Humans are creatures of habit. Not a shocking proposition, for most of human history our lives have been nothing but the same thing over and over. As a ‘sort of’ uncle of mine used to say, we “eat, sleep, shit, and work;” a succinct formula for our lives.
But it’s even more important for those like myself. Low in conscientiousness, and with a mental illness deeply linked to habit. Bipolar disorder is strongly linked to the circadian rhythm. Mess with your sleep? You’re going to feel it worse than others. And we probably all, at some level, already know this. But what you may not have known is that it goes that deep into biology. Another thing liked to the circadian rhythm is eating, so if you want to get next level about it, eat at the same time, and sleep at the same time as much as possible.
Don’t beat yourself up about it though. Use who you are today as a ruler for success. Just setting “better than before” as a goal is an actual, meaningful improvement, because now you’re seriously oriented upwards instead of across. The “ideal” can forgive the mistakes you make along the way to reaching them.1
Habits are powerful tools twofold. First, once you set a habit in place, you essentially start doing it automatically. I did this with fiction writing a year back when I was in my “year off” of University. Since I returned, I post weekly instead of daily. Another, more relevant habit I’ve constructed is… breakfast! I thought, what’s the easiest, and highest in fat/protien (the best morning [and life] nutrients) food that makes a good breakfast? Coffee! No. Coffee and peanut butter! Yes!! Wonderful! Now I have breakfast nearly every day.
The second superpower of habits is that, once one is in place, it’s super easy to build on it. It’s like… well, it’s sort of like building a house. Once you have the framework in, it’s not too difficult to nail down some dry-wall. Maybe add some siding? Pain the inside? Hell, it’s so nice now you might as well buy some imaginary furniture and move in to the damn place. But, there’s no rush. Do it right, do it at your own pace.
Just make sure that you’re oriented upwards, instead of across, and that’s where you’ll end up even if it’s by process of absent-minded strolling.
Further Watching on the topic of Habits:
Jordan Peterson – Daily Structure Keeps You Sane – “So you do the math, so we’ll say five hours a week for the sake of argument just to keep it simple. It’s 20 hours a month. It’s 240 hours a year. That’s six 40-hour work weeks. … Mostly what you want is to have [in life is] a routine. It’s discipline. It’s predictable and bloody well stick to it. You’re going to be way healthier and happier and saner if you do that … the world is too complicated for you to keep it organized all by yourself … So we outsource the problem of sanity.”
Simon Sinek – Do You Love Your Wife? – “It’s about transitions. … If you go to the gym and you workout and you come back, and you look in the mirror, you will see nothing. And if you go to the gym the next day and you come back and you look in the mirror, you will see nothing, right? … Or if you fundamentally believe that this is the right course of action and you stick with it, like in a relationship. I bought her flowers and I wished her happy birthday and she doesn’t love me, clearly I’ll give up. You know? That’s not what happens. … You could screw it up, … you know it allows for that. But if you stick with it consistently, I’m not exactly sure what day, but I know you’ll start getting into shape. … It’s not about intensity it’s about consistency. … It’s the daily practice of all the monotonous, little, boring, things like brushing your teeth that matter the most.”
1 Yes, that is a Jesus reference. Idk what else to say about it.
In this article, I write about Northrop Frye’s theory of myths and archetypes, specifically comedy, using my manuscript of Alice and Finch as a comparison and example. It may contain spoilers, but nothing I thing would ruin the experience of reading the novel.
Nine months ago, I powered through the first chapter of a three-part short story series. (I’m not sure what it isI have with short story series’.) That series is what later became the “Dawn” section of Alice and Finch. It was a very strong trilogy compared to my other work, and it eventually spawned my current best piece of writing, Inck. But then, three months later in late July, I finally finished the first draft of the novel. After that, I started tying up loose ends with a few epilogues, and I also realized major a flaw. As I looked back, I realized that I hadn’t really finished the story properly.
According to Canadian literary theorist Northrop Frye, “The theme of the comic is the integration of society, which usually takes the form of incorporating a central character into it” (Frye). The integration can be broken down into individual, family, and society. I’m not so sure that I succeeded in this regard, but I think I made a good effort. In fact, in my own epilogue for Ilias, I somehow managed to subconsciously notice my own mistakes! Here’s a clipping with a limit on spoilers: Ilias came up with something of “… a solution neither Finch nor Alexandre had thought of …” (Triumph). This is an example of one of the many loose ends that I want to tie up; not in the band-aid epilogues, but in the actual story. Continue reading “Alice and Finch: The Archetypal Recapitulation”→
In a long continuance of poverty, and long habits of dissipation, it cannot be expected that any character should be exactly uniform. There is a degree of want by which the freedom of agency is almost destroyed; and long association with fortuitous companions will at last relax the strictness of truth, and abate the fervour of sincerity.
