“Take #2!” Or Something Like That…

Welcome to life at Skull Mountain on a lazy, summer day. The ceiling fans twirl and rattle. The cats nap on the window sill. Gershwin’s American in Paris rasps from our tiny, record player; Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic from long, long ago. Late day sun eases through the kitchen, bathing everything, like nearly half the square footage of our small home, in golden light. It’s all rather quiet and idyllic. Oh yes, and there are the neighbors passing by on their way to the grocery store or laundromat, chatting in various languages about what I assume to be rather ordinary affairs of ordinary lives. Of course, they are all wearing their masks and gloves so as to avoid any brush with COVID-19. The new normal.

In the midst of this global pandemic and on the cusp of financial crisis, I’m not there yet but there is an outside chance life could become a wee bit trickier in the near future, I find myself with a new sense of calm. Death’s knock on the proverbial door has a way of bringing a bit of clarity to ones actions. During the last few years, I’ve jumped from one pipedream to the next, thinking I can take any old idea and develop it into full-blown artistry. I am now at a place where I can see, due to the limits of time, money and energy, I must put my creative effort into writing.

What does that mean? I’m not sure yet. Things will change, ideas will evolve, and opportunities will avail themselves. To speculate about such things is a waste of time. As mentioned previously, I am no longer in a time wasting frame of mind. For now, I will write or take pieces I’ve written and post them on my website as well as test the waters of other online options. The idea being, to write beautiful, complex stories and see where they can go. Perhaps they will go nowhere. Perhaps they will go very far. I have little to do with such things. My job is to put words on the page and do my utmost to swirl the most compelling dream inside your mind. Anything else is bonus.

Let me set the stage for this reboot. Where, in the past, I was young and foolish and driven to be successful as an author, mostly so I didn’t have to work at a less-than-ideal job, I find myself a bit older, wiser and, well I want to say “relaxed” but I remain as crazy as ever so that’s not the right word… At any rate, I am older and wiser. I understand how the publishing games are played and how little interest I have in participating. All of which is good because the world is changing. The old industry will wither and die, as all industries do in times of great change. My goal is to find a more interesting way to do things. I intend to “yes, and…” my way into something more rewarding than worrying about advances and royalties.

On to the nuts and bolts of what I intend to do.

First up, the blog. I used to blog religiously back in my illustrator/author days. My goal was simple, to explain how I created my stories, which included a big slice of my everyday experiences because, you know, context. While I realize that going all process-oriented can verge on being boring, it’s also a great way to identify habits that work and habits that don’t. So, it’s as much for you, my every attentive reader, as it is for me. Every Wednesday, I’ll post to my blog and then we’ll all know how things are going in the creative whirlwind at Skull Mountain.

Second, weekly short stories. I got into writing with short stories and after a few years of writing novels and plays, it’s nice to return to saying more with less. I’m not really sure what will come of this endeavor. But it is a challenge. Over the last few years, I’ve found myself taking ideas and letting them expand and expand and expand until what was once a cute, little bit of story, is now, a proto-novel in the making. Which is great when you have the time and inclination to write a novel, but is simply daunting when a good short story would have done the job. As I said, say more with less. That was my motto when I wrote picture books and worked on graphic novels. I like fragmented writing. I enjoy stories with enough space in the writing to add my imaginings. It’s high time I got back to telling such stories.

Third, finding an interesting way to put the novels and plays out there. I’m not sure which path I’ll take, but when I come up with something, I’ll blog about it. The short list of possibilities: e-books, self-publishing, serial posting or audio books. Or all of the above, I mean, like what do I care? I can do whatever I want. In fact, that’s the whole point. If I put in the time and effort to write the best story I can, edit the crap out of it, then I damn well better be equally invested in the time and effort necessary to bring it to the public.

Now you know as much as I do. I’m off to battle the gods of website design!

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