Monday, June 30, 2014

Always on My Mind

Searching for a job is never an easy task, especially when you are searching for a career. Most people--or, rather, many people, at any rate--go to college and study a particular field in order to establish a career in that field. I started out studying journalism and then made the switch to English, but the goal has always been to establish a career as a writer, as I have a natural affinity for writing and I do it all the time anyway. I have always been able to adapt to new styles and improve my writing with every class that I have taken, and I enjoy talking about it and influencing others to become better at it. This is probably why I have gotten into teaching, which is--or, at least, can be--an honorable profession. I am relatively new at it, and I still have a lot to learn, but it is something I can see myself doing.

However, it would not be honest of me if I said that it was my main goal, since my true desire is to be a professional writer. That is not to say that I don't like teaching, or that I wouldn't do it as a professional, it just means that I have the passion, and indeed, the determination, to be a professional writer, and I intend to follow through with that goal until I reach a point where I truly cannot move forward.

If I had been more diligent when I was younger, and had not let outside influences distract me and turn me away from my goal, I would be further ahead now. As a student journalist, I was published weekly in the entertainment pull-out of my (award-winning) college newspaper. After my first semester as a correspondent, I was promoted to entertainment reporter, and then had some problems in my personal life that distracted me from my career goals, and the semester after I became a reporter, I was back to correspondent again. It was no failing on my part as a writer, but I felt like I had failed. Instead of working through my problems and not giving up, and pushing through the hard times and focusing on school and working as a student journalist, I took a break. Not because I didn't want to continue working towards my goal, but because I needed time to get my life together before I continued on my path.

Out in the "real world," I worked and struggled to make ends meet, trying to figure out how to make the best of life. During this time, I met my wife, spent a couple years in Chicago, and reaffirmed what I had known all along: being a writer is a part of my identity. I went back to school, older, more mature, and more determined than ever. Changing my major to English, I not only graduated, but ended up going on to grad school, working the whole time, balancing my personal life, my school work, and a job, and I struggled, but the kind of struggling that makes a person stronger and more capable of succeeding, because, even when it was difficult, I didn't crack and give in to the pressure, I continued working and pushing, and, even when I didn't want to or didn't think I could do it, I did it anyway. From my effort, based on my writing skills, I was selected as a graduate assistant, and now I have gotten some real professional experience as a college instructor and am one creative writing workshop away from a master's degree, and I am at a crossroads.  

There are many different possible directions but only one direction to go, and I have to decide what is best for me--but not only me, but also my wife, and my future family. While, in many ways I am further ahead than I was five years ago, all my effort is moot unless I can transform those personal and professional developments into something concrete. I don't need to be rich, but I do need to meet my needs, and life isn't cheap.  I need to earn enough money to not only cover my basic living expenses, but also my student loans, and my debt--and not just mine, but also my wife's. I feel stuck, because I believe that I owe it to myself and to the work that I have accomplished so far to pursue a career in the area that I have chosen to study. I have been offered a part-time teaching position at my school, and I would happily accept it, but I realistically need a better paying job in order not to slide further into debt and poverty. I might be able to subsist with the part-time position if I can find a second part-time teaching position in the area, but I am still not that experienced as an instructor, and my main goal is to become a professional writer.

Even though I will shortly have a master's degree, and I have taught writing, and have written for a widely distributed publication (even though it is a student-run newspaper, it still has a wider circulation than many small town newspapers), I have no professional-level writing experience, and there doesn't seem to be any entry level writing positions available (anywhere). Every position I see needs at least 2-3 years of professional experience. Even though (I believe) I am fully capable of doing many of these jobs,  and, even of the ones that I seem to meet the criteria that are listed, the employers don't seem to want to give me a chance even if I might be more highly skilled than someone with more experience. 

If I can't convince an employer to hire me full time, I need to make the best of what I can get, and work to achieve my goal, somehow. I will take the part-time teaching position(s) and at the same time devote myself to freelance writing and getting published. I will work towards becoming a better, more experienced writer and instructor, and will continue working towards my goal, and hopefully earn enough money to subsist. 

It's either that, or just give up on trying to become a writer and/or an instructor, and just take whatever best-paying job I can get.

