Journal Entry: February 23, 2007

I wrote a new song.

I wanted to share it with you guys, but there’s something very important for you to understand, first. You see, a song is a literary work. It’s just like a story — it can be true, while still being a fabricated thing. There is a narrator in a story, and there can be a narrator in a song.

We’re all used to hearing Garth Brooks sing about how sad his life is, y’know? I mean, just because a story is told in the first person, doesn’t make you think that story happened to the writer. But it’s harder to remember that sometime with songs. So just because the song is in the first person, I don’t want you to think it’s about me — that I’m coming here and posting something embarrassing or strange about the working of my own inner mind. God forbid, no. It’s just a song.

If you promise to keep that in mind, then you’re allowed to keep scrolling, and read the song I wrote.

Here goes:

Anna, A-N-N-A
-belle, B-E-L-L-E
Annabelle, Annabelle,
That is me! (Cheering, as appropriate)

(And, yes, there’s a second verse)

Grace, G-R-A-C-E
Is my middle name
Annabelle Grace is
My full name!

Journal Entry: November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving come and gone.

It was a really good one. Honestly, Thanksgiving doesn’t really stand out to me as the sort of holiday I think about any time other than late November. Mostly just Thanksgiving week. It’s not high on my list of priorities, is what I’m getting at. I usually enjoy a pretty good meal, and do my best to watch a Cowboys game in spite of family, and then it’s over and done.

This year — and I don’t really know why — this year, Thanksgiving was awesome. Now, I said the same last Christmas (when it was my family’s turn for Christmas), and that was for a very particular reason. We had a LAN party Christmas. We all got together in Little Rock to quest in Azeroth. Wahoo! But, no, I’m not just repeating that.

We did play some WoW, which was fun. We spent Friday afternoon in Blackrock Depths, and it was Mom’s first successful trip there. We’d dragged her along several times when she was still too low level to be there, but now she was actually ready, and I think we all had a really good time with that.

But that was really only Friday afternoon. Dad and I played some Saturday night, but other than that, there wasn’t really any dedicated WoW time. We all ate a lot (a lot), and I watched even more football than usual. Oh, and all of my teams won. With one exception (founded solely on petty hatred), every football game I cared about at all this weekend went exactly as I would have wanted it to. Dallas tore up. OU managed to win (and we weren’t sure they would until the last second), and thanks to Texas’ loss, that means OU is going to the Big 12 Championship, which is quite awesome. And the Giants lost in an amazing sort of way, which puts Cowboys at the top of the NFC East.

Okay, I don’t know how much you care about football, but the point is that, in an amazing confluence of good luck, everyone I wanted to win, won. And everyone I wanted to lose, lost. Those commas probably shouldn’t be there, but just consider them rhetorical.

The big thing, though, that really kind of surprised me, was the extra family we had around. Heather and Graham were there, and reminded me how great it was to have them back from far Maine, so they can at least make holidays. But my Dad’s family was there, too — his brother Perry, sister-in-law Debby, and my cousins Sam and Katie. These are the ones who lived in Scotland and France, before moving back to Houston last summer. And here I was complaining about Maine.

Anyway, Perry and Debby and Sam and Katie, and I got to spend time with all of them and they are all four really cool people. That was fun. It’s always nice to learn you’re related to good people.

Also got calls from Bruce and Josh, both of which were exciting. And then found time Sunday night, after a long drive home, to have dinner with the Austins, and watch another of the Cowboys’ rivals lose a football game. It was a busy weekend, and my computer was broken, and that drive is just ridiculously long…but it was probably one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve ever had. Yay for that!

I hope yours was good, too.

My Daughter

Okay, so we’re focus-grouping a couple names for our upcoming production: Daughter. That is, our actual daughter. We’re looking for popular input, so…well, this being voting week or whatever, I’m going with the theme. Step right up and fulfill your democratic duty, or whatever.

These are the current choices:
Annabelle Grace (R)

Diana Grace (D)

Please make your pick. Write-in votes are probably acceptable, too, but they stand about the same chance of passing as the real-world equivalents.

