Monday, 29 February 2016

Two routes considered.



This week's discourse is an extended ramble comparing the virtues of independent versus traditional publishing.

The rise of the internet enabled a cultural shift primarily responsible for the emergence of independent art and artists around the world.  Those millions, including the writer and now free to share personal opinions to a mass audience ~ unfettered by either common sense or editorial supervision ~ continue to be enamored of the new found ability.  Fascination with it remains sufficient to ignore the routine misery visited upon their fellows by the variety of illegal and unethical behaviors discovered and developed through aid of the technology.  For a massive destruction wrought by software easing both theft of intellectual property and publishing it has also been the well-documented if less-admitted result despite factual reality.  Industries topple as wealth concentrates into fewer hands and the masses demand further erosion of the societal fabric that binds in a mad rush for creative and intellectual liberation.  A world less democratic is the certain end though oligarchs created by the ongoing rush insist otherwise.  These are facts well-established and while representing old news they provide background to the discussion that follows.

While none of us live in a vacuum the writer is positioned to document a contextual example of this specific cultural phenomenon.

The writer began pursuit of a career in the arts without intent.  The genetic accident of artistic talent was revealed early as accepted practice among my siblings who without exception were gifted with a variety of abilities.  Each of them far surpassed those I would eventually discover and claim through practice as my own.

Like most other products of nurture and nature the writer evolved under the strong influence cast by his closest fellows.

The result of later efforts though often less impressive demonstrations of brilliance than made by siblings were perhaps strengthened by their creators' abundance of stubborn determination.  A final aptitude, that for survival, is also an inheritance and thus not a claim the writer could otherwise stake.  The circumstances intervening though left unexplained speak plain enough, and the writer accepts them without qualification.

A man may choose but once his poison before living then and always with result.

The pen was the choice made early by the writer though pursuits both athletic and self-destructive would demand focus to keep body and mind together in the earliest days.  The internet was yet a dream realized only by military analysts and Silicon Valley promoters in search of venture capital and keys to the future when the die was cast.  With school boy literary efforts published, the delight experienced as result of early musical performances soon established a permanent magnetism for the arts.  Linking the talents was a natural step and the attraction in time confirmed as career choice.

The writer's meandering path was thus established well in advance of the world altering rise of the internet.

That such a career choice would be available for independent consideration was unimaginable prior to the rise of the World Wide Web for the writer and his fellows.  In the time before it there was no similar model or concept of information and communication sharing available to the masses.  Thus what are now known as traditional business models serviced all industries while careers based on the requirements of them were the sole available options.

In a world thus aligned the writer first pursued a career in literature with focus on prose and poetry.

A secondary career pursuit as songwriter in popular music augmented with early work as performer was accepted as necessary to survival.  While early reviews were positive the competitive realities of traditional vocational practice in both industries was no less demanding than experienced by the modern practitioner.

With fewer avenues of opportunity in existence though the field was less populated it also featured a playing field of relative quantum size.

The modern internet while populated with a novelist, songwriter, performer, filmmaker, painter, musician, insert-your-artistic-pursuit-here, on every virtual corner is an arena of sufficient scale to allow space for them.  That a free-for-all is the result so far should be no surprise when considering the backlog of frustrated artistic dreams created by the traditional model as unfulfilled desires were unleashed by internet technology.  Now anyone that wants to be is either an artist or a critic with an individual pulpit from which to sell their work or promote their ideology.

The inmates have taken over the asylum is a statement heard in some corners in response to the phenomenon.

Thus a choice exists for those inclined to make it.  The artist today is free to decide under which set of vocational circumstance his or her career will be pursued.  A question of real import is presented by the decision to proceed as independent or seek support of the traditional business models.

Functional differences of approach and expectation are required in both cases if satisfaction is to be received from either.

