Looking, listening, waiting

I would like to start by saying the book launch for Risk which was held on Friday was successful. By that, I mean there were bums in the seats. I’m grateful for the support and the interest. The folks who were in attendance were interested and had questions that indicated they were genuinely curious about what I had created.

From those questions, they caught a small glimpse of what makes me tick as a writer. As far as I could tell, they liked what I had to say despite the fact I also spoke in Spanish when I was reading one of the excerpts I read at the launch. The novel contains Spanish dialogue between the characters.

Yes, I have no problem with my characters speaking another language. In fact, I find it a lot of fun. Sure, it probably unsettles folks who only speak and read English but I don’t care to cater to an only-English-speaking audience or pretend everyone speaks English or pretend that the only sexuality that exists is heterosexuality.

If you ever get around to picking up a copy of Risk at McNally Robinson Booksellers (sorry their link isn’t live yet, or in ebook format) you will get a taste of where my personal politics lie. If you do pick up the book… I hope you enjoy it.

*****

Music is one of the last elements in the creative process. It can and hopefully should tie a bow around an artistic concept, how a story moves forward, the pace of that storytelling — Thomas Newman

Now that the book launch is done even though there are loose ends to tie up and ongoing things I need to do that are associated with the book, I can slip into one of my sweat pants and comfy sweaters and really start planning out my next writing projects.

I have mentioned in previous blogs that I have two ideas simmering and I want to see if I can work on them concurrently instead of working on then one right after the other.

So, this is it. I gotta start thinking about them. I gotta start doing a little research/information gathering before laying any sort of foundation. 

Conceivably, I could start on one of the projects as early as this week. But I’m still in decompress mode. Sometimes I wonder if I should just take six months and let my mind fall into the various rabbit holes in which I’m currently entertaining myself. Six months is too long, though. All that lost productivity. Yeah, I don’t think so.

So, I’ll make a concerted effort to lay out a plan for writing project #1 (WP1) soon and let my imagination stew over writing project #2 (WP2) for awhile.

WP2 is nowhere near being ready to map out as a story line. I only have three characters, and maybe a fourth one. I know who they are to each other and that’s it.

The problem is the visual aesthetic for the story. I have a few uniquely different settings that pique my interest as to where the story could or should take place. They all standout to me. The problem is figuring out where my characters would thrive best for the story they want me to tell on their behalf. I think they can thrive anywhere, to be honest. So, that’s a little problematic. All great settings but where do I go to be of greatest service for my characters.

It’s about them. It’s about the story. I am in service to (or is it ‘of’?) them. Not the other way around.

I figure the only way to get the gears grinding on WP2 is to listen to music. While I can see Newman’s point that music is one of the last elements in the creative process, I have to say that music is one of the first elements in my creative process.

Music has always been the driving force in bringing the elements together when it comes to telling a story. It was there for the first two books and there is no way it won’t be there for future stories.

Music is also a good way to clean the palette and clear the mind. It prepares you to be surprised when a piece of music comes along, knocks you on your ass and says “Hi. I believe you’ve waiting for me.”

Yeah, that’s when the light bulb goes on and you think to yourself ‘Jesus fucking Christ’ when your imagination is bombarded with images and an aesthetic that won’t leave you alone for one second.

Those moments are exhilarating, hard earned and precious. To be honest, I live for those moments. That’s maybe when I’m most hyperaware I’m being present.

Right now, I’m clearing my head by listening to ’70s music. You can blame that on the film The Iceman. There’s a scene where Chris Evans and Michael Shannon are walking and grooving to the music, as they make their way towards an unsuspecting victim inside a discotheque. Blondie’s Heart of Glass is playing the background.

Seriously, who knew Blondie and Chris Evans would make a good combo. Anyway, it reminded me of how much I love Blondie. And before the film, someone had mentioned the song Brandy by Looking Glass. The song title didn’t ring a bell but when I checked it out on iTunes —  bingo, I remembered listening to it on AM radio when I was a child.

Then I fell into a rabbit hole of searching out ’70s music. I’m more of an ’80s/’90s brat, though. But definitely a good way to clear the mind. At some point, I’m going to wander through the ’80s and ’90s. 

I’ve compiled a preliminary playlist for WP2 and I’m sure it’s going to grow as I muddle through this music rabbit hole I’ve found myself in. Once I figure out the aesthetic for WP2, the playlist is going to morph again. And probably quite radically as I’m prone to do sometimes.

Time to look forward and take the first steps towards a new adventure. Not sure how long it will take before things start to coalesce but I’m hoping not too long. Trudging along is better than being at a stand still.

Just looking, listening and waiting for that ‘Jesus fucking Christ’ moment.

Tick tock

This Friday is the book launch for my second book, Risk. As the day gets closer, my friends have been asking me more frequently whether or not I’m nervous or excited about the launch.

So, just let me get this out there… no, I haven’t really experienced any sort of nervousness. And that’s because I have other things on my mind.

I have to go over the excerpts from the book I’m planning to read to entertain the folks who have decided to attend the launch. Thank god, there will be friendly faces in the audience. At least, they know what I’m like and will understand my occasional moronic tone whenever I open my mouth.

God bless ’em, they’re more excited about the launch than me. Someone needs to take my share of excitement. I’m busy thinking of shit.

