Faintness constraineth me to measure out my length on this cold blog.

Hello everyone.  Welcome to the second Thursday of August in 2021, and to another edition of my weekly blog post.  I won’t say “good morning” because I frankly had an absolutely terrible night’s sleep, even for me, and I don’t feel very good or very well this morning…though I do, of course, hope you all have a good one, nevertheless.

I say “weekly” blog post but, of course, I did create an interim post last week sharing a cover that I did of the Radiohead song Street Spirit (Fade Out), and if you’re interested, I encourage you to check it out and listen.  It exists as a “video” on YouTube, and as is usual with YouTube posters, I hereby request that if you listen on YouTube, and if you happen to like the cover, please do click the “like” button on the YouTube page.  This apparently does real, measurable good for the degree to which YouTube videos are recommended to people online, and increases the circulation of the YouTube page, which I would obviously like, all other things being equal.

This is all somewhat ironic, considering I did my own song called Like and Share, which bemoans the nature of liking and sharing online—but it does so with a very specific point, highlighting the way in which people sometimes try to create or pretend to a self-image by sharing things online and how they can become quite vulnerable to setbacks relating to this, sometimes even leading to, or at least contributing to, personal tragedy.  The only tragedy associated with liking and/or sharing my song cover might be if those who hear it really don’t like it…but in that case, I wouldn’t expect you to “like” it, let alone share it.

I did another “video” this week, of what was really an impromptu audio blog about the possible future of neurostimulation.  It was just some off-the-cuff thoughts, and I made a post on Iterations of Zero sharing the video as well.  If you’re interested in such things, I encourage you to check it out, and likewise to “like” it if you like it and share it if you wish.  By all means, of course, I would like you to “like” the posts here on WordPress as well.  And I welcome any comments, here, at IoZ, or on YouTube, about either or any of my videos or posts.

As is often the case when I find myself obsessed with making a song (or a cover), the editing process on In the Shade has been mildly held back this last week, but I’ve nevertheless been making decent progress.  The word count is shrinking at a slightly lower rate than it was in the beginning, but it does continue to shrink.  And, of course, I’m editing for other things besides simple length, wordiness, digression, whatever you might want to call it.  That almost goes without saying.

As for everything else in life…well, there isn’t much of it.  Though today is unusually bad, my general insomnia and dysthymia continue to give me trouble; I’m tired to exhausted nearly every day, nearly all day.  It’s often difficult for me to see the point in doing anything at all.  However, I am notoriously stubborn, something that might be good or bad or both, and so I plod on.  No one ever promised anyone a rose garden, I guess.  At least, no with the wherewithal to fulfill such promises has ever promised.  The universe promises us nothing—or at most, one thing—and as far as I can tell, it doesn’t make bargains with anyone.

Even so, it won’t be too much longer before I’m done with In the Shade, and then I can compile and publish Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and then I have plans to finish Outlaw’s Mind.  After that, I’m not sure what writing project I’ll work on next.  I listed several possible stories a few blog posts back—I’ll look for that post and link it here—and I’d encourage those of you who might be interested to take a quick read through them, and if any one or few of them sounds particularly interesting or promising to you, please let me know.  If you can also tell me why, please do so.

With that, I’m going to call it enough for this week.  I need to have a nap or something before editing and posting this, but at least the fact that it’s slightly shorter than usual should make that process quicker and maybe even easier than usual.  If my writing is poor today, I do apologize.  Please try your best to stay reasonably safe and healthy, and to be as happy as you’re able to be, as long as your pursuit of happiness doesn’t directly and unnecessarily impair someone else’s.

TTFN

Karloff monster

How have I frighted thee, that thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down and steep my blogs in forgetfulness?

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another Thursday edition of my weekly blog.

I woke up early today, and I couldn’t go back to sleep.  This is not so unusual—I’m rather insomniac by nature, or at least by long habit, and I often wake up well before I need to get up.  It’s one of those hallmarks or symptoms of certain things in which I’m rather typical, which can be either reassuring or discouraging (or uninteresting) depending on your point of view.  Anyway, as I said, I woke up early as I often do, but I felt atypically restless, and I knew that I was going to be writing my blog today anyway, so I just got up and took my shower and came to the office.  Whether that will lead to this post going out slightly earlier than usual remains to be seen.

