DIY it yourself

May 3, 2017

There’s a great interview with Mike Sacks wherein he says, and I’m paraphrasing here, that if you want to get something done, you have to do it yourself.

For the last year or so, I’ve had someone1 submitting my work to different, smaller, independent publishers. And, spoiler alert, it’s been rejected by all. Granted, I’ve heard some nice comments, but none of them want to publish.

Which is pretty much what I expected. Sure, I had hoped for someone to say, “This is the writer we’ve been waiting for!” And then there’s a huge advance and a book tour and so on and so forth, but that’s not going to happen.

So maybe it’s time to go the self-publishing route.

I think the main reason I haven’t considered it in the past was because I just want a book, an actual, physical book I can hold in my hands and throw at people who said I would never amount to anything.

But with self-publishing (and this is something Mike Sacks goes into), there’s far more control. I can write whatever I want to write. However I want to write it. I can even design the cover in whatever fashion I’m capable of.

What artist doesn’t want control like that?!

Of course, there are a couple of things I need to take care of first. One, I need to find a reputable self-publishing outfit. I’m leaning towards Amazon because, well, I don’t know, Amazon. If either of you have any suggestions, recommendations, or thoughts, please let me know.

Two, I need to seriously edit one of the books I’d like to publish. So that may take a while. But I’ve got another book I could go ahead and publish straight away. Which is nice.

Three, I need to make absolute sure my non-agent agent has exhausted all possible publishing avenues because, come on, y’all, book tours.

Time Has Come Today

March 30, 2017

I was a huge Elton John fan growing up. It started with the first “Greatest Hits” record and songs like “Bennie and the Jets” and “Rocket Man.” Then there was “Captain Fantastic” and “Rock of the Westies” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” I loved his music. I still think “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” is one of the greatest albums of all time.

A year or two ago, I dug into some of the older albums that I’d never really listened to and I found “My Father’s Gun” from “Tumbleweed Connection.” Something about the song really affected me emotionally. It’s an amazing tune. The strings, the background vocals, the way it crescendos… It’s one of Elton’s all-time greats.At first, I thought my emotional reaction to the song was because I really dig the music. But lately, I’ve wondered if there was something more to it, more than just, “Hey, this great!”

At first, I thought my emotional reaction to the song was because I really dig the music. But lately, I’ve wondered if there was something more to it, more than just, “Hey, this great!”Here’s my theory.

Here’s my theory.I’m a sucker for the old days, for the sites and sounds from my youth. And I always get a rush when I hear an old song or, say, see an old movie from growing up. But rarely do I get to experience the sensation of discovering something for the first time like I did back then.

I’m a sucker for the old days, for the sites and sounds from my youth. And I always get a rush when I hear an old song or, say, see an old movie from growing up. But rarely do I get to experience the sensation of discovering something for the first time like I did back then.Does that make sense? Probably not.

Does that make sense? Probably not.

When I first discovered Elton John, there was a rush I got every time I heard a new song that I loved. I haven’t been able to do that in forever. Until I heard “My Father’s Gun.”

I can’t recommend this exercise strongly enough: Go back to someone you listened to as a kid, someone you loved. Then find some of that artist’s work you’re not familiar with. It’s amazing.

It’s as close as you’ll ever get to a time machine.

I need the US RDA of everything

March 17, 2017

Do any of you three know anything about getting, like, really healthy? Man oh man, I am broken.  I’ve got the gout, I don’t sleep much, my back always hurts, my legs always hurt, I’m always sleepy, my teeth are in pain, I’m cranky, I have gas.

I am broken.

I’ve had a physical the last two years and my doctor has told me the same thing both times: “You need to lose weight.” Then she gives me a list of vitamins I need to start taking and tells me to get the hell out of her office.

So what I need is to lose weight. And what I want is a common sense diet. Or maybe an app. Or both. An app in support of a common sense approach to diet and weight loss. That would probably be best. Should I buy a Fitbit?

While we’re here, have any of you tried eating a Japanese diet or the French diet? I admire both cultures and I think it would be sweet to pretend like I was living there. Of course, then I’d step outside and some guy in a 50-foot tall truck would blow through the stop sign in front of my house and I would remember, “Oh yeah. I’m in Flower Mound.”

