Brave, mad and happy

There’s a fine line between brave and mad. But whatever I do, I go for it — Viv Albertine

Everything that has given me nothing but joy came from the simple and seemingly harmless thought of ‘why not?’

That however, does not include romantic relationships. I attribute those to sheer stupidity stemming from a boat load of insecurities. If I had been saner, I would have never entered into any of those relationships. That’s just the god-honest truth. I don’t particularly give a fuck if any of my exes are offended by this statement. I’m sure they wished they had never met me either.

Anyway, I try to straddle the line between brave and mad with regards to my passions. Depending what it is, I think I fall into mad territory more often than not. I think I start out brave, then I just fall into utter madness.

Right now, I might be falling into utter madness with my writing. There are works-in-progress that I’m excited about tackling. None of them, however, are the long-term projects I had been thinking about. For now, the stories I plan to tackle have nothing to do with traditional publishing.

As a friend pointed out to me last night as we were messaging each other about her current work-in-progress, I’m re-prioritizing. She’s not wrong. I have been re-prioritizing for a long time. In baby steps. It’s only now, this year, that I’m kicking those changes into overdrive and making them as much as a reality as I can.

Throughout our lives, we’re always re-prioritizing what’s important to us. There’s a fluidity to life that we have to follow. Not following it will only lead to more grief than we care to handle. I can’t stay where I’m at. There’s no growth. I’m being challenged for all the wrong reasons and not the right ones. That’s what I’m re-prioritizing for. To be challenged for the right reasons. And to continue growing.

Me being stagnant is a very bad idea. Bad things happen.

Re-prioritizing, for me, also means redefining what it means to wear the mantle of ‘writer’ comfortably and without feeling apologetic that I am a writer. But I wear the mantle of ‘storyteller’ proudly. It might be semantics but I do differentiate the two words.

I’m more interested in honing the craft of storytelling than spinning my wheels trying to figure out my next book. Try too hard and the wheels keep spinning until you’re burning rubber for no good reason. I also believe some of the things that keep me from working on the next book will be found in working on other stories and being around other creative souls.

It might also be my brain engaging in self-preservation. When you devoted a good chunk of time to writing a novel, you sometimes don’t realize how much your brain wants to decompress and have fun. That’s what I’m doing now. Decompressing by having fun with the writing I’m currently working on.

There is still lots of bravery and madness to be found in what I’m doing now. It’s available by the boat loads. It’s something I gladly take on because nothing else makes me happier.

Adding to the toolbox

A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph, a novel is a film — Lorrie Moore

I guess if we were to go by the analogy of the commitment needed to write a novel is equivalent to a marriage, then I’ve gone through two marriages. 

Well, at least I don’t have to deal with pre-nups or divorces. Wow, no lawyers involved. Imagine that. 

While I have every intention of entering another marriage or two, it seems my brain wants a tryst, but not necessarily a love affair. If a short story is a love affair, what the hell is the equivalent to a tryst? Probably some sort of one-night stand, right? 

Anyway, my brain has no interest in entering a marriage at the moment (but I’m not opposed to looking around and keeping my eyes open because you never know, right?). And I’m totally fine with that because I’m still writing… just not marriage material writing. I mean there is commitment involved but not the official kind. Just a different kind of commitment.

Maybe this is my version of sowing my wild oats? It’s probably more of a case of finding a balance or adding variety to my writing life. Regardless, I’m having fun right now because I gotta get in my kicks before February rolls around when life gets in the way and I’ll be bitching and screaming until mid-April.

Right now, I’m just trying to sharpen the tools I have in my writing toolbox… and perhaps throw a couple of new ones into the mix. That’s an exciting prospect considering I’m have no idea which tools will end up in my toolbox. 

To be honest, I don’t knowing what I will end up acquiring. I say ‘Surprise me.’ This should be fun.

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.