Monday, September 28, 2020

A Dog's Eye: Centimetering closer

It's not even a word, you know. Centimetering. And to make it a word, I have to use the US spelling of metre which is meter, otherwise it reads as metring. This doesn't seem important. In fact, it seems I might be writing a blog post for the sake of it; without any real propulsion via innovative thought. That might be the case. I can certainly see how it might be perceived that way, but perhaps I'm trying to say something really profound. I usually do. At least I usually try to be thought provoking.

Okay, it's time to drop the pretense. On this occasion, I really don't have anything to say, so I'm using a writing technique which has always existed, but more recently become known as pantsing. Many of you will recall that in your school days pantsing was the act of pulling down another person's pants in order to embarrass them. Nowadays, this is considered sexual harassment. Pantsing in writing is the act, someone would say the 'art' of writing with no fixed plot or resolution in mind. In this context, the term itself was born from the expression to fly by the seat of your pants. Whether, I'm working a novel, a short story or a blog post, I don't usually pants it. However, on this occasion I am, but let me explain how I am going to tie these loose threads together.

There are times when life appears to move forward gently and uneventfully. This movement may be rapid, but it won't be perceived that way. There'll be no sense of the frantic, chaotic, full of surprises type of adventure. Things will seem relatively peaceful, not dull or devoid of activity, but steady and manageable. In my experience, it's not typical for life to meander. In my in between period, while I was waiting for my wife to be given permission to move to Australia, I was far less busy than I am now, but life still moved along quite steadily. I had less to do, and more time to do it. I wasn't necessarily anymore or less relaxed or peaceful. She and the children have been here for nine months now. Just like that. Life is much busier and time appears to be moving quickly, but not more or less quickly than it was before.

mpus fugit when you're having fun" is merely a matter of perception. If you concentrate, you can slow down and enjoy what might ordinarily be a blip on the radar of time. You can advance towards the future at a more comfortable and leisurely pace. When something progresses slowly, incrementally we say it inches forward. The problem with that saying is that it's a bit of an anachronism because we've been using the metric system in Australia since 1966.

So, I'll say life is centimetering forward because I choose it to do so. I don't wish away every moment of drudgery so I can get to the next thrill. I don't start work on Monday, gloomy, then proclaim the joy of Friday. Even when I am sick, as I am now, I'm careful not to wish the time away.

Time is one of the many areas impacting on our lives over which we have limited control. I can't create more of it. I have as much of it as I have which is the same as everyone: twenty four hours a day, seven days a week etc. I can make some things happen faster. For example, I can set my alarm and wake up earlier, then brush my teeth faster, but I haven't created more time, I've simply created more space within the time I have to do something else. My attitude can also affect the perceived passage of time.

Scorpion's Breath
will be released in December. I'm slowly working on the sequel, The Sorcerer's Tusk. I had to shelve plans to publish I Used to be an Animal Lover which I thought, and still think is a great idea, but nobody else did and without any money, I can't proceed with self publishing. I've been waiting over 20 years now to make it as an author, but I'm still wandering around in the forest of obscurity. You might say my writing career is centimetering forward, but you might just as easily suggest to say so would be an exaggeration.

There you go, seven hundred and thirty eight words written by the seat of my pants. I hope you don't feel that reading them was a waste of your time.

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Mirror: Indifferent Beanstalks

Here's a quote from someone who I directed to check out one of my books: "I just read the blurb and it filled me with indifference."

Here's a quote from me after discovering a movie which I thought might be a suitable choice for our family movie last Saturday. "I just read the blurb and it filled me with indifference."

One of the above quotes is genuine, the other is an attempt at humourous mimicry.

I watched Jack and the Beanstalk (2009) in spite of my better judgement; a little voice whispering against choosing it. I heard words like 'been done before', 'no A grade cast members' and 'little chance of this being even good let alone great.' Yet, I watched it and to be fair, it had some good moments. Sadly, it had a lot more bad moments, mostly relating to the writing which was so hit and miss it instigated a bout of motion sickness. Christopher Lloyd and Chevy Chase were in the supporting cast but only because they needed some cash and were between real jobs. There was an overall pall of amateurishness.

That last sentence possibly helps explain why I didn't like Jack and the Beanstalk. It also offers a potentially valid reason why the man who read the blurb for my best novel to date (in my opinion), had the temerity to be honest about his level of interest in reading it. Although he started off saying he didn't like reading romance in any form, I was ridiculously overconfident about the power of Love Sick Love's blurb-did I mention it is without doubt my best literary work so far?

What is of most interest here, as I wind my way with painful sloth towards the point of this post, is that I ignored my indifference and watched the film. I decided to give it a crack. My Twitter mate was not willing to go there, and as someone I know often likes to say, that is the problem.

In my endeavour to sell my work, I have a lot of competition. What is my point of difference? How do I raise my voice above the noise of the crowd? How do I stand out on the canvas of life? Even having a quality product does not ensure success. The cream does not always rise to the top.

I suspect most people aren't like me. They will judge a book by its cover and not read it, or if the cover works and carries them to the back of the book where lies the blurb, they may still pull out of the deal if said blurb leaves them feeling indifferent. Furthermore, if they buy or borrow the book there is no guarantee they will finish it. Finally, once they've read the book they won't write a review. They may not even tell anyone about it unless it was outstanding.

Since joining Goodreads six or seven years ago, I've read and reviewed 326 books. On only five occasions have I decided to give up and not finish a book I had started. I review every book I finish reading. I ask people who finish reading my books to review them, but very few do. Even when it was a condition of several giveaways which I have run on Goodreads, people still don't review. I'd settle for mediocre or even bad reviews if only people would talk about my books.

If only every one was like me. I make connections with authors on Twitter and buy their books, then review them. I've done that on a number of occasions, hoping for reciprocation, or at least a thank you...hoping in vain. I share people's posts, help promote their businesses and their causes. For many of my friends on Facebook, it's one way traffic. I must be mad to expect so much of people.

There's too much to do, too much to know, too much to share, too many books, too many movies and TV shows, too many variations of the same product on our supermarket shelves. There are too many re makes, too much re branding, too little innovation. If I gave you three magic beans in change for your cow what would you do with those beans. There just aren't enough Jacks in this world. Most of us are too comfortable with what we have, and either too lazy or too scared to try new things. Indifference. Apathy. Let's plant those beans and ride that towering beanstalk to the great unknown. Read a book by an author you've never heard of. Write a book review and post it on Amazon. Support a cause just because someone asks you too.