Someday I will settle down, probably in southern Utah or somewhere else in the American West. I will live with my wife and kids in a small house in the country, one that I’ve built with my own hands. It won’t be larger than 1,000 square feet, but we’ll have at least five acres of land–a small house with a big yard.
We will keep a sizeable garden and grow at least half of the food we eat. We’ll start with tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, and zucchini, then move on to other crops as our tastes change and our gardening skills improve. We will keep live chickens, and maybe a cow if it’s not too difficult. We will eat what we love, love what we eat, and live by the maxim: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
In the winter, we’ll stay warm with a wood burning stove. Everything in our house will all be centered around one main room, which will help to keep our family close. We’ll sleep in the loft, with the kids on the other side. Daddy’s writing space will be off in the corner, but not cut off from the rest of the family.
Our house will be well-insulated, so it will be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We’ll get our water from a well on our property. Like good old-fashioned Mormons, we’ll grind our own wheat and bake fresh bread every week. We won’t own a lot of material things, but we won’t waste anything either. The people in our lives will always be more important than the things.
When we aren’t at home, we’ll be on the road. Our children will see the whole country, from the rolling hills of New England to the oil fields of West Texas, from the orchards of California to the skyscrapers of New York. My wife and I will have seen the world together, and we’ll visit our international friends as often as we can.
Above all else, we will be independent. No one will own us, and we’ll stay out of debt as much as possible. Our failures will be our own, as well as our successes. And when our friends and family need us, we’ll be there.
All of this will happen someday. That’s my dream. Someday soon, I’ll find a girl who shares this dream, and together we’ll make it a reality.
So shortly after writing up my last blog post, I got an email from myself marked December 27, 2013. How freaky is that?I don’t know if it’s a glitch or a feature, but apparently in 2013, you can use gmail to send messages back in time.
In any case, the letter is pretty interesting, so I thought I’d post it. Here it is:
Well, it’s been an interesting decade so far, hasn’t it? Not a bad time to be alive–and that’s going to be even clearer by the end of 2013.
Right now, you’re still in the Republic of Georgia, anxious to get on that flight and head back home. Don’t be. You’re going to miss that place, even though it’s hard to feel that way right now. Your time there has changed you a lot more than you realize, though it’s going to take most of the year for you to figure that out.
You’ve picked up some bad habits, mostly from the other expats. Swearing is one of them. Clean up your language–it’s not going to do you any favors, especially back in Utah. Personal hygiene is another. Just because you could go for days without showering back in Rokhi doesn’t mean that you can get away with it in the States.
Money issues are on your mind right now. That’s good. You’ve learned how to be extremely frugal in the past two years, and that skill will serve you well. Don’t be afraid to get a crap job–that’s actually one of the best things you can do right now. The economy hasn’t improved much since you left, but if you look in the right places and speak with the right people, you’ll be able to make ends meet without too much trouble.
Remember, your writing career should be your main focus. Don’t go chasing after the dollar. You’ve experienced a taste of success in the last few months, and you’re going to taste it again. It comes in spurts, though, so be prepared for that. You’ll figure it out–in fact, you’re already most of the way there. Just remember to keep your butt in that chair, and you’ll be all right.
By the way, you really should spend more time on your business plan. Don’t just use it as motivation to write something else–that stuff is actually important. In Georgia, you can get away with winging it, but not in the States. That’s going to take some getting used to as well.
Your biggest anxiety right now is your supposed lack of self-discipline. That’s actually not as much of a problem as you think. After spending a year in Georgia, you might feel incapable of working another honest day in your life, but that feeling will soon pass. In fact, 2013 is going to be a very productive year for you. All that self-discovery is going to pay off in a big way soon. So don’t worry about it so much, and remember, you haven’t written your best book yet.
Perhaps the most important thing about your year in Georgia is that it really lit a fire under your butt. You know what I’m talking about. If you can travel alone to a foreign country, you can work up the courage to ask her out. No, I’m not going to tell you who. You’ll know her when you see her. But you may have to trim the beard. Just sayin’.
You won’t spend the entire year back in the States, but when you do go overseas again, you won’t be alone. No, I won’t tell you who you’ll go with, or where. Some surprises are better left unspoiled.
