Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain: for they blog truth, that breathe their words in pain

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another Thursday edition of my weekly blog post.  I have great (to me) news to share today; I suspect that regular readers, if there are any, can guess what that news might be.

It is not that Unanimity is now available for purchase.  It isn’t.  Not quite, anyway.  Rather, I have completed, as of yesterday morning, the final content editing of the novel and much of the layout editing.  Now there just remains the final layout of the book and the final version of the cover (as well as the blurb, but that part is quick).

I have a preliminary version of the cover, which has been toyed with for almost as long as the book has been in the works.  I’ll include it below, to tease you with what the book is going to look like, though the final version will probably be at least a little bit different.  It’s a metaphorical picture, not representing any literal event in the book, but attempting to convey the central horror of the story:  the notion of each individual no longer being an individual, but having their identities replaced by and subsumed into another.  Many of the horrible events in the book are consequences of this fundamental horror.  If that sounds a bit abstract for a horror novel, don’t worry.  It’s not focused on much, since most of the characters in the novel don’t even know what’s happening at any deep level.  They simply become the victims of the consequences.

I’m not sure I’m doing a great job of selling the idea of the book.  I will readily admit that I’m not great at self-promotion.  But don’t judge the book by me (and don’t judge me by the book either, please.  I’m a nice guy.  Really, I am.).  Judge the book on its own merits.  It’s a good story, I think, and it’s certainly going to provide a lengthy diversion.  Though it has been trimmed down to a certain degree, it’s still just shy of half a million words long.  Unless you have a tremendous amount of spare time, I don’t think you’re going to be able to breeze through it in one sitting.

Certainly, I’m not going to be doing an audio version of it any time soon, though I would very much like to do one eventually.  In fact, I’d really like to do audio versions of all my books, not just some of my short stories and a few chapters of The Chasm and the Collision.  I really enjoy reading aloud—in fact, when I read a book, I tend to absorb it verbally more than visually.  By this I mean, I tend to speak the words in my head, rather than merely experience them with my eyes.  This may seem obvious, but I know people who read very quickly who don’t seem to “subvocalize” the words, even internally.  This can often make them fast readers, which I am not*, but I find that it doesn’t tend to make them very deep readers.

I really enjoy the auditory experience, including audio books, which is somewhat ironic given that I’m quite hard of hearing in at least one of my ears, in which I have constant, fairly severe tinnitus as well, thanks to recurrent and chronic infections.

The mention of matters audible brings me to another bit of news, which is more lighthearted and frivolous.  I recorded (and mixed) a cover of the song Hurt, originally by Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails and covered beautifully by Johnny Cash.  As usual in such cases, I called it one of my “bad covers” because it certainly holds no candle (standard or substandard) to either professional version, but I really like the song.  It speaks to me powerfully**, and I hope my passion comes across in my performance.  I’ll embed the “video” here, in case you’re interested (most of the pictures shown in it are quite old ones I drew, inspired by moods similar to the one that no doubt inspired the song itself, or at least by moods the song evokes in me…they’re just there for filler, really, though they do go with the song):

 

And that’s about it for this week.  By this time next week, there’s an excellent chance that Unanimity will be available for purchase.  If so, I’ll no doubt write about it here, and of course, I’ll make a separate post with links to purchase as well.

I hope you’re all doing your best to stay sane in an unsane world***.  Try to keep your spirits up; keep doing and enjoying art and literature and music and all those other little things that make life worth even bothering with, beyond the simple consequence of biological drives and forces.  I’ll try to do my part over here as well.  No promises.

TTFN

Unanimity Cover Project


*All things given, I do read quickly, but that’s more a function of focus than of internal speed.  When reading something I enjoy, I’m not easily distracted…and when distracted, I tend to punish my distractors without much qualm, even if it’s only with a dirty look, a growl in the voice, and body language conveying barely contained aggression.

**I think I’m hardly alone in this, since the song has great and enduring popularity.

***That’s not a typo.  I think “unsane” is a better description of many things than is “insane”.  The latter implies a kind of loss or degeneration of some underlying, preexisting sanity, whereas—as I see it—many things in the world have never been sane to begin with, and indeed, the concept of sanity often does not even appear to apply.  I may write more on this at some later date.

O horror! Horror! Horror! Tongue nor blog cannot conceive nor name thee!

Good morning to you all.  It’s Thursday again, as tends to happen at this time of week, and I bid you therefore welcome to yet another of my weekly blog posts.

I don’t know that I have much new to report, but I do have continuations of previous matters.  For instance, I am now within the last hundred-ish pages of the final edit of Unanimity, after which will only follow the final layout and the cover art (which is still in an early stage).  It seems that my estimate of a possible August publication date should be accurate.  I’m very excited about this, of course, and I hope that you are excited as well, though it’s unlikely that you’re at my level of enthusiasm.

I’ll now repeat my “trigger warning” about the book, however, and I’m only being partly facetious*.  Unanimity is, of course, a horror novel, so no one should be surprised that it contains horrible and horrifying things.  That is, obviously, the point of the genre, and anyone who reads a horror novel and is shocked to find horrors within is surely being a bit dim.

Still, there are many different kinds of horror, and this novel—though definitely “supernatural” or at least “paranormal” in character, albeit in science fiction’s clothing—is not a Gothic style tale.  There are no obvious vampires or similar supernatural “outside” entities, preying on human souls or blood or whatever.  If there are zombies, they are most assuredly not of the George Romero, Night of the Living Dead type.  They are, if anything, more akin to the notion of the philosophical “zombie,” a being that behaves in every way like any other conscious creature, but which has no subjectivity.  Though, in this story’s case, they do have subjectivity, but it is not their own…their own subjectivity has been put on hold, and another has taken its place.  Unfortunately, this invading subjectivity is not benevolent.

