River of Consciousness (Chapter 4) “Hapa Girl DNA”

I’m shivering inside a UFO.

The ceiling slopes down like a Chinese rice hat to the floor. A red band encircles the room where the ceiling meets the deck. The three of us look awkward – Maxwell, me and the girl who could almost be Mahani Teave.

I missed her name when she said it.

I see codes of consciousness when I blink. Ones and zeros.

I know them as doubly-even self-dual linear binary error-correcting block codes.

They were discovered by a theoretical physicist: S. James Gates, Jr., Ph.D.

S. JAMES GATES JR.

This is my favorite picture of him: The founding father and pilgrim of string theory’s DNA. History will place him beside Einstein if rational minds prevail.

Biological DNA also has error correction: A higher mind showing cells how to build nanotech machines to fix DNA screwups. Things like replication errors and the mutations we worshiped in undergrad bio.

But the “illusion of consciousness” is the delusion of flatlanders. Conscious awareness is central to digital physics and independently real.

We are not alone.

We’re side by side on a soft Indian rug. The girl’s legs are crossed yoga style now with the tops of her toes flat against the opposite thighs.

“I didn’t hear your name,” I confess to her.

“I am Vedanshi,” she says, beaming. “The Role of the Sacred Knowledge.” Her expression reminds me of Luciano Pavarotti after an aria.

pavarotti

I was twelve when God’s angel died. I will always love him.

Maxwell’s face is blank. He risked everything for me.

“You both saved my life,” I tell them and lean against Maxwell’s wet shoulder. “Thank you.”

Even if leukemia has its way now.

“Cloaking,” Vedanshi whispers, and the red band fades from around us, the walls vanish, and we’re floating on a rug twenty feet above the ocean.

I see my boots on the jetty next to Maxwell’s jacket. I should feel the sea air, but I don’t. The ocean butts the jetty and climbs its rough boulders, but I can’t hear it.

“I need a mirror,” Maxwell mumbles.

“No you don’t. You look marvelous.” I fake an Italian accent, “Shake your hair, darling… such as it is.”

His eyebrows may have moved. I’m not sure.

“Don’t panic,” I tell him. “All your great pianists fly UFO’s.”

Vedanshi grins and the sun breaks. An orange bead on a hilltop.

Maxwell’s vacant eyes find me. He says nothing.

“I heard the phone call,” Vedanshi says. “I know what the old woman is doing.”

“Purchasing my soul?” I suggest.

Vedanshi nods. “Let’s get your things.”

The Jetty is beneath us but I didn’t feel us move. My boots are inches from my feet. I lean forward and reach but my knuckles hit an invisible deck.

“Sorry,” Vedanshi says crinkling her nose. “Try again.”

I reach down and pick up Ojiichan’s chopsticks, grab my boots, then get Maxwell’s jacket and lay it in midair beside his wet legs that stick out past the edge of the carpet and rest on nothing. A little reluctantly, I snag his ugly climbing shoes, bring them in and smell the rubber.

He watches from a trance.

“Snap out of it,” I tell him. “You seem shroomed.”

“It’s a psychotic break,” he mumbles.

“You haven’t turned idiot,” Vedanshi assures him. “There’s a small mirror I can loan you, but I want it back.” She reaches into the side pocket of the purple robe she gave me, pulls out a square purse, opens it and extracts a round mirror the size of a silver dollar. On the back is an engraving of a woman’s face. Lazar quality. She’s wearing a crown and triangular earrings that float beside her earlobes.

Vivid dreamers know how mirror images lag in dreamland. Maxwell is probably a gifted dreamer and wants to test the reality of this place. I can’t blame him. It’s weird.

In the past I’ve tested with mirrors, but I’ve found they’re harder to track down than bathrooms – in dreams, I mean.

Rule of thumb: If there’s a mirror, you’re not dreaming. You’re totally sitting in a classroom naked.

“We should leave,” Vedanshi says. “She’s coming. I don’t want her to discover me.”

With the sun up, Vedanshi’s white blouse is orange and short. It leaves an inch of skin above tiny-waisted harem pants. She either works out or never eats… or has issues with her thyroid.

“You two may want to close your eyes,” she says as the Jetty drops and the mouth of the Columbia River shrinks into a falling coastline.

The horizon rounds down and the Earth becomes smooth and blue to white on the sun’s side.

There was no lurch of engines, no whiplash, not even a hiss of wind.