Journal Entry: October 16, 2006

What incredible friends! I mean really!

Friday, we went to Tulsa to work on the house. I think I mentioned before that that was the plan. Basically, everyone I know offered their help, and/or expressed their frustration that they wouldn’t be able to come help us work on the house. I can tell you this: if you’d been completely available, I would have had to make you stay home anyway. We easily did as much as we could do, without having a big bundle of cash to fix the place up. And we certainly don’t have that.

So that takes care of the friends who couldn’t help. Those that could: Trish’s dad let us use his truck for the trip. He was driving down to OKC anyway, with Trish’s brother-in-law John, to catch a flight to California for an air show. (They got back yesterday evening, and by all accounts had a great time.) He was kind enough to drive the truck down, giving us the opportunity to do a lot more than we otherwise could have.

Kris and Nicki went with us. All of us but Kris had Friday afternoon off anyway, and Kris was nice enough to take a day of vacation. We moved a spare refrigerator back to Tulsa (it had been sitting in our garage since we moved down), and took along a bunch of cleaning supplies, and lawn machines. That is, I brought a lawn mower, and Kris brought a whole assortment of torture devices designed to make a yard talk. Oh, and I brought hedge trimmers.

We got in about 2:30, and headed to dinner four hours later. I was thinking we had about two hours of work to do. Even with Josh, and Vicki and her husband all coming to help out, we were fully busy for four hours, and we left at least another hour’s worth of work for Josh to do.

Let me tell you about Josh. We were best friends in elementary school. Not actually in school — he went to school in Claremore (outside Tulsa) and I went to school in Foyil (outside Claremore). We saw each other at church, and hung out most weekends. When I moved to Wichita (summer after sixth grade), I missed Josh most of my friends from there. He’s the only one I’m still in touch with. We lived together for some small amount of time. We were in each other’s weddings.

A lot of life has happened since then, and we haven’t spoken nearly as much as we should’ve, I’m sure. I was kind of scared of seeing him, spending time with him, just because I felt like I hadn’t done nearly enough to stay in touch. I didn’t know how much we’d each changed, or how well we would get along.

Friday, seeing Josh, it was like being six again. I love that guy so much. It was good to get to talk, to stand on the porch of my old house and hear him say how much fun his kids would have in the back yard. At dinner, his dad offered him tickets to the OU game Saturday, and he invited me and the Austins to come along. It was an incredible day.

Sunday, I stayed home. I got to spend the whole day on the couch (which is the way I like it). OU won on Saturday, the Cowboys won on Sunday. What more can you ask for?

We still don’t have a definite answer on the house in Tulsa. Every time I visit, I realize how much more work really needs to be done on it. It could easily have been a frustrating weekend, loaded with the stresses and distractions that that house represents in my life, but instead it was a lot of fun. It was a reminder, at every turn, of the incredible friends and supportive family I’ve got. I smiled a lot, and I laughed a lot. Thank you, Josh. Thank you, Austins. Thank you, Trish’s Dad. And everybody else. Mom and Dad, Dan, Toby et alia, Julie, Bruce, everybody who was so ready to do anything they could to help us out.

You did. Thank you.

Greatness: Heart’s Desire

There’s a verse in the Psalms that took me by surprise, first time I read it.

“Delight yourself in the Lord; and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

That’s Psalm 37:4. It’s in a familiar vein, “Ask and you shall receive,” and the kid asking his father for a loaf of bread, and even the insistent widow. That’s all Jesus, though, right? I mean, he was a generous guy. It struck me, though, reading the psalmist saying the same sort of thing….

Prayer is a serious thing, in the Bible. It’s a powerful thing. We are encouraged and ordered to use it. And not just for meditation, not just as an opportunity to spread our lives before God, and hopefully gain a new perspective. We are directly instructed to ask for what we want, because God wants to be our provider. He makes that clear, again and again. Look what he was trying to do in Eden.