There’s more I could tell you, but that’s enough for now. You’ll figure things out on your own, same as you always have. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Follow the path of least regret.
So back in June I made a to do list of things I wanted to accomplish this summer. I’ve only got a week left before I go overseas again, and I’m happy to say I’m on track to finish most of them. A couple of them (such as doing a blog tour and submitting aggressively to book bloggers) I decided weren’t worth my time, and dropped them, but these are the major things I’ve accomplished:
Release print-on-demand editions of Genesis Earth, Bringing Stella Home, and Desert Stars through CreateSpace.
Redo cover art for Bringing Stella Home.
Redo blurb/description for all titles.
Put proper copyright page in all titles.
Publish all titles on Kobo Writing Life.
Find a better way to build an ebook and reformat all titles.
Finish the second draft of Stars of Blood and Glory.
Finish and publish parts I and II of Star Wanderers.
The only major thing I haven’t accomplished is figuring out how to sell ebooks directly from my website. I figure I can set that up later, though, when I’ve got a large enough readership to justify it. If it’s all online, I can probably do it from anywhere.
While I was vacationing with my family on Cape Cod, I had a chance to step back and take a long look at what I’m doing with my life, which helped me to set some new goals and get a renewed sense of direction. I stopped tracking my daily writing word counts in July, which threw off my productivity a lot more than I thought it would. After setting some long-term goals, though, I think I can find a better way to structure my writing.
In ten years (2022), I want to…
have 25+ published novels.
earn a solid middle-class income through my writing.
be married and have kids.
own a house.
live in the United States.
My lifetime goal is to publish 100+ novels, which is actually a lot more doable than it sounds. It means writing a minimum of two novels a year, though, so I’m going to have to follow Heinlein’s rules a lot closer than I have been in the past. That’s the trouble with keeping a daily word count: it made me look a lot more productive when I was in revisions, so I spent more time doing that than writing new work.
In three years (2015), I want to…
have at least 10 published novels.
make enough with my writing not to need another job.
be married or engaged.
have lived for at least three months in 3+ countries (not including USA).
I want to settle back down in the States eventually, but before that I want to get around and see the world a bit. The absolute coolest thing would be to marry another world traveler and make enough on the writing to have a bunch of adventures together. I’m not sure if I’ll find her in Georgia, but I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open.
As for short-term goals, I’m still trying to work them out. Here’s what I have so far:
Start at least 2 new projects.
Finish at least 2 first drafts.
Publish at least 2 titles (print and ebook counts as two).
I think this is enough to stretch me while still being doable. By my count, in the first quarter of this year I did 2-2-1, in the second quarter I did 2-2-0, and in the current quarter, I’m at 2-0-5 so far. Of course, this includes all the Star Wanderers novelettes and novellas, which I hope to expand in the future.
I’m not going to count revisions as progress, except as part of the publishing stage. Some stuff needs a lot of revision, other stuff, not so much. What I really want to do is train myself to produce high quality work on the first or second write-through. Of course, I’ll still use test readers to gauge my work before publishing anything.
Finish at least 2 projects (first draft or revision).
Write at least 15k words of new material.
I can write a lot more than 15k words in a month, of course, but I figure this is a good starting point. The key is that this is for new material. When I looked back at my word counts, I found that months of revision would go by before I actually worked on something new. I want to change that, but I still need to allow for longer projects that might require several weeks of revision (while emphasizing the need to produce new material, of course).
Keep all project deadlines.
Start each day with writing.
I’ve found that if I don’t start off each day with writing, I keep putting it off until I’ve spent more time and energy angsting about it than actually doing it. For a short period of time this summer, I put my butt in the chair and my hands on the keyboard first thing after waking up (even before getting dressed). It was amazing how much of a difference that made.
Beyond that, I’m not really sure what other goals to set. I want to plan things out on a project to project basis, but beyond that I haven’t yet figured out what kind of a daily structure I need to build.
It’s probably a good idea to keep things flexible at this point, though, since I have no idea what my schedule is going to be like once I’m in Georgia. I do know a little bit about my next placement–more on that later–but for the first half of September, I’m going to be all over the place. Ani, Tusheti, Kars, Akhaltsikhe, Tbilisi, Baghdati, and Istanbul–it’s going to be crazy!
