Summer Rain, now on kindle

So I spend all week editing a book that’s set in Indiana University, and my news feeds explode with news about IU basketball. Weird how that works sometimes.

Anyway, I’m proud to announce that my first book, Summer Rain, is now available in a new edition on the Kindle, and will soon be available in print on Createspace.

This is a new third edition of the book, which contains some very light edits to correct minor typos.  There was also one change in book three involving Bloomington street directions that nobody ever caught, but now the ordering of streets when driving from Mitchell and Atwater to Colonial Crest is correct.  (Sorry, OCD.)

For those who have never heard of this before, my first book is a fictional account of a summer I spent in Bloomington, Indiana in 1992.  Bloomington is one of those midwestern college towns that normally has something like 40,000 students, and overnight in May, it becomes a beautiful little ghost town of nothing but townies and people stuck in summer school.  This was the point in my life when I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, and was about to flunk out of school.  I was dead broke, just got dumped, dealing with some heavy depression issues, and doing my fair share of self-medicating with barley and hops-based compounds.  I was also deep in the world of underground death metal, writing letters to obscure bands in Sweden and Japan, trying to publish a zine, and DJing a late-night show that nobody listened to.  And this was the apex of the internet, the beginning of the explosion of technology that’s making it possible for you to read this crap.  I worked with computers, these giant VAX mainframes, and ancient Macs and PCs.  So I spent a summer trying to figure out what the hell to do with life, if I could ever make money on music or if I should pursue this computer thing, and of course always trying to figure out love and romance and sex and friendships and everything else that constantly burns at a 21-year-old’s brain.

This book is huge – 710 pages in print form.  When I first self-published it in 2000, the cheapest I could price it was $29.99, and I made almost zero money on it.  But it wasn’t about the money – I just wanted to do this as a tribute to all the people who knew me back in 1992, and to those who grew up in that era, slumming it on college campuses and hacking away at C and Pascal programs in the days before the web.  So now I’m very excited that I can avoid the dead trees and make this available for only $2.99.  This isn’t the kind of writing I do anymore – it’s very much “straight” literature, and a labor of love.  But I have a lot of fond memories of that era, and of putting this thing together.

And if you do like killing trees, the CreateSpace edition will be out soon.  It will be $15.99, which isn’t three bucks, but it’s cheaper than $30.  The book’s a huge chunk of wood, and you can’t get around the pricing situation on a 710-page book, but CreateSpace did make it considerably cheaper, for the same quality book.  And I finally get to ditch that godawful cover on the first edition.

A lot of people helped me with the book, and there is now a thanks page listing them.  Thanks to everyone listed, and if I forgot you, please tell me and I’ll update it.

Okay, here’s the link to go get it on amazon.  Thanks to everyone who has checked it out!

[Easter egg that nobody’s ever mentioned, probably because only three people bought this: the car on the cover has an Indiana front plate. Indiana doesn’t have front plates, or at least they didn’t in 1992.]


Summer Rain Redux

I’ve spent the last few days doing something somewhat monotonous and incredibly nostalgic: importing the manuscript for Summer Rain into Scrivener.  The import itself wasn’t difficult, except that the original book was written in emacs, which meant every single line ended in a hard return, and all of the quotes were straight quotes.  Both of those are trivial fixes in Scrivener, though.

The reason for this project was to retire the iUniverse and Lulu editions, and do a CreateSpace and a kindle version.  I also wanted to hit the thing for some very basic spelling corrections, a different interior design, and a new cover.  One of the problems with that is just the sheer size of the book: it weighs in at just over 220,000 words.  I had to do the page layout in Word, and also used it as a second opinion on the spell check.  Word can deal with a book that long (about 700 pages), but not without the occasional stutter.  I think if I had the manuscript in a single Word file during its composition, the resulting bit rot of repeated saves would have quickly corrupted it.  Luckily, Scrivener doesn’t have issues with that, because internally, it’s storing the book as fifty or so files.

