Random Musings, Updates, Stupidity and Nonsense, Weekly Round-Up: 20-26 June 2021

But enough about your tweets

What is this?

Alright. Good question. This is mostly an attempt to make this more blog like. Yes. I’m planning on posting most of my long-form essay writing here, but I also like to write for fun, and my entire life is not dominated by writing essays. (I also write books). So, I figure this will be a repository for links to articles/books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, movies I’ve watched as well as quick updates and observations on life, writing and projects I’m working on.

If it sucks, fuck, oh well.


THE CAUTIONER’S TALE Update

Many millions of people have commented, DM’d or emailed to let me know that they consider what they’ve read from my book The Cautioner’s Tale either the only true American novel, or the most disgusting piece of shit-trash they’ve read since Infinite Jest.

And that’s only from the sample chapters! Many strong opinions. If you’ve not read the Prologue and Chapter One or Chapters Two and Three, get to it. You have only yourself to blame or thank for not reading those chapters.

So, where is the book at? Why hasn’t it been published? Good questions. As of this morning, The Cautioner’s Tale is 319 manuscript pages in length and 84,370 words. Of those pages, I’ve gone through and edited/rewritten/polished 221 of those pages. But wait. Why am I editing/rewriting/polishing those pages?

The reason being is that a few months ago, I decided to bite the bullet. I’d been sending out query letters and manuscript partials to literary agents to see if they’d be interested in representing me and the book to major publishing houses. But I had received mostly polite rejection letters or occasionally, no responses at all. This is all part of the process for writers who want to publish their books through a publishing house rather than self-publish — perhaps a future update after all is said and done will talk about the long journey to publication, but Lindsay Ellis has a good primer for what she went through in publishing her novel Axiom’s End.

Anyways, a good friend asked to read the manuscript, and then she sent it forward to someone in the industry. The feedback from that person was the following:

I read a bit of the manuscript. I agree that he's got a strong presence on the page and I think there's a lot swirling in the book. I would recommend that he work with an editor to shape the manuscript up before submitting to agents.

At the time, I felt bummed out, because … a lot of reasons! However, it was a good advice. So, I reached out to Emily Murdoch Baker, a freelance professional editor and former editor at Penguin/Viking Books to see if she would be interested in helping.

Thankfully, Emily was available, and she read through the book and sent back a seven-page editorial memo with a lot of insight and suggestions about the book to improve it and make it viable for representation and eventual publication. I won’t share the editorial memo, but it opened my eyes to a lot of limitations in the current manuscript and ways to make it better.

So, over the course of the past four months, I’ve endeavored to flesh out characters, improve the arc progression and make the damn thing better. And though the work is not quite complete yet, it’s gotten a lot better! Even my wife has admitted that it is “very well written” — though she think it’s too depressing. She is correct as always.

So, progress. I won’t chart out next steps for the moment as I’ll plan to do a full write-up of the twelve years (so far) it’s taken for this book to get where it is today at some point down the road, but, like the Cylons, I have a plan.


This Week in ASOIAF

The interesting thing for me is that when I get deep on something, I tend to let other thing fall to the side, and that’s been the case with A Song of Ice and Fire. Almost all of my creative output these past four months but especially the last two months have been dedicated to The Cautioner’s Tale.

That’s not to say I haven’t had some thoughts about ASOIAF, The Winds of Winter and general fandom stuff.

So, remember how excited everyone was that George said he was going to leave the mountain cabin in a few months? Many people - not me, of course - believed this was an indication he was finished or close to finishing The Winds of Winter. Turns out that George leaving his mountain cabin may have all been about him going to Chicago to accept an honorary doctorate at Northwestern University.

Interviewed by the local PBS affiliate, GRRM provided a small update on The Winds of Winter:

“When they began that series, I had four books already in print, and the fifth one came out just as the series was starting … I never thought they would catch up with me, but they did. They caught up with me and passed me! That made it a little strange, because now the show was ahead of me and the show was going in somewhat different directions. I’m still working on the book, but you’ll see my ending when that comes out.”

Of course, when the clickbait bullshitters got around to George’s visit to Northwestern, they decided to reframe this quote as GRRM saying that the ending to A Song of Ice and Fire was going to be different from what was seen in Game of Thrones, Season Eight. Sigh. This is where I get frustrated being a fan. The above quote was George talking about Game of Thrones passing him after Season Five. They were going in somewhat different directions when they passed him — not that the ending was going to be completely different.

If I could parse what George is saying here, I think he’s talking about Season Six specifically and how it went in a somewhat different direction he is taking for The Winds of Winter. The “ending”, in this case, is not the ending to A Song of Ice and Fire. Rather, it’s the ending to The Winds of Winter.

