TO BE OR NOT TO BE… A WRITER

I have this internal thing where I think I’m a writer one day, and the very next… nope. Not me. Not a writer.

Anyone who has ever read one of my books likely wants to know in what universe I could ever think I’m a writer. That’s fair. Mean, but fair.

This weekend as I write this, Memorial Day weekend, I am attending an online writing retreat. I won’t go into any details, as if has really just started. This blog entry, in fact, is the first writing we have been unleashed to do in it. What I will say is that the host of the retreat has reminded us all, once again, that just by being interested in the inner workings of writing… just by attending a retreat, just by wanting to sit down and do the work… we’re all writers.

You should know… that’s a very hard pill for someone like me to swallow.

Writers write. Right? They put out things for people to read, they make no excuses for anything. They just… write.

And I wake up in the morning and come up with 176 reasons I can’t. At least 170 of them are bull. (The remainder boil down to some form of a whiny, “But I don’t wannnna!”) Writers don’t get on their platform and try to convince their alleged audience (I’m still not convinced you exist) that you should not waste your time and money on reading their works. Writers say, “I wrote a book! Go get it!”

But this host says that because I have shown up… because I am writing this entry for the twenty minute timer she has set…

I’m a writer.

(And this is the part where you roll your eyes and promptly log off, if you ever actually logged on at all. Because, seriously, what the frell?)

It’s no secret that I’m a fragile flower. I’ve said it before in this space, I will probably say it again the next time I have something resembling an existential crisis. I have no business being in the writing and publishing space. Setting aside the whole charlatan aspect of my identity as a writer, I don’t have a very thick skin. Which is something you need if you’re going to make it past a day here. And the second someone challenges my worldview on who the heck I think I am (even when it’s in a good way, like this retreat), I shrivel up like a slug being salted.

Make it go away! Five more minutes. No school today.

Reality is cruel. Harsh. It will pull your hair and gouge out your eyes because it doesn’t fight fair. Reality is one of those horrifying creatures that will hold up a mirror and say, “Look. This is you. Deal with it.”

I never expect to see a writer when I look into that mirror. I usually don’t. I see that man in a cape and a top hat and pencil thin but very long mustache, twirling the ends as he looks for his next mark.

But every once in awhile, like this evening on this writing retreat, someone kind holds up the mirror and points to something over my shoulder. And the main image somehow changes.

And the person staring back at me is a writer.

He’s not a great writer. I would venture to say he’s not even good.

But there’s a writer there… and dang it, for now I’m claiming it.

(And hopefully a second pass at this sucker made that big mess of rambling existential nonsense make some kind of sense. Not holding my breath…)

WRITING IN PUBLIC

Well… as mentioned earlier, I am in the midst of a writing retreat. It’s the Saturday session, and there has been a bit of writing happening. One of the things I’m working on is a snip of an idea that popped into my head at the end of the last gaming session we had. So I’ve been working on a short story. Not sure exactly how much I’ve done on it (though I may pop the number in before I post this.) [FUTURE ME NOTE: I managed to write 1,320 on the short story during the retreat.] Obviously I am also writing this piece of nonsensical drivel. And, if there is time, I might even be able to start the Best Enemies Forever edit. Not placing any bets on that one, but there’s a bonus session tomorrow not directly part of the retreat. Maybe I’ll pull up BEF and work on it for that. [FUTURE ME NOTE: I did!]

GAMING THINGS

WE DID IT!

We played a session of my suggested strategy (sticking together and working on closing locations one at a time and corralling the bad guys into one location) — and we failed. But in the next session, we rethought what order we worked on the locations (to vaguely refresh, those are the piles of cards that must be depleted to reduce the number of places the bad guys can go).

That one worked better. We won!

So now, as a group, we have played that scenario four times. (Three with the fifth member). We lost the first three, with a character dying the first time. But we won! And we don’t have to do that scenario again!

There were also two sessions where we had to play Jackbox. (“Had to.” I love being “forced” to play a game I love.)

