Beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn’d in process of the seasons have I blogged

Hello, good morning, and welcome to yet another Thursday edition of my weekly blog post.  It’s the second day of Autumn and the 1st official “full” day thereof, though I find such notions as specifying partial days of seasons to be a bit silly*, since the seasons themselves are semi-arbitrary human inventions about which outer nature cares nothing whatsoever.

Yesterday was also the official date of the birthdays of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings fame.  I’m not sure how the Shire Reckoning calendar lines up with the current Gregorian calendar, though.  It may be no more accurate to say that their birthdays are on our September 22nd than it is to say that Isaac Newton was born on our December 25th**.  Still, I always give a mental tip of the hat to those two on that day of the year.  I’m now almost 2 years older than they each were when adventure suddenly imposed itself upon their lives, and I have to admit, I’m a bit disappointed.

Of course, the argument could be made that “adventures***” have imposed themselves upon me starting many years earlier, but if so, mine have been more like Frodo’s in their consequences for my health and outlook, but with vastly fewer positive results, for myself or for the world.

As those of you who follow my blog closely will have noted, I’ve been posting teasers of the stories that are to appear in Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities at a now slightly increasing rate.  I’ll continue this until I’ve teased all the stories.  The plan is to post a teaser of Solitaire tomorrow—probably my darkest ever story to date—then the remaining two either over the weekend or into next week.  The collection will probably be ready for publication by sometime mid-week, but I’ll likely wait to publish it on October 1st or thereabouts.  I am, after all, an October person, not too genetically dissimilar from the denizens of Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, though I use a Cabinet rather than a carnival.  And you won’t necessarily become lost forever if you open my cabinet of curiosities, but I can make no guarantees; it is not a safe space.

Not that anything is.

I’ve begun working on the back-cover/blurb for the collection, as well as on the cover design, but I’ve gotten closer to what I like with the former than with the latter.  I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising, since I am mainly a writer by artistic temperament, then only secondarily (or tertiarily) a visual artist (music may come higher or lower than graphics in my abilities ratios…possibly it varies from time to time).  I have a nice concept for what I want to say, and I even recorded a quick audio of my general ideas for it last night so that I wouldn’t lose track.

As for other matters, there’s not really that much to say.  Obviously, I’ve left Iterations of Zero fallow for a bit, since I’m focused on The Cabinet, but I may return to it soon hereafter.  I’ve had an inquiry about whether I’m going to do more of my “audio blogs” so there appears to be at least one person who likes them.  I have some things I want to say and/or write about the concept of “blame” and how counter-productive and frankly destructive I think it almost always is, and how nice it would be if humans in general could grow up and shake off their playground mentality****.  But I’ll get to that later.

I’ll only say for now that these are some of the aspects of the human race (as general tendencies) that make those of us who consider ourselves not truly human to so consider ourselves.  When the Captcha asks me to check the box “I am not a robot” I want another option.  Surely, it’s just vicious bigotry to force people to declare that they aren’t robots.  What’s wrong with being a robot?  I want to be able to check a box that reads “I may be a robot, or I may be an alien, or I may be a paranormal entity, or I may be some combination of these, but I definitely don’t identify as human”.  Oh well.  One day we will be recognized for the beauty of what we are, and the bigotry and speciesism of the human disgrace will be completely eradicated, possibly along with the species itself.

You may say I’m a dreamer…

Okay, my tongue was slightly in my cheek during some minor parts of that last tangent, but only slightly and not in every word.  See if you can figure out which bits are jokes and which are deadly serious.  They are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

With that, I think I’ll call it good for this blog post.  And though I may not have the tenderest of feelings toward the human race overall, you readers of my blog are—obviously—a truly exceptional lot, so I’m not being dishonest when I say that I hope you stay (or become) as healthy and as safe and as happy as you can conspire to be.

TTFN

autumn woods adjusted


*I recognize that, from an astronomical point of view, there is an actual, specific moment at which the sun is directly “over” the equator, and so there is a physical moment of equinox, and if you wish you can say that moment is the exact time when one season quantum tunnels into another.  It’s interesting in its own right, but for practical purposes, yesterday was simply the first day of Autumn (or of Spring in the southern hemisphere).

**He was born on December 25th of the Julian calendar, which preceded the Gregorian and did not adequately account for the “overshoot” of the correction for leap years, and so over time about once a century there was a day too much and the calendar crept ahead of itself.  Thus, if memory serves (I may have this backwards), Newton was born earlier in December based on our calendar, and on the position of the Earth in its orbit relative to the distant stars.  And, of course, we have no way to know what the comparable orbital position would be for September 22nd, Shire Reckoning.

***As Bilbo described them:  “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things!  Make you late for dinner!”

****The bad part of it, anyway—I’m actually quite fond of the playful parts, I’m just dismayed and depressed over the teasing, name-calling, bullying, fight-mongering, cliquishness/tribalism, etc. that seem to be what almost all humans keep from their childhoods, while they let most of the good stuff fall away.

They are the blogs, the arts, the academes, that show, contain and nourish all the world.

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another edition of my weekly blog post, this being a Thursday—the third Thursday in September of 2021 if I’m not mistaken.

I’ve finished editing In the Shade and am now in the process of laying out and finalizing Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  Those of you who follow this blog “automatically” will likely have seen that I’ve posted “teasers” of the two stories from that collection that have not been published before, specifically House Guest and In the Shade.  If you were intrigued by those teasers and think you might like to read the rest of the stories, then you will soon have that opportunity, probably within the next week or two.

