A wretched soul, blogged with adversity, we bid be quiet when we hear it cry

Hello.  Good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I don’t quite know what I’m going to write today.  That’s not so unusual; I often start my posts without any outline in mind.  Perhaps that’s only too obviously to those who read this blog on a regular basis.  Perhaps you would prefer that I made specific plans about what to write.  If so, I can only apologize and say that, at least for now, I’m not able to do that.  Sometimes when I try to plan what I’m going to write about, I feel stiff and tense about the writing, and it doesn’t flow well.  Sometimes I suspect that is the reason my little project about analyzing and exploring villains from various books, movies, shows, etc., didn’t come off well.  Probably, though, it was just because it wasn’t something that interested many people.

My editing has been going reasonably well this week, though I wish it would go faster.  I don’t ever get quite as much done on any given day as I ought to get done.  I find that, more and more lately, I need to take a rest in the morning and lie flat on the floor for my back to feel a bit better, and to clear my head and gradually break myself into the proverbial zone.  I’m just gradually becoming more and more mentally and emotionally exhausted, and it’s harder to develop energy and focus.  I still do it, of course, but it’s difficult.  I don’t really have much in the way of mental/emotional support; I’m very much on my own, as it were*.  Of course, in a sense, that could be said of everyone, but that would be a very cynical and pessimistic sense; I think it’s a bit too much even for the likes of me to claim.

Still, In the Shade continues to improve (I think), shrinking steadily but perhaps more slowly than at first, and definitely getting tighter and sharper…again, so I think, at least.  I’m not at all sure that I’ll finish the editing by the end of summer and have the collection ready before autumn, but it’s difficult to judge.  Time swirls about at bizarrely inconsistent rates—at “times” it feels like it passes ridiculously fast, the years being chewed up like…well, like some simile describing things being chewed up extremely quickly.  At other times, it feels as though each moment is proceeding far too slowly, and I just want to get to the end much more quickly than is happening.  I’m very tired.

I’m still pursuing that neurological thing that I mentioned last time—never yet by name in this particular blog—but the more thoroughly I educate myself, both from general consumption sources and from the medical and scientific literature, the more I’m convinced that I’m probably—almost certainly—correct in my assessment.  But I don’t like to rely solely on myself, even though I trust my mental judgement at least as much as anyone else’s, and more than most.

I’m having a harder and harder time dealing with social interactions, whether online or in person.  I even feel embarrassed writing comments on blogs and similar.  I feel that I’m sure to be saying something irritating or boring or inexplicable and nonsensical that will make others wonder why I don’t just shut up and go away.  Maybe that’s me projecting; goodness knows, a lot of the time I wish that I would just shut up and go away.

Anyway, I have at least put in inquiries to two organizations, one a non-professional entity that provides support and guidance and resources.  I investigated their available recommendations for professionals near me, but haven’t been impressed, so far, by the locally available people listed.  They don’t fill me with confidence or ease.  The other, a strictly professional organization, may be more promising, though they’re a little bit far from where I am.

A big problem I have is that all these kinds of people and sites and organizations have options for, and require, and provide resources for, calling or online chatting, or whatever, and the thought of doing any of those things is just terribly stressful, let alone actually going to some office somewhere.  I can talk on the phone at work, for goal-directed reasons, just as I’ve always been able to make friends or “friends” at school or work or whatever, in places where there’s a purpose, but when it’s seeking something for myself—let alone simple ordinary purposeless socialization—I’m at a loss.

It’s not that I’m afraid or anxious, exactly, though there is a bit of that; it’s just that I find the processes stressful.  They take so much mental effort.  I don’t feel I get much out of it, and I just inconvenience everyone else.  The last time there was a work-related outing, when the office (as it were) went to a restaurant after work to celebrate a particular milestone, I developed a migraine as the day went on, and ended up just not going.  I didn’t really put it together at the time, but the migraine was probably caused by the stress of anticipating dealing with a purely social situation.

So, asking for help at a personal level or a professional level is very difficult—mostly so daunting that I just can’t force myself to do it, even when I know I could really use it**.  It doesn’t help that I’ve had terrible experiences when dealing with “crisis hotlines” in the past, as I think I’ve described here before.  I’ve had other, similarly frustrating experiences on related occasions when seeking help or being forced to seek help.

I’m not sure at all what to do.  There probably isn’t any one right answer or best answer, and if there is, probably no one knows what it is.  The world is extremely complicated, and we’re never guaranteed that events will be fair or good or successful…at least not by any honest, reputable, reliable sources.

I know I’m being vague.  I started off meandering and, by God, I kept meandering.  That was the mode for today, I guess.  Apologies.  I hope to get again into a mental state where I can again feel optimistic about future writing and think and talk about the many story ideas and book ideas I have waiting in the wings.  I’m not sure if I’ll reach that point, or how to reach it, but I guess it’s possible.  In the meantime, I beg your patience and indulgence.  I also ask that you treat yourselves and those around you as well as you possibly can and try to be healthy and happy.

TTFN

broke down bigger


*This is no one’s fault but mine.

**It’s a bit like finding myself having swum a too far out from a beach and realizing that I’m in trouble because the current is sweeping me ever farther away from shore.  But calling for help will drain the strength I need to swim and tread water, and I’m not a very strong swimmer.  The people I can see in the distance aren’t really looking in my direction, anyway, and they probably couldn’t hear me no matter what.  And I’m not sure any of them are trained or qualified to make a rescue attempt without putting themselves at serious risk, which is something I certainly don’t want to happen on my account.  Better just to tread water quietly, trying to make my way shoreward (though the shore keeps getting farther and farther away), and let the ocean take me if that’s what it’s going to do.

So quick bright blogs come to confusion

Okay, well, hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so it’s time for my weekly blog post.  I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for it on tenterhooks.

It’s the first day of July, and in the U.S., we’ll have our founding holiday this weekend—Independence Day, popularly referred to merely by its date, The Fourth of July.  I prefer the more formal term, myself, since it reminds us of what we’re supposedly celebrating.  It’s a nice day to reread the Declaration of Independence, if you’ve not read it in a while, or have never read it.  It’s not very long, and it’s okay to skip the list of grievances if you want.  Actually, it’s okay if you skip the whole thing and just spend the day with your family (if that’s an option for you) and maybe watch and/or set off some fireworks.  It’s not as though any of it really matters.

Of course, if you’re outside of the United States, you probably will just have an ordinary Sunday.

