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I have allies. Friends that connect me to opportunities, loved ones who try to take care of me (as much as I’ll allow…), family members who reach out to me, and strangers often surprise me with kindness and generosity. On any given day, there’s at least one other person trying to do the right thing on my behalf.

Sometimes, that’s easy to forget. The struggle is real these days. Beyond wrestling with this nonsense puzzle of a country we live in, my days are filled with the stress and demands of raising a child, trying to make a living, and keeping my debtors at bay. Just like everyone else. Add in the focus required to create meaningful storytelling, and… It’s amazing I can remember where I left my whiskey.

I keep myself so isolated. I have to reach down deep to pull these words out of me. The outside world can feel like a distraction from that. Yet, nothing is created in a vacuum. I need to actively engage in conversation with the world. Otherwise, the whole endevour becomes ethereal and one way. A ghost shouting through the veil.

Some days it’s not enough to believe in myself. It’s important to remember the people who know my value, the ones who care enough to help me keep my head out of my ass. Here’s to you.

Thanks.

Almost fourteen years ago I fell in with a band of mad scientists – well, they seemed like mad scientists to me – who convinced me to become a part of something called scryrtch. I understood it to be a collaborative storytelling experiment. I had no idea what I was getting into. It was crowdsource fiction before crowdsource was a thing. Here, I’ll let Heath Michael Rezabek (Mad Scientist #1) explain further:

“Q : What is “scrytch”?

A : scrytch grew out of a need to write. more specifically, scrytch grew out
of the need to try out collaborative prose in a networked forum. the idea was
that multiple authors could combine various approaches and ideas, and that the
finished work would be richer than the sum of its parts.

the problem was that the e.list environment [in which scrytch is now being
done] wasn’t conducive to “finished” works, long works, or even necessarily
collaborative works. the first two problems were /almost/ limitations of the
medium, and the last had to do with a raging debate in lit circles about
authorial property and appropriation.

what we ended up doing to come up with scrytch was concede: “ok, let’s say that
we treat this prose as a sort of compost-pile, memetic silage, idea-humus? and
more, what if we all agree that for the purposes of scrytch, words are fluid;
it’s a writing exercise, so let’s say we can all appropriate freely bits and
bytes from each others’ scrytch? we can maybe publish ‘anthologies’ of scrytch
some day, but can’t sell ’em, and can’t claim it all as any one of ours? what
do we get out of this individually? well, we get to see if collaborative prose
can even WORK in the network environment. we get to try out those cut-up and
appropriation writing techniques that Burroughs warned us about. we get to
develop 100% net-rooted prose if we want. we get to try ANYTHING topic or
approach-wise, and we get to hone our respective styles in relation to the
other scrytchers, so that when we DO go out and write a larger piece for sale
or whatnot, we’ve had the hands-in-the-dirt practice with freedom of ideas and
style to do it well!””

Or, more simply…

“the idea is simple; if the net isn’t conducive to longer works [one of our hard-earned hypotheses], why not LET it be used to crank out smaller, hypertextual works. if collaboration tended to be sticky due to questions of authorial property, why not treat the whole endeavor as one big writing experiment and allow appropriation and re-arrangement of ANYthing, with actual reference to original authorship kept to a deliberate MINIMUM? clearly the idea wasn’t to get famous, or necessarily to turn out marketable prose; it was to hone our styles in relation to each other, it was to try for once to write ANYthing that struck us. the ability to appropriate freely also, we’ve found, allows some pretty strange effects — you read a bit of text and, pages later, read the same bit in another context, perhaps subtly altered. it can be odd. so this is a “silo” of scrytch. one can scrytch, and one can make scrytch. one can scrytch scrytch. this is a glommed up mix of the stuff, in no sense official; there is no official to officiate. heck, there’s no “author.” or rather, it’s n^authored. on that note, if you want to QUOTE from some scrytch in, for instance, your .sig file or in an earth-shattering academic paper, simply quote the stuff as by Scrytch. as if that were the author. if you need a list address to point to, it’d be <fixion-list@netcom.com> … there’s not really a “Scrytch Project;” we just sort of have it figured that what we’re producing is scrytch. now, be warned: if you QUOTE Scrytch in another place — including your own prose work — that’s fine, and say so;”

This was my introduction to online writing. It was 1999; I was sending flash fiction, short stories, interesting links, and weekly observations by e-mail to friends who politely tolerated it, there were murmurs of something called “blogs” out in the internet wilderness, and I didn’t fully grasp what it was all about except it was new, freaky, and more exciting than the prospect of sitting alone in my apartment scribbling in notebooks.

That was the beginning of the most productive period of my writing life so far. This blog, the third iteration of the one I started in the fall of 2000, continues to be politely ignored. I managed to turn parts of the first blog into a decent short story collection. (again, politely ignored) And I’m currently publishing crime fiction on JukePop Serials. (We’ll see how that works out…)

Do I sound bitter? I’m not. I’m excited because today an email popped in my inbox asking if the old scrytch user group was still alive. Frankly, it’s been dead for years. It’s just a home for bots and spiders now, but someone had a brilliant idea – let’s see if a new home can bring it to life. So, I’m happy to say Scrytch – Denver lives again!

Yes, it was a very short chapter. Mostly because I eliminated a lengthy flashback sequence about how and why Nighttrain decided to come home. Why cut it? Because flashback is why. I want to keep things moving forward. Flashbacks, at best, are good for creating contemplative spaces within a story. Now is not the time for contemplation in this story.

“JP Johnson is our latest accepted author for his urban crime, hardboiled serial, Son. In Sept, we will be premiering the first 3 chapters. — JukePop Serials (@JukePopSerials)”

I’ll have more info later..

Not every story is worth telling, and not everyone is capable of telling one. The only thing I disagree with here is that she picked the wrong gamble. The odds are worse than roulette. http://www.forbes.com/sites/susannahbreslin/2012/06/12/why-you-shouldnt-be-a-writer/

boob_tube.jpeg

I’m not Catholic but I try to be catholic, so I allowed myself to be talked into giving up television for Lent. My initial response was, “I don’t feel like there’s anything I need to give up.” Then I remembered Statement # 3 and I followed my heart.

It was a good experiment in time management. Quiting television allowed me to see how much free time I actually have. Now I have a daily writing habit and a training regimen in place of all that time I spent on the couch.

I’ve also got seven hours of Justified to catch up on.

“She wasn’t beautiful to me so much as exotic, although that might be too strong a word for what I’m trying to express. An ability to fascinate is probably closer to what I’m looking for, a certain air of self-sufficiency that made you want to watch her, even when she just sat there and did nothing.”

These two sentences are doing some heavy lifting; both character development and exposition done so subtly that this passage could easily be passed over as typical Male Gaze bullshit. I am grateful for the constant rewards I find in reading Mr. Auster.

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