Come, and take choice of all my library, and so beguile thy sorrow, till the heavens reveal the blogg’d contriver of this deed

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another Thursday.  Welcome, also, to August.

Something has happened to me that’s happened to greater and finer authors than I:  my new book, Unanimity, was too big/long to be published in the format I had chosen.  This was initially spotted by an automated system but was confirmed by human double-checking.  It was frustrating, of course, but not entirely unexpected.

Though I had been more or less emotionally prepared for such an eventuality, I still wasn’t sure what I should do.  I could reduce the type size, and that might be effective, but I feared it would make at least the print version of the book difficult for many people to read.  I could just make the book bigger, but again, I thought that might make it less likely that people would read the print version.  A big volume is simply less wieldy than a smaller one.

I certainly wasn’t going to do what Stephen King was originally forced to do with The Stand and cut out large chunks of the novel.  I’ve just spent months and months, possibly a year, pruning the story as much as I could while still leaving it in the form in which I conceived it.  It is one of my rare—or not so rare—points of egotism, but I like my stories the way I write them.  If their form is unsatisfactory to some, that’s fine.  There are plenty of popular and high-quality books that I find mind-numbing, and some books that I love that others might consider crap.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Some people love mushrooms and eggplant, while I find them literally nauseating.  I don’t hold this against those who like them; in fact, I rather envy them the pleasure that’s available to them that’s not available to me.  Ditto for shrimp and lobster.

Culinary considerations aside, I needed to decide how I was going to proceed.  The only other person in the office at the time (I had stayed late to start working on publication), my friend Bill*, listened to my tale of woe (of inconvenience, really…I took the setback with good humor, knowing only too well that I’ve written a great book in the quasi-archaic literal sense if not the literary sense).  He then said words along the lines of, “Well, didn’t your buddy have to break his book up into parts to have it published because it was so long?”

I didn’t know to which buddy he was referring at first.  I couldn’t think of anyone I knew who’d been in a similar situation.  So, he said, roughly, “You know, he wrote the…the books that they made into those movies.”  I gradually caught on that he was referring to J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings.  I’d never thought of Tolkien as “my buddy” before, but it was quite a pleasing thought.  And Bill was right, of course.  LotR was originally written as one long book (in six parts, also called books by Tolkien), but was much too long to be published in one ordinary volume.  I don’t know for sure, but I think I’ve heard that George R. R. Martin had similar issues with Game of Thrones**.

Not completely convinced, despite the comparison to Tolkien, I also texted my sister, presenting several options, including the one Bill had suggested.  She texted back that she wasn’t sure, but that her knee-jerk was to split it into two books.

When two people whose opinions I respect came to the same conclusion rapidly and rather strongly, all while reminding me of the history of my single favorite work of literature, I became convinced.  Well, okay, it took a little more thinking about possibilities and new opportunities to cement the decision, but by morning I was there.

So, now, Unanimity is going to be published as two books—I like the irony—the first to be sometime within the next week-ish, and the second to be released on September 22nd.  Doing this gave me the opportunity to adjust the cover art between the two, making the second a more intense, or advanced, stage of the first, if you will.  This is quite pleasing, if rather frivolous.  Also, after I’d already decided what to do, I went to look at where the break in books would come, and I realized that book one would end on a heck of a cliffhanger.  Now that is almost enough to make a die-hard skeptic like me believe in fate.  Not quite, but I’m happy to embrace the feeling.

You see, I don’t tend to write in chapters.  Even The Chasm and the Collision, which has traditional, named chapters, was originally written as a continuous story.  There are scene breaks, of course, as I write, and some of these end up becoming chapter breaks, but I don’t write with that in mind.  Chapter division, in my writing, tends to come after the fact, as a way to break things up for the reader.  It’s just psychological, but I absolutely get it.  I also broke Unanimity up into four “parts”, because it is quite long, and would benefit from the additional psychological meta-commas provided.

This division is semi-arbitrary…but not completely so.  I choose my breaks with care; I just do it after the fact.  And when splitting the book into its parts, I had chosen to end the second part, the rough mid-point of the story, at a point of dramatic shock.  And that’s going to work beautifully for the two-book form.  I don’t quite have goosebumps about it, but it’s close.  If I had a long moustache, I’d twirl it.

Of course, being who I am, I can’t just call the books Unanimity Book One and Unanimity Book Two.  There must be titles, of sorts, for the individual volumes.  Unanimity will still be the overarching title, but I want to give something of the character of the story in the two halves.  This is slightly tricky.  I’m almost completely decided on calling Book One Contagion, because I like the metaphor of disease…not just because of the current pandemic, but also because it’s how some characters eventually think of the threat faced in the story.

I particularly like a cancer metaphor, with the notion of Charley Banks as a transformed cell, no longer healthy or appropriately restrained, capable of uncontrollable spreading and invasion of the previously “healthy” tissues of society.  In fact, I thought of titling the second book Metastasis, but when I bounced that title off a number of people, all of whom are reasonably well-educated and informed, I got a lot of blank stares.  So, I may go with Malignancy, which I think is a more universally known term, one nevertheless fraught with horror.

