Saturday, 19 June 2021

Adverbs & Adjectives.

I prefer to be working at one story or looking for another around here. As life seems to go best if I write something each day.

Even if, most times, no one aside from me will ever see it.

Because I regard the act of writing much like any other trained response to an intellectual demand. And did I mention embracing physical training as a boy? While no longer a livelihood, daily exercise remains a habit much-enjoyed by the old man sitting here today.

Thus, and knowing neither practise nor anything else leads to perfection, I understand repetition can deliver improvements in fitness, skill and technique.

And like athletes or performers, a writer must be well-trained and impeccably rehearsed to deliver a literary performance. So, to keep fit, grinding out some style or type of writing is a daily routine in these parts. Though often, only a sentence results from a morning’s effort.

After forty years working mostly in creative short forms, including poetry and songwriting, my preference for long form fiction is clear enough.

I also prefer working at novels in unbroken phases. The stages are lengthy, with each extending to multiple weeks or months. Complex, difficult and emotionally exhausting, writing them is not conducive to the daily grind of a full-time day job.

The short forms of creative literature better lend themselves to that. As most writers work at other jobs, the time management enabled by poetry or short stories is almost necessary.

Do not get the wrong idea.

I consider myself fortunate to have secured a career in the arts. But it has always taken more than forty hours a week to produce the impoverished lifestyle of either twentieth or twenty-first century artist. In case you wonder, I am not now, nor have I ever been, either widely popular or well known.

From the start, eating on the regular as any kind of writer was a challenge.

I will not even try listing all the different mediums and methods in which I have attempted to earn my daily bread. Anyway, for most of us, we are better off leaving our worst moments to the shifting sands of rumor and memory.

I am going with that. You are free to join me.

For as ever, in this life, we must each choose a path for ourselves. And make no mistake, there are regrets aplenty here. Though none about career choice.

I can no longer explain it now.

Back in the day, it almost made sense. A thousand-word freelance gig at twenty-five cents per was decent enough money to a single fellow paying one-seventy-five for a month’s rent. When rents on the western prairies routinely top a grand as they do today, it will not get it done.

Try this one for size, no brag, just fact. Last week, I turned down a freelance writing job offering payment of zero-point-eight-cents-per-word. It would be more accurate to say ‘another’ job. At eight dollars per thousand words. Thus, I offer neither apology nor excuse for decades spent as touring singer/songwriter.

Stories worth telling, after all, come from somewhere. Unless you are one of those who makes things up. And while I do not automatically dislike such people, as with adjectives and adverbs, I avoid too much of their company.

For traffic with them is considered an occupational hazard. When they show up, I warn those about whom I care.

Back to our story. If, indeed, it turns out one.

Have I yet mentioned how much I enjoy the work of writing? Over the years, I have become a re-writer by choice, not necessity. Nowadays, rearranging everything read, heard or considered a dozen times happens by rote here.

The internal editor is always working.

An old friend, after taking in a Harwill stage performance years ago, remarked how it seemed I was not growing much older despite too many passing years. Like he always did, in response Harwill blamed the hat.

And though flattered, I did not mention my belief that growing up and getting old are different aspects of the spacetime continuum. Or how a man with something to do has little time or space for either if he plans to get it done.

Instead, I changed the subject. And left early next morning to deliver a show somewhere down the road later that night.

Before hitting the pillow, I wrote a line or two about what he said to me.

A laptop had already replaced the typewriter hocked in leaner days by then. Over the years, going from pen and paper through typewriter and personal computer to laptop took place with little drama.

Though at first, having learned to do it by hand made adjusting to interference from the word processor a challenge. By now, I am no longer willing to try writing for publication without it. And for anyone wondering, the answer is no.

I do not worry about losing my independent writing capability.

That comes from the mind, heart and experience of a writer. When I was a boy, affinity for it was called talent. Nowadays, the ‘t’ word seems akin to a curse.

Did I mention how professional editing software kills grammatical arguments? Indeed, there could be something to binary mathematics.

You are free to disagree. Here, the artist prefers working alone. Always has, ever will. Does software make it easier getting things done? Absolutely. I work slowly at the best of times. What takes a year or two with software aids might take five or ten without it.

C`est la vie.

These things take as much time as they do. I have always been a slave to style. I remain, as ever, unwilling to compromise. Here, the artistic vision comes first. Everything else serves it.

For I have long understood that one size does not fit everyone. After all, I also lived and breathed.

This next bit is for context. Like most experienced professional writers using a word processor, I can easily write a thousand or more words of either fiction or copy per day. With fiction, three drafts precede the start of multiple rounds of formal editing. When writing features, three drafts plus line, copy and proofreading is complete before the piece is submitted. For copy to be edited, I submit after the second draft.