For this next week, my goal is to finish the revisions for Star Wanderers: Sacrifice (Part III) and send that out to my beta readers. I’ve been struggling with it all month, but I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of where I need to go with it. I’m going to finish chapter 3 tomorrow, then rewrite chapters 4 and 5 from scratch.
I’m back from vacation, but I’m going to take a break from the Hero’s Journey trope posts to talk about something that I really feel passionate about. I hope you’ll forgive me if this turns into a rant, but I think this is an important issue that has some very dangerous implications that need to be explored.
In modern fiction, there’s a very prominent trope that a man is not a virgin. The basic idea is this: if the protagonist is an adult male and he hasn’t yet had sex with a woman, there’s something fundamentally wrong with him. Of course, because of his adventurous lifestyle, he can’t be tied down in a committed relationship–that would spoil the story. But he can’t be holding himself back, either, lest his manhood come into question. And most of the time, he doesn’t really want to, anyway.
This trope has a whole host of unfortunate implications, though, all of which serve to reinforce constrictive gender roles, disempower both men and women, drive a gulf of misunderstanding between the sexes, and emasculate true manhood and its role in our society.
To demonstrate this, let’s take this trope to the logical conclusions that our society seems to have come to.
In fiction, the sex as rite of passage trope is often seen in stories about angsty teenagers trying desperately to get laid. These are not typically stories about love–they are stories about peer pressure, objectification, and power. By equating sex as a rite of passage in this way, it actually divorces sex from any concept of love or commitment, and turns any form of physical intimacy into a caricature of itself.
It doesn’t stop there, though. If sex is a rite of passage, then it’s only reasonable that the young novice should have an older mentor to help him through the initiation process. Thus we get the professional sex-ed trope, where the boy’s mentors or guardians help guide him through his first sexual encounter. The implications for pedophilia and underage sex are more than a little disturbing.
We can see this trope in action in the way we treat female sex offenders. If a 30-something male teacher has sex with one of his female students, he gets a lengthy prison sentence and spends the rest of his life stigmatized as a predator. If a 30-something female teacher has sex with one of her male students, she gets a slap on the wrist and TV spot. She’s not a sexual predator–she’s just having a personal crisis.
Needless to say, this double standard is extremely destructive for the victims of such abuse.
If a true man is not a virgin, then a true man doesn’t say no to sex. Even if he can say no, he won’t because that’s just not what men do. Therefore, being a man is functionally synonymous with being a pervert.
The danger here is that it reduces men to their basic animal urges. If being a man means finding a warm, inviting place for your penis each night, then you might as well go out to the pasture and eat grass. Whatever happened to self control and delayed gratification? Do you think anything meaningful would ever have come out of our civilization if we couldn’t keep our pants on?
And yet, both men and women seem perfectly willing to believe that it’s not only unmanly for a man to control his animal urges, it’s impossible. On the Kindle Boards forum about a month ago, there was a thread on erotica and marriage and one of the members posted this:
I used to work as a forums admin on a large women’s forum (over 100,000 members) and the relationships forum had a lot of heated discussions on this topic. I won’t of course refer to any specific threads, but the discussions went a lot like this:
One woman concerned that her husband was spending too much time watching porn
A massive amount of women telling her that it’s ok, that ‘all men watch porn’
A small amount of women saying either they don’t agree with it or that their men don’t view it
A percentage of women saying their men are addicted to porn and would rather watch it than go to bed with a willing wife
A percentage of women saying it’s not the porn itself that concerns them, but the type of porn their husbands watch
Another group of women saying they either watch it themselves, or watch it with their husbands
Yet another small group of women who either were or are prostitutes/strippers/involved in amateur porn (who are either for or against based on their experiences)
A very vocal percentage of women saying that if your man says he doesn’t watch it, he’s a liar
A heated discussion ensuing….
How does it possibly empower men to tell them that they cannot control their own sexual impulses? It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, which harms not only men but women as well. If all men are perverts, then women can’t afford to wait for a decent man and should settle instead for a deadbeat porn addict.
