Friday, November 28, 2008

It's Only Make Believe

I was just over on Facebook checking my account while listening to Conway Twitty going on about his love life. I never seem to post status updates over on Facebook anyone cares about. Anyways, I've been adding/joining fan groups of some of my favorite authors, writers that have very definitely had an influence on my style, approach or thinking about writing. I've been wanting to make a list of names for a while. I suppose now's as good a time as any and a blog is as good a format as any.

Here ya go:

Dashiell Hammett (author of Red Harvest and The Maltese Falcon)

Raymond Chandler (pioneer of pulp noir; author of The Big Sleep)

Allen Ginsberg (Beat poet extraorinaire; author of Cosmopolitan Greetings and Howl)

Jack Kerouac (author of Blues and Haikus; Beat poet)

Richard Matheson (author of smart science fiction that delves deep into philosophy and even spirtualism; author of What Dreams May Come, I Am Legend -- the Will Smith movie SUCKED SHIT!!! BOOOOO!!! -- and The Incredible Shrinking Man)

Ernest Hemingway (pioneer of contemporary American literature styles; author of The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms)

Albert Camus (existential philosopher; author of The Stranger and Exile and the Kingdom)

Ray Bradbury (author of Golden Age science fiction and fantasy; author of Zen in the Art of Writing, Dandelion Wine, The Halloween Tree and Fahrenheit 451)

Philip K Dick (where other authors write about science in science fiction, Dick has written about the soul of human expression through science - if that makes sense; author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? -- which was made into the movie Blade Runner -- A Scanner Darkly and Minority Report)

Henry Charles Bukowski (a guy that lived a rough life and simply wrote about it when he wasn't working or spending time at the tracks like Hollywood Park or Los Alamitos; author of Ham on Rye, Post Office and Tales of Ordinary Madness)

Robert E Howard (creator of Conan and pioneer of the Sword & Sorcery genre)

This is a short list, of course. But it hits all the biggies.

Read them!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wish me luck

As I write this it's only November 9th and I'm already feeling the Christmas crunch. I need to get a tree soon, though I doubt we'll splurge on anything big or fancy as we did the last 2 years. A nice, small tree will do this year. I've also as yet to determine my Thanksgiving dinner. And I've also barely begun to shop. I've only gotten for one person thus far, my niece.

Christmas is an odd time for me. I respect its ancestor Yule, enjoy Christmas yet am not a Christian. But I've always said people seem just a tad nicer at Christmas. Why not enjoy such a season, then?

I'd love to be writing right now. I simply haven't the time or energy. I'm kind of hoping for that first good snow. Then, I feel, I'll be settled in for the long winter and ready to write. It's odd I seem to be so connected to a natural occurrence. But I am. I'd also just like to get it out of the way. Get the first snow done and over with.

I think some day soon, once the fury of the coming week of looking for a tree and buying a few presents is over, I'll sit down and start typing up what I have written of the Southern novel. I think I have about 150 pages written out. Maybe typing up what I already have will get me thinking it over again and then working on it.

I'd like to think I'll be working on it by the time this posts on my regular blog, Atomic Swan Serials, in two weeks.

Wish me luck.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Halloween pics

Halloween was last Friday and I thought I'd share some of my photos from the night. Enjoy.

Death Star jack-o-lantern carve during the day.

Death Star at night

My girl's Dia de los Muertos-inspired jack-o-lantern.

The Exorcist jack-o-lantern.

Iffy the Ifreet, my webzine's mascot, makes an appearance on Halloween.

Iffy posing for the camera.

My girl's Jack Skellington jack-o-lantern.

Jack Skellington at night.

Nightmare Before Christmas carve.

Nightmare carve at night.

Crazy Jaw face.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Dear Cousin, I'm writing..."

I was originally going to post some photos of my jack-o-lanterns from Halloween, but this letter I wrote to my cousin seems to have preempted that post in importance. Jack-o-lanterns will be on their way next week, Friday the 14th of November 2008.

"Dear Cousin, I'm writing..."

I was wondering if I could talk to you openly, honestly about something. About myself.

