Unconscious Desire~~by Mark Huntley-James

I don’t write about writing, as a rule, even though I’ve broken that rule several times lately. That’s the thing about rules and writing – don’t like them, don’t use them, certainly don’t want to recommend them to anyone else. I’m a pantser, I just write, no structure, no plans… no… no way that this can possibly be true.

My previous post on this topic (again, breaking my rule about not writing about writing) was on plans hatched by my characters and the intervention of unforeseen factors, which got me to thinking about my largely subconscious planning process. Since I don’t plan my writing and things still seem to work out, it feels like there must be some sort of plan happening in the background.

It doesn’t matter so much with a short piece like this – I can write randomly, rambling on to get my thoughts together, then tidy up, give it some structure, and it looks like I planned it that way all along. That does not seem a plausible or practical way to write a novel, let alone a series of novels, but apparently that’s what I do. Unless, of course, there’s some sleight-of-mind thing going on in the background, where a vast planning organisation in the back of my head does all the design work without me really noticing.

It’s a little like driving a regular commute. How many times have you gone to work, the shops or the gym and arrived with no recollection of actually doing the driving? It’s quite amazing how much the human mind gets done without the human noticing.

Last time, I wrote about a plot that was going nowhere interesting, really, really slowly, and suddenly the panster lightbulb came on, delivered fixes, and all was well. If it was really that easy, why did it take weeks of apparently fruitless work and frustration culminating in two days of ah-ha!

When I look back at what I did, there is a catalogue of writerly grunt-work. I wrote an outline of the plot I had, an outline of how that plot ought to look, notes on which characters ought to appear where and when, and then abandoned all of that because none of it really worked. At the same time, I wrote pieces of the book, trying to fill in the gulf between what was already there and what the new outline suggested would be good, which is not a happy thing to do, because I hate outlines.

Then, out of nowhere, something in the back of my head said: that goes there, that little incident is the obvious basis for a big showdown, which fits the wider pattern of the book, and look, everything makes sense. With hindsight, it seems to me that it didn’t come out of nowhere, but out of weeks of work, letting the book, the characters and the world slosh around in my subconscious until finally an answer emerged like a surprise predatory iceberg easing casually into the path of an unsuspecting ship that it’s had its eye on. Perhaps exactly the same sort of process that a dedicated plotter might achieve with a ream of paper, unlimited PostIts and a pack of pens in fifty different colours.

My way is easier on the rain forests.

I don’t know if my grand theory is true. I have no way of testing it or proving it, but it seems a much better explanation than miraculously, out of nowhere. (Besides, in terms of plots, that’s known as a deus ex machina, which is really just Latin for miraculously, out of nowhere, and is a little bit frowned upon by writers.)

Writing books is hard work. The real miracle is that anyone is crazy enough to do it. I would like to think my explanation of how my head works is right, but that’s probably based on an unconscious need for explanations, and this one is so cool that I really want it to be right.

And here, with no plan, I’m done writing this blog. Apart from the editorial litter-picking, and giving it the gloss that makes it all look planned.

(My other half, who reads and comments on all my work, deserves a mention here. She just said so.)


OMP Admin Note:  Mark Huntley-James writes science fiction and fantasy on a small farm in Cornwall, where he lives with his partner and a menagerie of cats, poultry and sheep.

He has two urban fantasy novels out on Kindle – “Hell Of A Deal” (http://relinks.me/B01N94VXBC ) and “The Road To Hell” (relinks.me/B07BJLKFSS  ) – and is working on a third. He contributed a story to the One Million Project: Fantasy anthology, While We Were Sleeping.

He can be found online at his blog http://writeedge.blogspot.co.uk, his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers are now available (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Altered Ability~~by Christine Larsen

Silhouettes of people in a line, all holding hands - child, woman, man, person in a wheelchair, man, woman, child. Behind them, the sun is rising.

“Race you down the passage, Chris,” and he was off in his magnificent electric wheelchair, those fabulous blue eyes flashing every which way. He was a handsome devil was Bill, along with possessing a genius-level brain, a photographic memory and a spirit as tall as a Giant Sequoia. Ohh, nearly forgot to mention, he had also been a road accident victim many years before, suffering a broken spine that paralysed him completely from the neck down. Bill was a quadriplegic. He would have been the first to disparage this label, medically accurate as it may be. He needed recognition of the person he was, NOT his medical condition. I understand Bill was not alone in this perfectly understandable desire.

