For who would bear the whips and scorns of time…the blog’s delay?

Okay, to begin with:  an apology.  I didn’t write a blog post last Thursday because I was sick in bed, and I felt so low and grungy that I wasn’t even up to composing a brief paragraph to let everyone know of my state.  Perhaps I should have, in case any of you were worried about me, or awaited my blog post with bated breath, your happiness intrinsically and inescapably tied to the weekly presence of my words.  If such a person exists anywhere in the multiverse, I apologize especially to that individual (and recommend psychiatric care).

Other than those days in which I accomplished very little due to my illness, I’ve been proceeding at a good pace.  Some improvements in my schedule have given me a bit more time (and energy) in the mornings, so I’ve written slightly more than usual on Unanimity this week—about two thousand words a day.  It’s coming along well; the story arcs toward its climax, which is on the distant horizon at least, if not yet in easy reach.

As followers of the blog (and of my Facebook page and Twitter feed) will know, I haven’t been remiss in recording and posting the audio for the chapters of The Chasm and the Collision.  You can listen to Chapter 6, with the name “Discussion and Encounter”* here, or you can listen to the “video” on YouTube, here.  It’s shorter than the preceding chapters, but new and surprising things are happening to Alex, Meghan, and Simon, and they’ll soon learn much more about the strange events in which they’ve become embroiled.

I’m vaguely embarrassed by some minor recording glitches that happened for a short time in the middle of Chapter 6’s audio.  I did my best to correct them in the edit, and maybe they aren’t noticeable to anyone but me, but I find them annoying.  However, despite that annoyance, the prospect of going back and re-recording those sections was too daunting.  Your enjoyment of the story shouldn’t be diminished by them, but I will try to keep them from happening again.

On other matters, I was a bit surprised (dare I say disappointed?) that the third installment of “My heroes have always been villains” didn’t get more readership than it did.  I would have thought that Hannibal Lecter would be an extremely popular character to discuss, but maybe he’s not in the front of everyone’s minds anymore.  Or perhaps most people know him solely from the movies, and the fact that I focused on the character in the books was too alien an approach.  If anyone has feedback to give, I would certainly welcome it.  In any case, I invite and encourage you to go back and read it, here, if you missed it.

On to still other topics:  looking back, I realize that, with the exception of my author’s notes, and “My heroes have always been villains,” these blog posts tend to have the character of a sort of weekly report, as though I were summarizing my activities for an employer.  Of course, in a sense, those of you who read this, and especially those who buy my books, are my employers, so that’s not an inappropriate format for the posts to take.  Still, some of you may find them unexciting, and if you have any suggestions, please forward them to me here in the comments, or send them to me via Facebook or Twitter.  I’m always interested in getting your feedback.

There’s not much else to report, meanwhile, given that my productivity was impaired a bit this last fortnight.  Unanimity approaches its climax, and once it’s finished I’ll give it a bit of a rest (about a month or so, as per the practice of my role model, Stephen King), before beginning the arduous but rewarding tasks of rewriting and editing.  I already have one short story to write during that break time, and I may end up writing two, because there’s another one that’s been percolating and festering in my brain for ages.  My head, it turns out, is an excellent environment for such festering; I’m just lucky that way.  After that, I will begin my next novel—probably even as I rewrite and edit Unanimity, if I can make that work—which will be called Neko/Neneko.  More on that later, but it’s going to be much more lighthearted than Unanimity, and probably considerably shorter.  At sometime in the not-too-distant future, I really need to work on the second book in the saga of Mark Red.  I don’t want to leave Mark, and especially Morgan (my favorite of my characters so far) alone for too long.  They deserve better.

With that, I will bid you adieu for another week, and this time it really should be just one week.  I’m also going to try to increase the rate of my posting on Iterations of Zero, so keep your eyes on that; I just need to work out effective scheduling for it.  Be well, all of you, and again, feel free to give me your feedback.

TTFN


*This may sound like an inauspicious title, but it’s not always easy to keep finding intense and gripping chapter names for an entire novel.  It’s a pivotal chapter, however, and at the end of it, some very dramatic events occur, so be of good cheer.

They have been at a great feast of languages, and blog’d the scraps

Hello and good day!

