The Waiting Place

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I find myself at a crossroads in my work.

There are two ways to look at this, since I don’t know where each road leads. I can worry about turning and heading down the wrong path, or continuing down one that it would have been better to turn from. Or, I can close my eyes and breathe, and then decide to try my hand at luck. To follow the wind, so to speak.

The first reaction doesn’t appeal to me. Though that doesn’t mean I haven’t incrementally tried it on, by nature of being human.

The second sounds nice, but I have trouble consistently showing the faith it requires. There’s always that voice, prodding me with the question: “But what if it doesn’t work? What if we’re wrong?”

At this point, while I still do worry about these questions, it’s not completely a case of fear of embarrassment. Age and experience has helped to mostly defang that avenue of paralysis. I can’t help how my work might be received. I can only do my honest best to tell an authentic, heartfelt story, and to give it a fair chance in the world.

No, more often, I worry about making the wrong choice because of a fear of lost time. And thus the double-edged sword of age and experience is revealed.

I love The Videoblogs. I’m proud of the film. But I beat myself to crap making it, at such a low budget and while living in New York City and working a full-time job. Beyond not knowing if I could pull off such a feat again, physically — I just don’t want to do it that way again.

I’m working on a few new ideas for the next film. One is big and heady. It’s been bending my brain a little bit, thinking of how to make it work on paper. To make it work as a production is going to take a much bigger budget than we had for The Videoblogs. I’m not sure I’m ready for that, yet. I very well could be, but that script needs to be RIGHT before I’ll move on producing it.

The reality is that it’s only been a few months since The Videoblogs came out.

There’s no hurry. I have other ideas I’m poking at, for smaller films, there’s a silly concept for a short and simple comedic web series I might want to try, and I somehow also have the first draft of a book of fiction waiting for me to re-write.

I’m forced to confront the reality that my fear of lost time is just the same old fear of being wrong, dressed up in a new skin suit it liberated from an innocent soul after its last round trip to and from the hell that it calls home.

Hah. Demon humor.

But, seriously — binary thinking is often a trap. And that’s what I want to address today.

It may be true that I’m at crossroads. Or, it may be true that I feel this way, and will feel differently a few years from now. Regardless, I don’t think what I’m going through is so simple or pat a thing as staring down various paths, from an intersection, and attempting to source out which way to go.

This manner of thinking might be too rigid for me. I might have outgrown it by now, even if I still need to slough it off to make room for a newer, fresher outlook.

I’m into skin imagery today.

Anyway, it could be that every road has its charms, holds its own opportunities. It’s equally possible that I’m meant to set up camp, right at the intersection, and hunt small game and live in a tree and howl at the moon for a while.

Perhaps there will be loincloths. Who am I to say?

During the course of this post, in my mind’s eye, the backdrop to the crossroads has morphed from desert to forest to jungle. This could be reflective of my current ambiguity, or of the proper aimlessness I am in this moment best led to inhabit.

For so long, I have treated myself rigidly, in terms of having to decide what to create next, how and why — right now.

When I have relaxed, and focused instead on the day-to-day, I have been gifted with ideas like Multiverse, The Videoblogs, the book.

And then there is the simple fact of the last sixteen days.

What I like about writing here daily is the immediacy of it. The simplicity. It’s uncomplicated. I’m a writer — I write. I share what I’ve written, then I do it again. Is each post perfect? Far from it.

But the pursuit feels pure. That’s what I’m starting to believe I need to wait for, not the next project that feels the least “wrong”, but the one that feels the most right. This has always been when I have known to move forward.

It’s not a crossroads at all. It’s a waiting place.

This is part sixteen of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

Day 01: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 02: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 03: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 05: On The Future of Labor

Day 06: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 07: The Word for World is Earth

Day 08: It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

Day 09: Moments of Presence: CWC Interview (Writer Laura Goode)

Day 10: Simmering Little Wrath of The Annoyed Man

Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder

Day 12: A New Light Borrowed or Discovered

Day 13: Productivity Tips for Anyone Prone to Overwhelm (Like Me)

Day 14: Legitimately Va-goo

Day 15: Sex-Bleating and Cat Vomit

Through The Fear: Novelist Amy Koppelman

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Amy Koppelman started writing before she had any idea that she would one day become a novelist. Three books and one film adaptation later, she now has plenty to share with Coffee with Creatives listeners, especially about:

  • The cathartic, early-stage creative exploits that often later lead to our larger creative pursuits
  • Waiting for the tools needed to authentically address what we’re compelled to address
  • Learning to parse comments and criticism
  • The importance of learning — and then breaking — the rules
  • The difficulty of letting go after a thing is done
  • How and why darkness doesn’t necessarily suggest hopelessness
  • Humanizing mental illness
  • The importance of perseverance

AMyKoppelman[1]It was great to meet Amy, and to talk shop about fiction and the challenges of being a novelist. Her unflinching portrayals of characters struggling with depression, trauma, and other tough subjects — they can serve as a good reminder of how hard things can get for people who we might know and love but not always fully understand. Her discussion of the hopefulness that can often come out of that process, as well, is particularly moving.

Hesitation Wounds comes out in hardcover on November 3rd. For more information on her other books, and/or the film adaptation of her novel I Smile Back, check out her site. You can also follow Amy on Twitter.

This episode is also on iTunes.

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Fiction: The Jogger

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The Jogger had only been The Jogger for eight minutes.

For those eight minutes, The Jogger felt amazing. He had once been an athlete, had even found intermittent joy in athletics (mostly when there was no pressure to win). During those brief early moments of movement, it had felt right to ignore reason (which told him to pace himself) in deference to the rediscovered joy of simply going. Life felt simple — perfect.

As the ninth minute approached, he devolved (his words) back into A Walker. After about two more minutes had passed, spent breathing and checking in on the seriousness of a number of bodily alarms (no emergencies), he returned to being The Jogger again. Then, once more, he had to walk.

This was his first jog as a man over thirty.

The ease of those first moments, of this “first” jog, that muscle memory had afforded — they gave way to the reality of his condition. Not only was he “jumping in” as a non-twenty-something, but, more and more time, in recent years, has been spent sitting behind desks, at computers. And had he taxed his body in other ways, for too many hours at a time, for too long.

His feet began to ache. Their bottoms burned a bit, from the sudden, foreign friction, as well. The Jogger wore rough old socks, and new sneakers that had hardly been broken in at all, despite a few days of warm-up speed-walking with the dog.

The Jogger thought about the dog, while fending off the decision to become A Walker again. He wondered if he should or could have brought her.

He quickly decided against it. She couldn’t be trusted to keep pace without pulling away against the leash, potentially running ahead of him and into the street. His path, which he was letting the cross-lights dictate as he wove among the relatively quiet, tree-line streets in his Brooklyn neighborhood — there was still too much traffic.

And there would bikers, at some point. Men and women on bikes. Even before he became The Jogger, he had learned to regard bikers with distrust (to put it mildly).

Some were probably fine people, but the majority seemed all too prepared to skirt the city’s traffic laws, to constantly take risks with their lives. They too often risked the lives of others, as well, in the opinion of The Jogger.

After over a decade in the city, he had long ago lost count of how many times he had almost been hit by a bike. It had only gotten worse during The Reign of Bloomberg — especially in Manhattan, where The Jogger worked. Bloomberg had liked bikes. He’d made more room for them. The Jogger wasn’t against this; he hardly understood it. Bikes didn’t affect him directly. But there did seem to be more bikes, and except for the dumbly moving CitiBikes (which often moved in slow motion, under the direction of tourists or inexperienced citizens “just trying it out”), they seemed hungrier for human flesh.

The Jogger was conflicted on the legacy of Bloomberg. Manhattan seemed to no longer belong to most New Yorkers, but the cause and effect appeared complex and unclear.

To be fair, much of what ailed The Jogger’s New York (he was a transplant) was not unclear.

The Jogger decidedly believed that his city and country could take better care of its general citizenry. But he also saw the world getting smaller and faster, every day, and wondered just where the threshold began to fall between meeting the needs of globalization, of leveraging the ability of capital to bring speedy change and growth and progress, and the responsibility of each individual to himself and his closest neighbors.

