Shoshone Station #4: Meteors Out Now!

It’s here, the latest episode in my ongoing Sci-fi Serial, The Galactic Consortium.

Blurb:

Dan Oleson has been chosen to serve as embassy security on Saras Station in the Consortium, but he will soon discover the dangers are of a different type than he’s expecting.

Rumors are swirling about an asteroid or some other large body colliding with the earth. Would the Consortium allow such a thing to happen? More importantly, it seems the rumor may have started on Shin Station, of all places. Can Dan find the answer to this riddle?


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Four Ways that Terraforming Could Save the Earth

Serious scientist mostly downplay the idea of terraforming another planet.

They have two reasons for this, but they seem to miss one important point. So I am going to tell you four ways that terraforming could benefit, or even save, the earth today.

But first, the two reasons that scientists downplay terraforming as a serious endeavor:

The timescale of terraforming is enormous. We can’t simply seed the entire surface of Mars with plants, come back in six weeks and find a livable planet. The best case for terraforming would be thousands of years. More likely it will take tens of thousands.

Looking beyond our solar system becomes a double edged sword. We might find planets out there that are ripe and ready for our kind of life, or at least closer to what we need then Mars or Venus. That could shorten the terraforming time considerably. But we have to get there and short of some sort of science fiction faster than light ship, it’s going to take thousands of years to make the voyage.

Meanwhile the problems that we face here on Earth are likely to come to a head within the next few years, or at most within the next couple of generations. Overpopulation, climate change and resource depletion are nearing the crisis point right now. So you can’t fix overpopulation by starting a colony on Mars because it will be thousands of years before Mars will be able to support the number of people you would need to send to make even a small dent in the world’s population.

The second problem with terraforming is the whole resource-to-benefits conundrum. Terraforming would require a huge outlay in resources with only distant benefits in return.

It goes like this, we’ve spotted oil on Titan (or at least hydrocarbons that are like oil). So why not go there and get it to renew our depleted fossil fuels?

The short answer is that it takes a massive amount of energy to build rockets and fly them deep into space to get there. And then another outlay in energy to fly the oil back to Earth. You end up spending more energy to get the oil than it provides.

The dynamic for dealing with overpopulation is even worse. Mars One is looking to send forty men and women to form a colony on Mars. Even if assume they have the technology and funding to go today, what is forty people to a population of more than seven billion? Not even a fraction of a percent.

The world adds an average of 250 new babies to the world’s population each minute. How many do we have to send to a new world to reverse that trend? What kind of infrastructure would we need before we could relieve overpopulation via space travel?

I could go on but the point remains. We can not fix the problems we face here on Earth by fleeing to a new planet. But there is still a strong case for actively pursuing terraforming.

How terraforming can benefit us right now

The point that most scientist and arm chair terraformers seem to miss is that the technological hurdles we face in terraforming dovetail with a lot of the problems we face on this planet. Developing the technology to terraform another planet may kill two birds with one stone, it will fix our problems here, too. Here are just four examples.

Climate Change

The average surface temperature of Mars is minus sixty degrees celsius. Venus runs a balmy 462 degrees celsius. To get a nice earth-like average of 16 degrees celsius would mean raising the temperature of Mars by some seventy six degrees. Or dropping Venus’s average temperature over 446 degrees.

Now maybe you can see why it takes thousands of years to terraform a planet. But lets say we start working on the technology today. What are the benefits for us right now?

The earth is warming. Even die hard climate change deniers accept this fact. (They argue that its not man made and is instead part of some natural cycle, but they don’t argue the basic math, we are getting warmer.) At the rate we are going our earth will be nearly 2 degrees warmer by 2050.

A) 2 degrees might not seem like much, but it will have major effects on climate and weather. Many of them we are already seeing.

B) compared to the 76 degree change we need to make Mars livable, it’s a drop in the bucket. So I propose our test run for terraforming another planet is to develop technology to lower our earth back 2 degrees to where it was.

We even have some of the technology we need. We can take carbon out of the atmosphere and bury it in the Earth in a process called carbon sequestration. Why aren’t investing heavily in this kind of research? It would get us out our current fix and lay the ground work for terraforming another planet at the same time.

