Yesterday, I blogged about finding a reason to blog and the slight inner conflict that had been keeping me from posting more here on the Charlie Tonic site. After finishing that post it hit me that I really am writing quite a bit these days. It’s just that the project is one that no one is currently reading because it’s still a bit private, ongoing and a more long term. Too long term at this point, if I were being honest with myself.
For several years, I’ve been working (or maybe better said shelving) a fiction novel that I’ve given the working title “Slip Points”. In a nutshell, it’s a bit of a sci-fi mashup with a softer, creepy, horror feel. Think more spirits bumping in the night than Hellraiser. I’m just not a blood and guts kind of writer, but I do like an air of mystery, suspense and deep creepiness to the stories I weave.
In this tale we have a mix of people thrown together at a blackjack table in old Vegas’ Fremont Street district. I won’t revel too much but in the story I play around with the concept of parallel universes and examine the nature of fate vs. free will in our lives. If we knew what was coming, how far would a man go to defy his own fate and what gives him pleasure in life? It’s a case of big ideas that I’m trying to wrap into a much smaller, more human story.
I notice in the second paragraph above I reference what “kind of writer” I am. I wish I were more comfortable calling myself a writer. As discussed on a recent episode of the show, writing is the dream I’ve never quite lost in terms of what I want to be when I grow up. At this age, you would think I would have that all figured out, but I’ve come to believe that life is a state of constant discovery and evolution. To sit still and settle is to stagnate and wither. If you aren’t trying something (which doesn’t even have to be something new), you aren’t living. To that end, I’ve pushed myself to return to writing more.
As certain as I am about myself, I am equally shy about writing this novel. I wrote the first two chapters many, many years ago and I am more proud of those pages than almost anything I’ve written since. This pride actually became a bit of a block for me, as I felt challenged to live up to those chapters in what I wrote next. I found I had to push myself to get any more pages to emerge.
Since it began, the way I approach a story has changed. Initially I created the character’s, their motivations and the setting and let the story emerge as I looked at the world through each characters individual perspective and subtly manipulated the events of their lives. The story, in many ways, would write itself if I knew the characters well enough. That is the way I started this book. When the conversation between those characters and I went quiet, I had to find a new way and began laying out the broad strokes or skeleton of the overall story. This helped get me back on track and even allowed me to meet a few new people within the story.
Last year, I went through a bust of writing and got the novel up around the 10,000-word mark and really felt it starting to take shape in my mind. After that it stumbled and returned to the shelf for almost a year.
Ginny Tonic’s experiments with art (as also discussed recently on the show) motivated me to return to my own creative effort and the book came off the shelf once again. I can’t say I’m writing every day (though I should be), but I can say I’ve been adding words and pages to the story more regularly than at any other time in my life. It feels good and I would be very proud if I could close the door on the final pages of this book one day and call this project done. I have other ideas, but I feel like I need to finish this one first as it’s to easy to fall victim to recurrent false starts.
What makes a writer a writer?
“If you want to be a writer,” Stephen King says in his book On Writing “you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
Is that it? If I write and read does that give me the right to call myself a writer? I guess if I am creating and doing something that is satisfying to me, that is enough to call myself a writer even if it’s not something I would yet put on a resume. I may not be a professional but I am trying, I am writing and I am creating in my own way. Art can be created simply for self-satisfaction. Why can’t the written word?
I would like to offer special thanks to those out there who have reached out to me about publishing or assisting with the inroads of publishing this creature should it ever emerge. To make such a statement based on only knowing me is an honor and you have my thanks.
I’m not sure anyone will ever read what I’m creating and if in the end that’s all it is, I’m okay with that.