For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech, to stir men’s blog

Desert desperado

Hello and good morning!  It’s another Thursday, and therefore time for another blog entry.  In fact, this morning, when activating my computer (which had self-restarted due to one of the seemingly endless “updates” from Windows…which don’t appear to engender any improvement of function whatsoever) I began, by force of habit, to seek out the last point at which I had been editing Unanimity.  Then I caught myself and remembered, “Wait, it’s blog day.”  Those were, as well as I can recall, my actual internal words.  Maybe I should re-christen this day of the week.  Who knows, if my writing eventually comes to influence the wide world enough, we English speakers might cast aside the traditional Norse name, which gives homage to a character now most widely remembered as being played by Chris Hemsworth.*

If I had a hammer…

It’s been a fairly drab and inauspicious week for me.  There’s not much going on that wasn’t doing so already.  I certainly haven’t been keeping up with current events or anything else floating around regular, virtual, or social media.  I occasionally go on the Google News “App”, just to skim through the headlines, but I don’t think I’ve so much as clicked on a single story in well over a week.  I haven’t even been listening to podcasts, or to Audible books, or even to music during my commute.  I just can’t seem to stir any interest in anything, even in books and shows and movies that used to enthrall me.  All this, despite months of ongoing treatment for my dysthymia/depression.

Oh, well, whataya gonna do?  The universe does not bargain, it cuts no special deals, and it makes only one promise to us all.

I have of course, as might be obvious from my comments above, been working steadily on Unanimity.  I’m approaching the end of the book for the second time (really the third, if you count when I wrote it).  Much, much works remains to be done, of course, but I’m still enjoying the story.  Thus, at least one person in the world will do so, and I suppose that’s a good enough reason to have written it.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a difficult time self-promoting, and I’m at least mildly embarrassed bordering on ashamed when I force myself to do it.  At times in the past I’ve rued this character trait of mine, and I’ve wished I could be much more of a sounding brass, but the advents of Kanye West and Donald Trump have reassured me that grandiosity is vastly overrated.**  There’s probably a happy medium somewhere (who runs a successful fortune-telling shop, one presumes), but if there is, I haven’t located it.

I’ve encountered a few germs of ideas for new stories this week—probably short stories—and jotted them down in my memo app, as I do.  That’s always pleasing in at least a small way.  There are many, many such little phrases, sentences, and paragraphs in the that file, but it’s difficult to predict how many of them will eventually become full-fledged stories.

I’ve also been diddling away at musical projects.  As I think I’ve said before, I’ve been working on a rebuild of Breaking Me Down, my personal best musical, or at least lyrical, expression of depression (sounds like a blast, right?).  I’ve learned a thing or two since I first threw it together, and I think it’s definitely improving.  I’ve also been working on a new song, which will be slower and will probably sound moodier than Breaking Me Down, but its words are much more…well, not entirely positive, but at least ambiguous, and its ending is, if not truly uplifting, at least hopeful…I think.

It’s a tough situation where you’re not even clear about the meaning of your own poetry.  Oh, well.

And that’s pretty much all I have to report for the moment.  Apologies if it’s not very gripping, but most days, and most weeks, are ordinary, after all.  I hope you’re all well, and that your futures are very bright indeed…but not so bright as to be blinding.

TTFN


*Not to say he doesn’t do a terrific job.  It’s not easy to make Thor—the comic book character—cool, but he succeeds in spades.

**Especially by the grandiose.

My native English, now I must forgo; and now my blog’s use is to me no more than an unstringed viol…

babel

Guten morgen, buenos días, ohaiyou gozaimasu, and good morning!  It’s another Thursday (or Donnerstag, Jueves, or Mokuyoubi, if you prefer), and time for my weekly blog post.  There’s not much new going on, really…which is partly why I decided to write my greeting in four languages instead of the customary one.  You’ve gotta pad these things out sometimes.

I received an interesting and amusing email from Amazon yesterday, telling me that certain authors whom I follow have released “new” books.  I use scare quotes because the second of that brace of notices was just about the release of a new version of a work by that great writer of graphic novels, Alan Moore, whose numerous works include Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and my favorite, Batman: The Killing Joke.

