Thoughts while commuting on Tuesday

Well, there’s no new portion of a story to post here today, but I did write some yesterday on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado—about 1100 words.  That’s the first bit I’ve written since the 800 words I mentioned last week.

I also went into the office yesterday, because we were open for part of the day.  It was a thoroughgoing waste of time and effort, and I already wasn’t feeling well (I’d stayed home from work sick on Friday, and I was not feeling much better yesterday…come to think of it, I still don’t feel great).  Almost no one seemed to want to work, and those who did were interrupted and interfered with by those who didn’t.  And then, one infantile “coworker” let off a stink bomb or stink drops or something (near the one person who was trying to work, ha-ha…that would have been juvenile even back in grade school), flooding the office with a horrible smell on a day when we were having a bit of an office cookout, so people were going to be trying to eat there.

Yes, seriously, this all happened.  I was very pissed off, because I had gone into the office despite still feeling sick to my stomach, and the stupid stink-bomb nonsense didn’t help me feel any better.  Back at the house, one couple have been moving out of part of the house—they’re nice enough people, but they were horribly messy, even by my standards.  When I’m messy, I keep it in my own space, I try hard not to mess up common areas.  But now a transition is ongoing, and the property owner asked me to move into another room, though I’ve been living in the same room for almost five years.  The other room is bigger, but that doesn’t automatically make it better.  And I don’t like change much at the best of times.

I’ve also made a few videos, including one in which I read the Declaration of Independence out loud, which I’ll embed here, below.  I suspected most Americans probably hadn’t read it in a long time, and many have probably never read it at all, so it was worth a bit of effort, even when I wasn’t feeling well.

I did another video earlier, last week, about science, and about learning about science, which I haven’t posted to YouTube yet.  If and when I do, I’m sure I’ll embed it in some blog post here, as well.  Why not?  I’m not doing much of anything else that’s productive or valuable.  Of course, that begs the question of whether doing such videos is productive or valuable either, but I guess that can only be learned after they’re done.

I’m not feeling well at all, however.  This creeping crud is really doing a number on me, and that’s on top of my precarious mental state, which leaves me very easily irritated and also unable really to talk to anyone about the many issues that I have.  I don’t really know what to do.  I know what I want to do, but that want is not unadulterated.  If it were, I would simply do it.  Although, frankly, I don’t think right now I’m physically up to anything taxing.  I feel so beat up.  I guess I’ll have to wait a bit on that, no matter what.

I don’t really know what to do.  The wind is going out of nearly all of my sails, and I don’t have a big enough stock of provisions to endure if the sea is becalmed for too long*.  Maybe instead of trying to write fiction every morning, for a while I should just try to write a blog post every day, including my regular Thursday blog post.  I have a couple of files in my note-taking app full of what I call “article” ideas, and it’s not as though there isn’t plenty of nonsense in the world that might be worth discussing.  There are many topics on which I have thoughts, judgements, and opinions, and even some matters on which I am an expert.

Maybe I could do this as a sort of therapy—a kind of pseudo-Freudian free-association daily blog.  Who knows?  At one point, I considered writing a memoir/autobiography, and I even had a title planned for it (A Most Stormy Life, taken from the Poe poem Alone, which is one of my favorites), but that feels just so pompous.  Plus, I don’t think my life is all that interesting.  It’s had interesting and gripping moments, of course, but surely that’s the case for everyone.  But I had long since planned, or considered, to share various random thoughts on Iterations of Zero, my other blog.  I was going to constrain this blog to deal primarily with my fiction writing and related matters, but it’s veered gradually at least part of the way away from that, and I have far more people following this blog than the other one**.

Well, these are just some thoughts that I’ve had.  I suppose, if I make another post tomorrow, you’ll know that I decided, at least for the time being, to write and post something every day.

In closing now I’ll tell you a little about the very weird dream/nightmare I had last night.  As is often the case in my (rare) nightmares, I ended up becoming irritably, grouchily defiant toward the forces of evil (embodied in some manner of building/complex/zone that seemed to have a malicious mind and will, and which did not want to let us leave) that were victimizing or at least tormenting me and some other people.  As is also often the case, the form this defiance took in the dream was related to the fact that I had to go to the bathroom, and after making a horrible-sounding, shouted demand*** that I think I must have said out loud, because it woke me up—my own voice sounded demented and weird and otherworldly, even to me—I discovered that I had to take a wicked pee.

At least I know I was well hydrated.

*To really brutalize a metaphor.

**Probably simply because I do regularly make posts on this one, but don’t do so on IoZ very often.

***The exact words were a repeated, “Do you understand?!?”

Plenty and peace blogs cowards; hardness ever of hardiness is mother.

Hello, everyone, and good morning, everyone.  It’s Thursday—it’s quite early in the morning, since I’m having a particularly noteworthy iteration of insomnia today—and so it’s time once again for my weekly blog post.  This is the first Thursday in May of 2022, which is mildly interesting, I guess.  It’s also Cinco de Mayo, so for those of you who celebrate that holiday:  Enjoy!

As those of you who pay attention to it will have noted, I posted the most recent part of Outlaw’s Mind here on Tuesday.  I hope those who are reading along steadily—if there are any such people—are enjoying it.  It’s a fairly dark tale, which is probably why I’ve had to keep stopping and starting it as I go along.  I like my main character, Timothy Outlaw, and I keep making crappy things happen to him, or at least having him experience crappy things.  So, I have to take a step back from time to time.  It’s strange that this story has such an effect on me, considering I’m the author; I don’t know what it might say about my own psychology, if anything, but it can be a bit frustrating.

On the other hand, The Dark Fairy and the Desperado—which is not entirely a light-hearted tale, either—is at least quite fanciful, it being a supernatural adventure across multiple universes, the main characters of which are an unerringly deadly gunman from the Old West of our world (or one very much like ours) and a very angry fairy from a completely different world, whose experiences with humans have filled her with an enduring wrath that earned her her sobriquet.  And, of course, they only meet because of the machinations of a wizard from yet another world who has become trapped in a universe of his own creation and needs help getting out of it.  So, while it’s heavier in some senses than Outlaw’s Mind—Omniversally heavy, one might say—it’s lighter in tone.

I’ve gotten quite a lot of writing done on it lately.  This is at least partly because I’ve been taking the train, and so I can write while I’m traveling to work.  Even though I didn’t accomplish anything at all last Friday, I’ve still written just shy of 8500 words since this time last week.  I haven’t even introduced the Dark Fairy yet, since it takes some time to bring a desperado out of the Old West into a trans-universal setting and explain to him what the heck is going on when it happens.  It helps that, at the time he is transported from his home, he is facing nearly certain death in the desert, without a horse and without water.  He figures almost anything would be preferable to that, so he’s able to go along with things.

Anyway, it’s a fun story, and one I’ve had in my mind for roughly as long as I had Mark Red.  Like Mark Red, it was originally thought up as a manga, and it’s now meant to be a series of books; I haven’t written any more of Mark’s story yet because, frankly, no one has expressed any interest.  I still may end up doing it, though—assuming I live that long—because Morgan, the vampire who saves Mark’s life by making him into a demi-vampire, is still my favorite character that I’ve written to date.  There are at least two more books waiting to be written about her and Mark.

The adventures of The Dark Fairy and the Desperado will probably take more books, because of the structure of the adventure they’re going to be having, but I don’t expect the books to be as long individually.  There will be more action and less soul-searching, so to speak, since neither of the main characters are teenagers, and in fact are quite hardened and cynical, each in his or her own way.  Neither one needs to try to avoid becoming a killer and/or a supernatural being, since it’s already too late to avoid such things.

They inhabit the same Omniverse as do the various characters in my other stories—after all, the Omniverse is infinite in infinite dimensions, and it contains all possible universes of any nature—but they will spend more time traveling from one realm to another than pretty much any of my other characters*.

And that’s pretty much a summary of everything that’s happening in my life or is likely to happen—I don’t really do anything for fun**, I don’t have any real friends***, I have no pets, no local family (none that want to see me, anyway), and no hobbies**.  I occasionally attempt to play guitar and sing, but that’s more my way of punishing the world, à la Welcome to the MachineI don’t know that it could be considered a worthwhile endeavor.

But I continue to write, both my books and this blog.  I hope you all enjoy reading it (and them, when and if it applies), and I hope you have a good holiday, if it is one for you, and that in general you have the best possible day, week, month, year, and life you can have, along with those you love and who love you.  And try to treat all the other people well, also, if you can.

Oh, and wish your mothers Happy Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, if you’re lucky enough still to be able to do so.  And to all you mothers**** out there—Happy (early) Mother’s Day from me!


cinco dance

*With the possible exception of the eventual story Changeling in a Shadow World, which I’ve mentioned here previously.

**Other than writing, I guess.

***Does that surprise anyone at all?

****Rarely enough, for me, this is not intended as “half a word”.

If all the year were playing holidays; To blog would be as tedious as to work.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, and so, to your delight or your chagrin (or your apathy) it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  We’re roughly midway through April already, which feels pretty remarkable, but as time goes by, every day is getting shorter, to quote and/or paraphrase two songs in one sentence.

I’m back on the train (yeah) today, but—thankfully—I am not back on the chain gang*.  For various reasons, I’m now more or less committed to taking either the train or the bus to work (and back) every day.  In some ways, I prefer it.  For one thing, I can do at least part of my daily writing while commuting when I’m on public transport.  It would be incredibly reckless, and likely wreckful, for me to try to write while taking some form of transportation that was under my direct control.  It’s better to sit back and let someone else take me where I’m going.

I’ve been writing a decent amount on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado this week, though not as much as I will probably write in future weeks, since I was in transition, and that makes things go a bit slowly sometimes.  Still, on Tuesday, especially, I wrote quite a bit:  over sixteen-hundred words in one morning.  Just think, if I did that five days out of every seven, it would come to eight thousand words a week!  At that rate, I could write a novel as long as Unanimity in just over a year, though I hope not to write a story that long again if I can help it.  My current tale is beginning reasonably well, though we’ve only met one of the title characters yet.  So far, it’s definitely more fun to write this than to write Outlaw’s Mind.  We’ll see if that lasts.

I did post the latest section of Outlaw’s Mind here this week—on Tuesday this time.  It’s a bit longer than most of the other parts have been, since I included two sections with a break in between.  The first one was just so short that I thought people might feel they weren’t getting their money’s worth, so to speak, if I only posted that section.  That surely wouldn’t do.  Even when you’re not paying, you’re spending your time reading my stuff when you might be reading something else, and I want you to get as good a return on your investment as I’m able to provide.

Given that, I’m going to have to wrestle a bit with whether or not to keep working on Outlaw’s Mind.  Your feedback, if you have any to offer, would provide me some useful input regarding that decision.  We’re not getting very close yet, but every week we draw nearer to the place in Outlaw’s Mind that I’ve reached so far, and eventually, we will catch up.  By then, I’m going to need either simply to suspend those posts—maybe I’ll start sharing some of my other stories—or resume writing the story so that there will be stuff for you guys to read.

