Good morning everyone! It’s Thursday, and of course, that means that it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts. This is the first post of Autumn this year (in the northern hemisphere, anyway). It is also, I’m extremely pleased to note, the first blog post after the release of Book 2 of Unanimity, both in paperback and e-book form!
This very much feels like the end of an era for me—in a good way. The process of writing and then editing and then publishing Unanimity has been a monumental undertaking, at least from my own small and narrow point of view. I had no idea when I started the story that it would end up so large. It certainly didn’t seem likely to become such a long tale. The concept seemed fairly simple, at first glance…and at second, third, fourth, fifth, and further superficial glances. But developing the occurrences and progression of the story ended up being quite a process, partly because—I think—it’s a specific plot notion that hasn’t been done before, at least not in quite the same way. Perhaps I’m flattering myself.
In any case, I’m pleased with the result, and I’m pleased with the fact that it’s complete. I don’t yet have my copy of the paperback in hand—it’s on its way—but I’m excited to have and hold it. I was miffed when the problem of its length first made me need to split the book into two volumes, but on the other hand, Tolkien had to do that too, so I’m in good company. At least it gave me the opportunity to design two slightly different covers, representing the increasing extent and penetration of Charley Banks’s power and “infestation” throughout the course of the story.
I’m afraid the official release date of Unanimity Book 2 on Amazon is September 21, 2020 instead of September 22, which was what I wanted…but in order for it to be available by September 22, I had to put it into the process on the 21st, because there’s always a delay…and indeed, I received the notification that it was, in fact, ready only on the morning of the 22nd. So, it appeared to the public, as it were, on the first day of Autumn (in the north) and on Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday, which was what I wanted.
In the meantime, I decided to release—officially—my song Catechism, which is now available for your listening pleasure on Amazon, on Spotify, on YouTube/YouTube Music, and on oodles of other venues, most of which I’ve never used. I posted a version of it on YouTube previously, and I think on one or both of my blogs, but this is the “official” version, from each play of which I get a modicum of royalties, so of course I encourage you to put it on your own favorite song playlists! It has new, official “cover art” with which I’m reasonably happy, and which you can see below. The song opens with some sound effects made by recording and then splitting, overlapping, stretching, and partly reversing various noises from the office in which I work. I could dream up convincing explanations for how that all fits into the theme of the song, but honestly, I really just did it for fun.
As I announced I would last week (I think), I’ve continued to work on The Vagabond, rereading and editing as I go, improving the language and whatnot, and enjoying the story quite a bit. Weirdly enough, it also takes place in a university, though the university in this case is plainly and rather blatantly an alternate-universe version of my own undergrad alma mater, which is not the case in Unanimity. I suppose it makes sense that one writes about situations drawn from memorable times in one’s life, and of course, I started writing The Vagabond originally when I was in university. You don’t have to have attended college to enjoy it, though. Even more so than with Unanimity, the college and the town in The Vagabond are just the setting for a battle between universal good and evil. It’s a much more straightforward story, with far less moral ambiguousness and ambivalence than is found in Unanimity.
I was so young and innocent then.
Really, though, it is a fun story, I think—but then, I would, wouldn’t I—and I’m looking forward to finishing its tweaking and editing and fixing up. Then, at last, I’ll be able to return to and complete the story of poor Timothy Outlaw, which has also become longer than I would have imagined when I first came up with the story idea. I think I sometimes get carried away, but whataya gonna do? You can’t count on anyone else to write the stories you want the way you want them written, so if you want to read them—and to let other people read them—you’ve got to write them yourself, in your own way. Ditto with music, I suppose, though with that it’s much more—for me—just enjoying the amazement of the fact that I can do it at all, rather like a dog that learns to read, write, and speak. It’s not that he does it well, it’s that he does it that matters. Which is not to say that I don’t think my songs are worth a listen—I think they are—but I would never claim to be as good a composer/songwriter/performer/producer as I am an author.
Opinions surely vary on all such things. Heck, I think Hemingway is (slightly) overrated, though my father thought he was fantastic. And although A Christmas Carol is a brilliant story, I couldn’t actually force my way though Oliver Twist despite my best efforts and the fact that I was familiar with the story. This from someone who’s read The Silmarillion about a dozen times. So, everything succumbs to taste at some level.
Except Shakespeare. If you think you’re unfamiliar with Shakespeare, and you live in an English-speaking culture, you’re simply incorrect. A significant fraction of the metaphors and sayings and expressions we still use on a regular basis come from Shakespeare, and a remarkable number of our words are first found in his works*. His influence is something even the Beatles could only dream of (though perhaps, over the course of the next four centuries, they will achieve a comparable degree of long-lasting influence).
With that, as usual, I’ve written more than I expected to write again. For me, at least, writing is easier than talking to people, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise anyone, least of all me. All things in the universe follow the principle of least action (or so it seems), but sometimes “least action” can be a misleading term. I think of it instead as the vector addition of all the various “forces” acting on us at any given moment, in some vast phase space of such forces, with a potentially limitless number of dimensions and parameters. For all that, it’s still just head to tail addition of vectors, and we go where the net “force” pushes us. Which, right now, in my case, is to make me finish this blog post.
*This doesn’t mean he invented them; he may just have been the earliest one to use such words in a form that was recorded and endured. After all, as David Mitchell has pointed out, Shakespeare had to have a pretty good idea that his audience would know what he was talking about, so he couldn’t have just made stuff up willy-nilly.