Posts Tagged ‘proper decisions’

Well, we’re back to count down my top five villains of the past year. And what really surprised me about the top five was that while #10-6 came from ll sorts of different franchises and series, the top five came from only two franchises/series. That’s right, this year only two properties hold sway over the top five. And you can contribute that to a number of things, but I think with these franchises, they’ve been running a very long time and the writers and directors and other behind-the-scenes folks who run these franchises want to keep them running a very long time So what do they do? They come up with compelling storylines with great villains to set up against great heroes.

So what are they? Let’s find out. Remember, no villain of my creation is on this list, and no actual person is on this list either. It’s all fictional. And as always, SPOILERS!

#5: Kaecillius (Doctor Strange)

You know, this is the third time a Mads Mikkelsen character has appeared on this list (his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter were in the top five back in 2013 and 2014). Not surprising, considering that he’s not only a great actor, but he’s given great characters. Kaecillius is a former student of the Ancient One who finds out things about his master he doesn’t like and who falls under the sway of the demon-god Dormammu. His goal is to allow Dormammu’s Dark Dimension into this world, thus absorbing our universe into his. Why does he want to do this?

Well, the answer is much more sympathetic than you might expect: Kaecillius sees the world as an endless cycle of suffering and death, and wants to free the world of it, which he feels integrating our world into the Dark Dimension can do. And this is actually an admirable goal, to free the world of suffering and death. It’s the very notion that Buddhism, one of the world’s major religions, is founded upon! It’s just that Kaecillius believes wholeheartedly that by making us one with the Dark Dimension is the way to do that (believe me, it’s not), and that’s what makes him a villain. Add in his gravitas, stoic manner, and occasional one-liners, and you’ve got yourself an A-class villain with some aspects you can actually sympathize with.

#4: Lucifer (Supernatural)

Over the past two years, I’ve really become a huge fan of Supernatural, and over the past year, I’ve taken in the ten most recent seasons. And even when he’s not the main villain of a season, guess who’s a powerful influence over the series as a whole? Yep, Lucifer, the Devil himself. He’s powerful enough that even when he’s locked in a cage in Hell, he’s still capable of manipulating and directing events on Earth, which is how brothers Sam and Dean Winchester became wrapped up in monster hunting. And when he’s out of the cage, God help you. He could be following the script of the Apocalypse, or he could be making it up as he goes along, he doesn’t care. As long as he’s able to make a few quips, make someone’s life literal torture, and even kill a few people, he’s happy. The destruction he caused in Season 12 alone, and the events he set in motion with some of his actions, earn him a spot in the top five (though because most of his horrors are caused by his daddy issues, he’s a bit lower than he could be).

#3: Amara/The Darkness (Supernatural)

What’s scarier than one of God’s angelic sons? Why, God’s older sister, and the embodiment of destruction! Introduced in late Season 10 and the main villain of Season 11, The Darkness is a primordial force that God and the Archangels locked away so that the universe could exist. Freed at the end of Season 10, she possesses a baby named Amara and soon becomes a full-grown woman with a simple goal: to find her brother and settle some long overdue family business with him. That, and maybe entice Dean Winchester, with whom she shares a special connection, to join her at her side.

What puts her higher than Lucifer on this list? Well, she’s much more powerful, for one thing. And in a way, she actually caused Lucifer’s fall from grace. In her way, she’s the true cause of many of the horrors in Supernatural. Not to mention that she somehow makes fish out of water moments scary: having never lived in the human world, she’s uneducated about a lot of what goes on there, and it shows. And even when we’re laughing at how inept she is as a human, we know that she’s going to do something horrible soon. And then she does it.

If that’s not deserving of the Number 3 spot, then I’m Harry Potter (and I’m not).

#2: A.I.D.A. (Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD)

This time from the MCU’s TV universe, we have A.I.D.A, a cyborg originally designed by her creator Holden Radcliffe as a literal shield for SHIELD agents, and later a major part of Radcliffe’s plan to create a world free of suffering and death for humans…which she later subverts in order to gain freedom from her rigid programming and become a full human with emotions. And superpowers.