I don’t recall if I had finished it by this time last week, but by the end of last week I had finished the basic editing of House Guest and I am pleased with the result.  Now, to round out the stories that I mean to put into Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, I’m finishing a story I started about eight or nine years ago, called In the Shade, which I’ve mentioned, I think, more than once in the past.  I had written perhaps fifteen pages of it, something like 14,000 words or so, when I kind of lost the thread.

To give myself excuses, and to defend the story itself (which deserves better treatment), many things were troubling me at the time.  Not that my life is a whole lot more even-keeled now, but I guess I’ve gotten used to the difficulties, which is not to say that I’ve developed skills for addressing them.  I think I’ve just arrived at a policy of “biding the end”.  Basically, it’s all going to be taken off my hands by something eventually, so like the rat in the cage getting frequent shocks without any obvious pattern or way to avoid them, I’ve embraced the logic of learned helplessness.  The Vagabond would probably approve.

Anyway, I came back to In the Shade and began applying my current writing approach, which has been much more successful and productive than anything I’ve done before:  Just write something, anything, even if you don’t feel like it.  Don’t worry too much about what comes out.  You’ll fix it up in the rewrite/editing process, so don’t be one of those stereotypical writers who agonizes over each sentence as you produce it.  Just write, try to write at least a page every day, and the outcome will take care of itself (as long as you’re strict about editing).

I’m pleased to say that this has been as successful as always.  The first day of return to the story was pretty much all rereading (fixing a few grammatical and typographical things here and there along the way) and I perhaps wrote less than a half a page after that.  But then Tuesday and Wednesday I came back, reread what I’d written the day before, and then wrote more.  As always, when approaching the keyboard, I was reticent, with a sense of dreariness and inertia, but the rule is always just to write something, at least a page (or even less, if absolutely necessary) and move forward.  The first day this worked well, and by the second day I was into full swing; after feeling as lazy and resistant as usual when I sat down, I churned out over 2600 new words* on the story in a little over an hour.  I finally had to force myself to stop when it was past time to get ready for the normal workday.  It’s really cool how that happens.  If I could bottle and sell it, I’d be a billionaire.

As always, it’s good to be writing new fiction again, especially after quite a long stretch of doing mainly editing, rewriting, layout, and whatnot.  From Unanimity, then on to The Vagabond, with only a tiny bit of work on Outlaw’s Mind in between, I haven’t done much new fiction for a while.  Of course, I’m still just technically continuing an oldish story, but the writing is new.  I’m also very pleased to have thought of newer, better ways to continue and conclude that tale than the vaguer notions I had when I first started it, so that’s taking life’s lemons and making a silver lining for the horns of a dilemma while the iron is hot.  Or something like that.

I’m not quite sure how I’m going to arrange the stories in my collection** when the time comes.  I think I’ll probably put House Guest right at the beginning, as it’s both brief and the oldest of my stories.  It’s also, I think, a good introductory tale, and I’m reasonably pleased with it.  I’ll probably put In the Shade at the end, since it’s the last story that’s going to be finished.  I’ll likely throw Solitaire in the middle, surrounded by comparatively lighter fare***, maybe Ifowonco and Penal Colony.  This is just brainstorming, though.  You’ll have to wait and see, as will I, what the real order will be.

I’m getting pretty good feedback from the people who are reading The Vagabond, some of whom are not usually big readers.  That’s certainly gratifying.  If I could be part of turning one person who doesn’t read much into a habitual reader, I could consider myself worth having existed.

My sister, also, is apparently enjoying the book, and she even had a tee-shirt made by customink.com, a picture of which I’ll include below.  I know she’s been reading the book because she quoted the Vagabond himself regarding the color, saying, “After all, gray is the color of despair.”  She added a smiley, winking emoji to the comment, because I don’t think the shirt, or its color, really felt despair-ish to her.  But gray is the Vagabond’s favorite color.

Hopefully, she doesn’t mind me sharing this.  If she does, I’ll happily edit it out.

Speaking of feedback, I hereby make a general request to anyone who has read any of my books or stories please to leave a review and/or rating on Amazon for them if you get the chance—and do so for other authors as well, please.  It makes a huge difference in encouraging future readers to buy the books, and it’s also immeasurably rewarding to get well-meaning feedback.  I think I speak for most if not all authors when I say this.

By all necessary and possible means, keep reading—and just as you would tip your servers at a restaurant, please review or rate your authors.  Above all else, take care of yourselves and those you love.

TTFN

Vagabond tee cropped ha ha


*Not really “new” words, I guess.  If they were new, no one would know what they meant, even if I knew.

