Hello, True Believers!
Thank you for joining me for an early evening coffee. The sunset right now is gorgeous. White gold light streaming between the branches of the trees. Bird are singing. Life is good.
I didn't have a load of creative output this week. I'm working sort of diligently trying to keyboard some rough drafts so I can share them with you. Right now, there's a pretty big backlog of material. Basically I need about a year off so I can get it all done. Not gonna happen.
As you know, I do try to enjoy what I call creative cross training, which results in what I think is a good problem for a writer to have, which is more ideas and material than he knows what to do with (with which he does not not know what to do, for you sticklers).
This week was more about writer work, than actual writing. I'm far enough ahead in my work on The Assassin's Table, I can afford to take a three month break from it if I need to, so I haven't worked on it much for the past couple of weeks aside form keeping up with my bi-monthly posts. So no worries with that one, I'll keep you in magical dielselpunk madness for quite a while.
For now, I'm kind of officially taking a break from doing any of the more serious writing I've been working on here and there. I dunno, maybe it's the approaching summer, the recent viewing of "Captain America: Civil War" (see it), watching "Wynonna Earp" on SyFy (watch it) or enjoying Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim (read it). Lately, I'm just in the mood for fun.
This week, I just let my imagination rock, going through old notes for all kinds of craziness. There's an Ivan adventure or two just begging to get done. Some classic steampunk fun with the crew of the Mullen, which might take up a chunk of my summer as I wrap those up (Seriously, how do I not write a story called "Revenge of the Squid Queen"?). And then there's... well, there's a surprise in the works for, oh... 2018, let's say.
I mean, hey, I love wallowing in the misery that is the human condition as much as the next guy. And I think I'm pretty good at it. But I'm also really good at setting up and delivering some top notch vampire execution scenes, swordfights, submarine chases and werewolf fights. Again, this is called fun.
So, I'd best get busy so I can fill your summer with all kinds of pdfs for your beach reading.
Your creative resource for the week? Tommy Keene, ladies and gents. Listen to it, know it, love it. He's incredible.
Thanks for reading!
Hello, True Believers!
Sorry I'm a day late with this week's entry. Life got busy yesterday.
Today, I wanted to talk about how I'm coping with my notebook addiction. Because it actually did lead to something of a problem with my writing. Probably a good problem, but a problem nonetheless.
Here's the deal. I'm not paid to write. I can't do what Don DeLillo does which is sit down every morning and just be a freaking genius. And even when he's not being a genius, he can grind away and make something amazing because he has the time and energy to devote to his art. Yeah, yeah, I ain't Don DeLillo by a long shot for a buttload of reasons. But you get the point.
However, I am able to stay productive by following the muse. I've always been lucky with my creative life. As long as I can remember I could make up pictures that became stories. This eventually distilled into a habit of being able to take ideas and make them into narratives. In adulthood, this all happens in stolen moments, thirty minutes in the morning, forty-five minutes at the end of the day. If I'm lucky, like today, I might be able to invest a few hours getting some stuff done.
And I have a ton of stuff. Why? Well, following the excitement means just that. The thing about writing is that the idea is the excitement. The writing of it can often be a lot of damn work. Since writing lives on either side of that joke called reality, sometimes after doing a lot of damn work all damn day, I don't want to come home and do more damn work. I may be an adult, but I'm a freaking immature adult who likes to have fun. And I don't have a Harley to tear up the road, so I need to content myself with whatever story carries the rush of relief that helps me tap into that joy that all of us need to experience on a daily basis.
Part of how I do this is to keep feeding my notebook addiction. This allows me to follow ideas, start things without finishing things and saving ideas as they come. Ideas come at random and I need to get them going or they get lost. Thing is... I have a ton of ideas. They're all worth pursuing, too. More than I could dedicate to one notebook if I am to give them the space they need.
But here's what happened. I had way too many projects to keep track of. So here's what I did. You guessed it, the solution involved a notebook. I took a good one, a real good one and I listed all the projects I'm working on, their status, what they needed, where I can go with them and then leaving space for some thoughts about each project. I cannot tell you how therapeutic this was. Seriously, I was like a Jack Russell terrier, spazzing and sniffing my way between so much creative stimulus and channels it became paralyzing. I had so many ideas and starts and I was getting nothing done.
So, when I finished this project, I found that I had, no kidding, eighteen distinct projects. Two novels, two novellas, fourteen short stories. One that I had forgotten about completely until today, it was just lost in the morass. Some are already drafted. Some are started and waiting completion of a first draft. Some just needed to get keyed in and shared with all of you (There's like four of you who read this, right?). Literary reflections on life, fictionalized memoirs of moments, steampunk, post-apocalyptic adventure, stuff for grown ups, stuff for kids, and a very cool Ivan the Destroyer adventure.
When it comes to Joe Time, I don't like organization. Mostly because my job is just one long effort of organizing mine and a few dozen other people's lives. Deep down I'm a jazzman who just wants to riff on his life. Still, a little organization can go a long way to productivity. I've buttoned up two short stories this week, one of which is worth sharing, but I need to sit on it a bit. So now I'm down to sixteen projects. I'd best get to work.
Hey, what are you working on?
Hi, my name is Joe and I am addicted to notebooks.
It's a compulsive behavior. I see a good notebook and I need to have it, to try and fill it. My friends and family are happy to feed this habit with Monsieurs and Moleskines, Leuchtterms and Deniks. I receive them as gifts at random, get home and run to my room and look at them. Notebooks with great binding and high quality paper, an elastic band to keep them closed, a fabric bookmark to hold my place. There are stories in there because that thing and I have connected on an intimate level. I know what must be done and I know the cost it will have on my life, career and family. It's wrong and I just don't care.
I know I am crazy because they call to me, sirens sitting on my bookshelf. The ghost story, the remembering of an early mass, the rise of a submarine, a guy building a birdbath with his grandson, all these scenes that ache in my head, trying to come out, filling my empty moments. It must be wrong to have work in seven or eight or nine notebooks at the same time each one has developed a feel in my head, each has something of a theme that I feel compelled to respect. I wallow in my shame, knowing that it's nuts to start each day staring at the array of them in the darkness of the morning, trying to determine which creative thread I will follow, which will then be the theme for my day. Will today be a day to trip through my perpetual twelve year old imagination and describe a sword fight so well that my martial arts brothers will visualize how incredible it is, or will I try to finish that chapter of that novel which I will deny exists to anyone who asks, or perhaps that red notebook needs to record that dream of a waterfall and a a conversation with a friend long since forgotten?
There is a sensation so satisfying that it must be a forbidden thing. It's that feeling when I that notebook slides into my jacket packet with one of my favorite pens strapped to it. Later, when I should be doing something important, like investing in my family or following a lead to further my career, I hide somewhere and roll up my sleeves and indulge in that sensation where I hold the notebook in my left hand and the pen in my right and just let things happen, barking at my wife when she makes an unreasonable demand like coming to the table for dinner or running one of the kids to the emergency room.
I try to blame the notebook, but I know it's me. It's my own addiction. I know it's wrong, but like the drugstore cowboy I do it because I like it. Simple as that. I must live with the agony that is now my open shame.
My name is Joe and I have a serious notebook problem.
I will leave you with this week's creative resource. The trailer to a documentary by an extraordinary young lady. It speaks for itself. I want you to keep this on your radar.
A man who loves to write.