Honestly, watching A.I.D.A.’s arc from naive robot woman to calculating assistant, to calculating supervillainness, to a powerful human woman with strong powers and emotions like storms, was one of the most fascinating things in this season. It kept you on the edge of your seat, wondering what she was going to do next as she pursued her goals of humanity, freedom, and even the love of one of the main cast! That, and her ruthlessness in accomplishing those goals, whether she was doing so under programming driven by twisted logic or spurred on by her newfound feelings, made the story all the more gripping. She’s definitely one of the show’s best villains, and deserving of the second-highest spot on this list.

#1: The Leviathans (Supernatural)

The Leviathans were a thing introduced in Season 7 five years ago, but I just met them this past fall. And my God, were they the best villains on the show! Primordial beings that are older than most of the angels, they were God’s first creations in His new universe. Ultimately, they proved too hungry to be controlled and God put them away in Purgatory lest they eat the universe to bits. Released back into our world at the beginning of Season 7, they quickly possess humans in order to inhabit physical form again, with one goal in mind: feed. At first they’re just looking for a quick fix in the short term to get their sustenance, but as time goes on and their king possesses the body and memories of billionaire businessman Dick Roman, they start organizing. What’s their grand plan? Simply to feed.

There’s something kind of scary of an old and powerful race of beings whose sole goal is to satisfy their hunger, and the best way to do that is to feed on humanity. And they do it with businesslike precision, coming up with this whole five-year plan for turning America into their personal McDonald’s (I’m assuming the rest of the world would follow in time). It’s this precision, along with their difficulty in being killed, that made them stand out to me as villains not only on Supernatural, but through the whole year. Lucifer and Amara may be looking for revenge on their mutual family member, but when it comes to beasts that just want to feed, they just can’t be beat.

 

So that’s this year’s list, my Followers of Fear. But tell me, who were your favorite villains this past year? Do you have any critiques of my choices? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And expect another blog post from me either later today or at some point tomorrow, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got a new review, and I hope you’ll want to read it.

Life is rarely straightforward. That is a fact. People change, or their thoughts and feelings change, new paths open up in front of you, and your understanding of the world never fits in the box you want it to (that last one isn’t really relevant to what I’m going to talk about here, but I felt like stating it anyway). And my life and feelings have changed. I need a break from what I’m doing right now. I need to do something different if I’m to pursue my goals in life.

With that said, I need to shut down Rami Ungar the Writer. At least for a little while.

I’m kidding. But for a split second, you bought that. You did, and it worried you for a little bit.

No, what I really mean is that I need to take a break from Full Circle. A very long break.

You see, I’ve been working on that novel since November, eight months in total. And I’ve only taken some occasional breaks, each working on a couple of short stories, and then getting back into it. And you know what? I’m a little burnt out. Normally by this time, I’m already finished with the first draft, but I’m only a little over the halfway point. And when I think of getting into the next chapter, I’m filled with dread, because it’s likely going to be a long chapter, and I’ve been dealing with this story for eight months straight, and it has not been easy at times.

All writers get like this. Yeah, we do. There are times when we’ve devoted so much energy to a story, that we need a break if we’re to give it more and give it the energy it needs. And honestly, I’m at that point. It’s nothing I did wrong or anyone else did wrong. There’s nothing big in my life that’s making me super happy or super miserable, thus causing me to think, “I can’t work on finishing the Reborn City trilogy right now.” Nope, it’s just me needing some distance and the chance to work on something else. And I need a long something else. Because if I take on a project, and it only lasts a month at most, I won’t be ready to work on Full Circle again. I’d be ready to bang my head against a wall in frustration, but I wouldn’t be ready for FC again.

