"Compared to what, the Bubonic Plague?"
So goes the exchange in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, a movie I've recently rewatched. And enjoyed much more this time around. I previously had issue with some of the tone and presentation, but either I grew up or I got it, either way the fault is on me.
Have to say that I've been spinning wheels since the beginning of the year, variety of reasons there, none of them needing mention on a highly-positive, brand-building type of weblog entry such as this is supposed to be. Remember, positivity makes people like you and want to be around you more. That sells books. Author as product. Author as best friend. The Howling Pit demands it! If you're not working on your next book, you're supposed to dispense #AmWriting #writingadvice to #alwaysbewriting because that's how you build a crew.
Honestly, folks. The least interesting thing about my work is me. When my work is at its best, I mean absolute best, is when I read it back and ask myself "where the hell did that come from?" Granted, this is not a way to write bestsellers. Believe me, I'm living that dream each and every day. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy with what I write, much of the time. There's always something in it that gives me a smile or catches me off-guard. That's really what I want books to do, you know? I don't expect them to utterly crush me. I'm fifty. I've read a lot. Seen a lot. Done a fair amount. I'd like to be shown something new. That's why they call 'em 'novels,' right?
Well it seems like I'm not the only writer thinking like this. Or will admit it. Or something. I mean, it's a pretty big deal to come out say, "yeah, my ego is not the driving force in this book -- it's something outside myself that I'm just the channel for." Hell, they'd rip me to pieces if I got up and said that. Talk about annihilating the Cult of Authorship and Author as Product and celebrity anything. That said, it's kind of a relief to accept this realization. Or maybe I'm a mutant who believes this. But like I said, I'm not the only one.
I was watching NO MAPS FOR THESE TERRITORIES last week, wherein William Gibson is interviewed, right around the turn of the century. Seventeen years ago, but it may as well be another entire universe. Before 9/11. Before Iraq. Before Obama. Before Twitter and Facebook. Yeah. A different world. But still, a lot of what he was talking about, the fundamentals, are down there and buried. Just their expression came out all weird and unexpected. But what I was most interested in was hearing about his writing process, where he describes this sort of egoless state during the actual writing. I'm not talking the outlining or the planning. But the actual writing. Where the words come out and something changes and you didn't expect to spend any time here and all of a sudden it's the most important thing in the story. Yeah. That. It was, what's the word? Gratifying maybe? Sure. Gratifying to see an author whose work I admire, describing such a similar place of being.
Not that it sells any books, mind you. Or actually gets any work done. Just good to know that I'm not the only mutant.
You can watch the whole video here:
So yeah, wheels spinning. Finally getting some traction again. Just sent off a sumbission of a whole thousand-word story. Which is really, really weird. Normally I have to fight to send less than six. Ten is a much more comfortable sort of range for me (and no, generally, you can't just throw out a section -- I put stuff in for a reason, dammit.) Oh, and my story "A Fifth World," which I wrote last year, is out in the recent GASLANDIA anthology from Radiant Crown. All the stories are a subgenre/mode/aesthetic called "dieselpunk." Now I'll be honest. I generally don't care too much about genre or mode. I write what I write. Arguments about where it's best categorized are for others to undertake. But dieselpunk is, apparently, looking at the era of say WWI-end of Cold War/birth of computing. Only add in pulp technology and aesthetic. Please, if I get this wrong, don't excoriate. I'm just talking about my approach.
In my case, I took a post-WWII setting, but one very different than the one we know. The US is vastly different, changed by weird SF technology and having undergone a coup that removed FDR from power and installed Smedly Butler as the public face of a bunch of industrialists. Kinda sorta based on events that happened in our history, only not. Oh, and there's flying weapons platforms and death beams aimed primarily at US citizens who dare stand up and want a democracy again. Really the story is about an inability to find a place to belong, but it does feature some good SF wrapping. So check it out.
Work in comics has slowed to a crawl if not stopped. Being the guy who everyone looks to to pay them but not get paid yourself is getting old. Would be better if I could find a publisher who'd take my work so at least some of the cost wasn't borne purely by, uh, me. I know, things are tough all over. Well, I have to make decisions that make sense. At least when I'm writing fiction, I'm the only drain on the wallet. Whereas with comics, literally every page that's in a script is money out the door. So there's that.
Awaiting corrections on THE QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS, which I believe is still on-track for a late spring release. I'll talk that up more when the time comes. What else? Yeah. Not much else. Planning on going to a couple shows this year, mostly comics-related. Working on a couple short pieces to just get things done and complete and feel like I can write again. Trying to adjust to the new normal. Trying to stay capable of being pleasantly surprised.