At long last, my short story collection is finished, formatting at all. What comes now is raising the money to publish the bastard. As I don’t expect it to blowup, the plan is to go the cheapest route possible, and just get it out in the open. So, with some luck, getting that final stage done should not take so long. At this point, I’m just happy to be done with the project, and am ready to move on to new pieces. After all this time focusing on short and flash fiction, one would think I would immediately turn attention back to a novel. While I am eager to work on a full length story again, I did start several short pieces during this process that did not/could not make the final cut, and some of those I truly want to flesh out first. What we leave behind when our time comes is unfinished work. All that can be stated at this time about writing hereafter is that I’d like to go stranger.
Following the release of the second EP for Space Drama, I pulled together some musician friends to play live. Rehearsals are coming along, though slower than I estimated. With absolutely no disrespect to my bandmates, who are highly talented and hardworking, I did not figure my songs would be this complicated to capture live. Meanwhile, the writing process has started on new songs – Not only for Space Drama, but a second music project as well. More on that subject another time. I know the direction the next Space Drama album will go, only a matter of running that path.
A Brief Story of Color
As you may have read in a previous blog entry, or maybe somewhere else, Space Drama started as a recycling center for my music. From Summer 2017 to Spring 2018 I was the guitarist in a Post-Punk-ish band, which gradually wanted to transition into Dark Wave. Everyone in the band brought songs to the table, and together we would tweak the songs from there. Naturally, that means proposed songs would get rejected, scrapped or shelved. So, Space Drama started as a side project for music I wrote that did not make the grade. Working on the debut EP, “Open Skies”, I had no intention of playing those songs live, so felt no pressure to make the album commercial or feasible for performances. I viewed “Open Skies” more like the score to a short film that does not exist.
When the aforementioned band dissolved, I was left with a fair amount of solid material that would go to waste unless it was thrown into Space Drama. Although this time with the aim to play them live. In my opinion there were three options: A) Sing on the new tracks myself, B) Hire a singer, C) Keep the music instrumental. The concept of an instrumental Dark Wave band strongly intrigued me, so I decided on that route and to keep the second album geared that direction. Of course, it’s not exact, because nothing I ever do is exact. When presenting songs to the band, I would use a clean tone piano to indicate roughly were vocals should go and the general melody. I kept that approach, writing two keyboard parts for each song; one as a rhythm mood setter, one as a lead.
Because most of the songs on this second album, “A Slight Variation of Color”, were already started, I could not view it the same way as “Open Skies”; scoring a film that does not exist. But I did use that method when titling the tracks.
“A Slight Variation of Color” was recorded during the Summer and Fall of 2018, with mixing taking place during December.
The Unpopular Projects
It has been a very long time, blah blah blah. We all know it will be yet another extended chunk of time before I blog again, so let us just cut it and get into the updates. Really, the only reason for this entry is because it would not all fit in a Tweet.
Short story collection:
Not being under pressure from any publisher and not having any large number of fans whose expectations might be let down, I have taken my sweet time creating, rewriting, and polishing selections of my literary work for release. However, even I have an expiration on patience. I have worked on this collection too long, and the process has been exhausting. I won’t avoid the truth, at times it has been utterly sickening – Hey, now I might be a real writer. For the sake of sanity, I have made a crucial decision to cut what I was considering cornerstone pieces from the finished product. Three shorts to be precise. Well, shorts that were growing into novelettes and a novella. From that last line you may glean part of the problem was they had expanded and fleshed out; i.e. they required more and more rewrites and therefore more time. My choices were to spend another six months (expectedly) working on these three pieces or shelve them for now. They are good enough to not scrap altogether, and certainly will see the light of day in the future. At this time though, they are holding me back more than propelling me forward. Here comes the trade off though: the collections will unfortunately be significantly shorter than projected earlier this year. But, to reiterate from the start, who exactly am I disappointing right now? The collection is still slated to be titled Not Accounted For. This will include a few essays and other writings.
Space Drama Vol.2:
Let’s get the plug out of the way. My first EP is available to download FREE at Bandcamp. When I was writing that EP I was also working in a band, which started off as a Post-punk(ish) project and morphed into something more Dark-wave. My rule of thumb was anything I wrote that the band rejected or was lukewarm on, it would end up as a solo piece. I finished up that EP with the assumption those tracks would never be played live, and so didn’t care whether it was crowd pleasing. Meanwhile, writing more and more demos for the band that we were not even getting to, for one reason or the other, I feared they would be wasted once the band disintegrated. Which it did, of course. With that outlet cut, I decided to continue with the pieces myself. My vocal talents are inconsistent, there was no way I could be a front person, and the idea of hiring a vocalist was not sitting well for some reason. So, I decided to let the music do the singing, so to speak. The sophomore Space Drama record will be an instrumental Dark-wave album, titled A Slight Variation of Color. Completing the album won’t be the problem, finding musicians on board with being in an instrumental band will. I don’t know why audiences rarely seem to connect with instrumental bands. But hey, I always take on the unpopular projects. It’s what I do.
