Tag Archives: update

Feeling Old Today

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Feeling a little worn out. Maybe the stress of the house post-fire is getting to me, the grind of listing every possession we owned and trying to figure out what it was worth; or perhaps it’s the slight,-pleasant-but-still-present pressure of getting the novel ready to sell that’s pushing me that little too far. 

I have not slept well since the house fire. Not well at all. I am not normally a bad sleeper, just a night-owl who burns the candle at both ends. But these days I have to be completely exhausted in order to sleep. And I’m a little snappier and grumpier than normal. I’m usually a laid back, meditative guy, so I weirds me out to be angry at all.

Still, it is an exciting adventure, too. The house fire has wiped our family’s life clean of accumulated junk, and the insurance has bent over backwards to help us, so we expect that we will have our house back soon, just a little newer and with a better floorplan than it had before.  And I’m learning things about how to sell a book I’ve never known much about before. 

Overall, I’m a little unsteady, a little unsure of myself. Inching along with all the insurance work and plans for my next novels. But hopefully soon I’ll be back to full throttle. 

Agents and House Fires and Such

As a general update, Tuesday, December 10, 2013 was a freaking crazy day:

At 11:00am, I receive an email from Jennifer Jackson at the Donald Maass agency offering to represent my novel. My first agent! This is something I’ve worked for years (decades) toward, a major milestone in my writing career. And she’s a great agent and a great person too. So exciting!

And then, at 5:00pm, my house burns down.

Everyone is fine, even the cats, and doing well. We have insurance, and likely will be fine. And we are holding up really well. The fire was so incredibly hungry and swift, 5 minutes either way on the timing of the fire (or, worse, if it had happened overnight) someone would be dead. From first smoke to inferno was just a couple of minutes. Six fire trucks worked for an hour to put it out, and two ambulances and just about every cop in the city were on site. We are very lucky.

The rest of it is just stuff: furniture, clothing, books, DVDs. It’s hard to get upset about that when things could’ve gone so wrong. 

Jennifer Jackson, who now represents me literarily, has a post about it here. 

Yes, we are sad about a lot of things: pictures, letters, and keepsakes, mostly. We also had my  mom’s collectibles (a vast collections of collections, uncountable reams of autographs from any science fiction movie or TV show you can imagine, rare science fiction memorabilia, records, stamps, boots, etc.), and the insurance will not come close to reimbursing us for that.

But, really, we’re looking at it as a new beginning, a chance to rise from the ashes (see what I did there?) better and stronger than ever.  

It’s strange, we’ve both had problems with depression in the past, but as long as we keep smiling and marching forward and looking for the positives in the situation, it doesn’t seem to drag us down.

Maybe that’s the real secret to happiness, huh? It couldn’t be THAT easy, could it?

Still, there are a lot of things up in the air. We’ve never been through this process before (and hopefully we never will go through it again!), so the sheer weight of the unknown is a stressor, a weight on the back, all by itself. But we are filled with hope rather than fear, and that is the important thing!

A lot of people out there feel compelled to help us because it’s such a terrifying story. Because death was close at hand. We think we will be fine, and we are not asking for help, but if you feel compelled to aid us for some reason, don’t buy us blankets or crackers or juice (please don’t!).

If we end up needing help, it will be for unexpected things, housing overruns, or build overruns near the end of the recovery process, months and months from now. 

Our YouCaring site is the best way to chip in.

And since I know everyone is curious to see what fire damage looks like, here is my shelf full of esoteric books on Kung Fu, Taiji, Qigong, and Languages (everything from Sumerian to Chinese to Sanskrit to Lakota Sioux Sign Language to Latin to Cherokee, and many in between).

 

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A noticeable lack of writing that must be corrected

I have not been writing. Instead, I have been “researching” wuxia fiction and TV shows for the past several weeks — that’s my official excuse.

I’ve always wanted to write a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon style story — possibly a whole epic fantasy trilogy — and, for some reason, I decided to start researching it now.

That said, I still have not finished the Dark Sequel. Instead, I’ve been watching a Wuxia TV series. Bad me! I know! But now that series is done, and I have my life back — I believe it is time to start back on the Dark Sequel and knock the rough draft out of the way so I can start writing other stuff.

