The time is out of joint : O cursed spite, that ever I was blogg’d to set it right!

Hello and good morning, everyone reading this.  It’s Thursday again, and time for my more traditional, weekly blog post, that I’ve maintained for some years, unlike the daily one I’ve been doing in recent months.  I’m not sure how long I’ve been doing the daily one, now, to be honest.  It feels both like a short time—in that I can sort of remember the sense of when I started doing it and stopped writing fiction and stopped playing guitar—but also a long time in the sense that it’s difficult to feel the memory of it ever having been otherwise than it is right now.

All things can feel eternal sometimes.

Speaking of writing fiction, last Saturday I wrote a post in which I reminded people of the YouTube “videos” of me reading the first nine chapters of The Chasm and the Collision, as well as three, I think, of my short stories.  I don’t know if anyone has listened at all, but if you have, I would greatly appreciate any feedback you might have to offer, and if you’re interested in having me read any more.

Anyway, because I posted about it, I decided to reread that book, and I’m not quite halfway through the reread—I’ve been interspersing it with reading the latest Richard Dawkins book, Flights of Fancy, and then I’m reading Emmy Noether’s Wonderful Theorem, which I got after mentioning her earlier this week.  I think CatC has stood the test of time, at least for me.  I don’t feel too uncomfortable recommending it as a family-friendly book, a “fantasy” adventure for the young and the not-so-young alike.  I don’t know if it’s my favorite of my books or not, but I like it.

I like most of my stories, really, which is good, because it’s hard to tell if many other people even read them.  If anyone has read any of my books, having bought them from Amazon, I’d really appreciate if you’d rate them.  I’m not asking you to write a review—I know that can be a pain—but you can give it a star rating with only the click of a mouse or the tap of a finger.

I try to remember at least to rate every book that I read, but only once I’ve finished them.  That probably biases my ratings toward the higher end of the scale, since if I dislike a book enough, I’m not going to finish it.  But, really, I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book that I’d give one star, not even Swan Song, which I did not finish.  Somebody worked for a long time writing each and every one of those books, and the mental effort is not small.

Also, if there was a book so bad (to me) that it would be likely to give it one star, I think I’d recognize ahead of time that it wasn’t something I was going to like, and just wouldn’t buy it.  But, if you have read any of my books and think they only are worth one star, then by crikey, rate them one star.

I kind of wish I felt like writing, because both Outlaw’s Mind and The Dark Fairy and the Desperado are well begun, and I like both stories.  I’m a bit more attached to the former, partly because I’ve been working on it longer (though DFandD as a story idea is quite a bit older).  If anyone would be interested, I could post at least the beginning bits of the latter story here, like I did with Outlaw’s Mind, so you can see how it is, but I haven’t edited it at all (except the quick reread of the previous day’s work before writing on any given day), so it may be quite raw.

Seriously, though, I doubt there’s anyone interested in any of it.  I don’t know why I’m wasting my time.

Not that there’s anything else to do with my time but waste it.  I certainly have nothing useful to do.  Every day I feel like I want to slice my own skin off, or beat myself around all my major joints with a hammer, or maybe just break and burn everything I own.  Yesterday, at a frustrating moment, I honestly came perilously close to smashing the guitar I have at work, but instead I was able to take some of my stress out by just snapping a pen in my hands.  It was a good snap; it broke into four apparent pieces, one of which I haven’t found.  I guess it went flying.

Sometimes several times a day, on web searches and on my phone browser and in my contacts, I keep looking at the site and the numbers of the suicide prevention hotline.  But I can’t bring myself to use it, not after what happened to me last time I did.  I really don’t want to be handcuffed or locked up again, not ever.  I tried very hard all my life to do and be good and to do “right”, or at least not to do “wrong”, to live a life where I wouldn’t have such things happen to me, and yet they did anyway, and I lost everything I had that I hadn’t already lost.  I don’t want a repeat of that.  It’s not fun.

Also, honestly, I feel like I don’t have any right to ask for anyone’s help or to use any public resources (or private resources) to help me, though I need it desperately.  I don’t have anything to offer in return.  I don’t really think I’m worth saving, and I don’t think anyone else really thinks I am either.  It’s certainly unlikely that anyone will pine for me when I’m gone.

Well, that’s enough of that.  At least, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s going to go on for much longer.  I’m barely getting through each day, frankly.  But the days do seem to last for such a long time.  That’s that subjectively confusing sense of duration I mentioned earlier.

I do hope that all of you are doing okay, and that you’re in the company of friends and loved ones, and that you enjoy doing things with them, even boring, everyday things.  Hold onto that shit.  Seriously.  Nothing else is as important.  Probably.  Though, what would I know?

TTFN

[Apologies, but there is no picture today.]

My conscience hath a thousand several blogs, and every blog brings in a several tale

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another of my weekly blog posts.  It is not Thursday morning as I write this, but it will be Thursday (or later) when you read it.  I’m writing it a day early, to be published on the usual day, since this Thursday is a major holiday where I live.

Given that, I would like to wish Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the US who are reading this, and to everyone else, a happy day in general.  It can feel as though there’s much not to be thankful for right now, but I’m sure that, in the modern world, we still have many reasons to feel fortunate—certainly those of us with the luxury of reading and writing blogs.