Somehow, I can't bring myself to do that. Not yet. Not until I know that the gates are closed, and that no amount of effort will help me get passed it. Of course, I will probably be dead before that happens.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stories Added to FICTION page

These stories I have published versions of on here and on the FICTION page in the past. "Starving America" has been published on the FICTION page for a while. I have done a little rewriting to both "The Big City" and "The Unicorn", but both have been previous published here, and "Killing Boredom" is an alternative version of the story, "The Backwoods Incident", from my collection, Tales from the Fringes. The "Killing Boredom" version also appeared with a different ending in my undergraduate writing portfolio. Finally, a version of "Bed Head" was originally published by 50 to 1.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The In-Between Days

The sun is peering down through the trees in my backyard and highlighting the small strip of grass where the fire pit is still the focal point, a remnant from last night.  I close my eyes and am present with the roasted marsh mellow heaven overtaking the cold slime of insect repellent.  Stars are twinkling through the dome of orange security.  There are laughs and smiles and cold beverages, around me I hear the conversation over the slightly muffled music that is peeping out from my office windows that overlook the patio and backyard.  My eyes blink open and I am overlooking the day-glow, listening to the Amboy Dukes.  Although I fucking hate Ted Nugent as a person--he is entitled to his beliefs, as I am mine--I do like this one album by this, his first band.  He was just the guitarist then so his ideology doesn't really filter into it because someone else was primarily responsible for writing the songs.  It is kind of a bluesy concept album called, Journey to the Center of My Mind.  I just finished an outline for novel #2.  It's pretty comprehensive and complex, so I am definitely glad that I took the time to workout the framework before I actually start to write it.  I am keeping this one close to me, so you probably won't hear a lot about specific details--at least not until it is closer to being finished.  My goal is the publish it next summer.  It's definitely a summer time kind of novel.  I will tell you it's set in the city, during a specific time period very near the present.  It is based very solidly in literature that I have read and studied, and I am very confident that I can pull it off.  It is well-thought out and well-structured, and once I actually do start writing it, it is going to go fast (well, hopefully).  I also sketched a possible design for the cover.  I am working on the entire concept, from the beginning.  Instead of thinking of it like just words on a page, I am envisioning the entire physical art object.  In the next week, or two, I also still have to finish proofreading the Second Edition of Out in the Garage.  I sit here trying to find a focus, but my mind just continues to roll about in its own direction, towards one of the infinite number of future possibilities.  I think about being productive, and finding the means of doing so.  I have promised myself that I am not going to get desperate, because I at least have a job in the Fall, even though it's not full time.  If I can stay more relaxed and confident through the process, I won't be so stressed out, and I'll be more likely to make a good impression on potential employers.  But it's Sunday, so I am not going to think about it again until tomorrow--even though it still continues to press on my mind as a blur that I try to focus even though it is an impossible task.  While my professional world is in stasis as I look for a role to fill, I am going to continuing working on this hobby.  I am finally reaching a point in my life where I can kind of justify doing so.  In that way, I am also excited for my last class since it is a short short story fiction writing workshop.  It's like the cherry on top of my college career (at least for the foreseeable future).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Not Looking Back In Anger, Mr. Gallagher

It's time.  To break out of this rut.  This book, which I have put more love and thought into than any other project I have ever done.  

It has been ten years, and I have thought about it, and reworked it, and thought about it, and reworked it...and finally released it, only to second guess it and go back and start reworking it again.  

I don't regret doing so, and I hope people really give it a chance and like it.  

I just want people to read it and like and get roughly what I was doing with it, and see that I have room to continue growing as a writer and that I can accomplish something that has been a long and challenging commitment.  

It might not be much, it might be nothing on the grand scope of life, but it is my little something, and I hope that people see that and appreciate it.  

It is more compact, and I have thought through every stylistic and creative decision and made sure that I have incorporated every good idea and taken each to its furthest extent.  

When I have the money, I am going to buy a bunch and give them away to family, friends, and whoever shows interest.  

I am going to make sure that anyone who just appreciates reading and storytelling and local artists who are working hard for no money trying to make something concrete and physical out of brainwaves and determination, I am going make sure those people get copies.

