Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Ramblin' Man 2

Some days the thoughts come, but the words don’t follow. You got no flow. This will happen to me depending on the fluctuating moods I deal with. These past few days, the ideas are there but look like little rodent shit tracks on the page. Still, I get the gist down on paper—the style and flow can be fixed later.

Sending those first pages can be nerve-wracking. Don’t send them unless they’re tip-top. You’ll get the urge to send them right away, critical mistakes and all. Be hard on yourself. Don’t think a prospective agent will look past any shortcomings. Don’t think the majority of your writing is of such genius that the agent will look past those plot holes.

I can’t read modern crime fiction bestsellers. I try and read these ballyhooed books, and it just makes me sad. They’re so…predictable. I’m stuck in the past—old-school writers with balls. I mean, who’s the last writer you read and thought: “That fucker’s got some stones, and I want more.”?

I’ve lost interest in almost everything besides working out and writing. One lights up the voices while the other shuts them down. It’s becoming blurry on which accomplishes which, though.

Back to those first pages. Preparing them during the silly season is insane—which should say it all. Initially, I was planning on sending them this week—I thought I was close. But I started seeing things that, while looking good style-wise, didn’t jibe with the story. I’m going to give myself a few more weeks and send pages after the new year. I have to drill that patience. I have to give myself every opportunity to succeed, or else I’m just pissing up a rope.

Ever had a frozen shoulder? Avoid them—they blow.

Rolling in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the closest many of us will come to Fight Club. You look at things differently when put in highly uncomfortable situations. You’re always uncomfortable in BJJ—at my game stage, anyhow. That’s a good thing. We’re all a bunch of panty-waist-pampered zombies, and it needs to stop.

What happened to male readers? I don’t know statistics. I only know that none of the guys I talk to regularly read anymore. You ask them about an author, and they look at you like you proclaimed the moon is cheese-based. Many of the manliest men I’ve known or read about were voracious readers—what the hell happened? I want to get them back in the fold. But does the publishing industry even want that to happen?

I’m a geek and don’t fit in. I read, write, watch old movies, work out, and practice BJJ—still searching for chums with similar tastes. It ain’t easy, my brothers and sisters. My mind is a very solitary place.

My son thinks I’m the cat’s ass—that’s more a reflection of his nature than mine. He’s beautiful.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Running Free

Haven’t gone anywhere—just the opposite. Working harder than ever and trying to right some wrongs. Writing will always be more difficult for some of us. Especially us who are not willing to bend to the sloppy, virtuous status quo. I’ll find my own way around it.

In the meantime, I’ve taken up an old hobby: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. This art was the main reason I moved to Florida (I didn’t think I had anything to offer as a writer back then). But I signed my son up and got myself hooked back in as well. I get a lot of technical brain work while writing, but I didn’t realize how much technical physical work I also needed. BJJ is very technical—it’s about finesse, not muscle.

Nothing will ever supplant writing for me, though. The physical aspects of my life (I’m a very physical person) are needed to shut down the voices in my head, even for a short while. With writing, I get to let those voices and personalities loose; I get to run crazy-wild with them.

Running free in my own dark world is where I feel most at home.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

This Bipolar Writer

I don’t talk about it. Dealing with it takes all I’ve got on most days—the highs and lows. Never mind the stigmata. It’s been tough on my family—shit, it’s been tough on me.

So why talk about it at all? It might help others understand my writing—subject, style, and emotions. I cannot help what goes on in my noggin. And those who walk my road know the gist—whining gets you jack. I won’t even get into the trauma I’ve inflicted on myself over the years. That’s a bloody and terrible tale for another day.

My fiancée and I have some interesting discussions, to say the least: a poor black girl from the hood and a poor-to-middling white boy from the country. She hasn’t always known about my situation. Lately, we’ve talked more on the subject—the ebb and flow of moods and emotions. She doesn’t fully understand why shit’s not lined up in my brain. The luck of the draw, I tell her. But here’s the deal: she gets it—and that’s the difference.

