Dig your own hole

Busy. Busy. Busy.

I have been trying to finish this next book. I usually write 500, 1000 words a day, and the last few days have been 3000, 4000 word days as I rush to complete this thing before vacation. I had a goal, according to my outline, of 55,000 words, and I hit that yesterday, but the story’s not done, maybe another five or ten thousand left to go. And this is just a first draft, to get the bones down. The writing itself is a mess, and will require a lot more work to even it out. This book is a huge departure for me, the closest to a genre book I’ve ever written, very plotted and end-to-end linear, about as Hollywood as I could possibly get. That leaves many question marks about what to do with it when it’s done, but I’m excited about its potential. I’m also blotto from the tail end of a huge sugar high and have consumed far too much caffeine for the day, so that’s an issue.

I leave for Germany in four days. I am entirely unprepared. I have to pack and figure out what I’m doing, and I feel like I won’t have enough time once I get there. I basically have two days in Nuremberg, then a travel day and three days in Frankfurt, then the travel day back. There’s two full days of flying and airports in there. I have new noise-reducing headphones. I hope they work.

I just read Circuits of the Wind, a three-part novel by old friend Michael Stutz.  (It’s actually now available in an omnibus single-book edition, too.)  I’d read parts of the book years ago, as he was sketching out a mad volume of pages about early net life, but never envisioned how it would all fit together in a massive arc from a 70s childhood before the dawn of video games to the era of the hacker scene and modem BBSes on up to the birth of the internet and the early 90s web explosion. Stutz is a solid writer, a master of the long Kerouacian lyrical style, knitting together observational sketches of deep detail and strong emotion into a longer, flowing river of nostalgia and history.  It was a fun read, but knowing that he probably cut thousands of pages from the final product makes me wish I had a ten-times-longer version to wade through for weeks.

I still don’t know where I’m going with the writing, although I’ve been very productive as of late. I have so many different projects piling up in the background, ideas that are waiting to mature on the vine. But one of the things I keep pushing back is the idea of a giant nostalgic work like Circuits, something that explores the deep emotional k-holes I sometimes dive down when digging through old emails and archives. I did this in Summer Rain to some extent, but I feel like I could do better, do more.  I have a few different half-assed attempts sitting up on blocks, but feel like to do it right, I’d need to start with a real outline, at least a roadmap for where to go and an idea for how the whole narrative would work, so I could dig in and start sketching the thing out.  This is a huge undertaking though, and I’m half afraid if I would try it now, I would just be aping Circuits.  But there was so much resonation in that book, I told Michael that the one major problem I had, which is also the biggest compliment I could give, was the number of times I had to stop and tell myself, “damn, I wish I wrote this book.”

I also have these heavy nostalgia trips about two other eras: my time in Seattle, and the period of New York right after I moved to Astoria. Both of these are periods that always come up in dreams, which is a sign that they’re knocking around my unconsciousness too much. They are also parts of my life where I was incredibly alone, and felt a great need for something to happen.  I wrote a lot during both the 1995-1997 and 1999-2001 periods I’m thinking about, and there were periods of dating and friendships, but there was also some horrible, unchecked depression and complete despair about what direction I was going in life.  That makes it a lot like the 1992 period I wrote about in Summer Rain, and makes me think it’s worth mining for fiction.

Another common theme of all three of those periods were they were specific eras in the development of the internet and the culture surrounding it.  1992 was this precursor, when those of us on college campuses had rich internet interactions with telnet and FTP and usenet and irc and electronic mail, digging into online culture and meeting people at other schools through listservs and chat rooms.  By 1995, when I got to Seattle and started at Spry, the web startup era was in high gear, with URLs appearing on ads and products, web browsers like Netscape popping up, and startup culture in full gear, everyone scrambling in the first big land grab for cyberspace.  In 1995, I thought I could help change the world and help form an online utopia; by 1997 or 1998, I saw the world was nothing more than a Dilbert comic strip, and it was all becoming corporatized and diluted, the usenet and telnet era of the beginning of the 90s gone.  And then in New York, in 1999  onward, I worked at Juno, the next era of democratization of the internet, moving from the eccentric tech nerds with expensive home computers to the time when millions and millions had the internet. Another big boom of startups happened, but much more mature and high-stakes.  And it went from dumb corporate culture to behemoth corporate culture.  And then NASDAQ crashed, big mergers happened, big Enron scandals happened.  Cue 9/11 for the end of that story and the beginning of another.