I actually have some little bit of uncertainty about Contagion as the first title, and not just because it’s been a book title before.  Contagion and Malignancy are slightly divergent metaphors, related to different disease processes.  Perhaps I’m worrying too much about that, but it does eat at me***.  I think maybe calling Book One Mutation or Transformation might be better and more consistent.  But “mutation” might be a misleading term, and “transformation”, though a technical term in oncology, can have entirely benign connotations.  Well, so can “mutation”, really.  Actually, so can “unanimity”, when you get right down to it.

Maybe I’m overthinking things.  Probably I’m overthinking things.  Maybe I should just go with Book One and Book Two.

In any case, before long I’ll pull the trigger and you’ll see the result.  For now, you can look forward to two books, each one easier to carry than the whole would have been.  I think you’ll like them.  I like them…and I’ve read Unanimity over and over and over and over and over and over and over.  I’m not bored yet.  Hopefully, that’s a good sign.

Do please let me know, when the time comes.

TTFN

Face less 1


*Bill is a coworker with whom I get along partly because we have similar work ethics, and partly because of music.  He also plays guitar, actually quite a lot better than I do, and has been playing for a lot longer.  Some years ago, he recorded a personal CD of original songs, folk/rock style, just him singing along with acoustic guitar.  He let me borrow (and rip) the CD.  It’s very good.  For a muscular guy who could easily pass for a construction worker/foreman, and who once had a bit part as a body-guard for a bad guy in an episode of Miami Vice, he’s got a real artistic, moving, sentimental quality to his music.  I’ll try to get him to publish the CD, and if he does, I will give you all links to it.

**I think the broad title is A Song of Ice and Fire, but I’ve not read the books nor seen the show, so I could be wrong about this.

***Like a parasite.  I tried to find good terms related to the field of parasitology, but nothing I’ve found works.  It’s too bad, really.

This blog of love, by summer’s ripening breath, may prove a beauteous flower when next we meet

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, which always seems to happen soon after Wednesday, at least here in the English-speaking world.  I have heard the shocking tale that there are some other places that seem not to have those specific days.  One wonders how they remember when to read my weekly blog posts!

I hope you all had a lovely Summer Solstice.  It’s June 25th today, which means that there are “exactly” 6 months until Christmas, for those of you who celebrate it.  Being at the midway point, this date probably serves nicely as a measure of a person’s optimism.  Whether you say to yourself, “Only six more months until Christmas!” with an anticipatory grin (perhaps noting that it wouldn’t be bad to start thinking of gift ideas), or whether you instead dwell on the fact that you are now as far away in the year from that joyous holiday as it is possible to be, probably could be used to predict your attitude about a great number of other things.

Of course, you won’t have to wait nearly six months for the release of Unanimity—barring some personal catastrophe on my part—so that’s at least a crumb of comfort even for the most ruthlessly pessimistic.  Those of you who are already thinking of Christmas shopping for your loved ones could do worse than to order a copy or two when it comes out to give as gifts (though it might be better suited as a Halloween present).  I dare say that it should even be out well in time to begin reading it on or before the date on which the story begins*.  The final editing, layout, and planning for the release are going strongly and smoothly.  If I had more free time—and more free energy—I could probably get it all done within the next month, but I don’t expect that goal to be quite achievable.  That is, unless someone out there wants to option the movie rights (sight unseen) for the book and will give me a large lump sum payment for that option.  It would probably be best as a mini-series, since it’s quite a long story, and I don’t see how it could all fit into even an Avengers: Endgame length movie.  But perhaps that’s a personal bias.

Anyway, it’s going well.

My music is going well, too.  As you know, my single Like and Share is now up on Spotify and is available on iTunes and on Amazon.  It’s also either now available or will soon be available through numerous other platforms internationally, but I’m not as certain of the links and whatnot to those.  If I become aware, of course, I’ll be happy to share them.

I’ve been trying to think through where to go from here with respect to music, and I’d welcome feedback from any readers who have an opinion on the matter.  My internal conflict revolves around whether to proceed as originally planned and release one or two more singles in the coming weeks and months, then to release a full album of my songs, or whether to release them all as singles, one by one.  After all, though I have a deep love of great albums and of consuming music in that form, I can’t deny that the advent of music sites such as mentioned above, and the general digital availability of the music, raises the question of whether releasing an album is the best way to go.  It’s not as though it would be any kind of “concept album”.

I’ve heard (but cannot be certain) that “Weird Al” Yankovic is planning on mostly releasing singles in the future rather than putting together albums, for reasons much like my thoughts above.  I’m no “Weird Al”, obviously, and he’s also not the measure of all things, even if the above rumor is true.  Still, he’s a very savvy individual, and one could do worse than to pay attention to what he’s doing.

As I think I’ve mentioned, I am developing some new songs currently.  Nothing has been recorded on any of them yet—except some musical notes and lyrics on paper, of course—and I probably won’t be doing much more than that until after Unanimity comes out, unless I need a mental break, and/or find the urge irresistible.

