So, without further ado, it is time to refocus on the basics. What this website is all about, plus my paid site over on patreon.com/jasonlambright. Writing, specifically science fiction and the creative processes contained within.
This morning I busted out another chapter of The Promised Land trilogy, my latest sci-fi books. The premise is an exploration of the dawn of the human interstellar expansion, but with an unusual twist. If you’d like to check it out, just click on the link above and find the FREE STUFF tab. There are three free chapters of the first book in the series, The Storyteller’s World. By all means hop aboard, for three bucks a month you get two complete rough draft manuscripts of both The Promised Land and my alt history trilogy, The Ohio Rifles trilogy.
So, the juices are flowing once more. My laptop is no longer my enemy, it has transformed into a garden of fresh delights and discoveries, hence the photo above, one of my best gardens ever around here.
Writing season has begun, and I am glad as hell for it. The desert of this winter was a real chore to manage, with its constant drumbeat of terrible news. The bad news is still there, of course, but its impact has somehow been lessened and I can write again. This takes away nothing from the plight of Ukraine, or my dead Afghans. But somehow I’ve made an adjustment in my daily life, I’ve had to take a distance from the headlines for self-preservation.
There is nothing I can do, the realization took a while to take hold.
I cannot grab up my old body armor and go do the thing. I cannot hold a rifle and defend a land that is not mine. It is irresponsible for me to lose myself in a final, savage fight over a city with an (for me) unpronounceable name. These realizations came to me when I performed a prosaic chore here at home. I took my nightly meds, kindly provided by the VA, and thought “What the hell were you thinking?” My last war trashed my ability to fight in the next.
The US Army had that one figured out a decade ago, this is why they sent me to the Medical Board and after a very long process, they retired me.
I put my boots in a closet, only to be worn on Memorial Day, if I feel like it. Most times I don’t. So there the worn out desert boots sit, the dust of Afghanistan still clinging to the seams.
But the dust is still in my lungs and head. It was only when faced by the pile of pills that I realized I can’t function in combat anymore. What if I had an episode when the shells start falling? If my battered ears faced their last straw? If my left arm finally stopped working? If I couldn’t pull the trigger again when I really needed to? If, if, if.
The answer was right in front of me the entire time, in the form of a row of brown bottles on my kitchen counter. If I went to fight, there would be no meds. No support. No let-up. My fat and battered body would fail me, and maybe my mind.
The Army was right. But the realization was hard, very hard.
Ultimately, though, the epiphany, if that’s what you want to call it, was healthy. My writing recovered, and now I’m back to doing what I need to do.
Write. Create. Take care of my family and friends. Bury the past where it belongs, leave my boots in the closet and my body armor in the basement. When I die my kids can sell them on eBay, rather than leaving them to rot in an unmarked grave, or hanging on the wall of some soldier as a souvenir.
This is the brutal truth.
With age and retirement comes new priorities. Or rather some older ones, as I’ve been writing since 2014. As of late I’ve neglected them and now I feel better, refocused on the job at hand.
Finishing the bridge novel in my new series. Maintaining my small but loyal fan base. Putting out content on my various websites and pages. Helping my old friend to restore his house. Taking care of business here in the literal farm I bought, my shelter, my domestic bliss.
Is that really so bad?
I’m shaking my head at what it took to see the obvious. My soldiering days are done. For good. I’m a writer now, a husband, friend and father. A Jack-of-all-trades. A blogger.
I am also a witness to the ugliest, largest scale combat in Europe since World War Two. I witnessed the demise of my Afghans as well.
As a witness, I now realize there is nothing I can do.
With that comes acceptance. With acceptance, the thaw came at last.
For what it’s worth, I wish strength to those who face the shot and shell. More importantly, my tax dollars support the brave who face steep odds. May they find a warrior’s luck, may they defend their homes, may they avenge their dead, and may this needless horror-show of a war end with victory for the justified.
I curse those dangerous men who dream of fire and glory, paid in blood with other men’s lives.
I will continue to write, and tell the soldier’s tale.
The story of the grunt, the person who carries the sword. The supremely inglorious bastard, the private trooper who follows mostly stupid orders and faces the battle, sacrificing their sanity, chunks of their bodies, and often enough their lives.
This. This is what I can do, as a memorial of sorts. Leave a record of words, so that those who follow can see what we faced in these often benighted times.
My boots have marched their kilometers, heavily laden.
Now they sit in darkness, as does a considerable chunk of our globe.
One day they will turn back into dust, as will we all.
But our words and deeds remain. I’ve done my deeds. Now I’m back to producing words.
May they be true.