The first notice, though, was of a new story released by that obscure (but also great?) author, Robert Elessar.  Apparently, at some point in the past, I decided to follow myself as an author on Amazon.  This is unsurprising; I suppose all authors are narcissistic to some degree.  The very notion of writing a story and offering it to other people to read must entail a certain (benign) kind of hubris.  But it is amusing that Amazon doesn’t recognize—or doesn’t bother trying to recognize, more likely—that the person to whom they sent this notice is the author himself.

I suppose names like Alan Moore and Stephen King might be relatively common, when you think about it, and it certainly seems plausible that a person who shared a name with such a noted author might enjoy following their new works.  But there are plain few Robert Elessars out there.  I know.  I’ve checked.  Furthermore, Amazon could easily recognize that the email to which they sent the notice is also associated with my account as an author who publishes through their platform.

Again, I suspect that they don’t bother worrying about such trivialities.  Why should they?  They have a great many, very big fish to fry, after all.

On other matters:  I’ve been pleased with the feedback I received (on Facebook, mainly) for my song, Catechism.  Of course, that’s only made me itch to fix my earlier musical experiments to make them more presentable, as well as to continue working on the new song I have,* but I continue not to want such work to interfere too much with my writing and, more specifically, with my editing.  It would be soooooo lovely if I could release Unanimity before the end of the year, perhaps in time for the Yuletide holiday season.  Halloween would be better, of course—this is hardly a Christmassy story—but that’s almost certainly a pipe dream, unless some benefactor out there is so excited to read it that she or he decides to sponsor my full-time work on the project.

Alas, I have yet to hear from such a person.

I’ve received no feedback, one way or the other, on Free Range Meat.  That’s not unusual, of course.  Even among people who read a particular story and enjoy (or hate) it, very few will write a review, and even fewer will post comments on social media or on blogs.  It’s hard for me to feel justified in grumbling too much about this.  Even I, a firm believer in the value of rating and reviewing products, and especially books, only do it a relative minority of the time.  Modern life is just too busy.

It was easier when we were all hunter-gatherers, wasn’t it?  Sometimes I regret giving up that lifestyle.  Then I remember that no hunter-gatherer culture invented or used written language—and also that none of them invented cardio-thoracic surgery, without which I’d have been unlikely to survive past my early thirties—and I’m more conflicted.  The loss of written language, and all the stories and nonfiction books I’d thus have to give up, would be intolerable.  As for living past my thirties…well, that’s more debatable.  From a certain point of view, once my children were born—and certainly by the time I was forty—I was pretty much dispensable, even to myself.

Oh, well.  John Mellencamp was right about life, wasn’t he?

And on that cheery note, I’ll call it quits for this week.  I hope you’re all well, and that all manner of things are well for you in this most possible of all possible worlds.

TTFN


*The words, melody, and chord structure are basically done—that’s the easy part

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout till you have drenched our teeples, drowned the blogs!

Rain

Good morning, everyone!  Though “good” is relative; I was severely rained upon by a thunderstorm on my way into the office today, so I’m pretty much soaked to the bone as I write this, and I will probably be damp all the way up to quitting time.  Still, if that’s the worst trial I encounter today, I’ll be justified in considering myself lucky.

Today is, as I’m sure you know, another Thursday.  It’s also the first day of August in 2019, and this is my usual, weekly blog post, but as those of you who’ve been following will know, I’ve posted other items since my previous formal posting.  At the end of last week (ish), I released my song Catechism on Iterations of Zero and on my YouTube channel.  Then, earlier this week, I put a video version of it here on my main website, though I haven’t yet put it directly up on my Facebook page.

I must officially issue a caveat:  the “video” portion of the post consists merely of my Iterations of Zero icon.  I promise you, no one wants to watch me performing a song.  In any case, since I played all the several parts myself (recording them at various times before mixing) it’s physically impossible for me to do it.  I suppose, with a little work, I could do a music video that cut between shots of me playing different instruments and singing along with the recorded song (lip-syncing, keyboard-syncing and guitar-syncing, presumably), but I have no good location in which to do such a thing, and the software required to do it well would probably require significant money.  In any case, I’m far from photogenic enough to make it worth anyone’s time to produce such a video.  I know I don’t enjoy looking at my ugly mug, and it’s hard to imagine that anyone else would, either.

