philosophy

Monday Musings: Don’t Close Your Eyes! a.k.a. Optimism and Complacency

As I’m up to my ears in work, today’s Musings will be short and sweet … hopefully. You all must know by now that I can ramble when I get into something, so no promises!

Optimism is a great thing. It helps gives us hope in our futures, in our life paths, and in our fellow man. The ability to see the best in the world around us can help us go on, even when events in the world around us may look bleak. When balanced with a proper dose of realism to keep your heads from going into the clouds, optimism is an incredible tool for writing and for life in general.

There is a problem, though, and that is the looming threat of complacency. If you get too wrapped up in optimistic thought, it can be easy to expect that things will go right all the time, even if you don’t put in 100% effort or when you expect all of your fellow men to be as optimistic and forward-thinking as you may be. In thinking the best about our fellow men, we might be willing to sit back instead of making sure to help them along the path to a better future.

Essentially, the ideas that we are our brother’s keeper, that we are all shepherds for our neighbors, and that it takes a village to raise a child all exist for a reason. It’s great to think the best of your fellow humans and of our future, but you still must do everything you can to make sure it happens.

Until next time, good reading, good writing, and good luck!

Monday Musings: You Give, You Get a.k.a. Totally Karma, Dude

A short one today, folks, as the weather hanging over the household has my sinuses in a strangle hold, but I still wanted to say a little bit about effort, karma, and rewards.

I guess to me it’s pretty simple and something backed up so far by my near-forty years on the planet.  Effort plus moral choices equals payoff.  Maybe not immediately and maybe not for sometime, but it does eventually come back to you.  Effort plus rat-bastardom almost always has swifter payouts but always comes out in the end.  Laziness, well, laziness just goes nowhere.

The biggest problem with karma for we mortal beings, hampered by aging and death, is the time for that karmic payoff.  Sometimes our proper reward doesn’t come until far after our ability to enjoy it due to age.  Sometimes it doesn’t come in our lifetime period.  Sometimes it may not come to pass in our children’s lifetimes.  That fact alone makes the hard choices that much harder.  Giving into that desire for the easier, quicker reward is a terribly seductive prospect.

I guess the way I try to stay on course is not to focus on the big, end-game reward, but to look for the small kindnesses among the way.  Even if you wind up the loser because of your morality, there is almost always some kindness, some positivity generated by your good actions despite the cost.  That’s what I look for and that’s what sustains me until karma provides.

Keep tuned later this week for your usual writing articles, book reviews, and author interviews!  Until next time, good reading, good writing, and good luck!

Monday Musings: Finding A Spot In The Sun

There are many days where I wonder if all the work I’ve put out in the past two years have been worth the time spent.  Writing novels has cost more than time, to be honest.  It’s cost money, it’s caused tensions with friends and family, and it hasn’t precisely made my life any easier.  Even with the writing done (for the immediate moment), the strain continues, though this time it is struggling to breakthrough to where there is even the slightest chance for someone to take notice of what I have accomplished.

How do you deal with being swallowed up by the darkness of so many other louder voices?  How do you continue slugging onward, hoping to be that one-in-a-million writer who actually manages to make a hardscrabble living on the power of your words alone?  It would certainly easier to give up on it, to take the satisfaction of the attempt made as reward enough.  I doubt anyone would blame me for it.

I can’t say I have answers for those questions.  I can see why many writers are crushed under the despair of their situation and simply give up.  For some reason, though I keenly feel that darkness rushing in, I can’t help but stubbornly throw another rock at the wall blocking out the sun, hoping to chip a hole through.  Every day, I tell myself, maybe this rock rolling around in my hands will be the one to bring the light in.

I’m probably deluding myself, I know.  The amount of books I would have to sell each month to make a living is staggering, if you do the math.  I think the inevitability is that I will be dragged down into the darkness, just like almost all the others.  Deprived of my creative outlet, these best years of my life will fade out into the sepia-toned pictures of nostalgia.

Until then, though, I am going to pitch another rock at the wall.

Next month, I’ll start writing my seventh novel.  Later this week, I’m going to finish setting up a Patreon system to hopefully gather more money for that process.  Maybe this next one will do it.

