Life is a Cruel Mistress – On Fairness

I was driving home yesterday, and I couldn’t get these images out of my head. You see, I read yesterday about this new drug in Russia, Krokodil – it’s literally a poison, one that eats away the flesh from the bone of its…for lack of a better word, “user” (victim seems like the better choice here). I’m not going to link to it, but you can find information about it on your own. I’m not going to be responsible for people going through what I went through when I saw the effects that it has on the user’s body. Those images still aren’t out of my head, by the way. But a combination of that, thinking about how addiction and the need to numb out emotional pain, and the thought of animals that are suffering in the world right now, led me back to the conclusion of the cruelty of life.

I’m not a stranger to the concept. Much of my early life was about that cruelty, though I maintained a sense of naive wonder even through it all. It informs my writing as well, infusing it with a streak of cynicism that I battle back on a regular basis. But there’s also beauty in life – good things, things that make us happy. The things to which healthy people cling, as they should.

But this relates in a broader context to my monologue yesterday on blue-collar jobs versus white-collar jobs versus creative jobs. In the face of the wanton, pointless cruelty that life can heap upon us, from something as minor as the everyday irritations we face all the way up to losing loved ones, limbs, jobs, housing – is it really so difficult to begrudge a living to someone who brings a little joy to our lives? Who examines the pain that we suffer and tries to make it relatable?

That begrudging seems to speak to a pettiness in the person, an inability to see the bigger picture. Sure, it’s entertainment, but I also think entertainment is not the overarching evil that some seem to perceive it to be. Yes, entertainment can be used as a drug to distract, to relentlessly avoid the realities of life and work to make them better – but that’s using it as a drug rather than a temporary escape from the pains of life.

Such a fine line, isn’t it? Where does one cross over from simple, fun escapism to a relentless drive to avoid the realities of life? It’s the crux of addiction and it’s the real question that needs to be examined, not whether someone who provides that temporary relief deserves a living based off of their labors. It’s not a question that I can answer, but knowing that helps me to feel a bit better about my chosen vocation.

Changing gears. I’m now 40,000 words into the draft rewrite, and am rapidly approaching the end of Book 2. My goal is to have a polished end product, with a professional copy edit and cover, up and ready for purchase by the beginning of the holiday season. That leaves four months or so, more than enough time to put things together. The decision of whether to kill a key character kept bouncing back and forth up until the last minute, the minute of actually writing the part where she was slated to die. In the end, it just didn’t seem right to kill her there. It cheapened some of the sacrifices made earlier and removed some of the mystery of a new character. In the end, I found a much better impetus to drive things forward. There was even an opportunity to give a nod to two major influences within one scene and leave the characters hanging in a very bad place at the end of Book 2, much like the end of Act 2 in a play. I’m very excited about how this is all coming together; I can see how the process of going through the first take on the novel was a necessary stepping stone to build a new process and a new paradigm for my writing.

On to today’s link. Discovered this one through WordPress’s Related Links feature yesterday, and have been thoroughly fascinated. The site in question is Project Steph, a blog that blends writing and science in such a fascinating mixture that I never really thought possible or even considered. It makes me wonder how my own interests could be combined with my writing on this site. Hmmm…something to ponder.

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