Some of my thoughts, and a request for some of yours

It’s Tuesday, even though it’s the third day of the year, not the second.  I’ve put in a complaint to the Department of Wordplay Regarding Days and Numbers, but I haven’t heard back from them, and now I think it’s too late to expect that I will.  Sorry.  I did what I could.

Speaking of doing what I could:  boy, yesterday was really pretty tough going.  It was a very busy day at the office, and I was still not at 100% capacity‒far from it.  I’m not really close to 100% today, frankly, though I feel a bit better than yesterday.  Hopefully, my voice will improve some.  I ended up having to do phone stuff a lot yesterday, and by the end I was pretty hoarse, which is (I tentatively conclude) nothing at all like being a pretty horse*.  I would like to do my “podcast” about sugar sometime soon, but I need to wait until my voice is more or less back to normal.

In other news, yesterday I uploaded the whole files of Outlaw’s Mind and The Dark Fairy and the Desperado to Google Drive.  I foresee a day soon when, perhaps, I’m going to adjust my commuting schedule to make it perforce include a bit more walking, and this would also make the commute last a bit longer (including the parts of it that happen on bus and train).  Now, since I’ve come to the provisional conclusion that I write reasonably well using my smartphone‒I’m writing this on my phone‒I thought maybe, just maybe, I might take up one or the other of those stories during a prolonged commute, and doing that with my phone would be easier than with the laptop.

I’m conflicted about this, because I think it might take away from this daily blog posting, to which I’ve become accustomed.  I think, if the commute is long enough, I might be able to do both‒write a first draft of the blog post then jump over to fiction right after that‒but I’m far from sure, and I would definitely want to eat my cake and have it, too.

If I were to start back working on one of those stories, I’d be delighted to get input from any of you out there about which one you think I should continue.  I’ve asked about that before, and as I recall, I didn’t get any replies whatsoever‒certainly not here on the site**.  Please, correct me if I’m wrong.  I would definitely be interested in knowing if any of you have any preference, and even to know that you don’t have a specific preference, but at least have seen and recognized the question.

I’ve posted the full text (so far) of Outlaw’s Mind here on this site, in case you want to run through it and see if you think it should continue.  I have not posted the text of any of DFandD here, but it’s basically a more lighthearted (for me) story about a very deadly outlaw in the old west who gets abducted by a wizard (who is trapped within his own pocket universe) and sent to find a magical being called the Dark Fairy.  Together, they are persuaded to go off on a poly-versal quest to gather some magical things that will allow the wizard to escape his accidentally self-imposed confinement.

It’s a more lighthearted tale, as I said, but this is me we’re talking about, so it will have its share of dark places.  I mean, one of the two main characters (the Desperado) is a gunman so dangerous that every bullet he fires is a kill.  And, of course, the other main character is the Dark Fairy.

Anyway, these are tentative thoughts regarding taking up the metaphorical quill again, but I’d be interested in any of your thoughts on the matter.  If I do it, I want to figure out how not to let it completely derail this blog.

And, of course, I do want to get on with doing “podcasts” or “audio blogs” or whatever I’m going to call them.  I don’t mean to make the entries very long, generally, since it’s asking a lot to have people sit and listen to me blabbering about a subject of my choice for too very long.  Still, presumably, in this large population of organisms on Earth, there is probably an audience for almost anything that’s done in a reasonably coherent fashion, so if you know someone you think might like such a “podcast”, when it comes out, please do consider sharing it with them.  Heck, while you’re at it, if you know anyone you think might like this blog, please let them know about it.

And, of course, if you know fans of fairly dark sci-fi, fantasy, and/or horror, please let them know about my books.  I would dearly love and appreciate it if more people could read them, because I think there are many who would enjoy them.  But perhaps I’m biased and this is my one (willing) indulgence in self-deception.

In any case, thanks for reading.  I hope you have a good Tuesday, and a good year, by and large.  Don’t rely on my good wishes to make it so, though; I optimistically*** called 2020 the “year of seeing clearly”, and we all saw‒ha ha‒how that developed.