Food

With our current technology it would take about six months to get to Mars. With the necessity of waiting for the planets to align, the round trip would take nearly two and half years. What are you going to eat that entire time? If we want to terraform the planet and that’s going to take thousands of years, what will the colonist eat? You can’t pack that many dried rations.

The answer is that we will need to create small, intensive hydroponics or something similar. Our space capsule must be able to produce a sustainable diet in a very small amount of space.

And honestly, we need that now. Our current agricultural practices are just not sustainable. There are three problems with it, it takes a massive toll on the environment, it is very land intensive (meaning it takes up a lot of space) and it won’t be able to feed our growing population for much longer.

There are two sacred cows in agribusiness that make our system so unsustainable. The first is — cows. I am not going to argue for militant veganism, but our desire to eat large quantities of meat isn’t sustainable and won’t work in space.

The other huge sacred cow is oil and petrochemicals. From herbicides and pesticides, the gas we put into tractors to plant and harvest crop and the gas we use to ship produce all over the world, every aspect of agriculture is touched by petrochemicals. Without them our system would collapse.

Imagine a city that could feed itself, leaving the surrounding land to return to nature.

What we need is a way to grow the bulk of our food in a small contained area close to where it is needed. That is a must for terraforming but would have far reaching benefits for earth right now. Imagine a world where cities can produce their own food and large swaths of farmland can be returned to their natural state. Imagine having a room in your house that grows all your produce and you only have to shop occasionally for luxury items.

Energy

The economic argument against terraforming goes like this; it takes a tremendous amount of energy and resources to terraform another planet, so you must first solve the issue of energy scarcity. But once you’ve created cheap, sustainable energy, you no longer have the same incentive to go to another planet in search of resources.

So? Solve the issue of energy scarcity? Yes! That’s exactly what we need to do.

In order to fly to Mars and back we need to be able to create energy in abundance, through some cheap, infinitely renewable source. In order to break our addiction to fossil fuels, we need to find a cheap and infinitely renewable energy source.

What that will that look like? Solar, wind, nuclear or something we haven’t dreamed up yet, I don’t know. But clearly it’s the next step in technological evolution and we should all be invested in making it. Whether we do it because we are running out of oil, because we want to go to another planet, or some other reason is irrelevant.

Society

Terraforming projects take thousands of years. What kind of society will we have in a thousand years?

Right now it’s hard to get through a single political upheaval without it feeling like the end of the world. And this historian warns that humans tend to go through destructive periods regularly. Can we humans create a society that is both stable and dynamic enough to last a thousand years?

I believe the answer is yes, and it’s something we must absolutely strive for. Really the biggest obstacle to terraforming another planet isn’t scientific or technological. Our scientist know what to do and could do most of it with technology we already possess. It’s political and cultural.

Like the other problems we’ve discussed, the issues are surprisingly similar to what we must face in terraforming. How do we share scarce resources fairly? How do we live and cooperate in small spaces? How do we learn to work together on projects that we will never see the end result of?

In the end tackling these problems will soon become imperative. So what are we waiting for?

You know who is really good at terraforming? The Galactic Consortium. Check out my ongoing sci-fi serial about their arrival over the skies of Earth.


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Or get the Omnibus of Season One:

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Or check out season two:

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Shoshone Station #3: The Egg — Out Now!

The third installment of the Shoshone Station serial is out now! Check it out today!

The Egg:

Sophia’s first day as liaison for the new medical wing starts out exciting, they have rescued a premature infant from the surface. But its new home, the bio-medical egg, sparks conflict between the healer, Bankim and Zeta, the diplomat.

Shoshone Station:

Less than a year ago, they arrived over earth’s sky. They call themselves the Galactic Consortium and they are human, or at least, simian — from the same genetic line as humans. They claim to have terraformed this planet centuries ago to serve as a base for their exploration of this galaxy. What happened to the settlers, why none of us remember this, remains a mystery.

For America the concerns are more immediate. Will the Consortium accept our independence?

Shoshone Station is the first joint enterprise, a solar power, space station parked in geostationary orbit over Denver, Colorado. Its been “gifted” to America, but as Sherman Lannister takes command he wonders just how much control the new American crew will really have. After all, what do they know about running a space station?

For Sophia, a homeless transgender youth from Denver, and many like her the station is a second chance at a new life. But what will she do living amongst the stars?

