Some Shakespeare quote with the word “blog” forcibly inserted into it

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, so it’s time for my usual, longstanding, weekly blog post, though of course I’ve been posting every weekday for the last several weeks.  I’m not sure exactly how many weeks it is; if anyone has been paying attention, please let me know.

It is also September 1, 2022 A.D., the beginning of a new month, which, to paraphrase The Who, will probably be the same as the old month.  This coming Monday is Labor Day in the United States, but that won’t mean much to me; as I think I mentioned earlier this week, we almost always work at least part of the day on holidays like Labor Day or Memorial Day and other similar minor holidays at my office.

I’m on the earlier train again today, but that’s at least partly because it was running a bit late.  It’s also on the other side of the tracks from its usual place.  I guess either there’s some problem on the regular side, or they’re doing some maintenance or whatever.  It doesn’t make a lot of difference to me, though it does make things a bit confusing for people getting on the train.

Remember I mentioned that my sister had a bit of a fall the day before yesterday?  Well, she’s doing just fine, which is very good news.  However, yesterday, apparently, the other person in my office with whom I share responsibilities injured his back in some rather severe way, and he’s in the hospital.  As someone with a chronic back injury, myself, I sympathize.  He’s got a new baby daughter, too, and picking her up a lot is likely contributory to how his back got hurt.  I don’t look forward to the fact that now I’m going to be doing more work than usual at the office, however.  Also, one of the other people who does a lot is going on a vacation for about two weeks, apparently.

I’m pretty sure the last time I took time off work was when my mother died.  That’s mainly because I don’t have anything that I would think of to do during a vacation.  I can’t see myself traveling anywhere; I don’t think I could really face the prospect of getting on a plane or train or Greyhound bus or anything.  I can’t see anyone enjoying having me visit them, either.  There are probably people who think they would like me to come visit, but I can guarantee, I’m not pleasant to be around.  I ought to know.  Anyway, I’m not good at not working, really.

I didn’t play guitar yesterday, by the way.  I looked at it out of the corner of my eye several times—it sits there right next to my desk in the office.  But I didn’t even so much as touch it, which is a shame.  It’s a nice guitar.  Well, someday soon my ex-housemate can have it back, and either keep and play it (and my other guitars) or sell them and use the money to get something for his daughter or whatever.  Then he’ll have been able to sell them twice, which is a pretty good deal for him.  Hopefully he’ll put it all to good use.

I also haven’t written anything lately, other than this blog.  In other words, I haven’t written any fiction; regrettably, this blog is not fictional.  I don’t really miss writing fiction, honestly, or at least I don’t admit to missing it.  Maybe that’s a defense mechanism, I don’t know.  But I definitely don’t have the will or drive to write any.

I thought about, once again, seeing if writing with pen on paper would stimulate me to do some fiction, especially after having seen a mention of an author who does that on a British comedy panel show I was watching on YouTube, but as longtime readers will know, I’ve tried that.  I don’t think it would make me feel any more prone to write any new fiction than anything else would, and obviously, I’m comfortable and natural writing on my little laptop computer, as I am now.

That’s about it, really.  Nothing else to see here.  Keep moving, keep moving, don’t stop and gape.  There’s nothing anyone can do, so it’s best just to let the poor critter be and let it pass on in peace.  You can say a few words in remembrance or whatever after that.  Someone will no doubt come and clean it up and dispose of the remains when the time comes.  Don’t want to leave them around; they can be vectors for diseases.

I hope all of you have a very good remainder of your week and a lovely Labor Day weekend, if you’re here in the United States.  If you’re not, well, why not still have a very nice weekend?  Heck, take off Monday anyway, I won’t hold it against you.  Spend as much time with your friends and family as you can, please.  That’s about the most rewarding thing you can hope to do in this world, after all, and I understand that it’s pretty darn good.

“Run fast.  Laugh hard.  Be kind.”

TTFN

semi random pseudo picture

Outlaw’s Mind – 2nd portion

Okay, here’s the next portion of Outlaw’s Mind, as I warned might be coming.  As a reminder, or for those who aren’t aware, the “cold opening” was already published/posted here, and this is now the main part of the story beginning, which goes back in time from the opening.


Timothy Outlaw had always hated his name.

