Judging a book by its cover

A quickie blog with a very book oriented focus.

Been rejigging my book covers. Already?! Well…

It’s been on my mind for a while. As much as I was happy with the newer covers I created in April, my building concern was that in looking forward through the next 24 books of the Kiyron series, and paying more attention to how books are marketed in some aspects, the series still lacked something more relatable in the titling.

So! Having considered this for a bit, newer covers, with a new, extra layer of subtitling. Not sure that this will necessarily increase book sales (though hopefully it helps a lot!!), but it may at the very least help individualise each book within the series at least. And each title lends itself to a key theme within that book, which is generally the idea I’m sure!

Now I’ve no doubt some of you may say “The cover could do with more captivating graphics.” That may be true. I’ve certainly explored that since the very beginning. I’ll admit I’ve been torn on the subject, partly because of the financial outlay in trying to find cover art I feel will accurately represent the story. Partly also, I suppose, because I’ve struggled in seeing how I can then run a particular theme across the whole series through the covers, especially if they’re all different.

…oh! wait!!…

I suddenly found myself distracted for a day or so exploring cover art. Again! After having already reworked cover art myself, where each book essentially looked the same, have been reworking each cover with some art courtesy of 123rf.com.

Part of my brain has managed to click itself out of the “with cost comes stress” mindset and take the relatively minor financial plunge to select some cover art. I say ‘relatively minor’, but when money is as tight as it is at present, it doesn’t feel quite so minor.

ANWAY!! Onward and upward as they say!

I also had to allow part of my brain to recognise that what I might personally want is not necessarily what a potential reader might be looking for when glancing through book covers and attempting to pick something to read. Whether what I’m choosing will make a difference…I don’t know. But for now at least I need to recognise the fact that, unlike the pulling power that a recognised author will have in their name alone, I need to draw on other tools at my disposal (and within my budget), to try and make those customers come forth and purchase.

And so, in the most imminent future, there will be:

  • a more relatable subtitle to each book
  • more visually arresting cover art for each book.

I can only hope it all helps.

A question of rights

The creative urges will sometimes come when they will.

Sometimes, like this morning, it’s at an ungodly hour (approximately 1.30am), with an insistent push that jolted me awake, a recurring thought/idea twirling through my mind determined to be heard.

This morning’s incident was relating to Talyësaarthien’s Declaration of Sentient Rights: a set of ideas I’ve been working on since first introducing them in Volume 1 – Book 1. I’ve bounced the concept around a little since then, unsure what to do with it, unclear on how to solidify it. I had the vaguest of ideas, drawing on memories of a List of Rights I’d received in a course decades ago, which has long since been lost somewhere. I have since found a few lists of a similar nature. Then there is of course the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Whilst I had begun merging all these together many months ago, the last few weeks has seen the concept become a more persistent matter, demanding more of my attention. I think perhaps because of my growing focus on global politics, observing the increasing divergence of opposing forces, especially in the USA and the UK, but in many other countries also.

Strangely enough, I’m a lot less clear on Australian politics and what’s going on. Is that because it’s in some ways more personal?

Perhaps.

I’m still undecided, though I do find myself continuously ambivalent concerning both major parties here, as well as the more peripheral entities/parties. The reason for that could be my own dismissiveness, as I find local politics less globally significant. Don’t say it! I know!! Not a good enough excuse! Grass roots and local is just as important!!!

But! As much as Australian politicians appear to revel in big-noting themselves and their importance in regional affairs, I’m inclined to consider our country a rather small fish (ignoring our landmass) in a rather large pond. We are, after all, surrounded by nations with far greater populations and superior economic clout. Yet our sense of self-worth, at least in the political arena, draws on our connections with our big brother, the USA, and our big sister, the UK, in a similar way to how a younger sibling might rely on the protection of much older siblings in a schoolyard. We don’t fully stand on our own two feet, because we don’t really know who we are without them. And dare I say, we lack the required humility that being truly independent might demand of us in dealing with our more immediate neighbours.

But I am digressing from my primary subject matter. And it is not my wish to make this post a long one, or a political one. Perhaps the larger political digression requires its own post someday. But not today.

So back to the Declaration of Sentient Rights.

The Rights, and my efforts to fine tune them, tie rather neatly with my own quest for understanding of what is fair to expect for all individuals across the globe, what I would consider fair to receive from everyone else, and what I should give of myself to others within any exchange.

It has been interesting reading the UN interpretation of this. I find myself not in agreement with all of it. Perhaps in days gone by I may have agreed a great deal more. Now, I look at them and find them a little more…socialist…in some of their leanings than I consider healthy for a more robust, and less authority dependent society. There are aspects to those Rights which require government intervention. As I interpret the document, there is no exception to this in certain cases.

