Sunday, April 4, 2010

Different Masks

Oh, how I wish I could've kept up a normal blog these past couple of years! So much time I've wasted, so much life that I could've been living that has forever been forfeited. At such a young age (31) it utterly flabbergasts me that I gave up so young. Well, that's not quite true: I'm still alive and kicking; still treading the path of mortality in my own bid to survive and reach a personal Dark Tower -

But I did surrender existence to a certain extent. And I know, that sounds weak and defeatists: in a nut-shell: a species of loser talk. Not wanting to get out of bed on any day of the week; not taking pleasure in mundane or intricate pleasures that human life offers us. Christ, what a God forsaken negative creep! But sometimes knowing these things doesn't suddenly make you wake up and change. It should. It definitely should. Knowing of a trap is the first step to foiling it. (I think the late Frank Herbert said that - or Paul MauDib, if you prefer). However, I sometimes found, in the dark circus of the night at 3am, that the knowledge of the trap made me want to curl up in its embrace.

But, I've decided, things are going to be different around here, damn it! I must admit, if I hadn't thrown the towel part way in my writing accomplishments, and much more aside - would be far more accomplished by now. Writing did get gone: in 2007 I completed a novel called Davey Ribbon - something I've spoken of briefly before. However, the problem with being such a novice lies within: After sloughing through the first 100 pages (and an epilogue) of a story, one finds all sorts of ways to improve things and fashion the tale from a much better perspective. This more often that not requires much more than a draft - or even a complete re-write. It entails throwing away your darling words (murdering them brutally), and starting all over again. Painstaking. Horrid. But somehow liberating. The most ghastly bit of this business is that you know it might happen again at page 200. No strike that. You do know.  And the knowing is like giving birth and pulling teeth.

There was joy, as most writers can attest, but the moments were few and far between. During this time I lost a partner that had stood by my side for my entire adult life. Subsequently I lost my mother. Bankruptcy followed - and even things that cannot be repeated here. Boo hoo! I hear you say. If you've got an issue, 'ave a tissue! For fuck-suck, grow up and get over it! Hell, I was screaming it myself. It was a formulaic mantra that coursed through my skull's canvas -and played a freakish pageant in that tent I spoke of earlier. The words - the words weren't coming in the way I hoped. They were tentative and flat. I was watching others emerge in the dark fiction scene and steal thunder that was supposed to be mine! Two short story sales and a commendation from the AHWA for Car Crash Weather was supposed to be the catalyst for a massive rise in profile -

The thing is, I'm quite sure , after long contemplation , that this wasn't because I was discovering what most writers do: that it's a lot harder than it appears. No, I was just scared. The lack of joy frightened the shit out of me. If there were no endorphins flowing through my grey matter when composing, something that has been a genus in my veins for as long as I've been breathing, then what on earth was I going to do to replace it? Thankfully, I took up a pastime that has become a savoir through all the dire times: Reading.

During 2008 I probably waded though over eighty novels, short-story collections and anthologies. It was mind numbing. Brilliant. Emotional and intellectual anesthesia. I think I leant more about the craft in that time than I ever could from writing. I discovered the awe of audiobooks - dense with wonder. Also an admiration for the audio book geniuses that pull off such coherent narrative structure over the extended length of a blockbuster. I found a talent for it myself, and read the entire Dune saga on dicta-phone for a friend. Soon, I hope to have a Demo CD to give to publishers. All this was a better drug than any beer - and certainly less taxing on the bladder. I lost myself in a fog of tomorrow and revelation, in order to avoid thinking the unthinkable. I discovered people across the globe that shared my passion: that mere words could shape reality and you're relationship to it. They were tools for change, and although I was changing at a snails pace, I was changing - each day, I'm going to bury those unhappy, dark times, of which there are certainly more to follow, under ever-growing layers of optimism. Other writers have shown me the tools; my own writing will bridge the spectrum.

And I will keep writing. And soon start submitting again. I look back on my writing of Dark Meridian with unalloyed fondness: there is heart in those words. In itself it's un-publishable, but there is heart there, and lots of it. Some of Davey Ribbon is probably salvageable, but if not I will start again. And again. Until I get it right - and finally bring another world into being -

Hopefully I will make this blog another permanent thing, with exploits that revolve around day to day activities. The good, the bad and the ugly. With as much honesty as possible. That said, there are many writing projects to work on. There are two novellas to pull from the trunk: Olearia and Deadworld. Short stories by the name of The Reborning, Lizards and Lights, Teddy Bear Prongs, and Cannibal Communion.

Frank Herbert once taught me something else:

I must not Fear. Fear is the mind Killer.

I am going to try and fear no longer.

Personally, I want to thank Sean C Speakman for helping me come back to the joy of writing, although he doesn't know it. One day, I hope to shake his hand.

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