I apologize for the break in blogging. I've been taking care of some medical issues lately, and thankfully progress is going well. Nothing life threatening, just major enough I will be requiring minor exploratory surgery in the next few weeks and might be requiring more serious surgery in October, we'll see.

However, blogs will appear every Sunday, I've had a chance to work on many, and I promise barring emergency or prior notice to resume weekly blogging. So with that in mind, let's get to the insanity!

Good writers usually think in terms of narratives. Most humans do, however there is one difference:  the human mind thinks in terms of “and” and follows the order of events it is used to seeing in real life, in movies/TV, or reading in books, short stories, and comics. Writers think as “therefore, but.”

What does that mean? Let’s think of people in two categories: writers and readers. Readers are used to taking in stories written by others. So they are used to patterns. A reader will read “John and Mary are fighting. John has to go grocery shopping” and the next thing a reader’s mind hears is “and.” So they might think “John and Mary are fighting. John has to go grocery shopping, and so he gets time to cool off, come home, they cook dinner and make up.” That’s based off real world experience and common story paths.

A writer will write “John and Mary are fighting. John has to go grocery shopping,” and their minds immediately go to “therefore,” which creates a new situation, so they will add “but,” as they do not think in a linear path, but instead move situation to situation which involves incorporating consequences of the prior situation. So a writer will write “John and Mary are fighting. John must go grocery shopping, therefore he buys only beer and hot wings, things he enjoys, but Mary decides to invite her book club over for dinner and promises them a gourmet chicken dinner.” Now you have a situation with a plot: John and Mary are at odds, and now there is a problem to solve: five hungry women expecting chicken and roast vegetables, and John is bringing cheap beer and hot wings home.

“And” would bring us to John and Mary make up, have a quiet dinner, maybe have sex or watch Netflix. Not a story. “Therefore, but” means John might invite his poker buddies over and anything can happen: a battle of the sexes in touch football, an orgy, the accidental summoning of an ancient demon…that’s the magic of “therefore, but.”

This obviously sets writers apart, and if you think off a writer as a story teller, this is why some people are born to tell great stories, and most people are born to appreciate them. There’s nothing wrong with either position, everyone is suited for something, this is what writers are suited for. 

Let’s take something happening in the world (or out of it in this case) and see how a writer looks at it:

Mankind dreams of space travel, and having a moon base would be a great step towards what we need to go further. However, running a moon base is wildly expensive, and even a mission to send a shuttle to the moon costs about one million US dollars per MINUTE. Alas, there is one resource on the moon valuable enough to cover that cost with profit: helium 3.

On Earth, we are running out of helium. America’s obsession with cheap balloons at birthdays is literally killing the planet faster than global warming. A large supply of helium 3 would keep us going, and the moon is rich with it.

This is the main goal of private space companies. They are perfecting flight, discussing space station options for stations halfway between earth and the moon, training, and developing methods to actually keep a base. Hell, they are even working on a way to fertilize moon soil to grow plants.

Now, a normal person would look at that and think, “Cool, space mining, space station, and then there’s gonna be interplanetary travel!” It’s nice, it’s succinct, it’s linear, and it uses “and.”

Now, bear with me to see how a writer’s mind works: So there may be space mining. Therefore, they have to transport goods, people, and equipment to the moon, and they have to transport the helium back, so that means truckers. Space truckers. Just like current truckers, they will do the transports. But, truckers work long hours and need meth to make long hauls. And they get lonely so they need hookers. Therefore, space hookers! Space meth! But hookers and meth labs need buildings, so they will have to build smaller space stations like modern truck stops. But, meth labs tend to explode, so space meth lab explosions! And it depends which company creates the space brothels, if it’s the US or the UK, where prostitution is illegal, it will require a pimp system, therefore space madams and space pimps! Or, the UK allows prostitution, but no brothels, so therefore…space massage parlors? But where hookers and drugs exist in a pimp system there are territories, rivalries, and executions. Therefore, space drive-dys! But you can’t use bullets or lasers or anything that would pierce the hull on a space station, therefore they will go back to knives and swords! Therefore: space truckers, hos, exploding space meth labs, and space samurai pimp battles! Therefore I need to get a good telescope when this starts, pop popcorn, and have a great show every night!

I have yet to explain to this someone without inciting laughter, then a reflective pause, then at last an “Oh my god!” look as they realize it’s entirely possible. 

Not everyone is a writer, but a good litmus test if you see situations and you mind follows the “therefore, but” pattern, then you’re a writer. If it follows the “and” pattern, you’re a reader. There’s no shame to being a reader, nothing special to being a writer.  There are a million different callings in life, writing is just one.

How can we use this for profit, fellow writers? This is how to get inspiration! When you want a fresh story, turn to the news, and follow your “therefore, but,” chain. This is how books were written during the panning phase of the Titanic that seemed to mirror the actual tragedy. These authors aren’t psychics, they just read reports of major ships being built and followed a “therefore, but” chain which opens up different possibilities, picked the most interesting one, and wrote a story.

Good luck to you, but please note: I call dibbs on Samurai Wars of the 22nd Century on the Moon.