Sunday, May 5, 2019

Standing in Mr. Vonnegut's Shadow

The longer it stretches between posts, the more it seems like a chore. Even though, when it comes down to it, it's really not. However, even if some posts are strung out between long stretches, I would just be shitting the bed in a major way if I gave it up after nine years. That's how you know I plan to keep this blog indefinitely for some time. It's pride related.

Actually, I've been blogging much longer, but nine years is how long I've maintained this particular website in some form, which existed even before I bought this domain name. When I first started it, I kept it up as just a plain-old Blogger website called Out in the Fringes. The original intent for this particular domain was to ramble about whatever was at the top of my head and also to publish my original fiction.

Since then, I have figured out better ways to publish my fiction and poetry, but on this website, I have spent all of these years honing my randomness, and it's as sharp as a bent thumb-tack against your ass through two layers of pants: you'll still feel it but it's more of a minor annoyance. Overall, I like to think of myself as a cross between Hunter S. Thompson and the more meta side of Kurt Vonnegut, with maybe a splash of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I'm probably in reality just a poor man's Chuck Palahniuk from the Midwest, but way less cool.

For a while, I aspired to write more stream-of-consciousness, especially after reading Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway, but I am far, far from that skill-wise so it's better that I stick with what I've already established. I do feel like reading these stream-of-consciousness texts has at least colored my writing in an interesting way, even if I don't dive into the deep ends of the style like I originally wanted.

On the less rigidly academic end of the spectrum of my influences, a friend from grad school introduced to me Harlan Ellison through "Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman." I was of course, familiar with him a little even though I didn't know it because of the original series Star Trek episode he wrote, "The City on the Edge of Forever," but "Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman" inspired me to buy the collection where it appeared, Paingod and Other Delusions, which I am nearly done reading. I definitely need to read more science fiction like this, which I would say exists in a similar universe as Vonnegut, but also Ray Bradbury, George Orwell and Phillip K. Dick, which all have also inspired me in some way.

This split between more "literary" and more "pop art" in my influences definitely explains why I don't stick to one genre or another or really even consider that when I go to write a story. The ideas just come and I just write them. There's no real grand plan, at least not to my knowledge. My styles are slowly merging, though.

That doesn't say as much about my current short story collection, Asshole Years, due out some time in 2019, as it does my next baby, Xennial, due out Election Day 2020. I am really excited for both, but Xennial will have all brand new stories, and they are all more in the style where I'm heading that the styles where I've been.

Speaking of which, I have been thinking about it recently, and I might eventually release the rest of the stories from my first collection, Tales from the Fringes--the ones that didn't end up in Asshole Years. A lot of what's left originally appeared in this blog. Not all did, but many of them, if not most, did. It has been almost exactly a year since I published something. My most recent book, my second poetry collection, Idiot Parade, came out on May 12th of last year. If I wanted to publish these remaining stories as a collection, I wouldn't really have to do much. It is, of course, possible that I have already planned for this and a completed manuscript already exists lol

Hmmm, maybe I'll consider it. I would be tempted to rename it, though. I don't know. It's definitely not my main priority right now. That is in getting Asshole Years finished. We'll see what happens, I guess.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Everything You've Always Wanted to Know about Me

And More...

Given the generally positive reactions to my recent dipping of my toe into writing science fiction, my flash fiction chapbook, Dispatches from the Information Age, it's probably not a surprise to anyone that I also want to continue writing more in this vein, and indeed, that's why, until recently, I have gotten away from the more "realism" style in which I also write.

However, since deciding to split my short story collection, Xennial, into two collections, Xennial, and Asshole Years, I've come to the conclusion that both sides of my writing personality can coexist, just maybe not in the same collection--at least not this time. Since Asshole Years is what I'm focusing on first since it's much further along, for now, you'll probably hear me talk it about it and the stories it contains more than you'll hear me talk about what now comprises Xennial, but that's not too say that Xennial is on the back-burner, necessarily, I just won't be working on it as much. Once I get Asshole Years to the editing stage, it will be easier to work on both projects simultaneously.

I like to think my writing now is some cross between realism, dark humor, modernism and science fiction/satire that comes out as a kind of science-fiction-leaning Flannery O'Connor. This is more evident in Xennial, and in Asshole Years, it doesn't all come out at once, and certainly the collection as a whole strays mostly in the territory of realism and modernism, there is still a glimmer of the dark humor and science fiction that I also like. A very brief glimmer, but still a glimmer. That being said, Asshole Years is definitely firmly entrenched in a universe very closely based and very similar to our own.

These stories aren't true stories in that they actually happened, but they are stories about my life through fictional events that in some ways mirror my actual experiences. Call it truthiness. It's not an autobiography but the characters are truthful. That's what makes it fiction.

