Update: Memory of the Black Sun–My NaNoWriMo 2014 Project–is Finished

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-12.12.14-CompleteWhere I Wrote: At home, in the one room I always use for writing.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Strange. The ending is a complication.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: I remember being really happy. I want to say determined, but that would imply that there was some difficulty. There wasn’t; I woke up, made coffee, and sat down with my tablet, excited to edit the bit of the ending that I had and try again to complete it.

The Experience: I’d planned a return to the New York Public Library on 42nd, but the end of Memory refused to wait for that; on Friday morning, after struggling with the last chapter and epilogue, I woke up, edited, tried another approach, and wound up finishing Memory within an hour or two.

And, yes, you read that right; I finished the novel on Friday and I’m only posting about it today, on Sunday. At this point, I’ve told exactly one person about completing it. My reason: boasting about finishing the novel feels incredibly celebratory. Which would be all kinds of silly as the book is absolutely not done.

In part because it needs to be edited. Sorely. I want to smooth out the pacing. I want to add more interesting descriptions for everything. I want to hone the world of the story. I want, more than anything else, to have the required Naming Session, during which I can finally stop calling my thief protagonist Locke, and–for the love of God–decide on a less awkward name than Memory of the Black Sun.

But also because… the ending for Memory is such a conundrum that taking one possible route with it does not feel like any cause for celebration whatsoever–I have not won yet; I have not figured it out. War of Exiles had a very clear, complete, strong ending that got unexpectedly more powerful for me every time I worked on it–every time I trimmed off excess and added another scene that needed a resolution. In contrast, I’m left staring at a handful of options for Memory, the terms of my Fantasy Story Stats buzzing around in my head endlessly; the ending can be High Spirit (emotionally comforting), or Low Spirit (emotionally challenging), I find myself thinking, only to immediately remind myself that I can find a middle ground–one of the many if’s and but’s that makes the logic puzzle of Memory’s ending a terrible little loop. I’m still weighing the matter with such honest confusion that writing this just feels… wrong.

But I still have to acknowledge that I’m on to the editing part. On to it so hard, in fact, that last night saw me whipping out the tablet on my bed at (seriously) 6AM because I had to write a scene that I knew would help the pacing and reinforce the protagonists’ relationship. I have, at least, crossed over to the phase of writing during which I can–and totally do–jump backwards in the timeline and tweak and edit absolutely everything. I’m up to the point where I can stare vacantly at a wall (or maybe at people in public) while I consider the ending for the umpteenth time, knowing as I do that there is a solution for it that I will find. Being at that phase with Memory is something I’m incredibly grateful for.

It took longer than a month; I took an extra week to put in hours at work and take care of other life things I’d been ignoring and then an extra week after that to actually write the end of the novel without rushing it. But I still, suddenly have a second novel down. If you’d asked me in mid-October of this year–just before NaNoWriMo–when I expected to finish Memory of the Black Sun, I’d have shrugged and half-asked, “2016?”

But it’s down, on paper, now–and it’s good–in a month and change, compared to the… seven years it took me to write War of Exiles?

Yep. I’ll take it.

 

Very Comfortably Insane

2013-(white)WarofExilesUpdateC

Not to be a downer, but at the time of this posting, I still don’t feel it.

It’s been a week now. A week since I finished my rewrite of my first novel. And somehow, I still don’t really feel it. There were moments when I almost did–moments when I wrote to a friend about finishing the book and perked up, excited at the thought of moving on to the sequel and other, shorter projects. But every time, the near rush always cut short with a monotone, “Nope. That didn’t do it either–still not excited.”

I don’t want this to sound super dramatic; I’m not numb or in shock. I’m just… unfazed. It’s disappointing, really, because the first time I finished this book, I was out of my mind with joy; I’d finished a book and, oh man, I still had to edit it, but, oh geez–oh man–it was done!

