Better to do a Thing . . .

By August 29, 2011Comms

Well, it’s over. The past week has been a blur of monitoring weather, standing up an Incident Command Post (ICP), evacuating the base, taking care of the crew, getting everyone back on base after the all clear, and now cleaning up after the damage. Good night Irene. You gave us your worst, but this is what we’re trained for, and it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than a Category I landfall to cramp our style.

It’s been a lot like you might imagine. 3 hours of sleep a night when you’re lucky, living on candy and chips, under constant pressure to make good decisions based on incomplete information. It was a lot like my experience a few years back during Deepwater Horizon.

It was scary, but I grinned through the whole thing. Less than a month ago,  I was sitting in a coffee shop working on Book II of my fantasy series. Now, I’m smack in the middle of the action, fighting one of the biggest hurricanes we’ve seen in years. It’s an uncertain and sometimes scary way to live, but it’s exciting and fantastic and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This beats the hell, the living hell, out of sitting in a cubicle, choking on a tie and staring at spreadsheets all day.

I kept hearkening back to one of my favorite fantasy characters, Logen Ninefingers, and the quote he constantly repeats that he had from his father. It is better to do a thing than live in fear of it.

I have been taking this advice to heart long before I ever read those words. I’ve made some amazing mistakes in my life. There is a long, long list of things I’m absolutely terrible at. There’s enough dirt on me to fill the grand canyon. But there is one thing I’m immensely proud of: whatever it is in life that frightens me, I go flying at it until I’ve taken its measure. The fact is that if I had let fear rule me, I would never have gone to Iraq. I would never have joined the military. I would never have quit my comfy job to write fantasy novels.

That’s made for a rollercoaster of a life, but it’s also packed it to the gills with the kind of experiences that fuel novels. Fear is the mind-killer say the Bene Gesserit. They’re right.

Because the truth is that Logen is speaking with Joe Abercrombie’s voice as much as his fictional father’s. The litany against fear is really the litany of Frank Herbert. Two of the most outstanding speculative fiction writers out there. Men I strive to at least resemble.

And what are they telling you?

Walk into your hurricanes, people.

Author Myke Cole

Myke Cole is an American writer of history and fantasy who leverages a lifetime in military, law enforcement and intelligence service to take you to battlefields, real and imagined.

More posts by Myke Cole

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • K. Victoria Smith says:

    Great post.  Two things that governed my life.  My Irish grandmother always told me “You do what you have to do.” This was not an ‘end justifies the means thing’; it was about persistence and survival. Leave your ego at the door. The other is personal: “No regrets”. Win or lose, I do not to look back and wonder “What if?”.  Again, not recklessly plunging in, but at some point, when the knowns are reviewed its a “go” or “no go”. Writing is the same thing. YOu have to commit and then do what you have to do.  Perhaps we are the prequel to the Bene Gesserit.

    • Anne-Mhairi Simpson says:

      Whenever I make some huge decision (like moving to Peru) and then find myself going “Oo-er missus, what did I just do?” I always think, well, do you want to look back at the age of 93 and wonder “What if I’d done it?” And I am so glad I did, just for the record. As experiences go, you can’t buy that kind of Fire and Ice.

  • Jml753 says:

    Was asked today what my favorite movie was and I said Dune. Precisely for this reason. that movie and book changed my life when I needed it most. Be safe Myke just don’t stay safe.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Ha.  Wish I took my own advice as well as you have, Myke.

    But so it often is, with one’s own advice…

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