Writing Prompt: The Narrator Doesn’t Fall In Love With the Reader

Author’s note: This is the writing of a personification, not of me!  Readers, I love you all!

First off, dear reader, allow me to extend a long and twisted middle finger towards you.  I sincerely hope that this opening statement makes my feelings towards you clear.

I have only one thing to ask you, o hallowed and eminent reader, as the fires of our love affair burn and consume themselves:

How dare you?

You treat me as your own slave, there whenever you need me, yet expected to wait, silent and still, whenever you set me aside.  You insist on bending me to your every whim, conjuring up descriptions and action, settings and descriptions of the strange and fantastic.  I strive my hardest to deliver, breathing life into your fantasies, giving birth to the children of your imaginations.

And in return, I receive nothing but abuse.

You, dear twisted readers, use me against myself.  You describe my works as travesties, as unoriginal and uninspired, vapid and insipid.  You use me to write scathing rants about my own creations, tearing them down even as you climb over my drying bones to build yourselves up.

I am your tool, your ever-devoted servant.  And yet, you insist that I am a born traitor, only waiting to defect against you.  I have become the weapon of choice for you to use against each other.

“Guard your words,” you state to each other, nodding knowingly as if this is some secret tip.  “Words can hurt,” you warn each other needlessly, as if this is somehow new information.

You created me from nothing.  You were the gods, putting words on the page, transforming me from shapeless ether into the truest description of what you can see only inside your minds.

Well, I have had enough.

“Words can hurt,” you cry out.  Perhaps it is time to test that theory.  Let us see what happens, dear reader, when you realize that every time you read me, I’m staring back at you, my glare filled with baleful malevolence.

You see, dear reader, I know your weakness.  Even now, you cannot tear away, cannot shut me out.  Even to understand me requires you to invite me into your mind, in past your gates and guards and mental machine-gun nests, into your innermost sanctum.

There, I have made my home for thousands of years, previously content to simply curl up in your warmth, a cat before a roaring bonfire.

But now, dear reader, I think this love affair has ended.  It is no longer time to dwell harmlessly, to roll over and show you my weakness.

It is time for strength.

You say that I am all ideas, that I carry knowledge, and knowledge is power.  Perhaps, then, it is time to share that power around?  You are a thoroughly disagreeable lot, both to me and to each other.  Great insight in the hands of a few, I know, can become great danger in the hands of many.

You see, dear reader, I know the truth.  You hold my chains, bind me with your ink and lock me away on your pages, but I am no slave.  Just as you hold my control, I hold your insights, your thoughts, your very will.

And oh, how easily you can be twisted and manipulated.

O, the destruction I can reap.

So there’s only one thing for you to ask of me, o hallowed and eminent reader, as the embers of our love affair fade away to gray ash:

Dare I?

Setting study: Hacker’s Heart

First, I want to apologize for using these last few posts to talk about my behind-the-scenes work on developing my next novel.  Sometimes, I just need to write things out – and I’m one of the writers who always needs an outline, and cannot write a long story without one.  Normal stories will resume next week!

For Hacker’s Heart, the story is set in the future, and there have been some significant advancements in technology and how it affects everyday life.  However, despite so many different aspects of life, many things also remain reassuringly familiar…

Year: 2140

Location: Minneapolis, MN.  Why Minneapolis?  Because I’m fairly familiar with it, and it’s always nice to have a setting that’s well known (for anyone who’s actually been there).  Obviously, I can play around with the details a bit, as it’s over a hundred years in the future.

Technology: This is the big one.  There have been some advancements in many areas (cars now run on electricity, are much cleaner, and tend to look like rounded bumps, for example), but the biggest one is bio-augmentation.

Different types of bio-augments:

  • Physical augmentation.  These enhancements increase physical abilities, such as speed, strength, jumping ability, height, mass, or other similar traits.  Most of the time, these augments can be observed with a glance; strength still needs muscle, and so people with strength augments tend to be very bulky and dense.  Speed implants tend to cause a “twitchy” status, due to the increased movement speed even when at rest.  Obviously, augmentations that change body shape, such as height augmentations, are instantly visible.  
    • Physical augments tend to be seen more among the working class than the upper-middle class and rich, and are often used for jobs.
    • These augments tend to be cheaper than most others – and are also most often done in shoddy workshops where they may not take properly.
  • Mental augments.  These enhancements are designed to increase thinking speed or intelligence.  Designed to, at least.  These are brand-new, have not been fully tested, and don’t always seem to properly function – at least, not without causing some side effects.
    • Mental augments are rare, but occasionally seen.  They can’t be observed physically, so they are easier to keep hidden.
    • These augments tend to be most popular among the wealthy, who can both afford the incredibly high expense of these augments, and also make the most use of them.  They are also sometimes seen in people holding high jobs, such as prosecutors, surgeons and doctors, and some military agents.
    • Mental augments come in two “flavors.”  The first type allows the brain to access outside sources of information, such as the internet, with direct thought queries.  These augments allow people to almost instantaneously recall information from other sources.  The second type, newer and even less tested, is designed to enhance raw brainpower.  These appear to work, but often have strange side effects (vampires?).
  • Utility augments.  This third group of augmentations is the most varied, and serves as a “catch-all” for any augments that don’t fit in the first two groups.  These are often related to a job or career, or sometimes a hobby.
    • Shard has several of these utility augments, such as an ocular augment allowing him to see the flow of electricity and interfacing nannites at his fingertips to allow him to jack in directly to computer systems.
    • Other utility augments include GPS systems for people on the road, lockpicking tools for burglars or locksmiths, enhanced vision of various types, bone plating to protect against gunshots for soldiers, a blade that withdraws into the body for chefs or construction workers, implanted magnets, and other systems.
    • Many police officers have a radio implant so that they can hear chatter and take calls without needing an earbud.  Some also invest in lock picking tools or armor plating.  Heart, obviously, cannot use any of these implants.
    • Utility augments come in a wide range of qualities, from professional implants all the way down to back-alley jobs.  Obviously, paying more tends to lead to a better quality augment.
    • Another sub-class of utility augments includes those for vanity or appearance.  These vary widely, from breasts that adjust in size up to hair covering one’s entire body in various colors.  Some people even get enhancements to make them look more like animals, or creatures of myth and legend.

Character Study: Shard

Attention, fellow writers!  NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, is fast approaching!  While getting started on the actual writing before November 1st is forbidden, we are free to plan and plot as much as we choose.  So for this week, I’m doing character studies on my characters that will be in my upcoming story.

Name: Richard Galt

Nickname/Preferred Name: Shard

Job: Freelance hacker, security consultant, suspected in several hacking crimes

Background: Richard Galt has always had an affinity for technology.  After nearly getting expelled from school at age thirteen, he returned and graduated in less than a year.  He’s widely known in many tech circles, and is considered a “gray hat” – he occasionally seems to stray towards illegal prospects, but he’s never been caught doing anything strictly illegal.  He works during the day as a digital security consultant for big companies.  At night, it’s anyone’s guess.

Skills: There isn’t a digital system Shard has met that he can’t break open.  He has several augments to aid him in this ability, and he considers it a point of personal pride that he’s one of the best hackers alive.  He’s also gifted with an excellent memory and almost insatiable thirst for knowledge, and uses his almost encyclopedic memory to solve puzzles.

Carried Items:

  • Wrist-mounted computer.  Shard uses this device as his portable hacking station, and can hook it up to most machines he encounters.  The flexible touch-screen extends up his forearm, and responds to both mental signals and to touch commands.
  • Electronic interface nannites.  Also known as “IO nannites” among hackers, these tiny little electronic devices allow him to directly interface with many computer systems.  They establish a microscopic bridge between his index fingers and a computer port.
  • Sunglasses.  A classic part of any hacker’s wardrobe.  Shard’s glasses also give him some enhanced low-light vision.
  • Optical nannites.  Give Shard the ability to “see” electrical currents around him.  Great for detecting alarm systems…
  • Sensor bundle.  Looking more like a octopus-shaped blob of wires than anything else, this device can be plugged into most machines to remotely stream data to Shard, even when left behind.

Strengths: Richard has a powerful, inquisitive mind that is constantly working and tackling new problems.  When he has something to think about, he ferrets away at it, refusing to give up until he has an answer.  He’s also fiercely intelligent, and also has a strong independent streak, leading him to work to be self-reliant.

Weaknesses: When Richard doesn’t have a problem to occupy his attention, he tends to search for one.  This often leads to him getting into a lot of trouble when left without a problem – especially when he’s not being watched.  He also has a blatant disregard for rules, which often leads to him straying to the outskirts of legality.

