One More Time

One More Time by Cecil AdkinsAs my first paid fiction sale, “One More Time” is, needless to say, pretty special to me.  It’s also a story that took me a very long time (ha!) to write.  I started it sometime in 1998 and didn’t submit it anywhere until over ten years later.  I sent it to all of the big sci-fi magazines and e-zines (I always target those first, since one of my short-term goals as a writer is to become a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and being published by one of the biggies is a prerequisite) but received very nice form rejection letters from each of them.  It was accepted for publication by Allegory, a small but very good e-zine with a dedicated readership.  The pay wasn’t as much as the big names, but that didn’t bother me in the least.  An editor had liked my story enough to give me money for the privilege of including it in his publication.  By that point I was already making money writing about MMORPGs for Examiner.com, but to be able to cash a check I’d received for writing fiction was a magical moment.

“One More Time” features time travel, a staple in the science fiction genre.  The main character, on a quest to save his relationship, does a lot of very bad things, but he justifies his actions by imagining that most of them happen in timelines that won’t exist once he’s finished with his journey.  One of the main rules of fiction is you have to make the main character likable, or at least make it so the reader can relate to him or her.  I’m not sure I satisfied either of those requirements with Erik Waterson in “One More Time,” although I’d wager that many of us have done some pretty unthinkable things in the name of love.

I’m making “One More Time” available for free on my website as part of a planned “free fiction” series.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story (send comments to ceciladkins@yahoo.com) and hope you enjoy reading it.

Writing what I know

“Write what you know.”  It’s a familiar phrase to anyone who has ever had an interest in writing, and to most who’ve ever had an English class.  Followed to the extreme, it doesn’t always make sense, especially for fiction writers.  I’m not sure how much Orson Scott Card really knows about sentient pig-like and bug-like aliens (Speaker For the Dead) or how much experience Stephen King has had with supernatural beings who take on the form of dancing clowns (It), but I’m guessing neither of them have witnessed such things first-hand.  Of course, the point of most fiction is to show how people like us would respond to extraordinary circumstances, so the “write what you know” part of those stories is in creating characters who think and feel like real people encountering the fantastic.

Much of my writing has focused on themes and situations similar to those of Card and King, but lately I’ve been playing around with more mundane matters.  This has been happening slowly over time, as even stories I consider science fiction have really been “about” more than just the fantastical elements.  My short story, “Attachment,” currently making the rounds looking for a home, will strike a chord with my office supply store coworkers and anyone else who works in a retail or sales position.  “Empty Chair” is a ghost story, but there’s a lesson there that’s very important in the real world.

I’m currently working on a story that’s not slated to have any real elements of science fiction or fantasy, which is pretty rare for me.  As such, I’m a little more nervous about how it’s going to be received than I am my other work.  This new one also hits a lot closer to home than anything I’ve ever done, and I’m struggling a lot just getting the words out, even though the story itself more or less popped into my head whole cloth.  A few people who are close to me will recognize themselves in it immediately, although not completely, both out of respect for them and the needs of the story, and I’ll be sure to let those people read it to get their feedback.  I know writers use the experiences of those around them as fuel for their stories all the time, but this story is so personal and painful that I feel like I owe a first reading to them.

It’s funny that back in the day, when I first started realizing I wanted to be a writer, I had these long-term fantasies about where I would be, career-wise, at different stages in my life.  None of those have come true, of course, as 25 years or more into it I’m still struggling to find even a moderate amount of success.  But I never imagined that I would have been interested in writing stuff that didn’t take place on a spaceship, or on another world, or that didn’t involve some form of time travel or ray gun.  It’s not really a new direction for me, as the novel that I hope to kick start (again) and eventually get published features all of those elements.  But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about truth and What Really Matters lately, and I think “writing what I know” will help me express a lot of my thinking on those subjects.  Hopefully, the experience will translate to my science fiction as well.  People don’t read Orson Scott Card to hear what he has to say about pig-aliens, after all.

Evergreen

In an attempt to build up a library of “evergreen” articles (articles which can “stand the test of time” and that will be as useful a year from now as they are today) for my Examiner.com MMORPG column, I’ve updated my series of “Basic MMORPG Concept” articles.  I redid them attempting to utilize good SEO (search engine optimization) practices and keyword research.  Maybe I’ll post an entry here discussing any success I may have with that.

Index page to all the articles

Internet security & MMORPGs

Business models & MMORPGs

Genre & MMORPGs

Money & MMORPGs

Community & MMORPGs

Leveling & MMMORPGs

Today’s article roundup

Posted two new articles today for my MMORPG column at Examiner.com, and two articles about religion/freethought at HubPages.  Finally got my Google AdSense account approved and am excited to see how that will work out.

Win a Trip to BlizzCon Sweepstakes underway
Find out how to win two tickets + airfare and hotel room to BlizzCon, the annual convention for all things World of Warcraft/StarCraft/Diablo

Info on upcoming World of Warcraft patches
Cataclysm is getting closer… these patches will pave the way

Dogmatic Dangers
Why it’s not just cults that are dangerous

What is Freethought?
A definition

Collective Unconscious?

Carl Jung, the great analytical psychologist, coined the term “collective unconscious” to describe the part of the unconscious mind which he believed was separate from the personal unconscious and which was shared by all members of  a particular species.  It is collective, universal, and impersonal.  Jung believed it is the reason that human beings from all over the world and throughout history have similar dreams and thoughts, create similar religions, and use similar symbols, even without any direct connections.

Central to the idea of collective unconscious is the concept of archetypes.  Archetypes are universal prototypes for ideas and can be used to interpret observations and dreams.  Archetypes are the main inhabitants of the collective unconscious and have been a constant companion to humanity since time immemorial.  Examples of Jungian archetypes are the Shadow, the Anima & Animus, the Hero, the Devil, and others.

Jung was not the only one to propose such an idea.  Plato’s theory of Forms or theory of Ideas was very similar, asserting that abstract forms or ideas, rather than the material world around us, possessed the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.  Charles Darwin talked about “social instincts,” which he believed came about because of natural selection. Emile Durkeim, in books like The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912), discussed “collective representations,” which were ideas, beliefs, and values held by a community or other large group and which were not reducible to individual constituents.

So, why name my blog Collective Unconscious?  I’ve long been fascinated with the collective unconscious, archetypes, and other Jungian concepts.  I’m currently unsure exactly what I believe about the validity of Jung’s ideas, especially as I venture farther along the paths of Freethought and Secular Humanism, but I’m committed to “following the evidence wherever it leads.”  Despite my current feelings about God, the universe, and the meaning (or lack thereof) of life, I can’t escape the idea that there is something linking all of mankind together.  I’d like to explore that idea in this blog, as well as other thoughts and blasphemies as they come to me.

The collective unconscious, to me, represents that no matter how different we all are, what race we are or the color of our skin, no matter what God we worship or choose not to worship, human beings are more alike than most of us realize.  I hope you’ll join me on my journey of discovery.