I’m getting serious middle-aged Scandinavian black metal vibes from the Penguin…

Good morning! I hope the Labour Day weekend treated you well… even though that was uh… more than a week ago… far be it from me to ask how we are already in the middle of September… but… all the same… it’s a delightful time of year… this may be first September that I’ve really 100% unreservedly enjoyed myself since moving to BC…

I’m up super-early… and I’m very glad to be hitting the fiction blog for the first time in what feels like forever…

Did I mention I’m really glad to see you? Probably, yeah?

Run Me Down the Rundown

So… in no particular order… a few of the things… and, I suppose, I’m prepared to throw in a few bullet points about the current fictional thing… and maybe some of the previous ones… cause otherwise what’s the use of a fiction blog…

  • Where my process is… 3 double-sided notebook pages per day on the thing… down from five a couple of weeks ago… I mean, I heard Truman Capote stuck to something like 500 words as a quota… which is miniscule… unless you’re really fighting for the right words…
  • Fighting for the right words is a wonderful thing, but it is not something I am very good at…
  • Nearly any given day, it has been easy to go past those 3 pages… it’s important to have realizable goals…
  • Blog days count for way more… blog days are like two quota days… rolled into one…
  • Lots of clanging away throughout the day… weird things get you (i.e., me) thinking about various aspects of the project… and in the subconscious… the boys downstairs… as Stephen King described them… are beating the band…
Even in places like Bainville, New Brunswick…
  • So… my guy… is a bad guy…
  • The place he’s from… and where he’s currently based… is a pretty bad place…
  • He is a he… and I suppose I’m going for a noir thing…

Ugh…

Talking about this is hard… And probably all these books about the craft of writing… probably they have something in there about not talking too much about works in progress… but at the end of the day… this blog can hopefully ensure accountability… or at least provide a tangible “work-like good” even while thrashing around in the dark with the larger thing…

So… l’m pretty conscious of my influences… what I’ll say is that I hope this is something that one other person would enjoy reading. One busy reader… not a lot of time… but somebody smart… and hopefully with OK taste… hopefully this story will be something that has high levels of craft… if not artistry…

Like… if there was a novel of the Coen Brothers’ Millers’ Crossing… I would read it so that I could plagiarize it for this thing…

I can’t hang in a serious Coen conversation… but this picture is a beaut…

OK… gosh golly… I remain aware of these online courses which provide a community for sharing…

But where I’m at right now… filling these notebook pages… is… anything that looks like it could be a scene… gets immediate attention… or… better still… a series of scenes…

Where I’m at now is grabbing the low-hanging fruit… whatever scenes suggest themselves… within this backwoods milieu of bad intentions bubbling up in both casual and premeditated violence… by people who are not necessarily the smartest… nor are they particularly good at keeping appendages and digits attached…

These scenes can then be Frankensteined every which way… until the stitched-together body is ready for animation…

Somebody thought of this… turned it into words… and then committed it to celluloid… frigging magical…

Journey Through the Past

The last fiction thing I spent a lot of time on… was a project that I loved… and it was as esoteric as… something that’s really esoteric…

It was heavy on plot. Lots of action. Lots of physical conflict. I’m learning from Writing the Blockbuster Novel that these things are desirable… and it was tightly outlined… to the point that if I truly wanted to, I could go back to that plan in a notebook & emails and finish it… as per the plan… and it would be immensely fun to do so… but… because of the format… which I loved… there was going to be no way that anyone in a position to actually publish books… would have any interest in doing so…

It’s not a given that traditional publishing is even something that’s worth doing… but… for me… envisioning that polished output… that wonderful thing made of paper that goes on the shelf with all the others… that’s been part of the dream for me since I was a kid…

So… the moral being… don’t write a steampunk faux-Victorian pulp in a series of stories exactly 100 words long… a collection of drabbles… a highly awesome flash fiction format… no matter how fun… if you value fun less than the possibility of reaching your one awesome reader…

Lots of this over the years… in notebooks… emails… Etc…

Over the course of the first two years of my last job… I spent a lot of time in the evenings after the kids were asleep… in the townhouse we lived in then… trying to wrangle this thing to life… not without success… as far as producing a certain number of typed pages… and as far as providing many hours of delight in the planning and execution of this absolutely wild & esoteric horror-ish story…

This goddamned Thing’s the worst…

My departure from this wonderful, esoteric thing coincided with when I really began to feel poorly about my role at work… and the ensuing toll that this took on my mental health… there was no longer the focus to be had… I began to think that this writing in the night was among the reasons work was going badly… that I was committing too much creativity to this enterprise… and not enough to my job… at one point during that very rough stretch my mom told me that I should stay with writing as a way of doing what you love… to flood the system with literary-induced endorphins as it were…

Not short stories, not poetry… a novel… she was very clear about this… Something people would actually consider reading… not that the other stuff isn’t good…

My mom is one of the most well-read people I’ve ever known… and her first degree, like mine, is in English… from the same university… so we’ve had some pretty excellent conversations about books, movies, and everything over the years… and in this case she was dead-on…

There’s always going to be time for the drabble… or the ghazal… or what-have-you…

Unjinxable

Don’t stress, Lex…

OK… so… I think I managed to speak to all of this generally enough not to jinx the work in progress… the notebook doesn’t lie… there are fewer blank pages with each passing day…

While it feels like there’s a lot more about this thing to say…

Due to this character… this person I’m writing about… I’ve been going into comics…for the plot… for the pacing… for stories that are never self-conscious… or worse, dull…

What to say without jinxing it?

Hopefully this is going to be somewhere in the vicinity of Lawrence Block’s Keller novels… these really excellent books about a charming, thoughtful contract killer… who’s really into stamp collecting…

I’ve read a couple of DC novels devoted specifically to Lex Luthor… as well I have the Joker origin story novel from a few years back on the way… along with Arkham Asylum from a couple of decades ago… and I’ve also been into Before Watchmen… and I’ve only just started to peek into Barry Windsor-Smith’s Monsters… but within the first 5 pages I had to put it down… it’s emotionally very heavy… and there’re 250+ pages to go… I consider this a mark of powerful art… and looking forward to taking it on more fully…

I had to put it down for an emotional time-out after only 5 pages or so…

Ultimately the gimmick of my story is… thus far… a prolific contract killer returns to his utterly degenerate and utterly fictional Maritime hometown of Bainville, New Brunswick… and folks of the local criminal element… and some law enforcement… subsequently begin to die in large numbers… largely by misadventure… a professional killer whose main approach… is to cause severely bad luck to anyone misfortunate or unwitting enough to enter his orbit…

Cheesy? Probably. Clich├ęd… it could well be… but… if you look at the set-up for any kind of novel… the artifice is there to be had… I feel like I can see this guy very clearly… and the environment he swims in… and the kinds of fuck-ups, losers, cretins, and creeps… and worse… who inadvertently encounter this person… or even go seeking him out… which is all the worse… and the scenes are coming out of the woodwork… of great chaos and violence… rendered hopefully with humor… and enough tangible story… to make that one awesome reader want to follow from one page to the next…

Speaking of awesome readers…

Wallflower… Living in a gun tower…

Curtain down… for now… Thank you so much for visiting today! I hope the early fall is excellent to you & yours…