Not his first name.  That was fine.  Even though some people had called him “Timmy” when he was younger, and a few other kids had teased him once or twice about it, he knew that such teasing was not really about the apparent subject matter, but was merely a force looking for an outlet, and if the name had not provided it, something else would have.  Even as a young child, he’d known that.  He understood only too well the internal pressures that could occur within the mind, and how irresistible they could be.  This wasn’t to say that he was fine with the teasing, but very few people teased him more than once or twice.  This was part of his problem.

It was his last name that bothered Timothy so much.  He had no idea where in his ancestry it had arisen, nor had his father, but Timothy wished that whoever it had been had thought things through a bit better.  It was not in Timothy’s nature to seek a legal name change.  Partly this was because he had at best an unpleasant relationship with the court system and all its representatives, but mostly it was because, along with less positive traits, he had inherited from his father a strong sense of loyalty and commitment, especially to his family.

That loyalty had not prevented his father from physically abusing his wife on many occasions, but Timothy understood that this was not because the elder Mr. Outlaw was a bad person.  He simply carried an innate and terrible surplus of anger—or rather, he produced it in copious amounts in his nervous system.  Some men are unusually hairy, some women are born to develop enormous breasts, some children are graced with an inherent love of and skill for music, or for math.  Morris Outlaw had been born with a congenital tendency to feel intense and powerful, undirected anger.  This tendency had led him to lose his wife, finally, even before he was killed in a bar fight by a man who had been carrying a concealed pistol while drinking shots of tequila.

It was a tendency that his son had inherited in an even more purified form.

But Timothy had learned from the object lesson of his father.  He didn’t hate the man—not once he was mature enough to recognize the powerful force that had victimized Morris Outlaw as much as it had those around him—but he resolved not to be like him.  He wanted to be a good citizen, a productive member of society, someone who created more than he destroyed.  And if he were ever to have a family, and children, he wanted to be loved by them, not feared.

This might have sounded both simple and easy, and to most people—certainly to anyone committed to these ideals as Timothy was—they would have been readily achieved.  But even from his earliest days, as long as he could remember, a seemingly endless reservoir of free-floating rage was produced in his being, like pus gathering in some horrible, spiritual abscess, building pressure until it exploded, spewed its infection onto all surrounding matter, and then began to gather again.

This was why he was rarely teased more than once by anyone in school.  Though he did his best never to “start” anything with anyone, if someone started into him…well, they got a taste of what it would be like to try to enter the burrow of a honey badger.  Young Timothy had sent more than one child, older and bigger than he, home or to the doctor, and once to the emergency room.  It was entirely possible that, if he had not been surrounded by other people who were able to step in and overpower him, he would have killed someone—more than one—even at that young age.  He knew this, knew how lucky he had been not to have done such a thing, because when he became possessed by his rages, all reason left him, and he desired nothing more than to savage the target of his fury until it could no longer move…preferably ever again.

His teachers, and the school administrators, and even his mother—marred though her opinion had been by her husband’s example—recognized that this anger was not deliberate.  They had all seen that Timothy was a boy who wanted to be good, who wanted to do well in school, wanted to be a contributing member of society.

But because of his terrible and effectively uncontrollable temper, Timothy had often gotten into trouble.  Diligent at his studies, respectful of his teachers, eager to take part in extracurricular activities, Timothy had nevertheless been sent to the principal, and often suspended from classes, on numerous occasions throughout his educational time.  On many an occasion, while languishing alone at his house while his mother worked and his classmates did whatever they were doing, Timothy had come close to fatal despair.  His mother kept no guns in the house, for more than one reason, and this probably kept Timothy from impulsively taking his own life at a young age.  He hated himself, hated the rages that made him—when they gripped him—not merely wish but yearn for the violent destruction of everyone and everything around him.  In those bleak moments, he told himself that while he had absolutely no right to harm or destroy other people or their property, he surely had that right over himself.  Would it not make sense, then, to bring about his own end rather than potentially to harm other people?  Would that not be the best course of justice?

If he’d had access to a firearm, the impulse toward preemptive self-destruction might have been carried out, since the manner of doing so would have been quick, violent, and irrevocable.  However, on those occasions when he considered more methodical techniques, from pills to razors to nooses, the preparation needed allowed him time to consider the effects his suicide would have.  He imagined his mother finding his dead body—perhaps accompanied by blood, or vomit, or a purpled face—and being stricken with the horror of it, being devastated not merely by the fact that her only son was dead, but also by the simple, traumatic fact of finding a grotesque corpse in her house.