It’s Thursday again, and time again for you to endure the ordeal of slogging through my blogging.  I could say that it’s also time for me to slog through the process of writing another blog post, but I rarely think of writing as an ordeal (though sometimes the process of forcing myself to get started can be a minor challenge).

One crucial aspect of writing, of course—if you want to be a good writer, anyway—is that you need to read a lot.  Most of the writers whose work I admire are or have been avid readers.  This makes sense.  One could probably say something analogous about musicians, or about other types of artists:  it’s difficult to know what’s possible, to have a deep grasp of the intricacies of one’s subject, if one doesn’t expose oneself to what other artists have done.  Of course, each person’s bandwidth is limited, as is each person’s interest and exposure, but that’s part of what makes art interesting, and fundamentally stochastic.  Mozart, unfortunately, could never be influenced by the music of the band Yes, but the converse is true, through the accident of historical placement.  I sometimes wonder what Mozart might have done with modern musical instruments and precedents at his disposal, just as I wonder what Shakespeare or Dickens might have written after extensive exposure to the modern world.  We can, unfortunately, only imagine the wonders to be found in “Electric Guitar Concerto No. 4,” or “The Tragedy of Richard Nixon,” or “A Tale of Two Social Media.” Continue reading

This blog post speaks an infinite deal of nothing

Hello and good day.  It’s another Thursday, and time for my weekly blog post.

I honestly have no idea what I’m going to write about today, so as I do with many things—for instance, when I draw pictures—I’m just going to start and see what happens.  This is, perhaps, in some distant way akin to “automatic writing,” except that I see what I write as I write it.  If I didn’t, it’s hard to know just how many typos there would be, but I’m certain that there would be many.  In fact, it would be unreasonable for me to expect anything but gibberish.  One might as well seat the proverbial thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters as engage in that particular experiment.

I guess what I’m doing is actually more akin to the classic, Freudian psychotherapeutic “free association,” in which the patient (that would be me…or should it be, “that would be I”?) just starts speaking and spits out any thought that wanders into his or her mind.  Freud would then interpret these utterances as all having something to do with sex, at least if you believe the common impression of him.

Mind you, that’s not as crazy as it might sound once you think about it.  After all, people do think about sex a lot.  How could it be otherwise?  Each one of us comes from an unbroken line of ancestors who achieved at least one successful sexual coupling.  By “successful”, I mean “leading to offspring which, in turn, achieved sexual maturity and then, themselves, achieved at least one successful sexual coupling…”  You get the idea.  Repeat indefinitely, down through the eons, eventually producing you and me.  None of us comes from ancestors who were virgins or celibates.  Apart from breathing, drinking, and eating, surely the most prominent part of our beings is the sex drive…for good, sound, inescapable biological reasons.

Of course, the difficulty of navigating the phase space of our conflicting drives, emotions, social mores, and legal concerns does lead to problems at times, not the least of which is society’s terrible legacy of discrimination, sexual abuse, misogyny, and so on, and the understandable backlash against them, which can occasionally go too far in the other direction.

I don’t want to get too deeply into that right now.  Suffice it to say that sex is important—it’s essential—but dealing with it in a modern, moral society can be extremely complicated.  That’s just the way the world is, I’m afraid.  If you want to live in a universe with simple dynamics which are susceptible to simple-minded solutions, you’ve picked the wrong universe.  I suggest you move along and try another.

Writing about sex, though, in fiction, can be tricky.  I, at least, am not very good—or at least not very comfortable—with it.  However, there are times when at least the fact of sex is essential to some story that I’m writing, and I at least have to work in the subject matter.  It’s rarely that important what the mechanics of a particular coupling are, so I tend to bring matters up to the point and then cut to the aftermath,* as in both Son of Man and Paradox City.  If you’re reading my works for the dirty parts, you may be slightly disappointed so far.

But don’t lose heart.  I can now tease you with the fact that, in my current novel (Unanimity) there are some more explicit, not-skipped-over sex scenes.  This is not for prurient or commercial reasons (though I’m happy to titillate you to engage your interest), but because they really are necessary parts of the story.  At least, they are necessary in my estimation, and since I’m the author, I’m the one with authority to make such decisions.