That Psalm caught my attention when I was a boy, back when I was about sixteen, and I put it to the test. I felt confident in that time, because I did delight in the Lord, I was certain of that, and more importantly, I knew without a doubt the desire of my heart. And I didn’t have it.

So I prayed. I prayed, and in the night I had a dream, a glimpse of the life I wanted to have, years off, and that was enough for me. I took confidence from that moment, and I received what I asked for then.

That was a powerful experience for me.

A prayer isn’t a birthday cake wish, y’know? I don’t think it needs to be a secret. Sitting in church last Sunday, the man was saying this or that about relying on God, about letting him exercise his power within your life. That’s something I believe in, as all of you know. I believe the world is a malleable thing, that reality can be bent for the purposes of God or man. I nodded, understanding and encouraged, even, and suddenly I remembered high school, and that desperate prayer….

I have a heart’s desire, in my life today. I have lots of things to ask for (and hope that they will be given). We have a baby on the way, and I want her to be healthy. I want Trish to be healthy through it all, and I worry about that. I want lots of little things, the comforts that require wealth beyond what I already have. I pray a lot. I ask for a lot. But those are just things. Somehow, in my head at least, I’ve separated such prayers, such petitions, from the sort of desire the psalmist was talking about.

My heart’s desire, today and now, is to be a best-selling writer. I want to publish a work, and have it read by the world. I want to write, stories and lessons and snapshots, to show readers what the world was and is and could be. I want my name to be remembered, for the words that I said. I have a message that I want heard, I have talents, gifts, that I want to use. I want the money. Not that — I want the opportunity. I want my writing to be my life.

I was an A student in elementary school. I was good at everything except multiplication. I could teach myself, given the right books, and I usually managed to get them. I had a lot of plans for the future. For most of my childhood, they had nothing to do with writing.

A lot of you have known me for a long time, but if you haven’t heard me tell this story, you don’t know this story. That is to say, most of you know me as a writer, but none of you were there, at the crucial moment, when I discovered why I was a writer. Maybe Josh, but no one else.

I was maybe twelve. Probably eleven. We’d had a handful of writing projects over the last year, and I’d done well enough on them (but, then, I did well on all of my projects, as long as they weren’t based on multiplication). One day I was thinking through the writing process, though. The actual job description, of the sort of person who writes stories, and I realized it would be a home job. Maybe a nice office, maybe just a pad of paper on the kitchen table, but it would be a home job.

I wanted that, because I wanted to be home for my kids. I wanted to be home with my family, even when I was working. That picture stuck in my head, and I’ve never shaken it. Even times when I was certain I didn’t want kids, it was mostly because of some variation of the disappointment at realizing I wouldn’t be able to realize that picture.

I was twelve. That’s how I thought when I was twelve. Yeesh.

That’s my heart’s desire. I have a great job now, a fantastic one, that pays well and demands nothing of me but those things at which I excel, those things I can do easily and quickly and well. Given some of the things that have been discussed recently, it could get even better. And it’s a better job than I deserve, considering the effort I’ve put into it. I chalk that up to a blessing, a gift. I’m in no position to complain, and I realize that.

But my heart’s desire is to be a writer, just a writer, completely a writer, for my family. That last bit matters, too. I could have been a starving artist. I could have refused to take a job, and chased after every avenue available to me to get a book sold (in a market that is incredibly difficult to get a foot in the door), but it’s about more than that to me. That’s why I described my picture, my goal when I was twelve. I want it for my family, not in spite of my family. I want something better than I deserve to have, something I maybe had a shot at in the past, but I’ve squandered my opportunities. I want something that would completely change my life. I want it as a gift, served up on a silver platter.

Why not? It’s happened before.

I do delight in the Lord. Maybe not as loudly as I did back then. Certainly not as dogmatically. But I do. And I crave this, looking through the few short days between now and then, I want this very much. Please, let it be so. Amen.

Journal Entry: September 26, 2006


Trish just called. (No, that’s not why!)

