12th April 2014

Rose Moon draft 4 just in time for the Blood Moon

Last weekend I completed a fourth draft of parts 3 & 4 of the novella in progress, Rose Moon. After such a long time focused on other concerns, it’s nice to once again live inside an unfolding story. A fourth draft is sufficiently crafted to show the work’s eventual face through the rough, and I’m heartened by what I see. Like Entranscing, this novella provides foundation for my world that is assumed but never described in the originally planned core novels of The Hidden Lands of Nod; however, Rose Moon is better realized than Entranscing, which remains more a detailed plan for a novel than a finished book. A difference is that with Rose Moon I am doing a better job of keeping my role as organizing sensibility reined to appropriate gaits.

Since finishing the fourth draft of parts 3 & 4, I’ve mostly set the work aside to deal with non-art issues. I did shift all four parts into a single manuscript file, and decide that from this point I’ll revise it as a book rather than separate episodes. Also, the draft I completed last weekend ended with an epilog stuck behind part 4; subsequently, I realized the epilog is actually a scene from early in a future book. It has been removed.

I completed this draft of Rose Moon in time for the “Blood Moon,” which hype is not entirely mine. If you’ve consumed media in the past few days you know about the total lunar eclipse over the western hemisphere on Monday, April 14. All the talking heads are calling it a “Blood Moon.” I hope it is, and I hope the skies are clear for sampling. The current forecast for Austin predicts scattered thundershowers on the 14th. May they scatter elsewhere than around Stikmanz HQ, where the need for lunar red is practical. It’s a rare color, bright with magic.

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25th March 2014

Green Anole!

Beautiful lizard hanging around the invasive nandina I have yet to dig out.

A specimen of my favorite lizard hanging around the invasive nandina I have yet to dig out. Photo by R. Stikmanz.

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18th February 2014

3000 Weeks, a Celebration of Influences

An e-book anthology edited by Amanda Kimmerly from the 3000 Weeks project has been released.

An e-book anthology edited from the 3000 Weeks project by Amanda Kimmerly is now available.

The e-book anthology derived from the 3000 Weeks project has an official release date of February 17, 2014. Selected and edited by Amanda Kimmerly, 3000 Weeks, a Celebration of Influences draws a representative sample from materials contributed to the project. Additionally, it includes a biographical catalog of all the authors, artists and musicians who were the collective reason for this undertaking. A button for purchasing the e-book will appear on this site within a few days. Those already awaiting delivery should see it hit in-boxes sooner than that.

In case you do not make it to the last page, here is text of the afterword I contributed to the publication:

“The impulse that kicked off the 3000 Weeks project was my wish to recognize and honor the milieu from which I emerge as a creative worker. I sent requests for participation to a few hundred people who have had impact through inspiration and community upon the fruits of my own imagination. Not everyone I wish had taken part chose to do so; those who did, I thank and celebrate.

“While this anthology and catalog of participants has been assigned an ISBN and given a price, it is intended primarily as a keepsake of the project for all who made themselves a part, whether through contributions of words, sounds or images, or through profoundly generous material support. My thanks to all. May love and blessings shower each of you.

“The first section of this book is an anthology edited by Amanda Kimmerly, featuring her choice of material from the 3000 Weeks project. Had it been me, and had there been the means, I would have included it all, everything by everyone who answered the call. Amanda has chosen a broadly representative sample to convey the range and diversity of participation.

“The second section of the volume is a catalog of all the authors and artists who contributed to the project, with a brief bio of each accompanied by comment from me. These are the people who came together around the 3000th week in one individual’s life. Popular wisdom claims we are known by the company we keep. I stand revealed.”

-Robert Stikmanz

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17th February 2014

What is happening with the 3000 Weeks e-book anthology?

No one seems to be asking that question except imaginary readers whispering behind my thoughts as I try to bring this project to completion. Even so, the answer as of today is that the 3000 Weeks e-book is so close to done that it is done. Remaining are follow-through and wrap-up.

Last night, after a marathon session correcting the last errors I had identified and making final tweaks to formatting, I sent a hopeful e-mail asserting that the epub version of the book is complete except for the cover image. I could not, and cannot, get the cover image to display as a thumbnail. It is the final hurdle. I kept working on it last night until my head nodded as I dozed off between keystrokes. During one head-bobbing lurch toward sleep, I did something that appeared to corrupt about a third of the material I have spent hours and days over months wrestling into a semblance of credible form. It looked like the test epub I had exported—which would have been good enough if the cover displayed as hoped—was lost. It looked, in short, like I had lost all the work I had done yesterday, which was considerable. I dragged myself to bed mulling the language of surrender.

