Musing on the Muse

As I announced the recent release of my latest novel Tribal Malfunctions a friend said they admired my prolific output. I was humbled and gratified. Also puzzled to a degree. 

But they were right, for sure. As of this writing I’m about to finish issue 3 of my comic Bunnyhead which I write, draw and color myself. I’m figuring out which songs are going on two albums due out in the beginning of next year (2019). I’m working on issue #4 of Bunnyhead and have also written the script for a new comic about a gangster. Oh and I started writing prose for the first time in a long while last night and it looks like that will become a full blown novel. 

Yeah that’s kinda prolific. 

Also kind of insane.

I guess you could say I’ve learned to tame and use my muse instead of it being the other way around. I’ve long held the belief instilled in me by Mary Robinette Kowal that your muse isn’t in control of you like some flighty spirit; your muse is in fact a muscle that needs to be exercised and developed to work best for you and not you for it. 

And I’ve done that to a degree. If the rest of my body looked like my writing muscle I’d look as ripped as Matthew McGonaughey in Magic Mike. I’m working on that but anyway I’ve got a solid writing muscle and know how to use it. In fact I daresay I’ve gotten it so well-tuned and adjusted that I don’t need to work it as regularly as I used to in order to make it work. I’m not saying I’m Tolstoy up in this piece but I’m pretty good at banging out the words as needed on time and within the limits prescribed. 

While currently not professionaly published I have self-published five novels to date - in addition to the comics - and written at least two dozen short stories (They’re all making the rounds and my Pulitzer and Hugo acceptance speeches are constantly being finetuned and updated). By my own estimation that’s put me at over half a million words. And since I’ve been doing this writing thing hardcore for the last ten years…

Well I’m not going to call myself a master per se but let’s just say I know how to put a sentence together.

But back to the prolific thing.

As I said I’ve gotten to the point where I can write as needed. The muse does strike though more often than not I must sit and work storylines and plotholes out like knots in wood or lumps in gravy. I keep notes on story ideas and works in progress so they’re readily available when needed. I don’t need the muse to srike but when it does I go to work with quite a bit more charge and fervor than usual.

When the muse does strike hard it’s weird. For instance this new story I’m working on came to me as the germ of an idea from a single line. From that line I saw an image, a scene I could write about. I let it run around in my head for a bit before I felt I could write in a few sentences after it. Once I started that first line the next couple sentences came with a little coaxing. Then the first paragraph was done. The next paragraph came a little easier. And the one after that a little moreso. Before long I had a page and was digging where I was headed. 3,500 words later I had the beginning of a new novel. Hot damn!

But it’s not always like that. In fact sometimes it’s a drag.

The best way I can describe it is… Well there’s this movie from 1971 called Cold Turkey with Dick Van Dyke about a small town in Iowa that quits smoking. And there’s this one scene where DVD is at the breakfast table chewing carrot sticks to fight off the urge to smoke. He’s listening to the radio and this show is on and - well here’s the link to it. Just watch and listen.


So that’s me and my muse: Dick Van Dyke banging his redhead wife to keep from smoking! I never said I was classy (By the way that’s Bob & Ray playing the radio annoncer and guest!). But it really illistrates my image of how it works when a story or idea grips me. It’s with an almost grim determination that I have to do my duty to my craft, get up off my ass and go write or draw or what have you. I love it, I love the feeling of being inspired enough to create while at the same time it can be a little daunting. There are times when I’d rather be doing something else or need to get something else done but the story or comic is beckoning. And I know that despite training, working, developing and flexing my muse I really can’t do anything else but give in, let it take me upstairs and do with me what it needs to do to get things done. 

Maybe I should take up smoking?

Nah. The muse is stronger without it.

Now if you’l excuse me I have to go make up a few thousand words about an imaginary thing.

COMING IN FEBRUARY 2019: "The Veskarian Journals"

Introducing... “The Veskarian Journals!”

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Beginning in October I will start posting one to two pages every two weeks of a new story entitled “The Veskarian Journals.”

It’s a first contact story about a human expedition to a planet inhabited by two intelligent races, one avian and the other insect. It will be told from the point of view of the expedition’s exobiologist in journal form.

I’m really excited about telling you this story. It’s a new method for me and a form that has a lot of possibilities and challenges. Plus y’all know it will have spaceships, monsters, laser guns and all the things I love.

