Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hummingbirds doggy-paddling

Spring has finally arrived. Well, at least for most of you. Just a few days ago we had a not-inconsequential snow storm and this morning we're still below freezing until about noon. I'm starting to get used to it, believe it or don't.
When the climate change that absolutely positively isn't happening as long as we all clap our hands, delete enough information from the web, and believe hard enough happens, the state I live in will become beachfront property with a really steady, lovely climate, so that's all good.
Work on the current book has picked back up. We're creeping up to 40k words. I did have to remove the recurring character, though. There was just no way that the universe that's developing in this current book and the one from the last one are the same universe. So the character got a facelift and when people talk about "the bombing incident" they mean something similar to the book that came before but not the same thing. I cast him as present-day Edward Furlong.

I think there's something extremely interesting about that actor these days. Go back and watch 2005's "The Crow: Wicked Prayer." It's not a great film by any means, but Furlong makes some very interesting choices. If I were Tarantino, I'd snap him up in an instant for something--hence him becoming the newly-renamed Special Agent Paul Lowe in my current WIP.
We are T-minus 1 month from the release of Remains. If I'm honest, I'm nervous. I stand behind the book, but I know that the book isn't for everyone. I don't write mainstream work. Even though this was written before I fell in love with transgressive fiction, it isn't exactly Anne of Green Gables, y'know? What's more is that I know that I'm working against the idea out there that if you're a gay man publishing work on a small press, it must be erotica. That's what so much of straight America (especially straight American writers) think. And look, there's nothing wrong with erotica. Not a thing. But it's just, that's not what I write. Imagine how upset John Scalzi would be to find one of his books reviewed for not being a very good romance novel. In other words, I'm worried that people will go into the book thinking "this is erotica" (even though it is clearly marketed as horror/suspense) and then think, "y'know, for erotica, there sure wasn't much sex." Am I a gay author? Yes. Do I publish on small presses? Yes, because small presses are my passion. But just because a book is by an LGBTQ author and it is not on a giant conglomerate press does not mean that it is erotica. I wish I could get more people to see that (and, again, no shade thrown at erotica at all--it's one of our oldest forms of literature, but as the saying goes, if you judge a hummingbird on how well it can doggy-paddle, yada yada yada).
Along with that, I've been thinking a lot about kinds of writers. I happen to live and work in a place where most of the writers that I run into do a very specific kind of writing--nature writing. And there's nothing wrong with that, either. I think some of the passages in Walden are marvelously beautiful. It's just not the kind of writing that I do. I'm not the kind of writer who believes that meditating in the woods will bring enlightenment for me (though I 100% recognize for others it might). I'm also not the kind of writer who thinks going out to bars constantly and on road trips to see Americana is the way to go, either (though, again, I get that for some people, that's what inspires them). I enjoy reading Kerouac, but I don't see a need to emulate him. For me, though, the model has always been Philip K. Dick. 44 published novels, 121 short stories. In other words, as the acronym reminds us, But In Chair Hands On Keyboard. Once, on Inside the Actor's Studio, Eddie Murphy said something that has stuck with me. When asked about the number of films he had said yes to and how the quality of them varied, he responded that he felt it was about recording the work. I took that to mean that of course the quality of the work is going to fluctuate over time, but the important thing is to record a process. Stephen King cranks out a 700-pager every five minutes (and Gods bless him for it). They're not all winners, but over time what we see, just like with PKD's output, a trajectory. We can see the work evolve. For the longest time, Chuck Palahniuk produced a novel a year. Were they all winners? You already know the answer to that. But through that output, we can see the evolution of an artist. A mind choosing certain pathways of expression, abandoning them, turning back and trying a different route.
To me, THAT's the goal.
I don't think that for a writer anything about the process should be more important than the writing itself. Can you win awards by going to South by Southwest Concerts and writing about it? Yeah. Can you produce beautiful prose by hiking national parks during the summer? Of course you can. Just don't forget that those things aren't more important than the actual work of producing writing.
Once, I was a poet, and very proud of that. Then I discovered that people easily fell in love with another poets' work because of the persona he created rather than his work itself. That was an important lesson for me.
All of that is by way of saying that I hope you like Remains when you read it. You might not, though. If that's the case, try to remember that there'll be another book along in 2018 (probably late in the year, but there will be a book). And, Gods willing, another in 2019. And 2020, etc. That, for me, it's about documenting the process, not trying to "be a writer." BICHOK, baby--that is the ONLY thing that matters.
As always, thank you so much for your support. We'll see you again in June with not only the release of Remains, but some other big news.

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