Probably I’m worrying over nothing.  I’m not sure that anyone, except perhaps immediate family, truly reads the sections of Outlaw’s Mind that I post here.  Page views and even “likes” are hard to interpret unambiguously.  I’m probably overthinking everything right from the start.  And, who knows, maybe I’ll get hit by a truck (or a bus or a train?) in the meantime and I won’t have to worry about any of it, or anything else, after that.  A guy can dream, can’t he?

I don’t mean to imply that I don’t like writing, or that I don’t like sharing some of my stories here.  I’m just chronically tired and depressed, with very little in my life other than my writing.  With respect to my stories (and blog posts), I often just feel as if they are messages in bottles, cast out into some stormy sea from the extremely remote, peculiar, and rocky desert island that is my personality.  They are unlikely ever to reach anyone at all, let alone to entice someone to want to visit such a forbidding and unpleasant place.  I don’t even want to be here, myself.

I’m not very good at promoting tourism, am I?

Anyway, I think that’s just about all I have for this week.  It’s nice to keep it “short” once in a while.  That way I can write an entire first draft during a single half-an-hour-ish train ride.  I hope you’re all doing well, or at least that you’re doing as well as you possibly can, and that you’re being good to those you love and to those who love you and being polite at least to everyone else (unless they make that impossible, which can happen).  Oh, and Happy Passover and Happy Easter to those of you who will be celebrating those holidays!  I hope you get to be with your families and that you can enjoy your time together.  Don’t underestimate the value of such things.


Passover mosaic with words

I think it’s particularly appropriate to share a Passover “mosaic”**

happy easter night

*That’s three songs in two sentences.

**Get it?  Get it?

They were red-hot with drinking; so full of valor that they smote the air, for blogging in their faces

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, so it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.  It’s also Saint Patrick’s Day, which is probably celebrated in the US as energetically as anywhere in the world, including Ireland—though perhaps I’m wrong; I’ve never been to Ireland.  I haven’t worn anything green today, except maybe a tag or label somewhere, but I doubt anyone is going to try to pinch me.  Do people still do that on Saint Patrick’s Day?  They used to do it when I was in school, but that was decades ago, and it’s not as though I keep in the loop of popular culture much.

I’m also not likely to have any corned beef and cabbage for dinner, regrettably.

I haven’t written much on Outlaw’s Mind this week—only a little over 2000 words, because I’ve really only done two days of writing.  I did post the next section of the story earlier this week, here.  I don’t know if perhaps I should start inserting those “read more” lines in such postings or not.  The story sections make for long blog posts, and if one were trying to scroll down to the previous entry, it would be quite a scroll.  Not quite a full Torah, maybe, but possibly a Dead Sea.

I’m slightly frustrated that the entries come up in reverse order when one clicks on the subject heading Outlaw’s Mind*, with the most recent one first.  There may be a way via WordPress to adjust that, but if so, I’m not sure what it is, and I haven’t had the gumption to seek it out.  Apologies.  My motivation is not the highest it’s ever been, and I’ve never been great at such executive functions at the best of times, at least on my own behalf.  I do better when I’m working for others, which is probably not unusual.

I’m not entirely sure why I’ve been so reticent about writing my story this week.  A small part of it is that something very bad is about to happen that will throw Timothy’s life into a severe tailspin, right after things had just begun looking up from a threatening event that had appeared to resolve or begin to resolve well.  I wonder if it’s typical for authors to feel guilty when they make heartrending things happen to their characters.  It’s not like I won’t do it, since it’s part of the story.  It just makes me feel bad.  But I feel bad anyway most of the time, so at least I’m used to it.

That’s probably the biggest part of the decreased writing this week—my mental energy just hasn’t been good.  Physically, I guess my energy has been tolerable.  I’ve been walking a fair amount, and even jogged a tiny bit during my 4.5 mile walk on Tuesday, to try to get my feet prepared for a potential “epic” quest I’m tentatively planning to undertake, but even that notion isn’t as exciting as it was at first.

I get up in the morning, I do a tiny bit of exercise, I shower, I go to the office, I write a bit, then I putter around on the guitar a bit, then I do work stuff (reading a bit during breaks), then in the afternoon (for the past few weeks, anyway) I walk, and then I go home and watch some videos and go to sleep.  Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.  There’s eating in there, too, of course.  Always eating.  It’s my version of “stimming”, I suppose, though I do other forms of that, too, I guess.

I’m really tired.  Not physically, unfortunately.  I am able to walk pretty long distances without much difficulty other than some blistering that’s resolving steadily, and it’s not as if I’m able to sleep all that well, as I would expect would happen if I were merely physically tired.  That’s one thing I’d like to be able to look forward to about an epic-level undertaking:  being physically exhausted enough just to fall asleep and stay asleep.  It would be so nice simply to sleep until I feel rested and to wake up refreshed, rather than waking up over-alert and tense, like a deep-cover spy embedded in a foreign world that, if not frankly hostile, is at least thoroughly alien.  Or maybe I’m more like a hobbit stuck in Mordor trying to pass himself off as an orc, who’s not even sure that the Shire still exists, let alone that there are any allies anywhere.  Mordor sucks, whether or not you’ve got anywhere else to go, and so does having to try to pass as an orc.

