Sunday, December 01, 2013

New Novel: Fried Peaches

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It's been a long two months. I went from writing daily on Tao to nothing at all after I hit the road in October for three weeks to head back to the East Coast for a bunch of Phish concerts. In November, I had two big work assignments and I was writing every day, but not here. Elsewhere. The good news is that I found time and cranked out a new novel in three weeks.

Yeah, more self-indulgent madness. I shat out a NaNoWriMo novel. Didn't mention this to anyone until I passed the 50K mark. Not even Nicky. She didn't know I was writing a new novel. She knew I was working on something, but assumed it was a screenplay on the Mexican drug war with Joe Dubs. Only my bud G-Money had an inkling I was writing something, because I needed to pick his brain about some technical things, but I never revealed any specifics.

The last time I completed a NaNo book was in 2004. When I got into the poker biz in 2005, I lost all my free time (which was dedicated to writing Lost Vegas). Last year was the first year I did not have to cover the November Nine in Las Vegas, but I was so burned out on writing that I had taken the entire year off. This year? I turned down a chance to cover November Nine in favor of other work assignments. Despite the heavy workload, I found time around each assignment. Usually first thing in the morning. For most of my adult life, 3am to 6am was my most productive period of time, but now the magic hours are 6am to 9am. That's when I got the bulk of this writing done. Early morning writing sessions. It really saved me from the brink of insanity.

"Love what you do. Do what you love."

That was Ray Bradbury's key to life, which I embraced. Bradbury indirectly played an influential role in the new novel.

I have plenty of ideas for novels and screenplays, but most of them get put aside. But this was a special idea that I had to get down now because I was worried that if I let time pass, I would never get the story out. Ray Bradbury often spoke about how different characters approached him and begged him to listen to them. Those characters told their stories and Bradbury listened. I always thought that was kind of hokey until it happened to me. I didn't really write a novel as much as I had a certain character tell me their story and I transcribed it. There's also a philosophy involved based on a major music industry figure who had heavily influenced me over the past year. That's all I needed. The character and a philosophy. The novel pretty much wrote itself.

In 2002, I cranked out a novel for NaNoWriMo and nine years later, Jack Tripper Stole My Dog was finally published. I wrote NaNo novels in subsequent years in 2003 (The Blind Kangaroo) and 2004 (Gumbo), but I lost all my free time when I started working in poker in 2005. I originally dismissed NaNo for 2013 because I was in NYC for the first five days of November, but I had a change of heart while flying from NYC to LA. I was on a JetBlue flight and the TV wasn't working. I had finished reading the book I had brought with me, so was sort of desperate for something to do. That's when one of the characters came to me. "Now that you have five hours to kill, I'd like to share my story." I pulled out a small reporter's notebook and started transcribing that initial interview.

I knew I'd be in Los Angeles for 3-straight weeks in November, before I embarked on an erractic travel schedule in December. But three weeks? That's all I needed, compared to five years it took me to write Lost Vegas. I got back to L.A. on November 5th. I set up my new laptop on Nov 6th and started working on a new novel. I wanted to see if the new laptop could handle a long writing session. I gave it a test drive with the first chapter. Well, the new laptop passed the test and the first chapter flowed freely without any problems. I kept the laptop. When I woke up the next morning, I walked into my office and started writing Chapter 2.

I finished the first draft about a week ago. It's raw and rough and I purposely did not go back in to change stuff, but I re-wrote the ending a couple of times over the last few days. Waking up at 6am to write was the easy part. Fighting back the self-doubt is the hardest. I needed a bouncer to keep away all those negative thoughts, which sound more like hecklers screaming "Why are you doing this?" But for the most part, I really wasn't terrorized by those "thought terrorists" (as Charlie Shoten would say). I went through hell in previous writing sessions, yet this was a smooth birth. So smooth that I still can't believe I have a 63K word manuscript.

So what next? The hard part, that's what. Writing the first draft is the easy part. Re-writing it becomes a painstaking task. I'll let this manuscript sit and marinate for a few weeks, then I'll re-write it in January and take it from there. If I don't make it into an e-book, I might just post it on the internet. No one pays for shit anyway, so I might as well give it away for free. I'm just glad it's done especially after I resigned to the fact that I'd never write another fiction book ever again. I guess you can say this new novel restored faith in myself at a time when I thought I was washed up.

After sitting as UNTITLED NOVEL on my desktop for three weeks, I finally gave the novel a title... Fried Peaches.