I glance at the sun and get dots following my eyes. Canada is endless. The overhead is black and radiant with stars. The swath of glowing velvet is an edge-on look across a spiral galaxy.

This is the “near space” I’ve read about, but it feels nearer to Heaven. I’m overcome with affection for our magnificent little round home. She’s cute, miraculously great but humble. Wise and still innocent.

This is warmth I’d never imagined.

I grip it the way James’ therapist says – holding bliss in a 30-second headlock to myelinate the neurons of joy.

Listen now. Happiness is a skill, like training your fingers to do three-against-four on Chopin’s Fantasy Impromptu in C# minor. Or figuring out how to sing with vibrato as a child, then spending the rest of your life trying to forget.

Craning at the most numerous Seven Sisters in captivity, I lose my balance and grab the front of the carpet to avoid Revelation’s fall from Heaven to Earth.

M45, the Pleiades Cluster (92mm 5DII)

“My ship believes she’s twelve thousand years old,” Vedanshi says. “Her name is The Ganga.” Vedanshi looks at the rug and seems to talk to it. “Anyone can speculate about axial precession.”

Maxwell touches the mirror’s edges only, holding them with thumb and finger. He seems dissociative the way he’s checked out.

“So you’re from Earth?” I ask Vedanshi.

“Of course.”

“Well, you never know. You crashed the party in a UFO.”

“Yes,” she says, but shakes her head, no. “I’ve seen UFO’s on your internet but I don’t know if they’re real. We didn’t have them in my day, and I was never old enough for the talk.” She taps her knees to put quotation marks around, “the talk.”

“What’s ‘the talk’?”

Her brow furrows at Maxwell spinning her mirror, but she lets it go. “In my day, when you turned 18 you got ‘the talk’ from your parents. It was about free will – or so they said. But I could tell there was more. When I was in pyramid triage for the river – a test to identify pilots – I made friends with a girl whose big sister got ‘the talk’ and then started whispering to shooting stars. She wasn’t loopy before that, supposedly.”

Below us to the south, bright sheets of white flash over Mexico and red sprites blink over the clouds.

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“What would make anyone whisper to a meteor?” I ask.

“Aliens?” Vedanshi shrugs. “We heard strange voices in the river before the asteroids hit. I still wonder if they were real – you know – literal words that The Ganga somehow couldn’t interpret. It’s doubtful. Her linguistics are advanced. But why would anyone subvocalize nonsense in the river?”

 Glossolalia, I don’t know. I look at Maxwell. “This is no ordinary UFO!”

No response.

Vedanshi nods solemnly. “The Ganga taught me English – which didn’t exist for us four months ago.”

Maxwell is mouth breathing. That’s the last straw. I lean over and kiss the side of his face. It’s salty. “Buck up, soldier. You’re making me worry.”

“Sorry,” he says and shakes the cobwebs.

That was the first time I’ve kissed a guy. True, I was raped once, but no kissing. I was eleven.

“You’re from Earth,” I remind Vedanshi. “So where did you get this thinking machine?”

“They did it on purpose,” she says, then draws an expansive breath. “I should back up. The very oldest ships had accidents. Their non-locality buffers got out of sync with the gravity lifts sometimes. So for an instant you had movement during the nonlocal swap.”

I nod.

Maxwell leans back on his hands. “You lost me.”

“Anything using quantum non-locality has to be nailed down,” she says. “So it’s motionless to the buffers. But the primitive ships shifted structurally – at nearly the speed of light if it happened with the horizons burning.” She searches Maxwell’s face. “Nonlocal point swapping horizons?”

He squints. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“High subluminal velocities turn nanoseconds into thousands of years,” she explains.

“It’s special relativity’s version of stasis,” I tell him. “Slows your clock.”

Maxwell smirks.

“You’re never heard from again,” Vedanshi says. “Unless you’re lucky enough to wind up in this post-cataclysmic dystopia.” She looks down at the Earth with a half-smile. “The old woman came from the first part of my era, I think. I finally saw her vehicle. It’s phallic, which is retro. And it has to be early because every thought gets out.”

“Every thought? What do you mean?” I ask.

“The river?” Vedanshi asks me back.

Maxwell and I shake our heads. I hate to admit when I’m lost.

“The fundamental unit of reality is consciousness,” she says, “not matter, energy or space. They’re derivative. Pilots use the river of consciousness to communicate with ships and other pilots. I don’t know why we call it a river, it’s more like a sea, or the pixels of an infinite hologram.”

