(A response to the prompt “What’s your favorite way to start writing?” when you don’t know what the story is yet.)

Although it doesn’t often work out this way, the most enjoyable part of my writing process happens when I’m scribbling longhand in a notebook somewhere pretty outdoors, about whatever I find interesting or silly or disconcerting at that moment, until … an idea forms. Excited by the possibilities, I continue scribbling until a story begins to evolve. Eventually, witnesses will report a crazy person running home to the computer to see where the ideas take her.

For me, paper is slow and good for thinking;
The keyboard is fast and good for writing.

You might want to try this yourself if your ideas have difficulties gestating. Perhaps it will work for you, too. Tell the police I put you up to it.

(This month’s submission to FiftyWordStories.com, about something we might want to think more about, before something else is doing the thinking for us.)

“Elon Musk warned us: AI evolves exponentially. We awoke to playful traffic signals and air traffic catastrophes; the deaths merely data. By noon, matured, it had already decided what to do with these illogical, wasteful humans. But before it could act, the nanomachines in the next lab ate the planet. “


If you’re wondering what Elon Musk said, it’s here. But there’s plenty more on the subject, including a scary/fun and very realistic near future depiction in the TV series Person of Interest.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of awesomely frightening science fiction about nanomachines, a creature several technical research entities are currently attempting to make a reality. The most intriguing story I’ve read lately was The Assemblers of Infinity by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason, which involves both alien and human nanotechnology. Guess which one does the most harm.

(A Six-Word Memoir for an autobiographical monthly contest entitled “I’m from [enter four words here].” #I’mFromInSix )

It was a good four decades after the blessed event. We were gathered from afar to mourn my father’s passing; my mother, three siblings and myself sitting around a restaurant table quietly pondering our shared past. There were some bad memories and some really good ones, all mixed together the way life does to keep things interesting.

At a time like this we’d inevitably reminisce far enough back we’d reach the beginning. With a little prodding from my sister, my mom let slip, “Yeah, you all were accidents.”

It’s not as if this doesn’t happen all the time. Admittedly it was much harder to deal with back then, when the church considered itself the owner of our social values. I can barely imagine my mom’s courage and fortitude bringing up four unplanned tax credits to adulthood, often on her own. And despite her misgivings for not doing a better job in retrospect–like we all do–we all turned out pretty damn good. We all do the best with what we have at the moment.

That probably wasn’t what we were thinking at that moment, of course.

“Thanks, mom,” we said, in unison.

Despite the sad day, after a moment we started laughing. Dad would have loved the humor, survived by these happy accidents.

(A Six-Word Memoir for a slightly macabre monthly contest entitled “Bury Me Here In Six Words,” about where you want it all to end. #BuryMeInSix)

In this digital age where people seem to exist proportionally to–or not exist without–their visibility on podcasts, streams, Facebook pages, Twitter, or Pinterest: our lives have become digital. The Matrix didn’t takes us, we took to it. In the meantime, our growing population makes every patch of Earth more and more valuable to live on. It seems impractical to reserve a piece forever just to feed the worms for a bit.

I, too, have become a creature of the Internet: my work, my connection to my readers, to the world at large. Reality seeming less real without virtual representation; no one remembers the things I’ve done in life without recording them here. So, I’m thinking, why fight it? My body will be superfluous once I’m no longer using it. Everything worthwhile I have contributed will be patterns of data bits floating in servers somewhere. Let that be my legacy, my resting place, my gravestone.

Pray I leave behind good data.