Anyway, enough melodrama for now.  I hope you all have a lovely Saint Patrick’s Day, if you’re celebrating it, and that you have a nice meal and not too much beer, if beer is your thing.  Spend time with people who love you, if you have them.


saint patrick day

*There are two such entries, because I made an error on the first one.  The second one should be the “correct” one to click on if you’re looking for subject headings.  Eventually, I’ll get around to figuring out how to remove the first one.  Or maybe I won’t ever get around to it.  If I do, I will.

O heaven! that one might read the blog of fate, and see the revolution of the times.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so—as inevitable as death or at least as inevitable as taxes—it’s time for my weekly blog post.  This will be the last blog post of 2021 AD, a year many of us will not be sad to see the back of.  Indeed, you can see that I feel so strongly about this that I’m even willing to end a sentence with a preposition.

New Year happy

It’s New Year’s Eve eve today, if you will, though there is no such official holiday.  It’s not even an informal one like Devil’s Night, the night before Halloween*, itself an “Eve” holiday, though that’s often forgotten—and rightly so in my opinion, since Halloween is much more fun than most other holidays and certainly far more widely celebrated than All Hallows Day.

There’s nothing inherently special about New Year’s Day (or Eve).  It’s an arbitrarily chosen time for us to restart our calendar year because we have to do it some time.  It’s not like the solstice- and equinox-based celebrations I’ve discussed before, which have legitimate, astronomical bases and are objectively interesting moments in the Earth’s orbit.

New Year doesn’t even always happen at the same place in the planet’s orbit.  It can’t.  For one thing, it’s celebrated hourly for 24 hours over the course of that day, depending upon when midnight arrives in a given time zone.  This is a perfectly reasonable way to do things, of course, but it means that the holiday itself is smeared out along the planet’s orbital path even on a given year.  And, of course, since the orbital length is not an integer number of days**, the celebration of New Years smears out in another way over the course of time, to jump back a day every fourth year, but not on years that are multiples of a hundred, except YES on years that are multiples of four hundred (I think that was it), and so on with all the corrections used by the modernized Gregorian Calendar to try to keep the year reasonably aligned with the seasons and with the solstices and equinoxes mentioned above.

All of which is, of course, quite fascinating from a scientific and cultural point of view, but really, the holiday is about a chance for renewal, a symbolic rebirth or at least a new beginning, like starting a new iteration of a game, with the scoreboard is set back to zero, so it’s possible for anyone to win by the end.

I don’t know where people get these ideas.

Of course, we cannot literally start over, nor would most of us want to if we could, since almost everyone has made at least some progress that they wouldn’t care just to throw away.  Much of our identity in any given moment is dependent upon our memory of the past.  But it can be useful, and sometimes heartening, to embrace the notion of a restart point for at least some things in our lives, such as diet and exercise and other difficult habit-based situations.

I have been embracing something like that notion in that I’ve been rereading what I’d written so far of Outlaw’s Mind, to try to get back into the flow of the story.  The process has been slow, since I haven’t been reading very much every day—I’ve been very tired mentally and emotionally, and even physically, and just in general very discouraged.  I’ve not really been looking forward to even seeing the new year arrive, to be honest.  I have no good reason to think that it will entail anything other than continuing mental, social, physical, and emotional disintegration, which have been the hallmarks of my last nine or ten years at least, and have accelerated recently.

Still, I have been reading the story, without doing any editing, and I do enjoy it.  I usually enjoy reading my stories.  That makes one person.  So, I think it will be a useful exercise and will help me then to move forward with the story thereafter.  I’m feeling tempted again to try to write it out longhand when the time comes.  I have some lovely high-quality notebook paper to use for that now if I have the nerve.

I haven’t been thinking much about Changeling in a Shadow World this week, but that’s fine.  There’s only so much one can do prior to starting to write the thing, and I’m not going to start that before Outlaw’s Mind is done.  I had a couple of fun and rather silly ideas for short stories in the last week, which I jotted into the notebook app on my phone.  They are technically horror story ideas, but one at least is a sort of crude, dark-comedy type horror story idea.  I don’t know if I’ll ever write it, but it’s a fun notion, and involves a mutated and/or genetically engineered form of gonorrhea, among other things.  The other is a bit less sophomoric in character, but it’s quite a bit darker, too, at least in philosophical implications.  If those ever happen, you’ll be welcome to read them.

In the meantime, despite my apparent cynicism, I do in fact wish you all a very Happy New Year, both in terms of your celebration thereof, which I hope you’ll share with your beloved families and friends to the degree that you can do so safely, as well as in terms of the upcoming year.  I won’t quote John Lennon*** and say, “It can’t get no worse”, since it can always get worse, but I will say that, given human drive and persistence, and the fact that, contrary to some appearances, a great many very smart and disciplined and optimistic people are working to improve things at all levels, there are at least good odds that a lot of things are going to improve in the upcoming year.

It’s not something to take for granted, since it will always be easier to destroy than to create, but those smart, creative optimists are pretty frikking impressive sometimes.  The James Webb telescope is out there now, in its position in the Lagrange point, and it’s steadily working toward eventually giving us the deepest, most amazing views of the cosmos we’ve yet had.  And there’s nothing arbitrary about that.


New Year

*Celebrated by some people in the region in which I grew up by setting random fires.

**Not a whole number of days, I guess, would be more precise.  An integer number might imply that it would be possible for an orbit to last a negative number of days, there being as many negative integers as positive ones, and it’s hard to see how that would make any sense at all.  I suppose one might imagine a science fiction story—perhaps involving The Doctor—in which a planet’s orbit around its sun carries its inhabitants backward in time instead of forward.  For them, the End of the World would indeed be predictable—the birth of their solar system and ultimately of the universe itself.