Slow is a vague term with relative applications. There are also levels to all things.

And much like music created earlier the fiction I write has proven an acquired taste shared with an eclectic few. On every day ending in ‘y’, it pleases me more than I can say to know our minds share a curiosity to learn about this world through books.

Thank you for being here. I consider it a reason to hope for a better tomorrow. And that is what fiction writing has always been about for me. Despite what today’s world wants us to believe about it.

So, though life is a process of continuous change, on this one thing, you may count. For as long as I can, I will continue writing stories about our times shared here. As I work slowly, it can take a while for a new book to show up.

To me, that scarcity is another reason to buy and enjoy them.

I am not sure writing those few words back then made me a better writer. Nor if any of them since have improved my writing. Or that those to come ever will.

I know this much is a fact. Today, I wrote these words. I intended them to be legible and entertaining. If you asked, I would report editing them myself. With help from professional software purchased for the job.

Tomorrow, I plan to write more of them. Then, I will rewrite and edit those words until I believe they are good enough for you to read.

Only sometimes, I share them with you.

If you are a writer, you understand. And if a reader, well, you do too.

Those offering writers eight dollars per thousand words for the effort, however, do not get it. Though I will admit that much like the earlier mentioned adjectives and adverbs, they serve a purpose. And for those who make things up, they seem a near ideal match.

Here, writing about them suits me fine.

Thanks for sharing this blog with someone you believe will enjoy it.

Peace and love,

TFP

June 19, 2021

 

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Of value to society?

 A race to the bottom.

Mostly, the rise of the internet has meant that for everyone, and everything. And despite what you have heard about democracy, as an economic influence it tends the way of all systems designed to remove natural variation between individuals.

That is, it rules by the extremes of the lowest common denominator.

And if you were around forty years ago, you had a chance to get in on the ground floor of the extended boom that today controls every facet of modern life. Unfortunately, by now you have only the right to take what Big Tech decides you need to stay connected. And soon, if the democracy loving technocrats have their say, you will no longer have even that choice.

Now, I have always understood that, according to the historic record, in both society and individual life, people get pretty much what they want. Even if, especially in a postmodern western democracy, they may not always be too aware or specific about what that is or might be.

And nowadays, pretty much as it has always been, it also seems that either paying attention to or understanding what is happening around them is too much to ask of most folks. As the capacity for rational individual thought, meanwhile, always a challenge to a species built for flight or fight, appears in historic short supply just now.

For despite living in a world near drowning in data, the planet appears more bereft of knowledge than at any time in recorded history.

Here, metaphorically fiddling as the planet literally burns, it seems most appropriate to publicly acknowledge it.

That, or be lumped in with the great mass of unaware. Another lemming, marching to a distant cliff’s unseen edge. At the urgent behest of an aimless and ignorant mob. Which cries out only for more of the so-called freedoms leading them onward to a mysterious new horizon.

Because the price of freedom, much like failure, is always high.

And for quite a while now, in the democratic west, we seem to have collectively refused to acknowledge that uncomfortable fact. Likewise, we have denied the knowledge we must pay it. The cost of our choices, inevitably, has been the death of freedom.

Lately, arising from freedom loving ignoramuses everywhere, arrives a cry for explanation. To be followed, shortly, by demand for revenge. Did I mention how, in most cases, in what we like to call polite society, we call the legalized revenge thing justice?

Anyway, back to our minimalist morality play.

For soon, as if by rote, from oligarchs and politicians is delivered a usual response. Now accustomed to placating the braying mass by alternating feed and distraction, widespread outrage results in wage slaves supplying more of whatever the people demand. Usually, this involves rapidly assigning blame and meting out inappropriate punishment to an underprivileged member of a minority group. That or sacrifice of an entry-level minion. And with the mob sated, another ‘new start’ is certain to again find a similar end.

The name of this game we play is society. And no matter where you play it or what side you are on, either winning or losing is expensive.

Here, the writer makes his notes.

I write what happened. As there awaits the answer to why it did.

Not one of us can fix it. Because society is neither a mine nor your kind of thing. Only all of us, together, can make it better.

We must understand there is no fixing stupid. But ignorance can be educated. And we can love those who choose to hate only so long as they do not harm others. But there must ever be hard punishments for those choosing to injure their fellows.

Likewise, predatory behaviors in business and society can be identified, exposed, and removed if we accept responsibility for addressing it together. Just as, if we will risk becoming aware, we can force the oligarchs controlling our society to change their behaviors.

For we have been commoditized by the ubiquitous technology of invisible tyrants. Our lives are now reduced to data points continuously leveraged by ever-present corporations that massively enrich a few, at the expense of all.

This, like it or don’t, is life in the twenty-first century.

So, we are best to take ownership of it. For, though life as a data point seems an unwelcome notion, there is opportunity in any situation if one will find it.

