‘Sblog, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?

pipe

Good morning!  Welcome to the last Thursday of March 2019.

Back in the day, I would have written an episode of “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains” on such a day, but for reasons inexplicable to me, those posts were never popular, and they’re unlikely ever to become a regular thing again.  This makes me sad, but there’s not much I can do about it.

For those of you who’ve been waiting for more “audio blog” entries on Iterations of Zero, don’t get discouraged, even though all I’ve posted there this week were two cheesy recordings of me playing guitar and singing Pink Floyd songs.  I’ll return to the audio blogs, probably by next week, but there are reasons for my diversion.

It all started (as the cliché goes) when I was playing guitar and singing Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely” in my room at home, and for fun I decided to record it on my cell phone.  I was honestly surprised by the sound quality when I listened to it.  This set my wheels spinning, which can be a perilous thing.

I have a fair amount of experience using sound editing software because of the audio I’ve done of my own stories.  I decided to play around with it, and with the surprisingly good smartphone audio; I recorded and mixed the chords, then the vocals, for “Pigs on the Wing” (Part 1).  It came out rather well, I thought, despite my mediocre guitar playing.

Thus encouraged, I decided to do something slightly more complicated.  I recorded three separate parts for “Wish You Were Here,” which is a nice song to do because the guitar automatically sounds pretty, even though it’s not too difficult for a fumbling amateur.

The point of all this, really, was to practice recording before using the software and my two good electric guitars, to work on my own original creation.  As you may know, a while back I posted the lyrics of a song called “Schrodinger’s Head,” which I’d written on a whim after joking around with a coworker about possible band names and first albums.  Since then, I worked out the song’s melody and chord structure (this isn’t difficult, so don’t be impressed) during my regular goofing around on guitar.  Once I knew that I could make pretty darn good recordings using my very ordinary smartphone, and since I had audio software to clean up and mix those recordings…well, I realized that I could—with my cell phone, with a laptop and/or desktop computer, and with my guitar(s) and practice amps—do what would have required lots of expensive studio time and even more expensive equipment back when The Beatles and Pink Floyd were making their greatest works.  I can’t match their musical skills and genius, obviously, but I can, thanks to five decades’ worth of improved technology, do by my lonesome something that could never have been done in the past.

What I have done is to put together rhythm guitar tracks, an intro lead guitar riff, and main vocals for my song.  I’ll be adding other tracks, including more lead guitar, a possible “bass” line, maybe some backup vocals, and whatnot, and I’ll let you hear the result (on Iterations of Zero) when it’s finished.  A few select people—close friends and/or family—have heard what I have so far, and reviews have been encouraging.

Don’t worry; I’m not going to quit my day job.

I’m also not going to quit writing, and I have not slowed down on that.  My novella, which will ultimately lose the title Safety Valve, is coming along steadily, and it continues to surprise me with its weight.  I wrote a scene in it this week that drew from own few experiences of sleep paralysis, and that writing process evoked some of the terror I felt on those occasions, even though I was writing in a brightly lit office.  I hope that at least some of that feeling comes across for the reader in the final product.

Editing, unfortunately, has not been going as quickly as it ought to on either Unanimity or Free-Range Meat.  The latter isn’t such a huge problem, since it’s a truly short story, and should thus be relatively short work.  Unanimity, however, nearly meets the description from “Paperback Writer”:  “It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few.”  I really need to pick up the pace, or it’s going to be a looooong time before it’s ready to publish.

I wish I could devote more time to all this and not need to work to earn my living.  If anyone out there has a big chunk of money they don’t need, and that they’d like to give me so I can write and do other creative things full time, please get in touch.  In the meantime, the rest of you, do please let others know about my writing and my books, if you enjoy them.  And do please rate and review mine and other people’s works when you get the chance.  It really makes a difference.

With that, I think I’ve written enough here this week.  April, Come She Will—before the next time I post here—and I wish you a happy April Fool’s Day in advance.

TTFN

When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding; Sweet bloggers love the spring.

It's spring!