Good luck, good reading, good writing, and may you find your spot in the sun.

Writing Is A Bad Habit: Entertainment and Fiction, Siamese Twins?

My current Starving Review book is a long one and, while I intend to get a review up tomorrow, I can make no guarantees.  In the meantime, let me regale you with a little bit of thinking I had over the past week.

What is the purpose of fiction?  At its core, what is fiction ‘about’?  What is the common thread that all fiction should share, do you think?

I can only speak for my interpretation, but I would propose to you that the core purpose, beyond any and all other things, of fiction is to entertain.

That isn’t the *only* thing a work of fiction can do, naturally.  A good piece of fiction entertains, educates, enlightens, and many other words that start with ‘e’.  However, and consider this carefully, why would you read a work of fiction if it didn’t also entertain you?  If you aren’t also seeking entertainment, be it fun, thrills, comedy, mystery, drama, or a million other ways to find enjoyment, why are you picking up fiction?

Surely, if one wants pure education, spiritual enlightenment, or religious insight, wouldn’t that one be better served going straight to the factual or philosophical sources?  Yes, I am taking the stance that religious texts are not ‘fiction’.  They are very real for those of their faiths.  Yes, I know that often stories and small pieces of fiction are often included in many otherwise ‘non-fiction’ works.  However, those small fictional bits are not your draw.  You don’t read a math book for the intriguing word problems, right?

By that line of thought, then, why write a piece of fiction unless you fully embrace the need to entertain?  I have read pieces that overwhelm the actual fictional story with heavy-handed philosophy or political subtext or historical arguments, forgetting that crucial need to entertain first.  It’s really annoying as I have also read fantastic, fun volumes that, while fictional, also deliver deep, meaningful insights and themes ALONG WITH their entertainment.  It can be done!

If you ignore that need to entertain first, what most often results is the people you really want to reach with your message never get it.  They never get far enough in the book to absorb it.  They simply give it up, writing off your work as heavy-handed and overly preachy.  If you do remember to properly weave your themes along with an entertaining yarn, however, you can have the world eating out of your hand and learning a bit in the process.

Until next time, good luck and good writing!

Starving Review: Nine Lives of Adam Blake by Ryan Gladney

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Nine Lives of Adam Blake by Ryan Gladney (Amazon, Goodreads)

It doesn’t matter if you are a literary foodie sampling a wide variety of gourmet morsels from around the literary world or a mad scrabbling Starving Reviewer simply trying to get enough to eat.  The fact remains that if you don’t take a moment to cleanse your palate between dishes, you can turn it into one big mush.  After my recent spate of undercooked, overspiced dishes, I was about ready turn a blind eye to the next book on my plate.  Thank the literary Gods that I took that long drink of water, swished, and spat or else I would have, well, let’s save that for the actual review, shall we?

Speaking of that, let us recite the sacred Starving Review creed:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre.
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.

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Starving Review: His Wonderful Curse by Zuhair Mehrali

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His Wonderful Curse by Zuhair Mehrali (Amazon, Goodreads)

Have you ever sat down to a meal where the chef promised you a meal filled with new flavors and sensations for you to interpret and experience for yourself? Now, imagine if during such a mysterious presentation, as you began to eat, the literary cook explained every dish, every ingredient, in depth as it was brought out. While it shouldn’t diminish the flavors of what you are eating, it still seems to as you become deflated and disinterested because of the lack of mystery. In many ways, that was my experience with His Wonderful Curse.

Before we delve into this particular repast further, we must recite the Starving Review creed:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre.
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.

(more…)

Starving Review: The Einstein Pool (The iGod Book 1) by Jake Danger

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The Einstein Pool (The iGod Book 1) by Jake Danger (Amazon)

As continual readers of this blog know, a starving author/reviewer like me will eat any meal put before his table.  A man has got to eat, right?  Sometimes big meals, sometimes small meals, sometimes good meals, sometimes bad.  Every once in a while, though, I eat a meal that is a bit confusing, that dances between the lines of good and bad, big and small, and leaves me a bit puzzled.

The Einstein Pool is such a meal.

However, before we tuck into our plates and figure this out, let’s do the usual ‘ground rules’ thing:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre.
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.

(more…)