Going On the Account: Do You Feel What I Feel?

Originally, I wanted to go with a dumpster fire, but because this year’s been bad enough, well…

I almost didn’t finish this piece I started last week, but after the most recent developments, this doesn’t feel as whiney as it did a few days ago…

No, I’m not really feeling it this year, sorry.

Especially after a year like this one.

Yeah, sure, it’s better than last year. There are way too many ways it could be worse than last year, if we had just a little bit more fascism, thermonuclear weapons, unfamiliar pathogens, societal collapse, take your pick (but please, only one, we’re not that resilient…).

(Yeah, I wrote that before the current whammy, my bad…)

It could be an accident of geography. A local cable news outlet reported on how New York state is in the least festive mood this year, according to an internet service provider’s list. Which, yeah, has all kinds of issues with methodology, so take of that what you will…

You’d think that with some good news as far as some of my writing has gone, with a few bits of news I can share once the ink’s dry, there’d be a more festive feel around here, but no, not really. When I can better share it, I’ll put up links to the works on the “Other Appearances” page.

It could be from trying to do bigger gatherings than we could last year, under less than ideal conditions now. Picture trying to get back up on a bike for the first time in years after your last ride ended with you breaking an arm and leg; you get rusty at things you haven’t done in a while because of bad associations with the task. With a lot of companies still not having workers on site, I feel sorry for anyone in this environment trying to put together a department holiday party.

That’s where my head’s at as I write this: I want to do something to have a holiday, probably in spite of the headwinds, but John Lennon and the Waitresses ain’t doing it for me, and hearing bells this time of year just won’t have the same meaning considering the other occasion you could be ringing them for

So, this year, we need a playlist with a few favorites that still work, along with some pieces that better embody what this season’s given us:

“Oi to the World,” the Vandals:

“Christmas is Coming,” the Payola$:

“Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight,” the Ramones:

“The Little Drummer Boy,” Christopher Lee:

“Santa Dog,” the Residents:

“Don’t Shoot Me Santa,” the Killers:

“Christmas Bop,” T. Rex:

“Father Christmas,” the Kinks:

“Run Rudolph Run,” Chuck Berry:

“I Believe in Father Christmas,” Greg Lake:

And if you still need bells, there’s this mash-up of “Carol of the Bells” and “The Imperial March” from the Star Wars films from Samuel Kim:

Let’s hope next year’s playlist can be a bit cheerier, one that we’re able to listen to when we’re all together in the same indoor space…

Going On The Account: Getting A Little Crowded On The Outside

So while I was procrastinating taking a little break from putting this finishing touches on the end of the novel, I did some catching up on the news, in particular looking for items other than where all our attention has been since Monday afternoon.

On which, I’m not sure I could say anything half as inspiring and relevant as what Patton Oswalt wrote on Facebook.  I’d taken a long walk a few hours after the event and came away from that to the same place he did, but found he’d gotten his thoughts down before I had, and quite eloquently as well; I can’t add anything to this, and recommend you take a few moments to read this.  (And for those who may have problems seeing this through the House of Zuck for some reason, here’s a reprint of Oswalt’s post.)  I can wait for a few while you get yourself centered.

So back to the distractions…  I’ve talked a few times before about pulling together self-pub e-book editions of the works so far, with the thought of joining plenty of other writers who have taken this route.

Which as of now include both David Mamet and Diana Gabaldon.  If big names like these are now going this route, it does sort of justify heading that way, as well as scare you when you realize who you’re now trying to share virtual shelf space with…

Like I really need to feel scared about something else; more to the point, like I really need a distraction right now…

Going On The Account: Blogtober – Testamental

Blogtober, day twenty seven, when we ask the ever-important question:

Just what the hell am I doing?

A few of you are probably saying to yourselves, “So only now is he asking this…?” But the question takes on a whole new dimension after yesterday’s New York Times piece about diaries in the digital age was uploaded.  The were a few things noted by the round table contributors who wrote in that tied in with the Blogtober project that made the timing on the piece perfect for me.