I had mixed feelings about this book going into the project.  It’s very much not what I’m writing anymore; it’s not gonzo or bizarro in any way.  It’s not even terribly funny.  There might be a chuckle or two in the book, but nothing like my recent stuff.  So there’s a strong desire for me to discount the book, or maybe retire it.  But I also felt some need to revisit it.  I just didn’t want to spend my time rewriting it, trying to do anything similar, or go off on that tangent of straight fiction or creative nonfiction, which isn’t really my bag.  I love to read that stuff, but I’m of the opinion that my real life is much more boring than the twisted world inside my head, and I’m probably better off trying to get that down on paper.

That said, there’s something mystical about going back through this book again.  For one, I don’t know how the hell I managed to write this.  It’s so damn long, and although it’s not as heavily plotted as a best-seller, it’s got some serious amounts of character development.  The most interesting part of this is that one of the main characters is entirely fictional.  I mean, writing semi-autobio stuff lets you cheat on the character development, because you can just ramble on about yourself, and you sort of get it for free.  But I spent a lot of time futzing over the character Amy, trying to make her believable, and I’d forgotten how much went into her story.

And it’s been twenty years this summer since the events in this book happened.  That’s a serious amount of distance, and it makes me think about what did and did not happen.  I mean, at this point, it’s hard to separate what really happened in 1992 and what I think I remember happening, and in that pre-web environment, there’s no clear way to untangle the two.  That’s always why I take great interest in when I run across an old friend from back then, or I find some old trove of photos or an old newspaper or some other relic from that age.

For example, I recently found a youtube clip from this band Haunted Garage, which I absolutely loved back then.  They were a sort of splatter-punk/metal band, sort of like Gwar, with elaborate stage antics that involved a lot of fake blood and guts.  The band only did a single album and then fell apart, but me and Ray used to worship that album, and I played songs from it constantly on my old radio show.  Watching this few minutes of interview was a portal back to the early 90s for me in a strange way, because sometimes 1992 seems like it was 18 months ago, and then I see a video like this, done on crude VHS camcorder technology, and see how it was really last century, and half a life ago.

Going through the book again was full of touchstones like this, bands I’d forgotten about, events that fell out of my brain, feelings I don’t really feel anymore.  And it makes me think about when I wrote the book, too.  I started writing this book in 1995, less than three years after the events really happened.  The difference is that when I was in Seattle or the start of my time in New York, there was still this feeling that I could go back.  I returned to Bloomington a few times in the late 90s, and although the pizza places changed hands and the undergrads looked way younger, it still felt like the same life to me.  I felt back then that I could always go back, that I was a plane ticket away from that summer I spent there.  Now, especially when I was there in December, I don’t really feel that anymore.  I still have fond memories of the place, but I know there’s no real bridge back to the era anymore.  If I moved back to 47404 and rented out an apartment and decided to start over, I would just be that creepy old guy, and not a part of the experience.

The other thing I think about when reading this book again is how the writing has some power and depth in places, how I could capture some of that emotion.  It’s not like when I go back and read Rumored again, which I still find magical and incredible; SR is pretty uneven, and there are some parts that are a total dud.  But, for example, when I read the last chapter in the book, it always feels like I nailed it.

It’s also hard to believe it was almost twelve years ago I handed this thing off to iUniverse and shipped.  I have regrets I haven’t done more in that dozen years, but I’m picking up some momentum, and I know what I need to do now, so there’s that.

Anyway, stay tuned.  I’m hoping to get the new version out there in the next couple of weeks.

(And that picture of the car above — trade secret — it’s not the VW I had in Bloomington.  I had a second Rabbit in Seattle in 98/99.  It was silver and had the moon roof and was a stick shift, but the one shown above was a two-door, and had a gas engine instead of diesel.  Yes, I bought a near-duplicate car during the writing process of the book.  That’s what you call research.)