Okay, well, if any of you three have any recommendations, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll be sitting over here. Expanding.

Post Script

I may have some big news about my playwriting career. Stay tuned!

Fan boy followup

March 9, 2017

Turns out last night’s… show? Experience? Whatever it was with that happened last night with George Saunders, it did a number on me. I can’t tell you which number, specifically.

First, the Scottish Rite Temple here in Dallas is pretty amazing. Ornate, odd, and Egyptian. It was a great place to hear a writer who often deals in weirdness.

Second, since Saunders’s book, Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel, is something of a multi-character piece, multiple actors read from the novel. So now, of course, I can’t wait to start reading the book.

But it was the Q&A that blew me away. Saunders was always gracious. He complimented people on their questions and responded to every one thoroughly and without hesitation. And his answers to matters of craft were like a masterclass on storytelling. So many new things to try, I couldn’t wait to get home and get started.

Through it all, Mr. Saunders seemed… delighted. In everything. The questions, the audience’s response, the performance, life… Everything. After the Q&A, Jenn, our friend, Clay, and I went downstairs where Mr. Saunders signed books. The line was long. A couple hundred people, perhaps? We were toward the end. But when we got up to the table, we found Mr. Saunders still in great spirits, still exceedingly grateful, still delighted.

On the way home, I had a slight to moderate epiphany: I’m angry. Like, in general, I’m an angry person. I’m not sure the source of the anger1, but I know it’s there and I know it doesn’t take much for the anger to bubble to the surface. When Mr. Saunders talked about his characters, he said he loved all of them deeply. And I got to thinking about my anger, about how I could never approach many of my antagonists with complete, unconditional love until I let go of some of this anger.

So how do I do that? This, of course, is for both of you readers, but it’s also the question I’m going to ask myself as I travel down life’s highway. Which reminds me, a lot of my anger is the result of traffic and driving and cars. No duh, huh?

Per yesterday’s question: Did Mr. Saunders’s “performance” meet expectations? I should say so.

I am an old fan boy

March 8, 2017

I’m giddy. Almost to the point of giggling. Though not really since giggling and laughing and guffawing — it’s all too much. Still, I’m stoked. And giddy.

I get to see my favorite author speak tonight. Geoerge Saunders. Like, in person. It’s kind of a weird thing, seeing an author speak since speaking isn’t what authors do. They write. Still, I haven’t had a bad experience yet seeing writers whose work I enjoy. With the exception of the time I, a somewhat misguided child, made my mom take me to see William F. Buckley speak. Sheesh. Never again!

But I’m pretty sure Saunders will not disappoint. Though I’m not entirely sure what I expect to get out of it. That sounds a bit ungrateful, but I don’t mean it to be. And maybe that’s why I’ve enjoyed seeing all of the other writers – I had no idea what to expect and I got far more than I could have asked for.

One thing I would like to walk away with is a renewed sense of purpose for my own writing. A little jolt to the system, if you will. It’s happened before and it actually worked for a while. Maybe this one will last a little longer.

Updates soon.

Jim/John Make Noise!

February 28, 2017

Hey, everyone! As you know, I’m friends with Jim/John Make Noise. How tight am I with the band? Well, I’m half of them.

John and I have just finished our latest album as part of the RPM Challenge: we recorded an album in 28 days. Wanna give it a listen? Look down below!

 

JIM/JOHN‘s player:

Give it up!

February 27, 2017

Hey, so, like, when do you know when to give up something? I’ve got a set of golf clubs in the garage that I’ve had for about 15 years and I’m wondering if I should get rid of them or not. I tried swinging one this weekend and I felt as flexible as a sequoia. At the same time, for as lousy as I was, I kind of enjoyed playing golf.

Part of me says if I enjoy the game and they don’t take up much room, I should just go ahead and keep them. Another part says that if I felt that way about more things, I wouldn’t be able to walk through my house for the clutter. Then the first part says that I don’t feel that way about more things and that they really don’t take up much space at all. But then a sort of quasi-third part shows up and asks me to remember the amount of frustration I felt towards the sport and that if I wanted to get any better at it (as in break 100 better), that it would take a lot of time and money that I don’t have so… Lose the clubs.