I don’t know how to link all of this together yet. I have vague ideas.  I don’t know if anyone would read it.  And I’m rounding third base and trying to run out the throw to the plate on the first draft of this other book.  And where’s my passport?  How many pairs of socks do I need to pack?  How warm is it in Germany?  How do I convert Celsius into real degrees? Busy, busy, busy.


Notes from a trip journal, London

[I wrote this on 5.17.2012 and it doesn’t really have an ending.]

I’m in Nuremberg today, sitting in my hotel with a glass bottle of Coke and listening to Jimi. I’ll get to the first leg of my German trip (and the horrible travel day I had getting here), probably about the time I’m leaving here for Berlin. First, I wanted to put down some thoughts about London.

I’ve never been to London before, and I didn’t know what to expect. I envisioned it as a city like New York, except older, darker, and replace all of the Ray’s Original Real Famous pizza joints with fish and chip restaurants, or maybe pubs. What I found was completely different from that, and I have to say that I really enjoyed London.

I don’t feel like recapping in paragraphs, so I’m going to drop right into the bulleted list.

  • We flew out of SFO at around noon. That put us into town at about seven in the morning the next day. It was maybe an eleven-hour flight, and I almost slept an hour. S had a seat in business class, and because her ticket was booked from her work and mine was done by me on the web, I got an economy plus ticket. That meant I had a hair more room than the steerage section, but not enough to stretch out. I wrote for a long time, played games on my iPad, and watched the new Jim Gaffigan special, which was worth the five bucks.
  •  Heathrow is big. We got out and my first impression was that it was roughly the size of Newark, JFK, and LaGuardia put together. It took us forever to get from the plane to customs. Clearing customs was a non-issue, even though I had been up all night and was liable to say something stupid, but they asked me nothing except for the purpose of my visit. I did not answer “to fuck shit up,” so I passed.
  • All of the cabs are the same kind of car, and I don’t know the make or model, but it looks like an old 1940s sedan.
  • Once we got on the highway in the back of a cab, I quickly got confused by the right-hand drive thing. Like I’d look over and think “how the hell is that car driving itself, and why is that kid just sitting in the passenger seat and watching?”
  • For a country from which people get so shitty about the metric system, there are so many god damn inconsistencies. Like on the highway, some warning signs were in miles, but others were kilometers. I also noticed this in the right/left thing. For example, I would always expect a down escalator to be on the left, and on an escalator, for the standing/slow people to be on the left, and the faster/walking people on the right. I found a mix of both. I never knew what side of the sidewalk I should be using for a given speed/direction. Also, there wasn’t a bar where you could buy a 0.473176L of beer.
  •  We stayed in Marble Arch. I have only the vaguest idea of London geography, and I feel we barely scratched the surface in our brief stay, but to me, it felt like this was a slightly richy-rich neighborhood, although nowhere near as much as Nob Hill.
  • We checked into our hotel, which was one of these little boutique things that used to be a row of townhouses, but was converted into a hotel. It was pretty nice, albeit small, but we’re probably spoiled from American hotels.
  • On the first day, we showered and then vowed to not immediately sleep, and try to power through a day of seeing sights, to remedy the jetlag. This meant the first day was hell. I am officially old, because staying up past 9:00 at night will total me the next day, so an all-nighter is absolutely crippling to me.
  • We ate breakfast at a diner-type place, and I had a full English breakfast, which I always used to get at this diner in Queens when I lived there. This was roughly the same, although it didn’t have blood sausage, and had beans.
