A path to follow

I mean, artistic processes are all about making choices all the time, and the very act of making a choice is the distilling down and the getting to the core of what it is that you care about and what you want to say, really — Mike Leigh

The past couple of weeks has been a little harried. Harried in the sense that life has gotten in the way of writing. Didn’t write for eight days straight. What the fuck. Got back to writing last Thursday. I told myself I was setting aside that day to play with my boys, then I would get back to life.

Well, that was a big fat lie.

Played with my boys until yesterday night. I wouldn’t call it a lost weekend but it’s the closest thing to a lost weekend. I have one planned for April. Part of that weekend will be spent with my boys but what I will be doing during the rest of the time, will affect the three of us in the long run.

The four days of writing was a much-needed creative release. It also moved me a little closer to the goal of completing the first draft near the end of May, beginning of June. I strongly believe I can make that self-imposed deadline… as long as life doesn’t get in the way… which is what life is doing right now.

For a number of years, I called this time of year the busy season. After this busy season, changes will be afoot so that next year, I won’t have to suffer through long stretches away from writing. Some folks will be disappointed in the changes but I have to protect and nurture what is important to me.

I’m approaching a crossroads. I’ve seen it coming for awhile. And I know which path I have to travel. There is work to do. And I can’t wait for it to begin.


I don’t have stylistic loyalty. That’s why people perceive me changing all the time. But there is real continuity in my subject matter. As an artist of artifice, I do believe I have more integrity that only one of my contemporaries — David Bowie

Because I consider myself an emerging writer (let’s be honest, I’ve only written one book and there is the second one I’m trying to complete), it’s too early to say whether or not I have a preferred genre I like to work in.

One thing is certain — I’ll always write fiction. Non-fiction doesn’t hold much interest for me. Feels too much like work. My apologies to all the non-fiction writers out there. And I still haven’t figured out the short story format. This may not be the best way to say it, but I just might be thinking too big for short story or too something to that effect.

Another thing that is certain is I don’t think I can stay in one genre. I’m one of those who are pretty much all over the place. Hopefully, in a good way. I have no loyalty or preference to one genre. For example, the first book is fiction with elements of erotica in it. Would I categorize the book as erotica? That would depend on how the literary world and the business side of the literary world define that word. Regardless of what they say, I’ll always argue the book is fiction, first and foremost.

So, with book/novel #2, I’m apparently writing in the crime genre. I didn’t make that determination. It was my writing mentor who made that determination when he started reading portions of the work-in-progress.

It was in the same conversation that I was informed of the concept of conventions, as it pertains to genres. All genres have their own set of conventions or characteristics. Crime has one set of conventions, romance has its own, same with thrillers, and so on and so on.

Honestly, I couldn’t give a shit about genres and their conventions. I suppose that stance might get me into a little bit of trouble. Two words: bite me. I’m more concerned about telling a good, if not great, story. My loyalty is to the art of storytelling. What genre the story is the last thing on my mind. It feels a little boxed in, it can feel a little claustrophobic. Some folks like working within a set of parameters. Some parameters will give you lots of room to move around it. Others, not so much.

Unfortunately, I have to be a little respectful of the conventions. So, I’ve been following some of the conventions. Just some. I hate cookie cutter shit. Any opportunity to be a bit subversive happens on its own. I don’t have to work that hard at it. It’s a natural reaction to be repelled by cookie cutter crap.

If I’m keeping a tally, the first book was/is fiction with hot sex (hot is subjective, I’m aware of that) and the second book is crime fiction with some not-so-comfortable subject matter, then I’m guessing the third book will be fiction, too. Genre to be determined at a later date by someone else (probably my mentor) other than me. That’s how it goes.

Loyalty to storytelling. And only storytelling.

Undeniable need

The greatest poverty is not to live in a physical world – to feel that one’s desire is too difficult to tell from despair — Wallace Stevens

One of these Mondays, I’m going to miss my self-inflicted deadline of posting a blog. It’s just a matter of time. Not that I have a ton of people waiting every week with baited breath for whatever kernel of silliness that comes spilling out of my mind.

But I like to be diligent and keep my commitments. Things are starting to ramp up over here and I need to implement my game strategy for the next three or four months. Short-tempered, short-fused or sleep-deprived might be adjectives you could use to describe me in the coming weeks.

Hmmm, I should balance that out with short intense moments of decompression, i.e. laughter with folks who know how to make me smile and anything else will make me let go and be in the moment. But doing a little field research will net the same results, as well. Oh, how I love field research.

This past week, I watched three films (in the theatre and on DVD) — Call Me By Your Name directed by Luca Guadagnino, God’s Own Country directed by Francis Lee and Leon: The Professional, a 1994 film directed by Luc Besson. All three films had me thinking a lot about story, setting, character, action/reaction. It also had me thinking about how each director’s values, sensibilities and aesthetics guided the way they told their stories.

I’m still unpacking what I saw. Actually, I’m unpacking a lot of things where the art of storytelling is concerned. In that regard, 2018 has been interesting and in different ways, intense.

I think in a future blog post, I’ll discuss Call Me By Your Name, God’s Own Country and perhaps, Moonlight, and why these films and its directors and actors have so deeply affected me, forged and reinforced the way I think about the art of storytelling and make me want to be a better storyteller.

It will probably be a long read. But if you’re willing to put in the time, you are welcome to read it once I lucidly form my thoughts and opinions about those films and what they mean to me in the bigger picture, creatively and artistically.

I used to gripe about being under-stimulated. Now, I’m just stimulated. But there’s always the threat of over-stimulation that can put anyone into a tailspin and result in a loss of focus.

The next couple of months threaten with unwanted opportunities that could easily lead to scattered thinking. I can’t let allow it to happen. The prize I’m eyeing is too tempting to lose sight of just because the swirling winds of semi-organized chaos created by others are trying to distract me.

God, I hate getting sucked in by the chaos of others.

The need and desire to learn, absorb and dream is strong and undeniable. Nothing must prevent that from happening. Ever.