“Now that I can understand,” I tell her.

“In the earliest vessels privacy filters didn’t exist. The old woman’s ship must be dangerously ancient because I hear every word she thinks. I’ve even seen a few cortical images from her occipital lobes.”

I feel my heart racing. This is the mother lode everyone dreams of. I wish I had longer to live.

“A few months ago,” Vedanshi says, “I heard the woman thinking about a young geneticist who manipulates terabytes of base-pair language in her head with no implants. Totally impossible. My mother’s best women with cortical enhancements couldn’t hold a ten-thousandth of that in working memory, let alone juggle it. So I had to meet you, Johanna. Because, as you say, you never know.” She puts her hands together yoga style and bows her head like Ojiichan did in his Temple. “This morning I heard the woman threatening to kidnap your brother. Then you went off to drown yourself. I sort of panicked trying to find you.”

“So… you can hear phone calls?” Maxwell asks.

“The woman was inside her ship,” Vedanshi says.

“Yeah, she was in her ship, Max. Keep up.” I scowl warmly.

He gives me a hint of a grin.

“You have to master the river of consciousness before you pilot,” Vedanshi says. “Pilots are born with an extra gyrus on their parietal lobes, but the phenotype is no guarantee you’ll make it.”

Einstein had a parietal lobe anomaly. Suddenly I want an MRI.

“You said 2015 is a post-cataclysmic dystopia,” Maxwell says.

Vedanshi nods. “We’re probably six to twelve thousand years into it. There are four in recorded history.” She pats the rug beside her.

“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” I hear myself saying, and the verses open in my mind.

“Your unique feature is the loss of ancient records,” Vedanshi says. “From what I’ve read, your scholars get things backwards. The Grand Canyon took millions of years and the pyramids took twenty. I don’t see how anyone with eyes could believe that.”

“What ended your era, a comet? A flood?”

“A series of asteroids,” Vedanshi says. “The small stragglers landed near Madagascar and left beautiful deposits.”

The Earth rotates beneath us. Africa comes around with Madagascar to the east.

“This is the best one,” she says, pointing down. “See the feathers? It’s like a bird’s wing.”

MadChevrons 2

I’ve seen these before. To me it’s like someone dumped soapy water in the dirt. This one’s several miles long.

“Geologists say these were made by the wind,” I tell her.

“Not true.”

“What, then?”

“This is a piece of the Earth that broke free when one of the smaller asteroids hit. I saw it happen. It flew through the air at thousands of miles an hour. It came from the seabed over there.” She points east to a spot in the Indian Ocean where I’ve read there’s a crater. “This piece flew out at a low angle, glowing like lava with a tail of smoke and steam. The trees exploded when it hit. It was fluid, colloidal, and flowed into this nice winglike shape. A small tsunami crept up a bit later but couldn’t wash it away. Unlike the previous day’s waves that razed everything.”

“The asteroids didn’t hit in one day?” I ask.

“No. The big ones came on the first day. A few smaller ones hit that night, and the tiny one that did this artwork touched down at sunrise. It might have been the last one, but…”

“So… Wait now. Are you saying the bigger asteroids made tsunamis that washed away their own impact deposits?”

“Yes, on day one. But I don’t think you’d call them tsunamis. They weren’t like Japan’s waves on the internet.”

“What was different?”

“They were huge. They moved like life forms – boiling over the continents without slowing down. Each one would start as part of an impact explosion and spread out in a circle with the circumference increasing until it matched the circumference of the Earth. Then it moved on around and the circumference shrank, keeping its power about the same until it narrowed down to a point and crashed into itself on the opposite side of the Earth. There was lightning and the loudest thunder. Water and debris shot up miles into the air. The big ones smoothed out everything in their paths, including their own ejection deposits. Later when things settled down and the small asteroids began to land, their water action looked more like Japan’s tsunamis. They were too weak to clear their deposits for the most part.” She looks down at the ground. “But if you really look, you can see shadows where some of them were washed away, too. Over there.” She points inland. “It’s like a stain.”

The Ganga moves closer.

chevron tilt

I kind of see what she’s talking about in the distance. But the wing chevron is impressive down here.

“Max, I’ve read that it’s six hundred feet thick at the edges.” I point to the wingtip.

“Looks pretty flat.” He tilts his head to look down my arm, and I point again. His buzz cut brushes my temple. His collar is wet.

“Take off that shirt and put your coat on,” I tell him.

