A couple residents of the yard.
Hey writers, do you ever sweat over a story that you know is special, so much so that it flows almost of its own free will from you, an act of pure crazy inspiration, and when you're done you just let it cool for a while, almost afraid to mess with it, until it languishes a little too long and you know it's time to get it out into the world, but you first take another hard pass at it and suddenly inspiration strikes again and you write a new ending so amazing that even though you thought this story was the shit before, now you know it's THE SHIT and your beta readers give you all kinds of good insight to tune it up but mostly they say they love it, and now there's nothing left to mess with and you're just procrastinating before sending it to that major publishing outlet, where you know they're going to take one look at it before saying "holy shit, this is fucking amazing" and putting that sucker in the next issue, where it is basically a shoe-in for an Amazing Story of the Year nomination, only then you hear back from them and they say thanks but it's not what they're looking for right now?
I'm sure exactly how to explain what this is, but it looks like someone write a machine-learning program to seek pattern matches from an image library of living things, then cranked it into overdrive on a Bob Ross painting video, all to a soundtrack of a computer attempting to replicate Ross's dulcet voice without imparting any meaning to the sounds.
Watching the movie "Happy" and thinking about what actually leads to contentment explained something that had previously been a mystery to me. When I'm in a terrible mood, I can always cheer myself up by going out and picking up trash from the woods around the pedestrian/bike paths near my house.
This has always seemed counter-intuitive. It should be annoying to clean up after someone else. I should feel I'm abetting their neglect and lack of courtesy. Also, I've already paid my portion of the salaries of people whose job it is to pick up this trash - why am I having to do it myself? Usually, when I tell people how much better I feel after picking up trash, they respond that they wouldn't find the experience fulfilling. on the contrary, it would piss them off.
All I can say is: try it. Yes, I have flashes of annoyance at people's carelessness while I'm working, but dumping out a bunch of trash at the end is incredibly fulfilling. The woods look nicer and I feel better. I don't take pictures or beg for applause on social media - no one in the neighborhood knows at all. Its value is totally private.
One of the three areas correlated with happiness (according to the documentary Happy) is the feeling that you're making a difference in the world. It turns out that my trash-picking is just a simple means of honoring that human need, graciously made available by the folks throwing their gatorade bottles into the bushes.
The much-anticipated (by me, among others) anthology Behind the Mask is now for sale in print and in electrons at the online retailer of your choice.
Publisher’s Weekly calls it “a treasure trove of 20 stories . . . exploring the lives of superheroes when they’re not saving the world. . . . There is nary a miss in this diverse and thoughtful collection, which will have readers considering what it means to be human.” [Read the full review]