Which is why I have the perfect project:

Some of you may recall that during my last year of college, I wrote a novel called Rose as my thesis. The story was about a young woman with amnesia who starts transforming into a plant creature. And that may sound comical, but it’s actually pretty dark, exploring themes of dependence and abuse in romantic relationships, as well as how memory, truth, and falsehoods can shape not just our perceptions of others, but of ourselves. It was a challenging novel, to say the least, but I managed to get two drafts of it written between August 2014 and April 2015, and they turned out okay. I let it lie for a while when I was in Germany and during my job search, and tried working on it again after I moved into my new apartment and started my job. For a number of reasons, it didn’t go well. Mostly because I didn’t have a plan for editing it beyond, “Let’s sit down in front of the computer and see what happens.”

My new project: the third draft of Rose.

But since then, I figured out a plan to help me get along with editing in general (see my post on that on Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors. It has a similar opening to this blog post). I’ve also had plenty of time to think about changes I’d like to make to the story, and to the characters, and I’ve really been itching to take a crack at it again. And I’m pretty sure that, once I get another draft of Rose done, I’d be ready to send this story to an editor, and then maybe to an agent or publishing house.

So starting very soon, I’ll be taking another dive into Rose. It probably won’t happen until after I get back from Boston, but after that and I’ve done all the travelogues and checked my new digital recorder for ghost voices, you can bet that I’ll be working on my new project with gusto. Until then, Followers of Fear, wish me luck as I work on a couple new blog posts, and as I prepare myself mentally and emotionally for what will hopefully be a very successful third draft and a very refreshing break.

Pleasant nightmares!

Well, here’s something I didn’t think I’d get to until it became apparent in the past couple of months that it was going to happen. Rami Ungar the Writer has reached the 50,000 views milestone! After five months, four months, and seven days, we’ve reached 50K! Followers of Fear, find a partner and do the dance of joy!

I’ve always wanted to do that.

I say this every time I reach a milestone, but I’m incredibly grateful that you guys continue to come back every time I publish a post. For the first two years or so of this blog, there were times where I wouldn’t get views on my blog for several days, and then get a bump of maybe one or two, and then that would be it for a while. Likes and comments were even rarer, and followers came in at a trickle. It made me wonder if I wasting time with a blog, trying to build an audience that way.

But somehow, I persevered. And you guys kept appearing, and a good chunk of you kept coming back. Slowly, views and likes and comments started increasing. There were even times when I’d get spikes into the hundreds or even the thousands! And then the followers started to rise, and I started calling you my Followers of Fear, and none of you seemed to care one way or another on that one, so I kept going with it. And then a couple of months ago I got to the five-thousand likes milestone, and I was like, “Holy crap, I might get another one soon!” And now it’s come to pass.

Thank you, Followers of Fear. I really appreciate the continued patronage and support. I hope you continue to support me for the next fifty-thousand years (hopefully it won’t take another five years to get there) as I work on becoming a great horror novelist.

And on that subject, there are a couple more announcements I’d like to make while I still have your attention.

Firstly, look at your search bar. You’ve probably noticed, but this site is no longer ramiungarthewriter.wordpress.com, but just ramiungarthewriter.com. Yep, I updated my blog into a full website. Why did I do this? Well, beyond the fact that web address is a bit of mouthful and shortening it makes it a bit less of a mouthful, I’m trying a bunch of new strategies and tactics to increase readership both on my blog and with my books. One of those tactics is to upgrade to a full website, which gives me a couple of distinct benefits. One is now I have an official author email address. That’s right, you can now email me! With a lot of successful authors, I’ve noticed that they have more than a few ways to be interactive with their fanbases, so now I have one more.

So if you want to email me about my books, or a blog post or something, you can write me at ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com. I don’t know how often I’ll check my mailbox or how quickly I’ll get back to you, but it’s something I’m devoting effort too.