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Shoshone Station #2: To Be or Not To Be. Out Now!

The second installment of Shoshone Station, my ongoing science fiction serial, is out and available for sale now.

Shoshone Station: 

Less than a year ago, they arrived over earth’s sky. They call themselves the Galactic Consortium and they are human, or at least, simian — from the same genetic line as humans. They claim to have terraformed this planet centuries ago to serve as a base for their exploration of this galaxy. What happened to the settlers, why none of us remember this, remains a mystery.

For America the concerns are more immediate. Will the Consortium accept our independence?

Shoshone Station is the first joint enterprise, a solar power, space station parked in geostationary orbit over Denver, Colorado. Its been “gifted” to America, but as Sherman Lannister takes command he wonders just how much control the new American crew will really have. After all, what do they know about running a space station?

For Sophia, a homeless transgender youth from Denver, and many like her the station is a second chance at a new life. But what will she do living amongst the stars?

To Be or Not To Be: 

Sophia’s first day as liaison for the new medical wing starts out exciting, they have rescued a premature infant from the surface. But its new home, the bio-medical egg, sparks conflict between the healer, Bankim and Zeta, the diplomat.


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Shoshone Station: episode overview (with covers!)

Shoshone Station, The Galactic Consortium Serial, Season Two

I thought I’d give you a quick peek at the entire storyline for Shoshone Station, season two of my serial about The Galactic Consortium. Here are the episode covers and blurbs. Please feel free to comment about what you like, or what needs work.

Episode One: Not a Good Day to Die

Less than a year ago, they arrived over earth’s sky. They call themselves the Galactic Consortium and they are human, or at least, simian — from the same genetic line as humans. They claim to have terraformed this planet centuries ago to serve as a base for their exploration of this galaxy. What happened to the settlers, why none of us remember this, remains a mystery.

For America the concerns are more immediate. Will the Consortium accept our independence?

Shoshone Station is the first joint enterprise, a solar power, space station parked in geostationary orbit over Denver, Colorado. Its been “gifted” to America, but as Sherman Lannister takes command he wonders just how much control the new American crew will really have. After all, what do they know about running a space station?

For Sophia, a homeless transgender youth from Denver, and many like her the station is a second chance at a new life. But what will she do living amongst the stars?


Episode Two: To Be or Not To Be

Several of Sophia’s friends join her on Shoshone Station. They are starting new lives in the Consortium, but what sort of lives will they be? A couple of her friends seem to want to party every night but she wants to make the most of this new opportunity, but how? She turns to Dhanvin for advice and support as she tries to figure out her new life.


Episode Three: The Egg

Sophia’s first day as liaison for the new medical wing is exciting, they have rescued a premature infant from the surface. But its new home, the medical egg, sparks conflict between the healer, Bankim and Zeta, the diplomat over the issue of mixed race people like Zeta.


Episode Four: Meteors

Dan Oleson has been chosen to serve as embassy security on Saras Station in the Consortium, but he will soon discover the dangers are of a different type than he’s expecting.

Rumors are swirling about an asteroid or some other large body colliding with the earth. Would the Consortium allow such a thing to happen? More importantly, it seems the rumor may have started on Shin Station, of all places. Can Dan find the answer to this riddle?


Episode Five: Adam

It’s Lannister’s first Christmas on the station. For once he has the room and time to play host to for the family Christmas celebration. His plans are complicated by the arrival of his runaway niece, now as an out trans man.

The arrival of a human woman with a squid child (part human, part C’thon) places Zeta is an awkward place. Her job demands she investigates, but how can she put another person through the same hell she grew up with? And what if she refuses?


Episode Six: Africa

The day after Christmas, Jake King fights with his mom. He knows how hard it is for her, raising four kids with no help. But it’s not like there are jobs in Caspar, Wyoming, Not for a young man like Jake, not that pay decent. What can he do? Two days later he finds himself in Bamako, Africa, part of the Consortium’s African Administration. Is this the new reality? Commuter jobs halfway around the world?

Fox planned a relaxing vacation with Nara Suun in Southern Africa. But the fates seem to have other plans, he runs into the last person he wants to see, Gerald Klempke. The man he helped put into a Consortium Penal Colony for rape. Klempke says he wants to talk, wants to turn over a new leaf. But Fox isn’t sure he trusts him, but what can he do?