In any case, to get to my point, I just warn potential readers that the horror in this story is a very human type of horror, so the bad things that happen might seem real and realistic, and this can—for some people at least, or so I imagine—make them more disturbing.  I don’t know for certain; I can only speculate about others’ reactions.  But if such human types of horror are difficult for you to stomach—if, for instance, you find the works of Thomas Harris** hard to endure—then you may want to consider carefully whether this will be the book for you.

I don’t know if this warning will serve as an impediment to readership or as an incentive; part of me feels that I’m being self-defeating, part of me feels that I’m being subtly (or not-so-subtly) self-promoting.  Unadulterated self-promotion has never been my strong point.  I am almost certainly my own worst enemy, but I am not solely my enemy.  If I were, things would surely be much simpler.  Or if I were an unrepentant narcissist, I suppose some things would be easier as well, though public figures who are narcissistic rarely come across as happy to me.  Perhaps that’s just me projecting misery onto them that I hope they experience, since most narcissists are pretty insufferable.  But who knows, maybe they really are as pleased with themselves as they claim to be.

If so, sign me up!

I doubt it, though.  Reality has a way of biting those who delude themselves in any direction, sooner or later…usually sooner, based on my observations, and often continuously.  I’ve made the point before that I think depression—or at least dysthymia—is a species of realism, a recognition of the fundamentally uncaring, though still often beautiful, nature of reality.  But I’m subject to cognitive biases as much as anyone, and more than many, so any conclusions are firmly provisional.

This train of thought leads me to a notion that’s been bouncing around my head a bit lately:  I’m thinking of semi-abandoning the practice of keeping a separate blog (Iterations of Zero) for my thoughts and writings that are about things other than my fiction and related creative works.  I find that there’s a kind of mental block that keeps me from writing on IoZ, because it feels too strongly like a division of resources and is separated by an activation energy barrier.  So, I may soon go back to using just this blog to post whatever thoughts and writings I may have, about whatever subject strikes my fancy (keeping the Thursday post as it is currently) and leaving IoZ fallow.

After all, this blog is the one that bears my name—probably the closest to narcissism I’ll come.  Also, to make that mental shift might let me reintroduce “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains”, but to have it as an orthogonal (or is it parallel?) process to my regular blog posts.  I could just do it when the mood strikes me, as I could do my writings on mood, on math, on medicine, on science, and even occasionally on politics***.  After all, Robert Elessar is not merely an author and sometimes a musician.  “I am large—I contain multitudes.”

We shall see.  In the meantime, though, the focus is on Unanimity, and I urge you not to be too put off by my self-conscious warning above.  I think it’s a good book, and I like the characters—even the “bad guy”—and I think it’s a pretty original story as far as it goes.  It has length, at least, and may even have breadth and depth.  That will be for you to decide.  I can tell you this much, as with nearly all horror novels:  in the end, the “good guys” do win…but not all of them survive, and none are unscathed.  And, of course, the “evil” may not be completely vanquished.

As Lord Foul would say, “Think on that, and be dismayed.”

TTFN


*How big a fraction that is seems to vary from moment to moment.

**How’s that for praising myself with faint damnations?

***Yuck.

The desire is boundless and the blog a slave to limit.

Hello and good morning! It’s Thursday again, which means that, for those of you whose level of masochism far exceeds any possible good sense, it’s time to read another of my weekly blog posts.  Hallelujah!

I’ll try to resist saying much about what’s happening in the world or, more particularly, here in South Florida, but of course, the news is even worse than usual…which is saying quite a lot.  I’d like to be optimistic and speculate that, while things are pretty bad now, regression to the mean suggests that they’ll tend to be at least a bit better over coming weeks and months.

However, optimism isn’t my strong suit, and it’s all too possible that events prior to more recent times have been the atypically good ones and that what we’re experiencing now—which feels like a dip or a downturn—is the actual regression to the mean.  Not that I want to make you feel bad or anything; I’d actually be quite pleased if everyone was upbeat, conscientious, productive, happy, and (quietly) energetic.  I just tend to approach life with an implicit view that, if you’re expecting the worst, the only surprises you’ll get will be good ones.

Maybe I am optimistic after all!

Anyway, in my little corner of reality, things are proceeding more or less as planned.  Unanimity continues to approach its completion.  I’m currently working on the final editing of Part 4 (of 4 parts) of the story, and we’re working on the cover design and the layout and so forth.  It really shouldn’t be much longer.  I doubt that it’ll be ready by the end of July, but August is looking pretty good.

After that, I can go back to a couple of other things I’m working on.  First, I have a new song that I’ve been very gradually developing (I haven’t wanted to let it interfere with Unanimity) that I should be able to put together completely and record and produce and mix and all that stuff.  Then I need to decide whether to release more singles or just to gather everything I have together into an album…though even with this new song it would only have six songs, which feels lame to me*.  If any of you have any preferences, I’d love to hear from you, but I recognize that it’s unlikely that anyone much cares one way or the other.

After that—or more likely contemporaneously—I’m going to go back and finish a novella that I started in the middle of writing Unanimity, as I had done for a few of my recent short stories.  I’m still looking for a title for the story, since I don’t think the working title is good enough, but that’s fine.  I’m sure I’ll come up with something satisfactory; I’m pretty good with titles.