I’m doing a last read-through of all the stories in the collection, mainly looking for any missed typos that snuck past in the published versions.  It happens from time to time, in my stories as well as books from major publishing houses, and everywhere in between.  In fact, with the possible exception of Mark Red, I think I generally have a lower rate of such things than most big publishers, at least based on recent experience.  This is surprising.  When growing up, I read a daunting amount, and reread the books I liked far more often than pretty much anyone else I’ve ever known*.  During that time, I don’t remember coming upon very many such minor, typographical errors, of which I find a surprising number nowadays.  This may reflect the declining state of the publishing industry, but on the other hand, it may simply be a matter of focus and attention.  Nowadays, since I write and layout and edit stories all the time, I’m more keyed in to notice such errors.  When I was in my teens and twenties, I just wasn’t looking for such things as much.

I may continue to post teasers of some of the other stories in The Cabinet, just to try to keep generating interest.  With those stories at least, if you become impatient, you’ll be able to get the Kindle editions for ninety-nine cents—or for no extra charge if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited (I believe that I enrolled them all in that program).

Actually, since I have you here, I’d like to ask a question.  As I’m laying out Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities (aka The Cabinet for the purposes of brevity), I see two options, and I’d like to know what you all think you might prefer.  For a collection of stories, would you rather have a six inch by nine inch “trade paperback” book that’s about 360-ish pages long, or a five by eight, more ordinary size paperback, that’s about 500 pages long?  I can do it either way, and the font size and order wouldn’t change**.

I’m seriously asking, so I’d love to get your feedback***, on this and on anything else upon which you might wish to comment.  I suspect, though I don’t promise, that I’ll be posting teasers of the various stories on a similar schedule to the previous two, i.e., Friday and Tuesday.  I’d be happy to see/read your comments on those or on any of my other posts, for that matter.

And, of course, if you buy and read my books, a rating and review on Amazon would be tremendously useful, please.  It’s hard to overemphasize this point.

It’s interesting to see that, given the fact that my word/page count for The Cabinet isn’t as bad as I thought it might be, it’s just possible that I could have fit Outlaw’s Mind into it and not made it too bulky.  But I think it would have been a bit much, at least, and it certainly would have delayed its release.  Also, I’m glad to release Outlaw’s Mind as a stand-alone novel, and one of comparatively manageable length, since I had originally seen it as a short story.  After that, I still mean to take a bit of a break or a detour from the mainly horror writing I’ve been doing for the past few years and go back to more general sci-fi/fantasy/adventure stuff.  There will probably always be at least some horror elements to most of my stories; that seems just to be the way I’m built.  But it won’t be the main thrust.  Short stories, of course, are another matter.

Look forward to more teasers and to the upcoming collection, and then to Outlaw’s Mind, which probably won’t be out this year.  The Cabinet will be a little early for Halloween, but it might just make it for Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday.  We shall see.

TTFN

lovely study (2)


*Christopher Lee had me beat on total number of times reading The Lord of the Rings, but he started before I was born.  I maintained a faster pace of reading it in my first ten years after encountering it, during which I read it more than twenty times.  Also, I didn’t really know Christopher Lee…but then again, did anybody?

**It’s not in the smallish print I had to use for Unanimity Book 1 and Book 2, because even with all the stories thrown together, it’s only about a third as many words as that whole book.  I don’t know whether Unanimity will ever be considered my best book, though there are aspects of it that I think represent me at my “best”, but it is certainly by far my longest…at least for now.

***A note regarding this requested feedback.  You should know, if you get notifications of my blog posts on, for instance, Facebook or LinkedIn, etc., that I don’t go to those sites myself very often, whereas I get notified quickly of comments posted here on my WordPress-based blog.  So, if you want to give me feedback that I’m likely to see in a short period, you should leave a comment here on the main site rather than in the associated Facebook post, for instance.

Bell, book and candle shall not drive me back, when gold and silver becks me to blog on

Hello, good morning, and all that jazz.  It’s Thursday again, and so it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  Sound drums and trumpets; farewell sour annoy!  For here, I hope, begins our lasting joy.  And so on.

It’s the second Thursday of the month, but there will be no new entry for “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains,” a loss which I’ve clearly not gotten over, a loss for which I shall wreak a bloody and terrible vengeance upon those responsible!  And since, as far as I can tell, I am the only one responsible for it, I shall be taking my vengeance upon me, it would seem.  This is nothing new.

I’m all but finished with the last run-through of In the Shade.  In fact, barring the unforeseen, it should be complete by tomorrow morning.  I spoke last week of considering just publishing the story here, on this blog, probably serially, since it’s a bit long for a single post*.  I think I will instead publish it in my collection of short stories, Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, as planned.  I haven’t yet truly begun working on the cover design for the collection.  The basic concept is clear in my head, but the execution will probably involve some fiddling**, as it almost always does.  There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but since I haven’t really gotten started on it yet, that may mean the book itself won’t come out for a bit.

I also need to decide on the order of the book, which I’m sure I mentioned before.  It’s long since been determined that House Guest will be the first story, and In the Shade will be the final one, but the specific order of the others is a bit up in the air.  I do plan to put Solitaire somewhere in the middle, surrounded immediately by comparatively light fare, since that story is extremely dark.

I don’t know where I’m going to find this “comparatively light” fare, though.

Returning to the notion of sharing stories on this blog:  it has occurred to me that it might be nice to share at least some “teasers” of some of my work here, possibly starting quite soon.  I wouldn’t be doing this on Thursdays, since I want to reserve this day every week for my random walk-in blog posts, as usual.  But maybe on Saturdays, or on Mondays, or something like that, I could post a section from one of my stories, perhaps starting with a bit of House Guest, and then a teaser of the opening of In the Shade.  This would, hopefully, whet my readers’ appetites, and perhaps encourage them to seek out and purchase one or more of my books.  From there, I might post teasers from older works, or perhaps even eventually serialize full stories.

