Damn, I’m a lazy blogger… OR “I’m not home right now, please leave a message.”

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No excuses.

I have not felt like writing recently.

No that’s not exactly right. I haven’t felt like being social with the world recently and in a lot of ways this is how I socially interact with the world in the winter and spring.

Till the snow disappears, I am terrible company.

Image Source: Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings Thames Television (1976)

Image Source:
Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings
Thames Television (1976)

Yes, I participate in the Facebook and Twitter universes but they are almost instantaneous things I can access via my iPhone. They really require no thought.

To put together a post on this blog I actually have to sit down to work, and now-a-days, pulling that laptop out just makes my stomach churn.

It’s mid-April and much like everything else involved with the book, finishing it off has taken three times longer than expected. I have taken the setbacks hard and that has ground my confidence to dust.

Mind you, I haven’t given up. Survival Pod: Issue One is in the hands of one of my key test readers. This is the last step before release, and one of the stories; 5123, is being sent off to compete in the Revolver writing contest: ANTE UP!!! at the end of the month.

Revolver_Full

So despite all the setbacks I am still moving forward. Even slow progress is still progress, right?

On a truly positive note: Originally, I was a bit disappointed by having to cut back the initial
Survival Pod release. But in hindsight, I made the right choice. The line up for Issue Two looks so much better now.

When it is ready for release, I think Issue Two will be far more diverse than Issue One in the eccentric nature of the tales involved. I think the readers should like both but I got some really crazy shit in the works for Issue Two : )

So, that’s the update from my frozen little part of the world. Time to toss another kilo on the fire, turn on some RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix, and enjoy my weekend.

Image Source: IGN.com

Image Source:
IGN.com

Hope you enjoy yours : )

It’s March… Or “Did You Expect More?”

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I am so lucky anyone continues to read this blog.

I have been terribly unkind to the blog recently.

Leaving it behind so easily for personal struggles with birthday mortality syndrome (yes, I just made that up) is cruel and unfair. On the other hand, if you have been paying attention the last two years, you know I’m always like this around my birthday.

Image source:Creepshow - 1982

Image source:
Creepshow – 1982

Either way, I apologize for my lack of regular communication this spring.

Also, I’m not talking about the book today. All I will say is she is almost done.

Yes, I’m terribly disappointed by the delays but I now understand what my Dad is always going through with his show cars. When you put enough time, effort, and capital in a project, it has to be right. It will be done when it is done and not a moment before.

No, today I want to chat about a source of joy in my life. The Doctor…

I have officially renamed winter the season of the Doctor.

I’m so thankful to have found this wonderful show at a time when I’m at my lowest. I’m sure not everyone has the same reaction to the Doctor but I honestly can’t remember a time when a single show has evoked such an emotional response from me on a regular basis.

I’m not just talking about the hysterical comedy, intriguing mysteries, and beloved characters. Nor am I talking about the indomitable English spirit and their dedication to the literary masters that came before them (The Christmas episodes tear out my heart everytime.)

No. It is the exquisite use of all these things to create an endless story arc that stretches back fifty years. An arc that no matter what direction it decides to go in, I become hopelessly attached to.

Every companion lost brings on the tears. Each mystery unlocked brings joy. Every spin of the wibbly-wobbly sphere of time stuff does exactly what it is intended to do. It makes me dream of better things in life.

Starry Starry Tardis

The Doctor is not a complete rehash of the same old depressing crap we here in the States get served on a regular basis. It has meaning.

Yes, we run into familiar monsters and scenarios but they are so well authored that it doesn’t matter. In the back of my mind, I can see the plot lines floating like glowing star stuff in the air and I know where ever they lead there will be tears and pain and redemption.The Doctor with his new faces, companions, and endless adventures are such an amazing departure from the normalcy of American television fare

But these things that make the Doctor special are only a component of why I have such an emotional response to this “cheesy” sci-fi show from BritanniaThe scars run deeper than that.

I don’t like endings…

I don't like Endings

Image Source:
Doctor Who
BBCOne

Perhaps it is because I’m so in-tune with my own mortality, that I find such pleasure in the reoccurring acts of personal salvation in the Doctor.