Then, rather than release that novella separately, I’m going to put it together with all my short stories that are currently available only in Kindle format and publish them as Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities***.  There shouldn’t be nearly as long a wait for that as there has been for Unanimity.  It might very well be out before the end of the year, though probably not in time for Halloween, alas.  Anyway, it’ll be in both Kindle and paperback form, so for those of you who prefer a “real” book to read—a preference with which I deeply sympathize—it will have that advantage.

That’s pretty much all that’s happening with me.  Seriously.  I’m extremely boring, even though I live in “interesting times”.  I think I’ve said it before, but this blog is literally the most social thing I do.  I think you’ll find, when you read the novel, that at least one or two of the characters in Unanimity channel that aspect of me, though of course, the horror of the story is something that’s almost the opposite—and yet, it’s also the same.  I’m not sure how even I interpret the message of the tale, if there is one, and I’m the one who wrote it.  I guess in a very long book, which it is, there can be many explorations of potentially contradictory or at least conflicting notions.  I don’t know if that’s interesting or boring.  Perhaps—and this would be weirdly delicious—it’s both.  I guess you’ll have to read it and find out for yourself.

TTFN


*Even though a few of the songs are longish, with those six, I think it’s likely to be only about a half hour in full duration.  The Dark Side of the Moon is just shy of 43 minutes, Abbey Road is 47 minutes, Synchronicity is 39 or 44 minutes depending on which version you’re playing, and Sergeant Pepper is roughly 40 minutes.  Animals is 41 minutes long, and it only has 5 songs!  Four, if you take the 2 parts of Pigs on the Wing as one, which I like to do**.  Perhaps I’m setting high standards of comparison, but why do otherwise?  If I’m going to meet those standards, though, I’m going to need to record a good two more songs beyond the one I’m already talking about.  I have the roots of such songs available, but…it’s a lot of work writing, recording, producing, and mixing songs all by yourself in your spare time, without any expensive equipment.

**If you’ve never heard this album, please go listen to it.  It’s amazing.

***See what I mean about me and titles?

And every tongue blogs in a several tale, and every tale condemns me for a villain.

Okay, well, welcome to another Thursday and to another edition of my weekly blog post.  This being the second Thursday in July, this would have been an edition of “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains”, which ran briefly, way back when, but which was stopped after not many people seemed to read it.  This surprised me, given the fact that so many people are so interested in the great villains of popular fiction:  Sauron, Hannibal Lecter, Thanos, Darth Vader, and so on, to say nothing of the quintessential dastard from whom I cribbed the title of this post.  I guess people often follow such characters on the DL, as a kind of guilty pleasure, and openly reading or talking about them is not as popular.

Oh, well.  I’ve been disappointed by the lack of popularity of that series, but the world is hard, and it’s under no obligation to conform to my expectations, let alone my hopes.

This fact was driven home yet again for me last week with the difficulty relating to my “single” Schrödinger’s Head, which had to be delayed because of restrictions on the word content of the cover art.  I quickly and easily (but not without grumbling) altered the cover to remove the warped opening lines of the song, and then adjusted the rest for better balance.  I also changed the official title of the song to include the umlaut.  This latter bit didn’t bother me nearly so much, especially since I’d already used an umlaut made from a tiny white cat’s head and a tiny black cat’s head above the “o” in the graphic (see below).  I’m not sure the umlaut in the official title was necessary—it’s hard for me to imagine that being something distributors and song sharing and selling sites would notice much—but it was satisfying, unlike the removal of my opening lyrics.

Bottom line, in short order, once my corrections were made, the song was distributed and has gone live and is now available for your listening pleasure on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, YouTube Music, and numerous other venues of which I know the names of only a few, such as TikTok.  If anyone listens on one of those other venues, please let me know; I’d love to share the link.

The song is a folk-rock style, lighthearted, silly thing in which the singer (me) asks various binary questions, mostly about what the titular physicist might be thinking, arriving at the lamentable conclusion that nobody knows.  There’s a little more to it than that, including some deliberately contradictory wordplay, but it’s not supposed to be deep or to carry any message (unlike my previous release, Like and Share, which involves heartfelt, sad commentary about one aspect of social media).  The main guitar sounds are mostly “clean”, since I was really just learning to use it, and that’s part of what gives it the folk-tune feel.  I think.

Anyway, have a listen if you’re so inclined (though you won’t actually know if you are or not until you listen, and then the wave function will have collapsed…Ha Ha Ha!).

In other news, of course, Unanimity continues to hurtle toward completion, though never quite as quickly as I hope.  I, however, am schooled not to rely on the specifics of my hopes too much.  The Tao te Ching counsels us to act without expectation, and I think that’s very good advice, though not as simple as it might seem at a superficial glance*.

Anyway, my novel moves ever nearer to release, and I at least am excited about it.  It’s not for the faint of heart, though.  If you’re the sort of person who requires trigger warnings for anything at all, they are all hereby given.  I am not trying to avoid traumatizing you with this book; quite the contrary.

Not that traumatizing you is the point—or at least not the main one.  The main point is to tell a story about what happens when an innocent college student—Charley Banks—takes part in a neuroscience experiment at his university, has a seizure in an MRI machine during the process, and in the aftermath develops a seemingly impossible, potentially limitless, paranormal power to take over other people’s bodies and minds with just a touch.  Unfortunately, in the process he also appears to have suffered damage to his moral compass**, and he begins to do truly terrible and horrifying things with his new ability—things no one else could ever recognize as his handiwork.

What could be the nature and source of this impossible ability?  How can Charley be cured and/or stopped?  Can he be cured and/or stopped?  Will anyone even figure out what’s happening in time to do anything at all about it, if anything can be done?  How could you even detect a danger that potentially comes from all the people you know and love?

