Daybook 6 | The Power of Collaboration

I became a serious musician (in 1989) a few years before I became a novice writer (in 1993) and a serious writer (in 1997) – at age 15, 19 and 23, respectively. When you’re in a band you learn quickly the power of collaboration with other creative souls. Music is one of the most communal of all the arts, and thus, the musician often has an innate desire and ability to collaborate.  I’ve seen this on a regular basis with my current band.  Over the past 25 years I’ve been in several bands and the vast majority of them have been creatively democratic.  It’s more rewarding for all involved when contributions are welcome, appreciated and accepted – collaboration.

However, when it comes to the art and act of creative writing, it’s traditionally been a starkly different situation.  It doesn’t help that creative writing is, by and large, a predominantly solitary activity.  So my writer’s ego – particularly with prose – has almost always been that of the lone wolf; at most times confident, but usually at the very least I’ve been fairly self-assured of vision and self-possessed to the point of complete stubborn independence, at least when it comes to my role as a writer. In other words there’s typically been no room for another’s vision when yours truly is writing the prose.

Well, times are a-changin’. I’m feeling very collaborative in a literary sense of late. It also helps one come around to the idea of creative collaboration when one realizes that about a third of his entertainment – television – is written collaboratively in a Writers Room, led by a Showrunner. I would like to do something similar to that in prose as well as comics. I currently have one collaborative partner on a new comic book/graphic novel concept with my best bud Joshua S. Hooten. Since this graphic fiction project is a co-creation, I will be collaborating story ideas with him to ensure our visions mesh well and I am providing him with the kind of stories he wants to illustrate. A true partnership rather than writer dictates to the artist, artist just follows direction dutifully. The thought is that in comics the artist does all the heavy lifting, so why not ingratiate yourself with him and accommodate him the best you can as the writer?

A quick aside: five years ago I made a confession here about my, um, envy of other writers who are privileged to collaborate with an artist in graphic fiction.

So, anyway, there’s that.

However, that is not prose. Prose collaboration, which I’ve done in the distant past and really enjoyed, is a trickier affair for all the reasons I mentioned above – on both/all writer’s side of the equation. Particularly on long-form works like novels, I’ve begun to truly embrace the idea of teaming up with some writer friends who I know would be good collaborating partners on a few different projects.

I also want to try something like a TV Writers Room where groups of 3 to 5 writers come together to create a small universe in which the characters we co-create can co-exist and then we hash out plot details and split up chapter or ‘episode’ duties among each other. With the recent resurrection of the Zoetrope Virtual Studio, I think I might be able to attempt this experiment, which is fitting that’s where I’ve done prose collaborations before.

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Daybook 5 | The Sound of Fiction

So sometime last week I had been lamenting the fact that while working at the day job I had burned myself out on listening to music and podcasts on my iPod and needed a third option, at the very least. That’s when the little light bulb went off in my head and alerted me that I would love to be listening to fiction while at work and could simply load my iPod up with audiobooks. Genius, right? Yeah, I thought so as well. So this past week I ventured to my local public library a few times with the intention of stocking up on audiobooks that I would burn to my PC and then migrate them over to my iPod. Sounds simple enough, and it essentially is, if a bit tedious since the minimum amount of discs I’ve found to be contained is 6, which of course was for a breezy crime novel. A lot of them are 12 – 14 discs, so as the saying goes, there’s no gain without pain.

The point I really want to make here is that after a week of listening to fiction, while also reading novels, I’ve found that it’s also served both my muse and my internal voice because just like reading, the auditory consumption also helps keep your prose and narrative skills sharp. And since I’m trying like crazy to get myself back on the road to regular writing, this daily activity is working its magic on a subconscious level. Moving forward, if I’m ever unable to gets some regular reading in, I’m going to resort to audiobooks.

The sound of fiction. It’s an underrated powerful thing in these days long since the old radio dramas of the 1940s were killed off by the advent of television in the 1950s.

It’s even got me thinking of doing some recorded readings of my own stories at some point. Then again, I dunno. While I may certainly have the voice for it, my Midwestern accent kind of spoils it a bit, IMO. So I might experiment with it, or simply leave it to the professionals.

I’ve checked out a whopping 18 audiobooks this past week and have listened to four thus far. The most notable one to this point has been Stephen King’s The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. When you’re a big time bestseller like Uncle Stevie – hell, an American institution, you tend to get the best production (i.e. budget) in audiobooks. Bad Dreams is another short story collection by Mr. King and with well over a dozen short stories, it also boasts just as many voice performers such as Dylan Baker, Hope Davis, Will Patton, Brooke Bloom and King himself, whose interludes include so many great Constant Reader addresses with backstory insights into the stories and poignant quotes, one of which I shared here the other day.

Now if you will please excuse me, I have a, um, plethora of discs to load up.

