Short stories, audio, and video, oh my!

The Headless Horseman

Konnichiwa, minna.

I’ve been making excellent progress on my new short story, tentatively titled “Hole for a Heart.”  It’s now about twenty-four pages long in draft form, and—I think—is well over halfway finished.  This is good, because I want to have it ready for you all to read in time for Halloween, since it is a horror story with a good, Halloweeney feel.  Fortunately, as I’ve said before, I tend to write quickly, if I just commit myself to the task.  I don’t know if that ends up meaning that I write well; it’s impossible for me to be objective about my own writing, so I can only say whether I like the story or not.  Thankfully, I almost always do. Continue reading

Advertisements

An update on short stories, audio, and video

Okay, well…let’s get to today’s business.

As I’ve written here previously, I’m currently taking a short break from working on “Unanimity,” because a horror story—one that had begun with only a vague notion and image—abruptly crystallized in my head, just in time for October, and I decided that I must write that story.  It’s now well underway, roughly twelve pages long, so far.  I’m quite excited about it, and hopefully some of you will be, as well, when it’s finished.  It will be ready well in time for Halloween (barring the unforeseen, which, curiously, rhymes with Halloween).

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten my intention to create an audio file of me reading some of my writing, as I did with the article, “The Idolatry of the American Flag.”  The audio on that has its issues—I think I was too close to the mic when I recorded it, so you can hear me smacking my lips and spitting and whatnot.  Who knows, maybe some people enjoy that, and were grateful to hear an audio file that had it.  If you’re such a person:  “You’re welcome.”

For everyone else, however, I am learning, practicing, and experimenting, and I expect steadily, if not swiftly, to improve.  In fact, I’ve already begun to read aloud my short story, “Prometheus and Chiron,” which, despite what you might think (reasonably enough), neither contains nor refers to either of those two mythological figures, and in fact, takes place in the modern world.  I know, I know, it’s a pretentious, misleading title.  That’s what I do.  Nay, that’s who I am.

In any case, the plan remains to use that story as my first fiction audio, but even as I started playing with it, I learned an interesting fact:  when one begins to read one’s works aloud, one encounters bits of prose that, while perfectly acceptable on the printed page, must be wrung off the tongue awkwardly when spoken.  This inspired me to go through the entire story doing some additional editing and rewriting, which is a rewarding experience in its own right.  I suspect that no writer is ever perfectly satisfied with all the details of any tale that he or she has written—or perhaps I’m atypical in this—and one of the great advantages of putting stories up on my blog is that I can still improve them after the fact.  Once they’re out in the wide world in books and other venues, it becomes both much more mortifying and much more laborious to fix them.

Anyway…

To make a long story slightly longer, the point is that I am going to do that recording of “Prometheus and Chiron,” and I will release it here, on this blog, rather than on Iterations of Zero, simply because the latter is not about fiction, whereas this site is.  I’m pretty excited about the process, and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to me read my own fiction.  I may be an egotist, but I don’t think that anyone else could do a better job than I can at that task—at least, not anyone else who wouldn’t cost a lot of money.  I’m pretty sure that Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen would blow me away, but they both spend most of their time reading that Shakespeare guy, just because he’s from the same country as they.  It’s blatant nationalistic favoritism, and I’m shocked that the Social Justice Police haven’t made any noises about such things.

Again:  anyway…

Once I make that recording and place it on this site, I beseech you to give me feedback, even if it’s just to say, “Hey, I listened to it,” or “Your voice sounds stupid.”  I would just love to hear from you in some form.

Even if you don’t get back to me, though, I intend next (probably) to read “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,” and to upload that audio, though I think I would probably read that story in two parts.  I already know right where I’d split it.  But I may also do a bit of reading of the first draft of the beginning of “Unanimity,” sort of as a teaser, and that might come before the next short story.  We’ll have to see.

I’m also going to make more videos here and there, though those tend to require a bit more guts on my part, because I’m not all that pleased to see my mug on the screen.  They can be fun, however, and there are certain subjects that simply lend themselves to the format.  Rants, in general, are often worthy of the full, holistic experience of the ranter (or is that rantor?).

Speaking of ranting, I think that I’ve probably said enough about the few subjects I wanted to cover today.  The audio is coming, my new short story is going swimmingly, and my video projects loom, while behind them, unabated in its potency, lies “Unanimity.”  And I already know which book I mean to write after that, though I suppose I might change my mind.

Life may not always be good, but at least it’s interesting.

TTFN.

I have just started a new horror short story in honor of October.

scarecrow

I’m writing this post as a brief note of apology, mainly to myself, since I doubt that it matters much to anyone else.  I am, however, taking a slight break from writing “Unanimity,” and that goes against some general guidelines which I had previously laid out for myself.  I do, however, have good reasons for that departure, and I’m not honestly worried that I’m going to get derailed from the plot of my novel.  “Unanimity” has already survived a long hiatus while I finished the rewriting and editing of “Mark Red” and “The Chasm and the Collision.”  It will weather this much smaller storm without difficulty, mixed metaphors notwithstanding.

The reason for the break is a joyous one:  I’ve been seized with the plot of a new horror short story, and I want to write it and put it out on my blog before the end of his month.

The seed of this story arrived during the bus ride to Ohio to visit my mother for the last time.  I’m not going to say much about what that trigger was, but it was something that I saw near a gas station by an exit off the interstate, well between major cities.  I took a note down of it, thinking that it might be the germ for an eventual story, and finally, last night, the story blossomed.  It’s definitely an October-type tale – good old-fashioned horror – so I felt justified in getting it written as quickly as possible.  I’ve already got 2000 words down of the first draft, but that’s just the start.  (I’ll try to keep it from becoming a very long short story, like “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,” but I’m afraid I can make few promises.  The story is what it is, and must be told.)