Hello everyone, and welcome to another Thursday.  I hope you’re all doing and feeling well, and also that you’re doing and feeling good.  Here in the northern hemisphere, it’s now Spring!  For those most powerfully affected by the relative duration of the daylight (such as sufferers from seasonal affective disorder), there is ample reason for celebration of these next six months.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been moving steadily ahead with my audio blog on “Iterations of Zero”.  I just finished recording and editing another entry, which I’ll post later today, and which I’ll probably turn into a “video” and put on my YouTube channel by tomorrow at the latest.

I’m enjoying this process, which shouldn’t really surprise me…but it kinda does.  Obviously, I hope that people will listen to these posts and will occasionally find them thought-provoking, and that they’ll perhaps even respond.  But I think even if no one were ever to respond or react, it would still be good for me to get these posts out.  I don’t know if it’s just an odd form of talk therapy, or if it’s something else entirely.  But I do think that speaking one’s thoughts aloud tends to crystallize and clarify them, which is unquestionably beneficial.  Writing does this as well, and in an even more precise and orderly fashion, but that very precision and order makes it at times a greater burden and a more daunting task.  Thus, for the time being at least, I shall continue my experiment in audio blogs.

Of course, I will also continue to write my fiction, which is my oldest and greatest love (not counting love for specific people).

Speaking of fiction—as I was—my novella is coming along well.  Earlier this week I did have to take a day off from everything after I ate what I think was a bad egg roll and found my system rebelling.  It made its displeasure known by sabotaging certain essential services, including fuel intake and waste management.  After much negotiation, though, I think we’re finally approaching a settlement, and my writing has already resumed after only one day of full disruption.

On the editing front, I’m speeding up a bit.  That’s good, because editing Unanimity is no small task.  I haven’t yet done any tidying up of Free-Range Meat (yes, that’s the title of my latest short story), because I wanted to make some good headway on Unanimity first.  Still, before long I will rewrite/edit my short story, and it will soon be published.

The novella will take longer, of course, since I need to finish writing it and then edit it before it can be published.  I may also change its title before I’m done.  The working title, Safety Valve, is fine as far as it goes, but the aspect of the story to which it refers is becoming less prominent as the world of the story takes on greater depth and scope.  There’s much more to it than I expected when I started the story.  It may well tie in with other persons, places, and events in the universe(s) of my fiction, including a planned future work called Changeling in a Shadow World…which in turn will have at least a distant connection to The Chasm and the Collision, and farther back will link to my first completed novel, Ends of the Maelstrom…now lost, alas, to the whips and scorns of time.

Perhaps I’ll find it in my head again someday.

Come to think of it, this novella even bears a distant connection to my horror novel Vagabond, which is also (partially) lost, but which would be easier to reclaim.  We’ll have to see what happens with that.

Bottom line:  there’s so much to do and so little time.  It would all be quicker and easier if I were able truly to write full-time, but I need to make a living and cannot yet do so with my writing alone.

(Hint, hint)

In the meantime, I shall nevertheless continue to write, because it’s the only real reason I bother to make a living in the first place.  I do hope that you enjoy reading my work even a fraction as much as I enjoy writing it.  If so, I shall have done at least some good in the world.

TTFN

For he today that sheds his blog with me, shall be my brother

clock3

Greetings and good wishes.  It’s Thursday, and thus time for a new blog post.  Another week has passed.  It may well still exist in a General Relativistic “block universe,” but that for those of us who live within the perceived flow of time it’s gone forever.

I hope you’re all doing well.  This time next week will be roughly the date of the vernal equinox, after which, in the northern hemisphere, daytime will be longer than nighttime for six months.  That’s something pleasant for most of us to anticipate (I say “most” because, unless I’m mistaken, the majority of the human race lives in the northern hemisphere…please correct me if I’m wrong).  Also, of course, for us Americans who don’t live in Arizona, last Sunday was the morning of “springing forward,” when we move our clocks ahead an hour in obedience to the whims of Daylight Savings Time (for most clocks I use, the computers themselves did that job).

Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday, by the way, so if any of my readers know him, please take a moment to wish him the best and happiest of possible days.  He certainly deserves it; it’s not his fault that he has a sibling like me.

In all seriousness, he’s a heck of a guy.  I think I’m being quite honest in saying that he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.  My parents certainly did an excellent job with my older brother, and before him with my older sister.  I guess by the time I was born they were just too exhausted to keep up the good work.

I’m kidding, of course.  They did just as good a job with me.  It’s simply a brute fact that, every now and then, a factory will produce a lemon, through no fault of anyone who works there.

Speaking of myself—which is mainly what I do here—it’s been interesting to discover how personal my new story (working title: Safety Valve) is.  That’s the one that started out as a simple short story notion, and which I hadn’t really planned to write at this time but decided to do rather than another story that was too similar in genre to its predecessor.  Now, obviously, it’s a story idea that I had, and which I wrote down, so it comes from me, but it’s remarkable to realize how much meat the idea has, and how much it touches the feelings and experiences of my life.  I’m not sure that this will be obvious to the story’s eventual readers, but it really does have a visceral resonance with me that’s quite unexpected.  This may not be entirely a good thing.  It doesn’t make the writing, or the story, especially joyful, but it does make the process gripping…which is good, because the story is far from finished.

At the same time, I’m puttering along on the editing of Unanimity, which is going to be a long process.  I need to pick up the pace a bit.  I also need to start editing Free Range Meat, my most recent short story.  That’s almost certainly going to be my next published bit of fiction, and there’s no good reason for it to take very long.

In other news, my notion to set aside certain moments during the day—my equivalent of “smoke breaks”—to produce blog posts for Iterations of Zero has not panned out as planned.  However, though “you can’t always get what you want,” it turns out that “if you try sometimes, you get what you need” *.  In this case, I decided to do what I’d meant to do in writing for IoZ as audio instead.  I’ve already recorded and edited a highly non-focused first episode.  I’ll be posting it shortly, probably this very day, and I invite anyone who’s interested, and who has roughly a half-hour of idle time, to listen to it.  I’d dearly love some feedback, as I have no idea how good, bad, or ugly it might be.  At least, I have no idea that isn’t colored by my own point of view.

And, speaking of disjointed collections of thoughts—which I was; see for yourself—this week’s blog post seems about done.  Once again, I wish all of you a tremendous surfeit of happiness, a deep and abiding sense of satisfaction, and a statistically implausible amount of good luck.

TTFN


*I forget who said that

But I am constant as the northern star, of whose true-fixed and resting quality there is no fellow in the blogosphere.

Julius

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another installment of my weekly blog.  It’s the first Thursday in March of 2019.  [This is just one of many declarations of the patently obvious that you can often find here.  Enjoy!]

I’ve had a relatively eventful week, at least as far as writing goes.  I think I mentioned last time that I was feeling under the weather; I’m still fighting the tail end of that illness, but it’s on its way out, so I’m not complaining.  Of course, I’ve continued to write my novella, the working title of which is Safety Valve.

Also, I’ve begun editing Unanimity.

I don’t know if I was fooling any of you, but I don’t think I was fooling myself with the occasional thought that I might go beyond the bare minimum break time of a month that I’d set for myself before starting to edit.  Shakespeare wrote that “men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive.  Yet in that number I do know but one that unassailable holds on his rank, unshaked of motion.”  Well…that I am not he, let me a little show it, even in this:  that, though I successfully enforced upon myself the minimum wait that I had required before returning to Unanimity, there was just no way that I was going to hold out any longer than that.

In addition to this blog, and to my fiction writing, I’ve been positively aching to write some “Iterations of Zero” posts…which is to say, discussions of nearly any subject matter in science, politics, philosophy, psychology, etc., that don’t deal directly with my fiction.  There are huge masses of subjects about which I want to comment, from General Relativity to vaccination, to the cosmic perspective about everyday life, to mathematics, and so on and on.

