Can’t talk now, writing.

I used to think I was kind of a funny guy…used to.  Back in the days before I tried writing this story.  Now I’m not so sure.

Comedy is hard.  Every interview with every writer, actor, director, anywhere, ever, when asked what the hardest genre to create is, has produced the response that comedy is the hardest of all of them.  Turns out that every interview with anyone anywhere ever was right.

Who knew?

The usual Monday night stuff

I’m not so sure about this story. But in a different way. For the first time since the start of this project I really feel the need for more space. As I mentioned earlier, this is my attempt at a comedy, and the only comedy I know how to do is smart-ass comedy. A couple of guys getting drunk and making fun of each other. And one of them is probably fat. That’s all I got. What I’m finding is that the basic idea behind this story isn’t so bad. There are a lot of interesting places to hang scenes, only, I don’t have the room. I think with a fuller medium this would be better. Short stories aren’t exactly the easiest things to squeeze zany fun into. Of course every single one of you out there reading this right now is going, “Yes. No shit, you moron.” I’m not sure how I got it into my head to squeeze “Old School” into the art form that was used to write “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” but here I am.

Oh well.

Onwards.

Grinding work to a halt since 1978

I have 6.4 days worth of music on my computer, according to iTunes. What iTunes doesn’t want to tell me is why, with the random toggle on and that much music to go through, I wind up hearing “Cheeseburger in Paradise” about four times per day.

I was supposed to write all afternoon but wound up getting sucked into a YouTube black hole. I stumbled onto a sequence of Eddie Izzard clips, and that just kept going and going and led me to and more things and on and on. I’d embed some of my favorites here, but you’re really better off just following this link or this link and watching the videos at the YouTube site so you can also follow at your heart’s content from one video to the other and hopefully get as little done during your day as I did during mine.

National Skirt Day

I think I know what I’m going to write for next week.  A friend of mine had an idea for a story that he told me about so I’m going to steal that.  He’ll never write it, that’s for certain.  He’s in finance.  And, as an added bit of trivia, he once got so drunk at a holiday office party that later that night he tried to walk through the Holland Tunnel.  The theory is he thought it was a subway station.  Good times.

It’s a lighter story than I usually write.  I could almost dub it a comedy, except I don’t write comedies.  I sometimes sit down and try and write a comedy but the next thing I know I’ve got some huge heartache going on or something.  The best I can muster is comedic characters…and by “comedic” I mean “smart-ass.”

But really right now it’s hard to worry about all this.  Spring is here.  I can get home, get my writing done, head out for a bite or a drink and there will still be daylight left.  Sidewalk tables are in front of restaurants for good now.  And, after a long dark season of bulky winter coats, the opposite sex suddenly has a physical form again.

I love spring. I love National Skirt Day (or as it’s known in the south, National Sundress Day).

Insert burrito joke here

I ordered a burrito for lunch today from Qdoba. I was looking over the side of their bag while I ate and noticed, as shown below, that it contains a bunch of running phrases and words that Qdoba wants me to associate with their food.

Qdoba bag

“Cheese Nachos.” Check.

“Pico De Gallo.” Check.

But then, three lines up, is the broken phrase, “Naked Grou–“

Um…Naked Group Activities? Naked Grouper? Naked Ground Beef? Don’t get me wrong, they had me at, “Cheese Nachos.” Whatever it is, I’m in. But some small part of me wants clarification what I’ll be getting with my queso next time around.

I’m nowhere with next week’s story.

Time to hit snooze

This is the story of the radio station I have my alarm clock set to.

A few years ago the oldies radio station here in New York switched over to what was called Jack FM. This was met with a very large public outcry as the move was made without any warning and a number of famous DJ’s were fired. Plus, the oldies station in New York has been on the air since, I don’t know, the Paleolithic Era, so a lot of people were pissed. Jack FM is an odd format. Basically they were trying to emulate the I-pod experience by playing a very random mix of popular songs that weren’t able to fit into any one genre. I remember hearing Tom Jones, followed by Steve Martin’s “King Tut” and then Alanis Morissette. It was neat…for awhile.

At around this same time, all the classic rock stations in the area slowly changed their formats one by one until New York, for the first time ever, was without a radio station playing classic rock. It was weird.

So, time went on and Jack FM started not doing so well and it kind of began to backslide on it’s promise of always playing an eclectic mix of music. It began to play classic rock and roll songs from big name bands in a repetitive fashion. You’d hear the same songs day after day and they’d all be hits from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

Years passed. Then one of the stations that had previously played classic rock, with huge fanfare, declared that it would be returning to a classic rock format playing all the great rock from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Then the oldies station, now Jack FM, declared that it would be returning to the oldies format, only it would modernize a bit and move forward to embrace a newer decade into it’s format.