Especially as I was about to run out of content…

The discussion covered a number of points that pertained to what I was dealing with that drew my attention.  One of the chief points involved the connection between blogging and diary keeping, and whether the practice of keeping a diary is attended to today with the same care it was before the Information Revolution.  I’m on the fence on this point (like I am on quite a few), as there are two considerations that need to be kept in mind:

We all have a need to put markers on the field to prove we came through this way.  It’s primal, it’s an inherent compulsion we all have, the same impulse behind our desire to mate, to build an empire, but through an outlet that strokes our minds above all those other organs.  The desire to provide testament, to let others know we were here, that we did walk the earth once, is a strong enticement to put something down by writing it up, whether its on paper, on screen, on the walls of the subway-

-though let me tell you, the penalty for tagging a train these days can be pretty steep…

Balanced with that is how close you want to get to your audience.  I have a few deep things I’d love to offer, but some of those I would probably want to wait until I’m gone to share it.  The problem is, some of the deeper material, I would have to explain that to the millions/ thousands/ hundreds/ scores a couple of people who would read it here and then be upset that something like that was exposed before its time, coming out too early.

Once upon a time, before digital photography, you had pictures being taken on film, which required that that media be developed in a dark room and have a chance to come into focus.  And if the film were exposed to the light before the proper time and conditions were allowed, you ended up with ruined pictures that were nothing like what you wanted to share.

Case in point: Answered Prayers.  Truman Capote called it his “posthumous novel,” in that “either I’m going to kill it, or it’s going to kill me.”

Novel 1, Author 0…

Are bloggers diarists without a cure period?  Are they just columnists (without the value of an editor), or do they do something that goes beyond just the first draft of history as a primary source?

And does it all matter really in the face of Facebook?

Because that was another point brought up in the article of note, that maybe the days of blogging are done with everyone getting on Facebook and relying on sharing their thoughts through status updates.

I admit, I have a presence on there as well, and there’s some content there that doesn’t make it’s way here, sort of like Bill Murray keeping the comedy and drama films separate from each other.

(Though I wish he’d have done a better job of differentiating which were which for his audience; in case you hadn’t gone through this experience yet, don’t expect a lot of laughs from Lost In Translation…)

But with Facebook going through its own self-inflicted threats to itself right now, with the bad reactions to the seven dollar promotion stunt leading to all kinds of tsuris, it may be too soon to write off blogging just yet.

Part of the reason for that is that WordPress.com is getting more social, fulfilling promises Facebook used to make.  The social connectivity routines of WordPress compared to Facebook sometimes feels like the difference between The New Yorker and The New York Daily News; the audience for the former seems smaller, maybe a bit more select, and can discuss the issues in greater detail.

I have enjoyed my times with many of the people I have met through WordPress, and have made some good connections through this confederacy of bloggers.  You can blame two of them, Jen and Speaker7, for this writing stunt, and value the example Susan Rocan offered when she did the blog-a-day marathon last month with more panache than I’ve so far shown.

And while I have also made a lot of good connections through Facebook, as of late it’s been getting harder to hang with my homies at the House of Zuck.  Lately it feels there like I’m at a party where the host looks at you with cold menace because you grimaced after being poured only half a bottle of beer into your glass at the bar; surely you weren’t expecting more than that, were you…?

And because we are all more than just a few links and cute pictures, we will always have a need for a wider canvass, a desire to share more deeply (or at least deeply enough) our thoughts, ideals and dreams.  As long as there are people with something that needs to be said, there will always be means like this to offer such thoughts out there.

There damn well better be, because God only knows how I could shove crap like this into one hundred forty characters

Going On The Account: Blogtober!

So it’s that time of the year again:  The realization hits that the candy for the trick-or-treaters should have been bought last week, preparations are made for the reservations-for-Thanksgiving-versus-missing-the-Lions-and-Cowboys debate to come soon, and of course, the questions about my NaNoWriMo plans keep coming up.


I get less and less of them over the years, thanks to something I wrote back in 2009, but they haven’t entirely stopped.  Like belabored references to zombies and reminders that the GOP went overboard with their ‘Southern Strategy’, they still haunt me like Ben Cortman calling out Robert Neville, asking me why I don’t try and spew 50,000 words on a single plot over the course of the month.  Some say they get a good book out of it, and admittedly, I read one that came through that exercise that was actually worth it.  Not that I don’t have faith in me, but c’mon,  two books ain’t good enough for ya already…?


And then, there was this blogpost by Speaker 7 (who if nothing else deserves a pension for summarizing the 50 Shades series so that none of the rest of us need suffer) noting how she was following the example set by Jen and Tonic, to write one blog post a day during the month  Rather than push for something a little unwieldy and resulting in something potentially toxic (yes, I am hard on myself), this sounded like something more readily managed, and a great encouragement to work some writing muscles without straining and tearing something.


