Monday, 28 December 2015

A plan made.

I learned the value of making a plan while still reasonably young.

The knowledge of when to change it in response to the vicissitudes of temporal reality came later.  Both continue to be important parts of my process and functional pillars of my success.  I use the term success with the latitude granted by longevity only, and not as indication of either commercial viability or critical acceptance.

The ability to stick with it was for better or worse a talent discovered accidentally.

Though appreciating their importance the best of my own worldly stratagems have most often gone awry to one degree or another. To surmise the error must lay with their creator is not only the obvious explanation but in this case also generally correct.  It turns out an appreciation for strategic thinking and technical knowledge is no guarantee of success.

Staying on a wrong track usually leads to the wrong place.

This is contrasted by awareness that changing course in response to an eddying current can be more than difficult to overcome.  Judgement is easier after the fact and easiest when applied to the actions of others in all cases.  To claim otherwise is either naivety or falsehood, with one no less dangerous than the other if certainly less than palatable in both cases.

A plan limits decision making at inopportune moments if nothing else.

It can be difficult to act in the best of long-term interests when reacting to circumstance rather than following a course of action.  To change a plan is always easier than responding to events and often preferable when considering the cascading of effects.  Though many promote the energy of improvisation more extoll the virtuosity enabled by rehearsal.

For each a time is no doubt right.

In this case the work of writing and publishing novels prompts the latest cause for testing a strategy in place.  With a second work of fiction near completion the decision to continue with Amazon and the self-publishing of my work is again revisited.  To pursue a traditional publishing opportunity is the primary alternate strategy.  The variety of factors that contrast and compare the approaches approximates those who might consider them.

It appears for most either will prove appropriate.

That my style of choice is currently among the least popular forms of fiction available in the marketplace eases the decision more than might seem apparent.  A practitioner of literary fiction in the time of extraordinary genre popularity one must accept that no matter his choice of publishing strategies the likelihood of securing continued obscurity is probable.  The question becomes one of style versus substance as neither is a guarantee of either fame or fortune in the traditional sense.

Do you prefer one lump or two?

The figurative reference is to bruises on your head.  They'll be left by the hammers wielded by the defenders of the ramparts of literary tradition.  Alternatively they're caused by the churning augers used by the wide intake tubes of the self-publishing conglomerates.  There is no escaping the scars left by the writer's choice of medium.

If the work is to be read through one or the other the humble scribe must tread.

Those small complaints made after the fact of my original Amazon publishing experience are undeniable if only marginally valid.  Despite them I remain a customer satisfied with the experience to the point I am willing to try it again.  Both the quality of the finished product and the simplicity of implementation for the first novel were beyond reproach.  Meanwhile, management of printing, shipping, sales, and reporting has since been timely and accurate.  The service provided by Createspace and Kindle is everything it was claimed to be at the least and no less than eye-opening at best.

I plan to publish my second novel with Amazon in 2016.

The strategy holds for now with minor alterations.  A story for another time until the release date nears little additional information regarding the new work will be provided.  I trust meantime you'll enjoy 'A Dog and His Boy' in either Paperback or eBook courtesy of the links provided here.  Alternatively you can search by author and/or title at the Amazon country site of your choice and order there.

Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.

-          TFP
December 28, 2015

Monday, 21 December 2015

Neither from the stage nor on the page.

I have been known, occasionally if not widely, as somewhat of a stickler for details.

To honor that I'm letting you know the Goodreads Giveaway for 'A Dog and His Boy' happens today.  I'll get autographed copies into the mail when I receive your address after the draw is complete.  Best of luck to the entrants and enjoy the novel to the winners.  I look forward to reading your reviews.

We now return to the weekly topic.

Though sometimes difficult to appreciate due to an assortment of unvarnished habits personal and professional seldom is the minutia left to chance with me.  It takes countless hours of focussed effort to preserve the imitation of spontaneity in work presented to an audience.  The demand made of artistic results in whatever medium is approximately equivalent whether viewed on the stage or read from the page.

A professional level of attention is applied to each aspect of all works.