Did I mention how I am not a joiner, in the classic sense of political group or professional organization, nor have been throughout my life?

Independent thought and individual freedom are considered among life’s greatest virtues here. But this deal requires everyone to get busy if we are to avoid a societal catastrophe caused by political division and ethical conflict waiting down the road a piece.

Evolution is our collective goal. Revolution is our collective enemy.

We must together commit to changing our society for the better of all people living in it.

That does not mean disenfranchising the dominant groups in society. So, rich Caucasian folks, stop worrying about losing your place. You are us. We are you. In many cases, growing among us are many who, rightly or wrongly, want pretty much what you have by now achieved.

For skin tone has no effect on the desire for upward mobility.

Together, we can make it better here. If we can recall our world as a construct of design and a process ongoing. Not as the timeless maw of an unknown and permanent Big Brother, but as the daily working of employees of individuals seeking advantage from it.

Because society belongs to us, the people who live in it. Society is also composed of its people. And as a result, society is also obliged to us all. As likewise, we are individually obliged to it.

The term symbiotic relationship can have no simpler definition.

Not one of us can change it. But together, we can remake the whole thing better. Maybe not for everyone, but for most of us living here. It will not happen in my lifetime, and there is a good chance we will not achieve it in yours. But, if we start anew on each today, the tomorrow when it eventually gets here will arrive that much sooner. For everyone.

Am I a deranged Pollyanna? It is certainly likely, if not assured. But does that make any difference? Not to me. And I hate to be the one to remind you, but as you are the one reading this, it is apparently not that big a deal to you either.

Life is marvelous that way.

At least, according to the guy writing this it is.

Because where else but here can you find such harmless pseudo-intellectual nonsense to distract for a few moments?

And did I mention how I believe that represents the true value of a writer to society?

Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to again fulfill it. Thanks also for passing this along to anyone you believe might enjoy reading it.

Peace and love.

TFP

June 5, 2021

Friday, 21 May 2021

My protest explained.

 The days grow long as my time slips inexorably away, and editing is meticulous work.

Time-consuming is perhaps a better descriptor of the task.

For despite multiple software packages and decades of experience to speed the effort, a close and well-trained eye is necessary to line editing my fiction. As you either are or should be aware, a varying combination of unique constraints applies to my version of minimalist prose. And with the addition of each, the novels created from it make specific and persistent demands of first writer, then editor and eventually their reader.

I am also pleased to report that, according to those in the know, my literary style confounds near as often as it delights.

You may rest assured, such reports indicate all is well with the writer. Now five novels into a lifetime protest, my documentation of Aboriginal history in Canada by the form of the postmodern novel approaches its reckoning. Soon, I will present the novel composing a synthesized realization of the style that also confirms the substance of my work.

Meanwhile, in the time's style and as response to numerous queries, I offer this short list of literary cheat codes for the revealed canon.

I mean the list for those seeking explanation of the literary techniques employed within the individual novels. To further invalidate later claims of obscurantism, I have also briefly explained the philosophy behind creation of the style.

Here follows, in minimalist form, the great reveal.

As far as literary technique goes, the explanations are straight-forward.

When writing novels, outside of dialogue Mr. Pruden does not end sentences with prepositions. While writing novels, Mr. Pruden may entirely remove specific connectors from within a text. Whenever writing novels, Mr. Pruden does not use the Oxford comma. Whilst writing novels, Mr. Pruden works only from experience. When writing novels, Mr. Pruden either asks or shows, he neither answers nor tells. While proofreading novels, non-academic readers help Mr. Pruden. When editing novels, Mr. Pruden does not allow third-party participation.

The philosophy behind the technique is less so.

I write in the style I do because I believe it most important that you understand to whom you are listening whenever you might read words I have written. And believe it or don’t, I most often write not as I would speak to you in conversation, but as I talk to myself. For though I have long lived alone, an internal dialogue has ever composed what I appreciate as my consciousness.

When writing, a version of this dialogue is most often what I have tried to share with you.

The history revealed in the novels I have written, however, is purposely unvarnished. But, for the people living within their pages, while heavily disguising each of them, I have tried always to show them just as they were. I hope that most times, despite pronounced warts of character, the nobility of their struggle preserves a dignity necessary to survive in this hard world we share.

But one must also beware that I protest. For I am, first and ever, a son of the original inhabitants known to live in this place we now call Canada. Of mixed blood because of the comingling between peoples of Aboriginal and European heritage, I was raised a half-breed. And with my family, both immediate and extended, continue suffering the bigotry and racism allotted to our kind through this now lengthy lifetime here at home.

As a writer, meantime, I have lived to see a world unimaginable to my younger self.