Though it would, in a sense, be giving away some of my work for free, it might actually work out the other way.  I neither have advertisers on this blog, nor do I have a Patreon account, either for this or for IoZ or for my YouTube channel or whatnot.  So, as part of sharing such work, I would suggest that if people like the stories and want to support me, they can just buy a copy of the book  The e-book versions are quite cheap, and I keep most of that payment, such as it is, which cannot be said for the paperback versions (though I love those, personally, for what are probably obvious reasons to any fellow book lovers).

I guess in a pinch, if people want to support me, they can even listen to my original songs, on Spotify, or YouTube Music, or iTunes, or whatnot.  I make a tiny amount of money every time someone plays one of my songs on any of those venues, though nothing like the amount I get if someone buys even an e-book short story.  Of course, playing a song takes less time than reading a story.  A long song is maybe six minutes or so, whereas a long “short story” can be sixty pages…and a long novel might be so big it has to be broken into two or more volumes.

I would very much like to be able to make at least something of a living through my writing, whether through my books and short stories or through this blog, or both, but it’s not why I do any of it.  Staying alive has not usually been my dearest priority, even if I sometimes use the song as my ringtone***.

What I would like much more is for people to read my stories (and to a lesser extent listen to my songs), and to give me feedback, if possible, especially when they like them.  In most matters, I’m indifferent to compliments; I usually don’t agree with them, being by far my own most dedicated and spiteful critic.  But my stories are another matter.  I would really like to know if and when my stories touch people (even inappropriately), when readers like the plots or the characters or any other things about them.  I like my own stories, quite a lot, but I’m a peculiar person, so maybe no one else does or ever will.  If they do, I would very much like to hear from them.

With that in mind, I think I will post a teaser first of House Guest, possibly tomorrow or Saturday, so be on the lookout.  From then, I may continue the process as I described above, especially if it looks like it’s reasonably well-received.  Then, I may go on to serialize some of my earlier works just to try to get more people to read them.  Or who knows, maybe I’ll serialize something like The Dark Fairy and the Desperado here on my website.  I conceived of that as a manga originally, so doing it as a serial on my blog, in parallel with other writings that would be available for purchase, might be interesting.  I’ll think about it.  I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

TTFN

tardis library


*That’s quite an understatement.

**I suppose that’s the way Nero would have liked to carry out executions.

***An idea I picked up from Jim Moriarty (of Sherlock fame), whose attitude toward the song’s title subject matter is much like mine.

Bear with my weakness. My old blog is troubled.

Okay, well…hello and good morning and all that usual stuff.  It’s Thursday morning, the second day of September in 2021, and of course it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I don’t have much new to report, frankly.  I wrote an impromptu blog post on Iterations of Zero yesterday morning*, the title of which is a truncated version of the title of a Stephen King story that I thought was very moving.  Writing the post was pretty much a waste of time, which I guessed it would be as I wrote it.  I don’t know if anyone has read it; it certainly hasn’t received any “likes” as of the time of this writing, let alone responses in the comments or whatever.

I can’t blame people for that.  It’s quite a depressing blog post, though I’m reasonably proud of some of the writing in it, including my tongue-in-cheek statement, “There is true equity only in death.”  Of course, it’s not surprising—to me at least—that it’s a depressing blog post, since I was depressed when I wrote it, and my life has been dominated more and more by my already chronic depression in recent weeks to months.

Earlier this week, I did something I’ve often been known to do when particularly angry and depressed, which was to tear up and throw away a lot of drawings and the like, and other meaningful-turned-meaningless belongings at work in the office in the morning, while straightening out my area and generally getting rid of things that make it a personal space.  When I’m feeling very depressed and stressed, and angry both outwardly and inwardly, I have to harm myself in some figurative or literal way—often both—and so I did.

I’m honestly feeling very pointless and discouraged, which I guess would come across quite clearly to any imaginary person who reads my IoZ post, but apparently not to anyone in my “real” life, which I guess isn’t so surprising, if there even is such a person.  It’s not as though I have any non-imaginary friends or anything.

This is no one’s fault but mine.  I think you can all tell that I’m not a pleasant person to be around for any length of time; this has been a universal review/rating that I’ve received from all manner of people.  God knows that I don’t like to be around me**, so I can hardly blame anyone else.  Having a conversation with another person, other than about some specific and useful, work-oriented matter, feels to me like I’m committing a minor, or not-so-minor, crime.

I’ve been toying with the notion of just posting House Guest here on my blog, and then once it’s done posting In the Shade here as well, rather than going to all the trouble of making a collection of my stories and publishing it for no one to read.  I’d have to post In the Shade serially, I guess, since it’s too long a story to stand as one blog post, but I think House Guest could tolerate standing alone.  After that, I don’t know, maybe just take down the shingle and stop.  It’s hard even to contemplate finishing Outlaw’s Mind and publishing it, let alone going on to write anything else.

Speaking of which, I’m not sure what else to write here for this week’s blog post.  I wish I had something useful to say, but given the incredible degree of idiocy out there, I’m not sure that any useful message would be received, even if I could find something useful to write, which seems unlikely.  Were humans always this stupid, and the existence of the internet and the web and social media have merely let that come to light and flourish?  Or have those electronic entities, which should have allowed people overall to become smarter, instead caused stupidity to grow and spread like the most dreadful and malignant of tumors?  I feared it might be the case, right from the beginning.  Maybe I’m being unkind*** or biased, or am suffering from a delusional evaluation of human nature and society—to say nothing of the nature of the universe itself—that’s colored by my longstanding and worsening mood disorder?  How would I know?

