Writing Updatery…. Pt. who knows?

It’s been 8 days since I posted anything here. Suppose I should remedy that.

Where are we on the writing front?

Just finished a 5,000 word short story. Completely new characters and setting. A bit of the old fashioned Sword & Sorcery shuffle. I’ve been resisting the urge to put in my editing teeth and start gnawing for about a week now. But tomorrow morning, let the chewing begin.

I hope to have that one out to my beta readers, maybe over the weekend.

Then one more spit shine and out to the highest paying market it might fit.

Dream big.

My WIP re: novel length fare, is somewhere in the middle of chapter 7 and waiting for me to dial the way-back machine to mid 80s Kansas and get back into the groove.

A small town. A haunted wheat field. Spreading insanity, ghosts of the past, and the teenagers caught in the middle.

I’m not an outliner, so, some projects have to flutter around the vaulted ceiling of my subconscious until I get the general feel for the bat’s wings and direction of flight.

On the self publishing front: currently investigating book reviewers and bloggers. There are a lot of them out there. Trying to find the ones that a) read my genre, b) will review self-published books, c) don’t have a 12 month waiting period, d) Will give a review more professional than a 200 word equivalent of a thumbs up or thumbs down, e) have any kind of readership of their reviews. Face it, you could give the best reviews in the world, but if nobody reads them, well…

And I’m still researching how to market my book online. Not sell it. That one I’ve got down. How to get people to see it and maybe be interested enough to buy it, that’s the trick.

And that might involve actually talking to people.

Shudder to think.

I guess I could always get drunk first.

Well, maybe only 2 or 3 drinks.

I know what you’re going to say:

Buzzed networking is drunk networking

You’re probably right.

I should think of other coping strategies.

What would I do without you?

Anyways,..

That’s what I’ve been up to.

Until next time…

 

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Karma’s a Bitch…But not Really

If you thought this post would be more about Argumentation, sorry. It won’t be.

But, it is going to be about one of my other pet-peeves of American ignorance: Karma.

Here I’m going to do something that “they” say one should never do at the start, I’m going to tell you you’re wrong.

And, the odds are good, for something like 90% of you, I’ll be correct in assuming that what you think Karma is, it well and truly isn’t.

Let’s start there.

Most people, I run into anyway, think that Karma means if you do good things, good things happen to you, and if you do bad things, then bad things happen to you.

Sound familiar?

Is that what you thought it was?

(excepting people I’ve lectured on the subject before, I’ll bet you did.)

That is not Karma.

Actually, I’m not sure what that is, other than maybe a collective wish for Justice that is projected out to be an a priori law of the universe.

Nothing wrong with that, by the way. It’s just not Karma.

So, if that’s not it, what the fuck is it?

Glad you asked.

(and by you, I mean me, borrowing your skin, but not in a creepy, serial killer kind of way, just metaphorically.)

Karma is a Sanskrit word that means: action.

That’s it. Just action.

Okay, so, like most Sanskrit words, it’s got more meaning bound up in it.

(to keep blood from seeping from your eyes, I’m going to paraphrase a bit here. If you really want to dig into Karma, look it up. Or, you know, read the Vedas.)

Karma has a few aspects.

The first is fairly basic: it is, essentially, the law of cause and effect, written in a spiritual vocabulary.

Your actions have causes that led to them. Your actions, in turn, become the causes that lead to other effects.

See, simple. But wait, there’s always more…

Another way to look at Karma is as a kind of spiritual/ behavioral inertia.

That is to say, if you act in a certain way, in a certain set of given circumstances, you will be more likely to act in a similar – if not same – way in similar – if not same – circumstances at a later time.

In this regard, we would look at Karma, more modernly, as habit.

And really, if you interpret it only that way, as habit, then you’ll not really go too wrong in your understanding.

Another aspect of Karma is more akin to an explanation of its existence as some kind of force of nature, for lack of a better term.

The idea is that Karma exists, and we are bound by it, to aid our own journey to enlightenment.

Essentially, Karma keeps you doing the same things, in the same situations, over and over again, until you learn whatever it is you’re supposed to be learning from it, at that stage. It is the teacher that won’t let you move forward until you’ve passed the lesson.

So, in a sense, if you find yourself making the same mistakes, over, and over, and fekkin’ over again, that’s your Karma. It’s trying to make you go through it until you wake up to the knowledge you need to move on.

Also, there is no good Karma or bad Karma. It’s all just Karma.

To attain liberation, (Moksha or Nirvana), one needs to remove one’s Karma. Get rid of it. Be free of it.

There are plenty of esoteric discourses on Karma in both Hinduism and Buddhism.

If you dig that kind of thing, definitely dive into it. You will not be disappointed.

But this is a fairly concise overview of the subject.

And now you can stop annoying the ever-lovin’-shit out of me by using it incorrectly.

I share because I care.

You feel that, don’t you?

Don’t you?!

