Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Flood of Inspiration

 I think it was either Mel Brooks or Carl Reiner who I heard recount a story about how Sid Caeser used to stand under a shower and metaphorically wash away the stress of life. He said as much himself, so that takes away a little of the suspense of whom it was I heard that from. 

I do the same, except I like to sit in my shower to wind down and gain inspiration for stories. It works every time. 

I invariably do it with less screaming than the above person. Okay, if I were honest, I’d say with only about 10% less screaming. 

What does everyone else do for inspiration?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I Think a Lot About Death, Part 2: The Earnest Edition

"It’s ironic that sad eyes are usually depicted in drawings as tiny smiles over eyes."

As I walked home from work after a particularly long, physically and mentally strenuous workday, I couldn’t avert my stare from the ground. It was as if the weight of the world, of life, pressed down on my head and would not, could not allow me to raise my head and look forward. It’s happened to me before, very recently and very often. I am also often purposely over dramatic.

And before I start on my privileged-first-world-life rant, I know that I don’t have it as bad as many other people, but I don’t think despair discriminates.

I've written about death before, and that time a friend accused it of being a glorified advertisement for my book about, well, death, but this post will be a tad more earnest. Not that my last post about death wasn’t earnest, but I did try to stay positive for positivity's sake, just in case a potential reader of mine would stumble upon that post and think, “I’m not going to read anything by someone this morbid and disturbed.” Of course, when I thought that I didn’t take into account what the subject matter of my first story was. It would then, in fact, be appropriate for me to be a little morbid and disturbed. But now I doubt how many other people, besides the odd (literally) friend here and there, actually read my blog, so I feel a little freer to keep it more forthcoming this time around.

But I do think about death a lot, mostly about ways to reach it. I’m not in any rush, per say, but I do have feelings of general hopelessness that I feel can only be wiped away by offing myself. But, there are reasons why I haven’t done so yet. Let’s go down the list of a couple of the most common ways to do it, shall we:

Death by Hanging: I live in a box, a metaphorical one as well, but I mean it literally. My room does resemble a box and I don’t have many fixtures where I could comfortably hang a noose. I do have a ceiling fan but I don’t think it would support my weight. Not that I’m especially fat, but it doesn’t look like a structurally strong fixture. I’d just end up with a broken ankle at best. Besides, I’m half black and it just seems disrespectful to my ancestors and a tad bit too ironic to take myself out in that manner.

Death by Wrist Cutting and Pill Popping: I don’t know, that just seems like a too juvenile and teenaged way of courting attention. I think the 35-year-old equivalent of pubescent attention seeking is to write a blog post about suicide…

Death by Jumping from High Structures: I’m deathly (PUN!) afraid of heights, so there goes that idea.

Death by Stepping out into Traffic: It just seems a little messy. And if it goes wrong it could leave me paralyzed, unable to try other ways, which would just prove to be counter productive if that was the case.

Death by Auto-erotic Asphyxiation: Let’s just say my mother is lucky that restricting the flow of air to my brain fails to sexually arouse me. I never thought I’d ever write a sentence like that.

Death by Shooting Oneself: I consider myself a pretty liberal guy, and as such I, for the most part, abhor firearms in cases of uses other than filmed fiction. There also seems to be a lengthy background checking process that just seems tiresome. Arguably it would be the last process I would have to go through, but I’m still too lazy to go through all that trouble.

So, the real reason I don’t remove myself from all this perhaps misperceived misery is just simple, good old-fashioned human fear mixed with general human laziness. That, and there’s a new Star Wars on the horizon and there’s now way I can miss that.
But, I jest.

The real reason I don’t do anything brash, as I alluded to previously, is that I believe that my self-induced passing would cause family members and several friends considerable premature emotional distress. Which, I guess, is both weirdly narcissistic, as it suggests that I think everybody cannot bear to be without me because I’m so awesome, and, strangely self-less, as I don’t want to cause anyone emotional pain because of my selfishness, just in case anyone does hold affinity for me.

People have told me I need professional help to ease me through all the mental anguish, and today as I suppressed an urge to irrationally throw a large amount of boiled eggs on the wall in public, I am now forced to believe them. On the other hand, maybe I just spend too much time by myself.

But, as I said, there’s new Star Wars to be seen so, at the very least, I’m fairly confident I‘ll make it to the end of 2015.

And I apologize if this just seemed like cheap ploy for attention––it may very well be––but it is truly what I’m feeling at the moment.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Why my first draft is my final draft

I've read in the past, and a bit in the present, about how the proper way for writers to write is to first throw all of your ideas from your brain onto paper (in 2015, onto a screen) and then figure it all out later on your second, third, fourth, etc., drafts. And while I think that’s fine for people who like to write like a blender, I prefer to analogize my writing style to a puzzle.

Do people do a puzzle by throwing all of the pieces onto a table and start putting random pieces together, hoping that they resemble the end product, then going back and repeating that process three, or four more times until the desired product materializes? No. People tend to start by putting together full parts, a full sky first (the main plot), a full car second (a subplot, perhaps), a full puppy third (characters), etc., then putting the full parts together to create the whole picture.

In the far past, when typewriters and quill pens were the preferred (and only) tools to write with, second and third drafts were the only way to go. You had to toss away drafts at will, and use white-out sparingly to correct mistakes. Remember white-out? The mother of a member of the Monkees made that. Incredible! Hey, remember the Monkees?

Leaving the world of digression…

But in the day of Microsoft Word and Google Doc, we're now able to fix and correct as we write along, the end product often resembling what it is we first had in our minds.

And I when I talk of drafts, I don't mean fixing spelling errors, cleaning up grammar, adding details you might have missed, etc., all things you should totally do at the end, things I don't consider part of a second or third draft. To stick with the puzzle analogy, that’s comparable to when you adhere straggling parts where they fit at the end, corners, a car’s bumper, a puppy’s paw and such.

This isn't advice of any kind––I'm not fit to give any––just how I perceive my writing style. I’d love to hear about all kinds of writing styles. I doubt many of us write the same way. Hell, maybe people do puzzles differently than how I think they do in my mind. I haven't done a physical puzzle in a long while.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My second story, Autonomously Yours, is now on sale!

Good morning, afternoon and evening, depending on where you are in the world. And, it’s a little late, but also, Happy New Year to everyone!

It’s a new year and therefore, it’s time for a new book. I am happy to be releasing my second work, a novella called, Autonomously Yours: The Life of a Compandroid. It’s my first time writing––and completing––anything that’s longer than a short story or a slightly longer short story, so I'm pretty proud of this thing. I’ve no idea of the quality of the story or the writing; that is up to anyone reading it to decide, of course. But I will say that I've had loads of fun creating the characters and the situations and the relationships that make it up, and at the very least I hope that is properly conveyed in some small way.

Give the description a read and if it suits your sensibilities and fancies your flight, please consider giving it a go. It's available as a digital download or in paperback. Thank you. 

"From the author of The Death of Death comes a more mature, technological tale. 

In the future, robots are part of our daily lives. They serve and protect us, they watch our families and keep them safe, they treat us when we're hurt, and they take our orders when we're hungry. There is, though, one untapped market…

Meet Sally. A fully-functioning-female-human-imitation-android, created as a companion for the lonely men of the world, the first of its kind. But, there are problems for her creator.

Robotics engineer Dr. Harold Okamura is finally given an opportunity by Mr. Jerrald Axell, the CEO of a company with dubious intentions, to realize a lifelong ambition: to create a robot that is indistinguishable from a human being. The problem is doing so breaks the first law of modern robotics, an offense punishable by imprisonment. Good thing for Harold, then, Mr. Axell is powerful enough to skirt such laws. But that’s not the only problem on the horizon. In fact, it’s the least of Dr. Okamura’s troubles. 

Before Sally can be brought to market, she has to go through a trial period. Dr. Okamura and his faithful android servant, Cran, monitor Sally as she is tested by three clients––all men of very questionable motives.

Autonomously Yours is a story of relationships, emotions and tragedy, as told, literally, through the eyes of the world’s first Compandroid."


Amazon Kindle Link: Autonomously Yours
Amazon Paperback Link: Autonomously Yours