Well, most of it wasn’t really my fault.  Was it?

*It’s probably because of things like that that the Wordplay Departments won’t respond to my inquiries.  I give them a bad name‒like “Fauntleroy” or “Ignatius” or something similar.

**And, as I’ve said before, if you want me to see a comment or a reply, you need to put it here, on this site.  I can’t promise I’ll look at Facebook or Twitter more often than I must.  Both venues are far too full of the stench of primate dominance hierarchy games and would-be mating displays for me to stay too long or too often.  An overcrowded monkey cage at a zoo would frankly feel more wholesome; at least the monkeys would have no delusions or pretensions of grandeur.

***Does that count as a play on words?

Do you Mind?

Well, it’s Monday again, the start of another work week, with only a lucky thirteen shopping days left until Christmas (and fewer until the beginning of Hanukkah or the Winter Solstice).  As is the usual case, I don’t especially know what I’m going to write about today, and though you might think that would mean this post would be brief, it may mean that it will get too long, since I tend to meander when I’m not focused on any destination.

I guess that makes sense, now that I stop and think about it.

I’ve been rereading a bit of Unanimity: Book 2 on and off over the last few days, mainly because some other things I’d been reading and videos I’d been watching had made me realize again something that I’d sort of realized before:  that inadvertently, I’d written in Michael Green a character who probably has Asperger’s.  Maybe other characters I’ve written would fit that mold as well.

Characters often reflect facts about the author, though they also often are very different from their authors.  Otherwise, how could a nice person ever write a bad guy?  Not that I’m saying that I’m a nice person.  I don’t really think I am, though I guess I’m not the most objective judge.  But there are plenty of authors of terrible characters, and of at least morally questionable characters, who are clearly quite nice and positive people.

An author can’t really make a character the nature of whom they cannot even comprehend or grasp.  Of course, Lovecraft could use various forms of hinting and misdirection to make his creatures and beings and gods and whatnots feel real, but only from the outside.  We cannot really get a sense of, for instance, Cthulhu as a character.  Which is fine when you’re literally trying to convey inscrutable, “outside”, alien evil.

Anyway, that’s all just a tangent.  I merely thought it was interesting that I was writing such a character before I’d even begun to be directed to videos about such matters or started to really learn about them more deeply*.  There’s even a point in the book where Michael wonders (as I have) if sometimes the apparent inability of autistic people to process other people’s emotion isn’t because they don’t sense it—which would make them more like psychopaths, which they are not—but that they are over-sensitive to emotion, and that it arrives as a chaotic and overwhelming cacophony whenever they are around other people; that it’s another form of sensory processing disorder, like sensitivity to sounds and to bright and glaring lights, and to over-strong odors and flavors and textures.  This may be part of why eye contact is so difficult for people on the autism spectrum.

Maybe it’s the filter that’s the problem.  Michael wonders this, obviously, because it is how he experiences things, and he’s a neuroscientist and recognizes that he might be on “the very near end of the spectrum” as he says.  But this is not really the point.  The point is, I was writing from my own experience, that being around other people, at least in too great numbers, tends to be overwhelming, because their voices, their noises, their feelings and whatnot, all come flooding in, and I can’t seem to do the metaphorical Fourier analysis of their inputs to make sense of them.

I was always good with patients one on one, partly because I can almost literally feel their emotions, though I can’t and don’t try necessarily to understand them, and I’m not much good at deciphering other people’s motivations or purposes.  In that, however, I don’t feel too bad, because as far as I can see, other people are shit at that, too.

Maybe I’m just projecting, but I think the vaunted human “theory of mind” sense is not quite all it’s cracked up to be.  Mostly, people seem to be terrible at understanding why other people do what they do, and their assumptions, which they rarely seem to question once they make them, tend to be thoroughly narcissistic and hubristic.  Not to say they’re not better at it than the typical person with Asperger’s or similar, but that’s not saying much.

