I've spent the past several days busy, and easily annoyed. The reason this post isn't titled "Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ" or "Sweet Merciful God in Heaven" is because I took a day from when I originally wanted to write it. It was a good choice.
On the upswing, things seem to be settling down on my end. The book that I just had to review was something of a monster, and I mean that not as a negative, just that as actual length goes it was a Godzilla of novels [or at least a Gamera], assuming you're measuring said monster from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail [my parentheticals are fucked if Gamera was a girl. John?]. There was also a small snafu a few books back that sort of knocked me off the schedule I've had for getting them done quickly. Trying to get back to that pace is difficult, as I find it hard to get back into a groove after falling out of one, no matter how well everything else has worked out. If there's any part of my personality that is particularly unpleasant, it's how react to having something upset my apple cart. It throws me. Sometimes I can be a little childish about it. I wasn't this time, which I suppose I should be proud of, but come on now, if other people can handle things not going exactly to plan with some grace and dignity, there's really no reason to pay myself on the back for the same thing.
Anyway, that was finished, quite spectacularly if I do say so myself, though mark my words, if I ever get fired from this job I'll have no one to blame but Stan "The Man" Lee. For some reason I just haven't been able to deny myself the antiquated words and the occasional alliteration in my reviews. I'm mostly joking about the firing thing too [the outfit I work for is great -- way professional, very trusting], though I wouldn't be surprised if a reprimand, or a gently worded suggestion to tone it back a little found it's way into my inbox. As a matter of fact, I'm going to try and pull it back on my next one. It just might take a little time.
Speaking of books, I just finished Foley's, a quick read that made me feel a lot better about being a writer at the end -- and in this post-Twain world, I'd just like to clarify that I do mean that as a compliment to him. I really didn't have time to be reading it, but I would just squeeze a chapter in here, or there, and when I polished it off this morning I found myself really... just satisfied, and not only with the writer, and the way the book had ended. Sort of satisfied with myself, if that makes sense.
It's a weird way to leave a book -- self-satisfaction. I'm not sure if I could actually explain it. I pay a lot of attention to the way books hit me, influence me. I've left a lot of books just plain pissed off -- I think that's what people can relate to, the "this is wasting my time," or "this is just like Choke, which was just like Fight Club," or "goddammit, who describes night as dark any goddamn more?!" and even the most simple, "well, that was stupid." But there are other cases, non-negative ones, the good ones if you will, that go beyond the visceral reactions of bad, and even further beyond "oh, that was clever," or "Well! I enjoyed that."
When I'm reading Thompson, for instance, as long as I am actively reading his work, I write more. I also rip off his style shamelessly, as more than a few people who've gotten some odd-toned, swear-ridden [even for me] e-mails can attest to, and in more than a few cases I've had to just put down The Rum Diaries in order focus, and sound like myself again. When I finished Watchmen for the first time, I remember being in awe, and when I finished Gatsby for the first time, I felt sort of encouraged [which in and of itself is odd, because something so damn good, and so damn concise, and nigh-on perfect? Usually something that artful discourages me like making it to the top of Mt. Everest and finding them shooting a Dos Equis commercial up there]. Cornball as it sounds, I remember finishing The Hobbit, and just looking at my copy as though, had it been a woman, I might marry it, so sure that we'd be happy together for the rest of our lives together [15 years so far... send presents]. And Tristram Shandy literally changed the way I looked at the world around me and the people in it, one of the most significant changes in my perception of things in my entire life.
I'm not saying Countdown to Lockdown brought me anything nearly so profound. But I didn't finish it and just say "Well! I enjoyed that" either. Instead, I felt kind of glad to be a writer, felt sort of optimistic about it, which is odd because any profession/calling/hobby [God I hope it's not just a hobby]/obsession where the word "perfection" so often pops up does have a habit of being a tad discouraging at times. Especially since "pragmatism" seems to be the posh, embroidered banner so many writers writing about writing on the internet wave these days.
Pragmatism? I'm pretty sure that was not why I started this.
While we're still on the subject of books, the next thing in my queue [not work reading, what I'm trying to get in myself] is Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution. I don't know how much I've talked about it on this, but I'm a big fan of female fronted rock music, and the Riot Grrrl genre continues to bring me gem after gem of great, DIY chick punk. Plus, the genre never really leans New Wave, which is a big plus in my opinion. Looking forward to it, as I've been curious about the subculture surrounding genre [more or less gone now], and in high school I was actually a huge rock history buff, just one with a bad mind for remembering names, dates, and the like. But ask me about the time the band I don't remember blew up the hotel toilet to get out of the war they were about to be drafted too. Or something.
Conveniently enough [as though I planned it this way], one of my major sources for Riot Grrrl info -- Brit Journalist Jenny Woolworth -- did an interview with Marcus about the book, which you can check out here, and I have to highly recommend if you're on the fence about getting the book yourself. Yeah, I'm breaking the cardinal rule and recommending something before even I've dived in yet, but I feel pretty confidant here.
Nerdy sidenote about me and Woolworth -- after my post on the BOOM! Studios CBGBs comic she started following me on Twitter, which, even as a small gesture, flattered me to no end. In some of my darker periods in the past few years, a lot of the music I've discovered through Woolworth's blog has kept my spirits up, made me feel -- hokey, yes -- less on my own [plus, I think she turned me on to Team Dresch, whose album "Captain My Captain" I still regularly mine for ideas].
On to work. I need to get "New Hooverville" ready for Eric's zine. I've only heard from one person about it really, so I guess I'm on my own with polishing it, which is... fine. I will admit, I like getting feedback, being engaged about my ideas tends to change how I think about them, critically speaking, but I also just seem to get better ideas when I have people to bounce things off of others. I think it's a nice way of saying I enjoying talking about myself. Sometimes you just have to stand on your own, I guess.
I was also pretty pleased with the thing I posted on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I don't know why, I just liked getting that out there, and for piece that's part of something much bigger, I think it works okay on its own too. A few people have told they thought so too, which was encouraging, as it was just something little that was on my mind, and I put out there mostly on a whim, and wound up feeling good about it. I'm going to dig up something that's a little older for next week, because I thought of it the other day and wanted to dig into it again. It should be interesting to some people, as I once fondly referred to it as "the thing that no one will ever want to film or draw for me."
Look for that around Wednesday. I'd really like to post more fiction here, and I'm going to try and move towards doing that, even if it's just more dialogue like before. It's hard right now, because the fiction comes intermittent, and most of what's on this blog is about my life, what I'm working on, what I'm writing, as opposed to a lot of actual writing, and that factual nature I think screws over the fiction that I post sometimes. More fiction might help with that.
But again, this might make the fifth or sixth time I've made that pledge.
Phil Jimenez Comes to Madison - Speaking this Thursday, October 23, on “Comics and LGBTQ Identity” is Phil Jimenez. It’s the Keynote for LGBTQ History Month at the University of Wisconsin...
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