Everyday I watching helplessly from the sidelines as time literally slips by in the faces of my children and the assorted salt & pepper hair in my beard. I know my time on the planet is passing at a far greater rate now than in childhood; that magical place when time seemed to stretch on forever and seemed as unending as the adventure of the Doctor.

I don’t want to go…

None of us get to stick around forever, not even the Doctor (although regeneration would be an awesome talent!) and this winter the Doctor helped me to understand that better. In doing so, this amazing show has given me the drive to continue on and try to enjoy the timey-wimey stuff I got left.

So, thank you BBC and bless you Britain (as well as the rest of the United Kingdom) for the seemingly endless amount of literary and creative talent you export to the rest of the world. I can only hope that someday I will be blessed enough to see your island with my own eyes and perhaps write a story just for you from what I learned while I’m there.

Until then… Happy 50th Birthday Doctor! May the Tardis always remain the brightest of blue, your hair continue to be jaunty, and the adventures never stop!

 

Games of Chance or “Sometimes A Distraction Is A Good Thing.”

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I got a really great piece of advice this week.

Hopelessly mired in editorial hell, a close friend said to me:

When working on a project so long, it can help to do a small side thing to get creative juices flowing again.

This may help from feeling burnt out and/or frustrated. When you turn your creative passion into a career, a balance between creative fun and work is needed.

You can’t just write things for fun without working on getting exposure, but you also can’t revise and revise and be so work focused that the passion is dead.”

Yma Seraph: Feb. 2013

She was right. I need a distraction. Something else to think about besides just the work.

Then low and behold, in my email, the answer just appeared. From the desk of @BarbAbney, I was forward a link to a local writing contest!

I know what you are thinking. Didn’t he already talk about contest? Weren’t they just deemed a waste of valuable work time?

I will admit after the Writers of the Future Contest debacle, ( I mean come on, at least send an email to tell the writer you’re not interested in their entry.) and the string of magazine rejections early in this process, I was frustrated. The slush pile manner of getting my writing out there wasn’t paying off, lent nothing to my long term goals, and then the City Pages incident happened all hell broke loose.

I really wasn’t interested in waiting for someone to tell me whether I was good enough for their publication anymore. It was time for me to strike out into the digital frontier and cut my own path.

Yeah, I’m still not getting paid. But I’m a lot close to making a living now than I was making a hundred bucks a week at that local rag.

So the situation has shifted. My perspective vastly different since the last time I put my work out there for someone to judge.

I’m going to participate in this contest just for the fun of it. The distraction is enough of a prize. (Although I will not be turning away any cash or accolades for participation.)

If you want to play too, the details are as follows:

Revolver_Full

Revolver and thirty two (@ThirtyTwoMag) are proud to announce our short story contest. We’re looking for your best story (only one submission per author) between 1,000 and 5,000 words. Submissions must be sent to Revolver through our submission manager.

The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2013 (midnight, EST). The winning story will be published simultaneously in thirty two and on Revolver and will receive a cash prize of $500. Revolver will also publish the 2nd and 3rd-place stories and award cash prizes of $100 and $50 respectively (thirty two may, at its discretion, choose to publish excerpts of these runners-up).

The prize-winning story will be announced and published in the October issue of thirty two and simultaneously on Revolver.

 Submit your story here!

You got the Sand? Ante Up!

The Nature of Transitory Thoughts Or “How did I get here?”

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Generally, after making a post on this blog I just walk away from it. That’s what this is for, to get the thoughts out of my head and into the world. But I have noticed a recent negativity in my posts and though I should lighten things up a bit.

I‘ve been pretty hard on myself this last month as the editorial process on the books has not gone at all the way I planned. Massive timeline overruns. Delay after delay after delay; the whole process has been frustrating and I am terribly susceptible to negative influences in life.

Hence the doom and gloom of the new year so far.

But then something happens. Something that would ordinarily just fly under the radar. The tiniest of thing occurs and suddenly I’m left quizzically scratching my head going, “How did I end up here?”