This one really gets to me. I hear it everywhere, even from people who don’t consciously buy into the logic behind it. I used to buy into it myself. It’s the idea that women are so complicated that they are impossible to understand, whereas men are as simple as an on/off switch.
In my experience, men and woman are both human. Both of them are equally complex and equally emotional. Yes, they are different, but in such a way that it’s equally difficult (or equally easy) for the one to understand the other. Generally, women tend to externalize their complexity, whereas men tend to internalize it. At least, that’s what I’ve found.
Our society takes this to the next level, however, and teaches men that they should just swallow their emotions. If they don’t, they risk being seen as weak or effeminate (never mind that equating weakness with femininity is a whole other can of worms in itself). And after a lifetime of living this way, it can be hard not to believe that that’s just the way men are.
But this is perhaps the most insidious danger of all. It’s the falsehood that real men don’t cry, or show emotion, or have any capacity for compassion or tenderness. It’s the fallacy of equating strength with violence. It’s the destructive belief that men will never rise above the lowest common denominator of their hormones, and should never even try. And because men are so obviously different from women in this regard, any attempt to understand them would be futile.
But how can you have a committed relationship with someone you can’t understand? How can you possibly hope to make the necessary sacrifices for each other to make the thing work out? And if you can’t reach the understanding necessary for a committed, loving relationship, how can you ever hope to raise a family together?
So yeah, sorry for the rant, but this trope REALLY gets under my skin. It doesn’t help that one of my favorite authors, David Gemmell, is a big fan of it. I tried to get into his Rigante series, but this trope was so strong that I couldn’t finish the first book.
I should also clarify that the thing that irks me isn’t just the trope, but how much our society has bought into it. By themselves, tropes are neither good nor bad, but when something like this becomes so prevalent that it defines the entire operating system on which our society is based, that’s when someone needs to speak out.
And for the record, I am a 28 year old single male who is not ashamed to say that he is still saving himself for marriage. Am I gay? No. Has it been difficult? Yes. Am I anything less than a man because of it? Hell, no. In fact, I would argue that the wait has made me more of a man than I otherwise would have been, and I’m sure that my future wife will agree.
Real men aren’t defined by their hormones or their sexual history. They’re defined by the way they treat the people around them, especially the ones who are most important in their lives.
So I just got back from Easter vacation in Turkey, at Trabzon and Lake Uzungöl. It was pretty awesome–I’ll definitely be blogging about it in the next couple of days! First, though, I wanted to share something interesting that happened on the way back.
While I was hanging out in Batumi with some other TLG volunteers eating Adjarian khatchapuri (an experience in itself), we got to talking about what we’re going to do with our lives after we get back to the States. Most of them didn’t really want to think about it, which surprised me, so I asked why.
They told me they didn’t want to have to figure out the rest of their lives–that coming out to Georgia to teach English was a way of putting off those major life decisions. Fair enough. They then asked me if I’ve figured it out. I said yes: that I want to be a full-time writer, and that I’m out here to see the world and get some cultural experience as I try to make that dream a reality.
One of the girls then asked what my backup was if that didn’t work out. To be honest, I had no idea what to say. My plan at this point is to just keep teaching and traveling until the dream becomes a reality. Am I confident that it will? Eventually, yeah–as long as I keep writing, which I certainly will.
I thought about it a bit on the way back, and realized that my mindset has shifted tremendously in the past few years. When I was back in college, and to some extent for the first year after I graduated, I used to worry a lot about my “backup plan.” It was a way of addressing the fear of failure, of creating an illusion of safety by having a “fallback.”
I’m sure there are careers where that’s a good idea. Generally, those are careers with definite paths, where if you don’t pass a certain number of checkpoints, you’re basically screwed. With writing, though, there is no set path that everybody follows–especially now with ebooks and epublishing. Because of this, it’s impossible to really fail–either you keep on trying until you make it, or for one reason or another you give up.
Ever since I graduated in 2010, I’ve been structuring my life in such a way that I can continue to pursue my writing. Every job I’ve taken has just been a stepping stone, a bridge to allow me to keep pursuing this dream. Have I made it yet? No, but I haven’t given up yet either, so I haven’t had to fall back on my backup–whatever that would mean at this point.