Where the richest prize for literature is awarded to a plagiarist and they give one of the most prestigious to a fellow disavowing use of grammatical rules such as punctuation.

Did I mention how these were fellows of Caucasian descent?

When compared to such nonsense, my decision seems relatively benign. Thus, I shaped a new style of English writing, with roots in Canada’s wartime history, but unique to myself and intended as a protest of the colonial occupation of this land.

But as a lone and unaffiliated brown man, and not a member of the literary establishment, either acceptance or understanding of my work has been difficult to achieve.

Did I mention how I’m not a government certified Aboriginal person at this writing? While of little concern to me or mine, a listing among my mother’s First Nation people is available if I am but willing to jump through the necessary years of government hoops. Did I mention how I’m also not a member of the various ‘guilds’ representing those claiming themselves to be writers up here? Well, avoidance of such outfits is due most to a sincere desire to remain independent from any self-serving cabal claiming to represent my best interest.

Anyway, to me, that about sums it. For more, I recommend reading a little history.

If you do, you will in some few places find mention of an obscure second world war journalistic practice undertaken in Canada and known colloquially as the ‘three-term-limit’. A bastardization of this wartime ink-saving technique simultaneously eliminates the Oxford comma from my fiction and reveals the fires of revolt burning within it.

To further personalize my use of the colonial language, the arcane abrogation of the preposition as a sentence-ending device joins my stylistic party of protest.

I alone conceived and did what I have done. There was no help or direction involved in completion of my work. As usual, please blame it all on me. But for a change, reading my words will allow you to know the sound of a single voice. Instead of the unintelligible noise of style conventions emanating from one of the many guides, under whose colonial chains I have chafed while writing in one commercial form or another through these long years. In my novels, you may read a new version of an old language. One that embraces its roots while acknowledging its crimes, in both style and substance.

In short, between constraints, modifications, practices and content, I have created a style and fiction composing a literary protest of the colonial society in which I am irrevocably trapped. And yes, I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for being here, and thanks for sharing this blog with anyone you believe might like to read it.

Peace and love.

TFP

May 21, 2021


Friday, 26 February 2021

A question of belief.

And so, you ask with apparent and appropriate sincerity, in what does the writer believe? With respect for your interest and acknowledging limitations imposed by the medium and spacetime, I offer this short but genuine reply.

Albeit with the following provisos; neither philosopher nor politician, here follow the personal opinions, mightily condensed, of an aged and cantankerous party of one, defiantly unrepentant despite living in a world sorely missing its sense of humour.

Accepting those terms of reference, I believe first in the literary and musical art to which I have devoted my life. As there, revealed for those who seek it, can be found the process of evolution to which I also believe everything owes its existence. Incidentally, when damning all first drafts as shite, a habit with which I have now long been associated, I thus acknowledge the evolutionary process believed necessary to legitimate works of art in these parts. And by logical extension, do as well, publicly enough for my comfort, indicate acceptance of the scientific principles underlying the theory of natural selection and the existential inevitability that entails.

Of course, it's always been my opinion that either reading or listening to my work reveals the ideas in which I have invested my version of faith. It lately seems, however, this must be less plain than the writer had either believed or intended. And to avoid the later charge of obscurantism often reserved for writers of wildly unpopular fare such as mine, I offer this confirmation.

Fortunately, at least so far as I'm concerned, there has not ever been reason to make up alibis for things either done or said around here. And did I mention believing actions speak louder than words? How about my belief that writing is an action as close to eternal as it gets for our kind? Or that long ago, I chose instead to busy myself living with consequences rather than trying to either rationalise or apologise them away? Because here, as a responsible individual, I am accountable for me.

As result, and despite a lifelong abhorrence for labels, I've had to wear a few in my time. While many were less than flattering, several could also be applied to those concepts in which I have chosen to believe. Though were I asked, after writer, stoic, sceptic and atheist would certainly be among them.

But for me, making a list of things like sunshine and lollipops serves no more purpose than boasting about loving freedom and democracy or telling you what a great this or that I once was. As no matter what you may have been told about it, talk is often dangerous, and rarely, if ever, cheap. Not only that, but I've spent most of a lifetime learning to ask, not answer, while saying less so I could watch and listen more.

As a wind now rises, I note the writer's minimalist claim. Anyway, that's about as much as I can reasonably explain in a few words. Because from here, the conversation will usually devolve into something too closely resembling nonsense. And not the cool, mathematically sound nonsense like either quantum mechanics or poker. Besides, as mentioned earlier, I'm only a writer and it's a relatively exclusive party.

In case I didn't say so before, thank you for attending. Don't forget to pass this on to anyone you believe might enjoy it. And thanks most for buying one or a few of my novels for yourself and someone on your reading list. All five of them are available here or worldwide on Amazon.

Peace and love.

TFP
February 26, 2021