  • While at the diner, we talked to this couple next to us that had just finished this all-night charity walk, in which they walked a whole marathon over a period of like ten hours, so they were about as loopy and walking-dead-esque as us. One interesting thing that came up in conversation was that they had a son in college who was in an American Studies program, and as part of the degree, he was going to the states next fall to study for a year. He wanted to get into San Diego State University, but instead got assigned to Lincoln, Nebraska, and the parents had many questions about what the hell a Lincoln, Nebraska was. I’ve never been there, but my general guess answers were: a) It will be cheap; b) They have beer (sort of); c) Everyone will be really nice; d) If he likes blonde-haired, blue-eyed girls away from home for the first time, the world is his oyster; and e) I hope he likes steak and isn’t a vegan.
  • We went for a long walk that took us out to Buckingham Palace, where we ran into this huge congregation of people gathering. We asked a cop why, and he said the changing of the guard was happening in 45 minutes. We snapped a bunch of pictures, and headed south for a bit. (The guards, BTW, are now behind a huge fence with about 30 yards of space between you and them. You can get a decent shot with a zoom lens, but you can’t get in their face and try to make them laugh or whatever. I don’t know if this was some 9/11 terrorist thing or what.)
  • A bit later, we saw the Royal Guard building or museum or headquarters, and inside of that fenced-in compound, we stopped and watched them congregate. There was a marching band of some sort assembling and getting ready and inspected by their officer. These were the red coat guys with the big black penis-looking hats.
  • About half of the guards had on their belts, along with mounts for drums or drumstick holders or whatnot, a sheathed knife. S asked me why they had them, and I said “because you don’t want to bring a tuba to a knife fight.”
  • They got ready and started playing, and I expected to launch into some heavily British big brass jingoistic national anthem thing, but they started with this slightly jazzy easy listening-type number, like something that would be played on Lawrence Welk, which sort of blew my mind.
  • I should also mention that the tourists were out in force, and mostly consisted of high school students from other EU countries or further East. So lots of French, Italian, along with some Russian and Polish and other languages I couldn’t catch. All of them had the same Justin Bieber haircut, and it smelled like an Axe factory exploded. (Axe is, coincidentally, called something else in the UK. I think it’s Jaguar or maybe Sex Panther.)
  • We kept walking, and saw Westminster Abby, The Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye, and crossed the Thames, then got some lunch and took the subway home.
  • One thing I noticed in general the whole time there was that service at restaurants was extraordinarily slow. Most places automatically add on 15% in service, and I don’t know if that’s part of it, or if Americans all suffer from ADD and impatience. (Maybe both.)
  • The undergroud (aka the subway or the tube) is pretty huge, and well-organized. It’s relatively clean, fast, and efficient. I’d compare it to the BART. Or I’d give the NY MTA about a 6 or 7 out of 10, and the underground a solid 8 from my limited experience.
  • I ended up falling asleep for about three hours, and then couldn’t fall asleep that night.
  • On Monday, it rained, and in some ways, being out in London in the rain gave me a better feel for the city. I expected London to be grey and dreary, and being out on the rain matched that. But the city had a bustle to it, and kept on running during the storm, which was impressive.

Fluticasone is not a transmission fluid

I don’t do new year resolutions, but one of my not-a-resolutions has been to write in this thing every day, hell or high water.  And of course, the big catch is what exactly to write.  I would write about life, except life pretty much just involves work, trying to write, and medical appointments.  When I dig to find some piece of life to write about from years ago, I find myself writing about a period of life in which, during that time, I thought things were insanely boring and I looked at some other part of my life as exciting, which is ironic.  And I don’t like to write pieces of what will end up being books here, because I think it’s a ripoff when people read this journal and then buy one of my books and find out they’ve read everything already.

