Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fear of Flying

I'm a nervous flyer.  I'm not paralyzed with fear in the air, but I am nervous throughout a flight--especially during takeoff, and to a lesser extent during turbulence and landing.  I intellectually understand that flying is safe--safer than driving, as a matter of fact.  But my body seems to instinctively know that flying in an airplane at thousands of feet in the air defies all primordial notions of safety, and is basically an act that requires placing complete faith in science.  The "meat" doesn't buy what the intellect is telling it, and only feels comfortable on solid ground.

When I refer to "the meat", I mean my physical body, of course.  By making this statement and separating the perception of my body from that of my intellect, I am making an assertion that the mind/body connection is not as simple as a mindless body inhabited by an all-controlling mind.  I believe that there is more to the "mind" than just the functions of the brain. 

People often talk about "gut feelings"; and, in fact, science has proven that there is tissue in the gut that is remarkably similar to the brain.  There are also the notions of instinct and racial memory that seem to transcend the traditional idea of the separation of mind and body.

So where am I going with this?  I assert that fantasy is the intellectual playground of the "gut".  It is an imaginary realm where instinct and gut feelings are more important than cerebral reasoning.  It's a realm where if things "feel right" then they probably are.  In fantasy, magic is a power borne of belief, faith and feeling rather than observation and science.

That's what fantasy is about--it's about the notion that life is more than the purely mechanical dance of your body and your neurons through the world.  Fantasy embraces the idea that our lives are more than just a giant deterministic dance of  cells leading to a scientifically destined outcome.  It embraces concepts like emotions being meaningful, the journey of the spirit, and magic-- which is often the acceptance of an occurrence without an accompanying scientific explanation of a chain of cause and effect.

I think that a good grounding in fantasy can play a role in connecting with the "mystical" part of our lives.  It's almost  a parallel concept to religion because both involve the acceptance of a chain of causality outside of empirical sensory experience.  Without this mystical connection, I think you can spend your entire life locked in "rational" analysis, and perhaps by doing so, end up missing the entire point of your journey through life.  That's just one man's possibly irrational opinion...

Notably, I did find some comfort on that flight by imagining myself flying in an Atreides ornithopter.  Since I was dealing with "the meat", I had to comfort it with an imaginary image that it was familiar with and fond of.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Returned from Reality

I've just gotten back from a short but exhausting trip.  It kind of sapped my creative energies, so my focus now is on re-fueling them.  This will likely consist of a frivilous purchase (or two) and a lot of relaxation.  I hate the feeling of being creatively "tapped out".  It often leads me to want to try to write "harder", when the reality is that I simply need to rest.
So, I apologize for the long break since my last blog post.  I expect to be resuming normal posting frequency now.
I did write a little bit while I was away, so the process of writing the next novel has not completely stalled.  I continue to be excited about the project, but I have to take a little break.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shorter but Faster

I have decided that I am going to split up the next Hemlock novel into three volumes so that I can release each volume more quickly. Volume One of Hemlock and the Dangerous Depths (working title) should be released by the end of the year.

I realize that part of the allure of fantasy is the immersion, and I do regret that the volumes will not provide the same immersive length. But it took me the better part of four years to complete Hemlock and the Wizard Tower, and I don't want to wait that long between releases. And it's not just a matter of writing more--the act of imagining the storyline (which I have dubbed "Imagineering") is hard to put on a timetable. It just comes to me, and it takes as long as it takes (especially in the face of the competing priorities of real life).

Volume I will likely be value priced at $0.99 due to the shorter length (it will technically be a novel, but will probably be around 50K words as opposed to 133K words for Hemlock and the Wizard Tower). Hemlock and the Wizard Tower is also priced at $0.99. How can a shorter Book Two, Volume One also be priced at $0.99? The answer is that I consider Hemlock and the Wizard Tower to be priced as a loss leader. It is the entry point to the series, and therefore it needs to have an enticing price and deliver superior value (word count). With the later releases, I will be trying to at least cover the production costs of "publishing", which are editing and cover art (never mind my time-hah! But, as you probably guess, it's a labor of love).

I am going to make a pledge right now: each volume will have a complete story arc and a satisfying ending. I'm not just going to chop Book Two into three parts and call them volumes. Each Volume will be a stand-alone novel, but will advance the overarching story arc as well.

On a personal note, it continues to rain and rain in Philly. I will try not to wash away before the next blog post!