I do seem to require at least some form of “new” creative activity as a bulwark against depression, and editing Unanimity has led to my longest run of not writing anything new since perhaps 2013 or 2014.  Also, writing is my oldest persistent love.  But writing music seems to produce the desired psychological benefit almost as much as writing fiction, so it’s been quite useful to me during the long revision/editing process of Unanimity.  All this is what I do in lieu of having close, fulfilling relationships with other human beings, since I’m apparently unpleasant to be around for any prolonged time period.

I’m sure you can all readily imagine why that might be so.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on this week with me.  I’ll be releasing Schrodinger’s Head as my next official single, but that won’t be for at least several weeks.  I think.  In the meantime, I hope you’re all as happy and healthy as it’s possible to be given the current state of public affairs.  I’d wish for you to be even happier than possible, but that would be a silly and contradictory wish, so I’ll abstain.  Not that I’m any more averse to wishing for the impossible than the next person, I’m just…more prone than average to accept and internalize the inherent impossibilities.

TTFN


*Though, unless you have a time machine, you won’t be able to preempt the literal starting date, since the story begins on Thursday, September 14th, 2017.  But you know what I mean.

But when the blast of war blogs in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger

Hello and good morning, everyone.  It’s raining here in south Florida; I got more soaking wet on the way to work today than I have at times when swimming in the ocean.

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but at least when you’re swimming in the ocean, you plan on getting wet, you expect to get wet, and your clothes—such as they are—are made for getting wet and for drying off quickly.  This is not the case for work clothes, even when one works in a fairly casual office.  This weather almost makes me wish that there were a 24-hour curfew in place that restricted people even from going to work, but no such luck.  I was allowed to go to work even at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown, which has apparently passed, and I’m certainly allowed to work now.

In America at least, news of the pandemic has been all but superseded by news of various protests, some of which have turned violent, over the murder of George Floyd.  Both topics seem particularly good at bringing out human stupidity, which is never a tall order, but there is more unified sentiment—where I work, anyway—about the latter story.  Everyone here thinks the cops involved need to go to prison, but that violent protests and especially looting are idiotic, counterproductive, and are probably (mostly) not being done by legitimate protestors.  As for me, I can at least sympathize with occasional, directed violence in such matters.  Peaceful protest is ideal when it works, when you’re dealing with people of conscience and appealing to their better natures, but it wouldn’t have worked against the Nazis, or against Genghis Khan, or against the Roman Empire, and it wouldn’t work in North Korea.  Random violence, however, that hurts one’s own neighbors or other innocent people, seems thoughtless and pointless at best, and looting seems simply opportunistic and despicable.

All right, enough politics, if that’s what that was.  On to more auspicious matters.

This week, I have finally begun the last edit, layout, preparation, etc. of Unanimity.  I expect that, with the finish line in sight, I’ll probably accelerate work on it somewhat, perhaps pushing back my music…though I did make a post on Iterations of Zero this week with embedded videos of my five original songs that are on YouTube, as well as a few comments about them. Check out that post if you’re interested; I’d love to know what people think of the songs.  I’ve also recorded another audio blog for IoZ, but that’s still being edited—those take longer to polish than do written blog entries, though they’re certainly easier to initiate.

As you may know, I’m chronically conflicted about the whole podcast/audio versus writing of thoughts and commentary.  Writing is more efficient for storage and dissemination of information—compare the size of a word-processor document with even a compressed audio file—but there is a certain nuance of expression as well as a greater spontaneity that can be achieved in audio.  As I admit right at the beginning of the new recording, this audio blog post is not intended to be uplifting.  Neither is it meant to be down-pushing (if that’s a term).  It’s instead meant to be a rebellion of sorts against the notion that we all must try always to be positive and optimistic and upbeat and inspirational.

If you need to be inspired—if you need to be “motivated”—to get your work done, I think you’ve already failed.  Motivation—in the modern, self-help sense, not in the basic, fundamental meaning of the word (which is fine)—is a bit like the notions of heroism and leadership.  These are concepts that come into play only when you’re already far from optimal circumstances.  We should all aspire to achieve a world in which there is no need for leaders or for heroes, and to strive to reach a state in our own character in which “motivation” is irrelevant.

No one feels “motivated” every day, but if you want to earn a living, you need to go to work whether you feel “motivated” or not.  The tiger that won’t hunt until and unless it’s “inspired” by something is a tiger that’s got a good chance of dying.  Or perhaps a better animal for that analogy would be the squirrel.  Squirrels keep gathering nuts (and maybe other foods, I’m no expert on squirrel diets) even when they have enough for their immediate needs—even when they don’t feel particularly hungry—because, as they apparently say in Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming.”*

To quote Christian Mihai, “The work that you do when you don’t want to is the work that most defines you.” Maybe this is just a different kind of motivation, a more long-term motivation that evaluates the area under the curve of one’s success and happiness, and not merely its moment to moment y-value.  That kind of motivation—or drive, perhaps, would be the better term—seems perfectly fine to me.  But if you have to get jazzed up to get out of bed and get moving, then you’re careening toward failure, because no one can feel jazzed up every day, not even someone in the upside of a bipolar cycle.

I’m not sure how I got onto that subject, but anyway, I’m happy at least to know that my own personal commitment to working on my fiction five to six mornings every week continues to deliver results.  It’s a lesson I learned fromthe King himself, and it’s paid off already in all my published books and stories.  And soon, I’ll release my own megalithic horror novel that matches in size even Stephen King’s longest work.

I would be delighted if Unanimity is read and enjoyed by even a fraction of as many people as have enjoyed any of King’s works, of course.  But if even one person reads it and likes it, that’s a huge reward.  And even if no one does, well—I still know that I’ve written it, and I like it.  If I didn’t like it, it really wouldn’t matter all that much if everyone else in the world loved it.  I can only be inside my own head.

TTFN


*I’ve neither watched nor read any of the GoT stories.  This fact surprises even me.  It’s not a matter of stubborn contrarianism or protest; I see nothing wrong with people loving the stories or the series.  I simply haven’t been interested.  These are the types of entertainment that I tend to want to enjoy with someone—not just anyone, to paraphrase John Lennon—and I simply have no one with whom I’m interested in sharing such entertainment.  More’s the pity, but there it is, and other such long-in-the-tooth clichés.

The blogs of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo.

Hello and good day, everyone.  It’s Thursday morning, the last Thursday of May (2020 (AD or CE (Gregorian calendar))), and—at least where I live—people are starting to go back to work.  We can only wait and see whether this will be something that large numbers of the population will regret or not, but I can certainly sympathize with their desire.

I haven’t yet written anything for Iterations of Zero this week.  I could post one of a few bits that I’ve already written; I have two pieces primed and ready.  However, those essays are rather dark and somewhat negative; they have a sardonic and grim character, and that’s not what I want to get across right now.  I’m trying very hard to be positive (this despite appallingly wet weather, even by south Florida standards, which is making my chronic back pain flare up something fierce*).

So, instead of using either one of those articles, which I’ll save for later, I think I’ll make a post embedding my five original song “videos”** which are up on YouTube.  I’ve said before, half-jokingly, that I have roughly half-an-album’s-worth of original songs recorded and produced, and I’m inclined to work toward another half, just for shits and giggles.  But it would be nice to have more people tell me what they think about the songs before I put a lot of effort in.  I have received good reviews from those who have listened so far (and they weren’t all family members).  Considering the limitations under which they were made, I think the songs have come out remarkably well.  Still, I’m definitely my own primary audience thus far.

This isn’t so terrible; it’s nice that, just as I enjoy reading my own stories, I also enjoy listening to my own songs.  But I do face a serious obstacle in that I’m built or was trained or raised in such a way as to find self-promotion extremely difficult, and even distasteful.  Some large and loud part of me finds it unseemly to tell people, “Hey, listen to this song that I made,” or even, “Hey, you should read this book that I wrote.”  I’m also terribly embarrassed to be in the same room as someone listening to one of my songs.

I think I would benefit greatly from awakening just a little bit of the Trumpian spirit that must surely lie dormant within me.  When I’m honest with myself, and can push past my cringing, I really do think the songs are pretty good, especially considering what I have to work with***.  And in all honesty, I think my stories and books are quite good, and if it wouldn’t be just supremely cheesy, I’d go on Amazon and rate them each five stars and give them dazzling reviews.  That’s probably what Kanye West or The Donald would do, but I don’t know if I’m capable of it.

Speaking of my books, I’m about seventy pages from finishing the second to last run-through of Unanimity.  This means that the final turn, with layout, cover design, etc., is fast approaching.  I’m tempted to say that I feel like Frodo finally reaching the Plateau of Gorgoroth, but Unanimity is definitely NOT like the One Ring.  That is to say, I don’t consider it a cursed or dark or deadly burden of which I’m eager to be rid.  Quite the contrary, I love it dearly****.  But it has been a helluva journey through spacetime and through mindspace and workspace and whatever other phase space one might conjure to describe the process.  It’s certainly taken longer in proper time than the journey portion of The Lord of the Rings took‡, though the main-arc events of that book, from “A Long-expected Party” even just until “The Scouring of the Shire” last at least a good seventeen or so years, if memory serves.  Correct me if I’m wrong†, please.

With that good and exciting news, I think I’ll wrap things up for the week.  As always, I wish you all the best of all possible things, both short-term and long-term, both deep and shallow.  And though it is true that, if wishes were horses, we’d all be hip deep in horseshit, that wish is nevertheless entirely sincere.

TTFN


*Do you hear that high, plaintive, irritating sound, Mr. Anderson?  That is the sound of the world’s tiniest Stradivarius playing a doleful tune.