This time, I typed the last sentence. Stared at it. Smirked… And then immediately admitted that I hated the last sentence. I changed it quickly to something I really liked and backed up the finished first (technically sixth) draft. And then I just sat at my computer for a while, aware that now, not only could I do something else with my day… but I had to do something else–even though, this time, I knew the story wasn’t actually done–because it was the next step in my writing plan. In the slow, determinedly celebratory and lazy way of humans, I wound up convincing myself to do all of the things I usually do when I achieve a solid milestone–I played some video games without caring about how much time I wasted that day (ultimately a few hours that felt like far, far too long without the banter of a friend over Xbox Live). I also had a decent lunch. I may have actually bought myself a cookie.

The thing is… I’m much, much different from the 20-something year old who blissfully typed, “The End,” and spent a month celebrating afterward (a month of down time that turned into months of carelessness). Past-Louis thought he was almost done–that the Content Edit and Line Edit would be easy. That he’d finished something great.

Present-Louis, however, has already moved on to another story because he kind of had to. Because Present-Louis knows now that it’s time for the Big Push. The Long Halloween. The Whatever You Want to Call It. This is the year where I keep going and move on to another story with my insane, custom-made, self-taught, monster outlines and try to refine them while learning more about writing; about establishing a flow of projects and trying out my approach for Growing Outlines.

Essentially, now is the time when I actually level up as a writer, again. And it’s terrifying! Maybe because I’ve already finished this same book once without knowing it was terrible.  Or maybe it’s because I have almost no outside opinions on my extremely personal techniques–no other writer to look in and say, “Do you really need to list the clothing your characters are wearing?” or “You should make an extra part in your outlines for [this]. [This] is super important and you’re missing it.”

Or maybe it’s because of that moment in front of my computer, staring at the monitor–at that last line–and realizing that I was nothing without the ability to tell stories. I’ve moved on to a new outline of a standalone idea, deeply revised from the super vague, over-excited concept I had in high school (forged from listening to the heartsick intro music from Chrono Cross), and I’m clinging to that outline for dear life. Because I’m not the kind of writer who can take breaks anymore. I’m the kind of writer that’s too far gone, who’s only real fear is the imagined point when I have no more stories to tell.

Well, that and the impending rejection letters. You hear that, slight inkling of victory? Reality’s a-comin’ for ye!

To put all drama and preemptive bitterness aside though, I am… content. Yes, everything is a challenge right now. But, for writers, toiling away, constructing worlds that may never, ever reach readers, everything is a challenge. I’m glad to have found new ones, but they’re still challenges and they’re still daunting.

Regardless, and because I want even this post to be somewhat constructive, the attack plan is as follows:

  1. Spend March away from War of Exiles before beginning my Content Edit. In that time, I’ll take the month to work on a sparse Chapter Outline for the new story I mentioned, The Hand and the Tempest (expect to see it temporarily replace War of Exiles in my Project Progress bar at the top of the page [although its bar will be stranger, as the goal is to progressively build on the outline until it goes from ‘Short Story’ to ‘Novella’ to (maybe) ‘Full Length, Stand-Alone Novel’–this being the purpose of my “Growing Outline”)]).
  2. When April hits, all outlining for The Hand and the Tempest stops as I return to WoE for the Content Edit and, after using The Hand and the Tempest for practice, begin writing a Chapter Outline for War of Masks, the sequel to War of Exiles.
  3. From there, it’s moving on to a Line Edit for WoE while Chapter Outlining the third book in the series (currently unnamed).
  4. After that, when my submission packet is finished, I’ll review the outline for The Hand and the Tempest, and write it as I submit WoE.
  5. And after that, it’s off to work on an outline for another standalone story–I have another in mind.
  6. And all while, I’ll be staring at the intimidating mountain of information that is my actual, main series–my magnum opus that terrifies me as much as it excites me.