What does that mean exactly? There's no coddling (not my scene, man), and she doesn’t give me the old “suck it up” routine (I don’t shirk a responsibility—never have). She gives me space when the melancholy hits. When the turn comes, and I’m riding the high, she’s right there with me. We rock steady.

The roughest aspect: my son. I beat myself up over him. The sheer confusion of his daddy’s shifting moods—how difficult must it be for a young child to deal with those valleys and mountains? He’s such a great kid—easily the single best thing that’s ever happened to me. And somehow, even with his youth, he gets it too. Never underestimate the beauty and intelligence of a child.

Perspective: People will treat you differently because you’re bipolar. People will leave you because you’re bipolar. People will say it’s a choice to act this way (in some cases, it can be—if you don’t take care of yourself or give up completely). But, if you’re lucky and have the stones to let people in, you might find a person or two to back your play. We’ll label it empathy—fuck sympathy.

I deal by putting it down on paper. Everything—balls deep. I have to write—what’s going down on the page is what’s going down inside. I don’t have a choice but to write. And I won’t stop.

I hope you won’t either.

Monday, August 29, 2022

When Shit Goes South

I listen to Waylon Jennings.

9/13/22 Update: I'm listening to too much of old Watasha. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Zurich, KS—Twelve Years Later

I recently took a road trip to my native homeland. My family has never left the area, and I’d been long out of touch. Zurich and the surrounding area shaped my life—both good and bad. I grew up there learning a work ethic seemingly forgotten in our current times. Along the way, I also rode those first critical waves of life experiences, both wonderful and horrible, that would influence the remainder of my life.

Upon arrival, I drove my fiancé through town (my parents live south of Zurich, in the country). I was shocked at the state of my childhood stomping grounds. I didn’t even snap photos—I didn’t and don’t want to remember it like this. The accompanying photo of Saindon’s corner store (beautiful memories), bank (the bank was gone even as a kid), poolhall (ditto), and Post Office (we didn’t have an address growing up—only a PO box) was kiped off the internet. Currently, with a population of around 85 people, the town seems to be falling in on itself. Like its pride has been stripped away by the heat and ever-present winds of the plains.  

Not to say Zurich was ever booming in my time. But there were always kids out playing, and now there are none. People kept their properties up, and now very few do. What holds it together and keeps the town alive are its exceptional people—rogues and prudent citizens alike.

I was able to experience this with the two most important people in my life: my nine-year-old son and fiancé, both city dwellers since birth. My little cowboy loved it—driving four-wheelers, riding lawn mowers, and discovering animals in their natural habitat. And I believe my girl, despite her upbringing (which was rough), is a country girl at heart. Both of them thrived. Both loved the overwhelming freedom of the rolling plains and the quiet that permeates and calms.

While the state of my old hometown is hard to take, the people draw me back and will continue to do so. I miss and love Zurich and Kansas.  

I love what being raised rural gave me.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Classic Crime Movie: The Case Against Brooklyn


As a classic film noir junkie, I’m always prowling for new material. I came across this and was hooked from the get-go. A rookie cop looking to climb the ranks and doing whatever it takes to make it happen—oh hell yes! The plot is solid. The acting is outstanding—Darren McGavin, as the new recruit, takes it to the hilt. McGavin is one of those forgotten actors, good in every damn role he played (Christmas Story and The Natural are his most notable). The supporting cast is right up there as well.

“The Case Against Brooklyn” (1958) is a new favorite and provides insight into what I'm working to achieve in my writing. Check it out—you’ll dig it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Don't Chase the Rabbit

The rabbit being comparable titles recently published. I'm unwilling to fall into this chasm of nothingness. I read older books—masters who paved the way. Most crime writing today is watered-down bullshit meant not to offend. Writing pure doesn't cause offense. Instead, it offers a more accurate snapshot of how life was and is—not how we would like it to be to make ourselves feel justified and superior and enlightened. Do we really believe that someone living on the fringes wants to read some whitewashed dribble? Do you think they cannot handle the language involved—the language which is theirs, to begin with?

Ignorance is one thing. Naivete is another.