A Pagan Suckled in a Creed Outworn

flowers in landscapeFor the last couple months I’ve been on social media very little. This was on account of sundry deadlines, projects, and all the other reasons people typically get offline. I’ve been happier and measurably healthier since then, albeit missing the connection. The horrors of this past week have spurred me to political participation, but not to dwell constantly on injustice, and I’m so glad not to be as much in places where the parade of atrocities never ends. I still hew to Wordsworth’s famous formulation, and I’m endeavoring to live for the things I care about most.

cover of forthcoming Valancourt anthologyAt times when the world does press in, I think it’s important to remember the things that don’t. This week I was talking with James Jenkins of Valancourt Books about the merits of reading classic (or simply older) fiction, and I don’t think it can be overstated. One of the best things I’ve done for myself as a reader or writer in the last year was read all of M.R. James‘ tales, of which I’d previously read some, but not all. No one asked me to do so; as a rule, dead authors are not particularly demanding. Still, the desire was there in me, and it led in a roundabout way to my writing “En Plein Air,” a short story that will appear this October in volume two of Nightscript, and which I think is one of the most effective things I’ve written to date.

Last week I placed an order for a small pile of books, using some of the earnings from my Richmond Young Writers gig, recent things that I’ve read from the library or about which I’ve heard really excellent advance praise. What I also look forward to reading are the things that nobody is urging me to read. Part of that involves plumbing bibliographies and reference books, part of it involves finding reprints, and part of it involves hewing to the titular requirement of this post.

Egyptian_-_Gnostic_Gem_with_Scarab_-_Walters_42872_-_ReverseThe survival of work from the past can be a chancy thing, and what is saved is not necessarily good, and what is lost is sometimes better forgotten. The finding of it, however, is part of a quiet and almost Gnostic kind of quest that demands nothing. It is the sort of thing that many authors have engaged in over the years, and which cannot—perhaps should not—always be repackaged for the demands of social media. Some quests are public, some private, but either way, I think that we forget our quests at the peril of our lives, to say nothing of our art.

My Greatest Hits, by the Numbers

blog stats

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a guy with a strong interest in literature and the arts, particularly the dark and fantastic, my blog/site is of interest to y’all for things about literature and the arts. A few perhaps-interesting spikes in the data…

Finally, a snapshot of my most popular tags:

popular tags on my blog

Throwback Thursday, You Say?

In the mood for some Throwback Thursday action? Below are links to the top five posts I’ve written here…

On the Existence of the Female Tentacle” — 312 views — All about women who write Lovecraftian fiction.

Release the Leeches!” — 175 views — Release day and my writeup, lo those several months ago, for The Children of Old Leech.

Mary Chiaramonte / Land of Strangers / Eric Schindler Gallery” — 134 views — Review of Mary Chiaramonte’s 2012 show.

All the Colors of the Night” — 134 views — Review of Thomas Van Auken’s 2012 show at Eric Schindler Gallery.

Writing Year 2013: Statistics, Lies, Stagnation, and the Human Heart” — 115 views — An analysis with charts and statistics of my writing activities over a seven-year period.

Writing year 2014: Blog Readership Interlude

This morning I’m doing a little spreadsheet upkeep, and I thought I’d look at my blog’s reach. This is over a few years, but still: I never would have expected this as a kid. I had high hopes in terms of productivity that haven’t worked out, and my younger self says “Closing in on 40, and you haven’t published a novel yet, let alone 20? Loser!”

That said, my blog is read by robots people from around the world, and by year’s end I’ll have published at least a dozen stories in toto. I’m shooting for more, but it’s a milestone. Maybe one of these days I’ll start thinking seriously about a short story collection, and how to make that happen. Until then, the work reaches where it reaches, be it short story or blog post. To wit:

country of origin for blog viewers

International Renown, What Ho!

Previews of Coming Advertisements for Myself

CC-licensed pohto -- https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Blogging Before the Orthography Standardized

Recently I was approached by Shawna Christos, one of the first members of James River Writers I ever met (2009? 2010?), about participating in the Writing Process Blog Tour, and I agreed to participate. It’s not the kind of blog tour where an author guest posts all over the place about their new book, but rather, a blend of meme and progressive dinner. Tune in next Monday for my answers to the following questions:

1) What am I working on?

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

3) Why do I write what I do?

4) How does my writing process work?

 

Some of my fellow JRW-ites have participated and posted already…

Shawna Christos on self-preservation and sanity as motivations for writing.

Josh Cane on Devotchka and Sarasa gel pens.

Kristi Tuck Austin on Faulkner, Narnia, and surveillance.

 

Update on Statistics, Lies, Stagnation, and the Human Heart

t.rex model

Lumbering Forward

Since my self-analysis with graphs last November, I’ve done both more writing and more reading than I have for some time. No charts & graphs until the half-year mark and the end of 2014, but the current breakdown looks like this…

Write at least 100,000 words of completed or truly “in progress” fiction rough drafts by December 31, 2014. I’ve managed something like 8,729 words of new fiction. Peanuts to some, victory to me. I didn’t keep as close track as I should have, and the total count is probably higher, on account of measuring final drafts instead of bloated first drafts. Would that I’d written more, but I was out of commission for several weeks for health and other reasons.

Place six pieces of fiction for publication. Nothing accepted yet this year, but I have six things floating around in Slushlandia, two of which are new short stories since November.

Get back to blogging. 13 posts since November. At my current rate, that’s going to amount to around three-and-a-half times what I did last year. Given my blogging here is largely tied to reading, writing, and art, I’m gonna count that as a “win” in terms of deeper engagement with what matters most to me.

Read at least two books per month. On target. Plus sundry articles and general internet dreck. I’m falling back into my old habit of having too many books going simultaneously, but trying (!) to keep it under control.

How’s your writing/reading/creating year going?