He knew that much was out of proportion, politically, and in terms of the national power dynamic, which had all but consumed local dynamics as well, through politics and via the media. But he also felt change occurring slowly beneath his feet. It’s pace couldn’t yet match that of money and fear, but The Jogger had hope.

He couldn’t quite identify any concrete solutions. Things still felt too big. His younger self, as younger selves are meant to do, had bristled against the clear injustices of it all, had responded with anger and indignation.

But, now, he kept his head down, and he worked. He fought, from his own corner, and sought to match what progress he could identify. Indignation, he had discovered (without much surprise) was mostly a trap. He found motion — any motion, honestly undertaken — a much more effective reaction than anger, when met by examples of personal endangerment and social injustice.

Such as the threat of bikes.

The neighborhood where The Jogger lived wasn’t, on average, considered completely safe. Some areas were safer than others, depending on what block you were on, the median income of the residents on said block, the rate of gentrification on your street and its related effects on police presence and strategy. But, generally, The Jogger still felt his life was more likely to end via bicycle than gun.

He walked again. For two minutes. Then he jogged again, then walked again, and continued back and forth in this way until twenty minutes had passed.

That had been and would be the goal. Twenty minutes. He wished to remain focused on the process, on the more important benefits of exercise, and not some competitive standard of results.

He went home.

***

The next morning brought soreness, but The Jogger had slept well and had actually been expecting to wake up in worse condition than he had. After a long day at work, he returned home legitimately looking forward to His Second Jog.

His wife made him run earlier than the night before. Someone had been shot and killed on a nearby corner, twenty minutes after the jogger had passed it.

He exited his building and nodded to a few neighbors sitting outside in lawn chairs. One had brought out his dog. The Jogger pet the dog quickly, toggled a workout playlist on his phone, and, when he saw the crossing light begin to count down across the street, started jogging.

The Jogger considered his route, but he was not afraid of being shot.

***

A delivery man on an electric bicycle almost hit The Jogger, who leveraged his resultant anger to run faster, for a while, before quickly burning out and slowing down to a walk.

It was day three of jogging. Earlier that afternoon, The Jogger had remarked to his therapist that he was proud of his ability to slow down and take the walking breaks, in between the quicker-paced jogging. He expressed a sense of being more in tune with his body than he ever had in the past, despite not being completely satisfied at present with his endurance or shape.

During stints of either jogging or regular weightlifting, in his twenties, The Jogger had been narrow and unforgiving in his focus. As opposed to what he was doing now — the twenty minutes of exercise, almost every day, without attachments to pace or distance — he at that point in his life would have set a minimum distance and a minimum duration of his run. Then he would have pushed to scale those minimums up, sooner and faster than was healthy. Looking back, now, he realized that this had removed much of the joy from the activity.

He did not talk with his therapist about his anger towards bikers.

Despite this growth and maturation, however, The Jogger still wanted to learn, and to get the most out of his runs. He focused, on this third occasion, on finding a pace whereby he could begin to shrink his intervals of rest, even if his intervals of higher exertion were less pronounced.

The Jogger’s wife had months ago summarized for him an article she had read, the core concepts of which had made sense. He had entered into this new stint of jogging with the advice in mind. The gist of it was to run until you could hear your breath, to then pause, and walk, until you no longer heard your breath — and then to repeat this pattern for as long as you can or would like to proceed. He found the advice helpful.

The jogs had not been going perfectly, though. He had been growing consistently irritated by the propensity of the stopping and starting to cause his earbuds to pop out. It broke the flow of the activity.

In the past, this would have been an opportunity for anger, or, worse, fuel for an excuse by which to pause the jogging until he could find a better headphone solution — which would eventually become a smaller and smaller priority, day by day, until jogging itself had devolved from an active goal to a taboo subject at home.

Instead, now, he chose to experiment for a brief interval and found that if he held the lengthy cord to the earbuds loosely in his opposite hand (from the one in which he held his phone), that the held slack precluded any yanking caused by a sudden change in pace. The tactic would work until he found (bought) a better solution.

