It’s been a weird year. And by “weird,” I mean … just fucking awful. I don’t want to rehash all the personal losses and professional setbacks, and this isn’t to bitch and moan about lousy hands–life deals from the bottom of the deck, same way to everyone–but those who know me know what I am talking about, and those of you who don’t, let’s just leave it at: I’ll be glad to see 2017 end. Hyperbole aside, this year has ranked among the worst of my life, every bit as the worst of the junkie years, and keep in mind that particular period saw me eating food off the ground and shooting up mouse shit.
So what does 2018 hold? I won’t say it can’t get worse because if there is one thing we all know about this place: it can always get worse. And herein lies the rub of writing Jay Porter.
I’m sure most of you know who Jay Porter is. Those who don’t: Jay Porter is the protagonist of the … Jay Porter Thriller Series that I write for Oceanview Publishing. The books have done well for me, selling enough to land a 5-book deal. I owe that to my former agent Liz Kracht, who did a tremendous job getting my work out there. But last summer I decided it was time for a change, and I parted ways with the Cameron Agency. This wasn’t for any other reason than I felt I needed to shake things up, and I couldn’t fire myself, even if that would’ve been my first choice. I’d come to the end of Jay’s story. I mean, I came to the end of the arc, in my head, which was still two and a half years out. I am currently writing Book 5, RAG AND BONE, a draft of which is almost complete. (It will be released in June 2019). I feel the need to do something … bigger … next. Though I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know what the fuck that means. I have something inside of me to say, like all writers, and I’ll have to pick the best vessel. And this is why Tobias Wolf’s “Bullet in the Brain” hurts so much, that never-ending hall of self-reflecting mirrors when you vivisect the living word for a living.
Right now, though, I am in full Jay Porter mode. And if you haven’t read the Porter books, I’ll leave it as Jay’s skin is not the most comfortable to wear. The rub, of course, is that I am Jay. Even if Jay is not me. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I hope you’ll forgive any roundabout syntax. I’ve written almost 40K words in 7 days. Which may not seem that crazy. But I promise you, when you are writing a mystery, plotting this and that, the process sorta turns your brain to mush. Spending time in my head right now feels like traipsing through a sea of Velvetta.
Jay is also a miserable bastard. Maybe that’s not true. Maybe that is just because so many people have told me how miserable he is that I’ve come to accept it. Except that I am Jay, and I don’t think of myself as miserable. More … unsatisfied. If I had to pick one word to describe how I feel, how Jay feels that would be it. Unsatisfied. Probably why I love Paul Westerberg so fucking much.
It’s a tough line to walk, this feeling of being unsatisfied, because conversely, at the same time, I can feel tremendously lucky and a shit-ton on joy and, on occasion, even hope. I have my boys, my wife, my house, my 8-lbs. poodle Lucky. And yet …
I’m not quite sure where Jay ends and I begin, or if it’s the other way around. I’ve spent the last 7 days writing the story of man who serves as a harbinger, a portent, a worse-case scenario, the potential for how bad my life could get. Jay Porter predicts my future. Jay hurts his leg, I hurt my leg. Jay’s brother dies, my brother dies. Jay loses everything he loves, and I … realize it’s just a book. Right?
I resurrected this blog. Though I am not sure what function it is supposed to serve. The first time I had a blog, there was a purpose: to eliminate the disconnect between my person and my (writing) voice. To that end, it was wildly successful. But now? Not sure if I want to use it to get another agent, sell books, get a book deal, communicate with strangers, or just … write. Just write for the pure, unadulterated love of language, as corny as that sounds. I fucking love writing and I fucking love words.
That last one is disconcerting because you can end up with this, what is tantamount to a journal/diary entry. Then again On the Road was essentially one long rambling diary entry. Of course I am not Jack Kerouac, even if I named my second son after him. Maybe I just write and someone will read something they need to read. Yeah, we’ll go with that.