Many such thoughts and ideas are triggered by items I encounter on Facebook.  These are topics about which I want to comment in no uncertain terms, but often I fear that such commentary might hurt the feelings of friends or family.  This is not because I’m especially mean in the way I put things; I try very hard to be polite, and I take no joy in insulting others, generally.  It just happens that, sometimes, when one says what one thinks is the truth, even if one is being careful, one hurt people’s feelings.

Even worse, commenting on memes and posts often initiates back-and-forth discussions, debates, and/or arguments, of a type which can easily become acrimonious…something I find terribly unpleasant.  All of which leads me not even to want to get on social media at all.  Such interactions bring out a very negative side of my personality, and I don’t like that piece of me.

For this reason, I’ve been on Facebook much more intermittently of late.  This is a problem, because Facebook is really my only means of socialization, my only connection with many people who matter to me.  Most importantly, it is my main route of interaction with my daughter.  Yet seeing so much misinformation and disinformation and misunderstanding about topics in which I have expertise—or just about which I have thoughts—without responding can be maddening and depressing.

Perhaps it’s egotistical of me to want to write about such subjects, but I’m okay with that; writing is egotistical to begin with.  So, I’ve decided to try a new approach to how I write nonfiction:

I work in an office in which there are quite a few smokers, and of course, several times throughout the day, smokers tend to step outside for a cigarette…or for whatever they smoke.  That’s fine, that’s their decision, but these are obviously moments in which such people are not, strictly speaking, working.  So, in parity, I’ve created a Word file called, “This is my smoke break” and during periods when others go outside to smoke, I’ll write and/or at least a page a day on some topic on which I want to comment.  Once such a subject gets in decent enough shape that it’s worth sharing with the public, I’ll post it on “Iterations of Zero.”

Hopefully this will help me scratch my itch and keep me able to abstain from comments on Facebook without feeling bad about myself…and will also keep me from feeling bad about myself because I’ve commented on Facebook.  We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, and as always, my primary concern is my fiction, whether writing it or editing it (or promoting it, which I don’t do enough of), and that’s what I’ll continue to work on first thing every day.  I hope you all stick with me through thick and thin, and that you enjoy my already-published and my upcoming works.  Many such journeys are possible, and I hope to bring as many people along for the ride as I can on each of them.

You should buckle up, though.  It can get a bit bumpy, and I’m not the most cautious of pilots.

TTFN

 

It warms the very sickness in my heart, that I shall live and tell him to his teeth, “Thus bloggest thou.”

Good day to you all!

It’s the last day of February in 2019, and it’s another (hopefully happy) Thursday, so it must be time for my weekly blog post.  I’m feeling rather under the weather today, though I’m still going in to work.  Because I’m still a little poorly, I’m probably not going to write all that much this time…though I’ve been wrong about such things before.  Sometimes, once I get writing, it’s hard for me to stop.

Since February will be over tomorrow, I could, in principle, begin rewriting/editing Unanimity, from which I’ve successfully forced myself to take a break this month.  I doubt, however, that I’m going to take up that task on the first occasion on which I could allow myself to do so.  I still have Safety Valve, my novella, to work on; it’s coming along nicely, but it’s definitely going to be longer than a mere short story.  Also, there’s my previous short story to edit and rewrite.  I’m not going to wait until I’ve finished with Unanimity before starting on that task, of course.  That would be madness!  So, what I’ll probably do—this is a tentative plan, by no means a binding commitment—is to continue to write daily on the new material until it’s done, but perhaps to limit myself to one or at most two pages a day, and then use the rest of my writing time on those days to edit.

As for how I’m going to divvy up the editing, I expect that Unanimity is going to dominate my time, with only one to two days a week reserved for the short story and then the novella.  In any case, sometime over the coming months, I expect to publish first my short story, then the novella, then (finally) Unanimity.  There’s much to which to look forward if you’re a follower of my work!  I suppose there’s probably much to which to look forward even if you’re not a follower of my work, but on that subject, I have less information.  Also, if you’re not pedantic about preposition placement, you may very well have much to look forward to.

