Come, and take choice of all my library, And so beguile thy sorrow.

Hello and good morning, everyone.  It’s Thursday again, and that means it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.  It’s also a new month (September, 2020 AD or CE), and though that doesn’t have much bearing on the blog—now that I’ve long since discontinued “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains”—it’s at least an indicator that time, as it tends to do, has continued to pass, or at least that our experience of it has continued, trapped as we are in the grip of the second law of thermodynamics.

My writing has continued well this week, but I’m falling prey to something I expected, but which I nevertheless find challenging:  now that I have the file of Vagabond—or as I am thinking of retitling it, The Vagabond—I’m torn between the process of working on Outlaw’s Mind (formerly Safety Valve) and rewriting/editing The Vagabond.  It’s particularly tempting to do the latter because, after so many years, finally to have the book thanks to the beneficence and munificence of my ex-wife, it’s hard to be patient about publishing it.  Though the risks of it being lost again are surely low, it’s still hard not to feel a combination of anxiety and excitement that pull me toward it.

I’m enjoying rereading it as I edit, since it’s been a very long time since I’ve had the chance.  I’m making changes as I go along—I think my skills as an author have improved significantly since I first wrote it, particularly in style and word choice.  Also, the original suffered from the erratic nature of my writing at the time, as I think I discussed last week.  It’s great fun meeting the characters again after so long; this is doubly so because at least a few of them are based on some of my university friends.  It’s also enjoyable to return to a time when no one was on the internet because there was no such thing (or if there was, it was restricted to very narrow uses relative to today).

I have no intention of trying to bring the story into the “modern” world.  It remains set in 1989, roughly, and will continue to remain there.

So, to balance my urges, I’ve been trying to make sure that I write about a thousand new words on Outlaw’s Mind daily before turning to The Vagabond, but it’s difficult to enforce that, and it makes the new writing more of a chore than it might be otherwise.  I’m going slightly against my principle of finishing one thing before moving on to another, a hard lesson I learned largely from Vagabond itself.  But this is a unique situation, so I’m giving myself at least a little bit of leeway.  I feel that it would almost be a sign of ingratitude to my ex-wife not to proceed quickly with Vagabond.  She always liked the story; she’s the only person other than I who has read it (as far as I know), and she always encouraged my writing.  She even used to say that it was one of the reasons she fell for me*, and that’s a statement worthy of some repayment in speedy effort.

Still, I already put off Outlaw’s Mind during the editing and rewriting of Unanimity, and I don’t want to leave it fallow yet again.  It’s a conundrum, but I suppose it’s not a bad one in which to be mired as an author; I’ve always had more ideas than I’ve ever had time to bring to fruition.  There are worse things

Another concern with which I’m dealing is how quickly Outlaw’s Mind is growing.  It’s already more than twice as long as, for instance, Of Mice and Men, and it’s about half as long as Vagabond so far.  I’m not yet near the end, either.  Even writing only a thousand words a day (which for me is fairly modest) it grows quickly.  I worry about it becoming too big to fit into Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which I may have to turn into just a collection of short stories that have already been published individually.  (I plan to also include in it the author’s notes for the various stories, which appear on this blog, probably modified slightly, which will give it some extra meat).  I really did hope to put this original work in it as well, but I worry about making the final product too big and running into the problem I had with Unanimity**.  I guess I’ll have to see how things turn out.

I’ve had occasion to wonder whether my writing grows so much because I’m able to type so quickly when I write new fiction.  I haven’t clocked myself, but if I get going, it’s not too hard to put out two to three thousand words in a few hours of a morning, and that leads thing to expand rapidly.  The question is, do I write too much.  Might I be more parsimonious if I wrote in a more restrictive form, say by producing my original drafts long hand?  I did that for Mark Red, The Chasm and the Collision, and for the “short” story Paradox City—I had no other choice, being a guest of the Florida DOC at the time.  None of those are particularly short works, of course…Paradox City is practically a novella in its own right, though it is officially a short story, according to me.

With all that in mind, I bought myself a new clipboard and about six-hundred sheets of college ruled notebook paper, and I may try doing the rest of Outlaw’s Mind using that…or I may just try using that for my next new work.  Or I may quickly give up on it, haunted by the irrevocable loss of Ends of the Maelstrom and by the illegibility of my cursive.  I’m not going to make a firm commitment now, but it is something I’m weighing.

In the meantime, I hope you’re having a great month, and I hope at least some of you are reading Unanimity Book 1 and are looking forward to Unanimity Book2 and to The Vagabond and to Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  No matter what you read, be well, please!

TTFN

thinker


*My writing in general, not Vagabond specifically, since we were married well before it was finished.

**Book 1 is available here, and the e-book version of book 2 is available for pre-order here.  It and the paperback will be out on September 22, to celebrate Bilbo’s and Frodo’s birthdays.

Before my blog I throw my warlike shield

Hello, everyone.  I hope you’re having as good a day and as good a week as possible.  It’s Thursday again, which means that it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.  “Sound drums and trumpets!  Farewell sour annoy!  For here, I hope, begins our lasting joy.”

Anyway…

It’s been a rather momentous week.  I received the files for my old stories and poems as discovered and generously sent by my ex-wife.  Most prominently, I received the files for my old book Vagabond, complete as it was written.  It’s very exciting, and though I haven’t stopped working on Outlaw’s Mind (formerly Safety Valve) I did take at least a little time, when I didn’t have my latest work with me, to do a little editing and rewriting of just the very first bit of it.  I have to resist getting sidetracked, because I want to finish my current story and put it in Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities so that I can release that before getting to Vagabond.

The current story is growing rapidly; I’ve been steadily writing at least two thousand words a day on it.  Hopefully, it won’t become so large as to make it unwieldy for including in the collection.  If it grows too much, it’ll have to be released as a short novel, which I’d really prefer not to do.

