Saturday, September 30, 2006

Turning a new year

Other thing is, I turned 33 earlier last week and have now officially entered my Lary Bird year. Of course as we get older, we get more introspective around our birthdays (I think) and this year was no different for me. I spent a lot of time thinking about where I am and where I'm going and, rather than get all on about how I can sometimes get down around these things, I'll just say that I was actually feeling good about some of this this year and I came out of my 32nd year with some decent accomplishments chalked up on the old fuselage.

Word. Now I'm onto Larry's year: trying to score 50 points in as many games as I can, doling out assists, and hitting the boards serious-like.

Here's what I wrote in my second journal entry from last year, when I was starting Jack.

Friday already!! But who wants to write about that? We went camping and that was awesome. Took the coast camp and saw amazing things at the beach, afterwards hiked up to the sky camp and that’d’ve been fine too, but maybe coast was even better. Who’s to say? Both good.

And then I just went on and added about another 5 pages to what I'd done the day before. Here's a piece:

And that was all it took to get him hooked in or started in the thing. No matter that anyone anywhere would recognize his face still, regardless, he was in, on his way to meet Ralphie at a Presidio diner a half hour later, showered and wearing his favorite Southie tuxedo, a green Boston-style warm-up of back velour with a white line down the side. Jack usually wore the baseball hat out so people wouldn’t recognize him but now he thought it complimented the warm-ups as well. With his white shell-toes, he thought he could pass for a Bay Sider, someone who had not grown up out East or spent the time from 21 to 25 in LA. Jack kept the top up on his convertible until he got across the Golden Gate, lowering it as he got off 1 and made his way onto the city streets looking for Mel’s, the diner where Ralph had told him, “This is where my people and me wake up.”

To blog or not to blog

Here’s the good news, people: I’ve started work on the sequel to Jack Wakes Up. Now, I don’t like to talk about work in progress, but in the 4:58 of the soul, that’s what I have to admit was this week’s most worthwhile development.

As it turns out, Craig does want to see more stories up on the site, but I’m not sure that they’re ready to go here. That is, if I’ve e-published them myself here, what does that do to my ability to send them out? True thing: I’m not much sending anything out right now, but if I were, it’d be good to have some stories to do it with. So maybe I’ll hold those few. Also, has anybody who’s not related to me read all of the stories that are already out there? (Other than Ori?) I didn’t think so. Keep checking.

One thing I’m thinking of: while I’m working on a new writing project, I always journal about how it’s going, what my progress is like and what goals I’d like to set then how I’m doing with meeting them. I’d be pretty touchy about sharing those that are current, but I did this for my process with Jack Wakes last year and I’m thinking about posting a few of those on this blog. Kind of a one-year later kind of thing or something that might be potentially interesting to those of you who know the book now through hearing it or reading it online. I don’t know if that’d be interesting or not, but it’s an idea that I have about what might make for good companion content.

So going back to last year and reading some of these, there’s an entry on 8-1 that has nothing to do with Jack Wakes Up at all, or writing hardly. It starts out complaining about all we have to do to get set up in California, dmv, etc., and then a little about what I’m reading, and then:

Tonight I thought of a title for a story “The Kings of Saturn.” Maybe too much Denis Johnson or Brad Watson or WG Sebald (wrote The Rings of Saturn) or even Tony Earley. Got a good email from Richard last night and today. Seems like he’s writing, really writing now and making use of himself this summer. Also says a lot of good things about me as a teacher. So I know I did some good there. I should write back to Augusta – did it. She’s a super kid. So’s Richard. We’ll get there, with or without coaching basketball. But reading, yes. That’s the thing I need to do. Phil Jackson: Maverick and maybe even the new book about Kobe. I bought the Suzuki book about meditation today and should’ve bought but didn’t buy a book called “Confessions of a Yakuza” by somebody. That looked pretty cool. But maybe I wouldn’t have read it. Again, we’ll see.

