Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate, that Time will come and take my blog away.

Okay, well, hello and good morning.  It’s the second Thursday in October, and it’s time once again for my weekly blog post.  Congratulations.

As you all know by now, Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities is available in hardcover as well as in paperback and e-book format.  I hope those of you who enjoy short* horror/sci-fi/dark fantasy stories will take a look and consider buying it, and if you enjoy it, please let me know, either here, or in the reviews at Amazon, or whatever.  Actually, even if you don’t enjoy it, your feedback is welcome, as long as it’s reasonably polite.  That goes for all my other books, as well.

Some websites and YouTube channels and blogs and whatnot ask you to support them on Patreon or through sponsorship links or similar.  I’d just like you to buy and read my books.  You can listen to my songs, too, if you like—they’re on Spotify and Pandora and YouTube Music and iTunes and Amazon and apparently oodles of other platforms, and I make a teeny, little bit of money whenever someone plays them.  They’re shorter than my stories, at least!  Is that a good thing?

I’ve almost, but not quite, finished reading through what’s already written of Outlaw’s Mind, editing a bit as I go.  It’s funny that I’d originally thought that it would be a short story, since it’s already over 80,000 words long, and nowhere near even the original expected ending.  I guess there was just more to the idea than I’d thought.  However, going through it is taking longer than it should, because it’s a very emotionally draining story for me.  One scene that I wrote in it was somewhat loosely adapted from an interaction—more than one, really—that I’ve had in my own life, albeit under different specific circumstances and with different participants (of course).  It was a confrontation of sorts between the title character and his mother, who had just learned about something he was considering, and she flipped out, in a constrained but terrifying way.  I had to get up from the computer and walk away for a bit when rereading it.  I fear I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this.

Also, as I had originally envisioned what I expected to be a short story, the ending was going to be rather sad, though it would be a victory of sorts by the main character.  As I’ve discussed before on more than one occasion, an interesting thing about short stories is that they don’t need to have happy endings.  But the ending I had planned, if that’s the right word, would be a bit too dark, or at least too discouraging, for what is going to be a short to medium sized novel.  So, I need to rethink it.

In addition, if it’s going to be a novel anyway, I can give a few more revelations and explorations of some of the strange happenings than might have been doable in a short story, or even a novella.  Some of these ideas tie in with a longer story, a darkish fantasy adventure I plan to call Changeling in a Shadow World**, and it might be nice to nod toward it.  But, of course, I haven’t even begun to write that novel, and I’m not sure it’s what I want to write next.  I’d considered starting work on the first portion of Dark Fairy and the Desperado, which is another kind of fantasy adventure entirely, originally a manga idea I had.  It has some similarity and could even cross over with Changeling in a Shadow World.  But then, I also thought about writing something else entirely.  There are two more potential parts for Mark Red, and there’s the possibility of trying to recreate the first full-length novel I ever wrote, Ends of the Maelstrom, lost now, alas, with all my former belongings from prior to 2013.  And, of course, there was Neko/Neneko, a fable of sorts, though set in the modern world, which also originated as an idea for a manga.  And while I was out walking*** the other day, I thought it might be nice finally to write the novel based on my oooooooooooold story idea Helios.  Really, I suppose it would be H.E.L.I.O.S., since it’s an acronym.  This was originally a superhero/comic book idea from way back when I was in…junior high school, maybe.  The idea has evolved quite a bit since then, and I think it could be a pretty fun fantasy/sci-fi adventure.  The title acronym now even represents some pretty high-level physics concepts, and that’s always pleasing.  At least, it is to me.

A few weeks ago (I think) I asked if any of my readers had any preferences, or thoughts, or other feedback about which of my story ideas they’d like me to write next, after Outlaw’s Mind****, but I haven’t received any comments here regarding it, unless there’s something I missed.  I suppose someone might have left something on Facebook, but as I’ve said numerous times, I don’t get on Facebook often enough for it to be a good way to reach me, and when I do get on it, I tend to skim and get away as quickly as I can.  It often really stresses me out because it brings out the worst in people.  Twitter does that, too, in places, or so I’m told, but I don’t know the people on Twitter, and I mostly follow authors, and science-related people, and horror fans and so on, so there’s really not much to get stressed about.

Anyway, if anyone out there actually reads books and has an interest in what book(s) I might write next, the place to give me feedback is here on this blog, in the comments.

Of course, all this assumes that I’m going to survive long enough to write any more of my ideas, let alone all of them.  That’s far from certain, and it’s frankly not the outcome I would prefer, most days.  I recognize this preference as at least partly the unreasonable product of my peculiar neuropsychology with its various innate imperfections and diagnosed and undiagnosed disorders, but knowing that doesn’t change how it affects me or how much I struggle with depression and despair.