The gaps of summer

I find myself thinking about Summer Rain a lot lately, which is ultimately dangerous, I think.  Next year will be 20 years since the Bloomington summer I fictionalized, and ten years since I actually last set foot in the college town.  I think about the book because it’s a default way of writing for me, fictionalizing my past, and I often wonder if I should write another similar book talking about the other pockets of time in Indiana, or Seattle, or whatever.  I actually wrote a good chunk of a novel that fictionalized the end of my high school experience, and the battle to get the hell out of my small town in Indiana, back in the late 80s.  It’s about 50,000 words, but ultimately plotless and would be difficult to spin into anything useful.

I pulled the original Summer Rain manuscript into Scrivener, with thoughts about cleaning it up and doing an ebook version, but it was absolutely painful for me to look at some of that old writing.  It screams “first book” and makes me want to dive into it and rewrite everything, which is the danger.  That’s a huge rabbit hole to fall into, and one without much reward.  I’ve often thought about going back to rewrite the whole thing from scratch, or maybe come back and rewrite it as a book told by a person twice as old as the original character, returning to the town he lived in half a life ago and comparing the pieces of that past with what really happened in his life.  The John Knowles book A Separate Peace was an unlikely inspiration for me, and he frames his book in a similar way.

One of the things that I ponder sometimes is all of the stuff I left out of the book.  There were a few story lines and characters that ultimately did not add anything to the book and were left out, and there are bits of that summer that I later recall that simply didn’t relate to the rest of it and never made the manuscript.  Sometimes I’ll see something that reminds me of the era, and I’ll then remember it never made the book, and is just a lost, unassimilated memory that I should probably catalog and use elsewhere.

One of those memories involves driving in a tornado.  I was at the College Mall, before a shift at the radio station, wandering the concourses and hallways with no real purpose except to kill a few hours until I went on the air.  It started pouring rain, which was no big surprise – one of the central themes of the original short story which morphed into the book was how it rained every single time I had a radio show, and I’d spend those lazy summer nights in this shithole college radio station, listening to death metal and watching the rain fall on the downtown in the darkness.  But while I was at the mall, the sirens went off, those air raid sirens that typically denote the start of a nuclear war or godzilla attack.  Someone came on the PA and said everyone had to go to the mall basement because a tornado had been spotted.  This amazed me, because I did not know the mall had a PA system or a basement.

As everyone shuffled into the basement of this mall, I thought for some stupid reason that it was my duty to get to the station and broadcast news about the tornado.  Never mind that nobody listened to the station, and I didn’t have a ticker tape or news feed or national weather service thingee to give me any data other than what I could see outside my window; I felt some need to get to the station, as opposed to being trapped in a basement with a bunch of strangers.  So I ran out to the parking lot, and drove.  And I got to the station, there was no news, no destruction, end of story.  But the experience of driving in this near-tornado weather was surreal, the darkness and the quiet of the two pressure fronts, punctuated with the sounds of rain dropping like pellets of stone onto my windshield, the low howl of the wind, and the feeling that my little toy car would go airborne at any given time.  It wasn’t enough of a story to become an actual story, but when I see a tornado on the news, that’s what entered my head.

There was also this entire subplot that I couldn’t get into words about this girl that I tutored who I had a horrible crush on, and who it turns out had a horrible crush on me, and of course nothing became of it, except I spent a summer trying to explain Motorola assembly code to someone who probably should have changed majors.  She also had this absolutely gorgeous roommate, who I never talked to, and then one night had an hour-long spontaneous conversation with her and found out she was a manic-depressive and we shared the same psychiatrist.  And she had broken up with her boyfriend the day before, and was going to Europe the next week, and it was one of those things where I thought if everything was different, I would have had a shot with her.

Years later the tutor-ee converted to the Baha’i faith, and convinced me to come to a meeting with her.  I had little interest in converting to a new religion, but still had some kind of feelings for her, and agreed.  And I found the Baha’i religion fascinating, how they believe that all religions are essentially true, and believe in all of god’s messengers.  All of the people were friendly, and there was no heavy dogma or evangelical angle.  But there was still the whole belief in a god thing, which I couldn’t do.  Also, no premarital sex was a deal-breaker.