Good.

We can move on to other topics.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Me, at 40.

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Putting the Civil Back in Civilization: Argument – Pt III

When not to Argue,

or,

Sometimes it’s just fucking pointless.

This is a big thing. Which is why I’m shoe-horning it in before a long discussion about fallacies.

In pt I of this series I made mention of when argument is warranted and necessary. But even a cursory glance at popular public discourse will show that it is equally, if not more important, to know when not to argue.

My basic rule is: try not to argue about dumb shit.

Dumb shit, in this arena, mainly consists of opinion and preference.

Here’s why: opinion, preference don’t really affect the course of our collective lives. If you can take it or leave it, as you choose, then it doesn’t really call for argument.

Logic need not get involved.

(If, for some weird reason you haven’t read pt 1 and pt 2 of this discussion, go read them. Especially if you’re new to this and you don’t really know what I mean by Argument.)

In those instances, where you just want to persuade someone else, reason isn’t required. Logic can sometimes aid in persuasion, but, if you’re watching the world we live in, you’ll have noticed it usually doesn’t enter into it. Shows you how easily we’re persuaded.

Emotion usually does much of the heavy lifting in persuading us to think one way or another.

(Yet another reason I cackle when some pundit makes pronouncements about society based on the assumption that we are motivated by reason. That’s a motherfucker who is out of touch with reality. Best to give them non-toxic crayons and keep them away from open flames.)

The problem with Emotion doing our deciding for us is that emotion is ephemeral and easily swayed. And we, as creatures of emotion, are likewise easily swayed. So much so that we can make catastrophic errors when we base our decisions solely on emotion.

The point of arguing with Logic is that it removes the bias emotion can interject into a discussion.

People can be emotionally persuaded of almost anything.

Go up in a sufficiently tall building, and you will see the curvature of the Earth. And yet, there remain citizens – many of whom are still legally allowed to vote and carry firearms – who staunchly believe the Earth is flat.

Want to believe something bad enough, and you will.

Logic and Reason end run around that.

The whole point is to flense away the things that don’t meet the standard of reason so that we may get closer to the truth.

So, when it comes to discussions of a purely subjective matter, argument isn’t the tool you’re looking for. Learn how to construct a sales pitch. That’ll get you more distance in that race.

There is another time where it’s just fucking pointless to argue with someone:

When the other party has no respect for the discussion or the members involved.

Easiest examples:

You don’t argue civil rights with a white supremacist. They neither believe in them or that you have the right to have them. In this, they are not good faith members of the discussion. You wouldn’t listen to the Nazi side of the argument about the formation of a Jewish state. And you don’t argue women’s rights with and avowed misogynist. It’s a fruitless exercise, and your opponent doesn’t believe you have the right to exist anyway, so fuck ‘em.

(The way to deal with these types, in a democracy, is to outnumber, outvote, and outlast them.)

 

So, let’s recap:

It’s just fucking pointless to argue when:

a) Your opponent is not a good faith member of the discussion.

&

b) It is a matter of subjective concern. (Persuasion, personal preference, etc…)

 

Logic is meant to help us find objective truths. Use it for pretty much anything but that, and you’re wasting your fucking time.

And let’s face it, you really don’t have time to waste, do you?

Until next time, where we’ll try to dig into logical fallacies, or at least the ones that show up over and over and fucking over again in our culture…

 

 

 

 

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What Makes a Man?

Hey folks, time to talk a bit about Masculinity.

(I know, I know. Why haven’t I finished the series on Argument yet? Well, too many reasons to go into here, but soon, my friends, soon…)

So, I was driving for work, listening to the radio, and I heard this story on NPR.

I recommend you listen to it; it’s only about 5 minutes long, and worth the time.

But for those of you in a hurry, the TL;DR –

The University of Texas at Austin was having a thing where they were investigating masculinity. It got all kinds of attention from the right-wing media. Maybe some of you saw it? Lots of blowhards talking about UT at Austin treating masculinity as a mental health issue.

Turns out, that’s not remotely the case. I know – SHOCKER!

But the story is interesting for more than that. It’s interesting for what the university was trying to do.

It looks like, from a glance at actual reporting, that the university was trying to come at the problem of campus sexual assault and harassment from a completely new angle, one that seeks to come to some kind of detente with the current disagreement over what it means to be masculine.

I could be paraphrasing that poorly, so, seriously, go listen to the article yourself.

This post, strangely isn’t about the article, per se.

(I know, that’s a lot of backstory to get to my main point. Don’t worry, there’s still a  bit more to come.)

What struck me, beyond the bald-faced straw man arguments (a logical fallacy we’ll delve deep into in a forthcoming post) posed by the right wing media, was the commentary some of the students at the actual university provided for the story.

A lot of it had to do with expanding the scope of what is considered “masculine” in order to not feel judged or excluded.