In the morning he ran two miles and came home to smoke a cigarette, his one of the day, with a cup of coffee. He’d kicked the junk over five years ago now, two thousand forty-four days ago exactly, and hadn’t had a drink in just over two years. The cigarettes were more of an add-on, something else he wanted to control just to say he’d been able to though most of his friends thought him a freak for quitting, wished he’d still smoke just to show that some part of him was human.
Fuck that, Jack thought, snuffing out the last of today’s smoke. He knew that he had at least a thousand things he fucked up every day to show him exactly how human he was, constant reminders of just how in-perfect he was not. He got up and washed his hands…

And that’s it: from stuff about Phil Jackson straight to the start of Jack. It goes on for a little bit (I was probably trying to get 500 or 1000 words) and the last thing that happens is Jack gets a call from Ralph.

Jack took the bowl to the sink and washed it out. The phone rang and he let it. On the third ring he picked up. “Yo, Jackie boy.” He recognized Ralph’s voice immediately, not only the most unlikely person to call at this time of the morning, but also one of the few people from the old days that Jack would prefer to have leave him alone.
“Yeah. You don’t have to sound so happy to hear my voice, either. Been a while, I know.” Across the bay, a steamer made its way into the port at Oakland. Soon the huge cranes would start to unload the giant metal boxes. “Listen, Jack. I have a deal,” Ralph said. “I have a way to make a real and final—I mean neither of us will ever have to worry about money ever again kind of—score.
Shit, Jack thought. Then he looked to the mail of the past few days stacked on the counter: bills and some third notices in yellow envelopes with white lettering printed in big red boxes. The people from the bank had started to call again too.

And then that’s it for the day. Funny. But there’s (was) the start. Just like that. Pushing through, of course, that’s the main thing. Managing your schedule.

So OK. That was how it started. Come back tomorrow (or soon) and we’ll see how I went from there. Funny thing is: last summer I started reading a good book by Phil Jackson called Sacred Hoops and wanted to read his book Maverick that he wrote in the 70s when he was still playing for the Knicks. It actually took me a long time to find this damn thing b/c it’s rare and people wanted like $100 for it, but somehow it turned up in Canada in a search I did and I got it maybe about a month ago. And I’m reading it now. Not as good as Sacred Hoops, but kind of interesting. Ok. Not that interesting except to find out that if you had a bad back problem in the 70s, probably like the kind I get pretty frequently and would get even worse if I were trying to play pro hoops, they cut your back open and fused your vertebrae together (just two) by adding a piece of bone from your hip or somewhere. This was the surgery they did on Jackson and, as you’d imagine, the recovery was awful. Now I think he’d probably just do a bunch of yoga and be fine. What the F? (If you mention this to me, I’ll know you’re a true reader of this blog. Ori, if you’re reading this, I’ll send you Maverick next if you want it.)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Post on "What Happened..."

Check out Steve McDermott's new post about my story "What Happened to Everything" which appeared over in Storyglossia issue #13. He's writing about fiction now on his blog and has just posted a cool analysis of this story there. Steve's blog.

So here's a push to get me back to writing more stories. Or sending out the ones I have. Note: there are probably about five or six stories in limbo here that I've sent out and haven't had picked up. I haven't put these up here on this site either. Maybe I should.

More to come...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Writing and "The Life"

So... here it is, here I am sitting at my (borrowed) desk at City College San Fran, editing the sound for this week's podcast, getting ready for my Tues night class, and thinking about writing, the writing life.

You've all noticed that MTV has not come to interview me for either Cribs or The Life. I'm no Lebron James or Outcast or whoever else gets on Cribs (some guys from Blink-182 that I saw once). I'm just a guy who's writing and sometimes not even writing. I have Jack Wakes Up, a long manuscript called The Team That Was Us Once another called, lovingly, "The Genius Draft" (but that's just temporary) a handful or a bunch of stories, depending on how you look at it, which amount to at least a collection of stories, and I'm podcasting my first genre novel. These are the things I'm doing. Here in California I have more open time to work on these projects while I'm teaching part time, but the truth is my three classes this term take up a great deal of my time (not complaining). I'm also working on this podcast which will or will not break my career open. (It won't, but it is doing something cool that's new to me and exposing me to a new audience.)

