Sunday, November 21, 2010

Here We Go...

Okay folks, here we go... the prologue has been released. The Unborn Child arrives. Click on "Here We Go" to get there.

Again - it ain't that great - which is probably the best reason of all to put it out there and move on. If you do elect to read it, please feel free to critique as much as you like, via comments or email. I would like to try to use this as a learning experience, if nothing else.

Thanks for your patience, your time and your criticism. It's all much appreciated.

First Corinthians 13:11

I've bored you all with rants and whines about The Devil's Footprints. I've promised to release it repeatedly. This is nothing new, I've been saying it to myself for years. But a few months ago, I finished it. And I hate it. Though I love it.

I've struggled with defining what the driving force behind this story is. Is it about characters to whom a set of events is happening? Or is it about an event that people are caught in? Is it a set of ideas illustrated by a plot, or is it a story with a theoretical footnote? Somewhere in the debate, between self-proposal and self-rebuttal, I lost control over my own story.

Was I squeezing in so much plot that I focused too precisely on the whirlwind sweeping away my heroes? Should I instead have drawn a concise picture of the whirlwind through the reactions of my characters? And should my characters by defined by their thoughts and actions, or by their reaction to their environment and relationship to the others? I'm just too close, too involved. It's a house that's been remodeled past the point of resembling the original structure. I look through the windows of the house, through the glass darkly and wonder what happened to the source material.

It's trapped me. I've spent years walking in circles, writing and rewriting characters who were doing exactly that. In many respects I illustrated much of my own theme by never bringing the thing to completion. I started it nearly fifteen years ago, and when I could have moved on to more serious projects, spent time polishing my writing skills, I've instead lingered on to the perpetually unfinished story I would never conceive of writing now.

As more and more ideas stack up behind the dam I've built, I realize now that it's time to open the sluices. Today I'll be setting up a blog for The Devil's Footprints. I'll publish the prologue this evening, and let that first part go, feed it to the eRiver and be done with it. As I let it go, piece by piece, it'll be gone. I can't go back and change it.

I don't know if it's good or bad. I'm not even sure if I care. Maybe I'll care again as I put it together, this childish plastic model that's been collecting dust in my closet. Once I hang it on the wall, I can admire it or use it to see how far I've come at a later date. My family will pin it to their refrigerators, and I will forever fight the urge to delete it.

By telling you that it's not good, I am not preempting. I am not fishing. I am stating a fact. But that I've worked so long on it, to its credit or detriment, is reason enough to put it out there.

It's time to put away childish things.

On Michael Vick's Miraculous Personal Turnaround

Man's Loyal Best Friend
In August 2007, NFL Quarterback Michael Vick plead guilty to dog fighting charges. He was sentenced to prison, and lamented his financial losses.

The Poor guy, he's said to have lost everything. This includes his six luxury houses in Virginia, Georgia and Florida, and  ten luxury cars. And of course he had Bad Newz Kennels, and all the extra needed income that provided. Yes, it's tough when economic realities force one to work a second job.

Two years later, upon his release from prison, a "reformed" Michael Vick was signed on with the Philadelphia Eagles. He lamented the error of his ways, and is now showing a kinder, gentler Michael Vick, a Michael Vick that doesn't raise his middle finger to the fans who support him, shortly before being investigated for animal torture.

Last night it was said to me that we shouldn't impose our cultural values on the cultures of others, that this is common in the deep south. It was said that in China, people eat dogs, that we can't pass judgment. Well, I happen to eat cows and chickens, so no, I do not pass judgment on a culture that eats dogs.

She Was Dependent On Her Owner
But there is no excuse for torturing and maiming animals. Just as being in the deep south was never an excuse for beating or raping one's wife, or  having slaves. It's not as if those in the deep south are never exposed to the rest of the world. And someone who had six houses and ten cars does not strike me as a victim of cultural one-sidedness.

For anyone who is unsure about how dog fighting works, I'll give you a brief rundown. Puppies are brought in or bred from existing animals. Their aggression is fostered and nourished. Other animals, often stolen pets or animals taken from "free to a good home" ads are brought in as fodder. Their muzzles are duct-taped closed to prevent injury to the half-starved fighter-in-training. The dogs are let loose on the animal. In fortunate situations, death for the bound creature is fast. Not so for the champion dogs.

Anyone who does not believe that dogs experience emotion in a very similar fashion to us, has not spent a great deal of time around one. They can be loving, gentle animals. But as animals, (like us), they have an aggressive, survival-mode side. This serves its purpose when not domesticated, but not when harnessed for the sole purpose of gambling.

So Michael Vick raised these dogs, starved them, set them loose on smaller animals for training, then set them against each other and rival dogs, let them tear each other apart. He gambled on this. He placed money on the animals that depended on him for food and shelter. And he let them kill each other for the entertainment of others.

A Champion
It has now been a little over three years since Michael Vick's conviction. He has said that what he did was reprehensible. He has apologized time and time again.

Clearly, those who follow football are impressed with his comeback and his fans are showing a remarkable ability to forgive and forget. Either that, or their memories are just very, very short.

So in three years, has Vick really and truly turned his life around? Does he regret the pain and suffering he caused so many animals?

Will Michael Vick prove to be a champion of animal rights and humanitarianism?

I won't hold my breath.