Right, well, as you all know, we lost our renters in Tulsa a long time ago (however long it’s been since the last time I posted — so, ages). Actually, we lost them a month before that, but it took a month for our rental manager to let us know.

Here’s how rental managers work: They take the first month’s rent to pay for their advertising, cleaning, repairs costs associated with getting the house rented in the first place. They do all that, tidy the house up, show it to people, and they track down people to rent the place.

Then, when they have renters, they handle any problems that come up. They generally have a few handymen on-call who can do small repairs, and anything beyond that the manager takes care of tracking down repair guys to fix. Now, mind, they don’t pay for any of this. And the renters don’t pay for any of this. It all comes out of the owner’s check. Every month, the renter pays his rent to the manager, the manager takes out 10% to cover his answering phone calls and arranging for repairs, then he takes out any money that went to repairs or whatnot, and if there’s anything left over, he sends that to the owner. Bear in mind that, no matter how much the manager sends, the owner has to pay the full mortgage.

When we were unable to sell our Tulsa house, after moving to OKC, we got a rental manager who came highly recommended. It took him about two months to get the house rented out (which is the same as saying we had to pay three months’ mortgage (remember he gets the first rent check) with nothing coming back to us. That hurt us financially, but I was getting contract work from Lowrance that cushioned the blow. Around March, when we got our first rent check, I also stopped getting work from Lowrance.

So now here we are. As you know, our renters bugged out sometime in July. We never got an August rent check. We heard from our manager early-August, around the time we were expecting a check, that we wouldn’t be getting one, then or for the foreseeable future. He did tell us that the renters had left the house in pretty good shape (thank goodness), and that he’d be getting to work finding us new renters.

Three weeks passed, and when Trish called he said that he’d had a few people interested, but that we would need to put carpet in two rooms to make the house more attractive to renters. He estimated $400. Bear in mind, we’re already significantly negative, and he’s asking for more money. Trish and I talked about it, came up with a couple workarounds. She knew she’d be going to Tulsa soon, so she decided she’d maybe pick up some carpet scraps (room-size) on the cheap, and we could just lay them in the rooms. Something like that.

Well, it took her longer to get to Tulsa than she expected. Finally happened today, and while she was there, she went by the house. Then she called me.

Apparently, the manager lied to us. The house is a wreck. There’s crappy old furniture in some of the rooms, and in the garage. They’d asked permission to paint some of the walls (and we gave them a significant discount on one month’s rent to do it themselves) — Trish says that they only half-finished the painting. They stole the very nice fan from the living room. They left, just, trash all over the floor. Apparently there’s old milk cartons in the middle of the living room floor. And, because of the trash, there’s roaches all over the place.

Okay, all of that is kind of expected. That’s how renters leave a house when they leave, really. But, well, it was expected to be that way when they left, two months ago! Our manager’s job is to clean up exactly that sort of stuff. He lied to us, told us it was clean when they left, and then he did nothing for two months to fix it. In the meantime, he’s supposed to be showing the house to potential renters, which means he’s either failed to do that entirely, or he’s been showing it in the state it’s in.

That’s infuriating.

And I mentioned the bugs, right? The ones that are there because of all the trash left out? That is entirely his fault. That’s probably a $150-$200 fumigation bill, that is entirely his fault. And at least two months without rent because he failed to do his job.

Bah. I know, it’s whining. I’m sorry for that. I try not to use my blog to complain, unless it’s in a philosophical-sounding essay, but this one is just…argh. I’m angry at this guy. He has, personally, deliberately, caused a significant amount of grief to me and to Trish.

Bah! Beh. Angry. Furious. Anyway, we’re firing him. That much, of course, that’s obvious. Beyond that, I don’t know what we can do. We’re stuck, once again, in a position where it would be really hard to sell the house (we’re already past the end of the season). We can go find another manager, but, y’know, this one came highly recommended. How do we find someone better? Even if we do, or if we try to manage it ourselves, we’re still months away from seeing an actual rent check. And it’s probably going to cost us (and some subsection of our friends and family, godblessem) a weekend between now and then, whatever “then” is, to get the place fixed up.