Anyway, that’s about it for now.  If any of you have any suggestions or reactions regarding my potential change of plans for publishing my stories here on the blog, let me know.  It’s just a random thought in my head, like everything else.  I don’t know what I’ll do, or where.  I frankly don’t know how I’ll find the will to keep moving through today and on into tomorrow…except that not to do my usual stuff would raise more inconvenience than just to keep doing it, no matter how utterly without reward it feels.  It seems at least as hard to stop moving as to keep moving; there’s no course of action (or inaction) that promises anything other than continuing weariness.  Call me a nazgûl I guess.  But I’m a little less scary, maybe, and I don’t work for Sauron****.  And I don’t wear a ring.  Not anymore.

TTFN

Writer-at-work


*Instead of working on editing In the Shade, which is what I “should” have been doing.

**So many times, in literature, fiction, and religious speech, one hears of the sin or failing or danger of “self-love”.  That’s never made much visceral sense to me.  Do people really love themselves?  I mean, the way they might love their children, say—in an accepting and supportive, but disciplining way that wants what’s best for the person?  I grasp the drive to survive, annoying as it can be, and to reproduce, and to seek momentary pleasure and all that.  But I’m skeptical of the notion of self-love.  How could any human, knowing all the many flaws and faults of the species, and knowing himself or herself better than anyone else does and better than they know anyone else, ever really love herself or himself?  It’s so comical that it’s tragic.  Or perhaps it’s so tragic that it’s hilarious.

***Who, me?

****Or any other dark entity of any kind.  I have a job, so to speak, but that’s a mutual exchange to mutual benefit, not any kind of master/servant thing.

The common blog of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue!

Hello and good morning.  Welcome to another Thursday, and thus to yet another edition of my weekly blog post.  I think there’s only one more Thursday in August this year; that will be next Thursday, obviously, since such things in the real world tend to proceed in linear order.

Actually, that might not be the case.  Reality could happen out of order, but with causality arranged as if in order, and we wouldn’t know.  If, for instance, we randomly cut up the frames of an old-fashioned film, or did the analogous process with some form of digital media, each frame would be in its place in the story, and no matter in what order they were “shown”, the characters, so to speak, in each frame would be experiencing whatever they “were” experiencing in that frame originally, as if it happened in order, and they would be none the wiser.  This concept was explored, if I recall, in Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, in which the main character becomes “unstuck” in time and begins experiencing his life out of order.

Okay, I can’t restrain myself any longer.

Who the hell at Microsoft decided to add a stupid text prediction function to Word?  As someone who writes quite a bit—often very long stories—I find such additions maddening, and madness is something from which I’m never very far in the first place, so I really could do without the nudge.  Are there really people out there for whom this is a useful function?  If so, perhaps they shouldn’t be writing.

Let’s go back to the old way and leave spelling and grammar checks for when I select the functions deliberately.  Whoever at Microsoft thought this auto-fill crap was a good idea, could you please submit your reproductive organs, along with those of your first-degree relatives, for immediate disposal?  I want to see your genes removed from the gene pool.

Perhaps I’m overreacting, but it really pisses me off.  How long will it be before someone just opens his or her word processing program and says, “Okay, Shithead*, write me a thousand-word blog post about what’s happened this week,” and then just looks it over after it’s done?  Could one really consider the result to be something written by that person?  I hate such crutches, and I particularly hate the fact that they are active by default and that I am forced to stop what I’m doing to look up the process for deactivating them.

People at Microsoft, take note!  This is NOT a selling point for people like me; it’s a point that makes me want to commit violence.  I know there are plenty of troglodytes out there who have difficulty dealing with spelling and grammar and creativity, but should we really be encouraging them to imagine that they can succeed at such things via shortcuts?  They already elect each other to high office almost uniformly and screw up nearly everything that they touch.  We need to make things harder for them, not easier (especially meeting each other and having children)!

I guess I’m a bit overstressed.  I apologize.  It’s just that so much of the world is so frustrating, and as I get older, it just becomes ever more frustrating.  I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to endure it.  As I expected right from the start, while the Internet and Web have certainly given us powerful tools for the advancement of knowledge and intelligence, they has also, even more so, enabled the advancement of stupidity.  And since it’s always easier to break things than to build them, stupidity has significant advantages.

Sigh.

I’m moving along rather slowly at editing In the Shade, because I’ve been finding it hard to concentrate, but I am making progress.  At least it, being an older document, doesn’t appear to have been set up with the text prediction function automatically on.  Of course, I’m probably going to need to take the step of turning it off for every new document that I start.

Do people think this actually makes them better at writing?

I’m reminded of a discussion on a Sam Harris podcast once, I don’t recall who the guest was** but he mentioned that there were technologies that make things easier for us that also enhance or improve us—he gave the examples of abacuses and bicycles—and there are technologies that make things easier for us and make us individually “weaker”, such as automobiles and electronic calculators.  There are situations in which the tradeoff is acceptable, of course, such as in long-distance travel and in rapid and sophisticated math, but it’s worth thinking about whether and when we want to make certain things easier.  Remember the tubby, floating, useless future humans in Wall-E?  Remember the Eloi from H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine?  Don’t be Eloi!

On that note, I’m going to bring this to a close for today.  I hope you’re doing well—unless you’re the sort of person who really needs predictive text, in which case you’re probably beyond my or anyone else’s help.  Still, try to take care of yourselves, and be as healthy and happy as you reasonably can be.

TTFN

confused


*This is my proposed name for such a program.

**And I’m very sorry for that fact, because he was quite interesting.

Faintness constraineth me to measure out my length on this cold blog.

Hello everyone.  Welcome to the second Thursday of August in 2021, and to another edition of my weekly blog post.  I won’t say “good morning” because I frankly had an absolutely terrible night’s sleep, even for me, and I don’t feel very good or very well this morning…though I do, of course, hope you all have a good one, nevertheless.

I say “weekly” blog post but, of course, I did create an interim post last week sharing a cover that I did of the Radiohead song Street Spirit (Fade Out), and if you’re interested, I encourage you to check it out and listen.  It exists as a “video” on YouTube, and as is usual with YouTube posters, I hereby request that if you listen on YouTube, and if you happen to like the cover, please do click the “like” button on the YouTube page.  This apparently does real, measurable good for the degree to which YouTube videos are recommended to people online, and increases the circulation of the YouTube page, which I would obviously like, all other things being equal.

This is all somewhat ironic, considering I did my own song called Like and Share, which bemoans the nature of liking and sharing online—but it does so with a very specific point, highlighting the way in which people sometimes try to create or pretend to a self-image by sharing things online and how they can become quite vulnerable to setbacks relating to this, sometimes even leading to, or at least contributing to, personal tragedy.  The only tragedy associated with liking and/or sharing my song cover might be if those who hear it really don’t like it…but in that case, I wouldn’t expect you to “like” it, let alone share it.

I did another “video” this week, of what was really an impromptu audio blog about the possible future of neurostimulation.  It was just some off-the-cuff thoughts, and I made a post on Iterations of Zero sharing the video as well.  If you’re interested in such things, I encourage you to check it out, and likewise to “like” it if you like it and share it if you wish.  By all means, of course, I would like you to “like” the posts here on WordPress as well.  And I welcome any comments, here, at IoZ, or on YouTube, about either or any of my videos or posts.

As is often the case when I find myself obsessed with making a song (or a cover), the editing process on In the Shade has been mildly held back this last week, but I’ve nevertheless been making decent progress.  The word count is shrinking at a slightly lower rate than it was in the beginning, but it does continue to shrink.  And, of course, I’m editing for other things besides simple length, wordiness, digression, whatever you might want to call it.  That almost goes without saying.

As for everything else in life…well, there isn’t much of it.  Though today is unusually bad, my general insomnia and dysthymia continue to give me trouble; I’m tired to exhausted nearly every day, nearly all day.  It’s often difficult for me to see the point in doing anything at all.  However, I am notoriously stubborn, something that might be good or bad or both, and so I plod on.  No one ever promised anyone a rose garden, I guess.  At least, no with the wherewithal to fulfill such promises has ever promised.  The universe promises us nothing—or at most, one thing—and as far as I can tell, it doesn’t make bargains with anyone.

Even so, it won’t be too much longer before I’m done with In the Shade, and then I can compile and publish Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and then I have plans to finish Outlaw’s Mind.  After that, I’m not sure what writing project I’ll work on next.  I listed several possible stories a few blog posts back—I’ll look for that post and link it here—and I’d encourage those of you who might be interested to take a quick read through them, and if any one or few of them sounds particularly interesting or promising to you, please let me know.  If you can also tell me why, please do so.

With that, I’m going to call it enough for this week.  I need to have a nap or something before editing and posting this, but at least the fact that it’s slightly shorter than usual should make that process quicker and maybe even easier than usual.  If my writing is poor today, I do apologize.  Please try your best to stay reasonably safe and healthy, and to be as happy as you’re able to be, as long as your pursuit of happiness doesn’t directly and unnecessarily impair someone else’s.

TTFN

Karloff monster

Hold hard the breath and blog up every spirit to his full height.

Hello, good morning, and welcome to the first Thursday of August in 2021.  As is self-evident, it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.

I’ll start with the writing-related material this time, which I’ve tended lately to push to near the end of my posts, since—unfortunately—during the editing process, not much of substance changes from week to week.  In the Shade is proceeding well, however.  I’ve already passed my initial goal for story compression, i.e., the reduction in total word count, which hopefully is a good proxy for tight writing and quick reading, and thus a more pleasurable, gripping story.  I hope to do significantly more trimming as I go along, but I don’t know that I’ll reach my secondary “goal” of twice as much reduction.  Since I’m more than halfway through my editing iterations, it seems unlikely.  Still, setting a lofty goal, so to speak, usually means that even if one falls somewhat short, at least one will have achieved more than if one had set a low goal.  Only those who attempt the “impossible” can achieve the unbelievable.

I don’t know how I’ll learn whether I’ve achieved the desired overall improvement of my writing.  It’s difficult to tell from my own experience, since I always enjoy my stories when I reread them (so far, anyway).  It would be amusingly ironic if future generations of literary scientists analyzed my drafts compared to the final products and found, in some objective sense, that they were uniformly better in their longer, original forms.  I don’t know how that could possibly happen, but I can’t rule it out.  I take comfort in the fact that, should such analysis ever be done, I will likely be long since dead when it occurs.

I came within a hare’s breadth* of writing a post for Iterations of Zero this last Sunday.  I even loaded up Word for the first time on my newish laptop at home, but I unfortunately failed to clear the mental hurdle of putting the device on my lap in my bed (which is where I spend almost my entire time on weekends) and actually starting to write.

This fact is particularly frustrating because I so often come up with ideas that I would like to explore either in writing or verbally.  I often toy with the idea of keeping my phone handy—it is always handy, now that I think of it—and using it to record myself rambling about these thoughts.  They often occur in traffic, unfortunately, especially when my Bluetooth is acting up and I can’t listen to music as I go, which is my preference.  I sing along for the most part; I tend to get quite absorbed in it.  For instance, earlier this week when I just missed colliding with the very large vertical remnant of a semi-truck tire just over the top of a slight rise on I-95**, I didn’t even break the phrase of the song I was singing—even as I narrowly avoided going head over heels at nearly seventy miles an hour.

It’s weird; I tend to be stressed, confused, and sometimes almost panicky or enraged, in purely social situations, or when my daily routines or interests are interrupted.  But real, serious physical danger—to me or to others, as when I was in medical practice—just tends to focus my concentration.  I didn’t even need to stop to calm down after my recent “brush with death”, though I was very annoyed by the possibility there might be functional damage to my vehicle that I would need to address.  Thankfully, there wasn’t, so I can continue my daily routine as before without disruption.

Still, I really want to work into that routine a pattern of writing down or otherwise recording the various weird thoughts that meander through my head, on subjects from physics and mathematics to psychology, philosophy, sociology/politics/economics, technology, energy, climate, the nature of complexity, etc.  Also, I could use it as a kind of “therapy”.  I definitely “need” that, in the sense that my mental health is far from good and is probably worsening.

I have at least taken some baby steps in seeking help, using an unexpected disappointment that at least presented an opportunity:  When I clicked an offered link for help after repeatedly taking the online AQ test and getting consistently quite high results, it didn’t take me to any Asperger’s resources, but brought me instead to the “Better Help” site, which is a resource for online therapy.  After much hemming and hawing and false starting on my part, I’m trying to make arrangements for such therapy, but it’s been difficult because of my schedule, my innate aversion to doing anything to help myself***, and my discomfort interacting with new people, even over video or text.  I’ve finally got something moving, but it looks like it’s going to be only every other week or so; I work long hours, and I’m not going to do online therapy while other people are in the office, even if it’s during lunch.  It’s almost inconceivable that I could manage “in-person” therapy, though I’ve done it in the past.

Well, life is complicated.  I frequently doubt whether it’s worth the effort, but since we can’t test the alternative and then change our minds, we keep putting our shoulders to our Sisyphean boulders and hope that maybe, at the very least, this time we might get a tiny bit of rest at the top of the hill.  Though, honestly, I don’t know what I would even do with such a break.

Still, I have Outlaw’s Mind to look forward to finishing once I’m done with In the Shade and thence with Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  Writing new fiction—and usually even new nonfiction—is always a boost.  I’m not sure why, but it is.

TTFN

full-13


*Which is larger than a hair’s breadth, of course, but hares do tend to be svelte, so it’s still pretty close.

**A smaller bit of debris to the right ripped a panel loose on the side of my bike, but I have a cool head in times of stress.  Though I wobbled back and forth for a few subsequent seconds, I never came very close to going over.  Sometimes I honestly regret such “coolness”, but a motorcycle accident on the interstate is not how I would prefer to die, especially since it might not kill but merely maim me.  That would be such a pain both literally and figuratively.

***Who among us would not have mixed feelings at the prospect of giving aid to his greatest enemy?

And ere a man hath power to say ‘Behold!’ the blogs of darkness do devour it up

Hello, good morning, yadda yadda yadda weekly blog post.

People apparently don’t like it much when I write speculative things about speculative science.  At least they didn’t like it last week.  Or, rather, they didn’t “like” it as much, or as often, however you want to put it.  Or, at least, I didn’t notice as many “likes”, though I suppose I could be mistaken; obviously I’m not interested enough to go and check at the bottom of the post and its predecessors to see if there is a difference.  Maybe it’s all in my head.  People seem not to mind much when I express the difficulties I have with things that are definitely in may head, which I would have thought would be more boring than speculations about science.

I often wonder what proportion of the people who “like” a given blog post actually read it.  I, of course, don’t write particularly short posts—they are almost never as short as I intend them to be—and so I guess it’s hard to hold it against people if they don’t quite make it to the end, or even past the initial paragraph, or past the initial sentence.  Or past the title.  I almost never get any feedback, so it’s quite difficult to tell if this whole thing isn’t an exercise in futility.

The nominal idea behind this blog was to promote my writing in general, but I’m not sure it’s done any good at that (or that anyone other than immediate family reads my books and stories).  This blog and its schedule have certainly led me to write a lot that I might not have written otherwise.  But there are things that I’ve written here, especially recently, that I probably should have just put up on Iterations of Zero.  Last week’s science stuff is a good example, but so are my mental health concerns.

But this blog is one I write every week, by personal schedule, by commitment, by whatever you want to call it, and I have yet to get myself into a good schedule for IoZ.  So sometimes I’ve just gone and written here some things that I would otherwise have relegated to my “secondary blog”.

Such subjects may drive away those who might be interested in reading about my writing and the writing process and so on, though I’m not sure such people exist.  Actually, I’m barely sure that there are any other people out there.  That’s not literally true, of course, I’m well aware that there are over seven billion people in the world.  I’m not a solipsist—by definition, there could never be more than one solipsist if that person were correct.  The notion of solipsism has been handily demolished by more interested minds than I.  I’m certainly convinced that I don’t have it in me to imagine the whole universe, even if it’s only limited to the things with which I’ve interacted personally.

Nevertheless, I do still feel almost completely, profoundly alone.  And though this is a terribly unpleasant and almost intolerable state, the prospect of meeting other people, interacting with other people, connecting with other people, is more daunting than the prospect of dying alone, at least if the latter happens sooner rather than later.  I have it on good authority that I’m an unpleasant person—a good number of people whose opinions I value dearly have either explicitly or implicitly made this clear.  I even feel it about myself.  So why should I be so cruel as to inflict myself on other people?

I’m toying with the idea of quitting this blog, or at least putting it on hiatus.  I don’t get any feedback or interaction from it—or nearly none—and it’s frustrating to share one’s thoughts every Thursday morning without knowing if anyone encounters them or gives a flying fuck at a tiny little rat’s ass about them.  If it’s just a matter of talking to myself, I can do that without a word processor—and I do, quite a lot of the time.  I already hardly use Facebook or Twitter, except to share these blog posts and some YouTube videos I find interesting.  I’m not egotistical enough to imagine that the world will suffer from not having my thoughts out there, or indeed from not having my existence.