You may think “This dude is nuts! How does he think he’s going to do this, continue writing and drawing Bunnyhead, making music and eating and living and all that stuff?!” And the answer is... I’ll figure it out. Like all stories, this one is burning a hole in my brain trying to get out into the world so either I let it out or my brain explodes. As Robert Frost once wrote, “I came to a fork in the road and chose the road less messy.” Pretty sure that’s the exact words he wrote.

“Okay then it’s you’re funeral,” you say, “How can I read this business about avian aliens?” Excellent question.

“The Veskarian Journals” will be available exclusively on my Patreon. I hope you will head over there and become a patron, joining me and the good Professor Scorsone on their journey. The comic will be available to patrons at all levels.

In the words of John Updike as he began the first of his “Rabbit” books... “Folks, this is going to absolutely fucking rule!”

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Granitecon Roundup And Next Events!

Hey, folks! Just a little something to let you know about the post Granitecon round up.


First off it was a whole lotta fun. Got to meet a ton of great folks in the business, met a ton of great fans, and also see some amazing cosplay. Some of the best customs of ever seen and heard I want Saturday and watching people for all four days of New York City Comicon 2013.


It was interesting to go as a new artist with an original character to a Comicon where, let’s be honest, folks are coming to see stuff related to the majors comic characters, movies and tv shows.


So as I go to cons with my weird story of an amnesiac robot rabbit ninja (big ups to @Beej for that description!) I’m concerned folks won’t get it. Boy was I wrong. People check it out, grabbed the free stuff and bought comics. All in all it was a great time. So good that I totally collapsed for two days afterwards!


Now I’m home again getting back into the swing of things. Issue 3 coloring is underway and it’s looking great. I hope to have it ready for the Portland Comic Expo on Saturday, October 28th! I’ll be there with comics, posters, giveaways and of course Mr. B will be there as well. He never misses an event!

 

until then keep your eyes on the horizon and look for the v shaped head with the single strong eye! 

Invisible Soundtracks: The Making of an Album!

NEW ALBUM "INVISIBLE SOUNDTRACKS" IS OUT NOW ON M-TRONIC!

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My new album "INVISIBLE SOUNDTRACKS" Is out now. You can get it on the M-Tronic Bandcamp page. 

I am so stupidly thrilled to be added to the M-Tronic roster. If you told me 35 years ago when I began playing with electronics and making music that one day I would release an album on a label in France I would have shrugged and hid from you. That it's a label that has already released some of my favorite music since I began reviewing music for Igloo Magazine is even more amazing. 

This album is a big step forward for me as it was entirely recorded in my new studio space Flow Control 8.0. I took on new strictures, ideas and theories as I set out to record these songs and I think it shows. There's a lot more dissionance, a lot more atmosphere and at the same time more focus on melody, harmony and a bit of a slide back to musicianship. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it.

BUNNYHEAD NEWS!

Hallo!

Here's a little status update on your bot Bunnyhead. Issue 1 is out there doing very nicely. People are getting it and loving it. Remember you can get yours either digitally OR print-on-demand via Indyplanet

 ISSUE 2: THE COMING STORM! Out soon!

ISSUE 2: THE COMING STORM! Out soon!

ISSUE 2 is done, off to the printers and will be available soon! Locally it'll be at the usual haunts such as The Complex, Coast City Comics and Zimmie's up in Lewiston (Casablanca Comics is forthcoming as they're still dealing with their move and the renovations happening above their store). It, too, will be available at Indyplanet soon. Keep your eyes peeled for that!

Both of these and all further issues will also be available at ComiXology soon, too!

If you've been so kind as to buy a copy would you please post it on social media and review it, too? I'd really like to get the word out to more and more people. It's a really cool story and it's only going to get better as it goes on. 

Piece out, space scout!

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BUNNYHEAD ISSUE 1 NOW AVAILABLE!

 Introducing BUNNYHEAD! " After awakening with its memory wiped a lone robot must fight for survival on a ruined world battling cyborg invaders from space while trying to piece together the mystery of its vanished memory and the Creators who made it. "

Introducing BUNNYHEAD! "After awakening with its memory wiped a lone robot must fight for survival on a ruined world battling cyborg invaders from space while trying to piece together the mystery of its vanished memory and the Creators who made it."