Since we hired that rental manager last October, we’ve had to pay about $7,700 in mortgage. After subtracting his fees (and, remember, first month’s rent), we received about $2,600 in rent. If you know us, you know that’s not the sort of loss we can just absorb, y’know? And we’re looking at it getting worse before it gets better.

Yeah, I’m praying about it. And I’m confident it will work out. God’s never let us down, financially, but he doesn’t mind letting it get scary, I guess. My parents have never let us down, either. Nor my friends. I’ve got a great support network, I just hate being a burden on them. On you, basically. Anyway, keep us in your prayers. That’s the long and the short of it.

Journal Entry: July 25, 2006

So…yesterday was Trish’s birthday. As many of you know, we are excruciatingly broke at the moment, but due to good graces, poor filing, and silly forgetfulness, I stumbled across an uncashed check yesterday (for me, not against me), that allowed for a Trish’s birthday party.

Here is what I did:

* I bought her a cake.

* I made steak and potatoes.

Hmm…okay, on paper that doesn’t look nearly as impressive….

One of Trish’s favorite things in the world is ice cream cake (specifically Dairy Queen ice cream cake). The closest Dairy Queen to Oklahoma City, though, is more than an hour away. I’d intended to go there anyway, as a special treat, but the budget I ended up with for the whole affair would barely have covered the gas.

So I got one from Baskin Robbins, and that was equally delicious! Yay.

And the steaks…. Mmm…. They were good steaks. They turned out just right. I’m aching to get a new grill, but the sad thing is that I’m just now actually getting reasonably good at grilling on this one (after years of burnt hamburger patties and generous friends saying, “No, really, it’s delicious” between the crunches and the chipped teeth).

Anyway, steaks were great, mashed potatoes were good, ice cream cake was delicious, and we spent something like five straight hours cuddled on the couch watching Buffy. That was my day yesterday. Pretty freakin’ sweet (even though I didn’t get any WoW time in).

Oh! And major event today in Sleeping Kings! It’s one I’ve been building up to for a while (in my head, at least, if not in the text). Not a happy event, but I’d say a major one. Poor Josh….

And now I’m torn about where to take the story from here. The story feels like it’s about to go one way (Josh’s character specifically), while there’s about a week’s worth of stuff that I have in the outline that would be skipped that way. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I have to weigh it. We’ll see what happens, eh?

I’m sleepy. Supposed to go over to Shannon’s for dinner tonight, and I think Dan wanted to come over for some Strat or Scholo. He’d better bring a snowcone, is all I’m sayin’.

Hope you’re all well. I’m going to go spend my lunch break taking a nap in my car.

Journal Entry: July 17, 2006

1,000 words a day is taxing.

Hmm…that doesn’t quite say it strongly enough. I could just add profanity to spice things up, but instead I’ll go into a boring level of detail. I am a true protestant.

See, okay, if I sit down and write a 1,000 word story (or essay), then I’d guess that, if I have a general idea ahead of time, it’s going to take about four hours. I can compose and type up 1,000 words in about forty minutes. I’ve found that to be a pretty solid estimate over the course of the last several weeks.

But it takes time to create. It takes time to build the story pieces, and lay them out in order, and fill in the background, and (my method, at least), I put all those pieces together before I sit down to write.

Now, when it comes to Sleeping Kings, I’d say I spend about eight hours per 1,000 word story. Y’know when you’re talking to me on the phone, or in-game, or even in person, and you tell me something really interesting, and I say, “Yeah. Hey, what did you think about Josh stabbing the Queen Mum?” or something like that. That’s not precisely because I think your story is boring.

It’s that I’m obsessing over Sleeping Kings. I’d feel bad about it, but everyone who’s actually reading it is pretty excited about it, so I don’t.

Hmm, none of that is really new info. Something that is, though: I’ve posted a story daily now since May 25th. That’s 1,000 words (production) every day for fifty-four days. Yeah, Saturday’s was only on Saturday by about five minutes. That’s actually what got me thinking about this.