It is a challenge willingly accepted if at best unevenly met.  Close examination of it soon establishes the reach of this artist's vast ambition as generally exceeding the grasp of his limited talent.  Though always presented honestly it often lacks the universal appeal required to achieve significant popularity.  Some claim that in the form of either a fool's uneducated prose or a lurid saloon song it's largely fueled by ignorance and often traded by alcohol.  A man is grateful for the notice as every form of art needs the critical review of an audience to be appreciated, fairly or otherwise.

Damn me with faint praise if necessary but doubt not the sincere commitment exercised in pursuit of the work.

There have been numerous explanations postulated for a career long lack of significant public acceptance beyond the finite restriction of my skills.  The proverbial blind dog is claimed to discover a bone at least once in a while.  Or so have I been told.  Experts far and wide have by now considered and prognosticated both explanation and solution to the lengthening conundrum of my limited success.  The unique opinion of each has, so far at least, failed to deliver the writer from the wasteland of cultural obscurity.

It is plainly a difficult case.

I consider it good fortune that continued lack of popular interest in the work fails to diminish my willingness to create it.  Though unlikely with patience and continued practice a man hopes the time spent may eventually produce results appropriate to that invested.  The lack of a guarantee and the pace of progress however add an element of senseless risk to the proceedings a fellow would be foolish to deny.  I thus recognize the providence of having long ago accepted the surreal nature of the windmills I pursue.

As near as I can tell we each bear the cross of our choice.

An explanation receiving a fair amount of interest in these parts is the detachment both common and elemental to my work.  Be it geographically situated or atmospherically enhanced this separation is a hallmark of my efforts in fiction and music.  While respecting the power of timely subject matter I reject it for the most part as either appropriate or effective as a personal artistic approach.  For me a true appreciation of the present is only achieved through reflection upon it after it has passed.

I believe in this way the perspective enabled by time limits the emotional involvement of the reporter.

I had thus judged the idea theoretically interesting but practically inconclusive.  Though it might prove accurate I could devise no test capable of producing results suitable for worthwhile consideration.  The writer can be only the sum of what his talent and experience allow.  While attempting to be something other than that may lead to greater popular success it must certainly produce results of inferior artistic quality.

The idea amounts to cutting off the nose to spite the face.

Another justification lately proposed is the lack of personal information historically delivered on behalf of the boorish scribe honking mulish from either stage or page.  Be it orientation political or habits personal the hillbilly scribe maintains a stoic silence regarding such facts befitting the bigoted dime store carvings of his ancestors.  The lack of societal engagement prevents connection with a wider public I have been reminded on numerous occasions.  This too represents a potential clue in explaining the biblical lengths wandered through the desert of the ignored.  Though not denying the possibility that disclosure of leanings and interest might hold such rarified power it frankly seems unlikely.  Despite the increasingly hysterical raves of the social media the proof claimed in support of the conclusion is primarily anecdotal and thus certainly less than reliable.

I'm satisfied the things I believe are clear enough if you either listen to my music or read the fiction I have written.

Throughout my career I've made a habit of keeping my personal life and opinions regarding politics and other matters of conscience separate from my work.  I have always requested the privacy of my person and family be respected despite my choice of profession and have long been grateful for the consideration I've received.  Similarly I prefer my political leanings and personal beliefs be considered separately from both the fiction I create and the music I perform.  My opinion of these matters is that they are private and unsuitable for public discussion in most cases.  As moving its listening audience is the intention of my music so also have I kept the focus of my fiction on challenging its reader.  I believe too much value is regularly placed in the often misinformed opinions of people momentarily topping the news cycle of the popular culture.  Like everyone else living in a purportedly free society however I remain welcome to my choice of opinion in such matters.

I thus make a habit of rarely speaking directly to matters of conscience whether from the stage or on the page.

That an urge to give counsel is exceeded only by the desire to receive it among our kind is the theory I chose as most appropriate to apply to the situation.  After decades of considering the various machination suggested by friend and foe alike it also seems as likely an explanation for the state of my career as any.  Another little known fact is that I have listened carefully to career advice passed my way over the years.

Though personally I can neither give the stuff nor stand to take it.