By the time The Jogger had figured out The Headphone Problem, and resumed a steady cadence, his third run was almost over.

He paused, raised his phone, and snapped a quick photo of the sight before him.

Dusk was in process. A large corner apartment building stood, tall and atypically alone from its spot beside and above the neighboring bridge that crossed over the subway train tracks. Deep yellow light glowed steadily, invitingly, from a few east-facing apartment windows, as well as from the entrance.  Across from the building was a large, thriving, well-shaped tree. Both were wrapped in warm, soft, purple-pink light.

***

On the fourth day, The Jogger struggled mightily. It had simply been too long since he had last exercised regularly, and on top of that his body seemed to be bouncing back from exertion more slowly than it had in recent years. He chose not to dwell on this. There was no way to stop aging.

Still, The Jogger felt he had to keep going. He did not want to keep going.

His feet, which had been cramping up painfully at intervals throughout the day, felt swollen and heavy. His calves — which he had been stretching, along with other parts, before each run — felt tight. His quadriceps were holding up, but this otherwise balancing factor was offset by the tightness in his upper arms and shoulders. He had been forgetting to stretch his upper body. His knees felt swollen.

He initially lasted only four minutes, on his fourth jog. The early goings-on of the experience were further sullied by the decision of the music app on his phone to sputter consistently, as it failed to buffer a “stock” workout playlist. The Jogger walked minute five, then jogged again. The music continued sputtering in his ears and his thinking became fractured. His mood sank.

He wondered if he was going to fail already. After four days.

Then, The Jogger remembered his reflections from days before. He recalled The Way He Had Been, and re-considered that version of himself.

For all his supposed faults, his previous incarnations had been able to keep going. For the first time in such a context, The Jogger began to recall memories of his earlier self through a lens of compassion, pride — and respect.

He saw himself, fattened and stupefied and depressed, at eighteen, entering the spring semester of his first year of college, having already gained his freshman fifteen (and then some) after only four months. He remembered how he had responded then, by changing his eating habits, beginning a workout routine — and running. On one day in particular, he remembered, he had run five miles, loop after loop after loop of the short indoor track at his college’s gym in Manhattan. It hadn’t even been planned. Something had just shaken loose that day. He felt glad to remember it now.

His current pace got easier. The Jogger breathed deep.

He thought back, also, to a only few years before. He had began running then, at a difficult time in his life, in pursuit of some taste of freedom, to direct an angry and desperate, trapped energy — one that had felt almost demonic — towards an outlet that could hurt no one.

The Jogger had used a treadmill, then. He had really ran. Several times per week, he would rush from work to the gym, would begin slowly — but then he would let loose, with the treadmill elevated, increasing speed every few minutes until his chest burned and the dark thing in his soul slouched back temporarily to its deep, hidden home.

The sputtering of the music suddenly seemed fixable. He decided to check his phone to see what playlists or albums he had downloaded, that had a quick tempo and would play uninterrupted.

Only one. Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life sat waiting. So, that had been the problem. The jog had wanted Iggy.

In the end, the fourth jog went smoothly.

***

The Jogger took a day off from jogging. He went to work, got home, and ate dinner and watched TV with his wife. He took Advil for his knees, went to bed early, and slept well.

***

Saturday arrived. After breakfast and coffee, The Jogger invited his wife to run with him. She appeared surprised, and touched, and accepted. She asked — with some fear in her voice, he thought — whether he would be all right running with her, if she had to proceed at a slower pace than he otherwise would on his own. The Jogger said that it would be fine and he meant it.

He did end up having to keep a slower pace. He didn’t mind. The jog went by much more quickly with her there.

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All About You (Survey)

This has nothing to do with the survey. I just want cookies.
This has nothing to do with the survey. I just want cookies. Now you do, too. See how well we work together?

Hey. You. Yeah! You.

I’ve been thinking about you. We’ve been together for a little while now. A few years, already, to be accurate.

I know. It feels like yesterday to me, too.

But let’s not talk about the past. I want to talk about the future.