There was a long period of time when I categorized creative writing as a job, like any other. As I grew up though, it became more and more obvious that this simply was not the case. They don’t work steady hours, they often work from home, or at the very least not out of an office. They often take years, or fractions of years, to put out content.
Really, you could have a lot of fun with this line. Writers often don’t get published. They’re often rejected many times first if they actually are published. It’s a flooded market, because everyone thinks it’s easy to write a novel. Even if you do manage to push out 50 000 words or more, it’s not easy to make them any good. And even if they are good, good isn’t good enough, especially for a publisher. Especially for the market. Especially for history. What was I getting at?
Right. So you put out a book. Does it even sell well? Maybe you put out another? I read that it took one writer eight novels to start making a livable income.
The more I learned about it, the less likely it seemed that someone anyone was about to list “writer” as their occupation. It’s just so unlikely.
It wasn’t until nearly a year ago that I realized that there’s a split in books. It’s going to seem really obvious when I say it, but I’m really good at not noticing obvious things so I’ll lay it out for you.
I had been listening to Gary Vaynerchuk for a long time. Eventually I had gotten his entire message down, and he was starting to get repetitive. (Gary, for those of you who don’t know, is marketing entrepreneur who sells the “work hard” message, and talks about how it’s way easier to “make it” now that the internet exists.) I got his first book, Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion on audible, and I listened to it at work. It’s a pretty compelling title, right? The book essentially encapsulates on how to execute on the idea of what is now known as “influencer marketing.” You make a blog, or a youtube channel, or something. Then you become an expert on a topic. Then you just put out content as frequently as you can and build an audience. Apparently it works, because he’s released an updated book on the same thing complete with success stories.
Back to the split. I decided, hey, I can do that. Thus, this blog was started. It wasn’t too long later that I started to realize what I was doing wasn’t the same kind of thing as other influencer blogs were. I’m not talking about anything. I don’t have a specialty. I don’t really have a “brand.” I’m not influencing anyone on anything, not really. I just write stories. Unless I build an audience, nobody’s going to advertise on that, and advertising revenue is kind of the whole thing. It’s hard enough to build a financially successful blog, but building a financially successful fiction blog is essentially unheard of.
To be honest, I don’t know much about fiction blogs. I don’t think you can monetize them in the same way as informational blogs (no affiliate ability, products you can create are limited), so I can’t be of much help. I’m sorry!
— An email reply to my question of how to monetise.
And that’s the split.
Non-fiction is a lot easier to sell than fiction, and as far as I can tell, this extends out of blogs and into books. It’s a lot easier to get a non-fiction book published and have it actually make money. People seek information and solutions to problems a lot more than they seek stories. Those who read for pleasure are a minority; even if you give it away for free, as I and a few other bloggers do.
Let’s keep going.
Studying English Literature at University, I noticed something surprising. A lot of the fiction writers that I studied also had some other job. I can’t really remember many off the top of my head, but I compiled this cool chart. As my definition of “great” I chose people in the canon, and the canon I used was the first one I could find online. You think there’d be a more official list than Wikipedia, but this isn’t really an academic paper, so you’ll have to excuse my use of the free encyclopedia. (Actually, if anyone has a good link to an English or Western canon list, please tell me.)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
Entrepreneur, lecturer, publisher
Edgar Allen Poe
Military engineer, journalist
Arthur Conan Doyle**
Physician, Fancy Moustache
Polemicist, civil servant
Lived with her parents
Revolving door of rich wives
Miguel de Cervantes
Publisher, critic, essayist
*May not count
** Not in a canon
The man who managed to make it into the canon with an unfinished book was the first person who tipped me off. For whatever reason, I remember Geoffrey Chaucer being introduced in class as a banker. but this was two years ago, so, looking at my chart, it seems that I mixed that up. Chaucer was a bureaucrat and diplomat, and he “audited and kept books on the export taxes, which were one of the Crown’s main sources of revenue” (Greenblat 189). I guess he did do something with money.
So, once you realize that people, even the people you learn about in academia, are working as well as writing, you start to think. At least I did. I started to notice more of them here and there. Although, I didn’t much pay much attention to it. Not until this year, when I was researching Poe.
Edgar Allen Poe managed to scrape his gothic self into two separate courses of mine this year. And, looking into him a bit, I learned that “Poe was the first American writer, as Alexander Pope had been the first in England, to support himself entirely by his writing” (Mayers 138). This quote is kind of cool, because it shows that in two separate countries, making a living writing was unusual… for centuries.
Continuing with Poe, however, it seems that even after he “made it,” he continued to struggle financially.
