11 June, 2004

Oh, man, it's been weeks since I've felt in the mood to do a journal entry, and I've been meaning to do one, too. I've wanted to write about why there is a spoken word section of this website and why there has finally been some action on it. I simply have not been in the mood. Crap and shit at work, I guess. It's been depressing. Stressful and depressing. Oh, well, enough of that self-serving bullshit.

So, just maybe you have been wondering why there is a spoken word section of this website. More likely, you've just been ignoring it because there is only the one thing there and how interesting is that, right?

Well, the reason it is there is just another one of my crazy passions. It's the whole idea that stories are living breathing things that exist outside of the printed page. You can't get that from a book. Well, you can get lots and tons of stuff out of a book, but it's not the same thing. Words need to be spoken. They need to exist in space. They're not just printed ink or pixels on the page. They live. They thrive. They breathe. They die.

Words exist fleetingly in the space between now and then. Sure, you can record them. Sure, you can even write them down, but the recorded word still needs to be played back. The sounded recording again exists in space. It fleets from the speaker to the ear. It vibrates on the air, and then it is gone again. Remembered. Recorded. But, it lives on the wind. Even the written word is only another form of recording if you want to think like that.

I'm not trying to say anything bad about the printed word. I happen to love the printed word. The book. The story. The idea. But, there is just something about the spoken word that simply cannot be matched by anything else. You don't have to believe me only remember that I am also a musician and composer so you know where my strange notions about the voiced word come from.

In fact I was going to hammer away at my point by doing this journal entry as an audio journal. Yeah, that stupid idea lasted about a week. Now, the idea of doing an audio journal entry just seems embarrassing. Not to mention even more egotistical and narcissistic than what I normally do around here.

So, anyway, the biggest roadblock toward expanding the spoken word page has always been my limited to non-existent ability to make recordings. No, seriously, find a microphone. No, really, find a microphone that you like and doesn't make you sound like shit and that you can afford. Now, throw in the fact that you don't know squat about microphones. What? You with the degree in electronic music don't know shit about microphones? Yeah, you got a problem with that? Microphones just weren't my thing. Also shows how crappy the electronic music program could be.

In fact, the recording of The Soldier and the Demon was actually done at a friend's house. Somebody–hey, Jason–who actually knew something about microphones. It was a strange scene doing that recording. See, his wife–hi, Kat–wouldn't stop laughing. Or, they would make me self-conscious, and I would start laughing. Or, Jason would start laughing. Take your pick. They all happened. Never in order. So, what we finally had to do was stretch the mic cable into another room and close the door. I couldn't see them, and I couldn't hear them laughing so the recording finally got done. I'm still not happy that there is the one hiccup in the recording, but what are you going to do?

So, after that wonderfully fun experience, I knew doing any more recording would just be another disaster. So, here things have laid in the dust until I could get around to buying my own microphone, which considering how expensive they were was really kind of out of the question. What? Jason would show me what he considered to be half-decent microphones, and I would faint at the price tag. What are you going to do? Just do nothing and kind of grumble and fume.

Yeah, once upon a time, I had a really crappy microphone, and one of the first programs for making Real Audio files. Yeah, that was back in the day when the damn program only cost forty bucks. I can't afford it now, which is half the reason I did the poetry in MP3 format. I think it would work better to use Real Audio, but I just can't afford the damn thing. Of course, the other reason I'm not using Real Audio is that I really don't like the sales push. It really turned me off. It became almost impossible to find the free version of the player. I mean, why? I'm already paying bucks to make the recordings. Why fleece the listener, too? Yeah, I know. Money. But, damn, it just sucks.

Side note, I understand that mostly because of the efforts of the guys over at Car Talk, the free version of the Real Audio player has become much easier to find and install, but I'm still not going back because the cost of the encoder is still way out of my price range.

So, time has passed, and I've gotten really sick and tired of having so little to show on the spoken word page. And, I knew it was time. It was just time to do something. Find a microphone. Something. Find a stupid program. Thanks again to Jason for mentioning a little shareware program called Goldwave. Yeah, it's pretty cool, and for forty bucks it certainly does everything I need.

Anyway, that just left my trumping over to Radio Shack to find a cheap-ass microphone. Yeah, I figured the recording quality would be just awful, but I would just have to deal with it. Microphone quality must have improved because the sucker I got is just fine.