Speaking of Unanimity, it’s going well, and I’m excited about it.**  As I’ve been saying for some time, it’s getting closer to the end, but that really goes without saying.  Every word written is closer to the end, which doesn’t necessarily mean the end is near.  Indeed, there is still much more that must happen before the story is finished, and though “journeys end in lovers meeting,” I fear that many of the people in my world will not be meeting lovers at the close of their journey.  Many will not reach the end of the story at all, though they will reach the end of their own stories.  Those who survive will be sadder, but hopefully wiser.

On other matters, the audio for the second chapter of The Chasm and the Collision is nearly complete and should be released by early next week.  I’m having fun making these recordings, and hopefully those of you who listen will have fun listening.  Also, as promised, next week I shall release the second installment in “My heroes have always been villains.”  I haven’t yet decided which villain to explore, though there are oodles of them bouncing about with whom I could entertain myself.  If any of you have requests, by all means—or at least by any available means—let me know.  I can’t promise that I’ll go with your suggestion, but I do promise to take it into consideration.

With that, we’ll call it good for the week.  Despite the fact that I had no idea what to write about, I’ve spewed out about a thousand words in the space of less than forty-five minutes.  Of course, you may think the fact that I had nothing to write about is all too obvious, and that it would have been better had I abstained.  You have every right to think that way.

And I have every right gleefully to ignore you.

TTFN!


*“Afterglow” is probably the term most people would tend to use, but since events in my stories rarely stay glowy and idyllic for long, I think “aftermath” is probably a better word.

**Not because of the sex thing.

My mistress’ blog posts are nothing like the sun

Hello, good morning, and Happy Thursday!  It’s May 31st, 2018.  Within the next 24 hours or so, this month will disappear over the temporal horizon, never to be encountered again.

さようなら。

As those of you who follow this blog will know, the audio of the first chapter of The Chasm and the Collision is now available, both on my blog (here) and via YouTube (here).  I think it’s turning out well, and the relative speed with which I can come out with the chapter-length audios, compared with my far-from-very-short short stories, appeals to my sense of immediate gratification.  It’s also fun to go back into and engage with my novel in a deep, intimate way.  I certainly recommend to all authors out there that you take the time, at some point, to read your works aloud.  At the very least, this will call your attention to awkward phrasing and word choice; you will learn from the experience.

Many people say of good writing that it comes across as if the writer were speaking.  What I think we usually mean when we say this is that the work comes across as we wish people would when speaking, or when speaking at an idealized best—that it combines, you might say, the best aspects of the written and the spoken.  As a lover of the written language, and of language in general, I think that’s tremendous praise.

Of course, as always—sometimes it feels as though it’s literally always—Unanimity is coming along steadily.  I’ve felt weary on many a recent morning, having problems as I do with chronic insomnia, and have often needed to trick myself into writing my daily quota.  You know that trick, if you’ve been following this blog:  telling myself that I’m going to write at least one page, good or bad, something I can usually do in short order.  I almost always end up writing about three pages instead.

I shudder to think of the volume I’d be able to write if I were to do so full time, given how much I’m able to do in my spare time.  Of course, I’m sure there would be diminishing marginal returns if I wrote too much on any given day, and there might even be a tendency to procrastination, but I think I could work around those issues.  It would, at the very least, be worth doing the experiment.  For that to happen, I need enough of you to buy my stories and spread the word about them for me to be able to quite my day job.  Hint, hint.

This provides a rather brutal segue into a preaching topic, and that is the subject of reviews, ratings, and likes.  I encourage all of you—most of whom, I assume, are writers and/or readers—to take the time to give feedback on works that you read and otherwise consume.  This is particularly valuable for those who are struggling to make a name or have an impact, but even at higher levels it’s useful.  It’s useful for the creator, and it’s also useful for those who are considering exploring the creator’s work.  If you read a book that you bought from Amazon, for instance—or even if you’re perusing a book that you’ve already read elsewhere—take a moment to rate it.  I’m not saying you have to write a review, if you’re not so inclined, though those are certainly useful.  But at least give a star rating.  It takes about a second, maybe, and gives feedback for established works and valuable credibility to newcomers.  Similarly, if you see a video on YouTube that you like, “like” it.  Or if you see something shared on social media—Facebook, Twitter, whatever—please take a moment to give it some feedback.  It costs mere instants of your time, but it is of tremendous use and value to those who create and to your fellow consumers.