It also doesn’t change the fact that I’m basically alone.  This blog is by far the most social thing I do.  I’m trying to get help, involving medication and (online) therapy, but all that has limitations, and it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve lost almost all the things and people that made me even want to get better and helped me feel at least a little less like a stranded alien***** on an absurd and incomprehensibly irrational world.  I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to be around me; I don’t even want to be around myself.  It’s a weird situation.  I could really use some help—I probably need help, in a highly non-trivial sense of the word “need”—but I don’t think I deserve it and I doubt that it’s worth the effort, for me or for anyone else.  Also, the world frankly doesn’t often seem worth staying in.

On that negative note, I’ll leave you all for the week.  In some sense, I’ll have lived a year between now and my next weekly blog post, which is a weird thought.  I hope you all have a good year in that time and try to treat each other well and cut each other as much slack as you can.  No one here made the world, or their circumstances, or themselves.  Understanding causation can be useful, and preventing harm is beneficial, but the notion of “blame” is something we all could probably do without.  Even us aliens.

TTFN

Picture1


*Sometimes not very short, but not novel length, anyway.

**As well as some more distant but specific ties to The Chasm and the Collision.

***Trying to be mildly healthy if I can, or at least slightly less fat and disgusting.

****Or even before, if that story is too overwhelming to finish.

*****Or a changeling, come to think of it.

Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, raze out the written troubles of the blog

Goodo and hell morning!  It’s Thursday, and so it’s time for the latest edition of my weekly blog post.  I haven’t posted any teasers this week because, as you’ll know if you follow my blog, Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities is now published, and is available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover formats.  That latter fact is rather exciting, in a silly sort of way, though I’ve yet to see a copy of the hardcover in person, so I’m not sure how good it will be.  If it’s comparable to the paperback, it will be quite nice.

I’ve considered doing some other teasers now and then—perhaps once a week—of portions of some of my other books, to try to stimulate interest in them.  Obviously, I couldn’t do all that much at once; I’m not sure that it would make sense, for instance, to post an entire chapter at a time from one of my novels, since the chapters are generally at least ten pages long, and often quite a bit longer.  Still, I’d love your feedback regarding whether you would be interested in such a thing, and if so, if you have any requests.  In other words, is there some book of mine that you think might be interesting, but you’re not sure, and so would welcome a taste of what the book might be like?

Of course, it’s like pulling teeth to get most anyone to read even a short story nowadays.  Perhaps it has ever been thus.  I may be biased by the influence of my immediate family, who were and are more avid readers than most, even accounting for the fact that when I was young cable TV hadn’t come out, let alone VCRs or DVDs, etc.  We had only black and white TVs until Cosmos arrived on public television, and I don’t remember feeling deprived.  There were always books around, plenty of them; they were prominent in the room I shared with my brother, and in my sister’s room, and in the living room.

I often lament (privately) the fact that a generation is growing up that will get almost all of its information from video of one kind or another.  But when I think about it, I guess reading has rarely been something most people spend much time doing, even in the days before television or movies but after the invention of movable type printing.  Newspapers, of course, were long the only sources of popular news, but I suspect only a minority of people seriously partook of them.  What’s more, I wouldn’t be surprised if, despite the ubiquity of video, the various online editions of newspapers and magazines now accumulate a far greater regular combined circulation and true readership now than they ever have before.

Unfortunately, many people seem not to have patience for reading anything that’s longer than 280 characters, and conversely—or obversely, or inversely, or perhaps just perversely—some “journalists” produce their news “reports” by sifting through the drek of such 280-character postings.  It’s a sad state of affairs, but maybe this is as high a level of information exchange as most of us have always reached most of the time—the level of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram—but no one had any way to hear about practically any of it, and much nonsense tended to be locally confined, and didn’t interact and reproduce with other nonsense.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t good things and quite intelligent things going on via the above-mentioned social media*; there certainly are, and YouTube has some truly excellent educational videos of various kinds.  But how I would love to imagine that, when most people are staring at their smartphones, they are avidly enjoying some e-book—fiction or otherwise, on whatever subject or in whatever genre they enjoy—or an intelligent blog or magazine article or written news from reputable sources.  If I thought that were the case, I think I might feel much less depressed than I generally do.  Maybe I wouldn’t.  After all, my depression is mainly endogenous, and it’s been very difficult to treat.  Maybe I’d hate the world and my life and myself even if I lived in some near-Utopia…though one could at least hope that such a world would have developed more effective** treatments than we currently have here.