Another side note, Radio Shack has really changed and not for the better. Why, once upon a time, the guys at Radio Shack were nice and friendly. They knew things and wanted to help you. I was in Radio Shack just a couple of weeks ago, and I got treated like scum. And, I didn't just go into one Radio Shack. I went into a bunch. I left the first one after they refused to even acknowledge my presence or condescend to find out why I needed assistance. I figured it was just the one place, but they were all like that. I swear at the last one I bet you I could have just walked out holding the microphone over my head and the brain-dead sales clerks never would have dragged their soulless eyes away from the television set they were all watching long enough to realize that I had already split. Damn, but Radio Shack sucks.

So, I got records of my poetry up on the website. That was fun. Mostly fun. I'm still not happy with my recording of Requiem for the Merimont. Oh, well, I'm thinking about testing the limits of my understanding of Goldwave by going back and fixing the problems. I just might. It flies in the face of my improvisational streak, but I just might do some audio editing.

So, for my next trick, I'm going to do audio recordings of all the vignettes on the fiction page. Should be fun. It's also a test. If I can do that, then I'm going to go for something a little more ambitious. I'm going to do audio recordings of The Faire Folk of Gideon and The Etymology of Fire. No, seriously. I'm really kind of excited about the idea of doing The Etymology of Fire, and I'm really kind of hoping that it helps inspire me to finish the damn thing.

One of the big reasons why The Etymology of Fire has stalled out is because nothing is going to happen when I am done. It's just going to sit on my shelf because I can't afford to publish it. No, really, I don't have the three thousand dollars I'm going to need to get copies made, and that is just bullshit. Yeah, nothing so depressing as getting to the end and realizing that it has all been in vain. Funny thing that. Once upon a time, I didn't care, and it never would have mattered whether the work was ever going to see print or not. The Magic Flute was done without thought to publication. Funny, I don't know why things changed.

Anyway, I have absolutely no intention of doing a web publication of The Etymology of Fire first. It has got to be print. This isn't The Faire Folk of Gideon, which started out as a web published serial. It was never supposed to be something more than a little weekly something posted on my website. The Etymology of Fire is different, and I want to publish copies before web publishing.

It's kind of hard to explain, and really all stems from the fact that self-publishers are treated like crap. No, seriously, it is amazing how true it is that people just look down at you for attempting anything so audacious or stupid as to publish yourself. Well, obviously, you weren't able to find a legitimate publisher. No, asshole, I never even looked. I'm not into surrendering my copyright to some soulless corporation for a handful of nickels and dimes. What? You think authors make money? You don't know shit. How many big time authors can you name? A half-dozen? A dozen? Does the list start with such luminaries as Tom Clancy and Stephen King? Does it include Dean Koontz and Danielle Steele? How about J.K. Rowling or Lemony Snicket? How many have we got, now? Two dozen? That is piss-poor. That is shit and vinegar. That is–

Okay, I'm done ranting.

But, seriously, self-published authors are treated like crap. Web published authors are treated even worse. How about an anecdote? A coworker of mine once became really interested in the fact that I was a published author. So, I bring-up my website so I can show her some info about my book. She sees the first page and jumping to conclusions says "oh, it's only web published," and I spend the next ten minutes trying to convince her that it really exists on the flesh of dead trees. I can't forget that moment as the life went out of her voice as she thought my book was only web published. Fuck, it still leaves me depressed.

So, that is why I refuse to publish The Etymology of Fire on my website before I can scrape together the money to have honest-to-god real books made. I can't get her voice out of my head. "oh, it's only web published." The disappointment and disdain. I can't forget how shabbily self-publishers are treated.

So, it's hard to finish something when you don't know what is going to happen when you are done. Except something interesting has happened. I don't have the same sinking depressing feeling about an audio recording of my book. It doesn't bother me at all. Publish an audio recording of The Etymology of Fire? Yeah! sounds like fun! So, I'm going to try and do it. I'm going to do an audio recording, and maybe that will help me get past all this belittling crap I have to deal with because I self-publish.

All of which reminds me that I am now officially against print-on-demand. No, really, I am. Every so often, I would get asked what I thought of print-on-demand, and the best I could say was that I wasn't comfortable with it yet. Nor did I know that much. But, somebody–hey, Greg–has finally called me on that score, and he sent me a bunch of links to stuff on print-on-demand. Now, guess what I discovered that has left me so disturbed that I am now quite firmly against the practice.

Okay, don't guess. First of all, the print-on-demand companies that I was able to investigate are all subsidiaries of large publishing companies, but this isn't the disturbing part. It turns out that most contracts that authors sign with publishing companies have a condition under which the copyright of the published work reverts to the author if the work should ever go out of print, which is kind of cool. I never knew that. Now, can you guess the disgusting part and why I am against print-on-demand?