Work – real work:
Work sucks. Always has, always will. End of it!
Sometimes you need a vacation after your vacation. New Orleans was beautiful, again. We had a serious dent in our enjoyment however. Two years ago, when my finance and I visited New Orleans last, we stayed at Olde Town Inn. An independent hotel in the Marigny. It was not the best place, but it certainly had a charm. Enough so we booked a room there again this most recent trip. This time was a different story. After the first night there, we had all of our vacation cash stolen from our hotel room. Taken from our luggage to be precise. If that was not bad enough, the hotel management was unsympathetic and un-helpful. They would not check security cameras, they would not even say sorry. We were almost certain it was the cleaning staff. There was no forced entry, and the beds and towels had been serviced. Naturally, we wanted to check out. Again, the manager was nothing more than a roadblock here. They wanted to know why we wanted to check out, and at first refused to refund us for the nights we would not be staying. After some pushing, they begrudgingly agreed to refund the money. Though this now meant having to check into another hotel immediately. For the most part, that’s easy enough do to through your phone. There were some complications there too, but nothing worth detailing. My point, if you’re going to New Orleans, DO NOT stay at Olde Town Inn.
What you should do there is visit the Museum of Death. Your curiosity must be THIS morbid to enter though. A must for those interested in serial killers. I was most fascinated by the actual courtroom sketches from the Manson and Gacy trials on display. These sketches have appeared in many documentaries, and likewise I’ve seen them many times on screen, but not like that. There was also a copy of the psychology evaluation of Ed Gein, which visitors could read. Historical and celebrity death info was available too. All-around a grave-old time.
My whole vacation, I think my writing only saw an hour or two of attention. That really frustrates me now. I told myself not to fret over it, to relax and play videogames and have fun. Now, I wish I had done more writing. I worked on my music.
The weather is turning cold in Chicago. That means bundling up for work every morning. It also means I will be less inclined to step out for coffee or food now. Really, I don’t do so often anyway. It is just nice to have the option to go on a whim if I want. Some part of me is worried I’m becoming too much of a homebody. Am I just old and cranky?
Band practice resumes tonight. I’m hoping for the best, but things can change after a three or four week break. I am bracing myself now, not to take it hard if we don’t fall directly back in sync. Hopefully my brain switches off, and I just enjoy playing with the group like usual.
Every Million Years, a Spark
In the spirit of the season, I had started writing a blog detailing the construction of my past Halloween costumes. Four pages and several days into that, it is being filed under Bad Ideas. It was not until I was 18 that I could dress up, so the list is not too long exactly; Not like we would have to start back in childhood. There are too many details though, and I cannot imagine anyone reading the whole thing. Maybe they will end up as individual chapters in my AUTOBIOGRPAHY – Due out never. But, I love Halloween, now, and it is an exciting point of the year.
Only the minimal amount of progress has been made in the past 10 days or so. Too many plates spinning at once. I have been losing weight, slowly but surely, since July or August. But recently gained a little back. So, I dedicated a bit more time to exercising to control that. Of course, now I’m on vacation, and that’s never good for my routine. I will be flying to New Orleans in a few days. So outstanding food and drinks in my future. Something tells me more exercise is in my future as well. We also threw a pumpkin carving party at our apartment. We throw one every year. Then again, maybe I’m just making excuses as to why I’m not working on projects.
I feel like I spend more time on my music than writing lately. Music is an easier going process for me, and I’m sure that factors in a lot. I’m changing the project’s name again. Though, for the time being I will still refer to it as SPACE OPERA. This was intended to be an EP, and I’ve decided to cut it at six tracks maximum. A 3rd song is nearly complete, so things are looking good so far.
Season 3 of Mr. Robot started, which means my paranoia is inflamed. There are hundreds of marvelous and interesting TV shows out now, but the ones I have time for I generally don’t get obsessed with. Shows like Mr. Robot and Twin Peaks however are exceptional. I also lookout for more info on them, and have extended conversations with other fans. Although, fans of Mr. Robot are hard to fine, outside of Reddit. I watched one episode of Electric Dreams, which was quite enjoyable. It felt fresh. I’m giving Star Trek: Discovery a full season before judging. As a lifelong Star Trek fan, I don’t want to dismiss anything right away. I mean, I did with Enterprise, but most people would agree that was the right call.
I conceived a new story, jotted what came to me down for later. So, at least my brain has not stopped producing. It is a Sci-Fi story. If or when I will get around to that is another question. I am going to keep details under my hat for now.
What Do We Call You?
Made decent progress with my solo music project this week. Quite pleased with it so far. However, I have been considering changing the name. Currently writing under the name Space Opera, but that might not fit with how I plan future albums to sound. I want this EP to sound sci-fi like, so am keeping that in mind when picking and tweaking synths. Somewhere down the line though, I may want the music to sound more organic. I do really like the name Space Opera though, and I could only find one band with the same name; a classic rock act from decades ago. Maybe I should do more research before making a decision. My first choice for an alternative name is Falling Ovation. My intuition though says to hold that for something special. I don’t even know what.
