Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

The Ides of November

This is how clean my car currently is.

I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving.  Living in California has really put the zap on my ability to discern between months, since it perpetually feels like it’s April.  I guess we’re now going into the rainy season, and we’ve got more constantly gloomy weather.  This is the season where I never know when to wash my car, and it’s even worse now that I only fill up my car’s gas tank maybe every 6 to 8 weeks.  I usually go through the coin-op drive-through wash that gives you a $2 discount when you also buy a tank of gas.  The last time I did this, the person in front of me drove on the tracks wrong, then kept backing up and resetting the machine over and over.  I would have gotten out, went up to their window, and asked “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING” except I was 100% sure that the second I stepped into the wash bay, the machines would start.

I haven’t updated in a while, and it’s more of the “what should I be writing here?” sort of thing.  Earlier this year, I made a concerted effort to post more weird stories here, and that resulted in a few issues.  First, the stories were all great, as far as I’m concerned, but I don’t think enough people found them.  And because I published them here first, I basically could not submit them to other zines or journals, who typically want first publication rights.  I realize what I should have done is submitted all of them elsewhere, and then reprinted them here later, or put the rejects that nobody wanted on this site.  Or I should have saved all of them and sewn them together into a new book, then published excerpts of it here.  There is something to be said with the constant demand to put new stuff here, and how that deadline forces me to produce more.  I’d honestly love to have a weekly column somewhere that absolutely forced me to write a thousand words, due at midnight Tuesday, every single week.  I just read that latest Bukowski collection, and that’s basically what forced him to write for a long time.  But print is dead, and blogs are dying, and within a year, there will be something like twitter that only lets you post a single word per update,  and super-micro-mini-flash fiction will be all the rage, which doesn’t bode well for a guy that can barely warm up in 500 words.

The other issue with this is that I never want to write journal entries here, the creative nonfiction sort of thing where I chronicle current life or past memories.  I’ve had a long conflict with which fork in the road to take with my writing, either the ‘straight’ fiction like my first book, or the strange absurdist humor stuff like my second book.  And the answer is very clearly the latter, since that is who I am and what I do best.  But sometimes I feel like I need to write a quick status update or rant or whatever, and maybe that’s the stuff that needs to live here.

So, yeah – status.  I tried to write a book for Nanowrimo and that did not work, for all of the usual reasons.  I started by loading up on caffeine and just capturing straight brain dumps of my unconscious memories, pure automatic writing at its most random.  The first takes of this were pure genius, but as I started to think about the scaffolding needed to continue this for 50,000 words, a plot started to unfold, and it became yet another generic Campbell Hero’s Journey ripoff about zombies and time travel.  And the more I overthought this, the more it became hackneyed and cliched and stupid.  So I quit just shy of the halfway mark.  I think there are some good pieces in there that could be turned into decent shorter things, but I need to seriously set that one aside and work on real stuff.

I also switched to a Kinesis Advantage keyboard, which has been a real albatross around my neck.  The contour and the key tactile operation is awesome, but it really requires you to be a touch typist, and I am not.  I practiced with a touch typing tutor program, and used the exercises that came with the keyboard, but it is still at maybe 50% of my normal typing speed, with a lot more mistakes.  The more I type, the better it gets, but I’m noticing a lot of common actions rely on muscle memory.  Like when I copy and paste, I don’t think “command-c, command-v”; I think left thumb and the two keys up and to the right of said thumb.  Moving the command key to roughly where the H is on my old keyboard makes me have to stop and think as I cut and paste.  And I don’t want to think when I type – I want the words to pour directly from my brain to the buffer.  Thought control would be nice, but I think that’s in the same category as jet packs and commercial travel to Mars.

My last book, Fistful of Pizza, has continued to sell at the rate that makes this most definitely a labor of love.  But I have been getting some very good comments on it from people, which is nice.  I have about enough stories to publish another collection like this, and I’ve been editing and messing with that a bit.  I have no title and no idea on the cover, and I don’t want to sink my productivity by spending all of my free time browsing stock photo sites forever.  I also don’t want to pay someone hundreds of dollars to design a cover for me, so this might take a while.

Things have been otherwise quiet.  Sold the old house, just about to finish buying the new one.  I’ve been reading a lot of independent authors lately, and should probably post a list  of all of them.  I got the new iPhone, which I like.  I had to upgrade to Lion, which I do not like.  It’s cold here now, although I now define “cold” as 50, whereas I was born in a place where “cold” was roughly -60.  I will feel the wrath of this when I do the usual Midwestern holiday visit next month, which typically involves a temperature change of at least 50 degrees, an almost mandatory head cold, and some amount of shoveling snow.  It should be interesting.


One response to “The Ides of November”

  1. You know I'd be happy to design that book cover for you, Benway Konrath.

    I can come up with stuff that does not include extreme Satanic gore and nudity, if necessary.