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This Place

November 15, 2010

You know, I just thought of something. All the time I’m thinking about wanting to be a real writer. But as I sit here sipping my Winter Warmer Ale in my quiet, dimly lit old farmhouse with perfect, specifically-chosen music streaming through the headphones and I’m working on the new fiction, it hits me…this is why I write. This moment here. Not for the glory of being a “writer” someday in the foggy future or for the fame and money I’ll never see, but because this right here – the writing, the words, the rhythm, the pace, the drink, the light, the darkness, the peace…it’s enough.

If you are a writer like me, a struggling writer with a busy life outside of writing, out in the real world, you might know what that means. To finally be enough. For I am content. For the moment. For now. For this. But not for tomorrow. And so I will be back at it then. For now, though this is enough. This moment. This is the reason I write, the reason I have always written, which is to find that elusive space in my life.

And suddenly here I am now. Just like I always remembered it. And I love this place. For now.

Coffee, Book Swaps and Writing Forward

October 28, 2010

I just bought myself a 60 cent coffee at work. I like to go get a coffee here. Part of it is the coffee itself of course, but it is too hot to drink right away and remains so hot in my travel mug, that by the time I get back to my desk, get back to my work and finally remember to drink it, it’s usually nearly lunch time and the coffee is barely warm. So the actual coffee is just a small part of the morning walk.

Another part is that the hallway to the cafeteria is home to a “Book Swap” nook. Its built-in, seven-shelves are packed with books being shared for free by various employees. This place is truly awesome. And always provides inspiration. It is like a small bookstore or library where I can take a few minutes each day, scan the “new” titles and maybe read a few passages from a book or two. Sometimes I take one back with me, sometimes I walk away empty-handed. I have found some pretty incredible books there – books I love and ones I know my wife will love. And I have borrowed so many more books than I can read at one time, that it feels a little dishonest – but I will return them after I read them! And I do.

For me though, I have slowly built up my own little book collection here at work. Books swapped from the swap. A few key fiction titles I plan to read sit nearly at eye level if I glance to the right. And I have noticed that my small collection here not only provides a nice homey decoration, but it also provides a sweet inspiration for my own fiction while I sit toiling away in the office doing the work that pays me.

As far as writing, I am again working on a new story with hopes it will become my third novel. From experience I know that all it takes to get there is to just keep with it, and do not quit until I reach the end.  Sounds easy but we all know that’s the hardest part: Keep up the story even after, ESPECIALLY after, the initial excitement fades. So I have hope but I’ve been in this place a million times before, and so that hope is slightly tinted with a  bit of reality (or fear). And right now, I am at an early, potentially pivotal place in the story but I’m not sure where to take it. So the trick for me is to just keep on writing forward, moving ahead, keep with it any way I can, and keep on asking ‘what if’ over and over and eventually hope something works.  Yes, that’s really how I write novels. It’s so surprising my first two novels remain unpublished, right?

Word count where I stand today: 3,116. Still in the very beginning. Getting from here to 10k is the hardest. Once I’m that far in, I know  it will take a lot to derail me. So let’s get to 10k and re-evaluate.

Oh and look at this – my coffee is still full and now the perfect temperature. Cheers!

Another thing I don’t want to forget this morning: Jenny Nash’s “The Making of a Novel” series of posts.

Nothing’s Changed

October 14, 2010

Nothing’s changed.

Well, some things have changed in beautifully great ways: I’ve been married now for 8 years and have three amazing kids and 6 chickens (who are not yet laying eggs!) and a dog and a cat and I’m a home-owner with a little bit of land and I’ve got a decent job and I’ve written two complete novels…and yet, I still find myself going through the same internal discussions I’ve been writing about in my own journals seriously since I was a freshman in college waaaay back in 1994.

Those daily discussions go something like this: begin a new novel, go back and keep editing the 2nd novel because it is almost good, re-combine the first two novels again and make that work as an epic book, re-write the query for the 2nd novel – the book is done, keep going on the children’s stories, write more on the new interview story, just get down 500 words today on something, begin a new novel…etc. Over and over again.

