For those of you who follow this blog regularly, you’ll probably be relieved to read that this will almost certainly be the last time I’m going to write, “work on Unanimity is proceeding well.” As predicted, I should be finished with the first draft of that novel by this time next week, barring illness and/or accident. It’s been a long haul, and though the editing and rewriting that follows will surely be a laborious task, at least this stage will be finished. It is, by far, the longest book that I’ve ever written.
In a similar vein, you may also be pleased to learn that I won’t be speaking much more about Penal Colony*, for that story is all but ready to be published. It may well be available by this time next week. In many ways it’s a much lighter-hearted tale than Unanimity, to say nothing of being shorter, but it deals with a few of the same themes and ideas—namely the possibility of insidious threats to personal autonomy, and the possibly illusory nature of such a thing in the first place.
Don’t worry, though, if you don’t like to deal with serious ideas or themes when you read a story. I’m no highbrow literatus at heart, however much I love Shakespeare. One of the problems I often had with literature courses in college was that I never had the knack—or perhaps the interest—for trying to dissect works of fiction for deep meanings and hidden messages. I just read stories to enjoy them. With Shakespeare, at least, I’m darn near sure he wrote to entertain people. This explains why I tended to get better grades in Calculus, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics than in English courses. You didn’t have to try to figure out how to say something the professor thought was insightful, or that agreed with his or her personal take on a given work. In math and science, if you know the material, you pretty much can get the right answer.
So, you don’t need to worry about my stories being unnecessarily complicated or deep. I do, of course, tend automatically to put into them whatever I’m pondering at any given time, as I suspect any author does, and in real life I’ve been told that I tend to invite chaos. But chaos can make for good stories. It’s an odd fact of human nature, but things we like to read, or to watch, or the games we like to play, are rarely what most of us would ever want to experience if we could avoid them. This has been said, and far better, by many others before me.
I plan on taking most of the month of February off from any editing or rewriting Unanimity, following Stephen King’s advice in his book On Writing. We’ll see if I can meet that ideal; I make no guarantees. If I’m able, though, it means that next month will be one in which I can dedicate myself entirely to new stories. I have one or two works of short fiction that I hope to finish in that time. Then will begin the proverbial wading-through-blood of making Unanimity fit to be read by other people.
It’s gonna be a while before that’s done.
In other news: I’m always trying to think of ways to make my parallel blog—Iterations of Zero—work for me and with my schedule, and I may try something new with it. I’m a fan of a few podcasts, and I am also an enthusiastic consumer of Audible books, especially nonfictions ones. My own commute-based listening has convinced me that, however much I want to participate in, promote, and preserve the art and craft of written language, it may be useful to do more audio work, sharing thoughts and ideas that I’d planned eventually to turn into written blog posts. As you know, I’ve done audio (and associated “video”) of three of my short stories and nine chapters of CatC, and I’ve developed a modicum of skill at using the medium, so I may start posting some more audio stuff on IoZ…perhaps starting by reading aloud some posts I’ve written previously. Further bulletins on this as events develop.
Finally, a forewarning: I’m planning, hopefully sooner rather than later, to rewrite the “About Me” section of this blog. I wrote that piece many years ago now, and when I read it now, it just feels like I’m trying too hard. I also left out a fair few of the more unpleasant but pivotal things that have happened to me. I suppose this is understandable, even excusable, but I must remember my above-noted insight that unpleasant stories are often interesting to read. Mainly, though, I just want to be honest about myself, as much as I’m able, and anyone who’s read my fiction can probably tell that a jolly, happy-go-lucky Dr. Pangloss I am not.
Also, if one is open even about the most embarrassing aspects of one’s life, then one need not fear that those events can be used against one, even inadvertently. I’m in some ways fortunate that many of my most damaging personal tales are already matters of public record; my personal darkness is rather well-illuminated. If it contains the sorts of things that would drive you away from me if they were to be revealed later, then by all means, stay away now.
I am what I am, I’m my own special destruction.
But destruction and creation aren’t mutually exclusive, they’re just ways of looking at the processes of change. And at this stage of the universe, embroiled as we are in the long transition from order to entropy, change is something with which you’re just gonna have to deal. It doesn’t ask your permission, it doesn’t need your approval, and it will certainly never seek your forgiveness.
Here’s a peek at the planned cover picture: