Paralyzed By Options

I’m in a rut.

Carl Sagan once said that in order to truly make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. The nonfiction book I’m working on now is like that for me. I only have so much space to talk about stuff, but everything is connected to everything else. Any boundaries I to shore up the subject matter seem somewhat false and arbitrary. I can’t really talk about it, as is standard contract policy, but an analogous topic would be writing a book about what sports you could play if you were really good at breathing in air, and possibly even enjoyed it.

Freedom is in my reach. You see, once I finish with this book, I will be entering into a wild and exciting time; a time where I only work on my own stuff until at least a few of them are done. I’m in a position where I can afford myself the luxury of working on my own projects that aren’t on contract, and maybe make something out of them, the projects that gnaw at me and inspire me, but that I can only get to once in a while when I’m between paying jobs. You’d think I’d be pressing harder to get there, but I’m not.

I think it’s because I’m afraid of what I’ll do, or maybe won’t do, when I get there. Which one do I do first? How do I choose between my “babies?” How much time do I give them? Can I use the same “on a deadline” excuse for letting the kids watch some extra TV and writing when I’m not actually on a deadline? I’m afraid that I won’t be able to work that way effectively.  With deadline projects it’s easy to see priority, and I like to hammer something until it’s done, and then move on to the next thing. I’m not a good multi-tasker when it comes to writing. I’m…monographous….or something like that.

Take this blog, for example. I haven’t added an entry in weeks.  You know why?  Because I started one and never got around to finishing it, and then when I had the time, I forgot where I was going with it, but I wouldn’t let myself write another one until I had finished with it, which I haven’t. You don’t realize the immensity of what I am doing at this moment, for me. As a result of that “on hold,” I let several things get by that I had really wanted to write about — the Supreme Court Decision about the Affordable Care Act, the interesting glut of superhero movies over the last few years and what that means, my Kickstarter addiction, and what will happen when I die. Perhaps I’ll still get to them.

Part of what put me over the hump today was that I needed to say something about today’s terrible event at the Aurora theater in Colorado. My thoughts and prayers are with the injured, their families, and those who mourn their lost loved ones. But I recognize a pain that only a comic book nerd like myself could really understand. I could sense it taking in root as Batfans poured out of the theater wearing their costumes that, when they went into the theater, had represented a connection to an icon and on the way out felt like just so much uncomfortable flappy rubber and cloth. People like me love Batman, the ideal that he represents — human perfection, with no superpowers. Indomitable will, courage, and intelligence, and yet boundless anger, rage, and unconquered sadness. It’s easy to connect with Batman because he’s the ultimate “Mary Sue” self projection character.

That’s why I know that it has to be so hard for them to have gone through what they went through while wearing what they were wearing, knowing that in the movies or in the comic books a Batman could have saved everybody and defeated the gunman with ease. He might have even sensed trouble coming and stopped it before it began. But none of us are Batman, and we never will be. Not even those whose loved ones might have been gunned down in front of their eyes in that theater, in a horror eerily reminiscent of Batman’s own origin. They’ll be damaged, scarred, angry, vengeful. But they won’t be leaping across rooftops fighting crime. If that is what this joker claiming to be the Joker wanted, he’s not going to get it. In the comics it’s been argued that Batman’s presence in Gotham perhaps incites the costumed crazies to come out to oppose him. Sadly, it doesn’t work the other way around. The monster does not always give rise to a balancing hero.

Enough on that. I’m rambling, sitting on my couch and waiting for mice to die, to fall prey to my deathtraps so I can set them again before finally going to bed. I’m the mouse equivalent of a super villain in my own right I suppose. Catching rodents WITHOUT wings. A monster.

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Author of over sixty children's books, as well writer of textbook materials and standardized exam text. I may have helped teach your children...

Posted in Movies and TV, On Writing, Semicoherent Rambling

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