Oh, well.  If wishes were horses, we’d all be shoulder deep in horseshit.

Back to writing:  now that The Cabinet*** is out, I’ve returned to Outlaw’s Mind, which I hadn’t realized had not been added to in about a year—not since September 10th of 2020, I think.  I’m still going through what I’d previously written, but I’ve almost reached the point where I’m going to add new material, unless something kills me first—which, to be honest, doesn’t seem like it would be such a bad thing.  I’m tired.  I’m so very tired.  The last time I can remember having a good night’s sleep and waking up feeling at all rested was back in the mid-nineties.  Literally.  I’m very tired, and I’m very much alone, but I guess this is just the general condition of life, or at least it is for people like me.  It’s October now—this being the first Thursday in October—and that’s a good month to be thinking about such things.

With that in mind, I’m sharing below a picture I’ve been working on, which is appropriate for the Halloween season.  I did the base drawing quite some time ago—a few years, I think.  I even posted it on Facebook**** at the time, if memory serves.  But I’ve decided to do a bit of playing around with smoothing the lines and coloring it in layers and so on, using the computer program GIMP, which is a wonderful freeware (if that’s still the term) program that does most of what Adobe Photoshop did and does but without requiring ridiculous monthly fees.  Look into it and give them a donation if you get a chance; it’s a great thing.  And please, let me know what you think of the current version of my drawing.  And of my books, if you get the chance.

Oh, and while you’re at it, please take good care of yourselves, your families, and your friends.  Readers and writers are the guardians of the lifeblood of all that’s good in human civilization.  You are necessary; you are essential.  And while you’re at that, do your best to take care of and/or at least be kind and polite to everyone else.  None of us created our own genes or environment, we’re all just muddling through as best we can.  And kindness, I’m led to understand, is just as contagious as cruelty, and is far more productive, and thus much stronger, in the long run.

TTFN

Welcome Home Medium in prog (2)


*And it goes without saying that WordPress is a haven for far higher-than-average quality information sharing.

**And affective treatments, ha-ha.

***I prefer to shorten it to The Cabinet rather than to use its initials, which would spell out DECoC.  I think you can see why.

****See, I even use it myself, though I haven’t gotten on it for more than two minutes at a time in ages; it stresses me out beyond endurance.

Bear with my weakness. My old blog is troubled.

Okay, well…hello and good morning and all that usual stuff.  It’s Thursday morning, the second day of September in 2021, and of course it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I don’t have much new to report, frankly.  I wrote an impromptu blog post on Iterations of Zero yesterday morning*, the title of which is a truncated version of the title of a Stephen King story that I thought was very moving.  Writing the post was pretty much a waste of time, which I guessed it would be as I wrote it.  I don’t know if anyone has read it; it certainly hasn’t received any “likes” as of the time of this writing, let alone responses in the comments or whatever.

I can’t blame people for that.  It’s quite a depressing blog post, though I’m reasonably proud of some of the writing in it, including my tongue-in-cheek statement, “There is true equity only in death.”  Of course, it’s not surprising—to me at least—that it’s a depressing blog post, since I was depressed when I wrote it, and my life has been dominated more and more by my already chronic depression in recent weeks to months.

Earlier this week, I did something I’ve often been known to do when particularly angry and depressed, which was to tear up and throw away a lot of drawings and the like, and other meaningful-turned-meaningless belongings at work in the office in the morning, while straightening out my area and generally getting rid of things that make it a personal space.  When I’m feeling very depressed and stressed, and angry both outwardly and inwardly, I have to harm myself in some figurative or literal way—often both—and so I did.

I’m honestly feeling very pointless and discouraged, which I guess would come across quite clearly to any imaginary person who reads my IoZ post, but apparently not to anyone in my “real” life, which I guess isn’t so surprising, if there even is such a person.  It’s not as though I have any non-imaginary friends or anything.

This is no one’s fault but mine.  I think you can all tell that I’m not a pleasant person to be around for any length of time; this has been a universal review/rating that I’ve received from all manner of people.  God knows that I don’t like to be around me**, so I can hardly blame anyone else.  Having a conversation with another person, other than about some specific and useful, work-oriented matter, feels to me like I’m committing a minor, or not-so-minor, crime.

I’ve been toying with the notion of just posting House Guest here on my blog, and then once it’s done posting In the Shade here as well, rather than going to all the trouble of making a collection of my stories and publishing it for no one to read.  I’d have to post In the Shade serially, I guess, since it’s too long a story to stand as one blog post, but I think House Guest could tolerate standing alone.  After that, I don’t know, maybe just take down the shingle and stop.  It’s hard even to contemplate finishing Outlaw’s Mind and publishing it, let alone going on to write anything else.