I’ve continued to edit In the Shade, being fairly draconian in my word trimming, and I think it’s having a good effect.  Of course, I don’t know how others will perceive the outcome.  For one thing, no one is going to be able to read it in its first draft form and then compare it to the final draft to see which they like better.  Then again, it’s unlikely that anyone will ever read it but me, anyway.  And if they do, it’s unlikely that I’ll get any feedback about it.  So, again, it’s not as though any of it really matters.

A rather peculiar, or disturbing, or enlightening sequence of events happened to me over the course of this last week, some of the details of which I’m not quite ready to get into, but the general shape of which I’m prepared to share.

As happens sometimes, the YouTube algorithm—drawing from its vast, mindless database of patterns of videos people have watched and “liked” after watching others—presented me with a video on a subject that I’d not seen before.  Not to say I wasn’t aware of the subject, I’d just never watched or sought out any such videos, nor read any but very general information about it.  It’s one I was aware of, as a medical doctor (by training and degree, though no longer in practice), but I was far from an expert in the subject.  Something about the video’s thumbnail intrigued me, so I watched it, and one or two others by the same person.  I was truly flabbergasted by how familiar many of the things this person was saying were to me.

So, I decided to take an online test (it’s created and provided by a legitimate scientific source, not some click-bait website), and I got a surprisingly high result.  Higher than this video-maker had scored when he took the test, and higher than that of some other people who do videos on the same subject.

I assumed that I must have been exaggerating, overestimating, and misinterpreting the test questions, and so the next day I took it again, trying to control for such overstatement.  It came back with a higher score.  So, being me, I watched more videos and bought a book or two* and looked up some research papers and less formal writings, and I’m sneaking myself toward the suspicion that this test may actually be correct.  I’ve even retaken it again since, trying harder not to be melodramatic, and my score went up more.

(I only once took a related, subsequent test, created by the same scientist/group that had created the first; on this one the lower the score is, the more “positive”, and my score was so surprisingly, remarkably low that I think it has to be an error or a fluke of the way I took the test, or a product of my bias, or something like that.  I haven’t taken that one again.  I’m frankly afraid of the result.)

I know I’m being terribly vague about all this, but please try to bear with me.  I don’t like jumping to conclusions, and I’m quite hesitant about my ability to be objective about myself.  I’ve only told one person (my employer) about the results with full information about what it was, partly because of the understanding way he’s always responded to my weirdness.  He was only generally familiar with the subject but seemed almost congratulatory about the result, which caught me by surprise.  I don’t quite know what to make of that.

I also don’t know what to do about all this; at first it seemed like a possible boon, a useful discovery, but now I fear that it really doesn’t change anything or, again, really matter at all.  There are links provided, after one takes the test and gets a high score, to possible people to “speak” to, to find out more, or get “help”, or whatever, but frankly, the thought of interacting with such people, or even of seeking out others who have scored highly on such tests is about as pleasant as being told that, to achieve some moderately desirable result, I need to eat a large bowl of fried eggplant.  That may not sound bad to many of you—you may happen to like eggplant—but even the smell of cooking eggplant makes me physically prone to throw up**.

I can’t even bring myself to seek out a new therapist regarding my dysthymia/depression, which is a confirmed and often dangerous problem for me; I’ve been through it all so often and in so many ways, and I have actual, clinical, expert level understanding of the problem—I’ve literally helped treat people for it, as a medical doctor.

It’s not out of arrogance that I avoid getting the therapy (though I think I am arrogant sometimes); I’m quite sure there are many people out there who could provide useful feedback and input for me, even if there’s no greater explanatory insight involved.  I’ve had therapists I liked, and who helped me, and if I could go to one of them again, I probably would, but none of those is close enough and I have no interest in trying to meet and develop a relationship with a new one.  The prospect is such a huge and daunting chore as to make me feel more depressed (see above about the eggplant).

So, anyway, for right now, I’m caught in a conundrum, with all the force vectors pushing against each other and holding me, pierced like a dissection specimen, in the center of their arrows.  It reminds me of a conversation I had with a psychologist (not about me, this was in a professional context) who said that in family therapy, in a severely dysfunctional setting, sometimes the only thing they could do would be the equivalent of setting off a stick of dynamite in the family dynamic, and hoping that after the explosion, things would settle back into at least a less dysfunctional pattern.  It sounded awful.  But sometimes I fear that it will require similar metaphorical dynamite for anything to change for me.  I’ve been through such explosions, more than once, and I don’t think the new patterns are better.  I don’t like my odds.

So, anyway, I’m knowingly being nonspecific, partly out of embarrassment, partly out of honest confusion about what, if anything, to do.  I guess it might be nice to find a kindred spirit of some sort, but I honestly doubt whether such a person exists, and the notion of hoping they might be possible and then finding they are not, or failing in some other fashion, is worse than not knowing.  Tennyson was an idiot, frankly, and similarly, Sisyphus would have been far better served just to stop pushing that stupid boulder.  He wasn’t going to get anywhere with it, no matter what he did.  He’d have been better served just to use it as a chair or a back rest and go to sleep.

That’s enough of all that for now.  I hope you’re all well, and that you have a terrific month of July, holidays or not.

TTFN

indecision


*Academic in character—the “personal” ones seemed entirely too subjective and anecdotal, which is probably unfair of me, especially given the nature of this blog post, but I’m trying to learn objective things, as much as possible, and most stories of and by real people, in written form, tend just to spin my head around, or bore me, and aren’t useful for insights.

**I’m not exaggerating.  It’s worse than mildew, worse than the smell of a dead skunk on the highway, and far more nauseating than walking into a camp latrine that hasn’t been cleaned in years.  It’s a physical response, not a value judgement.  I’m honestly envious of people who like eggplant, as with other foods I find intolerable.  They get so much pleasure from them, and it’s pleasure I can never have.

I am a fellow o’ the strangest mind i’ the world; I delight in blogs and revels sometimes altogether

Hello, good morning, and welcome to Thursday, on which day of the week we complete the scared ritual by having me write my weekly blog post.

It’s been a fairly uneventful week, as far as writing and related matters go.  I’m editing In the Shade, as per usual, but that’s been going somewhat slowly.  I’m working on it every day, but I’ve been getting a bit less done than usual, due to some lifestyle changes I’ve made regarding allergy treatment, back pain interventions, and food habits—and other such things—and until my personal, mental clocks adjust to these changes, my concentration is a bit lacking.  To be fair to me, I am adjusting rapidly.  Today, for instance, I’m much more alert than I was yesterday and the day before.  I don’t think it will be long before I’ve gotten back up to full speed.  I may even accelerate.