I don’t even wonder anymore if this thinking will last forever. I know that it will becuase I am a writer at heart and I always have been. 

In the meantime, today I like the idea of starting a new novel.

Photo or Watercolor

October 8, 2010


I was zoomed in so far shooting through my office window on my new DroidX that the photo looks more like a watercolor painting than real life. And I love that.

Camel's Hump in the distance

Heroes in Words

July 22, 2010

Put these guys together in a room (when all were living) and maybe all hell breaks loose. But put their books together on my desk and I smile. Inspiration. Heroes. Fine writing. Crazy writing. Characters and storytellers all.

Crazy Heart

June 25, 2010

Watched the Jeff Bridges movie Crazy Heart tonight. All I know is that I fell in love with the sad, rhythmic, musical, loving and beautifully acted thing from the start. I kept thinking – “I wonder how many people are out there, alone, playing music every night in a new little place, with a backup band of strangers  just keeping the beats like this?” Got me back to writing new stuff afterwards. New musical stuff with my favorite writing  words like dance and rhythm and melody and grace and so I finished the whiskey and I wrote long, winding sentences like…“Whiskey in the glass looks like golden sunlight, a sunrise of potential, exposed under the dim lamp of a sad room in a house where music slips through the cracks in the walls like cold air in January and I know there’s got to be some reason I’m awake, here in a chair staring at the floor, tending to wish it would open up and flood my feet with fire or strangling hands or even just a new rug with a new pattern for a new perspective.” 

 That movie was exactly what I needed for the slacker-writer inside of me. Great movie. Great music. Great acting. Great writing. I wrote a bunch tonight and looking back, it looks like this story is pretty grim. But at least I am writing. And what did you expect after watching a movie like I discovered tonight? Whiskey-soaked great old country music and regretful choices and dreams and the hope of love somewhere in there all along. Thinking back, that’s not so far off from what my stories are usually always about anyway.

There’s nothing like a good night of writing.

Music that Changed my Life

May 24, 2010

In no particular order:

Counting Crows – August and Everything After // Pearl Jam – Ten // Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A. // Phish – A Picture of Nectar // Lyle Lovett – Joshua Judges Ruth //Jamiroquai – The Return of the Space Cowboy // Brett Dennen – Brett Dennen // Paul Simon – Graceland // Dave Matthews Band – Remember Two Things

 And by changed my life, I mean, made me ME. I listened to the songs on these albums endlessly when I first discovered them and now when I go back and hear songs from them again, they are as strong to me as a photo album or an old family video. The people, places, smells, sounds, tastes, feelings from various moments in my life when I was first so into this music….it all comes back. Other than Brett, all the rest are pretty old.  But there’s something in the right music that moves our bodies when we dance, like my 15 month old son does when he hears a good beat: he just stops whatever he’s doing and sways. Nobody taught him that.  It takes hold of my older kids, too and in their faces you can simply see the joy when they are dancing and singing a good tune. There’s certainly something in the right music that digs in and finds a safe place to rest in your soul where it stays forever (so far, at least).

Maybe it’s the drummer in me who is constantly thinking about rhythm, maybe it’s the little brother in me to three influential, smart and musically-hip older siblings, maybe it’s the father in me who is always putting on music for the house and the kids, maybe it’s the husband in me who translates every little love song to one woman, but whatever it is, music has always been the crutch I lean on day in and day out to get the most out of life. Like a good wine making a steak dinner even better, the right music enhances the experience of my life, which is already pretty damn good.

Music plays a huge role in my writing, too. I wrote my entire first novel about a bass player who drops everything to follow a jazz song on the radio across the country, and I wrote my second novel about a drum teacher who loses his ability to play drums again (and that jazz song and the musician who played it from the first book also figured into that 2nd book.). Neither of these books may ever be published, but I know that now it’s time to start writing my third book and I have no idea where to begin. I am stuck. But what I have just realized while writing this is the one thing I always come back to is MUSIC. Perhaps writing the third novel in some way about music is in order. As a drummer, a beat always comes naturally when I sit at the kit. Maybe when I stick to writing fiction about music, the words will continue to do the same when I open the laptop.

My headphones are now on. What music changed your life?