I even have a tentative title, which I shall share with you, since it’s by no means any form of commitment; I may change my mind before the story is done.  That title is, “Hole for a Heart.”

Halloween is my favorite holiday – my equivalent of Christmas, one might say – and for me, I’ve gotten my Halloween present early this year.  I hope to share it with all of you soon.

TTFN!

Should I post audio files of me reading parts of my books?

Listen-to-Your-Discontent1

Okay.  Here we all are again, another week has passed, and though another hurricane has not struck Florida, it did strike elsewhere, causing tremendous devastation before it swept along out into the Atlantic Ocean.  I’ve been a fairly busy boy, what with working six days a week, writing daily on my latest novel, putting up my first video (a rankly amateur production, but since I am a rank amateur, that’s no terrible sin), and posting a voice recording of an article I’d written quite a while ago, on my other blog.  The recording is perhaps not quite so amateurish as the video, if only because I’ve been recording myself reading for many years.  I recorded almost the entire book, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” onto cassette tape—or tapes, I should say…lots and lots of tapes—for my then-wife to listen to while she commuted.  I have also spent long periods of my life reading aloud to people (not just children) and have received uniformly positive reviews.  Of course, the people to whom I have read tended to fall asleep not long after I began reading, but I was assured that this was a good thing, and reflected well upon my skills.  Perhaps they were simply sparing my feelings. Continue reading

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!

My plans to conquer other media

Okay, a quick little post today, since I’ve used up a good portion of my usual Thursday morning writing time by working on “Unanimity.”  I couldn’t help it.  I’m in a lovely, chilling, horrible moment in the story, and such scenes are hard to escape.  It’s a strange perversion, I suppose, but writing moments where very bad things happen to people who are—if not completely innocent—not deserving of the horrors in store for them can be terrifically fun, especially when the writer can imagine readers being frightened by the scene.  I remember, early in the writing of “The Chasm and the Collision,” when my son read an early draft of the “frightful night” occurrences near the beginning of the book.  He said (more or less), “That was kind of scary, Dad.”

Of course, I felt like rubbing my hands together and giving a Monty Burns-style, whispery exclamation of, “Excellent!”  And I did tell him that I was glad he found it scary, since that was my intention, and he understood.  I owe him a lot for that report!

Anyway, I’m writing “Unanimity” enthusiastically, even as hurricane Irma approaches South Florida, where it’s almost certain to cause me at least temporary inconvenience.  But I’ve been through quite a few hurricanes, and through worse life events than those, so I’m not as panicked as many people in the area seem to be.  Nevertheless, the storm bears caution:  specifically, I had to make sure that I had pens and notebook paper so I could continue writing even when the power goes out, as it almost certainly will.

One has to have one’s priorities straight.

I’ve been going back and forth on my secondary blog, “Iterations of Zero,” and just in the last few days, I think I’ve come up with something I’m going to do instead.

I’m going to do a Vlog.

In other words, I’m going to create videos (easy to do nowadays) about various subject and topic matter that I had intended to move on over to Iterations of Zero.  In fact, I think I’ll probably call the new video channel just “Iterations of Zero,” since I like that title and idea so much (I’m easily pleased).  Though I may just leave it under my name.  We’ll see.

As for why I’m doing this, well, there are no doubt reasons of which I am not aware, but among those of which I am, the main two are:  exposure and time.  It’s simply a fact that more people watch videos (probably orders of magnitude more) than ever go out of their way to read blogs, or even other print media.  This is a lamentable fact, but I think it’s empirically undeniable.  So, getting videos out there in which I talk about everything from black holes to criminal justice, to medical science, to philosophy may get what I think are important thoughts to more people than they might reach otherwise.  And the videos will serve to promote me and my fiction writing as well—indeed, I can be my own primary sponsor, which is kind of a pleasing notion.

With respect to the “time” input to the decision, the term might be misleading.  After all, it may at times take longer to make a video about a certain topic than it will to make a blog post—as I’ve said before, I tend to write very quickly.  But it is a different kind of time.  I tend to write earlier in the day, and I often write while on the train going to work, and so on.  When I’m writing (with the exception of Thursdays, when I write this blog) I want to be writing my fiction.  I have foolishly let decades pass without working on most of my novels, so I have a tremendous backlog of them to get out before I die!

That being said, there seems to be only a certain amount of writing in me on any given day.  That can sometimes be a pretty huge amount—I’m very lucky that way—but it’s finite, and I’ve already noticed how difficult it is for me to dedicate some of that resource to two separate blogs.  Speaking to a camera, on the other hand, like speaking to other people, is a different mode of communication, and seems to draw upon slightly different resources.  I’m not particularly good at making small talk, or interacting at a purely social level, but when I have something to say, about subject matter that I find intriguing or important, I can gab with the best of them.  I tend to write my first drafts rather as if I were talking aloud to someone, so I expect there won’t be too much difficulty, and I foresee that this will be a potentially useful venture.

Anyway, that’s my provisional plan for the moment.  Obviously, once I get it going, I will let you know.  Things might be temporarily delayed by the lovely hurricane approaching South Florida, which may curtail any use of electricity or electronics temporarily, but I’ll be back as soon as I may.

TTFN!