He’d also thought of going to a nearby high overpass, or to leaping from the top of a tall building, but each of these considerations was blocked by the recognition that someone—a passing car or a pedestrian below—would be discomfited, possibly traumatized, possibly even injured by his action.  He did not want to be a burden to anyone, especially not that kind of burden.

Also, he simply did not really, deeply, want to die.  He wanted to live without being the unwilling slave of his terrible, malevolent rage.

That this was painfully clear to all those who knew and cared for him was probably the only reason Timothy was not consigned to juvenile detention early in his teenage years.  Even the strictest and sternest of teachers, school administrators, and other similar adults in authority, could not fail to recognize Timothy’s sincerity when he profusely, sometimes tearfully, apologized for the consequences of one of his outbursts, never deflecting blame from himself, always assuming more than his share of responsibility for any altercation.  When he had sent a boy two years older and a head taller than he to the emergency room for teasing him about the way he walked, Timothy had taken it upon himself to seek out the boy’s family and apologize to them, abjectly and unreservedly, in person.  If he had lived in the culture of the samurai, he might have offered to commit seppuku to demonstrate his sincerity.

It could not honestly be said that the boy’s family were completely disarmed by the act of contrition—they were poorly insured, and medical bills were a supremely unwelcome cost—but there was no doubt that they were impressed.  Also, the shame of their child being a bully toward a smaller boy, and then the added shame of the fact that the smaller boy had sent their healthy youngster to the hospital in a fair fight, made it difficult for them to assume the moral high ground that Timothy offered without reservation.  And, of course, a lawsuit would have been an exercise in absurdity; Timothy and his mother were significantly poorer than this boy’s family.

That event had led to Timothy getting his first girlfriend—the boy in question’s younger sister, roughly the same age as Timothy.  She had, of course, heard of what had happened, and apparently had been morbidly impressed and fascinated by Timothy’s obvious toughness.  He had been terribly surprised when, upon his return to school after a suspension, the girl had approached him, introduced herself, and started to hang around him.

Timothy had always felt unsettled by the cause of his acquaintance with the girl, but it had been difficult for a lonely boy just entering adolescence to ignore her obvious attraction to him.  They never officially declared themselves to be “going out” but it was with this girl—Allison Haskins had been her name and might well still be—that Timothy had shared his first non-maternal kiss, and her still very underdeveloped breasts were the first that he ever touched.

The romance, if that was the right word, had not lasted long.  One afternoon, when Timothy and Allison were walking home from school—this was no longer in the heyday of widespread helicopter parenting, and in any case, no one in Timothy’s neighborhood could afford to indulge in such overprotectiveness—they had seen a boy perhaps a year younger than themselves being accosted by two older boys, who were clearly intimidating him into letting them “borrow” his backpack, which was a very nice, name-brand affair, decorated with images of Lebron James.  It had undoubtedly cost someone in the boy’s family quite a bit of money, more than would normally be spent on such school supplies in that part of the world, and the boy had been near tears, trying to worm his way out from the environs of the bigger boys, but trapped by them against a brick wall.

Part of the reason this brief spectacle had so enraged Timothy was that the younger boy was black and the older ones white; he hated any form of bigotry with stunning fervor, and this was a hatred of which he was not ashamed.  Still, no other combination of people would probably have made a difference.  As soon as it became obvious to Timothy what had been happening, his pulse had begun to pound in his head, time had slowed down, and he had more or less literally seen red.  Not bothering with any kind of warning, Timothy had simply stridden quickly forward and slammed himself bodily, pushing at the same time, into the nearest of the two bigger boys.  It was not in Timothy’s nature to hold back in such circumstances, and the bigger boy had been all but knocked completely off his feet, saved from a backward tumble onto the sidewalk by a collision with his comrade.

The two bigger boys had been too startled to react, and Timothy had shoved again, this time leading the second boy to lose his footing and sit roughly on the pavement, while the bigger one smacked against the wall.  Timothy’s assault was too surprising for them to experience answering anger at first—they had simply been caught by a force of nature, as if a sudden gale had driven them nearly off both their feet, not a slightly smaller boy.

Timothy was not capable of fear in such moments.  The word felt terribly distant, apart from the two boys in front of him, and a slight, high-pitched and faint whine overlaying the background of reality.  The two bigger boys gaped, and Timothy now said, “You leave him the fuck alone or I’ll fucking kill you!”

The two bigger boys had gaped comically.  They were clearly in uncharted territory.