It would have been nice to have the complete copy of my old short story House Guest, which I wrote in high school, and which helped me win an NCTE award, but unfortunately, it seems that I only had typed in about the first one and a half pages of the thing (it was originally typewritten the old-fashioned way).  Still, that’s the most important bit, since it gives me my character’s name and back story, and it sets the stage for what’s to come.  It wasn’t nearly as long as many of my current “short” stories, so it won’t be too much labor to try to recreate it, but I don’t know if I’ll go to the trouble to include it in DECoC.

Still…it would be a shame not to have it there…

Vagabond is good, but it bears the hallmark of my old, disjointed way of doing things:  only writing when I felt “inspired” and bouncing from one project to another haphazardly.  By this I mean, though I like it, it’s rather abrupt in some ways, and doesn’t flow as nicely as I would prefer.  Still, that’s okay; I can fix it now.  I can’t feel too bad, and I’m not complaining.  It’s the rediscovery of a book I started in college, more than thirty years ago, and finished by the end of medical school, more than twenty years ago.  From this you can tell that it took me ten years to complete it, though it’s only about 150,000 words long in present form.

Among the treasures my ex-wife sent was an early beginning of Son of Man, which I recreated from scratch in its current published form.  It’s interesting to compare it to the final version, which definitely follows the same pattern but is a lot better, in my opinion.  The main character’s name didn’t change—that much was easy enough to remember—and one of the secondary characters retained almost the complete same name, but with a change of spelling.  Of course, Michael Menelvagor also remained the same.  That was inevitable, as you’ll know if you’ve read Son of Man.  I even found the first two pages of a prequel I had planned for the book,which was to be titled Orion Rising, and was the “origin” story for Michael.  There was also the beginning of a relatively realistic novel called Lazarin, which I doubt I’ll ever restart.

As you can see, I did an awful lot of starting things and not finishing them.  Admittedly, I had a lot going on at the time, but if I had disciplined myself to write a little every day, whether I felt like it or not, and to stick with one thing until it was done before starting something else, I could have been a lot more productive.

I also received a file of old poems of mine.  They are a dreary lot—I tend to write poems when I’m feeling particularly depressed—and are often embarrassingly pretentious* and purple.  Still, among them are the earlier versions of poems/lyrics that became Catechism, Breaking Me Down, and Come Back Again, and I’m pleased with two facts about these:  first, that I really did remember them pretty accurately**, and second, that where I changed them for the current versions, I definitely improved them.

So, it’s been quite interesting to look back in joy (and in groans) at my old works, and to be able to look forward to finally being able to publish Vagabond, and to have the stem from which to regrow House Guest.  That was really a seminal story for me; it showed me that my writing was actually good not just from my Mom’s point of view.  I’m quite sure that it was the main factor in winning me the NCTE award, because the other part of the entry was an impromptu essay, written by hand…and as I think I said before, I can’t imagine anyone being able to decipher it, let alone liking it.

This isn’t just false humility.  My MCAT essay (I don’t even know if they still use those) was the only part of the test on which I got a mediocre score, and though I may just have written a crap essay***, I think it was very difficult to read as well, and that can’t help but hurt one’s evaluation.

Which point demands of me that I once again profoundly and profusely thank my sister, who undertook the Herculean task of trying to decipher and type in handwritten chapters of Mark Red and I think of The Chasm and the Collision that I sent her from jail and from prison.  Thank you, Liz, if you’re reading!

And that, I think, is a good point on which to close things this week.  I hope you all stay safe and healthy and use any enforced isolation time to read whatever strikes your fancy, and not to succumb exclusively to the temptations of video and social media.

TTFN Writer-at-work


*I know, right?  If even I think it’s pretentious, it must be really something!

**The middle portion of Come Back Again is verbatim from the original poem, though it was part of a completely different piece of work originally.  The last verse is almost the same, just with a slight flushing out of the second line for rhythm purposes.  Catechism is very accurate, but there were a few phrases that were a bit awkward in the original that have come out better.  Likewise for some of the imagery and word choices in Breaking Me Down, though that also is very close to the original.

***I have absolutely no recollection of what the subject was, let alone what I wrote.  Ditto for the NCTE essay.

But if the while I blog on thee, dear friend, All losses are restored, and sorrows end.

Good morning all.  This being Thursday, I figured I’d write another of my weekly blog posts.  What a shock, right?

As I stated last blog post, I’ve started back on my latest work, a novella/short novel* with the working title Safety Valve.  I’ve come up with a better final title for it, which is Outlaw’s Mind.  The main character is named Timothy Outlaw, and it really is about things that go on in his mind, and the troubles he has in dealing with a rather unusual emotional issue…one that may not be exactly what it seems.

I think I’ve built up a lot of writing pressure during the time in which I’ve been editing Unanimity, because once I got going, for the first two days I wrote over three thousand words a day on the new story, and since then I’ve been steady at about two thousand.  Not bad for me age.  One thing I’ll give myself, I do write quickly.  That’s partly why works intended as novellas become short novels, and novels become half a million words long.  At least there’s a lot of meat in my stories, and hopefully not too much gristle.

Speaking of such things, just to let you know, Unanimity Book 2 is already available for pre-order in Kindle form, if you’re interested (though thanks to the way my publishing works, it doesn’t seem that pre-ordering can be arranged for the paperback version).  I’ll include a link and a picture of the cover below.

And, of course, Unanimity Book 1 is readily available for purchase in both paperback and e-book editions, so please look into it.  As I think I’ve said before, it’s a supernatural thriller/horror novel in the form of a pseudo-science-fiction story set in 2018.  It’s sort of along the lines of Carrie or The Firestarter in the sense that the things that happen in the book are arguably based in a scientific process or explanation, but what happens really is something inexplicable and mysterious.  But there are no monsters under the beds…the monster is in people’s heads.  Which is, let’s face it, where most real monsters dwell.

