Hello, and good day.
It’s technically still ‘night’ as I write this. We won’t have sunrise here for another three hours and change (as of when I’m typing this at around 3:30am). But using “good night” as a greeting has always seemed rather odd to me.
We all have our quirks, right?
It’s been an interesting couple of days. Well… maybe that should be an interesting couple of weeks. I think my last post here was the notification that I finished Skullkeep.
So, the question becomes… do I want to go through this chronologically or by topic? Ya know… that’s a damn good question.
Oh, by the by… in case you didn’t know… I cuss. When the fit strikes me, I cuss a lot. You wanna know why? Because they’re just words. They’re just words, people. Society has decreed that the words labeled ‘cursing,’ ‘cussing,’ ‘profanity,’ and such are bad. But society has decreed that a lot of things are bad over the years, and the funny thing about society is that it’s always evolving.
George Carlin’s “7 words” and the rest of the vocabulary society defines as profanity are low-hanging fruit. They’re easy. Frankly, they’re often too easy… but sometimes, you just have to step back and appreciate a well-delivered and timely “fuck.”
The best way to cuss–in my opinion–is to find (or commandeer) a word or phrase that is pure, unadulterated nonsense and use that whenever you want to cuss. I have found that the reactions of those around me can be quite entertaining when I do that.
My personal favorite is, “Well, pin feathers and gullyfluff.”
I picked that up from one of the animated cartoons I watched when I was a kid, but good gullyfluff luck getting me to remember which one.
But I digress…
(And have probably lost most of my readership, but moving on!)
Film Credit: The scene in the second link above comes from the movie Boondock Saints.
#1 (Not in chronological order, by the by…)
A writer friend sent me a screenshot of a news story yesterday that really caught my eye.
I love using the phrase “commune with Google” whenever I’m talking about hopping on Google and doing a search for something. In a lot of ways, the phrase “Google search” has kinda become synonymous and interchangable with “internet search,” much like how Band-Aid has come to replace adhesive bandage or Q-Tip has replaced cotton swab.
I personally have been trying to break myself out of thinking of items in terms of trademarked versions of those items (like Band-Aids and Q-Tips), and I’ve succeeded for the most part with cotton swabs. Still have a ways to go on changing my thought process on “Band-Aid,” though…
But the news story reported that Samsung may be considering replacing Google with Bing for the default search engine on its smartphones.
Smartphones… really? We’re still using that term? I much prefer the European term: mobile device. Maybe it’s just me, but I think these devices have well exceeded the point where smartphone is truly descriptive. “Smartphone,” to me, conjures the image of a device that’s twenty years old, maybe kinda clunky in its usage or maybe not, and you’re lucky at best if you get any kind of internet on it.
Of course, twenty years ago, the internet wasn’t really all that much to crow about… but details, right?
Getting back to the news story… when my friend sent this to me, it was a teensy bit of a shock. I mean, it’s freakin’ Google, right? Where else would you go for quality search results?
And that’s when I realized I was falling victim to the “but this is how we’ve always done it” mentality that seems to be so prevalent in a subset of humanity.
I’m sure–way, way back in the day–some sailing ship went down with all hands because it was taking on water, and the captain refused to use more than one bucket to bail it out because using one bucket “was the way we’ve always done it.”
But that is a very, very dangerous trap to fall into, folks.
“The way we’ve always done it” is a closed-minded, ridgid way of thinking. When we’re operating with this mindset, we’re not always as open to new ideas as we might have been.
So… now, I’m wondering if Bing might be better than Google. Bing is supposedly powered by AI, which is short for artificial intelligence.
But I don’t like that label, either.
I argue that what we have right now is much more properly called machine learning. To me, AI or artificial intelligence is equivalent to artifical sapience. The so-called AIs we have right now–as far as I know–are not sapient. They are not self-aware or intuitive. I could easily be wrong because I haven’t been keeping up with the field, but I don’t think so.
It all comes down to the simple fact that I’m not sure whether Bing is better than Google or not. I know it’s not as comfortable–for me–as Google. And it’s not as conversation friendly as Google. Can you imagine sitting in a cafe somewhere and saying, “Oh… that’s a good question. I’ll Bing that.”
“I’ll Bing that.” Is it just me, or does that sound like toeing the line of an indecent proposal?