This, it turns out, is what being a devoted, aspiring novelist is like; poor and terrified. Unrealistically devoted and absolutely proud of it (if you’re here with me on this obnoxiously lonely, writers’ path, hi there. Let’s revel in our wildly unstable, conflicting emotions together).

To put it simply, being an aspiring author means that you’re very comfortably insane.

Brand New Day – Week 3 – Caught Between the Bell Curves

It’s Thursday night. I want to knock out a post before I get to bed; I’m going to Queens Comic Con tomorrow with Kenney Broadway and Chaos Mechanica. It’s an outing that was pretty exciting until I 8PM hit earlier and I realized that I somehow didn’t get anything done for my book today.

I know that’s not exactly fair—I made business cards today. And edited a few of next week’s posts. And worked out my schedule for Comic Con. And worked a bit on my big contribution to this year’s Con (a post for Infinite Ammo that’s still incredibly unfinished considering how complicated it’ll be to execute [thankfully Darth Healthcare {we’re just full of code names on that site} volunteered to help, but even the third of its writing portion, which I started months ago, is still unfinished and needs a ton of tweaking]). Still though, the goal was to roll out of bed, lay down on my couch and do that weird thing where I brainstorm by staring up at the ceiling (and maybe dozing off) to figure out exactly how the next chapter is supposed to work (which always leads to me crossing out the first few pages I get from the brain storming session and rewriting them later, after I discover the way the chapter should really go while doing something as unrelated as, say, petting a cat [as far as efficiency is concerned, it’s about as roundabout a way of writing as using brackets within brackets to steer myself away from a point {I swear I’ll stop this now}]). I was set to wake up and write just as I was ready for this whole Brand New Day thing to be relatively simple.

Relatively, as in I knew it would still be hard, yes. But I didn’t know I’d have so much work to do for Infinite Ammo that I’d realize the sun went gone down and wonder where the time went on a daily basis.

It doesn’t help that I feel determined to be unhappy; when I’m home, I wish I was outside. When I’m hanging out with friends, I wish I was out walking (I have a weird thing with taking walks and traveling), or home writing. And it’s not like I’m ungrateful or don’t want to hang out with my friends, I just want to do everything at once and I can’t. It’s really frustrating. Now that Chaos Mechanica and I have made a site that’s still going strong and has gotten nearly 3,500 hits, it’s lost its professional luster; all that there is for me is finishing this novel and possibly starting other ventures I’ve considered lately. There’s now a gratification curve to what I do, which, now that I say it, is possibly the same reason why I probably don’t feel completely gratified when I hang out; it’s not that the people I spend time with are lame or unfulfilling friends. It’s that… Well, you’ve probably loved someone so much that you didn’t know what to do when it didn’t work out with them, no matter how hard you tried.

Well, I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m caught between the bell curves and it’s a silent kind of unhappy that I try not to talk about to anyone. I want to finish more of this book every week. And I love her and miss her so much that I’m writing about it on my blog like this is high school.

Okay. Deep breath. One of those problems I can fix. The other I can ignore.

It’s time for bed; I can brainstorm/write on the train (where, oddly enough, I do my best drafting). I can spend a few hours at this Queens Comic Con, meet up with other friends afterward, hopefully go to Occupy Wall St. like I’ve wanted to. All of that is important.

One day at a time.

Brand New Day – Week 1

Last week, on Wednesday, the 14th, I worked my last day at Borders. The rest of that week and the weekend that followed disappeared in a bunch of Borders closing parties (and the hang-overs that followed).

Yesterday, Monday, the 19th, was a brand new day. In short, it was the beginning of my gamble to finish rewriting my first fantasy novel, The War of Exiles, within the next six months. And it began with a few wake up texts from Ronin at Hot Mop Films, asking me what time I’d be in. And, no, it wasn’t that I’d forgotten—I just thought we’d discussed the projects they wanted to recruit me for enough through email (and I also didn’t expect to sleep in ’til 11a.m. [memories of waking up at 4 o’ clock in the morning for Borders shifts that started at 6 are already so distant]).

