The experiment.

Hello reader, and welcome.

From peaceful Pajama Flats to wherever this note finds you, I send best wishes for the coming new year. In these parts, meanwhile, and despite the season, the experiment continues.

As a writer, I’ve had a busy and productive year.

Though I’m anything but prolific.

Not only that, but like all writers, I must first commend the feats of others when looking back on my own. And few things keep an overgrown ego in check, like recalling the greats of the past.

All the same, for me, it was a good one. I’m grateful for it, too. Though my reach continues to exceed my grasp.

Because the more things change, the more they stay the same. At least, that’s what my elder brother likes telling me. And more often than I care to admit, I’ve found those words prophetic.

In my mind, I can see him grinning as he reads this, too. Thanks again for sharing, Bud.

My dear old dad, on the other hand, would tell me there’s no time but the present. Which, as things turned out, is another point on which we would disagree.

In memory, often, I see him laughing at me, too. Rest in peace, and thanks again, Dad.

They have been and ever will be two of my favorite people. Either despite or because of the many times we agreed to disagree. Even after all these years, I’m still not sure which.

But as the calendar turns, I’ll say keeping on is its own reward. And that I owe those two men plenty for sharing their wisdom. Perhaps as much, or more than, what I owe the nameless writers on whose shoulders my stuff stands.

Anyway, I’m thankful for all the help, as well. Though, like the times, I’ve changed, too, and plenty, by now. Not always for the better, either, I will admit.

But, as usual, one endeavors to persevere. And I’m as good with who I am now as who I used to be, too.

So, here’s to another new year given to progress, not perfection.

On that front, the one just passed was, for me, a triumph of effort and focus. For at last, I feel prepared.

I only wish the previous statement could provoke the laughs from you that it does me.

What’s that you say? About what do I laugh?

As usual, the joke I’ve made is on me. After all, I’ve spent my life doing something about which I apparently know little, or perhaps nothing. Only now, as an old man, does awareness of not just how, but why, and for what, the thing I’ve tried doing, is clear to me.

What’s this, you ask? You know nothing? How is that news?

All the same, I’m now ready to properly do it. I feel, as near as one can, that everything done before was to get ready for what comes next.

But don’t get the wrong idea, because I’m without a real clue about what that might be, just now. Which, believe it or not, isn’t so strange, around here.

I’m talking nuts and bolts, of course. Because the worst of the artistic heavy lifting is already done. I mean, the first drafts are complete, anyway. And if you can’t see what might be there after reading a first draft, you’re in the wrong racket.

Of course, even the arts world gave up on imagination long ago. Instead, like most everyone else in the computer age, they traded it for the safety of formulas.

After all, why make the effort to think for yourself when someone else will do it for you? What’s wrong with more of the same old thing? And so what if the price of profit is serving the lowest common denominator?

That’s entertainment by algorithm.

Well, I’ve always asked more of it and still do. That’s why I got into making art as a boy. Not only that, but I think being an artist is a calling, too. And yes, of course, I think writing is an art form, as well.

How’s that for a laugh? Not dark enough? Well, hang on, there might be a better one up next.

From the start, the only audience I’ve tried to please is me. And what’s more, the times I pull it off are rare.

Despite the setbacks, I keep working. And lately, to me, the stuff reads like it’s ready. Maybe that’s why, despite the hour growing late, I’m looking forward to this new year as much as any before it.

Either that, or the delusion is near complete. I’ve heard they’re often like that. Slowly built up over time, with change so slight as to remain unseen until its effects are too apparent to ignore.

Well, no matter how it turns out, I’ll take what comes.

And if that doesn’t work for you, well, then I guess we’re not looking for the same thing. But then again, I’ve heard tell there’s no accounting for taste.

In these parts, it’s what accounts for the size of the royalty cheques.

Now come on, if that one didn’t do it, then I just ain’t gonna get er did, cousin. Because I can’t do it no better. And that’s what you call a softball, right there.

So, from here, you’ll be on your own, as far as laughs go, to end or start this latest new year. But don’t go claiming I didn’t give you nothing to end off right or get started strong, you hear?

I mean, what the hell, it’s not like making widgets, you know. A man has to dream this shit up, right off the top of his fool head, too. You just try it for yourself one time, and then come talk to me about it.

Be careful, though, before you do. On a count of it can leave a man with a humdinger of a headache, afterwards, and that’s for sure.

Do you follow me?

I had a friend who asked me that every time he lost track of what he was saying. Like me, he was an ex-pug. And when I knew him, he lost track of his thoughts so often it surprised me how many he tracked down. Anyway, he always had a lot to say, so I figured it must have been good exercise for his brain.

Well, I write a lot more than I speak, but maybe his excuse will work for me, too.

Either way, here’s a happy new year wished to you and yours.

As always, thanks for sharing this with anyone you think might enjoy reading it.


December 31, 2023

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