Or maybe it just sounds odd and slightly pornographic because I have twenty years of reflex built up around the thought, “I’ll just Google that.”
Apparently, the news story was sufficient to cause the stock price of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) to fall about 4% yesterday (i.e. Monday the 17th).
But can Samsung really drop Google as the default search engine for their mobile devices?
Well… the answer–like so many things with tech–is “It depends.”
According to Android Authority’s writer Adamya Sharma, all Android OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers, like Samsung) must sign something called the Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (or MADA… wow… that acronym isn’t easy to mess up these days at all, is it?). And it seems there are different MADAs for different regions. According to the MADA for the United States, the Google app must be installed on every device, and Google must be the default search engine when it leaves the factory.
Europe has its own MADA after a $5 billion antitrust spanking the EU gave to Google back in 2018, and apparently, India is (or soon will be) implementing its own version.
Part of me wants to wonder how long it will be before the US Congress stops fighting with itself and realizes Big Tech is still out there (and so many other more important issues), but the pessimistic realist in me is quietly whispering that I should just go ahead and hold my breath on that, because… honestly? I could probably use the time-out.
In case you missed the links above or didn’t want to switch away from my rambling commentary (which is even better and much preferred from my point of view), I’ll add them here.
Earlier today, I needed (or perhaps just wanted) a break from writing. So, after considerable thought and well-reasoned deliberation (and if you believe that, I have a huge overflowing water well in the middle of the Sahara I want to sell you), I decided to hop on YouTube.
One of the channels I subscribe to–but don’t watch as often as I should because I’d rather be writing–is Adam Savage’s “Tested.” In case you have not associated a face to the name Adam Savage, he was one of the two primary hosts of MythBusters, which ran for thirteen years (plus or minus) from (roughly) 2003 to 2016.
My best friend had to introduce me to MythBusters in the early, early days of streaming, as it was a program on cable TV and–still yet today–there is no cable access in my preferred location of residence.
A video that I’d seen a couple times in the feed on my homepage for YouTube had the click-bait title, “Adam Savage’s Hammer Is Garbage.” And since none of the other channels I subscribe to had anything interesting so close to the top of my feed, I clicked that video to watch it.
And holy cow, folks! It was awesome. It was a twenty- to thirty-minute video that chronicled the highlights of Adam Savage creating a hammer from two pieces of garbage. The hammer’s head came from a steel plug that he found along the street, and the handle came from a pallet slat.
If you are even slightly inclined toward machining or having your own machine shop or anything like this, you should take the time to watch the video.
Here… I’ll even embed it below to make watching it easier.
Back on March 27th, I finished The Fall of Skullkeep. At this time, it is in the (hopefully) tender embrace of my editor.
One of my professional role models says that you should never tell anyone that you struggled with a story, and on one side, I kinda see that. After all… at the end of the day… the average reader doesn’t care whether you struggled to write a story. The average reader only cares if they enjoyed the story and if it met their expectations.
A friend who I have considerable respect for (but have since lost) once told me that I needed to get more comfortable with expressing myself, so as with the rest of this post, you may consider the remainder of this topic 115% optional.
I didn’t realize how much I had struggled to write/finish The Fall of Skullkeep until I actually finished it. It wasn’t a story problem. I’ve known how the story was going to end–generally–for over ten years… maybe longer. But “generally” just equals the broad strokes. Not even so close as the bird’s eye view. We’re talking the orbital view, here.
No… it was a challenge to finish that story for several different reasons that all ganged up to collaborate. I’m not going to get into all of them here, because I strongly feel that way lies percussing deceased equines.
But what really proved to me that it was more of a struggle than I thought while I was writing it was the sheer amount of relief I felt when I finished it. And that relief had an unexpected consequence.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been around people or families who have been critically short of food for a long period of time, but one of the things to watch out for if you give people in that situation a cornicopia of food is gorging. Unless some controls their intial food consumption or they have awesome willpower, it’s very easy for a person who’s been in that situation for a long time to actually make themselves sick by eating.
The realization or feeling or [insert appropriate noun here] didn’t really kick in until March 29th.
But I remember waking up and feeling damn-near giddy over the writing freedom I now had. Skullkeep was finished! Yes, sure… I still had to do my final read-through before tossing it in the general direction of my amazing and incredible editor, but–for the moment–it was finished.