**This is in scare quotes because the video portion of these songs is just a fixed shot of the Iterations of Zero symbol.  It’s simply a fact that YouTube is one of the best, most available means by which one can spread an audio file and make it available, in principle, to the largest possible audience, but to use it, you need some kind of “video”.  There is no comparable “YouWoofer” or other stereo-speaker-titled venue for purely audio tracks for people to share, though podcasts are certainly all the rage.  Likewise, Facebook lets one upload videos as one wishes (true to its name, I must admit), but if there’s a way to upload purely audio files to the platform, I’ve yet to discover it.  Ditto for Twitter.

***Cue the “back-alley” doctor scene from Tim Burton’s Batman, in which the nascent Joker first sees his new face.

****And you will, too.  Believe me.  Everyone agrees with me.  No one’s ever done a book like this before.  It’s huge (it really is).

‡Or brandybuck or even gamgee.  Ha ha.

†I know, I know—I?  Wrong?  I!?  Don’t be absurd!

Time and the hour blog through the roughest day

Hello and good morning. Welcome to another Thursday, a reminder that you’ve survived for yet another week.  Congratulations!  You’ve earned the chance to read yet another edition of my weekly blog.

I’ve been thinking about the recurrent and ongoing desire I have to reinvigorate Iterations of Zero, my “other” blog, in which I range over a wider…well, range of topics, many of them darker than what I address here.  I tend to keep this blog, the one you’re reading, focused on my creative writing (books and short stories) and on music when that comes up (though that also appears on IoZ).

One of the biggest obstacles to IoZ is that I imagine that I should write about planned and specific topics there.  When I write this weekly blog, I don’t plan it in advance.  I just write whatever comes out, rather in the way that people have conversations*, and it seems to work nicely.  So, what I intend to try is not to plan what I’m going to write in Iterations of Zero, but simply start writing as I do here, and see what comes out.  Hopefully, I won’t start channeling ancient Lemurians or some similar such nonsense.  I can think of it almost as a kind of free-association psychotherapy…except that I can’t really do it while lying on a leather “couch”.

This won’t clear away every barrier to posting in IoZ.  One of its other main obstacles is time.  I don’t want to sacrifice another weekday morning that could be spent working on my books, since I already miss one of the those a week doing what you’re reading now.  And, despite my exhortations for all of you to send me lots of money so I can become independently wealthy and write full-time, I still have to work for a living, and to commute (yes, I’m back in the office full-time now), so my free time is woefully limited.

I’ve tried various means to get around that problem, including buying a Bluetooth keyboard for my cell phone so I can write blog posts there.  It’s a nifty little gizmo, and it does its job nicely, but it hasn’t seemed to make me any more likely to use my spare moments to write.  I’m much more prone to use them to read blog posts and to check various news and science sites.  I guess I’m going to have to bite the bullet and just tell myself to write something—anything—every Sunday, which is the one day I never use to work on my books**.  We’ll see how it works out, but it can be soooo hard to kick myself into gear on Sundays.

Now, to abruptly shift gears and address another potential time sink: I’ve been considering restarting audio recordings of some of my work.  I have a few published short stories for which I haven’t recorded audio (and thus haven’t posted to YouTube), and of course I only reached Chapter 9 of The Chasm and the Collision before deciding that not enough people were following it to make it worthwhile***.

However, there is real, personal, ego-syntonic joy in reading my stories aloud and posting them for people to listen if they want.  Doing so in the past also helped me learn how to use Audacity, which led to me being able to record and produce my original songs, which is double-plus-good.  So, what I think I may do is put out a few posts here with links/embedding of my short stories’ audio “videos” (one post) and chapters of CatC (another post) to give you all an easy place to link to them, to see if I get any new listens, and to elicit any comments in favor of or against me doing further recordings.

It might also be nice to do a post embedding my song “videos” as well, since I have little bits and pieces of the beginnings of various others bouncing about on paper and in my head and might be pushed toward or away from further efforts by reader/listener response.  But that’s mainly orthogonal to the preceding point.

As for much more important matters, Unanimity continues to draw nearer to its final form.  I’m within a few hundred pages of the end of the penultimate edit!  That might not sound like much, but in a half-a-million-word novel, believe me, it’s getting close to the end.  Of course, the final run-through will be the hardest work since the original writing of the book, but the excitement of being near completion should easily keep me going.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to spread a little of that excitement to all of you.  There are worse contagions to catch, as we all know.

With that, I’ll call this week’s blog installment good and move on to other things.  I hope you’re all well, and that you stay well and become even better over time for as long as you are able.

TTFN


*Some of you may say that this fact is obvious based on the quality of this weekly blog.  You really know how to hurt a guy.

**There’s nothing religious about this; Sunday is just the one day of every week that I never go to official work.  For that reason, it’s also the day I do my laundry, and I can guarantee that there is nothing religious about that process.

***I honestly don’t understand this.  I know I’m biased, but I really love that story—and others have told me they love it also and have thanked me for writing it—and I think that I narrate it well.  Oh, well.