This is why my policy in general is not to try to guess people’s motivations or goals or whatever at anything beyond a coarse level—people aren’t even very good at understanding themselves about such things, as far as I can see—but to take them at their word except when proven otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt, and, as part of that, to carry the presumption of innocence about other people’s actions.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think (and feel) that many things people do are intolerably stupid, but I presume** that they don’t mean to be stupid and that they have no specific malice behind their actions, at least until the evidence otherwise is overwhelming.  I try to take advantage of my existence as a true stranger relative to other people to be at least as objective and disinterested as I can be.

For the most part, I don’t care much, anyway.  What each person does is generally about the person’s self, not really about other people specifically.  At least, that’s the way it looks to this outside observer.  Most people seem to think that the things that happen in the world are happening specifically to them, which is probably why so many of them feel so sensitive and easily injured and “unsafe”.

When one feels that something an author wrote two hundred years ago was an attack on them personally—they may not think this consciously, but it is the apparent attitude—of course they will find it more stressful and saddening than one would feel simply reading something written in and about and influenced by the happenings and people of an era two centuries ago, people whose children’s children were already dead before most living people’s parents were born.

I guess this is related to the apparent tendency for most people to be in denial about their own personal death, or about the fact that the world existed before they were born—and it’s understandable, though not excusable, because for them, the world did not exist before they were born.  And for them, the world will cease to exist when they die.  And by “them” of course, I refer to every individual.  But it is possible to learn better, and it’s not even all that difficult, which is why I say it’s understandable but not excusable.

Of course, it’s difficult truly to feel it “in your bones” that the world will go on without you once you’re dead, and it’s only a little bit easier thus to feel it about the fact that the world has existed not only for hundreds of millennia (the timespan of humans) but for eons prior to the existence of anyone or even any species alive today.  Again, though, it’s not all that hard to grasp intellectually, and it’s worth doing, because it can give one a bit of perspective sometimes, though not always.

One is still trapped in the body and nature that the world has crafted one to be, and that nature is insular and small on many scales.  But the mind has landscapes of its own, and these can encompass, and even in some cases and senses be larger than, the universe outside.

Speaking of minds:  I wonder if anyone out there has actually read all of Outlaw’s Mind as far as I’ve written and posted it here on my blog.  If anyone has, do you think it would be worth it for me to try to force myself to start writing on it yet again, but—this is my thought—using pen and paper for the first draft, however inconvenient it might be, so that it doesn’t grow quite so large quite so easily as, for instance, Unanimity did?

Mark Red, The Chasm and the Collision, and the story Paradox City were all written by hand in first draft, using BIC® Round Stic® pens on notebook paper.  I think they came out okay, though maybe others would disagree.  I don’t know.  It’s probably a pipe dream to think that I’d be able to force myself to get back to writing, but maybe I could.

If you have an opinion, please leave it in the comments below (NOT on Facebook or Twitter or whatever).  Thanks.

[Oh, and P.S.  to WordPress, regarding their stupid little automatic writing “prompt” for today:  It should read “Whom do you envy?” not “Who do you envy?”  The question calls for the objective form of the pronoun.  I know that I’m being uptight (and I’ll probably fall victim to Muphry’s Law), but a venue called WordPress, all about communicating through the written word, might consider it worthwhile to try to bolster some aspects of traditional grammar.  Perhaps I’m tilting at windmills in this.]

*Though, to be fair, as an MD, I’d learned at least something about such things in the past, but it was very superficial.

**I know, I know—when you presume, you make a Pres out of u and me.  But not all Preses are horrible.

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief. Your noble blogger is mad.

Hello again and good morning again.  It’s Thursday again, and so, once again, it’s time for my weekly blog post.  Again.

I’m pleased to be able to report that I’ve done a bit of new writing this week.  I finished rereading Outlaw’s Mind last Saturday, and then Monday morning I got my clipboard and some high-quality notebook paper, and I started to write.  One thing that helped me do it was remembering my old strategy, which was to say to myself that I was going to write at least just one page.  If I didn’t write more, that was fine.  Even when writing by hand, one page isn’t all that much—something like four hundred to six hundred words, I think, given my handwriting.

