They have been at a great feast of languages, and blog’d the scraps

Hello and good day!

It’s Thursday again, and time again for you to endure the ordeal of slogging through my blogging.  I could say that it’s also time for me to slog through the process of writing another blog post, but I rarely think of writing as an ordeal (though sometimes the process of forcing myself to get started can be a minor challenge).

One crucial aspect of writing, of course—if you want to be a good writer, anyway—is that you need to read a lot.  Most of the writers whose work I admire are or have been avid readers.  This makes sense.  One could probably say something analogous about musicians, or about other types of artists:  it’s difficult to know what’s possible, to have a deep grasp of the intricacies of one’s subject, if one doesn’t expose oneself to what other artists have done.  Of course, each person’s bandwidth is limited, as is each person’s interest and exposure, but that’s part of what makes art interesting, and fundamentally stochastic.  Mozart, unfortunately, could never be influenced by the music of the band Yes, but the converse is true, through the accident of historical placement.  I sometimes wonder what Mozart might have done with modern musical instruments and precedents at his disposal, just as I wonder what Shakespeare or Dickens might have written after extensive exposure to the modern world.  We can, unfortunately, only imagine the wonders to be found in “Electric Guitar Concerto No. 4,” or “The Tragedy of Richard Nixon,” or “A Tale of Two Social Media.” Continue reading

A minist’ring angel shall my blog post be

Phew.

I have not been feeling well.  Consequently, I must apologize for the fact that I didn’t post anything on my Iterations of Zero blog this week.  That’s the second time in the last month that I’ve neglected that blog, but I have to say—I hope you’ll trust me on this—that if I had written anything, it probably would have been quite substandard for me (how that compares to anyone else, I’m in no position to judge), and might have veered into true gibberish.  Sunday was a wretched day, and even now I’m still at the tail end of the bug that bit me.  How bad was it?  Let’s just say, when I saw a news story about a minor outbreak of salmonella associated with a particular company’s eggs, I wondered whether I might have gotten a minor dose of it.

For the record, I’m quite sure this was not the case.  Sick though I’ve been, I know that it hasn’t approached salmonella level.

I have, except for that Sunday omission, kept up with my writing and related matters, pretty much to my usual level (though only later review will reveal if quality suffered).  Unanimity, for instance, is proceeding at a steady pace toward its conclusion, though it’s not there yet by any means.  I had no idea when I started writing it that it was going to be so long.  I’m going to need to be absolutely ruthless in the rewrite and editing stage to make sure there’s not just a lot of unnecessary stuff in there.  I don’t feel like there is, but it’s hard to tell while in the thick of things.

Speaking of length, I’m almost done with the final editing of the audio for Hole for a Heart, and I expect to release it onto my blog by the end of this week, to be then adapted for “video” and posted on YouTube.  It’s my longest audio yet, and I’m pretty happy with it.  As always, there are some technical imperfections here and there, but my audio skill is gradually improving.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.

I’ve decided on a slight change of plans with respect to my audio projects.  I had originally intended to go from Hole for a Heart on to the three short stories in Welcome to Paradox City, probably following the order of the book.  Instead, though, I think I’m going to do a chapter-by-chapter reading of The Chasm and the Collision next.  I feel that, now that I’m developing at least a modicum of skill in this area, it’ll be fun to release that story in audio.  I had planned to serialize the book when originally writing it.  I quickly concluded that serialization wasn’t going to work in that case, especially given my personal logistic constraints at the time, but I think it will be fun to serialize it on audio.  I do love the story, I must admit it; I’m quite pleased with the world I created, as well as the characters.  If I can entice more readers into exploring it by rationing out the tale, read aloud, a chapter at a time, well…I think that will be time well spent, and will certainly be enjoyable for me.

I may occasionally intersperse a reading of one of my short stories in the middle, at good pausing points in the book.  That will depend on whether I need a break from the story or not, more than on anything else.  One thing seems certain, each individual chapter of CatC will take less time to produce in audio than any of my short stories so far.

