Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger: S. J. Willing!

Scooping Gems from the Litterbox of Life

Life sucks better than a vacuum cleaner; the cat’s just hairballed on the freshly changed bed and the super-clumping litter decided to super-clump five minutes after kitty decided to dig it all out of the box onto your thirty-dollars-per-square-foot inch-deep pile carpet. Not to mention that your latest masterpiece of prose now lies broken, and rejected, in a full-sized manila envelope carefully sealed and ignored by all the industry professionals who can’t see the light under your bushel, mainly because no one’s found the candle wick yet…

Do we despair?

Do we give up life, strip naked, swim into the sea, threaten to shoot ourselves or look for the mystical Isle of Eroticus where handsome naked men and/or women will see to our every desire and need. (Well, maybe I’ll go for that last one…)

No, we don’t.

And why not?


*Mutters about dang hard philosophical questions before the morning coffee. Then pulls out the S.J. Willing’s Guide to Philosophy 10001.5.*

Okay, let’s talk this one out.

Life, aside from the Isle of Eroticus, is indeed full of Black Hole sucky moments. But isn’t that the beauty of it? I mean, not so much in the abysmal moment of being sucky, but in the wonderful ways that we learn how to deal with it. I am frequently amazed, when I research things for my writing, at how other people cope with the traumatic moments of their lives. There I am, whining and moaning about a splinter in my butt, where teenagers and adults who are paralyzed from the waist down enter into the special Olympics and do things I can’t even attempt.

Well, in my defense it was a rather large splinter, had to be at least an inch. Honest.

So it’s these marvelous moments regarding the successes of others that have inspired me to write. It’s knowing that people, my hero and heroine, would laugh at a splinter even if it was a foot long. “Ha! ‘Tis but a flesh wound!” And take whatever tragedy or hardship I threw at them, and make it right.

More so, perhaps, than even I can imagine since my stories are based on faraway worlds and in conditions where life and death hang constantly in the balance—here a skin of metal a few inches thick lies between the warmth of life and the cold sucky vacuum of space. Nope, using too long a nail to hang a picture on the wall there could easily result in the complete evacuation of oxygen from your living quarters. Yep, seems like space is kinda sucky too.

My worlds, though, are built by men and women who are willing to risk their lives to save their friends and colleagues. Those who live around worlds so hot they are simply balls of molten stone or colonies built deep into the bedrock to protect them against the blizzards and storms of a frozen landscape. Features that we’d consider luxuries, like central heating and air conditioning, are tools of survival for these lads and lasses.

What can you do when your travel craft is crippled and dying in the middle of a mountain range, and the temperature outside is minus a hundred and falling? I don’t know, but somewhere from in the depths of their souls my characters, like the people I’ve admired and studied, find the strength to fight on. And in forging their destiny they bring relief and aid to those who depend on them.

Yet, not all my characters problems have to be of a grand scale, which human, man or woman, could handle a whole life of world threatening problems? Sometimes the challenges are small, personal and as vital to their existence as the very air they breathe (or don’t breathe).

Fighting a broken heart in an isolated space station at the far rim of the galaxy is no different to fighting a broken heart at a lonely table at Starbucks on Main Street. Pain hurts, whether physical or emotional, and powerful science or advanced technology doesn’t make the hurt less. Yet my characters have to take this on head first, usually while fighting for everyone’s lives. They have to squarely face the betrayal by loved ones, the treachery of companions and the heart breaking loss caused by death of family and friends.

Gathering courage through tears they fight alongside each other, managing to rebuild trust, and learning to have faith in themselves in spite of previous bad decisions or choices. Decisions and choices all of us have made at some time in our lives.

Isn’t this, though, the lesson we can all learn. Yes, there are times to sit back and lick the wounds, misery loves company but seldom finds it. But there also comes a time where we have to combat our wretchedness and beyond that moment the Isle of Eroticus beckons and the cold, harsh realities of space can be overcome and defeated.

So, hey, maybe that pile of super-clumped litter on the carpet isn’t super-clumped at all. Maybe… Just maybe, like the heroes we read about in real life and fiction, we too can find ourselves kneeling down at our darkest moments and find out we’re scooping gems from the litter box of life.

Except for space colonies, of course, living in space will always have the sucky side beyond the dining room wall. J

What about you folks? Have you ever, or do you know of someone, who has scooped a gem from the litter box of life? Let me know and I’ll send you/them a PIACT pack. A small promo gift set, a tiny treasure to mark my respects for those who can be strong in a strange, forever changing, world.


Oh, and if you wanna see or hear more about me here’s my favorite haunts on the web, feel free to poke amongst the scattered literary bones.

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Judy Thomas said...

I enjoyed your interview and learning a bit more about you. I liked the analogy of "scooping gems from the litter box of life." It reminded me of the old story about the little boy who, when confronted with a large pile of s**t, started digging eagerly... knowing with that much s**t, there just HAD to be a pony somewhere. Our job as writers is to find the pony, or the gem!

Brandy said...

Your litterbox idea cracked me up, but in a good way. Thanks for the post!