Specifically, I’d like to know about your experience of this site. What do you like? Do you want more of something, less of other things? Do you want to see something new (that I can offer)?

Please let  me know by filling out the below. It will take less than 5 minutes.

Everything’s anonymous. My hope is that this will help give me a better idea of what’s working or not working for the majority of you, and/or what’s missing from your experience in visiting. I’m also considering some changes to the type of content that appears here, and want to know what you think.

Thank you in advance for your help!

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks! To that last point, you can Subscribe Here if you wish!

The Arc of 2014: Movement

Vee (Phoebe Allegra) and Margaret (Rebecca De Ornelas) aren't completely on board with Cass (Masha King) for the moment.
Vee (Phoebe Allegra) and Margaret (Rebecca De Ornelas) aren’t sure if this year was even real. From The Videoblogs.

I’m going to try to keep this brisk, if not short, because I’m always in a hurry lately because I want to keep moving.

Movement, as revealed by the title of this post, is a key word to the coming discussion.

Last year, I wrote a piece titled The Arc of 2013: The Beginnings of The Pushback. The gist of its messaging can be summarized by restating my belief that, last year, people began boiling over and finally fighting back against social injustices and unsatisfactory socio-economic conditions. If I spent most of 2012 expressing anger in this space, when confronted with these realities, 2013 was spent consolidating and channeling that anger.

Riding off of that, I believe 2014 was about using that anger as fuel for movement. This year was about making moves.

It was fucking hard.

But…damn…did it feel good.

During some recent, rare downtime, I spent a few hours customizing that cute little Facebook Year In Review Thing. For the fuck of it, really.

What I realized, upon doing so, however, was that I had not only achieved my year’s goals, of shooting a feature film and mostly surviving the process — but I had also put out quite a bit more than that, in terms of work. After so many years of toil, in a word, I finally began to grow.

So, yeah, I put out more work than ever before, this year. More importantly, though, I diversified my work more than ever before as well.

Traffic to this site increased over 130% from last year, despite a 20% drop in the number of posts from the previous year.

This tells me that the diversification and focus paid off. Since this was mostly a Year of Creative Content, it also tells me that you like it better when I make things and share them than when I just write about what I think or how I feel about society or politics or the whatever bullshit is being slung at us by the media on a given day.

Along with the traffic increase, my family (that’s how I think of you) grew as well, on Twitter and on Facebook and in terms of my email list. I feel honored to be able to say that. Truly.

 

But, what happened? What made the difference?

Heading into 2015, I wanted to identify the answer(s) to those questions, not only so that I can repeat or expand my efforts but so that others who are interested can attempt their own journey using any methods that might similarly apply.

So, in defiance of the intro to last year’s post, which included a mild critique of lists — here’s a list of what I did in 2014 that I believe made it a year of movement. Following the list, I’ve also taken a moment to reflect broadly on what I’ve decided to aim for over the course of the coming year as a result of what I’ve learned since launching this site and rededicating myself to professional development and growth.

Multiverse Completed and Distributed

Laughter without voices.
Laughter without voices.

You’ve probably heard enough from me about this, but I’m still thrilled that Multiverse has been so well-received by most people who have watched it. Also, I feel validated by the decision to let the film speak for itself. While I ultimately chose to submit it to some standard festivals after the fact, I think it was the right decision to debut Multiverse to those of you who are in New York, as lead-in to The Videoblogs (more on that exciting event in a moment) and to then push it out online to everyone else during the ensuing Videoblogs funding campaign.

Did Multiverse become a viral hit? No. It was never going to become that. Realistically, more than anything else, Multiverse was something that I had to do to break free from some lingering difficulties in my life. I continue to take pride in how it came out, to appreciate the contributions of my collaborators and all our crowdfunding supporters, and I’m heartened every time someone reaches out after seeing it to tell me that they feel (or have felt) the same way. A film’s life is never fully realized until people start watching, and when they do, despite the many months of struggle and fear and confusion leading up — all the work and the sacrifice become worth it.

Comedic Voice Let Off Leash

I didn't say it was a tasteful comedic voice.
I didn’t say it was a tasteful comedic voice.