How far that little candle throws its blogs! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

Hello there, good morning, and welcome to yet another Thursday.  It’s the first Thursday of April, and yesterday was “April Fool’s Day,*” but I doubt that many people felt like playing pranks on each other…I know that the ones with whom I interacted showed no signs of such “foolishness”.  To be honest, I’ve personally never seen the fun in pulling pranks on other people, April Fool’s Day or otherwise.

It would have been nice—in a horrible way—to have learned that the global coronavirus pandemic thing had all been a big prank, to be revealed on April 1st, but it’s hard to imagine anyone doing something in such poor taste…even those people involved in government, who are notorious for their tastelessness.

We’ve finally gotten things set up so that, at least part of the time, I’m going to be working from home for the coming days to weeks (hopefully not months!), but since I do records and payroll for my workplace, I’m going to be needing to go in at least part of the week.  That’s not so bad.  If I’m basically the only on in the office, it’s hard to see from whom I could catch the virus, and to whom I could give it.  Also, my training, combined with my already socially withdrawn character, make me somewhat less vulnerable to contagion than many others.

Speaking of the latter, I apologize for the gloomy character of last week’s blog post.  I suppose it can be forgiven—at least I hope so—given the state of things, but still, it’s nicer to try to keep at least a little lighthearted, even in dark times.  And, let’s face it, taking the universe as a whole, at least since the universe was more than three hundred thousand years old, it’s always been “dark times”.

Get it?  If not, don’t feel bad.  It’s not really funny, and not very clever.

Anyway, I did a little “audio blog” yesterday that I’ll be posting on Iterations of Zero, soon, about patriotism, the pledge, the national anthem, the flag, and an aside on seeing a virus as an alien invasion.  It’s more fun than it may sound, and it’s less than ten minutes long—I even do a tiny bit of singing—so when I post it, I invite you to take a listen.

Of course, despite everything, Unanimity continues to draw closer to release—a story about a contagion of an entirely different, and more terrifying, kind than any we’ve seen before.  I feel bad that it’s not already available, because I think it would be quite a nice book to read while stuck inside over the course of a social distancing protocol.  It’s long, at the very least.  Well, what can you do?

If you wish, you can certainly feel free to get copies of Mark Red, Son of Man, or especially The Chasm and the Collision, to help you pass your time.  They, and all my many short stories, are available for Kindle, so you don’t have to leave the house to get and read them!  I’ve even got audio of me reading several short stories and part of CatC on my YouTube channel, and you don’t even need to pay for that (except with advertising or with your YouTube premium subscription…none of that money goes to me, though).  Obviously, of course, there are a squillion other books out there to enjoy when stuck at home.  Number one on my list of recommendations would almost certainly be The Lord of the Rings, for those of you who haven’t already read it, or haven’t reread it recently.  I’m probably going to be picking it up again, myself.  But really, the number of possible books is functionally unlimited**.  Indulge yourselves in what you enjoy when it comes to books, including nonfiction.  Why not?  Written language is the lifeblood of civilization.  Let’s keep it flowing in abundance!

With that, I’ll bid you farewell for the moment.  Do take sensible precautions, look after your elderly and infirm friends and relatives, and look out for each other.  The great strength of humanity is our ability to work together in complex and coordinated ways to do more and better than any collection of people could do each on their own (a process which relies powerfully on symbolic language).  And one of the great motivators of that strength is our ability to care about our fellow humans.  Remember, every other person out there is so much more like you than they are like any other kind of creature in the universe (and vice versa) as to be nearly indistinguishable for any other type of creature.  So be sympathetic and be caring and be careful.  The world is full of sharp corners.

TTFN


*April Fools’ Day?

**Further recommendations are available upon request

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the blogs and outward flourishes, I will be brief. Your noble son is mad…

Okay, well, it’s Thursday, so it’s time for another of my weekly blogs.

Huzzah.

I wrote and posted something on both of my blogs last night—a sort of incoherent, stream-of-consciousness thing that one couldn’t exactly call a rant.  It was more of an…eruption, maybe? No, that sounds too violent and primal and impressive.  Perhaps an excretion?  No, that’s perhaps both a little too gross, and also a little misleading in that it implies the getting rid of waste matter in a way that’s beneficial to the organism.  What I did was nothing quite so positive or so negative.  Maybe one could think of it as a sort of cloudburst, in a sense reminiscent of the Pink Floyd song, Brain Damage:

“And when the cloudbursts thunder in your ear,
you shout and no one seems to hear,
and when the band you’re in starts playing different tunes,
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”

Sort of along those lines.  Maybe.  It’s still probably not quite what I mean, but I’m having a hard time getting at that.

I could of course just direct you to the posting here or on Iterations of Zero, but I woke up in the middle of the night and took it down in both places.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I feel that though it said things I yearn to say and to have heard, in the end I think it will be worse than useless; it will be counterproductive, drawing exactly the sort of response I don’t want, and which will be ever more maddening…whatever that might be.

I’m honestly both conflicted and confused about it.  I wrote what I wrote and posted it because I was feeling at my wit’s end—which is never a long journey for me, as I’m sure you’ll all agree.  And honestly, I was just as much at my wit’s end when I unpublished it, so it’s not as though I thought better of the decision.  I just thought differently.  I didn’t delete it, though, and I may repost it at some later time.  (I can, after all, hardly now choose to repost it at an earlier time.)

