Skip to main content

Just Kick it Apart

"Your cage is made of sticks, brother; just kick it apart"
Forest Wizard, in"Storytelling," Adventure Time

I think it is interesting from what unexpected places our inspiration can be drawn. My new novel, Flagg, was heavily inspired by a game of Call of Cthulhu that I played with a few friends a long time ago.  An image stayed with me all these years, of a man holding two guns: one on an undead creature, and one on a man who was, up to that moment, his friend.

For the game, I named the man Jack Flagg, after the Pumpkin King from The Nightmare Before Christmas and the villain from Stephen King's The Stand.  In my novel, I dropped the Jack part, and kept the Flagg part, and made it part of his history that he adopted the name from a novel he had read.  I don't know why this image stayed with me all of these years while most didn't.  It doesn't matter really. It wasn't until years later, after listening to a particularly terrible piece of pop trash music that I got the main premise of the novel.  It doesn't make sense that it should happen like this, but then again, it doesn't really have to.  I try to not ask too many questions, lest I dispel whatever magic I have been operating under.

The quote that opens this piece is from a cartoon called Adventure Time.  The show is great wackytown fun, and I love the hell out of it; it fits my strange brand of humor and weirdness perfectly.  I'm not sure why the quote stuck with me.  In the show it is thrown out as a one-off piece of silliness.  The hero, Finn, was trapped in a cage of sticks, and didn't think of the solution to his escape until after the situation was resolved.

I think it is secretly profound.

Whenever I come up against fear, of the unknown, of failure, whenever I am uncertain that I am making the right decisions, and it threatens to freeze me into inaction, and this is true, I think of that stupid ass cartoon quote, and go for it.

Your cage is made of sticks.

It is a silly line from a very goofy, albeit fun, children's cartoon.  But think of it.  Apply it.  It represents a realization that you are not trapped in anything; you just might not be able to see the solution because of your fear, because you are panicking, because you just need a moment to breathe, to think.

Just kick it apart.

I am not making this up, I swear.  I was looking at a contract for the publication of my first novel, and I was afraid.  I was signing a legal document that represented literally hundreds of hours of my care and work going out of my hands and into someone else's.  I, a grown man with a college degree, and children under my care, thought to myself, "Your cage is made of sticks, brother; just kick it apart." And I signed the contract.  

It doesn't matter that it came from a cartoon, it doesn't matter that the idea for Flagg came from a game of semi-grown up make-believe.

Listen:  It does not matter.

If you are inspired to do your thing, all you have to realize is that it is only yourself that can stop you.  We all have justifications and bullshit excuses, I know; believe me, I have a bunch.  As a matter of fact, if you need some of mine, I'll give 'em to you, I have plenty to spare.  But if we are being honest we know that they are all lies.  Maybe sometimes you might need the Forest Wizard to point it out to you, but you just need to remember:

"Your cage is made of sticks, brother; just kick it apart."

And then do your thing.

Still Writing,

RP

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Fighting for Clarity

There's this to be said about fighting: while you're doing it, you don't have room in your head for anything else, not your busted ass car or your worries about your family, not the leak under your bathroom sink, or how you're going to pay your bills.  There's only breathe one two, step out of range, shift off the center line, move breathe one three two slip the jab level change three to the body check the low kick counter one two...  it is a better escape than most, and I've tried most of them, believe me. I don't know what the fuck I'm doing here. I get humbled and beat up at every session, I don't understand why I even go. I'm feeling defeated; everything is so fucking hard for me, and I don't know why I'm doing it. I should just quit, right? Fuck you.  I'll show you motherfuckers what I am capable of. I'll show you-  And then I go and I try and my knees give and I get pummeled and twisted and what the fuck man how humble do I

#FFF

So as many of you must know, November is National Novel Writing Month and writers everywhere get all wound up and try to knock out a novel in a month.  It is abbreviated as NaNoWriMo or something stupid, presumably an event created by and intended for writers and that's the best thing that they could come up with?  The world's most garbage portmanteau?  Writing circles generally call it Nano, which is only marginally better, but at least its shorter.  I never do it because November is a terrible month to attempt to do anything other than watch football and dream of turkey and mashed potatoes and whatnot.  Who has time to sit down at the keys in November? I don't know about y'all, but I haven't been able to do jack shit creatively in the last year, what with the pandemic and the election and protests and civil unrest and the many and varied other goddamn attacks on my peace and sanity and holy shit it was all I could do to hold it together and not run screaming out o

We Would Be a Song

I seem to define my life with soundtracks, playlists that encompass epochs or periods of change or development.  My earliest music was my mother's: Van Halen and Judas Priest, Def Leppard and AC/DC.  I remember a friend of hers explaining to second grade Ralph that the big balls that Angus was singing about were parties, but even then I didn't buy it.  My teen years were heavy on grunge, Nirvana and Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, and that was the first time that music ever felt like it was mine , that I discovered by myself or through the radio, or like minded friends, that was the first time that I took it and owned it and loved it, and even now I'll hear Black Hole Sun or Rooster or Smells Like Teen Spirit on the radio and back I go. In the fifth grade, I moved to Kelso, Washington. I want to say that it was hard, but what I remember mostly from childhood is just this sense of taking every day as it arrived.  What else do we have except our own experiences to measure th