Monday, April 30, 2012

Those Dastardly Sins

Sins, like chickens, come home to roost. - Charles W. Chesnutt

An allegorical representation of teh Seven Deadly Sins

Greed. Sloth. Wrath. Envy. Lust. Pride. Gluttony.

Like many of you, the Seven Deadly Sins have nested in an area of my brain reserved for topics of interest. For some reason, they've acquired a meme status in pop culture that mainstream media has perpetuated. For me, it started with the movie Se7en and Morgan Freeman. I leave Brad Pitt out of that equation. His character was a bit of a goober.

And so am I. I usually shy away from characters too much like myself.

According to common thought, Christians used Those Dastardly Sins as tools for teaching appropriate thoughts and actions. Ask just about anyone what the sins are and most of them will rattle off a few. They'll also know what they mean. There are some other curious pieces of information about those evil thoughts and deeds that are not widely known.

According to George Tsakiridis's book, Evagrius Ponticus and Cognitive Science: A Look at Moral Evil and the Thoughts (see it here), Evagrius Ponticus, a Christian monk born around 345 CE, codified an original list of eight sins: gluttony, fornication, avarice, anger, sadness, acedia, vainglory, and pride.

"What?" you ask. "Eight?"

Yes. Eight.

In about 590 CE, Pope Gregory I whittled those evil little suckers down to seven, combining acedia and sadness into sloth, vainglory moved in with pride and became Mr. and Mrs. Pride, and the green, little monster envy moved into town. Thus, we have the seven deadly sins.

Now you know.

And knowing is half the battle.

In future posts, I'll write a bit about each of the sins and how each one was matched with a particular demonic baddie.

Those silly little demons. Always up to their shenanigans.

If you want to comment, feel free. Let me know what your favorite quote or moment is in the movie Se7en.

I've got mine:

John Doe: "Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writing Pangs: Schedules

"I'm gonna do it."

No, you're not. The television beckons. Besides, it's HD.

"Okay. Real Housewives is over. Now, it's word slingin' time."

Wrong again, Writer. You've been neglecting your video games. That princess isn't in the business of saving herself. And don't fool yourself into thinking you're almost finished. She's in another castle.

"Done. She didn't even say thanks. Time to write."

Nope. Your son has a ball. Time to play.

"Finally. Kid is in bed, asleep. I think I'll head there myself. Tomorrow will be better."

Keep telling yourself that, Mr. Draft Jockey.

Maintaining a writing schedule isn't easy. It's frought with obstacles. Real Life comes rumbling in. It stomps on my writing and makes a litterbox of my notes and ideas, mocking me with its urgency to be addressed. When Big Resposibilities come calling, the ol' writing schedule is the first to get axed.

Because people are depending on me. Real Life needs me. I'm a grown-up, after all. Whether I like it or not, I've been drafted.

Unless I fight back.

Real Life has whipped me with its cat o' nine tails. It has pierced me with guilt. But I'm still writing.

How have I managed so far? I've made writing more important than my Dumb Time. Mindless television? Gone. Video games? Bye-bye. My son still gets playtime with Dad, though. It's about prioritization. It's about adjustment. I don't know exactly how other writers do it. I don't pretend to. I've read a bajillion books on writing over the years and no advice has given me that epiphanic episode of pure understanding.

I just sit down and face-off with a blank screen. I pray the words out. I will them to appear.

And then they do.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Novel Concept: Faith Binds Us All

First, let's get this out of the way. This isn't an advertisement for religion. It isn't a testimonial. It's not a sermon. It's an observation of faith and how it applies to my Big Idea.

Faith is one of the few things that connects everyone in some small way. It's a charged word that causes most who hear it to think of religion. But it's not about religion. It's bigger than any such institution. It transcends. It's secular and religious.

I have faith, for example, that my car will start each morning. It's a small example, but the point remains. We put our faith in many things. On rare ocassions we have faith in each other. If we're lucky, we have faith in ourselves. We all demonstrate a little faith in just about everything we do.

But what if to "put faith in" something is more than just a turn of phrase? What if it's more literal than that? And, if literal, what is faith exactly and where is it stored? To answer that, tear away the material, irrelevant trappings of faith and you'll discover the truth.

Faith is energy. It's power.

When focused, it's stored in objects and symbols connected to ideas. This power is demonstrated regularly, but we often choose to ignore it.  It's not uncommon, for example, to feel a short burst of moxie and vigor when people put their faith in you. Also, zealous fans supply athletes with strength and determination through devotion and admiration. The difference between the two examples is the number of people involved. The larger the pool of faithful, the more power is transferred. Now, imagine the same idea as applied to a religion. Hundreds of thousands of people putting faith in one idea. As an amorphous concept, that steady stream of energy is stored in the things closest to the religion: its symbols. A Christian cross, the Jewish Star of David, the Sikh Kirpan, and even the Egyptian Eye of Horus all contain stores of energy. In that context, there is indeed power in symbolism.

If a small, select group of people could harness and use that faith like any other form of energy, what kind of dominance would those few have over darkness?

Would you be afraid ?

Or would you join in the fight?

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Writer in a Straightjacket

Screwy and unhinged.
That's me.

Since I penned my first short story many moons ago, I've slowly driven myself tongue-chewing loco trying to get my name on the cover of my very own novel.

So, I've taken my word slinging to the next level. Or, at least I like to think it's the next level.

It begins with a blog. (It began well before this, but I can pretend.)

From this point, I'm at the starting line, itching to get moving. I'm a marathoner. (But not the running kind. That's just insanity.) This blog will serve as a trough of thoughts and ideas that shove their way into my head. I'll continue posting as I slog through the muck, making my way to the Other Side where a polished urban fantasy novel exists. With a little luck (and a tub of coffee), the concept will develop into a series. As I blog, I'll toss out writing snippets, interesting research discoveries, and, eventually, sample chapters. The occasional off-topic post will likely rear its digital head, too.

I hope that you enjoy reading this as much as I do writing it.