Works of fiction appearing here are © 2011-2017 by Jack H. Tyler, and are not to be assumed to lie in the public domain.
Any reproduction of this material is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Gathering Steam

"When I get a little money, I buy books;
                   and if any is left, I buy food and clothes."


         Monday again already!  For some this day is depressing, as their mind is focused on the return to the grind.  Studies show that that dread doesn't translate into negativity.  On the contrary, your best work of the week, based on a study of Redbook members, and 28,000,000 of their completed projects, is complete by 11:00 AM Monday morning, so rejoice!  Today you will be performing your best work of the week.
         Of course, as a retiree, it's easy for me to be glib about this, but for 25 years before I retired, I was shift-working, dancing to a schedule created by a random number program.  I'd work a couple of days, a couple of nights, then have a couple of days off.  I was all over the clock and all over the calendar, so Mondays were "just another day" to me.  But yes, I'd see the nine-to-five crew moping in every Monday morning, bemoaning the fact that they hadn't won the lottery or had a rich uncle die over the weekend, and it can really make you think about how you're spending your life.  So if you have a job that fulfills you or is otherwise enjoyable, count your blessings and welcome Monday.  And if you don't, well, you'll cheer up come payday!
         Okay, now that I've redefined the whole concept of "filler," let me get to the blog post.  I got three scenes of Family Reunion written this past week, and a whole lot of outlining.  This story is flying along like they did in the old days, and I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am with the progress, Monday or not!  If I can hold to that pace, my incredible, fantastic, magnificently marvelous story for the ages should be complete and ready to read by late Febanary/early March, at which time I'll provide a link, and you can judge for yourselves.  This, of course, is the first story (of five or six) of what will become Beyond the Rails IV.
         Anyone familiar with my work knows that I'm an old-fashioned writer, in style at least, but I recently learned that I'm old-fashioned in substance as well.  A friend of mine recently blogged about an author who was prolific in the golden age of pulps, a literary style that describes me to a T, and he talked about how the pulp writers who depended on prolific output for their living never rewrote anything.  I have not been able to find this post again, so perhaps he was shouted down by hostile modern authors, but a statement made therein was that rewriting didn't become a "thing" until the new-age movement made its way to writing in the 1970s, and that all the classical authors your parents have loved since before you were born, from Dickens to Kipling to Poe, didn't rewrite anything.  Whether that's true or not, I have no idea, but I'm here to fess up: I don't rewrite either.  I will say this about my writing style:  I outline my outlines in two and three layers, so by the time I'm ready to write, I've already given deep consideration to what I have to say.  As I write, I rarely add more than one scene a day, and before I start the day's writing, I reread what I've written before.   During those sessions, I will often change a word or phrase, to strengthen or clarify a point, and in the final proofreadings, which I do multiple times, I will make final adjustments, but what you are reading is essentially a heavily proofread first draft.  My Beyond the Rails books have been reviewed all over the internet, and unless a bunch of strangers are all lying to make me feel good, that system is working for me.  I don't intend to change it.
         So there I am, as I have been so many times in my life, flying in the face of conventional wisdom.  Now that you know that I don't rewrite, do you hate me?  Are you going to go back and downgrade your reviews?  I hope not, but there you are.  It can be done, but I think it's only possible for a planner to get away with it, because we already know where we're going.  I'll be interested to see whether anyone has any opinions about this, because among writers in the 2010s, it pretty much amounts to blasphemy.
         All right, let's lighten the mood a bit.  I encountered several enjoyable examples of words having fun during the last week, but this one really stayed with me:

Don't assume malice for what stupidity can explain!

          Finally, I'd like to direct you to the site of a good friend, one William J. Jackson.  William writes the Rail City series of books that I can only describe as "The X-Men go steampunk."  If this sparks your curiosity mutation, pay him a visit at The Rail Baron's Blog.  He has a special going today on at least one of his e-books, and if you miss this one, not to worry; he does this frequently.  Worth a look for steampunk aficionados, which I assume you are if you follow my blog.
          Okay, class dismissed.  Until next week, play nice, look out for one another, and above all else, get out there and live life like you mean it!

~ Jack

Monday, January 8, 2018

Back on Track (so to speak...)

