I found this piece of artwork when I was looking in my archive the other day. I had forgotten I had done it. Seeing it instantly started the wheels turning in my mind. You see, for me, writing and art are intertwined. Sometimes when I am trying to figure out something about the story, I will import the scene into art and think about it there. Likewise, I might draw a character so that I can get to know them better and in drawing them, things are revealed about them that I might not have realized when I am just thinking about the words.
I originally did this piece as a promo. That much I remember. But I put the Sun Medallion on Paul25 of the same design as the one Tyco wears, one that was carved by some ancient people long ago, in the likeness of the Sun God, Lifegiver, who happens to have the same face as Tova. The nine-year-old Sophistan-human, Paul25, never wears a medallion like I picture him with. But Paul25 has been around for over a millennia so he could have been around when those ancients made the medallion for the first time.
Maybe they made more than one. When Tova was twelve-years-old, a Native American made one of these medallions and gave it to her. Whether Native American or Mayan, the people knew the Sun God, Lifegiver. It was a common concept, a common vision propagating through these cultures, one strong enough that an artisan in the culture could just carve one of these medallions stone cold from memory. So, looking at this picture, what would it mean if Paul25 really did have one of these.
When did he get it? Where did he get it from? Could he have something to do with the creation of this symbol, since he actually predates much of the Mayan culture? Could he, not Lifegiver, have instilled the vision into the minds of the culture. And if he did, how did he know what Lifegiver looked like? So I start to wonder: is their yet a subplot left to tell?
So now finding this art has set me off thinking about another dimension in the story. Both art and writing are largely driven by the subconscious. Maybe this is how the visual mind and writing mind communicate.
Just when you think more shit couldn’t happen, it does. That pretty well describes things since the beginning of 2020. I’m reading this morning about all the people bailing from Twitter (today’s problem is the rate limiter problem) and really, certainly for the authors and artists... it’s pretty much a dying platform. Even before the current problems, the algorithm had the sustaining problem that in terms of discovery, Twitter right now is pretty close to a zero. Slowly but surely anything intellectual is just disappearing there. The people that would be the targets of promotions: they are just gone. And why not. If Twitter will show your book to 10 people despite having hundreds of followers, well what is the point? What this means is a heavier reliance on the search engines of the web. And there is at least some hope that the new AI enhanced search engines will pick you out of the noise.
Yes, I’m gradually turning off on social platforms in general. I had all sorts of problems with Facebook to the point where I foolishly invested something like $16,000 in advertising there, got an extremely large following, and then found the money was wasted. It did nothing for me. That’s because Facebook made a rule change and suddenly, all those followers my advertising had collected, I would now have to pay to talk to them. The algorithm for just discussing things with those interested people shafted me to be sure I would be frustrated enough to pay them more. But I didn’t buy.
Likewise, on Twitter, now being skeptical of social media, I paid $1,000 to advertise and I collected not followers but some people who were interested in my books and art. And then Elon came along and pissed all those people off and they left. I’m left with the dirty house while everyone else moves somewhere else to party.
I guess I’m pretty dumb since it took 2 times to teach me but despite all the “oh my god, it just went viral on social media” yack that goes on, really, this is a loser’s game. And why not? If you hang out there, you’re really not getting things done and you are certainly not getting entertained. You are getting frustrated so that you will engage for the sake of engaging or in the case of Twitter, if you have no fame you have already built up at your own expense for Twitter to attach to like some giant sucking parasite, then you are not heard at all. Like most social media, today, they are not into developing the conversation, just leaching off the rewards for free. Advertisers are not being fooled. You’ve seen all of the concept ads from large companies disappear. What you see now is the same ads that appear in ad boxes of the scummiest, crappiest websites out there.
Publishing has taken a turn towards this kind of thing, too. No one in publishing is interested in developing anything: not the publishers themselves, not those such as would-be editors and certainly not anyone servicing the self-publishing industry. Everyone wants to take your money, feed you a certain psychology, but really in the hard light of pragmatic, logical reality, you are getting nothing. If you publish with the mainstream, you do all the work for free now a days including the promotion of the book. If you happen to land a popular book, one that is unbelievably popular, then the publisher will perfume the reamer before they use it… make you feel you are among one of the blessed. But what did you have to do to your writing to hit the numbers in mass market that the cash-hungry conglomerate wanted? Is the sole purpose of an author to provide meat for people who don’t really want to chew?
It is a very negative time in terms of the “artform of literature” progressing. For those very few authors that turn big numbers, they make pretty good money. But I’m talking big numbers, repeatedly. And the publisher of those authors still just wants to ride on the gravy train. Really, their service is taking care of the logistics of fulfillment and the contracting of cover art and the limited (legend in their own mind) editing they do. One thing that is a spoiler in that whole psychology, that whole brainwashed mindset of the literary industry, is the knowledge that as a decent engineer in technology in Silicon Valley, I made more than those poor bastards captaining that industry and almost all authors (except for the Stephen King variety). I don’t have to fall prey to the industry forcing authors and everyone else to beg for recognition, beg for money. Sure, I definitely could use the money. It’s not trivial the amount of money I have invested in my publishing company. I mean my Silicon Valley cohorts think I am out of my mind. And perhaps they are right. We will see how the future plays out.
So my job is simply to try to write the finest Literary Fiction novel I can using the best tools I can find. Just like when I wrote code in Silicon Valley, my goal is to push the state of the art. And not to succumb to the discouraging psychology of disaster after disaster that has occurred since the start of 2020.
Owner of the Children of Sophista Publishing and currently the author of books in the Children of Sophista universe.