The world changes with a single word

Note: Once I thought there was little creativity in revision, or even copy-editing, but here there is creativity, as a brief character thought, pose, action, inflection of speech, might stamp, cement, alter, or transform the significant emotion transposed to the Reader, and how is this not creativity, when we writers adjust the emotional response to another in some future reading state?

Every word has the potential to change a life.

The world changes by what one person does or doesn’t read.

If my mother gets Alzheimer’s

Then she will forget how well she raised her three sons.

If my mother gets Alzheimer’s

Then she will forget how well the café outside the tourist sites in Xian treated those three sons. (Consider the one-child policy in China.)

If my mother gets Alzheimer’s

Then she will forget the sacrifices she made, when she stopped teaching to raise the boys, when she did all their laundry and read to them every night, when she stayed with the youngest while Dad went to Iraq. (He wasn’t there for the war, but at one point ISIS troops were only 40 kilometers from Erbil.)

If my mother gets Alzheimer’s

Then she will forget the names of her grandchildren. (They are yet to be born, but my brothers and I intend to have children.)

If my mother gets Alzheimer’s

Then she will be like so many others who eventually took a path to dementia.

We are, the totality of us, forgetful of everything which we do not remember. And not all by choice. When I look at life in four dimensions, we seem to have forgotten how we will go out. That is, how we will die. We are embodied in this human structure, and there it is. Death outside of life. Death out of life.

It will be tragic, and I’m fairly certain I won’t be prepared. Writing this or even a novel about memory (which I’ve done) won’t. I do not want to pretend I have wisdom I have not yet earned.

But maybe in this preparation the tragic will not take me and my family down. And strength and a forging onward will result.

Or, if I am the one who gets Alzheimer’s (after all, this is genetic, and my grandmother was taken before I had a chance to know her), then with luck my own family will approach this end with resilience.

Authors exploring new territory or staying within the same lane?

One of the reasons I think I admire authors like China Miéville, who demonstrate a desire and ability to play in various genres, is that they seem to be creative in a deeper sense than an author who stays in an established lane.

Who are other authors you’ve followed because of their intentional motivation to explore new territory? (Often foregoing book deals in the process.)

To me fantasy can (and should) continue to explore new territory and continue to show how it is indeed Art in the sense that it is exploration.

Now, I may have conflated what an author can do and what a genre can do, although of course what happens in a book and between authors and readers is always an ongoing conversation.

This would get us into another line of discussion, perhaps, around what we as Readers look for. Are we content within an orderly space where certain conventions work or are we willing to peek outside the garden walls from time to time? Where does a balance of order and chaos enter into our field of vision and desire as Readers?

I also asked this question on

Business is a sprint, not a marathon

If business is a marathon, not a sprint, and I can complete a marathon in about 4 or 5 hours, then business sounds pretty simple.

Is there a flaw in this metaphor? This over-used aphorism. Try search-engining ‘business is marathon, not a sprint’ and see how many hits you get.

In reading The Fantasy of Discipline I was reminded of Robin Hanson’s discussion about the free medicine most people ignore almost every day: exercise. (There is an incentive problem.)

I was lucky. My mother instilled exercise into me like Gary Vaynerchuk’s mother instilled self-esteem.

She tricked me. My after school hours (and sometimes my before school hours) were spent in training.

For me, though, it was mostly fun. I was playing sports!

Games where I learned toughness and grit, winning and losing. How to collaborate, how to compete.

I say Amen when someone like Will Smith says he will die before a complete stranger goes longer on the treadmill than him. I say Amen when Richard Branson provides a three-word response to his success: “I work out.”

Collectively we have a fantasy of discipline. It would be nice if I could write a novel, run a marathon, bootstrap a business and actually contribute real economic value to society.

One of my mentors-from-afar, Andrew Warner, once ran a marathon around San Francisco. By himself.

Marathons can be run in a few hours.

We don’t need to run marathons. We need to run many of them. And do much harder things than simply run. But daily exercise is a start.

When I audited what I do, I discovered this. Exercise and writing are the only two things (apart from eating and sleeping) I do every day.

If you think it is hard to exercise daily, you’re right. Living a good life is. Would you want it any other way, though?

Allons Travailler!