There’s something psychologically stopping me from writing about these things, and I don’t know how to quantify it, other than to say I don’t care about it anymore.  Bloomington seems so distant, and the present seems so dull, so I feel a need to write about something completely synthesized.  There are a lot of things like that, things that I no longer give a shit about that were once almost religious battles for me.  The Coke versus Pepsi sort of battles in life are things I just honestly do not care about anymore.  That’s not a problem in the sense that I don’t throw a fit when I go to a restaurant and they don’t have my brand of fizzy water.  But does it cause a problem in that all writing needs to be, in some way, about unresolved conflict?


The Run-in

Here’s something I forgot to mention about my Vegas trip last January:  my ex from Seattle was there at the same time as me.  I did not run into her like I did on my 30th birthday, but I knew she was there because when I was waiting for my luggage, someone kept paging her.  That really tripped my freak-out meter and made me look at every single person arriving at the shuttle monorail station, wondering if she would show up, and what I would do.  In that particular case, we broke up with no real ill-will and remained friends, albeit walking-on-eggshells friends, for a couple of years while I was still in Seattle.  But after I moved to New York, some switch was flipped with her, and she decided I was the root of all evil and we could no longer speak.  And sure, I’ll be the bad guy of the situation and assume that role if it makes her feel any better, especially since we live however many thousands of miles apart, and it’s not like I need to avoid places to not see her.  But it’s strange that we keep ending up in Vegas at the same time, and it always makes me wonder what I’d say if I did have to talk to her again.

I always remember the opposite scenario, especially back in Bloomington, with the bad breakup and the dread/anticipation of running into an ex.  Because here’s how it would go down:  I would get dumped, usually in some catastrophic way.  Then I would spend every waking moment wanting to see that person again, for that last word, that one bit of closure.  I always thought that if I said the right magic word, they would see the error in their ways and come running back to me, even though they spent the last month breaking every connection, burning every bridge, and completely salting the earth to make it clear to me that we would never get back together again.  But I would be pained in such a way that I would absolutely need to say something or lash out in some way and get in that last final “no, fuck YOU!”  And when I got to the point where I started leaving the house again, because this typically involved a refractory period of sitting in my room alone listening to Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut a million times, I would both fear and anticipate running into this person again.  Because Bloomington’s a big city in some ways – I mean, it’s a couple hundred acres and like 40,000 people milling about, but you’ll eventually cross paths again.

But here’s one that I thought I documented (fictionally, sort of) in Summer Rain, but I guess I tore it out before the final draft.  So I dated this woman in 1991, and after spending that xmas break fuming and fretting to all of my friends about how I should dump her, I got back and she dumped me, and whatever reason, it completely knocked me sideways, and I spent a lot of time depressed.  We had a lot of stupid fights, and the scorched earth policy went into full effect, and I absolutely knew I could never go back with her (mostly because like an hour after we broke up, she had already fucked like 9 other guys, and was talking about moving to Australia or England or something, because she spent all of her time in IRC chat because she was a fervent Anglophile.)  But I was still borderline obsessed with running into her, getting in that last jab, getting her to somehow admit she was cheating on me the whole time or whatever.  I don’t really know what I wanted, but I was obsessed with it, the kind of obsessed where I had to take her name out of my wholist program on the VAX.  For a while, I left it in there, officially because I needed to know if she was in a nearby lab on campus so I could avoid her, but unofficially because I was somehow obsessed with where she was or if she was on the computer late at night, talking to her next prospect.  Not a healthy thing to do, but it took me a while to finally delete her name and get her off my radar.

So we never ran into each other again.  And months later, I meet someone, and we meet and we have breakfast and everything is magical and just clicks, and if you think you’ve heard the story before, it’s because you did – the character Tammy in Summer Rain was based on this.  And we meet on this Sunday morning in the spring that’s one of those magical days in March in Bloomington where it’s suddenly 70 degrees out and sunny and you don’t need a coat and the memories of digging your car out of a block of ice and spending the last two months damning yourself for not going to school in Florida or Southern California quickly vanish from your mind.