He grunts.

The Ganga moves lower, as if to show us the height of the wingtips. Maxwell whistles when we come down over the lip and really see one of these things edge-on.

Ancient Mysteries

He’s twenty-five. When we first met a few months ago he introduced himself as an aging surfer. So he’s probably not cold at all in his wet clothes. The bum.

I jab at him with an elbow.

He ignores it.

A cell phone starts a weak rendition of “Surfer Girl” and Maxwell digs it out of his coat, sees the number, then hands it to me. “It’s James,” he says.

I put it on speaker by habit. “James, are you alright?”

“That guy I rammed was a cop. I don’t know where they’re planning to take me, but he’s filling out a bunch of paperwork and sounds extremely pissed off. He’s got handcuffs. I hate those things.”

“Where are you?”

“He’s taking… He took my phone.” The connection goes dead.

I look at Vedanshi. “A cop in a Prius? I doubt it.”

She takes Maxwell’s phone, places it on the rug in front of her. The Earth drops like a lead ball from a bomb bay. We streak through white haze and across a blur of blue ocean. A glimpse of land flashes by and our impossible speed turns to a dead stop without making us even bob our heads. We’re fifteen feet off the ground in front of a police station in Honolulu.

James stumbles out with his hands cuffed back and the Haole pseudo-cop shoving him. The man kicks James’ legs and knocks him off the curve to the ground.

“Let me out,” I tell Vedanshi. “I’m going to hurt that man.” I feel the cold DNA of my ancestor, Shinmen Musashi-no-Kami Fujiwara no Genshin, the greatest and by far the deadliest samurai who ever walked the Earth.

I was eleven when I strangled a male adolescent chimpanzee with my bare hands. It’s the same feeling now.

M. Talmage Moorehead

Yo…

If you want, please read this story from page one (beginning with Johanna’s unorthodox prologue). It starts here.

If you like my fiction and want to be notified when each of my novels is done (possibly before the next ice age) please join my list here. (No spam or sharing of your info – ever.) You can download my e-book on fiction writing while you’re at it.

Also, please email a friend with my URL: http://www.storiform.com.

Thanks, I appreciate your generous help. 🙂

Talmage


Buoyancy (Chapter 3) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

I’m standing on the spine of the South Jetty as the tide goes out. I’m far enough from the shore that I won’t be able to swim in if I have second thoughts about suicide.

To the west the ocean horizon is cloudless but vague in the pre-dawn twilight. To the south the beach stretches on forever and the inland hills merge with a blue-gray hydrocarbon haze. The waves below are immature things that belch up abruptly from the black depths and spit white foam across the dark volcanic boulders that form the steep sides of the jetty.

I keep starting to write in my buoyancy journal. In my head, of course. Everything’s there. Every word I’ve ever read or written, the reams of base-pair sequences from work, and every detail of every day I’ve breathed air since I was 23 months old.

When things get me down I make a list of the reasons why they shouldn’t.

First off, I shouldn’t feel bad about what I’m doing here because I’m defending James. That’s honorable. Second, I won’t be lying in a hospital bed with tubes in my veins and everyone feeling guilty for not dropping everything and sitting bored stiff with me until I die.

My buoyancy lists are never long, but they’re powerful against depression. I read them slowly, one word at a time, over and over until my subconscious mind, the big math wizard who hardly speaks English, understands. And I feel better. It’s like magic. I want you to try it.

I’m going to leave my boots on, I guess. But I really love these things. They’re size five, extra wide. Hard to find. I better take them off so someone else can use them.

I almost forgot, Ojiichan’s chopsticks are still in my hair. They’re antiques, engraved with the Japanese character for poison – I don’t know why. I pull them out of my hair, take off my boots and then lay the chopsticks sideways across the toes. I hope no one steps on them.

It’s fifteen feet down to the busy water – surging and receding. I’m not afraid of heights, but I’ve always been chicken about jumping off high-dives. It’s the falling. I hate that feeling. Plus I’m a terrible swimmer. My body is too dense. I’m not all that skinny, so it really doesn’t make sense.

OK, just go. Jump in.

My knees are bent. This is it.

I’m holding my breath… Not sure why I’d be doing that. It’s kind of the opposite of why I’m here.

Now I’m over-thinking.

A truck’s coming on Jetty Road. I should do this before it gets here.

Come on, Johanna. Now!

It’s not a truck, it’s a Hummer. No, it can’t be Maxwell.

