Yep, I’m Late…Again

Normally I get the week’s blog posts written early. I like to have two or three ready to go so, when the time comes to actually get something up, I don’t have to worry about it.

This ain’t one of those days.

I had all weekend to write. I had all weekend to focus and concentrate. I also had all weekend for Halloween events.

Well, for Halloween events and hangovers. There may even have been some drunk texting…and all I’ll say about that is that, for the next zombie crawl & party, I’m locking my damned phone in the car.

Ahem.

‘Nuff said.

People who know I write love to ask, “What are you working on now?”

I hate that question.

I hate that question because the answer is always either insufficient, or confusing. Or both.

Responding with “Same book” just results in people looking confused and asking why it isn’t done yet. But God help me if I mention that I’m also exploring an idea for a completely different story.

Then the questions start: “What’s the plot?” “Who is the main character? The antagonist?” “What’s it all about?”

I don’t know, yet: THAT’S WHY I’M EXPLORING, DAMMIT!

And Silence isn’t done yet because, well, I’m having a hell of a time getting my focus back. I’m at the point in the plot where things are, err, “muddled”. I need to go back and clarify a number of points, as well as add a handful of scenes to play up a specific arc and theme I want to address.

Until I get all of that thought through and finished, I’m stuck.

It is times like this, of course, that I meet or hear about those writers out there who finish two or three books a year. Yeah, because hearing about that really helps! Look, I’m a one-story-a-year guy, and that ain’t gonna change…no matter how guilty and insufficient those “speed-writer” types make me feel.

Really…am I the only who feels that way? And when the hell did writing turn to the “faster is better” dynamic, anyway? Isn’t, uhh, ”better is better” the way to go?

Crap, this is why I need to bury myself and just go back to writing…thinking too much makes my head hurt.

I See Your Pokémon, And Raise You A D&D Character

Okay, dammit…I give in.

After running off on an uncontrolled Tolkien-tangent last Friday, I decided that I’ve talked about my epic nerdism often enough, maybe it’s time to illustrate.

So, well, a nerd-list. My nerd-list, anyway – a few of the things that I usually keep behind closed doors (no, not those things, dammit!):

What am I reading right now? An Echo of Things to Come – Book 2 of the Licanius trilogy by James Islington. A new fantasy writer out there, I’m impressed by his first effort. Plus, he describes Feist and Jordan as his inspirations…all he has to do is add Zelazny and Eddings and he spans the treasured fantasy reading of my own formative years.

Bonus reading: From The Dreadnought to Scapa Flow by Arthur Marder. Volume III, if you’re wondering. Remember: I did warn you that I was a naval history addict.

Not so bad, so far…but we’re just starting down the dark path…

Manga: yes, I read manga. No, I’m not an otaku…I think. Anyway, I’m currently reading No.6 by Hinoki Kino (an adaption of the Japanese “light novel” series of the same name by Atsuko Asano). I love the themes, and the tone…and, yes, Shion and Rat have had their influence on dockside. As a note, my Japanese has degraded enough that I have to read manga in English nowadays (I still watch anime in Japanese, however).

Speaking of which…anime: I just finished watching Noragami (waiting to read the manga, though, until I finish No.6). I’m currently trying to decide whether I want to start the huge Fullmetal Alchemist saga, or go into D.Gray Man first. Decisions, decisions…

Video games: *sigh* oh, dear…video games. Nowhere does my nerdism have more power than in games. I love games…of all stripes. My first love are RPGs, but strategy and simulations have a place in my heart, too. Currently, I’m splitting my time between Dragons’ Dogma: Dark Arisen and the remastered version of one of my favorite series, ever: Kingdom Hearts. Oh, my, do I love me some Kingdom Hearts. No, really – I love that series, but even I could never really understand the damned convoluted (insane?) storyline until I finally read all of the manga.

Nope, not a nerd at all.

And, oh yeah, my mega-bonus-nerdism of the day: the D&D character I was playing up in Yellowstone. A high-elf bard. A drunken high-elf bard. A drunken high-elf bard who hit on everything (and anything) that moved. The only magic item he had that mattered was a special cup that instantly sobered him up so he could just start drinking again…

Another (related) bonus: The Adventure Zone. You absolutely cannot go wrong with a podcast involving three adult brothers playing D&D with their father! It is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever listened to. Do yourself a favor, and go check it out on iTunes (or whatever podcast app/source you happen to use)…no, really, go check it out.

Alright, so there really is a point to this post: being a nerd is okay. I spent the better part of my life trying to hide the kind of stuff that I loved, and that was a serious mistake*. If they’re nerds, let your kids – and your friends – be who they are. Let ’em revel in it…they’ll be happier, in the end, and so will you.

*You know what finally broke me out of the shadows? Playing an MMORPG with a small group of current and former NHL players. Hockey is (err, sadly, WAS) my life, and the funny incongruity behind going all uber-nerd with a group of world-class athletes cracked me up…and set my inner nerd free.