A young author, struggling with Despair itself in the shape of a ghastly poverty, which has no alleviation — no sympathy from an every-day world, that cannot understand his necessities, and that would pretend not to understand them if it comprehended them ever so well — this young author is politely requested to compose an article, for which he will “be handsomely paid.” Enraptured, he neglects perhaps for a month the sole employment which affords him the chance of a livelihood, and having starved through the month (he and his family) completes at length the month of starvation and the article, and despatches the latter (with a broad hint about the former) to the pursy “editor” and bottle-nosed “proprietor” who has condescended to honor him (the poor devil) with his patronage. A month (starving still), and no reply. … At the expiration of six additional months, personal application is made at the “editor’s” and “proprietor’s” office. Call again. The poor devil goes out, and does not fail to call again. Still call again; — and call again is the word for three or four months more. His patience exhausted, the article is demanded. No — he can’t have it (the truth is, it was too good to be given up so easily) — “it is in print,” and “contributions of this character are never paid for (it is a role we have) under six months after publication. Call in six months after the issue of your affair, and your money is ready for you — for we are business men, ourselves — prompt” (Poe).
Poe struggled because editors avoided paying him, and because of a lack of international copyright law. Publishers and magazines could literally just steal works from other countries like Britain, instead of paying the American for his stories. As far as I know, neither of these issues exist anymore. At least, I hope not.
A lot of the great writers had jobs… in fact, if my quote has any weight to it, all writers born before the eighteenth century in England, and the nineteenth in the United States had jobs. For me that means a couple of things. The first is that writing “on the side” is normal. The second is that, even (especially?) if you happen to be extremely artistic, writing anywhere except on the side mightn’t ever factor in.
According to Price’s law, half of all scientific contributions are made by the square root of the total number of scientific contributors: thus, if there are 100 scientists within a given discipline, just 10 of them will account for 50 percent of all publications. ThePrice’s law describes unequal distribution of productivity in most domains of creativity (Gorny, emphasis mine).
The bigger you are, the more people recognise you. The more people recognise you, the more people buy your books. The more people buy your books, the bigger you get. The more people want to publish you. The more stores shelf your book. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s present in the novelling, and almost any other market.
Most of us aren’t recognised at the top, in fact most writers probably aren’t making anything. There’s probably a large amount that are just writing for fun. Those that are making a living wage are what I like to call the exceptions.
Writers like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and Agatha Christie are the exceptions. Especially Christie. If you want a good example of an exception to the rule, look no further than the woman competing in sales numbers with William Shakespeare!
Outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare, Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. She is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, as well as the world’s longest-running play – The Mousetrap.
From what I can tell, which isn’t much, it seems to me that there are two ways to actually make money writing. The first is to write a lot of things that are interesting to read. They don’t have to be particularly good, in fact being literary slows you down. Get rid of all that and just write a ton. That’s clearly what Christie did. One of the things that stabbed out of the page at me while reading Harry Potter was the unimpressive and sometimes just plain bad prose. Apparently King isn’t much better. But really, writing in this fashion clearly works if you have the content to make up for it.
There’s another group that manages to get by with fairly simple writing, the occasional grammar error, and lots of releases. It’s the indie publishers. Self publishinh directly to ebooks and cranking out two or three novels a year, these people are on a mission, and it’s paying off. Royalties are lower, if not non-existent if you indie publish, and because it’s digital you don’t even have to pay for printed books. But, the breakneck speed at which you have to release to make a living seems to cut into their quality. I’m not sure.
This is actually sort of an awful article, it spells out how almost exactly how unlikely it is that anyone will make a living writing. It’s the last thing I wanted to hear, that’s why it took a strong three years for me to come around and face it. But, I kind of cheated when I did.
The first thing I pointed out here, in different words, was that it’s unusual to make money doing art. I feel like that’s so obvious that it’s almost in the realm of common sense. Writing somehow falls to the side of that though, possibly because when people think “art” they don’t immediately think “novel.”
Anyway, my first point was that even a lot of the great writers from the canon also did other things, and that’s where I “cheated.” It’s unlikely that you or I will make a living writing. It’s unlikely that anyone will make a living writing. Especially if you want to take the time to put out something of literary quality. So the cheat is that… that’s normal. You don’t have to worry about it, or stress about how you’re going to do it.
I mean, feel free to try, just be careful that you don’t fall into the dead prose of mass fiction… or do, whatever works. As for me, I’m going to try what Margret Atwood did. (Although, I’m not a huge fan of Atwood, she definitely both made it, and is good enough that I read her work in university.) That is, get a “real job” and hope for the best after that. I think it beats being a starving artist working a minimum wage job anyway. And being educated certainly doesn’t hurt writing quality.
I’m kind of in a bad way right now, and it’s exam season. Despite this, I’m going to try to keep the ball rolling. Here’s a short piece on the different eras of one of my favourite bands, Judas Priest.