This, in all honesty, was not how I expected the first day of the rest of my professional life to start, but there are worse ways. The meeting got me up, got me working, and (probably more importantly than I’d like to imagine) got me outside. It was still a little annoying though—not because I’m not excited to work with Hot Mop again, but because I was planning to roll out of bed and get right to work on chapter four of WoE. But now the entire day’s flow was thrown off; I’d get home and someone would be on Xbox Live, or there’d be something to work on for Infinite Ammo. There’d be no time to—

Wait. No. To hell with that.

When I got home, I ate dinner, opened the outline for WoE, and worked from 7p.m. to 5a.m. (allowing for the short breaks that often plague writing [which I hope to siphon out in the next few weeks because, seriously, ten hours?]). Not the amount of work I was expecting, but the amount I had to do because I could (there were at least five more times when that same voice came back with things like, ‘Well, you don’t need to write this character’s bio right now. Leave it for tomorrow! You’ve been at it for like, 8 hours!’ and ‘You don’t need to figure out this cultural detail right now. There’s always tomorrow,’ but each time I fought down the arguments and just didn’t stop]).

Today is Tuesday, the 2oth. And a brand new day.

It started with a wake up text from Chaos Mechanica, asking what stories were ready to post on Infinite Ammo. I spent an hour or two editing two of them and making and assigning images to both. Now, I’m moving on to writing ideas and drafts for Hot Mop.

And I’m also doing “alpha bullets” for chapter five of WoE.

Because the outline for chapter four is finished.

And now, completely unlike Louis from last week, I know I can get it all done by tonight.

Because now, every day is just another, oddly busier work day than I ever knew at Borders. And I’m absolutely loving every second.

Saying My Goodbyes

This isn’t going to be another extremely bleak post; despite the title, I’ve decided that it won’t because, although I still stand by everything I said in Preparing for the Storm (despite how embarrassingly true all of it was), I’m determined to not be as depressed as I was when I wrote that post.

Today’s my last day at Borders at Columbus Circle. Not because I’ve been fired or found a new job; it’s the last day that our store will stay open. Tonight, coworkers have another night of drinking planned, but when I wake up tomorrow, it’s time to get to work.

The thing is, the more pressing matter for me isn’t the work because I’m more excited for that than anything else; seriously, I was approved for a Press Pass to Comic Con earlier this week because of my work on Infinite Ammo, and with that I felt so insanely validated that I’m suddenly absolutely certain I’ll be able to handle this insane, 6 month deadline I’ve assigned myself.

What’s bothering me now is that it’s the last day at Borders; what would happen today only sank in last night when an old coworker of mine, Bill, left. He’s an older man with a great sense of humor, but always kind of gruff; he would do his job and only talk to you to poke fun or make bitter jokes about Borders. He also always left without saying anything to anyone. But yesterday, his shift ended at nine and he didn’t just slip out. I didn’t understand why at first, but when I realized he was giving out hugs, it occurred to me that I’d never see Bill again; he was leaving and he wouldn’t be at any of the parties or dinners. We wouldn’t be forced into the same place ever again for any reason.

We each live with our own cast of characters, their closeness to us determined on their level of development (round or flat). It’s not that some people are more interesting than others; it’s that only some are comfortable enough around us to show us who they really are. And it’s when these people step off-stage, their parts finished, that it hurts the most. Whether it’s time or not–and usually, it feels like it’s not–these people have to move on to someone else’s stage to be watched and loved.

When Bill was leaving, it made me realize that it would be like that for everyone; unlike any other place I’ve ever worked, Borders was full of round characters. Because unlike any other place I’ve ever worked, we let ourselves be charmed and charming. I’m not saying everyone was awesome, but nearly everyone made their mark and said their words and gave us their moments and now, today, the last of us would have the stage pulled from under us. Tomorrow, and very suddenly for me, we would all be missing our scene.