Since I always title these weekly blog posts with slightly altered quotes from Shakespeare—or I have done so for quite a while, anyway—I figure that, once I decide for certain that a given blog post will definitely be my last, for any reason, I’ll simply title it, “The rest is silence” …Hamlet’s last words.  Similarly, if I knew that I was sharing my last item to Facebook and/or Twitter, it would be the final song of the first album of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  But of course, it may well come to pass that I’ll write a final blog post and share a final share on those other “social” “media” without knowing that it is the last one.  This could be the last one for all I know.  I’m not sure I would mind that.

Anyway, I’m still editing In the Shade, and the process is going well enough.  I hope to be done with it reasonably soon, and possibly then to release my collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  I have all sorts of possible book ideas to write after that, but right now I have no interest in writing any of them.  I’m very tired, on all levels.  To quote from the fourth-from-last song on album one of The Wall, “nothing is very much fun anymore.”  And, obviously, I’m not much fun, myself.

TTFN

no outlet

A wretched soul, blogged with adversity, we bid be quiet when we hear it cry

Hello.  Good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I don’t quite know what I’m going to write today.  That’s not so unusual; I often start my posts without any outline in mind.  Perhaps that’s only too obviously to those who read this blog on a regular basis.  Perhaps you would prefer that I made specific plans about what to write.  If so, I can only apologize and say that, at least for now, I’m not able to do that.  Sometimes when I try to plan what I’m going to write about, I feel stiff and tense about the writing, and it doesn’t flow well.  Sometimes I suspect that is the reason my little project about analyzing and exploring villains from various books, movies, shows, etc., didn’t come off well.  Probably, though, it was just because it wasn’t something that interested many people.

My editing has been going reasonably well this week, though I wish it would go faster.  I don’t ever get quite as much done on any given day as I ought to get done.  I find that, more and more lately, I need to take a rest in the morning and lie flat on the floor for my back to feel a bit better, and to clear my head and gradually break myself into the proverbial zone.  I’m just gradually becoming more and more mentally and emotionally exhausted, and it’s harder to develop energy and focus.  I still do it, of course, but it’s difficult.  I don’t really have much in the way of mental/emotional support; I’m very much on my own, as it were*.  Of course, in a sense, that could be said of everyone, but that would be a very cynical and pessimistic sense; I think it’s a bit too much even for the likes of me to claim.

Still, In the Shade continues to improve (I think), shrinking steadily but perhaps more slowly than at first, and definitely getting tighter and sharper…again, so I think, at least.  I’m not at all sure that I’ll finish the editing by the end of summer and have the collection ready before autumn, but it’s difficult to judge.  Time swirls about at bizarrely inconsistent rates—at “times” it feels like it passes ridiculously fast, the years being chewed up like…well, like some simile describing things being chewed up extremely quickly.  At other times, it feels as though each moment is proceeding far too slowly, and I just want to get to the end much more quickly than is happening.  I’m very tired.

I’m still pursuing that neurological thing that I mentioned last time—never yet by name in this particular blog—but the more thoroughly I educate myself, both from general consumption sources and from the medical and scientific literature, the more I’m convinced that I’m probably—almost certainly—correct in my assessment.  But I don’t like to rely solely on myself, even though I trust my mental judgement at least as much as anyone else’s, and more than most.

I’m having a harder and harder time dealing with social interactions, whether online or in person.  I even feel embarrassed writing comments on blogs and similar.  I feel that I’m sure to be saying something irritating or boring or inexplicable and nonsensical that will make others wonder why I don’t just shut up and go away.  Maybe that’s me projecting; goodness knows, a lot of the time I wish that I would just shut up and go away.

Anyway, I have at least put in inquiries to two organizations, one a non-professional entity that provides support and guidance and resources.  I investigated their available recommendations for professionals near me, but haven’t been impressed, so far, by the locally available people listed.  They don’t fill me with confidence or ease.  The other, a strictly professional organization, may be more promising, though they’re a little bit far from where I am.

A big problem I have is that all these kinds of people and sites and organizations have options for, and require, and provide resources for, calling or online chatting, or whatever, and the thought of doing any of those things is just terribly stressful, let alone actually going to some office somewhere.  I can talk on the phone at work, for goal-directed reasons, just as I’ve always been able to make friends or “friends” at school or work or whatever, in places where there’s a purpose, but when it’s seeking something for myself—let alone simple ordinary purposeless socialization—I’m at a loss.

It’s not that I’m afraid or anxious, exactly, though there is a bit of that; it’s just that I find the processes stressful.  They take so much mental effort.  I don’t feel I get much out of it, and I just inconvenience everyone else.  The last time there was a work-related outing, when the office (as it were) went to a restaurant after work to celebrate a particular milestone, I developed a migraine as the day went on, and ended up just not going.  I didn’t really put it together at the time, but the migraine was probably caused by the stress of anticipating dealing with a purely social situation.

So, asking for help at a personal level or a professional level is very difficult—mostly so daunting that I just can’t force myself to do it, even when I know I could really use it**.  It doesn’t help that I’ve had terrible experiences when dealing with “crisis hotlines” in the past, as I think I’ve described here before.  I’ve had other, similarly frustrating experiences on related occasions when seeking help or being forced to seek help.

I’m not sure at all what to do.  There probably isn’t any one right answer or best answer, and if there is, probably no one knows what it is.  The world is extremely complicated, and we’re never guaranteed that events will be fair or good or successful…at least not by any honest, reputable, reliable sources.