I’m trying to consider what to work on after I finish In the Shade and complete and publish Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities and then complete and publish Outlaw’s Mind.  I think I may want to swing toward lighter fare.  I’ve been doing mainly horror or horror-related stories for quite a while now, which is fine, but I think veering toward more of a fantasy/sci-fi adventure tale might be good for a bit of a change.  Of course, there’s an element of horror to most of what I write—that’s just who I am, I guess—but still, it might be nice to do something a little less dark.

Among my released novels, two are purely horror stories—The Vagabond and Unanimity, though the latter disguises itself in a science fiction veneer.  The other three, however, are not.  Even Mark Red, which is about vampires and demi-vampires, isn’t a horror story; it’s more of a teen fantasy-adventure of sorts.  The vampires in the story are not merely the protagonists but are actually the good guys*.  Weirdly, though The Chasm and the Collision is a youth fantasy adventure, it could not only legitimately be called science fiction—albeit highly speculative—but it also has more horror elements than Mark Red does…which, I maintain, is essential in any youth-oriented fantasy adventure.

Of course, Son of Man is pure science fiction, though much of it is quite speculative, involving notions of complex time being used as a partial workaround of the Uncertainty Principle, and as a way of doing “time travel” without actually traveling through time.  It plays with identity questions related to the whole “Star Trek transporter”, copy-versus-original, destroyed and recreated versus actually transported question, but with the added levels of differences in time, and with chains of inescapable causality as well as unrequited love and the inability of even a supremely powerful being to change its past.  And, of course, given the title, it indulges in a bit of a playful religious allegory, or whatever the proper term might be.  Though there are references to truly horrific events in it—worse, frankly, than in any of my horror stories—it isn’t a horror story at all.  Go figure.

Of course, among the three tales in Welcome to Paradox City, two are clearly horror, though of quite different subtypes, while the middle one is sort of a supernatural low-key comedy.  I don’t know how funny it is, but though it involves “the unquiet dead**”, it is not a horror story.

All this is my way of reminding myself that, no, I don’t just write horror, though that’s what I’ve mainly written in recent outings.  So, I don’t have to write anything horror-ish for my next big project.  I’ve considered starting the novelization of a story I’d originally conceived as a manga***, based on two separate doodles/drawings I’d done, The Dark Fairy and the Desperado.  If you look at pictures on my Facebook page, you should find some drawings of these characters, and scenes I envision them experiencing, and which are part of the narrative in the story in my head.  They are unlikely heroes, and quite unlikely companions, originally from different worlds (literally), who are tricked/forced to work together on a quest to serve the desires of an extra-dimensional wizard who is trapped in a tiny universe of his own making.  Along the way, they encounter another extra-dimensional being, properly considered a demi-god, who calls herself Lucy (not Lil), and who is a huge fan of the Beatles, and who models her realm accordingly.  As you might guess, Lucy is prone to call the Desperado either “Rocky” or “Dan” or even “Bungalow Bill”, depending on how generous she’s feeling toward him, and she refers to the Dark Fairy as “Sexy Sadie”.

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As you can tell, this story is conceived of as a fun sort of bizarre adventure, with few restrictions on what can possibly happen (though I do insist upon internal logical consistency, as long as it’s not too much trouble).  But I truly like the characters, as I imagine them so far, and would like to find out more of what happens to them, and to introduce them to other people.  I fear, though, that it would require an entire series to tell their tale(s), much more so even than with Mark Red, which can sort of stand on its own, though there’s more to that story than is currently written.

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This is Lucy. In the sky. With diamonds.

And, of course, I have a story waiting called Changeling in a Shadow World, which is about a boy/young man who believes himself to be a normal human, but who is actually the transplanted last survivor of a race of beings that perceive, move through, and manipulate higher spatial dimensions (and non-spatial dimensions), and who were wiped out by a creature or entity that exists between physical planes of reality, without integer dimensionality of its own, and which desires to invade realms of “normal” realities, either to become “dimensional” or merely to ruin such realms for everyone else.  It’s quite non-sane, being a creature without fixed dimensionality, and it has appeared in my stories before.  It’s referred to by those who fear it as Malice, or the Ill-Will, or the Other.  Its (rather unwilling) servants include less powerful irrationally dimensional creatures known as Crawlers…at least one of these appears in one of my soon-to-be-released stories already.

So, these are some of the options for what to work on after my current projects are done, which shouldn’t take too much longer.  If any of my readers have thoughts or preferences about what sounds like a good story for me to write next from among these descriptions, I would be honestly delighted to get your input.  I don’t absolutely guarantee that I’ll go along with your requests, but there can be no doubt whatsoever that you will influence me.  Surely all authors want to write stories that people will enjoy reading, and to which people will look forward!

In the meantime, I hope you all continue to do your best to stay safe and healthy and, especially, as happy as you’re able to be.

TTFN

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This is the original drawing of the Dark Fairy


*I’m using “guys” here in a gender-nonspecific way for convenience.  The lead characters include a female vampire (Morgan, my favorite character that I’ve written so far) and a male demi-vampire (the title character).

**They find the term “ghost” offensive and would prefer that people not use it.

***Mark Red was also so conceived, originally.

And there is nothing left remarkable beneath the blogging moon

Good morning and hello*!  It’s Thursday, June 17, 2021, and it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.

Not much new is happening.  I’m steadily editing In the Shade, being quite assertive about cutting down words, including trimming back something of my tendency to be digressive with characters’ thoughts.  I don’t necessarily think that such digressions are bad.  People do tend to be pretty tangential, with one idea randomly triggering another, often only superficially related, thought.  However, I think that in times of stress and danger such meanderings may be more curtailed than usual, and since much of what happens to the protagonist of this story is stressful, I’m trying to keep him from thinking too many random thoughts.

They’re realistic in their way, but I don’t want them to distract from what’s happening and slow the story down.  After all, it’s a supernatural horror story.  I like having people in such stories behave as much as possible like people in real life would, since the whole idea is that these are ordinary people in what seems to be the ordinary world, to whom unexpected and inexplicable things happen.  But I don’t want the story to be dull.  That would be a shame in something that’s supposed to be at least a little bit scary.

