Read My Short Story “The It” in the New TLDR Press Anthology Today! [Announcement]

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It’s finally here!

The title may be called “Nope,” but do I want you to buy it? Yes! You can download the ebook here to read my short story “The It” and support the Pilcrow Foundation while you’re at it!

While you’re also on amazon, you can download or order a copy of the previous anthology I got into earlier this year, and read my first published short story “Catherine and the Wasteland.” I’ll provide the links again here:

Read the full version of “The It” here.

Read the full version of “Catherine and the Wasteland” here.

Hope you enjoy both and drop me a comment or an e-mail to tell me what you think of it! And as always thanks again for your support!

Sincerely,

Philip N.R Hauser

Should Writers Care What Critics Think? [Article]

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Writing fiction is tough, teaching about writing is straight-forward, but critiquing about writing is as simple as one’s willing to make it. Despite that last bit of inflammatory bait, I often do find critics to be a very important, if not a mysterious aspect of the writing ecosystem. Even though writers put a great amount of effort being readers themselves, book critics are one of the few groups of people out there who are actually willing to obsessively read anything any writer or author puts out anymore. They’re the only ones parsing and dissecting a piece of fiction or non-fiction for any biases, literary meanings, or political leanings that the author might be projecting in their paper bound tombstone of textual art. This level of attention to detail can’t be sanely justified without the person being given an opportunity to talk about what they thought about the book to somebody. Whether it’s done via one-on-one with a friend, a starred rating on Good Reads, or as a book review columnist for the New York Times is none of my business. However, as a hopeful writer and author, myself, I often contemplate the evolution of the critic and how that eye for critique is often trained at novels from the past as much as novels being produced in the present.

Maddie Crum’s “12 Classic Books That Got Horrible Reviews When The First Came Out” is a great analysis and a compelling piece of insight into how critics often get it wrong when guessing what books ought to be worthy of our time and praise. Most of the books mentioned on the list are, as of this date, firmly a part of major literary canon as well as being taught in several schools and universities across the Western World. However, there’s also the flip side to that coin as presented in John Glionna’s LA Times Article “Mark Twain: Inexcusable Racist or Man of His Time?” This article presented as a counterpoint and a piece of reinterpretation of a 19th century pro-abolitionist, and anti-slavery activist whose controversial, but ultimately acclaimed novel Huckleberry Finn is still read and presented as a piece of anti-racist literature.

I’m not here to debate the merits of the critics stated above me, but simply provide a perspective using the two examples.

These sets of critiques (or “opinions,” if you’re inclined to feel technically correct while being truthfully dismissive) often reveal a source of perceived inconsistency. That inconsistency which often –rightfully–  frustrates the particular kind of author and reader that’s looking for a definitive “yes or no” in terms of whether such a book is worthy of anyone’s time.

The truth of the matter is that critics are human; and like the writers who bring in their own baggage of personal history and experiences into account when producing their fiction, critics, too, suffer from historical biases of their own. Most critics worth their salt, come into the fold with an academic background, or at the very least a knowledgeable backlog of past novels and writers. That academic and historical background has its own baggage to unpack. Critics have no choice in the matter when having to compare a book to not only the current zeitgeist, but also history, culture, and previous books already written. It’s the only way they can measure themselves in the face of backlash and scrutiny. This analysis also applies when revisiting older pieces of work or authors decades or centuries after their books and lives have long since been recorded. Literary figures have experienced falls from grace as well as being lifted up as misunderstood paragons. Conversely, current authors experience the same level of ups and downs in the critic sphere of publishing.

These roller coaster interpretations in the literary world and the critics who run them shouldn’t be seen as a possibility, but simply an inevitability. As an author or writer, once you put something out there and the critics get a hold of it, how they interpret the work and its intentions is simply out of your hands. And much like history is in the business of interpreting and re-interpreting past events, so too will critics recast and reclassify authors and books in a different light well after the author and their original readership is long dead.

However, this shouldn’t be thought of as something at all negative. Critics can bring a newfound understanding of an author that provides context, and historical perspective not yet considered, as well as help in bringing in new fans into the fold after an authors death. It can also help in bringing exposure to a current author whose work remains obscure.

The Critic is neither good nor evil, but simply serves as a function in the literary sphere to interpret stories and give a simple “yea or nay” on whether the book is worth picking up. A single critic and its audience is a microcosm of a particular kind of reader. A fantasy critic and their audience would never give a five star review to a slice of life novel, much less be inclined to read such a thing. Nor is a feminist critic going to have anything good to say about the James Bond novels. And while we’re at it, no male-supremacist is going to like The Handmaid’s Tale, either. In the end, authors should instead view critics with a certain level of respect, but with a hefty dose of ambivalence. Easier said than done. However, when facing the possibility of any author having to face down a brigade of anonymous one star reviews on the internet, or a twitter-led hate campaign, having thick skin appears to be a must.

Novel Progress [Update]

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So I’m a little over half way through the second draft of Spymancer (formerly, Magus Noir Overdrive). The reason I haven’t really gotten over the 45,000 word mark is because I’ve made the decision to scrap the latter 40,000 words and just do a complete re-write of the final half. There’s a chance maybe 5-10k can be salvaged towards the end of the book, but that might be easier said than done at this point.

I also did set a May 1st deadline to complete the second draft, but that might need to change. I don’t know how close I’ll be by the end of April, but it might not be done by then.

So…here’s what I’m going to do: Whether this book gets completely edited or not, I’m going to post the first few pages of the first chapter here on Nocturnal Muse Sessions. I’ve been posting about this book of mine in plenty of updates and have only one measly excerpt to show for it. I owe it to you, reader, to show some kind of progress. Secondly, if I’m not able to make it by May 1st, I’m going to announce a new deadline (and hopefully one not 3-6 months later). Thirdly, this website has sort of become a ghost town in terms of content and I plan on announcing when I’ll be posting regular content again.

Obviously, I’ve been devoting a lot of time on this novel of mine, but I know it’s going to be worth it! Thank you for your patience and I’ll have another, more exciting announcement tomorrow, so watch this space!

Sincerely,

Philip N.R Hauser

First Draft of Novel: Completed

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It has been a long and grueling process. Two months of research, sixteen months of writing, eighteen months of work. 84,885 words: 126 pages single spaced, 246 words double spaced. It’s done. However, it’s not done-done. I still have editing and revising to do. There will be many more drafts before the final manuscript; but at least I can say I got this far and I’m one step closer to completing my novel…I think I’m probably going to go take a nap now, lol. Bye!

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I’ll be taking a small break and dialing back my posts.

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A bit of a quick announcement to whomever frequents the site. I’m going to be taking the next few weeks off to concentrate on my novel that I have been working on offline over the past 12 months. The first draft is nearly complete, with less than 20,000 words left to write (I’m 67,000 words in deep already). I have posted an excerpt here for anyone that is interested, but as of right now this project has — for better or worse — taken over my life. That means that most of my Austin By Night posts, poetry review videos and any other miscellaneous content will be put on the back-burner for now.

My goal since starting this novel project has been to have the rough draft done by the end of August of this year and with the progress that I’ve been making, the prospect that I might finish early is just too tempting to ignore. Irregardless of whether I finish the draft or not by the end of July instead, the other content that I post will return to the fold, albeit at a less frequent pace than usual. I will, of course, be active on twitter so you can find and follow me there if you’d like.

As always thank you for your support through your subscriptions, sharing, and reading! We’ll talk again soon!

Sincerely,

Philip N.R Hauser