The song, Catechism, on the other hand, is not bad to listen to, and I’m a reasonably good singer.  The production/mixing are certainly better than my previous attempts, which leads me to the strong temptation—to which I will no doubt succumb—to remix Breaking Me Down, and probably to redo some of the parts from scratch.  I’ve discovered already, with a bit of tinkering on the original, that by taking the tempo up from 90 beats per minute to 100, I could not only shave about 40 seconds off the piece,* but also make it peppier, which would be good considering how dark the lyrics are.

I’ve also—somewhat frustratingly, though in a good sort of way—found myself driven to begin writing chords and formal music for another old song I’d sort of made up a long time ago.  I imagine this is a little like being a drug addict…as soon as I’m done with the last fix, and despite heartfelt promises to myself and others, I immediately begin working my way toward another one.  It’s a compulsion.  Still, if this is my worst vice,** I can consider myself not only lucky but actually blessed.

Still, my primary addiction remains my writing, and in addition to the musical release, I was true to my word about my latest story.  Free Range Meat is now available on Amazon, in Kindle format only.  For those of you who strongly prefer actual, hard copies of stories to read—and I sympathize with your preference—I can only say that this and all my other Kindle-only “short” stories will eventually be collected into Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which will be available in hard copy.  I don’t know, though, how long it’s going to be before that happens.  Free Range Meat might well be the last story to be included in it, but I might decide to finish my novella (tentatively titled Escape Valve) first and include it as a never-before-published treat, if treat it will be.

But for the time being, my authorial energies will be focused entirely on Unanimity, which is a good thing, since I’m not even three-quarters of the way through its second editing run-through.  No matter how ruthlessly I cut, it’s going to be a long book in its final form.  I still like it, though, which is always a pleasant discovery.  Most importantly, I like the characters, even the “bad guy,” and I hope that readers will like them, too—even the bad guy.  It can be fun, of course, to find an antagonist you really hate, who’s just irredeemable and horrible, so you can feel real joy when (and if) the villain finally gets his*** comeuppance.  But it’s often even more fun to have a villain with whom you can at least empathize and maybe even sympathize, and—from time to time—with whom you can find yourself agreeing against your own will.  Who among us hasn’t occasionally secretly wished that Hannibal Lecter were around to punish certain severely rude people?

Maybe that’s just me.

Well, that’s my weekly update, and it’s been a busy week indeed, marred slightly by a virus of some kind that I’ve been enjoying since Saturday.  I wouldn’t call that a very high price to pay for getting done what I have in the last seven days.

As always, I’d enjoy getting any feedback you might feel like sharing, whether about my story, or about my song, or about anything else that strikes your fancy, in any of the venues which I haunt.  All I ask is that you try to be reasonably polite.

After all, how certain are you that Hannibal Lecter isn’t out there watching?

TTFN


*which is currently longer than Hey Jude but with nary a “Na, na na nanana naaaaah” to be found.

**which I doubt.

***yes, most of my favorite villains are male, which I think is consistent with the real world, though perhaps I’m being sexist.  I tend to like strong (but not quite villainous) female characters, as is probably obvious especially from Mark Red, but also Son of Man, and even The Chasm and the Collision.  This pattern will not be broken in Unanimity.

“And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

mars-landscape-3d-model-obj-fbx-blend-mtl

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another Thursday.  Today’s holiday is rather less prestigious than last week’s:  it’s International Convenience Store Day!  (Actually, I just made that up, but if it isn’t International Convenience Store Day, since in much of the world the date would be written as 11/7 rather than 7/11, then at least it ought to be National Convenience Store Day in the US).

I’m afraid my previous post wasn’t well-read, or at least it wasn’t well-“liked”.  Possibly this is because it was a holiday last week and people didn’t read blogs as much as usual.  Possibly, though, it’s because I was so serious and grumpy about what I was writing.  I do think it’s an important subject, but I guess people didn’t find it gripping.  Maybe it was just so obvious to everyone that it didn’t bear repeating…though given what we see in the nation I somehow doubt that.  Maybe I’m just whining.