I had this idea, a couple of years ago, for a project that involved an article a day in a giant interconnected wiki, similar to the Necrokonicon, that would tell the non-story of the decade from January 1, 1990 to December 31st, 1999, in thousand-word chunks.  It’s not that my life was incredibly interesting in that period; it’s just that “hey remember the 90s” nostalgia seems to be a thing, and I’m the guy that still uses the term Walkman to refer to a portable music machine, or “tape” to describe how to record a TV show.  I think I wrote maybe two or three of the articles before I lost wind on the thing.  I don’t know if this is a good idea, but it’s ideas like this that propel writing, and a concept like that is infinitely easier to pitch to a potential reader than “a bunch of weird stuff happens, and vomital buttsex with dead people” which is the synopsis of my last three or four books.

(When I said “medical appointments” above, that wasn’t foreshadowing that something horrible is going on, except that I always feel like shit, and it’s nothing that any doctor can explain, other than when a general practitioner says “maybe it’s allergies” and sends me to an allergist, who does $3700 of tests and wastes weeks of my time, only to give me a prescription for Allegra, which my insurance doesn’t cover, and tells me “maybe it’s a sinus thing” and sends me to an ear-nose-throat doctor.  Because no doctor wants to get sued, no doctor wants to be the one holding the bag, and will just send you somewhere else, meaning doctors are essentially worthless.  And yeah, diet and exercise, thanks in advance for telling me that.)

I’ve been stuck on this project, which is “write another Rumored”, i.e. come out with some follow-up to my book Rumored to Exist, which is my favorite of all of my books.  I don’t know how that book ever got done, or what makes it intrinsically better than any of my other books, but it was a bit of a seven-year perfect storm of writing, and up until the type was set, I was convinced it was the worst possible thing ever.  I think it’s how I found my voice, but it’s been very difficult to replicate, at least in long-form.  I think part of the success of it was its structure, because it had a certain “gimmick” to its form, and with that and a theme, it made it easy to glue in bits and pieces of almost any kind to fit into the work.  I don’t know if I should just use the same thing again, or wait until something magically appears, or force it.  I know that sitting around trying to make it happen won’t make it happen, but sitting around watching Pawn Stars marathons won’t make it happen, either.

Okay, speaking of.  I just took a shower (not sure why) and thought of a million ideas for a book outline, which I now need to capture.  I’m not a big outline person, but maybe I should be.  Maybe 2013 should be the year of the outline.  Or maybe I should write 50 shitty outlines and then scribble insane notes in the margins, and then bind all of that up and make it the book.  Stranger things have worked.


List of Books I Have Not Completed

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a new book out. It’s called The Earworm Inception, and it’s only 99 cents on the Kindle.  So please go check that out.

This book is the latest in a series — can I call it a series if there’s only two and I vaguely plan to do it again?  The idea is that I write a lot of short stuff, flash fiction and one-off blog posts and whatnot, and within a calendar year, that grows to be about book-sized, so I put it in a book and release it.  It’s sort of the same concept as a comedian developing a set, and then when they get a strong hour, they shoot a special.  And, if you’re Louie C.K., you shoot the special, declare the hour officially dead, and move on to the next one, tabula rasa-style.  I love that concept. The tough part is that I can’t go to a shitty comedy club and try out my material bit-by-bit in front of a Tuesday crowd.  I have to develop it with no input, then put it out there and hope you guys read it and give me back comments.

And here’s the real problem: I have all of these half-dead projects.  I started writing in 1993, and I now have seven books: two “real” novels, two of these roll-up collections, and three that are more or less non-fiction.  I feel like if I’ve been writing more or less every year (with the whole day job thing) I should have more than that.  And I do, but it’s all in incomplete projects.

I did a survey of all of this yesterday.  It’s depressing that I have 320,000 words invested in projects that will most likely never see the light of day.  But it’s a learning experience, and when I crack open old stuff, it makes me see I’m learning something.  And it’s good to know my time went somewhere.

