April 6, 2018: Depression, dying gods, projects in the air
March was a bad month for the writing. Many things happened, not the least of which was Cambridge Analytica and that political social media fiasco – we’re still seeing ripple effects of the weaponization of Facebook and Twitter.
But I think the worst that happened to me was being stuck in a curious state of limbo, waiting for things. I was waiting on the comic short that I wrote in January. I was waiting on a response from the Gods of Clay anthology for the story I wrote about a dying god that creates a fractal universe. I was waiting for the publisher to read and respond to my pitch for a nonfiction book on big data, something they’d asked me for when we met in February. I was waiting for progress on the 2054 anthology. I was waitingfor particles of inspiration to hit so I could begin working on the second Commonwealth Empires manuscript.
Too much waiting is bad for you. I hit a state of mental fog that had me waking up at 4 AM in the morning utterly and thoroughly depressed. It took me four hours to muster up the energy to crawl out of bed. I began, as I usually do, to tire of conversation with my friends – I even began to tire of alcohol.
The mental fog became pretty bad after awhile. I have plans as an author – series to write, ideas on the burner, random strands and todos floating around. I generally derive a sort of pleasure from the spadework, like keeping this site updated. Instead the world turned into a wall of to do lists, most of which I was failing at. Income? Nyet. Marketing? Nyet. Learning Facebook, Amazon ads? Nyet,
Thankfully some of these threads have cleared up. Both the comic short and 2054 are well on their way: people have been busy, that’s all. The Gods of Clay story was rejected. That’s fine: I took it back and realized that there’s both poetry and a lot more to explore in it. I mean, come on.
This thing is as experimental as heck: I can see why it wouldn’t work with other stories. It’s a science fiction story about God – a god who spans the entire universe, so vast that stars are neurons and black holes are computation nodes. It plays on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955)’s Omega Point hypothesis – that humanity is evolving towards a unified Godhood, not away, and that God lies in our future, and not in the past. An idea I first came across in Dan Simmon’s Hyperion.
3000 words is not enough to explore a concept like this properly. I don’t know anyone who could do it in 3000. Well, maybe Ken Liu, Ted Chiang or Terry Pratchett (have you seen Small Gods?). It’s not enough for me. So I’m going to turn this into a novelette, like I did with the Slow Sad Suicide.
Speaking of Pratchett: as always, when I feel down, I reached for a Pratchett book. I went through the Science of Discworld books like a knife through butter (the melty kind). Then I read Discworld 1-5. Then I started reading about Pratchett again, re-reading the great man’s last interviews.
I felt immensely sad.
Lots of people lumped the man as yet another fantasy writer and completely missed out on the great wealth of humanity in his books – people like his critics and people who run literary awards. The people who look for the great questions of humanity in the lit-fic shelves would have perhaps found better questions – and answers – as Death abandons his duties and Granny Weatherwax changes gender roles and manipulates people for the good and Sam Vimes turns into a dark alley, remembering the days when his soles were so thin he could feel the streets beneath them.
I miss Sir Terry, even though I never knew the man. He was the Dickens of my time: powerful, truthful, with pain and humor mixed into one. The world will never see his like again. I’m going to write him into the Commonwealth Empires; an alternate history version of him where he stuck to his job as a journalist and became one of the most decorated reporters in the Empires. Because a man is not dead as long as his name is still spoken.