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.

Fight valiantly to-day; and yet I do thee wrong to blog thee of it, for thou art framed of the firm truth of valor

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Good morning and Happy Boxing Day!  I hope that all of you who celebrated yesterday had a wonderful Christmas, and that those of you who celebrate Hanukkah continue to have a wonderful Festival of Lights.  For all others in the northern hemisphere, I pray that thou dost celebrate the passing of the solstice and the lengthening of daylight…and in the southern hemisphere, enjoy your summer!

For those of you who choose to celebrate Boxing Day in a twisted and quasi-literal sort of way, I remind you of this:  bare-knuckle boxing engenders fewer fatalities than does boxing with gloves, because the latter encourages far more frequent blows to the head, with consequent shaking and damaging of the brain*.  Honestly, I doubt there are (m)any who do such a silly thing, and precious few of us, with bizarre senses of humor, who even consider the possibility.  Still, just in case, I thought I’d bring it up.

And now, a quick and more or less final reminder:  My giveaway of free books (Kindle format) ends with the passing of the year (and, by some reckonings, the decade).  By the time my next regular blog post goes out, the offer will be over, so if you want to join the numerous beneficiaries of this giveaway, please, get in touch with me either here in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter, or through some other means that will reach me, and make your request.  I will need an email address eventually, to which to deliver the link for your e-book(s), but as long as your request is sent before midnight on December 31st (according to your local time zone) then you will receive your giveaway, even if the email only follows later.

For those of you who are resistant or ambivalent because of the necessary Kindle format, I’ll simply remind you that electronic books are far more ecologically and environmentally friendly than are paper books and other physical printed media (magazines, newspapers, etc.).  This is one of the great advantages of modern electronic media, and it is far from the only one.  This blog, and squillions like it, is another.

On a related note, I’m “currently” partaking of a book in both Kindle and Audible format (at separate paces), and its subject is the potential sustainability of perhaps the most precious resource of all: the healthy duration of our individual lives.  The book is Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don’t Have To, written by the eminent Harvard biologist David Sinclair, along with Matthew LaPlante.  I highly recommend it, and I’ll probably write a review of it on Iterations of Zero once I’ve finished the book in both formats.

Speaking of IoZ, I’ve posted a few things there in the past day or so.  The first was a recording of me playing a rather amateurish guitar version of “Greensleeves” aka “What Child is This?” just barely in time for Christmas.  The second was a release of two earlier recordings of a sort of karaoke and “duet” of me singing the Radiohead song “Knives Out”.  You’re welcome and encouraged to listen to all three recordings, and I’d be happy to receive your feedback.  I’m a glutton for punishment, it seems.

Unanimity editing has gotten slightly less than its usual attention of late, partly because I’ve been stricken with a flu-like illness, possibly the actual flu**, and have been relatively miserable for the past six days.  Im on the mend, however, and though not quite back into full boxing form, I’m eager to return to the ring.  Other things, such as an office move at my job, about which I was none too happy—but with which I’m becoming more enamored—and just the general schedule derailment caused by a midweek holiday, have also intervened.  I did not edit at all yesterday.  I was too busy eating.

Nevertheless, the book proceeds more or less steadily, and publication is on the visible horizon, unless I’m falling prey to a metaphorical optical illusion.  After that, I mean to finish my novella and then publish it among other stories in Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  Then I’m going to be doing something rather more light-hearted than Unanimity, a sort of fable called Neko/Neneko, which I think I’ve mentioned here before.  That’s all assuming my plans don’t change, of course.  I didn’t have any mice helping me make those plans, so hopefully they won’t gang agley.  That’s what the quote by Robert Burns (aka “Robbie”—or perhaps “Rabbi?”) recommends against, isn’t it: men making plans with the help of mice?  It was something like that.

In any case, the holiday season is not yet over.  A New Year beckons, as does a new decade, and though great Nature recognizes not our arbitrary subdivisions of days and years and centuries and eons, such things matter to humans, of which I am one***.  So, enjoy and embrace the time.  Make merry (and possibly Pippin); indulge yourselves in ways that don’t cause harm to others or yourselves; and by all means, give yourselves some belated Christmas gifts by requesting a free copy of one or three of my stories.  We all need things to which to look forward to bolster our enthusiasm for life, after all.