This morning I found the test epub intact, and—hurrah!—incompetent though I am, I managed to recover all my work. And then I decided that this is good enough. Week after week, I’ve given my limited creative time to this e-book not because I have an aptitude for it, but because there is no one else to do it. My own work has been neglected. No more. Last night’s dozing crisis was a wake up call. This publication is done enough to be done, cover thumbnail or no. Tomorrow, I publish the epub and take the necessary steps to render a mobi version for the parochial e-readers that require that format. Then I send it out to supporters and participants of 3000 Weeks, put a purchase button on my website, and put it out of mind. I have a novella to finish and an oracle to get back into print. Their time has arrived. Forward, into the mists!

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25th January 2014

3000 + 52

The count stood at 3000 + 52 as I first drafted this, an approximate year since the particular Thursday that inspired the 3000 Weeks project. With one commitment not yet fulfilled, an update is in order. I offer here what we may hope is the only ever 3000 Weeks annual report.

First of all, Thursdays keep happening. I am happy about this, and happy to share them with you. Who knows what potent numbers lurk ahead in the count?

Second, the 3000 Weeks e-book approaches completion. It continues to undergo redesign as I learn the production process, mostly simplification to make problems soluble within the bounds of my understanding. Most of these kinks have been worked out. Most.

The publication is in two parts: (1) an anthology of works from the 3000 Weeks project selected and edited by Amanda Kimmerly, and (2) a catalog of all authors and artists who participated in the project, with biographies and my comment on each. Remaining production hurdles have to do with making images behave the way I want them to behave in relation to their anchoring texts. Though some hours of work remain, an end is in sight.

The fruit of this labor will be an epub file, which is the kind of file used by very nearly every e-reader except the Kindle. Successful production of a credible epub will be the trigger for announcing a publication date. As soon as the epub is put to bed, I’ll start figuring out what I need to do to generate a mobi file for Kindle. Once you Kindle readers have your version of the e-book as a keepsake, I’ll declare the 3000 Weeks project closed, and turn my attention back to the world of Habdvarsha.

The e-book will be available for purchase and download from the Confabule website, but I have no plans to promote it as a commercial title. My intention has always been to produce the anthology & catalog as a summary of the project for participants and supporters. That is still the aim. Just how quickly this dangling thread can be tied up depends to some extent on chance. Permit me to cautiously venture that no more than a few weekends stand between now and completion.

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10th December 2013

Still here, but not still

Robert sings G'Teoksh, 12/7/013.

Robert sings G’Teoksh, 12/7/013.

Much as it may look like it, I have not been standing idle. Finally—finally!—I’m pulling the 3000 Weeks anthology into shape. It sits at the point of figuring out how to derive epub and mobi files from an InDesign project. Design and layout are done. As rewarding as the 3000 Weeks project has been, I am ready to put it aside and return to my own works in progress.

I claim some activity on the latter front. For all the Dvarsh language fans, here is video evidence of what I did instead of getting out in the freezing rain this past weekend: Don Robert de Stikmanzia sings only the second song ever in the Dvarsh language, G’Teoksh. One of my first priorities after completing and distributing the anthology will be to return to the Dvarsh font. From the completed font will flow a new version of Nod’s Way, as well as the long awaited Dvarsh dictionary. Once that reference is in hand, it will be time to think about a better handbook for basics of the language. That gets ahead.

Don’t tell anyone, but while I’ve been slogging at the 3000 Weeks anthology, I have also stolen enough minutes to reached significantly into draft #4 of parts 3 & 4 of Rose Moon. This novella just may turn out to be a nice turn of words after all. At least, I like the characters, and I’m fond of the thunder-fueled tale of drugs and sex in a post-petroleum future. Remember, part 1 is already available in The Scroll #1, from Zarathustra Publishing. After Rose Moon, I return to the main texts of The Hidden Lands of Nod.

Plans are hatching. Confabule and this site will begin morphing with the turning year. Longstanding projects are maturing. Lots of bubble, and toil and trouble. Stay tuned.