And will Vanessa ever be able to get Brad to notice and return her feelings, or will her poor, lonely, yearning heart be broken***?

Some of these questions—and others not mentioned—will be answered in Unanimity.  Some will remain mysteries.  To find out more, you’ll have to read the book.

TTFN

transformed s head cover no words2


*I urge you to look into it.  It’s not religion, though a religion has been made from it; as I see it, it’s really a book of practical philosophy in the form of 81 very short, evocative poem-oids.

**Or it could just be power corrupting, and corrupting fast, or revealing and releasing a side to Charley that was always present, or perhaps some dark, supernatural force is at work.  Who can say which it is?  Well, I can, of course, but I’m not saying, at least not here.

***Okay, that last question has nothing at all to do with the novel.  I don’t know where that comes from.  There are no such characters in my book.

I have supped full with horrors. Direness, familiar to my slaughterous blogs, cannot once start me.

Hello, good morning, and welcome to Thursday and to my weekly blog post.  Also, welcome to July.  In the United States, it’s now two days before Independence Day (popularly and rather unimaginatively called “The Fourth of July” by many or perhaps most Americans, but I prefer “Independence Day” as it reminds us what the holiday is about).  One could, if one wished, call today “Independence Eve Eve,” but I doubt that’s going to catch on.

Not much new is going on this week, other than the fact that I am trying to release another single, Schrodinger’s Head.  I was hoping to be able to share links to it in today’s blog post.  However, there is apparently some issue of non-concordance between the cover art and the song name—though, as the one who made both, I’m not sure what the problem is.  Hopefully, it won’t entail any significant rearrangement of the cover I designed, because I quite like it as it is now (see below).  Among other things, I used a tiny black cat’s head (a picture—no real cats were harmed in the making of the graphic, anymore than any real cats are harmed in the canonical “Schrodinger’s cat” thought experiment) next to an otherwise identical white cat’s head to make the umlaut above the “o” in Schrodinger’s name.

It’s possible that this is the issue, and I need to use the umlaut in the official title, making it Schrödinger’s Head.  This wouldn’t be a bad thing, as I believe it is the more correct way to spell the great man’s name, but I wasn’t sure it would be usable in that form on all sites on which it would be available.  Perhaps I underestimate the breadth of available ASCII characters in modern sites, having been born into the computer world with an Apple II+ back in the early ‘80s.

I’m sure the problem is easily solvable, but my frustration tolerance has shrunk precipitously over the years—I think that’s supposed to trend in the opposite direction in most people; I’m not sure why it is as it is with me*—so I was positively fuming this morning when I found out.

Oh, well.

More importantly, Unanimity is proceeding swiftly.  I’m more than halfway through the final edit and a nearly equivalent amount of the layout.  I continue to enjoy the process, and in fact I chafed at the fact that I needed to write this blog post today instead of working on the novel.  Still, this weekly blog is a pattern long in the making, and I’m not going to let myself off it just because I’m impatient.  My frustration tolerance may have diminished, but I’m still fairly good at not indulging myself too much in momentary urges.  Hopefully, I won’t lose that strength as time goes by.

I think that Unanimity is a good book, and I think readers will enjoy it…though I expect it will horrify them at many points, and probably not always in ways that they might expect.  It’s certainly not a gothic style horror by any means, despite my previous jokes about it making a better Halloween than Christmas gift.

In a way, you could call it a pseudo-science-fiction horror story, as the causes of the terrible events in it are not overtly supernatural, but are the products of something having gone wrong in the course of normal scientific exploration.  In this, I suppose, it’s more of the Frankenstein family than the Dracula family, but with no anti-science cautionary intent**.  In fact, deep in the dungeons of my mind, as the author, I suspect there may be darker forces at work behind the seeming science-gone-wrong of the story.  I even threw in a brief cameo by a figure from one of my decidedly supernatural short stories, Hole for a Heart, to hint that all may not be quite as it seems.

Of course, I’ve long contended that the very term “supernatural” is superfluous, since anything that exists is, by definition***, part of nature.  So, anything that actually happens to characters and things in my stories is, in their universe, natural, however paranormal it may seem, and there is some underlying “science” to it, though it may be forever unknown.  There must be “laws of magic” just as there are laws of physics, or else no actual phenomena of any consistent kind would be produced.

In fact, one of my ongoing (and only) disappointments about the Harry Potter books is that there isn’t more exploration—perhaps via Dumbledore and/or Hermione—of what magic is and how it works in that world.  I don’t fault J. K. Rowling; that just wasn’t what her stories were about, and it probably would have been a distraction for most readers of what were, nominally, children’s books.

I’d love to know her thoughts on the matter, though.

With that, I think I’ve said and digressed enough.  Hopefully, before this time next week, Schrödinger’s Head will be available for your listening pleasure on many venues.  I’m afraid I took it off YouTube in anticipation of its release, so if you want to hear it, you’ll have to wait a bit.  My apologies.  Still, it’s useful, in these quite troubled times, to have something to which to look forward, and though they may be small consolations, I can at least offer you a song and a story to anticipate.

TTFN

what's going on bigger


*One might think that, having gone through quite a few severe and extreme frustrations and setbacks in life would make one more tolerant of minor impasses, but the process seems more like chronic pain—the nerves involved get potentiated by repetitive and persistent stimulation and so are more sensitive and harder to shut down.  At least, that’s my hypothesis.

**Newton forbid!

***By my definition, anyway.

This blog of love, by summer’s ripening breath, may prove a beauteous flower when next we meet

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, which always seems to happen soon after Wednesday, at least here in the English-speaking world.  I have heard the shocking tale that there are some other places that seem not to have those specific days.  One wonders how they remember when to read my weekly blog posts!