Daybook 4 | Weekend of May 6-8, 2016

Friday

Saturday – FCBD & Mother’s Day Eve

  • Free Comic Book Day 2016 at my local comic shop. For myself I grabbed FCBD editions of LOVE AND ROCKETS (Fantagraphics), CIVIL WAR II #0 (Marvel) and Valiant’s 2016 edition.
  • Saw Marvel’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR alone early enough that the theater was only 6% full when I bought my ticket and it hardly increased beyond that by my estimation. Maybe 20 people, tops. At any rate, it is the best damn superhero movie yet. Even though it’s a solo character’s movie, it’s essentially a team movie given all the characters included and teaming up, and since I always preferred team book in my superhero comics, I immensely enjoy team movies like this one. It delivers on so many levels. The Russo brothers really know how to craft these movies into great cinema. Bravo!
  • Lunch at Culver’s. I’ve done a shit job at eating healthy this past week. But I’ve certainly earned a passing grade for the past 6 weeks I’ve been at this better eating/better me initiative.
  • Mother’s Day eve dinner with Mom. Kept it simple at Texas Roadhouse with steaks, baked potatoes and salads.

Sunday – Mother’s Day

  • Breakfast, er, brunch at Bob Evans with the wife and two of the kids. I had the Brioche French Toast, a decision influenced by my youngest child’s choice. I might be biased, but I prefer my own unique style of French Toast, which in my mind is World Famous..
  • Later, family dinner at Aurelio’s that just recently opened up down the street a few blocks. Had an Italian sandwich that was rather underwhelming. I swear Penn Station has THE established standard for a proper grinder (namely the Dagwood). Most every other sub I have that isn’t made by Penn Station usually pales in comparison.
  • Watched a backlogged episode of this season’s AGENTS OF SHIELD before nodding off for a brief nap. Later, watched FEAR THE WALKING DEAD. That show seems to’ve found its stride in its sophomore season, I’m happy to say. After watching TALKING DEAD afterward I decided I’d better save GAME OF THRONES for Monday night.
  • Prior to bed I came up with a new name to brand this blog – something that played off my name just like Ruckerpedia did (which was the former name before I decided to affix it more appropriately to a different website that will launch soon). Brandon Rucker Dot Com as a “brand” just wasn’t doing it for me. So, yeah, another made-up word is in order.
  • RUCKOGNITION. Ruck, a short nickname some folks have called me, and the word cognition. Immediately I knew I was on to something. And I have Warren Ellis to thank for it as I was reading his latest newsletter late Sunday night into the AM hours where I saw he mentioned reading a novel by Steve Shaviro called DISCOGNITION. The timing of this could not be more perfect, because I was brainstorming a new name just prior to opening up that email. It also kind of plays on the word recognition too. A double win, I suppose.
  • Of course with a new name branding for the site comes a new layout/template/theme.

Daybook 3 | Autumn Descends

So I spent the latter part of the summer away from actively writing anything creative, instead spending a great deal of time inside my own head, and of course being a bookworm, getting caught up on lapsed reading and acquiring even more to read for both entertainment and research.

During these past six weeks or so I dealt with a serious bout of lacking conviction in my path as a writer. To be clear, it’s not that I don’t believe in my ability as a writer (well, with the exception of my prospects of being a novelist in the foreseeable future), but I had serious doubts in my likelihood in drawing an audience in the vast sea of yet-to-breakthrough authors.

I just need to mentally, if not publicly, remove the title/occupation/identity of “writer” from myself so as to remove the pressure to live up to that identity, as well as lessen the guilt some.

By happenstance, I named an old composition of mine “Autumn Descends”. Have a listen.

Daybook 2 | Update Untitled

I Got Nothing

Firstly, I have no Workbook update to share this past week (or the past week before that) because, honestly, there wasn’t any of that kind of work done the past couple of weeks.

ME3_Garrus_NormandyRe-calibrating Like Garrus *

Making some reconfigurations and changes here and abroad, and so things will be a little different here after that reconfiguration. Going to resurrect my old blog and reassign all my nonfiction writing over there and make Ruckerpedia the venue for my fiction writing and music. Or something like that. Gimme a week to tend to these . . . calibrations . . . and we’ll see what’s what.

* Bonus geek points to those who get the Garrus Vakarian reference.

Back In Briefs

With my novel writing prospects in flux for the immediate future, I see no reason to avert my writing attention from short fiction. The novel stuff will likely have to wait at least until the darker, colder months arrive which is when I go into hibernation mode like a grizzly bear in the American wilds. If then, because it’s quite evident that right now I’m just not novel-ready, despite my public displays of eagerness and determination. Who knows if I ever will be? Despite that, I am still a storyteller and will be exercising those muscles on some shorter works. I think I could use a dozen more bylines under my belt, so it’s time I start submitting short fiction work again since my only new fiction credit in the last 3.5 years happened back in March or whenever (see Four Deep” @ Dead Guns Press) . I’ve zeroed in on a few online venues that I will pay off, er, I mean persuade to read, accept and publish my work this year and next with my meager talents. So yeah, short prose fiction. Speaking of which . . .