Anyway, for your amusement, here’s the list.  Maybe if I officially say all of these are dead, I can get the monkey off my back and work on the next thing.

The Device

  • Started in 1998
  • Tried restarting in 2001, 2002
  • 30,000 words

This was an offshoot of Rumored to Exist, an attempt to add a plot to the nonlinear book that got too overbearing, and got split off into its own book. The basic “plot” had to do with someone coming back from the future and interacting with themselves in the past.  This was one of my first attempts to write a strictly plotted book, and it failed miserably, but I came back and revisited it at least a couple of times. There might be a few paragraphs of this that are usable elsewhere, but there really isn’t even a structure to build on to revive the book in any way.

The Device, mk2 (aka Zombie Fever)

  • Started around 2004
  • Last worked on in 2008
  • 72,930 words

A guy who is retired from the army is called back by the president to take out a drug cartel leader who only eats at Carl’s Jr, and ends up uncovering a conspiracy involving Nazi UFOs from the South Pole.  It has nothing to do with zombies, but that name got stuck on the project as a working title. The first third of the draft was pretty complete; the second part wavered, and the last third was barely plotted.  Big elements of this story ended up being reused in the short story “My Friend, The Jihadist”, which is included in Fistful of Pizza. There are other pieces that beg to be reused elsewhere, like a whole bit on Anthony Bourdain’s khmer rouge-themed restaurant on the Vegas strip, and a president who spends all of his time playing freecell while his secretary of defense wants to nuke Canada.

Six Year Plan

  • Started, sort of, in 1994
  • Still keep puttering with it
  • 88,934 words

This is a short story collection of things that took place during my college years in Bloomington.  One of the stories was the original short story “Summer Rain”, which was later developed into my first book.  Maybe half of these stories appeared in Air in the Paragraph Line over the years.  I’ve never been happy with the quality of the stories, and this type of writing isn’t really “me” anymore, so it’s hard to justify the six months it would take to beat this into a great book.

Voodoo Sex Fire

  • Nano 10 book
  • 51,636 words

This book is about a group of hackers that are trying to destroy this Glenn Beck-like character because the main character’s friend has a sex machine business that got shut down by the guy’s insane fans.  There are bits of genius that get incredibly bogged down in the attempt to follow the Joseph Campbell hero’s journey plot structure too much.  My favorite part is when the characters play a video game called Fuck Shit Up, which is loosely based on the first RoboCop movie, except you’re one of the bad guys looting and destroying Detroit.

Arylcyclohexylamine Is Not a Flower

  • Nanowrimo 11 book
  • Worked on for a few days of November, 2011
  • 20,000 words

This is an absurdist zombie book.  It’s a very stereotypical zombie story where a group of teens take a roadtrip across a post-apocalyptic America to go to a secret government lab outside of Vegas to help a scientist develop the cure.  There are a lot of bizarre elements, like that their shop teacher is Charles Manson and all of his dialogue is quotes from Geraldo interviews, and the zombie virus was spread by a hamburger chain’s genetically-modified meat.  Part of me wants to eventually finish this.

Heavy Metal Hell

  • Started in about 2006
  • A completely new draft and new outline was my Nano 09 book
  • 64,692 words

This is a book similar to Summer Rain, but it takes place immediately before college.  Book 1 is a semester of my junior year; book 2 is senior year; book 3 is the summer between HS and college.  I wanted to capture what it was like to be a heavy metal fan in a nowhere town in Indiana in the 80s, and that desire to get the hell out.  This book is very plotless and difficult for me to even look at.

“Book 3”

Just a brief mention that I have about 30,000 words in a book that’s mostly a collection of surreal scenes that don’t entirely flow together. I have vague hopes that at some point, I will find a structure to stitch all of this together into a Rumored-type book. Time will tell.