Episode Seven: Homecoming

When Sophia’s sister Shaelynn arrives on Shoshone Station, Sophia finds herself being dragged back to a life she thought she’d left behind, the life of Zach. But what can she do, her mom is dying. Unless Sophia can help her.

Kleppie thought he would return to Texas a hero. He’d been part of the famous USS Cambridge crew. He’d been to space. But he quickly finds that doesn’t mean much to those left behind.


Episode Eight: The Sting

The ugly issue of prostitution, which is legal but highly regulated in the consortium, has reared its head on Shoshone Station. Truthfully its been there all along, a small number of well paid and discreet courtesans. But now someone wants to open a brothel. Whose rules apply? Americas? Or the Consortium?

For Fox the controversy is the perfect cover to do some real police work for a change, using the confusion to do a sting on sex traffickers. For Jack it threatens to expose his relationship with one of the courtesans.


Episode Nine: Asha-Tanga

Asha-Tanga, the soul purification, is a week long festival in the Consortium, unlike anything on earth. It commemorates the last Vatari wars and the beginning of the Consortium itself. It blends religion and history. But for many, it’s a party. A week of fruit juice fasting, psychedelic herbs and dancing. It’s Christmas, the Fourth of July and Carnival rolled together.

But this is not just any Asha-Tanga. This is the first Asha-Tanga in a new galaxy. And Saras is the place to be for it.

For Jake King, he didn’t think much about the partying when he accepted Chatura’s invitation to come, with his entire family. They haven’t had a real family vacation in years, but how will they deal with this?

For Zeta the new regulation on Medical Eggs has brought the whole squid issue bubbling to the surface. But she’s supposed to be speaking about US/Consortium relations, not this. Should she defying her boss yet again?


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Shoshone Station #1 Not a Good Day to Die

The first installment of Shoshone Station is out now!

Grab your copy here:

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Blurb:

Less than a year ago, they arrived over earth’s sky. They call themselves the Galactic Consortium and they are human, or at least, simian — from the same genetic line as humans. They claim to have terraformed this planet centuries ago to serve as a base for their exploration of this galaxy. What happened to the settlers, why none of us remember this, remains a mystery.

For America the concerns are more immediate. Will the Consortium accept our independence?

Shoshone Station is the first joint enterprise, a solar power, space station parked in geostationary orbit over Denver, Colorado. Its been “gifted” to America, but as Sherman Lannister takes command he wonders just how much control the new American crew will really have. After all, what do they know about running a space station?

For Sophia, a homeless transgender youth from Denver, and many like her the station is a second chance at a new life. But what will she do living amongst the stars?

Like Audiobooks? Children of a New Earth is out in Audio!

Enjoy audiobooks? My post-apocalyptic novel Children of a New Earth is out on audible.com now.

Buy it here

Blurb:

For nearly 30 years, since the collapse of society, Freedom Ranch has been self-sufficient, hidden deep in the Rocky Mountains. Amy Beland has grown up hating the small valley settlement and the survivalists that run it. Now it will be up to her to save them all.

Journeying out of the mountains and into what is left of civilization, they discover that much of what they’ve been taught about the collapse is wrong. They don’t find the enemy they expect on the plains beneath their home, which is good because Amy suspects they may have brought a couple with them.

 

Trivia Time: Is Santa Claus White?

There has been some controversy lately over the Mall of America hiring a black Santa Claus.

I know, right? Santa is supposed to be white. Having a fictional character played by an actor of the wrong race is a travesty of epic proportion.

Unless it’s Hollywood and the actor is white. Then it’s pretty much mandatory. Every Hollywood producer and filmmaker will insist it’s not them, just the system. It seems to me that one of them could go to their financial backers and say something like, “hey, millions of fans are pissed because they want to see a few more Asian actors in Ghost in a Shell.” But what do I know, I’m just a writer.

Luckily for the purist, there are still mall Santas. They are all white, fat jolly men with white beards, right?

But according to George Takei the Santa in his Japanese internment camp was Asian.

Could it be that Santa isn’t white after all?