And no, it’s not like we can’t make new ones; I, for one, am amazing at making scenes wherever I go. : )

But it’s an incredible understatement to say I will miss everyone I’ve worked with at Borders at Columbus Circle. Unfortunately, it’s completely impossible to also explain the countless reasons why and thank everyone responsible. If you worked with me, if you were my friend, then thank you. Thank you for contributing to one of the best work experiences of my life. And if I haven’t heard from you in a while, please feel free to text me or write because I bet I miss you (I do that pretty easily).

If I don’t know you, well, thank you for reading this love letter anyway. And thank you for being a witness to this very serious turning point in my life.

Now, I’m heading to my last day at Borders. Tonight, party. Tomorrow, the real work begins.

Infinite Ammo

The weeks since my last post, “The Turning Point”, have been pretty hectic. Work is, naturally, depressing, and afterward home is—more so than before—a constant effort to get as much professional work done as humanly possible.

Why “more so than before”? Because directly after “The Turning Point”, I rallied Chaos Mechanica to start on that new gaming/comics/nerdy stuff website I’d mentioned. After a pretty insane weekend of non-stop work, we released Infinite Ammo two days later on the 25th, and it has totally dominated my time since, even though Chaos Mechanica has been an awesome partner in the effort.

The question, “Why the hell would you start a website when you already have so much else to do?” probably springs to mind. I think the answer is simple: I really needed some instant gratification. Work is a constant string of people asking me when I’m going to be out of a job; why wouldn’t I need to do something that I can admire five minutes later?

Of course, it didn’t take five minutes to make the site what it is now; the weeks before and after the 25th were a really tentative dance with a bunch of talent who—thankfully—agreed to work on the site even though they aren’t getting paid anything. I’m ridiculously lucky to know people who are so willing to chip and are also all great, charming, and knowledgeable writers. I want to make this something awesome for them as much as for myself.

The complications that come out of an effort like this are pretty surprising though. But then, so are the stupid, stupid perks; Mr. House and I have had to divvy-up responsibilities (the insanely charming Mr. House getting the HR spot while I took on editing/designing tasks) because problems keep cropping up everywhere and it was immediately too much work for one hero to handle (not that Mr. House is my sidekick; we’re more a Batman/Superman type duo [also I’m Batman]).
Anyway, my point is this: I was preparing an introductory email to prospective writers, full of info they’d need to know to work with us. I’m there writing the “Feature Image” bit, explaining how they can get headline images to use on their stories and this happens: “The best thing to do is aggressively Google Image Search for a good, hi-res shot of your topic. So, say if you’re doing an article about Spider-Man, then I want you to get me pictures of—” O_O “… Yes. Pictures. I want you to get me pictures of Spider-Man!”

It’s the little things, people.

Important: I will occasionally post new reviews and special interest articles, but in the coming months, I’m going to stray away from those to give you a much more personal look into my efforts to finish my book (again) and this major turning point in my life. That said, if you want a more steady string of reviews, previews, and opinions on comics, video games, movies and more from myself and a bunch of other talented writers and hardcore fans, Infinite Ammo is the site for you.  When I finally get the chance to work on it again, RED Comics will also appear on Infinite Ammo, but I love the series too much already to not post it here as well.

—Thanks for Reading!—

The Turning Point

I’ve danced around the topic a few times on this site, careful to not talk about the actual experience or give any details about it, but, at this point, I don’t see a reason to hide that I work at Borders. I’m still not going to talk about working there or any of the people I work with because that’s not what this article is about. However, my being employed by Borders Inc. is incredibly relevant to this post.

You’re probably wondering why if you don’t follow the news at all. The answer: Borders is liquidating, and in a week or a month or sometime soon, I’ll be out of a job.

