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.

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.