W. P. Johnson

Archive for October, 2014|Monthly archive page

Alarm Clock

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2014 at 10:57 am

And I’m up…

I don’t sleep in anymore, not even if I purposely unset the alarm with plans to finally sleep in. Even Sundays, which has become sort of my “lazy day”, inevitably becomes another day wherein my eyes pop open at eight and I’m at my laptop, sleepily typing away (and mind you, for bartenders/servers, eight is pretty early to be waking up).

When I first started this early morning routine, I had been in the midst of a three month stretch of overtime (we were short staffed). It was exhausting and made me pretty cranky if I have to be honest. Worst still, I had night terrors and started swearing in my sleep. I mean, I said vicious shit in my sleep, like “fucking bitch, piece of shit, goddamn cunt”. I can’t imagine my fiancee slept easy on those nights, and it became even worse when I bolted out of bed and ran into the closet, tripping and slashing my arm on a loose strand of a wicker basket. We started closing the bedroom door for fear that I’d try to run down the stairs and fall, breaking my goddamn neck. The stairs in our house are steep and slippery, a hazard even if you’re wide awake. Both myself and my fiancee have taken the fall more than once.

Well, at any rate, we tried to determine what was causing these night terrors. Particularly I was concerned with all the swearing I was doing in my sleep. What dreams would prompt such anger? I’m not an angry person. To be honest, I really don’t like anger. I think for a time I had expressed anger as a faux means of appearing to have some kind of depth to my personality or something equally annoying. I think back on those moments now with terrible embarrassment for that person I was, knowing how rarely I raise my voice now and how difficult it is to actually become verbally angry. Am I negative? Yes. And I easily annoyed by pretty much everything? Oh my god, try watching a minute of the news without rolling your eyes. But do I ever get angry in that way we remember our fathers acting when the bills all came in and there was no money to pay them? Never. I just don’t see the point to it.

However, I did express anger with myself. In the earliest stages of getting up early prior to work in order to write, I mentally assaulted myself in order to get out of bed, thinking, “get out of bed you fucking pussy or your worthless” and other things like that. Stuff I would never say out loud. The voice would keep screaming until I finally slid out of bed onto my achy feet, poured myself some coffee, and stared at the computer screen. Even then it would take me about a half an hour of scrolling through facebook or whatever else before I finally woke up and got to work.

I think the night terrors were in response to this anger and stress. And I think part of that had to do with the struggle of writing a novel in its mid point, which is where, I believe, a writer has to commit to certain decisions regarding their characters and the direction of the story. It’s tricky, this mid point. Once you cross that barrier it’s very hard to go back and change anything, and sometimes this can give you cold feet.

I’m happy to say now that I don’t really feel that stress anymore. In all likelihood, I’ll finish the book by December and at this point it’s not even really a matter of “what happens?” so much as just typing it all out. The night terrors are gone for the most part. No more swearing in my sleep, no more tiny voice screaming in my head to get out of bed. No more bolting out of bed and running into the closet (whatever the Freudian hell that shit means).

At eight, my eyes pop open and I’m awake. The stories are waiting for me. For now… it’s pretty nice.

I’ll try to enjoy it while it lasts.

Key West, Red Dragon

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2014 at 9:49 am

Vacation is over. And what a vacation it was! Lost luggage, unsolicited nudity, too many mojitios (no such thing, I know), and more naps than I’ve ever taken.

All in all, it was good fun and pure relaxation (except for the lost luggage part). I even managed to start and finish Red Dragon, which was a brilliant read and went by pretty fast despite it’s 400+ page length. There’s something about it that was so creepy getting into the head of this serial killer, and yet felt so real. Upon returning home I rented the film version, hoping it would somehow measure up to Silence of the Lambs (a tall order to be sure). I’m sad to say, it was a douche blockbuster at best. For starters, they had Norton play the old detective, which just didn’t work despite his skills as an actor. Someone more like Billy Bob Thorton would’ve had the look, though I don’t know if he would’ve captured it either. The lead detective had a kind of Frank Black vibe to him, only he would occasionally react with anger, whereas Frank Black always kept his cool.

They cut the balls off this movie. Silence of the Lambs, you just felt uncomfortable watching it. This movie… I felt kind of embarrassed by how many mistakes were made and how my opportunities were missed to make it the work of art it is. It should’ve been a long crime noir film, two hours at least. Even Hannibal felt hammy at times and not at all the lizard brained serial killer he was in Silence.

But I digress. I guess lately I’ve been thinking of what happens next when the book is finished and I make some lame attempt of getting into the film world, knowing it is far more likely that my work will be made into what some people consider palatable rather than take the risk of making something great, Red Dragon being the former and Silence being the latter. Of course it’s a risk and saying no saves jobs, putting the handsome actor into the lead role guarantees ticket sales even if he isn’t exactly right for the role (and again, I think Norton is great, but just not for that role). While watching Red Dragon with my fiancee, I casually mentioned an idea I had for a serial killer and that I might put him in the next book, explaining some of the ideas to her, to which she said that sounded more like a cult and less like the work of one person. And of course, I tried to defend it because I’m a stubborn bastard and always assume I failed to articulate what seems so clear to me in my own head. Well, what can I say, ideas are important to me and I like to see what I can do with them before I start changing things.

God save me if I ever get to Hollywood.

Back to the grind of the book, which is even easier since vacation. I was a little worried it would be hard to pick up again. But somehow it’s coming out faster than I can type it. I’m hoping for a first draft by the end of December, but hell, maybe I might put this thing to bed by November. Time will tell.

Until then, here’s to being scary.

Seeing The Horizon

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2014 at 8:58 am

I woke up this morning and did my usual routine of coffee and mindlessly scrolling down Facebook to see what my friends had been up to in the seven hours since I last checked (it takes me about twenty minutes to really wake up to begin typing). Randomly, I clicked on Brian Keene’s blog entry, which was something about how writers still don’t bother saving their money and that we still live paycheck to paycheck. Very short entry, but none the less, a few words of where he was in his head space that morning.

“I should start doing that,” I thought.

So from now on, I’ll write the occasional long form entry about whatever it is that’s going on. But today, just a few words. Whatever it is that enters my head as the coffee does it’s work, unedited, start to finish. Like it or lump it.

The novel, A Song For John, is good. I’d reread the previous chapters this past weekend and found myself really surprised by how good some of the chapters were, like they were written by someone much better at writing than I am. Yesterday I had a flash of the ending. I always knew how it would end, but I started to see more details, the horizon of it so to speak. It was a strange experience. To say the least, I kept thinking in my head that when I finally type those last words, when I press save, or download, or whatever, and I know that a first draft has been completed, I will probably bawl my eyes out. I’m actually really embarrassed to say that because, while I take writing very seriously, I don’t like to take myself too seriously and I’m not much for people that have a militant self indulgent take on themselves as poets suffering for the greater good of their readership. I’m just trying to tell some stories man, that’s all. But at the same time I found myself becoming emotional at the idea of saying goodbye to this particular story I’ve spent the past nine months working on and will likely finish by the end of November.

I’m also nervous. Nervous that no one will want it. I have some publishers in mind and I keep fantasying about sending them the book and then they’ll respond with something along the lines of, “this is just amazing, we’ve never read anything like this before”, but my cynicism tempers these fantasies with another voice shouting it all down with, “you fucking idiot, it’s just a ghost story, you’re not a genius”. Well… who can say how people will react? In the nine months I’ve worked on it, no one else has read a single word. Maybe someone will snag it up, maybe things will turn out exactly how I’d like them to.

This week I have a vacation in Key West. I’ve been there before a few years ago with my fiancee, and she always wanted to go around Halloween for something they do called Fantasy Fest, which is sort of their version of Mardi Gras. By the time I leave I’ll be close to 400 pages of the novel and if I had to guess I’d say there’s another 150 before it’s “buttoned up” as my father is prone to saying (though I think he’s jokingly referring to someone else’s mannerisms). I’ve two costumes for the event, since it’s sort of expected that you dress up: Vacation Dracula, and Vacation Hannibal Lector, both of which are just the monsters in question with cabana wear. I mean, I found the ugliest shirts I could for these things. My fiancee on the other hand has come up with three costumes, all with their own clothes, design, etc. She’s so much better at these things than I am, but part of me thinks if I put in equal effort it would take attention away from all her hard work. Besides it makes her happy. Personally, I’m happy for her in a way. She’s better at a lot of things than I am: birthday cards, phone calls to home during the holidays, decorations. There’s an external beauty to how she lives and acts, whereas I find myself existing in my head, especially these days. I’m the guy that lets the bathroom floor get filthy because, fuck it, it’s not like I eat off the damn thing. And besides, I hardly notice it for all the things going on in my head at this hour. I suppose it comes to mind lately because of how much I’ve left things fall to the wayside as I become immersed in the book. My body, the house, and I’ll be damned if I wrote any birthday/holiday cards this past year. I don’t think I even made a phone call without my fiancee reminding me to.

Well, at any rate, hopefully this weekend will re-energize me to make it to the finish line with the novel, after which I will take a week off, then get right on to the next project. And maybe I can spend some time seeing family and friends without that lingering thought in my head that I can’t stay too long cause I’ve got to get up early the next day to write. Maybe, just for once, I’ll turn the alarm off on my phone and get some sleep.

Until then, here’s to being scary.