Positivity isn’t my strong point, as my regular readers may know, but it is worth remembering that we take for granted a tremendous number of incredible advances that our forebears even a generation past could not have imagined.  If you go back a century, to the time of the 1918-ish flu pandemic, it’s sobering to realize that they didn’t have antibiotics to treat the numerous bacterial infections that often complicate influenza, let alone ventilators, oxygen monitors, corticosteroids, or molecular biology to be able to discern the nature of the disease-causing agent.  Indeed, DNA itself was decades away from being described, so the tools for understanding and treating a highly contagious and dangerous viral illness were far weaker than they are today.  Vaccinations had been invented, but they were in crude form, and the science of understanding, let alone designing them, was in its infancy.

And the internet, of course, or anything like it, was not even a dream of science fiction yet.

So, if we work at it—and I say again, it’s not my strong point—we can find things about which to feel truly thankful.

On to other, lighter matters.  I did a rather unusual experiment recently, one about which I have mixed feelings.  I’d be thankful (!) for any feedback you might think appropriate.  As those of use who use Amazon know, when you’ve purchased something, Amazon often sends an email asking if you’d be willing to rate and review what you bought.  I think this is a useful service, but it can become onerous at times, so I don’t review nearly everything I purchase, even books that I read and enjoy.

I received a request to rate a jacket I’d just purchased.  It was the same brand I’d bought a few years ago, and my old one was getting a bit raggedy with use, so I ordered a new one (in a different color—black, of course).  I decided that I really should give a review, since I’d used the product and liked it enough to buy it again.

Well, as you may also know, once you’ve reviewed one item, the Amazon page asks you if you want to rate and review other items you’ve purchased—you know, while you’re in the mood and all.  And at the top of the list was my own creation, Unanimity Book 1, for which I’d already received more than one request for reviews.  I bought copies of the book for the people at my office I thought might enjoy it, and then another one for someone who asked me later for a copy, so the review requests were recurrent, as tends to happen with all of my books.

I’ve occasionally been tempted to write a comical, self-serving review that makes it obvious that I’m the author to anyone reading, but I’ve never done it before.  It was my understanding that Amazon doesn’t allow people who have a fiduciary interest in a product to provide reviews for it.  I respect that policy, as I understood it.  But they kept asking, and asking, and asking…and I’m not made of stone (except perhaps for my heart).  Finally, on a whim, I wrote a brief review, starting off by revealing that I am the author of the book, and I rated it five stars.  This is not, of course, an unbiased rating, but it is at least an honest one, in that I really do think it’s worthy of that rank to me, not least because of the effort involved in writing it and the characters, whom I like very much.  I wasn’t really expecting the review to go up.  I figured Amazon’s automatic checkers or whatever they might be would block it and send me a kind but firm email stating that they can’t publish reviews from people involved financially in a product.  Well, only Amazon itself is more financially involved in my books than I am.  But at least so far, the review is there, which is amusing to me, at least, but I do feel the need to repeat my disclaimers about it and the rating.

To be honest, if I’d thought it was really going to work, the book I’d feel least conflicted about reviewing would be The Chasm and the Collision, which is certainly my most wholesome, family-friendly story, written specifically with my children in mind at the time*.  I’m quite proud of the world-building I did in it, which includes telepathic plants, mole-weasel creatures called orcterlolets who can directly manipulate the local shape of space itself, flying manta-ray like monstrosities called gowstrin, a bit of bastardized M-theory describing universes floating next to each other in “the bulk” and in danger of colliding, and three middle-schoolers who inadvertently get caught up in the emergency attempt to prevent that collision, which would destroy everything in our universe as well as the one of Osmeer.  And, of course, as I say in the jacket blurb, our heroes must try to help prevent this cosmic catastrophe while not getting in trouble for being late for school.

Yeah, I don’t feel any qualms about recommending that book to pretty much anyone.  My sister has read it more than once, and the last time she did, she actually thanked me for writing it.  That was pretty huge.

The Vagabond, of course, being a horror story, is far from as family-friendly as CatC, but it is coming along nicely, and it is fast-paced, and a far more in-your-face horror story than, say, Unanimity.  The horror in the latter is complicated, partly psychological, partly existential, involving the threat of the complete loss of free will, autonomy, self-awareness, etc., without anyone even knowing of the threat, let alone being able to do anything about it.  At least with a traditional, moustache-twirling, evil incarnate type villain, you know what you’re up against and can make a stand.  When the villain is one of the people you love most in the world, who doesn’t even think that he’s doing anything bad, and about the threat from whom you know only because he told happily you, things are a little dicier**.  At least, I think so.

But The Vagabond will probably be more straightforward fun for most people, and it is certainly shorter.  Still, if you read only one of my books, I would recommend The Chasm and the Collision, without knowing more about your preferences and tastes and whatnots.

With that, I think I’ll draw this prematurely written blog post to a close.  I do, honestly, hope that all of you who are in the US have as good a Thanksgiving as possible, while doing everything you can to keep yourselves and those you love safe and healthy.  Hopefully, you can console yourself by imagining the November blow-out that will come once we have this latest virus*** under better control.  “So tighten your belts, and think with hope of the tables of Elrond’s house!”

TTFN

Thanksgiving (2)


*I don’t think either of them has read it, or any of my other books, though each book is dedicated to them.  They don’t want to have much to do with me since the time I was invited to be a guest of the State of Florida for three years…in fact, my son won’t interact with me at all, though my daughter does stay in contact, and shares news of her various adventures.

**I think that’s a neologism.  Certainly, MSWord doesn’t recognize it.

***And our various politicians and the political processes itself.