Journeys end in bloggers meeting

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another blog post!  It’s the second Thursday of December, and the year 2018 is now perilously close to its end.

As you can probably tell, I’m not doing an episode of “My heroes have always been villains,” today.  I don’t seem to get much response to such posts, which is rather heartbreaking, since I love them and the concept.  I guess I’ll just keep them to myself for now.  Maybe someday I’ll make a book of the ones I have, adding any others that I may write in the future.  There are so many interesting villains to discuss, if I can only find people who want to discuss them.

Those of you who’ve been paying attention will have noted that I published Solitaire for Kindle, as I threatened to do.  I posted about it here in my blog, yesterday, and I also added it to the “My books” page, so you can link to the story on Amazon from either source, or by clicking on the title anywhere it appears in this post.  All roads lead to Solitaire!  Okay, well, not all roads.  But there are many paths to that destination, nevertheless.

I’ll repeat, for what should be the last time, my “trigger warning” about SolitaireIt’s not a happy story, and those who suffer from depression—or at least who are in the throes of an episode or who have experiences of trauma related to depression—may not want to read it.  I have no clinical data (obviously) on what its effects might be, but as someone who has struggled with depression for most of my life, I recognize that the story could, if I were in a vulnerable state, make me feel worse.  Perhaps I’m being overly cautious, but I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel even more depressed than they already do, and goodness knows that, when one is depressed, it’s all too easy to find data and experiences that seem to reinforce it.

That being said, I really like the story, as do those who have read it for me—though they too admit that it is, in its way, rather fucked up.  And, lamentably, it is not an unrealistic tale.

We can represent many occurrences in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror that may not be possible in the real world, but I suspect that every state of mind expressed in nearly every kind of fiction, if done well, is something that someone, somewhere, at some time, has experienced.  In fact, one of the many enjoyable things about fantastic literature is that we can put people in situations that could never really happen and see how they might react, finding almost always that—in fiction at least—they react in recognizably and understandably human ways.

I’m still editing Penal Colony, and it’s going well.  It will certainly take longer than did the editing for Solitaire, partly because it’s longer, and partly because Solitaire has been percolating in my head for many years; I was ready, quickly and eagerly, to make the few tweaks that I thought it required.  Penal Colony is much more lighthearted than Solitaire, but it’s still one of my stories, so it’s not entirely light.  I’m afraid I’ll never be able to write in the genres dominated by such luminaries as Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.  Alas!  I do enjoy making people laugh, but my natural tendency, in writing at least, is instead to make people feel…well, perhaps a tad disturbed and insecure.  That’s not such a bad thing.  After all, most people who go to a carnival, or to one of the modern equivalents, aren’t as interested in watching the antics of clowns as they are in exploring the funhouse or, better yet, riding a roller-coaster.

I know those are the things I like to do.

And finally, I am steadily approaching the end of Unanimity.  I don’t think it will be done before the new year arrives, but if I’ve not completed the first draft by the time January has come and gone, I’ll be very surprised…and more than likely will have been the victim of some accident or illness, because honestly, there’s no way it should take that long.  I know, I know, I’ve been wrong before, but as the end approaches, the absolute margin of error shrinks, even if the relative error remains the same.  Once I’ve reached the book’s conclusion, as I’m sure I’ve said before, I’m going to follow Stephen King’s advice and let the manuscript lie for a month or so before beginning the editing process.  Don’t worry, I’ll have plenty to occupy me.  I’ve got another short story to write even if I’ve finished and published Penal Colony by then, and another novel to start right after that.  There shall be no rest for the wicked, on either end of the keyboard.

TTFN

I will encounter darkness as a bride, and blog it in mine arms.

Good morning!  Allow me to welcome you to another Thursday, which I know you’ve been awaiting with bated breath.  It’s the first Thursday of December 2018, and the new year rapidly approaches.  Hanukkah has already begun, and some other biggish holiday is also coming up, based on the various decorations and songs one hears in the shops.

I’ve been working steadily, if sometimes not as quickly as I like.  Solitaire should be ready to publish soon, probably before the end of the year.  We’ve already begun working on the cover design, which I don’t expect to be a great surprise, but which nevertheless is so appropriate as to be all but inevitable.

I’m excited about publishing Solitaire, and I’m enthusiastic about people reading it, but I want to say again before that day arrives:  this is not a happy story.  It has its moments of sardonic humor, I suppose, but it is supremely dark…so dark that, when I originally wrote it, I couldn’t imagine where to send it to get it published.  I couldn’t see how any magazine would want it.

Not that it’s not a good story; obviously, I think it is.  But it’s not science fiction, and it’s not supernatural.  Thus, venues dedicated to those genres were not readily available.  And though there is a surprise revelation involved, it’s not really a mystery story, either.  It’s the tale of an advertising executive having a breakdown, and contemplating the recent events of his life, and that of his family, while dealing out a hand of solitaire at the breakfast table.

But this is not the whole story of why I never tried to have it published; it’s actually a bit of excuse-making.  The fact is, especially as a younger man, I was nervous about putting Solitaire out into the world.  From then to now, the reactions of those who have read it have ranged from, “Man, that guy’s really bitter,” to “Doc, you’re fucked in the head.”  These comments have always been made in good humor—the commenters clearly meaning what they said as a species of compliment—but these were people who know me, after all.  They know I’m a good guy.

Strangers reading Solitaire might be rather put off.  I suppose that’s okay.  People who can’t handle dark things should avoid it; for certain others it may even be “triggering.”  I would go so far as to say that someone in the throes of a significant mood disorder probably should not read it.