And I go on a walk with this new girl, and we decide to walk across campus to go use the new NeXT computer lab at the Student Building (romantic, right?) and we’re walking and holding hands and joking and strolling across that big parking lot that runs next to the Jordan River behind the music building.  And as we’re walking, guess who we see coming the opposite direction?  The ex.  THE ex, the one I have been avoiding, that I have sort of but not really gotten out of my head.  And I don’t even acknowledge her presence; I keep talking and joking and laughing with the new girl, and we go past her as if she’s just another stranger walking around on that sunny Sunday afternoon.  And I wanted to say something, to the effect of “do you realize what just happened?”  Because right then, the entire remainder of whatever bad karma or bad mojo or whatever you want to call it suddenly vanished from my system, and I realized I did not give a fuck whatsoever about this ex.  It was the magic pill that completely cured me of that breakup.

Of course, I did not know at the time that in a few short months, I would be doing the same thing with the new girl, except now she would be in Pittsburg, not answering my phone calls or letters, and I was desperately wondering how I’d ever talk to her again.  And then the next fall, as I did talk about at the end of Summer Rain, I would run into her again, and coincidentally, it was at the same exact god damned spot behind the music school where I ran into the other ex, only this time I did not have some new girl in tow – I was actually in the middle of a huge fuck-up/breakup with someone else, spending my days moping around and writing giant multi-page journal entries about what I could have possibly done so wrong to fuck up my life so much at that point.

I am now largely convinced that my next book should be something bizarre, like a sibling to Rumored to Exist. But one of the stories that I wrote for Air in the Paragraph Line #13 was about a bad breakup in 1993, and it makes me think I should just write a book that’s a chapter per bad breakup from like all of the 1990s, and maybe some light paste between stories to make the whole thing a novel.  Maybe, but maybe later… bigger fish to fry right now.


Summer Rain re-release

I am happy to announce that I have re-released my first book Summer Rain with a new printer,

Summer Rain is a book about a summer in a big college town in 1992. Here’s what the back cover says:

John Conner has lost his girlfriend, his job, a scholarship, and has been kicked out of college. Instead of retreating back to his parents’ basement and a life of mediocrity and factory labor, he decides to stay the summer in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana.On the lazy Indiana University campus, Conner explores the worlds of death metal, zines, no-budget radio, and slackerdom while trying to learn about women, deal with depression, and get his life back on course. While he works telemarketing jobs and hawks glowsticks as a street vendor in order to survive, he learns who his friends are in the strange mix of people left at the college for the summer. The atmospheric and descriptive narration weaves the hidden beauty of the Midwest and the crossroads of the early Nineties into a timeless story of the follies of youth.

Conner’s ramblings through the desolation of an empty campus parallel the meaningless jobs he must take to scrape by while he decides whether to remain sequestered in the relative comfort of college living or leap into an unstable world fueled only by his own creativity.

As for the new edition, it is the same text, but this time, I was able to do the layout myself, and I managed to shrink it from about 660 pages to about 480 pages without affecting readability. It gave me a chance to go through and fix some typos, and I got to redesign the cover so it didn’t look like a damn modern art masterpiece.

The big difference is that this version, aside from being lighter on your hands when you’re reading it, is also MUCH lighter on your pocketbook. The iUniverse edition was $29.95; now it is only $16.95. In order to get the price this low, I had to forego distribution through Ingram and an ISBN/UPC/EIN, so you can’t get it from Amazon or your local bookstore, but only online from (If you’re in town or you ask real nice, I can sell you one in person with real cash or paypal or whatever. And I trade, if you have a book out, too.)