I’ve begun putting together the order for my eventual collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and though I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fit all the stories as well as Outlaw’s Mind into one volume, it looks like it’s going to be fine.  There’s also the barest possibility that I’ll be able to include a surprise addition that I had despaired over ever being able to share with the world.

You see, my ex-wife contacted me this weekend and told me that, in cleaning out some old things, she’d found one of our old Macs, and on it, she had found several of my stories, including the short story House Guest, which I wrote in high school, and which helped me win a National Council of Teachers of English Award**.  She’s already sent the disc with the files to a service that translates such things into newer formats and gave them my email address to contact me when it’s ready.  It was an awfully nice thing for her to do, but that doesn’t surprise me.  I did marry her, after all, and I’ve never regretted that.

An even greater source of joyous surprise was that, among the material she found was my horror novel Vagabond, which I wrote over the course of college and medical school***.  I currently have only fragments of that novel in my possession; I had occasionally thought of reconstructing the missing parts, but it’s just too daunting, and I have new things on which to work.  But once I get the original, I can go through it, edit it, fix it up, and finally publish it!  It’s set in the late eighties, since that’s when I started college, and it takes place at a university—which would mean that I’d have two horror novels set in universities coming out in quick succession.  There are worse things, though, and the stories are of quite different character.  Vagabond is clearly and definitely a supernatural horror story, and its villain is one of my favorite creations.

Speaking of favorite creations and villains, this revelation and gift from my ex-wife does lead me to feel a bit wistful about an earlier “completed” work, a novel I wrote in high school called Ends of the Maelstrom.  This was a literal sci-fi fantasy combo, with magic and high tech, parallel universes, cosmic level dangers and a battle to the finish between two men of complex character who had previously been the best of friends.  It has impact on the metaverse of all my subsequent works, at least in my head, though that’s unlikely ever to be obvious.

It’s also unlikely that that novel will ever be rescued, since it was hand-written, single-spaced, both sides, on thin-ruled notebook paper, overflowing almost always into the margins as I thought of things to add.  It was in a green, battered old school-type folder, and it was lost along with essentially all my earthly belongings in 2011.  Odds are it’s rotting in a landfill somewhere, but on the bare chance that someone got it as part of an auction of my old belongings, you’ll recognize it from the description above.  Look for the “hero”, Naldor, along with a gaggle of Earth teens…whose names I’m unsure of, ironically, because they were based on people I knew, and I mix up the real people with the characters.  And look for the villain (no scare quotes needed here), Qaltich Talberod, called The Talberod by those who serve him, which is everyone with any sense of self preservation.  If anyone out there recognizes it, please get in contact with me.  I’ll know it when I see it, obviously.  It might even be worth something some year.  I’d vouch for its authenticity and give it back to you once I’d finished rewriting it.

This, however, is a fantasy, less likely to happen than the events of the story itself.  If I ever want anyone else to read Ends of the Maelstrom, I’m just going to have to rewrite it.  Please don’t hold your breath for that, though.  Had we but world enough, and time, of course I would eventually reconstruct it.  But as Andrew Marvell knew only too well, the phase space of our personal possibilities is finite and bounded.

On that happy note, I’ll finish up for this week.  I do invite you to check out Unanimity Book 1, I think it’s good.  I am biased of course.  Also, if you were to get a copy of the paperback and want to have it signed, I’m sure we could arrange for you to ship it to me and for me to ship it back.  I’ll personalize it if you like; I love sharing my stories with people in a personal way.

TTFN

Unanimity Book 2 simple Cover Project


*Short for me, anyway.

**There was an essay portion as well, but as this was handwritten, it’s hard to imagine the judges even being able to read it, let alone think it was any good.  My handwriting is deplorable.

***Back then I bought into the foolish behavior of only writing when inspired to do so—and there was always so much else to do.  This led to things taking a terribly long time, and it also led to me constantly getting sidetracked by new ideas, so I rarely completed works, or did so slowly.  Don’t fall into that trap!  Just set a schedule, like a job, and write whether you feel like it or not, on that schedule…and finish what you started—at least most of the time—before going on to something new.  Here endeth the lesson.


And just as a little added note:  WordPress’s new “block editor” sucks.  It was fine the way it was.  I’m tempted to find another place to host my blog, honestly, this is crap.  As Marullus said, “You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!”

I…heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s blog uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath that the rude sea grew civil at her song

Hello, good morning, good Thursday, and welcome One and All to my weekly blog post!

Yes, that’s an exclamation point at the end of that very first sentence.  It may be in poor taste, but I feel enthusiastic this morning, for reasons on which I’ll elaborate below, and I need to make the most of such times when I can, because they’re unreliable and comparatively infrequent.

First and still foremost, of course, the final edit of Unanimity is going well.  I’ve already finished “Part 1” of the book—about a quarter of the way through—and I’m moving along quickly.  Obviously, that’s exciting for me, and I hope there are those out there for whom it’s likewise exciting.  It’s been a looooong time coming, this mega-novel, and with only minor breaks it’s been the only fiction I’ve worked on for well over a year, if memory serves.

I won’t say that I’m getting tired of it—I don’t easily get tired of my own stories, that’s one of my few areas of unapologetic narcissism.  However, I do still get impatient for my stories to be finished and out there in the world wreaking whatever havoc they are capable of wreaking.  This particular novel is obviously not going to be available for purchase any time in June, and probably not in July (though that’s not entirely impossible), but I suspect that, barring the unforeseen, it will be released by end of the summer at the latest.