As for other matters, well, I still haven’t gotten myself moving on Iterations of Zero.  I keep thinking that I should make it just a stream-of-consciousness blog, a sort of online free association but with no Freud sitting behind my sofa.  But it’s been difficult to commit to a time and situation in which to do it.  Weirdly enough, my schedule is remarkably full, what with writing every morning before work, then practicing guitar a little bit, doing this blog on Thursdays, and during the day, of course, managing the logistics of the office**.  There is a fair amount of down time during my workdays, but it’s haphazard, and it would be difficult to carve out a long enough period to make any kind of cohesive posts, even if I were to commit to two or so short ones during the week.  I think doing it might be good for me, but I have a hard time doing things that meet that description.  I’m not my biggest fan***.

I’ve been trying, as I constantly do, to find lifestyle modifications that improve my chronic pain and make my mental health better (and my physical health as well, since that is likely to help my pain in more than one sense), but it’s a difficult problem, and progress is slow and erratic, with regression happening nearly as often as improvement.  Earlier this week I experienced an episode (not for the first time) of inexplicably abrupt and severe worsening of my baseline mood, so strong that I felt it should be blatantly visible to everyone around me, perhaps as a dark gray cloud of acidic fog seeping from my body and poisoning the air.  Apparently, that wasn’t the case****.  But internally, it felt perilously close to one of the horrifying scenes from the M. Night Shyamalan movie, The Happening, and I had to do something quietly desperate to mortify the terribly strong urge I felt to do something much more extreme.

No one noticed.  I guess I’m better at hiding things than I might have thought; it becomes so habitual that even when you’d prefer not to hide, you can’t help it. And all the while, the band you were in continues to play different tunes, apparently not even noticing that you’re no longer there.

Sorry.  It’s a bad time of year for me, I’m afraid, what with Father’s Day coming, followed nine days later by what would have been my thirtieth wedding anniversary.  I don’t like to complain, since it’s rarely useful and usually is just annoying to everyone else, but if I can’t do it here on my not-for-profit blog, where can I do it?  I probably shouldn’t do it at all.

Still, I’ve got my latest story and the story collection to finish, and all that whatnot.  It would be nice to find some answers, or at least partial answers, or something that might help me, but I’m not optimistic.  I hope you’re all feeling much better than I am.  It’s not a high bar, but see if you can keep raising it for yourselves.  Why not?  You all might as well be as happy and as healthy as you’re able to be; that would certainly please me.

TTFN

Moon 2


*See what I did there?  I switched up the order of my usual salutation.

**On weekends, which are only one day long at least half the time, I can barely find the desire even to leave my bed, and there’s not much reason to do so.  I don’t see myself writing blog posts on the weekend.

***As a person, that is.  As far as my writing goes (and my music, as well), I’m almost certainly my own biggest fan.  I’m not sure how many other people even read my books and stories.  I have recently had the pleasure of having a coworker read both Son of Man and The Vagabond, both of which I gave her as gifts (I give out copies of all my books to my coworkers when they are published, both to spread the stories and to encourage people to read).  She seemed to enjoy them, particularly Son of Man, and she asked me the famous, eternal question about The Vagabond, which was, “Where did you get the idea for that story?”

****These types of situations often remind me of the lines from the Pink Floyd song, Brain Damage: “And if the cloudbursts thunder in your ear / you shout and no one seems to hear”.  That last line is what captures things.  When things are truly bad, it feels like you’re screaming like a banshee, and that surely anyone and everyone can tell that something is wrong.  Yet, weirdly, no one seems to notice or say anything at all.  I’m pretty sure I have only myself to blame.

But modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise, the tent that searches to th’ bottom of the blog.

Okay, well, hello and good morning as always.  It’s Thursday, June 10, 2021, and it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.  I’m a bit under the weather—some low-level gastrointestinal bug has troubled me for the last three days—so I intend to keep this comparatively short.  However, I have long experience of such intentions going astray, like so many of the best laid plans of mice and men.

It feels, at first thought, that the plans of mice ought to go astray more often than those of men, but perhaps the plans of mice, if there can honestly be said to be such things*, are more constrained and simpler than those of “men” and so may have fewer contingent and unpredictable aspects.

Who knows?

It’s been a reasonably productive week.  I’ve finished In the Shade, as I think I might have mentioned last week, and I’ve been working on the initial editing run-through, which is now all but done.  This is only the first edit, of course; there will be many passes to follow before I consider the story fit enough to publish.  I’m being particularly assertive about reducing the story’s word count.  I obviously don’t want to take out anything that I think adds to the tale, and certainly nothing essential.  Nevertheless, I do tend to run off at the keyboard, so it’s useful to be hard on myself.  I enjoy writing words and conveying thoughts in written form, so I sometimes do too much.

This might come across as egotistical, as a sense of loving to “hear myself talk” so to speak, but I think that would be a mischaracterization.  My writing certainly doesn’t make me feel proud of myself, or that I’m particularly special, nor does it produce or reflect some narcissistic self-love.  Self-love is not one of my noteworthy attributes.

Indeed, I’ve often thought of depression (and dysthymia) as a sort of deficiency in the ability to delude oneself (positively) about one’s nature and abilities.  According to at least some studies of which I’ve heard, people with a tendency toward depression rate themselves more realistically on self-assessment tests of certain kinds, as opposed to their peers, who tend to overrate their own relative abilities.  This can be comically stated as a situation in which most people tend to rate themselves as above average, which is often declared to be mathematically impossible.  However, if by “average” most people refer to the arithmetic mean, it is possible for most people to be above average, if those people are only modestly above average and the others are well below it.  Such a circumstance is pretty unlikely, but it’s not a mathematical impossibility.  However, if one is referring to the median as the “average” then, by definition, it is impossible for most people to be above average.

I’ve recently read a book called On Being Certain, by Robert A. Burton, M.D., and he makes some interesting points about how the nature of being certain is related mainly to a feeling of being right, an emotion, produced in the limbic system, not actually to a process of thought or the conclusion of a logical train of argument.  That feeling—that sense of knowing, of revelation, of being convinced of something—can even happen spontaneously in certain kinds of seizures, and in certain psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.  As a feeling, it can’t readily be overcome in the same way that a logical conclusion can be abandoned if the flaws in the logic are demonstrated.  But only such emotions, not mere logical conclusions, prod us to action.  In reading the book, I realized that another possible aspect of the disease states of depression/dysthymia involve, at least in my case, a deficiency of this feeling**.