Whatever happens, will happen, and I am not any longer going to live in the past, and keep over-thinking it.  

It's time to be done with it and to move forward and to commit myself to a new job and a new career and a new project. 

It's time to move forward, into the unknown, out of my comfort zone, out of anxiety and second-guessing, and going back to the same old wreck.  

It's time to challenge myself in new ways, with new ideas, and new commitments.  

It's time to transform my goals from impulses into realizations.

The best way to get excited about the future, even the mundane, everyday, ordinary, reality that life becomes, is to close your eyes, dream of some possibility, and figure out how to make the abstract concrete.  

You never know what can happen.  

Sometimes dreams come true in unimaginable ways, and you just have to embrace however it happens, and enjoy it while it lasts, and have no regrets.

The difference between people who enjoy life and people who are miserable is that the people who enjoy life know that it is all a state of mind, and even in the worst circumstances, if you have survived with a pleasant state of mind, you have made it.

It's not easy.  It's really not.  I struggle with it every day.  But just because it is a struggle, it doesn't mean that it is not worth the effort.

You can't control every circumstance in life, in fact, you can control very little, but you can control you, and so that's what you have to do.

That's what I am trying to do, anyways.  That's all I have every been able to do, or really, anyone can do.  That's just life.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Giving in to Insecurities and Paranoia, or Finding Peace

"He gazed up at the enormous face.  Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache.  O cruel, needless misunderstanding!  O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast!  Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose.  But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished.  He had won the victory over himself.  He loved Big Brother."--George Orwell, 1984

Through my schooling, I have begun to realize that there is no objective Truth--at least not in the way that most people understand it--and that all truths are others' narratives where they seek to understand life and the ways of the universe, and perhaps some are closer than others to some sliver of understanding.  I have realized, to some extent, that it is absurd that we continue to live by others' narrow conceptions of life while feeling miserable and powerless to do anything for ourselves because everything seems so far out of our control.

But that lack of control is an illusion, it is a fundamental part of the status quo--that subjective truth that the major lives by--because it is how social order is maintained.  If people realized that truth is malleable--that they are living by others' conceptions of life and not their own, and that they can create their own conception of living based around their needs and not others'--they would realize that it is possible to change their lives and to live the way they choose.  

Of course, it is not as easy as all that.  The status quo has a powerful effect on people, feeding them lies about morality and nature, feeding them things to desire in order to distract them from their actual desires, making them powerless, by choice, to make any significant changes.  The shackles are there because we place them on ourselves.  

In spite of these shackles, there are changes that need to be made.  Instead of each going off in our own direction, however, we should work together to create our own conception of the status quo, and bring about a new, more encompassing version of the social contract, one that leaves no one out of it. We need to strike a balance between our individual needs and social needs, and not allow anyone to have too much authority over either.

Otherwise, we are going to destroy ourselves, or let ourselves be destroyed.

Somebody is going to attempt to create change, and instead of meaningful change, they are going to create chaos and further erode our freedoms.  Your finger might not be on the trigger, but if you sit by and idly watch as everything unfolds around you, your complacency allows that trigger to be pulled, and you are every much as deserving the blame as the person actually pulling it, because you did nothing to stop it.  If more people don't stand up and fight for what they believe, and what they really believe and not what they have been lead to believe, then it will be too late.

It might already be too late.  We might just be trapped in a cycle that will only be increasingly more difficult to escape  The void might already be below us, and all we have to do is look down to realize that we are already falling into emptiness...

But wait...  Is that merely me projecting my own insecurities, my own conception of reality?  Are things really that way, or am I just paranoid, insecure, and feeling betrayed by my intelligence?  

Even though I have worked hard, and struggled, but never-the-less supposedly succeeded in doing what I was told would help me get a better job and earn a living, and pay off my bills, buy a house, a car, etc., pursuing "the American Dream", it has gotten me none of those things, so far, and I only seem to be getting further and further away from them.

It has all seemed to turn out to be a lie that has been perpetuated so that more people would go to college, so the administrations, filled with people with business degrees, could justify their large salaries and the turning of the institutions of learning into for-profit businesses that feed off of government-sponsored student loans, putting those who they are seeking to control, under control, since being in debt places limitations on you that are hard to get past.

