Sunday, February 27, 2011

Genesis Of An Idea

Those of us who write will oftentimes speak of have writer's block. In my humble opinion, that terrorizing mental shutdown can come in a couple of different forms. I myself have never suffered from a complete inability to come up with an idea or get something, anything down on paper. For me it is, more often than not, an inability to properly get my ideas to read the way they look and sound in my head.

As for coming up with ideas, that is a process that just seems to come very easily. I will give you 2 examples of ideas that came, in different ways, over the last few days. On Friday we were at our local bar, a place we have been a bunch of times, but on this occasion we were seated in a different spot. That particular seat meant that we were facing a side wall, entirely comprised of old bricks, some of which were very badly charred. It got me thinking whether or not the bricks were manufactured that way or were they old ones taken from a destroyed property. I chose to go with the second option and my head was off to the races.....nice little story brewing there.

The second idea came from a session of stumbling (if some of you haven't yet experienced stumbleupon, you really have to try it) where I came a cross pictures of an old French town in Cambodia called Bokor Hill Station. I have had a vague idea about a story situated in an abandoned town (Chernobyl was my first thought) knocking around in my head for a while, but the sight of this place started filling in the details somewhat. Check out this creepy pic.....
Now comes that hard part, where those ideas have to become stories, written in a way that I think would be palatable to myself and the few folks who read them. No block here, usually just frustration and a constant self question of my writing (in)ability.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Great Day

Saturday's are always the best day of the week, whether it's hanging out with the kids or Penny and me touring around trying to find a new, fun spot. Today was an especially good one. It started with a pretty great brunch at the Wild Wing Cafe. I know it's not particularly cool to knock back beer at 11.15 am, but it just seemed like the right thing to do. From there we headed to the animal shelter to check out a little dachshund mix we has seen on their website. That particular little fellow had already been taken, but we saw another dog, a border collie mix, that we thought was very cute. 5 minutes with her in the bonding room made for an easy decision.
While I was filling out the paperwork for Suzie Q, Penny headed out to get some cash from the ATM. She came back saying that she had saw a place we should check out. So, off we went to a cool little spot called The Flying Machine, a little bar and grill located right beside the runway of our municipal airport. It was a beautiful day and we parked on the patio for a couple brews and a very good burger.

Not quite ready to go home, we turned right instead of left and hit the highway towards Athens, GA. This was a nice little moment for Penny, a diehard Georgia Bulldog football fan. She had never been to the home of the Dawgs, check one off the to do list. We drove around rather aimlessly before landing in The Blind Pig Tavern for chili and a beer. After that it was home sweet home, ending a really great Saturday.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Eyes Of Sleep Possible Line-Up

Been sifting through my short stories all morning and trying to decide which to update and add to the book. Think I have it down, now comes the difficult re-writes. Her is the list with a short description.

1. The Tweener - kid has a run in with an escaped mental patient (almost all the details in this story are personal snippets from my childhood)
2. Echoes - A twisted little love story that had a finish, but no real beginning. Major re-write coming with a whole new section added to the start. In my head, just trying to get out today.
3. Film At 11 - An, as yet, unwritten piece that Penny is very excited about. have all the details ironed out in my head, should be a quick write.
4. Fossil Fuels - A zombie piece that I will be updating by adding elements from another short, Hallowed Ground.
5. Long Pig - A weird little fishing boat tale that came while watching an episode of, The Deadliest Catch.
6. Seeds For The Needy - Will be switching this up a bit to make it look more like a journal entry type of a deal. Story of a dude who kills women that cannot.....well, that would be telling....shhhhhh!!
7. Mary In The Square - Another unwritten piece that is also in my head, completed (I have a weird style of writing. It has to be all finished in my noggin before getting onto paper/screen). Inspired by a stormy night in Savannah with Penny (she still has all my scribbled notes).
8. Crash And Burn - Despite being a confirmed atheist I am fascinated with the whole good/evil, God/Devil thing and this story reflects that.
9. The Marble Men - I have 4 or 5 shorts with these characters that I am going to try and piece together into a coherent single.
10. Please Be Kind, Rewind - One of the first things I wrote, many years ago. A slight nod to Dorian Gray, but one that has to be updated to the DVD/Blu-ray age.
11. Roadside Attraction - An absolutely disgusting piece of gorefest nonsense that I have yet to write, but one that refuses to get out of my head despite its total absurdity.
12. The Artist - A very visual piece that was hard to write, yet is one that I love (the idea at least). The story of a make-up artist to the dead who has a strange encounter with one of his clients.
13. The Shorts - I am thinking of having a section of flash type fiction that will include stories that I think are just fine the way they are, including Inked : A Tattooed Tale, Sometimes I Ask For Death, and A Love Eternal. Perhaps a couple more with slight re-writes.
14. The Dress - This and The Tweener are perhaps the best things I have written, hence the decision to bookend the collection with them.

Enough chatter, time to get to work.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Goodbye To A Friend

I've never been one to get emotionally attached to anything or anyone, save for a precious few that I trust implicitly. So imagine my surprise this week when my dog passed away and I became a bit of an emotional wreck.

