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About three years ago, I had two old childhood loves rekindled—one for Legos and one for Transformers. I’m not sure why in particular these two things struck at me at that particular time, but there are some obvious answers.
Number one, earlier in 2011, I sobered up after about seven years of drug use and drinking, and my mind was a bit all over the place. In that early period of sobriety, there’s something that a lot of people call a “pink cloud,” which is basically the body rejoicing at not being poisoned every day. For me, this manifested in a lot of what I called, “little manias,” in which I would be absolutely about something for about a week or two, and then unceremoniously drop it. I ran a bad blog for about two weeks; I tried woodworking for about a month; I thought I would move to Oregon for a little while; things like that. At one point I picked up some Legos and some Transformers, and these were just the things that stuck. The nice thing about Legos, especially, is that my propensity for projecting always has an outlet.
I think also part of my sobriety has been rekindling the stuff of my childhood because I feel like that’s something I lost touch with in huge part during the years of my substance abuse. I was very big on manliness and masculinity and being a man-person who did man-things, and liking toys was not one of those things, basically. But I really like toys (as you can see). And it was fundamentally dishonest to try and deny this part of myself that wanted some sort of outlet.
So how does this help writing something like, say, UP THE TOWER? I’m not sure. I do know that both the Legos and the Transformers are therapeutic in a lot of ways. With the Transformers, it’s nice to be able to fiddle with something and change it into exactly the thing it was supposed to be. The Legos have a bit wider creative landscape. You can sit down and just follow instructions, which sometimes you really like doing. Other times, I use it to engage the creative part of my brain, and can see a physical manifestation of the way I approach novel writing—I build a thing in its entirety so that it roughly resembles the final product I want, and then start to fix all the flaws I can see one at a time.
Also, when my head gets lost in space and I need to take out time to think, it’s nice just to look at something cool for a minute sitting on my shelves.
Enjoy an excerpt:
Samson ignored the jeer, focusing carefully on opening the box. He was twelve years old and he did not want to screw this up; being twelve was important, and people took the things you did seriously so long as you did them well.
“Smellson, hey!” The Crowboy banged his crowbar on the dusty ruins of the factory line where they had set up the six crates from their haul that morning. “Don’t blow us up, okay? I don’t want to die with your stench clogging me up, yeah?”
Again, Samson ignored the other boy, trying to concentrate as he eased his longtool through the gap in the crate before him. He very well could blow himself up; he could blow them all up. Inside the GuaranTech crate he tinkered with was a copbot.
Copbots blew up all the time. If their main processors or power source were damaged, they blew up. If they were being captured, they blew up. If they ran out of ammo and couldn’t refill within about ten minutes, they blew up. When they blew up, they incinerated everything in about a hundred foot radius. The warehouse was not big enough for the Crowboys to keep their distance and still work in the role of protection as they had been hired. So they were in the blast zone as well as Samson.
The copbots, deactivated, were precious and valuable. Strangely, they were valuable precisely because they were so hard to deactivate. A copbot was made almost entirely out of self-healing nanotech, and with enough time, it could repair from almost any wound to its metal shell. So, to keep this sort of power out of the hands of the gangster conglomerate that ran Junktown, the Five Faces, and any other sort of competitor, the copbots had a very liberal self-destruct mechanism.
This is what Samson worked against.
About the Author:
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.
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