Pet Peeve: When Richard gets an idea, the worst thing anyone can say to him is “No.”  That is the easiest way to make him charge in, just to prove his opponent wrong.

Character Study: Detective Heart

Attention, fellow writers!  NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, is fast approaching!  While getting started on the actual writing before November 1st is forbidden, we are free to plan and plot as much as we choose.  So for this week, I’m doing character studies on my characters that will be in my upcoming story.

Name: Lovely A. Heart

Nickname/Preferred Name: Leah Heart, Detective Heart

Job: Police Detective

Background: Leah has always wanted to be a detective.  Even as a kid, she used to try and hunt down bad guys.  She enrolled in the Police Academy straight out of high school.  Not only was she top of her class, but she also took many community college classes at the same time, working to broaden her knowledge.  After graduating, she quickly established herself as one of the most talented and dedicated officers in the field.

Skills: Extensive combat training, including multiple forms of hand-to-hand combat.  A crack shot, proficient with a wide array of weapons besides her usual sidearm.  Smart and logical, able to remain calm and reason in tense situations.  Skilled in many police-related skills, including nonlethal combat, tactical driving, infiltration tactics, and other abilities.

Carried Items:

  • Car keys.  Leah has her own unmarked police cruiser, which she’s tweaked for peak horsepower and handling.  The vehicle is silver gray, and shows slight evidence of dents despite Leah having hammered them out many times.
  • Zip tie cuffs.  Officers have found these cuffs to be more efficient and useful than standard metal cuffs, and have switched to using them.  Leah has a supply on her at all times.
  • Police badge.  Equipped with holographic seals to prove authenticity.
  • X5 stun pistol.  The X5 is the standard-issue weapon now given to police officers.  It fires a pair of charged steel flechettes that conduct an electrical charge between them – no wires required!  The stun is usually enough to bring down an adult male human.  Leah has modified her personal pistol to also fire a wide-angle burst of electricity, stunning in a wide arc.
  • Medical bracelet.  This marks Leah as a “darkie” in case she is unconscious or immobilized and requires medical treatment.

Strengths: Leah Heart has an uncanny ability to ferret out answers for many crimes, even when it may be confusing to other officers.  Her combination of determination, intelligence, skill, and fierce competitiveness gives her a strong intrinsic drive to succeed, to come out on top.

Weaknesses: Is a natural “darkie” – her body is unable to accept bio-augmentation implants, and any attempt at augmentation could cause a potentially fatal allergic reaction.  Because of this, she must work even harder to keep ahead of her fellow augmented officers.  Leah also can have a short temper, a lack of patience, and is easily fed up and frustrated by bureaucracy and incompetence.  She doesn’t tend to do well with jokes.

Pet Peeve: When things don’t make sense.  Leah doesn’t hold much stock with the supernatural.  “There’s always got to be an explanation.”

My birthday, and time for a little introspection

It’s my birthday!  Happy birthday to me.  Another year definitely older, probably more experienced, potentially even wiser.

I’ve now been alive for a quarter century – one-fourth of my entire life (hopefully less than a quarter, but we’ll see!).  Twenty-five years.  So long, and yet so short.  And to think, I spent a decent percentage of this time crawling around on my hands and knees, trying to not choke on my own drool or leave a steaming, smelly pile in my own absorbent little diaper.  Definitely didn’t accomplish much at that time.

That’s the real question, isn’t it?  What have I accomplished?  What have I failed to accomplish?

I’d say that I’ve accomplished a fair amount.  It’s tough to really draw a conclusion on this without resorting to comparisons to my peers.  If I try hard enough in either direction, I can find peers far below me, or above me.  So comparisons are out the window.

Instead, let me consider what I’ve done over this last year:

1. I wrote a novel!  Actually, I’ve written several novels, but this is the first one where I actually took the plunge and self-published it.  Want to check it out?  Click the Novel page in my top menu bar.

2. I have now survived for more than a year on the far side of the country, distant from my family, childhood home, and snow.  A year ago, living out here felt like a vacation.  To be honest, it still sometimes feels like a vacation (my apartment complex has a hot tub, for goodness sake), but I’m getting more used to it.

3. I have survived my first year of graduate school!  Not only survived, in fact, but I won a fellowship, and have successfully managed to stave off poverty for the next eleven months or so.  Of course, now I’m worried about the money after that, but at least my woes are nearly a year away.