A short diversion about the Sami

Once upon a time there was a group of people known as Sami. They lived in Europe during the ice age and when the ice age retreated, they followed the cold north, settling in Northern Scandinavia. They still live there to this day.

They dress in bulky clothes, decorating them in the colors of the northern lights, blues and reds. They live in small villages and were best known for herding reindeer.

(Let me know when this starts ringing bells for you.)

In the winter the snow would pile up in front of their Lavvu, the teepee-like houses they use. By midwinter the snow would be so deep that you couldn’t get in and out of the doors, but instead visitors would often have to climb to the top and lower themselves down the smoke hole.

A Sami Lavvu

A Sami Lavvu

Come midwinter (yule) the village shaman would have to go check on his people. He would take a sack with him, dressing himself in warm red clothes against the cold. He would climb to the top of each Lavvu and let himself down. He would see how each family was doing. If a family was short on food, he’d give them some from his sack. If they had extra, he’d use it to restock the supplies in his sack, making sure each family had enough to survive the winter.

Because the winters in Sami lands was long and being stuck inside for days on end could slowly drive people mad, he would bring the children toys, things to keep them occupied and out of their parents hair.

The Origins of Santa Claus

There are many different and conflicting stories about where Santa Claus comes from. One story associates with him a monk from 280 AD, Saint Nicholas. Others associate him with the pagan god Odin. Or the Germanic legends of Sinterklaas, the Christmas man.

But whatever story you believe, one thing is clear. All across Northern Europe was this memory of a man in a red suit that looked down people’s chimneys in midwinter to check on them. So I am calling it, Santa Claus is a Sami Shaman.

The Sami people look like this:

This is what the historical Santa Claus probably looked like

This is what the historical Santa Claus probably looked like

You’re Welcome.

Are they white? Umm, sort of…

It’s actually a deeply contested debate, one that shows a lot about how slippery the whole concept of race really is. Sami are a genetically distinct indigenous group. They share a lot in common with other far north indigenous tribes, like Inuits and Siberian tribes like the Yakuts and Samoyeds.

They’ve also lived alongside Swedish and Norwegian people for generations and many are light skinned and blonde haired.

So it just depends on how you define white.

But that’s all missing the point. The village shaman isn’t a hereditary post. Shamans are called to the duty. They do it because they are called by the spirits to serve.

So I say this, if you feel called by the spirit of Christmas to be Santa Claus then you must be Santa Claus. It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, gay, straight or whatever.

And as a bonus, one of my favorite Christmas songs, the Native American Classic about a fat white man stuck in the smoke hole of someone’s teepee. Enjoy.

Are Writers More Prone to Depression?

Are Writers More Prone to Depression?

A common, if somewhat poetic worldview, would have us believe that writers are depressed, alcoholic, drug abusing people slowly dying as they chase their muse. The image of suffering writer is everywhere.

ErnestHemingway

Writers like Ernest Hemingway, pictured above, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson epitomize how many people view writers in general, men with periods of brilliance and periods of depression and alcoholism. But how true is that?

Stereotypes aside I’ve heard many writers talking about depression in blogs and on panels at conventions. Is depression more common among writers and other artists? Or is that a myth?

For the record, yes, I have been through the ringer with depression on more than one occasion. But this post isn’t about my personal struggle or story. I might share some of that at some future time.

I think there are a couple of legitimate reasons why writers might be more prone to depression than non-creative types. But overall I think it’s a myth, and I think there is one really important reason that myth persists.

First let’s start with why writers might suffer depression.

The open eye gathers more dust

I read this in the book, The Heart of Yogi. It was meant to be about yoga practitioners and other spiritual types. But it applies equally to writers regardless of their spiritual bent.

Writers have open eyes. We see this world in ways that others don’t. For some writers this is really obvious. We read their works and we know they are spending a lot of time delving into the dark corners of the human mind. The horror writer that brings nightmares to life. The psychological thrillers that puts inside the mind of a serial killer.

Those writers have seen some shit, even if it was imaginary shit in their head.

But what about those escapist writers that claim their works hold nothing of reality? Science fiction and fantasy authors who build new worlds to escape this one. Romance writers who are committed to the happy ever after no matter what.

I would argue they see some shit too. It’s inescapable to the process.

How do you learn to describe people? By watching them. And sometimes you see some great things people watching, sometimes you see some less great things.

