Since I’ve started working on my series of short stories, writing has become much easier for me. Not necessarily blog entries, since that’s a whole other process, but I’ve now written four or five stories (I lost count), all of which take place in that same world.
While I’m digging the ease of writing, but I’m getting a little spooked. It’s so easy to let this character and his world take over a lot of my heavy lifting. I make up new settings, but those settings follow the rules of this world. I create new characters, but, once again, they follow the rules of the world.
The rules are a large part of what makes writing challenging. They rules determine what is and what isn’t possible. They determine how people will react to events. They can determine atmosphere. And now, all of that is more or less settled for me.
Every time I get a new idea, I immediately try and see how it will fit in the confines of this world. “Ah-ha!” I’ll think, “A death hospital staffed by werewolves! How can I use that?” And instead of doing something new with it, I’ll paw at it and work it until it fits into the series.
While it seems soon to be worrying about this, I hope I’m not falling into some kind of rut. On the other hand, maybe I should just quit my whining and just keep plugging away. Writing is better than not writing. Plus I’ve got another idea that could be gangbusters.
I haven’t talked about it much, but I do a fair amount of cooking. I’ve long ago conquered the egg and ramen is no longer beyond me. After all this experience, I’ve decided to share with you, my lucky readers, a recipe I made up just yesterday. I call it Lil Griddlin’s, because cutesy names hide the despair.
A half pound or so of ground meat
Some cheese from the back of the fridge
Whoops, almost forgot the onion
So what you want to do is chop up the onion and put it in a frying pan at about medium heat. Then have a panic attack when you smell burning onions and you realize that you forgot to put in the oil. Put in some oil, you dingus.
While that’s getting mushy and oily, mix up some salt and pepper into the meat. Throw in some cheese, because why the hell not? Cheese is good.
Make three or so irregularly shaped patties and drop them into the oil and onion mixture. Everything should now smell pretty good. Congratulate yourself. Flip the patties a couple times until you get bored.
Slash one of the patties and take a gander inside. Recoil at the sight of bright pink meat. Holy shit, these are still raw. Hack at all three patties until everything (the patties, you and the wall) is coated in hot oil. There shouldn’t be any pink left.
Take the remains of the patties and scoop them onto a plate. This does not look appetizing. Cover it with some more cheese in an attempt to cover your shame. Squirt mustard on it and enjoy your Lil Griddlins!
Best enjoyed in the dark by yourself.
There used to be a time when I would wake up at three in the afternoon, loaf around for an hour, write part of a blog entry, watch a couple of bad movies and then call it a day. And what glorious days they were: unemployed, lacking ambition and entirely incapable of getting even the smallest tasks done.
And now look at me: I get up no later than 7am, even on days when I’m not working. I do chores (occasionally) voluntarily. I write, if not every day, then every other day. And not just fiction either, but I’ve also started taking my blog more seriously. I run errands. I’m maintaining (mostly) a regular exercise schedule. I’m gettin shit done, by golly.
The problem is that, now, if I don’t spend my days off trying to get as much done as humanly possible, I feel awful. I feel really awful. Yesterday, I made a loaf of bread (with a machine), filed my taxes, ran most of a mile, wrote 1500 words and a blog entry. That’s it. I feel ashamed. I feel really, really bad about the two hours I spent on video games. I should have done more. I’m actually gad I’m going to work today, if only because that means I’ll be getting things done.
When did I lose the ability to be lazy guiltfree? It gnaws at me now; all those unfinished tasks, the unfulfilled potential of that now lost Monday. In order to get back to the way it was, I’m going to have to institute a strict laziness schedule. Between the end of my shift and bedtime, I’ll need to take at least three naps.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get back to the way I was. But, with a lot of work, I think I can get back to being pretty damn lazy.
Wish me luck.
Hey look, a bullet-point list of things that have been going on lately. Excitement!
- I’ve been writing up a storm this year. My blog is (more or less) on track for my absurd goal to write 198 blog entries this year. If I fall short this month, I’m going to blame it on the fact this is a short month. I’m working on my fifth story. If I keep up at this rate, I might actually have enough for a short story collection by the end of the year. Granted, it’d be nice to get one (or two) of those published first. Baby steps.
- Ever since my shameful declaration a couple of days ago with regards to my running, I’ve been getting back into the swing of things. It’s still hard going, but I think I might finally be close to breaking the mile marker. After that, it might be time for me to actually consider singing up for that free boxing class.
But we’ll see.
- Even in the face of today’s snow, winter is finally starting to fall back. We had days where I went outside wearing only a jacket. The excitement on that day was palpable. I’ve seen things that I haven’t seen since December, because they were covered up entire with snow and ice. So bring on the spring.
- I’ve also decided upon a pet I would like. I’ve begun preparations to receive it. Soon, there will dawn a new age in the apartment. Sinister laughter, etc.
We’re out of bullet points. The entry is over.
Walter Mosley has been one of my favorite writers for a while now. I’ve only read one of his science-fiction novels (The Wave, good read), but I’ve read a goodly portion of his mysteries. His stories are always uniquely his, even the ones that take place in a cliche-raddled genre like Detective Fiction.
And this is especially true in The Long Fall, the first in a series of books about Leonid McGill. McGill is a New York based private eye and an ex-boxer, so he’s already rife with qualities that make me happy. He’s trying to make up for his less-than-angelic past and stick to the straight ‘n’ narrow. Unfortunately, everyone around him seems hellbent on making sure that doesn’t happen.