Also, if you feel so inclined, take a moment to “like” someone’s blog post.

This all can’t help but come across as self-serving…and I won’t lie, it is self-serving as far as that goes.  But it’s not merely self-serving.  If everyone who reads this post were to commit to giving at least brief feedback to other blogs, to videos, to books, etc., but in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, they were to decide never to rate any of my work…well, I’d be disappointed, but I’d still feel that I’d achieved something of value.

Silence is worse than derogation.  The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.  Or, to put it another way, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

That last sentence is clearly an exaggeration, but it makes a valid point.  I know that Thumper’s mom counseled him that, if you can’t say nothin’ nice, you shouldn’t say nothin’ at all, but in many cases, even a “thumbs-down” can be better than no reaction.  Of course, I do beseech you, in general, to keep feedback civil even when not complimentary, for like Hannibal Lecter, I find discourtesy unspeakably ugly.  But, given that minor caveat, I sincerely ask you all, please, to give feedback and/or reviews on those media of which you partake.

Especially mine.

Well, as Forrest Gump might say, that’s all I have to say about that.  I wish you all well.  In two weeks, I shall post my second installment in the “My heroes have always been villains” series, and before that time I shall no doubt release the audio for chapter 2 of CatC.  In the meantime, I will also continue to write on random subjects on my other blog, Iterations of Zero, so feel free to check that out.

I bid you well, and hope for the best for you all.

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.

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor blog post

Hello and good day to you all.

It’s been a reasonably productive week for me, especially considering that I haven’t felt very well.  I didn’t even write an entry for Iterations of Zero last Sunday, but I’m planning on making up for that by publishing two new posts this coming week—one new and one republished from among works that were previously posted here.

On the other hand, Unanimity has been proceeding at an excellent pace.  On Saturday, April 28th, its first draft passed the quarter-million-word mark.  This will be my longest book so far, even after I pare it ruthlessly down in the editing process.  That’s not a bad thing, though—at least I hope it won’t be.  The story will be as long as it must be.  I’m just the messenger; please don’t shoot me (though you can, if you wish, quote MacBeth and call me “Liar and slave!”).  I’m greatly enjoying writing the book, and that has to be my primary criterion for success.  Obviously, I hope that people will read and enjoy the finished product, but even if I knew without any possible doubt that no one would, I think I’d still write it.

The recording of the audio of Hole for a Heart is complete, and the sound-editing process has begun.  I’ve been forced to re-record some of it due to mic malfunctions during the initial reading, which led to terrible static.  Apparently, once or twice while I read, the microphone cord came partly loose.  The result, when looked at on the waveform-layout, is a terrible progression of spikes, and when you listen…well, you won’t listen, because that’s been deleted and re-recorded.  Trust me, you wouldn’t want to hear it.

I did a little more “voice acting” in this story than in its predecessors, because there are more characters interacting, and there’s a bit more drama and emotion in that interaction.  I worry that I might have hammed it up a bit in places, but at least I enjoyed myself.  The story doesn’t have a happy ending, but then again, it’s a horror short story, so it wouldn’t end happily, would it?  Looking back on my published short stories, only one in three seems to have a “happy” ending, and if you go back in time to earlier works, that ratio drops even farther.  My novels, though, are another matter.  They all end up, more or less, with the good guys having triumphed, at least for the time being.

Unanimity will end on a bittersweet note, though.  Oh, of course, the situation will be resolved, and the dangers will be conquered, but the outcome will still be tragic, and the surviving characters will be scarred by their experiences.  This, unfortunately, is just the way things often are—in life as in fiction.

The next novel I plan to write, on the other hand, is going to be much more upbeat, and probably quite a bit shorter.  I’m not sure which of the stories clamoring about in my head will be released after that.  Eventually, I’m going to write a second book, and then a third, in the saga of Mark Red, but I really want to get other things out first before I return to my young demi-vampire and his friend and mentor, the vampire Morgan.  At some point, I expect also to write my prequel to Son of Man, detailing the back story of the character Michael.  That’s a tale that’s been waiting in my head for at least as long as Son of Man waited.

