As it goes with many life lessons or wisdom to be gleaned from existence, I can relate my newfound wisdom back to Star Trek (and what I should have learned from it sooner).
The failure of Admiral Kirk to save that which actually mattered most to him takes on a new level of poignancy to me now. Kirk was someone who went through life recklessly, flying away from every failed relationship or every questionable decision at warp speed. He was lauded and looked up to throughout his life, but finally, one of his decisions came back to haunt him, and it stole his best friend, his dignity, and his reputation. For the first time he had real consequences to deal with. Now, here I am, seeing that the consequences of my reckless, fly by the seat of my pants life have risen to destroy the person, me, I thought I knew. A whole life of not dealing with my problems, or not bothering to figure out what the problems really were, has now come back to haunt me as surely as any Khan Noonien Singh.
It doesn’t matter exactly what those problems are, for the purposes of this blog. A handful of you might have seen a previous (now redacted) post here that gave you an insight into this more than I later realized anyone should. If I need to express myself in a forum such as this to feel better and to share any wisdom I’ve attained, it need not be done with too much personal detail left in the mix. There is a time and place for that, and a blog on what is primarily intended to be the hub site for my main science fiction series is not one of them.
What is relevant to my writing, to my fiction, is that like a certain Matt Garrison, I’m not the person my upbringing and societal expectations insisted that I be. I’ve spent a long time pretending to be a certain way or a certain type of person in order to passably function in a society I don’t understand nor wish to truly integrate into. Maybe he and I were both born at the wrong times, though at least Matt does have a great view of the stars from up there in space. I’ve never not been a misfit, and instead of blaming outside factors for my inability to be normal, to have normal relationships or have a normal way of looking at the world, experience now demands I embrace that my weirdness and exclusion from the general click of the world comes from within.
Recent experience has also taught me, many years later than I’d like, that patience is the key to saving oneself from jumping into situations that one may not be prepared to handle or even understand. When I look back, it seems painfully obvious now, that I got involved in relationships (either friendship or romantic), bands, jobs, and general situations that could have been avoided if I was better in touch with reality and didn’t allow my rampant impatience and general reckless absent-mindedness to dictate my course. Also, allowing the premature death of my sister to guide me further into reckless behavior is not a good way to honor her memory nor to help any of my problems.
Even the publishing of After Terra: Year 200, while something I can still ultimately be proud of, is a symptom of my general “ready, fire, aim” mentality. I published the thing before it was really ready to shine properly, with no marketing and no real strategy to get in readers’ hands. The first cover was put together in a rush, and I didn’t even have my pen name properly set. If anyone knew who the hell I or After Terra was at the time, it would have qualified as a disastrous launch. Fortunately for me, it ended up more like a tree falling in the woods that no one but me heard, and I was able to chop the timber up into something useful for the future. Out of anything I’ve published so far, that is the one piece of work I wish I could “do over” properly, since it is for most people their introduction to the After Terra universe. Or maybe I’m only harder on myself because it is my first full length work and because out of everything I’ve ever worked on, it had to change and evolve and absorb more criticism and feedback than anything before it or since. I don’t know, I don’t have the answers, I’m not an expert on this, I just write stuff that comes to the forward section of my brain.
Captain Picard is often quoted as saying “…make now the most precious time,” and that “…time is a companion that goes with us on the journey, reminds us to cherish every moment, because they may never come again.” I might need to tattoo these quotes on my body, because I tend to forget them when I need to hear it most.
And most of all, being torn apart at fundamental level, being broken to my core, forced to examine just who and what the hell I am, another quote from Captain Picard comes to mind:
All I can say with certainty is that I know nothing, and I know this the more I learn. Life has until now been me bouncing along on whatever current happens to be moving, not paying any attention to the rocks that current would surely wreck me against. I am a weird person who has never fit in, and for the first time, doesn’t want to, even if it is to pretend, to survive.
After Terra is then perhaps the truest extension of me into this world. It is dirty and messy and sometimes uncouth, it zigs when it’s supposed to zag, but as much as it’s influenced by Star Trek and Star Wars, it doesn’t want to fit inside the boxes those franchises have created in the sci-fi sphere of influence. It doesn’t even want to be Firefly or Mass Effect at the end of the day, though their inspiration is keenly felt. It wants to tell the story of a strange, bright man, perhaps too innocent or too absent-minded for the world around him, who wants to find the truth of things. It wants to tell the story of humanity, in all its violence, sex, survival, war, brutality, genius, love, madness, and loss.
This is me, and this is my story. I’m done pretending, I’m done lying. This is now the search for truth and redemption in a world I don’t understand but will learn about anyway.