I am determined to prove a villain, and hate the idle pleasures of these blogs.

I am determined to prove a villain, and hate the idle pleasures of these blogs.

facial-reconstruction-Richard-III

Hello and good morning!  It’s the last Thursday of the month, which implies that next Thursday will be the first Thursday of a new month.  Unfortunately, this no longer means that I’ll release a new episode of “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains.”  More’s the pity, but they just didn’t seem to get many readers.  Perhaps people were put off by the title, or maybe people have a trained aversion to admitting that villains are not only necessary to good stories but are also, often, the most interesting and pro-active characters.  I’ve often noted that it is the villains in great stories who make things happen, who try to change the world (often in not-so-good ways, of course), whereas the heroes tend just to react to events.  In this sense, revered inventors, discoverers, and innovators have more in common, personality-wise, with the villains of our tales than with the heroes.

I don’t know what this says about human nature, but I do rue the fact that no one seems to quite get the notions that I try to express in “MHHABV.”  (I’ll rule out the possibility that I’m simply not good enough at conveying those notions.  Let’s not be ridiculous, here).  Thus, I find myself in the shoes of many a villain—the comic-book style ones, anyway—in bemoaning the fact that there seems to be no one else in all the world with the vision, the intellect, the greatness of spirit to recognize and embrace the grandeur of my design!

<<Sigh>>  It’s lonely being a supervillain.  Just ask Thanos, or Dr. Doom, or Hannibal Lecter (but I recommend asking politely).

Tangentially, it’s interesting to wonder if it’s possible to be truly happy and yet to move forward and make profound changes for the better in the world.  Buddhist monks rarely seem motivated to cure (or treat) terrible diseases,* or to invent new products or technologies, or to discover new sciences.  Not to say their activities aren’t worthwhile.  Some of them accomplish real insight into the nature of the human mind.  Still, it’s telling that the end goal of (at least some versions of) Buddhist practice is to achieve a state where you stop being reborn and can finally just frikking die and cease to exist when your time comes.  I can offer anyone with that goal a hugely step-saving strategy.

Of course, I’m caricaturing the teachings of Buddhism and Buddhist monks somewhat; I hardly think I have the final word on this subject.

Speaking of final words, just yesterday I finished the first edit of Unanimity.  Yes, that was just the first one.  Oy.  But still, it was a milestone.  I’ve already trimmed about eleven thousand words from the story, but there’s a long way to go before it’s in publishable form, with lots of little tweaks and corrections to be made.  It’s hard to write a half-a-million-word novel and keep everything perfectly consistent, especially with respect to trivia such as the receptionist’s name in a medical office, whom you forgot you’d introduced once before, and so when you introduce that person again, you use a completely different name, and perhaps even a different personality.  To take just one (purely hypothetical!) example.

Of course, to the surprise of no one who knows me at all, I haven’t come to any conclusion regarding the fate of “Iterations of Zero.”  I would be less conflicted about keeping it going if I could just find the time (and the will) to write in it, or to record “audio blogs”, as regularly as I write here.  But time and will are exquisitely finite resources, even for supervillains like me.  I have to earn a living, doing things that are not nearly so fulfilling, and which bring me into daily contact with…well, certainly with many interesting characters.  In this case, I use the word “interesting” as in the (supposed) Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”  Or, in a similar vein (har), as I’ve often said to patients, “You should try never to be interesting to your doctor.”

I would love to write, etc., full time, and to produce more material of more varied nature, but money’s tight.  Of course, if my books were to become international best-sellers and were made into blockbuster motion pictures, that would help matters tremendously, but that’s not entirely up to me.  I’m too self-effacing (and often self-loathing) to be very good at marketing myself aggressively.  This is in ironic contrast to certain people (some of them in high office) who seem uniquely skilled and talented at polishing the turds that they are and selling those shiny pieces of excrement to people who don’t appear to know better…or who don’t want to know better, which is worse.

Thinking about such things too much can arouse real sympathy for the great villains of literature.

If there’s anyone out there who wishes I had time to write more and who has a lot of money or is brilliant at marketing and has some spare time and wants a challenge, you’re certainly invited to help make my nefarious dreams a reality.  In the meantime, I hope you’re all enjoying the summer.  While you do, though, as I’ll make clear in my short story Free Range Meat, you must remember never to lock your dogs in vehicles, especially on hot, sunny days.  Conversely,** if you encounter a situation in which it seems someone else has done such a thing, you may want to think twice before intervening too aggressively.  Not all is as it seems, and the road to real Hell, as we know, can be paved with the best of intentions.

