Tag Archives: fiction

Things To Do

Geez, I have a lot of things on my non-work-related to-do list:

# Finish writing the two blog drafts currently waiting in the queue
# Write up the handful of new entries that are sitting in my head
# Update my “other blog”:http://stitzelj.wordpress.com
# Read issues 9 and 10 of _Apex Digest_ (yes, I’m a bit behind on things)
# Read issue 5 of _IGMS_
# Read _Damned Nation_
# Read _Goodbye, Darwin_ (courtesy of “Cavan Terrill”:http://blurredline.blogspot.com/) and write up a little review
# Write a story for a flash challenge at “Liberty Hall”:http://libertyhallwriters.org to get back into the swing of things
# Work on my fantasy short story and finish it up

And that’s just the short list. Of course, I’ll be going back to work for a half day on Monday to see how I do and will be slowly working regular daily activities and physical therapy into my routine, as well. Not to mention copious amounts of sleep, since I’m sure all this ‘new’ activity will wear me right out for awhile until I get back up to regular strength again. Looks like the ‘busy’ just found its way back into my life again. Should be fun.

Back to Writing – Maybe

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written any fiction, but lately I’ve been feeling the itch to write again, especially now that we’ve started to get some of my medical issues sorted out. Between a sleep disorder, thyroid condition, and back problems, I just really haven’t felt up to doing much in the creative realm until just in the last week or two.

I’d like to get involved over at “Liberty Hall”:http://libertyhallwriters.org again, so that will probably be how I get myself warmed back up to writing again. I also have a story from a past LH flash challenge that I’d started fleshing out but never finished. So, I may try to finish that story and then see if I can get someone to buy it. I’d still like to get something I’ve written into “IGMS”:http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com and “Apex Digest”:http://apexdigest.com, so I’ve got goals.

A lot rides on how long I can sit at my desk to write, since I’m still recuperating from back surgery, but I’m hoping that as I heal I’ll be able to get back into some sort of writing rhythm. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see how things work out.

A Less Charming Harry Potter

Brandon Sanderson has read the final Harry Potter installment. He had, in part, this to say about it:

bq. Initial thoughts: I liked it, as I’ve liked all of the other HP books. However, it lacked the charm of the books that occurred inside of Hogwarts. (Source: “Brandon Sanderson”:http://www.brandonsanderson.com/blog.php?date=1187247600)

That, for me, was probably the main thing about the last book that I disliked about it. I missed the uniqueness of Hogwarts and the interactions with the students and the teachers. It made sense that something near the end would have to take place away from the school, since Harry had to explore his roots in order to understand better how to defeat Voldemort. It just would have been nice to spend a little more time at the school. I didn’t really expect much of the story to take place there, though, since the conclusion to Book 6 made it pretty clear that Harry didn’t intend to go back for his last year.

I’d still love to see some sequels to the series to fill in the years between Voldemort’s demise and the epilogue. Whether Rowling decides to break her word and actually write such books, however, remains to be seen.

Ficlets

I’ve started playing a bit with “Ficlets”:http://ficlets.com/, since I can’t do much else right now. It’s actually kind of nice to be restricted to 1024 characters or less and fun to see if, and how, anyone builds on it. My first Ficlet is an elaboration on a “snippet”:http://shamuswrites.com/2007/05/09/dead-gods/ I posted a while back. My first Ficlet is called “Dead Gods”:http://ficlets.com/stories/4984. If you want to take a stab at elaborating on it, go for it. I can’t wait to see what someone does with it.

Emberverse

I just finished reading The Protector’s War by S.M. Stirling. It’s the sequel to Dies the Fire, where the entire world’s technology is rendered useless, along with all explosives. As a result the world is tumbled into chaos as governments fall, leaving a handful to rise out of the ashes of civilization to build new tribes to fight for survival.

It’s a very interesting concept, that some sort of extraterrestrial technology – for reasons of their own – would take away the technology of our world, leaving humans to fall back to the days of bows and swords where living every day is a struggle for survival. I stumbled upon _Dies the Fire_ a couple of years ago and was pleasantly surprised it discover its sequel not too long after that. And then today, just a handful of pages from the end of _The Protector’s War_, I discover again that there yet another sequel, A Meeting at Corvallis. For some reason, I was under the impression that this was a two-book series, but I’m both pleasantly surprised and annoyed to find that this is not so. I’m pleased to be able to follow some of my favorite characters yet a little further but annoyed by the fact that I thought resolution was at hand.