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4th November 2013

I surrender

I have been locked away from this site for weeks, so I need to strike while access is granted. Please excuse the breathlessness.

A couple of weekends ago I drew plans for a potting bench for the patio, bought 2x4s to make the frame, and cut the wood. My hands began to swell before I finished. The original idea was that I would complete the frame that weekend, and cover the frame in cedar plank the weekend following. However, that initial Saturday, by the time I had stacked the cut pieces inside the back door, it was certain I was not going to do any further assembly for at least a couple of days. By midweek, my hands were still swollen, and stiff and painful. A week later, the potting bench had not advanced. It still has not advanced. Business as usual has paused for a reality check.

Several days passed before the swelling in my hands went down enough that I could again wear a ring. Pain in my hands diminished to near what I consider baseline for these arthritic joints. More than two weeks later I am still not playing the bouzouki fluidly, but I can play. One thing certain is that my hands have not returned to a state in which I want to pick up a drill for another round on the patio project.

This is the first woodworking I have attempted in four years, and discovering how much my hands have deteriorated in that time is sobering. Besides arthritis, I have a hereditary condition that began to assert itself a couple of years ago. Deformation of my palms from sheaths growing around tendons in each hand remains slight, but clearly visible. Independence of the ring and little fingers is noticeably compromised in both hands. Much of my technique on Irish bouzouki can be accounted for by the ways I have had to compensate for stiffening digits.

Days of ache following an afternoon of sawing wood is cause for serious reflection, and, lazy bones that I am, I did not miss an excuse to lay about musing on vagaries of existence. My first conclusion was that I shall not be sawing wood for future projects. From this line of thought it was a quick skip to a hard look at the many and various figurative plates I have been attempting to keep spinning on as many figurative poles. To all and sundry, I used to spout, “I can do anything; I just can’t do everything.” Time now to admit that if that statement ever were true, it is no longer. There grows a list of things I cannot or can no longer do. Time and past time, Robert, old buddy, to get real.

A huge block in my creative output for several months now has been the long promised 3000 Weeks e-book. I had not originally planned to be the person assembling the e-book, but it has fallen to me to see the promise kept and the anthology produced. Initially, the task involved extensive reformatting, and in some cases re-editing, text, but following those milestones I have been lost in grand visions of an e-book anthology with words and still images augmented by embedded audio and video files. Ways exist to embed such media in a publication, and I have been struggling unsuccessfully to acquire the tools and expertise to accomplish this aim. Last weekend, before sawing wood, I tried again. Again, I was disappointed in the results. Today, after much thought, I say, “I surrender.” I cannot figure it out. My ambitions for the e-book dial back a notch to what I can accomplish: a simpler union of words and static images, with links provided to other media cached on the internet. This is what I can do to keep the promise of the e-book and then get on with what I need to be doing.

What is it I need to be doing? Creating. I need to be writing, making sound art and drawing. I need to redesign my websites in support of my changing vision. I need to ponder the nature of reality, and look up to witness the beauty and horror of the world. I need to remain plugged into my community of friends. I need to husband the functionality left in my hands. There are still many things I can do, but everything? I cannot. Let us be generous and call this maturity.

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29th July 2013

Put your arms around me…

…like a circle ’round the sun, another of which I completed yesterday in quiet, largely solitary fashion. Having accepted no obligations nor made promises, I gave in to weariness, and slept in for the first time in months. Sun was shining and heat was rising when I finally got up and moved slowly out from the bedroom. Over the day I had moments where I made note of domestic chores that had moved high on the list, and all day long I did none of them. I practiced tai chi chuan. I played bouzouki. I spent a couple of hours working on a portrait of a handsome sow-thistle that I may have penciled sufficiently. Progress on the drawing sits at a point where it’s not entirely clear to me whether I continue to add necessary detail before switching to colored pencils, or simply procrastinate the switch in media from fear of ruining a good beginning. Inconclusively, I placed the drawing where I could contemplate it as I turned to other things, first of which was part 3 of Rose Moon. I spent hours on Rose Moon. Productive, rich hours that saw a completed pass through the manuscript and carried me to a hungry hour. I put fiction aside in favor of a moderately indulgent restaurant supper, capped by a run to Wheatsville Co-op for ordinary supplies. After, I played bouzouki. More method characterized the evening session, as I practiced whistling while playing, developing skills for a short project I hope to submit to The Church of the Friendly Ghost for possible inclusion in their anniversary celebration this fall. I find it slightly easier to whistle while playing than to sing while playing. Simple ornamental picking—the odd flourish— is within technical reach as I whistle. A dullard, though, when I honk out lyrics in English or Dvarsh my accompaniment collapses to bare strumming rhythm. Fortunately, my whistle is more melodious than my voice. The activity was self-reinforcing.