As is usual, I’ve written more than that, totaling just around six pages in the last three days.  That’s not as fast as I write when I type, which I can do almost at the speed of thought, but that may be beneficial.  I think I sometimes tend to write too much when I type.  Unanimity may be a good example—a story that became over half a million words long before I finished it.  Probably, had I written it by hand, it would have been at least slightly shorter.  But maybe not.  I tried to shorten it as I was editing, but there were no actual bits of the story that I felt willing to take out.

I’ve been thinking about maybe putting some of Outlaw’s Mind up here on my blog, in its current, quite rough draft form, just to give a teaser and possibly to get reactions from people.  I may have mentioned this notion before; I know I tend to repeat myself and run off at the keyboard.  Anyway, I was thinking of posting the “cold opening”, as it were, first (I don’t think I’ve already done that, have I?).  Of course, after that opening, the story goes very much back in time to tell of things that led up to the events in the opening.

If anyone would like me to do that, and would like to read it, please leave a comment here, on this post.  Again, I reiterate, comments on Facebook or Twitter may never be seen (by me, anyway).  I don’t often check even Twitter for reactions*, and Facebook gives me terrible stress and tension even to click in and zip through looking for comments and responses, as well as to see what people I care about are doing.  I feel that, at any time, someone is going to ambush me with an instant message, and I won’t have any idea how to reply to it, and so I’ll quickly pretend that I didn’t see it, and try to remember to come back later, all the while feeling terribly guilty about not immediately taking part in a conversation—even though, morally at least, one shouldn’t feel obligated to talk at any given time, just because someone else wants to.  But it’s hard when it’s people who matter to you.

This is one of the reasons I don’t answer my phone, and I don’t even promise to respond to voicemails (I say I will if it’s interesting enough, but that’s quite a high bar to clear).

Email is nicer.  I tend to like email.  And comments here are not too bad, because I’m always getting on WordPress for one reason or another (often to read other people’s blogs), and interactions are more measured, thoughtful, and in-depth.  Usually.  They are also not expected to take place in “real time”.

Anyway, that’s about it as far as my life goes.  I do my fiction writing in the morning.  I diddle around on the guitar for a short time after that most days, but as those of you who have seen my videos know, my playing and singing are nothing** to write home about.

I try to find fiction that I can enjoy reading, but it seems to get harder all the time—which is a truly dreadful thing, to me.  At least I can usually find non-fiction that engages me, especially about science and a bit of math and philosophy, and to some degree psychology, especially about Asperger’s/Autism Spectrum Disorder, which I’m trying to learn much more about to confirm or deny my self-suspicions.  I’m pretty well along toward the “confirm” end of the spectrum, if you’ll pardon the pun, but I am always leery of confirmation bias.  As I once wrote on an altered version of the old X-files poster from Mulder’s office, “I don’t want to believe.  I want to be convinced by evidence and argument.”

Anyway, I know that’s all boring, so I apologize.  I never do have anything much of value to say or to do.  I’m sure the oxygen (and nutrients) I consume could better be used elsewhere, and my carbon-compound contribution and other entropic effluvia merely push the universe—and more locally, the planet—toward its endpoint slightly more quickly.

The villainous part of me likes that.  But the rest of me just feels ever-increasing self-loathing.  It’s very amusing.

I hope you’re all doing reasonably well—or better yet, as well as you possibly can—this year so far.  Take care of yourselves, and each other.  What better things do you have to do?



*I mostly just enjoy seeing amusing Tweets.  240 characters isn’t enough for anything more.  It plainly is not enough for any intelligent conversion, discussion, or debate.

**Should I have written “nothings” there since I was mentioning two subjects?  Or is “nothing” always singular, since there is only one, ultimate, nothing, which means none of each and every possible thing, as in set theory, in which there is only and exactly one “empty set”.