And purusing Amazon.com a bit further, I see that there is yet another upcoming novel called _The Sunrise Lands_, set in the same universe but starting a new series, where survivors of the Change (the thing that caused the loss of technology) send out a mission to try to determine the cause and find Those responsible for it. This is a fascinating series, and while some folks may find it a bit dry and slow at times, I think anyone who likes both fantasy and alternative history will enjoy this series a great deal.

Endless Hour

Before I forget again and the deadline passes by _completely_, Jason Evans is running another of his really short fiction contests over on his blog. This one is called “The Endless Hour”:http://clarityofnight.blogspot.com/2007/04/endless-hour-short-fiction-contest.html and follows the same rules as all his others – 250 words based on the picture he’s provided. Deadline is this Wednesday by midnight, I believe, so run over there and write something for him. Looks like his participation numbers are down this time around, so add yours to the list of contributors. I don’t think I’m going to get anything written for this one – I’ve had much time for writing lately. Jason runs a fun little contest, though, so make sure you check it out.

Ravings

“The trees are beginning to awaken from their winter-long slumber. The sap is flowing again, and the air is fresh and new. At long last the eternal winter has broken. We can have hope again and cast off this weight which has so long settled onto us. Man can once again live as he was meant to. The earth lives again and hope springs true once more.”

_~the ravings of Quibble, a madman, with regard to the Dalara Wilderness, in which nothing will grow_ ((It’s amazing the sort of places I find inspiration for writing, even such snippets as this. Walking across campus yesterday I saw a pine tree that someone had recently ripped a branch from, and the sap was pooling in the wound. From that, came this.))

Teaser

How’s _this_ for a teaser?

It’s the biggest royal ball of the year. Dozens of beautiful couples dance around the floor. The men are all dashing and handsome. The women are all stunningly gorgeous.

Then a woman whose beauty is so radiant that she makes all of the other women in the palace look dull and ugly by comparison descends the grand staircase, bringing the ball to complete halt. The men all want her. The women all hate her.

And the one man who won’t treat her like something to be owned is the only one who doesn’t even notice her.

I think it’s going to be a work of fantasy. Surely there is some sort of magic at work here…

Endless Cycles

_Note: This story features some strong language and involves a sensitive topic that may prove uncomfortable for some. Please do not continue reading if you think you may be offended at the subject matter._

He just stood there, in the shower, letting the water pour over his head. He was so furious that he could hardly even see straight. Fists clenched tightly at his sides, teeth gritted together so hard they hurt. He was barely even aware of where he was, except that it was quiet in here, peaceful. Not that it mattered. The damage was already done.

It was always this way. Go days at a time doing the right thing. Then, a flash of temptation, a moment of weakness. A quick stroke, an euphoric release, and the deed is done. A brief moment of ecstasy and then – nothing. Just an empty hole inside his chest, a hollow- no, a numbness where his heart is supposed to be. For something that feels so good and is proclaimed by so many as the measurement of true happiness, it sure doesn’t bring much in the way of satisfaction.

The water poured over his bowed head, running into his eyes, stinging them. He was so angry with himself. He knew he shouldn’t be so weak, so undisciplined. It was the same sort of thing that he railed against other guys for doing. He hated it when men treated women like sex objects, like possessions to be used, abused, and then tossed away like so much garbage. It was disgusting and repulsive when he caught guys leering at girls as they walked down the street.

And here he was, essentially doing the same thing. He’d see a pretty girl and follow her with his eyes, checking out the shapliest parts of her body, imagining what he would be doing to her if he had her alone for a while. Then he’d see another guy doing the exact same thing with that twisted, almost psychotic, look in his eye, and he’d know exactly what that other guy was thinking because he was thinking it himself. He’d see that, and he’d be ashamed of himself for succumbing to the temptation to ogle. So, instead, he would go home, find something to look at in the privacy of his own home, and get himself off that way. Simply recognizing the problem wasn’t enough to purge it from his system. His body demanded satisfaction, and he was helpless to deny it that release. Still a problem, and probably a bigger one than staring at the girl on the street, but at least the pictures and movies weren’t _real_ girls. Or, it didn’t feel like they were. That was how he justified it to himself every time.