What do you two think? When do we give up things? Sports, hobbies, goals, ambitions, dreams…

Look, I know I’m never going to win the Masters, but it would be fun to get out there every now and then for 18 holes of cursing and frustration.

Wah

February 24, 2017

It doesn’t take much to get me down. As a writer, at least. Today I learned of another rejection of my novel and also heard about a local festival that I had no idea was taken submissions. Missed opportunities and rejection. Does the trick every time. But we get back up, dust ourselves off, and we do it again, right?

Sure.

Question for you writer types

February 23, 2017

This is quite possibly the lamest writer question ever, but here goes: How do all y’all writers organize your work? I’ve got, say, a dozen big things (novels, plays, screenplays) in various states of completion. I’d like to have something, like a notebook, app, whatever, where I can log notes and statuses. Something that lets me know what I need to do to get something submission ready or, if it has been submitted, where it was submitted and when.

So… Who’s got suggestions?

Rock and roll!

Addendum

A million years ago, I was part of an amazing show called the Dr. Paul Slavens Texclectic Radio Hour. Paul described it as A Prairie Home Companion meets Frank Zappa. I couldn’t think of a better analogy. One of the things I got to do in the show was read these… absurd, let’s call them, essays. They were ridiculous and usually got a few laughs. I’m thinking of reviving this old dead mule and posting them on Medium. Medium has a much larger readership than this blog (>2), so I figure it’s a way to get my silly notions out to the world while maintaining the intimate integrity of this web site.

The only thing I need to begin my takeover participation on Medium is an idea for an essay. Do either of you have one? All I need is a word. One word. A subject. Anything. Hit me. Hit me with your best shot. Fire away.

Crap.

I’m trying to reach 300 words so the little SEO monitor I use for this blog says I’m good. Isn’t that sad? In my quest for universal approval, I include a WordPress plugin.

Isn’t life crazy?

Crap. I’m at 282 words. La la la la la! I need more words here are those words is this enough words let me do a check yes it is I’m done now thank you.

The Weight of the Words

February 22, 2017

I’ve been listening to a lot of Springsteen lately. A lot of Springsteen.

One thing I’ve noticed (and admire) is how certain words keep coming back time and again. The most obvious example, of course, is “born.” But there are other words that keep cropping up and over time they take on a greater meaning. Especially when used with other words – words that may or may not be taken literally. So things like “cars” are, you know, “cars.” But when “cars” is used alongside “kids,” and those kids are looking to break free and get out, then you see the car not so much as something you want or need, but something that provides a passage to freedom.

“Man, Springsteen’s Nebraska is bad ass!” said no one ever.

It’s a challenging record, to be sure. Especially if you’re accustomed to the “Born” songs or you like “Dancing in the Dark.”

But, geez, you guys, it’s outstanding. I listened to Nebraska on the way in to work and, because of the normal soul-crushing traffic, I got to really listen to the words and really take in the music. Those words that Springsteen has given so much meaning to, words like “cars,” “blood,” “work,” and “fences,” help fuel simple storytelling and make it so much more personal and relevant.

I love Bergman and Chekov. I love slow moving narratives that seem to say little and yet say everything. Nebraska does just this. Simple stories, just a guitar, harmonic, and Springsteen’s voice. And yet there isn’t an emotion or feeling or issue or challenge that isn’t addressed. On top of which, layer it all thick in reverb and you’re instantly transported to the state itself, where nothing seems to be happening and people still live full, complete lives.

I admire Bruce Springsteen for releasing an album like this. It might have seemed like career suicide at the time. To follow up a run of three records with a depressing, sparse release? No, Bruce. Don’t do it!

And yet his career survived just fine, thank you very much, with the subsequent release of Born in the USA and years of touring and recording.

Pick up a copy of Nebraska from Amazon and help me move down the road of prosperity and wealth by supporting my affiliate account.

I love you.