I told James about him last week. A guy I met at work. A child psychologist who deals exclusively with depressed kids. Once or twice a month Maxwell shows up at work as early as I do and corners me for small talk.

I suck at small talk.

“How ’bout those Seahawks!”

Forget it.

How ’bout Max Planck? Energy only comes in small digital packets: Planck’s constant. If that’s not weird to you – if that doesn’t turn your world upside-down, I’m afraid we’re different.

Earth: Eggheads and Jocks.

Maxwell’s both. So is James in his own way. I’m just an egghead. Though I do push weights and use the treadmill. And I can lift a tall stack of books, let me tell you.

Talmage thinks I do too much telling and not enough showing. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt my feelings.

The sky is neuromancer-gray now, light enough to show the color of the Hummer which is Army Green. That means it is him. It’s fricking Maxwell Mason. Doing a hundred miles an hour on that tiny road. His life’s probably in more danger than mine at the moment.

Slow down, Max!

It’s a pretty straight road. No traffic at all since that Harley. Max should be fine.

No, I don’t believe that either.

He’s slowing down a little. This is good. Now he’s skidding through the parking lot. This is bad. Dust everywhere. His front tires bunny hop a log and finally he stops.

Man, this is going to be embarrassing if I don’t even have the nerve to jump. People are going to say I was trying to get attention. I hate it when people say that about girls who try to kill themselves and fail.

Nobody’s going to say that about me.

I jump.

I take a breath on the way down and feel like a hypocrite for it.

For a split second it’s good to hit the water because it stops that lost-viscera feeling of falling. But under the water the world is black and colder than anything I’ve ever felt.

My arms and legs are kicking on their own. I try to stop them but they won’t stop. I try to make myself breath water but my head is pounding with the cold. It’s like a cluster headache or a good poke in the skull with a screwdriver. I can’t think of much else.

My head breaks the surface. The jetty rocks are three feet away and covered with white barnacles and brown mussels that look like dead incisors. I move away from them, not wanting to be a shredded mess at my funeral.

My arms are weakening from the cold. I finally make them stop paddling, and then force my legs to stop flailing.

I sink.

I blow all my air out and prepare to inhale. The salt water will flow into my lungs. Osmosis will do terrible things to my red cells. My coughing and gag reflexes will be overwhelmed.

I want to breathe. The desire is growing with every heartbeat. It’s just that I don’t want to breathe water.

Yes, breathe water.

Something grabs my arm and pulls. I’m on my back looking up at the sky with an arm across my chest. It’s a thick arm with Maxwell’s watch on the wrist. I gasp for air and it fills my lungs with the greatest joy I’ve ever known.

There’s a surface beneath us. It rises and lifts us out of the water. I’m on hands and knees looking over the edge of a round, silent thing that’s exactly the color of the sky and the texture of the stingray I touched at Maui Ocean Center on my ninth birthday. A circular opening appears beside me and a female voice with the vaguest Indian accent says, “Come inside quickly, both of you. I’ve never been so worried in my life.” A human hand reaches out and touches the skin on my left forearm and rubs it briskly. “You must be freezing. Let’s get you warmed up.” I lean over the edge of the opening and look down to see her face. I’m startled. It’s Mahani Teave, the renowned concert pianist of Easter Island.

Mahani Teave

My first thought, stupid as this sounds, is to ask for her autograph. I own all Mahani’s CD’s. She’s amazing. I’m a pianist myself.

The pictures on her CD’s flash by and I make comparisons. This girl’s freckles are in the wrong places.

“Who are you?” I ask and start coughing so loud and hard I can’t hear her answer.

M. Talmage Moorehead

Yo…

If you want, please read this story from page one (beginning with Johanna’s unorthodox prologue). It starts here.

If you like my fiction and want to be notified when each of my novels is done (possibly before the next ice age) please join my list here. (No spam or sharing of your info – ever.) You can download my e-book on fiction writing while you’re at it.

Also, please email a friend with my URL: http://www.storiform.com.

Thanks, I appreciate your generous help. 🙂

Talmage


I Bailed On My Medical Practice

photo

Honestly, I was never cut out to be a pathologist.

It’s true that I have a strong eye for pattern recognition of rare tumors. And I’ve got enough OCD-ishness to avoid most of the million tiny and galactic mistakes that haunt pathologists without OCD traits.

But I lack the bluster for the job.