A man further dislikes speaking to affairs so apparent when the work remaining to be done is daunting in both quantity and complexity.  If a lifetime of plainly left-leaning and free-thinking tom-foolery in and out of the public eye has taught me anything it's that a fellow is best off breaking his own trail.  To spend precious time seeking either the opinion or approval of your fellows is to waste it and not well.  As the only commodity of any real value actual shame should rightly be felt when any of us do so.  This is not advice offered but a fact observed.  Meanwhile with the glut of expert information now available a fellow is well served cultivating a taste for them as they rapidly grow rare.  Lest we forget that after all has been said to do remains the only means to be.  Thus the writer must write and the musician must play as the bird must fly and the fish must swim.  Beliefs and opinions be damned.

It is sometimes necessary to read carefully or listen closely if we are to understand what is being said.

Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.

-          TFP
December 21, 2015

Monday, 14 December 2015

Let the results speak on my behalf.

Results speak for themselves.

Despite best efforts to deny it, those claiming recognition as completed works of art speak to both talent and commitment.  In the most successful instances a work may also demonstrate the ability to extend the boundaries of either its creator's ability or intent.  For while occasionally true seldom is a finished work exactly as conceptualized by the artist, for better or worse.

We get what we get.

This is often in spite of our interest in achieving something entirely different.  Art imitates life most strongly in this way.  The relentless search for profundity common to our kind usually supersedes intellectual curiosity.

It seems likely we're better off as a result.

The best of intentions invariably lead beyond or beside those places for which we most often believed we had been searching.  A man relentlessly devoted to a plan my intentions surrounding the work I've done have long been clearly defined.  Yet it is with neither surprise nor disappointment I report that most of my completed works vary in astounding ways from their original blueprint.

Life seldom gives what a man believes he wants.

A decade's long career as songwriter, performer and producer impressed upon me the ability of a 'completed' work to evolve.  In the milieu of contemporary music a 'finished' song arrives at a recording studio certain to be rearranged to suit the whims of a producer.  The producer will employ a variety of musicians to arrive at the performance he believes will most successfully represent the material to a listening audience.  The musicians interpret the instructions of the producer via the arrangement and performance of their instruments.  A separate and extensive list of professionals will be responsible for recording the musical performance.   There are more engineers responsible for both mixing and mastering the recorded material.  Each will add their influence to the finished work prior to its release.

While a simplified view of an intricate process it demonstrates that many cooks are often involved in the artistic kitchen of professional music.

There are fewer people involved in the writing of fiction.  This is perhaps why I have always preferred writing over all other activities.  We must leave that discussion for another time.  For while the work of writing is a solo pursuit an assortment of cooks are required to complete the literary meal recognized as a published novel.  The array of beta readers, proof readers, line and copy editors, advisors, formatting and design experts involved in turning a manuscript into a novel defies the imagination.  This list ignores the marketing and promotional aspects of the literary business who themselves compose a phalanx of significant number.  Each of them adds a unique flavor to the meal served to the reader.

I best enjoy working alone.

Though I won't deny that without the emotional and financial support of friends and fans it would not be possible.  I'm fortunate to be blessed with people who appreciate and support my work and because of them have been able to continue doing it.  The growth and development of my efforts in both music and writing has been ~ entirely ~ enabled by that support.

To paraphrase a wise man there is no one among us who is truly an island.

My fiction work depends on support received from the aforementioned group of beta and proofreaders, editorial commentators, sympathetic academics, and fans of the writer.  Without their help I'd be lost in the proverbial sea of nightmares caused by being too close to the artistic forest to see the storytelling trees.  That working alone should involve the desperately required aid of so many people remains one of life's great surprises.

I'm as grateful to experience it as I have been to receive the help.

So it that my relaunched career in literature continues.  With the publication of 'A Dog and His Boy' it has, most surprisingly to the writer, occurred.  The first sales along with the experience of holding a paperback with my name on the cover make it undeniable.  There can be no undoing.  Though certainly nothing like what I had planned as an arrogant high school teen on the way to the bestseller list, the experience is no less fulfilling.

To get what we need is far superior to getting what we think we want.

That I am now aware of the existence of typographical errors in the text of 'A Dog and His Boy' continues to vex me sorely.  I have wrestled with the reality of this situation and like many of those things of which we can do nothing it rankles.  To allow the situation to pass unchallenged seems beyond my vanity.  It is a damnable shame that a misplaced apostrophe or a mangled sentence should deface the work of a man's life but there it is.  Print and text errors are unavoidable I have since been informed.  The results are well within the guidelines adhered to by traditional publishers and thus technically unassailable has been the reassurance.

