Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Tag: pod people

Lately, and mainly because of the new WordPress “Press This” function, which I personally think is completely rad, I’ve been noticing a bit of a blur between what I was posting here and what I had intended to do with et cetera. I’d meant for that particular section as a sort of publishing ticker, but I discovered quite a few things rather quickly.

The first was that daily or even weekly publishing news is a bit of a misnomer, at best. I’m not interested in publishing gossip and new memoirs, which cuts significantly down on the nature of the items I usually find interesting.

Moreso, I think publishing is changing, and that changing nature inspires discussion, I think. Makes me want to comment on it, anyway. Like the post last week about Gordon Van Gelder and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, not to mention the posts concerning POD People and their review of my collection.

Point is, I find myself wanting to comment more and post over there less, so I’m hereby ending et cetera and using this blog instead. I’m going to pull over a few of the more interesting posts, and the ones I used to catalog the reviews of my book, but otherwise, I’m just going to keep things here.

I haven’t yet decided what I plan to do with Imagery. I have a lot of pictures I took on the road, and I do like having that aspect separate from here, but I may decide just to fold that in later, too.

Anyway, all just so you know why there are suddenly a few posts today, all of which will look familiar if you read et cetera.

Yesterday, I posted a link to a review of Entrekin posted by Cheryl Anne Gardner at POD People. I’ve gotten a couple of notes from people regarding the fact that the comments on the post in question were shut off, and I thought I’d explain.

When Cheryl wrote to me, she mentioned the kerfuffle that had occurred when a couple of people (or perhaps one with sockpuppets) posted a bunch of anonymous comments attacking me, personally, and saying very little about my writing save that it was great. Cheryl mentioned a certain accommodation she normally wouldn’t, but I told her it was unnecessary, then suggested she or her colleagues might want to moderate their comments. Not censor, exactly, but, you know, keep track of them and ensure they were constructive and contributing to the conversation.

Not, in other words, anonymous and attacking. Flaming and trolling. The difference is usually fairly obvious.

I didn’t ask them to shut the comments off; that was their decision, and I don’t argue with things site administrators choose to do. Perhaps they thought that close moderation would require more work/attention than they wanted to expend.

Regardless, I respect their decision as I respect Cheryl’s opinion.

Posted to et cetera, because that’s why I started that particular venture, but worth mentioning here: nearly a year and a half after its release, Cheryl Anne Gardner at POD People reviews Entrekin:

The depth of emotion is certainly there, and there are moments of truly elegant and poetic writing.

Overall, it seems rather mixed as reviews go, somewhere between encouraging and constructively critical, with far more positive than negative. I’m still new to writing and publishing and books, and I know the general position is that one shouldn’t discuss, much less respond, to reviews, so I think I’ll refrain. Overall, while she seemed to have major aesthetic issues with my style, she still seemed to enjoy the read and ultimately rated the collection as a whole a 7 out of 10 (which puts it above average so far as POD People reviews go, if narrowly), and she specifically cites six pieces that she enjoyed.

One thing she’s brought up, both in the reviews and in some correspondence with me, is:

there is always reason to re-evaluate the work. And as we mature as writers, re-evaluation is a necessary evil.

Which is true in some ways, I think, but I wonder about in others. Now that it’s a year and a half later, I’ve considered making more explicit certain reasons for certain choices I’ve made: the cover for one (Gardner hated it, but it’s often one of the first thing reviewers or readers tell me they liked about it), as well as some of the content. And there is a point that, a year and a half later, and now with a Master’s degree under my belt, I think I’ve gained a little more objectivity about my writing–I’m certainly better at it, I know that, which is nice considering all the time, effort, energy, and money I invested in the past few years alone. I’d have to reread the afterword to see if there’s anything new I might say about the work, but I’ve certainly learned a lot through the book that I obviously couldn’t before I put it out there.

One specific choice I’ll note now is that, while I might re-evaluate the work, I won’t, as Cheryl suggests I might, revisit it; Entrekin is not perfect, certainly (there are a few typos, for one), but then again, what is? In the past year, however, I’ve come to look at it as a sort of chronicle of a place I was and experiences I had, nearly a record of sorts, and as such, I’ve come to see it for what it is; a book that closes a period of my life. If I revisit any of the themes that appear in it (I think I probably do, in The Prodigal Hour), I will do so in other stories (and there’s a huge change right there: when I first published my collection, my novel was tentatively titled A Different Tomorrow).

As for talking about a lot of it and discussing the review, I’m not certain. Hemingway I think said: “Fuck ’em all; let ’em think you were born knowing how to write.” Then again, one of the reasons I’ve always said I blog is to show the nuts and bolts of things in ways that haven’t been seen before.

What do you think?

Anyway, this was just mainly to note the review and allowed me to note some things I’d wanted to. Like I said, the review’s a bit mixed, but why take someone else’s word for it, anyway? You can still download it as a free digital file readable not just on any computer but even on iPhones and certain other .pdf capable smart phones, so why not make up your own mind about it?

And if you like it, tell a friend. Heck, if you like it, buy a copy for one.

Earlier today, I got an e-mail from Cheryl Anne Gardner of POD People. I queried their site a while ago in the hope that they might review Entrekin. I figured they were just so backed up with books and reviews that they hadn’t had the chance to respond, which I understood; authors, self-published or otherwise, always hope for reviews of their books and so always query reviewers to do so, and I’d wager a book reviewers pile of books to read is similar in size, scope, range, and even quality, to editors’ and agents’ slushpiles. But the good news is that Gardner wrote me to let me know that she was going to review it probably shortly.

Which I’m just thrilled by.

So look for that soon.