It doesn't seem like I am projecting, but then again, a crazy person supposedly doesn't know he is crazy.  Maybe I am truly crazy and out of line, and just need to accept reality as it is and not as I think it should be.

Maybe, like Winston Smith, I just need to accept that there are forces that are more powerful than me, accept my powerlessness and their power over me, and just move forward, and take whatever job, and do it, and do it, and do it, until I can't even remember what the hell my problem was in the first place. 

Or maybe the zombie apocalypse is already happening, and most people have already lost and the only real way to survive is to think for yourself.  Maybe that means that you will never succeed in their conception of the world, but maybe that is okay.

Maybe it is okay to have a different value system--one that is predicated on empathy and sound judgment rather than on just following what you are supposed to do unquestioningly.  Maybe true freedom is a state of mind, and that you can break free from the shackles and live the way that you wish to live, regardless of what it seems like everyone else around you is doing.  Maybe it is all about how you perceive reality, rather than how reality is.  Maybe you do have control over it, and by selecting a better narrative, you can have a better life.

Perhaps you do need a job to survive in the world, but that job doesn't have to be your life.  It doesn't have to control you, and you don't have to place your soul on the altar of some artificial value system.  Maybe the best thing to do is to find a job that allows you to have a balance between your life, and your job function, so that you can dedicate yourself to that job function when you are performing it, and leave it behind at the end of the day.  Perhaps, it is all about finding a balance and finding a state of mind that allows you to be at peace with yourself and the world around you.  Maybe that is maturity.

The real battle isn't you versus others, you vs. society, you vs. sin, you vs. whatever other outside force that may or may not be real, but you vs. yourself.


In an effort to achieve a higher level of professionalism, for the second edition of Out in the Garage, my wife, the lovely and talented artist, Sarah, used her graphic design skills and helped me create a new cover:
As you can see, it looks amazing, and I couldn't have done it without her hard work and talent, and I feel truly lucky to be married to such a talented individual.  This is going to be the final, definitive version of this book, and I am pulling out all of the stops and making sure it is every bit as good, as high in quality, as is possible.  I will shortly be ordering a proof and going through the text to make sure there are no typos or other glaring errors.  

I have come a long way since I first began this venture, and I am excited and happy to be almost through with this first novel, so that I can really start focusing on the next one. Well, focusing on writing the next one as I am marketing this one.  In case you haven't noticed, I am already busy at work, establishing the Gabe Gott, indie fiction / underground fiction, brand, and soon I am hoping to reach out to different  underground fiction websites and forums and introduce them to me, and hope for the best.

Thank you all for your patience and your support.  I know this whole thing is crazy, and it has taken me forever to get to this point, and I keep retreading the same territory, again, and again, but I am determined to move forward, and to leave it how it turns out this last time, for better or worse.  There will be two versions out, two versions to choose from, and I will apply what I have learned, what I will continue to learn, to my next project, which, over the years since I came up with the idea, it has really taken shape--all I need to do really is to sit down and write it.  

I am hoping that I can do write and edit it in a relatively short period of time, so that I can release it next year, because I also have third, fourth, and fifth novels in mind to write.  Once I get past this "Out in the Garage hurdle", I will be productive and give shape to all of my ideas, and get them out to the world.  This is only the beginning.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Revisionist

One thing that I have accepted about myself is that I am a revisionist of my own work.  Of course, I am also learning and experimenting, but I do think that it is necessary to reach a point where I am happy/content with a version of a work and then move on to the next project.  If every book that I write takes me ten years to finish, then I will only write like three or four more books, and I have more ideas than that now, and I can only imagine that I will only continue to come up with more ideas over the years, and that I will never have a shortage of new material.

I have comes to terms with the fact that the second edition of Out in the Garage is not necessarily any better than the first edition of Out in the Garage, just different.  With the second edition, I am conforming to the criticism I have received in order to reach a wider audience that has a narrower view of what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to plot and narrative in contemporary fiction.  It is more tightly focused and is tied together in a more obvious way, from beginning to end. The nonlinear plot actually helps to bring out themes that are less obvious in the first edition (however still present).