Speaking of which, I’m not sure what else to write here for this week’s blog post.  I wish I had something useful to say, but given the incredible degree of idiocy out there, I’m not sure that any useful message would be received, even if I could find something useful to write, which seems unlikely.  Were humans always this stupid, and the existence of the internet and the web and social media have merely let that come to light and flourish?  Or have those electronic entities, which should have allowed people overall to become smarter, instead caused stupidity to grow and spread like the most dreadful and malignant of tumors?  I feared it might be the case, right from the beginning.  Maybe I’m being unkind*** or biased, or am suffering from a delusional evaluation of human nature and society—to say nothing of the nature of the universe itself—that’s colored by my longstanding and worsening mood disorder?  How would I know?

Anyway, that’s about it for now.  If any of you have any suggestions or reactions regarding my potential change of plans for publishing my stories here on the blog, let me know.  It’s just a random thought in my head, like everything else.  I don’t know what I’ll do, or where.  I frankly don’t know how I’ll find the will to keep moving through today and on into tomorrow…except that not to do my usual stuff would raise more inconvenience than just to keep doing it, no matter how utterly without reward it feels.  It seems at least as hard to stop moving as to keep moving; there’s no course of action (or inaction) that promises anything other than continuing weariness.  Call me a nazgûl I guess.  But I’m a little less scary, maybe, and I don’t work for Sauron****.  And I don’t wear a ring.  Not anymore.

TTFN

Writer-at-work


*Instead of working on editing In the Shade, which is what I “should” have been doing.

**So many times, in literature, fiction, and religious speech, one hears of the sin or failing or danger of “self-love”.  That’s never made much visceral sense to me.  Do people really love themselves?  I mean, the way they might love their children, say—in an accepting and supportive, but disciplining way that wants what’s best for the person?  I grasp the drive to survive, annoying as it can be, and to reproduce, and to seek momentary pleasure and all that.  But I’m skeptical of the notion of self-love.  How could any human, knowing all the many flaws and faults of the species, and knowing himself or herself better than anyone else does and better than they know anyone else, ever really love herself or himself?  It’s so comical that it’s tragic.  Or perhaps it’s so tragic that it’s hilarious.

***Who, me?

****Or any other dark entity of any kind.  I have a job, so to speak, but that’s a mutual exchange to mutual benefit, not any kind of master/servant thing.

And ere a man hath power to say ‘Behold!’ the blogs of darkness do devour it up

Hello, good morning, yadda yadda yadda weekly blog post.

People apparently don’t like it much when I write speculative things about speculative science.  At least they didn’t like it last week.  Or, rather, they didn’t “like” it as much, or as often, however you want to put it.  Or, at least, I didn’t notice as many “likes”, though I suppose I could be mistaken; obviously I’m not interested enough to go and check at the bottom of the post and its predecessors to see if there is a difference.  Maybe it’s all in my head.  People seem not to mind much when I express the difficulties I have with things that are definitely in may head, which I would have thought would be more boring than speculations about science.

I often wonder what proportion of the people who “like” a given blog post actually read it.  I, of course, don’t write particularly short posts—they are almost never as short as I intend them to be—and so I guess it’s hard to hold it against people if they don’t quite make it to the end, or even past the initial paragraph, or past the initial sentence.  Or past the title.  I almost never get any feedback, so it’s quite difficult to tell if this whole thing isn’t an exercise in futility.

The nominal idea behind this blog was to promote my writing in general, but I’m not sure it’s done any good at that (or that anyone other than immediate family reads my books and stories).  This blog and its schedule have certainly led me to write a lot that I might not have written otherwise.  But there are things that I’ve written here, especially recently, that I probably should have just put up on Iterations of Zero.  Last week’s science stuff is a good example, but so are my mental health concerns.

But this blog is one I write every week, by personal schedule, by commitment, by whatever you want to call it, and I have yet to get myself into a good schedule for IoZ.  So sometimes I’ve just gone and written here some things that I would otherwise have relegated to my “secondary blog”.

Such subjects may drive away those who might be interested in reading about my writing and the writing process and so on, though I’m not sure such people exist.  Actually, I’m barely sure that there are any other people out there.  That’s not literally true, of course, I’m well aware that there are over seven billion people in the world.  I’m not a solipsist—by definition, there could never be more than one solipsist if that person were correct.  The notion of solipsism has been handily demolished by more interested minds than I.  I’m certainly convinced that I don’t have it in me to imagine the whole universe, even if it’s only limited to the things with which I’ve interacted personally.

