Morning Thoughts.

The chances we take are the blueprints that ultimately create who we are.

Don’t misunderstand me, though. I said chances, not decisions. I can easily decide what I want to eat for lunch today; that’s not taking a chance.

Now, one asking their crush on a date without knowing if the feelings are reciprocated, now that is taking a chance.

I guess that’s the gist of it, really. The difference between a chance and a decision is that the outcome is shrouded in mystery.

I’ve learned over the past couple of months that taking chances is a one-way ticket to progress. Staying comfortable, complacent, and confined in the same place and situation is only beneficial for so long. These things have an expiration date. There is an internal clock inside of us that goes off, manifesting itself as stress, anxiety, or the “rock-bottom syndrome” as I like to call it, whenever we reach that moment where the jig is up; its time to make a change.

Of course, some chances, some risks are tougher than others. There’s a saying that goes “the greater the risk, the greater the reward”. Sure, this can be true in some cases. But for the most part, that quote should be remedied to “the greater the risk, the greater the loss will be if the risk doesn’t pan out.” And it is for this same reason that many people don’t take chances; there’s just too much to lose. And when you’re comfortable, when you’re settled, when you’re safe, the chance of losing something drops to zero.

But for the rest of us, those of us who can take a blow, who can take a loss, why not jump at a chance? Why not go all in on a risk? Part of the excitement of life itself is not knowing what will happen if one does this, if one does that.

Most people see it as fear. But fear is nothing more than a hormonal response. And the problem is, not many people can use this response to their advantage.

In the end, the fear of taking a chance should be turned forward and used as a propellant. Let this fear drive you to push through the darkness and the mystery and the unknown, to see what is on the other side.

How else will you know who you are meant to be?

Gladiator.

I’ve finally been able to get back to working on a YA novel that’s been catching dust in my documents for some time now. I’d like to share an excerpt with you all from it. This particular piece involves the main character dreaming of a previous life he had, in Imperial Rome (and if you haven’t guessed by the end of the piece, yes, “Gladiator” is my all-time favorite film). Enjoy!

“Their chants are deafening as I emerge from the cage.

MIKILUS! MIKILUS! MIKILUS!

How foolish they are. The one time the rich and the poor unite, only to watch more slave blood spilt. A fellow warrior will fall upon these sands this day.

I stopped feeling pity long ago.

The sun is blazing overhead, and the screams erupt as the mob catches sight of me. The air is heavy with heat and the breath of thousands. I raise my blade overhead, and they roar. I hear the cage close behind me, completing our circular prison of blood. Many have fallen here, with only the sky above as some semblance of a different life. I dig my bare feet in the sand, relishing in its soft embrace. The brother is standing about a man’s height across from me. He is new. The amount of armor and leather he wears says as much. I wear no helmet, no guard, no brace. It’s better that way.

We turn toward the center of the arena, and look up toward the Emperor and his gang of government. They sit in a concealed chamber, away from the mob. The Emperor raises a glass.

We who are about to die, salute you!’ we yell, bowing.

Eventually, he will be forced to give me my freedom. He has no choice. I will continue to dispatch all these men he places before me, and once there is no one left, and there is no more coin to be made and power to be gained from my entertainment, it will be my time.

And if he does not, then I will come for him and all of those he loves.

He knows that all the legionnaires in the Republic cannot protect him from the likes of me.

A horn blasts, the crowd screams, and the battle begins.

He is fast, this brother, and well-trained. Perhaps he was in the army, a deserter, maybe? He is sure-footed and accurate with his spear, and the mob roars as I duck and weave away from his attacks. I have yet to swing my sword.

Sweat is pouring from under the brother’s helmet as he fights. His muscles must be aching by now. Steel of shield and spear can be taxing, especially when you keep missing your target. He drops his shield and reaches for one of the props buried in the dirt, a hooked blade left over from a previous bout.

No brother, desperation is your enemy in this.

The crowd begins to jeer as he breathes heavily, hunched over, his weapons pointed before him. I stand my ground. The sand surrounding us is warm, inviting.

The brother, to the surprise of the crowd, throws his spear, aiming for my bare chest.

I tense, summoning the familiar energies, the gift of the Gods.

The transformation starts at my feet, until it travels up my body, turning my flesh into grain, into sand.

The heavy spear passes through me like water through hands.

The crowd cries in pure ecstasy. Oh, how they love this, to see the Gods’ work made reality.

The brother has fallen to his knees in disbelief. Another atheist made to feel useless. He tears his helmet off, bowing his head. He is younger than I expected. His long black hair is plastered to his sweaty face. There are tears in his eyes.

I materialize behind him, the sand giving way to blood and bone and man. I reach for his fallen sword, touching two fingers to the hot blade. Like fire traveling up wood, the steel merges with my arm until I release the blade. My arm is grey, stained and rusted with use. The crowd explodes.

I look up toward the Emperor. He rises from his regal chair, holding his hand out for all the world to see. Slowly, he lowers his thumb toward Hell.

