Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath


So the first draft of the next book is done.  I sent a copy to John to read, and I will now let it ferment a bit before I start the next pass.  It’s in pretty rough shape right now. I think the plot is there, and there’s a lot I like about it, but I feel like the “texture” of it isn’t in yet.  There are probably major continuity problems, all the names have to be changed — it hasn’t even been spell-checked, but it is “feature complete” at this point, and the length is just about there.  I will probably read it while I’m on vacation, or maybe when I get back.  Until then, I will relax, do some free-writing, and think about other projects.

I got a question or two about what program I’m using to write, and I have mentioned Scrivener on here, but haven’t written much about it in a few years, and that was when I was first getting started, before I really knew much about it.  And my workflow for this book was much different than my last few.  So maybe it’s time for me to write another “how I write with Scrivener” post.  I’ll chip away at that.  I’m not sure how many screen shots I can do without major spoilers, but maybe I’ll just blur things.

I’m leaving for Germany tomorrow, and I am woefully unprepared.  I have not started packing, aside from leaving little piles of cords and adapters all over my office floor, and going through my camera bag to pull out all of the junk I left in during my Hawaii trip last fall.  I always want to pack light, like my friend Bill, who goes on 40-day trips to India or whatever with only a single carry-on that’s not much bigger than my laptop bag.  But I also read all of these gear and tool sites and start locking into all of these travel gadgets that I want and don’t need, and then I suddenly need to carry a hundred pounds of voltage adapters and noise-reduction headsets and rechargeable batteries.  There has to be some compromise, but I won’t find it in the next 24 hours.

I started reading this biography of Joe Satriani that just came out. I was in Barnes and Noble yesterday and saw it, and read about half of it last night.  It’s strange, because I have not followed his career much in years; I think I last got his 2008 album, but I haven’t paid much attention.  (I think the stock response to that is something something “maybe he should stop singing on his albums,” although he did that once and it was 25 years and 73 albums ago.)  When he was first breaking out in the late 80s, I was obsessed with his work, and used to read everything he wrote in the old guitar magazines, all of the interviews and music theory lessons and news.  I listened to his first and second album incessantly in high school, too.

The book is a bit of a mix, I guess.  It has very little biographical information, which is a bummer.  He spent his early years hacking it out here in Berkeley, giving lessons in the back of a local guitar shop and playing in little bands. I wish I could find out more about that, like where he lived or where that shop was or where he hung out.  That is a Berkeley I don’t know, and when I am around the UC campus and it reminds me of Bloomington, it makes me wonder what that area was like in the 80s or 60s, if any of the old shops were the same or had the same sort of transitions that the same types of stores had on Kirkwood near the IU campus. There’s not really any of that in this book.

That is something I am very curious about, though, because when I was a kid and it was 1987 and I was reading about him in Guitar for the Practicing Musician, I assumed he was some millionaire living in a mansion in LA like all of the heavy metal videos of the time, sitting by a pool with a thousand guitars around him. In reality, he was probably renting a room in a crappy student apartment building, the kind of lifestyle I had in Bloomington in 1992. The book talks about how for his first record, he paid for all of it on a $5000 credit card he got in the mail, and recorded everything on the graveyard shift or whenever the studio had free hours, and they scrimped and struggled to get everything done.  There’s a story about how one of the songs on the album had fucked up drums on it, and at the last second, while doing another song, they ran out of tape, and didn’t have a hundred dollars to buy another reel, so they recorded over that song, and glued together scraps from the garbage to get the last few feet needed to finish the album. That’s a completely different vision than what I thought when I was a 17-year-old in Indiana worshipping everything he did.

The two things this book does have in abundance are recording and gear information, and to a lesser extent music theory stuff.  Big chunks of the book are like a recording engineer’s log, talking about microphones and outboard effects and stuff, and it’s interesting, although it does get monotonous.  The theory stuff is good when it happens, but it’s a bit sparse.  It does show that he really knows the theory behind what he’s composing, though, like when he talks about the chords or modes he’s using to build up a song, and how they came out of practice marathons or just two chords he wrote down in a notebook a decade before, thinking he eventually wanted to find a way to write something using those.  His perfectionism is inspiring, and I like those stories.  But the book is lacking, so it’s not as cool as it could be.

Anyway. I have so much to do before I leave.  I don’t know what my connectivity situation will be while I’m gone, but I’ll try to update a bit, and there will most likely be a huge picture dump after I get back.  So, Auf wiedersehen and shit.