Zoe was a great little dog who was a loving little bugger, and one that required a modicum of looking after. Food, water and the odd belly rub was enough to keep her happy. She didn't get nearly enough of the latter as our work hours meant that she spent a lot of time alone and in her bed, not ideal circumstances for anyone, particularly an animal that likes the outdoors. Her last week was a good one I think as she got to hang out and get attention from my sister and brother-in-law who were here to visit.

We have created a little remembrance area in the corner where her bed was, a small little reminder of her presence that is sorely missed at the moment. We will all move on, but will always remember Zoe fondly even if another little furry friend should enter our home in the future.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Behind These Eyes Of Sleep

Regular visitors to this space will know that I am working on updating a bunch of my older fiction pieces and slapping them together into a self-published book that I hope to have finished in the next few months (no later than the end of June).

Well, I am pleased to report that some progress has been made, and that the title and cover are now pretty much set. I wanted a title that represented the genesis of a lot of my ideas, dreams. Believe it or not, the title actually sprung up in one of my little nighttime flights of slumbered fancy. "Behind These Eyes Of Sleep." The title sounded very familiar to me, but upon doing an extensive Google search, I cannot find anything that matches. If anyone has heard that title before, let me know and I'll find a way to tweak it. Below is the finished (I think) cover, and my plan for today is to update 2 pieces and start work on a previously unwritten 3rd.....now if Zuma Blitz would just stop calling.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

An Eerie Coincedence

When you write, there is always that fear that you won't get your idea down before it either vanishes, becomes muddled in your head,  or is gobbled up and put out by another writer. The first two scenarios are always the most likely, but the 3rd does happen every so often. I am not talking about plagiarizing here, that's an altogether different, way more heinous beast. I am talking ideas, those little fragments that start as nothing and somehow build into a tangible beginning, middle and end.

I don't look at taking another person's idea and altering it as intellectual theft. It is perhaps that all the good ideas have been done and dusted that everything we see and hear nowadays has a ring of familiarity to it. It does not make it any less disconcerting though when a idea you had, and wrote about, appears on the pages of another writer's story, albeit in a different format than that which you had intended.

Case in point. I recently wrote a short story called The Tweener that focused on a young boy that encounters an escaped mental patient, but at the heart of that simple tale there is an illness (brain tumor) and a plane crash that make the heart of the story beat. All the imagery (save for the patient) and ideas came from real moments that I lived as a child. Some were slightly twisted to be made more interesting, but at their heart was my childhood which was why the story felt so real to me.

Fast forward to last night when I sit down and start Under The Dome by Stephen King (I have been waiting patiently for Penny to finish it), only to find that the opening 5 pages have a plane crash and a brain tumor patient describes as only Mr King can do. I must confess to a little stomach knot and lower lip quivering as I read, but in continuing on I quickly realized that they are just small points on a grander scale and that his story has absolutely no connection to mine and vice versa.

I quickly scolded myself for harboring the idea that Stephen King is culling my thoughts for new tales, and instead came up with a little addition that will make the somewhat vague ending to my story a little clearer to the reader. So now it's off to put the finishing touches on the cover of my upcoming book (will reveal it shortly), and to add the changes to make The Tweener the opening story in said literary masterpiece.....LOL.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesdays With Tylenol

Friday's always begin with the promise of something wonderful, given that they are the gateway to the weekend. Last Friday held more promise than most for a number of reasons. Family in from out of town, kids over for the weekend, wife off Fri.-Mon., and the Super Bowl featuring my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. Friday night went well, a lovely dinner with family, then Saturday came and we all settled in to watch "Up" on Blu-Ray as I started to notice a little tickle in my throat, eerily similar to the one my son described having all the previous week. Sunday came with a headache and coughing jag to start the day. My sister and brother-in-law left to catch their flight home and my kids headed back to their mom's house. The coughing started to ramp up somewhat with the pain spreading from the throat to my stomach and lower back.......not good.

The initial plan was to stay home and watch the game, but waiting always makes me fidgety, so off we went to our local bar where I struggled to knock back a couple of beers. We then moved on to our final spot (another local bar) to watch the game, where I once again struggled to drink or eat. In a fit of what many might see as madness I told my wife that I would drive so that she could keep on keeping on with the booze. By the end of the game, my disappointment at the loss was being overshadowed by my need to hug a toilet and/or find some way to relieve the pain in my lower back.

Due to start work at 5.30 am on Monday, I crawled into bed right away, shivering frantically from some unseen icy blast that seemed to be pelting me and no-one else. It was a sleepless night, interrupted by wracking coughs and bouts of projectile vomiting, with a smattering of marching bands going through my skull playing speed metal. Nonetheless I made it through the night and was up in time for work. Getting off the couch to go was another thing, but I had to. Nobody would believe I was sick, they would all just think I was hungover and so I thought to myself, "I'll show them", which I did for 57 minutes before heading back home again to the safety of my bed.

Today is more of the same, a cruel mix of coughing, pain and discomfort, all of which can be soothed for a couple of hours at a time by the miracle that is Extra Strength Tylenol. I am positive that I have exceeded the daily dosage levels and that I am headed for a future of liver failure and shitting out my own stomach lining, but it all seems worth it for a few moments of pain free bliss. Tomorrow will be better, I hope, and thankfully I have Tuesdays as my off day from work. As I finish up this piece I can feel the effects of the Tylenol wearing off and so will bid you all adieu as I go to chase the dragon once more.