That last proposal seems to be the most promising hypothesis.

Of course, I’ve continued to edit Unanimity as well as my short story Free Range Meat.  The latter is close to releasable form, and I’ll probably publish it before the end of July.  Cover design has yet to begin, but I have the general idea in mind, and I don’t think it’ll take much work to accomplish.

I’m pleased to find that I’m continuing to enjoy reading and editing Unanimity.  That doesn’t mean that anyone else will enjoy reading it, but at least it will have one fan in the long run.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I was nervous about this.  As I wrote it, and as it continued to get longer, I occasionally thought to myself that this thing feels like it’s never going to end…and not in a good way.  Rereading it, however, has been pleasurable, and I’m getting quite a lot done.

I particularly enjoy the fact that my villain, who is also sort of the main character, continues to be and act like a likeable, nice guy, even as he does horrific things, and he’s not just pretending.  I don’t know why it tickles me so much, but it does.

In other news, I’m sad to report that I’m still having trouble finding and reading new works of fiction.  Well, “finding” new works of fiction isn’t hard, they’re everywhere, but finding ones that get my attention, and which I can sit down and read and enjoy, has been very difficult for some time, and it seems to be getting worse.  TV and movies, despite the shorter required attention span, have likewise failed to grab my interest.  It’s even hard for me to go back and pick up books that I’ve read and loved before, which is truly bizarre.  When I do like a story, I tend to read it and reread it and reread it, over and over and over again.

As a case in point, when Book 6 of the Harry Potter series came out, I was one of the midnight buyers, and once I bought it, I devoured it rapidly.  I liked it so much that, by the time Book 7 came out, I had read its predecessor a full seven times, not counting the times I listened to the audio book while commuting.  Yet now, though I have the book handily available in my cell phone on Kindle at any time, I feel no urge to read it or any of the other books in the series.  Some of that may be partly due to negative associations; I enjoyed reading and discussing those books with my now-ex-wife, we both having first been introduced to them by our niece.  But that can’t be the whole story—at least I don’t think it is.  After all, I started reading The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, in junior high, if memory serves, and I’ve read those (and the first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever) literally dozens of times, well into adulthood.  (I’m not talking about two dozen, either.)  Yet lately, I can’t get interested in them (nor, in the case of Thomas Covenant, the more recent sequels).

Here’s a particularly troubling case:  I recently was able to force my way through a rereading of Ender’s Game…but I couldn’t even get past the first fifty pages of Speaker for the Dead, which I recall as one of the best books I’ve ever read!

I’m too nervous even to try reading Shakespeare.  And I’m a person who once, in my undergraduate days, deliberately took two Shakespeare courses at the same time (and loved them)!

Bottom line, I’m a serious nerd/geek who has been losing interest in the things about which I am nerdy/geeky.  Even such instant gratification story-types as comic books and manga are hard to focus on.  I don’t have so much as a smidgen of curiosity about Game of Thrones, and I’m sure that in the past I would have been a delighted aficionado of those books and that series.  I haven’t even been able to get through the first season of Stranger Things, and if there’s a series that is more perfectly my kind of story, I’m not aware of it.

Thankfully, I still retain at least some of my ability to be interested in and to read about science, though even that is nothing like it used to be.

Oh, well.  Like I said above, I guess I’m a bit of a whiner.  Hopefully my kvetching isn’t too boring, since this anhedonia does trouble me, and I feel a strong need to share my sense of dismay.  Also, maybe I’m not-so-secretly hoping that some reader will have a magical answer for me, and things will turn around.  If not…well, I don’t even know.

Anyway, enough morosity.  (I know, that’s not a standard word, but I prefer it to “moroseness”, which is a standard word).  The woes and laments of a lonely author, blogger, and aficionado of various forms of fantastic fiction and nonfiction are of little real moment.  It just makes life tiring, and it’s hard for me to summon the energy to move forward.  Thankfully, one of my most enduring traits—unsurprisingly, I guess—is stubbornness.  But all things have their limits.