The first edition conforms less to contemporary standards than the second edition but has its basis rooted in the classic literature that I have been studying.  The linear plot throws people off because it takes place over a longer period of time than what is standard today, and it echoes the plot of a traditional romance rather than a work of realism, where the narrator is on quest, but not to find anything, to escape (that's why the original version is call Escapes).  It also shows the series of cause/effect relationships as they happen, rather than as flashbacks--it rolls along rather than unfolds.

It has taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that no matter what I write or how I write it, I probably won't ever be a mainstream success and that no matter how I change my work, somebody will have some sort of problem with it.  That means I can either continue to change it, and keep changing it again and again, or I can just focus on the fact that I am doing this for myself, first and foremost, and that as long as I am happy with my work, that's all that really matters.  If I am true to myself, then it will at least be genuine. It is possible to strike a balance between the art and the commercialism.

I am finding that the audience I am discovering is my own is the type of audience that is open minded and willing to give genuine works of art a chance--accepting them for what they are and not for what they are not, the latter of which seems to be more the philosophy of contemporary literature and the traditional publishing industry who are the gatekeepers of the status quo.  Maybe Out in the Garage could have made a good YA Lit novel if I had changed it more and made it fit more into what is contemporary, but it is not that and doesn't have to be.  For that reason, I do somewhat regret making a second edition--even though I do like the way it is turning out and I do think it will be easier for contemporary audiences to digest.

Now there will be two versions.  After I am finished with this second edition, I am determined to move on and continue honing my style and writing the types of novels and stories that I like to write.  I will focus on getting them to work for what they are and not for what they are not or what they could be.  It's a hard lesson to learn, but, ultimately, I am glad that I am learning it--even if it could have come sooner, it's better to have learned it late than to not have learned it at all.

Instead of  continuing to work on the same novel, again and again, I will work on one, get it to the point where I am happy with it, publish it, take the criticism into consideration, and take what I learn and maybe, if it makes to do so, apply it to the next one.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Out in the Garage First & Second Editions...And More!

At some point over the last few days it occurred to me that I might as well keep the first edition of Out in the Garage for sale.  While I could easily just keep it to myself and make sure that it never sees the light of day again, I am opting to keep it on sale along side the second edition.  The first edition is $5.99 in print at Create Space and 99 cents at Smashwords.  The second edition will be available July 4, 2014 and will be $6.99 for the print version and $1.99 for the eBook version, which, all around, I think are decent prices.

I have all these different versions of the same damn book anyways, so I might as well try to make it an asset rather than a fault (If you want to change other peoples perspectives, you first need to change your own perspective).  I don't plan on doing it with every book that I write, just this one, since I have already essentially done it, anyways.

I believe the cult fiction/underground fiction/fringe fiction audience that I am marketing towards will be fine with me having more than one edition of the same book--as the editions are quite different from one another.  Since I don't write genre fiction and I need to market to a specific audience, in order to build an audience, I feel that this is the best route for me to go.  People who tend to like fiction, music, movies, etc. that are not mainstream tend to be more open-minded and open to experimentation, and also tend to want to engage in media that makes them think in a deeper way.  I believe my works meet these criteria (especially since I tend to like things that aren't popular anyways--I know, I am a dirty hipster,whatever).

My main focus, of course, will be the second edition, but if someone would be so inclined as to read both versions for comparison sake, it will be possible.  In fact, in keeping with the spirit of having more than one version of the same novel, there is a third version with the title Escapes that is actually based more closely on the original version of the novel (the version that I wrote and gave to friends to read before I went back to school and went crazy with the changes-making), so I might eventually put that out as well, as I don't really have to do anything to it but proofread it.

When it comes down to it, it is all the same story, it is just three different ways of reading it.

It might be interesting to see how they each compare with one another.  It might make a good essay, anyways, to sit down and analyze what I have done.  In fact, an essay might be an appropriate way to cap off this whole project.  That way it can be more appropriately labeled "experiment" and the literati won't make me disappear--I mean, it hasn't happened yet, so it's *probably* not going to happen.  I guess they are a pretty passive bunch, anyways.