On a related note, I’m also setting up an email newsletter. This, I hope, is where people who are interested will hear first about publications and contests and other things related to my writing career. I have a feeling that people are getting tired of seeing the latest short story being finished or the latest novel review, so I think I’ll put out something separate that focuses on that, and put stuff on the blog related to the intricacies of writing and of horror, as well as the occasional post about my life or my thoughts on certain subjects.

This is all part of my New Year’s Resolution, which is to be better at getting people interested in my stories and in my writing in general. Will it succeed? No idea, but at least I’m sticking with my New Year’s Resolution and keeping things simple by going for an achievable goal with achievable steps. And I’m open to other tactics that could help me accomplish this. Heck, I may even try Goodreads again, if I can get a better handle on how to work that site.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve kind of rambled a bit in this post, but at least I’ve gotten a chance to talk about the good news and show some of the progress I’ve made since New Year’s. Until next time!

Last night, I went to a dinner for young Jewish professionals in Columbus, the kind where one can socialize with other members of the tribe in the same age group while enjoying a kosher meal and an open bar. I love these dinners when they’re held: you can see people you know or have never met before, have conversations with similar threads about a thousand times over, forget most of what’s said, and still have a good time, all while enjoying a kosher meal. And, on occasion, I meet people who are interested in reading my books, so I make sure to have the latest business card with me when I do go to these things.

At last night’s dinner though, I had an interesting encounter that I feel like blogging about, if only to get it out of my system. While walking around between conversations, I ran into a guy I was acquainted with, who we’ll call “Eric,” a friend of a friend I knew in high school. The first time I’d met Eric had been at one of these dinners, and he’d seemed pretty impressed when I’d mentioned I was a published author I ‘d given him my card then, and had hoped that he would maybe check out one of my books and let me know what he thought.

To my surprise, pretty quickly Eric told me he read my books, and enjoyed them, had said I was talented and had an amazing style. I was flattered…for a second. But there was just something that felt…a little off. The amount of enthusiasm, the look in his eyes, the body language. I asked if he would consider writing a review for one of my books online, and he said he would, he totally would. Again, the way Eric said “totally” and the way he moved his body while he said it, like he was trying to distract me with the movement of his arms, just seemed off. Finally I asked him to name one of the books he’d read and enjoyed. As I half-expected, he couldn’t name a single one. At that point, I just gave him a card and moved on.

There are a lot of reasons why people don’t read my books. I’m not still very well-known, my books cost money and aren’t available at a lot of libraries, some people don”t like to read, some people don’t care for the genres I tend to write in, busy lives, they lose my card, or a number of other reasons. If Eric had said any of those from the beginning, I would’ve been cool with it. I’ve dealt with close family and friends who haven’t read Video Rage yet. I’m not happy about it, but I accept it because I know that I can’t control other people’s lives or what they do in their lives. But outright lying? I’m just not cool with that.

I put a lot of work into the stories I write. Yes, they’re mostly a labor of love (or a reason to get them out of my head and onto the page so it’s a bit less cluttered up there), but I want others to enjoy them as well. And Eric may have felt guilty that he said he’d check them out the last time we’d spoke and that he hadn’t, but lying about it, especially when it’s so obvious, doesn’t help. For one thing, it gets my hopes up needlessly that I’ve touched another person with my work before causing those hopes to plummet into my shoes. For another, lying about reading a book (let alone four) is one of the easiest to debunk. I debunked it in a single sentence! And that just make things awkward.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, if you haven’t read a book, just say so. Don’t try to lie about it. We authors are used to it, and most of us aren’t sensitive enough that we throw hissy fits when we find out you didn’t read our books. And if you do read our books, thank you. We hope you enjoy them, and let us know if you did.

NaNoWriMo update: Five days in, and I’m a bit over twenty-four hundred words into Full Circle. I haven’t had that much time to write since Thursday, so this is the most I’ve been able to get. Still, the fact that I made it this far in the first week is still pretty nice. Hopefully I’ll get a bit farther along tonight. Wish me luck!