Recently I was writing in my journal and I was thinking about all the writing I've done this year (2008 has been my most productive year of writing to date with four ezines completed, a nearly-600-page fantasy wuxia novel written, various notes, short stories, a brief script for a friend that may be turned into a short film, and much more) and as I was sitting on the couch in the living room writing in my journal, thinking about all this writing I've done this year and I found myself coming to the conclusion, oddly aloud and matter-of-factly, "I've found my path."

It was such an instant, honest moment I almost missed it. But slowly it sank in and I had a quiet moment in my life I cannot describe as anything but Zen. I finally realized I had become who I was meant to be, doing what I do best and living it with a purpose.

I have a lot of things in my life. I'm almost obnoxiously blessed. For instance, after being diagnosed with Hepatitis C at the age of 18 and told by doctors it was a killer disease (which it truly is... Hep C is projected to kill more people the world over by 2020 than HIV and AIDS combined) and then at the age of 30 I was told I had the one type of Hep C that can currently be treated. By the time I was 32 I was cured.

But if there's any one thing I have (besides an incredible wealth of friends and loved ones) it's my voice. Since 2002 I have realized not everyone has a voice and it never occurs to some they could speak out if they chose to do so. Perhaps they know something I don't. Perhaps they know they are fated as someone without a powerful voice. In 2002 I watched a woman turned away from public assistance because she was not yet "officially poor" despite being homeless. In 2005 I watched another woman collapse in an office, crack her head against a dias and people around her assuming she was having a seizure. When paramedics came we all learned she had passed out because she hadn't eaten in nearly 3 days. When asked why she hadn't eaten in 3 days, she replied simply, "I don't have any money for food."

I don't feel any strong obligation or duty to others that may not have as strong a voice as I. If I have any obligations it's to my sweetheart and my family and friends who have always supported me and all I owe them is to do my best in life. But moreso, I have a duty to myself to use my voice, to follow my path.

I've said elsewhere in other writings I cannot match the drama of life. I decided long ago not to try. Instead I decided to be a sponge (we are all sponge, so I discovered while attending art school, in that we extrapolate experiences to determine ourselves) and filter through my voice the stories of the lives I come across and bear witness to, to write with a passion and a fire and anger and hatred and outrage and a brutal honesty and most of all by the gods most of all to write with love - love for my subjects, for my characters, for Johannah, for myself, for my friends, for all those that love me, for those that hate me and ultimately for myself - and if in the end someone somewhere can step up and say "Yeah, that's kinda like me and my life" then I've done what I've set out to do. I've followed my path.

I'm writing for the hopes of wealth. I'm writing for the hopes of a peaceful home for Johannah and myself and our cats and other various future pets. I'm writing for those that died too young. I'm writing for those that walk at my side. I'm writing for the veterans that allowed me a chance at this voice. I'm writing for those that have quieted voices. I'm writing for myself. I'm writing about life as I see it around me, not just my own. I'm writing because these small voices, these muted stories that go on around me every day, are good stories when well told. I'm writing for my life. I'm writing because we are our stories, each of us. We gain our morals from heroes in stories. We look at our darker selves in the villains.

When I moved from Michigan to California at teh age of 7, I slept on a plastic chaise lounge for some time. When I moved from California to Maui in 2001, I slept on a much too small (my feet hung well over the edge) futon on the floor. When I moved from Maui back to Michigan in 2005, I slept on an air matress on my brother's floor. When I moved from my brother's house to a rental in Flint Township, I slept on another, larger futon on the floor.

I'm writing to overcome.

I'm writing because I see a lot of damage in the world and maybe that's how things are meant to be, but I'm writing because even if pain is the natural order of things I cannot be ashamed of healing wounds both old and new.

I'm writing because I am a writer and I have nothing else but to write.

As I sit writing this, mulling over many matters, I am confused almost to the point of frustration about which story I should tackle next. There's so many inside me. There's the novel about boxing. There's the absurdist cyberpunk novel about classicism and race and duty and revenge. There's old Silas walking home upon being released from prison after serving 17 years and has no other way to get home but to walk the 900 miles seperating himself and his beloved city, his beloved mother. There's the next fantasy wuxia novel that will complete the overall story arch of Xiao-tep the Ankh-fish of 100,000 Sorrows and Beauty and his martial artist cohorts.

How odd a thing it is that my largest complaint now is that I do not know what next to write. If that's all I can complain about, I suppose I haven't much to complain about.