It was a habit, and a bad one, at that. Truthfully, it was more along the lines of an addiction. His mind certainly needed it, was hooked on it. His body _definitely_ told him when it had gone too long without that pleasant release. And it’s not like ignoring it indefinitely was an option. He’d tried that approach before and managed to go several weeks without giving in. Inevitably, though, he would cave and the resultant binge would be utterly contemptible. Not that allowing himself to buckle under pressure at more regular intervals was any better. It was, in actuality, worse since it was at those times where he was making no effort whatsoever at improvement. What was so aggravating was that he didn’t know how to break free of this endless cycle.

What he _did_ know was that he wanted to fuck something. That thought made him grimace. He _hated_ that word – loathed it, despised it. It was a crude and crass and completely disrespectful term. Yet, it was the most appropriate one for the way he felt. ‘Having sex’ and ‘making love’ both implied that he would keep _her_ best interests in mind, that he would be looking to satisfy her as much as she satisfied him. Not so, unfortunately. All he usually wanted to do was dominate her, use her to satisfy his own lusts and cravings, and then walk away without a single look back at what such an encounter might leave her feeling. He wanted all the pleasure of the act without any of the consequences, any of the inevitable relational connections that form, however tenuously, from such a rendezvous. So, as much as he hated the word, ‘fucking’ was really the _only_ right one for the situation. Fucking was what animals did, and in these moments he wanted nothing more than to _be_ an animal for a little while.

Of course, he loathed himself all the more for it. He knew he was like this, he knew he was _wrong_ to be like this, he knew he was weak for allowing his own temptations to rule over him like this. What made it worse was that he couldn’t even talk to anyone about it. His parents would be horrified and would likely shun him, his friends would look at him like he was some kind of freak (and he was; he knew it) and push him away, and his church would probably be the worst of them all, ostracisizing him by bringing him before the congregation for ‘church discipline’. They would think they meant well, but he would be treated like an unbeliever, like a leper, like a criminal. None of them would be able to admit that they, too, could fall prey to their own carnal desires, let alone that some of them already had. He couldn’t deal with that kind of anger and arrogance. So, he wouldn’t say anything. He would keep trying to change things on his own. It would continue to be a lonely fight – even God didn’t seem all that close anymore – but he knew of no other way.

The problem is that nothing would change. The inherent weakness would still be there, with nothing to shore it up. So the failure would continue, and he would continue to be miserable, always somewhere less than a man, always with marred integrity. The endless cycle would continue to be endless, and the slow process of destroying himself from the inside out would continue unbroken.

————————————

* 77% of online visitors to adult content sites are male. Their average age is 41 and they have an annual income of $60,000. 46% are married.
_Forrester Research Report, 2001_

* In a Kinsey Institute survey, respondents were asked “Why do you use porn?”
72% said they used porn to masturbate/for physical release.
69% – to sexually arouse themselves and/or others.
54% – out of curiosity.
43% – “because I can fantasize about things I would not necessarily want in real life.”
38% – to distract myself.

* “Most girls who enter the porn industry do one video and quit. The experience is so painful, horrifying, embarrassing, humiliating for them that they never do it again.”
_Luke Ford, quoted by CBS News_

* In December of 2000, the National Coalition to Protect Children and Families surveyed 5 Christian Campuses to see how the next generation of believers was doing with sexual purity:
48% of males admitted to current porn use
68% of males said they intentionally viewed a sexually explicit site at the school

* A 1996 Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event.

* Out of 81 pastors surveyed (74 males 7 female), 98% had been exposed to porn; 43% intentionally accessed a sexually explicit website
_National Coalition survey of pastors. Seattle. April 2000. _

Statistics excerpted from “blazinggrace”:http://www.blazinggrace.org/pornstatistics.htm

This story was easy to write but exceptionally difficult to post publicly. Yet as these statistics can attest, the issue of pornography and sexual purity is a major problem even for Christian men. Very few men that I have met have _never_ been exposed to pornography, and we have all struggled with the daily onslaught of sensual images in our culture. It’s a battle for us to maintain our purity, and a great many Christian men fall into deep sin because of it. Yet, it is a quiet battle that is very private and hidden from most of our churches. It’s an uncomfortable topic, and so it either gets ignored completely or glossed over lightly with general admonitions about sexual purity.

My goal in writing this story is to provide a little bit of a perspective from the mind of a man who struggles with sexual purity and with the loneliness of the daily battle. It’s not an easy one, and we are a long way from tackling the issue as thoroughly and completely as we ought. Take heart, men, that you are not alone in your struggle and that it _is_ possible to gain freedom from this addiction. Seek out counseling and accountability and win back the freedom that we have in Christ and the victory from sin that He guarantees.