Though an undeniable gift the curse of beguiling independence lies with individual responsibility while the evil of dazzling tradition is relief of personal control.  A hard value exchanged for another is required by each and the artist may or may not be best served by the choice.  The answer is possible only to wonder at now as history prevents discovery of it sure as the world's evils could not be returned to Pandora's Box.

That none ride for free despite the apparent change in circumstance is also noted in passing.

I will mention before proceeding further the voice of experience is used here as a tool of reference only and not to either advise or suggest alternatives.  A personal trail carved by the writer is the sole collection of circumstance upon which comment is made.  No guarantee of result is implied or assured by these revelations though the reader as ever is advised to avoid similar activity.

The entertainment of writer and reader is the sole purpose of this missive.

For neither biography nor suggested course of action is from this pulpit presented.  To those seeking either I can only hasten to recommend they look elsewhere with urgency as neither exists in any form here.  These are personal experiences related for either humor or object lesson on behalf of writer and reader and nothing more.

No advice is offered here as neither is it sought.

Offers made to the writer in earlier days, harsh judged and spurned, faded before experience in industrial practice led to appreciation of the folly.  In both literature and music support first granted would later be withdrawn due to behavior and performance either unacceptable or unexplained.  Bridges burned were many and youthful indiscretion despite allowance granted for talent in time give way to habit unbecoming with unremarkable sales results.  Tastes change with time and what was once bright devotion fades to old news with often stunning swiftness.  What appeared an endless afternoon approached the sunset before the writer could declare a mind both difficult and demanding.

The real truth of opportunity is that it's quick in passing.

The rise of the internet was thus a rescue of sorts for the writer.  A discarded fugitive of traditional models both literary and musical its power was a stunning revelation that cast a broken career in new light.  For many dreams of all kinds once set aside by tradition are granted new life by technology.  In both fields explosions of new entrants first aided then swamped each industry as legions of previously barred avocational practitioners overwhelmed a never before open and seeming new market.  The writer's stalled careers in both music and literature were, in due time, re-established.  Though the terms under which they function reflect the new reality of business models devastated by the source of resurrection.  Swing a dead cat today and you're sure to hit a musician or writer no matter how you might seek to avoid it.

I state for the record no cats were harmed writing this post.

The fact is without the internet and the resulting acceptance of independent art and artists worldwide it's probable I wouldn't have a career.  While the latter half of my seventeen year life as a recording artist was label supported it began as an indie music act.  With work on what will be my third novel now underway meanwhile I'm thrilled to be a self-published novelist courtesy of Amazon and the remorseless internet.  That such opportunity now exists ubiquitous would in my youth be considered poorly contrived fantasy.  The reality of its occurrence is proof of both the future's unpredictable nature and a fool's good fortune.

The writer is well-served in either case.

In every instance however opinion is only that even if well-informed.  The writer fixes that awareness before his report of it.  A desire to avoid claiming domain over experience aside from the personal is also much sought in published works.  Judgement is then left to reader and listener in matters of entertainment, while individual taste must always be accepted as a routine matter of no account.  This has long been my creed though specific purpose in each instance has ever been the relentless aim.  The true satisfaction of the work for the writer in all cases lives in its completion.  Its appreciation by an audience while absolute in necessity is a temporal consideration external to this.

The works manifested by doing create the satisfaction of being for the writer.

Count me thus in the corner of pursuing either avenue of vocational practice for your individual artistic talent, literary, musical, or otherwise.  As a fellow whose attempted both the writer appreciates the metaphorical perspective of either fox or hound.  To each dedication is the sole requirement for sustained creative success according to the historical record.  The choice remains a luxury to be savored only by those in modern times however for as mentioned arts careers were not so long ago available to a chosen few.  By virtue of the internet the way is now open to any with limited aversion to risk and the determination to complete artistic works.  To corral the world's notice of it remains a story told elsewhere.

For the writer meanwhile, choice of career path like reward, appreciation, or criticism, remains a concern secondary to doing good work.

            Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.

-          TFP
February 29, 2016



Monday, 22 February 2016

Death of a recording artist.



A few words acknowledging a largely unknown recording artist's contribution to the personal literary cause is the subject considered in this week's post.

I have long been a grateful recipient of the healing power of music.  A fellow seeming addicted to high risk and low reward pursuits the metaphorical peaks of the vocational ranges I've attempted to scale have regularly proved injurious.  Varying degrees of damage from many painful falls most often taken publicly by the endless wandering explorer has been the inevitable result.  The scars left on body and mind though for the most part ignored are real as the history of the latter day pirate that carries them.

I've paid the price required for my experience in all ways necessary.

That the cost of the attempt has on occasion proved more than a man was able to meet is not denied here.  For glory though found in achievement is also reserved; if in less quantity, for those failing through honest attempt.  To choose not to fight while often the better form of discretion is rarely viewed as valorous in either distinction or achievement.  I consider it good fortune meanwhile to find those risks necessary to a pursuit add to the pleasure of it.  Thus have I also willingly exchanged the results of my efforts for monetary reward from each audience with gratitude discovered.

The life of a professional in each instance has been a great privilege to lead.

The career paths of few artists' in any discipline describe a graduated slope and acceptance of rapidly changing and unpredictable circumstance is a known requirement of the professional lifestyle.  An understanding of the established corporate ratio of ten percent of artist investments producing ninety percent of expected revenue is also crucial to long term independent viability.  Those unwilling to appreciate accepted industrial facts are soon culled by ineffable circumstance making acknowledgement of their misunderstanding unnecessary.  For despite internet memes to the contrary the law of supply and demand continues to rule strict the established worlds of professional music and published literature.  The claimed democratization created by the internet simply increased the scale of the enterprise necessary to surmount the background noise created by the false hope of newfound independence.  In the absence of arbitrarily applied controls a system so described while often brutal functions as equitable as reason allows in such an environment.

No denial is here offered to the rarity of systems absent such controls known to exist within the confines of temporal reality.

A review of the inequities common to daily living however is not the subject of the weekly discourse.  The mental and emotional balance restored and communicated to its practitioner by the mysterious healing power found in music is the topic under examination this week.  To celebrate the gratefully received benefits of this strange and ethereal stuff and the now departed facilitator of my personal experience of it the purpose.  For at no time has this warm gift been exhausted of its peculiar power despite all circumstance and demand made upon it by either practical refinement or vocational pursuit.

The thing astounds with an ability to relieve a singular madness by indulging it.

In the fading light yet cast by a rapidly receding memory the erstwhile career of the recording artist is appreciated now with greater respect.  For though he passes with few mourners his work was ever the sole tie that bound a badly damaged writer to a ne'er forgotten task.  The demanding career both healed and restored a talent thought destroyed by tumultuous failure and tortuous self-destruction.  As the determination required and the resulting appreciation meanwhile encouraged thoughtful re-evaluation of a much earlier dedication.  A storyteller once overburdened by experience was allowed to work well-hidden while the recording artist provided sustenance and time for rumination.

Decades of therapeutic relief passed in the joy of a career pursuit set to music.

The healing was undeniable and revealed to the writer as the facility for exhaustive literary effort, slow and painstaking, returned.  Stamina developed through years of relentless travel and confidence built from numberless nights performing to countless anonymous faces immutably sharpened required insight.  Criticism and the challenge of professional survival strengthened a resolve transmuted by success in endeavors beyond the artistic.  Wisdom gained in failure was also synthesized in the creation of music and song necessitating the evaluation of individual motivation and personal character in depth.  This investigation; which would be the eventual savior of the writer, is a sacrifice made by the late recording artist most appreciated.

An old wives' tale long noted the death of one in a home will often precede the birth of another.