**I want to abbreviate its title the way I call The Chasm and the Collision “CatC” for short, but unfortunately, DECoC seems mildly obscene.

***Pretty much everything is comparatively lighter than Solitaire.

How strange or odd some’er I blog myself, as I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on.

Hello, everyone!  Good morning, and welcome to another Thursday, and therefore, to another of my weekly blog posts.  I felt tempted to begin with, “Hey, Vsauce!  Robert here,” since I’ve been watching rather a larger number of YouTube videos than usual, including many Vsauce videos that I haven’t seen in a while.  I’ve shared a few of them, which you may know if you follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook friend (I don’t tend to share videos on my Facebook author page.  Maybe I should).

Of course, the above is related to the fact that this is my second Thursday working from home, and thus writing this blog from home.  It’s not that I don’t go into the office at all, since I am responsible for records and payroll, not all of which can be done remotely*.  But we’ve moved such operations as we’re able out of the office.  It’s been surprisingly successful, on some days more than others, but certainly not ideal.

Also, let’s be honest, apart from going to the office, this blog is the most social thing I do, so I’m tending to involute a bit more even than usual, which is probably not a good thing.  I won’t say that, like Melkor, after wandering in the Void too often I start wanting to take over Middle-earth, but like him, my time spent alone (albeit reading and listening to books and watching mostly educational YouTube videos) does lead me to have thoughts unlike those of my brethren.

Then again, I’ve always had those.

Oh, by the way, a Happy Passover to those of you who celebrate it!  I don’t know if anyone’s having seders or not—I suppose they might as well do them with the people with whom they’re living, anyway—but still, hopefully you have a nice holiday that’s not too disrupted from the normal flow.

And of course, the fact that Passover has started probably means that Easter is coming.  Let’s take a look…

…yep.  It’s this Sunday (unless you’re Eastern Orthodox or similar, in which case you’ll celebrate the following Sunday.  I’m never quite sure why the difference, and I guess I don’t care enough to look it up).  So, for those of you who celebrate that holiday, do your very, very best to have a Happy Easter!  As far as I know, chocolate bunnies aren’t sources of contagion, as long as they were in packages that were wiped down before being opened.  Ditto with Cadbury Creme Eggs**!  Of course, I know that none of the chocolate or egg things have anything to do with the religious aspects of the Easter holiday, but they’re fun, and I doubt Jesus would mind people celebrating with chocolate***.

Anyway.

Of course, given my time at home, Unanimity is continuing well, though ironically, not quite as speedily as when I go to the office.  That latter fact is just a matter of transition, adjustment, and adaptation; I’m somewhat overindulging in the fact that I don’t have to commute, and using it as an excuse for a relative lie-in.  I sometimes sleep as late as seven in the morning (!), though admittedly I still experience my usual inevitable awakening sometime between three and four, and do a bit of grumbling and fumbling before I’m able to go back to sleep, if I can at all.  This latter habit has nothing to do with my prostate—I’ve been that way almost for as long as I can remember, and it seems to be related to dysthymia/depression, with its whole lovely early morning awakening.

If I developed the ability to see people’s auras and go higher up the levels of the “tower”, as in Stephen King’s Insomnia, I wouldn’t mind it so much.

I still haven’t released my latest/last version of my song Schrodinger’s Head, nor have I released the audio blog I did off the cuff last week, though they’re both ready for public consumption.  It’s probably partly due to the general topsy-turvy nature of the current weirdness that I’ve been so lackadaisical.  I really must try to get those out soon.

With that, I suppose I have little more to add.  I hope you all stay as safe and healthy as you’re able, while remembering (tacitly, at least) that perfect safety and permanent health are impossible.  Everything involves trade-offs, and no one lives forever****.  But certainly, there is no excuse for endangering others unnecessarily, so take precautions, and if you’re ill, stay away from other people as much as possible.  Hopefully the far end of this thing will come sooner than we think…but of course—and rather by definition—I don’t think it will.  Oh, well.  The world’s a hard place with many sharp corners and uneven surfaces.  That needn’t stop us from making the most of it.

TTFN


*Including giving people their paychecks.

**Mmmmmmm, creme eggs…so yummy!

***“Hey, did you hear?” “What?” “Jesus came back from the dead!” “Wow! That calls for a celebration!  Let’s have some chocolate!” “Sounds good to me!  Oh, by the way, do you know who spilled food coloring on all the eggs and then tried to hide them all over the place?”