***

Okay, I just spaced out there for a good five minutes or so, which provides further evidence—if any were needed—that I’m not quite feeling my usual self.  Because of that, I think I’m going to pretty much wrap things up here for today.  I apologize for this post’s brevity, though that may not be unwelcome for many of you, and I apologize for the fact that I really haven’t said much of substance.  I do have all sorts of ideas and urges for articles to be posted on Iterations of Zero, including one explaining some of the basics of general relativity, (triggered by a recent interaction on Facebook), and others that would constitute my response to many of the biases and misconceptions involved in the anti-vaccination movement.  But finding the time and energy to put those out without pilfering both resources from my fiction, and while still keeping up with my “day job”, is daunting.

“Had we but world enough, and time…”*

TTFN


*Side note:  I decided to re-check on this quote, the opening line of Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, and I discovered, to my mild chagrin—but not to my surprise, since there must have been a reason for my decision to check—that for years I have been slightly misquoting the line as “If we had world enough, and time.”  This does not change the sense of the phrase at all, so it’s a misquote of no real import.  Still, I tend to be pedantic about such things, so I’m glad that my unconscious mind drove me to check it out.  Of such minor triumphs is a feeling of self-improvement, real or illusory, constructed.

I would forget it fain, but oh, it presses to my memory, like damnèd guilty deeds to bloggers’ minds.

Hello, good Thursday, and welcome to yet another weekly edition of my blog, that electronic periodical which so many people find so necessary for their ongoing well-being.

I must confess, this morning I almost didn’t write this blog.  I boarded the train, took out my computer, and just started work on my new short story.  From this, you can conclude—if you’re as clever as my readers tend to be—that I am writing a new short story, and that I’m enthusiastic about it.  That conclusion would be correct.  It’s going to be a reasonably short short story, at least for me; after five and half “days” of writing, it’s nearly done, at just a little over twelve-thousand words.  It’s not a deep story; there’s no message to be conveyed, as far as I know…except perhaps to be careful, even if you have the best of intentions, because there are people—and <<things>>—in the world that will take advantage of your beneficence, to your cost.  But most of us learn that lesson early in life.

In any case, I only started this week’s blog entry after I realized—well into the day’s writing—that I was working on the “wrong” project.  Thus, I’ll keep this brief.  If that disappoints you, I apologize.  If you’re gleeful about it, well, why in the world do you read my blog in the first place?

I must say, it feels peculiar not to be working on Unanimity any more for the time being.  At some level, it’s a welcome break; as the old Chicago song says, even lovers need a holiday.  Yet, contrariwise, even the most harried of parents often start to miss their children when they’ve been away to summer camp for a few weeks.

Boy, this bag of mixed metaphors tastes delicious, doesn’t it?

The bottom line is that I’m going to need to exert some effort of will to keep from working on editing Unanimity during the month of February.  I beg you to help me if I falter!

Of course, as you’ve probably seen, Penal Colony is available for purchase for Kindle, and I finally added an entry here for it as well…though I haven’t yet put it in the “My Books” page, since I’m lazy when it comes to little things like that.  I do, of course, invite you to read the story.  If there’s anyone out there who doesn’t want to spend the ninety-nine cents, I offer two alternatives.  First, Penal Colony—like, I think, all my works—is available on Kindle Unlimited, which means you can read it for free if you use that service.  If that isn’t a tenable solution for you, then I offer you this:  if you’re really uncertain that you want to spend the money for my stories, long or short, I offer—at least to the first several people who ask—to buy the story for them (or one of my other stories, if you prefer).  I would need an email address to do this, since a Kindle story purchased for someone else requires an email to which to send a link.  Then, even if it’s your first ever Kindle purchase, you can download the app for free, and see whether or not you like my works.  This has the benefit for me of being both superficially generous and deeply narcissistic at the same time; it’s a win-win scenario.