As many of you know, I’m cutting the number of blog posts I do every month down to two (unless I have something special to talk about, in which case we may get one or two more here), so I can use what little time I have to actually get some fiction writing done. And I thought, what better way to start this than to list all the things I’m doing?

Well, actually there are probably a lot better things I could talk about, but all writers are at least slightly narcissistic. Why else do we insist that people should read the fiction we write?

In any case, let’s start talking about me and the things going on in my life right now. This is Updates on What I’m Doing.

I’m now fully employed.

Let me guess, you thought I’d be talking books first, didn’t you? Nope, I’m doing this, because it’s so important, and the main reason I’m doing this cutback.

So, as many of you know, I started an internship here in Columbus, working in an Equal Employment Opportunity office, like I did last summer in Germany (ah, Deutschland! How I miss you so every day!). In an EEO office, we handle everything from promoting diversity and tolerance to getting employees accommodations for disabilities and handling mediation when someone is discriminated against. Within our office, everyone is expected to be able to work the full variety of these tasks, with perhaps some specialization in certain areas for some employees.

Personally, I love the job. The work is good work, the people are nice and laugh at most of my jokes, and the pay allows me to live on my own, which is a godsend (seriously, I love my family, but at this point in my life it’s better for me to be on my own and independent). And as of last Monday, I’m no longer an intern, but a full employee. Yeah, they decided to keep me! I’m so very grateful, and I’m looking forward to working in such a great office for ages to come, getting experience and getting settled into this weird thing called adulthood.

I’m also grateful for a morning cup of tea that’s s good as Starbucks but five times cheaper. Gotta love that.

The one thing I would complain about is that I don’t have as much time to write as I used to. Not surprising, I was unemployed prior to this, and that meant a slightly freer schedule. But the silver lining is, I actually can write knowing I have an income. So maybe I’ll write more slowly, but at least I won’t be doing the whole starving artist routine (seriously overrated).

Which brings me to my next point:

Reestablishing a writing routine

I used to say that I had no writing process, that I just wrote where I could and when I could. Turns out, that’s not really the case. I actually had a pretty established routine during the job search: after a full day of job-searching, I’d stop around five o’clock, have dinner, and write the evening away, watching TV and getting words in during the commercial break. I actually got through two drafts of Video Rage this way.

Well, I moved. And I don’t have a TV, so I stream mostly. And I have an earlier bedtime, which means less time to write. So there goes that routine out the window.

And since then, I’ve been trying to reestablish a routine, though I haven’t had as much success as I would like. I think I just sat down in front of the computer and hoped that something magical would happen. Obviously, magic didn’t occur, despite my prayers to all gods and demons within the vicinity. However, my friend Pat Bertram gave me an idea that’s been helpful: she recently joined a writer’s group where people try to write 250 words a day. Now, I can’t do it every day, but I try to do it as often as possible, and so far it seems to be working. Is it the writing routine I would like? No, but it’s baby steps, and that’s a good enough start if you ask me. Perhaps later on I’ll get to the point where I can write like I used to, even without a TV.

We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

The Reborn City series

As many of you know, I have a final book planned for this series, which I intend to call Full Circle.  Well, as November is National Novel Writing Month and I wanted to do FC for that month (even though I doubt I’ll even get near ten thousand words), I’m doing some preliminary work on the novel this month. I’ve written a bit of the outline, I’ve come up with a list of names and traits for the group of villains, as well as a travel route for the main characters to take, and I’m working on a family tree for a certain character.

The one thing I’m worried about is the number of plot lines I’ve got going in this final novel. Some of these plot lines were set up in the first book, like some things Rip saw in his soul sage hallucinations, so I need to resolve them in the final novel or attentive readers will get angry and point out stuff about them on the Internet. When I put them in the first and second books, I thought they were great and it would be no problem to wrap them up in the final book. Now that I’m actually there, though…well, I have to wrap them all up. And I’m worried that people will find them letdowns or extraneous.

