Hello and good morning. It’s Thursday, and so it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts. For those of you who are paying attention, I have not (yet) written a post on Iterations of Zero this week. That parenthetical “yet” may yet become a superfluous “yet”, alas, because I recently suffered from a rather nasty gastroenteritis. For the first three or so days of this week, I felt almost literally rotten, and I’m still rather washed out, if you’ll pardon the expression. So, I may have to call this week’s IoZ post a miss, though it pains me to do so after only having done a few weeks’ worth of continuous posting. I may need just to write a very brief entry there as an apology.
I have been able to keep up with editing Unanimity, though the process was rather slower than usual. I’m again approaching the latter part of the story, and as expected, it’s not quite as gripping as it was the first several times. This is good, since it makes me a more ruthless editor, which is a large part of the point of doing it this way. I’ve already trimmed more than twenty-five thousand words from the original draft, but I’m not near my goal yet, so I must be increasingly brutal as time passes.
I have to admit, at the risk of seeming narcissistic, that I tend to enjoy reading my own stories. There’s just something about them; it’s as though the author really knows me.
On the other hand, I continue to have trouble finding other people’s tales—including television and movie fiction—engaging. There are shows and films and books out now that should by all rights be seizing my attention and holding it without ransom, but which barely raise an eyebrow. I can’t even seem to force myself to partake of them. It’s not exactly ennui, but maybe that’s the closest thing to it*. The only stories I’ve been able to focus on lately are the Japanese light novel series whose title is shortened to Oregairo. It’s about a collection of loners (this is not a contradiction), with a narrator who’s particularly misanthropic and cynical, though none of them are hateful or overly pessimistic. Unfortunately, I’ve reached the end of the volumes that have been published in English, and though they’re good books, I’m not likely to reread them anytime soon. This is a glaring departure from my usual pattern for books that I enjoy. God knows how often I’ve read The Lord of the Rings, but it’s been well over thirty times, and even much more so for The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. The Harry Potter books don’t quite reach that level of repetition, but then again, I was already a working and studying adult when they came out. I didn’t have the free reading time on my hands that I had in grade school, junior high, and high school, when I first read LotR and Thomas Covenant.
Unfortunately, I haven’t even had the will or desire in recent years to reread these great classics. I’ve started Tolkien**, but I haven’t even gotten to the end of the first section. Frodo hasn’t even been stabbed on Weathertop yet. I just lost interest. And every time I look at either the hard copy or the digital copy of this or any of the other books to consider reading them, I just kind of feel, “meh”.
I do a bit better with nonfiction, especially science books, including audio books. This is certainly some consolation; I’ve always loved science as much as I’ve loved fiction (though, oddly, only very select science fiction). Even this has its limits, of course, partly because Brian Greene, Sean Carroll, Richard Dawkins and the like can only write so many popular science books so quickly***. I tend to devour them rapidly when they come out. Also, unfortunately, a lot of science books in subjects I enjoy are just rehashing things I already know. One can only so often read some new person’s attempt to explain General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics or Astrophysics or Evolutionary Biology to the layperson, especially when others have already done a better job on the subjects.
I think part of the trouble I have with enjoying new fiction—and even new nonfiction, but to a lesser extent—is that I simply don’t have the people in my life with whom I used to share that joy. Because of that absence, even new potential happiness in reading such stories (or watching such shows, etc.) is tainted and soured. It’s hard to take pleasure looking at photos of—or imagining—sipping cocktails on a tropical beach with one’s estranged significant other or splashing about in the surf with one’s children if one is currently wandering, lost and alone, in a frozen, Antarctic desert.
Not to be melodramatic about it or anything.
In lighter news, I’m thinking of setting up a promotional giveaway of at least electronic versions of my books and/or stories—one per customer—sometime soon…in time for the holidays, perhaps. If I do, word of it will probably appear here, in this very blog, before it appears anywhere else. Indeed, in a certain sense, it just has.
I wish all of you all manner of wellnesses, including ones you’ve never even imagined before, and which certainly I have never had the courage to contemplate. May each of your personal world-lines become ever better with the passage of time.
*It’s almost certainly dysthymia, with its attendant curse anhedonia.
**I’ve even tried rereading The Silmarillion, which I’ve read at least a dozen times in the past. (It’s not as though I could have read it in the future, is it?) No luck.
***Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould have been slacking off lately to an inexcusable degree, in my opinion.