I have never written daily. Never. I’ve heard that all writers write daily. I got pretty close in college, taking Creative Writing every semester, and making time in my time-rich schedule to write. But even then I didn’t do weekends, and only very rarely was a day’s writing actually production. Most of the time it was notes, or test material, or even just daydreaming, composing, without any words on paper.

One of my goals, back then, was 1,000 words on paper, every weekday. I know for a fact I never hit it, even for two weeks at a time. Closest I came was when I was rewriting Taming Fire, and I’d get on a tear and do four or five chapters at once. But I wouldn’t even count that. That’s rewrite, not original production.

Of course, as most of you know, I got worse, not better. The whole time I was in Tulsa, I never wrote anything close to a schedule. I’d get the fever for one project or another, and work on that project (and rarely finish), but I never wrote to the calendar.

I’m there, now. Want to know something sad? I think it’s sad, anyway. I can’t begin to explain why I’m there now. I could name a couple things, little things, but I won’t. One day I dusted off the scrawny handful of pages that were the three-year-old introduction to Sleeping Kings, and I posted them on a website, and I just kept going.

It’s not easy to write every day. I would encourage all of you to do it, writers or not. Writing is a good discipline. It teaches you to be a better person (I’ve said that before). It teaches you to be in your world, and to be aware of your world. Even if you’re just blogging, journaling, emailing Mom. Whatever it is, write every day.

That’s most of my Me. It sounds like something else, but that’s my journal for the last week or so, everything I haven’t said about what’s going on in my life. What’s going on, is 1,000 words a day. You’d be amazed how much of my life is wrapped up in that right now. Well, unless you know me, in which case you already know.

Here are some things that have happened, that I should have been paying more attention to:

Brad wrote me, again, after three months of silence following the last email he wrote me. He found my blogs, and he wrote me, and I took forever to respond. I finally did, though. He wants to come visit. I can’t say how excited I am at the idea. Yay!

(I continue to have not written Bruce, and my shame piles up. Yea, verily, I am scum.)

Daniel’s back from Europe. Hoo-ah! I believe I’ve already been insulted and flipped off, so life is back to normal. Yay!

We’re hosting Trish’s two nephews, Tweedle Owen and Tweedle Sloan. Thirteen and eleven, give or take. They’re good kids. I kinda dreaded the idea at first, but it’s been good. I’m glad Trish has had this opportunity, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them better, too. I just hope they’re not sick of me shushing them.

One of my secret projects draws near to a close (or at least a functional Release Version, with GUI updates to follow), and I am beginning to urge my evil cohorts to begin on another secret project, with which I am almost as obsessed as I am with Sleeping Kings. Which makes sense, as the two are rather related. Alas, no details yet, as it would be boring without illustrations, and the illustrations are, themselves, the result of the secret project. I’ll keep you posted, once it’s interesting.

I suppose that’s all. I have something I want to tell you, about Archetypes and Social Construction, but that will be a post of its own. Good day. Smile, if you’ve got anything to smile for.

Journal Entry: July 4, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

I woke up this morning to a cat with an impressive set of lungs on it. Hmm…okay, some of the more literal ones among you are going to be thinking unpleasant things, so I should be entirely clear: it was yowling for some breakfast. At 6 AM. While I’m on vacation. I woke up, and it showed me where they keep the food, so I fed it.

That’s my morning routine back home, anyway.

Then I didn’t go back to bed, even though I wanted to (also part of my morning routine). I opened up Trish’s laptop, and posted today’s story on Sleeping Kings, and checked my email. I had a really kind email from Bruce.

(I mean to write a post on here sometime telling the story of how I met Bruce, how he became my king, and how he moved all over the world like the police van in a game of Carmen Sandiego.)

