Floating in my tin can

THE WRITER’S LIFE

HST_in_orbit_2002

<Image source: Wikipedia>

Want to listen to the light with me? Want to hear the big bang? Do you want to hold the entire universe in your hand? Because you can, and I’m here to show you how. It’s not even fiction: Although some of my stories are whimsical fantasy, they do have a grounding in science. Permit me to explain…

Every story is a journey, for the reader and the writer. That’s why I enjoy writing so much: Writing a story is a journey for me. I meet (create) new people and find myself (create) wonderful situations. I think of myself as an advance party, preparing the ground for future visitors to this new place. The best part is when the readers visit and tell me they’ve had a good trip.

Feedback for my latest, Cyrus Song, has been nothing but positive. Some of the comments confirmed what I was gradually coming to terms with: That I’m a very good writer. If I were to have a defining work, it would be Cyrus Song, where once it was COGS. The latter is in my anthology, due out in December and I could have punted the former around but I wanted it to have a wider audience, so I’ve granted one-time online publication rights to Schlock! web zine and Cyrus Song will be published for a larger audience this weekend. If ever I’d gladly be judged as a writer on one of my stories, this is the one.

Why do I work for web zines? They pay little or nothing. Well, I’ve been published in mainstream print magazines and they pay little. I won first prize in a national magazine writing competition and that paid not a lot. Web zines give exposure to the fringe writer in a crowded market; They’re free to view, so have large audiences; And just like other media, this has all come about with the democratisation of writing: Anyone can write and anyone can self-publish on the internet, just as those who’d be on TV might become vloggers. Some achieve cult status and although I have no ambition of fame, I’d like to be mildly notorious. Other than this blog, there is little that I self-publish. When my stories are published in Schlock! web zine, they have been reviewed by an editor who has a reputation to uphold and who won’t let any old shit through. In fact, my particular zine is one of the most respected in the horror, sci-fi and fantasy realm. Cyrus Song will be read by a fairly large audience and that is all I want, so that people can see what I do. One day I may get noticed and sell some books but it doesn’t matter if I don’t. I’m a storyteller and my stories will be told. Having the ability to do that is worth more than money.

Most of my more recent stories have been science fiction fantasies, as I move away from writing exclusively flash horror. The recent stories have taken me on longer and more interesting journeys: “A Tale With Many Strings”, “The Unfinished Literary Agency” and “Cyrus Song”. The journey of the writer is perhaps greater than that of the reader. Because in writing these tales, I’ve studied scientific facts and theories in depth to maintain a degree of plausibility. So my stories are fantastical but not impossible: Quantum physics is my closest friend and science, my bedfellow. So, do you want to listen to the light with me? Do you want to hear the Big Bang? It’s easy and all you need is an analogue radio:

What we see all around us is visible light: Most light is invisible. We all know the visible spectrum: the colours of the rainbow. The different colours are different wave lengths of light, because light is made up of waves: That is a proven fact. In the visible spectrum, red light has the longest wavelength. Because the speed of light is finite, variations in the wavelengths mean that certain colours hit our eyes first: red light, because it has the longest wavelength. And the universe is still expanding. That’s why, when we look at the most distant reaches of the universe through the Hubble Telescope, there’s a “Red shift”: The source of the light is so distant (approx. 14.5 billion light years away) that only the red light is reaching us, having travelled for 14.5 billion years, while the universe continues to expand: We’re looking into the past. Outside the visible spectrum – specifically at the long wavelength end – there is infrared light, then at longer wavelengths still, microwaves and radio waves (this is why we use radio telescopes). Those waves are in the air all around us and if you tune in an analogue radio, about 1% of that interference you can hear is microwave background noise: Those waves are longer, more stretched, and older than the red light sources; They’re the sound of the Big Bang, only just reaching us now. And that, is a fact. Further reading recommended but I’m sure it doesn’t take an IQ like mine, the size of a maximum snooker break, to grasp this concept.

But it matters not, for this is just the traveller explaining how the ship works. All that matters to the passenger is the journey. The journey I’m currently planning is another one to strange but possible places. It’s an as-yet untitled story, which begins like this: “The most unnerving part is the take-off, because you’re not actually aware of it.” Coming to a web zine soon.

See the light; listen to the light. Then think for a moment and you will understand. Because this life is but one blink of the eye which can see what comes next.

“Belief, like fear or love, is a force to be understood as we understand the Theory of Relativity and Principles of Uncertainty: phenomenon that determine the course of our lives. Yesterday, my life was headed in one direction. Today, it is headed in another. Yesterday I believed that I would never have done what I did today. These forces that often remake time and space, that can shape and alter who we imagine ourselves to be, begin long before we are born and continue after we perish. Our lives and our choices, like quantum trajectories, are understood moment to moment. At each point of intersection, each encounter suggests a new potential direction.”

(Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell)

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