The other day I walked in front of the brownstone where my grandmother lived. There were several large trash bags out on the curb waiting to be picked up. It wasn't garbage. They were the rest of her clothes and personal items, the ones that my aunt and uncle did not donate to Salvation Army or to the local church. It was exactly one month after her funeral when they started to throw stuff out. 93 years of stuff. I wondered how many Hefty garbage bags worth of stuff is nine decades of life?
There were points in the last ten years when I condensed my life to a backpack. Over the last year, I've been on the road a lot, and lived out of my suitcase/backpack. I spent a lot of time in random hotels, some five stars like in Amsterdam and Barcelona, and a few dives along the way as well. Simple living. Being on the road was a reminder how many useless and worthless possessions you have that you don't really need. I don't have many material items. Most of the stuff I have are various forms of nostalgia or mementos from my many travels. I have dozens of boxes and crates filled with books, CDs, Grateful Dead bootlegs, postcards, and pictures. I have a bunch of paintings left over as well. I also gave away 40-50 over the last five years and the ones I still have are some of my favorites so those are tough to give away.
I missed days like I had this week when all I did was write for myself and barely eat for days and not sleep for a good reason. I ran into a small problem. Chapter 1 is over forty pages and clocks in at 16K words. That put me one pace word wise, but way behind in the book. I hope to have almost 1/4 done by now. I'm no where near 10% done. I have to quicken the pace. I was up until dawn last night.
When I play poker these days, I do things that I never did when I first started. Somethings were too complex to understand when I was still learning. I feel the same about writing. There are things that I did now, that I wish I did when I wrote Jack Tripper Stole My Dog especially with structure and symbolism. At the same time, I wish I had the fearlessness that I had during my first few projects. I can't say there haven't been moments over the last few days when I felt pressure on me. Not just to finish, but to write a damn good book.
I've always wrote and painted with music on in the background. It was a natural combination and super inspiring. Music is great for driving and writing. I don't think the experiences are the same without music. I put 210 specific songs into one playlist on my iPod. Then I put the fucker on shuffle and go write. I've yet to get through the entire mix in one sitting.
I usually simplify what I wear during writing binges. I have two shirts that I've been alternating. One is a blue striped dress shirt. It's comfortable. The other one is a long-sleeved thermal shirt. That keeps me warm. In the past I've worn hats and special shoes. But this time, I have no superstitions. If I can't make this book work, then I'm not worth shit.
My diet has been cut down to Orange Gatorade and English Muffins. In the past during other projects, I've lived off of Snapple Iced Tea or Arizona Iced Tea and tea buscuits.
The phone messages have been piling up. I'll return your calls in a few days. I turn off my phone and hide it when I'm writing. No distractions. This was my favorite message of the week, thus far:
"What's up dog? It's Joaquin. Listen, man, thanks for all those emails. That was cool. Hey, if you can, send me a chapter of your book to read. I'd like to look it over. If you can send it in the next few days, that would be cool. Just send me a chapter. I can read it over if you like. OK, talk to you soon. And say 'Hi' to Jaxia for me."Joaquin aka the Rooster. He's a professional balls buster you know. The Rooster is cagey. Look out.
BG helped me out with a guest post over at Tao of Poker. It's called Fundamental Need to Correct. So far this guest host/post thing has been working out.
Recent Writing Music...
1. Johnny Cash
2. Ben Harper
3. Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane