Road trip

Stories exist to make you feel, to make you think. To challenge the status quo. Any good writer looks at their available choices and tries to surprise, if not delight, the reader. And sometimes, the writer is playing a longer game and will hurt you before they provide relief — Delilah S. Dawson

I’m not sure if any of my writing delights anybody. But I do believe stories — whether they come in the form of books, movies or theatre plays — should make you feel and make you think.

All I really want to do, is tell the best story I can, given the skillset I’m developing. Ambition will take you pretty far, but a solid skillset will take you farther. I’ve just passed the halfway mark in writing my first draft. I gotta say it feels weird. It’s going to feel weirder when I finish it. I’ll expand on that later after the novel is finished.

I am comfortable and happy with the choices I’ve made for my boys and with the choices my boys have made for me. I’ve lost track the number of times the boys and the rest of the characters have made decisions about their story arcs or their roles for me. They may not be real flesh and blood beings but they come from my flesh and blood, therefore they are real to me.

Granted, the last half of the novel hasn’t been written yet but I have the road map. I have all the interest points marked on the map. I even have a pretty good idea on how I would like to get from point N to point Z. But, how I move from one interest point to the next will always be up for negotiation between me and my boys. As long as we hit the interest points, I don’t care how straight or winding the roads are. The road taken will always be scenic.

I’ve already had an interesting trip with the first half of the road map. The rest is going to be a blast with my boys.

There is nothing better than a road trip.

Worth doing right

I believe in living life the way that you want to live it every day, and if you do that, you don’t really need to have New Year’s resolutions — Tom Ford

Happy New Year, folks!

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I suppose I could do a little reflecting on 2017. I’m not talking about reflecting on the questionable state of humanity in its current manifestation. I’m talking about reflecting on the year I’ve had. As per usual, there are probably some things I won’t get into specifics about, but I think you’re used to me being evasive when necessary, anyway.

I set out at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 with a list of goals or little things I wanted to achieve. Let’s be honest, it’s the little things can add up to something amazing down the road. I made a list of 12 things that I wanted to get the opportunity to experience and grow from, as a result, for 2017.

I managed to achieve all these small goals, except for two. Actually, it’s one because the other one is a work-in-progress. By the way, I think about half of these goals kind of fell into my lap. The power of positivity and being a bit laser-focused, I guess. And to be honest, the one that didn’t come to fruition was one I figured wouldn’t happen anyway, given my track record in that particular area. I guess one could call it a throwaway. If it happened, great. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t have taken away from all the other things that were achieved. What has been achieved, has been diminished.

Aside from my trip to Mexico back in October, one of the highlights, if not the highlight of 2017, was the field research I did back in February. I conducted the research locally. I didn’t have to go anywhere outside of the country which is kind of a shame but I made up for that with Mexico.

Out of the field research I did in February, I found myself a wonderful technical advisor and a really cool individual. Well, I think he’s cool. I will only refer to him as an acquaintance right now because we haven’t seen each other since February, but that’s about to change. I need his experience and knowledge again because of what my writing project needs at this stage of the first draft. I’m looking forward to seeing him again in the next few weeks. He’s always willing to answer my questions and amuse himself when I share my mildly hair-brained ideas with him. And we will meet up again later this year to review certain aspects of my project. Only then, will I refer to him as a friend afterwards.

Sometimes, it can be a bit presumptuous to refer to someone as a friend with whom you’ve only spent a short amount of time. I asked for his help in the context of my writing. I wasn’t approaching him with the idea of becoming friends somewhere down the road. First and foremost, I was doing research. Without a doubt, finding him was one of the best things I have done for the story I want to tell. What he brings to the storytelling table are small details and those are immeasurable. It’s a bonus that we get along very well and we have similar sensibilities. So, yeah, this is a friendship in the making.

My trip to Mazatlán back in October yielded a lot interesting information and memorable experiences, especially when I went outside of the city to visit the rural areas, Durango state and the Sierra Madre Occidental. It is beautiful country in that part of Mexico. Yes, the more tropical locations, such as Mazatlán and other coastal towns/cities, certainly have their visual charms but I have an affinity, a preference for places like the city of Durango, Mexico City, Guadalajara and the Sierra Madre.

Other tidbits from 2017? Well, I made some new friends. Pretty interesting friends. We’ll let that percolate.

Honestly, my top 2017 highlights are things that relate to or inspire my creative process. Everything else is just the mundane but necessary snippets of life.

Creatively, 2017 has been pretty cool. I might be understating that. Some people might consider it awesome with regards to some of the things I’ve done or am reaching for. But I reserve the right to say it’s been pretty cool. And I have every intention of having it continue in 2018.

I have no need for New Year’s resolutions. I will just have another list of small goals that will add up to something amazing in the long run. I don’t do sprints. I do marathons. I’m in it for the long haul because anything worth creating, anything worth having and anything worth experiencing is worth doing and worth doing right.

Spoilin’ for a fight

When people ask you what is Mexican about your movies, I say ‘me’. Because without my head, my gut and my balls, the movies wouldn’t exist… they come from those three fucking sources. You go ‘you know, I don’t give a shit. I’m gonna do this.’ That is very Mexican, you know. I’m gonna try it… It’s just a special brand of madness… that makes us create these things. I think that is more important than having nationalistic values — Guillermo del Toro speaking during a press conference at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival

I must have been a Mexican in a previous life because I’m of the ‘You know, I don’t give a shit. I’m gonna do this’ mentality these days. It’s taken me awhile to start owning that way of thinking. But I’m starting to get the hang of it even though it perturbs me to have to still play nice with folks I no longer wish to have any contact.

I won’t get into what kept me from wearing the mantle of ‘I don’t give a shit’ with any sort of confidence. I don’t have enough salve to offer for the third degree burns your ears would suffer from my tirade.

My recent research trip and a weekend email exchange with someone who has been important in my development as a writer has reaffirmed my personal belief that following my gut when it comes to storytelling is the right path to take. And that path is very much a solitary (but far from lonely) one, punctuated by people I’ve chosen to allow into my writing process. Yep, my lone wolf tendencies are showing again. With those who are not part of the process, I choose to remain vague. Depending on who they are and how they fit, or not fit, into my life, I will often say nothing at all. Even if they do ask, I’ll say nothing of significance and kill the conversation.

I realize there is a curiosity from those who say they don’t have an artistic or creative bone in their body. Even among creatives, there is a curiosity about how the creative process works within different art forms and mediums. Depending on who the curious parties are, I will try to answer their questions because I don’t mind sharing with those folks. And for those, with whom I don’t want to share even a sliver of my process, my time or my life, again, I politely shut them down, unless they want me to pointedly tell them to go fuck themselves. Then I will gladly, and gleefully, tell them to go fuck themselves.

While discussing the process may be of benefit to other writers, I’m not one of them. I’d rather step away from the conversation and get back to working on my personal projects. It’s not entirely a lack of patience or anti-social characteristics I may be displaying. It’s a matter of ‘I got shit to do, I’d like to go do it, thank you very much.’

I have no doubt that I have a special brand of madness that makes me want to tell the stories I want to tell, especially the one I’m currently working on. I have no doubt there will be some sort of controversy surrounding certain aspects of the story I plan to tell.

Yeah, I might be spoiling for a fight. It’s only because I believe in my growing abilities as a storyteller. If someone wants a donnybrook, I’ll give ’em a fuckin’ donnybrook.