Off To Seattle Again

I’ll be off to Seattle to sign books again like I did about this time last year, spending time with many of the talented friends I’ve made over the years.

Very excited to go on this trip again!  Last year I left feeling like I was an integral part of a really unique community of brilliant people and I need to feel that again.

I just hope there’s no awkwardness with my friend who reminds me of Richard… I don’t want to make him into someone he’s not.  Luckily he was surprisingly cool with it when I told him about the feelings he brought out in me and I think just spending a little time with him might help cement him as the person he is and not the person he reminds me of.

Fortunately I think we’re going to be too busy for any centuries-old baggage to carry any weight.  I’ll travel light and expect nothing but a good time.

Not Sure What To Make of This

On the one hand, I still haven’t completely given up on the prospect of having been Philip K. Dick in my last life.  The semblances in personality are pretty uncanny, as I’ve prattled on at length about over the last two and a half years.

Lately though, I’ve been getting flashes of another life in England that I believe may have ended some time between 1940 and 1955.  Very brief ones, and only two so far, both featuring a beautiful woman.  I believe I was a man of some means, refined, passionate, and suave, but died in my prime.

This is problematic because this is an awful lot like one of the characters from my most recently published book.  I’m reluctant to believe anything that too closely resembles the suave, dapper, debonair mid-century British aerospace engineer I conceived in my book, who was born in 1901 and has a vision in 1946 that reveals that he will die in 1957 (a bit longer than the life I keep seeing, but only by about 14 years).  On the other hand, the character was so convincingly written that I may well have been drawing from a deeper well of personal experience.

Maybe it’s nothing.  The woman I saw looked a little too much like some fantasy from a Hollywood movie, wearing this sleek 40s high fashion dress and coming out of the fog as I listened to Jussi Bjorling’s rendition of “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot, a song that could very well have been the soundtrack of a Hollywood movie.

None of this has the feel of verisimilitude I got when I tried on Phil as a past life identity.  It feels like the creation of my own romantic mind, and not the sad, painfully ordinary and constantly fearful man I saw myself as, peering fearfully through blinds at unmarked cop cars in the early 70s.  There was nothing romantic about being Phil as I remembered it, and anything that smacks of more romance than the life of an impoverished writer- the only reality I’ve known in my present adult life- seems both presumptuous and wishful thinking.

About the only reason I have to give this latest flash of the 20th century the benefit of the doubt is because I hadn’t actually been trying to dig up past life memories lately.  I felt like I was trying too hard and I had walked away from it.  This flash was spontaneous and unexpected.  Still, something about it doesn’t pass the smell test.

Why Is This Still A Thing?

Why is the “get a real job in retail” talk from family still a thing? And why is it always writers and musicians who have to put up with it? I’d expect that kind of coarseness from a drunk stranger but not a family member in this day and age.

Honestly, has nothing changed in fifty fucking years?  I think I
might have heard it when I was Phil… if I was Phil.  Honestly, why can’t inflicting this attitude on people we profess to love just go to the dustbin of history, quietly and passively, like ear-boxing or birching?

To those who say this to your family members, let me tell you something about writers: all we hear when someone says that is “you’re not good enough to ever make anything more of yourself than a night stock clerk at a Wal-Mart, but I’m too chickenshit to say so to your face.”  You may not mean it, but when you say that to someone with a fragile ego it might rob them of the only chance they ever had, and if you say that to someone with an overly strong ego (like mine), you’ll only make us more militant about ignoring you and going forward with our dreams.

I have things can sell before it gets to the point where I have to work retail.  I’m in a position to take a risk. I can survive on less than $10K a year and I can make my own choices about how I pursue work. I don’t need a lecture on how low status jobs “build character” because I know from firsthand experience that’s a load of horseshit.

Most of all, lest anyone think this is all about entitlement, quite the opposite. I’ve been working hard to get myself out of working those kinds of jobs and I think I owe it to myself to try for something better now that I can.  I had a difficult time in school socially, and I had a lot of problems, but I still kept my grades up and finished with an excellent GPA.  I can say with utmost confidence that I deserve at least an entry-level professional job, because I did what I had to do to earn that.  Telling me to get a “steady job” in retail as if it were anything more than a last resort is like saying all that hard work didn’t matter.

