‘Painting Dragons’ is 99 cents for Kindle right now

Halloween is coming. You need a book on fictional villains.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Painting Dragons, now the ebook is on a flash sale! Starting right now, Painting Dragons: What Storytellers Need to Know About Writing Eunuch Villains is only 99 cents for Kindle!

The price goes up the longer you wait.
Right now, at October 15, 2020 at 8:00 AM (PDT) $0.99
As the week progresses, the price will gradually rise back to the original list price: $5.99

I would love to eventually make this book available outside Amazon. That will take some time and money. Right now, I’d like to share it this way, and since it is very-cheap-nearly-free in this Kindle flash sale, Amazon gets only a few pennies if you download it on Kindle today. https://amzn.to/2pU7lo1

Painting Dragons: What Storytellers Need to Know About Writing Eunuch Villains
Painting Dragons by Tucker Lieberman

Not whether it can be reversed, but how it will resolve

Abstract art. Looks like a night sky full of stars with unreadable text in the background.

A handwritten paragraph from my notes, circa 2000 when I was about 20 years old, rediscovered in 2020.

Nothing is irreversible. True, there is no rewind button to undo the things we ought’nt to have done—but once they are done, we can handle them in a number of different ways. Nothing stays the same for any length of time. It is always changing. So it is not a question of whether it can be ‘reversed’ but how it will resolve itself next week, next lifetime, or in an eon.

Experiencing the feeling of typing

Letters A through P in an unusual font.

Without a mechanical keyboard, some people’s fingers still like to go through the motions of typing.

B. J. Hollars recalled:

“When I was in the first grade, I snuck a glance at my teacher’s ‘teacher edition’ of a writing book called Writing Express. I’m not sure why I did it; I suppose I figured it held all the answers to the universe. I leafed through it, and near the end, came across a pair of pages that served as a two-dimensional keyboard. This was before my family had a computer, and since I knew we likely wouldn’t get one for a few more years, that Christmas, I asked my parents to buy me that book, instead. I wanted that two-dimensional keyboard to write stories on. No matter that my stories were being typed into thin air, I just wanted to experience the process of writing. After a year or so of typing stories into air, my parents opted to buy an actual computer. I traded in the two-dimensional keyboard for a three-dimensional one. And I’ve been writing ever since.”

B. J. Hollars. “No matter that my stories were being typed into thin air, I just wanted to experience the process of writing.” Interviewed by Speaking of Marvels. September 26, 2019. 

In 2020, engineers at Purdue University are inventing a way to convert an ordinary surface like a paper book to (really, truly!) function as a computer keyboard. It’s called a triboelectric paper keypad.

Telling your story through music

Music is important in most people’s lives, and so references to music can be an important part of telling a story.

Rick Moody describes this excellently in his essay “The End.” He remembers when, at age eight, he learned that his parents would divorce:

“My feeling was that there was nothing I could do about it. My feeling was that I was about to be an item on an itemized list of marital property. My brother wept.

Here’s what I have often found in my moments of keenest disconsolation: that music has an unexpected power to console and to transmute what is most grievous. The layers of imperviousness that smother a song when you listen to it a lot, these layers are sundered away, and music is apparent in its most elemental guise, full of mystery and passion and awe. Things that you haven’t heard in a fresh way in a thousand listens are suddenly bright and new, when you really need them most.”

This can happen even when the music is “adjacent” to the action and not playing as a simultaneous soundtrack.

“It’s not that Abbey Road was playing that night. It’s that through some metonymic action, in which a work of art becomes a symbol of all that is adjacent, Abbey Road, with its bright, glorious production, its elegant string arrangements, its strange and elevated moments, its harpsichord and Moog synthesizer, has become the sound, for me, of my parents separating.”

“The End.” Rick Moody, Brown Alumni Magazine, September/October 2017.

I’ve written a fictional story built around a pop song.

If you’ve written something—fiction, nonfiction, poetry—involving a significant experience with music, or if you’ve made visual art about music, tell me about it in the comments!

On the infinite expansion of reading lists

Abstract digital art. An oblong shape on a dark blue background.

Over the past two decades, I’ve read fifteen hundred books. I’m not including newspapers, magazines, online articles, or sources briefly consulted. I mean books with ISBNs that I’ve read cover-to-cover. Over the same period of time, I’ve listed an additional two thousand books that I’d like to read but have not, to this day, yet read.

The “to read” list usually presents itself as a “to-do” question: When and how will I acquire copies of each book and sit with it? Won’t it take more than two decades to read them all? The “to read” list seems to prompt goal-setting. It’s an achievement that lies in my future. It’s an ambition. We are so often taught to think that way: Something we want to do is necessarily something that we are supposed to do, or else others will interpret us as disappointed, ineffectual, unhappy, and therefore pitiable.

There is a better way of understanding this phenomenon: I add books to my “to read” list at more than twice the speed that I read them. If this week is typical, I’m likely to add five books to my list, yet I can only read two. This is a permanent condition. I can’t catch up with my own list. This is not a problem. The only problem is in imagining that I can read five books a week. I can’t.

One solution is to want less. Just delete books from the list. Don’t tell people that they exist. Downsize my imagination to fit my capacity. This would make other people more comfortable around me because they would remain blissfully unaware that there are things I want to do that I will never do. I wouldn’t be giving them the terms by which to interpret me according to my unrealized potential.

But what’s wrong with having unrealized potential? The list does not have to be a source of frustration. Instead, it can represent abundance. It is the abundance of my own imagination regarding what I would like to do with my time. I may never cross everything off the list. That just means I will never run out of things I’d like to do.