There are very few things I feel certain enough of not to allow myself to entertain significant doubt.  There have been times when I’ve even doubted the conclusion of the cogito ergo sum—though you would think that, by doubting it, I’m demonstrating its truth.  But part of me thinks that if there’s a supernatural being (or a civilization of machines, a la The Matrix) that can simulate all the external facts of reality, then why could they not be “simulating” my very experience of thought?  As an author, I’ve created many characters who, within their stories, would certainly think that they are thinking; my readers can read those thoughts from the characters’ points of view.  Yet, those thoughts are artificial, in the strict sense of being brought about by external artifice—in this case, mine.

So, this combination of deficiency at positive self-delusion, coupled with a sincere doubt about one’s ability to be certain of nearly anything can engender an exhausting enervation, the deterioration of motivation, and a broad sense of pointlessness.  At least it leads to the avoidance of dogma, and I think that’s a good thing.  I think the world as a whole would have far fewer large-scale problems if more people could feel less certainty and more doubt.

But it would be nice to be able just to feel good about myself and my right to exist, however unjustified such a feeling might be.  It might be nice to feel that I—or anyone—deserves to be happy, even though that’s an incoherent notion.  Unfortunately, on those rare occasions in which I’ve felt a strong degree of certainty about myself or my conclusions, or about my value or values, it’s frequently been disastrous.  So also for humanity at large, I think.

And here I’ve gone and not written a short post, as should come as no surprise to anyone.  I really do need to try to get some of these thoughts out in Iterations of Zero on a regular basis, so I can spare hapless readers of this blog from the ordeal of such topics.  I haven’t given up on that notion, at least, which is rare enough for me.

TTFN

doubt


*And why not?  Mice surely have at least some rudimentary conceptions of courses of action to take and expectations of likely outcomes of those courses of action.  They are certainly not simple automata.

**He points out how this deficiency is prevalent or evident in OCD, for instance, as in cases where a person simply cannot feel convinced that they really did lock the door or turn the oven off, say, and so can become paralyzed by unreasonable doubts.  I don’t have OCD, but I certainly have some of those attributes.  As I leave the house in the morning, I check my pockets multiple times to be sure that, yes, I really do have my keys, and my phone, and my wallet, all of which I have already checked, and which I always bring with me.  I simply don’t trust my memory, nor my habits—I’m too well aware of how malleable memory is, and how fragile habits can be.  This does mean that I almost never forget to bring any of these items, but I also never can seem to embrace the conclusion that I should be able to trust myself not to forget them—and so every day involves that feeling of not being certain at all.

Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes write blogs on the bosom of the earth

Good morning.  It’s the first Thursday in June of 2021, and since it is a Thursday, it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.

I finished the first draft of In the Shade last Friday, as predicted, and have since embarked on the first editing round.  I’m already nearly halfway through it, so hopefully it won’t be very long before the story is ready, and thus I will be poised to compile my upcoming collection.  I haven’t decided on the order of the stories, except to say that I’m going to put House Guest first and In the Shade last.  I’m also going to put Solitaire roughly in the middle, and as I think I’ve said before, I’m going to surround it with comparatively light fare, since it’s probably my darkest story ever.  “Comparatively” is, of course, an important qualifier.  Most or all of my stories tend to be rather dark, at least in parts.

It will be interesting, if anyone out there reads the story carefully enough, to learn if there is any qualitative difference between the parts of In the Shade that were originally handwritten and those that were composed directly on the computer.  For anyone interested in investigating, the first portion of the story—right up to when the boy, Kyle, predicts that the deputies investigating the strange house where his friend was injured will not come back—was originally handwritten.  What follows was composed on the computer, until the very last section, in which we change our point of view to that of the owner of the house (you’ll understand these references when you read the story).  That final section was also handwritten, constituting just shy of the last 6000 words of the story.  It’s difficult for me to judge any possible difference objectively, so I’d be grateful for any feedback; I don’t have any actual friends who might read it and let me know ahead of time*.

I don’t know what else I should write about today.  Ideas and thoughts and reflections on many subjects frequently pop into my head, often during my commute or while reading some science-related book or upon encountering some absurd event in the news.  These are sometimes stored as my proposed posts for Iterations of Zero, but I haven’t yet worked out how and when to produce them consistently.  The video idea was simply not worth the effort; I’m not photogenic enough (to me, at least) to justify viewing or sharing my image.  I’m not sure exactly what possessed me to try it in the first place.  Whatever it was, that urge seems to have disappeared.  I considered trying to write the posts by hand and retyping them, but that’s more onerous than I have the will to carry out, and I’ve noted often that I don’t want to take time away from my fiction writing more than the one day a week I give to this blog.

I keep toying with the notion of just doing voice recordings when the mood strikes me, sparing myself much of the burdensome editing by simply committing to noise reduction and level adjustment, then putting them up as is—pauses, breaths, coughs, “umm”s and all.  So far, unfortunately, though I frequently feel the urge to talk about ideas, it tends to happen when I’m not readily able to record my thoughts.  It happens a lot during my commute.  So, what I end up doing quite often is just talking to myself, partly in my head, and partly out loud.

Ah, well, it’s not really that important.  Probably such thoughts are of little value to anyone but me, if even that.  I had a brief burst of Twitter enthusiasm, but it’s too short form a medium, and anyway, I can’t seem to find any energy for social media, or for any other kind of socialization.  I find interacting with other people, including on Facebook and Twitter, increasingly stressful, though I’m not sure quite why.  Seeing a notice at the top of the Facebook screen indicating that someone has sent me a message is enough to make me avoid the site for a very long time, though I continue to share things like videos and articles and so on through Facebook and Twitter.  I apologize to anyone who considers this rude.  I can honestly say, “It’s not you; it’s me.”

Part of the problem—though not all of it—is that when I’ve posted on Facebook at times when I’m particularly depressed and having an especially strong case of my frequent “promortalist” urges**, and am honestly hoping that someone out there might have something helpful to say or to think or to suggest or to do, I get at best some discussion of the sorts of points that I’ve already encountered years and sometimes decades ago and found wanting***.  Others offer supportive words and thoughts which, while definitely appreciated and valued, don’t seem to have the power to change anything.  And then, of course, occasionally I’ve received statements of actual offense from some people who I would have thought knew better or were better—as if the fact that I have “issues” with which I struggle were an insult or slight upon them.