And when I actually mentioned it in passing to both of them, they encouraged me to go along with the madness.  And who am I to say no to them…?


So, starting November 1st, it’s going to be Blogtober!  Every day that month, I will get online and have something to post.  You can expect-
(Hang on a sec:  Thirty days has September, April, June, and ohthankGod…)


You can expect thirty pieces in a row, minimum.  If I burn out, I have chapter announcements that could cover it, but I’ll try not to weasel my way out that way.   I understand my inspirations may try and coast with a few images for their contributions; as I now have photographic equipment that’s been used on the blog before (mainly here and here), I may be able to claim some small virtue if me aim be good and there be a prize afore me…


So yeah, thirty posts, maybe some with pictures, maybe some stuff about writing…  And more than likely, pirates.  Yes, we have our core values, after all.  Heck, at least one piece will be how what happens November 6th is going to impact the Modern Age of Piracy, and there’s a few things mentioned before on the blogroll in passing that could get expanded.

Hang on to your tricorner hats; it’s going to be an interesting Blogtober…

[SFX: Maniacal diabolical chortles]

Going On The Account: Going Out A Youngster…?

I can’t recommend enough going to hosted literary readings.

There’re plenty of reasons to do so, good obvious reasons.  Like hearing the works of people you may know and would love to see done live by the writer.  Or being introduced to new writers in the most direct way possible.

And if you yourself are crazed enough to want to go through the torture of putting words to paper that aren’t your “to do” list, it’s a great way to run into other folk who are doing maybe some of the same stupid things you are because you have a craft to work.

And sometimes, it may take a turn you’d never expect…

Last Tuesday, I attended the monthly New York Review of Science Fiction Readings.   It’d been a while since I’d gone to an event, and I really wanted to be with other writers.  Amazingly, for what’s at its heart a solitary pursuit, there’s a need among writers to reach out to others in the order now and again, for as many reasons as there are items on the list of distractions to grouse about when they pop up and keep your word count down.

One of the things they had there was a table of free works, items the organizers shared with attendees.  And I, wanting to share my own work, had a few ad cards to leave on the table…

That pile of crud all over the streets? Here’s part of the problem…

Oh don’t look at me like that!  The sad truth is, one of the requirements of being a writer is being willing to draw attention to yourself and your work.  If you can’t bite down just hard enough to avoid grinding your teeth (and needing a dentist that your insurance can’t afford) and steel yourself to the task, expect your works to be undiscovered during your lifetime.  And while it sorta-kinda worked out fine for Phillip K. Dick, that’s not what I’d call a career aspiration…

Any event, cards in the table, literally, right.  And things got off to a good start with Aaron Rosenberg reading from his novel TOO SMALL FOR TALL, followed up with a Q and A about his work.  It was turning into a pleasant evening, going as planned.

Until the second writer scheduled called and cancelled at the last minute due to car trouble.

And suddenly, with a big hole in the program and because of a few ad cards out front, I was Peggy Sawyer before Julian Marsh…

So, one WiFi password later, I gave a reading of the first eight chapters of RED JENNY AND THE PIRATES OF BUFFALO.  Really, I had seconds before I knew I was going on, and thankfully I did not screw up that badly.

So what’s the big takeaway from this?  Not the obvious ones, like being willing to put up when you need to, especially if you’re going to share some cheap advertising…

Rather, it’s that you really should try and go to hear authors read their work.  It can be a fulfilling experience, a chance to get to know the person behind the page a lot better.

And you never know what you may get.  Literally…


My thanks to Jim Freund, host of the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings, for being willing to take a risk with me

Going On The Account: Oh, So THAT’S What It Means…

The other day, I got late notice about National Flash Fiction Day, and in the spirit of the event provided my own entry.

For my efforts, I got a nice note from the organizers, who closed with, “Shame you didn’t know until so late, but you are perfectly placed for next year, now!”

And for a moment, I sat there and asked myself, Placed for next year…?

You see, the truth of the matter is, when I heard the term “flash fiction,” I sort of assumed that the descriptive discussed more than just the brief length of the piece.

Silly, right?

I saw the term in context of Peter Denton’s contribution to the day (a good read, BTW), and maybe it was the hour, the mishigas I was in the midst of, whatever it was, I assumed that part of the flash fiction experience involved not just the size of the story, but the speed of competition.


