My eldest uncle – my Uncle David – who was five siblings ahead of my mother, was an avid reader of books just as I am. When he passed away from cancer earlier this year in the late Spring, he bequeathed his book collection to me, his favorite nephew. I had to buy a new bookshelf to accommodate the considerable intake. The man LOVED to cook (and eat, of course) so there were a large number of cookbooks that I didn’t really have any use for, as well as some other nonfiction, very little of which I had any interest in, but there were plenty of novels, some older obscure stuff, but mostly mainstream bestselling author stuff like Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler and Jonathan Kellerman, among others.
While sick-and-dying in hospice care, yet hardly succumbing to death because he was too stubborn for that nonsense of going away quietly without a fight (if you knew the character my Uncle David was then you would know he gave Death all kinds of shit just BECAUSE!), he had been reading one of his newest book acquisitions, one with a catching cover you see because it was blue, my favorite color. The book was ORIGIN by bestselling author Dan Brown (yes, the DA VINCI CODE dude).
I recently pulled the book from my shelf and discovered that he had the novel bookmarked where he had left off on page 388 (of 461). I didn’t necessarily have any interest in reading the book anytime soon. However, an idea came to me, one that would be a specific way I could personally honor my beloved late uncle and that was quite simply the fact that I could finish reading the book for him. Don’t even start the book from page 1, rather just jump in cold at page 388 where he left off and read (and hopefully enjoy) the rest of it it for him.
So that’s what I’m going to do. Before year’s end. Maybe I’ll even be able to make some sense of it with roughly only 70 pages left.
Now that NaNoWriMo 2018 is over I can pretty much relax in the month of December. Some things I put on hold I can now dive back into again, first of which is a lot of reading. I bought all kinds of books in October, checked out a few at the library in November and I have a huge stack of backlogged comics and graphic novels to get back to. I’m also in the works of building several music playlists on Spotify to share with the world as I get back to being the little kid DJ I wanted to be at age 8 (before I discovered MTV and wanted to be a musician myself). I think the gift of music is one of the greatest things in the world and sharing music gives me a ton of joy. Speaking of music, I did find myself adopting an acoustic state of mind and grabbing my acoustic guitars for a few spells during November. I’m tempted to resume songwriting for yet another solo acoustic project, but I dunno, we’ll see. I should also start uploading music from the vault to the new online music platform I’ve discovered. Deal with my musical past before moving on to my musical future. Lots to do as always. And I’ll get back into a writing groove in January, which is pretty much a New Year’s tradition for me.
So . . . NaNoWriMo 2018 — how did I do and what did I learn? Well, I did about 25k words, a little over half the goal (the stats below pretty much say I half-assed it, haha). Short of the overall mark, sure, but not a failure because in prior years I didn’t even manage 7000 words, so this was quite the achievement, I think. As for what I learned from the experience? I learned to just . . . let go. Finally. Turn off, hell, FIRE that inner editor and just do a word vomit onto the blank page continuously with no looking back. Basically pants it, which I haven’t done in a very long, long time. Probably not since year 5 or so of my years of writing and I’ve been writing prose since 1993, more seriously since 1999 probably, when I got more serious about the craft, which ironically probably killed that free-spirited writer in me and I became more self-conscious and overly self-aware. I was starting to write to impress rather than write just because I was compelled to. Writers’ workshops and a few stints as a story editor made me even more hyper-aware of story and writing craft, but also greatly diminished my productivity due to my developing an obsessive-compulsive approach to my craft. NaNoWriMo’s ultimate purpose, aside from inspiring novelists to produce novels, is to ultimately inspire writers to LET GO AND BE FREE IN THEIR WRITING. Prior to this year, that was a nigh-impossible thing for me to do. And even though this year’s NaNo was a giant step in the right direction, I’m still a recovering self-editing freak. My therapy continues. I’m looking forward to NaNoWriMo 2019. Maybe I’ll really take a risk and start a completely all-new, spontaneous, unplanned novel project for that one. Ha!