Well, that’s the last thing I need.  And, of course, the never negligible baseline level of human stupidity (my own far from the least) is positively enhanced by social media, ironically—though I feared from the outset that the internet and its byproducts would produce at least as much harm as good—and so the whole thing becomes a painful experience, and I’m not masochistic enough to keep laying my hand on a stovetop when I can’t tell if it’s hot or not****.

So, social media isn’t very beneficial to me in general, and I’m not good at pure personal socialization of any kind.  It’s never been my greatest strength, and it seems to have weakened over the years.  I often become confused, stressed, and even angry even at seemingly inevitable, ubiquitous, pointless inquiries like, “How are you doing?”  I honestly don’t know how to reply without lying.  The only person with whom I socialize at all, in any purely social sense, is my sister, and it’s hard for me not to feel that she’s never committed any sin or crime grievous enough to merit that burden.

I honestly would love to be rescued somehow from this mental state or tendency.  I would also love to see world peace.  But I fear that the only reliable ways to achieve either goal are probably similar in character and similarly irreversible.

Anyway, sorry about all that.  I’m venting, I guess.  I’ll try not to indulge in this so much in the future, and will strive to stick to my brief, or whatever the phrase is.  I do honestly, fervently, and sincerely hope that you’re all as well as you can be, and that you can keep your own spirits up, despite reading my gloomy grumbling.

TTFN

Lost in maze


*This is entirely my own fault.

**I’m euphemizing to avoid triggering any automatic responses either by computers or by people.  These aforementioned euphemized urges of mine happen, to a very good approximation, every day, and they have done so for a long, long time.  A day without them would be so rare as to merit something like the Dickensian description of the Cratchett family’s Christmas goose as “a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course.”

***I am, after all, a medical doctor who has had dysthymia occasionally veering into full depression pretty much my entire adult life, and thus have taken a particular interest in them.  I understand the pathophysiology of the disorders, to the degree that they are understood at all, and the means, nature, and reliability of treatments at a level slightly better than most general practitioners, though perhaps not at the level of specialists.  I’ve partaken of numerous medical and psychological/therapeutic interventions, and I continue to use that which has historically been my most effective treatment.  That’s right:  all this is me while using the best treatment I’ve found.

****In a similar vein, the one time I called the “crisis hotline”, I found myself handcuffed by PBSO deputies (causing nerve damage that lasted almost a year to my left hand), and was brought to a shit-hole of a facility where I was assigned to sleep on a battered sofa, then discharged about thirty-six hours later, with a follow-up appointment in one month, which provided nothing I hadn’t already been doing.

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, so do our minutes hasten to their blog

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday—the last Thursday of May in 2021—and so, to the possible consternation of many, it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.

It’s been a reasonably uneventful week, though at a personal level, it feels like it’s been full of drama.  I did not feel well at all over the course of the weekend, for various reasons, and that rolled over into the beginning of the week.  Because of this, work on the (handwritten) final portion of In the Shade didn’t proceed at quite the hoped-for pace.  Nevertheless, I am within spitting distance of its end.  I should be finished with the first draft by perhaps midway through my usual writing time tomorrow, and I can then begin typing it into the computer and then moving on to rewriting/editing.

My overall mood tends to be slightly buoyed when I’m writing new things, so I get nervous when I enter a period solely of rewriting and editing.  The psychology of this feels rather transparent, to me at least—writing new things, especially new stories, is basically all that gives me any reason to be alive, so the writing of first drafts supports me a bit against my tendency toward nihilism and pan-antipathy.  Editing, while absolutely essential—and a legitimately creative process—is somehow unable to provide the sense of worth and value to life.  This was why, during the course of the very long editing and rewriting of Unanimity, I had to take a few breaks to write short stories.

Thankfully, In the Shade, though long a for a short story, as mine so often are, is still not going to take too much time to edit and rewrite.  Then putting together Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities shouldn’t take much longer and may take less time.  After all, it’s a collection of things that have already gone though all their edits and are just going to be merged and ordered and laid out together.

From there, I’ll go on to finish Outlaw’s Mind, which will be another interval of new writing, followed by another interval of editing, and thence to publication.  After that, I’m not sure what I’m going to write next.  I had considered doing my silly little fable-type story, Neko/Neneko, but that was largely because I had an artistic coworker who hoped to draw the cover for it, and I thought that would be great.  But that person is no longer my coworker, and I haven’t seen or heard from her in quite some time, so there’s not as much impetus.  And without that impetus, I don’t feel particularly strongly about the story.

Other things that tease at my possibilities include the potentially quite large story Changeling in a Shadow World, or a very old book idea of mine called Destiny (originally The Maker of Destiny, but that seems too clunky), or another horror story whose title oscillates in my mind between The Created and Entropy.  And there are at least two more books in the “saga” of Mark Red in my head, but I’m not sure that anyone’s interested in reading more about him, and if no one is, it’s hard to revisit prior characters when I could make new things.  Also, of course, I could someday try to recreate Ends of the Maelstrom, my long-lost handwritten book from high school.  And I have a significant list of jotted down short story ideas as well, some of which—knowing me—could easily metamorphose into novellas or novels.

This is all assuming, of course, that I live long enough to do any of it, which I often don’t think is the best of the available options.

In the meantime, I’ve pretty much given up on doing more video entries for Iterations of Zero, at least on anything like a regular basis.  The process is just too lengthy and data-storage intensive, and I don’t like looking at myself any more than absolutely necessary.  I’ve written a short post on the subject that I mean to put up on IoZ soon, and I have a final, whimsical and silly video that I’ll post as well, but I think I’ll hold off on doing more of them.  Videos, I mean.  I may try to work back toward doing some of what I call “audio blogs” (the term “podcast” seems far too grandiose, though that’s how some of them show up in Google searches, to my surprise).  IoZ still struggles to find its way, so to speak.  Sometimes I consider just nixing it and posting the occasional material that I would have put there on this blog.  I’d wanted to keep this venue dedicated to my fiction writing and related topics, but maybe that’s a silly idea.

Well, it’s not as though any of this is of any consequence whatsoever.  Talk about iterations of zero—I think all that I’ve written, here and elsewhere, and the songs I’ve sung and played and recorded (and some of which I’ve written), and pictures I’ve drawn, and all the rest, are just a very small pebble-splash with evanescent ripples in the middle of an ocean far vaster than the Pacific.  In a certain sense, that’s undeniably true—for me, and for anyone and everyone and everything else—given the size, scale, age, and future of the universe.  But it’s possible not to find that fact disheartening, and even to find it uplifting, if one just has a personal meaning and reason and justification and purpose.  Alas, all my versions of such things have long since fled.  I can’t be arsed to find or invent any new ones, even if I knew how, and I have no hunger for delusional or illusory comforts.

