The beast still lurks out of sight

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Are you enjoying it so far? I’m referring, of course, to Krayatura: Beast from the Sea, which I promised would be released May 11, the first in a trilogy that would be complete by July 1.

The answer, of course, is you can’t enjoy what hasn’t been released on time.

Well, let’s file it among stretch goals that were a little too stretchy. I keep setting these goals as if there were no day job, no Dip, no Resistance and no life.

Rather than focus on the fact that the novel is nowhere near ready for prime time, let’s look at the positives.

I have a general outline of the three books, which allows me to plant seeds early that will germinate and bear fruit at the climax of the trilogy.

It also helped me recognize that the random guy I introduced when the beast first made landfall wasn’t so random after all.

I know and love the family at the core of the story, and I recognize that my job is to make you love them, too.

I know what the beast looks like, why it rose from the sea, what it will take to kill it, the consequences of killing it, and what happens next.

I know, if I execute it properly, this can be a rousing and entertaining story.

So: Am I disappointed at this stage to have barely a half-dozen finished chapters in my first draft? Holy crap, “disappointed” doesn’t begin to describe it. With all of the groundwork I’ve laid, more than this should have been accomplished.

But it wasn’t. Boo hoo. In the general scheme of things, I’m the only one who really cares, right? If I missed a deadline this badly at the day job, there would be consequences to pay.

What I need – and let this be my caution for others who aim to turn professional as writers – is to adjust my mindset so that I feel the pain of missing a personal deadline with the same anguish I would feel missing a day job deadline.

Because (and here’s the bottom line) the day job, like all day jobs, can go away for reasons out of my control. This job – the stories, the essays, the blogs, the podcasts – is all mine. All I need to do is please you, the reader and listener, and the sooner the better.

I have a new deadline. I’m going to keep it to myself until I’m more confident I can make it. I’ll let you know if I miss it, and wow, you’ll know if I make it.

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W.B. at the Movies: Captain America: Civil War

Shield-Captain-America-Movie

This is Marvel’s decade, I think. Ten years ago it was Pixar. Marvel Studios has reached a level where it is a trusted brand: As a group their storytelling ability is as good as any corporate enterprise has a right to be. Pixar proved it could be done. Marvel is proving that Pixar wasn’t a fluke.

Captain America: Civil War hits all of the right notes. It is a great, emotional story with fine actors and filmmakers at the top of their game.

When I was a kid, reading Marvel Comics was probably my favorite pastime. From the time I found them in 1963 and for the next five to eight years, they were compelling and satisfying fantasy entertainment that transformed what comic books could be.

The first 38 issues of Amazing Spider-Man, issues 39-52 of Fantastic Four – the characters of Iron Man and Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man/Giant Man and the Hulk, Sub-Mariner, the X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Nick Fury – all of those early adventures had a magic to them.

And now here they are, capturing the spirit if not always the letter of those early tales, on the big screen. I suspect many of the people whose names scroll up during the last five minutes or so of the films are kids like me who grew up to be movie makers.

The three Captain America films are the best of the lot, and I believe it’s because the character of Steve Rogers gives Marvel its best opportunity to link this fantasy-filled universe to our real world. The themes explored, in this tale of a World War II hero thrust into the modern era, resonate in a way that the other films don’t. I still think I was most entertained by the matchless Marvel’s The Avengers, but especially these past two Captain America films have the most meat on their bones.

A debate has raged in this country for as long as it has been a country: When a problem arises, who is best equipped to solve it – The private sector or the public sector? Is regulation the answer, or should the solution be found organically by the people closest to the problem?

That’s really the question posed by the film, where the problem is that when super-powered people have a fist fight, property damage is done and people die as buildings collapse and explode and burn. Enter government, in the form of an international treaty that aims to bring “enhanced people” under the control of our rulers.

Nicely, in the debate there ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys, they just disagree. I (and clearly the filmmakers) sympathize more with Rogers and company, who trust the individual and the private sector, but the heroes willing to trust the government are given good and compelling motivation as well. And they find a way to come together to defeat a common foe.

Mostly I am a kid again, reveling in seeing my childhood heroes portrayed faithfully and extremely well in big budget films. Fifty years after these heroes showed that comic books could tell great stories, they’re being used to make movies that are more than superhero movies used to be.

An appeal to writers

appeal to writers

A course of action. A call to action:

Writers write. So, write.

Write like the wind. Write as if your life and happiness depended on it, because it does.

Write wonderful stories (stories that are full of wonder). Write words of encouragement. Sound the alarm, comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable.

Let words flow, no, let words gush from your heart and your hands and your mind until you are tired of seeing your own voice, and then write more – more words, words with meaning, the words of your life.

Don’t worry whether anyone will read them.

Don’t worry whether anyone will hear.

The only certainty is if you don’t use your voice, there will be nothing to read, nothing to hear.

So, write – speak – shout. Get busy.

See what happens next.