of the Lazy Literatus

Into the Aether


The concept of “aether” is a puzzling and amusing one. The ancient Greeks thought it up while they were – I dunno, smoking ether? – to describe the firmamental layer separating the terrestrial world and the rest of the Universe. I.e. The sparkly belt of nothingness below the gods. What’s even more interesting is that the concept was relevant until the late-Victorian era, and is still the subject of pseudo-scientific technobabble for the steampunk literary sub-genre today.

I happen to believe this quasi-void of pre-divine “shtuff” exists. Why? How else would one explain how left socks go missing? Or how a thirtysomething man in his pajamas could lose a 900-word blog in a little under twenty seconds?

Yes, that actually happened…and, no, I didn’t take it well.

Worse off, I sent the owners/operators of this here Tea Trade site on a wild goose chase trying to find out how my “Steep Story” literally vanished into the aether. The general consensus reached between them and I was that I had tried to update said blog on a slow-arse computer in a roundabout HTML way, and the result was…poof!

But it gave me food for thought.

I will admit to being a very superstitious man by nature. The blog in question was a continuation of the “Steep Stories” yarns I had produced over the course of the summer. To put it mildly, they weren’t doing well, or maybe I wasn’t doing well at writing them. Either way, the “ratings” were proving dismal and sharply declining each successive entry. That and they were murderously difficult to concoct – taking, oftentimes, more than a day to conceive and create.

Trying to explain the concept was also enough to induce a full-body cringe. I actually pitched the concept – yes, pitched! – to a couple of tea vendors…and I was immediately greeted with a cocked eyebrow or three. I mean, how does one explain what I was trying to do?

Example: “Excuse me, sir. How would you like to donate a unique/rare tea to a meta-fictional story starring myself (in my pajamas), a zombie, and a gnome?…..Hello?….”

I think this zany approach was also confusing potential readers. Whenever I tried to explain it to friends, I found myself wincing with embarrassment upon spieling. Something was amiss, and maybe it was me.

Mrs. Tea Trade offered me some sage advice by reminding me that, perhaps, the Steep Stories themselves were too long. She had a point. The average entry was clocking in at about 2,000 words. However, in lieu of that, the first three I ever did in that format – reviews for The Devotea and Teaconomics blends – were around the same length and resounding successes. Regardless, I took the advice and ran with it.

There were two Steep Stories I had yet to write. I predicted each one would finish at roughly 2,500 words. That entire day, I mentally outlined how I could split them up and came up with a tangible approach; five entries at a little under 1,000 words updated over the course of the week. It was to be my final Litmus test to see if the format was sustainable.

I finished the first installment on Sunday night; I was ready to publish it. After saving the document following a cursory edit, I added pictures. Then I went to save the entry again…and…


At first, I was livid. A couple of hours later, I was laughing. Even the guiding hand of God/Buddha/Vishnu/Whatever didn’t want me to write this crap anymore. The morning after, I brewed tea and remembered something important…

Fuck it, I said to myself. I’m on vacation.

And I stared out into the aether.

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  1. I love them. I think there are other issues at play that result in less response/

  2. Other issues at play @thedevotea? Which ones? I guess in your case although you like reading this, you are traveling. In my experience summer is always slower blog season, with people somehow preferring to soak up the sun than reading and writing posts. Silly of course. Bring on fall and winter.
    That aside, yep drove me nuts your post disappeared. Much enjoyed this one , but me personally I particularly like the “about me” kind of stories. Not about me, about you. You’re a personality many of us love reading about.

    • Thanks. Yeah, I think I might stick to that approach…or no approach at all. The old (new?) format was just too much work with very little payoff. I do agree that there is less big frequency in the summer. I, too, am guilty of that.

  3. Did you consider mixing Magic and tea? 😉

    I like what you write, it changes from the usual stuff and brings a different point of view, a litterature point of view.
    But I can understand some people might have trouble reading all of it (I know I should have been a diplomat, I always manage to understand both sides).

  4. You have an audience. And about the part of the audience that stays away: .

    But more seriously: in hindsight it was to be expected that you would lose some of the audience, but you will gain a new one while your writing develops. And perhaps the part that left comes back ones their eyes are more open. It is too good not to.

    For now the snake that shed its skin and is in its growing phase is vulnerable and weak. All will be well again when you have grown your new skin.

    But beware, now you are an easy prey for Guan Yin.

    But more constructive: the latest one about the birds felt a bit forced and too short. Maybe you should allow yourself to split the story up and make it longer in total.

    • That is always true when you make such a swift change in direction – especially with writing. I was probably taking this a bit more seriously than I should’ve, and expecting more of it than is needed. It is just blogging after all.

      I haven’t completely admitted defeat of the “Steep Stories” model, but I have as far as its blogging future is concerned. I saw a recent update by Michael J. Coffey about a fantasy author that posts writings in Google Docs. That may be how I do Steep Stories from now on…and – thusly – post a link to it in addition to a regular blog anecdote. I dunno, though.

      And, yes, I will admit the bird one did come across as rushed. Even after scaling back the content of it, the piece was still 2,300 words long. And that was after scaling it back considerably. The stories may need more room to breathe and develop into a narrative in a different medium is all. I dunno, it’s up in the air.

  5. Well, I’m happy to see this blog post is buzzing with activity…

  6. For what it’s worth, I’m one of those who flitter back and forth in what I read online as seasons change as @jackie mentioned, but I enjoy reading narratives moreso than short technical pieces, and you’ve had some great posts. There are so many out there who blog out of rote obligation rather than creativity – we need more sleep stories! Don’t let the “save” fiasco make you re-think your approach.

    • Well, like I said, I’m superstitious. *heh*

      It’s only made me rethink my blog approach. Those were becoming too long and complicated for a blog. I might have to real-time novel ’em or something.

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