One idea I have toyed around with for Asshole Years to keep the ball rolling towards a 2019 publication and to get back to Xennial is to set a number of pages, say 200, and stick to it, no matter what. My plan is to smoothly and as naturally as possible get as close to whatever goal I set and then to fill the remaining pages with splashes of visual art. That would make it easier for me to do the design at the same time. Hell, I will likely finish it before I ever finish the three new stories, which is what mostly stands in my way of completing this thing. If I cut it close on the writing and editing to whatever deadline I set, the design will be done, or nearly done, and I can mainly just focus on finishing up.

Needless to say, while I am excited about Asshole Years, I am even more excited to get back to Xennial, which I aim to publish in 2020 on or about as close to election day as possible. Since it is more in the style that I aspire to write, I am going to just pull out all of the stops and get Asshole Years done so I can get back to it. I have spent the past eight years or so on most of these stories so it's about god damn time I get them in print the way that I want them to exist for forever--or, at least, that's what I tell myself will happen in order to be able to let them go.

Given then, that spirit of making progress, I have decided upon a cover, which I am happy to share here. Thank you to those on my Instagram stories who voted between the three cover designs. It was a hard choice but ultimately, I thought the design below was the best one to represent this set of stories.

Hopefully my desire to stay busy on this project will also mean good things for those who read this blog since I like to come here to think out loud and hone my ideas. I can't say at this point whether reality will truly reflect this desire, but I am hopeful...

So until next time, fare thee well, my friends!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Vacationing in the Snowpacalpse

Or, Midnight Confessions: Where did our life go... Right?

By Source, Fair use,

 by the Go-Go's has become the unofficial anthem this weekend around casa de Gott.

We have at least a foot of snow and more is starting to come down, but the cold didn't seem too bad to me when I went outside to shovel. Then again, there is a difference between a city cold and a country cold, and Akron is definitely somewhere in between.

Sarah and I originally took Monday and Tuesday off to go on a long weekend trip, but because of the weather, of course, that didn't pan out. To be honest, we're making the best of it, and I am kinda glad it turned out this way. It has given me time to reflect, a little. Here we are, in our little bubble, living life, struggling at times, feeling successful at times, but getting through it and feeling stronger together. It is much nicer to have someone to hold hands with through the roller-coaster.

After the Go-Go's, The Grass Roots seems the next place to go as I choose the soundtrack to our hibernation. It popped up the other night when we had friends over and I was picking out just random records that I hadn't listened to in a while, and everyone seemed to enjoy it a lot, and I am especially super-jazzed about rediscovering it because it has on it one of my hands down all-time favorite songs, "Midnight Confessions."

Speaking of The Grass Roots, this seems like an excellent opportunity to sneak in a Creed Bratton meme:

Other than this blog post, I have also committed time this weekend towards working on my short story collection(s) and what might be the beginning of a new music project.

The short story collection(s) I'm referring to is(are) what used to be called Xennial. I've got this crazy idea to split them because it wasn't really working for me to have the stories I'm writing now paired with stories I wrote ten years ago. Or even 8 years ago. The stories I'm writing now are different. I've grown, I think, as a writer, or at least developed my style, or, rather, a style that works for me. So those new 18 stories are what is currently titled Xennial. Most of these need a lot of work to finish so I realistically think it will be 2020 before it comes out, but that's okay, it will be a good book to publish on a major election year.

Don't worry though, I haven't given up hope about publishing something in 2019. The other 15 stories that were originally going to be included in Xennial with those 18 will be paired down to the best nine, and will be published, probably next, under the new title Asshole Years. These are all of my realistic fiction stories, most of which I wrote for different fiction classes at Kent State University. Here's what it will contain:

  1. Eargasm (based on a blog post)
  2. Dropout (new story based off of my old story, "The Other Side of Cool," originally published in Tales from the Fringes)
  3. Truck Shop (published in Literally, Literary on Medium)
  4. The Day the Music Died (published on Smashwords as a single)
  5. Greasy (updated, originally published in Tales from the Fringes)
  6. The Opossums (updated, originally published in Tales from the Fringes)
  7. Highly Evolved (new)
  8. A Hipster Confession (updated, originally published in Tales from the Fringes)
  9. The Joint (new)

I don't have any cover art but that will be forthcoming, probably after I finish this blog post. The three new stories need finished but they are all pretty far along so this one I feel confident that I will be able to publish this year. It will probably be around 200 pages.

The music project will be under my Survival Pilot moniker, and will be at least one song, but I have at least two drum parts so there might be more. I don't know if I will finish it over this long weekend, but that is my goal. I am thinking about doing a free Soundcloud EP for record store day, or something, just for shits and giggles.

As you can see, I am never bored. Hopefully, you all are staying safe, warm, and entertained like we are here in Highland Square. And if you haven't heard "Midnight Confessions" in a while. Maybe you should give it a listen. You won't regret it.