It turns out that bluster, the gift of feeling and sounding 100% certain when you’re only 99, is the key to tolerating a profession where people’s lives are in your hands.

And that gift of pseudo-certainty makes surgeons and colleagues think you’re good, even if you’re not.

The people who thought I was an outstanding general pathologist were the few pathologists who consulted with me on most of their own tough cases. Plus maybe every cytotechnologist I ever worked with.

And my wife and kids who are completely unbiased.

When the stress from outside work escalated and combined with on-the-job stress, I reached critical mass inside. I was done. Cooked.

It was a Thursday night.

On Friday I walked into work and told them this would be my last day as a pathologist.

That was June 27, 2014, about a month ago. Since then, I’ve learned a few things.

When I’m not smothered by life-and-death stress, the world shines for me.

Sitcoms are funny. I’m still shocked.

Nobody dies if I’m an imperfect human.

The scowl wasn’t permanent. My daughter said my eyes look younger now.

The other day I caught myself smiling at a tree in our backyard. Do normal people do that?

I no longer have to open fresh colons, remove the feces by hand and hunt for invisible lymph nodes for an hour breathing toxic fumes.

The last 26 years of practice are over. The 13 years of prep and training are history.

My goal is to become an indie writer before the neurons fly south.

I didn’t quit pathology so I could write full-time. I’m not that brave.

I quit because I couldn’t go on.

But I love to write. More than anything.

And like you, my human flaws qualify me for this job.

M. Talmage Moorehead

If you’re interested in intelligent design, weird artifacts, genetics and psychology from the perspective of a nineteen-year-old “Hapa Girl,” my in-progress novel may be a fun read. The protagonist, Johanna, is a genius geneticist with a younger brother who struggles with depression. Her evolving story starts here.

It’s an experiment called, Hapa Girl DNA, a tightrope of fiction and nonfiction. “Hapa” is the Hawaiian term for “half.” Johanna is half Japanese and half Jewish. In “writing” her own novel as she lives it, she ignores some big fiction rules, partly because she’s allergic to dogma and partly because she’d rather enjoy the “writing” experience than worry about material success.

But the “rules” are essential knowledge to anyone crazy enough to break them.

If you’re a fiction writer or just curious, you could download my free e-book on fiction writing, the second to last chapter of which gives my specific take on many of the dogmatic rules of fiction writing. Downloading that 19,000 word pdf file will place you on my list of interested people who will be politely notified when my traditional version of this novel is done – possibly before the next ice age. (No spam or sharing of your email address. I haven’t written to my list yet and it’s been over a year.)

Next time you’re writing emails, if you think of it, please send my blog address (www.storiform.com) to an open-minded, highly intelligent and beautiful friend of yours. Thanks. I appreciate it. They might not, but you never know. 🙂

Talmage


Why We Must Write

IMG00058

My son the psychologist-in-training tells me that there are five things that have been “proven” via evidence-based analysis to improve happiness.

1. Writing a daily journal.

2. Writing down three good things that happened every day.

3. Meditation.

4. Physical exercise.

5. Random acts of kindness.

I think it’s interesting that the first two have to do with writing. My son tells me that the first one, keeping a journal, applies to anything you’re creating that becomes part of the physical world. It could be writing and recording songs, writing fiction or non-fiction, even things like painting, where you put something of yourself into the physical world.

“Meditation,” according to my son, actually means practicing anything that keeps you in the moment. This might even apply to playing basketball, a thing that I wouldn’t have placed into the meditation category at all. But he says that it keeps you from ruminating about past uncomfortable conversations, embarrassments and disappointments, and keeps you from worrying about future difficulties…

For me, basketball keeps me in the moment better than traditional meditation does, at least what little I’ve experienced of sitting quietly and trying to silence my mind. And writing fiction works better than basketball.

It seems that writing can take care of several things on the short list of happiness promoters.

Writing my novel keeps me in the moment. If I’ve got big worries, I don’t want to write. I can’t. But if I can make myself start writing, most worries shrink to a manageable size for as long as I keep submerged in my characters. And when I’m done, I feel like I’ve accomplished something that sort of transcends the worries.

For me, writing fiction is also like journaling because I’m putting something of myself into ‘print’ and making it part of the physical world.  The ciberworld, maybe, but I do hold out hope of taking the world by storm with my amazing best-seller, or at least finding my way into the vanity press, which, as you know, seems to be reaching readers quite effectively of late, and deserves a less pejorative title, in my humble and yet infallible opinion.