But writing stories is its own justification, even if no one ever reads them.  It’s pretty much what I’ve got, anymore.  And, on that pleasant note, I think I’ll call it enough for this week.  I truly hope you’re all as well as you can possibly be, and that you remain well…and even improve over time.

TTFN

“What do you blog, my lord?” “Words, words, words.”

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so, if you’re so interested, it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.

I’m nearly done, now, with my “short story” In the Shade.  I use scare quotes there because, as is usually the case with me, the story has grown larger than I expected.  I won’t say how large except to admit that it’s well over thrice what it was when I picked it back up.  That doesn’t mean it’s bad—though I guess it may be—but it does mean it’s not very short.  As I think I’ve mentioned before, I mean to try to be even more draconian than usual about word count reduction in the editing process, to see if I can streamline it at least a bit without removing any of what I consider the important substance of the story.

I sometimes fear that I let my characters get too introspective.  There is, apparently, a modern common recommendation that as an author one should “show, not tell” what is happening to one’s characters and even what they are thinking.  But if a character is experiencing something alone—as we all, ultimately, experience life alone—then one must get inside that character’s head if one is to give the reader any sense of what the character is experiencing.

I think the “show don’t tell” edict is misguided, anyway.  A written story can only tell.  All it can “show” is a set of squiggles on a page.  Perhaps modern writers have been influenced by the prevalence first of movies, then television, and now all the various other forms of visual media.  And yet, ultimately, nearly all stories must be told largely in words.  Even silent movies contained intermittent panels of written explication.  And video is simply a different kind of medium than the written word.  In my opinion, though its impact may be more immediate, it tends not to be as deep or involved.

For instance, the movie versions of The Lord of the Rings were wonderful, and I loved them all, but they are not close to being as great as the original book(s).  They are also, ironically, much more data intensive, even though they had to leave out so many things from the books to fit the action into three long movies.  Books call upon the readers to provide their own special effects, but if a reader has a decent imagination, then the special effects budget is unlimited.  And the experience of the books is much more personal.  It is unique to every individual reader and every new reading.

I am biased, of course.  I cannot be otherwise.  But I think words are the most important part of any story, even movies and TV shows and the like.  Tales are told largely through the words shared between characters, from the plays of Shakespeare to a modern sit-com.  I’m sure that movies or videos exist in which there are no words at all, with stories told purely by action and motion.  If done well, they could be quite interesting*.  But such tales will tend to be outliers and curiosities.  Language—especially written language—is the lifeblood of civilization.

We know some of what Plato and Aristotle and Archimedes thought because they wrote it down.  If, on some distant future day, all computers and other video players were lost, or some catastrophe made their function impossible, we would not see any movies.  But as long as a written language is not dead, a book can play itself for any reader, and can be recorded on paper, in computer files, carved in stone (if one is so inclined), and can even be read aloud onto some recording media.

I’ve gone on a bit of a tangent, and maybe I’ve gone farther than is really warranted.  But I am a lover of the written word and consider writing the purest form of storytelling.  That being said, I do still recognize my tendency to run off at the word processor, and sometimes to say more than is necessary to get my point across**.  So, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m writing the final part of In the Shade with pen on paper, to slow myself down a bit and—just maybe—to make myself more concise.  It’s not much of a handicap.  Yesterday was my first pen and paper day, and I wrote a little over three pages in my morning session, which is probably on the order of over 1200 words.

I fear I may be incorrigible in this wordy tendency; neither Mark Red, nor The Chasm and the Collision, nor Paradox City could be called particularly short works, and they were initially written on notebook paper resting on the cover of a cheap photo album in FSP West.  But I’ll try not to get too carried away if I can help it.  Who knows, maybe some readers enjoy that tendency in my stories?  But it can’t hurt to cut out the truly unnecessary and the distracting.

With that thought, I’ll call this blog post to an appropriate end.  I wish you all the best, and I hope you stay safe and healthy, and try to be happy when you can.

TTFN

words


*The horror movie A Quiet Place does this to some extent, and is quite powerful, but even it must lapse into words for explanation, including sign language.  Nevertheless, kudos to the makers of that film!

**I know, you’d never realize that by reading this blog, right?

I will blog them all, even to roaring.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, and time for my weekly blog post.  It’s the second Thursday of the month, and in that brief golden age of the past, this post would have been an entry into “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains”.  But that age came to an end long ago.  I’m obviously not completely over it, but I think everyone else is…if anyone else was ever “under it”.

I’ve been working at a halfway decent pace on my writing this week*, though for a few days late last week and so far in this one it has been hard going—not because of the writing, but because my back (and in radiating fashion, my legs, sides, and *ahem* groin, mainly on the right) has been acting up severely.  This has interfered with my sleep and my energy and has worn away at my never-too-impressive will to live.  It’s very annoying, and I’m continually trying to take steps to mitigate and improve it.  My aforementioned will to live may not terribly strong, but I dislike pain as much as most people do.  That’s the nature of pain.  That’s what it does.  It’s arranged so as not to be easily ignored, since it nominally exists to warn a person (or any other animal) to avoid or correct danger and/or damage.

Alas, there is damage that we are not capable of avoiding or correcting (yet), and since we live longer now than we ever have in the past, and we engage in pursuits our ancestors were never built to manage, we accumulate and survive damage that can persist for decades, with pain that does likewise.  That which does not kill you does not always make you stronger, and some things just kill you very slowly.  I talked a little bit about this in an impromptu, poor-sound-quality video that I shared on YouTube and through Iterations of Zero, but obviously it’s a subject that still weighs on my mind.  No surprises there.

I encountered a very nice quote recently—in a Doctor Who episode, actually (though I heard/saw it on one of those YouTube compilation videos)—and it struck a chord in me that relates to why I wrote my late, lamented run of “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains”.  In the scene, The Doctor is in a stand-off with a group of enemies, and one antagonist says to him that the anger of a good man is not a problem, because good men have so many rules.  The Doctor slowly turns and walks up to her, quietly saying, “Good men don’t need rules.  Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.”

