January 2024 Update

Another year has gone. Didn't get much done in December as the latter half of the month was all for family. Did a lot of traveling. Tiring but worth it to share the joy of our kids. I have been reflecting on how, when we meet with family, we are often just as challenged as we are refreshed; and I am sure some families are more often challenged by each other. Living apart (in our case in different states), means that we develop different routines that are not always good for us. What we eat, when we get up, the things we meditate on and distract ourselves with. Visiting family can help us reflect on our strengths and weaknesses, if we take enough time to stop focusing on others' deficiencies...

Speaking of deficiencies, my resolutions this year are to organize my tools and spaces (kitchen, basement, garage etc), and to read all those “dangerous” books for myself (Book of Mormon, Marx, Quran, Mao). I've started the Book of Mormon already and it's rather strange. I'll try to reserve my harsher judgments until I've finished it.

Book 2 and Audiobook

I'm making progress, currently adding previous draft material to the end, and I'm enjoying it, which is nice. Will have to start drafting new stuff soon but I don't really dread it.

Sorry for all the fans waiting for part 2 of the audiobook. Though judging from YouTube there aren't many of you. Still, I slacked off and will try to get in the habit of chipping away at it so I can be almost done. I also have to start drawing my map. The sooner the better since I know I'll probably have to practice a lot before it starts to look publishable.

Other stuff

I've got a 100 word story I might try to submit to some places before I publish it on here, and I'm also toying with querying some for book 1 and 2. I've got a friend who is going through the process and it has been convicting me. My query is a little awkward now since it is a hybrid, but I think the industry has evolved enough that I won't be instantly rejected if I submit to the right places. I'll never know if I don't try.

Reading, listening

Have been reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf. I also read a random Halo book. Jane Austen is really remarkable and I'm glad I finally listened to my wife and picked up Mansfield Park. It is very seamless, and the reading is a bit difficult, but like a lot of good Lit it is very rewarding. Once you get used to the prose you just sort of sink into the novel and get enfolded in the narrative and the connections between the characters. Austen seems very conscious of what she is doing, giving you points of views and internal dialogues just when you start to suspect people, so that she confirms your suspicions and makes you feel like a detective whose theory has been validated. Fun stuff and very good exercise for my writing muscle.

Three Guineas has also been wonderful, and I'm going to try and finish it for my birthday and Virginia's. It is a difficult one to quote since Virginia builds on everything that comes before and she is very intricate. She starts by trying to answer how we are to prevent war (an unfortunately relevant question going into 2024), and since Three Guineas was written when women were starting to join the workforce she asks how women are to help prevent war (and protect culture and intellectual liberty). I'm sure a lot of people read it as strictly feminist, but there is a lot of meat with Virginia and it has a lot of applications (especially for writers). I am considering doing an essay on Three Guineas, so I won't try to do a full summary here, but it's too good not to quote, so I'll just leave here Virginia's concept of intellectual Chastity:

“By chastity is meant that when you have made enough to live on by your profession, you must refuse to sell your brain for the sake of money. That is you must cease to practise your profession, or practise it for the sake of research or experiment; or if you are an artist, for the sake of art; or give the knowledge acquired professionally to those who need it for nothing.”

Read Here.

I also discovered a blues artist, Shemekia Copeland, on the radio. The song I heard was “In the Blood of the Blues,” and the lyrics were powerful. If you like blues, I'd encourage you to give it a listen. Shemekia flips the typical blues paradigm of “my woman done left me” and does a lot of creative and poignant things with the framework. Some other favorites are “The Talk,” “Driving Out of Nashville,” “The Wrong Idea,” and “Would You Take My Blood?”

Until next month.

#update #reading #writing #january2024

To echo a sentiment from Thomas Hardy, I greatly regret that I will never be able to meet you in person and shake your hand, but perhaps we can virtually shake hands via my newsletter, social media, or a cup of coffee sent over the wire. They are poor substitutes, but they can be a real grace in this intractable world.

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