Sudden Frustration

It turns out my book won’t be released in San Jose this weekend.

There is a possibility that another book in my queue might go out in its place but there’s a chance that might never happen.  I might only see two copies of it- one for myself and one for the friend who’s driving me to Berkeley- and these will be ultra-limited pre-release copies with no edits done to the text.

I might go all the way to San Jose and not have a book to release.  I am livid because this comes down to issues that should have been brought up about the text months ago when I was sending it to friends to read and critique or when I first submitted it to my publisher.  Instead, it gets brought up at the last moment.  Fucking outrageous.

To add insult to injury, this book is a sequel to the first book I wrote, which has only sold 15 copies in the space of two years.

I feel I have the right, at this stage, to be in a shitty mood for a few days.

Found This

I found one of the earliest stories Phil wrote after the experiences of 2-3-74, and it’s of great interest to me for its context more than its content.  It’s called “Eye of the Sibyl”

You can see he was struggling to get across the ideas in his mind at the time.  The more refined books, like “Radio Free Albemuth,” “VALIS,” “The Divine Invasion,” and “Transmigration of Timothy Archer” all came much later, around 1978-1982.  “Eye of the Sibyl” by contrast is awkward and hard to get into.

In a way, this makes me feel encouraged because the first stories I wrote about my experiences were also awkward and hard to get into.  As time passed I integrated these new ideas better and expounded them into novels I am now very proud of, but I had to start from a very awkward place.

I suppose I haven’t changed that much after all, at least when it comes to certain traits I have as a writer.


Long story short, I’ve had my hands full.

First, I’m reaching out to others with a similar interest in medieval history.  Obviously, I’m very judicious about how much I tell them about the reason for my interest.  Made friends with someone recently who is into HEMA (Historic European Martial Arts) and might be trying out for Team USA in an international competition, among others.  Once I have the money I may try my hand at that, though for now the cost is prohibitive.  I’m also taking a couple of medieval history courses to round things out.

Second, I’ve been promoting my novels heavily and reaching out to other writers.  Since I don’t use this blog to promote my published work, that basically means time I’m not writing entries for this blog.  I’m going to have to work hard to build up anything resembling a career but a lot of those close to me seem to think I have what it takes.  Also, I’ve officially made it my goal to win a Hugo award in this life because I need windmills to tilt at.

Leaving Friday

I’ll be leaving Friday for Seattle.

This will only be the second time I’ll have been present for the initial release of one of my books; my first book was released in Pittsburgh in 2010 but I was unable to make it.  The book I am releasing this coming weekend is the sequel to that book.

I did make it to the initial release of my second book in San Jose in 2013, but that one did poorly compared to my first book and the release was not handled very well, to put it nicely.  Also, it cost twice as much as my first book because it was twice as long, and it was actually the first book I wrote (delayed many years in the publication process) so it was well below what I was actually capable of and got poor reviews.

This one should be different.  This is a book I finished just under a year ago, it’s short like the first book and costs about the same, and it’s a sequel to my most popular work to date.  I have high hopes for this one as the book that establishes me as a presence in my genre and if not this one, I have two more lined up right behind it.

I can’t describe how alive I feel.  That’s the word for it.  It’s been a real roller coaster ride of bad reviews, discouraging sales, and all the usual problems a fairly inexperienced writer will often fall prey to.  I’m finally at a point in my life where I can put out the kind of quantity and quality needed to establish myself and for once, I have hope.

I’ll be rooming with friends from the UK too, which just makes it that much more awesome.  If I can keep writing good stuff on a consistent basis, this might become a regular thing since these guys come to this particular convention every year.

Also, I bought my train ticket in advance and I have to say, this should be a pretty enjoyable travel experience.  Union Station in Portland is a gorgeous old building built in the 1890s, and when I walked in one of the first things I saw in the lobby was a baggage cart that must have been 60 years old, still in common use.  There was no line at the massive antique oak counter, and the clerk who sold me my ticket was quick and courteous.  I’ll definitely post about how my trip actually went since I’ll be bringing my laptop with me (something that would be too much aggravation on an airline flight).

I’ll try to keep up to date with how the trip is going, and maybe I’ll share some photos.