I think Judas Priest’s biggest time in the spotlight (definitely their biggest time for sales) was from British Steel (1980) up to Turbo (1986), at which point they got too commercial and then crashed with Ram it Down in 1988 (An album I still really like.) After that we got Painkiller (1991), but Halford must have still been interested in spiralling outward, because shortly after he exited the band and started a solo career. (Not on purpose, there was an issue with the label, but he really wanted to do solo work)
Back in the beginning, Rocka Rolla (1974) to around Stained Class (1978), they were considered by some to be a band with an experimental style. The kind of early metal that still mixed with the blues and was still called rock (check Dreamer Deceiver). The pinnacle of this sound, I think most would agree, was Stained Class. Afterwards Hell Bent for Leather dropped; the transition into the British Steel era.
When Halford left after Painkiller, the band died. There was no Judas Priest from 1992-1995. It was during those exact years that Halford’s solo band Fight ran. Other ex-Priest members weren’t slouching either. Scott Travis actually joined Fight, and Tiptonn recorded material that would later become Baptizm of Fire (1997) and Edge of the World (2006). It was around then that the band decided to get back together. They had everyone except for a singer, (Halford would move on to 2wo in 1994 and then “Halford” in 1999) so they started auditioning. One day Scott Travis found someone who had a crazy vocal range, and even knew how to perform all the Priest classics.
And thus, in 1996, the so called “Ripper era” was born. With Halford gone, Glenn Tipton took the reins (I think) as the leader. A year later Jugulator came out, and it was a little intense, but it made sense after Painkiller. Demolition (2001) was probably the biggest black sheep of the Judas Priest discography, but I have a theory about that. K.K. Downing wrote a lot less of the songs on it (5/13), which meant that Glenn Tipton penned 60% of the album without him. And compare it to Batptizm of Fire! They sound very similar. With Tim Owens as the vocalist it’s true that Priest sounded different, but it wasn’t because of him. It was because the writing team of Halford, K.K., and Tipton, went from 3 to 2, and then almost to 1. (This may have been the beginning of the end for K.K.)
Since Halford returned in 2003, I feel like the band has looking back and trying to figure themselves out. Angel of Retribution (2004) was highly retrospective, referencing a lot of older songs and styles, while adding a new touch. Released in 2008, Nostradamus was an experimental step in an interesting direction. I think with a bit more editing and research it could have been great, but it comes off a little longwinded. Redeemer of Souls, like Retribution, feels like a look back, but also a look forward with songs like, “The Beginning of the End” and “Going Down in Flames”.
The new album, Firepower, looks highly energetic. It sounds like a fusion of Halford’s Resurrection, Jugulator, and Angel of Retribution. They aren’t messing around this time around. Although it’s hard to tell with a 15 second clip, I feel like they’re returning to a more natural direction.
For me, their best years are modern Priest. I like to see what they have been doing most recently, and I want to make the best of the newer albums while the band is still kicking. When Ian Hill was asked what his favourite was, he said, “Ask anybody that, I always say ‘the last album’.” Hill explains proudly, “Which at that moment in time it is the new album. Just because we’ve spent so much time on it, you know? But it is” (Macek). This sense of pride In the end, the “best era” for Judas Priest should be the one that matches your own tastes best. And don’t be afraid to check them all out from time to time as well.
Judas Priest has been one of my favourite bands since around August of 2014 when Redeemer of Souls came out to . I listened to them pretty seriously until around early 2017. I still listen to them here and there, but my main band at the moment is Falling Up.
I do have another story in mind, but it’s going to take a bit of work. Hopefully I get it out later this week.
I’ve been really bogged down by university with essays this week.
This essay revolves around the informal, joke-like theory of the “pataphysical,” a realm beyond physics, and beyond metaphysics. Applied to language, what that means is looking at a word and seeing its physical aspects, then using that as a vehicle for poetry. Example:
Sign if I can ce
Sign if I can see
My essay argues that that can make for great puns, and then goes over some examples of people (Paul Dutton and bpNichol) who have actually applied “pataphysics” to their poetry.
If that interests you, or if you’re unsure, read on. If not, well, don’t worry, I’ll post something more interesting in the future.
Multiple Meanings in Pataphysics
Poetry is different than prose because it is more playful with language. Epics and sonnets are defined by certain structural elements such as length, meter, or rhyme. Some poems deviate or actively avoid structure. But a general statement could be made about most poetry, which is that it focuses on words, sentences, maybe verses. bpNichol took interest in a realm beyond, or perhaps below that, the place below the level of the word. He was interested in creating poetry by examining letters and the sounds that they can create. Nichol named this Pataphysics, the realm beyond physics and metaphysics that both does and does not exist. This led to poetry that focused on creating multiple meanings for a single word, and poetry that drew words out of other words. This essay will be focusing on the former, using the pataphysical to create multiple meanings within one word. bpNichol and Paul Dutton have used pataphysics to create words with multiple meanings within a poem. Continue reading “Pataphysics!”→