We get what we get.

I'm considering publishing a page that identifies text errors in 'A Dog and His Boy' here on the blog site.  If you'd be interested in seeing such a page created let me know by leaving a comment.  As errors are identified I can create a list of corrections and post them.  While quite limited in number they are causing me grief and I worry they might do the same for others.  As it won't surprise me to find I'm being overly sensitive I'll watch for comments and proceed accordingly.

Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.

-          TH
December 14, 2015

Monday, 7 December 2015

Neither wax prolific nor wane unproductive.

Though blessed with an assortment of talents I cannot claim being prolific among them.

My personal written output has been limited when compared to my fellows.  This holds true with the addition of poetry and songwriting to the prose writing spoken of in this comparison.  Even considering technical, essay, and fitness writing my total output pales compared to the majority of writers either amateur or professional I would suggest.

I don't deny splitting the focus of my literary efforts.

My early attempts at a literary career were derailed by an assortment of issues including substance abuse and limited talent.  These were further compounded by the failure of my academic career and an appreciation for the amount of work required overcoming the unfortunate nature of my limitations.  A largely private period of trial and error in the practice of prose writing filled the time between then and now.  In addition to the successes and failures of alternate career paths, artistic endeavors, and the life choices derived thereof.

I make no apology when I admit to having had a wonderful time.

I have always believed we are shaped by circumstance and defined by commitment.  The talent endowed by natural selection provides the building blocks only for what the nurtured character is willing to exploit.

I believe in this sense we are each of us equal.

Among other gifts I was not given in abundance include imagination and humor.  This was balanced by an affinity for travel and an appreciation for the absurd.  When compared it's my contention that the latter pair make better tools for the prospective writer than the former though my evidence is at best considered anecdotal.

I trust the author and will take his word on this subject.

It has also been observed that one is often best served working with the tools found closest to the hand.  To my great relief the exchange of gifts described above in this case would reveal the theatre of the world in great abundance.  The results I can only allow to speak for them self though I will repeat that my times have been filled with moments of great joy.  That a man has also known the pain that living brings at various points in his travels is simple proof that no ride is free.

I would willingly trade the same mistakes were I granted similar results.

With my fiction work for the first time in the hands of a small reading public after spending my lifetime read by a limited few I will admit to nerves aplenty.  The desire for appreciation appears more than less universal among our kind.  I'm certainly no less afflicted by the desire for approval than my fellows despite the vanguard provided by the experience of a career in popular music.  It is a bruising business to be coldly evaluated by a remorseless entity devoid of an appreciation for a unique artistic vision.  The experience can overwhelm to the point of distraction and even the thickest of skins rarely survive critical opinion unmarked.  Those few scars left by reviews of all types are worn best with satisfaction.

I have always considered it a privilege to receive the notice.

The right to earn them good or bad is granted to the most fortunate few.  They are the ones with the commitment harnessed to talent sufficient to produce a finished work of art in literary form.  Only to them go either the raves or the rants.  In whatever style or medium it may be presented only the finished work of art alone, in its successes and its failures, its flaws and its virtues, celebrates and commemorates our presence in the continuum of space and time.

            I claim no authority aside from an abundance of approximate historical and cultural references for the conclusion.

            It is also worth noting by artists working in any medium that those who provide the critique of your finished work, good or bad as described by the review of it, in many cases are not blessed with the ability to create such work themselves.  A man who travels will invariably discover himself in the company of subject matter experts from time to time.  Depending on the motivation for the travels the circumstance may arise routinely.  In my case it has been so and for this many times I have been grateful.  Expertise makes for interesting conversation and keeps the rest of us honest in our approach to the work we do.  In most cases however these experts would trade their knowledge for the satisfaction of creating finished works of their own.

            I have discovered that neither expertise nor talent is a replacement for good work habits.

Prolific or not I'm pleased with the work I've managed to complete.  Good or bad you may trust each example of it was the best I could do at the time.  Despite the recently discovered presence of a number of recurring and egregious typographical errors in the final text of my novel 'A Dog and His Boy' that has been and remains good enough for me.  One can only hope it proves the same for the reading public.

I look forward to publishing work to compare against it.

Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.

-          TH
December 7, 2015