I raise my arm, the steel cutting the air. The crowd trembles, their screams buzzing as they pile together, inching closer for the final blow of the match. What do they care of their starving bellies and the flies that surround them in their splintery bleachers, the disease currently creeping up on them like a demon? What should they care, when they are witness to me, to the One Touched by The Gods? This coliseum, with its marble, majestic surface and its ugly, dirty depths, will one day fall to Time as all things do, but I will remain, in the whispers and the stories of legend. As I let my bladed arm fall toward the brother’s neck, I can feel the endless tapestry of history wrap itself around me like a lover. I embrace it as the brother’s blood splashes onto my face…”

Thoughtful Randomness.

Sometimes I’ll just be sitting around, doing nothing in particular, and an idea will randomly pop into my head. A thought. Or, more specifically, a sentence.

Sometimes it even happens when I’m running around, out and about, active and able.

As painful as writing can get, my mind never ceases to surprise me. Half this stuff I didn’t even know I believed. Hopefully, I’ll be able to create stories around these random thoughts.

These are just a few of the more recent ones:

-“There are two things America loves. Their wars and their sports. And all they do is fight in sports and play with war.”

-“One of the worst things to happen to the human race is the idea of government.”

-“Beware of people with a lot of friends. It takes a special kind of narcissism to split yourself apart so much, just for the sake of others.”

-“Do not trust those who live without fear. They care not for consequence.”

-“Why do we always become addicted to that which ultimately destroys us?”

Beautiful Truth.

“Everyone says love hurts, but that is not true. Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts. Losing someone hurts. Envy hurts. Everyone gets these confused with love, but in reality love is the only thing in this world that covers up all pain and makes someone feel wonderful again. Love is the only thing in this world that does not hurt.” -Mesa Selimovic

Picture This.

When I write, the smorgasbord of emotions I usually go through ranges from feelings of peace to feeling like I’m being forced to hold my breath. I guess it just depends.

One thing I do love when writing is when I get the chance to describe a character physically. Trying to paint a picture for a reader that not only stimulates their eyes but also their minds, their hearts.

The following is a recent description of a female vampire in yet another novel I haven’t written yet:

“The veins in her long slender neck pulsed as she sang. She was practically bald but for the coarse black-haired buzzcut. Her skin was brown, darker than milk chocolate. A brown that whispered of Africa, yet he could still see the freckles littering her tiny nose and high cheekbones. A brown that, on anyone else, might have been the result of being left baking too long in the Sun, but he knew that it could not be true. Though her eyes held the beauty and privelege of someone who still gets to see the Sun rise and set every day, he knew it was not so.”

Dystopia.

I love Dystopia novels.

Something about seeing individuals try to live their lives and survive in a world so unlike ours is really interesting and entertaining.

I’ve had an idea for a Dystopia novel for some time now, though I haven’t been able to write it. But of course, as you all well know, I usually write random lines/excerpts for potential stories that don’t even exist yet. The following is one of those very excerpts:

-“He had met Hope a long time ago, before all this mess, when they were in high school and the world was still in one piece. He remembered that day when she walked into chemistry the start of sophmore year, all bones and pale smoothness. The indifference of fate had made them lab partners, but he soon found himself, at times against his will, hell-bent on becoming more. He was enthralled by the straightness and blackness of her hair, and even when she explained that nearly all the members of the Korean side of her family had the same exact hair, he wouldn’t have it. No, hair like that was reserved solely for Hope. After many an immature game of cat-and-mouse, they finally pulled the trigger on each other once they graduated.

On feverish nights alone, intertwined, she would always ask if the lamp bothered his sleep. “No,” he would reply, smirking at her irrational fear. “Its perfect.” He’d turn and bury his face in the darkness of her hair, where no light could penetrate.

Then, on the eve of his 19th birthday, signs of the plague began to surface, and Hope’s parents decided to move away from the big city. They fought and rebelled as best as their love fueled them, but the stubborness of parenthood and one little impending, world-ending catastrophe was too much. In the end, fear had ultimately forced her to side with her parents.

“Raphael, you should tell your mom, it will be better in the country.”

“The country? Babe, the news is blowing this out of proportion. After 9/11, everything gets blown out of proportion.”

“With good reason! We can’t sit here in Manhattan waiting for whatever is coming to arrive! You saw that lady on the news, in the hospital!”

“Hope, Israel has some money saved up from the shop. We can move in with him, you don’t have to leave-”

“Israel? Raph, please, even you know that’s a bad idea. Your brother is not stable. I can’t believe you’d ask me to do that, to just leave my parents like that when things are so crazy. I can’t do that!” She was crying, though he hadn’t shouted at her or deliberately fought with her. His own ignorance of what was to come fueled his argument.

“Not even for me? After all we been through, you’d just up and leave at the first sign of trouble? We’re better together, we can handle anything! You’re old enough to do what you want, your parents will understand eventually, and mine don’t even care. You…Hope…you wouldn’t just leave me, would you?”

Raph lost her after just one year of having her. Like running water through his hands, he lost her.”