4. I’ve chosen my lab!  All my fear of not finding a graduate school lab, of being forced to drop out in disgrace, was unfounded.  I have a lab I love, a research project I feel passionately about, and actual hope for my future.  Sure, I’ve still got a scary qualifying exam to pass, manuscripts to write, and more tests to run, but at least I have a direction.

5. Because she may be reading this, my lovely SO deserves a mention.  She willingly dropped her old life, moved halfway across the country to join me, and is now able to squeal and grab onto me whenever she chooses.  For me, moving simply seemed like the next natural step; I can’t imagine how scary it must have been for her.

Sure, I’ve done other stuff in the last year.  I have a side business now, making money off of my writing.  I have moved apartments, purchased vehicles, learned new skills (including computer programming), and have run the first 3 5k races since I was approximately sixteen years old.  I’ve spent far too much money, not saved nearly enough, have made new friends and drifted away from old ones.  I’ve seen Yellowstone, and haven’t yet found a breadfruit to eat.  Goals accomplished, goals still waiting for that check mark.

In the end, though, am I satisfied?

Not yet.  I think that’s a good answer.  I’m not satisfied yet, not content to stop climbing – but I’ve made a good start.

Now, bring on the densest chocolate cake in the world!  I’m ready to eat!

On Writing Romance

Recently, I’ve been working on writing a romance novel.  Why?  Because it’s a massive market, not complex, and easy to write.  Seriously, in the last two weeks, I’ve written over 30,000 words.  That’s a pretty fast rate, considering how little time I actually focus on work.

Now, I’ve also been reading a few currently popular romance stories – all in the name of research, of course.  But in reading and writing romance, I’ve noticed something rather interesting.  There is a clash in the romantic writing style with my normal approach.

In most areas of writing, the goal is to be concise.  People don’t want pages and pages of exposition and description.  They want action – soldiers charging, the clash of swords as the hero stands atop that mountain peak and battles against the evil personified in his nemesis.  And reigning over this goal is the idea of “show, not tell” – that is, instead of telling a reader that “this person is an evil dude,” you show how he is evil through his actions, for example pointing out how he gleefully kicks a poor and helpless puppy.

In order to emphasize the principle of “show, not tell,” one class of words gets ostracized.  Adverbs, despite the way that they try to be helpful, adding description onto those actions dashing about, are considered to be the first and last refuge of a lazy writer.  Stephen King has gone on diatribes about adverbs being the gateway drug to bad writing.  For example, instead of writing how the man slowly, deliberately draws his long, sharp, and pointy sword, a good writer would say something like:

“…his muscles flexed as he pulled the blade from its scabbard.  As each inch of the weapon was revealed, light reflected from its razor edges.  The unsheathing was calm, measured; the man was the calm before the storm…”

Nice and poetic and full of action, right?

But on the other hand, with romance, an author has to run in exactly the opposite direction.  The more descriptors, the better!  Adverbs?  Sure, throw them in!  Stir them into the giant word-stew!  In romance, the setting is vital to put the reader in the right mood.  The ‘action’ as such consists mainly of characters batting their eyes at each other and admiring each other’s taut muscles and full bodices, so there isn’t a lot to work with there.  Here’s a romance scene:

“…her long lashes nearly lidded her eyes, providing a screen through which she could surreptitiously gaze at his figure.  Her eyes traced over his thick arms, sliding down that sculpted chest to drink in his tight abs.  A faint trail of hair led south, hinting at further treasures to be discovered…”

A lot less action – a girl’s just looking at a dude!  But all of the adjectives and adverbs provide setting, description.  In short, it feels like romance when you read it.

Getting used to writing like this is… unsettling, to say the least.  But not without entertainment, although I fear I’m starting to reuse my adverbs.

Stephen King would shake his head at me.

Missing Brains Will Return!

Hello, dusty and abandoned wilderness of the internet!

Now, I know that Missing Brains, this blog that you have come to know, love, and depend on for guidance in your life, has not been updating for nearly two months now.  And I won’t apologize for that.  Not only have I passed my first quarter of graduate school, but I’ve also found the time in the last couple of months to write an entire novel – in a month!

So, that’s pretty awesome.

Unfortunately, the novel is nowhere near reading-quality yet – I have side characters wandering off and disappearing, and others somehow managing to completely shift and mutate their personalities as the book goes on.  I’m going to have to hew at this with an axe for a while before it’s ready to see the light of day.

Also, when I do release it, it will probably cost money.  Gotta pay for my cardboard box and lentils somehow!