“What are you waiting for?” Timothy had yelled, his voice hoarse, his firsts clenched into tight, pale cudgels at his sides, his elbows slightly bent.  “I’m gonna tear your fucking heads off!”

He began to stride toward the partly unbalanced boys, pulling his arms up and back.

The two boys said not a word, nor did they share a glance.  They fled, the one who had fallen scrambling awkwardly to his feet even as he tried to put one foot in front of the other.  His friend didn’t wait for him, but sprinted on ahead, glancing only back at Timothy, clearly judging him to be quite insane.

Supporting that assessment, Timothy gave a loud, animal howl of fury and took one step after the two boys.  Then he caught himself and, instead of taking off in pursuit, swung his own fist in a hammer blow against the brick wall.  He would not feel the pain of the blow for a while, but it would last for days, and the scraping of the impact drew blood.  The wall, being brick, didn’t notice the impact any more than Timothy noticed the damage to his hand.

After the smacking, sickening sound of Timothy’s fist’s impact with the wall, there followed immediately two gasps.  Timothy turned—whirled, really—and saw Allison and the boy with the backpack looking at him.  The boy looked, if anything, more terrified than he had when being threatened by the other two, though perhaps less aggrieved.  With wide eyes, he looked at Timothy and said, “Thank…thank you,” before turning and running off in the other direction.

Allison’s gasp had been of quite a different character.  She had not seen Timothy enraged in this way before—and to be honest, he felt rather proud of himself for behaving in what was, for him, a somewhat restrained fashion—and surely it was a shock.  But she did not seem to be afraid.  Her face was flushed to the point where she looked feverish, her mouth hung slightly open, and she breathed a bit more heavily than usual.  Timothy saw her lick her lips once, then she stepped up to him and took his right hand, scraped and injured along the line of his folded pinky.

Timothy, his head still pounding and his throat tight and dry, didn’t resist her.  She lifted his hand in both of hers, looking at the injured side of his fist.  Then, to Timothy’s surprise, she kissed it.

With wide eyes and red cheeks, she asked, “Your mom’s not home yet, right?”

Timothy, slowly governing himself, still feeling the urge to take off after the two boys and try to batter them into jelly, said, “Right.”

Allison smiled—a smile that was, in its own way, as frightening as Timothy’s rage.  “Good,” she said.  “Let’s go to your house right now.”  Still holding his fist in her hand, Allison began walking forward.

Timothy, however, did not move with her.  Something about her demeanor troubled him.  Perhaps she just wanted to make sure that he disinfected his hand, in which could only feel a throbbing that wasn’t yet painful.  “Why?” he asked.

Looking back indulgently, Allison smiled again, licked her lips again, and speaking barely above a whisper, she said, “I want you to…to do it with me.”

Timothy had blinked and had felt a shock almost as great as must have been felt by the two boys at whom he’d just charged.  He and Allison had each been thirteen at that time—Allison a month and half away from her fourteenth birthday, and Timothy almost four months from his—and he was almost certain that she was no more sexually experienced than he, which was to say not at all, beyond light petting.  They had never so much as directly touched each other’s genitals, even through clothing, and now she was saying that she wanted to go back to his house and have sex.

If Timothy had been more prone to self-delusion, he might have thought that Allison had been moved by his chivalry, his heroism, that her passion and love had been aroused by his fearlessness and his sense of justice.  But Timothy was an old soul.  He was practiced in trying to know himself, contemptible of self-deception, though as prone to it as anyone else.  When he misled himself about himself, it was more often to his own detriment than to his aggrandizement.  Thus, he saw, with a keenness of perception that would have been more expected in a man in his late thirties, or perhaps in his sixties, that Allison was not feeling the love of a maiden inspired by a brave knight.

She was turned on by his rage.  She was aroused by his natural violence, by the fact not only that he’d been so terrifying to the two bigger boys, but that they’d been right to be terrified.  He understood, or thought he did, that even the fact that he’d been unable to contain himself without violently striking an unyielding wall of brick and mortar had been arousing to her.

“What?” he asked, not wanting to be right, not sure why he was disquieted.

“I want you to…to have sex with me,” Allison repeated, more firmly than before.  “I’m serious.  I want it.  I know it’s gonna hurt…but that’s okay.  I want it.”  Her breath was almost comically heavy, like a comedy skit version of a phone pervert.  Her cheeks seemed to be getting redder by the second.

