Saturday, July 18, 2020

A Dog's Eye: Bibliophilia

Ironically, I was talking about books with too many unknown words being hard to read and therefore
not being read. In other words, some readers pick them up because they're interested in the cover, the title or maybe the blurb. Unfortunately, they usually don't continue reading for very long if they find it too hard. Lexical density is one issue, but a preponderance of complex sentences and grammatical variations used by the author for stylistic purposes can also contribute to such a book being put down by some readers. (for example: the sentence you just read.)

I've advised people, specifically non-native speakers of English and children, not to read books which are too hard in this sense. I said it was ironic because I write such books. If you are unfamiliar with my work, I mostly write neo-classical contemporary literary fiction. Damn! I did it again. What is neo-classical contemporary fiction? The answer to that question is not important.* I've made my point sufficiently well in these first two paragraphs to change tact.

This change of tact (or is it tack?) is made possible because I can write. I can change literary gears as easily as breathing. I can choose common words just as easily as rare ones. I can write simple, compound or complex sentences, and blend them perfectly. I can choose formal or informal language, I can say the same thing in a number of different ways, and I'm wickedly adept at metaphor. This isn't boasting. I'm not blowing my own trumpet. Most writers can do exactly what I do and many can do it way better than me.

Anyway, this post was intended to be a long overdue update on my writing. Love Sick Love was published in 2017. In my mind it stands head and shoulders above all my other novels, but a new book is overdue. I always intended to release a book a year; one every two years at most. I'm happy to report the wait is nearly over. Scorpion's Breath is scheduled for release by Rogue Phoenix Press in December. It is the first book in a planned trilogy called the Callumron series. Book Two, titled The Sorcerer's Tusk, is under construction and will hopefully be released next year; to be followed in 2022 by Book Three: Satan's Choppers. At some point over the next couple of years I will begin work on the first draft of my most ambitious novel to date. I love historical fiction, but I've never written an historical fiction novel, so I'm going to do it. The working title for this book, which will be set on the Australian Goldfields during the rush of the early to mid 1850's, is Holy Ground.

In the meantime, during my house sitting days, I wrote a non fiction manuscript called I Used to be an Animal Lover which has the awesome subtitle: a superficial and unscientific zoological memoir. Sadly, I haven't been able to find a publisher for this manuscript. I suspect it is due to the original presentation which was a 100K word multi genre experiment. Feedback from beta readers and editors who have provided sample edits for me in the hopes of securing the gig, suggest it doesn't work in that format. I Used to be an Animal Lover version 2 is now two books. One a memoir and the other an anthology of short fiction. I have enough information and confidence to do what I said I never would. I have just about lined up all my ducks; editor, cover artist and book producer. I'm almost ready to self publish.

There's just one problem. I don't have any money.

However, this is only a problem of perspective. If I don't have the money to publish I Used to be an Animal Lover now, then so be it. If I am never able to do it, so be it. I'll keep writing, and whether I can publish or get published, or once published sell any books, it's okay. It's not the end of the world. I feel okay. I feel safe, and I feel content enough to not be driven mad by the inevitable frustration which results for people who want everything they want...and right now please. Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. I'm finding the more I relax inside God's providence, the less I struggle and the more I accept what I cannot change, the more peaceful I feel, and the more patient I become.

Lastly, I recently sold my short story, A Place of Refuge, for the fourth time. Guess what I did with the money I earned? I bought some books, and some clothes-but who cares about clothes? The books I purchased have been on my Goodreads 'to read' list for quite some time, so I'm very much looking forward to reading them, reviewing them and replacing them on the list with new books of interest.

Where would I be without reading and writing? In a darker, less interesting, less inspiring place where ignorance usurps enlightenment. A place where imagination, creativity, knowledge and wisdom are buried beneath mediocrity, apathy and blindness. A place such as described by Bradbury in his famous 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 in which bibilophilia is considered a disease. The owning and reading of books is a threat to society, resulting in the seizure and burning of books .

Thankfully, I don't live in such a place. I am free to enjoy reading and writing whatever I want, whenever I want. Thank God for that. What are you reading or writing? What would you like to read or write?

Saturday, July 11, 2020

A Dog'e Eye: Facing the Flab

Have you ever looked in the mirror and been forced to shake your head at what you see? Have you ever seen a photo of yourself which you would describe at best as unflattering or at worst horrific? Even traumatizing? Have you had so many ideas flooding your mind you thought you would drown? Have you ever read a blog post with four consecutive questions in the first paragraph?

If you answered yes to at least one of the above questions, then I've found you. You are the person I'm writing to; my target readership. Come in please. Sit down and relax. Would you like a drink? Let's talk about us. Let's chat at length about how we are the same, how we relate. Let's marvel at the way my words express your thoughts and emotions. It's almost as though I can read your mind. You're amazed aren't you? I'm chuffed, seriously. Thank you for saying that. Let me prepare a nutritious snack for you. Would you like a refill on that drink?

I've been self conscious for as long as I've been conscious of consciousness. It started in my teens naturally, as it does for many people when puberty causes strange physical developments and emotional turbulence. I was awkward, gangly, pimply; self conscious but not excessively. I'm less self conscious now, but sometimes, I still care. I still suffer the delusion that other people are watching me, interested in what I'm doing and what I'm wearing.

The mirror is not helping me out much these days. I had to concede last week that I had developed a gut. Photos from a recent day trip to a beautiful natural swimming hole in Litchfield National park confirmed the gut. I can no longer deny it. I simply need to work out how to wear it well. It's not like I'm the only 50 something bloke with a gut, right?

Many ideas for stories, books and marketing of books fill my mind, but I find it hard to make time now. I could, but I acquiesce to circumstances, scribbling the ideas on scraps of paper in the hopes of one day being able to develop them. Before I can give my all to one idea, others invade the space, further diluting my efforts. I only feel occasional anxiety about these things now. My life has changed and is changing. I feel much more relaxed about timing. I feel much more confident that as long as I continue to seek God and praise him, I will always be doing the right thing in the right place, even if that means needing bigger pants and more scraps of paper.

Thinking less about myself and what I want to do seems like a good path to follow. Being patient, grateful and less superficial are all good things so I reckon 'she'll be right mate'. In other words everything will be okay. I'll keep writing in the hopes of connecting with you.