Due to the transitory nature of my life (which is a long drawn out story, that I’m sure someday will come out in it’s entirety, but not today) I have lived in a couple of really interesting places in my life and none that has made me more physically uncomfortable than where I live now: Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Image Source: Chris Isett

Image Source: Chris Isett

I have become an old man beneath the weight of her weather and climate shifts. A hermit from the long nights and short days that leave me questioning the days I wasted in my youth by staying up all night and avoiding the glare of the glorious sun.

War is Hell...War against nature that is....

Minnesota is harsh mistress. She takes no guff. It’s either step up, figure it out, or freeze and god do I hate her for it.

On the other hand, she is an intensely loving partner.

In her warm times, when the snow finally recedes and the sun gently touches your face, Minnesota loves like no other. Strange days occur as art entranced magicians suddenly appear like creatures in a mythical forest. Masters of music and prose, paint and stone, film and photography: this town is filled with them. (They still exist in the frigid darkness but you must know their hidden burrows and have the will to reach them. I have neither.)

Some days it feels like you cannot escape the creativity but who is going to complain about that? It’s like saying, “Yea, Mozart lives down the street but I hate that guy. He makes too much noise on his harpsichord…”

It’s not till the sun finally wipes free the icicles from my beard and these pale freckled arms can come out to play, that I remember such things. When I manage to get away from the keyboard for a game night at Tower Games or see a friend perform in some local artistic endeavor, I really do realize how lucky I am to live here.

This is not to say, if given the chance, I wouldn’t bolt for another warmer locale with a delectably hedonistic, art obsessed scene. I am too transitory in nature to not want the adventure of another creatively powerful city under my belt (i.e. Austin, San Diego, or Long Beach look out).

But for right now, where I’m at is pretty good. Yeah, the weather sucks but the company is spectacular….

(For those wondering, the “tiny thing” was getting added to a twitter list of Local creative folks in the Twin Cities. Never been a local artist before…I kinda like it.)

Moments of Doubt Or “Did I read that sign wrong?”

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One more down. With four tales left, the finish line is right there.

Why do I feel like I have wasted two years of my life.

Note: This feeling is not unusual. With the exception of my kid, most of the time I feel like I have wasted a great deal of life’s joy.

Today’s anxiety is normal in my universe. It is a dark wicked place inhabited by mysterious old age pains, annoyingly habitual communication issues, and the constant companion of self-loathing. (Which looks quite like a Dementor, if you are wondering. Damn you J.K. Rowlings!!!)

Having descended from a clan of worrisome and more than slightly neurotic ancestors, I am well trained in the art of screw yourself a.k.a masochistic mental masturbation. My whole life having been an exercise in crisis management; I should be, in theory, used to this.

I truly do know these moments are transitory. It’s as certain as science.

Why, then, does today make me feel like I’m Captain Quint from Jaws? Struggling mightily, thrashing about in Bruce’s robotic grip moments before becoming a piece of human sushi?

Is it the paranoia over my rapidly declining health and lack of resources to take care of it?

Could it be the widening chasm between myself and the vast world around me? Knowing it still exists and yet unable to find a way to participate comfortably?

You know what’s a better question? Why now?

Why now, when I’m so close to completing my greatest life-goal, am I letting the ordinary issues of life overwhelm me so entirely?

It is because I am a writer.

Life is a universe of distraction, the key is knowing how to block it out at the right moments. Without that, there is no way to ever do anything worthwhile in the world.

My problem is, recently, I seem to have misplaced that key. Life’s issues are distracting me and I’m where I am at right now as a direct result. So creatively, because I let the neurotic monster out of its box, I suffer.

Example: The longer I work on the final edit for these stories, the more my faith in them wanes.

While prepping the final PDF documents for KDP and CreateSpace over the last few days, I keep catching glimpses of work that rankles my creative vibe. Work that has been gone over with a magnifying glass, held not just by my hands but those of a professional copy editor, and I’m still not happy with the final product.

I had hoped by this point in the process, I would have come to some middle ground with my self doubt. Alas, that seems to have been too much to hope for but I’ve gone too far to turn back and abandon it now.

Real cash has been invested into this project. Endless hours lost to isolation. Dedication to an idea only I can see. Suffering endless mutterings and innuendo of how I have “given up on life” or “how I refuse to face the world.”

The word AGORAPHOBIC has been banned from my house.

