‘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

You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend blog post, we’ll teach you.

There’s not a whole lot new going on this week, but one thing that is new is that I have begun work on the audio release of The Chasm and the Collision, and it’s proceeding swiftly.  The book’s chapter lengths are generally shorter than my short stories, so the audio for chapter one of CatC is going to end up around forty minutes long.  There will undoubtedly be significantly longer future chapters, but I don’t think any of them are as long as, for instance, Hole for a Heart or Ifowonco, so they’ll be coming out rather more rapidly than have my earlier audio tracks.  Also, I’ve developed increasing skill at creating the audio, and that tends to lead to greater efficiency.  Undoubtedly, I’ll continue to make mistakes, and hopefully I will continue to learn and improve over time.  We shall see.

Unanimity continues to lengthen, though its progress has been slow this week, because my motivation, or my energy level, has been poor.  This is explored in my most recent post in Iterations of Zero, which started out as a simple Facebook status, but which rapidly grew too long for efficient use of that venue.  It deals with the problems, and the ongoing and inescapable danger, of suffering from dysthymia and major depression.  I don’t know whether it’s of use to anyone or not.  Fellow sufferers may at least get some reflective value from it, I’m not sure.  Anyway, because of the problem discussed therein, I haven’t written as much this week on Unanimity as I tend to do when at my best.

This is where my ongoing, habitual commitment (which I’ve described here before) kicks in.  Even on those mornings on which I don’t feel like doing much of anything—most mornings, when it comes down to it—I tell myself, “All right, you don’t have to write much, but at least write one page.”  This is a reasonably non-daunting task, since I write very quickly once I get started, and it almost always leads me to write at least two pages, and sometimes more.  It’s easier to keep working once I’ve forced myself to get started.  In fact, it’s often hard to stop, because I don’t want to quit before I’ve reached a good pausing point, from which I’ll be able to pick up again next day, and I also want to complete whatever chain of narrative is prominent in my head that day.

A related ethic has led to the continued production of the aforementioned audio for CatC.  I committed to recording at least some of it every day, and that led rapidly to the complete recording of the chapter.  In fact, it only took two recording sessions.  Now, I’m working on the editing, which, thanks to skills I’ve developed over time, is going more quickly than it would have in the past.

I’ve tacitly decided that I’m going to do my blog series, “My heroes have always been villains,” on a once-a-month basis, on the second Thursday of each month.  If you’re looking forward to the next installment of that series, you now know when you can reliably expect it to come out; I tend to be rather compulsive about plans of that sort, barring events that make me unable to write at all.  These are always possible for anyone, and are more possible for me, given the difficulties I describe in my IoZ post, “A daily game of roulette.”  I wish I could be more optimistic about such things, but to be more optimistic about my optimism would require me to have a more optimistic starting point in the first place.  Instead, my main proactive force, the thing that keeps me pushing forward, is simply a profound and often maddening (to other people, at least) stubbornness.

With that, I think we have enough for this week.  I’ll almost certainly be posting my next audio file before the next regular blog post, and I’ll spread news of that on social media, so notification should be easy to get.  My daily writing continues, as it ought to do (by definition), and the first draft of Unanimity will be finished before long—probably before the end of summer, though certainly not before its beginning.

I hope you all stay well, and try to improve every day, in at least small ways.  If you happen to know someone who struggles with depression—and it’s not possible to have depression without a struggle—please reach out to them and show support.  They are often entirely incapable of helping themselves, because the very part of their being which would do or even motivate that helping is what the illness debilitates.  They may not feel that they’re worth saving, but if you do, then it’s going to be up to you to do it.  It’s said to be difficult to provide psychotherapy for sociopaths because they don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with themselves.  In depression, the problem is a little different:  it can be difficult to help this disease’s victims because they often, quite literally, think that they do not deserve help, and that your time would be vastly better spent on other people and causes.  You should judge for yourself.

TTFN.

Short stories, audio, and video, oh my!

The Headless Horseman

Konnichiwa, minna.

