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.

Next time

Stay true to your own voice, and don’t worry about needing to be liked or what anybody else thinks. Keep your eyes on your own paper Laura Dern

I decided quite a long time ago that when it came to creatively expressing myself, regardless of what medium it would be in, I had to do it for me. To do it for anybody else other than yourself is an invitation to disaster and disappointment. I’ve discussed this before.

And if you think I’m going to go into a fucking rant, you’re damn right I’m going to go into a rant. You can stop reading right now or watch the train wreck I’m about to create.

Now, with my first draft for the second novel slowly moving closer towards completion, I will have to deal with the concept of talking about it. I don’t have a problem with talking about it once the book becomes a tangible physical object. I’ll engage in a discourse with anyone who has read the book and is willing to have a thoughtful discussion about it. Key word being thoughtful. It doesn’t need any further clarification than that.

But what I was/wasn’t anticipating was reading an excerpt of what I had written so far to members of the writing group I belong to. This I should clarify. While I have no problem reading an excerpt, what I do have a problem with is people making assumptions about my characters without understanding or knowing what led up to the scene I was reading. I think there’s a term for this — psychoanalysis. And I’m referring to the making assumptions part.

Here. Let me try to explain without giving anything away about the storyline.

I read an excerpt/part of a scene that will be somewhere in the middle of the novel once it’s completed, to the group. After reading as far as I wanted to go, I got some reaction to it. It was all fine and dandy until one of them started psychoanalyzing one of my characters. I cannot tell you what scene I read because that would be considered a spoiler. I suppose you could consider the scene a bit incendiary. The problem with psychoanalyzing my character based on that one scene alone is that you don’t know everything that occurred before it. Not all the pieces are there.

And since I’m terrible at summarizing what the fuck is going on because I really don’t want to give everything away, this person came up with her own ideas about why this character behaved this way.

It really fucking frosts my lizard to hear her pull uninformed nonsense out of the air when she clearly doesn’t have all the details. Why not just listen to the excerpt and accept it for what it is — a moment in my character’s life and listen to how I strung a bunch of words together to make for (what I hope is) a compelling scene.

I did not ask anyone to psychoanalyze my characters. But if you’re going to do that, then please wait for the book to be published so you can read it before you tell expound your theories onto me.

Did I want to punch her? No, not really. But I did want to lose my shit. Instead, I tried to be nice about her uninformed and unwanted psychoanalysis of my character (one of my boys) and told her I would have to explain what happened before this particular scene.

Unfortunately, I did have to offer up one spoiler because I felt forced to protect my boy. She even misconstrued the end result from that. Yeah, I was this close to losing my shit.

So, the group now knows one of the major plot points in the story. It irritates me to reveal one of the cards I’m holding in my hand. But I do take solace in the fact that while they know one of my plot points, they don’t know the exact details.

I also know it is an issue that none of them are willing to tackle in fiction writing. The general reaction to this particular plot point was met with silence. Not because they thought it was a horrible idea. I think it was the nature of the subject. And probably because I am more than willing to go there. Give me a tough subject that interests me and I will go there. Guns blazing.

Anyway, what I’ve learning from this and the ranting is the next time I have to read something from my work and someone makes an incorrect psychoanalytical assumption about my characters, I will be informing them that I cannot answer the question because their remarks and observations are off-base and therefore irrelevant to the discussion about the story. Because once they read the story in its entirety, they will realize they had it wrong in the first place and I will have saved them from an answer that ultimately has no value to the discussion.

Next time, I will not hesitate to shut down the conversation and throw in a bit of dragon fire to boot.

Next time, I won’t be so nice.

More than borderline obsessed

You must be passionate, you must dedicate yourself, and you must be relentless in the pursuit of your goals. If you do, you will be successful — Steve Garvey

In recent weeks, I’ve become more and more focused — obsessed seems to be more appropriate — with finishing the first draft of my second book. I consider this my version of smelling blood and going in for the kill.

Right now, the obsession is, more precisely, about getting to an exact point in the story before other commitments rudely take me away from working with my boys and the other characters.

I wake up thinking about my boys. I go to sleep thinking about my boys. I couldn’t push them out of my mind if I tried. It’s not a case of me purposefully keeping them at the forefront of my thoughts. They were already there. In fact, they’ve made camp.

No, wait a second.

Actually, there is this crazy ass looking building they’ve built which is a definite sign that they have no intentions of leaving me alone. Not that I would ever want them to. Oh yeah, they’re also ready to fight anyone who gets in the way of what we’re doing together. Hell, I’ll even supply them with the weapons they need for the battles. Don’t ever say I never take care of my boys. In turn, they have a list of folks who are allowed to interact with me as things start to get a little intense. Believe you me, it’s going to get intense with my boys. I so badly need to continue playing and working with them even though life will get in the way.

Life can be such a douchebag. Or a sadistic bastard.

So yeah, this is a very healthy relationship I have with my boys. Some folks probably think I should be embarrassed by how I regard them. Well, here’s what I think about that thought: go fuck yourselves. If you don’t have a creative bone in your body, you have no reason to talk to me. It’s simple as that.

As I try to barrel through writing the first draft and pick up a little speed along the way, someone comes by with a bucket of ice water and figuratively dumps it on my head to remind me I have prior commitments to attend to.

Yeah, one of these days I’m just gonna lose my shit and go ballistic on the unfortunate bastard standing closest to me. And that sound you’re hearing is the sound of my boys grinding their teeth. Yeah, they don’t like sharing me. To be honest, I’m the same way with them. That list of folks who are allowed to interact with me, are the same folks who are allowed to meet my boys. Funny how that worked out.

Well, enough bitching. My boys are waiting for me.