UPDATE: Tananarive just won the prestigious British Fantasy Award for her collection GHOST SUMMER. I can’t believe this woman. Yow! And to get that news right after returning home from our best vacation ever…just blows me away. And now I return you to our regularly scheduled post…
Heaven. We just got back from heaven…and brought a little back to share with you.
I just got back from the 2016 Writing Excuses cruise. Exhausted and exhilarated, I crawled into bed last night after a 20-hour day with four hours of sleep, and woke up this morning to perform my usual meditation…and something had changed.
The “Ancient Child”, connecting my child self (usually a little boy at the base of my spine) and my “inner elder” (usually an old man on his death bed at the crown of my head) are tethered to my heart, and once joined, I can just focus on my heartbeat and let the two of them talk. Sometimes I can hear them, sometimes not. But this morning was different.
The little boy had a sister.
The old man had a wife, standing at his side leaning on a walker.
Oh my God. A new and higher level of integration, no slightest question about it.
When Tananarive and I were asked to go on the cruise, I thought it would be a fun time, paying for a terrific vacation with a few hours of teaching. This was a HARD summer, having to move without having planned the resources for it, which was just…awful. But we did it, with the kind help of friends and relatives. Bless you: you know who you are.
But then things were looking up: T is making progress on her novel THE REFORMATORY, which I promise you is going to be one of the best things she’s ever done. My new novel with Larry and Jerry, (temporarily titled THE CTHULHU WAR) has passed muster with our wonderful agent Eleanor Wood, and is turning into a killer SF/action novel. We just got a contract to create a television series (once again, we can’t announce until the studio does, dammit.) and that means our bills are handled for the rest of the year.
And we were planning our REVOLUTIONARY WRITING workshop, to open on October 1st. Yeah, Social Justice Writers, that’s us. A discussion of books that have changed the world, and how you create them. I don’t care where on the political spectrum you are, if you want to share your truth, and are willing to respect and love others whether or not they agree with you…you are my tribe, and I want to help you join the discussion.
The goal? To gather one million awake, aware, adult human beings. The strategy? To gather and support one thousand awake, aware, adult WRITERS. But dear God, when I got to WXC, I saw my tactics. Here, in this group, were 135 people who were already on the path, committed to being more than “mere” entertainers…while understanding that entertainment is CRITICAL to communication. As Robert Heinlein told Jerry Pournelle, “your book has to be as entertaining as a six-pack of beer, because the price point is comparable.”
Here was a group I wanted to serve. We pushed back the opening of the workshop to October 8th to give us a chance to just absorb what people were saying, what they needed, their dreams and hopes and goals.
Because if I could help them, the door was open to the kind of change that needs to be made in the world: simple reality-based writing, representing life and humanity as it is, and not as some special interest group wants it to be. That’s all that is required to make this world a wonderful place.
Tananarive and I got to close out the cruise, giving back-to-back 90 minute lectures (and yes, they were recorded). T’s was on characterization (“who am I?”) and mine on “Sociobiology and World Building” which was actually the history of the universe and where we stand in 13.7 billion years of change (“what is true?”)
Before I gave my talk, I went into the rest room and prayed. “Please,” I said. “Give me the strength and clarity to empty myself into these people. Let me give 100%. Someone in this group needs to hear something I don’t even know I am capable of saying. Let it all flow. This is the moment.”
By the end of that talk, and the attendees gathered around to thank me, I was sobbing. They saw their own potential, their place in the universe, the growth and rise of life and humanity and society. How we got here, and a way forward through honest loving communication.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
That’s all I’ve ever wanted. The “Five Fold Path” which represents a lifetime of study:
1) Love yourself without guilt, blame, or shame…but responsibility
2) Expand your sense of “self” to include and love one other person
3) Expand your sense of self to include all mankind, again without guilt, blame, or shame. We’ve done the best we can, and the only way to do better is to take responsibility…and let it go. Remember that most violence stems from fear, that even anger is just a mask over that primary emotion. And only love and faith can conquer fear.
4) Find your tribe. Grasp that others can disagree with you without being knaves or fools. They may well be asleep…let them sleep. Trust me: we are ALL asleep in one way or another. But also…realize there are snakes. Smiling monsters. Avoid them or be prepared to defend the children and sleepers from them. If YOU are not capable of dealing with them, be sure to include Warriors in your tribe. And honor them for descending into the snakepit, doing what you cannot or will not do. Love them.
5) Succeed. Massively, fully, passionately. Nothing succeeds like success, nothing is as attractive as someone who is in love with life, is happy, healthy, and successful and in a passionate partnership. Yum. People will ask how you do it. And when they do? Hug them and whisper in their ears: “first, love yourself.”
And the cycle begins anew.
There are only two things to write about: “who am I?” and “what is true?” And if you believe you see a truth of reality or humanity that is deeper and stronger than the dream or consensus reality (and remember that one man’s dream is another man’s nightmare!) then weave that truth into your actions, speech and writing, while avoiding dogmatism. Become part of the cultural conversation. That’s all it takes: SPEAK THE TRUTH.
I don’t care where you are on the political spectrum, if you are willing to communicate with honesty and compassion. Truth is truth. If it is true, we need to know it, and there is ultimately nothing to be afraid in it.
All my life, I’ve been playing with these thoughts. “Who am I?” in the matter of being male, or black, or a writer, or an American. “What is true?” in terms of the world, of the path to accomplishment, of how society reached this point, in terms of what art is or should be.
In terms of the way ahead.
I believe in us, as a species, as a country. In writers as the ones who weave all of reality and history together in an eternal braid.
Humans are wonderful creatures…no more wonderful than ants, but no less wonderful than the stars. And each and every one of you has a song to sing. Those who want to sing that song with the intent to actually communicate? Actually touch the hearts of thousands? Millions? YOU ARE MY TRIBE, and I’ve sought you all my life.
As I write this, I just learned that Tananarive won the British Fantasy Award for her collection GHOST SUMMER. THAT’S who my baby is. I am proud to stand at her side as we open the doors of the REVOLUTIONARY WRITING workshop. Please…if you are touched by these words, if you have the magic within you and are just looking for a way to let it out…join us. This is real. This is the time. I believe humanity is at a tipping point.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Take a look at what we’re doing at: WWW.CREATETHENARRATIVE.COM.
I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Bless you all…