Speaking of releases:  I am absurdly pleased to announce that I have just released my first commercial single.  It’s my song “Like and Share”, which lost its quotation marks in the release process, I’m not sure how.  Oh, well, though they were deliberate, their lack doesn’t seriously change the message, which is sort of a lament about one of the darker aspects of social media.

I’ve taken the “video” off YouTube because it seemed kind of silly to compete with a free* version of myself.  The single is in the process of being released on many worldwide venues and will even be available as a purchasable CD single on Amazon, if anyone uses such things anymore.  It’s currently available for your listening pleasure—I think it will be pleasure, I’ve gotten quite good reviews from listeners—on Apple/iTunes and on Spotify.  Other venues will follow.  Here are the links:

Apple music: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id/1518756570

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1518756570?ls=1&app=itunes

Spotify URL: https://open.spotify.com/album/1pw3cSfHBysZu5ZyfIvJn1

Spotify URI: spotify:album:1pw3cSfHBysZu5ZyfIvJn1

I’m not sure what the character of that last link is or how specifically it works.  It doesn’t look like a typical URL, and of course it has a different acronym designation.  Perhaps it’s used in the Spotify app, which I do have on my smartphone, but on which I have NOT yet listened to my own song.

Don’t be too impressed by my restraint.  I used the web player on the desktop computer to listen to it as soon as I saw that it was available.  You cannot expect a kid not to eat chocolate eggs on Easter morning when they’re all just sitting there in his basket!

I’ve used my Iterations of Zero symbol, or icon, whatever the term might be, as the art for this single, and it will likely be the look of the final album (and probably the name also) when it’s released in the end.  It was a toss-up between Like and Share and Schrodinger’s Head for which song to release first, but the former got more votes in my small poll, so I chose it.  It’s certainly the most topical song that I’ve done.

So, anyway, I’m excited about this.  It’s not as monumental as having my books out and published, but it is very cool, nevertheless, and all the more so because it’s me doing something I hadn’t ever done before.  I mean, I’ve only really been playing electric guitar for a short time, and I’ve definitely not been arranging, recording, producing, mixing, etc., my music before the last year-ish.  So, it’s a nice feeling to have accomplished it, and of course I’m going to be releasing more, and am in the process of writing a few more songs as well.

For all my difficulties with depression, dysthymia, self-hatred and so on, one big strength I have is, I never assume or even suspect that a thing isn’t doable**.  I figure, if other people can do something, then with enough work, I can do that thing.  Throughout my life, whenever I’ve become enamored of some form of expression—music, poetry, books, comic books, science, math, medicine, etc.—I’ve always just automatically felt that I wanted to try doing my version of it.

Remember, there’s nothing magical about other people that isnt also magical about you.  Obviously, innate gifts vary somewhat from person to person, but as Albert Einstein is reported to have said, every human being is a genius.  I think, sometimes, that’s what frustrates me about people the most:  I know how much potential every person out there actually has, and it’s so infuriating to see the way it’s used and not used.  But it’s not my place to tell other people how to run their own lives.  It’s not like I’ve been uniquely impressive at running my own.

Anyway, that’s my exciting bit of news, which is good to have amidst all the far-from-exciting*** madness filling traditional and social media lately.  Perhaps listening to the song will give you a bit of ease from the stress out there.  I hope so, for though it’s not exactly a happy song—it deals with troubling things—it has a nice melody.

I’ll release Schrodinger’s Head next, don’t worry; that’s more upbeat and kind of funny.  But that won’t be for a little while yet.  I hope you all are feeling and doing as well as you possibly can.  Thank you for reading and, hopefully, for listening.

TTFN


*A bargain even at twice the price!

**Unless there’s some physical limitation…I will never play professional basketball, for instance, and I am unlikely ever to fly under my own power.

***I suppose, from a certain point of view, some of it could be considered “exciting”, but only in the same sense that all catastrophes tend to arouse our fight or flight centers.

Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear and chastise with the valor of my blog

Good morning, all.  It’s Thursday, of course, and therefore it’s just about the perfect day for another of my weekly blog posts.

I still struggle to get a pattern rolling for Iterations of Zero.  I thought of a way to make use of “idle” time to do longer form “Audio Blog” entries that might become a regular feature, but my first attempt was met with static and road noise.  If you’re interested in hearing more about that—literally—then by all means, listen to the follow-up audio blog I did yesterday for IoZ.  I think it’s worth your time if even just for my description of various social media as…well, let’s not spoil the joke.

Of course, out in the wide world, things proceed as absurdly as always.  Viruses, both literal and memetic, trouble us all.  This is not always a terrible thing.  While it’s hard to see Covid-19 as having much of an up-side, if it forces us to be better prepared for future, still more virulent pathogens—which are all but inevitable, given the enormous and lovely petri dish the human race instantiates for pathogens of all types—then perhaps it will be a net good in the long run.  It would be nice if humans could learn without having to be hit in the face with disease and death, but the principle of least action seems to apply at all levels of nature.  As for the societal, memetic flare-up, though rooted in a real tragedy, it is much more a positive happening.  Some things, thoughts, and people—probably all of us—need to be troubled from time to time.

More pivotal to me personally, though, is that the final run-through of Unanimity is going well.  We’re* working on layout and pacing, deciding how to divide up the sections and chapters of such a long work, as well as developing the cover design.  This all tends to go pretty well when I write books.  My biggest failing is that I have trouble advertising/promoting myself and my work.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it feels almost unseemly to me to tout my own products.  I feel not just embarrassed but often ashamed when I try to shout my own praises.  It’s a strange thing, and I don’t know if the area under the curve of that function is net-positive or net-negative, but at this moment in history, we can at least say it’s not “presidential”.  I need to improve it, though, because I have books and music that I really would like people to read and hear.