Coming back to Iterations of Zero:  I’ve mentioned before that, partly as a way of making up for having missed (now) two weeks of writing it, I’m planning on re-blogging some articles I wrote before, and originally posted here, but which really are more well-suited for the general-purpose, non-fiction-related IoZ gestalt.  I may edit those articles/posts before republishing them, or I may just throw them out as they are.  We shall see.

With that, I think there’s not much more that needs to be said this week.  Again, the audio for Hole for a Heart should appear here within the next 24 to 48 hours, and subsequently on YouTube.  Most importantly, my original fiction writing will continue at its usual pace, through Unanimity, to a short story immediately after, and thence to my next novel, which is already chewing on the inside of my brain, sensing hungrily the proximity of freedom.  And whither then?  I cannot say.

TTFN

Since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, this blog post will be brief

Greetings, everyone.  I hope you’re having a good day.  This post should be relatively short, but I thought I’d give a few minor updates.

First, as those of you following this blog will already have noticed, I posted the audio for Prometheus and Chiron here yesterday.  I think it turned out reasonably well, and the sound quality overall was a step up from Ifowonco.  As I’ve said before, I think I’m getting better at audio production as I become more used to the process, but I imagine there will always be room for improvement.

Unanimity is coming along well—I haven’t been slacking on it, even though I’ve been working on these audio projects.  It is, however, going to end up being rather longer than I thought it would be, because there are quite a few more things that need to happen before the story is done.  I’m not bored of it by any means; quite the contrary.  But I have been surprised by how quickly it’s grown.  I’m sure the rewriting/editing process is going to be daunting, but then again, it always is.

I’ve decided that, from now on, I’m not going to stop writing new things (i.e., first drafts of stories), even while I’m editing older material—I’ll just set a lower target every day for the new writing during those times.  For instance, right now, when new writing is essentially my entire focus (excluding the audio), I’m writing roughly three pages a day, five days a week (with two days set aside, one for this blog, and for my other one, Iterations of Zero).  Once I need to get into editing Unanimity (after it’s been set aside for Stephen King’s recommended weeks-long resting period), I’ll plan to write only one new page a day, and then spend the rest of my mornings editing.

That’s the plan, anyway.  Of course, we all know what Rabbi Burns (ha!) said about the best laid plans of mice and men and all that, but I’m not too worried about achieving that goal precisely, just in spirit.

Other matter, other matters…

Now that the audio of Prometheus and Chiron has been released, I’m soon going to upload the video version of that audio to my YouTube channel, and I’ll notify everyone here once it’s up.  As before, don’t expect much from the video portion; it’s likely just going to be a still image of the cover of the story.  I just find that YouTube is an incredibly widespread and easily shared venue in which to post something, including audio.  I’ve noticed that quite a few people make similar videos of the audio of podcasts, for instance.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I often like to go to sleep while listening to a lecture, or discussion, or something of the sort playing on YouTube.  I don’t know how well that would work with my audio—my stories aren’t really designed to ensure restful slumber—but if you think they might, feel free to play them, in either venue.  As I think I’ve said before, I plan on creating audio versions of all my short stories eventually, and then—possibly—releasing audio of at least some of my novels, a chapter at a time.  When that time comes, I’ll gladly take your input on with which book to begin.

There’s not much other news on the writing front this week.  I plan next week to post an author’s note for Hole for a Heart.  That will no doubt rehash some of what I’ve already talked about here when I was writing the story, but it’s going to be far from redundant, I think.  Then I think I really need to get started on my series of explorations of my favorite antagonists from books, stories, graphic novels, comics, movies, etc., under the general heading, “My heroes have always been villains.”  I’ve been intending to do this for a long time—planning it, you might say (see above about plans)—but it’s high time I put it into motion.

