months between work sessions, I see things that I didn’t know snuck their way in. I see hitchhikers. I see viruses. I see ideas unremembered for 18 years. I see memories I would have sworn were my own vibrant original content. Oh, no, that’s a converted memory from middle school. There’s something I remembered cooking up during college. Here’s something, no I swear to you that’s brand new and I made it up right here in this moment I remember so clearly, but no, wait, it’s a version, made writ, of a familiar where and when. I know that smell. I know that feeling. Dammit. There it is. Something new.

It has a momentum all its own, writing. You start small. Each scribbled words feels like a ludicrous spy sneaking into a foreign country where they know no norms, look unlike everyone else, sound so foreign that they barely recognize themselves, and yet still somehow belong. The words amass. They grow. They take on lives of their own, lives that often end in mutation and death. Whole chapters wobble through nascent orbits. Asteroid belts, accumulated from the failed accretions of early ideas, bombard the passing celestial bodies as they stabilize in their paths around the system’s star, perhaps stars, maybe even a starving black hole. You watch the chaos swirl into something that passes for a stable system and you wonder at the inherent mechanics of it all. Was that so hard? I struggled for years with my plot and yet there it is, grown in situ from the fabric of space with nary a stitch in sight. Failed characters linger out in the colder reaches of the system. They wait for a rebalancing as a chance to begin anew. On the surface of the home world are a pitiful handful of the intricate meanings I carried in my notebooks. So many remain unused while a civilization blossoms from the meager seeds. I watch the work develop without me. I’m a piece, an engine, fuel, a part but not the whole. Consequences are natural now. The laws of physics and the laws of grammar swirl together. I wrote a book.

Now I’m empty. Just for a little while, but it’s true. If you tell the story poorly, it stays with you because it refuses to be represented like that. No, it says. That’s not my face. That’s not my character. You missed the point of me. But if you tell it well enough, it leaves you. There it is, spinning about all its moving parts and pieces. It may not be good but it is good enough to leave. There is more story. There is the next story. That may be sequel, prequel, or on the dark side of a distant genre. You may interweave teasing references that make the more insightful readers ponder the connections of all things. You may be done. Enough is enough. But, there is more. I sit back and I’m happy because I made this thing well enough for it to stand alone. It won’t have to for long. More stories are coming. This is the single, lonely launch of bolder ventures. I don’t care if you like it because I like it. You liking it is just a bonus. I hope you like it.

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