There’s an unhappy history of unfortunate, often cruel, names to describe people who are far more physically challenged than most. I’m most definitely NOT one who demands or even tinily appreciates ‘politically correct’ terminology and names, all too often finding the replacements more offensive than the originals. With improvement of the language used for those with uncommon abilities, an overhaul of the regular verbiage is long overdue.

Hopefully, the most cruel and thoughtless names—crippled, spastic, retarded, etc.—are descriptions from a dark and faraway past. Hopefully! And yet, ‘handicapped’ and ‘disabled’ are taking some losing, being so commonplace. The ugly ‘handicapped’ summons up endless shutter-like pictures with a never-ending flow of the clumsy awkwardness of these people hitting one insurmountable hurdle to so-called ‘normality’, after another. According to one spokesperson, “Disability IS… when your car breaks down, it disables your car. People are NOT disabled,” suggesting the term itself can cause lives to being lived with much greater degrees of restriction, much increased self-doubt and dependency.

I saw an interesting attempt to avoid the word ‘disabled’ at a shopping centre carpark. The easily recognised stick figure in a wheelchair had the word PARKING beneath. Well done, being also clearly understandable to those lacking knowledge of the language. But it struck a funny bone… uhrr, park your wheelchairs there and a miraculous cure will enable you to walk away?? Despite this amusing aside, ‘people with disabilities’ (as they prefer being called) understand and appreciate efforts like these. It’s not really so difficult to imagine how you would want your humanity—your humanness—placed first when you’ve lost so much else; some aspects, maybe forever.

Here are a few preferred terminologies to consider:-

DON’T USE ‘confined to a wheelchair’ or ‘wheelchair-bound’, but

USE ‘wheelchair user’ or ‘uses a wheelchair’.

DON’T USE ‘victim’ or ‘sufferer’—these are dehumanizing and imply powerlessness

USE ‘person with a disability’, ‘person with paraplegia’, ‘person with HIV/AIDS’.

See how the person features, and the problem moves into the background?

DON’T USE ‘disabled access’ and ‘handicapped access’, but

USE ‘wheelchair accessible’, ‘wheelchair accessible via ramp’, ‘upper floors wheelchair accessible by lifts’.

Almost all dislike being considered as some kind of especially superhuman, brave, or courageous being. They are the same as everyone else, usually simply needing to try a lot harder, but otherwise sharing the same talents and skills, given the right opportunities, training, and support. As I understand it, these are wishes, not demands; preferences to give them back their individual self-esteem and self-belief that they remain a vital part of their world.

I’ve researched and ‘tossed around’ many ideas and suggestions for altering our perception of these folk, and believe we could achieve much with some adjusted thinking about their abilities.

‘Lesser’ ability had appeal until I thought about the effort it takes some to even breathe. Suddenly, ‘lesser’ pales significantly.

‘Different’ ability sounds good. So much of their previous life-styles differs from anything imagined, or probably even believed possible to survive.

‘Physically challenged’ (or ‘mentally’, ‘emotionally’, ‘environmentally’—the list would be long); this feels the most promising to me. ‘Challenge’ is such an understatement of what these folk must endure and overcome… but it feels honest, and the best.

And my name for this article—ALTERED ABILITY—is deeply relevant to me, despite being perceived as ‘somewhat science-fiction, compared to authentic life’ by some. Considering some implants, prosthetics and treatments, this is maybe not so far from the truth. But my meaning was the massive adjustments people with DISabilities must face as they learn to accept and live with their new reality.

All we able-bodied folk need is empathy. Not such a great ask, hey? Remembering the countless, fantastic rewards to my heart and soul from my time working with Bill as his carer and oft-times visitor/helper in his hospital and rehabilitation stints, I would give the greatest encouragement to re- stacking the odds in the fullest favour of success with the physical challenges he and people like him confront.


OMP Admin Note: Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

She contributed the story A bonny Wee Lassie to the One Million Project: Fiction anthology.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers are now available (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology