Time Travel Guide Genesis: Learn By Googling

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Part 2 in a series about the development of SO YOU CREATED A WORMHOLE, from idea to proposal to book contract to shelves.

Once you start to realize what the hell it is you’re going to be writing, you might start to wonder how best to sell it.

Co-writer super best friend Nick Hurwitch and I landed at that spot once we started developing the idea of the structure of So You Created a Wormhole. Having written a little bit of the book — an introduction, namely, plus a detailed outline of what we planned to cover within the book — I started looking into what we would need to accomplish before writing the entire manuscript.

I’m not entirely sure where I came upon this knowledge, because I feel it’s not really known that works of non-fiction have a different process than that of the standard novel when it comes to selling books to publishers. Novels are a full-manuscript affair, with the book written out ahead of time and then sold as a completed work. Non-fiction isn’t like that. How I came to determine that, I have no idea, but I decided to do a little research to figure out what we should be writing, if not the complete book we intended to make.

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The Phil Hornshaw Accumulating-Stuff-Does-Not-Make-You-A-Real-Adult Selloff

So it begins.

Standing in the garage the other day, I saw large masses of garbage, in big boxes, which have stood like a squat useless shanty town taking up space for nearly seven months.

So I grabbed one of those boxes, tossed it in my car, and lugged it around with me for a week. On it was thick black Sharpie formed into hasty, wobbly words in my packing script: “FRAGILE. Toys, DVDs, video games.”

Reading it, I felt like a child.

For the next week, I drove to my usual haunts. I spent Sunday and Monday at Mom’s; Tuesday with Caitlin at her parents’ place; Wednesday at Dad’s; Thursday and Friday at Caitlin’s; Saturday and Sunday at Dad’s. During this time, I dug through the box whenever I had fifteen minutes to spare. I dug out various crap, items that had at one point held significance for me, but which now had lost luster. Holding various toys, I wondered just why I had needed so much plastic.

I’m not the greatest salesman, which you’ll come to realize momentarily, because for me, this stuff is useless. Worse, it’s money I spent that I could be using on something important — like gas. Or new tires. Or the apartment in California to which new tires and gas will spirit me.

The first of September marks the first major push to accomplish two goals: the unloading of dead weight and the gathering of greenbacks with which to propel myself and Caitlin M. Foyt into the next step of our life.

Here’s why I’m a bad salesman.

Like toys and other such stuff? Buy mine! It’s good.

The First of the Random Bits of Technology

Samsung Instinct

I bitch about this phone some, but a lot of people really like it. In fact, the phone is pretty smart. It’s got a decent camera. It picks up e-mail. It has a functional GPS and map generator. It has picture mail. It’s cool in a lot of ways. The physical condition is a little scuffed up, and you have to jiggle the wire to make sure the thing makes good contact to charge, but otherwise it works just as well as when I got it. Plus I’m including both my car charger and my wall charger, both of which were made by Rocketfish.

By the way, I’m ditching it in favor of an iPhone. It’s for some freelance work I’ve started. More to follow when I’m at liberty to discuss it.

The “Star Wars” Mighty Muggs

Return of the Jedi” Darth Vader

It’s Vader. His head’s reversible, taking him from the classic helmet to the half-dead face of redemption. He also includes the lightsaber and his right hand comes off to recreate your favorite amputation-filled scenes.

Han Solo in his Hoth gear from “The Empire Strikes Back”

This is the Han Solo who goes out into the frozen wastes to save one Luke Skywalker from certain doom. He’s pretty badass and includes his custom blaster pistol. You should buy this, or your tauntaun could freeze before the first marker.

C-3PO

He’s one of the rarer Mighty Muggs, usually tougher to find, and selling for a lot more on eBay than what I’m selling him for. He’s in really good shape. But no, he doesn’t like you either.

Plo Koon

This guy’s a major character in “The Clone Wars” CGI cartoon show. In the feature films of the non-animated variety, he’s one of the many Jedi who get killed relatively easily in Episode III. Comes with the blue lightsaber. Generally looks kinda gross.

Chewbacca

Winner of the Halloween costume contest, the bear-growl-voiced first mate of the Millennium Falcon looks like he’s ready for business, especially with his crossbow-style bowcaster blaster, which is included.

Grand Moff Tarkin

Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you underestimate how cool Grand Moff Tarkin, played by the illustrious Peter Cushing (not here, though, this is a plastic toy), would look on your mantel, book shelf or desk. He’s the dude in charge of the Death Star, who rides it right up until it turns into a huge fireball, and when re-examined later, a huge fireball that spews a ridiculous shockwave on only one axis instead of in every direction, as one would expect when something round explodes. But I digress into science…

Snowtrooper

As seen momentarily in “The Empire Strikes Back,” this is a stormtrooper, equipped to deal with snow. You know he’s built to fight in the snow by his skirt. He’s very slightly scuffed on top of his helmet. But he’s also cheaper.

Shocktrooper

I think this guy is from “The Clone Wars,” or maybe from some video game (“The Force Unleashed,” I think), but he’s some kinda stormtrooper-looking guy and he’s pretty cool. he’s a little scuffed (white paint with other paint on top just doesn’t do well), but he’s way cheap also.

Bid on ’em, guys. Help me to light the fuse to the rocket boosters that’ll carry me to the proverbial moon that is adulthood! Please!

Dead space and dying stars

I started this blog as a lament of how badly I’m performing as a writer, but about a quarter of the way through the original draft, I got inspired and banged out a “Millennium Men” story.

So I guess I’ll post the first draft, as-yet untitled. Note that I haven’t read it over yet and won’t for probably another few days.

Meanwhile, I really have been failing as a writer. Just not failing as hard as I usually do.

For one, I’ve been totally uninspired by the “Wrath of the Damned” Twitter account. Something about where we ended up just doesn’t do it for me. I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet.

UPDATE: Actually, about a quarter of the way through this second draft of this blog, I started work on the “Wrath” twitter again. Laziness is preventing me from starting over for a third draft. So just deal with it.

Anyway. So I was feeling bad about creation lately. I still feel like I need to be doing more, and spending less time doing things like watching the new “Battlestar Galactica” blu-ray set. And even though I have gotten some new stuff going lately, it doesn’t make me feel any better about what I’m doing. The general feeling that something is wrong persists.

Basically, it’s been a painful couple of weeks in the creativity department.

My thoughts on friendship have been spiraling, which puts kinks in projects like “Millennium Men.” A group of 10 of us spent four days camping in West Virginia, along with white water rafting, and the experience was illuminating, hilarious, and troubling.

I was disappointed to learn new things about my friend Matt in particular. Matt when drunk can be an unpredictable person, but there were some serious falling-out moments that took place during the trip. He managed to alienate most everyone there.

Things are a bit strained because of these developments, but whatever. I haven’t spoken with anyone who was on the trip with me in about a week except for Nick. No one else has made much of an effort in my direction and I’m okay with taking a little space from them. But the whole situation harkens back to the idea that my friends and I are largely pulling in different directions. We might be outgrowing one another.

That kinks things up for me when I’m trying to write a novel about friendship and camaraderie when I don’t actually feel a lot of that. I guess partially that’s the point.

Anyway. The light of a few friendships might be dimming. What’s weirder is my lack of real problem with the development. A lot of it feels inevitable.

Some of it feels necessary.

The old complex I used to have about losing people is almost entirely gone. I feel like my life is streamlining down to a handful of people I really care about. Shedding skin, losing vestigial relationships, filling dead space with things that really matter.

I lost myself in another city five hours away. The guy that returned from Chicago isn’t the same one that started out there.

That’s for the better in all cases. Specifically, the maintenance of life I used to do no longer satisfies me, if it ever did. That applies to people too. Only the most important people in my life, I’m finding, deserve my time and effort.

That’ll do. Maybe next time I’ll post an outline.

Oh, that’s right. I’m writing an outline for “Millennium Men.” That’s significant because I never do that. Starting to get serious about the business of writing.

Destruction and creation

I can’t seem to shake this sneaking, nagging desire to sell off all my junk.