That’s about it.  It’s been brief, as I said it would be, but I will post here also just to let everyone know when the Video of the Audio is up, so you won’t feel too short-changed.  In the meantime, try to enjoy (in the northern hemisphere) the slowly developing Spring.  As always, feel free to comment, and thank you for reading.

TTFN!

Oh, that this too too sullied blog post would melt…

Okay, once again I’m taking a week-long break between author’s notes, just to give those who are interested a brief update on my doings.  Next week, I will post the author’s note for The Death Sentence, the first story in my collection Welcome to Paradox City, (unless, for some unforeseen reason, I decide to write it about something else).

As you know, if you follow this blog, I’ve taken a short break from working on Unanimity, my upcoming horror novel, to complete the editing and rewriting of Hole for a Heart, an earlier version of which appeared here.  Like its predecessors, I for one welcome our new computer overlords, and Prometheus and Chiron, the story is benefiting greatly from the process, at least in my eyes.  Hopefully, anyone who ends up having read both versions will agree with me.*

It’s always nice when, upon rereading his or her own story, an author finds himself or herself excited and moved by that work, and this has been true in spades on Hole for a Heart.  I’ve experienced brilliant moments when, going through the rewrite/edits, I found myself getting mildly creeped out.  This is a good thing; it is a horror story, after all.  Of course, it helped that I was doing the work in the early morning, while it was still dark outside, and I was alone.  But still…obviously, I knew what was going to happen in the story, but still found myself at least mildly chilled.  It’s nice that the atmosphere I’d tried to create worked, at least on me.  Whether it will work similarly on other readers remains to be seen, but I have high hopes.

On another subject:  I’ve struggled to find the time to work on my non-fiction-related blog, “Iterations of Zero.”  I did write a brief post there earlier this week, detailing some puzzlement I have about the nature of gravitons, and how they might interact with an event horizon, because I felt compelled to get those thoughts out into the meme-pool, but it’s difficult for me to get all that I want to get done there.  I have three partially written articles languishing in my computer, as well as two full files in the memo app of my smart-phone, stuffed with ideas about which I want to write, issues I want to address, questions I want to raise.  When I say full, I mean it.  The files are as large as is allowed by the memo app…or at least the first one is, and the second is within a hair’s breadth of fullness.

By comparison, the file containing my story ideas (admittedly it’s not the only location for such recorded inspiration) is only one, nearly-full, memo file.**

The main reason that I have trouble getting IoZ as productive as I want it to be is time, that limiting factor on all things, so beautifully lamented by Andrew Marvell in To His Coy Mistress.  I work eleven out of every fourteen days, full time, and my commute is an hour to two hours in each direction.  This transit provides a wonderful opportunity to listen to podcasts and audio-books, but otherwise, those are unproductive hours.

Obviously, I can’t just write while I’m at work.  My boss is about as pleasant and understanding as it’s possible to be while owning and running a business, but his patience would be strained if I were to spend a significant amount of my work time doing things that had no relation to my job.  More pointedly, long before I would reach the threshold of annoying my boss, I would be curtailed by own conscience.  It’s simply not in my nature to be able to freeload while earning a paycheck, and I’m glad that it’s not.

So, my time is limited, and if sacrifices have to be made in my writing, I must regretfully choose to sacrifice the non-fiction, since fiction is my primary calling.  Of course, if enough people buy my books, I may make enough money to write full time, which would not break my heart.  If you’d like to see that happen, please feel free to buy them, and encourage others to do so as well!  ^_^

On yet another note, rewriting my short stories, and listening to audio books has re-ignited my desire to post my own audio recordings of the three short stories I’ve been working on recently.  There’s something special about a book being read by its author; at least there is for me.  I know it isn’t always workable for everyone, but I have a pretty decent reading voice, and I’m frequently told that I sound pleasant on the phone, so I’m not worried about my words grating on the listener’s ears.  Also, it’s just wonderful fun – for me – to read things out loud.  It always has been.  I’ll read books out loud to myself, if I’m enjoying them enough, especially when the dialogue is good, and it’s nice to think of sharing that enjoyment.  I don’t really foresee recording any of my novels, at least not in the immediate future, and definitely not just for posting on the blog.  That kind of work would require remuneration.

