If Wishes Were Fishes...


I'd really like to get some more writing done tonight, but the truth is, there are a few obstacles in my way.

Like House.

And 24.

And Chuck.

And Heroes.

And that fancy schmancy new show starring Nathan Fillion, Castle. (Which also stars the IMNSHO absolutely saucy Stana Katic.)

Sometimes, it absolutely sucks to be me...

Thank God for the dual-tuner DVR.



Why We Write (Continued?)

Friends, Romans, Countrymen--

(...lend me your ears, for they taste really good salted, but I'm sorry, for you won't get them back!)

Last night, I began the precipitous climb forward to delivering a short fiction piece I intend to shop to writing magazines in the vain (let's hope not) hope of obtaining an agent and actual employment in the literary field. (I know, I need to join AA--Authors Anonymous.) The climb started waaaaaay at the bottom of the mountain...or if you prefer, at the foot of the McDowell Mountains, where I currently reside. This is my second part of said climb, We'll see if I can't crank out some Pure Imagination (TM) two nights in a row.

So, why do I write? Short, funny answer: Because I suck as an artist.

I'm sure some of you are laughing at the above, and some of you just don't get it. The longer version is that I grew up reading comic books. I still read comic books. I read actual books, too, but yes, I hold a fondness for the comic, of which I shall never let go. Ever since I was little, I had a fertile imagination. I would take sheets of blank paper, fold them together, staple them down the middle, and doodle a cover featuring Spider-Man, or the Hulk, or one of my own superheroes, the all-powerful Goober Man. (He was star of my very own imaginary Marvel Comic, with the oh-so-cool name of Marvel Print. How lame can you get?) And, aside from a story I distinctly recall about Spider-Man and the Hulk fighting in some underground parking garage, I don't think very many of those interior sheets of typing paper ever got filled. It must have driven my parents nuts, to think they were buying all this typing paper and only about 1 in every 10 of those pages ever had anything on it. So sue me, I was young.

And it took me a few years to realize the salient truth: I couldn't draw!

Well, I could lay things out. But my execution...makes me look back and want to execute myself. Sure, I took art classes, and even scored straight A's in two drawing classes in high school. Somewhere during that time I even created a cosmic-styled character named Infinitus (later, I discovered the name was that of a one-off Spider-Man villain!), and his cadre of cosmic folks. I even created this creature of ultimate evil made flesh, called the Behemoth. I drew up the first issue of Infinitus and had some copies published in the school's back rooms. Still, I never felt comfortable with pen pointed to drawing pad. So somewhere in high school, I determined to only casually draw, and instead focus on my writing talent. Having a personal computer helped.

Oh, throughout the next few years, I wrote and wrote. Then after college and all the wonderful stories I wrote in Professor Schneeman's fiction writing classes (R.I.P.), I wrote less and less. Then I got my first "real" job, and wrote some more. I started writing this blog as--you guessed it--a method of rebuilding my atrophied skills in hopes to start writing bigger things. I failed then, but you have no idea how badly I want to succeed this time around. I have two novels in my head (thinking too big!) and one short story with several more to follow if only I just start that first damned short story. (No, it won't be damned short, but it will be a short story. Just damned.) Think of what I'm doing now as flexing the mental muscles. I know the skills are up here (pointing to my head), it's just a matter of getting them down here (wiggling my fingers). We'll see what I've learned in the intervening years and go from there.

They say you write what you know, and you pick up tricks from what you read. I've enjoyed some genuinely great books lately, thanks to my own interests but mainly those of friends. This is my chance to say thanks to Ben for introducing me to Joe Hill's opus Heart-Shaped Box, a crackling good yarn (isn't that term a cliche?) if ever there was, and thanks also to Stephanie for getting me to order Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point, which is an absolutely fascinating exercise in social psychology and an immense boon to me as a writer reaching for that next novel. Hill earns style points in a way his dad never could with me, and Gladwell's just fascinating for laying out social psych theory in a way that just makes my brain tickle with anticipation of putting these ideas into play in a future story.

Y'know, a couple of years ago, when I was putting together ideas for a big novel, I jotted everything down in a Five-Star Notebook. I had lots of good ideas but had no clue how to brand the narrative to fit what I wanted to accomplish. Now, a few years later, I find some of the concepts in that notebook weren't so bad, but now have a whole other method of using the ideas contained therein. I think I'm finally going to put a few years' worth of research to good use and write what amounts to the story that I should have been planning all along since 2005. And on top of that...I still have another novel in my head, one which will see the return of characters that made their first appearance over ten years ago, in that all-but-forgotten Friday the 13th/The X-Files crossover story. Of course, they're being tweaked a little, as they were created as little more than Mulder and Scully clones, but then again, nobody else is ever going to see that fanfic story from yesteryear, are they?

Did I answer why I write? No?

Simple answer: because it's fun.