One of the things that most makes me hesitant about bigging myself up, as they say**, is that I fear that I’d very easily go too far and veer toward full Khan/Kanye/Doom/Trump mode once I got started, and there are already enough people in the world who think I’m an asshole.  But perhaps I worry too much about such things.  For a time, in high school, I was able to pull off being faux-egotistical as a self-parody of sorts, and it worked quite well (I think).  But, of course, high school is a time of immense possibility, and I was younger then***.  Still, if I could work that persona up, or some acceptable version of a similar process, it might be useful.

I’ll have to think about it.  Your input would be welcome.

There’s not a whole lot more to add.  I’m continuing to practice guitar and to develop a few original songs.  I’m also working on an arrangement of the old, beautiful song “Come Little Leaves” and my version of the Joker’s song from The Killing Joke has long since been complete except for the actual recording.  Both of these could stand to be heard, in my opinion.  Of course, the latter is nothing I could ever produce for profit—unless I left the lyrics out, I suppose.  The music is all me.  I think “Come Little Leaves” might actually be in the public domain, since the original poem, at least, came out in the early nineteen-twenties.  I’m not sure it would fit in with the other songs on my imagined “album”, however.  Though it has a vaguely melancholy feel, and is in a minor key, it is a hauntingly beautiful and ultimately positive song, whereas my work tends to be a bit dark.

Oh, well, time enough for these decisions to be made as and if they happen.  Unanimity remains my top priority, and it is happily speeding toward release, possibly by the end of the summer, but more likely in the autumn…which is, after all, the perfect time for a long, dark story to be told.

TTFN


*This refers to me and my creative team, including but not limited to Trevor Smith, Nathan Talbert, and Franklin L. Ritemoore.  I thought they deserved some credit.

**They do say that somewhere, don’t they?

***Duh.

The blogs of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo.

Hello and good day, everyone.  It’s Thursday morning, the last Thursday of May (2020 (AD or CE (Gregorian calendar))), and—at least where I live—people are starting to go back to work.  We can only wait and see whether this will be something that large numbers of the population will regret or not, but I can certainly sympathize with their desire.

I haven’t yet written anything for Iterations of Zero this week.  I could post one of a few bits that I’ve already written; I have two pieces primed and ready.  However, those essays are rather dark and somewhat negative; they have a sardonic and grim character, and that’s not what I want to get across right now.  I’m trying very hard to be positive (this despite appallingly wet weather, even by south Florida standards, which is making my chronic back pain flare up something fierce*).

So, instead of using either one of those articles, which I’ll save for later, I think I’ll make a post embedding my five original song “videos”** which are up on YouTube.  I’ve said before, half-jokingly, that I have roughly half-an-album’s-worth of original songs recorded and produced, and I’m inclined to work toward another half, just for shits and giggles.  But it would be nice to have more people tell me what they think about the songs before I put a lot of effort in.  I have received good reviews from those who have listened so far (and they weren’t all family members).  Considering the limitations under which they were made, I think the songs have come out remarkably well.  Still, I’m definitely my own primary audience thus far.

This isn’t so terrible; it’s nice that, just as I enjoy reading my own stories, I also enjoy listening to my own songs.  But I do face a serious obstacle in that I’m built or was trained or raised in such a way as to find self-promotion extremely difficult, and even distasteful.  Some large and loud part of me finds it unseemly to tell people, “Hey, listen to this song that I made,” or even, “Hey, you should read this book that I wrote.”  I’m also terribly embarrassed to be in the same room as someone listening to one of my songs.

I think I would benefit greatly from awakening just a little bit of the Trumpian spirit that must surely lie dormant within me.  When I’m honest with myself, and can push past my cringing, I really do think the songs are pretty good, especially considering what I have to work with***.  And in all honesty, I think my stories and books are quite good, and if it wouldn’t be just supremely cheesy, I’d go on Amazon and rate them each five stars and give them dazzling reviews.  That’s probably what Kanye West or The Donald would do, but I don’t know if I’m capable of it.

Speaking of my books, I’m about seventy pages from finishing the second to last run-through of Unanimity.  This means that the final turn, with layout, cover design, etc., is fast approaching.  I’m tempted to say that I feel like Frodo finally reaching the Plateau of Gorgoroth, but Unanimity is definitely NOT like the One Ring.  That is to say, I don’t consider it a cursed or dark or deadly burden of which I’m eager to be rid.  Quite the contrary, I love it dearly****.  But it has been a helluva journey through spacetime and through mindspace and workspace and whatever other phase space one might conjure to describe the process.  It’s certainly taken longer in proper time than the journey portion of The Lord of the Rings took‡, though the main-arc events of that book, from “A Long-expected Party” even just until “The Scouring of the Shire” last at least a good seventeen or so years, if memory serves.  Correct me if I’m wrong†, please.

With that good and exciting news, I think I’ll wrap things up for the week.  As always, I wish you all the best of all possible things, both short-term and long-term, both deep and shallow.  And though it is true that, if wishes were horses, we’d all be hip deep in horseshit, that wish is nevertheless entirely sincere.

TTFN


*Do you hear that high, plaintive, irritating sound, Mr. Anderson?  That is the sound of the world’s tiniest Stradivarius playing a doleful tune.

**This is in scare quotes because the video portion of these songs is just a fixed shot of the Iterations of Zero symbol.  It’s simply a fact that YouTube is one of the best, most available means by which one can spread an audio file and make it available, in principle, to the largest possible audience, but to use it, you need some kind of “video”.  There is no comparable “YouWoofer” or other stereo-speaker-titled venue for purely audio tracks for people to share, though podcasts are certainly all the rage.  Likewise, Facebook lets one upload videos as one wishes (true to its name, I must admit), but if there’s a way to upload purely audio files to the platform, I’ve yet to discover it.  Ditto for Twitter.