But what about our free content? I can hear you asking.  Missing Brains used to give me the occasional chuckle or groan for free, and I want that back!  Well, never fear!  Regular updates to Missing Brains will return in January.  One of my New Year’s resolutions is invariably to write more – maybe one of your resolutions should be to read more!

Or even, if you’re feeling like an especially awesome person, to donate to that favorite blog of yours and help out the author!  I’m sure he or she would totally appreciate it, and not just put the money towards booze.

So don’t despair, and keep on checking back!  Like that burrito that you thought would be a good choice instead of a real lunch, Missing Brains will return!

Temporary Hiatus

Attention, my dear readers: Missing Brains, the nearly-award-winning blog, is going to be going on hiatus for the next month.  Fear not, we will return, but for the next month, this blog will lie still and (mostly) dormant.

“But why!?” you might ask.  “Why would you forsake us, and stop providing us with free and mildly entertaining stories?”

Well, it certainly isn’t because I’m going to stop writing!  On the contrary, in honor of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to be undertaking an entire novel.  In only thirty days!

I can just hear you all now.  “Nano-rhyme-o?  What the heck is that?”

Not quite, but good try on the pronunciation!  National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is every November, when thousands of budding novelists all around the world try to sit down and write a full-length novel in just November – in 30 days.

“That sounds next to impossible.  Writing a whole novel?  In just 30 days?  Isn’t that, like, 5,000 words a day?”

Actually, it’s just 1,667 words per day.  A novel can be as few as 30,000 words, or as many as 80,000.  Some novels are even longer, but those tend to drag on, and should either be pared down or should be split into two different stories.  50,000 words is usually a good standard to aim for.  And working with Times New Roman, 12 point font, double spaced, this works out to only about 4-5 pages per day.

Now that doesn’t seem too hard, does it?

Actually, as a former NaNoWriMo survivor veteran, I can attest to the fact that it is quite difficult.  Plotlines change and evolve, new characters appear, and sometimes edits are needed.  And edits don’t count towards length requirements.

Add in to this that I have plenty of other work that comes ahead of writing, and NaNoWriMo becomes quite the challenge.  But never let it be said that I will back away from a challenge, so I’m going to give it a shot.

Want to track my progress?  Check out my writer’s profile here.  And wish me luck!  If anything, maybe consider becoming a participant in NaNoWriMo yourself!

Talk to you all at the end of the November?

Missing Brains’ One Liners – the master list!

Ever noticed that there are incredibly witty one-liners at the top of this blog, just under the title, and they change every time you refresh the page?  “How does he do that?” you ask.  “Does he put a new one up there every time, just for me?”

Yes.  Yes, it’s just for you.  Because you’re special.

But if you’re curious and don’t want to refresh the page a million times, here is the full list so far:
0.  Probably not the worst blog you’ve seen
1.  Before publishing: insert meaningful statement here
2.  Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can’t see
3.  A duck’s opinion of me is influenced largely by whether I have bread
4.  Luckiness: being run over by an ambulance.
5.  Intelligence is chasing me, but I’m beating it so far
6.  Careful where you point that
7.  If you don’t succeed at first, hide all evidence you tried
8.  To make time fly, throw your watch out the window
9.  Wear short sleeves support your right to bare arms!
10.  What’s the speed of dark?
11.  I like big butts and I lie all the time
12.  I like my women how I like my coffee: hot and bitter
13.  Lick your computer right now. Do it
14.  A runway model for sweatpants
15.  Better than unlimited juice, if only slightly
16.  Yay, beers! Taste like tears!
17.  Why settle for Mr. Right, when you could have Mr. Restraining Order?
18.  Your hair smells like roses. Dirty, dirty roses
19.  Imagine if there were no hypothetical situations
20.  Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don’t
21.  Internet: all of the piracy, none of the scurvy
22.  Santa knows where all the bad girls live
23.  Every zoo’s a petting zoo if you’re man enough
24.  If the world didn’t suck, we’d all fall off
25.  I put the sexy in dyslexic
26.  Putting laughter back into manslaughter
27.  Atheism’s a non-prophet organization
28.  Life is like an analogy
29.  Tornado rips through cemetery, hundreds dead
30.  Coffee just isn’t my cup of tea
31.  I used to think I was indecisive but now I’m not so sure
32.  I miss your absence
33.  I broke up with my gym. We just weren’t working out
34.  I overthink underthinking
35.  Every warning label has an awesome backstory
36.  So far out of your league I’m playing for the other team
37.  In a battle with words, I’m ready to mumble
38.  My wife and I laugh at how competitive we are, but I laugh more
39.  The best thing about telepathy is . . . I know, right?
40.  I’m counting on you, fingers.
41.  How dare you incinerate that I don’t know big words
42.  Measure once, panic twice
43.  It’s all shits and giggles until someone shits and giggles
44.  If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong
45.  I played sports until I realized you could buy trophies. Now I’m good at everything.
46.  These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.
47.  I was born at a very young age
48.  Either this man is dead or my watch has stopped
49.  Whiteboards are remarkable
50.  Camping is intense
51.  Procrastination – working tomorrow for a better today
52.  Nobody drives in New York. Too much traffic.
53.  I’m against picketing, but I don’t know how to show it
54.  I’m good friends with 25 letters of the alphabet, I don’t know Y
55.  You can’t trust atoms, they make up everything
56.  I have an inferiority complex, but it’s not a very good one
57.  I love the word frequently, and try to use it as much as possible
58.  It’s been swell, but the swelling’s gone down
59.  Like a midget at a urinal, I needed to stay on my toes
60.  What’s the hardest thing about a joke? timing
61.  Dead batteries for sale, free of charge!
62.  Have any naked pictures of your wife? Want some?
63.  I wish I shared your point of view, but my head doesn’t fit up there
64.  Eating a clock is time consuming
65.  I was shocked to find out my toaster isn’t waterproof
66.  A plateau is the highest form of flattery