And yet my mind looks back to older cultures, pre-industrialisation, or even contemporary tribal cultures, where the support structures were inbuilt to the fabric of the culture: for the elderly, for the disabled, for the disadvantaged, be that disadvantage temporary or permanent. Families, villages, communities, it seems to me, were far more likely to look after their own than we would necessarily consider doing nowadays. Society in many ways has become a great deal more selfish, more self-centred, more transactional than ever before. Especially in western cultures. We’ve witnessed the disintegration of the family unit, the absolving of responsibility toward the older generations, the focus on what we think is best for ourselves, often at the expense of others around us.

Were the outcomes at times more brutal in the past? Undoubtedly! The nature of existence back then was vastly different on many fronts. Decisions were more focused upon survival than is necessary today. Scarcity was a greater threat back then than we could ever expect to face in our modern world.

But is our modern abundance of resources making us more compassionate? Or more selfish?

Is it compassionate or selfish to maintain someone’s life on life-support?

Is it compassionate or selfish to expect our elders to live out their final days separated from family and friends in a nursing home?

Is it compassionate or selfish for governments to control so many aspects of our lives, from education, to work opportunities, to how we live, how we are permitted to express ourselves?

Is it compassionate or selfish for governments to create the opportunity for dependence upon social welfare structures by a growing number of individuals?

Having had a brother with profound and multiple disabilities, both physical and mental, I’ve explored both sides of this issue to some extent already. There were times I felt it was cruel that he should be supported to stay alive and be subjected to the will of others, be their intentions for good or ill, in residential care homes, with no way to exert his own will upon his life and what he experienced. Seeing him in an open ward arrangement during one stage of his life, which was so impersonal, where he experienced injuries and more through no fault of his own, there were times I thought he’d be better off dead. To me, that simply wasn’t living!

Yet, moving beyond that perspective, I was also able to see, at a deeper level, how his presence in our lives was an opportunity for us all to learn how to be more compassionate for the more vulnerable, and overcome our own selfish attitudes and behaviours for the sake of what might benefit those unable to even be selfish.

Modern life, with its somewhat socialist inclusions, derived from taxations and the welfare state, have provided support structures which may not have existed otherwise. Yet they’ve also made it easier for families to relinquish participation and responsibility for their own families, be they offspring, siblings or parents. I’ve seen that aspect of our modern world also. I’ve even seen it in my own thoughts and behaviours!

I do think something has been lost in our society since the advent of industrialisation, even if that loss has been gradual. It is a loss that has crept up on us in the guise of a supportive benefactor, yet has somehow dehumanised us in the subtlest of ways.

Cultures still rooted in older traditions have a greater sense of responsibility I feel, a greater connection to family, a greater desire to support, especially in times of need, than the more modern western civilisation I’m more familiar with and which increasingly permeates many parts of the globe. A large part of that stems, I believe, from faith and religion, though not from the perspective of dogma. I would suggest it is more from the perspective of morals and values that people of faith are more inclined to display.

With all these thoughts, all these considerations, for what is essentially a small aspect within a fictional work, I feel I may have produced more questions for myself than answers. Perhaps there are no specifically right or wrong answers to this process, at least not as regards my fictional work.

And perhaps I am simply lacking the courage to commit to the answers that feel right to me, to express my conclusions more emphatically out loud.

I have, I think, linked myself back to a previous blog referencing personal convictions and a fear of criticism or conflict. An interesting consideration. Learning is a circular process after all, where repetition helps deepen one’s understanding of the lesson(s) involved.

In the meantime, if it’s of interest, my own fictional Rights-in-progress can be found on the page below, with the UN declaration in the link below that.

https://www.kiyron.com/history

https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

Get Writing!

Get writing! A simple enough command. One I say to myself often. And in essence, it’s a relatively straightforward process. You would think so…but…

…hours then tick by. Days. Weeks. Maybe even months.

For whatever reason, I have analysed myself, my writing, and more importantly perhaps, my writing process, into paralysis. There is an overabundance of questions to which I don’t have the answers. Or at least not answers I feel are adequate.

What exactly am I going to write about?

How much of myself do I wish to reveal/expose in this?

Will anyone even read it?

IF someone reads it, what will they think?

Do I care?

What if someone I know reads it?

What will they think of me then?

Do I want to go down that path?

Whilst I might be a fan of opinions and the debate that can result from having opinions, even if there is a difference of opinions that never reaches a clear conclusion or any agreement, I struggle with the potential for conflict. Whether that’s simply a personality glitch, a survival mechanism, upbringing, something else…I don’t know.

Certainly, when it came to growing up, the rule of the house, and especially my father, was that parents were right and kids did what they were told, no questions, even if the particular parent was wrong. I’m sure you all know the old saying: “Mother/Father knows best.” Disagreeing was talking back. Even saying no to a question was sometimes talking back, regardless of the truth in the response. My father once summed up both a key aspect of his own personality, and a core aspect of this entire topic with his response to a disagreement we once had when I was a teenager. “I’m your father. I’m always right. Even when I’m wrong.”

Whilst that response, and no doubt many others I can no longer remember, may have instilled a slight dislike and distrust of authority figures, it also, somehow, instilled a disinclination to argue, to be angry, to challenge in any meaningful way, and to feel that my own particular voice necessarily held any value, even if I was right on a given occasion. Those particular outcomes explain a great deal about my life that I won’t go into now, but they also hold significance for this particular blog.

When I compare myself to others out in the world, be they people I know, or people I don’t, I almost envy those of them who appear to have a single-minded sense of who they are and what their purpose in this life is. They pursue it with what appears to be a relative ease when compared with myself (and so many others). Me? I feel like I toil at every turn, confronted with one form of adversity or another, even if it’s simply the lack of support from those closest to me. At other times I feel like I do little more than stare blankly at the canvas of my life. Is that canvas waiting for nothing more than my first efforts at perhaps the broadest brushstrokes of colour to enliven it?

Perhaps such an appearance of ease within some of those more successful individuals is deceiving. Perhaps they are not nearly as clear within their mind as they’re able to project out to the world. But then, perhaps that is simply who they are. Life may have in fact dealt those individuals a particular hand, that, for whatever reason, enables them to walk, dance or charge through their life with a passion, a conviction, a self-assuredness, a steadfastness, and a consistency, that simply will not be swayed by the desires or intentions of others, be those others family, friends, partners, or some other form of authority figure.

Now, one may endeavour to attribute that to upbringing, education, karma, numerology, astrology, genes, some god or divine force. Take your pick. We each have our own interpretation of how forces both subtle and obvious impact our lives. We have all drawn our own particular conclusions as to what factors have the greatest influence on our own lives and the lives of others we encounter.

I personally consider them all to have some level of contribution, great or small, with it all woven together like some vast tapestry that represents, in its wholeness, an image of who we are and what we do. And I believe we come to this particular life we are in with all those aspects predetermined. Established. For a reason. For me, there is no good or bad about it. No punishment or reward.

To quote the great bard himself: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”. It is for me, a more inspired approach, one that combines well with a perspective found within A Course In Miracles, which, at least in my own interpretation of the work, guides one to be more focused on how one perceives their experience, than upon attempting to directly change their experience.

Not that change cannot be made. Not at all. More that the change made is perhaps made best when the guidance for it comes through you, from a higher/deeper source, rather than from you at your more reflexive, ego driven level. After all, how can any of us truly know what lies before us, what we are destined to experience at any given moment, what this script we call life has in store for us actors within our given parts? Better to pay more attention to the ‘director’ of this particular experience no? They’ve undoubtedly read the entire script and all the potential rewrites, so they’re bound to be in a better position for knowing what lies ahead. Better for us to not think that this life is who we are. Better instead to recognise who we are at our core, separate from the character we presently inhabit, as we fumble our way from one scene to the next in this unpredictable film we call life.

However, philosophising aside, none of that changes the fundamental appearance of some amongst us appearing far more adept at seizing the reins of life and harnessing whatever is presented them to suit their personal desires, as well as their expression in the world and upon the world. 

Am I one of those? No. I can’t say that I have ever felt that sense of control over my life. I have never felt like the master of my fate, no matter how much I look at it from a multitude of perspectives. Whilst I may never be more or less than the subjective observer of my experience, that experience has never appeared as one I have been able to steer in the direction I would prefer it to go. My own life has, in its own particular way, felt like a faltering but determined process of stepping away from subconscious layerings of victimhood, from feeling and believing that life is being done TO me, rather than being lived and, more significantly perhaps, controlled, from moment to moment, BY me. 

Which of course leads me inexorably back to my preceding comments. Maybe this is simply the path I walk, perhaps the path I MUST walk, to reach some particular outcome that I fail yet to see. I don’t always know what I’m doing. Hell, when I look really hard at my particular journey through this life, I almost NEVER know what I’m doing. I might sometimes make a relatively accurate guess. My choices might generate a generally acceptable progress in a particular direction for however long, offering a modicum of happiness, pleasant distraction, or agreeable focus.

I can also look back upon my life thus far and see that there have been, in a winding, twisty sort of way, progressive steps forward. No step has ever appeared like some great leap forward. Some steps have in fact appeared as steps backward. I have been as a blind man dropped within the middle of a forest, not knowing which way leads home.

Yet, if I’m not being too harsh on myself for just a moment, it is possible to see the progress. I am not the same person I was when I was growing up, when I moved out of home, when I ventured overseas. Not even the same person I was a year ago. The changes may not be externally visible, they may even be quite minor internally, but they are there nonetheless.

And they have all led me to this moment. They have all brought me to this particular blog I am now writing, where I question how much of myself I invest in this process, how much of my ‘character’ in this life I expose to the world, how vulnerable I allow myself to be in order that I might be able to take the next few steps. Will opening myself more fully to the potential scrutiny of others assist me in other aspects of this particular journey? Maybe it will. I really don’t know. Perhaps I need to apply a little faith in that part of me that is deeper/higher than my ego infused shell. Perhaps it is simply waiting for me to take this next step. I really don’t know.

‘Get writing!’ may seem like an easy enough demand. But it’s deciding how much of myself is in what I write that can be most difficult next step.

And step.