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.

Caitlin M. Foyt, muse

All kinds of inspired the last two days. This very much the fault of one Caitlin M. Foyt, whose excitement to create is contagious. So I started a new zombie story in one document window, another houses half a story I’m working on for a separate short-story compilation project (called “Millennium Men,” and we’ll get to it later), and I’m interrupting both those projects to post here only one day removed from my last post. That sort of regularity is a little bit unheard of.

Chiefly what’s driving me is a rash of interesting new perspectives, most or all of which are borne out of a relationship with someone who is not only extremely interesting and in many ways different from me, but who is also a writer and sees the perspectives in those experiences that I see. Caitlin and I talk about things we’re writing kind of frequently. She is definitely inspiring, and what’s more, she’s enthusiastic.

Here’s a good example: The first night she and I saw each other (and spoke for more than 90 seconds) after our six months of more or less noncommunication, Caitlin remembered something I’d mentioned to her probably almost a year earlier. I’d planned to make a “research” trip to NYC to visit Ground Zero. The trip is directly related to “Millennium Men,” the short-story novel thing I’m working on. I was supposed to go with one Nick Hurwitch, but plans fell through and he moved out west. I never did make it to New York. And before long, I sort of forgot about that ambition.

But Caitlin remembered, and she remembered the passion and planning I had attached to the trip. And then she volunteered to go with me — right there, out of the blue, five minutes into seeing me again. I immediately accepted, which might have previously been out of character for me. But it’s a sort of spontaneity and belief in possibility that she creates and brings out in me.

So we’re going to New York next weekend, with nary a plan, hopefully a couch to sleep on, and with Ground Zero firmly in the sights. We’re also planning to hit D.C. for a visit with Frank Wiswell and (I hope) Abraham Lincoln.

I was excited to see these landmarks and to study the effect they would have on me for the sake of my fiction. I’m sure Caitlin’s presence is going to make everything I learn deeper, more poignant, and more interesting. Best of all, a person whose opinions and writing chops I seriously value will be right there with me to discuss all the crazy feelings I’m expecting it all to drum up in me (I’m weird about my American heritage and its affect on my life).

I cannot freakin’ wait.

…I’ll stop gushing now.

How I found a real use for twitter

I’m fascinated by this Twitter stuff.

Tonight Nick Hurwitch and I worked pretty extensively on the “Wrath of the Damned” multi-author Twitter story, which consists of an on-going short story created by whoever happens to sign on and add to it. Caveat: We don’t tell each other what we’re doing until it’s up. Therefore, the story goes all over the place in a really organic, interesting way. (That’s @wrathofdamned if you’re interested.)

It’s a different sort of writing, that’s for damn sure. For one, the 140-character limit means you get right to the point. No screwing around. It minces things like description and complete sentences, but it also means a really pure story — find the best way to convey your thought or abandon it.

And not knowing what the other authors are going to contribute is extremely interesting because it means making up a new story at pretty much every turn. I had more than one good idea for what the story would become at key moments. Then Nick stepped in. Now we have something wholly new — like a dead main character. It’s really quite exhilarating, from a writing standpoint.

Just wandering around reading Twitter is a lesson for a writer, though, really. Snapshots of people’s days, of their lives, of their thoughts — you get quite a bit of information. It’s also a good way to see what is not interesting, at all. It’s almost better to follow boring people than interesting ones. I’ve learned some new stuff about authenticity, to be sure.

It’s kind of stark when you see reality condensed into tiny bites, especially when you read something profound. Fabricating that experience makes it all the sweeter once you’ve found the real thing.

Oh, also, I can get tidbits from Oprah.

I'm blogging! Brock, I blogged!

I keep trying to do this and failing. For a journalist, I’m not much for keeping journals.

Still, at the past suggestion of Caitlin M. Foyt, and because it’s always a struggle to keep writing and this is yet another outlet, I’m typing life down. Just in case you weren’t getting enough Phil Hornshaw. That is, assuming someone else sees this and I’m not just reading it myself in a year.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about and working on stories about zombies. Anybody who’s been reading “Wrath of the Damned,” a multi-author ongoing zombie apocalypse short story blog project (adjectives, anyone?), probably has heard me rant about the zombie genre, its place among the horror genres, and the way it’s been mistreated pretty much always (with a few noteable, but slightly campy, exceptions).

If you haven’t heard that rant, I’ll spell it out. As a genre of stories, I feel zombie fiction is, on the whole, fairly horrible. Occasionally zombie stories are treated with the reverence and seriousness they deserve, but that’s usually not the case. Such stories largely amount to little more than gory monsters gorily munching on screaming victims. These victims, more often than not, could have avoided certain death merely by being a little more vigilant, a little less petty, or a little more respectful of the danger around them.

Therefore, “Wrath,” to which I contribute along with authors Nick Hurwitch, Robert Bernardi, Rich Bronson and Angie Hornshaw, is supposed to be a more realistic, high-minded, and possibly spiritual look at the idea of the living dead. Specifically, I have questions: what do zombies mean to the idea of a soul; if the dead return to life, what does that mean about life after death; is it mercy to kill someone to prevent them from becoming a zombie, or to kill a zombie to “release” it; if you kill a zombie, is it murder; Can zombies be saved?

So we’re trying to do some cool stuff. We’re also trying to do some story-type stuff with our wrathofdamned Twitter account.

Hopefully more people will read it.