TTFN

 

For it will come to pass that every bloggart shall be found an ass.

Good day, everyone.  It’s that morning for which you all pine each week:  Thursday morning, the morning on which I (usually) release my weekly blog post.  Rejoice!  You can breathe again.

Okay, well, anyway…I hope everyone in America had a good Memorial Day on Monday.  I always try to avoid saying “a happy Memorial Day,” since the point behind the holiday is to remember with gratitude the many military personnel who’ve fought and died in wars, etc., especially in World War II, and that’s not really a happy thought.

Of course, in a certain sense, we should be happy that these people did what they did—it’s good that the Axis powers didn’t win World War II, even despite the many missteps and mistakes the Allies and former Allies have made in the years since.  On the other hand, though, we can surely all agree that it’s lamentable that such destruction and loss of life was ever necessary.  If you stop and think about it, we should all hope for (and whenever possible, strive toward) a world in which neither heroism nor leadership are necessary, since leadership and heroism are generally required only when things are not going well.  At least, it would be nice to work toward a world in which conflict, leadership, and heroism exist in sports, in books, in movies, and in video games, but not in day to day life.

Is such a world possible?  In principle, I think it is.  In practice, who knows if it will ever happen?  I wouldn’t lay heavy money on it, more’s the pity.

On to lighter, or at least more personal, matters.  I’ve been fiddling around with sound editing/recording/mixing software, and it has continued to distract me a bit from my writing tasks, but not completely.  Though I haven’t written any new pages of Neko/Neneko for over a week, I have been editing away at Unanimity, and I’ve been pleased to find that there are some moving moments in it.  One would hope this was the case in a long novel, of course, but I’ve read a few books in which there are no such experiences.  It’s nice that, at least for the author, the book has some poignant, and goose-bumpy, and thrilling passages.  Hopefully, future readers will agree with my assessment.

I continue to entertain the plan of releasing the three short stories from Welcome to Paradox City as individual Kindle editions, and—in sort of a parallel opposite act—of releasing a collection of my more recent short stories, and possibly doing all of these before Unanimity comes out.  And, of course, before any of that, I’m going to be releasing Free Range Meat, my latest short story.  That should happen fairly soon, as the editing on it is going well, even though it’s only one day a week.

Amidst all these processes, one thing that I’ve fallen off on a bit—and which I was never terribly good about in the first place—is promotion.  Though I’ve never found it natural to advertise myself, I at least periodically used to boost some Facebook ads and the like, and I haven’t done any of that in quite a while.  It’s just contrary to my nature, at least as I am now, to shout out for attention, even when it’s perfectly reasonable, and even necessary, to do so.  Don’t get me wrong, I can certainly be pompous and arrogant in my own right (no, really!), but I’m not very good at talking myself up.  I usually feel that it’s rude to try to push myself into other people’s awareness.  This is not good, of course, for someone who’s trying to get other people to notice and read his books (or listen to his songs, or whatever).  And I myself often lament how much it’s the case that the assholes of the world make far more noise than the benign and positive people.

Of course, one ongoing way in which I do promote myself is by writing this blog (and Iterations of Zero, though that’s more esoteric).  But doing more than that is rather awkward for me.

I often envy the attitude expressed by a moment in “The Simpsons” when Marge flashes back to a two-year-old Bart walking down the hall, banging on a kitchen pot with a spoon and singing, “I am so great!  I am so great!  Everybody loves me, I am so great!”  And, of course, I’m well aware that a key principle of advertising is repetition, even to the point of irritation.  After all, if people are thinking and talking about how much of a pain you are, they’re talking about you.  But it feels like it’s all in such poor taste.

Then again, I write fantasy/sci-fi/horror, and in the latter genre, many things happen which quite a few people would say are in poor taste, or they would be if they really occurred.  Certainly, the fate that befalls the very well-intentioned and positively behaved main character of Free Range Meat could hardly be called a Capra-esque outcome.  Maybe Kafka-esque, but definitely not Capra, and definitely not tasteful.

Tasty?  Maybe.

There, that’s a little teaser for you to whet your appetite.  I can do this promotion thing.  Sure, I can.