In this last session, I had a blast whining and complaining about how one of the other players kept killing me (literally, in game terms) in Trivia Murder Party. And then she had the nerve to tell the guy who was late to the session that I was the mean one. Lots of fun yelling and laughter as we shouted each other down.

Yeah, I know that sounds like a toxic gaming environment — and it would be, if we were genuinely accusing and yelling. But there was too much fun and love behind it.

I got my revenge, though. I made sure she died on the Killing Floor by distracting her during math problems.

So much so that, when later I had a chance to really mess with her, I chose not to. I had already gotten revenge. I wasn’t going to top it off by being petty about it… even though I did make her think I was about to be.

Also, a note to anyone who plays trivia games with anyone. It is not in your best interest to listen to the people you are competing against. I had a couple of moments where I was sarcastically giving the wrong answers in the main question as if they were obviously correct.

At one point, the other player (not the woman who killed me, but the other guy) accused me of purposely sabotaging him.

I stopped. I had thought the answers were obvious, and he was listening to me. So that’s the PSA. If someone is confidently giving you the answers, do not listen to them unless you absolutely know they are correct. We may be friends, but Trivia Murder Party is a bloodbath.

MUSICAL SHARES

If you’ve been following along at all, you knew this would be happening this month or next. And if you haven’t been following, what the heck is wrong with you? This is some of the most amazing music you are ever going to get to hear, and you could be in from the beginning each time. And you’re not!

Unless you are. And if you are, I’m not talking to you when I yell like that.

Where was I? Oh right! EPIC!

On April 26, 2024, the fifth of nine Concept Album EPs released, this one entitled The Underworld Saga.

For those of you who are new here, EPIC is a conceptual musical composed by Puerto Rican superstar Jorge Rivera-Herrans and is being released over the course of nine short albums. This one is only three songs, but WOW, do those songs pack a punch! (I’m editing myself as I go because I keep using minor curse words to describe it all, and while I cuss like a sailor in my books, I try to keep this blog as clean as I can get away with.)

The Underworld Saga is the turning point, it feels like. Odysseus has come face to face with his failures to this point and has been told in no uncertain terms that the man he is will not survive the trip home. What is a man wanted dead by the god of the Sea to do?

I know I keep talking about how incredible this epic project is, and each album makes me say it’s the best yet. This one… In only a couple of days (as I wrote this much earlier than posting), I have already listened to it 20 to 30 times, and each time there’s a new detail popping out at me. My heart breaks for a man who, only two EPs ago, I wanted to smack for his hubris.

The shortest of the EP releases (so far) packs the biggest wallop. And I am so here for it.

WRAPPING IT UP

This entry never even got into the fact that I got to attend a symphony for the first time since the Great Plague of 2020 began. It was really good, too. The LA Philharmonic Orchestra did some John Williams music at the Disney Concert Hall. It reminded me how much I used to enjoy going to the CalPhil. But it also reminded me why I don’t go places these days. In addition to being blind, I just don’t like being in an enclosed space with that many people in the post-apocalyptic world we occupy now, where people have decided that because it is no longer a pandemic, the disease that was the focus of that pandemic no longer exists.

Short version: Until “Long” Covid is no longer a thing, I don’t want to catch it at all — which means avoiding people when I can.

Anyway, this is not one of those posts in the first place, and this is the wrap up besides… so back to the point;

I didn’t get to mention the symphony, and now I have.

Writing is writing. I’m actually doing a little. That’s good. I really like having a word count that is above zero.

There doesn’t seem to be a distillable piece of advice I can spout like a platitude here at the end, so I will just say to be who you are. Whether you’re a writer, a visual artist, an actor, or a lump of flesh who spends all your free time on the couch streaming your favorite movies and television shows… you are awesome.

In your travels, be awesome. And let the people you love know that they are awesome.

And every once in a great blue moon, when the mood strikes you, tell a complete stranger that they are awesome. Not only will you help someone feel good about who they are…

You’ll be telling the absolute truth.

Love to you and yours.

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