A Real Grabbag

Thunder in the distance, and the rhythmic rasp of cricket legs, and the roar of ATV engines, or motorcross bikes. The air is plant-scented, leaden like a log. Not a tree shakes or wiggles or sways. Another far-off rumble, then a car horn, wavering for some reason, somehow. My own keyclacks. Time-keeping crickets, and the timpani thunder in the upper row, every so often, measuring the evening in two bars of four, letting the drum head resonate, leaving the nearby woods silent, reverential.


Just writing for the sake of it. Nothing essential to say. Now a hummingbird or swallow under this eave-like deck. What will I do once it gets dark? Perhaps a movie …

Indoors now. A storm has broken. The multi-layered sounds of rain, hitting leaves, hitting shingles, hitting rain gutters, hitting packed gravel.

A hot writing tip: Weather’s too hot for hot tea, but you still want delicious tea while you write, but don’t care for shitty, sugar-laden teas and also you’re old and your body just generally feels inflamed…? Chilled turmeric tea. Try it out.

Okay, that was the hot tip, brought you to by Earl Hines, the new marketing intern we hired after the unfortunate death of Floyd, who burned out during COVID.

Moving on, both topically and legally, I want to share that this is the new format. You’re witnessing it. Believe it or not. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health. I trust that in your life you experienced some huge shifts since the end of 2019, and I have as well. The ripples are being felt closer to home than ever, in regards to how I relate to my writing, to being a writer, to outcomes that happen, or don’t happen as a writer.

Yes, there are many ways I could frame this. A change in perspective. A sage turn inward. Dozens of flattering rationalizations and lies occur in the minds of most people when it comes to the issue of their self-regard, status, etc. And so part of my project here in this post-2020 period, is to be okay with being more real in my posts. That starts with me getting comfortable with it, and I’m sorry if things are aimless and self-involved for a time.

Yet, to to that end, as I said a post or two back, I am not bringing any of the fiction writing craft pointers, lessons, prompts, etc., to this revised iteration of this site, which is the digital replica of the AWS brand, such as it is—which is the life of one writer working with others writers. I will, however, republish a retrograde, or grandfathered post of Cosmic Banking, because this was a piece that perhaps signaled or kicked-off the change in direction in the kind of instructional content I’ve provided to my classroom and private students. Lastly, on the issue of my content plans: I will make a home, deep in some easter-egg-linked archive for some of the more entertaining blog posts from days of yore, when I learned everything about essay writing from one book, that being Howard Jacobsen’s Whatever It Is, I Don’t Like It, which is actually not a collection by a contrarian, as it might sound, but a lovely voiced, lucid, compassionate Jewish, British intellectual.

But I digress. Or not. See?

For whatever misguided reason, I am to uncover the plain facts of who I am as a literary artist, here, now, as a person in 2021, having enjoyed a life and career in literature. Yes, pulling way back. High-level. Bird’s eye view. We could see it as a white man in the shadow for the first time. For sure. I accept that. I think I started my ugly working through that around 2015, and perhaps that’s why now it feels more possible to do what I want to do, without regard to result.

Sure, I’d be the first to call what I’m doing self-important, and perhaps many people out there would love to laugh and mock at a Gen-X fiction writer at the very edge of the literary galaxy, his brief stardom having been largely in his mind. I don’t know. That might just be my traumatized self talking. The fun part is being at this point… which is not a point not reached lightly. Or all that proudly. But being here means the worst is all behind me, and the future wide open.

But so objectives for the site and the enterprise—and I’m really saying this as much for myself as I am in consideration of your expectations… well, one objective is to share tales and stories of my career as a student of fiction, and as an editor and teacher, with my online audience. Because people who have taken my fiction and nonfiction courses have gotten to enjoy the tales, to sup on their meager insights. But I’ve not really put them online. Another objective is to house stories and sample chapters, synopses, and then the something like an assembly manual for the alien species who will decode my corpus, etc.

Let me introduce a notion that I’ve been weaving into fiction lately. It’s the idea of things being multi-faceted. Or even containing contradiction. More than one thing being true, just on different planes. In some matters, perhaps when one has been around the block long enough, and battling their own demons long enough, it comes to seem that things are and they are not. For example—and maybe this only reveals me to have a serious mental illness—I find that at times it’s really important that I work on professional image and get fiction subbed out to journals and to agents; and then there are times when I’m positive it’s not important at all, it really doesn’t matter, in fact. I am able to laugh at my folly.

I’ve been through this whole cycle a couple dozen times at least since COVID, and I think it is an illustrative case of a beneficial change in perspective. However, I’m also aware that it may look a lot like the hand-wringing of writers down the ages. So, hats off, Flaubert or whoever you may be, for blazing that trail.

Now, what I also know about myself is that the wounded perfectionist in me believes in a future in which I’ve shared my experiences and views with such shameless candor, and I’ve been received so warmly for my efforts, that I’ll feel seen, recognized as a hard-working student of the literary arts, a decent novelist and whatever else… and then I’ll be whole and healed.

That is not likely to happen. But I realized it’s a dream I didn’t feel comfortable giving up, even though I have also come to view it as incredibly toxic to live the side-hustle life, to freelance and have grind on social and grow your brand 24/7, boast about your expertise and accomplishments. Fuck that noise. Thankfully, I’ve gotten work through word of mouth and generously companies I have worked for, because the language of advertising is just too false and cloying for me to stomach.

Anyway. Big swig of chilled turmeric tea (no ice needed). The rain has stopped, the needle has dropped again on the cricket symphony. I have a fan blowing on my bare legs.

This is me. This is me. This is me.

Computer, end record.

Commander Blop left the Personal Inventory Terminal and walked down the service corridor, his white Nylex foam boots squeaking on the waxed granite floor, his pure-white body suit hugging his buttocks…

Sorry, that’s something I do when I’ve been overly earnest.

And with that, I’ll humbly share some updates from the AWS world. I’m working on a subscription feature. The payment system is working, I tested it today. But there’s a ways to go, because I want to design a cool and functional customer portal where visitors can get their content. What content? That’s in the works. Minor point, right? We’ll figure it out. Earl is on the case.

As for other projects, I’m happy to share that my nonfiction client, Kia, and I are going to press soon. It truly won’t be long—since we’ve been at it over a year. Kia’s book is about her life and professional practice, as well as her spiritual and healing journey. It’s a beautiful book, and it’s been at times challenging, but extremely rewarding project to work on, with this client-turned-friend. To drop a few technical details, well, I found a great app for converting fonts from .otf to .ttp, so her cover file is good. I am going to drop a dummy couple pages of Introduction in there, and upload the manuscript to KDP for some proofs to be made, which hopefully raise our spirits and see us to the end.

When it’s time for Kia’s launch party, we plan to play this album of Hawaiian hits that I found at my in-laws. Here’s a shot of it.

I also have a client doing a really fun commercial thriller that mixes the Manhattan crime underworld with a gambling-addicted professional sports psychologist. After about six months of scene reconstruction and close rewriting, the author and I reached the Line Edit stage this week. Corrections and minor retouches only. This writer’s name is Christopher. He’s a New York native who lives in the Barbados, a former judo wrestler. His insights into the damaging power of the pressure of competition at the highest levels of sports, for both males and females, could not have come at a more relevant time. We feel sure agents will feel the same way.

Next time I share what novelist David M. and short story writer Frank C. are up to.


For your listening pleasure, this tune that came up in a mix while editing this post.