It's true. As it turns out, if you're dedicated and stick to your goals and really work on them one step at a time, you just might achieve in this life what you set out to. Crazy, but I'm actually starting to believe it...
That being said, I feel good, on the borderline, standing on the precipice between dreams achieved and nightmares realized (in a good way?). 2012 feels like the beginning. Last year, when I thought about the year before, I was still pretending to be an author. This year, I've had my novel (THE NEW FLESH) accepted for publication and coming out next summer and a novella (FEVERED HILLS) coming out in a couple of weeks.
At the same time, I'm a little freaked out--I've graduated to the next class of writers and I'm currently sitting on the bottom of the pack. My short fiction still needs work. I have very little of my work published and available to establish myself in the world. The novel I'm working on now, that I was hoping to finish by New Years, has taken an unexpected twist and I think needs at least another 10,000 words before the first draft is complete. Then it still needs a lot of work in the next draft. So, that's on the agenda for 2013.
Also for 2013, I have another novel rattling around in my head, a few shorter pieces, including at least two that are probably novellas, a graphic novel project, and a whole lot of learning how to conduct myself as a writer at readings and how to self-promote and market my work. I'm nervous.
But I'm also excited. Because I'm moving forward. It feels great to know I'm not just fucking around. The best thing about 2012 is the confidence I've gained in my abilities to write something substantial and meaningful that is worthy of publication and the eyes of readers.
I wish you all the best for 2013.
Don't disturb me: I'm Writing! Well, for any real writer that should be all year round...
NaNoWriMo is a joke. The year I tried to write 50,000 words in month, I ended up with a gluttonous stack of words, like vomit over paper, like a free-writing exercise in some sort of creative writing class in hell, the whip-wielding demon behind me roaring, "More! More!"
If you want to write a novel--a rational, fleshed-out, character-driven and reader-worthy piece of fiction--I'd say set a reasonable daily goal and stick with it. There's no way around it. Write a little every day and eventually you might actually have a novel. Then, of course, you'll probably have to write another one, but if you enjoyed writing the first one, that shouldn't be so bad. Just write, but don't worry about speed; worry about quality, about character, about story, about atmosphere, however you come by it, in your own way, in your own time. Have fun with it. Start your novel this month, and write until it's finished, but be careful, and don't rush it; there's no need for that nonsense.
Of course, if you're lucky enough to be a full-time writer and don't have some stupid day job looming over you, consuming your time like the aforementioned demon's mentally challenged cousin Angus eats brimstone, there's a good chance you write a solid 50k each month anyway!
Whilst hard at work on my next novel--a surrealist's journey through nightmares and other worlds and the gods and masters of those worlds--I've been considering the nature of reality, I've been thinking a lot about Plato's Cave.In Plato's model, we are removed from reality by several layers of perception. We are like prisoners watching the shadows cast on the wall by puppet performers, assuming that what we see is true reality, which clearly it is not.
If you're interested start here: Allegory of the Cave.
I've approached my new novel with this skewed sense of reality in mind, with the idea that certain "truths" are happening beneath the surface of things, and that it is these things taking place beneath the main narrative that will prove to be most important--layers of mystery peeled back as the narrative unfolds. Ambitious? Well, I for one think so and am absolutely terrified I won't be able to pull it off...
What I would like to do, what I would enjoy immensely, is to replace all those copies of 'Fifty Shades of Grey' I see in the hands of the half-illiterate women on the bus, or at the library, or dulling around the bookstore in an idle haze, with 'Crash' by J. G. Ballard.
Fifty Shades of Grey a bestseller?! Really?! I had to at least pick up a copy and flip through it, just to see what all the fuss was about. It's terrible. The writing is really, really awful. As far as I know this is the first real success story of a self-publishing author making it big with a major publisher in the mainstream. And this is what we get???! I weep. I weep.
So suddenly it's okay to read erotica in public? It's no longer shameful? Alright. Try this. It's called 'Crash.' It's literary. Oooo, literary. OMG. Yeah, I know. Pretty cool, huh? Here's a passage:
"After a near collision at a traffic intersection semen jolts across a cracked speedometer dial. Later, the dried residues by the lacquered hair of the first woman who lies across his lip with her mouth over his penis, one hand on the wheel hurtling the car through the darkness towards a multi-level interchange, the swerving brakes drawing the semen from him as he grazes the tailgate of an articulated truck loaded with color television sets, his left hand vibrating her clitoris towards orgasm as the headlamps of the truck flare warmingly in the rear-view mirror. Later still, he watches as a friend takes a teenage girl in the rear seat. Greasy mechanic's hands expose her buttocks to the advertisement hoardings that hurl past them. The wet highways flash by in the glare of headlamps and the scream of brake-pads. The shaft of his penis glistens above the girl as he strikes at the frayed plastic roof of the car, marking the yellow fabric with his smegma."
Weee! What did you think? That's writing. Are you turned on yet? I know there aren't any billionaire men that know French and only have time for the woman they fuck, but at least it's real, true, and honest writing. It's literary, like I said. It has something to say that's greater than the sum of its parts. What is this allusive message, you say? Read the fucking book and find out!
I like to read. If I hadn't first enjoyed reading, I never would have thought to myself: Hey, I can do that; I want to be a writer.
So, I read a lot; certainly more than the average person. I've found I'm lucky to run into anyone around me in my daily life who reads more than a couple of popular books in a year--I read almost a book a week, depending on whatever else is going on in my life. (I'm that weird awkward guy who reads! WTF?!) What amazes me, is the sheer number of people I've run into who want to be writers, but don't ever read. Why do you want to be a writer? How can you expect anyone to read what you write if you don't read what others have written? Come on, seriously. Then, there are those who claim to be writers, but don't actually write. Coming from academia, I can attest for this sad fact. There are a lot fools running around who claim to be writers--I suppose this holds true for many cavorting around in artistic circles--who don't write, not really, not ever. Come on, seriously; write something down once in a while. Writing is a lot of hard work; quit making those who actually care and are passionate about writing look bad.
Anyway, here's a cool blog I found with a lot of pictures of old horror novel covers that's pretty cool:Too Much Horror Fiction
Reading: And here are a few things I've read this month:
House of Leaves -- What can I say about this book? Wow. Different. Oddly engaging. Some of the story is a bit dense and one can't help but wonder if all the strange postmodernist formatting is always necessary or not, but a solid horror novel. I'm surprised, actually, that no one had turned me on to this book yet since I'm always looking for things that are different, unique, and creepy. This book is certainly all of those things. It is something of a literary (and literal) exercise on Nietzche's idea of what happens when you stare into the Void.
Watchmen -- Okay, graphic novels? I don't have much experience with them either, and, to be honest, I kind of felt like the graphic were dated and unnecessary (I guess you might call me a "literary elitist" ;-)), but it doesn't matter--the stories that run through this book are fantastic, intelligent, and interesting. The story is character driven and apocalyptic. There are also some very cool decisive things that this book does with the way it's formatted. For horror fans, pay special attention to the pirate story that runs throughout; it never appeared in the movie.
Abarat: Absolute Midnight -- I love these books. Clive Barker has a fantastic imagination and the world he portrays in the Abarat books (this is the third in the series) is detailed and wonderful. His plots are also unique, unpredictable, and often brutal. He's not afraid to kill his characters, even in a children's book series. These characters are, sadly, not always fully developed, but the whirlwind plotline and densely packed imaginative imagery more than makes up for it. Barker's artwork is interesting and colorful, but adds only marginally to the story itself. But, don't listen too seriously to such criticism; get these books! They are amazing!
I try to be patient, but where's the patience gone? I keep writing because I can't stop, like an IV I'm too weak to pull from my arm--let it drip its madness intravenously. I stumble; I just want to express myself. Before people I'm dull; I stutter; I have nothing to say--I envy their excitement and their energy. I can be friendly, but to me it feels like putting distance between us.
Is this more profound a blog post than one written in a meticulous academic style? It's hard to tell the truth, to tell the truth within the lie.
I started another novel. This is in it:
“ZigZig told me about other worlds. One’s in there,” Denny says in Harlan’s only produced film outside of the porn industry.
Denny’s father: “In where?”
“There,” Denny says, pointing at the TV screen jagged with snow, his face soft with wonder.
“What’s it like in there?”
“Lightning and fire.” A whisper: “Lightning and fire.”
And that's it, isn't it? That sums it up. That's what we're all looking for. Lightning and Fire.
Okay, that was a nice little break, but the little slave driver in my head (who wears classical masks of drama, carries a three-pronged whip, and smells of BO and sausage--don't ask me why) is telling me to get back to work. What is this nonsense? Quit messing around. Write your damn novel, you fool!