Maybe you won't hear me tomorrow. Maybe I'll be too busy spinning my agonizing story of karaoke gone horribly wrong.

I speak from experience on this one. And no, it won't be comedy.

Because that would be hard, wouldn't it?



"Guys, it's okay! He just wanted his machete back!"

Or, more appropriately, I want my machete back. And by machete, I mean my writing mojo.

To recap where the hell I've been since my last communique: I sold stuff. I moved. I got a new job. I'm still seeking another one because...well, that would be telling, but it should be utterly obvious.

So, where am I now? Sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. (No, they didn't make a whole new town and call it "Sunny Scottsdale," because that would be redundant.) And just why is Scottsdale so famous or infamous in My Life So Far (TM)?

Let's take a trip back to...I want to say 1997. I was eighteen. That should be right. If it's not, I'll just lie and call it right anyway. Way back in the burgeoning days of the Internet, I followed some fandoms. (Still do, but nowhere near as rabidly.) One of those fandoms was Friday the 13th: The Series. (No, nothing at all to do with the slasher films. Where do people get these questions?) Another was Forever Knight. And right around then, I became involved in still another one: The X-Files. Hoo boy.

Of course, saying I was a fan wasn't enough back then, oh no; in the days of the AOhelL message boards, I felt compelled to follow the lead of others and write my own stories set in those TV universes. Up to when my parents bought me my first computer (1995--stop laughing!), I mostly wrote stories with a good ol' pen and paper, and maybe I'd do something like use an electric typewriter. The personal computer was my first excuse to go totally apeshit and write as much as I wanted without having to actually commit to paper. Saving word processor files was my salvation! And quickly I drafted two short fiction stories set in the Friday the 13th universe. (Don't bother looking for them online. Although you stand an excellent chance of finding them, they aren't representative at all of the writer I've become, and are best forgotten.)

Then I took things a step further. More comfortable in my developing talents, I wrote a Forever Knight short fiction piece. Then I wrote a novella-length Friday the 13th story. (Again, I'd rather you didn't look them up.)

Unsatisfied and possessing even loftier ambitions, I then wondered what it would be like for my favorite characters from two television shows to meet up. Such was the basis for my longest work to that date, a crossover between Friday the 13th and Forever Knight. Thirty chapters. Not bad, right?

Of course, the cliche goes that one thing leads to another, and with the pressures put on me by some of the fanfic establishment, I determined that my next story would be yet another crossover. But not just any crossover, oh no.

I remember looking on the AOL boards and seeing that someone labeled Friday the 13th a blatant rip-off of The X-Files. Nevermind that the former show had aired 71 episodes between 1987 and 1990, a full three years before the latter even hit the air! Well, I would show them. I'd come up with the biggest and best crossover event yet: Friday the 13th meets The X-Files!

In early 1997 I began to write the story. A few chapters fluttered about. The characters met in chapter one, and then quickly parted ways. I introduced a new team of private detectives who were much closer in relation to the "bad guys" of my story. Maybe they were rip-offs of Mulder and Scully, and maybe the woman didn't have to be a redhead too, but c'est la vie. And then the chapters started to pile up. Maybe twenty chapters. And a certain panic set in, because I didn't know where the goddamn thing was heading! (Years later, I had a knowing laugh when watching the film, Wonder Boys, where Michael Douglas' character Grady Tripp finds himself writing the follow-up to his smash first novel, and the page count is in the thousands because he doesn't know where the goddamn thing is heading!)

Then, the story goes, I went on vacation.

To Scottsdale.

And while I was here, well, the final pieces of the story just sort of clicked into place.

True, it took another 36 chapters beyond the twenty I'd written to that point, but I included another character from The X-Files that served as an excellent catalyst, a real reason to spin the narrative in another direction. Alex Krycek was that character. He fit in so perfectly to the story I was telling, about snakes and regeneration (with Alex having just had his arm amputated during season four), it would have been criminal to not include him in the proceedings! And so, I busily wrote several chapters of the story on my uncle's computer and e-mailed them back to myself at home. The story picked up, and it all neatly dovetailed up to the point where I wrote those magical words: THE END. (I later added a question mark, but you get the idea.)

So, you can see why I've wanted to come back here, to Scottsdale, to the sun, to the land where my creativity seems to heighten. (Or maybe it's all in my head?) The only other place where my creativity surged, in direction if not in page count, was State College, PA, where I took some fiction writing classes. But the weather there is horrid at best...

Here I am. I'm in Scottsdale, and I'm prepping for some writing. I've come back to the blogosphere to re-acquaint myself with my craft. I may even chew some bubble gum. Failing that, I guess I could always kick some ass.

But, he says, what I really want to do is write...

...and for God's sake, let's get something of consequence done in the next, oh, 34 days.(*)


* You who really know me, know the significance of 34 days from today.