"This is the moment of embarking.
All auspicious signs are in place."
          Well, the first week of 2018 has certainly been exciting for me, and I'm here to share with those who may have been wondering whether I was ever going to produce anything again.  I am.   After four solid months of non-productivity, the muse is back.  I spent a great deal of time debating whether I should concentrate my efforts on The Nexus Chronicles, The Darklighters, or Stingaree, but when the mutinous old dog returned, he brought with him the first story of the Beyond the Rails IV collection, working title, Family Reunion.  If it continues at the present rate, I expect to have at least the first draft up for public consumption on by the end of February.  I'll provide a link at that time for anyone with an interest.  Of course, I no longer have my Pollyanna attitude about it; it stopped without warning before, and it could happen again, but one must go forward believing in the best, or not go forward at all.  Watch this space for updates.  I have to tell you, I feel wonderful, and I hope the early days of the new year have been as generous to you!

All the best in all things always,
~ Jack "Blimprider" Tyler

Monday, January 1, 2018

To a Safe and Prosperous 2018!

Happy New Year to friends old and new. May midnight find you happy, and the sunrise find you alive. Have a safe and prosperous 2018!

Monday, December 25, 2017

My Christmas Wish

Absorb the grace and generosity of Christmas.
Carry it wherever you go.
Dispense it for others wherever you are.
What a wonderful world would result!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The First Day of Winter

A homeless man dies in the gutter.
A tree cracks in the cold: A shocking sound.

          The winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, has profound effects on the hemisphere at large.  Plants are deep in their protective dormancy, animals have gone to ground, using the minimum energy possible, venturing out even to forage only in desperation.  The complicated brains of humans do not go unaffected, either.  The shortening days, perhaps subconsciously associated with the dwindling days of life remaining, bring on bouts of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It's a real thing; look it up.
           The colder weather also brings flu season.  Not sure why, perhaps the lower temperatures suppress the immune system.  Not a doctor, can't address that, but I am in the end-phases (God, let us hope!) of a truly nasty one.  I don't know how it got past my flu shot.  Must have been some errant strain that no one saw coming, but that's neither here nor there.  Last Saturday, and continuing through Monday, I probably slept twenty hours a day, an hour of lucidness here and there broken up by three-to-four hour naps.  I still have congestion, difficulty regulating my temperature, body aches, and a real bad case of cancer of the ambition.  TheraFlu is a remarkable product, and you can tell them I said so!
          But people don't read this blog to hear about my health problems.  Most people following here know me as a writer, and that's really what I'm here to talk about.  First, a brief history of Jack the Writer.  My fifth grade teacher turned me on to the joys of writing to entertain others in 1957, probably around this time of year.  It's now 2017, which means that right around now, I've been writing to entertain others for almost exactly sixty years.  I went through a thousand phases and never achieved the sort of success gained by King or Rowling, but I had a good time and achieved a respectable level of proficiency; there are books out in public with my name on the front and my picture on the back,  and there are a couple of dozen reviews extolling my skills, so while I am not a millionaire, neither am I dissatisfied with the outcome.
          But what has been brought home to me with agonizing certainty over the past four months, with this crippling flu serving as the exclamation point, is that I have no further interest in writing at all.  I've been trying to spark it for the last four months.  I post writing days on the calendar, psyche myself up to write, then on the morning, I get out the notebook, fire up the computer, and... nothing.  So I try to improve an outline instead of actually writing; ain't happening.  I daydream scenes starring characters of my own creation the way some of you probably remember favorite scenes from movies, but when it comes time to put words on the page, the muse is conspicuously absent.
          So be it.  At sixty-nine, I don't have time left to fret over something I can't do anymore.  I can't run track anymore, either, and I don't let that bother me.  It's time for me to view writing in the same light.  You should note that it is almost impossible for a writer to make the conscious decision that he is through with writing, even if that's what he wants and intends; all he has to do is pick up a 10c pen and start scribbling.  In my case, I don't want to quit.  What I have to recognize is that I already have, want to or not.
          Recognizing, then, that it could start up again at any time, I have to face the future in the assumption that it won't, and decide what, if any, public face I'm going to present if not that of a writer.  I've seen so many people succeed with those little "slice of life" blogs that it makes me nuts!  They talk about feeding the squirrels on their back porch, and garner three, four, five hundred followers.  I've been blogging on this site since 2010.  I have 26 followers, and probably half of them are inactive.  I don't think of myself as pigheaded, but that particular statistic suggests otherwise.  Should I talk about my religion?  Nobody wants to hear that, and besides, that just invites attacks from the "you're wrong" crowd, and I have no interest in dealing with them.  Maybe I'll just become a person who comments on other peoples' blogs.  Or maybe I'll just close the door and turn out the lights; conventional wisdom suggests that I'm not really all that interesting in the first place.  I'll probably take another shot or two between now and New Year's, but just to be safe, anyone who wants to wish me goodbye better take care of that sooner rather than later...
          Play nice, watch out for one another, and live life like you mean it!  I'll see you around the web.

~ Jack