The other day at the grocery store I watched an middle aged woman and an elderly woman shopping together. They argued over vegetables and a whole story revealed itself, the middle aged woman put into the mother role with a mother she obviously adored, but was frustrated with. She never thought she’d be on this side of table, telling her mother that the doctor wanted her to eat her veggies. It was cute, endearing.

But an aisle over was a very different story. A man and a woman. A sharp glance, a barked word. And I couldn’t help but feel like I was seeing a battered woman. Did her makeup cover bruises? If this is was how he acted in public, what was he like at home?

Observing people is great practice for writers, but a wearying exercise in humanity. There are people just like your worse villain, walking the same streets that you do. Following the news gives us so many new story ideas, but man it can be depressing some days.

Can that lead to major depression? There is a huge gap between feeling stressed and being depressed. Everyone’s threshold for depression is a little different. For some people, maybe this could trigger a deep depression. For most writers I suspect this is a factor, but not the sole cause of any struggles they have.

Our Society Does Not Like Those Who Don’t Conform

Writers are, almost by definition, non-conformers. Creativity in any form is seen as a sign of non-conformity.

Again you can look over the history of writers and find many stellar examples of non-conformity. Many of the literary greats lived unconventional lives. They spoke out against repressive societies and told stories that at the time were unheard of.

But that, too, contains a lot of stereotypes. For every Anas Nin and Virginia Woolf there were dozen of more conventional women writing in every genre. For every adventurer of Hemingway’s fame there were dozen of writers that lived mundane, pedestrian lives.

Even so, writing is an act of rebellion. As Robert Heinlein said, “Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”

I doubt there is a writer alive who hasn’t had someone wonder, in a disparaging voice, when they will do something more practical with their time. And woe to those who aspire to make a living from writing.

So many people in our society have a love/hate relationship with writing and writers. Surveys show that upwards of ninety percent of the US population say they want to write a book someday. But they constantly disparage those who actually do so.

Some of it is just sour grapes, of course. Maintaining that it’s an impossible dream removes any responsibility to actually sit down and write their book.

The fact remains that our society puts pressure on anyone who is seen as breaking from cultural norms. The further you stray, the more pressure there is. Transgender and gender nonconforming individuals are murdered at a strikingly high rate in this country, and around the world. Some are shot on the street by people who don’t know them, have no reason to hate them except for their non-conformity.

The good news is that no one, to my knowledge, is killing writers. But that doesn’t mean the pressure isn’t there. It can come in the form of family members that don’t respect your writing time as important. Backhanded compliments from strangers when they discover you’ve written books.

Like the first point, I doubt the pressure on writers is severe enough to lead to depression by itself, but then again I don’t know your situation so I can’t say. Certainly many people have been forced into careers they hate because everyone told them their dream was impractical. But I am sure it’s a factor for many writers with depression.

So maybe there is something to the idea that writers are more likely to be depressed. But I think there is a much bigger factor that we haven’t talked about yet.

Writers talk about depression

Writers are storytellers first and foremost. And we dig in our own lives for stories worth telling. One of the most beloved writing quotes is “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”*

350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In one year alone, 6.7% of the US population had a depressive episode. And it’s probably only the tip of the iceberg. There is a huge stigma against mental health throughout many of the world’s culture.

Depression is often disparaged as a sign of weakness or something that isn’t serious enough to warrant treatment. Numerous myths abound about mental health treatment and depression treatment specifically, further discouraging people from seeking treatment.

Which makes depression an enormously important and untold story. Depression is a complicated thing. There isn’t one clear cut “cause” of depression and people get depressed for a lot of reasons. Some people are born with genes that make them prone to depression. Some develop depression for physical reasons, others due to traumas or stresses they’ve face.

The symptoms are individual. Some people sink into a numb, low energy state. Some are sad, many, surprisingly, are not. Instead they experience other negative emotions like anxiety, anger, irritability or heightened stress. Some feel chronically tired while others are filled with a restless energy that doesn’t seem to accomplish much.

Another often misquoted piece of writing advice is “write what you know.” The origins of this advice was never meant to limit the writer, but to help them process their own experience. It was Thoreau in Walden who laid it out, stating he “required of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life.”

