A Diary of Sorts – Day #1
It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. I used to blog regularly on Murderati.com, one of the premiere blogging sites for authors in the mystery-thriller genre. The site closed down a couple years back, but it remains archived as a valuable resource for writers of all genres. I wrote over a hundred blogs on Murderati – two every month for five or six years. It was a great experience that made me feel part of a community of writers and readers—my favorite types of people in the world. But, boy, it was a pain in the ass. At some point in the process we all felt expected to write something awe-inspiring or witty or topical or poignant. There was a lot of pressure, and when it finally ended I experienced the kind of relief one feels immediately after leaving a demanding job. The kind of momentary sense of euphoria Tom Cruise exhibited in Jerry Maguire when, after being fired from his job, he drove away singing Tom Petty’s classic song, “Free Falling.” I’m freeeee….
And then the falling part. The sudden realization that the blog was over and my community was gone and I was left on my own. Cut loose to write in lonely cafes in the solitude of my thoughts. For years now I’ve kept a lot of shit in my head that I’ve wanted to share. Things I’ve wanted to type up and toy with—and a lot of it was for me, really – just for me to explore my mind and my feelings and to discover what I’m really thinking and to type it out loud. I realized that I didn’t necessarily want to write a blog. I just wanted to work some things out on paper. To keep a diary, of sorts.
But who wants to write a diary? Geez, it takes so much time and then you just set it aside and if you’re lucky you dig it out in five years and use some of it as source material for a short story or novel. Mostly, it just disappears. And then it’s like all that writing is wasted, and there’s nothing I hate more than wasting words. After all the years we put into writing words worth writing and then to toss them out, to dump them, to misplace them, to never see them again….like they never existed. Like we never existed.
So, I realized that what I needed was a diary I could post. Take the thoughts out of my head and share them with other human beings. And it doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be poignant or witty. Because it’s really just for me, you know? A place to place my thoughts so that I don’t lose my thoughts, but also a place I can post my thoughts to share my thoughts and have a shot at building that community again, that community of writers and readers. To get the discourse that comes when people chime in with their comments. And if no one leaves comments, that’s okay, too. Because in the end, as I said, this is really just for me.
I decided to do this diary-blog as a component of my newly launched website. My old website was a mess. I had lost all my passwords and I couldn’t make any updates and the links were breaking and the site was eroding and even the Contact page refused to do its job. I called my good friend Aaron Grodin, who is an amazing web designer and graphic artist, and he got to work. Together we trawled the Internet and pulled all the disparate components of my literary life into a cohesive whole—this website. I’ve collected my novels and all the writings I’ve done in different collections over the years and added a place to put my upcoming projects and a schedule of events and a contact page that actually works and finally this blog. Or diary. Or whatever it is. I’ve also included a few of my favorite blogs from the Murderati days, and even a link to my recent graduate lecture from UC Riverside, where I analyze the musicality of writing in the works of Jack Kerouac, ee cummings, TS Eliot, James Joyce and others. These are all the different parts of me, and, truth be told, I’ve been missing me for years. I’ve kind of lost who I am as I’ve had to focus on a sixty-hour per week day job and keeping the roof over my family’s heads and sending a son (and soon another) off to college. The job makes it tough to write, because writing should be a focused, fulltime endeavor and I don’t want to have to make the choice of whether I should spend my evenings and weekends writing or spend that time hanging with my wife and kids. I used to prioritize my writing over my family and it resulted in a couple novels and a tense time at home. I’ve learned a few things since then. I’ve learned that I can’t support a family on my writing, so I’ve got to keep the day job. And I’ve learned that my family comes first. It’s a balancing act. Writing gets done, it just takes a long time to see the results. So I try to find ways to stay in touch with my creative self. This is why I went back to school recently, earning my MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside in a low-residency program that allowed me to keep the day job. School cut into my writing, but it gave me a tool I can use to secure work as a university professor – the kind of job that engages my creative self and allows me to be more of who I am.
This website reminds me who I am. As I click through the links it says “I am large, I contain multitudes.” I am more than a salesman and a father and a husband – I’m a man with a voice and something to say and I say it in novels and essays and short stories and films and, yes, even blogs. Like my diary-blog, this website is for me, made to remind me that I have a role to play in this newly divided America, and that a voice with something to say better use what it can to say it. Now, more than ever, the voices of authors have value and they need to be heard.
I’m discovering who I am, again, and you’re welcome to join me. I might not be the most exciting thing you can do with your time, but it’s got to be better than an hour spent watching The Apprentice. I’m here now and I’ll be here tomorrow, whether you read this or not. And, even though this is my diary, it doesn’t have to be all about me. It can be about us. A community of writers and readers. But, hey, if you’ve got other things to do, that’s cool. I understand. I’ll be here if you want me, with a working website and a contact page. And soon with more stories and essays and, in time, another novel or two. And a loose collection of thoughts and observations about life as I see it—a diary of sorts. Thanks for stopping by.