I’ve decided, at least for right now, to stop putting pictures at the head of these blog posts.  I’ve been adding them with the rather pathetic intention to try to garner more interest and draw in more readers by having some interesting image accompany my writing, as if that really made much sense.

It’s one thing when pictures are there for a reason, as when a news story is accompanied by photos of the scene that provide context and clarification, or when illustrative figures are included in a scientific discussion.  But if a picture is just something to appeal to the preschooler in all potential readers, to draw them in with a form of click-bait, well…I can do without that.  This is a written blog (except when I’m sharing songs or similar), and writing is what I do on it.  I draw at times in my personal life, but I’ve not shared any of my drawings here, and it’s not what I hope to do, nor is it my primary skill or calling.

Honestly, if people don’t have the patience to read printed words without accompanying pictures, however unnecessary or irrelevant, then I have no use for the world, let alone for such readers.

I may change my mind.

As for other things, well, Unanimity continues at a steady pace.  It’s shrinking and tightening slowly as I edit it, and I think it’s improving thereby.  Whether or not you would agree would depend upon your standards for what constitutes improvement, but since I’m the author, my standards are the ones that apply.  Anyone who doesn’t like it certainly doesn’t have to read it.

I think that’s it for this week.  Not much else is going on.

TTFN

Fie on’t! ah fie! ’tis an unweeded garden, that grows to seed; blogs rank and gross in nature possess it merely.

ulysses

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another Thursday edition of my weekly blog post.  I didn’t sleep well last night—even by my standards—so if I say something even more bizarre or incoherent than usual, I can only apologize and beg you to bear with me.

It’s been a moderately interesting week.  I can honestly say I think I’m finally starting to see some effects of my new depression treatment regimen (not “regime”).  This can’t mean as much to all of you as it does to me, but nonetheless it’s probably a welcome thought for those committed to following this blog.  At least it means—if I’m correct in my assessment—that I’ll be less likely to write quite such dreary things as sometimes drip from my computer when I’m wallowing in the dumps.

I posted an audio smidgen—only about seven minutes long, if memory serves—on Iterations of Zero yesterday, though it was recorded a week ago. People don’t seem to be responding much to those, so I may relegate them to history’s anonymous junk heap and go back to trying to find time to write about such topics instead of simply moaning and groaning aloud about them.  That’s fine, though.  Written language is more efficient.  It’s also the lifeblood of civilization, besides being the love of my life.

I did, though, on a whim whose source I can’t really credit, decide yesterday to start doing audio for my second latest short story Penal Colony.  I had no specific plans for how much to do, but before I’d finished for the day, I’d recorded about forty-seven minutes of unedited audio, getting more than thirty percent through the story (based on Kindle’s reckoning).  I’d forgotten how much I enjoy reading my stories aloud.  I may go back to it in something like earnest (but not like Frank, I don’t like that guy), doing audio for Free Range Meat, and then resuming the audio for The Chasm and the Collision, for which I think I stopped after chapter nine.  Then, who knows, maybe my other books and stories will follow.

It’s gonna be some time before I get to doing audio for Unanimity, though.  Just thinking about it is daunting.

As further evidence of my gradual but hopeful improvement of chronic mood disorder, I sent out copies of the latest version of Unanimity and my partially complete novella with the working title Safety Valve to my sister and to a dear friend from my youth (both of whom share my love of reading), just in case, as I think I put it, something happens to me.  This may seem morbid and not at all non-depressed at first glance, but it’s a departure.  When I’m deeply in the throes of depression, I become almost completely nihilistic at numerous levels, such that I think that if I die, I really don’t care what happens to my writing, no matter how much work has gone into it…and there has been a LOT of work.  Needless to say, if I were to die, I would not then care what happened to my writing, but the me now can care—or not—about things that the nonexistent future me will be unable to choose to care about or not…if that makes any sense.

Anyway, the fact that I did it shows at least some improvement.  It’s still possible that I might do something successfully self-destructive*, but at least I’m acting to prophylax against such occurrences.

As for other things…I’m studiously avoiding following the process of the presidential trial in the Senate.  I already feel a thoroughgoing contempt for pretty much everyone involved in the government—and by extension many of the people who keep electing them—and in my currently improving but still-fragile mood, I just don’t need the exposure to all the stupidity, vanity, ignorance with wings, hubris, manipulation (successful and otherwise), and petty monkey-poop throwing by a collection of supposed public servants who actually serve no one but themselves, and don’t even do that very well.  It’s spectacles such as these that lead me to the calm, resigned feeling that, hey, it’s not such a big loss if humanity, and even the whole planet Earth, just withers and dies.  It’s gonna happen someday anyway; it might as well be sooner rather than later.

I can do without reinforcing that feeling.  It’s already hard enough to argue against it logically; I’d like to curb the emotion.  Otherwise, I might start working on a doomsday machine of my own to see if I can hasten the end.