Anyway, the lulu page is at They ain’t amazon and their prices on shipping aren’t the lowest, but they’ve improved them since last time, and they’re getting better. The quality of the book is the same, and the big thing is the lower price and the fact they didn’t have a trained sloth design the cover for me. While you’re at lulu, you might want to check out John Sheppard’s books at this page, as he is also rereleasing all of his books in the lower-cost format, and Small Town Punk makes a nice companion to Summer Rain, if you’re into that whole youthful angst thing.

Enough of the plugging, I am going to go do something I haven’t done in a long time and read someone else’s book, instead of mine.


Summer Rain useless trivia

I’ve been busy working on something. Check this out, here are some facts and other worthless trivia about my first book, Summer Rain:

  • The book was started on April 1, 1995
  • The final draft was sent to the publisher on July 3, 2000
  • The last third of the book was completely rewritten in the second-to-last draft.
  • About 20,000 words were cut from the book’s length during the final draft.
  • Final wordcount: 220,866
  • First draft wordcount: 82,142
  • Original target wordcount: 40,000
  • A first draft was completed on 9/15/95, but contained just a fraction of the final product.
  • Based on a short story by the same name written in late 1994 for a writing class. Part of the story is in chapter 38. A slightly cleaned-up version of the standalone story is here
  • The interview with Type O Negative contained in Chapter 35 really did happen when Jon Konrath was a DJ at WQAX in 1992. Later, when their landmark album Bloody Kisses was released, they thanked John Conner from WQAX. This is where the name for the main character came from.
  • Early drafts contained lyrics from many Death Metal bands, but they were removed in the final draft to avoid permissions problems.
  • The band Nuclear Winter was a basement/joke band containing Jon Konrath, Larry Falli, Ray Miller, Derik Rinehart, and others. The song lyrics quoted are real.
  • The story’s timeline is carefully scripted to match Indiana University’s actual 1992 academic calendar.
  • Jon Konrath went back to the IU Bursar’s office and purchased a complete recapitulation of his Bursar’s account to reverse-engineer some of the dates and dollar amounts in the book.
  • The report cards and letters from the college with regard to grades were real.
  • In chapter 32, a letter from the Dean of Students is signed by Juan Schwartz. This is the pseudonym Trey Parker used in his film Cannibal: The Musical
  • In chapter 21, John falsely predicts that the World Wide Web will never catch on.
  • Almost all of the mails sent from John Conner were actual emails sent by Jon Konrath in 1992.
  • Several scenes and characters were cut completely from the book:
    • A job interview for a computer support position at Bryan Hall.
    • Going on a horrible blind double date to see Cool World with a female friend and her best friend.
    • An interview with Death Metal band Unleashed
    • Several sequences involving me tutoring a friend in computer science
    • Another female interest late in the book that acted as a foil against Amy.
  • The original draft had an ending that took place years after the original summer. It told what happened to John Conner, and some of the other characters in the book. It ended with a paragraph that’s partially stolen from Charles Bukowski’s Post Office:
             Then I started reading, reading guys like Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski.  I saw their lives through their prose, and it started me scribbling in spiral notebooks, hoping to free myself by journaling.  The scribbling helped mold me, and as I felt better about my own little world, the pile of filled spiral notebooks began to grow.  Then, I decided I should just write a novel about all of it.  And I did.
  • In early drafts, Amy leaves John for another man at the end of the book.
  • In real life, WQAX closed its doors forever at the end of 1992.
  • Nick’s original name was Marco.
  • The first trip to Elkhart was much longer. It was cut in half during edits. One scene removed contained John’s father.
  • The entire book was written using emacs. It was stored in text files, a file per chapter.
  • A printout of a draft from 6/18/99 is in the Library of Congress. This was the second-to-last draft.
  • Amy’s apartment in chapter 37 (Colonial Crest, #144) was Jon Konrath’s actual apartment in the 1993-1994 school year.
  • The cover photo is Showalter Fountain. The photo was taken by Dave Gulbransen, but the publisher messed it up during design, so it looks horrible.
  • Amy’s personal name in her email says “The more things change, the more they stay the same” in French.

