Diminishing Return Preview and Excerpt by Joseph D. Newcomer

The following is the back cover text, my from the author description, and an excerpt from my last novel. It is one of the parts of the book that makes me proudest of the message I was attempting to convey. I feel as though it is even more relevant today than the day I wrote it. If you feel the same, please share it with your friends. If you enjoy it, you can find the novel in hardcover, paperback, and ebook on Amazon by clicking below. If you’ve already read Diminishing Return, please help spread the word by leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads. As an independent author, I need all of the help I can get from everyone who enjoys my work.

Back Cover Text

“We are all recycled people.”

Time has stopped and people are no longer living in the Present Pause. Disenchanted with Nostalgia Incorporated’s Time Travel Experience and the memory loss it causes, a former musician turned sanitation worker spends his time sorting through a lonesome world of trash left behind by humanity while he composes a letter to his younger self. The desire for the most insignificant of changes may be his last desperate connection to existence.

When he meets a dead girl, the subject matter of his letter changes. Her apparent suicide has been halted by the Pause, leaving a bullet spinning, locked in time next to her head. Their interactions bleed into his letter and he begins to understand that her wisdom reaches far beyond his comprehension. As his letter and his compassion for the dead girl grow, he questions his desire for time to continue.

The only thing more important than remembering the past is making sure you’re not living in it.

From the Author

Diminishing Return is a compassionate social commentary exploring a dystopian future caused by humanity’s overwhelming appetite for nostalgia and waning care for originality. While I am in no way arrogant enough to believe that it will change the world on a grand scale, my hope for this work is that it will have a lasting impact on any individual who seeks validation that they are not alone and that they belong in this world. I would also love for Diminishing Return to connect with those who, like me, feel a general sense of ennui and anxiousness when they look out into our world’s inseparable concoction of absolute beauty and unimaginable suffering.

While expressing a variety of themes central to each of our realities: the value of compassion, the need to belong, the hope to make a difference, and the death of creativity in modern culture, this work is mostly inspired by my family and friend’s histories of suicide and depression as well as an appreciation for our world’s most tragic artists.

“It can be difficult to not hate people for their decisions and for how their decisions, ultimately, affect your own life. Even though I understand the logic and reason, even though it makes me appreciate that she might share my ideals about how meaningless life is becoming, has become, I still struggle to not judge the dead girl for trying to kill herself. I try not to feel disappointed in Shaffer for continuing to knowingly lose his memories and, eventually, his entire original being on entertaining himself with pretend lives. I also cannot stand that this judgment and disappointment even enter my thoughts, it gives me a bitter loathsome feeling about my own narcissism. Only semantics separate our concepts of what is real and important. Calling his lives “pretend” because of my own hang-ups is only, truly, a deflection. What I honestly feel is an addition to my compounding loss. I will miss my friend. I will always wonder who the dead girl was before she pulled the trigger. These are my burdens, not theirs. These selfish notions are not useful thoughts by which to base their character. You can’t decide how other people should feel and then be disappointed in them for not feeling the way you decided they should, but we all do it. Other people are not you, you shouldn’t want them to be, it’s not possible, and you wouldn’t like them if they were.

While it would be easy to write them off for their choices simply because I disagree with them, the harder thing to do is to understand, to allow myself to empathize with a choice when I don’t believe I would have made it. What you’ll learn after all of this lack of time and seeing people that you love and respect, intelligent people, people you know to be reasonable and decent, as they make choices that you can’t believe or accept, is that people just want to belong. People want to belong somewhere–school, a career, a circle of friends, an actual physical location, with a specific person. When that want isn’t satisfied by something most people would consider normal, that want can easily allow itself to be satisfied by something that may even be detrimental to the person it drives–drugs, cults, the past, the Pause. Time stopping hasn’t taken that want from us yet, but I worry that being able to live in past, that being able to search all of time to find where we feel we belong has falsely convinced us that our want is being satisfied. I remember feeling that way, satisfied, and most times I wish I still did.

My want to belong wishes the people I care about felt the same way as I do now so we could share in that commonality together, here in the Pause. The best parts of me hope they are just able to go on with their lives forever, feeling satisfied regardless of why or how, without the burden of my ideals, however justified or unjustified or wrong or right they may be.

I know that you’ll stand on and hold firmly to your belief that (what you consider to be) the poor decisions of others, come from weakness, but it is not weakness. The ability to allow yourself to believe in something that may only exist to take advantage of that ability is the same thing that allows you to care about anything. I can’t fault Shaffer for allowing himself to feel satisfied and happy, even if I don’t think that it’s real. This ability we have to convince ourselves that the things we consider to be “right” are absolutely correct is the strongest innate ability that we possess. It is real to him. It is as real to him as my belief, that it is not, is to me. The way he feels is real. His emotions are definitely real and they seem a hell of a lot more enjoyable than mine. I mean, who the fuck am I? Aren’t we all just guessing?

I also don’t blame her, like I’ve already said. If a person doesn’t find someone, some where, some thing, or some time to be a part of or to belong to; if a person doesn’t feel like they have the option or ability to try to any longer, it doesn’t mean that want goes away. They must feel that they are only left with two options to end that emptiness: destroy the world around them, or take themselves out of it. While it kills me to think anyone would feel that way, how I feel about it doesn’t make it any less a reality for people that do. We learn to accept and love our prisons, but only because they are our own. It is impossible to fully understand anyone else, but if you can, at the very least, try to validate how they came to their prison before you choose to disregard their entire being, you’ll learn a greater deal from them than you would have otherwise. If it is ever possible to give someone a reason to feel as though they are a part of, or that they do belong to someone, some thing, some where, some time, give it to them, and maybe you’ll allow their want to be satisfied in a way that saves you both.”

From Diminishing Return

by Joseph D. Newcomer

c 2019

Read more about Diminishing Return in these posts.


  1. 💜 Past, Present 🎁 and Future CoExist EveryOne; the key 🔑 is Acceptance of ALL Reality especially Slumber Time Dreams, particularly Nightmares


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on The Writing Life and commented:
    Hi Joseph

    Thanks for another follow + all the ‘likes’

    IF you want to go on a journey (destination unknown), you can follow me. Thanks and enjoy the trip.

    happy travelling

    “Do not go where the path may lead. Go where there is no path and leave a trail”
    of CHAOS?? (at least in the “real world” and hopefully NOT cyberspace too)

    “Mr going nowhere (fast) man”

    Liked by 1 person

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