Don’t worry, don’t worry.  At least as of now, I’m not doing any such thing.

Humanity doesn’t really need my help, do they?

TTFN


*Of course, there are always external dangers to life and limb for us all, and sooner or later they do catch up to us, but I tend to be by far the greatest threat to my own continued existence.

The brain may devise laws for the blog, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree

scream

Okay.  So.  It’s Thursday, and thus it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  Hello, and good morning, and all that chitty chat.

I’m not sure that I have much to say that’s very interesting today, not that I’ll let such a thing stop me.  Nothing much new is going on, as it were, just a lot of the same old same old.  I posted a “karaoke” song on Iterations of Zero over the weekend, and I then (yesterday) posted the audio I did on common misunderstandings of evolutionary theory and some troubles with social media as well, but as far as I can tell, no one has listened to that.  Except me, of course; I listened to it repeatedly during the editing process.  But it’s hard to say whether anyone else has listened to it.

There are tools in WordPress with which to check one’s metrics and clicks and all that, but I have a hard-enough time fitting the writing (or the recording) and editing of these posts into my schedule.  Frankly, it’s a good thing that I have no life, because otherwise I don’t see how I’d get anything done apart from running about like a decapitated chicken.  Yesterday at work, for instance, was one long chain of trying to address problems most of which shouldn’t have existed.  Ironically this involved greater stress than did working as a physician, even in the emergency room of the primary city hospital in the Bronx, since in the latter case at least one was surrounded by and working with motivated, skilled, and intelligent coworkers*.  It’s difficult to overstate how wonderful that can be.

So, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with respect to IoZ and these alternative subjects about which I want to speak and/or write.  I often enjoy the recording of my thoughts (which entails the crystallization and clarification of those thoughts themselves, carried out aloud), but though it’s easier to do the rough draft for audio, the editing is much more onerous than is the editing of a written file.  Also, it’s astonishing how data-inefficient audio is.  I’m seriously considering using voice-to-text on some typical portion of one of the things I posted and seeing how big the Word file is relative to the mp3.  The current draft of Unanimity, which is now just under half a million words, takes up a little more than 1 megabyte of storage.  A simple, compressed audio file can take up more than that amount of memory for only a few minutes of speech.  God help you if you look at a raw wav file or similar.  Don’t even try to think about the size of video files!  It will drive you as mad as an encounter with one of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones.

I guess there was a good reason—probably many of them—for inventing written language.

It’s difficult for me to tell if anyone out there is more interested in listening to audio files than they are in reading my written posts; I’ve received no feedback on the subject, nor any clear and convincing data, one way or the other.  As for me and my house, I prefer reading in one sense, but it’s weirdly easier to fit audio into my schedule (I can listen while commuting, for instance).  Also, many people whose thoughts interest me do a lot more podcasting than they do blogging or writing books or articles.

On the other hand, my hearing is not great…with the exception that I quite literally, constantly hear a very intense and high-pitched “A”** in my right ear.  But that’s tinnitus, and as far as I can tell, it conveys next to no information***.  I’d probably be better off if I just didn’t listen to anything on my commute and eschewed watching videos, except with subtitles and the sound turned down.  I already avoid phone conversations if I can, partly because they are maddeningly noise-ridden****.

So, anyway, if anyone out there has any suggestions about whether you think I’m wasting time with the audio stuff for IoZ, and/or if you prefer it to written matter, or if you have any other comments, I’d appreciate the feedback.  I’m very much talking to myself, otherwise, and I can do that without using the internet.

In other news, Unanimity, at least, is going well, as I hinted above.  The editing process is bearing fruit, which hopefully will be ripe for your consumption and enjoyment in the not-too-distant future.  I’m still enjoying the story, myself, but I’m reaching that excellent stage where I can read what I’ve written and say, “Well, that whole paragraph adds absolutely nothing to the book.  Delete it.”  Stephen King counsels that, when editing, you must be prepared to “kill your darlings,” but honestly, it sometimes feels more like killing cockroaches…which, a reasonable interest in entomology notwithstanding, is not a difficult thing for which to find motivation.

It’s the cleaning up afterward that’s annoying.

TTFN


*I know what you’re thinking:  How did I worm my way into such a work environment?  I have no clear answer for you.

**I know this because I tried to discern what note it was the other day, and then checked my guess against a keyboard, and I was right.  It was an “A”.  At least I can tune a cello any time I need to, no matter where I am.

***Other than the obvious, which is:  “Hey, you’ve got pretty nasty nerve damage in your right ear!  Hey!  HEY!!!  HEEEEEEEEEEEEEYYYY!!!!!!!!!

****To be honest, though, that’s mainly because of anxiety.  Still, when one is already socially awkward, the added problem of trying to decipher someone’s speech without the help of visual cues from body language and lip movement is just that much more problematic.  I suppose video calling might help, but then I’d have to let people look at me, and that’s never a good thing for either party.

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

relessarwithquestions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, I want a pony.

TTFN


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

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

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