I hope you all had a lovely Summer Solstice.  It’s June 25th today, which means that there are “exactly” 6 months until Christmas, for those of you who celebrate it.  Being at the midway point, this date probably serves nicely as a measure of a person’s optimism.  Whether you say to yourself, “Only six more months until Christmas!” with an anticipatory grin (perhaps noting that it wouldn’t be bad to start thinking of gift ideas), or whether you instead dwell on the fact that you are now as far away in the year from that joyous holiday as it is possible to be, probably could be used to predict your attitude about a great number of other things.

Of course, you won’t have to wait nearly six months for the release of Unanimity—barring some personal catastrophe on my part—so that’s at least a crumb of comfort even for the most ruthlessly pessimistic.  Those of you who are already thinking of Christmas shopping for your loved ones could do worse than to order a copy or two when it comes out to give as gifts (though it might be better suited as a Halloween present).  I dare say that it should even be out well in time to begin reading it on or before the date on which the story begins*.  The final editing, layout, and planning for the release are going strongly and smoothly.  If I had more free time—and more free energy—I could probably get it all done within the next month, but I don’t expect that goal to be quite achievable.  That is, unless someone out there wants to option the movie rights (sight unseen) for the book and will give me a large lump sum payment for that option.  It would probably be best as a mini-series, since it’s quite a long story, and I don’t see how it could all fit into even an Avengers: Endgame length movie.  But perhaps that’s a personal bias.

Anyway, it’s going well.

My music is going well, too.  As you know, my single Like and Share is now up on Spotify and is available on iTunes and on Amazon.  It’s also either now available or will soon be available through numerous other platforms internationally, but I’m not as certain of the links and whatnot to those.  If I become aware, of course, I’ll be happy to share them.

I’ve been trying to think through where to go from here with respect to music, and I’d welcome feedback from any readers who have an opinion on the matter.  My internal conflict revolves around whether to proceed as originally planned and release one or two more singles in the coming weeks and months, then to release a full album of my songs, or whether to release them all as singles, one by one.  After all, though I have a deep love of great albums and of consuming music in that form, I can’t deny that the advent of music sites such as mentioned above, and the general digital availability of the music, raises the question of whether releasing an album is the best way to go.  It’s not as though it would be any kind of “concept album”.

I’ve heard (but cannot be certain) that “Weird Al” Yankovic is planning on mostly releasing singles in the future rather than putting together albums, for reasons much like my thoughts above.  I’m no “Weird Al”, obviously, and he’s also not the measure of all things, even if the above rumor is true.  Still, he’s a very savvy individual, and one could do worse than to pay attention to what he’s doing.

As I think I’ve mentioned, I am developing some new songs currently.  Nothing has been recorded on any of them yet—except some musical notes and lyrics on paper, of course—and I probably won’t be doing much more than that until after Unanimity comes out, unless I need a mental break, and/or find the urge irresistible.

I do seem to require at least some form of “new” creative activity as a bulwark against depression, and editing Unanimity has led to my longest run of not writing anything new since perhaps 2013 or 2014.  Also, writing is my oldest persistent love.  But writing music seems to produce the desired psychological benefit almost as much as writing fiction, so it’s been quite useful to me during the long revision/editing process of Unanimity.  All this is what I do in lieu of having close, fulfilling relationships with other human beings, since I’m apparently unpleasant to be around for any prolonged time period.

I’m sure you can all readily imagine why that might be so.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on this week with me.  I’ll be releasing Schrodinger’s Head as my next official single, but that won’t be for at least several weeks.  I think.  In the meantime, I hope you’re all as happy and healthy as it’s possible to be given the current state of public affairs.  I’d wish for you to be even happier than possible, but that would be a silly and contradictory wish, so I’ll abstain.  Not that I’m any more averse to wishing for the impossible than the next person, I’m just…more prone than average to accept and internalize the inherent impossibilities.

TTFN


*Though, unless you have a time machine, you won’t be able to preempt the literal starting date, since the story begins on Thursday, September 14th, 2017.  But you know what I mean.

I…heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s blog uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath that the rude sea grew civil at her song

Hello, good morning, good Thursday, and welcome One and All to my weekly blog post!

Yes, that’s an exclamation point at the end of that very first sentence.  It may be in poor taste, but I feel enthusiastic this morning, for reasons on which I’ll elaborate below, and I need to make the most of such times when I can, because they’re unreliable and comparatively infrequent.

First and still foremost, of course, the final edit of Unanimity is going well.  I’ve already finished “Part 1” of the book—about a quarter of the way through—and I’m moving along quickly.  Obviously, that’s exciting for me, and I hope there are those out there for whom it’s likewise exciting.  It’s been a looooong time coming, this mega-novel, and with only minor breaks it’s been the only fiction I’ve worked on for well over a year, if memory serves.

I won’t say that I’m getting tired of it—I don’t easily get tired of my own stories, that’s one of my few areas of unapologetic narcissism.  However, I do still get impatient for my stories to be finished and out there in the world wreaking whatever havoc they are capable of wreaking.  This particular novel is obviously not going to be available for purchase any time in June, and probably not in July (though that’s not entirely impossible), but I suspect that, barring the unforeseen, it will be released by end of the summer at the latest.

Speaking of releases:  I am absurdly pleased to announce that I have just released my first commercial single.  It’s my song “Like and Share”, which lost its quotation marks in the release process, I’m not sure how.  Oh, well, though they were deliberate, their lack doesn’t seriously change the message, which is sort of a lament about one of the darker aspects of social media.