CVS woes

I should mention that I finished a draft of Summer Rain today. Now it’s time to shake out all of the bugs, and get this piece of shit to the printer.

I’m sick – probably shouldn’t be awake but my sleep schedule’s off due to a day of heavy cold medicine and too many naps. I ate dinner at like 5:30 and now I’m starving, so I woke up in the middle of the night to eat pizza. Make sense? Probably not.

Ten seconds after I convinced Michael that CVS was the greatest thing in the world, it stopped letting me check in files. This is a metaphor for my life.

04/28/00 13:59

I fucking hate being sick. Even though I got a good night’s sleep last night, I absolutely couldn’t get out of bed thismorning. So I called in, hacked (lungs, not code) for 45 minutes, and got back to bed. Had a weird dream that I was at the weird Maryland top-secret camp where they’re holding Elian and his dad. I was hanging out with my old friend Chris Hagen, who was desperately trying to convince me that I should have children as soon as possible. Chris has always been a strange guy, so this wasn’t entirely out of character.

I just got lunch from the Mini Star, a diner a few blocks away. Very cheap, pretty good, and extremely fast. And they let me order anything, no matter how small, with no minimum order. I think I could call and ask for a napkin, and a guy would be here three minutes later. It’s like having a Denny’s on call. Today’s a soup day – hot chicken noodle, perfect for this cold. I also got a $3 cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice that could regenerate the dead, it has so much vitamin C in it.

Otherwise, it’s very much a non-day. I kept drifting back to sleep, half wanting to stay unconscious for three days until this was over, half wanting to get up, take a shower, and get on the computer or clean or go to the corner store or something. I feel so guilty for sitting around all day, but… I’m sick.

It still hasn’t registered that I finished a draft of Summer Rain. It probably won’t; this is common for me. When I think about it, there are probably so many problems – continuity, gaps, grammar, and it’s going to be a huge task to fix all of them. I wish I could print the whole thing, mistakes and all. But it’s somewhat rewarding to find a major fuckup and thing “I’m glad that didn’t make it to print…”

Back to my soup…


final mile

Things are, at best, a blur. I think I’m getting a cold, which is a pisser because I’m in the final mile of editing Summer Rain, and I really want to blow through the last of the writing and get it over with. I’m down to five chapters with sizable holes that need to be plugged, and then it gets down to the monotony of spell-checks and passes through printouts with the red pen. I’m almost certain that two weeks into the month I’ve scheduled, I will say ‘fuck it’ and send the thing off to the printers.

I can’t think well at the start of a cold. It seems to cut into my creativity first. I think if I could sleep more, I would get past this. I got about 6 hours last night, which helped. Tonight, I will try for 8. I also want to think about what books to read next. I haven’t been able to read while I edit Summer Rain, and I want to get into stuff that will make me want to work on Rumored to Exist. Maybe some Raymond Federman. Or I could re-read Leyner.

I have an overwhelming urge to get a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator. I’ve decided to wait until the book is done and money settles down, and then I will waste my evenings on learning to fly a Cessna. And waste my paychecks on control yokes, pedals, and more memory.

Okay, back to the book.


Walking dead

I am the walking dead today. I slept about 2 hours right after work, and I slept almost 10 last night. It was pouring rain outside, which meant I was hypnotized into a deep sleep, and I had abnormal dreams all night long. Anyway, I rolled into work today and could barely open my eyes. I’m still trying to get the caffeine going so I’ll be able to function a bit more.

I’m still writing, working on Summer Rain, but it’s getting tougher. I didn’t realize I left significant blank spots in the manuscript that were to be filled in later. I thought I’d just be doing some light editing, but now I’ll have to write complete chapters to insert into this thing. I guess it will be nice to do some writing from scratch, but I need to get the whole story in my head before I start messing with it more.