Brandon L. Rucker’s NaNoWriMo Final Report
Target Word Count
Target Average Words Per Day
At This Rate You Will Finish On
Lifetime Achievement: Total NaNo Word Count
On the eve of Thanksgiving I was up in my bedroom alone while all the girls were downstairs watching this season’s Hallmark Christmas movies with their mom/aunt. I was getting sleepy really, having burned the candle longer this week than I should have. So I was starting to come to terms with the possibility that I was going to finally miss a day (night, really) of NaNoWriMo productivity after going a RECORD 20 DAYS STRAIGHT this year. I truly did not want to break the streak, which is just a personal goal of accomplishment, but I was a little too drained to muster the mental energy (I’m sure that whatever mental reserves I had left were exhausted after getting home from work and reading seven or so chapters of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis).
An easy distraction for me in general is listening to music, whether it’s old favorites or discovering new-to-me artists and their tunes. Last night I was listening to various acoustic songs and since I have my two acoustic guitars in my bedroom at all times I wound up grabbing one of them and learning an old song I’ve always loved and wanted to be able to play someday. Mission somewhat accomplished . . . I can play parts of the song, but it’s a bit of a struggle since I’m not a great fingerpicking guitarist (on the bass I play with my fingers quite proficiently).
And lo, a little later as I’m contemplating surrendering to bed, I grab the guitar again to just see what comes out of me spontaneously and I just happened to come up with two parts of a new song, another in a long line of simple acoustic songs that I need to ultimately finish and record to make another collection/album. Immediately I had a vocal melody for the verse part and so as not to lose this unexpected burst of creativity, I grabbed my phone and hit record on the audio recorder app because at my age there’s no way I can leave it to chance that I’ll have the total recall of anything, especially brand new notes to a new song. Case in point, this morning I can’t for the life of me even remotely remember what I wrote last night, so it’s a good thing I recorded it. Afterward I laid in bed trying to conjure some lyrics for the verse melody, but it was to no avail. I threw in the towel and gave in to sleep with the light still on.
I write all of this simply to say that it’s real easy for a musician to be distracted and tempted to play when a guitar is always nearby.
Oh, an what was that song I learned? “Desolate Ways” by MORBID ANGEL (sample below).
And now it’s time for morning tea.
Warren Ellis was recently interviewed by THE COMICS JOURNAL via Q & A. It’s a great interview of the writer whose weekly newsletter ORBITAL OPERATIONS I read regularly. This particular excerpt I relate to rather well.
TCJ: What is one thing, in spite of all the energy you have in the face of everything being terrible, that you’re afraid of?
WE: Cancer. Climate change. Economic collapse. The rise of the nationalist right. And so on. You know, the same list as most other people. My daughter turns 23 this week, and I would like her to have a long life that doesn’t involve selling her organs for grain. Have a kid! You’ll be afraid of everything for the rest of your life.
We have art so as not to perish from the truth.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Back in the early days of social media, and I mean way back to like 2002-03 when I was on Live Journal (and not yet on Friendster, then MySpace and later Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and Tumbler — sheesh), I went by the handle of “Artjunkie”. It was fitting because that’s exactly what I was and still am today: a junkie for the arts.
My primary art jams are the literary arts (books and prose) and graphic literature (comic books and graphic novels) and, of course, music. Naturally, movies and television factor in as well, but Read! Write! Rock! is my mantra, they’re the activities I do most often in my spare time (wait, spare time exists?). I consume and create a lot art (although I hoard a lot of my own artistic creations). I’ve been writing fiction and nonfiction seriously for about 25 years and have been a musician/songwriter for 30 years as of this past Summer — the Summer of ’88 was when I started playing guitar to get the musical ball rolling. Now I’m a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist with a dozen local bands and solo projects behind me. [See About for publishing credits and My Music for selected streaming tunes.]
These days it seems all I want to do is consume and create art, my social life (and work life if I could) be damned! Sure, art is a great source of entertainment (and we’ve been in a golden age renaissance of television the last decade-and-a-half at least), but the arts are a great coping tool for the many things that ail us. Art can be good for daily stress, mental health, exorcising personal demons, enlightening oneself on life and helping us better understand the world and understanding our place within it.
The late great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is notable for saying that “Without music, life would be a mistake.” I wholeheartedly agree with that one.
In addition to the quote at the top about art, he said said:
I’ll leave it at that.
SOHN (Christopher Michael Taylor) has inspired me to rebuild my home music studio next year and start composing and producing/recording music again as a one-man operation. I’ve found a new place to upload and stream my previous productions so I ‘m going reopen the vault next month. If only I was as talented as a vocalist.