The Devolution of Journal Writing

If you’re like me, you’ve been doing a bit of reading during this pandemic. Not that I needed a global virus to force me to read (I read pretty much every night, thank you very much) but I won’t say it hasn’t affected what I want to read. Escapism is in right now, very in. With that in mind, I turned to the latest from author Max Brooks (World War Z) to see what supernatural awesomeness he had for me this time.

Devolution follows a group of people trapped in what I think was very rural Seattle. Our protagonist, Kate Holland, recently moved to a designed community called Greenloop to try and repair the damage to her relationship with her estranged husband. The initial problem: A volcano erupts, cutting Greenloop off from the world and forcing them into survival mode. The additional problem: The volcanic eruption is causing all sorts of animals to move through the area, including the mythical Sasquatch.

So was it good? Yes but I want to actually focus on the one area where it fails. I found Devolution to be very entertaining and engaging, but I also found its least believable aspect to not be the humanoid cryptids, but the journal that our main character keeps.

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What White Privilege Means

I grew up in Abington, Massachusetts during the 1990s. My family home was not the standard. I didn’t really have neighbors. Yeah, there was a house semi-close to us but it only held an elderly couple – nice people but not the best playmates. On the other side of my house? A graveyard…quiet neighbors, really.

So I spent a lot of time in the woods, which surrounded most everything else. It was a great back then, the deer population hadn’t quite blown up yet so deer ticks were still few and far between. It was also fairly young, for a woods. Maybe 150 years old?

It used to be farmland and you could tell this as you walked through it. Stonewalls stood, long abandoned, cutting through the woods every few hundred yards or so. They’ve held up surprisingly well, despite not being cared for in over a century. While the landscape has definitely changed, these walls remain – as does the occasional farm antiquity.

When I walked in those woods – then and today – I am reminded that history does not have clear cut endings. Periods don’t end, get obliterated, and replaced with something new – not usually. No, instead the new typically grows over the old. It disguises it, but it does not remove it, not without effort.

Some of you may have guessed where I’m going with this. The woods I grew up in can be seen as society. They grow, they change. Species settle in and get pushed out (plants and animals). Vernal pools form, marsh deepens, only to have both dry in the summer.

But the bones of the land change much more slowly. The stone walls are still there and may very well be hundreds of years from now…unless someone makes the effort to pull them down.

stone-wall2

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How to Write Redemption

Everyone loves a good redemption story. It is one of the aspects that I believe helped make the original Star Wars trilogy so endearing: Watching Darth Vader rise from darkness to save his son. Redemption is also a hopeful message. Not only does it assure us that anyone can become the good guy, it gives a feeling of control. If these characters are so in charge of their destiny, than maybe we can be too.

Today’s post looks at some ways to write a successful redemption arc. This is by no means a definitive “how-to.” Writing is variable and unique – pretty much every rule can be broken by someone who knows what they’re doing to achieve a powerful effect.

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