Category Archives: Opinion

Of Aftermaths, Depression, and the Will to Keep Pushing…

Aside from book reviews and event announcements, I haven’t posted anything of substance on the blog in nearly three weeks. I wish I could point to my typical prodigious writing output as the reason, but alas 2017 has been abysmal relative to previous years.

It’s August and the most fiction I’ve written since January has been four additional chapters in my SF novel and an outline for a new paranormal short story that I just started writing this week. In previous years, I would have been finished with the first draft of the novel long before before now as well as four or five short stories.

Granted, I spent winter and spring editing about 15 submissions for an upcoming anthology and then began working with the three artists who are providing brilliant interior illustrations. That phase of the project is currently well under way as is the cover art. This is the third volume in this anthology series and the last one I’m editing/project managing.

As mentioned in a previous post, this was followed by a six-week home renovation in June that, while successful, severely limited my writing time. Fortunately, the project ended on June 29, right on schedule. After clean-up and reorganizing our house, I had hoped to return to a normal routine and enjoy the remainder of my summer.

Unfortunately, the partial roof collapse at my workplace on July 1 (my birthday) and the subsequent week of round-the-clock effort to restore our IT systems, burned me out and triggered a severe bout of depression. Now, I’ve been battling this demon since I was six years old and have suffered through more severe bouts than I care to remember, but this was one of the worst and it scared the hell out of me.

I’m sure my manager and team mates were even more exhausted than I. Each weekend in July following the calamity was filled with yet more activity to stabilize and restore our environment. We’re still dealing with the aftermath even now. At the risk of sounding selfish, I hope comp time is on the horizon in the near future.

To make matters worse, our rabbit took ill at the end of July with a bladder problem, which caused him to stop eating. This resulted in multiple vet visits and two weeks of force feeding him Critical Care (a food paste) via syringe. We’re still in the midst of dealing with this and praying that the problem does not become life threatening. He has begun eating again, but nowhere near as voraciously as he’s accustomed to.

I’m also nearly finished building a new website for one of my publishers. That’s actually one of the highlights of my summer along with learning that my paranormal novella, Like Mother, Like Daughters was accepted by Firebringer Press and will be published in a format that has me excited. I hope to see that released in 2018. Stay tuned for more info!

On a disappointing note, my submission to the 2017 Rehoboth Beach short story contest was rejected. From Second Place last year to Nothing this year. Such are the highs and lows of the writing life. On the flip side, I look forward to the online publication of another short story later this fall. It’s a paranormal tale set in New Mexico. I’ll post the link here when it’s published.

All told, I’m probably doing better than I think I am, and I know I should not beat myself up over what I perceive as failing in my normal quantity of writing. Life sometimes delivers setbacks and we do the best we can to work through them. I’m excited about the new paranormal short story I just started writing this week. It should be finished in a few days.

My spirit are also lifted by the fact that I have at least two new releases coming next year and of course, the problems that ruined my summer will eventually pass one way or another and allow me to reclaim my writing time.

 

We Have Met the Borg and They are Us!

I’m currently reading Ray Bradbury’s terrific anthology from 1953, The Golden Apples of the Sun.  Among the many engThe Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Braduryaging tales is a prescient story called “The Murderer,” about a man who, in search of simple peace and quiet, destroys all of his electronic devices in a society where constant chatter from watches, radios, computers, phones, and TV has pervaded—nay, INVADED!—everyday life.

It was stunning to note just how accurate Bradbury was about a future still five decades away. Although the story did not deal with such devices pilfering our privacy, the parallel to society’s current condition was remarkable.

Then this morning, I find this article, from which I quote: “On Black Friday in 2015, hackers broke into the servers of Chinese toymaker VTech and lifted personal information on nearly 5 million parents and more than 6 million children. The data haul included home addresses, names, birth dates, email addresses and passwords. Worse still, it included photographs and chat logs between parents and their children. VTech paid no fine and changed its terms of service to require that customers acknowledge their private data “may be intercepted or later acquired by unauthorized parties.””

Read the entire article here: The Greatest Privacy Threat of All: Our Connected Devices by Vivek Wadhwa

I’ve been employed in the IT support and infrastructure field across several major companies for nearly 25 years. I’m also a die-hard science fiction fan. It’s logical to assume then, that I might be the kind of person who owns every device that hits the market and who spends hours gaming or keeping up with the latest VR tech.

You’d be wrong. In my personal life, I have a MacBook Pro laptop and an iPhone. For my job, I have an additional Dell laptop, HTC Windows phone, and a Surface Pro. Ask me anything about video games and I couldn’t tell you a damn thing. Virtual reality? Couldn’t care less. I’m still grappling with the physical reality of the world in which we live and breathe and eat and pay bills and maintain our homes and—at least for now—interact with the people around us without the “aid” of dehumanizing devices.

I manage my schedule with a day planner. You know, the kind with paper pages on which I write…with a PEN. Same with my novels and short stories. I save reams of scrap paper, printed on one side, that otherwise would have ended up in the trash or recycle. I turn these into notepads and write on them, later to be transcribed into Word or Scrivener.

Smart TV? Not in my house. Same with Alexa and all of these “home management” devices. Fuck them. I can manage my home, my life, and be entertained by my favorite shows without some electronic ear eavesdropping on my every conversation. I see families and friendships fracturing more and more as a result of people unable to peel their gazes and fingers away from their phones and tablets as if these devices have become an extension of their bodies.

You have been assimilated. Resistance wouldn’t be so futile if you actually tried.

Hell, I don’t even own an eReader device of any kind. I have the Kindle app on my laptop, that’s about it. I can count on three fingers how many ebooks I’ve read on it. Of course, I read many Word and PDF files when writers send me their ARCs to read for review, or when I’m critiquing/proofreading stories for writer friends, or accepting submissions to anthologies I’m editing. However, at the risk of sounding like a borderline Luddite, I minimize the use of tech in my personal life for the sake of my own privacy and peace of mind.

Get me outside! To the water with rod and reel, to a nature trail, to the beach where I can sit beneath a canopy on a blazing summer day with a cold drink and a good—physical—book.

OK, enough. Thanks for reading. Now, I’ll jump off the proverbial soap box, or wooden crate, or picnic table, and return to The Golden Apples of the Sun…in paperback…from 1953.