TTFN


*It can hurt your hands—a lot—to hit someone in the face with bare knuckles.

**It serves me right for not having gotten my flu shot this year.  I can offer no excuses.

***No matter what I or anyone else may occasionally say.

The art of our necessities is strange that can make vile blogs precious.

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This is about the last picture of me that I like…

Hello and good morning!  It’s Thursday, as you no doubt already know, and thus it’s time for another of my staggeringly popular weekly blog posts.

I should let anyone who’s paying attention know that I did in fact write a post for Iterations of Zero last week, but while editing it, I decided that it was just too negative to share right now.  Maybe I’ll change my mind in the future, but I figured there’s enough material on IoZ dealing with depression and its fallout, and I thought people wouldn’t be too chuffed to read more of it.  Perhaps I’m wrong in this.  If so, please let me know.

I now hereby remind you all that my giveaway offer is still in place until the end of the year:  If you send me a request, either here or through my Facebook or Twitter accounts, I’ll happily send you the Kindle edition either of one of my novels or three of my short stories, whichever you prefer.  You can pick them, or—if you like—I can pick them for you.  In such a case, I’ll be inclined to send you works that I most want to promote, so fair warning.  Of course, I’m happy to try to match your preferences if you just tell me what you enjoy, but I can’t guarantee that I have works that match all possible tastes.  My short stories, in particular, tend to be rather dark.  Still, if it’s sci-fi, fantasy, and/or horror that you crave, I think I can find a shoe that fits.

I’m very near the end of this run-through of Unanimity, which is nice, though of course the ending is sad in many ways.  The fact that I’m making such progress—glacially slow though it often feels—leads me think that the book will be ready for release sometime relatively early next year, always assuming I live that long.  It will definitely be my magnum opus to date, at least as far as size goes.  I hope it’s worth the wait*.

Now, to indulge in a bit of a tangent:  when I searched online to confirm that I wasn’t misusing the term “magnum opus”**, one of the top results delivered was the Instagram page for what seems to be a hair salon or similar out in Portland, OR (they had some lovely pictures, by the way).  This led me to wonder, as I do from time to time, whether there would be any benefit from my starting an Instagram account.  I don’t currently have one (which was implied by what I just said, wasn’t it?), and I’ve never really followed or looked closely at any such account hitherto.  I’m not big on photo sharing in general.  I don’t like how I look, so I don’t tend to share pictures of myself***, and there are few enough external events in my life that merit pictorial representation to the masses.  Of course, in addition to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, I do have a YouTube channel, but that’s mainly used for sharing “videos” of my songs and recordings of some of my stories.  I’d be interesting to learn what your thoughts are on the benefits (or detriments) of Instagram for authors and other writers.  Do Stephen King and J. K. Rowling have Instagram accounts? I doubt that Shakespeare does.

That’s about all I have for now.  I’ll work on something new for IoZ for this week, and I’ll try to keep it as upbeat as I’m able, but I am grumpy by nature, it seems.

Again, please do contact me if you want some free stories to read for the holidays, even if they’re not exactly holiday-oriented tales.

In closing, in apparent contradiction to my grumpy nature and my dark imagination, I wish you all the very best in everything, even if you don’t necessarily know what that might be.  After all, does any of us really know what’s best for ourselves? But whatever it is, I wish it for you, my dearest readers, and for your families and friends…and what the heck, while we’re there, I’ll wish it for everyone.

Also, I want a pony.

TTFN


*Obviously, I think it’s terrific, but I’m biased.

**I did and do know what it means, but I wanted to make sure there weren’t misleading connotations in its common use.  It turns out I was both correct and fine, which happens sometimes.

***I used to be reasonably satisfied with my appearance, but chronic pain, depression, and prison will tend to take the glow out of one’s skin and the sparkle from one’s eyes, to say nothing of the gleam from one’s teeth.

For it will come to pass that every bloggart shall be found an ass.

Good day, everyone.  It’s that morning for which you all pine each week:  Thursday morning, the morning on which I (usually) release my weekly blog post.  Rejoice!  You can breathe again.