On yet another other note:  I don’t recall whether I’ve mentioned this here before, but in recent times I’ve had a real block on reading fiction, which is quite new for me.  Forget finding new stories to read; even stories that I love deeply have been unable to grip my attention, and I am one who reads and rereads his favorite books repeatedly, in true geek fashion.  I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince seven times between the midnight when I bought it and the time Deathly Hallows was released…and it was by no means the only book I read in that time.  But lately, no fiction, either familiar or new, has been able to hold my attention for long.  My sister, however, recommended the Rick Riordan novels as uniformly enjoyable, and I know that my son loved the ones he read, so I purchased the Kindle version of The Lightning Thief, and so far – admittedly less than a tenth of the way into the book – I’m enjoying it.  I’ve been seriously worried, because I even had to force my brutal way through rereading the first four books of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series.  Frankly, I skipped a lot of book four, and then I just hung up on book five.  If Stephen King’s magnum opus can’t keep my attention, I’m in trouble.

Reading nonfiction, though, has not been as problematic; I love science books of many kinds, and have recently become enamored with more philosophical, political, and historical works as well.  Interestingly enough, some of my best story inspirations come to me from reading science books rather than as part of reading fiction.  Many of the ideas that appear in The Chasm and the Collision were triggered by my reading of The Fabric of the Cosmos, by Brian Greene.

Well, this post has gone all over the place, and has by no means remained as brief as I expected it to be when I began.  That’s okay, though.  Technically, this is a blog, and as such can function almost as a public diary.  In closing, I repeat that the work on Hole for a Heart is proceeding well, and the story should be available for sale in e-book format within a month, probably sooner.  It’s longish for a short-story, but that seems to be just how I roll.  (At least you’ll know you’re going to be getting your ninety-nine cents worth.)

Then, once that’s out, I shall return in full force to Unanimity, which is getting close to the end.  This is reassuring, since it’s already much longer than I had expected it to be.  These things do happen, I suppose.  Again, it just seems to be how I roll.

I welcome your feedback on this posting, on any others I have written, and even on anything else that might be on your mind.  The comment section below is open, and my Facebook and Twitter accounts are public.  I am a bit socially awkward, but nevertheless, I welcome you to contact me, at least regarding matters that I’ve discussed publicly.  And I also both encourage – and even beg – those of you who have read my work to give reviews, or at least ratings, on Amazon.  It really makes a difference.

Be well, all of you.  That’s an order.

TTFN!


*As part of this editing process, I’ve noticed, or discovered, a fascinating fact and trick:  Changing the font of your writing between edits can help you notice things that need fixing, and which you hadn’t noticed before, in the original font.  This is a fascinating psychological fact, at least about me, and now that I’ve discovered it, I mean to put it to full use from this moment on.

**  I actually posted one of those entries on my Facebook page recently.  It’s the opening paragraph for an eventual story, the trigger for which I can’t currently recall, and for which I have no idea what the story will be.  I like that paragraph a lot, though I can see a few edits that I’d make in structure and wording if I ever do write the story, but first that story has to reveal itself to me.

Is this a blog post which I see before me?

Okay, well…good day, everyone.

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving, at least those of you who live in America, and who celebrate the holiday.  As for everyone else, I hope you just had a happy day, and a happy week.

But you can stop all that now.  Being happy, I mean.  Too much happiness is probably not good for you.  Certainly, many religious people seem to think that way, as do those who are against even fundamentally safe, minor, occasional, recreational use of drugs or alcohol.  Self-abasement and penitence seem to be the preferred modes of thinking of many a human, but they don’t want to pursue those modes all by themselves; they want to take you along with them.  For your own good, supposedly.