So that's the thing: I now have some time for writing and I'm spending a lot of it working on these podcast epsiodes, which I love, which come every week and consume fair chunks of my days. Shit, I say, a lot, I want to do this. And I push other things aside. That's OK. The good news is that soon I'll be starting a new writing project for those of you who look forward to reading or hearing it. Possible predictions include a sequel to Jack Wakes Up ready to podcast next fall...

We'll see. I'll be 33 in a week, on the 25th, and MTV still hasn't called while I've been writing this. And I don't much care.
I hope you've been enjoying listening to the podcast and that you're still with me. I'm still here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Here I am

Getting busy as hell around here with my 3 classes in full bloom, some other work stuff going and the need to speed and put up a podcast episode every week. The good/great news is that my podcasts are now on, which seems like a really great site. They give me super stats on how many listeners/subscribers I have for the novel, they offer a chance for donations (and they plug it so I don't have to) and they're all in all really good.

One big thing with them is the exposure to a new host of listeners. Since I went up there a week ago, people have been adding on steadily and, other than Scott Sigler's plugs, this's been the best thing for Jack in a while.
Other than that? Busy, busy. Hadley still snores at night but she had a bath this week and doesn't stink anymore.

If you go to the home page, you'll see a new link there in the bio description (the word dog) and new pics of the old girl on there.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

No. 1 with a Bullet

Thanks to Jeff for helping with this report.
So Ep. 7 went out yesterday, washer/dryer or not. AND the big news from yesterday is that Jack Wakes Up went live on, a great site for podcasting literature and a place that really seems to get some hits and draw a crowd.
Check out their top ten for today:

So yeah, wow. I mean like... dunno what to say about that but wow. I'm getting subscribers on there and the good news is that I can actually count them. Dope dope dope.

Good good. I'm speaking in squareds and cubeds. Must be late at night after a long day and I must be excited. There is definitely some payoff to the podcasting work here.

Plus, it can be lots of fun.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Washing Machine (and dryer) Woes

Here I sit, on the floor of my makeshift studio, listening to the water sounds and constant mechanical spin of the upstairs dryer and washing machine on a Wednesday morning, all set to do my podcast for the week (admittedly a short one) and certain that no one wants to listen to a washer/dryer while they're listening to Jack Wakes Up. Turns out the washer dryer of our landlords is just above the little room. Too bad.

So do I call and ask if they can turn them off for a little while, run them later?? Well... Joelle would say no, of course, but maybe I'll go up and have a visit. Just 45 min to an hour is all I need.

Oh podcasting!

Maybe it's the long weekend that's put me in a nostalgic mood. Who knows. Maybe it's the soft carpeting down here. I don't know. Will I get this week's episode (7) out?????

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Snowball on the Stand

Funny one:
So after all this time of stacking tables on top of tables and putting books on top of that (stacked) to get the snowball mic up to the level of my face so I can read standing up for the podcasts, I finally went to Guitar Center to ask if they sold something to put the Snowball on a mic stand. And guess what. Turns out that the hole in the bottom of the Snowball (who knew anything about this) is standard size for the male end of what's at the top of every mic stand. So. So now I have attached it to Joelle's old adjustable-to-any-height mic stand and not only can I move out all those tables and books, but the thing can actually reach up to my face and I'll be able to stand up full and straight when I podcast from now on!!

Wow. What a difference a day makes. The mic looks virtually beautiful at the top of the stand, too. So keep an ear out for if you can hear any difference in my reading and resonance now that I'll be standing full upright like a human. I'm hoping it'll make me sound less nasal.

Have a good Labor Day weekend, celebrating your labors. Take a break, for crissakes!!