For Timothy, time had stood still outside him, as he’d had an epiphany, a vision of a possible future that lay before him.

Allison was not frightened of his anger, or if she was, that was part of what she liked about it.  She had approached him after he’d hurt her brother, not because he had impressed her for being able to stand up to a bully, but because he had been so violent and dangerous.  And now, having seen it—in relatively restrained form—firsthand, she wanted to give herself to him.  Or, rather, what she probably wanted was to be taken by him.

He could see and read a possible future of their relationship.  They would go to his house, they would have sex, and she would welcome any associated pain…and if they stayed together, she would reinforce his rage and violence, responding to it with horniness and release.  She might even welcome violence upon herself, who knew?  He’d read that such people existed.  She would encourage and nurture, probably unconsciously, that horrible side of him that he hated, and he would become ever more prone to such violence.

If he were ever to kill someone in rage, she would probably help him bury the body, after wanting to make love in its presence.

Someday the two of them might become some modern equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde.  Someday, he might even kill her…and she would not be completely averse to it at the very end.  And he might end up in prison or, more likely, be killed as his father had been killed, by a stranger in a bar, or perhaps by the police.

He saw all this in an instant, saw it more vividly than the real world before him.  It horrified him—all the more so because he also found it terrifyingly enticing.

“No,” he’d said softly.  “No.  I can’t do that.”  Whether Allison thought he was referring to sex alone, or whether she understood that he was speaking of something larger, Timothy never knew, because he turned around and walked away from her.  They’d never spoken again after that.

And then, in dreaming, the clouds methought would open, and show riches ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked, I blogged to dream again.

And then, in dreaming, the clouds methought would open, and show riches ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked, I blogged to dream again.

thinker

Okay, well, allow me to say good morning and happy…Friday?

Yes, it’s Friday instead of Thursday.  I’m afraid I pretty much spent yesterday lying flat on my back.  I don’t know exactly what I did to irritate it this time, but I have a chronic back problem (including so-called failed back surgery syndrome) and its level of trouble waxes and wanes.  Unfortunately, what with one thing or another, on Wednesday night through to Thursday, it waxed, baby.  I got very little sleep and was just a mess.  So, I stayed home from work, and I also blew off writing my blog.  However, I didn’t want just to leave the week empty…I suspect that if one allows too many gaps in regular publication, one tends to lose readers.

Thus, you have before you a Friday morning blog post from me, though of course you may not be reading it on a Friday morning.  In fact, I suppose it’s more likely that you are not reading it on a Friday morning, since unless you’re waiting at the computer for my next post to come out, or you happen to be at the computer around the time it does, you’re likely to come across it at some other point in the week.  It’s even possible (though it seems unlikely) that you’re reading this centuries in my future, perhaps studying the works of one of the most beloved, influential, and enduring literary figures of the early twenty-first century.  You may even be an alien, or an AI, or a trans-human, who can say?

Hello from June 7, 2019 AD/CE!  Hope things are well and good in your time!

I’m trying to think of a way to keep this blog a little fresher than it sometimes feels; I worry that my weekly posts can become a bit repetitive.  I originally spun off Iterations of Zero to put items there which I felt didn’t really fit with the discussions of my books and stories, and the process of creating them, that I was trying to make the central focus here; maybe that was ill-considered.  Maybe I should just wrap all my writings (and speakings) together here in this blog again, all at one address, and just separate them by subject matter, which I do anyway.  After all, and unfortunately, I don’t tend to produce IoZ articles or posts on a regular, consistent basis.

Anyway, I’m thinking about that, and we’ll see what ends up happening.  At the very least, it would free me a little from the self-imposed constraint of having to think of an appropriate Shakespearean quote to mangle every time I write a post here (though I do enjoy that process).

In other matters, the editing of Unanimity goes well, and I’m truly pleased to continue to find that I’m enjoying parts of the book that I feared might be…well, a little too much.  I’m sure that there’s much technically unnecessary dialogue in it (I’ve been told as much about some of my other stories, in the politest and most constructive of terms), and I may try to winnow it out.  But, damn it, there’s an awful lot of unnecessary dialogue in real life, and I do try to make my characters act like real people.

With certain very glaring exceptions, of course.