***In his backup lyric from the song It’s Getting Better All the Time.

Heaven give you many, many merry blogs.

tardis with wreathHello, good morning, and welcome to Thursday, and to another edition of my weekly blog post.  It seems I’m still here so far, for better or for worse, and I’m writing a blog post this week.  I expect it to be relatively short, at least for me, though I’ve been wrong in that expectation before.

I haven’t written anything new still this week on Outlaw’s Mind, but I thought I would try to get myself more inspired to write it by rereading what I’ve written it so far, which I hadn’t done before restarting it after finishing Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  So, I saved it as a PDF file* and sent it to myself both at home and at work.  I’ve begun rereading it, and I think this will help, because I’m enjoying the story so far and kind of refamiliarizing myself with the events therein.  Hopefully it will make a difference.  If it doesn’t, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I’m really having difficulty summoning the will to do much, and I don’t know how to counter it—I’m already taking the best dose of the combination of depression treatments that’s worked best for me in the past, and I’ve tried most at one time or another.

I did write a little impromptu blog post on Iterations of Zero about the Solstice, which you can read if you’re interested, though it will be a few days late.

It’s a tad late for them to arrive before Christmas, I suppose—except for Kindle editions—but if there are any avid readers in your list of present-recipients, I’d like to offer or suggest that you might want to give or send them a copy of one or more of my books.  If they like fantasy/sci-fi/horror, they might enjoy at least some of my stuff.  Here’s my blog page, “My Books”, and here’s the blog search of My Books, if you’d rather look at something like that.  And below is a screenshot, with link, to my Amazon author’s page, if you’d rather just look there.

authors page capture

The picture of me associated with that page is basically the same photo that’s here on this blog.  It’s ten years old, roughly, but I don’t think I’m going to update it.  I’ve “aged” (in appearance, anyway) far more than ten years’ worth in the interregnum.

I guess that shouldn’t be surprising.  In that time, I spent a few years in Florida State Prison, and this is a place that even Stephen King has referenced in at least one of his stories**.  That’s not the only thing that’s worn me down, obviously, but it was not minor, nor have been the consequences on my subsequent life of having been there, and of the fact of having been sent there.  I don’t recommend it.  The Florida DOC prides itself on not being any kinder than they are required to be by law; they boast*** on their website about their lack of air conditioning, for instance.  Their philosophy, and the entire attitude of Florida criminal law, is explicitly not about rehabilitation but about retribution.

This is not to indict every person who works in the organization.  There are many whose motivations are honorable, who want to do the best they can both for society and for those in the system, and this includes administrators, correction officers, educators, healthcare personnel, and so on.  Of course, there are also plenty of assholes, but that probably is no surprise.

Enough of that subject.  It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow and Christmas on Saturday.  I hope all of you who celebrate, either directly or indirectly, have a wonderful time.  If you’re able, spend time with the people you love the most, and with those who love you.  Be forgiving, and patient, and give them all the benefit of every doubt, even if they don’t return the favor.  Don’t take them for granted.  Remember, “Every Christmas is the last Christmas for somebody.”  Why be anything but kind in the meantime?

That’s a rhetorical question; I’m not inviting any suggested reasons.  I have a hard enough time being positive as it is.

Anyway, again, have fun, eat well, laugh hard, play games, sing songs, watch TV and movies, love your friends and family****, and above all, be kind.


santa who

*To avoid the urge to edit it while I reread it.

**The one that comes to mind is in his excellent, chilling, pseudo-sci-fi short story The Jaunt, which I first read in the collection Skeleton Crew.  I recommend both the story and the collection.  Actually, it’s hard to go too wrong with any of King’s short story collections!

***They used to, anyway.  I haven’t checked lately.

****“Because love, it’s not an emotion; love is a promise.”

And meteors fright the fixèd stars of heaven. The pale-faced moon looks bloggy on the earth

Konnichiwa and ohaiyou gozaimasu.  It’s Thursday again, and so it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I don’t really have much to report this week.  Of course, Hanukkah is over, and I hope those of you who observed it had a nice time and got to spend a few celebratory moments with family and/or friends.  Now we have a bit of a watchful peace, so to speak, before the arrival of Christmas and New Year.  I think there are other holidays in there as well, but I don’t know nearly as much about them as the others, and I’m not going to try to pretend that I do.

It all really centers around the coming Winter Solstice*, which even people a long time ago realized was the turning point of the year, when days started getting longer again after shortening for the previous six months.  This seemed like a sensible cause to celebrate.  Also, it was probably good just to try to keep everyone’s spirits up as much as possible, especially for those who lived relatively far north, where many Christmas decorations and customs take origin.

And, of course, for anyone who is seasonally affected, the knowledge that daylight will soon start increasing might provide some modest comfort, though given the lag time in both the onset and the regression of seasonal mood disorders, the turnaround for such people** probably won’t be noticeable for quite a while, assuming they survive.

I wonder if anyone has done a statistical study charting the average mood course of such people across the months.  Presumably, it would be in a sinusoidal pattern, but offset from the sinusoidal pattern of the changing of the length of days.  For someone who is in the throes of the worst of seasonal affective disorder—perhaps complicating other mood disorders—it might be at least some comfort to know that the fact that their mood doesn’t turn around right when the day changes is normal, and to have at least an estimate or a forecast for when the average sufferer tends to notice improvement.  Or maybe that’s just my kind of mindset, and most people wouldn’t really care.