Well, I could ramble on and on for much longer than I have, but I’ll save that for another time.  Always leave them wanting more, they say.  I wish for each of you the best of all possible outcomes from your point of view, with only the proviso that it not interfere with the best of all possible outcomes for others from their points of view.

And isn’t that the big problem of crafting a society even of thoroughly well-meaning people?

TTFN

The young and tender wit is turn’d to folly, blasting in the blog…

Hello, good morning, happy Thursday, and—as always—welcome to another edition of my blog.

There’s not much to add today, I’m afraid.  I launched the “final” version of my song “Breaking Me Down” on my Iterations of Zero blog and on my YouTube channel, for what it’s worth.  To the surprise of no one, it doesn’t seem to have been listened to by many people, so far.  I suppose that’s what happens when one puts a song out and no one’s ever heard of the person who made it.  I certainly have no marketing apparatus at my back to try to promote the song, and I would probably rather use such an apparatus to promote my books if I had such a thing.  The song is honestly just for my own self-indulgence, though of course I’d be delighted if anyone listened to it and liked it.

I’ve written only another page or so on Neko/Neneko since last week, and I’ve done a smattering of editing on Unanimity.  Some of this relative dearth of output is due to the fact of my song.  Most of my “free” hours in recent weeks were burned in arranging and playing and singing and producing “Breaking Me Down,” so my usual work—not my day job, obviously—got left by the wayside.  If there exists a person who is actually looking forward to any of my written works in progress—and I doubt that such a person exists—then I apologize.  I can only say that I would be much more motivated to continue working and to go faster if I but heard from you once in a while.  I have accounts on Facebook and Twitter, as well as my two blogs here on WordPress…and, of course, you’re free to leave reviews of my books on Amazon.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Well…I would certainly like to hear from you.

Anyway, that’s more or less all I have to say for this week.  I hope you’re all well, and that you continue to be well, in this most possible of all possible worlds.

TTFN

What is it else? A madness most discreet, A choking blog, and a preserving sweet.

Hello and good morning, all.

I apologize for neither posting nor notifying anyone about my lack of posting last week.  My sister very kindly surprised me by coming in from out of town and visiting, and I spent much of last Thursday enjoying the Miami Zoo, which I’ve never visited before, though I live only a dozen or so miles away.  It was excellent, and there were so few guests at the zoo that day that it felt almost like our own personal menagerie.  At one point, we literally rode the monorail entirely by ourselves.

In some ways, it’s just as well that I didn’t post anything last week, because—as far as writing and editing goes—I’ve been taking a few weeks off.  As I may have mentioned before, I’m working on a new/old song, and the process of putting it together has taken up most of my spare time over the past few weeks, or at least the spare time I would have spent writing.  I say “new/old” because I wrote the original words (about a quarter of which have been changed) and the melody of this song when I was a junior or senior in college, sometime around 1990 or so, I’d guess, but I never did anything with it, and it’s just been floating around in my head ever since.  Of course, it’s entirely possible that, once anyone listens to it, they’ll think that it would have been just as well had it stayed there.

Still, the success (from my point of view) of my composition and recording of “Schrodinger’s Head” and the recording and mixing of a few of my “bad covers” on Iterations of Zero made me think it might be fun finally to make this thing into something actual rather than potential.  Of course, the things I’ve learned while working on this song make me want to go back and redo Schrodinger’s Head, and to make another song that I originally composed in college, and to write a new song about a unique manga character whom I particularly like…but I’ll try not to let all that get in the way of everything else.

We shall see.

In any case, it’s been good to have a little break from Unanimity.  My new song is a long one, but seven and a half minutes of song is quite a bit different from seven and a half hundred pages (and more than half a million words) of novel.  The delay on Free-Range Meat is perhaps less excusable, it being a literally short story, but it can handle the break.  And, of course, Neko/Neneko is a horizon-type project for the moment, in any case.

So, that’s about all the news I have to share today.  I’m juggling many projects that are in various stages of creation and completion, but at least that gives any readers of and/or listeners to my work—if such people exist—much to which to look forward.

In the meantime, I wish you well.

TTFN