***Cue the “back-alley” doctor scene from Tim Burton’s Batman, in which the nascent Joker first sees his new face.

****And you will, too.  Believe me.  Everyone agrees with me.  No one’s ever done a book like this before.  It’s huge (it really is).

‡Or brandybuck or even gamgee.  Ha ha.

†I know, I know—I?  Wrong?  I!?  Don’t be absurd!

And keep my drooping eyelids open wide, blogging on darkness which the blind do see

Good morning and welcome to Thursday.  As I repeat ad nauseam, or at least omni septimana, it’s time for another edition of my blog post.

I considered making this one of the posts (of which I warned you) in which I would share YouTube links to the “videos” in which I read some of my stories aloud, as a sort of poor man’s Audible.  I say “poor man’s” not because it’s more expensive for the author to use Audible; quite the contrary.  I could upload the audio of my stories onto Audible and charge for those without any more difficulty than is entailed by uploading and sharing them on YouTube, and I’d make money if people listen to them.  Whereas my YouTube channel is not in any way monetized (for me, anyway; I’m sure the folks at Google make money from it).  Thus, even the poorest of hominids can hear me read my stories without having to pay anything above the cost of their broadband service.

As I’ve said before, I enjoy reading my stories out loud, and though the editing process is not as fun as the reading, it was what set me on the path to learning how to record and mix my music, so I can’t complain about it*.  Given that, and given the fact that I’m within striking distance of the final edit of Unanimity, I’m thinking about doing some more audio—perhaps reading another of my short stories aloud, or perhaps just continuing with The Chasm and the Collision, of which I’ve uploaded the first nine chapters only.  However, it would be nice to have some feedback, one way or another, before putting forth all that effort.

Speaking of feedback, I don’t know if any of you have been commenting on or otherwise responding to my blog posts (here or on Iterations of Zero) via Facebook or Twitter, but if you have, I must apologize.  Though I have shared many videos and some articles, and of course my blog posts, on both of those social media, I haven’t gotten on either of the sites in a dog’s age**.  The problem is that getting on Twitter and/or Facebook stresses me out tremendously, largely because those sites make me feel ever more depressed about the state of humanity and, by extension, the universe.

I don’t know if it’s really the case that humanity is getting stupider and more petty and pathetic with every passing moment, or that social media and for-profit “news” and similar projects just do a wonderful job of highlighting the idiocy and inanity that’s always existed.  I also don’t know which answer would be worse.  But as someone who already, despite medication, struggles almost every day with suicidal feelings***, I really don’t need to throw gasoline on the fire.

Therefore (∴), if you’re trying to give me feedback or to reach me in any way, your surest bet (if you don’t already have my email address) is probably just to leave a comment here or on Iterations of Zero.  WordPress is, at least, a form of social media (if it counts as that) which I use nearly every day.  I guess you could also comment via YouTube.  I tend to watch one or more videos there daily.  I can’t go for long without Sixty Symbols or Numberphile or any of several British comedy panels shows without having severe withdrawal symptoms.

I don’t assume that anyone is actually trying to reach me, mind you.  I’m not that egotistical.  As far as I know, I could turn to dust right after posting this and no one would ever realize it, apart from minor and brief inconveniences for people where I work.  But just in case anyone is trying to reach me who doesn’t already have a more direct connection, I thought I’d give notice.

I don’t know if this counts as wishful thinking, especially since the prospect of any type of social interaction tends to leave me at least mildly anxious.  It may just be a conflicted “cry for help” kind of thing, such as might be produced by a person who has never been good at seeking assistance in anything—because he doesn’t honestly believe that he deserves help of even the most miniscule kind, even if it’s available—and for whom more traditional attempts to express a need for urgent aid have occasionally led to personal disasters.

With that, I think I’ve said all that I have to say for this week.  I’ve probably said far more than I had to say.  I won’t end with, “The rest, is silence”—not yet, anyway—but will instead close with my traditional,

TTFN


*Others might have cause to complain that I learned to record, produce, and share my own songs, but that’s another matter.

**It’s a young dog’s age, to be fair—a puppy, really.  But it has been a while.

***I wrote a post on IoZ about this fact.  This urge is often triggered or worsened by concurrent trans-Thanos-level, genuscidal**** wishes in response to the above-noted stupidity of humans and is part of why I tend to write horror-related stories.

****This is a new term that I just coined, it’s not a misspelling.  It refers to the intention or aim or urge to wipe out all members of a particular genus.  So, in this case, for instance, even any extant Homo erectus would not be safe.

Time and the hour blog through the roughest day

Hello and good morning. Welcome to another Thursday, a reminder that you’ve survived for yet another week.  Congratulations!  You’ve earned the chance to read yet another edition of my weekly blog.

I’ve been thinking about the recurrent and ongoing desire I have to reinvigorate Iterations of Zero, my “other” blog, in which I range over a wider…well, range of topics, many of them darker than what I address here.  I tend to keep this blog, the one you’re reading, focused on my creative writing (books and short stories) and on music when that comes up (though that also appears on IoZ).

One of the biggest obstacles to IoZ is that I imagine that I should write about planned and specific topics there.  When I write this weekly blog, I don’t plan it in advance.  I just write whatever comes out, rather in the way that people have conversations*, and it seems to work nicely.  So, what I intend to try is not to plan what I’m going to write in Iterations of Zero, but simply start writing as I do here, and see what comes out.  Hopefully, I won’t start channeling ancient Lemurians or some similar such nonsense.  I can think of it almost as a kind of free-association psychotherapy…except that I can’t really do it while lying on a leather “couch”.