Anyway, as anyone who’s been paying attention will have noticed, I took the week off from writing my blog last week, because Thursday—the day I usually write it—was Thanksgiving, and my only day off work that week.  I have, however, continued to write “Unanimity,” and I’ve been working on the re-editing and fine-tuning of “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,” in preparation for its release as an e-book*.  Both endeavors are proceeding well, and I feel good about them.  It’s always nice when you’re re-editing a story that you come back to after a while, (e.g. IFOWONCO), and even though you find things that need improving, you like the story a lot.  I’m lucky that way; I almost always enjoy my stories when I reread them.  Thus, I know that, even if everyone else in the world hates my writing completely, it has at least one satisfied reader.

I haven’t written anything for Iterations of Zero in a while…or, rather, I haven’t posted anything there for a while.  I have written some things—three or four essays to post there eventually—but I just haven’t felt that they’re ready to put before the public.  I’m probably overthinking it a little.  When I write the posts for this blog, I just sit down and go for it, and whatever comes out comes out, and that’s that.  Not to say that I don’t have some general subject in mind before I start—I almost always do.  But I don’t overthink it.  I just let fly on the keyboard, and let the metaphors fall where they may.  I’m especially lucky in that I’m able to express myself better and more spontaneously in writing than I am in conversation with others.

Actually, that may not seem to be so lucky, depending on your point of view.  In fact, it can be quite unpleasant at times.  I’m often terribly uncomfortable when interacting with others in person, especially in purely social situations.  But I do find it easy and fast to write, and once I get started, I tend to keep going for a while.

There are probably those who lament this last fact, but I don’t care about them.  Indeed, I laugh at their agony.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haaa!

(See?)

On the days when I don’t feel like writing—especially on my fiction—I just play a little trick with myself (I might have written about this before):  I tell myself, “Okay, well, I’m tired.  So today, I’ll just write a page.  Just get to the end of the first paragraph that finishes on the page after the one on which I’m starting.  If I get there, then that’s fine, I can call it good.”  This is easy enough for me to talk myself into because, as I’ve said before, I tend to write very quickly.  Just to give you an idea of how quickly, I wrote everything up to this point on this post (first draft, obviously) in just over fifteen minutes.  So, I’m almost always prepared to accept the undertaking of writing a single page, even if I’m mildly ill.  And what almost always happens is that I end up writing far more than just that one page.  Yesterday, for instance, I wrote five pages after committing to write one, and I almost always write at least three, as long as I’m not interrupted.

As I say, I’m very lucky, but I would be quite surprised if this trick didn’t work for a lot of writers who have trouble getting themselves started.  If committing to a page is too daunting, how about just a paragraph?  Or even a sentence?  Don’t be too picky about that sentence or paragraph—you’re going to edit it later, anyway, so even if it feels like (as Stephen King put it) you’re just shoveling shit sitting down, that’s okay.  It’s a bit like vomiting:  Just get it out, and you’ll find that you feel better.

Speaking of writing versus speaking (remember when I did that a few paragraphs back?):  I’m still vacillating about the video, and even the audio, postings on this and my other blog, as well as on YouTube.  Maybe I should take a similar approach to them as I take to writing:  Just record myself saying something, anything, and get it down on tape (metaphorically).  I can give myself an out on video for the moment; that requires much more effort and preparation, and I sound better than I look, anyway.  But I can do an audio recording at almost any moment, using the voice recorder on my smartphone, and with excellent quality.

Or maybe I should just say screw it, and commit just to writing an article or post or whatever every week on Iterations of Zero, recognizing that writing is my strong suit.  I can approach it as I do my fiction writing, and my writing for this blog:  Sit down, write something, at least a paragraph, and see what comes out.  Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good.