Okay, well, anyway…I hope everyone in America had a good Memorial Day on Monday.  I always try to avoid saying “a happy Memorial Day,” since the point behind the holiday is to remember with gratitude the many military personnel who’ve fought and died in wars, etc., especially in World War II, and that’s not really a happy thought.

Of course, in a certain sense, we should be happy that these people did what they did—it’s good that the Axis powers didn’t win World War II, even despite the many missteps and mistakes the Allies and former Allies have made in the years since.  On the other hand, though, we can surely all agree that it’s lamentable that such destruction and loss of life was ever necessary.  If you stop and think about it, we should all hope for (and whenever possible, strive toward) a world in which neither heroism nor leadership are necessary, since leadership and heroism are generally required only when things are not going well.  At least, it would be nice to work toward a world in which conflict, leadership, and heroism exist in sports, in books, in movies, and in video games, but not in day to day life.

Is such a world possible?  In principle, I think it is.  In practice, who knows if it will ever happen?  I wouldn’t lay heavy money on it, more’s the pity.

On to lighter, or at least more personal, matters.  I’ve been fiddling around with sound editing/recording/mixing software, and it has continued to distract me a bit from my writing tasks, but not completely.  Though I haven’t written any new pages of Neko/Neneko for over a week, I have been editing away at Unanimity, and I’ve been pleased to find that there are some moving moments in it.  One would hope this was the case in a long novel, of course, but I’ve read a few books in which there are no such experiences.  It’s nice that, at least for the author, the book has some poignant, and goose-bumpy, and thrilling passages.  Hopefully, future readers will agree with my assessment.

I continue to entertain the plan of releasing the three short stories from Welcome to Paradox City as individual Kindle editions, and—in sort of a parallel opposite act—of releasing a collection of my more recent short stories, and possibly doing all of these before Unanimity comes out.  And, of course, before any of that, I’m going to be releasing Free Range Meat, my latest short story.  That should happen fairly soon, as the editing on it is going well, even though it’s only one day a week.

Amidst all these processes, one thing that I’ve fallen off on a bit—and which I was never terribly good about in the first place—is promotion.  Though I’ve never found it natural to advertise myself, I at least periodically used to boost some Facebook ads and the like, and I haven’t done any of that in quite a while.  It’s just contrary to my nature, at least as I am now, to shout out for attention, even when it’s perfectly reasonable, and even necessary, to do so.  Don’t get me wrong, I can certainly be pompous and arrogant in my own right (no, really!), but I’m not very good at talking myself up.  I usually feel that it’s rude to try to push myself into other people’s awareness.  This is not good, of course, for someone who’s trying to get other people to notice and read his books (or listen to his songs, or whatever).  And I myself often lament how much it’s the case that the assholes of the world make far more noise than the benign and positive people.

Of course, one ongoing way in which I do promote myself is by writing this blog (and Iterations of Zero, though that’s more esoteric).  But doing more than that is rather awkward for me.

I often envy the attitude expressed by a moment in “The Simpsons” when Marge flashes back to a two-year-old Bart walking down the hall, banging on a kitchen pot with a spoon and singing, “I am so great!  I am so great!  Everybody loves me, I am so great!”  And, of course, I’m well aware that a key principle of advertising is repetition, even to the point of irritation.  After all, if people are thinking and talking about how much of a pain you are, they’re talking about you.  But it feels like it’s all in such poor taste.

Then again, I write fantasy/sci-fi/horror, and in the latter genre, many things happen which quite a few people would say are in poor taste, or they would be if they really occurred.  Certainly, the fate that befalls the very well-intentioned and positively behaved main character of Free Range Meat could hardly be called a Capra-esque outcome.  Maybe Kafka-esque, but definitely not Capra, and definitely not tasteful.

Tasty?  Maybe.

There, that’s a little teaser for you to whet your appetite.  I can do this promotion thing.  Sure, I can.

Well, I could ramble on and on for much longer than I have, but I’ll save that for another time.  Always leave them wanting more, they say.  I wish for each of you the best of all possible outcomes from your point of view, with only the proviso that it not interfere with the best of all possible outcomes for others from their points of view.

And isn’t that the big problem of crafting a society even of thoroughly well-meaning people?

TTFN