They say that writing is a lonely profession, and “they” have a point. Although I wouldn’t say that I’m lonely per se when I’m writing - just that I’m alone. Even when I’m at my desk and I have children milling under my feet with their Matchbox cars and Legos. Even when I’m at a bar, esconced in a bar stool with pen and paper in hand. Wherever I am and whoever’s around, I’m typically alone in my head (and if I’m not then I can’t write, because of the distractions). But lonely? No.
Right now, alone, I have a number of projects working. I’ve started not one, not two, but three novels in the past months - and yes, two of them are coming along quite nicely. I also have a short story that I’ve been struggling with since October that’s almost done, and three longish poems that have seen a lot of false starts. I’m also editing a bunch of old stuff, I have my client work (although it’s becoming more and more scarce), and there’s this web site. A lot to keep me busy all by my lonesome.
I don’t think writing should exist in a vacuum, however. At least not my writing. To that end, I’m in the process of sending a bunch of my existing material off to various contests and publishers, all in the hopes that something I wrote will drift ashore someplace nice and be able to set up camp. It’s tough out there - there’s a lot of noise that you have to rise above, and there’s a certain level of resistance to outsiders, i.e. people who exist outside of academia and the “traditional” publishing industry. Sometimes I regret my decision to leave academia and New York. But I can’t go back, not really, not now.
To further get out of the vacuum of my own thoughts, I have you - my audience - and I have social media, which has transformed the world, for better or worse.
In recent months, I’ve also become a big fan of collaboration. Although I love writing - I need to write, kind of like I need to breathe - it’s something I have to do alone, and I don’t always want to be, or act, alone. So I’ve been working with others. As we speak, I have several collaborative irons in the fire.
1) I’ve handed over a bunch of my poetry to a musician friend of mine who’s going to use some of my work as lyrics for her songs.
2) I’ve begun working with a friend, Michael Collins, on a graphic novel - the idea for which I’ve had since 1992. Off and on, I’ve floundered around for an artist who could realize my story, and I think I’ve finally found my guy.
3) Michael’s also working on the graphics for a game I’ve designed. The game design itself is almost there, and to that end, it’s been a real pleasure playtesting it with a whole bunch of my friends: Jay, Jim, Mike, Kristoff, Pierre, Erekh, Brad, Rob, Jeff, Caleb, Eddie, Scott, Tony, Garand, Richard, Lyman, and especially Roberto Arguedas, who gave me a new direction to take the game when the old one was hitting a snag.
The trouble with this game is that it’s based on a popular property, so to make it the way I’d like to make it would require the acquisition of a specific license. I’m hoping to make the best game I can, and then to shop it to various gaming companies who might have the wherewithal to get that license. If that doesn’t happen, or if the game mechanic appeals to a smaller company who can’t afford the license, I suppose I’ll have to repurpose the game to an original story framework. I can do that. I have stories in my head.
4) I’m hitting the Con circuit - baby steps - doing panels with other writers on a variety of subjects. My first outing will be JordanCon here in Atlanta next month. Hopefully, I’ll score more such panels as the months go by.
5) I’m working with a friend who’s quietly trying to break into becoming a publisher. With the advent of ebooks and online marketing and distribution, his overhead is minimal, so he’s willing to take a chance on me. Already, he’s backing my collection of horror short stories, and he’s looking to add other “acts” to his repetoire.
6) With his help, and the help of my incredible editor, Beth, I’ll soon have a novel published in ebook format. I’m launching a web site in the next week or so to market the book, and I’m working with my wife, Aida, on the design and execution of that site.
7) I’ve engaged four artists to work with me on a portion of the novel’s site. What they’re going to do for me is a surprise. First, I’ll announce that the site is live, then I’ll tell you what they’re doing.
8) I’m still working with a whole cast of voice “talent” on my podcast novel, A War Between States, which you can experience/read by clicking on the navigation to it over there on the right.
9) Finally, and if I haven’t said it enough, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jason Snape, the artist and graphic designer who illustrated both of my short story collections. Jason, man, I have a brand, and it’s all thanks to you.
So you see, writing is an occupation that you have to do by yourself. Sometimes. But it’s never lonely.