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Posts filed under ‘Writing’

July 12, 2013

Done

I finished the thing I’d been working on for the last year. It took a lot longer than I’d expected. The final few months got kind of rough. There were several days when I wrote until I got chest pains. I put on some weight and grew a nasty little goatee. From a distance, I might’ve had the vague air of a Bond villain, but up close I just looked like a really tore up 15-year old, and it always felt like I had cake frosting smeared across my chin.

Because I’ve already dealt with postpartum project depression, I was prepared for the weird wall of despair. This time around, it came at 3AM. I was assembling a large manuscript when I realized, with utter clarity, that I’d wasted the last year of my life, a life that itself had been one colossal garbage can of waste. I was expecting this, so the moment was mostly funny. Besides, even if it’s true: so what?

I wasn’t, however, prepared for the very serious medical problems that went down 48 hours after I’d stopped writing. This was not so hot. Several blood tests and one ultrasound later, I guess I’m fine. The only moral here seems to be: don’t sit in front of a computer for ten hours a day, with no days off, without exercise or breaks or a social life, and expect your human body to function 100% correctly. My doctor pretty much gave me this warning verbatim last autumn, and I give him credit for not doing an I Told You So now.

January 9, 2013

2013

I just remembered this afternoon that it was 2013 already and that I needed to resume this blog. It’s been a dense six months. I got a lot of work done. I still have a lot of work to do. I probably won’t be back on here full time until March. It was a weird, occasionally frustrating period to be blogless (and certainly the only half-a-year in human history when the Cro-Mags and Riot Grrrl both made the front page of the NY Times).

Back in 2000, I put some serious thought into starting a weekly fanzine newsletter that I would mail to people. In the years since, I’ve been trying to remember what I was going to fill it with. I was brimming with ideas. But what were they?

In the last six months, this blog has come to feel like that newsletter. Hopefully, I’ll have it figured out soon.

April 20, 2012

Tools

APRIL 20, THE ROAD – I’ve noticed that a lot of you have a strong aversion to buying my book on Amazon.com. This isn’t a problem; you can also purchase the book from Buy Olympia. But for the record, I have no problem with Amazon. Meaning, I view Amazon as one of many tools at my disposal in the selling of books, similar to pens, coffee, hotels, interviews, paper money, Square.com, and the interstate highway system. So that we’re clear – I don’t lose any sales or feel any physical pain when you buy my novel from Amazon.

I am, however, fascinated by the evolving perception of Amazon’s villainy. With last year’s Borders bankruptcy, Barnes & Noble has emerged as the bricks & mortar underdog against the encroaching world of online book sales. Amazon has twenty times as much cash as B&N. But that still leaves Barnes and Noble with $820 million. I increasingly get the impression that they are viewed as the struggling mom & pop book chain to Amazon’s looming corporate behemoth. It’s a comic dynamic, and an unsustainable one.

Is this a bad time to publish? I don’t think so – it’s just a period of rapid flux, full of new risks and unforeseen rewards. I’ve treated this trip as an opportunity to do covert market research whenever possible. On the flight out, I & (Mugger publisher) Anthony sat next to a very nice Ohio lady who’d brought a kindle and an iPad with her. We grilled her about her digital reading preferences, both of us grateful for the peek into the reading habits of a bona fide heartlander (later the conversation shifted to her support of Rick Santorum, and I put on my headphones and let Anthony continue the chat solo).

The Washington Post just ran a profile of me. It’s in Sunday’s Lifestyle section. I’m not sure which lifestyle this book supports, but I feel strongly that it must be one of the good ones.

March 29, 2012

Telephone Mitigation

THE INTERNET, March 29 – My essay on my first book, Travelers’ Tales, is now online, at The Fader. This is my first stab at detailing one of several odd chapters from my childhood. I’m grateful that such a large, respectable magazine gave me the space to tell the story in my own words. After my mild hosing at the hands of the SF Chronicle 3 years ago, I’ve had a hard time trusting mainstream media outlets. Even with my very pleasant, two-thumbs-up experience with The Fader, I still feel a slight undertone of suspicion in my press dealings. It’s very easy for other writers to project their own neuroses onto their subject (as I did myself, years ago).

I’m going to be getting more press soon, so there will be more of a risk of this happening from here on out. With the rise of aggregator news sites, the Internet’s endless game of telephone has mutated exponentially. Just in the last few days, mediabistro falsely reported that my and Jesse Pearson’s new magazine will forsake the iPad (a crucial detail for any new magazine), and The Daily Swarm transformed Travelers’ Tales into my “sorta-embarrassing first novel”. In the past, I’ve enjoyed letting rumors and distortions grow on their own. Now I have to vigilantly swat down falsehoods.

Of course, lots of people have it far worse than me. Just this week, fans of “The Hunger Games” tweeted their beefs that several of the book’s beloved characters turned out black. It was a weird convergence of racism and reading comprehension failure on a massive scale. In 3 days, the entire mess will be lost in the ether. That’s the way all this stuff works. I get that.

March 27, 2012

The Terrifying Horseman Arrives

EXISTENCE, March 26 – Capital New York wrote a suspiciously nice thing about me and Jesse Pearson’s magazine. My wife read some of it to me in the car as I was driving this morning, and then said, “wow, this is really happening.” I nodded my head, to indicate Yes, It Is Strange. This article also marks the first time I’ve ever seen the word “novelist” in front of my name. That’s strange too.

Speaking of which, Saturday’s book launch party went well. I sold some books, and learned a few things:

- Chapter 18 is apparently “too expository” to read out loud.

- Doing even one book reading without access to water (meaning the water is on a thing far away from your hand and there’s no elegant way to grab it) is as viciously self-abusive as a 12-year spray paint huffing habit.

- If you advertise that a “surprise mystery guest” is going to perform but do not actually make arrangements for this surprise mystery guest, a terrifying horseman from out of time will suddenly appear and strum gentle Spanish guitar in front of horrified onlookers. After the show, the terrifying horseman will walk out the door and back into eternity.

March 20, 2012

New Website Madness

New website time! Most of the material from my old site has survived the transition, but is now presented in a far classier format. My many thanks to designer Tara Sinn. GIVE HER YOUR WORK. My lord does this website ooze class. It’s disgusting how dashing this thing is.

There are a few nuggets of news here. The first is old news. I’ve posted a page about the book I co-authored when I was 12, in 1981. The full story—detailed in my essay in the current issue of Fader—goes online next week. In the meantime, you can look over some of my old press clippings. Briefly being a child prodigy was a neat experience, although it’s a shame my fleeting glory had to get lost in the shuffle of the pinnacle year of American culture (ie. Damaged, Escape From New York, New Traditionalists, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, etc.)

Then there is the new news. I’m starting a literary magazine with Jesse Pearson, the former Editor-in-chief of Vice. It’s called Exploded View, it’ll be a quarterly, and it debuts this fall. If you like your lit mags full of deeply awesome fiction, humor, essays, interviews, photography, and journalism, this will be the magazine for you. Imagine if Henry Luce was actually two guys and that these two Henry Luces posted a website back in early 1936 announcing LIFE Magazine. That’s more or less what is happening now.

And, of course, I have a new novel out. Next week I leave on a 40-city book tour. It’s been an exhausting year thus far, so much so that part of me looks forward to the Earth exploding or melting or whatever in nine months. Ta.