Still, I need to be judicious.  And one of the good things about editing one’s works over and over and over and over and over again (and then some), is that by the seventh edit, one tends to be quite sensitive to the boring bits of a story.  As long as one can maintain a spirit of goal-directed ruthlessness with one’s own creations, it’s possible in principle to cut a great deal of material out of a work and make it more streamlined.  Though I say it as shouldn’t, you might justly think.

Speaking of shorter works, the editing of Free Range Meat* is also proceeding, though usually only one day a week.  Even with that limited schedule, it will be done waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay before Unanimity, and soon I’ll be announcing its imminent publication.

With that, I draw this week’s blog post to a close.  Apologies for its tardiness, but perhaps changes are coming that will give you more frequent material to read here, anyway.  We shall see.

TTFN


*should I hyphenate the first two words or not?

Penal Colony

 

Penal Colony cover

See on Amazon

 

While heading for his car after a night out celebrating the closing of a big deal at work, Paul Taylor meets a strange, despondent man, poorly dressed for the cold, who seems horribly depressed by some personal setback. Still slightly drunk on both alcohol and success, Paul invites the man for a cup of coffee and some food at a nearby all-night diner.

There, this peculiar man tells Paul of a conspiracy begun by the creators of various social and virtual media companies…and of technology that allowed these conspirators to control the minds of the people of the world for their own personal enrichment. He tells of the overthrow of that conspiracy by a group of which he had been part…a group which had then turned on and “exiled” him.

Though the man’s story is engaging, and the man himself is personally convincing, Paul is forced to admit that he has heard of no such conspiracy or overthrow.

The man finally explains to Paul why he hasn’t heard of it. It’s an answer that Paul cannot believe…

Now ’tis spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted; Suffer them now and they’ll o’ergrow the blog post.

It’s the third day of Spring in 2018, and I congratulate all those in the northern hemisphere on the upcoming six months of longer daylight than nighttime.

It’s been a productive week, all things considered, though I haven’t quite started writing new material on Unanimity; I’m still engaged in rereading what’s already written, to get myself back into the swing of the story.  I’ve enjoyed that process more than I thought I might.  There were times, when writing it, that the words didn’t flow as easily as I would have wished, but as I’ve frequently rediscovered, such times often produce works that, when read, are superior to those fired by irresistible enthusiasm.  This reinforces the wisdom of so many superb authors, who advise that one should write even when—perhaps especially when—one does not feel the stirrings of the muse.  (I consider reviewing and rewriting to be parts of that process, so I don’t count my recent hiatus for review against my obedience to the recommendation, though it does chafe at me).

Of course, these processes would proceed much more quickly if I were able to devote my full-time efforts to them, but at least the continued need to earn a living by doing other things keeps me involved in many aspects of life that might elude me if I’d been a cloistered writer from the onset of adulthood.  I’ve had a tremendous number of fascinating experiences that have deeply influenced the content and nature of my fiction and my nonfiction, so it’s hard to complain too strenuously.

Still, these things are far from absolute necessities.  Arthur C. Clarke didn’t need to be part of a human race on the cusp of evolving to its next stage and joining the Overmind to write one of the most brilliant works of science fiction in the twentieth century, any more than Einstein needed to have personally experienced the process of traveling near the speed of light to work out Special Relativity.  All fiction is, in some sense, a form of thought-experiment.  This, I think, is one of the reasons storytelling is so ubiquitous and important to humans.

Thus, though I think I can make use of my exposure to so many of life’s vicissitudes, I don’t think it’s a pure necessity, nor do I think it should be an absolute requirement going forward.  That being said, if you want me to work more quickly, and to produce my works in greater number and frequency, I entreat you to please support my work and to spread the word about it, so that I can make my living solely by writing.  I, at least, would certainly not complain.

In addition to rereading Unanimity, I’ve also been working steadily on editing the audio version of I for one welcome our new computer overlords, which should become available within the week.  I have to say, it’s been a surprisingly enjoyable process.  Of course, the work is amateur, but I don’t feel too badly about that, since I’m not going to charge anyone to listen to it.  As with all things, doing this well is a skill, and developing any skill involves trial and error.  Still, it’s been a blast; even the seemingly tedious process of editing out my gaffes and retakes is amusing, and I’ve also been able to use the sound-editing software to introduce a few “dramatic” effects.  Don’t expect too much from this—I don’t want you to think there are going to be sound effects and background music.*  But I was able, for instance, to remove breath sounds (for the most part) from the speech of a character who does not need to breathe when he speaks, and to leave them in during the dialogue of the other characters of the story, at least when they are appropriate to the performance.  That such a thing might be beneficial and even necessary would never have occurred to me before this undertaking.