My work on Outlaw’s Mind has been proceeding decently this week—about five thousand words in the last four writing days, though I did not write on Saturday or Sunday.  I just finished a horrifying and possibly frightening dream sequence which presages more momentous things to come.  These will start, perhaps, to make the main character wonder if the matters that trouble him really are merely in his mind, or if they have some reality of their own.  Whether he’ll ever know the truth is not yet clear.  At least my enthusiasm for the story has mostly recovered, and I look forward to its development.

I haven’t done any handwritten work on anything, though my clipboard with notebook paper sits always nearby during the workday.  That’s okay.  I don’t really want to get sidetracked from my main project, not unless I feel the strong urge to write more than one piece.  If I didn’t have a day job, maybe I would do that, but such a job I have and need, so that’s a moot point.  Of course, the argument could be quite convincingly made that all points are moot points.  But there can be interest and intellectual engagement even in moot points, after all.

While walking into a convenience store early this morning, I saw an unusually prominent meteor streak down the sky, much brighter and longer than most that I’ve seen, with a flame trail that also seemed to last longer than the vast majority do.  It was quite striking*** and remarkable.  Despite its relative duration, though, it came and went in a second only, perhaps only a pebble or smaller, burning up upon entering the atmosphere, such as has been used by songwriters and other artists, quite aptly, as a metaphor for any individual life.

But on the Planck scale, of course, the process of a meteor entering and burning up in the atmosphere contains a ridiculous number of moments, and an indescribable number of interactions between uncountably many elementary particles.  A human life is vastly greater still, astonishingly and mind-bogglingly complex and intricate.  And on a logarithmic scale, from the Planck time on up, a typical human lifespan is nearly as long as the life of our universe so far.

Of course, on the scale of the expected “lifespan” of a supermassive black hole****, the duration of time since the Big Bang is as vanishingly evanescent as the light of any meteor…or the light of, say, a spark rising from a burning log in a fireplace around which a family might sit, sipping warm beverages and warding off the winter cold.  It’s all a matter of scale and perspective.  Compared to eternity, any finite length of time is unreasonably close to and all but indistinguishable from zero.

I hope you’re all making the most of it, as best you can.



*In the northern hemisphere, of course.  In the southern hemisphere, the Summer Solstice approaches, and if most civilizations had taken root in that southern realm, I suppose we might have most of our big deal holidays around the end of June and might even start our new year around that time.  And indeed, what is now south might be our “north”.

**He says this as though it is merely theoretical, or as though it’s a clinical assessment of other people, having no personal bearing on him.  He also refers to himself in third person.

***Though it almost certainly did not strike the ground.

****For instance.

He capers, he dances, he has eyes of youth, he writes blogs, he speaks holiday

Hello, good morning, and welcome.  I’m back to my usual schedule at last, so once again it is Thursday, and it is time for the next edition of my weekly blog post.  Huzzah!

I’ve been under the weather this week, fighting a reasonably severe cold (which is still better than a relatively mild case of Covid-19 or a mild flu).  It really took the wind out of my sails.  I think I’m finally at the tail end of the thing, so I feel a surge of physical energy, and that’s always nice.  It helps counteract the melancholy of a holiday season in which long, dark nights exacerbate underlying mood disorders and when merry gatherings among others highlight the fact that one cannot spend any time with one’s loved ones, for about the dozenth year in a row.  Hypothetically.

Speaking of holidays, Happy Hanukkah to those of you who celebrate it!  It snuck up on me this year, since it came right on the heels of Thanksgiving, and in fact began before the end of November.  Such are the joys of holidays based upon an ancient, lunar calendar in a society that uses the much more sensible modern update of the Gregorian calendar.  At least it keeps things from being too dull and repetitive.

I’ve mentioned that I’ve had some difficulty writing recently; I worried that I’d gotten too tired of Outlaw’s Mind thanks to numerous interruptions.  Last week my work on it was sparse indeed, and this Monday morning, still reeling from the worst of my upper respiratory infection, I didn’t write anything at all.  In desperation, I decided to try again to revert to handwriting, and I bought some nice quality, loose-leaf notebook paper, with the thought that I would either continue Outlaw’s Mind on it or switch over to Changeling in a Shadow World.  I entertained visions of myself reclining in my narrow bed with clipboard on lap, pen in hand, making real progress on either story.  It was a pleasant notion and helped lift my spirits when I was under the weather.

Then, Tuesday morning, I took a direction that surprised me by working quite well—I switched back over from writing on my desktop, “work” computer* to using my little, portable laptop, originally purchased to use while commuting.  It, or its predecessor, is what I’ve used to write almost all of my recent work, and I was quite surprised to learn that this change made a real difference.  Writing on the little laptop has been so much smoother, so much more natural, that I would not have credited the difference before.

Other factors could be involved.  I’ve been steadily trying to get back into the story fully, and perhaps I simply finally crossed some mental threshold.  I’ve gotten past at least one major, depressing, (formerly) family holiday, and that’s a relief.  I’ve begun to recover from my recent virus, and that can’t hurt.  Also, I’ve been counting my calories rather severely and successfully since last Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and have succeeded so far in keeping to my draconian limitation, which certainly improves my sense of power over myself.  Any or all of these things could contribute to improved outcomes, and most or all of them probably do.  I’m not that interested in knowing the relative contributions of each factor, certainly not enough to try to vary only one thing at a time, to see which is really dispositive.  I just want to be able to write.