I had a great time this year experimenting with comedic writing. It’s something I used to do when I was younger, which I lost my passion for as I got older and more cynical. Jokes always make it into my films, somehow, but riding off the end of 2013, when I collaborated with The Motel Staff on several holidays videos, in 2014 I decided to brave the waters in a more direct way. This resulted in a few sketches and a five-minute set of stand-up that I did, which was a blast in itself and lead to this post about how I am The Wolf. The effect of all this was that: 1) I proved to myself that I could do it; 2) I rediscovered how much I like making people laugh; 3) I met new people who would prove to be invaluable collaborators later on in the year.

Got Fictional

You too can get a hold on some DREAD.
You too can get a hold on some DREAD.

I returned to my roots in another way in 2014, by writing my first short story in over seven years. In drafting, that short story became something longer than a short story and shorter than a novel. Despite it’s slight stature, A Night Alone in My Dread became a major accomplishment for me. I was not expecting to write fiction this year. The fact that it happened, and that hundreds of people read my little book — I can’t begin to express how grateful I am. To put this in perspective, my creative output took the form of narrative fiction probably 90% of the time for most of my life, up until I started making films almost ten years ago. In many ways, this aspect of the year feels like renewing an old friendship.

Produced, Crowdfunded, and Shot The Videoblogs

Cass (Masha King) waits for an explanation as to how this all happened.
Cass (Masha King) is also waiting for an explanation as to how this all happened. From The Videoblogs.

I don’t understand. I’m being honest with you about this for the first time. I don’t understand how The Videoblogs happened. It’s still hard for me to process, that as I work to finish transcoding and organizing footage, and syncing picture to sound — that soon I’ll be editing a feature film that I wrote and directed, and that YOU made happen because you believed in us.

You’re fucking beautiful. That’s all I can say. What? Where am I?!

Became A Professional

The script for my new project, the story of which, I hope, is just beginning.
When The Videoblogs was just a stack of pages.

I’m not sure when this happened, either. I just know that it did, and that I’m extremely grateful. Why do I feel like a professional, now — when I’ve been “making stuff” for years?

Partially, I think I just started bumping up against “minimum time served”. Ten thousand hours and all that. Another big help was The Artist’s Way. But the biggest difference, I think, came from accepting myself and my circumstances and building my work flow around that.

What does this mean? For me, it meant looking at the reality of how I work best, and what the conditions are that I have to work within, and finding a system that works within those “constraints”. Because I struggle still, on occasion, with anxiety and depression, this system also had to take things like daily mental toll and daily mood into account.

What did I come up with? I write in the morning — something I had never done before. I get up earlier than ever before (usually) and focus on self care for an hour or so and then I write as early as I can in the day. My goal is an hour of writing. If I get through thirty minutes, I’m okay with it, not only because it’s still progress but because, on most occasions, I end up getting more done later in the day as well, which results in multiple hours of progress that probably wouldn’t have been possible without that earlier healthy start.

And I don’t restrict myself to a single project. It’s too much pressure. When I did that in the past, I ended up obsessing and the work suffered. Instead, now, I turn to whatever project or outlet seems to need my attention for that day. In short, I learned for myself what many more accomplished artists than me have said before — that I had to start treating my art like a job. Not only has my art not suffered as a result of this decision — as the above proves — it actually began to thrive. Despite being born and growing up inside the stormy hair-cave that is my head.

Why We Move

I began by saying that I wanted to outline all of that so that I can keep up on my efforts, and also to share them with others, in case my testimony could be of some use. But, getting back to the idea of movement, there’s another reason why I wanted to take stock of the year.

This is far from over.

Much of what saddened and frightened me in recent years is unfortunately still going on in the world today. I’m not going to recount any of it, because I’m not sure any longer that doing so is at all useful.

Instead, I want to keep focusing on movement. On grassroots efforts. Somewhere along the line of shepherding all of the above artistic efforts, this year, I realized something. I realized that nothing is going to systemically change, politically, economically, morally or conscientiously — until I change. Until we change.