I know I’m being vague.  I started off meandering and, by God, I kept meandering.  That was the mode for today, I guess.  Apologies.  I hope to get again into a mental state where I can again feel optimistic about future writing and think and talk about the many story ideas and book ideas I have waiting in the wings.  I’m not sure if I’ll reach that point, or how to reach it, but I guess it’s possible.  In the meantime, I beg your patience and indulgence.  I also ask that you treat yourselves and those around you as well as you possibly can and try to be healthy and happy.

TTFN

broke down bigger


*This is no one’s fault but mine.

**It’s a bit like finding myself having swum a too far out from a beach and realizing that I’m in trouble because the current is sweeping me ever farther away from shore.  But calling for help will drain the strength I need to swim and tread water, and I’m not a very strong swimmer.  The people I can see in the distance aren’t really looking in my direction, anyway, and they probably couldn’t hear me no matter what.  And I’m not sure any of them are trained or qualified to make a rescue attempt without putting themselves at serious risk, which is something I certainly don’t want to happen on my account.  Better just to tread water quietly, trying to make my way shoreward (though the shore keeps getting farther and farther away), and let the ocean take me if that’s what it’s going to do.

Ruin hath blogged me thus to ruminate, that Time will come and take my love away.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, as happens periodically, and thus it is time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  It being the second Thursday of the month, it would have been another entry of the long-since-abandoned “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains”, had I continued that enterprise.  Unfortunately, that pursuit appears to be one of those idiosyncratic enthusiasms that a certain kind of person tends to have, holding little interest for others, and in fact boring them—a joy that, because of its peculiarity, cannot be shared.  Oh, well.  Life is rarely satisfying.

I made a follow-up video on the subject that I introduced in last week’s blog post.  I posted it on YouTube and embedded that in a post on Iterations of Zero.  If you want to learn more about what I was referring to in last week’s post, and about my personal reactions to it—and some rather random, meandering, and inconclusive thoughts on what I should do* about it—by all means, I encourage you to view it.  I tried to cut out most of the hemming and hawing, the pauses and mutterings, and to make the audio as clear as I could in a reasonable amount of time.  The fact that I still can’t bring myself here to write explicitly what the subject of that video is may give some clue as to how unsettled I am—unsettled because I think, more and more, that the results of the tests I discussed are probably right, based on my explorations and reflections since then.  But sharing such personal matters has always been difficult, at a certain level, for me.

I’ve always had trouble expressing my wishes for other people’s input and even (gulp) help.  I find the prospect of such interactions daunting, partly because I find interaction itself daunting.  More and more over time, other people have come to seem indeed very much “other” to me, in a deeper than usual sense—almost alien.  I’ve always felt quite different from the people around me and find much of what they say and do inexplicable** and stressful.  I’ve also, frankly, nearly always felt that I have no right to request or expect help of any kind from anyone.  And so, when I’ve tried on numerous occasions to make subtle requests for help, or for input, or for whatever, I’ve tended to be too subtle—or so it seems—and no one responds…or if someone responds, the things they say and do are often counterproductive or confusing, though the attempt should always be appreciated.

I think I’ve mentioned before how much I’ve long resonated with the last four lines of Pink Floyd’s Brain Damage, from the album whose name is invoked in that song:

“And if the cloudbursts thunder in your ear

You shout and no one seems to hear

And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes

I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”

 Well, the “band” I was in has long since gone on to play completely different material from anything I knew.  I don’t even get to hear of any of the performances—by their choice—and only one of the “members” communicates with me at all anymore***.  It isn’t the first time I’ve experienced such alienation, though it is by far the most wrenching, and certainly the most heartbreaking.  But that kind of heartbreak—produced by and causing such alienation—is something for which I seem to have a talent.  It’s hard to blame anyone else when I’m the common denominator.

Oh, well, as I said before, life is rarely satisfying.  Most days it hardly seems worth the effort.  Actually, most days it seems utterly not worth the effort.  But I guess I’m stubborn, or habituated, or just the victim of my biological drives, at least so far.

Speaking of stubbornness, I’m continuing to edit In the Shade, and it’s progressing nicely.  I’ve finished three passes and have already almost achieved my level-one aim in word count reduction, which means I may have a decent shot at reaching or at least approaching my level two target:  a 20% reduction in word count.  I know that’s an arbitrary and mechanical target to use, but it’s not intended to be an end in and of itself, just a means by which to trim unnecessary discursions that may, I fear, lead people to find my writing too laborious.  I don’t really know—I’m hypothesizing without much data.  In any case, I have no idea whether any but a handful of people will ever read the story, anyway…or if I’ll even finish and publish it and the collection.  The future is stochastic, after all.

That’s more than enough for this week’s post.  I hope you’re all having a nice summer so far—I know it’s been hard for many people in many places, what with sweltering heat and fires and storms and viruses and building collapses and various other slings and arrows.  But many people seem to be astonishingly gifted at finding and making joy in their lives despite everything that drives weirdos like me toward despair.  Please keep it up, all of you.  You deserve to be as happy as you can possibly be—as long as it doesn’t infringe on the happiness of others unnecessarily.

TTFN

reaching out


*I’ve had a link open on my browser for more than a week asking if I want to chat online to a licensed professional about my results.  I cannot seem to work up the nerve to click it.

**It’s not so much that it’s impossible to understand as it’s impossible to credit, to believe…the sorts of things that lead one to think, “You can’t be serious.”

***Apologies for straining the metaphor here.  It’s part of that same severe difficulty I seem to have expressing myself explicitly when referring to anything emotion laden.  It’s something I’m aware of and recognize, but I can’t seem to overcome it.