Writing a Novel

Working at Dojo Bali in Canggu

This picture won’t make any Top-Ten Instagram lists.

The lighting is bad. The subject is unclear. I’m drinking shitty insta-coffee (no designer mocha) and I haven’t stopped sweating in 72 hours.

There’s one main reason that I’m here in Bali: I’m here because I heard somebody say, “the best way to be a starving artist is to lower your monthly bills.”

My only goal for 2017 is to finish my novels. I’m currently writing a fantasy series that will consist of either 3 or 4 novels.

My story doesn’t have any Elves or Dwarves, but it does have strange cultures, magic, sorcery, sword-fighting, ships, hallucinogenic drugs, talking animals, murder, mystery, slavery, inns at the end of the world, heroes and villains and enigmatic mentors. My story has a cast of protagonists, like Harry Potter, and a world map for reference, like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones.

My plan is to self-publish my series on Amazon. The books will be available as print books, and mostly as ebooks that you can read on your phone. They’ll be affordable – maybe $1.99 a piece. Novel#1 should be finished in February; I’ll be sending the final draft off to the editor at the end of January. But I won’t release #1 until the whole series is finished. My goal is a summer release – June or July of 2017.

So here’s to the new year. 2017 you’re nothing special. You don’t have badass symmetry to your name like 2000 or 2020 or even 2012. But if you’re the year that I become an author – and I really think you are – then you’ll always be the year I love.

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Grass Angels

 

Ralph the Cherokee in Big Sur

I haven’t owned a car in four years. It’s a tough call because roller coasters make me vomit immediately, but I just might choose a roller coaster ride over sitting in the back of a sedan, grinding through a midday traffic jam.

Of course sometimes I use other people’s cars, and I take taxis and subways to get around. But now that I don’t drive very much, the whole activity strikes me as absurd. When I drive I just see dollars jumping out of my wallet and into the street gutters. Every minute that passes is another minute I’m still sitting hump backed in a too-small seat. My neck hurts and the air is stale and like a dog I’m just praying for a window to get cracked. The best case scenario is that I grin and bear the ride till it’s over. The worst case scenario is that we wreck, now I’m hurt and I’m stressed and somebody owes somebody money. When a friend asks, “Hey do you want to go hiking? It’s only a 45 minute drive to get there. Real sweet spot.” All I hear is, “hey let’s go sit in some incredibly uncomfortable chairs for 1.5 hours, and in the middle we can stop to stretch our legs.” God help me if someone forgets the AUX cord and we have to listen to FM radio the whole way.

What I’m saying is, it’s easy to take our routines for granted. It’s easy to assume that how we live is “normal”. Four years ago I owned a Jeep and I drove all the time and didn’t think twice about it.

Sleeping under the night sky does something to you. Just like working 10 hours a day does something to you. Working 0 hours a day does something to you. Wearing shoes. Seeing the ocean every morning. Drinking vodka. Smelling flowers. Living through a harsh winter or a mild summer. Singing or not singing. Hanging out with a shitty boss every day, or a shitty relative, or sitting next to an attractive Spanish man.

A lot of life is one big accident. But we assume the way things are is the way they have to be.

Everyone’s life is a Monopoly game. Sometimes we get so goddamned angry that we yell and throw the game board like a frisbee and in a rage we stuff all that stupid fake cash into the fire place. We completely forget that at any moment we could stand up, be alone, drink a milkshake while reading a book, lay down in the middle of the lawn and make a few grass angels.