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Archive for October, 2008

Walking Dead – Chapter Three

In all honesty, I haven’t been that sick in a long, long time. Have to go back to college for it, I think, freshman year. Spent a week in bed fighting a fever. A very nice young lady named Cathy York brought me food from ACDC. Terrified my roommate at the time (though, admittedly, he was easily terrified, and already frightened of me to begin with).

Not. Fun.

Better now. Can manage to walk and talk and do cute little human things with my hands without falling into convulsive coughs. You know it’s bad when your five year old looks at you with big eyes, pats your arm, and says, “you’re going to get better, right?”

Criminy.

Still angry about having to miss B’con. In the main, I do not look forward to attending the convention, but this year was different, and I was excited about going. So this year I get sick. Go figure.

Anyway, enough about me. Here’s some more about Atticus. The refresher course is available here (that’d be Chapter One) and here (that’d be Chapter Two).

This would be Chapter Three of Walking Dead

Recovery

Still clawing my way back to respiratory stability.

Will be posting Chapter Three of Walking Dead before the end of the day.

Ooops…Think That Was a Lung

So, I’ve got bronchitis.

Which means I won’t be getting on a plane today to fly to Baltimore for Bouchercon.

And I won’t get to spend the time I was very much looking forward to spending with people like jonlaw. Or get to meet the people I’ve never met before that I’ve been corresponding with over the last several months.

On the flip side, if I can get antibiotics today, I’ll be able to attend Kol Nidre.

But in the main, yeah, very unhappy about this.

By way of apology to those who were counting on seeing me, I’ve decided to post through Chapter Five of Walking Dead here on the blog. I’ll put Chapter Three up on Friday.

It’s not a great apology, but it is, at least, a sincere one.

To those of you attending the con, have a great time.

I now return me to my regularly scheduled bout of coughing.

Days of Atonement

Years ago, I mean years ago, when Jen (jen_vm) and I first were married and struggling and, as I’m fond of saying, so poor we were gaining weight because we couldn’t afford to eat healthy, we ended up settling in a town where my bride had, it turned out, a high school friend. I was just out of grad school and desperately trying to find 1) a job and 2) time to write. I had an agent and a novel that had been passionately rejected by just about every publisher who’d read it, I was writing what would become Keeper, we were in our early twenties, and it was, frankly, terrifying.

Then we moved everything to this new town so Jen could go to school, and that was even more terrifying. We didn’t know anyone in the new locale, no one. Except for this high school friend of Jen’s.

Shortly after moving, we got together with her and her husband, and…we didn’t hit it off. Jen and her friend tried, but her husband seemed to take an immediate dislike to me. The few times we got together his asides were holier-than-thou, get-a-job bullshit, primarily directed at me because, you know, I was a writer without portfolio, and that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee (or at least it would back then).

Mostly, this didn’t bother me, because frankly, I could’ve cared less what the self-centered pothead thought of me. As it happens, he thought I was a fraud; funny, because that’s exactly what I thought of him, come to think of it.

What bothered me was that, not too many months after we’d moved, it came back to us that this friend of Jen’s had been saying some unkind things about her and me. About how we weren’t realistic. About how I was taking advantage of her. About how I’d never make a living as a writer. About how we were living in an apartment that we couldn’t afford. That we were living in a world of make-believe.

To this day – to this day – that still burns me. Not because of what was being said about me, but because of the knife it put in my wife’s back. This was someone who was supposed to be a friend, and she absolutely fell down on the job. Fell down and cut my wife’s Achilles’ tendon, as far as I was concerned.

But it doesn’t burn me quite as much, not anymore. The friend in question – years later, after she and her husband had moved back to their hometown – made amends to my wife, at least as best as she could under the circumstances. The circumstances were extreme, and that counts for a lot.

But what I’m thinking right now is that, y’know, she did exactly what the world trained her to do. After all, to her eyes, she wasn’t really wrong. We were being unrealistic. The apartment we were living in was the first one we’d looked at, and we were used to New York prices, so we were being overcharged and never realized it; I wanted to be a writer, for fuck’s sake, to such an extent that my job search was in great part curtailed by whether or not I’d still have time to write after coming home from whatever job it was I was doing; Jen was starting graduate school and teaching, and anyone who’s been there knows that’s full-time and a half.

What hurt then is that she was attacking our willingness to dream, and yes, I know that sounds cliche, but that’s what it was. We were young newlyweds and we were terrified, but we each held onto this idea that, if we stuck through the hard times and we busted our humps and we put in the hours and we were smart in everything else we did, we could gamble on this other thing, this life we wanted to have for ourselves.

And to her (and more to her husband, I think), that was untenable. At best, they could only greet us with confusion and bewilderment. At worst, they viewed us with malice born of jealousy, that we were willing to chase something they either would not or could not pursue themselves, in whatever form they imagined it.

There are a lot of people like that in the world. A lot of them. They look at someone’s passion, someone’s dream, and they assault it. For most of them – to most of them – it’s a justified assault, something they may not even be aware they’re doing.

I’m guilty of it myself. Once, a friend turned to me with his writing and asked me to help him, and, sincerely believing I was doing the right thing by him at the time, I quoted Harlan Ellison to him, and told him that “some people just aren’t meant to write.”

That’s in my Top Ten Moments of Being an Asshole.

Mark, I’m sorry, and I hope you can accept my apology.

Here’s the thing about writing. Its engine isn’t creativity.

It’s fear.

Walking Dead – Chapter Two

Friday, again (“Saigon…I’m still in Saigon….”), and not the best week I’ve ever had, to be frank. This one seemed to both crawl and fly past. The current script is giving me hell, for reasons that are almost entirely beyond my control, and, in brutal honesty, I’d cheerfully wring the neck of the man responsible for my current nightmare. It’s like sausages; you don’t want to know.

This time next week I’ll be in Charm City for Bouchercon, and thus, as promised, I offer up the second chapter of Walking Dead. If you’re looking for Chapter One, you can find it here. Again, please forgive typos I have missed and potential formatting errors; this is from my draft of the manuscript, and not from the copy-edit (which, incidentally, I am told will be arriving today).

As before, comments welcome.

Chapter Two.