Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Your Story

Time-Life "Voyage Through The Universe"
Last night I was packing up some books—a bunch of 80s era books on stars, planets, and cosmology—that I haven’t looked at since I was a kid. I pondered giving them all to Good Will, but something nagged me. It took a moment to pin the thought down, but it was essentially: “You’re the kind of person that would own these books, so you better keep them.”

Really? What an odd thought. Who was I trying to impress with my (probably out-of-date) books on stars and planets, if not myself? If I was the kind of person who would own such books, you’d have thought I would have pulled one down to peruse during the last decade. Sure, in a pre-web era, I would have, but knowledge isn’t confined to dead trees any more, and . . . Well, the books ended up in the Good Will box.

That incident and a few other recent events made me realize how much a victim to our sense of “what other people think” many of us are. Have you ever wondered explicitly (or vaguely), “What will people think?” as you pondered doing, saying, trying, or arranging something different? Did the answer to that question influence your action in some way? If you’re a human being, then of course the answer is yes.

But just who are these people we’re so concerned with?

From an early age we’re taught what’s right and wrong. But for every one of society’s codified rules, there are a dozen unspoken guidelines that insinuate themselves into our gray matter. Society teaches us that it’s “right” to comb our hair, to buy a house, to get a 9-5 job, to get married, to have kids, and so on and on . . .

And at some point, we internalize “what people think” into ourselves, so that “society” becomes one more tiny voice in the chorus of personality fragments that make up each of us.

This can be slightly insidious if we don't recognize it, because our sense of ourselves, our very consciousness and self-awareness, is a story we tell ourselves about ourselves. Or so some people who study language’s effect on the brain believe. If true, then it follows that we not only want to create a story that's pleasing to ourselves, but one that's pleasing to others too. But others do not . . . How can I say this?

Let me put it baldly. For the most part, unless you’re breaking a law or a heart, other people don’t care.

Oh sure, they care, but not to the degree you might think they do. Other people are not you. And unless your particular decision directly affects someone, people in general don’t have to live with (or without) the decisions you make. And trust me, after their initial reaction, they won't give your particular decision hardly another thought until the next time they see you. They’re living their own lives, wrapped up in their own stories they’re telling themselves. As they should be!

Not all the decisions we make are as ultimately unimportant as whether we keep some dusty old books. But the point remains: Make decisions for yourself, not for the sake of what you believe “society” or some constructed version of yourself would have you do.

Also, if you’re looking for some Time-Life books on stars and planets, I know where you can get some cheap.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Changes 2: The Next Thing

As you may have guessed by my previous Changes-related entry, I've got several balls in the air right now. Since I only tossed a couple of them skyward myself, only a few are actually destined to continue to remain part of my eye-defying juggling repertoire. What, you didn't know I could juggle? Well, I can, but let's not get distracted with topics suggested by poor metaphors.

Anyway, I began writing another Forgotten Realms novel outline a few days ago. It'll be my ninth novel, assuming the latest deal memo leads to a contract. I've got some great ideas for it, and it picks up threads from the novel that proceeds it (Sword of the Gods, April 2011).

But so far, it's proved to be more difficult than previous outlines. Which is due to a few things, but here's a big reason: Susan J Morris, the editor of my last six novels, with whom I've developed great trust and a great friendship, is stretching her wings and leaving Wizards publishing for a sorceress position at Amazon! Not to mention several other exciting possibilities she's got in mind.

An author-editor relationship is a partnership. And I've had a great partner in my worlds-of-make-believe these last several years. I'm grateful I got to experience it. I wish Susan all the luck in the world with her new ventures, and I'm sure she'll succeed brilliantly in whatever she sets her hand to. I could say more on the subject, but I'd run the risk of becoming maudlin.

Anyway, the fact remains: This novel outline will eventually find the desk of an editor I've never worked with before. And I'm a little trepidatious about that. I mean, what if my new editor is the sort of person who would frown on me using the word 'trepidatious?' Because, I'm not even sure it's a word, and you know, some people are picky that way when it comes to published content.

Alright, big breath. What did I just say in my previous Changes entry? Oh yes. Suck it up and rely on another talent I like to believe I possess: The ability to roll with change while looking for new opportunities in the upheaval.

And besides, when it comes down to it, I'm excited to write this next scene. I set it up in the last novel, just so I could introduce a character that'll be the perfect foil for my main character Demascus. Oh yeah, plus . . . Well, I probably shouldn't spill all the beans on that one. What I should do is get back to that outline.

Stay tuned for a 3rd chapter in the Changes series of blog entries, which will hopefully prove to be the last (Changes-themed) one for a while. Too many changes too quickly, and the juggling act runs the risk of ending when someone gets a ball in the eye.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I watched a lot of bands this last weekend at Bumbershoot, but missed the one I most wanted to see: Visqueen. Darn it!

My consolation prize is that I just got to watch fellow Wizard employee Mark Price's video that he directed for Visqueen.

Take a look at the video!

Visqueen 'Ward' from Heath Ward on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Unlike Harry Dresden in his latest escapade (Changes), I still can't cast even the simplest magic spell, no matter how long I stare at the piece of lint on the floor and command it to, "Dance, you stupid piece of lint!"

But like Harry, I've seen changes come my way lately. Such as the death of my dog Hektor. That was a devastating change, one I'm still adjusting to. But as I recently noted somewhere else, when you you tip over the apple cart (or it falls over unexpectedly), sometimes the fruit rolls a lot farther than you were expecting.

And sometimes, people around you decide to tip over their apple carts too. Pretty soon, before you quite realize what's going on, you've got an apple-lanche on your hands!

Which is how I'm trying to look at things; with a bit of humor, and an eye on new opportunities even as things that I'd gotten used to shift and slide about. I've said before that people have a hard time with change, and by people I probably meant myself. Conservatism is in our genes because nature taught our ancestors that if you find something that works, it's probably a good idea to stick with it. But we haven't lived on the savannah for a considerable period of time. If we can get past our innate resistance to change (or weather what's thrown at us in the short term), we can try on a whole raft of new opportunities.

So, yeah. I'm not actually going to bore you by listing out all the changes I'm going to suck up and make the best of, at least right now . . . not until I've gone ahead and followed through by actually making the best of them.

Writing this blog entry is actually a step in that direction, see? Oh, yeah, plus it's a way to test out the RSS feed on my new web page/landing site on the web: www.brucecordell.com; do you like the new design?

Ok, back to work. Where'd you go, you cheeky little fluff of lint?