A Writing Cowboy’s Progress

Posted: March 17, 2012 in Writer's Corner
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It’s been nearly a year since my last post. Happily, I’ve been using that time wisely, in an effort to complete a last, definitive draft of my novel. And hopefully, finally, publish before year’s end. It’s been a bit of a rough journey, but I see signs of life, that the end, even if it isn’t close yet, is definitely there, and reasonably within reach. Remembering that old adage about paying the price for success, I discovered how I’d have to do it: In units of Time. To that effect, I quit and all activities that had adverse physical or mental benefits to me, or were of no use whatsoever, in terms of social value. Of course, I couldn’t turn down all invitations; one has to give a little to get a lot.

And of course, I still devote time to my loved ones, and they have given me moral support, especially during those dark times. I am extremely grateful for that.

On the other side of that success equation, I’ve been working hard to please my Muse. This year, I made the decision to hunker down and devote every free minute that I could scrape, to working on the novel, be it actual writing or research. I’ve also done, and have been doing, a lot of reading and learning on the fly. I have become quite a voracious reader and devourer of ideas, however big or small. I’ve learned a lot of things, from the ritual element of capoeira, to the otherworldly interactions of floor brokers in a commodities pit. Heck, I found the last two so interesting, I devoted entire chapters to them.

Reading has become a pleasure these days, especially after a prodigious bout of writing (admittedly few and far between). In my quest for good sci-fi fiction — or just good fiction, in general — I discovered William Gibson and Suzanne Collins. After a slow start, Stieg Larsen is now one my picks as well. So far this year, I’ve finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Hunger Games. I have the trilogies for both books — but other works need to be read, too. Other than all of the above, I have been tackling a heavyweight, Anthony Burgess’ The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy. Also on my reading list: Tesseract by Alex Garland, and a cyberpunk novel by French author Maurice Dantec, Cosmos, Incorporated.

I’m still a little petrified. This is my first novel, and while I’ve gotten some positive feedback from the few who have read some of it, I have yet to pass that acid test of general readership. After some hemming and hawing on the kind of approach I want — Avant-garde artiste? Or commercial author sellout? — I decided to settle somewhere in between. After finishing William Gibson’s  Neuromancer, and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, I realized that I wanted to write good, respectable prose, or one that had strong, elegant symbolism; but I didn’t want my readers to be lost in the haze, the way some cyberpunks may leave the uninitiated. And of course, I wanted to have action in it. Not necessarily because of the inherent commercial value in it, but  because I always love action in fiction. No, really.

So speaking of which, it’s time to go back to the novel. Or the reading. Whatever it is, it’s The Shit for me right now. This Sunday, the 27th L.A. Marathon gets into gear. I ran in the ’98 Marathon, my first and only one. Back then, as in now, I trained hard for it, feeling dread and excitement at the same time. But crossing the finish line in the top third percentile of the racers made all that preparation and agony well worth it, several times over. This time around, I’m doing a marathon of a different sort. Wish us all luck — Bona Fortuna.


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