Interview with a Madman

Recently a friend (who has asked to be anonymous) asked me one of the most amazing questions anyone has ever asked about my music. The ensuing conversation fgascinated me so much I asked them if I could write about it and they agreed. I’ve redacted some sensitive and personal information but here it is almost in its entirety. We’ll call them CCD for obvious reasons.

CCD: Can you explain your music to me?  First off, I am tone deaf (this is literal as my ear bones are fused) so I'm trying to understand how the melody and harmony of your music works together.

CRT: Wow! Great question. So do you enjoy music in general or certain types or is it all just noise to you? Answer honestly as it will help me answer you better. And I won’t get offended. 😆

CCD: I do enjoy all types of music.  Actually, I really love music.  It's very emotional.  But the kind that you and {REDACTED} make seem chaotic to me.  I think I need a deeper understanding of what is going on so I can process it.  I may not be hearing it properly so my brain cannot interpret it as it was designed.

CRT: Ahhhhhh ok. No you’re hearing it just fine. Let me ask you this: what was your favorite music and who were your favorite bands when you were ages 13-16?

CCD: Well I’ve known {REDACTED} since college, so I have watched his music evolve. He introduced me to musician I hadn't heard before, Like Kate Bush and Lush. Ok. Um...  Well....  Do we have to back in time to the 80's? 

CRT: Yeah! Hahaha!

CCD: I grew up in New Orleans, so aside from the popular 80's music, I also liked Jazz, R&B, and zydeco.

CRT: Oh cool! I didn’t know that!

CCD: I didn't listen to Country/Western until I moved to Texas in 86'. I didn’t gravitate to that stuff until the last 5-7 years. Now I’m amazed by it. Always listened to classical.

CRT: Ok. Reason I ask is that musical tastes and inclination is formed around age 14 or so for most people. Definitely for me. I’ve been revisiting a lot of 80’s new wave and pop from when I was 14 and it’s still alive to me. But I’ve also gotten into newer stuff as it comes out.

CCD: Ah, so we should dive into the 80's deeper then?

CRT: Hah! I’d love to but that might be another interview in and of itself. Now, to finally answer your question. My wife views this type of music as very cerebral and masculine in a lot of ways. But she likes it. And the people who make stuff like this are 90% males. Now there are some women doing this but not a whole lot.

CCD: Wait, that is cool to know. I agree with your wife here.

CRT: Yeah she’s smart. Introduced me to Brian Eno, Leon Russell and Dr. John. See ultimately what I’m looking for in my music is a way to fuse my love of melody and harmony with the weird stuff.

CCD: Sweet!

CRT: I’d say a big factor in my music and your friend’s is the use of repetition, drone and cycling sounds to induce a semi-hypnotic state. Which is clear from that first song of his I played

CCD: He is very mathematical. Like genius.

CRT: Ok! Yeah! Now a lot of these cats who like this stuff are mathematically inclined unlike me. But they all come to programming and technical stuff easily. Which is why they can work in the musical programming langauges with ease. Whereas a lot of sequential logic has evaded me for a long time.

CCD: Yes, he is also a programmer.  Cool stuff.

CRT: So there you go.

CCD: Wait, to go back to sequential logic in music - 

CRT: Ok, Shoot.

CCD: What is it?

CRT: Well you need it for certain basic things like verse chorus structure, music theory and stuff like that.

CCD: This sounds very complex.

CRT: Well sequential logic is actually simple. You use it all the time without thinking. Cooking, dressing, etc. If things go out of order you have problems. But when you get into the more electronic stuff it gets very reliant on it.

CCD: I’m reading it for circuitry.  But now you are applying it to motor planning.

CRT: YES EXACTLY!!! Are you a PT? I learned it through doing yoga.

CCD: I have two sons with motor planning disorders.

CRT: Ah ok then. I learned about it through a pt working with my mom after her stroke. And yoga taught me motor planning I.e. sequential logic applied to human physiology. You dig? I really came to understand how to use and move my body outside of the regular things. It was no longer just a vehicle for walking to work or sex or whatever.

CCD: Yes, it's a lot like a stroke.   So I do kind of get what you are saying with the music. I may have to understand what the musician was thinking when making it then?

CRT: Wait have you done yoga? And if not you should. Might help your boys, too.

CCD: All inputs and outputs (historical) also help decide what is next in the song?