This year, I may break a personal record for how long it takes to put on my Halloween costume. A few years ago I was Babadook, and the whole thing took me just over an hour. Sixty minutes of that was applying the makeup. It was worth it. Lots of compliments on that costume. Prior to that, I think the longest it took me was nearly an hour to put on my Zorg costume. However, that costume was crappy. More details about Halloween costumes to come in a later blog.
Virtually no writing was done this week, due to necessary Halloween costume work. Know there were going to be tasks to accomplish later on in the week, and band practice, I decided to move writing to the back burning last week. This is not my first choice, but certain times come for certain measures.
Life is so much better when you do not have to go to your day job. My day off midweek was put to good use. I fished a piece for my short story collection, changed the strings on all my guitars, worked on some new music – both for the band I’m in and for my own project – and made a little progress on my Halloween costume. Did some house work, too; but that is not particularly thrilling.
I need to start considering which writing project I want to pursue following this collection of shorts. That is quite far off, but I always feel better being prepared and having my sights ahead. Not sure I want to talk further about what those projects might be.
All I day I’ve been feeling discombobulated, especially when forming sentences. So, this will be a short blog entry.
Last week’s blog entry was not done on time due to life. Life! Anyone who lives in the Chicagoland area, or nearby, knows how unfairly hot it was outside. That temperature can put a damper on one’s creativity. So, add a broken windshield on top of that, and someone can lose their ambition entirely for that week. I went out to my car for work, to find a spider waiting for me inside. I am comically arachnophobic, by the way. Often, I try to capture spiders when they’re in my home or car, or whatever, and let them loose outside. Me being afraid of something is insufficient to pronounce a death sentence. In this instance though, when it is 5:00AM and I need to get to work, it was me or him (Mr. Spider). I slapped the glass to end the spider…and ended up cracking my windshield; enough to require a full replacement instead of a repair job. Arranging to have the windshield replaced and actually getting it done, that might be a short story down the road. And at the end, immediately after it was fixed something went wrong with my motor blower. I can’t win. With band practice and some other personal matters to attend, only a modicum of progress was made on my short story collection.
I did start a new song for the band I am in. Maybe not the best move, considering they are in the early stages of learning two other songs I presented recently. But, when inspiration strikes, it should not be dismissed. The other members in the band are quite talented. I’m almost in disbelief that I get to work with them. Everything I bring to the table, they each add their own touch to it, and the songs are sounding impressive. My solo music project, a synth-wave sound called Space Opera, is coming along. Two songs are done, and I have clear ideas for a few more. It will be just an EP, which I’ll probably release for free on Bandcamp.
Since the beginning of his career, I have been a fan of Darren Aronofsky. NOAH was the only blackspot on his filmography, until now. After serious consideration, I landed unconditionally negative on MOTHER! For me, it absolutely crossed the line between art and offensive. Much like how I felt about Lars Von Trier’s ANTICHRIST and the film CONTRACTED. I cannot recommend this film. What you watch and what you think is your business, but this one was a resounding “Nope!” in my opinion. I do not believe in banning films. They are played in theaters and peoples’ homes, and not in open view where the public has to move by and see it unwillingly. Ultimately, I was curious about the movie, so I saw it; only this turned out in the rare case where I regretted it.
Oh well. I’m moving on. Hoping by next blog entry I will have watched both available episodes of Star Trek Discovery.
The rewrites for my upcoming short story collection have gone slower than preferred. However, I am happy to be making any progress. This project is not something sitting on the shelf and collecting dust, which is more than what some can say about their own work. I devote what time I have, making sure to write each day, and am letting it ripen naturally. There are other things in my life that need attention too though. Fun things, responsible adult things, etc. So much to do, so little time, as they say. Ultimately, I am pleased with how the collection is shaping up. I only hope there is an audience for it once the collection is published and available.
I really have not taken time out to do a “DJ” set for Stardazer Avenue in quite some time. Too long, probably. Those were nothing more than sessions of me playing music for fun and relaxation. But, fun and relaxation are important uses of one’s time. There has though actually been movement on my synthwave project, Space Opera. By the time it’s done, who knows if it could be considered synthwave or just a mess. I have also been in the early stages with a new Chicago post-punk, gothy band. Stay tuned.
I got engaged! That has nothing to do with my art, but exciting still. As that’s a private matter, I’ll probably be more reserved about that information as we make progress towards the BIG DAY. Suffice to say, I feel positive about this change in my life. People have already asked if I’m nervous or whatnot. I really don’t see what there is to be nervous about, as far as the subject of my soon-to-be wife. Something always goes wrong the day of a wedding, and sure I’m nervous about factors like that. But, those are all out of our control, and the best thing to do is roll with the punches.
Work, real life work that is, needs to go away; far away. We could all say that, I suppose.
I’m going to try and post a blog every week now. I’ve made that claim before though. Oh well. Let’s see how this goes – Which is what they should carve on my tombstone.