You see where this is going? One station returned to the airwaves promising to deliver the classic hits of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, while Jack FM, which had basically been playing the classic hits of the 60′, 70′ and 80’s, was replaced by an oldies format…which would be playing the classic hits of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

This is why I listen to Pandora.

Although recently that’s been playing the same ten songs over and over again.

Work in progress

I’m having some technical difficulties with the site. The program I use to publish this thing recently upgraded and when I installed that upgrade it made some of my add-ons not quite right. Some of you may have noticed that the “Printer Friendly Version” has been sending you to an Error page. That’s been fixed, but since I’m a one man band here I may miss some other problems caused by the upgrade. So please, if you see anything that isn’t working right, don’t assume I’m aware of it. Drop me an e-mail and let me know.

Same with typos. I hate typos. But they’re like shit. They happen. So if you see a typo please let me know. I don’t consider fixing typos to be in violation my “I won’t touch the stories after they’re published” declaration.

The best fortune cookie I ever recieved

On my computer desktop I’ve got all of my stories lined up. Whatever I’m writing I put on my desktop.  It’s best to make it as hard as possible to avoid writing and when my current story is sitting there looking at me it’s hard to ignore.  Whenever possible I leave the Word document open as well, although that has caused some problems in the past because I tend to forget to hit save and if there’s  a crash or a power flicker I can lose stuff.  But I’ve gotten better with that.

What was my point?

Oh, I’ve left all the past stories from this project on my desktop as well and let them slowly line up and accumulate.  It’s pretty neat looking now, two rows of ten with that last one sitting on top in a new third row.  Looking at it like that it’s very easy to see that I have written a ridiculous amount of fiction this year.   What’s astounding to me is that most of it is good.  It’s stuff I can stand behind.  I thought I’d produce, at most, five stories that would be worth anything during this project.  I’ve been happily proven wrong.  And here is my point.  It’s often a very good idea to push yourself outside of your normal limits.

Nobody knows what their own best is.

And, yes, I got that from a fortune cookie.

Moving on

I’m a little worn from that last story.  It was kind of hard to write and I was juggling stuff right up until the deadline (hopefully successfully).  I’m quite going to enjoy my next few nights off.  Spring is here, days last longer, it’s nice.

And to keep up the tradition of my Friday After a Deadline Post, if you like what you’re reading, go open an e-mail, cut and paste the link to your favorite story into it, and e-mail a friend that they should turn to me when they’re bored at work.

Thanks.

The part where I cheat

So this one is coming down to the wire. To use a tired phrase. And it’s been strange. I’ve babbled here and there about the huge number of things that have caught me off guard whenever it comes time to add another installment to Matthew and Epp, and here are some more.

In a larger project like this, one tends to come up with key scenes and moments that you sort of store away and hope to spring on your audience when you (finally) get to a certain point in your book. These are your flagship scenes, the jewels you adore so much that it’s hard to say if you’ve constructed the jewels to fit the crown or if you’ve constructed the crown so you’ll have a place to showcase the jewels. About ninety percent of my little jewel scenes seem to want to work their way into this current section, but there’s a problem. There’s always a problem. Because those little jewel scenes are abstract, disjointed, separate elements in your head and when it comes time to decorate your story with them a lot of times it turns out that they don’t quite fit for some reason or another. Either your characters aren’t as into cheese as you thought they’d be or there’s no way you’re getting them all to take a blimp ride or none of them know kung-fu or whatever it is, you find that your little jewels have to be recut or resized or that they were just stupid flights of fancy to begin with and not actual scenes. Which can be trying. It’s sad to wave goodbye to something you thought you were building towards because you’ve finally come to acknowledge that it doesn’t fit.

Also in this section I’ve come into a problem I’ve often come across with Matthew and Epp stories which is that the characters, all of them, are a lot smarter than me. It’s tough to carry you, my readers, along and tell their, my characters, stories because a lot of time I’m struggling to keep up myself. And when you have a section like this where confusion reigns, it’s really quite tricky. I’ve stopped and restarted any number of scenes trying to figure out the best place to put the camera, so to speak, in order to let you follow along as everyone does their thing rather than try to force my characters to constantly stop and tell you what they’re planning or have to spell everything out with my clunky prose. It’s far better when we can just sit back and watch.

And now I’m going to break all of my personal rules and give you some advice for how to read one of my stories.

Pay attention in this next section, my faithful readers, and be careful whose word you’re trusting. Things get a bit tricky.

Or maybe I’m overreacting.

No idea what I’m talking about? Go read part one of the Matthew and Epp stories, “Second Choice,” which is located here. Then move along through Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part5 and Part 6. By which point you’ll be all set to read Part 7 which publishes on Thursday.