****Except Michael Menelvagor and the vampire, Morgan.  To know who those people are, read my books Son of Man and Mark Red.  Go ahead, you probably have some spare time.

Fie on’t! ah fie! ’tis an unweeded garden, that grows to seed; blogs rank and gross in nature possess it merely.

ulysses

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another Thursday edition of my weekly blog post.  I didn’t sleep well last night—even by my standards—so if I say something even more bizarre or incoherent than usual, I can only apologize and beg you to bear with me.

It’s been a moderately interesting week.  I can honestly say I think I’m finally starting to see some effects of my new depression treatment regimen (not “regime”).  This can’t mean as much to all of you as it does to me, but nonetheless it’s probably a welcome thought for those committed to following this blog.  At least it means—if I’m correct in my assessment—that I’ll be less likely to write quite such dreary things as sometimes drip from my computer when I’m wallowing in the dumps.

I posted an audio smidgen—only about seven minutes long, if memory serves—on Iterations of Zero yesterday, though it was recorded a week ago. People don’t seem to be responding much to those, so I may relegate them to history’s anonymous junk heap and go back to trying to find time to write about such topics instead of simply moaning and groaning aloud about them.  That’s fine, though.  Written language is more efficient.  It’s also the lifeblood of civilization, besides being the love of my life.

I did, though, on a whim whose source I can’t really credit, decide yesterday to start doing audio for my second latest short story Penal Colony.  I had no specific plans for how much to do, but before I’d finished for the day, I’d recorded about forty-seven minutes of unedited audio, getting more than thirty percent through the story (based on Kindle’s reckoning).  I’d forgotten how much I enjoy reading my stories aloud.  I may go back to it in something like earnest (but not like Frank, I don’t like that guy), doing audio for Free Range Meat, and then resuming the audio for The Chasm and the Collision, for which I think I stopped after chapter nine.  Then, who knows, maybe my other books and stories will follow.

It’s gonna be some time before I get to doing audio for Unanimity, though.  Just thinking about it is daunting.

As further evidence of my gradual but hopeful improvement of chronic mood disorder, I sent out copies of the latest version of Unanimity and my partially complete novella with the working title Safety Valve to my sister and to a dear friend from my youth (both of whom share my love of reading), just in case, as I think I put it, something happens to me.  This may seem morbid and not at all non-depressed at first glance, but it’s a departure.  When I’m deeply in the throes of depression, I become almost completely nihilistic at numerous levels, such that I think that if I die, I really don’t care what happens to my writing, no matter how much work has gone into it…and there has been a LOT of work.  Needless to say, if I were to die, I would not then care what happened to my writing, but the me now can care—or not—about things that the nonexistent future me will be unable to choose to care about or not…if that makes any sense.

Anyway, the fact that I did it shows at least some improvement.  It’s still possible that I might do something successfully self-destructive*, but at least I’m acting to prophylax against such occurrences.

As for other things…I’m studiously avoiding following the process of the presidential trial in the Senate.  I already feel a thoroughgoing contempt for pretty much everyone involved in the government—and by extension many of the people who keep electing them—and in my currently improving but still-fragile mood, I just don’t need the exposure to all the stupidity, vanity, ignorance with wings, hubris, manipulation (successful and otherwise), and petty monkey-poop throwing by a collection of supposed public servants who actually serve no one but themselves, and don’t even do that very well.  It’s spectacles such as these that lead me to the calm, resigned feeling that, hey, it’s not such a big loss if humanity, and even the whole planet Earth, just withers and dies.  It’s gonna happen someday anyway; it might as well be sooner rather than later.

I can do without reinforcing that feeling.  It’s already hard enough to argue against it logically; I’d like to curb the emotion.  Otherwise, I might start working on a doomsday machine of my own to see if I can hasten the end.

Don’t worry, don’t worry.  At least as of now, I’m not doing any such thing.

Humanity doesn’t really need my help, do they?

TTFN


*Of course, there are always external dangers to life and limb for us all, and sooner or later they do catch up to us, but I tend to be by far the greatest threat to my own continued existence.

Methought I read a blog cry, “Sleep no more!”

insomnia

Hello and good day!  It’s Thursday again, as you no doubt know, and time for me to write another weekly blog entry.