Nevertheless, I do still feel almost completely, profoundly alone.  And though this is a terribly unpleasant and almost intolerable state, the prospect of meeting other people, interacting with other people, connecting with other people, is more daunting than the prospect of dying alone, at least if the latter happens sooner rather than later.  I have it on good authority that I’m an unpleasant person—a good number of people whose opinions I value dearly have either explicitly or implicitly made this clear.  I even feel it about myself.  So why should I be so cruel as to inflict myself on other people?

I’m toying with the idea of quitting this blog, or at least putting it on hiatus.  I don’t get any feedback or interaction from it—or nearly none—and it’s frustrating to share one’s thoughts every Thursday morning without knowing if anyone encounters them or gives a flying fuck at a tiny little rat’s ass about them.  If it’s just a matter of talking to myself, I can do that without a word processor—and I do, quite a lot of the time.  I already hardly use Facebook or Twitter, except to share these blog posts and some YouTube videos I find interesting.  I’m not egotistical enough to imagine that the world will suffer from not having my thoughts out there, or indeed from not having my existence.

Since I always title these weekly blog posts with slightly altered quotes from Shakespeare—or I have done so for quite a while, anyway—I figure that, once I decide for certain that a given blog post will definitely be my last, for any reason, I’ll simply title it, “The rest is silence” …Hamlet’s last words.  Similarly, if I knew that I was sharing my last item to Facebook and/or Twitter, it would be the final song of the first album of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  But of course, it may well come to pass that I’ll write a final blog post and share a final share on those other “social” “media” without knowing that it is the last one.  This could be the last one for all I know.  I’m not sure I would mind that.

Anyway, I’m still editing In the Shade, and the process is going well enough.  I hope to be done with it reasonably soon, and possibly then to release my collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  I have all sorts of possible book ideas to write after that, but right now I have no interest in writing any of them.  I’m very tired, on all levels.  To quote from the fourth-from-last song on album one of The Wall, “nothing is very much fun anymore.”  And, obviously, I’m not much fun, myself.

TTFN

no outlet

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

In these confines with a monarch’s voice cry “Havoc!” and let slip the blogs of war

Hello and good morning, all.  It’s the “ides of April”* today, a date that is much more traditionally associated with dread—in America, at least—than is the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar.  It’s also time for my weekly blog post.

I’ve done my part to further general world health this week:  I recorded and posted some video of myself playing the guitar and singing, on Iterations of Zero.

No, wait!  That’s not what I did that was oriented toward public health (quite the contrary).  Rather, yesterday I received my second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.  I should be just about as immune as it’s possible to be at this point (or soon, anyway), since I had the infection itself in January, and now I’ve received full vaccination with the version that seems, based on what I’ve read, to have the highest protection rate.  This, as I say, was done for social reasons more than for personal protection; I honestly wouldn’t mind much if I’d gotten severely ill**, or even if the virus had killed me.  But that’s not a choice I think I have any right to make for other people (neither does anyone else, especially out of personal laziness, contrariness, selfishness, or unwarranted paranoia) so I don’t want to spread it thoughtlessly.  Getting as immune to it as I can seems the most reliable way to avoid that.

I did post some videos of myself singing and playing guitar on Tuesday, though.  You can watch them, if you want.  I’ve avoided posting videos or even pictures of myself in recent years, because I hate how I look now, in many ways, for many reasons.  I don’t even like to look in the mirror much.  However, I recently figured—at least this is the story I tell myself—that hiding from cameras is like eating when no one is around.  Just because someone doesn’t see you eat, and you don’t count the calories, doesn’t mean that you haven’t eaten, and it won’t protect you from the consequences.

Reality is not merely perception.  A catastrophe you don’t see coming can still hurt or kill you.

One source of my dissatisfaction with my appearance is that, rather than lose weight when depressed, as some people do, I tend to eat more, and thus to gain weight.  This is probably a self-soothing thing, since the process of eating food is one of the most reliable short-term neurological rewards a person can engineer, for good, sound biological reasons.  So, when everything else in the world feels and seems like shit, including and especially oneself, it can be hard to resist the urge to snack and overeat.

I suppose opiate and other addictions can similarly be a form of self-soothing, due to literal, direct, neurologic effects.  This often leads to emaciation, as all other drives fall by the wayside.  But since I associate opiate use with chronic, severe pain, I’m not as likely to seek them out, “heroin chic” notwithstanding.

You can thus tell from looking at me in my videos that I have been struggling with my Churchillian “black dog” for quite some time, with inconsistent (or consistent but negative) results.  I also, possibly for related reasons, botched my recent job at trimming my hair on Sunday, and I couldn’t see it until I saw myself on video; no one told me about it, but that’s not surprising.  Who would?