This really moved me—it moved the antagonist of the piece as well, who quickly stood down—because I have never been a good person by nature or inclination, but I have always tried to do and be good things, so I’ve created many, many rules for myself**.  I don’t think I’m rare, let alone unique, in this.  I have very dark thoughts and ideas, which I put to good use in stories, but they make me dislike myself quite a bit a lot of the time.  And, interestingly, because I curtail my own evil impulses, and have done so all my life, I get particularly angry at people who do thoughtlessly negative, petty, harmful, selfish things.  If I can’t do it, I’ll be damned if I’m going to be okay with other people doing it!

Again, I don’t think this is at all unusual, though I may tend to think and imagine more extreme things than many or most people.  But Steven Moffat, the writer of that Doctor Who episode seemed to understand.  And, based on other things he’s written, I think he understands it rather deeply.  Maybe everyone does, at some level.  After all, not many of the stories we love are peaceful and positive and beautiful throughout.  In the real world and in fiction, only a minority of our heroes are not violent at any level.  It is an often dark, often dangerous world out there—everywhere—and true pacifists tend to be little more than excellent sources of protein.  It’s not fair, of course, but fairness is a human conceit, or an aspiration, if you prefer.  Fairness—in the human sense—is not found in the laws of physics, except to the extent that everything is.

On to other matters.  I’m going to be posting one more video for Iterations of Zero, I think, and then I’m probably not going to be making many, or any, more.  I don’t get very many “likes” from them, and I prefer writing for many reasons.  Also, I just can’t really enjoy the process of editing videos, because I really don’t like looking at my face.  It’s cruel to force me to do it, and I can only allow myself to be cruel up to a point, even to myself.

But, anyway, In the Shade is coming along nicely.  I’m thinking of writing the first draft of its final section longhand, just to see if it affects my speed of writing and my tendency to wordiness, as well as the quality.  I’m not certain of that decision yet.  I’ll let you know.  In whatever format, the story’s first draft ought to be done soon—by the end of the month I should think—and then I will set to rewriting/editing it and then putting together Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  That should be out this summer sometime, I would guess…something to chill your blood during the dog days.

TTFN

3700361-440565 doc

“Doc” is what everyone at work calls me.


*Yesterday was my best day this week, at just over 2000 words.  Last Friday I didn’t even break a thousand.

**These are implicit rules, not literally codified even in my head, but I know them when I come up against situations in which they are applicable.

The canker blogs have full as deep a dye as the perfumed tincture of the roses

Hello and good morning.  It’s the first Thursday of May in 2021, and so, of course, it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  I don’t have any particular topic to write about today, so I’ll just start with some comments about how work has been going on my latest story.

It’s going well.

I won’t leave it just at that, though you might prefer it.  I’ve been writing at a decent clip, but not quite approaching my peak levels from recent weeks, because I had a flat tire, and earlier this week I had to get the repaired tire replaced, and I had to take the train to and from work while that was happening.

I’ve still been writing over a thousand new words—so to speak—a day, even on my worst day of the week, and on Monday I hit two thousand.  Given that I do my writing in the space of roughly an hour in the morning, that’s pretty good.  I’m enjoying being able to write new things instead of simply having to rewrite and edit works that have already been written.  I feel a bit like a kid how is finally able to go outside and play after a long rainy spell; it just feels good to move, or to write as the case may be.  I also tend to get caught up in writing new things more readily than in most other pursuits.  Though it’s often a minor push to get going in the morning, by the time I need to stop, I often don’t really want to do so.

The new story I’m working on, In the Shade, is a horror story, and is rapidly turning towards the Lovecrafty side of things, which was my intent and expectation when I originally started writing it.  Invoking Howard Phillips always seems to energize me.  The story is getting a bit longish, but that is at least tolerable in a Lovecraft-style tale, since his stories were often pretty long.  Still, I think I’m going to set my self a more draconian goal than usual in reducing the word count during the editing process.  Then, of course, I must put together my collection.

In addition to writing (and working at my day job, of course), I’ve been doing some more videos.  For two weeks in a row now I’ve released some as part of my Iterations of Zero blog; they appear on YouTube and in the blog proper.  I also did a few little silly videos, mainly in order to play with video editing programs, to see what they can do and what I can do with them, in a half-hearted kind of way.  I also did a video of a cover of the Beatles song, Blackbird.  I’d posted on YouTube a video among others I’d made of me just practicing the song, but my singing wasn’t great, and the sound quality was also far from ideal.  So, I did a more formal recording/mix of the song—in one morning, after writing, originally, but then I redid the vocals after that.  The whole song is just one guitar and a singer (double-tracked in the middle), so the vocals are very much in your face.  I was reasonably happy with the outcome, and I did a video proper—so to speak, again—with pictures of various blackbirds, with effects pasted onto them using a very basic video editor, in a rather silly fashion.  I’ll embed the video here, just in case you want to watch/listen.

I feel foolishly proud of my guitar playing there, because it’s a rather complicated finger-picking song, and I’m really playing it, and at full speed.  I remember reading about how, when the Beatles were hanging out with the maharishi, Donovan showed Paul and John that finger-picking style, and they each excitedly went on to write and record a finger-picked song for “The White Album”.  Paul did Blackbird, and John did Julia.  I’m also practicing the latter, but it has some additional challenges—the use of a capo, for instance, and more complex chord fingering—that mean it’s going to take a bit longer to get to where I want it to be.  I did do a video of me playing it, on that same morning, and it’s on Iterations of Zero, here, with other videos, but I haven’t put it on YouTube.  Eventually I’ll get it in shape and do a full recording, maybe with a real video of me (you are hereby warned).  This song definitely has at least double-tracked vocals, because John overlaps himself singing it.

Anyway, that’s all really a side thing, though it’s enjoyable working on a new skill.  As mentioned last week, I’m unnoticeably far into the beginning of the ten-thousand hours needed to master playing, but it’s fun.  I have advantages in that I’ve played piano and especially cello since I was quite young and played in orchestras regularly right up until the end of medical school.  I’ve never been a great cellist—my practicing habits were abysmal—but I always enjoyed it, and it definitely provides a leg up for playing the guitar.

That’s about all I have to write about today; it’s probably more than I actually have to write about, or at least more than is worth writing about.  I hope you all have a lovely, lusty month of May, but that you stay safe and healthy in the process.

TTFN

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This is a picture I drew a long time ago. It has nothing much to do with this post, but captures my love for the monstrous “hiding” amidst beauty.