Never would I have thought that my to-read book stack would be loaded with nonfiction accounts of both The Golden Age of Piracy and the Age of Exploration.
My fascination with these eras began a few years back, when a friend gifted me a thrilling read called The Republic of Pirates. It’s a captivating tale that weaves in the histories of famous pirates like Blackbeard, Black Sam Bellamy, and so many others, telling their stories to the backdrop of this surge of piracy and the formation of a literal pirate island in the early 1700s. I won’t go too far down the rabbit hole, but it was easily one of the most gripping nonfiction books I have ever read, and it created a complex, rich, and complicated understanding of the many different types of pirates who existed in that era.
Fast-forward a couple of years and another of couple pirate books later, and my wife and I are at a maritime museum in San Diego. The big draw of this museum is the collection of ships from WWII and later, but I’m hung up on maps and accounts from the Age of Exploration. The peril. The danger. The toll that life at sea took every single day and the fabled promises of riches that kept explorers going.
For months now, I’ve been slowly writing another book. The working title is “Rocket & H.I. 97 Destroy Everyone”, and it’s meant to be as kitschy and weird as it sounds. My aim is to create something expansive and unique that people can have fun with. I love science fiction. I love its unique ideas, its bizarre flights of fantasy, and the pulpy, dime-store novel nature that’s been associated with the genre. Science fiction is freeing. You can go places without having to worry about being grounded, and if you’re lucky, other people will want to tag along.
With this latest project, I’ve been writing by hand once again, so the process has been long and meditative. I really like writing by hand. It forces the brain to slow down and adjust to the physical, mechanical nature of writing, making my brain hang on every idea, plot device, or character description. Frequently I’ll plan out part of the narrative weeks in advance, and when my hand finally reaches that point, it’s not what was originally envisioned weeks before. The structure’s changed. It’s embedded itself deeper in this world.
I’ve talked about my obsession with robots previously. Since that time, I’ve put together a completed draft of the book and have enclosed just a taste below. Fair warning, this “taste” is still a work-in-progress pulled from a second draft. It may not reflect the finished product at all.
Having said that, I hope you enjoy it, and I welcome any comments you may have.
It’s become a regular habit of mine to write on my lunch break at the day job. Almost every weekday (aside from Wednesdays because that’s new comic book day), I take my hour in one of the empty conference rooms at the office and put pen to paper. I write until my fingers hurt. I write until the big clock on the wall tells me it’s 1:59 pm. I write until my brain’s burnt out from the adrenaline rush of cramming creativity into a one-hour block during the day when I’m not managing an email marketing campaign, polishing off some freelance project, making dinner, spending time with the wife, going through submissions for Literary Orphans, putting together the next issue of Literary Orphans, preparing lunch for tomorrow, or running an errand to keep the homestead in order.
No one says being an adult is easy, and I’m not complaining that it isn’t. If anything, trying to build a career and a family, all while holding on to that dream of writing for an audience of more than one, has taught me some much-needed respect. When I go into one of those empty conference rooms each day for my lunch break, I don’t go in alone. There are a handful of others I occupy a creative space with. These others include aspiring authors and writers, all of whom are looking to breathe life into something creative and wholly their own during the humdrum of 9-to-5 living. They’re my support group, and together, we charge each other to find that creative spirit within ourselves.
If you’ve ever stepped into my living room, there’s one thing that you’ll notice right off the bat. I own a lot of movies. DVDs, Blurays, a few rare VHS films that have yet to get a proper transfer — I’ve got them in all styles and formats. These videos are mostly alphabetized, save for the television shows (which are strewn about a private media tower in the corner of the living room), and my collection has everything from terrible guilty pleasures to Criterion Collection masterpieces. It’s a buffet of personal tastes and historically important works, and the collection rarely decreases in size, which becomes a problem after a quarter century of collecting. It’s also an expensive habit, especially when you’re constantly upgrading your personal library to reflect the most recent digital transfers and restorations. Yet, it wasn’t until about a month ago, that I decided that there had to be a cheaper, better way to collect films. For those looking for a clutter-free method on how to start collecting movies, I found an answer that works for myself, and it costs almost nothing.
My wife and I were having a discussion a while back about how many times we had seen some of our favorite movies. Though I’m prone to estimating in the hundreds and even thousands (I talk big), I had to confess that even with my absolute favorite movies, I probably only watched them maybe once or twice a year. It wasn’t enough viewings to get tired of these films, but it wasn’t too infrequent to where favorite scenes would start to fade from memory. In reality, at a rate of once or twice a year, I couldn’t have seen my favorite films hundreds or thousands of times. If I was lucky, I had seen them dozens of times, just enough to keep ’em fresh, and it was a convenience to have them lying around on a shelf somewhere, waiting for that once or twice a year visit.
I’ve had “I Love It” by Icona Pop stuck in my head for most of this week, which is a clear indicator that it’s summer. Why? Because it just sounds like summer. It sounds like the perfect party song, that recognizable tune you hear blasting at graduation parties when the smell of the backyard barbecue permeates the air. It breathes life, and summer events are the very essence of life. Coincidentally, “I Love It” is also a song that has been deeply embedded into the far reaches of my psyche because I dared to see that Kevin Costner 3 Days to Kill movie once. In the film, the tune is used as a cell phone ringtone, so it plays often.
Editor’s Note: The above comments are in no way intended as an endorsement of 3 Days to Kill. The opinion of this writer is that said movie is “fun/bad,” the kind of movie you watch with a few buddies after a couple of beers. It won’t knock your socks off, but it might unintentionally make you laugh.
Now that I’ve related my penchant for Icona Pop, it’s time for the latest updates.
Issue 24 of Literary Orphans, Audrey, also hit the interwebz. It’s in reference to the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors, and you can read why this was chosen as our orphan in the Letter From The Editor.
A NONFICTION piece of mine will be featured on The Weeklings come July 7th! Woohoo!
This Letter From The Editor was originally printed in the latest issue of Literary Orphans on June 10, 2015. It’s my debut as editor-in-chief of the journal, finally coming out of the shadows and getting a little more hands-on with LO. If you follow me and haven’t checked it out, I’d heavily recommend it. Not just because I’m involved. If you read the letter, you’ll see that I intend for it to be something greater than myself, something greater than all of us.
I’ve decided to reprint the letter on my personal site because of all the outpouring of support I’ve gotten for it. I was worried it wouldn’t fly, but people love it. One commentator even said it was reminiscent of Thomas Paine. The comparison made me blush.
Dear Orphans & Orphanettes,
When Executive Director Mike Joyce asked me to steer the Literary Orphans ship, I’ll admit, a sense of worry washed over me. Apocalyptic visions of cities crumbling to their foundations rattled me. I had memories of movies I had seen where all that stood of civilization was a weathered Big Ben jutting out of a pile of rubble. Mike was doing a great job, and the last thing I wanted to do was come in like a bumbling lab assistant and mix up the formula.
So I dipped into the LO ether. I revisited our earliest notes three years ago, back when LO was a mere thought, and imbibed those ambitions. I poured through old “Letters From The Editor,” starting with the very first one inLiterary Orphans Issue 1: Babe. At times, my journey felt like being reintroduced to an old friend, and at other times, it felt like I had seen a ghost, as if I were viewing stills of a past incarnation no longer with us. It’s true that LO has gone through changes, many of which were cosmetic, but the same heart still beats at its core. It just looks different. The journal has grown into new clothes.
In my many notes I passed back and forth with Mike, one of the constants was this idea of Literary Orphans as a media identity. What were we? Were we a counterculture outfit? Were we a haven for the disenfranchised? Were we the explorers that sailed against the winds?