Anyway, I figure if I just start doing such videos and posting them, at least I’ll have to face my appearance and what bad shape I’ve allowed myself to get into.  Perhaps it’ll help provide some counter-pressure against the eating thing.  Also, frankly, people out there in cyberspace just seem to like videos of people, even if they’re just talking to the camera.

I was remarkably stressed by the fact that I was playing and singing on video for the first time ever, even if just on impulse, just to test it.  I hadn’t warmed up my voice at all—which I think is obvious—and my guitar playing was not at its best either.  I fumbled in many places where I normally play without a problem.

I didn’t even get the picking and fingering in the shot for most of the videos!  This is a minor shame, particularly with respect to Street Spirit and Blackbird, since I feel mildly proud of how far I’ve come with them.  However, the former song’s complexity of play compels me to cock my neck waaaaay down, desperately eyeballing the pick and to some extent my left hand, and that’s not a great posture for singing.  I can sing that song much better when I’m not hunched over like that***.  But I was extremely self-conscious during this “filming” process, and it was early morning, and my throat was still dry and yet gummy.  These are excuses, obviously, but they are also actual, legitimate reasons, so I don’t feel too bad about making them.

I’m probably going to commit the crime against humanity of sharing these videos on my YouTube channel, and even on Facebook, and Twitter, and on the recently rediscovered Instagram account that I made for unknown reasons in the past.  I might as well use it for something.  Goodness knows I’ve seen people post worse videos, and I’ve even enjoyed some of them.  If you have any strong objections, do share them with me.

On to lighter things, so to speak.  I’m making good progress on In the Shade, and the first draft should be done within the next week or so, even with minor distraction from making ill-advised videos.  As evidence, on Tuesday, even though I stopped early to do my “filming”, I still wrote about 1500 words on the story.  It helps in this that I do have the traditional early-awakening brand of insomnia associated with the “black dog”—actually I’ve always been an early riser and a short sleeper—but at least I can put it to work for me.

Even black dogs can be used as draft animals, it seems.

So, look forward to Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which I think will be a good collection of stories, and look forward—perhaps with fear and trembling—to the prospect of me doing more videos.  If you have any reaction to the ones I’ve posted, please let me know.  Also, I’d love to hear feedback regarding The Vagabond, if you have any to give.

TTFN

Video killed


*It’s been called to my attention by the alert and educated reader, StephenB (see comments) that the Ides of April is actually the 13th, something I did NOT know at all, but am delighted to learn.  Seriously, it made my day.  I’m leaving the term, now in scare quotes, in the post, since it’s a fun reference to “Tax Day” in the US, but I expect I shall not make this error again.  Thanks, StephenB, seriously.  I love learning new things like this!

**As I think I’ve mentioned before, I was not the sickest I’ve ever been when I had Covid, but I was sicker than I’ve been in a long time.  Thankfully, I wasn’t as feverish as I was during at least one episode of severe flu.  Maybe that’s because now I pretty much always have significant—probably long-term-toxic—levels of NSAIDs and Acetaminophen in my system, because of chronic pain due to “failed back surgery syndrome”.  My body probably has a hard time even generating a fever nowadays, so the fact that I did get a fever a few times during Covid might mean that I would have had quite high ones if conditions were otherwise.

***I did some good belting in Exit Music, even resulting in clipping/distortion at the song’s dramatic peak.  That’s kind of funny to me; I do get very into that song when I sing it.  How could I not?  Radiohead wrote it for Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, and Shakespeare makes everything more powerful.

Nor blog nor poison, malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing can touch him further.

Hello and good morning to everyone reading—and since this is written language, I’m only addressing anyone who happens to be reading it, wherever and whenever that might be.  It’s Thursday again here, as always seems to happen at this time of the week, so it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.

There’s not much new going on with me.  Of course, I’m continuing to work on The Vagabond, and am well into the final run-through/edit of the book, which means that shortly I’ll be laying it out and preparing it for publication.  That’s exciting, at least for me, but I hope it might be to some other people out there.  It’s a more-or-less classical style horror story, a tale of what Stephen King might call “outside evil” threatening first the residents of a small university city, but ultimately threatening everything in the human world (and—it being “outside evil”—things beyond the human world).  In the process, it does some horrifying and, I hope, terrifying things.

As I think I’ve said before, it’s a bit shorter than some of my other novels, except possibly Son of Man*, and the story moves along quickly.  I suspect that’s partly because I wrote it over the course of a long period of time—ironically—and thus tended to get on with things in the story when I took it up.  Despite that, it hangs together very nicely in style and character development and all that high-falutin’ stuff, which is nice.  I’m reasonably proud of it, as far as that goes.  And I think that other people, people who enjoy horror and who enjoy dark adventure/fantasy in a so-called real-world setting will also enjoy it.