Smash Hits

So on Sunday I ran a series of posts that focused on the digital versions of old previously published short works of mine that are live over on Smashwords. I included some ‘behind-the-scenes’ author commentary that you may want to read for a little insight on the work. Fair warning, it’s warts and all on those old pieces. Featured on my Smashwords profile page are these four:

The cursed object story Finder Kept

The bizarro horror story The Underneath

The Poe inspired horror story Pieces of Candice

And of course there’s also the bloody little ditty called Shard

I have four or five more previously-in-print works on deck to upload, so once they’re live I will link them here on Ruckerpedia.

I think that’s all I have this time. Be well, be merry and be better than you were the day before today.

– B.

Daybook 1 | New Locale. New Music. New Shirt.

20150727_143838[1]No XL, No Problem

So this weekend I grabbed three new t-shirts. This particular one is my favorite of the trio. However, given this half of a basketball I call an abdomen, I needed to get it in size XL just so there’s room for comfort, especially given the likely shrinkage tendency upon washing that would make it too snug for comfort. Well, the store didn’t have this particular design in XL, only had it in L. Well, I couldn’t pass it up.  I mean, look at it. Finally I have a shirt to sport on St. Patrick’s Day. Just have to remember to wash cold and hope for the best. #ChubbyDudeProblems 

On Vacay

So we took a mini-vacation as a family up in Wisconsin Dells, WI.  Really nice resort area, full of plenty of things to do and have a great time doing it, which is exactly what we discovered last summer down in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN.  Like those two places, I don’t have any complaints about the Dells area or its people.  I’ve gotta say that Wisconsin, being a fellow Midwest state, wasn’t all that different from Indiana, at least in terms of positive aspects. It’s not uncommon knowledge that the Midwest does have quite a bit of diversity, so after a day or so there I started wondering about how the actual demographics of the place shake out because even with the year-round residents it was quite the melting pot of people from all over globe.  Heard many a different languages spoken by the locals and visitors. Suits me perfectly fine as I always think it’s great to see and be around folks from all walks of life coming together peacefully for good times. Will definitely visit again.

Notables events I should list:

  • Stayed two nights at the reasonably priced Ambers Resort & Conference Center.
  • Chula Vista Indoor Waterpark: hot tub, big scary tube slide, lazy river swimming and crazy ramp slide.
  • Kalahari Indoor Amusement Park: electric Go-carts, the Ferris wheel, laser tag, a 3-D virtual shooter, a game of pool.
  • Mt. Olympus Outdoor Theme Park: Zeus roller coaster and Poseidon gas go-carts.
  • On the strip: Krazy Mirror Maze, exploratory walking and people watching.
  • Dined at Pizza Villa and Mexicali Rose — the former great, the latter less so.
  • Taught my youngest daughter the fine art and science of billiards.
  • Unfortunately missed out on the Ghost Boat and Haunted Cavern experience.
  • Shopped for T-shirts and popcorn for us, and fudge for loved ones back home watching our dog for us.

20150727_182409[1]Sturm Und Drang

While on my way to Wisconsin I stopped by a Best Buy store in Janesville, WI to finally procure the new CD VII: Sturm Und Drang by Richmond, VA’s own new wave of American metal band LAMB OF GOD. An immediately huge influence on my own metal guitar playing, I’ve been madly following this band (like I do MASTODON) since 2006 and so far my reaction to this new Lamb of God album (with bonus tracks of course) is that it is balls-to-the-wall awesome. I think it will impress even the jaded and fatigued metal fan. Seven albums in and I’m still proud of these boys and rocking out to their music with air guitar and air drumming glee.

Also have these LoG-related reads to partake in whenever I get a moment’s silence.

20150727_182302[1] 20150727_182330[1]

With my workload I really have no business reading a new book, let alone a magazine for leisurely entertainment, but this is what fanboys do when they’d rather read about others artists doing art than them doing art themselves. I am shameless. Don’t judge me.

Quick Programming Note

What used to be called Daybook is now re-titled as Workbook, which is more fitting for that particular kind of post which chronicles the story-making and music-making life in which I feebly manage to partake. There’s also a new Music section where I will be archiving web widgets of my various music projects. We can just call it the Ruckerpedia Virtual Jukebox, if you will. Currently up is my catch-all ambient and (mostly) instrumental production project SAINT RUCKUS.

I think this week I will also finally be posting an author Q&A that I recently did on another site. I also feel new stuff brewing for Journal Juice, The Morning Muse and The Evening Muse. Yeah, I should probably just write nonfiction from here on out, huh?

Until next time, my love bugs…

— BLR

On Hiatus

I am currently busy tending to my other sites brandonrucker.com and Hello, Blank Page. At some point Comic Book Fetish will resume, either here (with a redesign) or be folded into Ruckerpedia, perhaps. It’s all fluid right now. Updates will be forthcoming.