So, immediately, the question becomes, “What am I going to do?” And just as immediately, answers spring up. Some friends have been awesome enough to offer me recommendations at their jobs–places and positions that are completely what I’ve always wanted to move on to. Another opportunity–a tutoring job–would be very easy to get even though it would make me miserable. And, always, there’s the worst choice–natural progression: get a job at Barnes & Noble and lean back into the same spot I was just in.

But, even with the position I really wanted, I knew that I couldn’t. It wasn’t that my resume wasn’t good enough or I wouldn’t do well at any of these jobs.

It was because I knew I had to take the opportunity to really change my life.

I won’t be able to not look for some kind of part-time work, but in the hiatus, I decided I have to stop, collect myself, and finish War of Exiles.

I’m more than vaguely aware that this is a bad idea. I’m aware that it’s going to be very lonely and stressful and incredibly difficult. But I’m also aware that if I don’t take this chance to really finish my first novel and the several short stories I’ve already started on, I may never get any of it done. Or maybe I will, in 2015. Or 2018. Or 2024.

But it’s my dream. It’s always been my dream, ever since I played Final Fantasy III (it was III back then, not VI) and was amazed by the world and the drama between the characters. And I don’t want to put my dream on the back burner; I already have for years and years when I promised myself I wouldn’t. In my eyes, this is the only choice–it’s what I just have to do.

So what’s on the agenda?

  1. Work on the outline for Exiles and short stories everyday. The terrifying goal until I find my speed–a finished chapter outline every week, a finished short in the first month.
  2. For as long as I have an unlimited Metrocard, go to places from my past. I know this sounds weird, but I need to get my drama from somewhere. I’ll blog about some of those places here, killing two birds with one stone. I’ll also blog with updates on my progress, but I’m probably going to want to write about some of these places, and why not here?
  3. If I can, shoot at various locations. May as well work on my photography a bit while I’m at it.
  4. Work with Chaos Mechanica and other partners on a new website. For when I really, really need that instant gratification.
  5. Read fantasy novels when I really, really need a break. There’s nothing like rounding out my knowledge of my genre and keeping my head in the game while enjoying myself at the same time.
  6. Casually work on RED and other art projects when I have time.

And I believe that’s it.

I remember my goal on my 28th birthday–don’t turn 29 without getting something published.  If I hadn’t decided to completely rewrite my first novel, I possibly would’ve been on the way to achieving that goal. But now, I realize that with a few months left, I have to scrap that goal. Because I have a new one now, and it’s not a maybe or a try.

Finish the final draft of your book and get it published six months after you lose your job.

Just typing it terrifies me.

The Death of Ultimate Spider-Man… By the Amazing Spider-Man’s Hand

After work today, I met my good friend @GentlemanMonstr for some Five Guys and a stop at Midtown Comics. As the undisputed overlord of the comic world (in my opinion), the Gentleman had something obscure in mind. For me, it was the exact opposite: Ultimate Spider-Man #160. In all honesty, it was something I wasn’t looking forward to, but it was, of course, something I needed to read, not only because I’m the Spider-Man fan among my friends, but because I loved the whole Ultimate Spider-Man series, from it’s rocky start to… well…

We naturally spend more time than necessary at Midtown. Then it was a casual walk to Penn Station where we parted ways. I got to my train platform and thought that I should wait until I got home to read how it all ends, but I realized that after the countless hours on the train that I’d burned reading and rereading Ultimate Spider-Man, there was no better time.

Now, I’m not going to explain what happens because this is a no spoiler zone. But I will say that something odd happened; something I didn’t expect:

I wasn’t bothered. I wasn’t upset; when it happened, I got a little teary eyed (yeah, I’ll admit it), but I didn’t shed a tear, which is weird because I honestly expected to at least shed one damn tear–I’m the Spider-Man guy, after all!

Now, is this because the writing was off? Was Peter’s death too sudden? Was it lacking real drama and emotion? Did I not feel it? Well, while I’m not saying those possibilities are absolutely out of line, I think I know the primary reason for my ambivalence:

I had Amazing Spider-Man #663 in my bag.

