Archive for February, 2014

Oasis

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

meIt’s 6AM and I’ve been tossing and turning, as the cliche goes. In the chaotic and mysterious three pounds of gray goo that serve as my brain, sizzling with waves of ionic exchange, axonic and dendritic membranes are oozing with neurotransmitters; thoughts are colliding and interpenetrating in an attempt to process the recent incoming barrage of inputs and render some ordered sense of them.

In other words, I can’t sleep because I cannot stop thinking. Finally I realize what it all means: it is time to go to work and produce output. To the keyboard!

Have you ever felt like this? Staggering from the desert wasteland that is most of my life, I somehow fall face first into fresh-smelling green grass and suddenly realize that I have come in from the sandstorm.  I have reached an oasis.

Sometimes an Oasis is a safe haven: an unexpected job opening, acceptance into a graduate school, or finding an apartment you never expected to get. But for me, more often, an oasis is a new friend, someone you strike sparks with — a delightful and serendipitous opening of the heavens to bestow an undeserved gift in the person of another sentient creature that groks you as the trees grok the wind, as the waves caress the shore. A fellow traveler to whom you want to explain everything — but to whom, really, nothing need be explained.

Mine is a lonely existence. I have struggled to understand why a friend and I were given a technology too far ahead of its time to be applied (and to make money) in our own lifetimes. I have struggled to understand why I have lived when better folks than I have perished in the grind of the times. And I have struggled to find a place for myself in which I can contribute the the welfare of all without hurting anyone.

What makes life worth living, for me, is the occasional discovery of kindred spirits who ‘get’ me, who understand the same things as I, who have read the same books, enjoyed the same movies, and gleaned from them the same insights or delusions as I have. Some of the same thoughts are occupying both our brains, like distributed software on multiple processors. When I meet such persons, it is like falling into an oasis, a place of refuge and spiritual support that recharges me and enables me to shoulder my pack and head out into the wilderness blazing a trail that almost no one knows or cares about.

And not just recharges. Meeting such a person overstimulates me to the extent that I cannot sleep. Can’t sleep — must think: what is the Multiverse trying to tell me this time?

This is where I am now. Sleepless but refreshed, distracted but inspired, bewildered and yet somehow focused. Unjustifiably happy and serene in a turbulently jubilant way, if that is possible. I am trying not to remember how few and far apart such oases seem to be for me, and to enjoy this one before I put my face in the wind again. I will continue, and continue knowing such persons exist and wish me well.

You know who you are. This is not about me, it is about you. Waiting has filled.

— MRK

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Struggling to the End

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

meI’m about 350 pages into Pathspace now and am  at something of a crossroads.

My plan all along has been to send query letters to agents for each book I finish in the hope that eventually either my originality or my fecundity will get their attention and land me the representation I need to get a book deal.

But now I am struggling, caught between the need to finish this book and the desire to take it where I wanted to go.

You see, I’ve read in several places that for a “debut novel” (translate: the first book published by someone you’ve never heard of) there is a fairly well defined size window you need to aim for. Publishers, I’m told, don’t want something less than 70,000 words, because the book will be slim and potential buyers will think they’re not getting their money’s worth. But publishers also don’t want something over 100,000 words. This is because they cannot charge twice as much for a book twice as thick — and more pages mean higher printing costs and fewer copies fitting into display space at bookstores.

So here I am, well past the 90,000 word milepost, and nowhere near the end of my narrative in this book that is intended to be the first of a new trilogy. This leaves me with at least three alternatives:

1. I can rush to the ending, to stay under the size limit. I’d hate to do this, because sacrificing quality for the sake of brevity is not a choice I want to make as a writer.

2. I can write until I am finished with it, and then go back and try to hack out enough fluff to get the size down to 100k words. I’d hate to do this, because I seriously don’t believe I’ve put a lot of “fluff” into the manuscript. For all that I admire his writing, I’m not as long-winded as Neil Stephenson. My paragraphs tend to be pithier (I think), and that leaves me with less wiggle-room in terms of removable lacunae.

3. I can write until I am finished, and hope that my earlier works get published first. We all know that if you get published once, your later books are allowed to get longer. The problem with this approach is that the entire reason I have continued to write is that (hopefully) I am getting better at it, and therefore my later books are more likely to be published than my earlier ones. I am personally proud of what I have been able to do with Gamers and Gods, but if it is not my first effort to see the light of day, then I am still stuck with the max-length restriction on subsequent works until I start getting into print.

So I have three choices, none of which I like.

But it appears I will have to choose soon.  Because stopping at this point is not an option.

— MRK

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