So it would appear the recording artist; for only a moment or perhaps longer, has passed from the forefront of the writers' recorded history.  For decades a writer of fiction working unpublished the recorded songwriter now cedes his position to the published novelist.  As the work of the writer despite going unread in the past continued so too songs unrecorded will be sung by the artist in the future.  Done for its own sake this work ever lives external to the interest of its creator has long been the accepted view of the writer.  Though stating the obvious however personal acknowledgement for a service so valuable now sudden and with little explanation removed is at the least appropriate.  That music healed and restored while enabling the return to a program of regular and dedicated writing cannot with reason be denied.  Without it the fiction would no doubt remain in the unread purgatory where it languished through decades.  While some might doubt the benefit the results speak on their own behalf when evaluated for artistic or technical merit.

With delight I acknowledge the peculiar satisfaction granted to the writer by each work's successful completion.

The writer while enjoying the appreciation of readers like the recording artist to listeners offers neither insight nor comment in response to it.  Likewise to reveal either thematic motivation or stylistic intent while often tempting is instead left to the imagination of the consumer.  Most work purposely layered and intrusively subtle is appreciated by few and those choosing to create it most times are aware of the fact.

Like it or not, the writer's opportunity to speak lives on the published page and the time for creative reconsideration is then forever lost.

Even so I admit holding onto short stories badly written during earlier times believed best seen by none but their writer and the editor unfortunate to be then engaged.  Like the unreleased backtracks of the recording artist these souvenirs of targets missed are held close with tender fascination by their maker.  Though at no time are they intended for public dissemination.  The readers' nod of understanding for the writer's foolish sentiment is here gratefully accepted without additional comment.

As some songs are best left unrecorded so indeed are those words the writer should choose to leave unpublished.

The reception earned by the recording artist meanwhile encouraged the publication of writings in other mediums.  The notice gained by those efforts also contributed to the eventual return to prose fiction.  While the discipline enforced and embraced by music pursued as vocation created a circumstance suitable to such an end in this case similar healing effects are often observed in a variety of instances.  Both creation and appreciation of it seem to commute a similar unconscious benefit to performer and listener.  The science while somewhat esoteric grows in support of the conclusion.  Research continues though the writer is largely ignorant beyond respect for a potent reality personally experienced.  Like electricity and similar delightful scientific mysteries knowledge of its exact underpinnings while certainly edifying is not a requirement of either benefit or regard.

A flick of a switch mysteriously connected to an unknown source of power in both cases reliably lights the way.

This work of writing novels; while so far lacking even the modest financial reward of professional music, is without doubt the most satisfying either undertaken or realized.  The untimely death of a recording artist is thus not celebrated though delivery of a functional artistic method is with the greatest of appreciation here observed.   A celebration of the contribution made by music in the search for keys to insight and expression is simply with this notice thus commemorated.  For to the late recording artist is owed a real debt, which the writer can repay only through earnest dedication applied with honesty to his craft.

A man will, one day if not soon, look back fondly to madness once loved and only with sorrow now recalled.

In other news the date of November 12, 2016, has been confirmed for publication of my second novel, whose title will be revealed at a later date.  Work is again underway on what is planned as my third.  The strategy continues to be the way of independence enabled by Amazon though all circumstances are subject to change when dealing in the long term.  Like some strange magic meanwhile the much enjoyed work continues under the usual set of fortunate circumstances found here.  With great pleasure I am again reminded of the intense joy found working at a task to which one cannot assign a specific value beyond a wholehearted love of its completion.

A man thus, and willingly, endeavors to persevere.

Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.

-          TFP
February 22, 2016

Monday, 15 February 2016

On misinformation and myth.



A few thoughts concerning myths and misinformation surrounding the practice of both literature and music are this week presented.

While a committed student I have always disliked being told what to do.  Though not a rare affliction the manifestations of it have lingered in my case with results both predictable in the negative and surprising in the positive.  That good fortune has occurred in portion approximately equal to the bad despite the fact is viewed as average when compared to my fellows.