From the outside, it probably looks like I’m being hopelessly responsible–that, or willfully oblivious to a hundred things I should be worried sick about. However, I’m actually quite confident that I’m on the right path and things will work out–and that surprises me. It’s like that moment when you realize you’re actually swimming, not just kicking and thrashing about the pool.
Worst case scenario, I fall head over heels in love with an awesome, wonderful girl, and after a few heady months filled with blissful romance, I wake up one morning and realize that I’m married. If that happens, I might have to put my writing on hold for a while until I get things sorted out so that I can support both myself and my wife–but then again, with her help, I might be able to do twice as much, or even more. Perhaps that will help my writing career even more than trying to go it alone.
So really, there is no back up plan or worst case scenario–just the future. And as Georgians are so fond of saying, “no one can know what will happen in future.”
მოტაცება (pronounced mot’atseba) is the Georgian word for bride kidnapping, as opposed to regular kidnapping, which takes a different word. It’s an ancient practice in the Caucasus region that doesn’t happen as much as it used to, but still happens, especially in the rural areas. Today, most Georgians condemn it, but there’s still a whole slew of lingering cultural subtexts that can be very difficult for a Westerner (like me) to understand and navigate.
The video clip at the top is from a Georgian comedy program (named, aptly enough, “Comedy შაუ”), and does a pretty good job illustrating how mot’atseba works. Of course, the genders have been reversed–50% of Georgian humor is cross-dressing, and the other 50% is cross-dressing with slapstick–but everything else is pretty accurate. Like I said in a previous post, it’s like a weird game of capture-the-flag involving sex and arranged marriage, where the flag is the girl.
This is how it works: boy meets girl. Boy decides to marry girl. Boy gets his friends together and kidnaps the girl (with or without her consent), holding her captive overnight. The next morning, boy contacts girl’s parents to ask for girl’s hand in marriage.
Since the girl has been held overnight, the implication is that she’s been raped (which may or may not be true). Therefore, to avoid a scandal which could tarnish the family’s reputation, the parents will usually marry their daughter off as quickly as possible. However, if the girl can escape, or the girl’s brothers can rescue her before nightfall, the crisis can be averted.
I first heard about mot’atseba from this post on Georgia On My Mind, back when I was looking into TLG about a year ago. It disturbed me a little, but not enough to dissuade me from coming to Georgia. A couple of weeks ago, however, I learned that that was how my host parents got married.
Here’s the thing, though: they both seem to remember it kind of fondly. In fact, when my host mom saw the clip from Comedy შაუ, she couldn’t stop laughing. Her mom lives with them now, and from time to time they go out to visit his family in the village, so it looks like everyone’s on pretty good terms.
So what the heck happened?
Here’s the story, as best as I can piece it together. They were introduced by his sister, who was her coworker at the hospital. After a month, he got together with some friends and took her without violence to his family’s house out in the village. She was surprised and upset at first, of course, but her parents gave their consent, and so they were married the next day by a magistrate. Now, they’ve got four kids–a huge family, by Georgian standards–and seem to be pretty happy together.
As a Westerner, it blows my mind that a strong, healthy family can come out of something as violent as an act of kidnapping. Indeed, I have yet to be convinced that that’s a normal outcome. However, after asking around and doing some research, I’ve come to realize that mot’atseba isn’t a black and white issue: there are all sorts of cultural subtexts that make the issue much more complicated.
The key to understanding how all this works is the following proverb, which underscores the entire Georgian concept of gender roles and the differences between men and women:
If a woman says no, she means maybe. If she says maybe, she means yes. If she says yes, she is not a woman.
From this, two things follow:
1: Women are fickle, therefore men should be assertive.
As a man, I see this all the time. All three of my co-teachers are women, and all of them constantly defer to me, even though they have far more professional experience than I do. When I had some pretty serious differences over teaching methodologies with one of them, she suggested that I take over the next lesson and teach it without her interference, so that she could get a better idea that way. This isn’t the case with the female volunteers–many of them complain about how hard it is to get anyone to take their suggestions seriously.
2: A woman can never say no.
If “no” is constantly interpreted as “maybe,” then it follows that no one (or at least, no man) is going to believe that a woman is even capable of saying “no.” This turns the whole concept of rape into a nebulous gray area, unlike the United States, where women have a lot more power at least in terms of the law.