The day was unmarked by practical chores until the very end, when I realized at least one load of laundry needed to cycle. Other than that, I did not clean house, I did not get a haircut, I did not work on tedious obligatory tasks related to Confabule. I did none of that. Of course, tedium was still present, in ranks and files, waiting outside the bedroom when I rose THIS morning, earlier than usual, on the hustle, required by obligation and promise to re-insert myself into briefly slipped structures. The work day was a long interplay of spreadsheet fields calculating one across the other. I was there, directing data through blighted economic acequias, performing my duties per spec. Even so, the opening paragraphs of part 4 of Rose Moon went to lunch with me, I whistled as I drove, and I came home to the decision that I should, indeed, spend another day on the base drawing before starting to add color to a rather handsome portrait of sow-thistle. As birthdays go, yesterday was not a bad one. As Mondays go, today was not the worst. Tomorrow looms, and with it, chores.

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6th June 2013

Moon in June

The truth is, I may never find a comfortable posture with this blog. My notion to use this space for thoughtful essays has led me deep into three different topics, with a couple thousand words on each but with not one of them close to closure. Longest simmering is a personally difficult meditation on memory that proceeded with gusto as long as I wrote of kinfolk and other humans. Other tasks suddenly became important once I turned the light on myself.

My resolve to push forward into the heart of darkness grows stronger, but in the meantime I have worked most actively on a follow on to my essay, “Butterflies, birds, online dating and transcendental ignorance,” prompted by a kind gift and comment from my cousin Carla Maywald. Not yet complete, “Letter to Carla” is an attempt to give shape to the unspoken subtext of that earlier piece, or elaborate half-stated ideas more fully, or repeat myself at length, or all three. Bets are safe that this piece will be first of those in progress to show up here.

Pondering Neanderthal/Sapiental interaction through consideration of the social circumstances of free people of color in antebellum Louisiana is fun enough that I have continued to snatch blocks of time and notebook to work on a draft even as I have tried to keep all the other pieces of essential conceptual machinery in motion. If writing essays must assume lower priority than administrative tasks, working on fiction, trying to resolve production of the 3000 Weeks e-book, and earning my food and shelter, it remains an activity valuable—even critical—as a technique for grappling with weighty subjects. Further!

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21st April 2013

Bourgeois Environment Accretion Project #11

The clock on the dash read 6:31 when I started the car after loading the last cleaning supplies and the vacuum cleaner. Interim HQ (aka The Apartment) is not as clean as I could make it, but it is as clean as my store of energy made possible. Whether or not it is clean enough for dreaded assistant apartment manager Leslie will be determined when she gets around to her walkthrough. I know that when I dismantled the interior of the refrigerator to scour the corners I found bits of glass that I never broke. Similarly, a rag on a stick shoved between the oven and the counter pulled forth food remains originating in the early Pleistocene—which (believe it or not) predates my time in residence—including fully fossilized ramen noodles. My effort was an honest one. On the other hand, someone possibly vaguely resembling a face I have seen in mirrors did spill coffee on the carpet by the kitchenette. Maybe more than twice. Maybe that does not constitute “excessive staining” for which dreaded Leslie will look. As for the discoloration by the front door, well, damn it, I had to stand somewhere while taking off my shoes.

The clock on the dash read 6:50 when I pulled the mighty Scion into the garage of the new facility housing Stikmantic Intergalactic HQ (aka The Townhouse). Between now and then I have managed unloading the car, a cold supper and this. Plus dozing seated on a folded chair. The evening ahead promises a few minutes noodling on my bouzouki as prelude to a hot shower. Anything more than that will be frosting. Tomorrow brings with it a start on the task of unpacking and arranging my cult objects and cargo. Tomorrow, the several personalities will confer about tactical occupation of this space. Likely there will be much weighing of delight in open space against surrender to acquisition of convenient furniture and other forms of predatory domestic matter. Tonight, I wish I knew in which of the twenty-seven boxes of books I packed Tristram Shandy, because suddenly I want very much to reread it.

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