And one of the things I’m thinking about is how comfortable or uncomfortable I’ll be putting myself out there. I am a naturally (more often than not, intensely) private person. That might seem to go against the fact I have a blog. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I blog what I’m comfortable with sharing.

That means my family is off limits. My daily routine is off limits. Any specifics that I regard as extremely personal and nobody’s business but my own are off limits.

I know people who are hopelessly and irritatingly nosy. They can’t help but need to know everybody’s business. I suppose they’re following the ‘knowledge is power’ concept. Answer me this… Where is the power in knowing everything you can about a person with whom you’re not interested in having as a real friend? If you’re doing that, you’re treating those folks as some sort of enemy, as some sort of imagined competition. You’re trying to find some way to get the upper hand whenever you interact with that person. Why the fuck do you need the upper hand? I think you need to talk to somebody about that.

Anyway, I know who you fucking clowns are. Do me a fucking favour… go live your life and leave me the fuck alone and I’ll do you the same courtesy. Don’t waste your time trying to be a ‘friend,’ I know who my friends are. I have enough. Quality over quantity.

As you might be figuring out right now, I’m warring between the idea of putting myself there and staying under the radar.

That conflict became pretty clear on Saturday. The bookstore where the book launch will be held, runs a weekly ad of upcoming events in the local newspaper. My silly mug and the launch details were one of the upcoming events highlights in Saturday’s ad. Oh, boy.

When I say ‘oh boy,’ I mean “Jesus-fucking-Christ, there are folks I haven’t seen in ages, don’t ever want to see again and still live in the same city as me, who might see the ad and think ‘So, that’s what’s she’s doing now.’ ” They might actually be stupid enough to think of attending the launch. Out of sheer fucking stupid curiosity.

I don’t care to go down memory lane with those fuckwads. There’s a reason we haven’t kept in touch. They want to attend? Fine. They wanna buy the book? Great! They wanna keep touch? Not a hope in Hell. Have a nice life and go fuck yourself.

So, yeah, I might be needlessly thinking about who the fuck is going to pop back into my life. But I can’t dismiss the possibility. 

Then there are the folks who I would consider acquaintances. They’re the ones who don’t know nothing about me or know much of anything substantively personal about me. Some are harmless. Others… well, the jury is still out. Obviously, the harmless ones are fine. The ones where the jury is still deciding on? I just might plunk them in with the ‘power is knowledge’ fuckers and be done with them.

Yeah, public events like this make me little antsy because I start thinking about who I don’t want to see there. I’d handle it better if the event was taking place in a city where no one or only a handful of people personally knew me.

Sure, a book launch is a public event. I can’t tell certain individuals to not show up even though it seems like I’ve fired off a salvo to those who have a pretty good idea they’re on my shit list.

But I’m going to look at this event as it’s about my book and not about me. Okay, that kind of thinking might seem a little strange because you probably shouldn’t separate the book from its author.

Well, I’m separating the ‘personal’ me from the ‘author’ me. The author me will be there to talk about the book. For the friends who will be there, they’ll get both when I interact with them. For those, who I have no idea who they are, they will get a grateful author. For those who I really didn’t want to see or offer their so-called support, they’ll get ‘I’m going to be nice but don’t push your luck or I will kill you’ me.

Despite all that grousing, I am looking forward to the launch even though I have to read excerpts from the book. Again, it’s about the book, not me.

It also means after this Friday, I can start laying down the groundwork for my next writing projects. And that’s where I am happiest.

Off in my own little world.

Eye on the prize

Writing is such a weird emotional thing. It’s hard. If you sit down with a plan to write something, it’s going to be harder — Lauren Miller 

Yeah, writing is a weird emotional thing. And I am referring specifically to fiction writing. Yes, there are other forms of writing (non-fiction, poetry, essay, journalistic, etc.) but I’m not focussing on them.

I think being creative is a weird emotional thing. Period. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Anything worth having, anything worth experiencing, anything worth creating, anything worth fighting for will be hard. 

When it’s hard and you want it badly enough (please excuse any double entendre you might perceive), yeah, you’ll get a little emotional. Depending on the obstacle I encounter, either I get mad and double down on reaching the endgame, or give it the stink eye and double down on reaching the endgame.

Regardless of my emotional reaction to the obstacle, I always have my eye on the endgame. I can’t ever lose sight of that. No matter how much life can get in the way, no matter if I’m in some sort of holding pattern when it comes to moving forward with the storytelling, my eye is always on the prize.

And what is that prize? Being able to successfully tell the story I want to tell. Being able to tell the story my characters want told and to do justice by them. That’s my prize. 

How do I know I earned my prize? By how I feel about the completed first draft of the manuscript.

For my upcoming book, Risk, I was pretty proud when I arrived at the complete first draft. I’m not proud because I just finished writing it. I’m proud because I knew the story that needed to be told was completed. From Point A to Point Z and everything in between felt right. I have no regrets.

And as a writer or as a creative person, having no regrets is so important. Even if there are regrets, acceptance of those regrets is just as important. You can’t let them eat you alive. There are lots of other things in life that will try to eat you alive. Don’t add regrets to that mess.

Another part of the prize for me is I knew the goals I set for myself when I started writing this book had been achieved.

There’s nothing more satisfying than realizing your goals. Those are the things I can call my own. No one can take that away from me. And yeah, I’ll pretty much rip anybody’s head off if they try.