This conclusion is accepted despite no obvious proof beyond the anecdotal to confirm the veracity of it.

To believe one's self performing to the median though often a misconception is also held despite the awareness of its real challenge.  Certainly it can be considered a defensible evaluation of personal circumstance in light of the tendency to navel gazing universal to our kind.  Thus while a man is forced to view temporal reality subjectively his appreciation must necessarily be of a wider cast if he dreams of reasoned objectivity.

It has long been accepted we are each best served when our reach should reliably exceed our grasp.

The practice of the artistic vocations to which I have given myself often required the complete subjugation of significant aspects of personal will.  Though a terrible student I have regularly sought and gratefully accepted a tremendous amount of excellent teaching.  For each pursuit demands a complete and functional network of neurotransmitters seeming exclusive to its own design.  In either case though largely self-taught beyond the basic the specific essentials of a profession and its associated best practices has been closely studied.  With very few exceptions to them I have strictly adhered.  While on occasion signing my work with planned instances of additional bars in song or the occasional split infinitive in prose my acquiescence to the established conventions of each has been more than less complete.

The artist's personal expression of independence though necessary is best applied via methods both obscure and unobtrusive to its consumer.

To accept the unlimited dogma surrounding any professional artistic pursuit without question meanwhile is beyond foolhardy.  In forms today delivered by either accredited professionals or internet charlatans the world has ever been awash in snake oil salesmen of all kinds.  The fields of music and literature are home to inordinate supplies of each and in all stripes.  With vague honorifics ranging from producer through manager in the business of music and titles including agent through editor in the business of literature these numberless 'experts' appear when money is to be made.  With credentials in many cases invented and accomplishments often difficult to confirm the claims made though routinely outrageous are promoted with vigor.  From more outlets than a man could with reason expect to track the promise of fame and fortune trumpets.  A need for either talent or skill is denied in pursuit of each the seeming endless supply of customers is reliably assured.  To learn the technique promoted is the certain solution for success in whatever musical or literary endeavor the buyer may choose to pursue.

Despite the rarity of their realization dreams continue to sell on the cheap.

The career of a student though best pursued on a lifetime basis not soon enough teaches to be a slave to dogma is a fool's paradise.  Similarly to accept the indoctrination of myth without question is the shortest road to the ruination of both real intellectual curiosity and true artistic growth.  Time spent in the classroom must be balanced by life experience in the world beyond it if instruction is to prove reliable.  The value of education not applied like knowledge not disseminated is effectively nothing despite best intention.  Thus we school our youth while demanding results from our adult citizens.

The reliable proof of the recipe's virtue is provided by the pudding of our society.

What is also demonstrated is the reliability of earlier teachings that enable the daily operation of our temporal world.  Perhaps the daily functions of our ever-growing cities that underlie the burgeoning technology of our modern world are the best and latest example of this proof.  For paradoxically the most elemental of contemporary conveniences relies on technical skill and practical knowledge handed down over centuries.  The inestimable task has furthermore long been managed by unseen hands.  With every flush of a toilet we exercise a common tool practically understood by a tiny number of our kind without consideration.  The seeming simple reality is suspended on wings unseen in the guise of fundamental scientific and technical awareness shared by our fellows.  Though hidden from those outside the profession the greater world relies upon it daily.  While not the most elegant of examples the metaphor is realistic and plain.  Without denying the myriad challenges facing the world today more of our kind live in more places and in better conditions than previously recorded by written history.  The undeniable success of the results on behalf of the species makes plain much of what is taught must reflect some demonstrable connection to accepted reality.

In no way does this ever-present practical evidence prevent an overabundance of charlatans from growing perennial among us.