Vanity press? Nah. How about “reality press”?

Unless writers can be kept ignorant of the nuts and bolts of true self-publishing (as opposed to the pseudo self-publishing rip-off conglomerate that masquerades as numerous small independents) – self publishing is the future.

Then there’s this blog you’re reading, in which I’m giving you the best encouragement and advice about writing that I possibly can, just for the joy of possibly helping someone. That’s sort of a random act of kindness, you might say… Assuming my views are worthwhile rather than counterproductive, a debatable issue in light of my disagreement with many of the traditional writing tips of the how-to fiction writing world.

Then there’s the writing down of three good things that happen every day. That seems to involve writing – if you take it literally, as my son insists you should.  (Rather than just thinking of three things, you know?)

Here’s just a thought on that. My strong belief in God as well as my background in Christian Fundamentalism (the “fundamentalism” part of which I’ve thrown over) has given me a long tradition of thanking God profusely for most every good little or big thing that has happened to me. This habit, for reasons that could be debated endlessly, has never seemed to affect my happiness one way or the other. I’m sure it was my fault. But writing down three good things every day without putting them into any religious context has helped. Dunno why the difference.

OK, I’m a foolish Christian. What’s new?

The bottom line is this: if you want to be happy and you’re one of the lucky few who can put two sentences together and feel great about it, you owe it to yourself to keep plugging away at your story and your blog. You’ll be happier.

Don’t let up for anything short of an asteroid. Not even a hemorrhoid.

Gross.

Don’t worry whether or not you’ve got readers in copious quantities, or a boatload of native talent dripping from your fingers. Just keep putting part of yourself into the physical world of words on paper (or robo paper, whatever). There is inherent value in doing what we’re doing, regardless of ears (ear-regardless? No such word. Hello?)

Anyway, stop checking your email and surfing the net. Get back to your story, umkay?

Be happy, dammit!

“Do it now! Get to da Choppa!”

M. Talmage Moorehead

For a FREE download of my new e-book, Writing Meaningful Page-Turners, opt into my list: Click HereThe book takes a look at why we are more than storytellers, and how lucky we are to be inside the most influential group on Earth. The last chapter talks about how to meet a viewpoint character who will add a new dimension of meaning and fun to your life. Yes, I’m talking about Johanna Fujiwara! My Hapa Girl protagonist. If you haven’t met someone like her in your own writing, you have a wonderful experience coming!

Click Here for a FREE download of Writing Meaningful Page-Turners.

If you’d like to read my in-progress novel, Hapa Girl DNA from page 1, it’s here.


Happiness, Flow and Writing Fiction

IMG00035Recently I watched a documentary on happiness. The scientists listed things associated with happiness across cultures around the world. Besides the usual suspects – a tight set of friends, community involvement, church attendance, having fun, etc., they talked about something new called, “flow.”

Flow is being “in-the-zone.” Many different things take people there. For distance runners it’s that moment where your body moves effortlessly, for basketball players it’s the euphoria of a shooting streak, for day-traders it’s a feeling that the sixth-sense is back again.

Researchers say that when you’re in “flow,” time passes silently. Hours seem like minutes.

People who try transcranial direct current stimulation to certain brain areas prior to playing video game report better scores, and a bewilderment about the strange disappearance of time.

Does that sound familiar?

When I write, time disappears. On a good day, eleven hours feels like four. I look at the clock in disbelief.

Happiness and flow?

Call it coincidence, but I’m happier now that I’ve started writing fiction again. (I quit writing for a while, discouraged at how tough it was to get an agent. But don’t you be discouraged, I’m a hack, you’ve got talent.)

Now that I’m back as a hack, things are better all around in my life.

The curse of a science background prevents me from saying objectively that writing caused the striking improvement in my life via “flow,” but there’s an undeniable association… in this anecdotal report where n=1.

Fortunately, though, as luck would have it, I’m infallible. So I can go ahead and tell you: writing fiction will improve your life, it will make you a happier person. Count on it!

Just don’t worry about getting published. It’s going to be nice if it happens, but not as nice as the journey toward that destination. The happiness and fulfillment that comes from writing fiction can last the rest of your life if you find characters you love, and keep spending time with them.

But wow, imagine getting paid for that! It wouldn’t feel right to some people.

Start writing a story.

“RUUUUNNN! GO!!! GET TO DA CHOPPA!!!!!” — Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

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M. Talmage Moorehead