Three Sixty Five

jj
The hardest part of this blog post was selecting a picture. This is a drawing of my dog JJ by Lindsay McMinn. He sat on my lap for most of this year of blogging and Lindsay took many an ear beating about the process of writing it (as did my wife). 

Life is a carousel. It goes around and around and you find yourself at the same places over and over again. The only thing that changes is sometimes your horse has risen and sometimes it has lowered. Most people just sit there and let the circumnavigation happen until the ride ends.

I’ve always wanted that carousel ride to be like the one that opens Lost Boys. I hoped to live like those vampires, walking against traffic and living free. I wanted to be outside the safe pattern of bobbing horses going nowhere. I wanted to be thrown off the ride.

Being a writer is the only way I know to make that happen.

I’ve written this post a thousand times in my head. Sometimes it’s long and full of meaning. Other times I simply write “So long and thanks for all the fish.” Now, I honestly don’t know what to say. I want to say it a thousand ways. I want to say this was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and that it was honestly not that hard. Both things have been true.

Jesus, this is going to ramble.

 

I began writing a draft of this final post on a porch swing at my Aunt’s house. It’s a place with a lot of memories and I hoped it would bestow this last day with some meaning and magic. The porch is where I last saw my Uncle Frank. He gave me a blue plastic rosary which had been his since he was very young and then told me to go live. He died a few weeks later. I followed his advice and lived.

I made a lot of changes and decided to take life, as they say, by the balls. I moved to San Francisco on a whim. Changed everything about how I looked (it all wore off quickly and I was back to my black t-shirts and Converse  quickly). I had plenty of adventures. Through all of it I kept journals. All I ever wanted to be was a writer. I lived the way I did because I wanted to have stories to tell.

Lately I’ve been flipping through those old journals. They are very inconsistent. When I was miserable and lonely, I wrote epics. There are dozens of pages about how much I hated bartending.  When times were good, I could barely be bothered to write anything. The first few months of dating my wife are almost entirely undocumented. Months and sometimes years would pass where I wrote nothing at all. This is the worst thing you can do if you aspire to be a writer. If you want to make it happen, there is only one way: you must write every single day. If you want to be good, you must read every single day as well.

You have to capture the good times and the bad. And you have to write even when you don’t feel like it. Many people make the mistake of waiting for inspiration to strike. It doesn’t. It taps gently on your window and if you aren’t up late waiting for it, you won’t capture it. My favorite writers and musicians still speak of the Muses. These goddesses whisper beautiful things into your ears. You must ready yourself for them.

You must write every day.

When I started this year out, I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I thought I’d eventually write something inflammatory enough to go viral and then I’d make that my living. Quickly I realized that was a bad idea. The best case scenario for that kind of career is ending up as one of those angry fake news talking heads. I tried it out and people liked it, especially during the election. Those posts were by far the most widely read. But I realized how toxic it is to always be on the hunt for something to be angry about.

So what I decided to do is train myself to have the endurance and drive to write something actually good. Writing this blog revived my desire to be an author and killed the idea that I wanted to be a popular internet writer offering my hot-take on whatever shallow thing was happening.

So now I’m going to try and write a book.

The book I will write will be as good as I can make it, which I hope is very good. The writing is not at all like what you’ve read here, fiction is different, but you’ll definitely be able to tell I wrote it.

I’m writing it for myself, but also for kids who are like I was: quiet, hardworking, into mischief. The working title is The Goblin Chef. It’s kind of Kitchen Confidential meets Harry Potter meets Indiana Jones. Stephen King says all you have to do is write one page a day and you’ll have a book in a year. Writing this blog gave me the strength to do it. I begin March 16th and plan to be done with the first draft (it’s about 150 pages) by the end of the year.

In magick, they say it’s all about intention. My intention for this and all my future writing is to be able to work from anywhere, without an office, so I can live in Oakland and New Orleans. I want to, as Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman do, to make all my living from my imagination. I want to write fun things from coffee shops and libraries and cover my mortgage. Hopefully my wife will be proud of me.

I think it’s possible. Anything is possible when you’re consistent.

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