This is not to say that in Georgian culture, women are doormats or property (even though that’s what some TLGers claim). Women have a number of support networks, such as family, friends, and other women, and can use these networks to ward off unwanted attention. When I asked my host sister if she’s worried that a mot’atseba would ever happen to her, she said no, because if it did, her three brothers would kick some serious ass.
On top of all this, Georgians have no real concept of casual dating. If a girl and a guy are seeing each other, they’re either married or about to be married. This shows up in the way they use Facebook and other social networks: instead of listing themselves as “in a relationship,” the girl will give her password to the guy she’s dating. And they don’t just do it because the guy demands it–when my host sister was seeing someone, he asked her if she wanted to give her password to him, as if that was the natural next-step in their relationship. From the way she told me, she seemed to be worried that she’d made a mistake by telling him no. Of course, I told her she’d made the right decision!
Combine all of these together, and you should start to get a clearer picture of some of the subtext surrounding mot’atseba.
When I asked my first co-teacher about it, she said it was only an ancient practice and absolutely didn’t happen anymore. When I brought up rape and asked if that was also a part of it, she was horrified and didn’t want to talk about it. However, when I asked if it’s possible for a happy marriage to come of it, she kind of smiled a little and said that if the woman likes it, then why not?
My second co-teacher was much more straight with me. Yes, it happens occasionally, though it was a lot more “fashionable” about twenty or thirty years ago. No, it’s not romantic. Yes, a lot of the marriages aren’t very happy, which is why so many of them end in divorce. She told me that one of her friends from college was married through mot’atseba, and that she knows of at least one case in our school where an 8th grader was kidnapped and married. However, under President Sakashvili, mot’atseba is now a serious crime, so it’s not as common as it used to be.
My third co-teacher’s answer was a lot sketchier. The first time I asked about it was in passing, as she walked in on the conversation I was having with my first co-teacher. When I asked her about rape, she laughed and said “well yes, of course it happens!” as if that wasn’t a big deal. Later, however, she sat me down and said quite seriously that mot’atseba is a horrible thing, that it’s a criminal act, that it doesn’t happen anymore, etc etc.
However–and this was perhaps the most illuminating thing–she said that sometimes, when a guy and a girl are in love, but she’s being wishy-washy and non-committal, he’ll sweep her off her feet and carry her off. In fact, that was what happened with her: her boyfriend wanted to marry her, but she kept putting it off, so one day he tricked her into getting in the car and told her “all right, enough is enough–we’re getting married this weekend.” And they did.
When I asked her if that was mot’atseba, she said no, but I think the subtext was similar. A real man knows how to assert himself and take what he wants. Since a real woman will never say yes, sometimes you just have to man up and tell her how it’s going to be. And don’t worry if she says no at first–she only says that because she doesn’t really know what she wants yet. She’ll come around eventually.
It sounds pretty horrible, but that seems to be how it works. And really, there are gradations of it. Most Georgians will agree that it’s wrong for a guy to kidnap a girl he doesn’t know so that he can rape her and force her to marry him. But if the guy and the girl know each other, and are already pretty serious (ie seeing each other at all), and he wants to speed things up–or, alternately, if she knows her parents would never say yes otherwise–that’s when everyone speaks of it with a wink and a nod.
And really, can we say that our culture’s problems are any less abhorrent? What about teenage pregnancy? Secret abortions? Date rape? At least with mot’atseba, the guy is trying to marry the girl, not just sleep with her and walk away. If it’s just sex that the guy is after, there are a lot more easier ways to get it than risking a prison sentence.
So is it “wrong”? I don’t know if it’s possible to say yes or no, except on a case by case basis. My host sister knows a girl who was kidnapped at age 12 and had a baby the year after. I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. But when I told her what would happen to that guy in the states–that he would go on the registered sex offender list and spend the rest of his life ostracized and unable to find work–she thought that that was wrong too. And as for my host parents, well, it seemed to work out well for them.
I don’t know. But either way, it’s definitely an interesting anthropological experience.
A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society.