Oh well. I dug myself into this whole. I can dig myself out again. I must’ve thought those plot lines belonged the whole time I was writing/editing/publishing the first two books, so I’ll work them into the third book and see what happens. Who knows? Some people may not like them, but others might, and it’ll be true to my vision, which is what writing is all about, right?

Rose

So if I’m working on FC right now, does that mean I finished the latest draft of Rose? Well, no I haven’t. The thing is, this draft is proving much more difficult than the first two. I changed an important aspect of the story early in the draft, which ended up changing the entire story at a fundamental level, and I’m kept busy just trying to get the story to match that change. Not to mention that I’m adding a lot of material every time I sit in front of the computer to work on it, and that slows me down a bit too. Add in all the other stuff you do while editing–rephrasing sentences, taking out unneeded material, etc–and I took three months to get to Chapter Six.

Yeah, I’m not happy about that. So I’m taking a break to work on other stuff and maybe get my mind into a better place so that when I return to Rose, I can give it the right sort of treatment. I don’t know when this will be, as FC will be given priority so I can get it out and finish the RC series once and for all, and perhaps after FC I’d like to work on stories other than Rose.

But hey, sometimes that’s how writers work. At times we’re able to work on a story, at other times we aren’t. And sometimes those gaps between periods of work on a manuscript can be very long. Stephen King tried to write Under the Dome twice in the 70’s and 80’s before getting it out in 2009. I’m not saying something similar will happen with Rose, but it might be quite the gap before I get to work on the third draft again.

Other Projects

This post is getting rather long, so I’ll just give a quick update on everything else that I’m working on:

  • Teenage Wasteland: I think after FC, this might also get a higher priority than other books. As a collection of short stories, it should take less time and effort than one big novel, so I’ll be working on this in-between drafts of FC most likely, or whenever I need a break and want to clear my mind. I’ve got about seven or eight stories already prepped for that book, and I’d like somewhere between thirteen and twenty-two in that collection, so I think I can get it done sooner rather than later. If so, I’ll make sure to let you guys know.
  • Laura Horn: Like Rose, LH had a major aspect of it changed in a previous draft. Unlike Rose, it didn’t give me this much grief. So I think I could get Laura Horn done very quickly as well, perhaps as soon as FC and TW are done.
  • A replacement for #FirstLineFriday: got something in the works, and it could be ready by October. That’s all I’m saying right now.
  • 5K Likes: We are so close, I can almost smell it! Make it happen, folks! Make it happen!

 

And that’s basically it at the moment. And I think after I finish with the Reborn City series and all this other stuff, I’ll try to limit the number of projects I have going on to two at a time. Because this is ridiculous.

Expect a blog post from me later this month, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got something planned I’ve been looking forward to talking about for a while. Until next time!

Hey Followers of Fear. I actually have some bad news to dispense today. Yeah, I know, bad news. That’s not something I usually put out on this blog. I prefer to keep things upbeat and kind of funny here, because I’m a naturally upbeat and kind of funny guy. But occasionally I have to dispense with some bad news, and this is one of those times.

The fact of the matter is (this is not the bad news. That comes later), I’m writing slower than I used to. And I mean much slower: I started working on the third draft of Rose back in June. It’s August, and I’m still working through Chapter Five! Usually at this point of a draft I should be finishing up the edits, but I’m still in the early stages!

What’s to cause this slow-down of work? Well, the main reason is that I’m working a full-time job now, and that’s pretty time-consuming in itself. And unlike other jobs I’ve held in the past, there aren’t as many moments where there’s not a lot to do and I can sit back and write. Even Germany had more than a few of those moments. But in my current position, there’s always plenty to do, so I don’t exactly have that many moments to get out the laptop and work on a manuscript.

And when I get home, I don’t exactly have that much time either. I have to eat dinner, take a shower, make my lunch for tomorrow, and go to sleep at an earlier time so that I can get up early and be at work on time. That leaves only a few hours to write in the evening. Sometimes less, if I have errands to run after work.