With that, I think I’ll cut things short for this week, adding only that I may soon start hitting a wall of increasing difficulty with respect to Shakespearean quotes for my weekly blog titles.  It may seem hard to imagine this being an absolute difficulty—Shakespeare wrote an awful lot, after all.  Still, not every line is truly worth quoting, even with Shakespeare (gasp!).  Also, I have to find quotes into which I can work some version of the word “blog”, and that can be somewhat difficult.  But, well…life is hard.  Just know that, if you see me give a post a title such as “Blog Post for February 7th, 2019”, you’ll know that I came up dry that week.

TTFN

I could a tale unfold whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blog…

Well, it feels like the end of an era, but I’m able finally to be able to say that I’ve completed the first draft of Unanimity.  I say, “the end of an era,” because it feels as if it’s the longest I’ve ever worked on anything in my life.  This is not literally true; my horror novel, Vagabond, which I wrote through college and med school, took longer, but that was because I wrote it so sporadically.  I foolishly worked on it only when “inspiration” struck, whatever that even means.  And the first full-length (hand-written) novel I ever wrote, Ends of the Maelstrom, probably took longer as well, for broadly similar reasons.

There’s no denying, however, that Unanimity is the biggest thing I’ve ever written.  At 530,549 words, its first draft is longer than the published version of either It or The Stand.  I don’t know how many days of writing it’s entailed.  I took at least one fairly long hiatus during the middle of the process, to complete various other authorial tasks, but even given that…well, in length, at least, it’s definitely my magnum opus.  So far.

I had no idea when I began it that it was going to be so long.  I don’t often really think in such terms, which is probably good, since I tend to run off at the keyboard.  I love words, I love written language, I love writing stories…and I’m self-indulgent when it comes to those loves.  I hope you’ll be patient with me, but I’ll understand if you’re not.

So, Tuesday I finished the rather melancholy final scene of my novel, and then Wednesday, as you may have noticed, I published Penal Colony, my latest short story (It’s available for purchase in Kindle format, for less than a buck, American).  Having both things happen more or less contemporaneously makes them feel more momentous than they probably are.

Now I must try very hard to take a break from Unanimity, and not to do any rewriting or editing on it for the month of February.  Fortunately, I have two short story ideas eagerly waiting to be written, and I really should finish up In the Shade as well, so I’ll try to get most, or all, of those works done this coming month.  They’re all horror stories—no big surprise—but at least one of them is a slightly jokey, cynical horror story, in which very honorable, morally upright, and laudable impulses and deeds are used against a well-meaning, if slightly self-righteous, person by dark forces.

Such—all too often, and regrettably—is life.

Hopefully, though, we won’t let that stop us.  Dark things and dark people are generally a lot noisier than good things and good people, so sometimes it feels as though they dominate the universe.  Yet the fact that civilization has survived at all, and continued to advance, seems to be mathematical proof that good and creativity are stronger than evil and destruction.  After all, it’s simpler by far to destroy than to create, and yet creation—in the human world—vastly predominates over destruction.  QED.

Sorry about that little digression into philosophy, but I thought it might be warranted.  It would be all too easy, I know, based on the types of things I write, for someone to imagine that I’m a pessimist about human nature, or the universe in general.  I’m not.  Though the second law of thermodynamics is as inescapable as any other mathematical principle, it’s also the source of life, and of our experience of time.  Life—certainly as we know it—can’t exist except where entropy is going from lower to higher.  I’m very much on board with the ideas David Deutsch describes in his wonderful book The Beginning of Infinity There is no guarantee that humanity and our descendants will go on to achieve a cosmic-level civilization, but there doesn’t appear to be any reason it’s not possible.  Whether or not it happens is entirely dependent upon our actions (and a lack of local astronomical catastrophes, of course).

And that’s about enough of all that for now.  I’ll leave you to the rest of your day.  It’s bitterly cold up north, I know, and it’s even relatively chilly down here in south Florida, so wrap up warm, all those who are affected.  Curl up by the fire in a blanket.  Drink a mug of tea, or coffee, or hot chocolate, and read a good book, if you get the chance.  Listen to that cold, bitter wind howling outside, with a chill that seems more than capable of freezing the very flesh from your bones.  It sounds almost alive, doesn’t it?

It sounds almost…hungry.

TTFN