Remember how I’ve mentioned before that I love all my story ideas to the point that–if it were humanly possible–I’d write all of them… at the same time?
Well… it wasn’t quite that bad. But I did kinda load up my blunderbuss and start peppering random pages with words.
Since April 1st, I have written 50,567 words… split across five stories (unless I missed one or two stories in my count, but I think it’s accurate). The traditional, industry definition of a novel is a minimum of 40,000 words. I have written a novel’s worth of words, this month, without actually finishing a novel.
But you know what? I’m having a blast.
I’m going to try to keep it to these five projects for now. I don’t want to get so many projects going that I start feeling scattered and like I’m accomplishing nothing but spinning my wheels. If you really want to know, I’m hoping I’ll reach a kind of critical mass on one of these where it just takes over my whole focus and I write on nothing else until it’s finished.
That’s what happened with Novel #11 last summer.
And with the exception of two of these projects, they’re all different series within that shared world I’ve been nibbling around the edges of discussing.
Let’s talk about Tempus.
In the announcement that I finished The Fall of Skullkeep, I stated that my next major project would be Tempus, Primogenitor #4. I may have even mentioned the unicorn story my best friend’s 8-year-old daughter wants me to help her write.
Full confession, here: I have no freakin’ idea how I’m going to write that story. Middle grade (ages 8 – 12, not Middle School grades 5 – 8) unicorn stories aren’t really my thing, but I’ll muddle through somehow and–at an absolute minimum–make sure I have fun writing the story.
But I digress…
The short of it is that I was an idiot to claim Tempus as my next major project.
Well, let me refer you to Topic #3 up above.
I do not want to write Tempus right now. I both apologize and am sorry that I didn’t know myself at the time I stated Tempus would be my next major project, and not to be ass about it… but… well… Life happens.
At this point, I do feel safe and confident in stating categorically and for certain (with no takes-backsies) that I’ll write and publish Tempus this year. When? Not really certain, honestly. But 2023. And no… Tempus will not be another Fires. I promise you that.
In October of last year, I wrote a post where I discussed an email I received. The person who wrote the email was very dissatisfied that he’d been waiting over two years for Skullkeep (I published Home Sweet Home in mid-2020). Here… I’ll even link to the post, in case you missed it. It’s actually one of my favorites.
Now, how does that post apply to this topic? Why… I’m glad you asked!
My mind is often afire with many, many ideas at the same time. I honestly hope you also have more ideas than you know what to do with, too, because I think that state is all kinds of fun. Two of the ideas that have been swirling in my head are (1) whether I want to run a Kickstarter for Skullkeep and–if I do–whether to include a special Jackson edition hardcover as one of the reward tiers and (2) the wonderful feeling that I’m free to write whatever I want.
Those two ideas or thoughts meshed together and gave me the realization that–when I wrote that post about Jackson’s email back in October–I was only looking at the surface thoughts and completely failed to process the deeper lack of understanding he probably has about the creative arts. At least, the content of his email leads me to believe he doesn’t understand the creative arts… but I could easily be wrong.
And yes, this is apropos to the thesis statement at the top of this topic. Bear with me, here.
You see… no matter which medium of creative art you prefer–whether visual art (i.e. painting or drawing or sketching, etc.) or music or stories or movies or TV–the consumer of that art should always really, really want the creator to be engaged with–and excited about–the project s/he’s creating. Because the project that the creator is most engaged with and excited about is the project the consumers of the art most enjoy.
One of my favorite sayings about what I do is this: If I’m not excited to write it–if I don’t love writing it–then no one will ever be excited to–or love–reading it.
So, the moral of this story is that–regardless of which story you really want your favorite writer to write–you should really, really want your favorite writer to write whatever stories they wake up excited about. Those will be their best stories.
Now, I just want to clarify one final thought. I do not consider myself an artist. I don’t. I’m a storyteller. A talespinner. When I sit down at my computer to bang out a few words towards whatever story has my excitement the moment I sit down, I don’t sit down to create art. I sit down to tell a story. I sit down to entertain.
And if I’m especially lucky, the stories that entertain me will entertain others.
This has been my longest post in… well… quite the while. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for hanging in there with me. I’ll try to do a better job of posting more often and hopefully even something approaching a regular schedule.
But honestly? No promises, because I still have a lot of fun stories to write.
Be safe out there.