What that means precisely in terms of plot and character remains to be seen when The Winds of Winter publishes. Sometimes, the online ASOIAF fandom is frustrating. The chumps in media companies who manipulate what George and others say to increase those moronic social media engagement stats and clicks is even more frustrating.

In terms of my own ASOIAF writing, yes, yes. I know, I know. I am working on Unadapted, Part 1: Jon Snow in which I’ll get into how little of Jon Snow’s A Dance with Dragons arc was adapted into Game of Thrones, Season Five. Of interest, I think I have a good thesis idea: that the plot beats from the books that were on screen failed to land thematically while the invented plot beats (Hardhome) hit the same thematic notes GRRM embedded into Jon’s arc in ADWD. I’ll be working on that next week!


Movies and Books

I like movies and books. Sometimes I like them a lot. I’ve gotten to watch a few great movies recently and am deep into two books at present. I’ll bullet-point three movies and three books I’ve been engrossed in recently.

MOVIES

  • Under the Silver Lake: I had missed this 2018 Andrew Garfield/Riley Keough vehicle when it first released, but man, I loved this movie. It’s a brilliant parody of neo-noir movies/early 2010s reddit mystery box culture and tribute to David Lynch’s late 1990s/early 2000s oeuvre of movies like Lost Highway and Mullholland Drive. Please see this movie and then hit me up, because I have a unique theory on who the dog killer is. No, it’s not who you think it is.

  • I re-watched Waltz With Bashir recently, and I continue to be awed by director Ari Folman’s vision and visually-engrossing storytelling of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon by Israel and the Sabra and Shatila massacre. I have a lot more thoughts which you may hear about somewhat soon.

  • The Sound of Metal: I came into this movie expecting to love it. I did not. It was fine. There were moments which were brilliant, but the ending was meh at best. No. Wait. It was bad.

BOOKS

  • I’ve been rereading Adrian Goldworthy’s The Fall of Carthage and enjoying that immensely. The chapters detailing the Second Punic War were superb, detailing how the Roman Republic (really, Empire) survived and defeated Hannibal. They didn’t win on the battlefield. They won by engaging in total warfare and refusing to surrender when every other concurrent political state would have given up after Lake Trebia or Cannae. Getting deep into the Siege of Carthage from the Third Punic War presently.

  • At long last, I am on Tiamat’s Wrath: the latest published book from The Expanse. I am enjoying it so far, but it’s quite early in the book. I won’t offer any spoilers here, but damn. To think the plot is here given where it started.

  • For many years, one of my closest friends has recommended me to read Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. After another friend recommended that I read it, I decided to give it a go. Enjoying it, but man, the prose is dense for my American brain.


Podcasts

Due to a lot of work recently, I’ve been behind on listening to podcasts. Beyond that - and perhaps most important to you all - I’ve been missing doing the NotACast pod-cast episodes. When we last did NAC, we finished Bran’s final chapter from A Clash of Kings. And then I had a dense work commitment to attend to. But I have not forgotten the ‘cast, and how could I forget the beloved Emmett Booth, AKA PoorQuentyn?

As it stands now, I’m thinking we’re going to be able to restart NAC next month and dive right into A Storm of Swords! I got so excited by this thought that I ended up writing draft synopses for the first few chapters from A Storm of Swords. What a book that is. I hope Robb and Catelyn make it this time!

While I’ve been gone, Emmett has been keeping the ship afloat and sailing along brilliant with the loving help of a lot of our friends who have come in and done guest episodes. Man, I’m blessed by all of you who have stepped up. It’s been brilliant listening to all of your fine voices and opinions. If you haven’t listened to those episodes, YOU MUST.

It’s been a thrill listening to all of our friends provide their amazing, excellent expertise to the podcast, and I know there are more friends coming on soon — which I’ll highlight in future updates. Thanks, all!

As far as other things I’ve listened to, I really enjoyed Beyond the Screenplay’s take on the brilliant Mass Effect series and I’m loving Girls Gone Canon’s continued Catelyn coverage!


Conclusion

Again, I have no idea if this is something you like reading about. Please let me know if you like it or hate it. Or whether you even want this to continue as a series.

Good-bye.

Thanks for reading. I invite you to follow me on twitter at @BryndenBFish. Additionally, PoorQuentyn and I have an ASOIAF Re-Read Podcast called NotACast where we analyze every chapter in ASOIAF one chapter a week. Come listen to us on Apple Podcastspodbaysoundcloudgoogle playspotifypatreon everywhere you get your podcasts!