This is a hobby for me--albeit one that I enjoy, am really passion about, and would love to do for a living--but I am realistic enough to know that I am probably not going to do it for a living.  That is no reason to give up, to not keep trying new things, or to not keep trying to improve, that just means I have to find another career, which is fine with me, to be honest (I am doing that right now anyways).  The best material comes from going out into the world and interacting with people, and I always find the time to work on this stuff, no matter how busy I am with something else.

In the next few weeks I am going to finish proofreading the manuscript of the second edition, upload it to Create Space, get a proof made and proofread it again, and then release it for sale.  Then I will start promoting it, order a bunch of copies to give away, and hopefully, get some good reviews, which should help me begin to build an audience.

Anyways, I have a lot to think about and a lot to do, so I should probably get started.  It's time to get organized!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Reformatted, Navigable, Tales from the Fringes

I am uploading to Smashwords (and soon Amazon and Barnes and Noble, too), a reformatted version of Tales from the Fringes.  I have made the Table of Contents functional and the file navigable, and standardized the formatting of the punctuation, which was inconsistent.  I have also fixed some nagging grammatical errors.  Other than that, it is the same collection--no major changes have been made.  This makes a higher quality, more professional version of the product.  I have done the same thing to the print version, but I don't have time to finish the process now (with this whole paper thing I've got going).  Also, I have lowered to price to 99 cents to attempt to reach a wider audience.  As I understand it, 99 cents is the ideal price for an independently published eBooks--even though I will be making less in royalties, I will theoretically, be selling more (hopefully).

Well, that is all for now.  See you cats tomorrow after I finish and turn in this paper.  I hope to be able to sit down and actually write out a full-length post.  I know I am due for one, but this... paper...  It will be over soon enough.  I am progressing well now, so I should probably get back to it.  Peace!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Master's Degrees, The Redheaded Stepchild of Degrees

Increasingly, as I search for a job, trying to find one that remotely has to do with my chosen field of study, I am either over or under-qualified, or I don't have the right kind of experience.  

Of course, I can (and will, if it comes down to it) teach, but assistant lecturers at universities aren't intended to be full-time positions.  They are intended as part-time supplements to a full-time income: they pay between $700-900/credit hour, and at most places you can't teach more than eight credit hours, because nine or more is considered full time  (because of the Affordable Care Act), and the universities don't want to pay you benefits.

Also, there are no two credit hour classes (at least on the English side of things), so the most you can teach is six credit hours, and, if you are lucky enough to get one of the few positions at the Writing Lab, you might be able to tutor for the equivalent to those last two credit hours.  

If you want to attempt to make it work, you can try to find another part time position at another university, but it still isn't a lot of income, and, again, there are NO BENEFITS.  So, if you want to stay in academia, because you enjoy teaching and having a flexible schedule, you have to find ways to supplement your income, or just be poor.  Either that, or go to school for another four to five years on top of the six to seven years you have already gone to school, and maybe, maybe, get a tenure-track position, if you are lucky (since there are many people with PhD.s that can only find part-time work, as well).

But if I like teaching so much, you ask, why don't I just go to school for another year and take the tests and become licensed to teach high school?  Two words: standardized testing.  My style of teaching doesn't work well within the current system, since I don't look at everyone has having the same skill or ability levels, and I don't believe that it's fair to expect everyone to think the same way.  You can teach people and hold them to certain standards without putting them through an arbitrary, stressful series of tests.  With the amount of stress that testing puts on students, and that the testing is administered by for profit corporations, the tests are not accomplishing the goals they are setting out to accomplish.  Education needs to be put in the hands of educators and taken out the hands of bureaucrats, and based on studies on what works best for students, rather than being controlled by politicians who have a financial stake in making sure the testing is continued.

My only other option, if I want to teach, and make a living doing it, is to get an MFA--and I admit, this option is tempting.  I am just burned out with school right now, and need to let my brain heal before I commit to another year or two.  Not to mention, there is no guarantee that I will be able to find a full-time position with a MA and an MFA, either.  In fact, with the popularity of MFA programs, there are probably even fewer of these positions.