I’ve had a rather intense exacerbation of my chronic insomnia over the last several days, so I’m worried that my writing might be incoherent and disjointed.  Of course, it’s possible that my writing is always that way, and I simply haven’t noticed.  How would I know for sure?  Still, I might be mistaken, but when I reread my writing, it doesn’t seem terribly incoherent to me.  Until and unless I receive specific feedback from others, there’s no way to fact-check the matter except through my general agreement with other readers about the quality of other writers.

Such are the vagaries of epistemology.

Insomnia has been a longstanding problem for me, certainly ever since I’ve been an “adult.”  One part of that problem is that, unlike what seems to be the case for most people, sleep is not in an especially pleasant experience for me.  If anything, it’s rather dysphoric.  I don’t tend to remember any dreams—which is disappointing, given legends of such writers as Coleridge, who are reputed to have been led to some of their greatest works by slumberous visions.

For me, sleep is at best a bland phenomenon; I have trouble getting to sleep and I have trouble staying asleep.  I don’t resist sleep knowingly, and I certainly don’t fear it in the sense that inspired the apocryphal Edgar Allen Poe quip, “Sleep, those little slices of death, how I loathe them!”  Though Poe never wrote those words, as far as I know, he does seem to have been afraid of and resistant to sleep as a harbinger or precursor of death; he clearly feared premature burial (that dread features prominently in more than one of his stories).

This is not the nature of my problem.  I have no intellectual fear of death at all, though it’s hard to eliminate the purely biological drive to keep living.  I simply find sleep, if not actively unpleasant, somewhere between uninteresting and dreary.  The only time I’ve ever experienced real pleasure both at anticipating sleep and at experiencing it was when I was taking Paxil to treat depression.  That was certainly remarkable, but the medicine had more than enough detriment to counter that one benefit*, and it never did a very good job on my depression.

There’s little doubt that my chronic insomnia and my dysthymia/depression are related, and that the tendency for sleep to be thoroughly anhedonic to me is part and parcel of my dysthymia, though it long predates the latter problem.  I don’t remember any time in my life when sleep held real allure for me.  This tendency has been useful in many situations; I’ve never had trouble being an early riser, and when on call—either in hospital during residency, or from home later on in my practice—I never had much trouble quickly coming awake and being able to focus on whatever problem might need my attention.  And, of course, indifference to sleep was a very useful trait when my children were babies, allowing my then-wife to rest through the night far more often than many new mothers can.

Feeding and rocking my infant children in the silence of the night, now…that was a truly hedonic experience par excellence.

Nevertheless, like every organism with a nervous system, I do require sleep, though the nature of that need is far from fully understood by science.  When I go without enough of it, for long enough, it wears me out, and I know that it affects my cognitive functions, as well as my moods (though there’s a real chicken and egg problem involved in this latter issue).  So, I try—sometimes only halfheartedly, I’ll admit—to avoid succumbing to my insomnia.  But it can be hard just to lay in bed doing nothing and waiting to see if sleep arrives…or if it returns, as the case may be, when I awaken far too early in the morning.  I don’t tend to feel anxious or particularly stressed at such times, because again, I don’t particularly enjoy sleep, but I sometimes get angry at myself, knowing that I’m going to regret my sleeplessness later.

Oh well.  Whataya gonna do?

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do:  keep chugging along, I suppose.  The editing of Unanimity continues to go well, despite a few computer issues; I’m still enjoying the story and the characters.  And, of course, my footnote reminded me that I have a substantially begun novella waiting in the wings, which I may even complete someday.  And, however much I tend to begin my blog posts with no clear idea where I’m going in any given week, it’s still a rewarding process.  If nothing else, I amuse myself, and that’s got to be worth something.

Hopefully, at least occasionally, some of you enjoy it, too.

TTFN


*When coming off it, I did have two experiences of sleep paralysis, which I’ve not experienced before or since, but which were astoundingly vivid and thoroughly terrifying.  The first centered on the comparatively benign illusion of a lion resting on my body and holding me in place, and the second—far worse—involved an indescribable, extradimensional monstrosity pinning me to my bed.  I’m somewhat proud to say that, on that second occasion, rather than try to scream or anything of the sort, I was able with great effort to force my head into motion—or to imagine that I did—and I bit the effing thing.  This woke me up fully at last.  I immediately recognized the well-described phenomenon for what it was, but that didn’t prevent me from feeling truly frightened for several long minutes afterward.  A version of that second experience has appeared in a current work in progress, the novella tentatively titled Safety Valve.  So, I guess I have used “dream” experiences to inspire my writing upon occasion.