Summer's here, grad school classes are done, and aside from some paying work not worth mentioning, I've been living out an entirely self-motivated schedule, something I've been working toward for a long time. My biggest task is finishing the novel (the current draft, anyway) once and for all, a goal that's nearer now than it's ever been. Mornings are good for that, a chance to wake up, plan a point of attack while in the shower or frying eggs, and sit down at the computer (internet cable safely unplugged) until lunch. Getting started can be rough, and reading a few pages from an old favorite (most recently Catch-22, Murphy, Lucky Jim, The Mezzanine, or Something Happened) helps get me motivated and starts the words flowing. Reach a stopping point, eat lunch, and schedule the next novel-writing day. Repeat until done.
Having more time also means more devotion to side projects - undertakings both necessary and dangerously distracting. Foremost has been this year's Art Swap project, more complex than I'd planned, but moving toward an ideal that combines both writing and graphic art. (More on this later, though my last entry sprung from an Art Swap outtake.)
Then there's been my real and always arduous attempts to get more of my writing out there (like, in places where people can actually see it). For a long time, I've been torn between how much time to devote to creation vs. self-promotion: given our limited creative energy, does submitting and researching publishing outlets detract from the (more important) process of creation? This question's hounded me for a long time, but I've realized that I spend far, far too little time on the distribution end of things, especially since the two tasks occupy different portions of the brain, can be done at different times of the day, and aren't mutually exclusive.
So I've been delving into realms both traditional (fiction slush piles) and non (podcasts, literary essays, travel fiction, etc.) in hopes of snagging some bites. I left one success sadly unmentioned: Sam Roman was kind enough to feature my short piece, Korean-Man Purse, on her new project, Non Finito, the journal of unfinished writing. I was glad to help Sam out (getting this thing started meant a lot to her), and I found...relief in sending out a scene (and a character) from the novel that ended up on the cutting room floor. Jackson did a lot to form the first draft's quick pacing and irreverent tone, and if all goes as planned, we haven't seen the last of him.
I've also let my personal reading slip by the wayside, and the stack of unread books next to my bed recently rose to rival my nightstand in height. Reading's always been important to me, and I felt disgusted at my inability to prioritize it against grad school assignments. Highlights of my return to the page include The Loved One (a solid comic novel by the underappreciated Evelyn Waugh), Don Delillo's White Noise, and a supermarket crime novel (i.e. a crime novel set in a supermarket) by my last workshop teacher Sean Doolittle (here's his actual webpage, not a Wikipedia entry).
Of my last month's reading, though, I most recommend Steve Martin's Shopgirl to anyone looking for something smart, funny, and incredibly observational. The Shopgirl movie's good, but the book is better, while also being a fast read (barely over a hundred pages). The absurd commentary of Steve Martin's storytelling makes it all work in a way that's just fun to read. Here's a piece:
Jeremy took Mirabelle on approximately two and a half dates. The half date was actually a full evening, but was so vaporous that Mirabelle had trouble counting it as a full unit. On the first, which consisted mainly of shuffling around a shopping mall while Jeremy tried to graze her ass with the back of his hand, he split the dinner bill with her and then, when she suggested they actually go inside the movie theater whose new neon front so transfixed Jeremy, made her pay for her own ticket.Wish I'd written that.
Community's important too, and long, solitary days have led me to venture out to SP CE (pronounced "Space"), Lincoln, Nebraska's own poetry studio and writer's workshop group (prose and all hybrids welcome). It's been good having people to talk writing and just share observations with a few hours a week, plus interacting in an environment that's primarily about the work itself, and not what it can do for one's professional career.
That's all for now. I won't lie - I miss this blog tremendously, and as my entries become fewer and online traffic merges from blogs to Facebook, what I post here has become even more focused toward an audience of one (though Google still rates me as an authority on people who hate being called "buddy"). I've also been inspired by my former roommate and partner-in-writing-crime Randall's return to blogging with the creation of his Magic the Gathering-inspired card game 21 Others, which he's been writing, assembling, and testing. No one stays away from the process for long.
Someday, I imagine, I'll have a bona fide website (or at least a Wordpress one) with pictures, more links, and a flashy design scheme, but for now, I'll just keep posting stuff here. You know, because it's fun.