A Fun Stylistic Analysis of Monty Python, and a Request for Help

If you know me at all, you know I like Monty Python. It would not be far from the truth to say I was raised on a steady diet of Python (and, of course, Doctor Who. But that is off topic — GET BACK IN THE BLOODY BLUE BOX, TIMELORD!! It’s not your post!)

The result is that I have a zany, surreal sense of humor, and I tend to like my humor British. Despite the fact that I have lived most of my life in Texas. You can imagine the complications (the skits write themselves, don’t they?)

So… When I decided that I should write something funny for a change (instead of all this dark stuff I’ve been struggling to sell, as full of irony as it may be (i.e., “Teddy Bears and Tea Parties: A Horror Story”)), funny to me meant Monty Python.

This left me with quite a problem on my hands (and when I say problem, I mean a twenty-foot tall electric penguin with green tentacles shooting out.) So I did what any self-respecting only-child of two college professors WOULD do — I started studying.

I downed the whole Python series again in one go (doing my best to keep an eye on how things worked), and then all of the movies. This of course was not enough. I needed something I could analyze at a much more leisurely rate. Rather than driving my wife mad by rewinding skits and sketching out scripts for them, I dived into the written materials out there… (Pardon me while I elide time for convenience and pacing — if I had the skills, I would insert a Terry Gilliam-style animation, probably about monkeys using books as wings, but at some point turning into monkey-headed cherubic angels all shooting plungers off their harpstrings at each other, while a large, decapitated head of Graham Chapman (he’s dead already, he won’t mind) eats large parts of Parliament in the background. However, I do not have any animation skills whatsoever, so there is no animation, and you’ll just have to deal with it.

Ahem… I seem to be rambling. Let’s hope I keep it up, it’s a downsight more interesting that me actually saying anything.

Python then kicked me to the “Goon Show”, and the “Goon Show” to “Firesign Theater”, and then back to Python (Graham Chapman’s “Liar’s Autobiography”) who — with a sharp pass to Westminster Cathedral — sent me spinning under the feet of “At Last It’s the 1948″ show, then to Kingsley Amis who gets the ball stolen from him by Cyril Connolly and book on Pythons and Philosophy — who shoots — and SCORES! GOOOAAAAL! And all the books and TV and radio series are all hugging each other now, in this, the first FIFA finals in untaming one man’s sense of humor.

It’s been quite an adventure so far, and I guess I will see if it pays off with the new novel, but the new novel is not what this post is about.

It’s about something I didn’t expect to find. Way down deep in the dank, cavernous mazes of Michael Palin’s Diaries (somewhere between the plastic skeletons chained to the wall and the fake rats squeaking and trying to nibble my toes off with their little rubber teeth) — and simultaneously in Graham Chapman’s “Liar’s Autobiography” — and simultaneously-again in “Monty Python Speaks” and again-again in the audio-commentary for the Monty Python Autobiography, I stumbled into a strange sort of perspective:

Success rarely happens in a day. It’s random. It is, in a way, luck.

These guys were good — really good — arguably the BEST at what they did, but they were still “lightly paid writer/performers” until one day… They just suddenly realized they weren’t. They didn’t expect it to happen. They were just plodding along, and then, all the sudden, they were hanging out with famous people, making a little more money, and then a LOT more money.

When I go back and look at “The Complete and Utter History of Britain” and “At Last the 1948 Show” and other things, I see that they were doing very Python-style stuff before Python. Not as extreme, no, not as experimental, not free from the constraints of format or punchline — but still very Pythonesque. In effect, Python was just another logical step in what they had been doing all along — and it went big.

…And this makes me think it can happen to anyone. Most of us work hard at our arts and never get noticed. But it CAN happen, and it does happen, and you don’t even realize it’s happening, usually, until — BOOOOM! — you’re being shot out of a cannon with a raving maniac shouting, “You better learn how to land, son, or this is really going to hurt!” up at you.

And that thought… Well, it gives me hope. (Not the cannon one, the one before that — oh, you know!!)

And now we come to the dream-portion of this post. Terry Gilliam once described several of the incredibly lucky events in his life as, “It was like I was willing them to happen.” That he knew such crazy strings of coincidences were possible, so he put himself out there in the way of big events, where they might be, and — well — they just hit him.

I want to be like that. I want to put myself out there in the middle of things, so this is my dream:

I’d like to meet all of these guys (the living ones, obviously.)