Of course, sooner or later, I’m going to write the story of my beloved characters The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, originally created in idle drawings, and yet other books lie waiting in between.  Thankfully, I write almost every day, unless I’m feeling quite ill.  I’d love to be able honestly to paraphrase Epicurus and say, “When I get a little time, I write books.  If I have any left over, I work to buy food and clothes.”  Unfortunately, in real life, working to make a living takes up a far bigger chunk of my time than writing does.  And then, of course, I have to sleep, alas.

Finally, as I said previously, I am going to start, probably next week, writing my long-planned series on my favorite villains from literature—from novels, to myths, to legends, to comic books, to movies, and beyond.  Often in fiction (and less often, but far too often, in real life), villains are the ones who set a story in motion.  Without Sauron, The Lord of the Rings would not be worth telling, and Harry Potter’s life would be far less gripping (though probably much more pleasant) had there been no Voldemort.  Villains act while the heroes, more or less, simply react, but both of them, when they’re “good”, teach us about the world and about ourselves.  Perhaps more important, reading about them is fun.

On that note, I’ll bring this blog post to a close.  Thank you all for reading, and please be as well as you can possibly be.

TTFN

Since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, this blog post will be brief

Greetings, everyone.  I hope you’re having a good day.  This post should be relatively short, but I thought I’d give a few minor updates.

First, as those of you following this blog will already have noticed, I posted the audio for Prometheus and Chiron here yesterday.  I think it turned out reasonably well, and the sound quality overall was a step up from Ifowonco.  As I’ve said before, I think I’m getting better at audio production as I become more used to the process, but I imagine there will always be room for improvement.

Unanimity is coming along well—I haven’t been slacking on it, even though I’ve been working on these audio projects.  It is, however, going to end up being rather longer than I thought it would be, because there are quite a few more things that need to happen before the story is done.  I’m not bored of it by any means; quite the contrary.  But I have been surprised by how quickly it’s grown.  I’m sure the rewriting/editing process is going to be daunting, but then again, it always is.

I’ve decided that, from now on, I’m not going to stop writing new things (i.e., first drafts of stories), even while I’m editing older material—I’ll just set a lower target every day for the new writing during those times.  For instance, right now, when new writing is essentially my entire focus (excluding the audio), I’m writing roughly three pages a day, five days a week (with two days set aside, one for this blog, and for my other one, Iterations of Zero).  Once I need to get into editing Unanimity (after it’s been set aside for Stephen King’s recommended weeks-long resting period), I’ll plan to write only one new page a day, and then spend the rest of my mornings editing.

That’s the plan, anyway.  Of course, we all know what Rabbi Burns (ha!) said about the best laid plans of mice and men and all that, but I’m not too worried about achieving that goal precisely, just in spirit.

Other matter, other matters…

Now that the audio of Prometheus and Chiron has been released, I’m soon going to upload the video version of that audio to my YouTube channel, and I’ll notify everyone here once it’s up.  As before, don’t expect much from the video portion; it’s likely just going to be a still image of the cover of the story.  I just find that YouTube is an incredibly widespread and easily shared venue in which to post something, including audio.  I’ve noticed that quite a few people make similar videos of the audio of podcasts, for instance.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I often like to go to sleep while listening to a lecture, or discussion, or something of the sort playing on YouTube.  I don’t know how well that would work with my audio—my stories aren’t really designed to ensure restful slumber—but if you think they might, feel free to play them, in either venue.  As I think I’ve said before, I plan on creating audio versions of all my short stories eventually, and then—possibly—releasing audio of at least some of my novels, a chapter at a time.  When that time comes, I’ll gladly take your input on with which book to begin.

There’s not much other news on the writing front this week.  I plan next week to post an author’s note for Hole for a Heart.  That will no doubt rehash some of what I’ve already talked about here when I was writing the story, but it’s going to be far from redundant, I think.  Then I think I really need to get started on my series of explorations of my favorite antagonists from books, stories, graphic novels, comics, movies, etc., under the general heading, “My heroes have always been villains.”  I’ve been intending to do this for a long time—planning it, you might say (see above about plans)—but it’s high time I put it into motion.

That’s about it.  It’s been brief, as I said it would be, but I will post here also just to let everyone know when the Video of the Audio is up, so you won’t feel too short-changed.  In the meantime, try to enjoy (in the northern hemisphere) the slowly developing Spring.  As always, feel free to comment, and thank you for reading.

TTFN!