And I’ve been so able.  Tuesday and Wednesday mornings combined, in less than 45 minutes each morning**, I’ve written about three thousand words.  That’s not a record for me for two days’ work, probably not even close, but it’s a significant improvement over recent output.  I’ve also been more excited about both Outlaw’s Mind and Changeling in a Shadow World*** than I’ve been for a long time, thinking about things that will happen in both stories, going through dialogue in my mind, or out loud to myself while commuting, and so on.  I’ll finish Outlaw’s Mind first, but as a bit of a bone thrown to myself, I put my new notebook paper on my clipboard and at the top of the first page wrote:  “Changeling in a Shadow World by Robert Elessar”.  It’s readily available and visible in the office, so if I get some down time during the day, and feel so motivated, I can grab it and start writing.

Other than all that, there’s not much worth talking about.  I won’t comment here on new Covid-19 variants, though I made a video more generally about viruses, bacteria, etc.  I might have mentioned that last week; I can’t be bothered to check, nor have I really begun editing it yet.  Ironically, I’ve been too much suffering from the effects of a virus myself.

In any case, welcome to December, welcome back to Thursday, Happy Hanukkah and a happy holiday season in general.  Whether you’re generally a “Joy to the World” type or, like me, an “Oy! to the World” type, I hope you’re doing well, and that you have a wonderful week, month, and remainder of the year.


Hanukkah 2

*That’s the desktop computer associated with my “day job”; I’ve been writing on it recently since I use it every day anyway, saving my daily work on a thumb drive.  I figured, why not?  It’s all the same program.  But it seems my psychology is quirkier than I would have predicted, at least in this realm.

**I’ve had to nap a bit before working each time after getting to the office.  I am still technically sick.

***I’ve pretty much decided that will be the next book I write.  It was the only one for which I got any real requests, and the fact that my sister was the source didn’t hurt, either.

You great benefactors, sprinkle our society with thankfulness. For your own blogs, make yourselves praised.

Hello and good morning.  Once again, it’s not Thursday but Friday, this time the 26th of November in 2021.  I intended to write a blog post yesterday, though it was Thanksgiving here in the US.  However, I’ve come down with a moderate cold this week—nothing horrific, not Covid-19 or the flu, but an irritating and enervating process that includes sneezing, coughing, runny nose, some laryngitis, a bit of achiness, and just generally feeling blah.  So, I decided that I’d take the whole day off yesterday and sleep in, then sleep quite a bit off and on throughout the day.  I have done so, and now here I am, in the office on so-called Black Friday*, writing this week’s blog post.

I did try to make the fact of being sick productive—I recorded a roughly twenty or so minute video reviewing the differences between viruses and bacteria, the different types of illnesses they cause, and the differences in treatment for which they call.  It’s the sort of thing that I would have thought was common knowledge that most people learned and pretty well mastered by the time they were in middle school, at least on a broad level, but this is plainly not the case.  I haven’t edited and posted that video yet, but I will, probably this weekend, unless I’m too under the weather still.

Being sick and so on has seriously diverted me from my work on Outlaw’s Mind.  Between Monday and Tuesday, I only wrote 2450 words, and I wrote nothing at all on Wednesday (nor yesterday).  Part of this is due to the respiratory infection, but another portion is due to the ennui I continue to feel regarding writing any story.  I’m far more stubborn than the day is long, but even I can have difficulty staying motivated.  It’s not that I don’t like the story.  I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite ever story idea, but it’s also far from my least favorite, and no other story that I have waiting in the wings seems eager to push it aside.

Some of my apathy is probably due to the diminishing day length, which leads to worsening of my dysthymia—which has itself been persistent, more or less, in this iteration, for at least a dozen years and probably more.  In fact, the last time I can remember being truly free from it must be from roughly 1996 or 1997 through sometime in 2002 or 2003.  I was well-nigh unstoppable then, though I was in late med school then residency then the beginning of medical practice, and moved states, and became a father to two children.

After that time, especially after my back injury, I’ve been under the pall of depression/dysthymia, overlaid with personal catastrophes of several kinds.  The external stuff is comparably tolerable, however, though that might be hard to believe, since it includes injury, chronic pain, illness, loss of career, imprisonment, loss of family, isolation, etc.  But it’s true.

I liken it very much and quite seriously to being undead, and not in a cool, darkly sexy, Anne Rice vampire chronicles way.  One of the best literary quotes that describes, for me, what dysthymia is like is when Gandalf speaks of the Rings of Power to Frodo, describing what happens to someone (such as Bilbo or the Nazgul) who keeps one of the Great Rings:

“A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Great Rings, does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues, until at last every minute is a weariness.”

I’m pretty sure Tolkien didn’t intend this to be a metaphor for dysthymia, but it really resonates with me.  Interestingly, as I looked up the specific quote above, I realized that I had subtly altered it in my head to read:  “A mortal, Frodo, who keeps a Great Ring does not die, but neither does he grow or obtain new life.  He merely continues, until at last each breath is a weariness.”  The gist is the same, and I don’t know how to account for the differences.  Do those two wordings strike any of you differently, or are they basically indistinguishable?  I would honestly be fascinated to know.

Writing new stories has often been a source of some relief from depression; I’m not the only author to have noted this fact.  But rather like the notion that exercise is good for depression, it doesn’t do you much good if your depression keeps you from doing the thing that helps.  I’ve often wondered whether the causality was misconstrued in the studies of exercise and depression; perhaps the people who were able to do the exercising were already experiencing improvement in their depression, and so they were able to participate fully.  I’m pretty sure that the various study designers thought of that issue, and randomized as best they could to counter it, but it’s not always completely doable.

