The Blog

Making things real

I added a fictional battalion to the United States Marine Corps when I built the world for Rough Passages.

Here’s the thing about military units: they have insignia. That reality gave me a great excuse to look at unit badges and design one for the valiant second-career rollover Marines in Mercury Battalion.

I also built a Table of Organization for the Battalion, named all the companies and planted them all over the United States in proximity to the bases that support them, but that’s trivia for another post.

Here’s my take on Mercury Battalion’s Unit Badge. I swear I posted about this before now, but all I could find was a Facebook post. And those don’t count. So, Here:

Mercury Battalion insignia 4 (1)

For those interested in details:

Mercury Battalion was formed out of the 4th Marine Division in 1944, a few months after the 4th Division was pulled into emergency service after First Night.

Initially tasked only with protection of the civilian population, the 4th Division’s mission objective quickly expanded to include drafting and training hazardous rollover civilians as Marines themselves–in part as as an alternative to mass permanent incarcerations, and in part because the adage “fight fire with fire” had literal and practical application.

Over time Mercury Battalion has become the default post-rollover duty assignment for citizens whose powers are too deadly, too destructive, or too sensitive to be handled by the Department of Public Safety.

And why bother with an origin story I don’t intend to expand? Because being me, I had to come know which Division’s colors and symbols would best suit my creation.

I’m picky that way. I used units in both the 4th and 5th division as my main inspirations. If anyone is wondering.

Feeling Ranty About Writing (Again)

The next person who tells me The Best Way To Write That First Draft is to “just keep writing, don’t edit, don’t worry about changing anything until you’re done all the way to The End” will be figuratively hit over the head with all seven completed novels I successfully wrote while self-editing like a mad fiend.  I will grant two of those novels were hopeless dreck, but I got better. I know  how to finish. I know what the fuck I am doing.

Yah, sure, I sometimes piss and moan about my struggles with this writing gig, but I’m sick and tired of getting chirpy-happy brightsiding advice in reply. Gaps in my happiness are not openings through which to insert boilerplate one-size-fits-all Writing Advice. Do not poke my process. I will bite those fucking fingers off.

<deep breath>

I am not pissing on other ways of doing. I adore reading “How I Did It” stories. I enjoy peering down the roads not taken and trying new tricks and stretching my skills–at my on speed, and in my own oddball way. That’s discovery and exploration.

But slapping the same information into my online space as responsive commentary (or throwing it unasked in my face in person) is like reaching for a tissue and getting sandpaper instead.

Suggestions to “Try X, it works for me/my friend/this famous person” erode my emotional defenses. Those offhand remarks, however kindly intended,  carry implicit messages of disapproval of whatever I’m doing now. They scrape me raw.

When I gripe, I need comfort, not Perky Writing 101. Gnashing my teeth over uncooperative prose indicates desire for commiseration, empathy, and/or demands for productivity. It is NOT an invitation for correction of the many, many, flaws in my writing craft.

I already know the way I write best is not what’s recommended by successful/ commercial/ profitable writers or taught in any workshop. I have been to workshops. I have taken classes.  I’ve tried the tried&true. It. Doen’t. Work. For. Me.

And yet, hard as I march to my own rhythm, the drumbeat never drowns out Common Wisdom.  Why so stubborn?  My brain whispers in this annoying little voice it uses when it’s being a shit. Try it that other way. Do that other thingYes, last time changing up your writing stopped you cold and killed your spirit, but maybe this time it’ll be different. Why do you keep pretending you know better than all the experts and teachers, you egotistical hack?

That annoying whisper is hard enough to silence without unsolicited advice giving it a megaphone and amplifier.

I self-edit constantly, I don’t outline in detail or make character sheets or do ANYthing I’m “supposed” to do, and yet left to myself I can produce a clean, editable novel manuscript in as little as few months…

…or as long as several years. Why such a range? Here’s a confession:  I write only when I can delude myself into thinking that someone else actually-really-truly wants to pick up what I’m laying down and wants it RIGHT NOW.

The right now part is critical. I’ll likely miss every deadline laid down, but having them does motivate me. But I can’t set my own deadlines.  I’m good at deluding myself, but the idea that anyone else (in the larger sense of The General Public, not in the sense of my loyal couple dozen fans…) wants my writing NOW? That’s too big a bouncer for me to swallow.

So. I stop writing when being constantly hounded about process AND when I think nobody else really cares if I ever finish or not. Fragile, frail flower, that’s me. Piss, moan, stomp, stomp. Oh, look. I’m griping again. Life as usual.

 

NO I AM NOT ASKING FOR ADVICE. I am just sulking here in my internet corner, much the same way my cat grumbles to himself when he’s settling into his blanket for a nap.

This isn’t my first rodeo. When I’m bucking and and growling all over the ring to work off my temper, don’t step in there with advice. You’ll get stomped on like a baby chick. If I want advice on how to ride the bronco, I promise I will ask for it. I will even use interrogative phrasing and proper punctuation to make abundantly clear that I am making questions.

Otherwise cheers and hollering and applause from the sidelines is what I actually need. In case anyone was wondering.

And now to bore everyone with pictures…

Have a few glimpses of my Adventure Thursday last week.  It’s an odd collection. Things I deem picture-worthy sometimes don’t make sense to others. There are captions.

Also I didn’t take any pics during dinner or Gumbo Fiction Salon because my hands were shaky & sweaty, plus I was mildly freaking out. Galway Arms has excellent food (I had a delightful cheese & chutney plate and also sampled a scrumptious smoked salmon appetizer) and the readings were phenomenal.

You’ll have to take my word for it.

Why I took Public Transit
A shot of traffic on I-90 from Jefferson Park Transit Center, where I transferred from Metra to CTA. Drive time was 1 hr 12 min in that jam all the way. My stress-free trip: 1:37 incl. a nice walk.
Lincoln Park sign
I arrived early enough to do plenty of exploring.A lovely walk at the end of the road.
Turtle, hiding.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is FREE on Thursdays to Illinois residents. This shy turtle lives at the indoor butterfly exhibit, in a water feature.
Atlas Moth
This Atlas moth is as big across as my two hands. He was snoozing right at ankle level.
Finches!
Finch! I wish we could have birds in our butterfly exhibit at Chicago Botanic Garden.
Moar Finch
Two more finches munching on millet seeds.
IMG_3765
Note to self: go here someday soon. Say, this summer, when it’s warmer. 
IMG_3766
Museum from the outside. Probably more scenic when there’s foliage.
IMG_3767
City nature. “Urbs in Horto” indeed.

 

IMG_3768
This tree is made of optimism. Pretty yellow flowers of hope. 

I hope you enjoyed this vicarious afternoon with me.