As for everything else, well, there’s not much to say.  “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps on in this petty pace from day to day,” as the man wrote.  I’m still having a great deal of trouble even finding the urge to read new fiction—or old fiction, for that matter—or to watch movies or TV shows, or anything of the sort.  I bought the new Stephen King novella collection If it Bleeds, but I couldn’t even get well into the first story before losing my ability to sustain interest.  I’m doing a bit better with science-related non-fiction, especially physics and math-oriented material, but I burn through the books too quickly, and I’m running out of ones that entice me.  I haven’t been able to muster the enthusiasm to re-read books of that type that I’ve read before (which is what I usually do), nor even to listen to the audiobooks during my commute.  Even my go-to YouTube channels like Numberphile and Sixty Symbols are coming up dry for me.  I haven’t even watched the most recent two or three videos of PBS Space Time!  It’s very troubling to me (intellectually, anyway…emotionally it’s just the background hiss of the universe) how even the things that usually command my interest without fail, without even trying, have become “weary, stale, and flat.”

Speaking of YouTube**, it’s a common theme amongst YouTubers and bloggers and other, similar creative people to ask their viewers/readers to “like” and to “subscribe” to their channels and, if they like what they’re doing, to consider supporting them through such things as Patreon or that “cup of coffee” thing, and whatnot.  I very much like these new ways of supporting creative work, which bypass the need for interceding corporations and marketing departments***.  I’ve occasionally toyed with the idea of participating in some such service.  But I think I’d prefer just to say that, if you like my blog(s) and want to support it/them…buy some of my books!  Even if you don’t tend to read novels or short stories, or if you don’t tend to read sci-fi/fantasy/horror and whatnot, it would still be a way to support me at more than one level.

My books are all available on Amazon in paperback and e-book form, and the latest is available through Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million, too.  It gives me a little boost when someone buys one—monetarily but also emotionally, which I think everyone can I agree I could use.  More importantly for me, if you have the book, there’s the possibility that you might read it sometime when you’re feeling desperate and have no other means of escape.  And if you do, I think you’ll probably enjoy it, at least if you like those types of stories.  I’ve been told that I tell a story very well****.

Of course, you can also support me by listening to my songs, on YouTube or Spotify (they’re also up on Pandora and iTunes and a bunch of other sites for which I don’t have links, but if you go there and search for “Robert Elessar” they should pop up).  I’m not as confident that these are very enjoyable, though I like them.  But even the very long song is only six and a half minutes long, and I make a few cents every time someone plays them.  If you can Like and Share them when you listen (oh, the irony!), that’s always a bonus.  I also have some other stuff on my own personal YouTube channel, but that’s not monetized.  Still, it’s got some of my stories read aloud by the author (me).  It also has my “bad covers” of some songs I like, and one song of my own that I haven’t released as an official “single”.

But, of course, just reading and liking, and if you feel like it “like”-ing this blog is also good.  I hate trying to persuade people to read my stuff or to listen to my music or otherwise tooting my own horn.  I just don’t like myself well enough to be able to recommend me in good conscience*****.  This is where those marketing people really come in handy.  I always just feel, “Well, I know that I like it, but I’m the one who made it, so you can’t judge by me.  I can’t in all honesty tell other people that it’s great or terrific, even if I feel like it is and am proud of it, because they might think its crap.”  For reasons that are far from clear to me, I feel terribly nervous about becoming a sort of poor man’s Kanye West.  Which highlights, I suppose, the one advantage (if that really is an appropriate term, which it’s not) that bipolar disorder has over unipolar depression and dysthmymia.  Rightly or wrongly, at least occasionally people afflicted with it feel really good about themselves.  Even Stephen Fry admitted that’s a comparative benefit.

Anyway, I’ve said far more than I had to say today, so I’ll bring it to an end, here.  I honestly hope that you’re all well, and that you try to be good, and that you do your best to stay safe and healthy.

TTFN

Picture5


*Which had its origin as a book idea not too many years after I had first started what I then simply called Vagabond.

**I was, you can check.

***Don’t get me wrong, I have terrific respect for marketing departments.  Before the past few years, almost all music, books, plays, TV shows, and so on only came to people’s attention—including yours and mine—thanks to the often wonderfully creative work of marketing professionals. But I suspect that industry/profession is continuing to do quite well, so I don’t feel too bad about working around them.

****But then again, I do talk to myself too much.

*****Now there’s a serious understatement.

Thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind, for thee, and for my blog no quiet find.