I’ve taken the “video” off YouTube because it seemed kind of silly to compete with a free* version of myself.  The single is in the process of being released on many worldwide venues and will even be available as a purchasable CD single on Amazon, if anyone uses such things anymore.  It’s currently available for your listening pleasure—I think it will be pleasure, I’ve gotten quite good reviews from listeners—on Apple/iTunes and on Spotify.  Other venues will follow.  Here are the links:

Apple music: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id/1518756570

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1518756570?ls=1&app=itunes

Spotify URL: https://open.spotify.com/album/1pw3cSfHBysZu5ZyfIvJn1

Spotify URI: spotify:album:1pw3cSfHBysZu5ZyfIvJn1

I’m not sure what the character of that last link is or how specifically it works.  It doesn’t look like a typical URL, and of course it has a different acronym designation.  Perhaps it’s used in the Spotify app, which I do have on my smartphone, but on which I have NOT yet listened to my own song.

Don’t be too impressed by my restraint.  I used the web player on the desktop computer to listen to it as soon as I saw that it was available.  You cannot expect a kid not to eat chocolate eggs on Easter morning when they’re all just sitting there in his basket!

I’ve used my Iterations of Zero symbol, or icon, whatever the term might be, as the art for this single, and it will likely be the look of the final album (and probably the name also) when it’s released in the end.  It was a toss-up between Like and Share and Schrodinger’s Head for which song to release first, but the former got more votes in my small poll, so I chose it.  It’s certainly the most topical song that I’ve done.

So, anyway, I’m excited about this.  It’s not as monumental as having my books out and published, but it is very cool, nevertheless, and all the more so because it’s me doing something I hadn’t ever done before.  I mean, I’ve only really been playing electric guitar for a short time, and I’ve definitely not been arranging, recording, producing, mixing, etc., my music before the last year-ish.  So, it’s a nice feeling to have accomplished it, and of course I’m going to be releasing more, and am in the process of writing a few more songs as well.

For all my difficulties with depression, dysthymia, self-hatred and so on, one big strength I have is, I never assume or even suspect that a thing isn’t doable**.  I figure, if other people can do something, then with enough work, I can do that thing.  Throughout my life, whenever I’ve become enamored of some form of expression—music, poetry, books, comic books, science, math, medicine, etc.—I’ve always just automatically felt that I wanted to try doing my version of it.

Remember, there’s nothing magical about other people that isnt also magical about you.  Obviously, innate gifts vary somewhat from person to person, but as Albert Einstein is reported to have said, every human being is a genius.  I think, sometimes, that’s what frustrates me about people the most:  I know how much potential every person out there actually has, and it’s so infuriating to see the way it’s used and not used.  But it’s not my place to tell other people how to run their own lives.  It’s not like I’ve been uniquely impressive at running my own.

Anyway, that’s my exciting bit of news, which is good to have amidst all the far-from-exciting*** madness filling traditional and social media lately.  Perhaps listening to the song will give you a bit of ease from the stress out there.  I hope so, for though it’s not exactly a happy song—it deals with troubling things—it has a nice melody.

I’ll release Schrodinger’s Head next, don’t worry; that’s more upbeat and kind of funny.  But that won’t be for a little while yet.  I hope you all are feeling and doing as well as you possibly can.  Thank you for reading and, hopefully, for listening.

TTFN


*A bargain even at twice the price!

**Unless there’s some physical limitation…I will never play professional basketball, for instance, and I am unlikely ever to fly under my own power.

***I suppose, from a certain point of view, some of it could be considered “exciting”, but only in the same sense that all catastrophes tend to arouse our fight or flight centers.

Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear and chastise with the valor of my blog

Good morning, all.  It’s Thursday, of course, and therefore it’s just about the perfect day for another of my weekly blog posts.

I still struggle to get a pattern rolling for Iterations of Zero.  I thought of a way to make use of “idle” time to do longer form “Audio Blog” entries that might become a regular feature, but my first attempt was met with static and road noise.  If you’re interested in hearing more about that—literally—then by all means, listen to the follow-up audio blog I did yesterday for IoZ.  I think it’s worth your time if even just for my description of various social media as…well, let’s not spoil the joke.

Of course, out in the wide world, things proceed as absurdly as always.  Viruses, both literal and memetic, trouble us all.  This is not always a terrible thing.  While it’s hard to see Covid-19 as having much of an up-side, if it forces us to be better prepared for future, still more virulent pathogens—which are all but inevitable, given the enormous and lovely petri dish the human race instantiates for pathogens of all types—then perhaps it will be a net good in the long run.  It would be nice if humans could learn without having to be hit in the face with disease and death, but the principle of least action seems to apply at all levels of nature.  As for the societal, memetic flare-up, though rooted in a real tragedy, it is much more a positive happening.  Some things, thoughts, and people—probably all of us—need to be troubled from time to time.

More pivotal to me personally, though, is that the final run-through of Unanimity is going well.  We’re* working on layout and pacing, deciding how to divide up the sections and chapters of such a long work, as well as developing the cover design.  This all tends to go pretty well when I write books.  My biggest failing is that I have trouble advertising/promoting myself and my work.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it feels almost unseemly to me to tout my own products.  I feel not just embarrassed but often ashamed when I try to shout my own praises.  It’s a strange thing, and I don’t know if the area under the curve of that function is net-positive or net-negative, but at this moment in history, we can at least say it’s not “presidential”.  I need to improve it, though, because I have books and music that I really would like people to read and hear.