We’ll see what happens.  I don’t know much more about those specifics than you all do.  “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Meanwhile, “Unanimity,” as I said, is speeding along.  I’m presently creating some very sweet, positive, wonderful, and romantic moments in the lives of the main characters.  This will make things even more poignant when it all goes to shit.  Which it will.

I repeat:  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haaa!

In closing, I hereby withdraw my earlier recommendation that you curtail your happiness.  By all means, be as happy as you can, but remember:  Happiness is best judged not by the highest point on your life’s graph, but by the area under the curve.  Play the long game.

TTFN


*“Prometheus and Chiron” and “Hole for a Heart” will follow.

Depression Can Be Powerful

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

-Kris Kristofferson

 

There’s a curious phenomenon I’ve sometimes noticed, wherein I find myself not exactly welcoming bouts of depression, but feeling as if they are normal for me—more truly me than other states of being.  There’s a dark familiarity that’s difficult to explain, along with a sense that my mind is in some ways clearer, saner, when depressed than it is at other times.  Certainly, my concentration often improves when I’m depressed.  I’m less easily distracted, whether by good things or bad things; it’s a curious phenomenon. Continue reading

After the Storm

Okay, well, here I am back again, after a hiatus last week, for which I apologize.  I suppose that I can’t be held entirely to blame for that break—after all, the cause was hurricane Irma, which did a fair amount of damage to south Florida, and kept the power out where I live for over a week.  My neighborhood is fairly old, and there are quite a few trees, and the power lines have seen better days.  This is not a great combination when a category 5 hurricane comes through, though thankfully we did not get hit by the main force of the beast, as we thought was going to happen.

I had intended to do my fiction writing even when the power was out—I had my clipboard and a stack of notebook paper all ready—but the sheer annoyance and mugginess of south Florida without either regular lights or air conditioning just made the whole thing too unpleasant.  Actually, it was fairly unpleasant to do most things, even to sleep.  Late summer in Florida is no joke.  I guess if I’d known that I was going to be stuck in those conditions on an ongoing basis, I would have just buckled down, bitten the bullet, and mixed my metaphors—goodness knows I’ve been through worse—but given that I knew it was quite temporary, I used the occurrence as an excuse to be mildly lazy.

However, as of Monday morning, I am back at the word processor, and have been writing steadily on “Unanimity.”  It’s moving along well.  I’ve been writing what I hope is one of the most intense and dark scenes in the book, and it’s becoming longer than I thought it would be.  I fear it will need some serious pruning before I’m done with it.  Oh, well, I’ve had a lot of practice lately with cutting up unnecessary and troublesome branches of one kind or another.

I’ve been working toward the making of my planned video log, which will be named the same as my other blog on WordPress (Iterations of Zero), though I don’t know if I’ll officially name the channel or anything.  I expect that, before I come out with my next post here, I’ll have created the inaugural video for Iterations of Zero, and that’s kind of exciting.  It may be uncharitable of me to inflict my face on the viewing world, but since no one is forced to watch, I say caveat viewor.  Hopefully I’ll be able to make it worth your pain.  It’ll be worth it to me, anyway.

In the meantime, things are returning to normal, or what passes for normal in south Florida (those of you who have read Dave Barry or Carl Hiaasen, or their ilk, will know that Florida is a bizarre place indeed…especially if you realize that they do not need to embellish most of what they write).  The trains are running again, the weather is muggy and hot, the drivers are almost uniformly terrible (apparently something about the local climate interferes particularly with the function of turn signals) and greenery takes root on anything that sits still for longer than five minutes.

I’m going to cut it a bit short this week (I’m sure you’re all devastated); we went back into work last Thursday, as soon as the power came back at the office, and have been working straight every day since, to try to make up for the days that we missed while the hurricane raged and ranted.  So, I’m a little tired from that, and just from trudging my way through the hurricane and its aftermath.

Hopefully my next posting here will also contain a link to my latest (and earliest) video on YouTube, and you can let me know what you think.  In the meantime…

TTFN!