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another Thursday.  It’s time for my weekly blog post.  I’m still comparatively “out of it”, so I had to double-check that, yes, today really is Thursday.  I woke up yesterday feeling that it was Friday, though that might have been wishful thinking; I thought not only that it was Friday, but that I didn’t need to work on Saturday.  Both of these turn out to be wrong.  (Sigh.  Life is so tiring.)

Despite still obviously being reduced from my peak abilities by the aftereffects of Covid, I’ve had a relatively productive week.  First, I recorded and posted an “audio blog” which I guess counts as a sort of mini podcast, on Iterations of Zero.  It was triggered—weirdly enough—when I woke up the other day with the old Genesis song Land of Confusion going through my head, particularly the line about how “my generation will get it right, we’re not just making promises that we know we’ll never keep”.  I find such utterances terribly irritating, even in what could be considered poetry, and I replied in my head that, well, you might not be making promises that you know you’ll never keep, but you are making promises that you’ll never keep.  And indeed, they have not kept them.

Promising, after all, is easy.  Actually doing something takes work, usually a lot of it.

And of course, the remarks in the song about superman, men of steel, men of power, always set me off; there are no supermen, there are no “men of steel”, there are no “men of power”, and there never have been.  There are just other flesh and blood humans, just other bees in the hive or ants in the hill.

Anyway, I went off on those ideas for about seventeen minutes, since I was still fuming when I arrived at the office, and I then edited it (a bit) and posted it.

I did something a little more upbeat also, finally releasing my cover of the Radiohead song Nude, which is on IoZ and on YouTube:

I really like that song, but the process of having to correct for recording issues in the edit and mixing process finally drove me to buy a somewhat better microphone (closing the proverbial barn door after the equine had exited).  Just in playing with that microphone, I realized how much easier it makes things to have a good USB condenser mic.  I was able to record a draft of a cover of the Beatles song Julia in just one morning, which I embed here in present form.

Of course, I mixed it and did some reverb after the recording and whatnot, and it is a simpler song, but still, that’s a total of maybe an hour’s work or so (not counting learning and practicing the guitar part, of course).  And the microphone I used only cost about thirty-five dollars, so it’s definitely not a big expense.  I probably spend more than that every week on bubbly water.

Of course, I’ve continued to work on The Vagabond, but there’s not much new to say other than that I’m one week closer to being finished.  I still enjoy the story, and I look forward to seeing it published and then going on to finish Outlaw’s Mind and then putting together Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities and all that stuff.  After all that, I’m not sure what exactly I’m going to write next.  I’m going to write something, though, since it turns out the novel coronavirus hasn’t killed me*, and as long as I’m alive, I mean to keep writing.  I’ll also probably (to a lesser extent) keep doing music—especially now that I have my new microphone(s)—and I’ll probably keep doing little mini-podcasts that I’ll upload, though I don’t know if anyone likes them or wants to listen to them.  I’d actually appreciate feedback on that question, but I don’t think I’ve ever received any despite asking for it, so I’m not going to hold my breath.

With that, I guess I’m done with my weekly summary of events and thoughts, though I’m sure I could have written more**.  I hope you’re all as well as you can possibly be, and that you stay well and, if you can, even get weller.

TTFN

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*I have mixed and varying feelings about this.  In all honesty, life often does not seem worth the effort to me, which is probably part of why I love Hamlet so much.  And yet, even though people throughout the ages have noted that life is often not a net gain, particularly after a certain point, our culture allows, and even encourages, other people to hold us accountable for staying alive so that they don’t have to feel the pain of our death…even if they are not putting any effort into helping make our life worth living.  I’m not saying that other people should be responsible for making my (or anyone else’s) life pleasant or positive or whatever, but if they aren’t, they sure as fuck shouldn’t then arrogate to themselves the right to try to manipulate and coerce someone into enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune just because their deaths would cause that other person pain.  It’s logically inconsistent if nothing else.  It’s also selfishness and cruelty masquerading as humanitarianism.

Anyway, just to conclude this footnote with a request: if you are worried about someone who’s depressed or has some other disorder and you don’t want them to die, don’t wheedle or berate or manipulate or cajole them not to die just because it would make you upset if they did.  What right do you have to insist upon their continued suffering just so you don’t have to deal with their death?  If you really want them to stay alive, then make it your business to help them have good reasons to want to stay alive.  Otherwise, shut the fuck up!

**I can almost always write more.  In fact, an early pseudonym suggestion for me by my father was “Franklin L. Ritemoore”.  It took me about five minutes to get the joke, but I was only in junior high at the time, so I was less advanced at wordplay than I am now.