Interestingly, once the evil bad guys are gone, the balance between Good and Chaotic is even more difficult to keep than the line between Good and Lawful. For that reason, Chaotic Goods often make extremely poor rulers after the war is over. When they win, they usually do one of the following:
Accept the new responsibilities and give up the life of adventure to finally settle down. They shift away from Chaotic Good and become something else.
Of all the character alignments, this one is my favorite. It fits my own sensibilities almost perfectly. Whenever a character of this type has to give up their old life to accept their new responsibilities, I can’t help but feel a little wistful and sad (maybe that’s why I haven’t settled down and married yet…hmm…).
This trope is extremely prevalent in manga and anime, with Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist my personal favorite. Agatha and Gil from Girl Genius are also really awesome–it’s going to be interesting to see how Gil shifts now that his father is out of the picture. In science fiction, Captain Kirk is probably the most beloved character of this type, though almost all of Heinlein’s protagonists also fit the bill.
In my own work, Tiera Al-Najmi from Desert Stars is probably the best example of this trope. She stands alone against the restrictive norms and hypocrisy of her society, urging Mira to do what’s right instead of what’s expected. In Bringing Stella Home, James McCoy fits this trope too, though you could also make an argument that he’s more of a Neutral Good. In Heart of the Nebula, however, he’s definitely Chaotic Good, which puts him squarely at odds with Lars, a Lawful Good who appears in all of the Gaia Nova novels thus far.
So! My Christmas vacation in Texas is over, and I’m on the road again, hanging out here in Utah before catching the train to my parents’ house in Massachusetts and (hopefully) going overseas before the end of the month.
It was a great break! Great to see my niece and three nephews together. I swear, my sisters have the cutest kids; it’s going to be a real challenge to find a woman beautiful enough so that my kids will be able to compete! For Christmas, I gave them all trilobites from my fossil collection.
My favorite moment was probably playing with them at the community park, on the slides and other stuff. Jane, who is two and a half, likes to wear pretty dresses and run around the playground talking to herself, which is really cute. Dan, who just started to walk, would climb up to the slides and then stop at the top because he’s too scared to go down. It was fun watching him discover and explore his world.
On the way back to Utah, we stopped by my old roommate Steve’s place up in Dallas. He lives in an apartment that is just like a freaking motel…how crazy is that? Pretty cool, actually. It was fun to see him again, especially since he’s getting married in April. Good times.
My sister gave me the gift of her stomach flu, though, which really hit the next day. Around Amarillo, it got so bad that we pulled over on the shoulder and I fell out of the car vomiting. It was…like something from one of my novels, actually. We were hoping to make it all the way to Farmington and the Navajo reservation, but ended up in a Hotel 8 outside of Clines Corner for a very miserable night.
The next day was much better, though, and we made good time all the way back to Provo. My brother in law couldn’t stop talking about the book I’d gotten him, Born to Run, and said that it’s changed his life (he’s a runner…go figure). We also talked about story structure, Girl Genius, places we’d like to settle down, life plans, etc. Stopped in Moab for some dinner, and in Bluff to check out this really cool looking historical site. We switched over in Blanding, and before we knew it, I was pulling us into Provo after driving almost five hours straight.
As a side note, I want to say that I love Southern Utah. ZOMG, it has some of the most beautiful desolate country I have ever seen. Inasmuch as I can see myself settling down anywhere, I’d really like to settle down in a place like Monticello or Blanding or Saint George.
Texas is also beautiful, but I’d probably find the rampant consumerism a bit too stifling, and New England winters are far too dark and depressing (unless you have a cozy little cottage with a wood-burning stove). But Utah–this is my people, living in my kind of country: wild, open, and desolate, where the pioneers are remembered by name and ancient Indian ghosts still haunt the land.
So anyway, I’m back in Provo for a day before heading out on a train late tonight to Massachusetts. If you’re in the area and want to hang out, give me a call. This is my last day in Utah for at least the next couple of years or so, and I want to make it count!
My internet access in the next couple of days is going to be spotty, but I want to do a couple more posts to round out the year. A lot of things changed for me in 2011, so I want to recap that, and I’ve been thinking a lot about my New Year’s resolutions, so I’ll definitely do a post on that as well. I’ll probably write those on the train, though, so they might not go up until next week.
That’s the plan, anyway. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and I look forward to hearing from you again soon!