Anyway, that’s a summary of my status.  Maybe I’ll review all my old story ideas and see if any of them really grabs me and makes me want to write more than Outlaw’s Mind does.  I have this weekend off (after having worked the last two Saturdays), so perhaps the extra rest will help.

I hope all of you in the US had a lovely Thanksgiving, and that everyone else just had a lovely week and a nice Thursday.  Christmas approaches for those who celebrate it, and even those who don’t can’t avoid its presence in the West.  Best wishes of the solstice season to all of you out there, no matter which one you’re approaching.



*Though they’ve started with “Black Friday” sales right after Halloween, frankly, so they’ve rather spoiled the whole mystique of the Day After Thanksgiving being the biggest Christmas shopping day.  There’s no good and interesting phenomenon that we in America—and probably the rest of the world—can’t squeeze and overuse until it’s lost all sense of fun and use that it previously had.

Give me to drink mandragora…that I might sleep out this great blog of time

Goodo and hell morning.  It’s not Thursday—it’s Friday, November 19th, 2021—but this is an edition of my weekly blog post.  I did not write anything at all yesterday, neither blog post nor new fiction nor letters nor emails nor notes to self nor any other kind of writing.  I was lying in bed pretty much all day (getting up to obtain meals and to use the bathroom—which, interestingly, doesn’t have a bathtub, just a shower, a sink, and a euphemism, yet we call it a bathroom).  Despite having gotten nicely into a walking routine over the last several weeks—which seemed to be doing good for my back and other joints—somehow, at the beginning of this week, or the end of the last, something triggered a significant exacerbation.  I’ve had pain and stiffness not just in my back but markedly so in my hips and shoulders, wrists and hands, ankles, knees, and so on.  I wondered if I’d started to develop polymyalgia rheumatica, frankly, given the symptoms.

It’s interesting to note that something called polymyalgia* entails such prominent arthralgia**.  But nomenclature isn’t always accurate, even in medicine; it’s often riddled with historical artifacts.  Take the source of the word “vaccination”, for instance.  How many people know that its origin comes from exposing people to Vaccinia (related to smallpox and formerly thought to be cowpox but apparently more like horsepox***) to engender immunologic protection against Variola, aka Smallpox?

So, anyway, I didn’t write my usual weekly blog post on Thursday this week, and I suppose I could’ve just given the whole thing a miss, but I figured I’d try to be better late than never if I could.  I’m more motivated to write this blog than I am to write my new fiction, anyway, which is a bit sad to me, though I doubt I shall hear any wailing and gnashing of teeth from the general public.  Also, it’s just barely possible that I won’t be writing a blog post next week (though I think I usually do) on Thanksgiving.  It will probably be shorter than usual, anyway.  So, it would be a shame to leave this space blank, intentionally or otherwise.

This is not to say that I haven’t been working on Outlaw’s Mind.  I have.  Even when I’ve had trouble getting going in the morning, and I putter around rereading and—this week at least—spending about twenty minutes each morning lying on the floor to try to ease my back a bit, I still have written eight hundred to fourteen hundred words each on the days I’ve written, which is to say Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  I’m just not feeling the same drive and motivation for writing that I normally feel.

I wonder if that ambivalence is because this story has been interrupted more than once.  Part of me wants to put it back on the back burner and just start to write something new that I haven’t started before.  But then, of course, that would mean that there would be yet another interruption in Outlaw’s Mind, and it might never get written.  This is not exactly an epic tragedy, obviously—there are many stories waiting in my head that have not yet been, and may never be, written.  But it would be a minor shame.  Had I but world enough and time—or particularly, had I but a time unmarred by chronic pain with exacerbations and free from chronic depression, or at least with all those things under reasonable control—I could write more and faster even than I already do.

And if wishes were horses, we’d all be neck deep in horseshit.

Anyway, that’s nearly it for this week, I’m afraid.  I apologize for the lateness and for the less-than-optimal post that this is.  It’s a day late and, though not a dollar short, I feel it’s not up to my usual standards.  I’m back at the office, but I am still far from physically comfortable, and that takes its toll.  I hope you’ll all understand.

In the meantime, though, in America we have Thanksgiving coming up next week, and I hope most of you are looking forward to a nice meal with family if you’re able.  Though, of course, be careful if you travel, and do your best not to contribute to a new wave of Covid-19, as well as flu and other respiratory viruses—they all tend to have significant upticks here in the US after Thanksgiving, since it’s the biggest travel holiday of the year.

Please, everyone, have a good time with those you love.  And do something, if you’re able, for people who are alone.  Even if it seems that’s the way they want to be, it’s worth checking if they need anything.

But for goodness’ sake, don’t tell them that they ought to be thankful and appreciative and not feel too bad, perhaps because other people have it “worse”.  That doesn’t help anybody; it’s just self-serving crap designed to absolve the speaker of any need to be compassionate.  There’s presumably only one person on Earth at any given time about whom it couldn’t be said that there are those who have it worse****.  What good does it do anyone to be told that, at this moment, they aren’t that person, by someone else who also isn’t that person and isn’t doing anything to make a difference for that person or for anyone else?  If you can’t say anything useful and/or nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.  Silence is preferable to insulting, counterproductive stupidity.



*Which refers to muscle pain.

**Which refers to joint pain.

***So many farm animal poxes!  Chicken pox, by the way, is Varicella.  Imagine if our inoculation process had started with chicken pox.  We might refer to the process as varicellation.

****I think we can safely assume that the title changes hands rapidly and often, since such a person probably has a foreshortened lifespan.