There are residual flaws that irritate me, and which I can’t correct on this recording without going back and re-doing the whole thing, such as the occasional sound of air striking the microphone when I speak too closely to it.  Some of that can be edited out, but not all of it.  I don’t think it will detract significantly from your listening enjoyment, though, and for future recordings, I’ll take preventive measures against the problem.  Again, it’s been an enjoyable experience, not the least because it’s been a learning process.  The finished product will be about two hours long, and I hereby give permission to download it, if you have that capability, and listen to it at your leisure.  You can also share it, if you like, though obviously you do not have permission to charge anyone for that sharing (as if you would).

That should about do it for this week.  I have to stop somewhere, and usually it’s someplace arbitrary, since I otherwise tend to be the writing equivalent of the Energizer™ bunny.  Next week I plan to post my author’s note for Ifowonco, which will nicely coincide with its audio release, and to follow up subsequently with that for Prometheus and Chiron and then Hole for a Heart.  Then I’ll have caught up with my published works, and should be near completion of Unanimity.  After that, I’ll probably do another short story before beginning my next novel (which is a sort of modern fable, and which I’ll discuss more as it approaches).

Thank you all for reading.  I hope you’ve enjoyed yourselves and continue to enjoy my writing going forward.  As always, your comments are eagerly welcomed.

TTFN!


* I actually dislike it when background music is added to audiobooks.  There’s no music playing in my head when I read a book, and I don’t need sudden bursts of it to heighten the tension in a story performed by a voice actor.  If the writing doesn’t elicit the intended emotion, then that’s its own problem.  Added music just calls attention to the fact, and is a distraction, as far as I’m concerned.

Author’s note for “Mark Red”

Mark Red Cover

What follows is my first “author’s note” about one of my works, and I’ve decided to begin with “Mark Red,” because it’s my first published book, and the first book I wrote as an adult since medical school.

Ideas for the stories I write tend to arrive in one of two ways.  Often, of course, I simply think of the idea of a story, develop it, often start or even complete writing it, and come up with the title later.  This was certainly the case with “The Chasm and the Collision” and “Son of Man,” as well as with the short stories “If the Spirit Moves You,” “Prometheus and Chiron,” “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,”* and “Hole for a Heart.”  However, at times I come up with a title first, or a particular phrase seems like it might make a good title, and I develop a story to go with the title.  Such is the case with “Paradox City” and “The Death Sentence,” and it is true in spades of “Mark Red.” Continue reading

A quick (but not dirty) post

Okay, it’s Thursday, and I think you all know what that means.  At least, if you’re reading this, you know what it means.  It means it’s time for another entry in my blog, with the products of random neural firings in my head put forth on the page (the web page, in this case) for all to see.  How lucky and privileged you are to be able to read this!

There’s not a whole lot to say that’s new—I suppose there are some who would take the philosophical attitude that nothing is new at all, ever, but I think we could demonstrate to them that knowledge, which includes stories, articles, blog posts and many other things, can honestly be new in a non-trivial sense.  For the interested reader, I refer you to David Deutsch’s “The Beginning of Infinity.”

On an unrelated matter, I have come to a clearer determination to put my short stories for sale on Kindle, and have even just begun the further editing process of “I For One Welcome Our New Computer Overlords,” which I intend to be the first of these e-book stories.  It will, however, remain available on this blog until I get to the point of publication, so for the time being you can still enjoy it for free.

Don’t fear, however, that this process will take me away from “Unanimity.”  It won’t.  Writing new material is always my top priority, and I do that first thing in the morning (well…after showering and whatnot), working other matters into the course of the day thereafter.

Yesterday, however, I did not write anything on “Unanimity.”  That’s because I had something urgent to take care of in the morning, during a time when I normally do my writing (like now), but that’s not going to be on ongoing issue.  The book is proceeding quite well, and terrible things are happening in its world…which is, in its way, a good thing.

Other than that, there’s really not all that much to add today.  I haven’t posted any new articles on Iterations of Zero thus far this week, because I’ve just had too much going on, but I have several in the works—they just aren’t in a form with which I’m satisfied yet.  They are forthcoming, however.  In the meantime, since I did miss some work time yesterday on “Unanimity,” I’m going to shift over to that.  I hope you all have a wonderful day.