So much of life is about perspective. And we’ve truly lost perspective as a society, in a lot of ways. We know it, most of us know it, but we don’t seem to be able to deal with it.

It doesn’t matter how this happened. It doesn’t matter if some of us can talk more confidentially about how it did, or are more certain about how to fix it, or whether you believe one argument or another or none of them at all.

What matters is that we talk through things, so that more of us, in more places, can begin once again to see life as it is rather than what we’ve been told it’s meant to be.

We cannot become empowered until our hearts are full. Our hearts cannot be full until we feel out the pain that we’re in, nationally and, perhaps, the world over. We cannot begin to heal until we’re sure of what’s happened inside of us and begin opening our mouths to speak about it with one another.

This has been a long time coming. We must continue to reflect on hard truths, must challenge each other to look at things differently, must be patient as everyone exerts his or her right to be heard. Maybe it’s all been going on for a long time. Probably I don’t even have a full idea yet of what I’m talking about. But I’m trying to understand. I’m choosing…to hope.

I guess that’s the main thing that changed for me, this year. I realized that I don’t have all the answers, or even any of them at all. All I can do, as an artist, is struggle with what questions call to me in the loudest voices, present that struggle to you, and encourage and engage in a dialogue.

Here’s to more in 2015. Thank you for reading, and I wish you the very best, for all the days of the coming year.

Happy Holidays, Have Some Dread

Happy Holidays, Dearest Readers!

Thanks for sticking with me for another year. I’ll write up a recap of the past twelves months, and/or a “Kicking Off 2015” post soon, but for now…

…please note that the Kindle version of A Night Alone in My Dread is now free until Monday, 12/29.

You too can get a hold on some DREAD.
You too can get a hold of some DREAD.

If you don’t own a Kindle but still want a free copy, let me know and I’ll send you a PDF or a paperback (only ten available). I’ll need your address if you want a paperback so send me a message through this site.

My best to you and yours, lords and ladies.

“Now With Twice The Dread!”

Just an update that my novelette, A Night Alone in My Dread, is now available in paperback.

A freelance videographer spends a lonely evening obsessing over his past after a visit from the NYPD reveals his involvement in a shocking and tragic crime.

The Cover to My BookIt’s also available on Kindle. And I have reduced the price. 

If you prefer an electronic version at the electronic price point, but don’t have a Kindle, tweet me. We’ll work it out via PayPal.

PAPERBACK
5.55

KINDLE
2.99

All proceeds from sales will go directly towards my next film project.

PROS FOR PAPERBACK VERSION

  • That new book scent. You know you like it. Remember when books made scents?
  • Tactile feelings of dread (it oozes).
  • A higher percentage of your purchase goes to me (actually, the next film)

PROS FOR KINDLE VERSION

  • YOU CAN HAVE IT RIGHT NOW!!!
  • Electronic remove from tactile dread (no ooze).
  • Easier to hide dreadful purchase decision from friends.

If you purchase and read the book, please review it on Amazon.com.

Reviews help bolster sales. Of course, be honest. In case it helps get you started, a good review will quickly summarize Likes/Dislikes, and maybe points out What’s Unique about the product being reviewed.

Writing a review should only take 5 mins, but it will help me enormously 🙂

Review the book on Amazon 

Still need convincing? Man, you are a tough cookie. The first chapter is available here.

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The Cover to My Book

Fiction: A Night Alone In My Dread

So, I wrote a novelette.

I didn’t know what a novelette was, either, until I did some research trying to figure out how to describe a piece that was too long to be a short story and too short to be a novel, or even a novella.

Book CoverMaybe it’s a novella. I don’t know. The point is that I’m very happy with the end product — regardless of length — and that I’d love for you to check it out:

A Night Alone In My Dread
Available on Kindle

A freelance videographer spends a lonely evening obsessing over his past after a visit from the NYPD reveals his involvement in a shocking and tragic crime.

The cost is $5  $3.95, $2.99 and for now the book is only available on Kindle or in paperback ($5.55). All proceeds will go directly towards burrito bowls.

If you want to read it but don’t have a Kindle, tweet me or email me. We’ll work it out quickly via PayPal, and then I’ll send you a PDF. Or paperback.