And you’re thinking, “So you’re fine because Amazing Spider-Man is still alive?” And, I mean, overtly, sure, but it’s more complicated than that. The “Big Time” plot line brought serious changes to Peter Parker’s life. For the first time, we saw Peter get a job that pays his bills, new costumes, new side characters (thank God), and even a new love interest. As the arc’s name suggests, things in Peter’s life finally start looking up for the first time in… well, ever. Finally, finally things actually change for Peter Parker. Significantly.

So, what does this have to do with Ultimate Spider-Man? It’s simple: after all of the changes in Amazing, going back to Ultimate  felt like looking backwards. For many of us, there was a time when Ultimate Spider-Man was fresh and young and awesome, and it was probably because at the same time, Amazing was tired and boring. For many of us, Ultimate Spider-Man gave us what we’d always wanted as Spider-Man fans: change. Variety. But then Big Time finally came and we–well, I–realized that… Ultimate Peter Parker is still just a kid. He’s still in high school. He’s still worrying about Mary Jane. Suddenly, Ultimate was the past. A past we’ve all read and watched countless times. A past that some writers burned to the ground by over-using the same tired characters. A past that it’s sadly easy to let go of.

Believe what you want, but somehow, I don’t think the time could have ever been more appropriate for the unfortunate passing of our young, beloved Mr. Parker. Not because I wanted it, but because right now–before a new writer comes along and retcons all of Big Time and FF–right now is the only time I could possibly bare it. In all honesty, while I can’t say I started reading comics because of Ultimate Spider-Man, I can promise you that I never would have become so deeply invested in them if not for the incredible sense of adventure and awe that the Ultimate run instilled in me. For that, I will always be grateful for young Peter Parker and the incredible places Brian Michael Bendis took us with him.

But that doesn’t mean I want to ever go back to how things were. Not after so much has changed. The Peter Parker who was always so worried about Aunt May and MJ and work and J. Jonah Jameson and Venom–that young man is dead. And although I loved him, I’m content to let him rest in peace.

The PDF That Just Wouldn’t Die

I’m not sure how it is for you, but Photoshop projects always take longer than I expect. I have an idea and think, I can get that done in an hour tonight. But then I get in front of my computer and realize I just can’t edit a part of the project the way I’d intended or a part of my design just doesn’t look good on paper. A great example is the first issue of RED Comics; nearly every panel was a trial (although it was one I enjoyed because it forced me to troubleshoot with a lot of methods I made up on the spot [all of which–thankfully–worked]). But at most, that tacked on an extra week to the project (more like an extra day when you factor in getting home from work late and spending only an hour or two of my daily writing time on the comic).

Unfortunately, when a project gets such a tiny portion of work time, they sometimes take way longer than an extra day to complete. Especially if they’re ridiculously (and unnecessarily) complicated. Like my Yonkers 3.31.11 PDF.

Which took all of eternity to complete.

I exaggerate, but if you haven’t taken a look at the Yonkers 3.31.11 PDF yet, please do so now (right click, then download the link) and then continue reading here.

If you think the pictures are awesome, I thank you. But what I really want to get at here is that the design for the PDF (the fonts, the order of the photos, etc.) took a month and a half to finish and I can’t really tell you why–aside from maybe saying that I cycled through a bunch of different fonts, tried to make a different logo, and tackled a bunch of other completely absent concerns that had the project spinning in limbo for way longer than it should’ve been (and, of course, spending an hour a night with it [and sometimes no time at all with it] didn’t help the project’s progress at all).

So, why bring this up? What’s on my mind? It’s simple. Maybe I’m burning myself out? I recently edited my friend Kenneth Broadway’s novella manuscript (a fantastic novella, I might add) and when I handed it back he said, “Let’s actually meet and talk about this though.”

I probably made a face and said, “Well, yeah, definitely, dude. When are you free?”

To which he said, “No, when are you free? I’m not the guy who’s always crazy busy doing a million things.”