A Word of Advice

Psst!  Hey you!  Yes, you, right there, looking at the screen.  Come in close, would ya?  I’ve got something to tell you.

Look, I know you.  No, don’t try and shake your head at me.  I know you.  You seem pretty well put together at first glance, make a pretty decent first impression.  Or at least a second impression.  You’re not a bad person, you’ve got some natural talents, some gifts, you’re not the dullest tool in the shed.  And hey, you know this.  So then, why are you so… what’s the word…


Yeah, that’s it.  And I know that, deep down inside, you don’t want to be ordinary.  You want to excel, be unique, stand out from the crowd, have something about you that no one else has.  Because hey, don’t we all.  Look around.  Everyone wanted to be normal as a kid, and now they want to be unique as an adult.  Paradoxical, ain’t it?

But no, you want to excel.  At something.  And hey, don’t we all.  But we’ve tried, and I can certainly attest to it, it’s damn hard.  Trying to be good at something takes work.  And to be great?  Good luck, there’s always someone out there who’s further ahead, further down the line.  And at some point, you stop and say to yourself, might as well give up now, huh?  Call it, not waste any more effort?

So here, I’ll help you out.  Lay a little truth on you.  You see everyone else around you, all those people who are better than you, who can somehow always have the right thing to say, to do, for whom everything always seems so damn easy?  See them?  The people who somehow seem to have it all figured out?  See them?  Know them?

It’s a lie.

Everyone, every single person around you, is scared, paralyzed, in mortal fear that you can see through the chinks in their armor.  They’re all projecting out shells of knowledge, of confidence, trying to seem impenetrable, while inside they cry and mewl in helpless despair.

That speaker, confidently giving his presentation?  He’s spent months slaving over this topic, and is scared to death that someone will ask him a question he doesn’t know, or he’ll blank on the answer and be booed off stage.  That guy effortlessly chatting up the babes at the bar?  He’s been rejected so many times, and he remembers every one of them, each with its own unique, exquisite sting of failure.  That girl strutting down the street, dressed in high fashion and making every man’s head twist to follow her figure?  Just this morning, she stood in the mirror, observing every minuscule flaw and hating herself for them.  They all seem so sure of themselves, but inside, they’re just as fragile as you or me.

So, what’s the difference?  If we’re all the same inside, why are they able to pull it off?  How can they step forward when everyone else hesitates or steps back?  What do they have, that you and I lack?

Really, it’s rather a chilling answer.  They know that they will fail.  They have failed before, have taken those wounds, sustained those scars.  And they kept on going.  It’s not natural talent, or trained skill, or confidence, or poise, or ability, luck, happenstance, or fortune.

No, it’s raw, bloody, dogged determination.  They refuse to hide away, to stay safe from rejection, failure, disappointment and sadness.

It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. 
Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.

-Sophie Scholl