Autumn Is Coming

Just got word from Mike Davis that my story "Cul Du-Sac Virus" is going to be included in his Autumn Cthulhu anthology. As an avowed lover of Autumn (there really is no better season) I'm both honored and excited to have one of my stories among the leaves.





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That Weird Blog Entry You Write After Not Sleeping for Days

My family is sick, very sick--my son stricken with his first serious fever/ear infection, my wife suffering from the worst cold I've ever seen. I have been up for three days straight taking care of them both and my thoughts have become strange. 

I was at a family funeral last weekend, the death was both expected and something of a mercy, but still quite sad for all that. All the disparate branches of my clan drove, bussed, and flew to the family farm in southeastern Ohio to see off the matriarch who had held us together.

My brother and I were speaking to a distant great-aunt, a delightful woman we’d never met before who couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful our family was.

She was right, of course, our family is wonderful.

We remarked on how lucky we are in that particular regard, to which she countered: “You’re not lucky, you’re blessed!”

Not wanting to provoke bad feelings, we agreed, but the intentionality implied in her statement really got me thinking. I consider myself a self-interested deist--I sincerely hope there is something divine behind the curtain of our reality, be it a “God” in the religious sense, or just some flavor of universal zeitgeist collecting the unspooled thoughts and dreams of those of us who have shuffled off this mortal coil.

But, in both cases, I don’t think there is any sort of personality behind happenstance. Good things happen to bad people (take the current U.S. President, for example), bad things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people, but, most of the time, normal things happen to normal people. It’s just how the world works, I suppose.

Which leaves me with the understanding that, should there be some manner of unmoving mover behind the skein of our existence, it either: 1) Doesn’t intervene (either on principle or due to some inscrutable goal); 2) Doesn’t care; 3) Doesn’t understand, or; 4) Doesn’t really notice us at all.

Before I rumble off on some Ligottian tangent, I’m not really preaching nihilism, just a flavor of neglect. Still, humans have always been good at finding patterns (recognizing them, not to mention how they shift and interact is the basis of intelligence, after all), so it makes sense that, in the absence of information to the contrary, we can construct just about anything we wish.

And yet, I still worry about what will happen to me after I die. It’s a purely egotistical endeavor, but one I spend quite a bit of mental bandwidth grappling with.

The rest I spend on writing.

By now, I’ve pretty much accepted I have no control over anything apart from the production side of the authorial process. I write, I send stories out, most are rejected, some make it through the gauntlet. I am lucky in that regard, luckier than most, in fact. I DO work hard at writing, but there's also the fact I'm a cis white dude, so the road to publication is a bit easier. 

So, I write stories, I (occasionally) sell them, but I've got NO say in when they are actually comitted to paper (or pixels as the case may be).  

And yet, amidst the crawling chaos of publication schedules there is occasionally the glimmer of kismet, stars aligning as if guided by the brush of some divine hand.

I wrote: “All of Us Told, All of it Real” in mid-2016 as a sort of companion piece to “How Lovely is the Silence of Growing Things.” Both stories inexpertly grapple with death and frangibility of memory, specifically the memory of those who pass on and how it is constantly reconstructed and recapitulated by those who remain.

I wrote: “All that Moves Us” sometime in 2017 for Turn to Ashes: Volume II, a local Columbus anthology whose previous iteration I’d very much enjoyed. I was thinking about emotions and desires, and how they very frequently seem disconnected from intentionality. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been made to feel sad, or angry, or happy, or any of a dozen other rootless sentiments. Emotions shape how we perceive and interact with the world, and yet (as with luck), so much of it seems driven by chance.

Here, I veer once again into Ligottian pessimism. I can make myself write, but I can’t make myself want to write.

Luck. Emotions. Desire. Self-similarity across scale--like a Mandelbrot set, or a Koch Curve, or fern fronds--infinite regression to a non-existent mean. The finer measure we use, the longer the coast becomes. Maybe there’s intentionality in the design, maybe it’s all happenstance.

All I can say is that I wrote two stories, years apart, both set in southern Ohio/northern Kentucky, both about similar subjects. I sent one of them to dozens of markets, had the other picked up by the anthology I wrote it for, then, on a whim I decided to send it out for reprints. Both stories came out this May, both in podcasts, both with performed by consummate readers--one at the NoSleep Podcast and one at Strange Horizons.

Maybe it’s luck. Maybe I’m blessed.

Either way, I’m grateful.

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