For in both music and literature the abundance of advice and its givers gluts an overcrowded market.  Despite a dearth of empirical data to support the majority of the methodologies promoted the variety of them grows exponentially.  While sales results continue to demonstrate the consolidation and stratification common to mature markets in both fields promised by capitalist theory the deniers of reality persist in defense of assured success.  The embrace of a given strategy is offered as guarantee of future wealth in spite of a bewildering lack of previous examples of the promoted result.  That exception does little more than prove the unbending veracity of individual rules meanwhile is ignored by consumer and promoter alike in favor of enabling a shared fantasy.  Thus the blind continue to lead the blind in both fields despite a sea of reliable information available to virtually all in these wired times.

While many claim to desire an identified result less seem inclined to invest the effort required to manifest it.

In each case the work is a selfish pursuit.  Demand for solitary dedication is paramount to the development of most any artistic talent.  Whether pursued as avocation or practiced as profession the time required refining the artists craft is beyond significant.  An obvious degree of early appreciated talent is also valuable beyond knowing in both instances.  For this recognition and no other is responsible for the allowed impositions of time and availability made by their solo pursuit.  That long years of expensive education followed by decades of competition for the right to practice one of the lowest remunerated careers known will result; often either as rare or best-case scenario, is ignored.  Few consider the choice in terms of the usually achieved end.  For most artistic talent continues to be perceived as a momentous gift to be encouraged among our kind despite questionable real worth.  It would appear we value entertainment above much else save survival in this light.

That the stuff holds such fascination is to a purveyor of it sufficient reason to remain ever grateful.

What is also well established are the few real literary or musical practices beyond the basic known to produce results recognized as examples of talent and craft exceptionally combined.  Though often described and regularly presented as individual theoretical gems of rare insight and unique wisdom by the hawker common sense and appreciation for long-established rules are features frequently shared by them.  Reliably taught to students fortunate to advance as far as middle school in my own time the education system today no doubt continues a course of elementary grammatical and melodious teaching suitable to the purpose.  With confidence a man estimates the classrooms and conservatories of the western world turn out both graduates and dropouts well-schooled in the required basics of both to create future tomes of similar greatness.  Those who would claim to have discovered a new means of inventing either literary or musical wheel are thus best sought only by they in search of a mechanism described as other than circular.  For many of us however the harsh finality of these terms proves too difficult or even impossible to accept.  Thus explanation for individual failure is sought by means other than limitations of time or talent.  The way is then cleared for the purveyors of rehashed schemes and re-titled methodologies to capture the monies of those in search of remediation to a brutal verdict thought unfair passed.

Upon the dreams of the broken hearted do the cynical prey with greatest ease.

The best protection from charlatans however remains reliance on the fundamental teachings learned in the classrooms of youth.  This knowledge augmented by the continued appreciation of the common sense in most cases will provide safe passage through circumstances encountered on either literary or musical journey.  To answer a vocational call from the arts is undeniable when true and unsuccessful only if not accepted when received.  Honest application of most talent earnestly presented while often lacking massive appeal is reliably appreciated for both artistic merit and the difficulty of its individual accomplishment.  For as a species we appear wired to both need and enjoy the entertainment provided by the navel gazing of artists either avocational or professional.  While search for explanation for the phenomena continues it so far defies effective description despite being widely experienced.

It would seem that love cannot so far be explained.

In other news my first novel 'A Dog and His Boy' continues legal internet availability in eBook form exclusively through Amazon Kindle.  An extension of the novel's KDP Select membership for an additional quarter engaged automatically when not declined on the three-month anniversary of its publication.  This means the novel holds onto membership in the Kindle Lending Library for free reading on the Kindle device until mid-May.  The novel is also sold in paperback courtesy of Amazon Createspace worldwide with links to both sites found on the identified pages here at the blog.  With two ~ limited ~ printings sold out, several positive reviews published, and plenty of helpful feedback received, hard work well done continues to produce an abundance of much appreciated reward.

Now three months into life as published novelist my regard for the achievement only grows.

Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.

-          TFP
February 15, 2016