Want a sample before you decide? Here’s the first chapter.

ONE

Even if I unequivocally did not want the worst to be true, the worst still occurred to me at the earliest possible moment.

I took a break from my work and when I sat back down on my couch I had a voicemail from a detective with the NYPD. He didn’t say why he was calling, just that it was urgent and to call back immediately.

I called back immediately. It was his cell number. It sounded like the detective was in a car.

He thanked me for calling him back so quickly and asked if I was home. I said that I was. He took my address and said he and his partner were nearby and could they stop in to ask me some questions. I took the closest thing to a breath that I could find and asked if my wife was okay. The second between the question and his answer exploded with images of violence and death.

The detective apologized for not mentioning sooner that no one in my family was hurt or in trouble. I wasn’t in trouble either. He didn’t seem very genuine about the apology. He said he and his partner would explain the situation in more detail when they arrived and then he hung up.

I didn’t move for a few minutes. I stared sightlessly at my laptop. It stared dumbly back, ready and blue and unaware of how suddenly unimportant it had become.

I closed the laptop. The work would have to wait, now. It wasn’t even real work, anyway. A client that needed handholding – actually, a client who needed help holding the hand of her wealthy and influential, aging and out of touch boss.

They were making videography out to be quantum physics. Again. I had explained it before – in more elegant terms. We plan your content beforehand. Plan as much as possible. On the day, I throw up a few lights and set up the camera and the mics. Together we caress and cajole the “talent”, repeatedly, until you have everything you need or the best you are going to get. Then I cut it up into something prettier than you expected and we all rejoice, you because of the quality you couldn’t see on set and me because of your impending check. And yet I had to explain it again, apparently. Again and again, every time, for every repeat project for this same repeat client who paid me too much for me to be able to tell them to go screw.

The weightiness that had befallen me, before I knew that Alex was safe, began to dissipate. My mind, which had come to a full stop (along with my blood) during that fateful second, jolted back into its “normal” state of persistent questioning. I realized, then, that the detective had said that my family was okay. As far as he was concerned, this probably only meant Alex. But what of my friends?

I felt renewed nervousness. It seemed as if somebody I knew was in trouble. Or had done something. If this were true, I had no idea who it might be. At the same time, having wrestled privately with more personal demons than anyone (with the exception of Alex) ever would have guessed – I felt it could be almost anyone.

Alex. I was glad to be mostly rid of the violent, sped-up slideshow of horrors that had flashed in front of my eyes before the detective realized his mistake. I say “mostly rid of” because, still, they lingered there, a layered flickering collage of impossibly specific retinal ghosts that scrolled behind my eyelids. Alex bleeding. Alex chased. Alex scared. Alex dead.

She was okay. She was okay.

I wished I could touch her with my hands. I picked up my phone and sent Alex a text that told her I loved her.

I put the phone down and realized, faintly in the sort of way that would require refreshing at a more conducive time, that I had more work to do in terms of wrestling with those demons. It was perhaps normal to become immediately worried upon the receipt of an urgent voicemail from the police. But I didn’t think it was as common to also default immediately to the level of anxiety and dread that I had just defaulted to, before I had any information about what the call was about.

Despite years spent on self-improvement, despite the now-prevalent existence of light in my life since I met Alex, my impulse in a time of potential distress had been to imagine the worst, to summon the darkest possibilities to match the situation, and find sick refuge in them as a means of relighting and continuously burning a moment of primal fear.

I wondered: Why? Why still? Why still did I seek out confirmations of a worldview built of violence and death?

And then the questions began to multiply and cascade. Sitting there, alone in my apartment waiting for the police, I wondered what horror had transpired. I wondered if my impulse towards fear was possibly appropriate. What if the detective was lying? Was I in trouble? Or danger? Did I need to protect myself? Had I done anything? Who had done what, that now brought the police to my door?

Soon they arrived and then I had an answer. An acquaintance from college, and a “fan” of what little work I had put out into the world so far in my career, had attacked his family with a knife, wounding his younger brother and killing his father.

Like where things are headed so far? Read the rest here.

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