I’ve been making excellent progress on my new short story, tentatively titled “Hole for a Heart.”  It’s now about twenty-four pages long in draft form, and—I think—is well over halfway finished.  This is good, because I want to have it ready for you all to read in time for Halloween, since it is a horror story with a good, Halloweeney feel.  Fortunately, as I’ve said before, I tend to write quickly, if I just commit myself to the task.  I don’t know if that ends up meaning that I write well; it’s impossible for me to be objective about my own writing, so I can only say whether I like the story or not.  Thankfully, I almost always do. Continue reading

An update on short stories, audio, and video

Okay, well…let’s get to today’s business.

As I’ve written here previously, I’m currently taking a short break from working on “Unanimity,” because a horror story—one that had begun with only a vague notion and image—abruptly crystallized in my head, just in time for October, and I decided that I must write that story.  It’s now well underway, roughly twelve pages long, so far.  I’m quite excited about it, and hopefully some of you will be, as well, when it’s finished.  It will be ready well in time for Halloween (barring the unforeseen, which, curiously, rhymes with Halloween).

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten my intention to create an audio file of me reading some of my writing, as I did with the article, “The Idolatry of the American Flag.”  The audio on that has its issues—I think I was too close to the mic when I recorded it, so you can hear me smacking my lips and spitting and whatnot.  Who knows, maybe some people enjoy that, and were grateful to hear an audio file that had it.  If you’re such a person:  “You’re welcome.”

For everyone else, however, I am learning, practicing, and experimenting, and I expect steadily, if not swiftly, to improve.  In fact, I’ve already begun to read aloud my short story, “Prometheus and Chiron,” which, despite what you might think (reasonably enough), neither contains nor refers to either of those two mythological figures, and in fact, takes place in the modern world.  I know, I know, it’s a pretentious, misleading title.  That’s what I do.  Nay, that’s who I am.

In any case, the plan remains to use that story as my first fiction audio, but even as I started playing with it, I learned an interesting fact:  when one begins to read one’s works aloud, one encounters bits of prose that, while perfectly acceptable on the printed page, must be wrung off the tongue awkwardly when spoken.  This inspired me to go through the entire story doing some additional editing and rewriting, which is a rewarding experience in its own right.  I suspect that no writer is ever perfectly satisfied with all the details of any tale that he or she has written—or perhaps I’m atypical in this—and one of the great advantages of putting stories up on my blog is that I can still improve them after the fact.  Once they’re out in the wide world in books and other venues, it becomes both much more mortifying and much more laborious to fix them.

Anyway…

To make a long story slightly longer, the point is that I am going to do that recording of “Prometheus and Chiron,” and I will release it here, on this blog, rather than on Iterations of Zero, simply because the latter is not about fiction, whereas this site is.  I’m pretty excited about the process, and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to me read my own fiction.  I may be an egotist, but I don’t think that anyone else could do a better job than I can at that task—at least, not anyone else who wouldn’t cost a lot of money.  I’m pretty sure that Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen would blow me away, but they both spend most of their time reading that Shakespeare guy, just because he’s from the same country as they.  It’s blatant nationalistic favoritism, and I’m shocked that the Social Justice Police haven’t made any noises about such things.

Again:  anyway…

Once I make that recording and place it on this site, I beseech you to give me feedback, even if it’s just to say, “Hey, I listened to it,” or “Your voice sounds stupid.”  I would just love to hear from you in some form.

Even if you don’t get back to me, though, I intend next (probably) to read “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,” and to upload that audio, though I think I would probably read that story in two parts.  I already know right where I’d split it.  But I may also do a bit of reading of the first draft of the beginning of “Unanimity,” sort of as a teaser, and that might come before the next short story.  We’ll have to see.

I’m also going to make more videos here and there, though those tend to require a bit more guts on my part, because I’m not all that pleased to see my mug on the screen.  They can be fun, however, and there are certain subjects that simply lend themselves to the format.  Rants, in general, are often worthy of the full, holistic experience of the ranter (or is that rantor?).

Speaking of ranting, I think that I’ve probably said enough about the few subjects I wanted to cover today.  The audio is coming, my new short story is going swimmingly, and my video projects loom, while behind them, unabated in its potency, lies “Unanimity.”  And I already know which book I mean to write after that, though I suppose I might change my mind.

Life may not always be good, but at least it’s interesting.

TTFN.