One of the things that most makes me hesitant about bigging myself up, as they say**, is that I fear that I’d very easily go too far and veer toward full Khan/Kanye/Doom/Trump mode once I got started, and there are already enough people in the world who think I’m an asshole.  But perhaps I worry too much about such things.  For a time, in high school, I was able to pull off being faux-egotistical as a self-parody of sorts, and it worked quite well (I think).  But, of course, high school is a time of immense possibility, and I was younger then***.  Still, if I could work that persona up, or some acceptable version of a similar process, it might be useful.

I’ll have to think about it.  Your input would be welcome.

There’s not a whole lot more to add.  I’m continuing to practice guitar and to develop a few original songs.  I’m also working on an arrangement of the old, beautiful song “Come Little Leaves” and my version of the Joker’s song from The Killing Joke has long since been complete except for the actual recording.  Both of these could stand to be heard, in my opinion.  Of course, the latter is nothing I could ever produce for profit—unless I left the lyrics out, I suppose.  The music is all me.  I think “Come Little Leaves” might actually be in the public domain, since the original poem, at least, came out in the early nineteen-twenties.  I’m not sure it would fit in with the other songs on my imagined “album”, however.  Though it has a vaguely melancholy feel, and is in a minor key, it is a hauntingly beautiful and ultimately positive song, whereas my work tends to be a bit dark.

Oh, well, time enough for these decisions to be made as and if they happen.  Unanimity remains my top priority, and it is happily speeding toward release, possibly by the end of the summer, but more likely in the autumn…which is, after all, the perfect time for a long, dark story to be told.

TTFN


*This refers to me and my creative team, including but not limited to Trevor Smith, Nathan Talbert, and Franklin L. Ritemoore.  I thought they deserved some credit.

**They do say that somewhere, don’t they?

***Duh.

But when the blast of war blogs in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger

Hello and good morning, everyone.  It’s raining here in south Florida; I got more soaking wet on the way to work today than I have at times when swimming in the ocean.

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but at least when you’re swimming in the ocean, you plan on getting wet, you expect to get wet, and your clothes—such as they are—are made for getting wet and for drying off quickly.  This is not the case for work clothes, even when one works in a fairly casual office.  This weather almost makes me wish that there were a 24-hour curfew in place that restricted people even from going to work, but no such luck.  I was allowed to go to work even at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown, which has apparently passed, and I’m certainly allowed to work now.

In America at least, news of the pandemic has been all but superseded by news of various protests, some of which have turned violent, over the murder of George Floyd.  Both topics seem particularly good at bringing out human stupidity, which is never a tall order, but there is more unified sentiment—where I work, anyway—about the latter story.  Everyone here thinks the cops involved need to go to prison, but that violent protests and especially looting are idiotic, counterproductive, and are probably (mostly) not being done by legitimate protestors.  As for me, I can at least sympathize with occasional, directed violence in such matters.  Peaceful protest is ideal when it works, when you’re dealing with people of conscience and appealing to their better natures, but it wouldn’t have worked against the Nazis, or against Genghis Khan, or against the Roman Empire, and it wouldn’t work in North Korea.  Random violence, however, that hurts one’s own neighbors or other innocent people, seems thoughtless and pointless at best, and looting seems simply opportunistic and despicable.

All right, enough politics, if that’s what that was.  On to more auspicious matters.

This week, I have finally begun the last edit, layout, preparation, etc. of Unanimity.  I expect that, with the finish line in sight, I’ll probably accelerate work on it somewhat, perhaps pushing back my music…though I did make a post on Iterations of Zero this week with embedded videos of my five original songs that are on YouTube, as well as a few comments about them. Check out that post if you’re interested; I’d love to know what people think of the songs.  I’ve also recorded another audio blog for IoZ, but that’s still being edited—those take longer to polish than do written blog entries, though they’re certainly easier to initiate.

As you may know, I’m chronically conflicted about the whole podcast/audio versus writing of thoughts and commentary.  Writing is more efficient for storage and dissemination of information—compare the size of a word-processor document with even a compressed audio file—but there is a certain nuance of expression as well as a greater spontaneity that can be achieved in audio.  As I admit right at the beginning of the new recording, this audio blog post is not intended to be uplifting.  Neither is it meant to be down-pushing (if that’s a term).  It’s instead meant to be a rebellion of sorts against the notion that we all must try always to be positive and optimistic and upbeat and inspirational.

If you need to be inspired—if you need to be “motivated”—to get your work done, I think you’ve already failed.  Motivation—in the modern, self-help sense, not in the basic, fundamental meaning of the word (which is fine)—is a bit like the notions of heroism and leadership.  These are concepts that come into play only when you’re already far from optimal circumstances.  We should all aspire to achieve a world in which there is no need for leaders or for heroes, and to strive to reach a state in our own character in which “motivation” is irrelevant.

No one feels “motivated” every day, but if you want to earn a living, you need to go to work whether you feel “motivated” or not.  The tiger that won’t hunt until and unless it’s “inspired” by something is a tiger that’s got a good chance of dying.  Or perhaps a better animal for that analogy would be the squirrel.  Squirrels keep gathering nuts (and maybe other foods, I’m no expert on squirrel diets) even when they have enough for their immediate needs—even when they don’t feel particularly hungry—because, as they apparently say in Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming.”*

To quote Christian Mihai, “The work that you do when you don’t want to is the work that most defines you.” Maybe this is just a different kind of motivation, a more long-term motivation that evaluates the area under the curve of one’s success and happiness, and not merely its moment to moment y-value.  That kind of motivation—or drive, perhaps, would be the better term—seems perfectly fine to me.  But if you have to get jazzed up to get out of bed and get moving, then you’re careening toward failure, because no one can feel jazzed up every day, not even someone in the upside of a bipolar cycle.

I’m not sure how I got onto that subject, but anyway, I’m happy at least to know that my own personal commitment to working on my fiction five to six mornings every week continues to deliver results.  It’s a lesson I learned fromthe King himself, and it’s paid off already in all my published books and stories.  And soon, I’ll release my own megalithic horror novel that matches in size even Stephen King’s longest work.

I would be delighted if Unanimity is read and enjoyed by even a fraction of as many people as have enjoyed any of King’s works, of course.  But if even one person reads it and likes it, that’s a huge reward.  And even if no one does, well—I still know that I’ve written it, and I like it.  If I didn’t like it, it really wouldn’t matter all that much if everyone else in the world loved it.  I can only be inside my own head.

TTFN


*I’ve neither watched nor read any of the GoT stories.  This fact surprises even me.  It’s not a matter of stubborn contrarianism or protest; I see nothing wrong with people loving the stories or the series.  I simply haven’t been interested.  These are the types of entertainment that I tend to want to enjoy with someone—not just anyone, to paraphrase John Lennon—and I simply have no one with whom I’m interested in sharing such entertainment.  More’s the pity, but there it is, and other such long-in-the-tooth clichés.

The blogs of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo.

Hello and good day, everyone.  It’s Thursday morning, the last Thursday of May (2020 (AD or CE (Gregorian calendar))), and—at least where I live—people are starting to go back to work.  We can only wait and see whether this will be something that large numbers of the population will regret or not, but I can certainly sympathize with their desire.

I haven’t yet written anything for Iterations of Zero this week.  I could post one of a few bits that I’ve already written; I have two pieces primed and ready.  However, those essays are rather dark and somewhat negative; they have a sardonic and grim character, and that’s not what I want to get across right now.  I’m trying very hard to be positive (this despite appallingly wet weather, even by south Florida standards, which is making my chronic back pain flare up something fierce*).

So, instead of using either one of those articles, which I’ll save for later, I think I’ll make a post embedding my five original song “videos”** which are up on YouTube.  I’ve said before, half-jokingly, that I have roughly half-an-album’s-worth of original songs recorded and produced, and I’m inclined to work toward another half, just for shits and giggles.  But it would be nice to have more people tell me what they think about the songs before I put a lot of effort in.  I have received good reviews from those who have listened so far (and they weren’t all family members).  Considering the limitations under which they were made, I think the songs have come out remarkably well.  Still, I’m definitely my own primary audience thus far.

This isn’t so terrible; it’s nice that, just as I enjoy reading my own stories, I also enjoy listening to my own songs.  But I do face a serious obstacle in that I’m built or was trained or raised in such a way as to find self-promotion extremely difficult, and even distasteful.  Some large and loud part of me finds it unseemly to tell people, “Hey, listen to this song that I made,” or even, “Hey, you should read this book that I wrote.”  I’m also terribly embarrassed to be in the same room as someone listening to one of my songs.

I think I would benefit greatly from awakening just a little bit of the Trumpian spirit that must surely lie dormant within me.  When I’m honest with myself, and can push past my cringing, I really do think the songs are pretty good, especially considering what I have to work with***.  And in all honesty, I think my stories and books are quite good, and if it wouldn’t be just supremely cheesy, I’d go on Amazon and rate them each five stars and give them dazzling reviews.  That’s probably what Kanye West or The Donald would do, but I don’t know if I’m capable of it.

Speaking of my books, I’m about seventy pages from finishing the second to last run-through of Unanimity.  This means that the final turn, with layout, cover design, etc., is fast approaching.  I’m tempted to say that I feel like Frodo finally reaching the Plateau of Gorgoroth, but Unanimity is definitely NOT like the One Ring.  That is to say, I don’t consider it a cursed or dark or deadly burden of which I’m eager to be rid.  Quite the contrary, I love it dearly****.  But it has been a helluva journey through spacetime and through mindspace and workspace and whatever other phase space one might conjure to describe the process.  It’s certainly taken longer in proper time than the journey portion of The Lord of the Rings took‡, though the main-arc events of that book, from “A Long-expected Party” even just until “The Scouring of the Shire” last at least a good seventeen or so years, if memory serves.  Correct me if I’m wrong†, please.

With that good and exciting news, I think I’ll wrap things up for the week.  As always, I wish you all the best of all possible things, both short-term and long-term, both deep and shallow.  And though it is true that, if wishes were horses, we’d all be hip deep in horseshit, that wish is nevertheless entirely sincere.

TTFN


*Do you hear that high, plaintive, irritating sound, Mr. Anderson?  That is the sound of the world’s tiniest Stradivarius playing a doleful tune.

**This is in scare quotes because the video portion of these songs is just a fixed shot of the Iterations of Zero symbol.  It’s simply a fact that YouTube is one of the best, most available means by which one can spread an audio file and make it available, in principle, to the largest possible audience, but to use it, you need some kind of “video”.  There is no comparable “YouWoofer” or other stereo-speaker-titled venue for purely audio tracks for people to share, though podcasts are certainly all the rage.  Likewise, Facebook lets one upload videos as one wishes (true to its name, I must admit), but if there’s a way to upload purely audio files to the platform, I’ve yet to discover it.  Ditto for Twitter.

***Cue the “back-alley” doctor scene from Tim Burton’s Batman, in which the nascent Joker first sees his new face.

****And you will, too.  Believe me.  Everyone agrees with me.  No one’s ever done a book like this before.  It’s huge (it really is).

‡Or brandybuck or even gamgee.  Ha ha.

†I know, I know—I?  Wrong?  I!?  Don’t be absurd!