I know a lot of them are tired of Python. They’ve moved on (and rightly so!), done huge bodies of wonderful work — Terry Gilliam has some absolutely astounding and amazing movies, Terry Jones has his documentaries, Palin his innumerable series, Cleese as always is a genius, and heck, Eric Idle has even written a Science Fiction book called “The Road to Mars”!

But that’s my dream, to one day meet all of the living Pythons. Why? I really don’t know. They just seem like they’d be a blast to hang out with, really. Who could ask for more than that? That I’ve found their work hilarious, moving, and even inspiring may also enter into it.

The problem is, I don’t know these guys, they don’t know me, and, really, what chance does a minor-league-short-story-writer-wannabe-novelist really have of meeting (much less shaking hands with and sharing a pint of beer or a cup of tea) with mega-stars that live anywhere they want to live and do whatever they want, when they want?

Here comes the hard part, and if I don’t say it now I won’t ever say it:

I need your help — specifically, your brainpower, your voice, maybe a little bit of your time.

I want to meet these guys, and the way I grok it, the only way they’re going to want to meet me is if the situation fascinates them. So what I need is the crazy, the surreal, the absolutely impossible:

I need an internet movement.

Specifically, an “S. Boyd Taylor wants to meet Monty Python” movement. With buttons! Fliers! Silly goings on!

If you want to help — post a link to this, retweet it, talk about it at work, facebook it, tell your budgie, or call up John Cleese if you used to share a toothbrush with him at University and are still close, or even post YouTube videos of you in a Gumby outfit with a handkerchief on your head chanting, “S. Boyd Taylor wants to meet Monty Python.”

Anything harmless and humorous, really.

Then we’ll see if it works.

Update

Things seem to be roaring along. +1350 words today.

I wish I had hit 2,000 words, but I think I need to build back up to that kind of output or I might sprain my brain. I also did quite a bit of work visualizing and high-level outlining Book 3 in the series. I just want to crank these two books out, so I have them done — mostly so I can prove to myself that I can write a series.

Once they’re done, I have dreams of going back and completely retooling my Epic Fantasy (Trunk) Novel from the ground up. Then finishing THAT trilogy. I need to be able to write faster, consistently, at least 2,000 words every weekday, so I can get all of these books FINISHED.

Also, side note — I practiced Kung Fu (Xingyiquan Ba Shr Chui and Wu Xing Lian Huan, also Yang Taiji 24 Postures.) I will try to play a little guitar when I get home to get a trifecta.


Reading Notes: (You have to read to write, it all goes into the grist mill)

I have given up on Milan Kundera for now, and have resorted to Abercrombie’s “The Blade Itself”, which is pretty damn fun.

I have finished the Michale Palin Diaries Audiobook and am listening to an audiobook of Graham Chapman’s “Liar’s Autobiography” still (almost done). I will re-listen to both of them immediately when I am done. It’s amazing how they dovetail together.

FenCon!!

Went to FenCon this weekend and met soooooo many people. Pardon me, I am part geek, I’m not good at keeping lists of them — but everyone (really everyone) was so nice. It was a blast to be there. Among the many great folks:
– The usual suspects (you guys should know who you are!)
– Chris of Books-a-million (who gave awesome insight into the state of libraries and book stores and what people are expecting to happen next, technologically)
– Felicia of Geeky Blogger Fame, and crew.
– Lou Anders (nice enough to talk to me for about 20 minutes on the state of Epic and Low Fantasy, thanks Lou!)
– Toni Weisskopf (publisher of Baen Books, who graciously allowed me to ramble on and on about completely unimportant things)
– And a whole host of new people who I am still sorting through business cards for, and will be catching up with shortly.

Trifecta-in-waiting

1) Already did Kung Fu today — 2 hours, different forms. I think I have finally learned the second Yang Fan form all th way through; it is a gorgeous form, and I’m happy to have finally learned it. Now I just need my knee to cooperate enough to hit the low stances cleanly.

2) About to take a shower and leave for writing; I have work to do reformatting my novel slightly. It is not new words, but it is something I can do to increase my chances of getting a novel sale; this will be writing for the day.

3) Since to hit a trifecta, I only need to play some guitar, right after this post (and before the shower) I will go play a few songs.

That will be a rocking day.