Nano 10, and a fleeting attempt at procrastination

I am participating in NaNoWriMo 2010.  I just decided this, and I have the vaguest of ideas for a book, and I really need to flesh out an outline, but I’m having trouble getting the thoughts into an outline this second, and I’m glad my copy of Call of Duty is not in the house, because this is typically the point where I’d switch on the PS3 and spend the next three hours “thinking about my outline”.  This is a story I’ve gone back and forth on for the last year, and reading The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch earlier this year made me realize I totally need to do it.  So I’ll get there.  I have two days to start an outline, or at least have enough of an outline that I can start typing on Monday.

So yeah, that probably means I won’t be updating on here much for a month.  I’m sure both of you readers will be okay.  If not, there’s a thousand old posts here.  And if you get really desperate, you could always go read a book.

I’ve been listening to Sabbath’s Master of Reality on repeat for the last couple of days.  I think it’s one of their best albums, and for whatever reason, you can’t get it on iTunes.  You can in the UK, but you can’t buy music in the UK iTunes store if you have a US account.  I realized I did not have a copy of this on CD, and it was missing from my iTunes library, even though I am certain I had a CD of it in the mid-90s when I went on this Black Sabbath fit of purchasing and bought everything of theirs I could find.  (I think this was around the time I had my first root canal and got Vicodin.  I also think this was around the time I was interviewing someone for a tech writing position, and the whole thing went south, so I started asking them trivia questions about Black Sabbath.)  Anyway, I got a copy of it – it was re-released in the UK a couple of years ago with more bonus tracks than original tracks, which is great if you want to hear a version of “Orchid” where Tony Iommi starts the track by coughing and then counting in, but maybe that’s a bit obsessive if you’re just a stoner rock fan who wants to hear “Sweet Leaf” because it’s been covered by 84,238 other bands, who probably all think it’s pretty damn original when they decide to cover it.  Probably the hardest part of assembling a Sabbath tribute album is 90% of the tracks submitted are covers of “Sweet Leaf.”

Okay, I really need to do at least a token amount of work on this outline.



It is a Saturday morning, and even after allergy meds in the mouth, nose, and lungs, I am still hacky, but I’m alive.  I’m working off the couch today – I always keep the MacBook at the desk, but with the new MBP and its nifty keyboard and unibody silver, I feel some need to sit on the couch and try to click away at this.  So I’ve got one cat on the cushion next to me, the other curled up on the chaise on the other side of me.  And I’m writing.  Well, not writing.

What the hell am I supposed to be writing?  I realized the other day that I have been working on my “next book” for nine years.  And I think it would have been faster to transfer zero of my files to this laptop and start from scratch.  I am in this weird no-man’s-land, where I have a thousand just-started projects I have given up on, none of them in my “voice” or really challenging me.  And I really need to give up on all of them and move forward.

Here’s what’s up on blocks right now:

  • About 50,000 words of a novel that takes place in the late 80s in Elkhart.
  • About 90,000 words of a  collection of short stories / novel taking place in Bloomington in the 90s.
  • About 75,000 words of a novel called “Zombie Fever” that’s hopelessly stuck, although it has brief spurts of genius.
  • This idea of making another journal book using the 800,00 words from this site, somehow warmed over into something printed.

My big thing is this: it’s easy for me to start banging out something about my thoughts and experiences and past, some essay about Indiana or the one that got away or whatever else.  But I also don’t feel like it’s that exciting.  I mean, there are a million Raymond Chandlers out there, and every year, the MFA programs of the world turn out a few thousand more.  I feel like I can do that writing, but I don’t feel like it’s totally me.  I feel like the writing that I did in Rumored to Exist is a lot closer to my voice, and I should be doing more like that.

So I should quit whining and write that book.  But the idea for the book, the plot, the settings, the structure – it just isn’t coming to me.  I sometimes get these great ideas for a plot, usually after I watch some movie that’s unique or creative, and I start taking notes, and then two days into it, I realize “I just essentially wrote an outline for The Matrix, except instead of the main character being Keanu Reeves, he’s a depressed tech writer who can’t get dates.”  I feel like Rumored’s biggest problem was that it didn’t have a solid end-to-end plot, but any time I start laying out a plot, I choke.  I need to figure out some compromise between the two, and until I do, I’m completely paralyzed.