Still, I think it’s a good story, and I’m proud of it, despite its darkness…or perhaps because of it, who knows?  If I don’t, I don’t see how anyone else could.  I think that, although sometimes the best way to deal with darkness is to whistle past the graveyard and make jokes, at other times its just as well to dive right into the deep, dark end of the frigid pool and get it over with, or get used to it, or whatever you want to call the process.  Maybe such fiction is a way of saying, “The world can be dark.  Sometimes it can be very dark.  We can take it.  Bring it on.”

Whatever the meaning, I’m delighted to have rediscovered it, and to be able to present it to you in a venue all its own, hopefully for your enjoyment.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’m also editing Penal Colony.  It’s taking longer than Solitaire, partly because it’s a longer story, and partly because Solitaire gets priority.  Penal Colony is more light-hearted, and it is definitely science fiction, though not of the ray-gun, starship variety—it takes place in the modern world, mostly in an all-night diner.  Make of that what you will.

And, of course, Unanimity is moving along as well.  We’re about to reach the final confrontation, something I’ve been approaching for many times longer than have the characters in the story (which takes place over only a few months).  It’s been a long road, much longer than I expected, and it’s good to be able finally to catch a glimpse of the end, even if it is still off on the horizon.  Or some other, better metaphor.

Have a happy holiday season, even you only tacitly celebrate the Winter Solstice.  It may be cold and dark outside, at least in the northern hemisphere, but that’s okay.  As I said above, we can take it.

Bring it on.

TTFN

Fortune brings in some blogs that are not steered.

Hello, everyone!

First of all, I’d like to wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to all those living in the United States.  I hope you have a wonderful day, enjoy a feast with friends and family, perhaps watching some decent football games, and doing any and all other good stuff such as will make you feel thankful.

I wasn’t sure I was going to write anything today; I often skip these posts on holidays, as you may have noticed.  However, such a fortuitous and unexpected thing happened to me today that I simply had to share it.  Talk about being thankful!

I was fiddling around with an older email account, one that I’ve had for many years.  It may even be my very first personal (as opposed to work-related) email, I’m not sure.  Anyway, I used one of its functions to look through the list of all the files that had ever been attached to my emails.  I was, specifically, searching for an old Harry Potter fanfic of mine that I liked quite a bit, but which I’d lost (I wrote part of another at the same time, and I still have that, so it’s doubly frustrating not being able to find the other).  It’s a silly story, to be honest, one that I never even had the nerve to submit to a fanfiction site, but I really would like to be able to find it and read it again.

Well…I haven’t found it.  I’m not giving up, but my Bayesian estimated prior probability of ever locating it is small indeed.

So, why am I thankful?  I’ll tell you.

Some of you longer-term readers may recall me mentioning an old short story I once wrote, and that I had more than half a mind to try to rewrite.  This short story was called Solitaire.  Well, I did NOT find my lost Harry Potter fanfic (title: Disinhibition), but I DID find an older-style Microsoft Word copy of the short story Solitaire!  It’s the complete story!  As written, if memory serves, way back in the early nineteen nineties, or perhaps even the late eighties!

I wrote the story during the summer, when I was visiting the young woman who would later become my wife.  I don’t think we were officially dating then, but if we were, we had just started…it was right after she graduated from university.  In fact, it may have been that summer when we first got involved.

Anyway, she had a summer job with Squibb, if I remember correctly, and was working on a project that was going to keep her up all night.  I’ve always been a night owl, and she worked better with my company (according to her), so I stayed up with her.  I had a spiral-bound notebook with me, probably from my own college stuff, and I decided, while she worked, to write a story.

Solitaire was that story.  I wrote the whole thing that night, almost in its finished form.  It didn’t need much editing.  When she read it, her response was along the lines of, “It’s really good…but what in the world was going through your mind to make you write something like this?”  To that I had no clear answer then, and I have no clear answer now.  It’s just the way my mind seems to work.

I never tried to get it published because, frankly, I couldn’t see what kind of publication would want to release such a dark story.  Now, though, I have just the venue, and I’m going to put it out for Kindle (and will later include it in my eventual next collection of short stories).  It will probably be ready to publish before Penal Colony…which is coming along well, thanks for asking.

I’m obviously even happier than I would have been if I had found the Harry Potter fanfic (though I am still frustrated about that).  In fact, I think the only thing that might make me happier would be if I’d magically found a file containing my complete first horror novel, Vagabond.  Alas, though that was saved as a computer file, I don’t think I ever emailed it to anyone.  If it’s ever published, it will have to have been rewritten.

[This isn’t as heartbreaking as the loss of the first novel I ever completed, back in high school, Ends of the Maelstrom.  Unfortunately, that was 570-some-odd single-spaced, handwritten pages, with much overflow squeezed between lines and into the margins, and I never got the nerve up to begin rewriting it.  My procrastination cost me dearly there, as that book is now lost with all my other worldly possessions from prior to 2011 (see this week’s post in Iterations of Zero for an explanation of why).]

Hopefully I’ll let that be a lesson to me.  Knowing me, though…well, we’ll have to see, I suppose.

But still…wow!  Solitaire, in near-original form, discovered at long last.  Thank goodness for the near-eternal memory of the Internet.  Soon, all of you will have the opportunity, for less than a buck, to read the story that caused the woman I was going to marry to wonder just what the hell was going on in my head.  (She did marry me, so obviously she wasn’t all that worried, though many years later she effectively reversed the decision.)  And, of course, shortly after that, you’ll get to read Penal Colony and In the Shade if you’re so inclined.  And not too much after that, Unanimity will be forthcoming.

You have so much to which to look forward.  I envy you.

TTFN