 

Wait…Who Said You Can’t Go Home Again?

I’m not sure if being away felt immensely long, or passed in the blink of an eye, but if ‘my’ brewery is anything to go by, it was more blink-y than immense.

A couple of times I’ve been in since I returned. How much writing have I done?

Err…

Well…

I know all the regulars, you see…

Okay, okay: none. Not a bit.

I’ll tell you what, however: the week-long welcome home has been fantastic. It is easy to get so focused on what I gained up in Yellowstone that I forget what I left behind. The camaraderie and brotherhood is different, but no less strong.

As much as I loved the Taiwanese kids up there, as hopeful and happy as they were, do I love the Wal-Mart contingent down here…as bitter and cynical as they are.

Add in John and his dogs the size of horses…and Rob and his inability to admit just how big a nerd he is…Aaron’s vampire-like inability to tolerate sunlight…Don’s constant shit-eating grin now that he’s found real love…Travis’ beer-centric nerdism that still makes me jealous…

It was like I’d never left. Surely, it couldn’t have been almost six months since I’d been here..could it?

Yes, it was…and don’t call me Shirley.

Couldn’t stop myself – sorry about that.

Bad jokes in reference to old(ish) movies? Yep, I’ve come home alright.

I love everything I lived up in Yellowstone, from the park to the people to the insanity of the whole thing. I loved it, in fact, enough to commit to returning next year…but there is a very good reason why this place is still home.

The traffic sucks…the prices suck…the mobs of people suck…but it’s home nonetheless.

By the way, you’ll never really know you’re home until you have a 135-pound Great Dane get so excited to see you, she turns again into a tiny puppy. And, yes, I do indeed have the bruises to prove it…

A Reminder That We’re All Broken

Okay, so I’ve mentioned before just how much I love music. Well, more than that, just how much music affects and informs my writing. Yes, there is a soundtrack in my head to the scenes I write. And, yes, I need music in order to write…especially, music that fits the mood and tone of what I’m writing.

I’m not going to go back and link to the posts where I’ve talked before about that – but it is something I’ve talked about before. And will talk about again, I might add.

But…sometimes the songs take on more power. Sometimes they connect, far deeper than they should. Sometimes they speak to me as much as they do my characters and my story.

An example of that: “C’mon Kid” by Dave Hause. This is not really a song that applies directly to Connor & Oz, in either of the two books. No, rather, it is a song that helps to define my own feelings toward the boys…the feelings and thoughts (from other parts of my life) that gave “life” to these particular ghosts.

Honestly, there ain’t many songs that break that 4th wall, and “cross the streams”.

But another one came up…and, hooh boy, is it a doozy.

It cuts to the core of the stories I am writing, and – more importantly – why I am writing them.

I’ve talked before about the ghosts of stories & characters in the back of my head. I’ve also talked of my own experience with death, and with suicide…and that Oz is, for me, the “face” of that particular demon.

I’ve written before about some of the deaths in my life (one here and the other here), but two have special power: two friends I lost to suicide….two seventeen year old boys who had everything ahead of them.

Two boys who lost their way, and their hope…and, in the end, everything else.

And so did those of us left behind.

I will not tell their stories here – they are not my stories to tell. But I feel those stories, still. And the loss. You didn’t know Mike or Trevor…and you never will. And that is the worst of it all.

Hindsight, to those who have lived through suicide, is the biggest bitch in the universe. All the things you should have said…all the things you could have done.

What if someone – anyone – had said the right thing at the right time?

Why the fuck didn’t I?

The problems were there to see…and the inevitable result if those problems were not addressed. And that, my friends, is what survivor’s guilt is all about: why the hell couldn’t I save them?

I do my best to give time and money to charity, and to various causes.  But there is one that really matters to me: suicide prevention.

Both of these boys, separated by twenty years as they were, shared the same problems…and the same despair. I don’t go hat-in-hand often, but if you want to understand, and to help, go spend some time with the “You Can Play” and “It Gets Better” projects.

Those weren’t around to help those I lost, but they very well could be that one right voice at the right time for someone else…

 

The song that generated this post?  “Missing You” by All Time Low.

An excerpt for you:

I heard that you’ve been
Self-medicating in the quiet of your room
Your sweet suburban tomb
And if you need a friend
I’ll help you stitch up your wounds

I heard that you’ve been
Having some trouble finding your place in the world
I know how much that hurts
But if you need a friend
Then please just say the word

You’ve come this far
You’re all cleaned up
You’ve made a mess again
There’s no more trying time
To sort yourself out

Hold on tight
This ride is a wild one
Make no mistake
The day will come when you can’t cover up what you’ve done
Now don’t lose your fight, kid
It only takes a little push to pull on through
With so much left to do
You’ll be missing out
And we’ll be missing you