I have a problem with this for two reasons:

1. No man should feel less of a man because of what anyone else says “manly” is supposed to be. STOP THAT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW!

If you’re a male who thinks this way, please stop trying to live up to someone else’s standards. You’re really not required to. And have you considered that the person whose standards you’re trying to live up to might be a psychotic fucktard? Because you should really consider that. You’re you, the only you out there. Please remember that. We’ve got enough of them. We need a YOU. Why would you rob us of that?

-and-

2. It’s a horrible category error.

Ok, I’m going to get a bit analytical here. So, if you’ve only absorbed number 1 on this list, I won’t be offended if you give up here and go find something more interesting to do.

But please, stay. I’m really nothing without you. 😉

What do I mean by category error?

(Yes, technically it is a bit of philosophy jargon, but – happily – it actually means pretty much what you think it means: something has been placed in a category in which it does not belong, leading to a misunderstanding of the facts. That’s what you thought it meant, right? Good, glad we’re on the same page.)

So, there are two categories getting co-mingled here: Descriptive and Prescriptive.

Descriptive is, lucky for us, just what it sounds like: it is a description of the traits of a thing.

Prescriptive is a directive to be a certain way or meet a certain standard.

Descriptive is a statement about how things are, prescriptive is a statement about how things should be.

My position is that the term “masculine” is descriptive rather than prescriptive.

From listening to the article, it became apparent that there was an unexamined initial assumption, by pretty much everyone involved, that masculine was a prescriptive term, meant to lay out what it means to be a man.

This is wrong.

To know why we just have to look at the term masculine for itself. What is it?

Simply, and without copy and pasting dictionary definitions, the term refers to a constellation of traits we tend to associate predominantly with males of the species.

I probably don’t need to go into the list of traits. You’ve likely got a reasonable representation of what the term means – broadly – in your head already.

What I want to point out is that the list, how ever it is composed in your head, is not a checklist or a “to be” list. And that’s where most people make the error.

They take something that is descriptive and make it into a thing that is prescriptive.

The fact that we delineate traits we associate with males does not actually translate into a list of traits males should be. They are two separate endeavors.

The list of traits we consider “masculine” exist as the extreme end of a spectrum. The other extreme end being “feminine”. Those two words are descriptors of the opposite poles of one wholeness, one continuity of being. They are meant to bracket the description of the spectrum, not monopolize it.

One may have traits that exist all along the spectrum, or one may move along it through the course of one’s life. Your experience is your own. It can only be inexpertly described from the outside, it can not be told what it should be. What it should be, for a uniquely individual experience, is an absurd notion, because, how would they know? Shit, how would you know? Anyways.

So, my conclusion is that it is unnecessary, and likely absurd, to try to redefine, or expand the concept of what masculinity is. It already exists as a pretty good descriptor of a thing.

What we need to do is stop using it as a measuring stick for being a man.

We need to stop using it as a check list.

Masculinity is not the doorman at the velvet rope of manhood.

There are many ways to be a man, of which “masculine” is just one mode.

It’s just a description, not necessarily a goal to be achieved.

Time to treat it accordingly.

 

(And no, I’m not even going to try to define what being a man is here. It will take too long to even get straight in my own head, and too long to type out. Best to save that for a day when I’m more cranky and hungover, because it’s way more fun that way.)

 

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Announcement Time!

Hey kids,

I’ve passed the cut off date for literary agent responses. Safe enough to assume the remainders are rejections.

And that means just one thing:

Time to go it alone.

SELF PUBLISHING!

Truth is, it scares the hell out of me.

There’s a good amount stuff I have to learn, but I’ve always been good at that.

It won’t be immediately. I still need to hire a professional artist/ formatter. The plan is for Drawn to Flame to be available on e-book and paperback.

Some time, later this year, I’ll be posting the first few chapters, on the build up to the release date- which, truthfully I have yet to decide upon.

If you have advice, or if you review books, leave a comment. I will get back with you.

I’ll also be building an email list. More on that when I figure it out.

Thank you, to everyone who reads my weird ramblings here. I hope to bring you more entertainment in the future.

I’ll be blogging about this journey. Maybe you’ll find that interesting. I’ll try to ensure it.

Time to steer directly into danger.

“Sheer terror of where you’re headed is the surest sign you’re headed in the right direction.”

Wish me luck.

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Oh No, it’s Another One of Those, “When I was a Kid,” Posts…

Not a rant, I promise.

But seriously, when I was young, there was always someone, at every gathering, who could play guitar, or harmonica, or beat a drum.

And we would sit around, many of us in varying stages of intoxication, and sing songs until late into the night.

We didn’t have cable tv, or phone apps, or internet access, but we had each other, and music, and we whooped and hollered, and stomped our feet trying to keep time.

We had each other,

And we had a ball.

I miss that.

I like all the modern entertainment conveniences, but I miss the wee hours full of music and laughter.

If you have the chance to be a part of that, do not pass it up.

Trust me.

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