This won’t clear away every barrier to posting in IoZ.  One of its other main obstacles is time.  I don’t want to sacrifice another weekday morning that could be spent working on my books, since I already miss one of the those a week doing what you’re reading now.  And, despite my exhortations for all of you to send me lots of money so I can become independently wealthy and write full-time, I still have to work for a living, and to commute (yes, I’m back in the office full-time now), so my free time is woefully limited.

I’ve tried various means to get around that problem, including buying a Bluetooth keyboard for my cell phone so I can write blog posts there.  It’s a nifty little gizmo, and it does its job nicely, but it hasn’t seemed to make me any more likely to use my spare moments to write.  I’m much more prone to use them to read blog posts and to check various news and science sites.  I guess I’m going to have to bite the bullet and just tell myself to write something—anything—every Sunday, which is the one day I never use to work on my books**.  We’ll see how it works out, but it can be soooo hard to kick myself into gear on Sundays.

Now, to abruptly shift gears and address another potential time sink: I’ve been considering restarting audio recordings of some of my work.  I have a few published short stories for which I haven’t recorded audio (and thus haven’t posted to YouTube), and of course I only reached Chapter 9 of The Chasm and the Collision before deciding that not enough people were following it to make it worthwhile***.

However, there is real, personal, ego-syntonic joy in reading my stories aloud and posting them for people to listen if they want.  Doing so in the past also helped me learn how to use Audacity, which led to me being able to record and produce my original songs, which is double-plus-good.  So, what I think I may do is put out a few posts here with links/embedding of my short stories’ audio “videos” (one post) and chapters of CatC (another post) to give you all an easy place to link to them, to see if I get any new listens, and to elicit any comments in favor of or against me doing further recordings.

It might also be nice to do a post embedding my song “videos” as well, since I have little bits and pieces of the beginnings of various others bouncing about on paper and in my head and might be pushed toward or away from further efforts by reader/listener response.  But that’s mainly orthogonal to the preceding point.

As for much more important matters, Unanimity continues to draw nearer to its final form.  I’m within a few hundred pages of the end of the penultimate edit!  That might not sound like much, but in a half-a-million-word novel, believe me, it’s getting close to the end.  Of course, the final run-through will be the hardest work since the original writing of the book, but the excitement of being near completion should easily keep me going.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to spread a little of that excitement to all of you.  There are worse contagions to catch, as we all know.

With that, I’ll call this week’s blog installment good and move on to other things.  I hope you’re all well, and that you stay well and become even better over time for as long as you are able.

TTFN


*Some of you may say that this fact is obvious based on the quality of this weekly blog.  You really know how to hurt a guy.

**There’s nothing religious about this; Sunday is just the one day of every week that I never go to official work.  For that reason, it’s also the day I do my laundry, and I can guarantee that there is nothing religious about that process.

***I honestly don’t understand this.  I know I’m biased, but I really love that story—and others have told me they love it also and have thanked me for writing it—and I think that I narrate it well.  Oh, well.

But your blogging by me cannot amend me; society is no comfort to one not sociable

Hello, good morning, and welcome to Thursday and to a new iteration of my weekly blog post.  I say, “weekly”, but of course, last week I didn’t post, nor did I make any announcement about not posting.  I doubt that anyone was worried about me, which is just as well since there was little about which to worry, but I do apologize for the unexplained absence.  You can withhold a week’s worth of whatever you’re paying me if you want.

I was “under the weather” last week (not in a viral way, but in a bad sleep/migraine sort of way, which is preferable, but which has the disadvantage of being a gift that recurs at unpredictable intervals throughout life), so I stayed in bed with the light off for most of the day, reminding myself that, though it didn’t feel like the medicine was working, I didn’t know how I would feel if I hadn’t taken any.

Which brings me, in a weird way, to a thought that occurred to me—and has done so more than once—since this whole pandemic began.  Many people are bemoaning the ordeal of social distancing, of not being able to go out and shop and go to malls and to movies and to night clubs, to spend time with friends and family in ways that they normally do, and in response I’ve been thinking to myself, “What the hell are you talking about?”

I realized that, for me, not socially interacting, not going out, not shaking hands, not going to restaurants or to the movies or to the mall or to the grocery store or wherever is my regular routine.  I mean, I have a housemate*, with whom I share rent, and I have people at the office with whom I work (though mine is the only desk separated from the main room, since I do records and payroll and whatnot), but that’s pretty much it.  I don’t really have any real friends to speak of, certainly not locally.

I cannot abide things like WhatsApp or FaceTime or whatever.  I can barely stomach Facebook and Twitter, both of which usually just make me feel more depressed about my fellow human beings and myself.  I also have a very difficult (or at least unpleasant) time talking on the phone because of highly asymmetrical hearing loss and rather severe tinnitus in my right ear.  Thank goodness for WordPress and for YouTube channels like Numberphile, Sixty Symbols, and PBS Space Time, and for uploaded videos of British comedy panel shows.  Without them, I’d only have books.

Come to think of it, that last part wouldn’t be so horrible, would it?  Books are good.  Hell, books are great.

Anyway, my point is, if you’re feeling bereft by “social distancing” and feel hard done by because you can’t go out to the movies or the mall or the night club or whatever, you’d be well served not to complain to me.  I consider your complaints very much “first world problems”, and I’m liable to respond to you by saying things that will make you feel much, much worse.

Do you remember in The Silence of the Lambs how Hannibal Lecter got mad at his cell neighbor “multiple Miggs” for treating Clarice Starling rudely, so Hannibal just spoke to Miggs quietly for several hours, after which Miggs wept for a while and then killed himself by swallowing his tongue?  It would be something along those lines.  If you don’t believe me, you should read some of my posts about depression on Iterations of Zero and remind yourself that those are some of the thoughts I’m willing to share publicly.

