Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Everyone loves a monkey. . .

Especially a kung fu monkey. As anyone who's known me for a while will confirm, I have a thing about monkeys, especially the Monkey King. Over the years I've acquired quite a bit of Monkey King stuff- I have a Japanese woodblock print, a huge ceramic statue from chinatown, various smaller statues, and the most obvious testament to my obsession, a tattoo of Monkey on my right forearm. Aside from being a constant source of entertainment for me (I'm not kidding. Every time I look at that tattoo I smile a little in my head) old Monkey is my literary totem, reminding me that fiction should be a little contrary, a little mischievous, and sometimes a little rough around the edges. Oh, and if you don't know who the Monkey King is, shame on you. Do a little digging and you'll be well rewarded.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This is too easy

It's true, writing in the twenty first century isn't all that difficult. I mean, look at me- I've powered up the computer, logged in to this site, and here I go tap tap tappety tap. Then I'll virtually press a virtual button and zap! Published. I've been told by some that this is a bad thing, because anyone with time on their hands, a computer and a website or a printer can assault our collective minds with whatever sort of junk that bubbles off the top of their head. The real danger, I've heard, is not that anyone will bother to read any of it, but that the Real Art will be impossible to find in the flood of mediocrity.

I don't buy it.

I think it's great that everyone that wants to can express themselves- post their words, pictures, music online, publish their own bound books, burn cds, all that. And I think that Real Art is often mediocre itself, as much a product of hive-mind branding and posturing and advertising dollars, as it is of real creativity. Most important though, I think that real art (whatever that may be) has the power to swim to the top of the flood or, failing that, to glisten so brightly in the depths that it won't easily be lost. After all, art is what you make it out to be.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Waste(d) Words

So, as I write this I'm at the library (remember those?) using this blog as a little warmup exercise before I pop open my paper notebook and start longhanding a bit more of my novel. I tend to bounce back and forth between electronic writing and the old fashioned pen and paper method, and I've heard that some die-hards use a word processor or even a typewriter. Not me. I think that's a lot like the stubborn nostalgia for eight track cassettes, a format that has none of the richness of vinyl and none of the convenience of digital. Or to go back to apples and put it bluntly, a typewriter is a pain in the ass and a waster of valuable paper.

Just the other day, my friend P.J. was showing me his ipod Touch which, among other things can download electronic books from the internet and act as an e-reader. As a person who loves books as a tactile pleasure (holding them, turning the page, blah blah smooch smooch)my initial reaction was "Cool P.J., but who really gives a sh--?"

But then my good friend slapped me in the side of the head and yelled, "Think Man! Think of the convenience when you travel. Think of the books you like but don't love. Think of the magazines you read once and throw away. Join the future, man!"

And you know, he has a point. And while I think books (bound, paper books) should never disappear, I am appalled by the waste generated by the publishing industry. I firmly believe that magazines have no business existing in the 21st century outside of an electronic format. And as a non traditionally published writer, I can't help but see a great deal of opportunity in this rapidly emerging technology. That said, I'm going to crawl back into my dank hole now, light a candle, and write in my notebook.

Monday, February 9, 2009

It was a masterpiece, I promise.

Well, here I am in the two double oh nine, and it may seem like I've taken a heck of a vacation, but it's only from this blog. I've been writing, I've self published a book of poetry, Carnival of Vulgarities, which I'll be reading part of at Changing Hands Bookstore in March, and I've been planning and executing the attack on my second novel, a sequel to my first(unpublished manuscript),Ghost of Iga. But as my late friend Geno was fond of saying, you don't need to worry about that. This blog is really about my latest gold star.

There are certain accessories that every writer needs in order to feel like a "real" writer. For some it's an MFA, for others it's publication, awards, or even cash up front. For a lucky few it's a pen, a copy machine, a ream of paper, and a good stapler. A nice desk. A library. A jacket with elbow patches. You get the point.

Me, I have my notebooks. I have my special pens. I have a complete OED in two volumes and a magnifier to go with it. I have a self published novella, the aforementioned book of poetry, and half a dozen chapbooks. And now I have my crowning glory: a lost manuscript.

Oh, it was real once. I worked on it for weeks, so I should know. I had one copy and now it's gone. Poof. And I didn't leave it on a bus. Didn't leave it on a train. Not a plane nor a cab. The dog didn't eat it and I didn't accidentally throw it away. This is the twenty first century, guys. I just didn't bother to back it up, save it on a disc, email it to myself, or even print it. Crash. Burn. Lesson learned. Back to work.