With that in mind, I’m cutting a few things out of my life to make more time for writing. I’m cutting out the number of shows I watch so that when the fall television season starts, I’m not spending hours and hours streaming what I missed (I don’t have a TV or Cable yet). I’m also cutting back on the amount of time I spend on YouTube, because as fun as those videos can be, some of them can be pretty time-consuming (especially those videos of gamers playing horror games that I like so much). And–and here’s where the bad news really comes in–starting in September, I’m cutting myself back to two blog posts a month.

Now, I’m sure one or two of you are saying, “But Rami, we like seeing at least two blog posts a week from you!” Well, I like blogging around 2-3 times a week as well. But blogging also takes up time. Depending on the post, it can take quite a bit of time to write. Time I could spend getting through whatever story I happen to be writing or editing. I’m taking up time just writing this post! And because of that, I feel that I need to spend less time on this blog and more on the stories that I love writing and I love people reading.

So, unless something special comes up–a new review or interview, an important update on the projects I’m doing, or I’m pissed off at a recent tragedy in the world and need to vent my frustrations–you’ll be seeing much fewer posts here than before. This also means that I’ll stop doing #FirstLineFriday after August 26th. Not permanently, I may do one or two on occasion for an upcoming book or some other special occasion. But I won’t be doing one week after week. It’s just too time-consuming. I may try to come up with some other tag or meme where I do something similar to #FirstLineFriday (I know a lot of you enjoy those posts, and I do too), but at the moment I really can’t afford to keep doing this week in and week out if I want to get more writing and editing done.

On the bright side, I’ll have the opportunity to do more Reflections posts about the writing craft or about my own work. I used to do those quite a lot, and people really enjoyed them. However, I don’t do those much anymore, mostly because they’re the most time-consuming of blog posts. Now though, with hopefully a bit more time, I can write at least one a month and share my thoughts or have interesting discussions on writing and daily life.

I hope no one decides to stop following me because of this (I know some people stop following YouTubers if they don’t constantly put out new videos, so I assume the same can apply for blogs), or that they leave me because #FirstLineFriday was their favorite thing ever. It’s not because of you guys, it’s just hat I need to write, and if I don’t write, nothing gets done, and I get angry at myself. And that’s not something anyone wants.

Have you ever reduced the amount of blogging you do so you could focus on other things? What were the results of that?

I’m both shocked and, at the same time, not surprised that I’m on this topic again. I was really hoping to talk about something writing related this morning, but events this weekend have caused me to shift gears. So prepare, because I’m about to do one of my world-famous gun violence posts!

Now if you’re unaware, on Friday evening at 10:30pm in the city of Orlando, Florida, singer, YouTube star, and “The Voice” contestant Christina Grimmie was shot by a deranged fan who apparently drove from St. Petersburg with the express purpose of killing her. Grimmie’s brother (without a gun of his own, no less) tackled the shooter to the ground, probably preventing more people from being killed. Grimmie later succumbed to her injuries and died, leading to a powerful outpouring of grief on the Internet. Even I, who only had a casual acquaintance with Grimmie’s work, felt her passing deeply.

Just a little over twenty-four hours later, a man armed with an assault rifle entered the Pulse, a popular Orlando gay bar and dance club, and started shooting, leading to a hostage situation that ended with the shooter’s death. The latest numbers show fifty confirmed deaths and even more injuries, making this the worse shooting in American history, worse than Newtown and Aurora. All this happened despite the fact that an armed police officer (a good guy with a gun) was on scene at the club.

All this, barely a day and a half apart, in the same city, in a state with very lax gun laws and a high amount of gun violence. Both shootings involving guns.

I wrote last year after a spate of shootings that America’s gun problem is like a chronic illness, a constant condition that plagues and grieves us, and needs treatment to be fixed, even when the treatment isn’t always available or the subject doesn’t want to admit there’s a problem, let alone that they need treatment. And that comparison still holds water nearly an entire year later. America is plagued by shootings. We’re the only developed nation with this much gun violence, to the point where it’s almost considered normal. Guns are causing more deaths than the United States should have.