TTFN


*Physical ones, anyway.  The argument can be made that meditational practices show real promise in treating some psychological maladies.

**Or is it inversely?  Or obversely?

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

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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 thy eternal summer shall not fade nor lose possession of that fair thou blogest

Greetings, good morning, hello, and redundant salutations!  I hereby wish a happy Valentine’s Day to those who have cause to celebrate it.  It’s Thursday morning and time for another of my weekly blog posts.  We’re almost two-thirds of the way through winter—a term that has only limited meaning here in south Florida—and the approach of springtime is becoming at least a plausible hypothesis.

It’s been a productive week, all things considered, at least for me; I can’t speak for anyone else.  On Tuesday morning, I finished the first draft of my latest short story and found I had some time and energy left.  I pulled out the half-finished draft of In the Shade, thinking that I would write on it a bit, but then it occurred to me that it and the story I’d just completed were very much in the same sub-genre.  I didn’t want to work on them so close together, lest I bore my readers and—even worse—myself.  Yet another story I considered writing also was in a vaguely similar vein, though a bit more divergent.  Not to be discouraged, I activated my trusty memo app and read through my jotted-down story ideas.  There I found one that would make for a nice change of pace.  I immediately began writing it, and by yesterday had already produced six pages.

When writing first paragraph of this post, regarding the time of year and today’s holiday, it occurred to me to wonder just why we have a “romantic” celebration during what is, in much of the northern hemisphere, a bitter time of year.  Of course, it’s a recently-invented holiday, not one that’s been celebrated back into antiquity in one form or another, as so many of the major holidays have been.  Perhaps that’s enough of an explanation.  There’s a long, barren stretch of time between New Years and the next big holiday cycle at Easter/Passover, after all (I’m not going to count Saint Patrick’s Day).  And, of course, holidays have great commercial value, with seasonal cards and items always dominating the displays of even pharmacies, let alone malls and department stores.

Still, that doesn’t seem quite adequate to explain the day, and especially not the specific type of holiday that it is.  The middle of February seems to me an odd time to celebrate romance.  I suppose one might say that, in ancestral times, perhaps this was a month in which people tended even more so than usual to huddle together at night for warmth, with a consequent increase in expressions of (ahem) physical affection.  But if there is a historical surge in birth rates in roughly the month of November, such as one might expect if that scenario is right, then I haven’t heard of it.

Perhaps I simply don’t know enough about the history of Valentine’s Day even to hazard a guess.  Isn’t it officially called “Saint Valentine’s Day”?  Was Saint Valentine even a real, formally canonized person, or is he one of those fictional saints one encounters from time to time, like Saint Kitt and Saint Gandalf?

In the era of Google and Wikipedia, I could readily find the answers to these questions if I so chose, and the fact that I haven’t seems to show that I’m not troubled enough to seek them out.  Perhaps at some point I will be.  For now, though, since my resources of time, memory, and energy are finite, I must be choosy about where I spend them.

The fact that I’m halfway through February (as are all of you, at least at the time of this writing) means that I’m halfway through the minimum duration of my post-draft hiatus on Unanimity.  I’ve had little trouble resisting its call so far, mainly because I’ve been writing new stuff.  In fact, I may wait until after I’ve finished and edited and published both of my current short stories before getting back to Unanimity…but, then again, I doubt it.  For commercial/marketing reasons, I think at most I’ll complete the editing and publishing of one of those two stories, then allow a bit of a lag between it and the publication of the next, so there isn’t too big a gap between the release times of any two new works.  Whether or not this matters is difficult for me to tell, but at least it keeps me occupied.

Hmm…this week’s post feels slightly disjointed and unfocused, doesn’t it?  That’s okay, though; they can’t all be gems of clarity and unity.  Sometimes a blog post is just a chance to get out random thoughts and to share a few minor tidbits of news with people who might be interested.  I’m unable to be objective about whether or not a particular form of post is better or worse than others, and opinions and judgments will probably vary from person to person, anyway.  You’re welcome to share your thoughts with me.  In the meantime, stay warm and, if you’re one of those contemptibly lucky people who have good reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day, enjoy it.

TTFN