Some days I want to go to the top of the Wells Fargo Tower and scream, “Don’t you think I wanted to do something else?! Have some form of ordinary life?! Would anyone go through this if they had any other choice?!

I’m reminded of Bukowski’s poem, So You Want To Be A Writer“:

“If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it. Unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it.”

“Unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder, don’t do it. unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don’t do it.”

Almost two years of my life are just gone.

I’m broke, downtrodden, and in large part, a forgotten figure in everyone’s life but my daughter. This has been a hard row to hoe, and yet I have made it through.

Through the lonely frozen nights, I have sailed across a sea of missed moments. A laundry list of life’s lost luxuries runs like a stock ticker in my head, keeping track  of everything sacrificed to make it to this moment.

This one vainglorious instant when all the work suddenly means something.

There are but minutes left before t-minus zero on the clock to drop this bomb on the world. So, it would make sense that serious self-doubt would resurfaces now.

What if the reason no one ever talks to me about my work is because it really is shit?

What if all these years I have been fooling myself with a pipe-dream that never had any real chance of succeeding because I don’t have the chops?

What if that scholarly old professor who dressed me down in front of his class at the University of Cincinnati so long ago, was right?

What if I’m not destined to be a real writer?

Back story break…Cue out of focus flashback:

flashback

When I was twelve years old, right after my parents marriage ended one oddly quiet and slightly confusing, warm Texas morning; I had this terrifying dream that has haunted me my whole life.

A self-fulfilling prophecy, if you will.

In the sub-conscious reaches of my pubescent mind, I watched lonely and lost as all my friends went off; each familiar face abandoning me to happily go live their lives. It was only a dream but the loss was so palpable when I awoke that I have never forgotten it.

Flash forward to today: I look at my life and I realize that is exactly what happened.  Most of the people I have known and called friends in this world have gone on to success in their lives. Financial, emotional, spiritual; it all varies from person to person.

Not all of them are happy, mind you. Mostly because completely understanding or fully realizing what we have and enjoying it is a natural human flaw. But deep down, most of them realize they are on the right path.

Not me. I still feel lost everyday.

I continue to struggle down a path that was handed down to me as a child. Still reaching for a goal that has always seemed beyond my reach.

I am and have always been a writer. It is in my blood. Those ancestors I spoke of before, they were and are writers. Failed writers.

Example: My Grandmother Jean  along time ago gave me a hand illustrated book she created for me and my sister named “Mystery Island”. Who knows how long it took her to create it, who cares? She was an intensily creative person and sometimes she created things just because she could.

And yet “Mystery Island” with all its glorious map pencil colored drawings and pre-teen exploits were never destined for anywhere but my hands and you know why?

Because she didn’t believe in herself enough to commit the time and effort it would take for her to become a success in a craft she obviously had skill at. Life would not let her.

Husband dead. Two kids left to raise. Three other adult kids to worry about. Property taxes due on a house about to fall down around her… The world of literary repute was just beyond her fingertips. Why? Because she could shut life out long enough to just believe in herself.

Grandma

That didn’t mean she stopped writing.

Seeing her write is one of the truly wonderful memories I have of her. Sitting in that little kitchen, sipping a half empty cold cup of coffee, scribbling away on her endless supply of spiral bound notebooks.

And what happened to all those notebooks when she died? Nothing.

Passed on to another generation of writers that life has already shut the door on their hopes and dreams. They lie dusty in a box, never to see the light of day.

I refuse to let that happen to me.

Thankfully for the internet and this blog, I know that at least some people see the words I write (even if they only come to snag one of the many images I pilfer from the net to accentuate my points).

This is not enough for me.

I made the leap of faith. Everything in my life has been tossed on the pyre to make this work: friends, family, health, money. Nothing has been safe in my quest for this golden grail of publication.

So again I ask, why now?

Why do I have to look at what I have created, at this late stage and go, “This is shite…”

Conspiracy theory

Is there something else I just don’t know? Has my whole life been a conspiracy of friends and family telling me what I want to hear just to protect my feelings. Or am I in the midst of pre-release jitters accentuated by a neurotic need to leave some form of real legacy? Probably a little of both.

Is it going to stop me?

No and now you know why.

I am a writer. I can’t do anything else.

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