I’m pretty sure I raised an eyebrow. “I’m not that busy. I just–”

“Work with Ronin at HotMop Films sometimes.”

“Well, yeah, but–”

“And go take photographs at ruins with Felix Velez.”

“That’s true–”

“And work with Chaos Mechanica on writing and film projects.”

I remember stopping to think about it. And then saying, “Yeah… I guess I am pretty busy. All the time.”

It was a charming thing then; it was nice to think that I’m finally being as creative as I’ve wanted, but I’m starting to realize that maybe I have my hands in way too many projects at once. The divided attention is slowing everything down. But then, the question becomes, “What do I drop?” Photography? The novel? RED Comics, which I just started (even though I just bought a few DVD’s this past weekend specifically to use for issues 2 and 3)? My ink abstracts have already fallen by the wayside for years, and that’s always disappointing to me when I think about it; do I really want another interest to fall by the wayside with it?

Or am I just wasting time thinking about all of this when I should be figuring out a way to optimize my workload? … I think I know the answer to this one.

Apocalypse 2011: The Chillest Apocalypse Ever?

I woke up this Apocalypse at 10:04 AM. I was not in my own bed, but not in an apocalyptic kind of way; I crashed at the “ghetto fabulous” flat of Ronin (the camera-wielding video smith of HotMop Films) and woke up on the sofa bed. The sun was shining through the window and, looking out into it, I found the day the world would undoubtedly change–forever: a sunny Saturday with a blue sky that forbode, with the CERTAINTY OF A THOUSAND HAROLD CAMPINGS,  an extremely pleasant afternoon. I turned on my 360, played Streets of Rage 2 until Ronin woke up and joined me, and then we got burgers, completely forgetting all the while to work on our movie idea. I also got a black and white shake. And then bought Amazing Spider-Man #660 from Silver Age Comics in Queens and read it all the way back to the Bronx.

And now, here I am, casually knocking out this article and thinking to myself, Maybe beer, pizza, and finishing ODST with my brother tonight?

And that’s when I realize it. Not that I kind of love the idea of a fanatic going ape shit and promising doom to everyone on a specific date, because I realized I loved that when I dished out my first (of many) Apocalypse 2011 jokes. No, I lean back in my seat and breath in the warm, summer breeze from my window, I feel the post Beer-and-Video-Games-Night-with-a-Buddy glow I’m still enjoying and think, Yeah… This has got to be the best Apocalypse ever.

I think about it and realize: yes, I cared about Y2K because there was science involved and I was young and impressionable enough to think, Hey. Maybe. <shrug> I didn’t pay attention to the 2008 Apocalypse (to the point that I’m not even sure I heard my friends right when they mentioned it [Maybe it was 1998? Maybe they were talking about a Genesis concert they went to?]). If there were any besides, I’ve missed them… So, yes, this totally is the best Apocalypse so far.

And, really, it makes me want to thank… uh… what’s-his-face. <checks his tabs> Harold Camping! Right! It makes me want to thank that guy, because the Apocalypse is now, officially, a holiday. A magical, moving holiday that sometimes comes after a year, other times after eight or more, but is always the best holiday ever, because you can lean back and think that somewhere out there, a pompous asshole who tried to spread mass hysteria feels like a complete moron–right now. And, in fact, he will (and you can smile as you think that) all day.

Does this mean I’m an atheist? No–I believe, although I do it in a complex way so that pretty much no one agrees with me (whether atheists or Churchies). But I definitely don’t believe in spending a ton of money to tell the world, “Well, too bad you didn’t repent, you stupid heathens! And now, enjoy five months of torment for not being as perfect as me!”

And hey, maybe you disagree, and really that’s fine and completely your prerogative. But all I can say is, we just survived the Apocalypse together, brother. Relax. Have a beer. Read a Bible. Start planning Apocalypse 2014.

Me? I’m going to call my brother about that pizza.