CRT: Whoa that’s a good question. Yes. Kinda. That’s my initial answer.

CCD: The boys do OT.  Yoga would totally be impossible because they can't stop moving for sensory input needs.

CRT: Ok. You said it was like motor planning. So what’s their overarching diagnosis? Autism? Or is that part of it?

CCD: My oldest son is global dyspraxia.   It affects his speech and movement.  But not his cognitive ability (but it does make it the cognitive process slower, but not inaccurate).  He is actually very good at math, but awful at reading. My youngest son is awaiting dx.  Not as bad at older son.  Has issue with crossing the midline and sensory integration.  Speech and cognitive processes intact. For us, it is genetic.  My brother and his children also have some form.  We also have Auditory Processing Disorder (notice I said we, because I have it too).  I have 3 out of 4 kids with it, plus 3 cousins.

CRT: Wow!

CCD: But, we all love music.  My youngest son loves ELO, REO Speedwagon.  My youngest daughter loves Electronica, like her dad. My oldest daughter liked this opera death rock in high school but has mellowed a bit now. I'll have to look more into the physiology of music.   My son's are listing to TLP.  Have you heard of it?  Music that helps the brain?

CRT: Wow! That’s fascinating! The human brain is a weird and wonderful landscape. So how does that APD manifest? I had an employee who couldn’t learn stuff verbally. Training her was a nightmare. Had to let her go when a mistake of hers cost me $1,600. Agony for her of course but for me as I felt such guilt firing her (Yeah my employee was also probably really high all the time). I’ve got ADD which was diagnosed midway through my post-graduate year. I’m a better auditory learner but also kinetic.

CCD: For APD, the person afflicted with it needs to get speech therapy or a home program where they can learn to isolate foreground sounds from background noises.   Some types of OTC hearing aids in work situations can help with this.

CRT: Ah ok. Interesting.

CCD: They also have to watch everything the speaker says. And write everything down.  And ask for all materials in advance so they can learn at home before being formally taught.

CRT. Ok that makes sense. CRT: Is the issue that certain sounds can’t be isolated?

CCD: Yeah if I don’t have my meds I’m easily distracted especially by sound. There is actually several kinds of APD. 31 flavors do to speak.

  1. Sounds drop out from words.
  2. The person can't hear spaces and everything runs together
  3. Both ears won't work together
  4. Both ears can't work separately.

My son has 3 out of 4.  My daughter and I only have 1. It's really fucked up. But like I said, Dx'ed early and you get the therapy so you learn to deal with it when you become an adult. When you were dx'ed with ADD what did they do for you? I'm learning a lot about ADD just with my kids in OT.   Like the fact, that ADD is Dx'ed when the real issue was APD or VPD. Or was SPD.

CRT: I was given Ritalin and a little instruction on how to learn and cope with it. Afterwards I went to a place called Learning Strategies where they actually re-taught me how to learn using my skills. Very helpful.

CCD: Ok so music?

CRT. Hah! How to make sense of what me and your friend make?Hmmm...

CCD: Wait, tell me how your music affects you.

CRT: Good question!

CCD: Like, what does it do for you emotionally?   Does it sedate you?  Get you ramped up?

CRT: It depends. I’m weird because I listen to my own music more than most musicians do. I use it to zone out to or as background noise sometimes. I think it’s best suited to soundtrack, TV or film scores. It’s hard because I think it works best when people don’t listen to it directly.

CCD: {REDACTED} also is bipolar, and uses music as therapy.

CRT: Interesting. Me, too.

CCD: So you mean put it on and vacuum or do the laundry a few times? Like not pay attention, just have it in the background?

CRT: Yes exactly! You must have a little laundry with 3-4 kids right? Hah! Though it does bear up to direct examination I think.

CCD: My whole house is laundry. It’s easier when the kids can do it on their own. Already training #2 for that. I just want them all driving a car by 5th grade.

CRT: Hah!

CCD: Well, thanks for explaining the music to me. {REDACTED} is neat, but he has a genius complex that can sometimes make it hard for him to  compassionately explain something to the uneducated. And if you ever get another employee with APD, let me know.  I'll help you work with them.

CRT: Lol cool. I don’t think I answered you at all though.

CCD: I do think I understood it better.  The motorplanning analogy was a big help.

CRT: Oh good!

 

~END~