Friday, March 25, 2016


My youngest son runs cross-country and track. He's pretty darn good at the running thing too, if I say so myself. Maybe just a touch of fatherly pride there. Most importantly, though, he loves it. Even though the passion for running can and does clearly skip a generation (or two), the drive to follow what you love does not. That passion might take the form of running. It might be acting, like my youngest. Or writing, like in my case. We all have that passion in us. I believe that. Anything that will make you set your alarm an hour early when you're already pushing to squeeze in six hours of sleep is something you're not taking lightly. Something worth stretching just a little farther to reach.

A couple of days ago, I was reminiscing about "Deuteronomy," the story I wrote for the Anywhere But Earth anthology way back in 2011. Still one of my favorites and one of the best darned science fiction anthologies out there. And yet I would change so much about the story if I were to go back and rewrite it. I'd change the style, the pacing. I'd smooth off the rough edges and I'd probably add another thousand words or so since I'm a little long-winded these days. But you can only revisit the past so many times before getting trapped there, I think. It's better to learn your lessons, learn them well, and use that wisdom, those skills, as a jumping-off point for places new and unknown. So I won't be editing "Deuteronomy" any time soon, unless Hollywood calls for the movie rights, of course. What I will do is build up from that story and others like it toward something a little grander. And after that something grander still.

Oops. Waxed a little flowery there for a second. Not always a good thing for the horror writer who wanders in and out of hard science fiction as much as I do. Best wrap it up.

Once after a particularly good race, my son, hair dripping with sweat, face absolutely glowing, left the chute and came over to me and my wife. He told us how he'd started cramping up and feeling really fatigued as he closed in on the final mile. There was no one near him and he was on target to run his usual time. He could have been satisfied with that and not lost any ground.

"Then I asked myself," he said. "Could I be running faster?"


"The answer was yes." And I still remember his smile. Confident. Prepared. Ready. "So I did."

I love that story. Even chokes me up a little.

Can I be running faster? Writing better? Can you?

I think we all know the answer.

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