(Trying to be like @austinkleon and post photos of book excerpts)
Wisdom from the classic samurai epic. I found this to be remarkably applicable to those of us creating online.
“I heard that a famous warrior named Yagyu, who serves the House of Tokugawa, has an income of fifty thousand bushels of rice.”
“That’s true too.”
“Then why are you so poor?”
“I’m still studying.”
“How old will you have to be before you have lots of followers?”
“I don’t know if I ever will.”
“What’s the matter? Aren’t you any good?”
“If a samurai dies with a prayer for his lord’s victory on his lips, he has done something fine and meaningful,” was the way Musashi would have put it now. But at the time neither he nor Matahachi had had any sense of loyalty. What they had been thirsting for was fame and glory, and more to the point, a means of gaining a livelihood without giving up anything of their own.
He stumbled through the disaster that was once a lab room. In the little light that was left he rummaged through desk drawers, closets and cabinets. He finally found it in Mansen’s desk: a small vial of crystal clear liquid. He pulled a clean syringe from his coat pocket and hastily filled it with the fluid. With a less than steady hand he stuck the needle into his arm. He breathed a little easier as he felt the medicine go in.
He stumbled over to a broken shard of glass and checked his face in the foggy reflection. The spotted discoloration stretching from his neck to his chin seemed to be fading—but he wasn’t sure. It would have to do, though. It was his only hope.
Outside the Sun had already set. He resisted the urge to look out the windows; he knew it was a full moon. It would be doubly worse tonight. He shuddered at what he might see.
It had been two days since the trials went wrong, two days since it had been unleashed onto the world. It was only the beginning. Humanity was not prepared for the fire that had fallen into its lap.
The first night there had been a lot of noise, but by now that part of the city was ghostly quiet. None of the chaotic sounds you would associate with a disaster were heard. Only an eerie silence during the day and at night—well, something entirely different.
He had convince himself that he was alone in the laboratory; the whole compound had been cleared out. Yet, once again, there came the sounds of movement. Door slammed and glass shattered. Dull, bare feet stomped across the linoleum floors. He reached down and felt the revolver tucked into his belt. Tonight he would fight back.
He tentatively stepped into the hallway. One of them was there. It was hunched over, near a doorway, furiously filling its mouth. Had it found fresh meat in here? A sickening feeling filled his gut as he stepped towards it, gun drawn.
It heard his footsteps and turned. It was one of the more advanced cases. It’s skin was black and charred; it cracked and peeled off its face as it hissed at him. Before it could take a step he fired. Three rounds, into its chest. It fell back, long stringy hair cascaded over its face. Slowly he moved towards it. He prodded it with his foot. It didn’t move.
He was cautiously walking away when he realized what it had been wearing. The lab coat was so filthy he didn’t recognize it. Anxiously he pulled back the hair to read the nametag on the lapel. “Miriam O’Donald.” She had been one of his colleagues, a friend. He pressed his back against the wall, trying to find an excuse for what he just did. There was no way he just killed Miriam. Anyone could have found her lab coat. The facility had been overrun for days, right? He was pulled from his worrying by a groan. The woman he had shot started to move again. He ran down the hall before it could get up.
He made his way down the lower levels of the laboratory. He passed by countless bodies, not checking to see if they were alive. As he crossed through the testing rooms, something grabbed hold of his leg. He fired blindly, not looking down. His leg was freed and he kept running.
Finally he reached the ground floor—and the exit. The street lamps were blindingly bright. they scalded his eyes more than he expected. Then he remembered. He rushed to a car window and squinted at his reflection. The rash was spreading. The serum didn’t work.
He leaned against the abandoned car and looked down at his hands. They were already covered. The scattered sound of footsteps echoed around him. There was only one thing left to do. He checked the chambers of the revolver and found one last bullet. He put it to good use.
Make your writing time sacrosanct. Even if it’s only an hour a day. Either get up an hour earlier and write (Gene Wolfe wrote all his novels and short stories like this, until he was able to become a full-time writer) or take an hour in the evening, and head away from the world. But take the time, and make the time - the world won’t give it to you back unless you do something to reclaim it yourself.
(When I was a boy there was a man on the train I took to school who wrote detective thrillers. He wrote them on the train to London — an hour there, an hour home again at night — and took a pad of paper with him on his two hour commute. He wrote, and published, a book a year. That’s a lot of books.)
This blog has been increasingly about showing off other people’s stuff, but I will post something original soon, I promise. Until then here is something Ray Bradbury once said about writing: “It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else.”