We might write about alien worlds, fantasy realms or other people’s lives, but we are all really processing our own stuff with everything we write. The only way to escape this, to separate our writing from our experience, is to first come to terms with our own issues.

For a fair percentage of writers, that experience includes depression. So we do what writers do, write it out. We talk about our struggles in our blogs and in our stories.

And that, I think, is a great thing. It’s great for the individual that you can work out so much of your depression through writing about it. But it’s great for the reader, too. People who suffer depression feel alone, unsupported.

You are not alone. In fact you are in great company. A wiki page of famous people who have suffered depression is long and contains former presidents, film makers, writers and celebrities.

If you are currently struggling with depression, the way ahead may be dark. But it’s not without hope. There are many effective treatments, many others who have battled these demons and won. Take hope.

*This quote has been attributed to multiple writers. See here for a full discussion.

Resources:

Do you have depression?

Everyone is different but people with depression experience many of following symptoms:

  • Anhedonia: Literally lack of joy, things that used to make you happy don’t any more.
  • Persistent negative moods including; sadness, anxiety, worry, irritability, anger and/or numbness or an “empty” mood.
  • Decreased energy and fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping/trouble waking up, feeling tired all the time
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering things.
  • Appetite or weight change, up or down
  • Aches and pains without physical explanation.
  • Thoughts of death and suicide.

For a more complete list, see here.

What to do?

The most important thing to do about depression is to talk about it, admit that you are struggling. That can be hard, especially in our society, but know that there are supportive people. And depression can be treated.

If you are feeling suicidal, please talk to a professional right away. The suicide lifeline prevention website can be found here. They have a 1-800 number and a lot of resources. Please go check it out before attempting to harm yourself.

The National Institute of Mental Health has many online resources for depression. However, I suggest you talk to someone in person. Many employers have employee assistance programs that offer a few free counseling sessions, enough to find out if you have depression and to learn what resources are available locally or through your health plan. Your personal physician is another resource, if you have one. Young people should check with their school and/or college. Their is almost always some sort of student counseling services. If you don’t have benefits through a job, there are community mental health centers in many communities.

The reason I suggest talking to a professional in-person is that the internet is filled with “helpful” advice on how to deal with depression. I use suspicious quotes here because while many of suggestions are great self-care tips they are not comprehensive treatment and they shame people who need a different kind of treatment.

Depression is an individual disease and it needs individualizes treatment. The fact that one friend got out of their depression on their own by doing yoga doesn’t mean its wrong for you to take medicine. Just because you take medicine doesn’t mean that counseling isn’t a better option for someone else. Do what is best for you and don’t shame others for doing the same.

depression-meme

Does Bob Dylan Deserve a Nobel Prize for Literature?

The Nobel prize committee is no stranger to controversy. This year it was the literary community that they stirred up, by giving the prize for literature to folk singer Bob Dylan.

Dylan is without a doubt hugely influential in the music industry. Whether you love him or hate him, his career has spanned decades and reinvented the folk genre not once, but many times. His songs have a strong poetic feel to them.

But literature?

He’s never written a novel or book of poetry. While everyone recognizes his influence in music, many in the literary community aren’t happy to see him with a Noble prize.

What is my take on it?

Have you tried your hand at flash fiction? Flash fiction is a story in less than a thousand words. I’ve written a few and I think they are pretty good, or at least okay. But it’s hard.

That’s the point of flash. You have to condense your writing to the most sparse wording while hinting at the story. To get under a thousand words is work.

Bob Dylan did it in 130 words. I am referring to All Along the Watchtower. One hundred and thirty words that have been repeated thousands of times and lead to thousands of words trying to interpret them. I couldn’t do that. I doubt I will ever be that good.

“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief,

“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.

Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,

None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”

“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke,

“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.

But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate,

So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view

While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,

Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.*

Or look at the opening to the song It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding:

Darkness at the break of noon

Shadows even the silver spoon

The handmade blade, the child’s balloon

Eclipses both the sun and moon

To understand you know too soon

There is no sense in trying.

The line between poetic and poetry is razor thin. Does it hold up without the music? I say, yes.

I think it should be clear that I am okay with Dylan getting a Nobel prize. But then again, I’ve been a fan since I discovered his work in college.

*Source: Lyrics Freak