So here I was being asked to do a piece that didn’t allow me my usual process, which meant thinking about something, taking it apart over a few different angles, dealing with the thousands of Necessary Distractions swirling about me, getting to a place physically and emotionally after dealing with all of that (sometimes through ill grace, which I’m trying to cut down on), maybe have a few drinks before I run through a draft, take a break to socialize and play a video game, re-do the draft and apply a little more polish, repeating as necessary, starting over if after a few times it feels way too wrong.  And if you think reading that run on sentence was rough, try living it…


No, I just bolted when I thought there was this need for a piece with a small window before me to get it out there, and I just cut through and set it loose quickly.  And I did it in an expedient seventeen minutes.


So yeah, I’m kind of an idiot as far as understanding what flash fiction is all about.


But still, seventeen minutes from finding an open market to publication, now that’s got to count for something, ain’t it…?

Going On The Account: Writ Larger

The above came from a review of Lives of the Novelists that appeared in today’s NY TIMES, as did this piece about the “writer in the family” (guilty) and, of more important and interest here on deck, this piece on a writer’s output in the era of e-readers.

Yes, even on Mother’s Day, I still got in a lot of reading.  Not that I neglected anyone; I enjoyed spending time with you this morning, Mom, and both Susan and her mother said they had a blast over dinner.

Please excuse the personal notes, they were required.

But anyway,when they go on in the piece about needing to come out with more content, how doing one novel a year is now considered slacking, there’s only one word for that:


That said, there was this line from Julie Bosman’s article:

“I almost feel sorry for authors these days with how much publishers are asking of them,” [Jennifer Enderlin, associate publisher of St. Martin’s Paperbacks] said. “We always say, ‘How about a little novella that we can sell for 99 cents?’ ”

Now that sounds interesting.  Trying to have new writers do what James Patterson does is a bit unfair, as the man is an industry unto himself, after all, but a novella every few months, that sounds doable.  Consider such works like Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener or Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which can tax readers on many levels save for their length; an industrious writer wanting to take “publish or perish” to a harmful conclusion might well be able to meet both the demands of the muse and the sleep cycle by doing one a quarter.

I could just imagine Stephen King releasing Different Seasons if he were writing it today for an electronic market over the course of the year on equinox and solstice as they came up…

Beyond stunt release dates, and yes, I might do something involving folks going on the account to be released every September 19th myself,  there’s the idea of doing shorter works for the price of a good five-and-dime paperback from back in the day.  [Yeah, I’m showing my age…]  It sounds like it might be the way to go, for some projects I’m percolating here; a chance to take things to another level by offering ongoing tales for a nominal fee that’s less than the financial commitment a novel requires.  Sort of meeting in the middle, as it were.

Meanwhile, as for the above graphic:  Let me put a bean on this square, and here, and this one and that one and…


Oh come on, the writers looking at this all thought the same thing, I bet…

Going On The Account: I Read the News Today…

A few brief bits as I read the paper this afternoon, from the NEW YORK TIMES*:

* The piece about how reading fiction is good for your brain.  You’re welcome…

* The piece about Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson’s new book, Why Nations Fail, which gives a new way to look at what makes a country rich.  It’s helpful to refer to this as part of the justification for the current work going online, as well as how it affects a new side project I’ve been working on…

…and no, I’m not going to go into the new work here.   I have a thing about that; the last few times I discussed projects in their embryonic stages, every possible disaster that could have befallen them knocked them offline.  Years ago, I did a panel at what would eventually become known as The Fest for Beatles Fans, where I was encouraged to read the opening of a work in progress that had John Lennon growing up in a Liverpool that had seen Operation Sea Lion.  Soon after the preview, every potential distraction hit me and my ability to commit to the work like taking a shotgun to the face from seven feet away; not a pretty sight, to put a point on it, and the work ended up needing to be abandoned.

So for now, all I have to offer is tantalizing hints until the new piece gets ready to roll out.  And if you see me at The Fest this upcoming weekend, no matter how many times you make me sit through your rendition of “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number),” I will say nothing about the new works.

You want to talk about the stuff that did get published, though, just ask…


*Yes, I read the TIMES, without apology.  I read some of the others on occasion, when necessary, but a whole combination of upbringing/tradition and expectations keeps me a reader here.  In different times, I might have migrated over to the WALL STREET JOURNAL as I got older, but have you seen them lately?  There’s a few unpleasant  utterances you can make at the prospect of becoming a reader of that record now…