With print-on-demand, an author's work never goes out of print. Yeah, you guessed it. Large publishing empires are quietly–or not so quietly–backing print-on-demand because it means that books never go out of print and the copyright never reverts back to the author.

And, disgusting shit like that just makes me want to puke.

20 June, 2004

I'm pissed off. Well, not really that extreme, but I'm not happy. I'm feeling frustrated because something has been bothering and nagging at me for a while, and I'm running out of time. See, if I've got things figured correctly, my current sponsorship of Kevin & Kell is up at the end of the month, and it is time to send Bill Holbrook another check. I sponsor his little comic in three-month increments, and up until now I have always sent him a check for the next three months a whole month before the existing sponsorship is up. Except this time what with one thing and another at work, I haven't sent him a check yet, and it got me thinking. I don't have the money for this shit. I'm borderline can't pay my bills or make rent, and I'm starting to think that I'm some kind of crazy freak for throwing money at someone when I could really use it to help keep a roof over my own head.

So, I've been dithering over this for about two weeks and letting time slip. I really want to support Kevin & Kell. It's that whole vicarious empowerment thing I wrote about long ago and far away. I can't help myself. I lack the funds to do just about anything, but I figured I could spare fifty bucks a month to help somebody else. And, I really enjoyed doing it. It gave me a nice happy feeling to think I was helping to support someone so the thought of not doing that anymore just makes me itch. It makes me feel terrible as if I have failed or something.

So, I just feel bad. I feel like not so much a failure but like a slacker as if I am somehow not living up to my obligations by not helping others. This feeling was driving me nuts last night. I can't do this. I really can't afford to do this, and I really need to stop. Common sense is winning out over vicarious empowerment, but this loss of vicarious power is leaving me drained.

I will admit that I could change my mind at any moment. I could convince myself that I do have money that I don't and that I should give it to somebody else so that they can continue to do their web comic. But, I don't think so. I think it is finally time to realize that this is not stupid but extravagant. Sure, I know it would make me feel a little better to continue to send money, but I can't. I just can't.


Money sucks, have you noticed that? Money just sucks. I managed to turn on the news the other day, and they were doing one of those segments where they talk to people about their money woes. So, this couple was trying to get out of debt, and they had worked out a plan, which would make them debt-free in three years. The thing that shook me was one of the ways they were going to cut back on spending. It turns out that this couple spent an average of five hundred bucks a month going out to dinner so they were going to cut back on that. Holy fucking shit! Five hundred dollars a month going out to dinner? I sure wish I had five hundred bucks a month to blow on restaurants. I mean, money just sucks.

27 June, 2004

Something else has been bugging and nagging at me for a while. It's this whole notion of a forum. I'm really not in favor of them. In fact, I came out really strongly against them in some previous journal entry or other, but it's been bugging me. It's probably been bugging me because I see the option to install a forum every time I check my web domain's control panel. There it is. The button that would let me set-up a forum on my website.

So, it's been bugging me. I know how useful they can be. I know they can help engender a sense of community. People are more apt to be interested in something and also feel they have more of a stake in it if they have somewhere to gather and communicate with any other people who share the same interests. I know how useful they can be.

I also feel that they are cliquish and insular and really rather very nasty places for the uninitiated.

So, I've been resisting the siren's temptation, but the temptation remains. It bugs me. It nags at me. Okay, I've said that already, but it is true. I just can't let it go.

Of course, something occurred to me the other day. I would be the administrator. I mean, sure, I don't really have time to hang-out in a forum. I probably wouldn't be checking-up on it very often, but I would still be the administrator, which means I could stomp on the elitists if they appeared.

If I noticed some poster being nasty or rude toward a new person or whatnot, I could do something about it. As the administrator, I should be able to edit or delete the message. I could post tut-tut messages, and if things continued, I could delete the offending user. Of course, this could also result in a situation where everybody learns to hate me because of the mad power trip I quite possibly could have embarked upon, but it would be possible to do something about the snobs and elites.

So, we shall see. I'm contemplating pushing the forum set-up button on the control panel. I'm still reluctant to start because my web host really hasn't provided much by way of instruction as to what to do once you hit that button, but I'm trying to look into it.

Of course, the funny thing will be when I do finally set-up a forum, and it just sits there alone and neglected because there is absolutely no demand for one. And, then I thought that maybe I could tell my family about it. I could tell them that there is this bulletin board that they could use to post messages to each other and arrange things and make announcements and whatnot. Not that they would probably be interested in a forum either but at least I would have mentioned it to them.

So, how knows. Maybe, I'll press the button. Anybody interested in a Stormsdream forum?

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