This year. This insane year. I find myself at a level of reflection that I generally reserve for New Years Eve sorts of posts. “Oh, what a zany year it’s been! The kids are all fine, but Pops has taken up hemp farming…” That sort of thing.
But, to quote the band Genesis, “To me there’s no mystery.”
What the hell else is there to do? I think that just about everyone, no matter how shallow a façade they work to build, when left alone with only their brain for an extended period of time, will begin to reflect. Eventually. For a lot of us the act of thinking at all is new, and the brain requires a jump-start. Enter covid.
But by now I think we’re all jump-started. I think we’re all doing it to some degree or another. I suppose I have a tendency toward reflection anyway, as I find it an invaluable tool in learning from my own mistakes, of which there are many. For a guy like me, learning from my mistakes makes me a full-time, fully-matriculated student of Stupidity. (Don’t you think Stupidity should be it’s own college major? What would the Stupidity Building look like?)
Not All Bad
Even in this year of whack, not every point on which I reflect is necessarily bad. And in my recent moments of intellectual and emotional selfie taking, I find myself thinking about my writing. A lot.
If you scan the titles you’ll see that by and large they consist of either fantasy books or thrillers, with the latter making up the lion’s share. I have loved writing them, and will continue to love writing them.
One of the best parts about wiring the Cleanup Crew series, the SpyCo series, and now that Craig has asked to me team up again, the Shelby Alexander series, has been getting to know the community of die-hard thriller fans. These people run the gamut, let me tell you, but they have a few things in common. They appreciate a well-written story. They get to know the characters, they develop a kind of relationship with them. The root for them. They mourn for them. As a writer the only thing more you can ask is that they buy millions of copies of the book. But in all seriousness, that level of connection with a community of readers is a rare thing. A thing to be cherished.
And, as a direct result of having read the thrillers, some of my readers, most of whom told me repeatedly “I don’t generally read fantasy books,” read the Cerah of Quadar series, and left lovely reviews, many of which contain the line “I don’t generally read fantasy books, but…”
It’s all about the but.
Virus Inspired Renaissance?
The other thing, besides a lot of self-reflection, that the period of lockdown has induced, or, at the very least occurred concurrently with a period of great creativity. I cannot walk the dog without five to ten story ideas, poetry lines, setting treatments, or character creations forcing their way through my skull. I literally am unable to keep track of all of the ideas, because when you’re walking a dog the act of jotting down or even verbally recording a fleeting idea is challenging beyond my abilities. He wants to sniff the guestbook. He wants to frolic. Try jotting down “A pair of friends are arguing about who is the best bass player of all time and learn much about themselves in the process,” while leashed to the dog equivalent of a thermo-nuclear explosion.
It don’t work.
New, Different Words
Here’s the thing though.
The stuff that I have been able to remember and that’s been coming out lately doesn’t really fall neatly into any genre.
Love stories, new short stories, scads of poetry, even a play.
Did he say play? What is up with SJV? Has he stripped a mental gear? Where’s all the gunplay? No dragons, even?
Oh, and there’s a bit of a backlog currently, so over the next several months you’ll probably start seeing some of these new directions appearing on your local computer screen.
Hints and Innuendos
Also, on the topic of “appearing in the near future,” and rounding this whole explosion of creativity news out nicely, those of you who listen to the Good Sentences Podcast will have heard Craig Hart hint about some current projects that he and I are co-authoring. Because as I said, I have no intention of abandoning the thrillers, and neither does he.
One, for the many of you who responded positively to our co-authored Shelby Alexander volume, is the next in that series, but I’ll let Craig break the details on that front. (I’ll tell you this much, we’re having a blast writing it!)
Far more significantly for me personally, Craig has agreed to work on the next Cleanup Crew with me, and we are well into CUC#4, working title The Demon of Denver.
And for you converted fantasy readers (and the handful of folks who were reading Cerah before), yes, there is a Quadar #4 coming. It’s part of the backlog.
One last reflection…
If you, like me find yourself in a period of extended self reflection, I think you should spend a good deal of time deciding if you’re reading enough.
Hint: You’re not.