While the main mystery is not something that’s going to stick with me past the end, Mosley’s strong point here is the cast of characters and the relationships between them all. Leonid and his son Twill, Leonid and the cop Carson Kittredge, Leonid and the ex-hitman Hush; Leonid and his “friends” frequently steal the spotlight from the mystery.
In fact, this novel seems more like Mosley is setting the stage for Leonid McGill. He’s introducing the characters and elements that will define this world. Which makes me want to read the second (and soon to be released third) novel all the more.
Out of all the characters Mosley has created, none have been quite as likeable or as enjoyable to follow as Leonid McGill and I’m definitely going to continue to follow the series.
As I mentioned in my last review, I really like Guinness and other dark, bitter beers. So I grabbed Dogfish Head’s Indian Brown Ale.
Unfortunately, I made a mistake. I drank it on the warmer side of cool. While any warm beer is pretty unpleasant, this was like coating my tongue in a beery syrup. But that’s on me. I tried again, this time by chilling everything possible: the glass, the beer, the room.
And it was good, but it’s an ale that refuses to let you forget that you’re drinking it. The flavors are so strong, the beer itself so present, you won’t be thinking of much else. Eating with it is not recommended. You can either have the beer or the food, there is no room for both.
By the end of the third beer, I was overfull, boozy and comatose on the chair. Not from the alcohol content. I was just too full to move. And really, isn’t that the best one can expect from any beer?
I’m going to be honest here: I haven’t run in almost two weeks. I started off with legitimate reasons for not running. I was doing a lot of labor-intensive work at my job and I didn’t want to get burned out. But that was a mistake. It knocked me off my rails and I wasn’t able to get going again.
And the longer I went without running, the more I would put it off and the more I dreaded lacing up my shoes and going out. I felt like I had slipped back down to where I was before; that I was going to have to start all over from the beginning again.
So another week went by and I did nothing except sit on my ass and eat gummy bears.
But today, I finally had enough. I want to box goddamn it and I refuse to let my inherent predilection to laziness keep me from it. After all, did Rocky give up after he lost to Mr. T? No. Did Rocky give up when his best friend was killed by Ivan Drago? No! And did Rocky give up when he was all decrepit and old? Hell no!
This morning I laced up my running shoes and with “Going the Distance” playing, I started running. And I ran the furthest I have since I started this whole mess. Time to get things back on track.
As I left work, I walked onto Boylston street toward the subway station. I walked past the Hancock building and, as I always do, I looked up. As I did all this, I realized how familiar this rapidly was becoming: the trip home by train, the crowds, the uniquely Boston buildings, the people I see everyday.
More and more, this city is becoming my home. It’s a continuation of that earlier feeling, of that transitional time when I couldn’t quite think jibe the two concepts (“Boston” and “home”) as being the same thing. And while the apartment has felt distinctly “Ours” (neither mine nor ours, but a blend of the two) for a while, the city never quite gelled in that way.
But now, after almost six months, I think I’ve made that step. It’s a subtle thing, a slow, quiet thing that doesn’t happen all-a-sudden. But now, when I think of home, I think of Boston and my apartment and Emily.
In the last few months, I’ve written more fiction than I did all of last year. I’m not sure why this is the case. Nor am I complaining.
But I would like to know why I’ll go through periods when I can’t be bothered to get to work and other periods where I MUST write or I’ll burst into a thousand pieces. If I knew, then I could control it. If I could control it, I could be a billionaire.
So far, the best I can come up with is that I’m reading more now than I was then. Or maybe that it’s because I’m writing about the same characters and the same world, so it’s that much easier to get started. Everything is all ready for me. I just need to step into this fantastical place and I can go.
The result of all this writing is that I think I’m getting better at it and the process seems easier. Not that it’s easy. But all those little niggling things that used to hang me up and keep me from going forward seemed to have smoothed out. I don’t know how or why that’s the case either.
That’s always been the frustrating thing about writing. So many intangible variables. Nothing quantifiable. Nothing identifiable. Just a vague, murky morass of weird. And feh to that.
At any rate, due to my mysterious burst of creativity, you’ll see me popping up online more (I hope) and I’ll be sure to let ya’ll know when and where my stories are appearing.
photo by Dylan Charles
So we’re going to try this beer reviewing thing again, this time without the drunken antics. Unfortunately for you, I don’t know much about the vocabulary necessary to describe the flavors and tastes of beer. So this means a lot of winging it and confusing, muddled adjectives.
I hope you’re excited, cause I’m excited.
Leffe-Blonde is what you’d call a Belgian Ale. My one experience with previous Belgian beers comes from Blue Moon. Did not like it. Not one tiny bit. It was always harsh, with a grating, biting flavor. So me and Belgian Ales have stayed as far away from each other as humanly possible.
But while I was poking around in my local beer store and I found Leffe Blonde and was rapidly entranced by the gold foil wrapper. Unfortunately, it’s still a Belgian Ale with all the tastes that come along with it. They always taste so…acrid and rough, a series of highs rather than the lows of a Guinness.
It’s not really a terrible beer. I imagine there are people out there that like all things Belgian, like the waffles or Poirot and then this beer would appeal to those people. It’s got a bit of a kick too and that’s always a plus.
SCORE: It’s a Belgian Ale, but it’s better than a Blue Moon, so…what? C+ as a beer, B for a Belgian Ale? That sounds right.
That sounds about right.