So, what is the material value of getting a master's degree in English?  I am not sure yet.  I would like to think, if I do my research, if I apply to every open position across the country that I am remotely qualified for, that has anything to do with writing/editing/research, I will eventually find something that is the right fit for me.  It's too bad though, because I do genuinely like teaching, and it would be great to teach when I don't have the stress of my own classes weighing down on me--but I am tired of being poor. 

I have never had much money, and it really has nothing to do with having stuff, as much as it has to do with feeling some level of security.  But maybe that is a pipe dream.  It seems like no matter how hard I work, what length I go to improve my quality of life, I am met with more barriers.  The closer I think I am to accomplishing my goals, the further away I get.

Growing up, my generation was taught that what we had to do was go to college, and if we did, we would be able to get a job and find happiness.  But that was all rhetoric, a sales pitch, a clever ruse designed by people with business degrees to take advantage of poor people and the federal student loan system so they can sit pretty in administrative positions and earn six-figure salaries.

Clearly, without a doubt, the system is broken, since, if I didn't go to school, I would still be out of luck.  I could have studied something else, perhaps, but just because the humanities have been devalued, doesn't mean that they don't have value, since studying the humanities helps make people better people.  Empathy isn't inherent, necessarily, or, if it is, it at least needs refined.

That's what the humanities do.  If you don't think people, in general, could use more empathy, just read the comments section of any article on any website, or watch the news.  If people considered other peoples' perspectives more often, the world would be a better place.  But greed and self-interest rule the day, benefiting some and destroying many others.

Who is going to fix the broken system?  Not the people who benefit from the way that it is now.  Why are we so complacent?  Why do we let people who clearly only have their own interests at heart make decisions that affect others?

Maybe my degrees/skill sets don't have material value, but I am going to put them to good use.  While I certainly won't be able to do anything on my own, without any help, I am certainly not alone in being marginalized.  We, who have sought education, who have worked within the system to get ahead, but have met with increasing resistance as we attempt to move forward, need to work together and make the system work for us, or break it once and for all, and start over.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Accidental Numerology

Here are some things that I just noticed about the second edition of Out in the Garage, none of which is intentional:

There are Nine Chapters, and 1-3 go from pages 4-49, 4-6 go from pages 50-102, and 7-9 go from pages 103-164 (i.e. each three chapter chunk is roughly equivalent in length)
The exact halfway point, pages 84-85, is just over the halfway point of the chapter (pages 80-81), Chapter 5, which is also the central chapter
Chapter 5 is the chapter where the protagonist, Lance, begins to come back to consciousness
The first half and second half are nearly the same number of words (the first half, pages 4-84, is just under 23,000 words, and the second half, pages 85-164, is just over)
The scene which is roughly at the center of the book is one of the most important scenes in the book

As someone who has read quite a few medieval texts, numerology has always fascinated me, but this is completely accidental.  This text, as most people who read this blog regularly know, has taken me about ten years to complete, and has undergone numerous configurations.  Recently, I have finally settled on a non-linear structure, which has brought out the themes and ideas that I have been trying to express all along, particularly the existential aspects, which were originally somewhat buried.  It has really helped me find my focus and get it to a point where I am truly happy with it.

I have no explanation for these patterns, though, and I will be the first to admit that I am a skeptic…  I would like to say that it is coincidence, that it means nothing, but I can’t come to terms with that explanation.  I generally consider myself agnostic, with leanings towards Buddhism, and this weird number system doesn't make me want to reconsider my beliefs or to go back to Christianity, which I was raised to believe, or anything like that—if anything, it makes me want to learn more about Buddhism, since it is my (very basic) understanding of Buddhism, as well as physics (to be honest) that leads me to believe that everything in the universe is connected, and that we are all part of the same life force, and these are ideas that strongly inform the text.

Just doing some quick searching on Buddhist/general numerology has brought up some interesting results about how religions, Buddhism, in particular, symbolically interpret different numbers (i.e. it’s not just Christianity).  This is something I will have to read more about.  I am not convinced that it means anything concerning my novel, but, if anything, it does make my novel more interesting (to me, at least).  I have no plans of changing it, further developing it, or highlighting it any more than I have here, but I will definitely be "meditating" on it, so to speak.