TTFN

An Update on Editing, Writing, and Florida (with a bit about contagious illnesses and mass transit)

Hello, all!

I haven’t written any blog entries for some time now, so I thought that I’d take a moment today, as a break from daily editing on “Mark Red,” to give those who are interested an update.  I apologize for the delay; I’ve been sick as a dog for a surprisingly long time recently, and as a consequence my motivation has been lagging.  It seems that, after catching one respiratory infection, and being on the tail end of it, nearly recovered, I caught another one.  These are the hazards of riding mass transit, I’m afraid.  With so many people using the train every day, touching the poles and the hand-rails, the petri dish for contagious diseases is prodigious.  I’ve resolved to minimize my contact with said surfaces as much as I can, since I’m still coughing up nasty phlegm after almost a month of illness, waxing and waning.  It’s frustrating, but I’m nevertheless a big fan of mass transit, not the least reason for that fandom being that I can do my writing and editing while on my way to and from work, dreaming of the day when I will no longer have to do so because I’ll be able to make a living solely from my writing.

With respect to the editing of “Mark Red,” it’s proceeding well, but there’s much work still to be done.  I think one of the very best guidelines for editing that I have found is the one an editor gave to Stephen King back when he was starting out (as detailed in his wonderful book “On Writing”), namely, to make your final draft ten percent shorter than your first draft.  This is a terrific rule for me, because I tend to digress a bit in my fiction as well as in my non-fiction.  It’s not such a crime in non-fiction—digressions can be fun and can keep things interesting.  However, when writing fiction, digression tends to slow the story down.  Also, I get too much into my characters’ thought processes, which is particularly bad when they repeat those same thoughts many times.  This isn’t necessarily unrealistic.  After all, people do tend to ruminate a great deal in their daily lives, and if the voices in our heads were all played aloud, every human would no doubt sound hopelessly neurotic.  It does, however, tend to get boring pretty quickly in a novel, or even a short story.

So my goal, among others, is to make “Mark Red” only ninety percent as long as it was when I first started editing, by trimming off the stray bits that don’t add anything to the flow of the story.  This may seem elementary, and I suppose it is, but it’s crucial.

Regarding other matters:  I’ve been getting more exercise lately, despite being ill, because I’ve been walking from my train stop to my new office location instead of taking the bus, and sometimes walking back to the train at the end of the day.  It’s about 2.4 miles each way, so it’s a nice, healthy stroll, and can be very pleasant in what passes for winter in south Florida.

On that note, a few weeks ago while walking, I came upon a sad but interesting sight:  the beheaded corpse of a coral snake on the park path which I take from the train:

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This is, of course, the most venomous snake in the western hemisphere, but it is also not particularly dangerous, since coral snakes tend to be mild-mannered.  I think it must have come out onto the pavement to sun itself during the relatively chilly weather, and someone saw and recognized it for what it was and overreacted.  It’s a shame, but an interesting example of the sorts of amazing wildlife that we have here in south Florida.  I recently read Dave Barry’s “Best. State. Ever.” and I couldn’t agree with him more in that conclusion.  The politics of Florida may be insane—an insanity that has apparently spread to the national level—but it is an amazing environment.  Also, the national weather service reported about a week ago that 49 out of 50 states had snow on the ground.  You should know which state was the exception (Hint:  It wasn’t Hawaii).

Well, I think that’s enough meandering for today.  I considered writing my own semi-deliberate digression about the curious phrase “sick as a dog,” since in my experience dogs don’t tend to get sick as often as humans, but I’ll leave that at the immediately preceding comment and spare you any further speculation.  I hope you’re all well, and enduring the ongoing winter in the northern hemisphere with as much equanimity as you can muster.  The days are now getting steadily longer, and that’s good news for those of us who get moody when the nights predominate.  For those in the southern hemisphere, enjoy the summer!  For those who live in the tropics…well, you don’t need any boosting from me, I would imagine.

Stay healthy, everyone.  Watch those doorknobs, hand-rails, and standing poles, and wash your hands regularly!

TTFN

A SOUTH FLORIDA CHRISTMAS SONG

(Sung to the tune of “White Christmas,”…obviously, I guess)

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas,
just like the ones I never knew,

with the flowers blooming
and sea birds zooming
across the crystal sky so blue.

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas
despite the Christmas cards I’ve seen.

May your snow be sparkling and clean,
but may all our Christmases be green.