Time’s coming for the book launch; target date remains, as far as I know, June 28th.
My first serious work in years…the culmination of seven years’ work, with the help of a brilliant strangers I met online, who offered me more support than they needed to, or that I deserved.
It’s curious; the only people I seem to know anymore are all strangers online…digital shadows and pale imitations of people I knew, and in some cases, people I loved, in the World Before. People who would tear me down if they could see me through my own eyes.
When my world came to an end in 2013, I was going through a very bad time, and I was in a very bad place, when I wrote They Came in Peace.
What I thought of at first as an alien invasion story but not, rife with powerful political, economic, social and environmental subtext woven into the narrative drama, horror, intrigue, action and contemplations, I found out something gut-wrenching.
Most of all, and most unsettling, is how fucking autobiographical the whole thing is, about a time in my life predominated by my divorce, cancer scare, emotional breakdown, loss of access to my kids, the loss, one at a time, of my friends, and my descent into an alcohol and drug-fuelled quest to numb the pain from which I barely swam back to the surface. I’d been mainly clean and sober for thirteen years before; that’s got to count for something, right?
Buried in the narrative, underneath the unfolding main story about the arrival of Aliens bent on saving Humankind at any cost and Humanity’s inevitable response to such curation, is the story about the protagonist.
The protagonist of They Came in Peace struggles throughout the story with loss, with the trauma, grief and self-recrimination that comes with it, clinging to his only family and bitterly regretting everyone he’ll never know again, and all the times people he’s loved have left his world, over the span of his very short, hard life.
It’s a story about his isolation, personal and personally enforced, and his shutting himself off from the world, lest it do more to harm him.
It’s the fucking story of the last seven years of my life, in many unexpected ways. Not my bitter anger, not my cruelty…not the things I said and did, words deadlier than weapons used and abused…those I’m too ashamed of to ever put down…but the things I felt in my darkest, most lonesome moments.
What have I learned from all this?
I’ve learned that the world at large is very unforgiving; that one bad day, one bad decision is all it takes to ruin your life.
I’ve learned that I share a life, name, body, date of birth and mind with my greatest enemy.
I’ve learned that I will never forgive myself.
I’ve learned to be a loving, nurturing, supportive and constantly-amazed by my children’s brilliance and enlightenment father to kids that are my reason to live, and the purest thing in my life.
And I’ve learned that if I could go back and change it all, erase the last seven years and start over that I would; not for my sake, but for the sake of those that I love, and most of those who I lost, but above all just to spare my children and their mother the pain I caused as I spiralled ever-downward.
All I can do, however, is try to atone…maybe if I can’t forgive myself, someone else will be able to forgive me.
I don’t expect anyone wants to come back into my life; at least not anyone I’d let back in, or have any kind words for.
I can only go forward; the chasms I’ve left between me and those I loved, those few who loved me, they are to vast to be forded.
But as I head into my uncertain, dwindling future, all I can see are the lone and the level sands, stretched far away.