Blog Ruckin' With You

Ruckin’ With You | 12.20.16 | Work In Progress

Transmitting the last Ruckin’ of the old year.

When you really think about it, aren’t we all just a work in progress? We’re never a finished project, that is unless we’re dead. We’re never truly done with our work, because the next work awaits. Even if we’re fortunate enough to gracefully–willfully–retire, what awaits us is the work of getting on and keeping on at actually living, or if the case may be, barely surviving. It’s all work, and if we’re breathing air, it’s work in progress.

Head Trip

As you might imagine by that intro, I’ve been wandering around inside my head the past week and a half, given my unexpected newfound free time at home. Considering the way my head works it could be argued it’s too much time–time that could lead to mental rampancy because I could literally overthink myself into oblivion (they say that’s kind of a Libra thang).

I think the subconscious question echoing in the back of my headspace has been WHY AM I HERE AND WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING? Aside from being a family man, my default answer always seems to be that I should be creating and producing art, either music or stories. My curse is I am highly creative and so if you add the aforementioned overthinking aspect to that equation, well it helps get the meticulous, large-scope planning done, but unfortunately the acute focus and execution tends to be more elusive. That’s something that simply cannot continue and steps are being made to reverse this trend.

Team Player

I am also a very collaborative person, particularly musically. Making music alone hasn’t been highly fulfilling to me since I was that teenage kid in his room writing all those guitar riffs that would eventually lead songs for my first band. Once I began to experience that band life and the mode of collaboration that comes with a band, it became the only way I prefer to make music. Have I written and produced (and performed and recorded) plenty of music on my own in a solo musician capacity? Sure. Yet despite the inherent pride that comes with that, it can never top making music with others.

Comics/graphic fiction is another art form I desperately want to produce work in. It is also highly collaborative because at the very least, for myself as a writer/creator it relies on a very close working relationship with an illustrator, if not also an inker, colorists and letterer (if neither of us are providing one of those aspects also). A few weeks ago I lamented the lack of successful connections with prospective collaborators where that’s concerned.

Here’s the rub: independence and self-sufficiency are core values to me, and so that makes the desperate need to work in these collaborative arts so frustrating and ultimately fruitless of late. If I would never had to rely on other people for contributions, I surely would not. Never mind the fact that from 2008 to 2011 I composed and produced some 60+ pieces of music by myself with the exception of a few pieces that were collaborative (much of this music is available online via one streaming platform or another; see the JUKEBOX).

Now, if only I had never stopped drawing twenty years ago. I would already be illustrating my own stories.

Perseverance is a Virtue

But hey, I’m not giving up. I’m going to used my newfound-hopefully-finite free time to prepare and pitch some projects to prospective artists in the hopes that 2017 is finally that year to make something happen on that front.

Project Announcement

Earlier this month I tapped my artist friend Jack S. Rogers for a project that’s been brewing for a few years, inspired by an image he created some six years ago or so. The codename I’m using for this project (meaning it’s not it’s official name) is Project AmWitness.

Project Update

Project Blood-Borne, that long-gestating novel series that I’ve written some 10k words for has had a plotting breakthru that just arrive in my noggin this week that currently sorting through. It addresses a couple of issues I was having with the narrative scope vs. the complex timeline of events. It’s also been split into two separate-yet-intimately/intrinsic-ly-connected trilogies, one of which is decidedly Young Adult New Adult.

Off the Grid

Barring a possible last-minute decision to do some kind of “Year-End List” kind of post, this may be the last proper post of the old year. At the Winter Solstice I’d like to “go dark” for the rest of the old year and come back better than ever in the new year.  Maybe shutdown all social media for a couple of week’s worth of radio silence. Yeah, that would be a first.

Next year I want to diversify this blog again with a variety of subjects like it used to be in the early days of this decade. The last two years have been focused on writer-ly aspects, but with the focus on just me as a writer, I think to its detriment.

I have a big day tomorrow but I’ll come back tomorrow with proper year-end send-off.

Until then, be good.

Blog Daybook Journals

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.