These aren’t toys. They’re not meant for anything creative.

Now, I know some people will say, “But Rami, how can an inanimate object cause murder? People cause murder.” Well, people cause murder, that’s true. But guns, like missiles and military drones, are designed to facilitate killing. They’re made with that express purpose. The first firearms were used for military purposes, and so were the cannons and flintlock rifles that came later, with hunting being a secondary use for the latter. They were invented for the strategic purpose of taking enemy life, not for baking cookies or improving home decor. This is in direct contrast to knives, which unless made for military purposes like the Marine Corps Ka-Bar combat knife, has other primary uses like cutting and preparing food.

There’s no argument around this. Guns are made for killing, whether it’s animal or human life. 

In the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be seeing renewed calls for restrictions on gun sales and ownership, as well as push back from the NRA and other Second Amendment advocates trying to frame this as a mental health issue (in the case of Christina Grimmie’s killer) or as an issue with ISIS or Muslims (early reports indicate that the shooter at the Pulse had ISIS leanings). And while I do believe that mental illness and terrorist ideologies may have played a part in these tragedies, Christina Grimmie might still be alive if the deranged fan had gone at her with a knife instead of a gun, and I doubt fifty people would be dead if the killer had a knife. Maybe a couple people, but after the first few attempts at stabbing, someone’s bound to tackle this guy.

And it’s hard to argue mental illness or terrorism when a man uses a gun to intimidate his wife, which happens all too often, unfortunately.

The problem is, both these tragedies, and so many more, have been made possible by the use of guns.

Luckily, there is treatment for this problem. In Australia, Canada, England, Japan, and many other developed nations, gun violence is at waaaaaay lower levels than in America. The difference is that they have restrictions on who can have guns and what kinds of guns. Not a blanket ban on all guns, but some restrictions are in place. And I’m sure, that if America were to institute similar restrictions, we would see the same results. In fact, states with more gun control measures have lower instances of gun violence than states that do not. If we were to implement the same thing on a nationwide level, imagine how much the loss of life could be lowered.

And for those who say that gun control measures don’t work because bad guys will still get guns, so it’s best to give the good guys guns instead, I have this to say: if there are still people who run red lights, do we throw out traffic laws and just let people drive as they wish without consequences? If a boat or a house has a leak and water comes in, do we destroy the boat or the house and say they were useless and never would have worked? No, we prosecute the people who run the red lights for violating traffic laws. We patch up the holes so that water can’t get in. And if people are still getting restricted weapons and committing acts of violence with them, then doesn’t that prove even more that they’re criminals, and that they were willing to go to unsavory means to commit acts of violence? I think it does.

Not to mention, how do you know who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy? It’s not as if the good guys are marked in green and the bad in red when they pull out their weapons. And in a crowded room where everyone has a gun? Really hard to tell!

It’s time to put a stop to displays like this.

Treatment is available. We just have to be brave enough to take it.

Otherwise, we’ll continue to have incidents like what we experienced this weekend, and families will wake up without loved ones because tragedies that could’ve been prevented weren’t. We need to admit that there’s a problem, we need to take measures to stop the problem, and we need to do this now. Not tomorrow. Not next month. Not next year, or in another years.

Now. Let’s push for expanded background checks, closing gun show loopholes, and banning assault weapons or other military-grade weaponry on the open market. Let’s also put aside funding for research into gun violence for the CDC, and expand the requirements needed to purchase and use a gun (a yearly gun safety course, for example, sounds sensible enough). If we can do that, I’m sure we can prevent more innocent losses of life.

Or we can go on as we have been doing. And we can’t allow that, under any circumstances.

Note: Immediately after finishing this, I saw a report that a man with weapons in his car had been arrested in LA near the Pride Festival there. Thank God law enforcement caught him, or who knows how many people might’ve been killed.