I am on vacation, by the way. Did everyone know that? I ended up getting four days for the weekend (by way of using a day’s vacation on Monday), and Heather and Graham had invited everyone to their new home in St. Louis for the Fourth, and we, as a family, have been doing a pretty serious (as in, I can’t get out of it) family reunion sort of a holiday on the Fourth for the last several years so, all of those independent clauses combined, Trish and I drove up to St. Louis Friday night. And here we are.

I have to be back at work tomorrow morning, so we’re actually missing all the Fourth of July stuff. We’re heading home right after lunch today. But, yeah, I’ve been away for the last three days, in case anyone has missed me.

I have this to say: children are noisy things. They are active things. I am neither of those things. Big sigh.

I’ll see you tomorrow. Read Sleeping Kings.

Greatness: Books of Legacy (or “On Fatherhood”)

When I was…I dunno, fifteen or so, my family took a long summer road trip. We’d often done summer road trips as a family for my whole life. This one was the whopper, and my parents had probably been planning it for years.

Trish and I were dating at the time, and I faced the terrifying prospect of being away from her for ten days straight. No phone calls, nothing.

I hated it. I resented it. I…even then, I saw it as a matter of perspective. I sat back and looked at the situation from my perspective (where it was a really big deal), and I could see that, from my parents’ perspective, being away from a girl I didn’t really date yet, for less than two weeks, wasn’t that big a deal.

But I was outraged by it. I came up with an idea, and I put it immediately into practice. I wrote Dad a furious letter, telling him exactly how I felt, exactly how important that summer time with Trish was to me, and how much it hurt that I had to be away from her. That wasn’t exactly the idea, though. My idea was to keep writing letters like this, to write Dad every time I had something important, something dramatic that I wanted to say to him — to write it down, and keep them all together, and save that until I had a son of my own. Then read them all, because that would be exactly the words I needed to hear.

I didn’t stick to it. I wrote only that one letter. The reason was this: well, first, I really don’t stick to very many of my ideas. More importantly, though, everything I had to say in those letters was negative. Because anything positive I had to say, I just said. I’ve usually been pretty good about that. So it would have just been a bunch of whiny letters in poor penmanship.

There are ways in which I really wish I’d followed that through. There would have been some valuable lessons in there, and some powerful reminders. Mostly they’d probably be reminders about what a whiny brat I was, but even those have their value.

Sometime in college, I got an idea for something similar. I think Daniel or Toby, or someone, was telling me about a cultural group that had this practice, but it might have been an original idea….

Anyway, okay, I’ll tell it in story form, because that’s what I do.

Within the history of my fantasy world, there comes eventually a line of kings known as the Davinic Kings — these are the heirs of Daven, centuries later, who reunite and rule over the FirstKing’s old realm, and it’s a time of prosperity and happiness. They are legendary kings (as the similarity of the name would imply).

And I decided that, among themselves, this family of kings would have a practice of writing Books of Legacy. Each king, when he first learned that he was going to have a child, would write a book containing all of his wisdom, all of his experience — everything he truly wanted to teach his son. He would spend the nine months or so writing down his message to his son. When his son reached the age of maturity, his father would give him the book, and perhaps teach it to him.

I thought how cool it would be to write those books, to write the collected teachings that each of these great and powerful men (while they were still young) would like to pass on to their sons and heirs. How much could you say, how much imply, about a character and his world, within that particular framework?

I didn’t follow through on that. I have a few notes scribbled in one of my scribblebooks that I’d intended as some of the bits of wisdom, and I stumbled across those on Sunday morning. Of course, those are only three years old or so, and they already strike me much the same way that my high school rants at my dad would, if I still had those.

And I think that would be a big part of the message. It’s amazing how much we change, from day to day, and I think that’s one of the most awesome things about writing, about setting down, at one time, a whole world, that may seem entirely alien when we look back on it tomorrow. Because we carry our memories with us, and modify them, in subtle ways, to match the world we’re living in now. It’s nice to have something, some hint or snapshot, showing the world as it was, then.

It can be embarrassing. It can be really embarrassing. But that’s part of the process, innit? That’s the price a writer pays, to do this remarkable thing.