I do like digging through old writing and finding things that I think are ingenious, things I didn’t realize I wrote. I was digging through my hard drive the other night, trying to get things into some kind of order, and I found this long monologue I wrote about this woman who sold me a microwave at Target. I’d forgotten the piece and forgotten the women, and laughed my ass off when I read the story. I always love finding stuff like that. I think I’m a boring and redundant writer, then I find a story I scribbled on the back of some physics homework in 1992.



Finding style

It’s just another day. I spent the weekend staying up all night and sleeping all day. Now I just about totalled myself getting in here, and my eyes are welded shut with sleep. My stomach is churning from no food and too much caffeine. I could use a nap. I could use ten naps.

I shouldn’t bitch – I got a lot of writing done. I cracked open the Summer Rain text, and started at page one. I hope to read through it, making revisions and getting up to speed with the text again. I used to be able to think of a paragraph or conversation and just turn right to that page without thinking. Now I forget how the fucking story goes in some places.

Last summer, I cut the book into three pieces – three books, to make it more logical, to fit together better. It’s sort of three phases of the character’s summer, and follows his thinking about what he should do with his life. It also makes the text easier to work with – the chapters are shorter, and I can just work with each third of the book, and not worry about this giant volume of writing all at once.

My plan this time is to read through the whole thing, correct the choppiness, and fix any holes. I do have a larger idea to break the story apart by alternating the chapters of reality with some other chapters – maybe flashbacks, email messages, or something. That’s a bit ambitious right now, though. I just want to focus on making the main body of text readable. I know nobody will want to buy this book, or even read it. But I want to make it readable to me, and I want to finish it. I’d feel better with a fully-functional book sitting under my bed and collecting dust than a bunch of disjointed text that makes up 90% of a book.

Also, I think my drive to finish this book is different than before. When I wrote the first draft, I wanted to publish this book and make money and do interviews and be on Charlie Rose and become famous. I realize now that the book market in this country is fucked, and the only way you can get a book deal is to be a murderer or one of the lawyers at their trial. Americans don’t buy books anymore unless they’ve got the endorsement by some pop-rock idiot, or they were ghost written for a rock star or something. I can’t sell this book. I can’t give it away. And I don’t think anybody would read it, because it really drags, and tells a story that has a lot of vague hidden meaning that isn’t there for most people. It’s boring to most people. But it means a lot to me. And also, I have been afraid about talking about me. I didn’t want to discuss everything that happened with people because I was afraid they’d sue me. There was a lot of self-censorship involved, and I’ve decided to just cut the shit, hit the throttles, and write this fucking book. Nobody’s going to see it except me. So it’s time to belt this thing out.

I cut through two chapters last night, and made some minor changes. I am not happy with my writing style in the manuscript, and my first big changes will be cleaning this up. The beginning of the book’s been edited about 38 times, and past the first few chapters hasn’t really been touched from the original manuscript I started back at IU. So the first third of the book is really lofty, with me adding adjectives and adverbs all over the place to make it more descriptive. It reads like a dumb-ass trying to be smart. And then later in the book, I was typing faster than fuck while on a caffeine buzz, and some parts of the book just skip all over the place. There are whole sentences without verbs, lots of edit marks, stuff unfinished. So it all needs to be brought to the same level, the same style.

I’ve thought about what style to mimic for this book. Obviously, I want my own style and I need to find it. But I need to find it by writing SOMETHING and then slowly finding myself and changing. I guess what I want is a combination of Bukowski and Rupert Thomson. I want to be easy to read, easy to tackle, something that flows well, but has a depth behind it. I don’t want to spend half a page describing an environment – I’d rather briefly set it up, have the character and their actions describe it, and then continue. I guess Kerouac was into that, especially in On The Road. Anyway, the stuff is hard to read in places, and it needs to be simplified, but it still needs to capture the feeling.

Window washers are outside my office right now, dangling from ropes with buckets of soap and squeegees. It was pretty weird – I heard a knocking around, then saw these ropes drop and guys in harnesses fling down like SWAT team guys rapelling down to get the terrorists or something.

My stomach is feeling a little better, but I still need a nap…