(Insert diabolical laugh)

Seriously, though, it is a little disconcerting for me to realize that I’m barely, if at all, disrupted by current social changes, because I’m more or less socially isolated at baseline.  This is far from the worst way life could be, of course, but I can’t resist a bit of schadenfreude.  I’m not a nice person, I guess.

Anyway, on to far more important things.  I’m more than halfway through the penultimate edit/readthrough/rewrite of Unanimity, still whittling away the unnecessary (and hopefully not too much that will turn out to have been necessary).  Soon it’ll be time to do final layouts and cover design (though the cover’s general form was decided long ago), and then by this summer the book should be ready for publication!

I’m rather excited, not least because I’ll finally be able to do some new writing.  Don’t get me wrong, I truly love Unanimity, but I seem to be particularly vulnerable to depression when I’m not writing new fiction—or perhaps it’s more precise to say that writing fiction is my strongest weapon against depression—and I’ve committed myself**** to abstaining from starting any new writing projects until I’ve completed the previous one.  I do this because, in the past, giving in to the temptation to start a new story has frequently prevented me from finishing numerous books that I’ve begun.  “Know thyself and act accordingly.”

So, I’m not going to change that policy, which has served me very well since I started it, but I do look forward to completing a new novella (working title, Escape Valve) and putting it together with previously published works into a collection of short stories, then moving on from there to a new novel.

And whither then?  I cannot say.

With that, I think I’ve written all that needed to be written for this blog post, along with much that probably did not need to be written.  I hope you all experience ever-growing levels of happiness, health, and satisfaction, as well as reasonable safety (but not too much…that would be boring).

TTFN


*He’s a good guy, and to be fair, he is a friend.  He also both plays and makes a mighty mean guitar!  He made two of mine—a Strat and a Les Paul (the latter of which is the finest sounding instrument of any kind that I’ve ever played)—and found and bought my SG for me as well.  Who would ever have thought that I would have so many guitars**?

**I have six—two acoustics and four electrics.  That’s enough, I think***.

***This has been my first use, if memory serves, of nested footnotes.  Any thoughts?

****Ha ha.

How far that little candle throws its blogs! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

Hello there, good morning, and welcome to yet another Thursday.  It’s the first Thursday of April, and yesterday was “April Fool’s Day,*” but I doubt that many people felt like playing pranks on each other…I know that the ones with whom I interacted showed no signs of such “foolishness”.  To be honest, I’ve personally never seen the fun in pulling pranks on other people, April Fool’s Day or otherwise.

It would have been nice—in a horrible way—to have learned that the global coronavirus pandemic thing had all been a big prank, to be revealed on April 1st, but it’s hard to imagine anyone doing something in such poor taste…even those people involved in government, who are notorious for their tastelessness.

We’ve finally gotten things set up so that, at least part of the time, I’m going to be working from home for the coming days to weeks (hopefully not months!), but since I do records and payroll for my workplace, I’m going to be needing to go in at least part of the week.  That’s not so bad.  If I’m basically the only on in the office, it’s hard to see from whom I could catch the virus, and to whom I could give it.  Also, my training, combined with my already socially withdrawn character, make me somewhat less vulnerable to contagion than many others.

Speaking of the latter, I apologize for the gloomy character of last week’s blog post.  I suppose it can be forgiven—at least I hope so—given the state of things, but still, it’s nicer to try to keep at least a little lighthearted, even in dark times.  And, let’s face it, taking the universe as a whole, at least since the universe was more than three hundred thousand years old, it’s always been “dark times”.

Get it?  If not, don’t feel bad.  It’s not really funny, and not very clever.

Anyway, I did a little “audio blog” yesterday that I’ll be posting on Iterations of Zero, soon, about patriotism, the pledge, the national anthem, the flag, and an aside on seeing a virus as an alien invasion.  It’s more fun than it may sound, and it’s less than ten minutes long—I even do a tiny bit of singing—so when I post it, I invite you to take a listen.

Of course, despite everything, Unanimity continues to draw closer to release—a story about a contagion of an entirely different, and more terrifying, kind than any we’ve seen before.  I feel bad that it’s not already available, because I think it would be quite a nice book to read while stuck inside over the course of a social distancing protocol.  It’s long, at the very least.  Well, what can you do?

If you wish, you can certainly feel free to get copies of Mark Red, Son of Man, or especially The Chasm and the Collision, to help you pass your time.  They, and all my many short stories, are available for Kindle, so you don’t have to leave the house to get and read them!  I’ve even got audio of me reading several short stories and part of CatC on my YouTube channel, and you don’t even need to pay for that (except with advertising or with your YouTube premium subscription…none of that money goes to me, though).  Obviously, of course, there are a squillion other books out there to enjoy when stuck at home.  Number one on my list of recommendations would almost certainly be The Lord of the Rings, for those of you who haven’t already read it, or haven’t reread it recently.  I’m probably going to be picking it up again, myself.  But really, the number of possible books is functionally unlimited**.  Indulge yourselves in what you enjoy when it comes to books, including nonfiction.  Why not?  Written language is the lifeblood of civilization.  Let’s keep it flowing in abundance!

With that, I’ll bid you farewell for the moment.  Do take sensible precautions, look after your elderly and infirm friends and relatives, and look out for each other.  The great strength of humanity is our ability to work together in complex and coordinated ways to do more and better than any collection of people could do each on their own (a process which relies powerfully on symbolic language).  And one of the great motivators of that strength is our ability to care about our fellow humans.  Remember, every other person out there is so much more like you than they are like any other kind of creature in the universe (and vice versa) as to be nearly indistinguishable for any other type of creature.  So be sympathetic and be caring and be careful.  The world is full of sharp corners.

TTFN


*April Fools’ Day?

**Further recommendations are available upon request