The more I think about it, the more the boxes of random stuff I moved back from Chicago six months ago just annoy me. What’s really in there? Let’s run it down:

1. Toys
2. DVDs
3. Books
4. More toys
5. Video games

These things include my extensive collection of Mighty Muggs, a few action figures, some bobbleheads, and other knicknacks and odds and ends that looked fun scattered around my apartment.

After packing them all up, I realize how little I need of that stuff anymore.

The reality of it is, that stuff was a crutch for my identity. Movie memorabilia and old action figures no longer define me. I don’t need them (all).

I am somewhat loathe to part with my fairly huge DVD collection. I might salvage some or all of that. But my 50-inch TV, my $600 surround sound system, my numerous video game systems collecting dust, my three-foot replica “Gears of War” Lancer rifle — I just don’t feel the same attachment to them that I once did.

For one, they’re a pain to move, and what I’m really feeling right now is a need to go. The trip to NYC reawakened in me the notion that I don’t belong here and have never belonged here. Plus living with my parents (and by circumstances, Caitlin) isn’t awful, it’s just not independent enough.

I’ve always felt a need to go elsewhere. It didn’t work out with Chicago, but there were mitigating factors involved there that made that situation ultimately fail on every level.

Really, I had no reason to be there. I didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t explore the city. I didn’t fulfill myself. I watched movies and did my job quietly in my living room. And while I was sitting around, unhappy and lost, large portions of the rest of my life were disintigrating. I wrote next to nothing in that city, and I realize now how soul-crushing that was.

In retrospect, I was unhappy a lot in Chicago, but I came through that fire much better off. Now I’m looking for a place where I can feel more at home. And I can’t be lugging needless material bullshit with me across this country.

The old life, the old me, is coming apart. I feel it every day. The things I wanted I don’t want anymore. The things that mattered don’t matter anymore. Whole new things matter now — most of all, forging ahead in the career that I really have always wanted. It’s not journalism, despite what I told myself as I trudged through my degree and various jobs out of college.

It’s time to declare total war on my life. I think the ceasefire will come when I relocate.

At the same time as I’m deciding that large portions of my life require destroying, creation is on my mind. I’ve spent more time blogging and writing in the last few months (mostly because Caitlin is an incredible inspiration) than in a long while. A lot of ideas are buzzing in my head.

The “Wrath of the Damned” project, for example, is going swimmingly. The @wrathofdamned Twitter account is a lot of fun, if not always the brainiest of literary exercises, but it’s like having a new prompt every day. I just finished what I’m thinking may be a final edit on “Defense of Self,” a new story for the “Wrath” blog, that I think is my current favorite of the pieces I’ve written.

“Millennium Men” is slow-going, but on my mind. When I finish the final edit of “Defense,” I’ll go back to work on the novel relentlessly. I have four or five stories just floating around in my head. And I keep thinking about buying notecards and poster board to create a moving, workable storyboard/outline that I can use to finally nail down exactly what I need to work on for the story.

Other writing projects include a pilot for a television show and a humorous time travel textbook I’m working on with Nick Hurwitch. We’re about to start a third draft of the script and this week, which includes a visit from Nick, will also include work on the time travel book to figure out how to pitch it to a publishing company, hopefully.

There’s more. My brain’s buzzing. I’ve finally discovered the software to run my webcam as a regular camera, and so now I’m bending my brainstorming muscle toward coming up with something to make out of all that technology.

On a more personal level, spending time with Caitlin constantly leaves me wanting to spend more time with her. We’ve talked about moving in together when her lease ends in the next six weeks or so. Really, the life I want to create, I think, is in Los Angeles. To work as a writer, and especially in film, that’s the place to go. Not to mention that the many projects I’m working on with Nick would be far easier to finish while in the same place.

But L.A. isn’t an option without Caitlin — what I want to create includes her, or doesn’t exist at all. We’ve talked about it and she’s willing to go. I haven’t worked out the logistics of the situation just yet, but that’s where I want to end up — provided she’ll go with me.

More than anything, of all the stuff that’s running through my mind, finding a way to make sure Caitlin is a part of my life is my biggest concern. Nothing else matters.

Out with the old, in with the new, I guess. I’ve never been this excited about the new.