I bring it up, though, because part of the reason Cheryl wrote was what occurred on the occassion of my first ever review. It was at the PODler (you can find a link in the archives here. Sorry, but I’d rather not link there myself; it only just fell from number 1 Google result, and I’d rather not put it back up there), and it was the sort of excellent for which a word like “glowing” is an understatement (“This is the writing of bestsellers.” So rad), and it was a thrillingly and overwhelmingly positive experience until a handful of anonymous commenters showed up to attack me.

Not my writing. Not my book. Me.

The most prevalent was the one I mentioned yesterday: “I won’t argue that Entrekin is a great writer,” which then went on to comment that I was “full of” myself.

I mentioned it yesterday and that I was happy it no longer came up as the first Google hit because can you just imagine an agent being intrigued by my query enough to hit Google only to find that as the first hit? I’d wager their first thought would be that I’m some prima donna author who thinks I’m the heir apparent to Stephen King and Jo Rowling and will become resentful when others don’t bow before my literary genius.

To which I say, in my best Wayne impression, shyaah!, not to mention: not!

Because seriously. I mean, what do you say to that? “Quite frankly, I resent the implication that I am full of myself. In fact, I am half-empty of myself, because I am a pessimist, and to fill the rest I seek meaningless sex, excessive alcohol, and the adoration of a whole bunch of people whom I will probably never meet except via the Internet (unless they come to an author signing).”

It’s kind of like being called defensive; if you defend yourself . . .

It’s probably silly to worry about, but I’ll admit it: I’m now past thirty and still worry about what other people think of me. I keep hoping that I’ll outgrow it someday, but someday continues to elude me so far.

But here’s the thing about one being full of one’s self:

I once heard that the difference between Eastern philosophy and Western religion is that the Western mode seeks external validation: from God, from the church, salvation through Christ, etc., whereas Eastern philosophy looks, instead, inward–toward the self. Toward the soul.

And that appeals to me. Which leads me to wonder if, according to Eastern philosophies, being full of one’s self isn’t a good thing? Or, at least, a goal to pursue?

I don’t know either way, but I’ll be personal for a moment, in a way I’m not usually, to tell you a story.

I went to a Jesuit college where I studied, among other subjects, theology (that my professor was a Jesuit priest trained as a Zen roshi might be why Eastern philosophy appeals so much to me). During that time, I became comfortable in my role on campus, in my role as a student, and then again in my role in commercial production. I won’t say I thought I had things pretty well figured out, and I read now the words I wrote then and I inwardly cringe, but, in a way, I felt somewhat full, I think. I was, largely, satisfied with my life.

And then September 11th. Which, I think, both emptied me out and made the vessel with which I was working larger (which, in turn, made it more difficult to fill). Suddenly, what had made sense before no longer did, and four years passed before I could really claim happiness again. Four years passed before I can really claim I felt full again. Satisfied.

And I remember the moment it changed again, when I realized I wanted to go to graduate school. It didn’t empty again, just made my vessel grow again, and so I drove across the country to Los Angeles, and I studied writing, and I began, again, to fill it. My vessel hadn’t grown so much as to require much fill, and then I published my book, and that helped it grow yet again.

And so I feel like the past few years have been a constant challenge of a growing vessel which I seek again and again to fill with my self. Each time my vessel grows, I seek new experiences, or new ways of seeing old ones, so that I can grow and fill it again.

It’s a challenge I have to admit I enjoy.

Full of myself? Sometimes, maybe. Perhaps. But when I’m really lucky there’s a little more room in the vessel yet to be filled, and the challenge of looking inward to do so is simultaneously one of the most difficult and most rewarding.

“I awake from a long, deep sleep
In a leaky little boat on a wide blue sea
I spy no islane, rock or shore
And the sea, she’s a-comin’ to me through a hole in the floor

And the tide come in and the tide go out
And the waves they came toss my little boat about
And the sky turn black and the sky turn blue
I got no pail, no sail, no anchor, too
Just a leaky little boat

And as I wake I look around
I have no notion where I’m bound
So many different colored boats I see
Are all leaky, lonely, and driftin’
Just like me

And the tide come in and the tide go out…

I spy no island rock or shore
And the sea keeps a-comin’ to me through a hole in the floor
Of my leaky little boat

Alone, adrift together are we
Slowly sinkin’ in a deep blue sea
But we smile and we wave
And we say, “I’m afraid…and I love you…and here we go…”
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, “Leaky Little Boat”

(update: edited to paraphrase the anonymous quote in question, for Google-rific reasons)

When I first started the new blog, I meant Imagery to be not just pictures but videos as well, and not just videos like my cousin playing his guitar. I’ve gotten sidetracked lately, admittedly; I have lots of pictures to post, but my first and greatest priority for the past two months was revising The Prodigal Hour.

Now that I’m done, though, and now that I’m even in the process of submitting for representation, I can do more of what I originally intended.

Including videos like this:

This is “How the World Will End,” from my debut collection Entrekin, and honestly, it’s much how I envisioned it in my head.

So now you get to see it.

Hopefully, this will reduce the ambiguity Emily Veinglory complained of in her review of the freeview. I generally tried to be as explicit as I could without becoming actually graphic, but I was trying to capture something simple: if the world were to end right now, if the news were interrupted to report Iran had launched a nuclear attack on the US and there really was no hope for survival, well, I’d want to spend my remaining time makin’ love.

Anyway, that’s the story and its Imagery; as this is the first one, I’m cross-posting it to both blogs. Mostly to announce it.

I have plans for more, I think. But this, as well as the usual pictures, is what to expect.

Hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.

(edit: unfortunately, I was informed that one of the images I had used was actually the work of an artist who hadn’t licensed his work under Creative Commons, which was the impression I had been working with. While I sort the issue out, I’m pulling the link and the video itself. I’ll repost if I can.