I always hear about these professional sports guys who go to psychiatrists that specialize in helping players relearn their anxieties at the plate or whatever and sometimes wish I could find one like that for writers.  Of course, given that the league minimum salary is more than four times what I make and MLB’s health plan and amount of free time in the off-season is also a bit more generous, I have a few limitations there.

Oh, the twittering thing was a false alarm.  I had some fun but then realized I was spending all of my time thinking of one-liners, and twitter’s basically the popularity contest I’m trying to avoid.  Right now, here is my only goal: I have a shelf right now that has all of my books on it, all of my printed, published books.  I want to finish filling that shelf, then move on to the next one.  I need to write books that I can read, that I would like on that shelf.  I don’t care if anyone else reads them, or likes them – I just need them done, and there.

Still love the new Mac, by the way.  I thought I would hate this new buttonless glass trackpad, but once I figured out all of the shortcuts, I love it.


The Drugstore Habit

I used to have a bad habit of going to the drugstore on a Sunday evening and dropping a decent sum of money on random stuff that I suddenly realized I needed: razor blades, acne medication that promised to work, cases of RC cola, issues of Lowrider magazine, that new Michael Crichton novel, whatever. And at various points in my geography, the drug store became a Target, which is basically a drug store but they also sell furniture and motor oil and low-end clothes. And I guess for a year, it was a Marsh grocery store, but Marsh pretty much was just a drug store that also sold 36 aisles of food. I think one of the reasons I did this is because in Indiana, everything closes at 5:00 PM on a Sunday, except Osco’s and Walgreens. (And grocery stores and Target…) And in a need to do something on Sundays, I’d go to the only thing open, and it was hypnotic, and I would suddenly realize I’d need dental floss, or beef jerky, and boom… $57.86 of consumer goodness.

And now I realize that I can’t really shop at pharmacies anymore; they have become colluded over the years. I went to a CVS last night (shampoo, glasses cleaner, legal pads, facial cleanser) and it was just impossible to shop. Maybe it was a New York thing, but whatever hypnotic spell the drug stores of 10 or 15 years ago in Indiana had, these ones had the total opposite. The aisles were spaced wrong, the ceiling height was different, everything was laid out in this “get-your-stuff-and-get-the-fuck-out” manner that broke the spell for me. And I had a friend that used to soapbox on this for ages, but drug stores have gradually sunk into this hole. It used to be drug stores had a soda fountain, and ice cream cones and a sandwich bar, and you went there to relax. They were like the Cheers bar, but no alcohol. And if you needed some tincture of iodine too, they had it. And when’s the last time you saw a drug store with a soda bar? You haven’t, because all of those old-timey stores with the hand-painted signs and the zinc ceilings and whatnot got bought out and gutted, and replaced with an exact clone of the CVS store that they have in 5,700 other cities. Has anyone written a book about this? Someone should. (Not me, though!)

I am in the middle of trying to get book 3 going. I know there are really like 9 books or whatever, but there are basically only two (Summer Rain and Rumored to Exist) and all of the other ones are greatest-hits/live at the Budokon sort of things that don’t “count”. So now, book three. And I need another book like Rumored. I need ten like Rumored. So this time, I’m trying to write a full outline, with three acts and all of that shit, for a book, and then I will have a whole plot, and I won’t have to play the “it’s a book about nothing” game that made 98% of the people out there look at me like I was starting a NAMBLA chapter in the back of a day care center. The book will have all of the expected dark zaniness of Rumored, but be a book. I think. I hope. But no word on this until it’s underway, because this is the part I always fuck up.

Not much else. I wish I was back in Alaska now. OK, back to work.