Thursday, July 19, 2007

Quick Update

Well, I managed to completely surprise myself this week.

I opened up my notebook for "Slayer", expecting to pick up the redlines at about 1/2 way through the book. Damn me if it wasn't already done! I had finished it at some point and completely forgotten about it. Well, that was a nice surprise, so I figured I'd start the type-in. I open up the file on my computer and it turns out that's damn near done as well! I only had 50 or so pages of the final changes left to do!


I know I must have done the work but for some reason I really thought I was only partially through the redline. Damn, I'm gettin' senile! Anyway, I polished off the last few pages, printed out the full MS last night and I'm preparing to mail it out to the agent who asked for the revisions tomorrow. I did a HUGE amount of cutting based on her input: nearly 14,000 words left on the cutting room floor. (Ouch!) It was hard to do it but the agent was right. It's now a much tighter, fast-paced book. The stuff I killed was well written (and funny, dammit!) but it just wasn't necessary to the story. I had to let it go. Had to get over liking the sound of my own voice as it were.

So, I'll send it out tomorrow and hopefully the agent in question will still be interested after a five month delay in getting it to her. If not . . . then, not. Other than that, the week has been busy, frustrating, annoying, thankless, tiring, and an all around PITA.

How's by you?


Friday, July 13, 2007

Thinking Out Loud

So, in comments on my last post, Lynn blasted me for not writing. (Just kidding, she was actually very helpful and supportive!) She went back through this blog and clipped a lot of my own posts about why I need to write. (As if you poor bastards didn’t get enough of my blathering the first time around!) I have to say, it made me stop and think. I’m going to try and make sense of those thoughts on this page, so if you wanna bow out and come back on another day when I’m not rambling, now’s your chance!

Ok, here we go: stream of consciousness . . .

I have had no desire to write since I seriously started to take an active role in changing my life. I’m not sure why really, but part of it is definitely out of fear that the depression of rejections, stress of submittals, etc. will disrupt my progress toward the “new me”. I’m not noted for my fortitude when it comes to change, folks. I have a long track record of charging into new things with gusto, only to burn out and return to former bad habits in just a few weeks/months. Small things are often the cause (excuse!) of that. A cold, a fight with The Wife . . . hell, a bad day at work has been known to de-rail my best intentions. That’s one reason I haven’t been writing. I guess there’s another though. I’m afraid of it. The last few agents were interested in my work. The very last I spoke with wanted me to make some changes and re-submit to her before she’d offer representation, but she was seriously considering it.

Do you have any idea how frightening that is? I know, I know! That’s stupidity of the highest order. I busted my ass to get this far and now that I’m close to getting to where I wanted to be, I’m afraid to finish the journey. Is it really the fear holding me back? I don’t know. I’m sure it’s part of it though. It’s the idea of the level of expectations that would entail which bothers me, I think. It’s easy to write when nobody is really reading what you’ve put down. It’s easy to type half-a-million words when you don’t really believe it will ever be good enough to be published. Dreams are safe, as long as they're just dreams. they carry no burden of acual performance with them. When it suddenly turns out that your babbling has potential and folks actually want to talk about publishing it, it’s a whole new game. Can I produce regularly at that level? Am I really talented, or did I just happen to cobble something together that might make the lowest rung of the literary ladder and ever after be doomed to being an “almost was”? What if that entry level novel is the best and only thing I’m capable of doing? What then? Yup. Scary.

There’s also a question in my head about how important being a writer is to me. I’ve been wondering if I was writing to write or because I was looking for a giant pay day that would let me feel “successful” (damn, I’m using a lot of quotes in this piece, ain’t I?) What success means to me is one of the things I’m struggling with right now. I haven’t been able to pin it down yet. Is it being rich? Famous? Having a great family? Facing up to your responsibilities? Being respected? Owning the nice home? Maybe it’s all of these, and none, at the same time. I don’t know. I know this: it’s not working 50 hours/week in a dull profession to put more money in the bank for an elusive “some day”. I know that much! Don’t misunderstand: I have a good job. It’s close to home, the hours are good, it pays really well, and it can be actual fun some days. The thing is, it doesn’t make me proud of myself. It’s a corporate drone type of job . . . it supports my family nicely but in the end, it’s just shuffling pixels on a screen so a corporation can show profits. Is this all I’m here for? Am I supposed to spend my entire life chasing money so that I can have two weeks out of the year to enjoy my life? Shall I do that until I’m so old, fat, and sick that I won’t be able to use any of the cash I’ve put aside? That’s no way for anyone to live. That’s a life without purpose. I hate the thought of that. That’s a big part of why I started writing. Writers touch other people’s lives. They make a difference. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to leave a mark of some kind. I want to know that the world is a better place because I lived in it. Writing seemed to be the best answer because I was never physically equipped to do anything more direct. What does that mean?

Well, take a look at the blurb on the top of my page. It says I’m “38, shaved head, goatee, paunch . . .” Well, aside from the fact that I’ll be 40 next month (I really should update that!) there’s a bunch of bullshit in that statement. First off, while I do shave my head, it’s because I started going seriously bald when I was twenty. Think that doesn’t wreak havoc on a man’s confidence? Guess again! The blurb also says I have a “paunch”. Who the hell am I kidding? I was big as a friggin’ house when I wrote that! I was pushing at 300 lbs. folks. I couldn’t walk to the end of my street without puffing like a freight train (that’s only 100 yards or so!) I couldn’t do five sit-ups or three push-ups. Every joint on my body hurt. I literally had to roll out of my bed each morning because my back hurt so bad I couldn’t sit up. I would limp to the bathroom because my feet hurt terribly and all I ever wanted to do was sleep. No matter how much sleep I got though, I was always tired. I couldn’t do anything! I certainly couldn’t make any type of direct impact on the world when that’s who I was. Writing I could do, because it only required planting of ass in chair (a specialty of mine!) It seemed my only option. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good option, but at the time it was the only one I had. Now, things are different. I became a vegetarian, which helped me drop a lot of pounds and lose a lot of the aches and pains. Dropping the pounds let me exercise, which led to more lost pounds, and a lot more energy. Now, I only need 6-7 hours of sleep to get through my day with no problems, instead of the 12+ I needed before and at the end of the day, I’m merely tired, not exhausted and sick. I’m not that useless guy anymore. Oh, I still have a good distance to go, but I can see myself being able to do the things I’ve always believed beyond my reach for the last 20 years (yup, I’ve been a lard-ass for that long. Sad, ain’t it?) For the first time in . . . forever, I can see myself accomplishing other things; following other dreams. I actually like myself again. I worry that writing might pull me back into the old ways again, that I might wind up ass-in-chair instead of feet-on-the-pavement.

Wanna hear something stupid? (Yea, like you haven’t already!) It only just occurred to me that I can do both. I could write and still pursue the other things too, couldn’t I? (Don’t laugh at me!) That may seem painfully obvious to you, but to someone who’s had only one reachable dream for most of his life, the idea of doing multiple things at once is a pretty radical thought! Maybe that’s an answer. Writing, for me, has always required a totality of effort. I had to push everything else aside to perform the work. Had to, because I only had so much energy to work with. Two hours a day of writing, coupled with a full day at work damn near killed me. I hadn’t really thought about it but with all this extra energy, I might be able to write and still do the other stuff, huh? What a bizarre concept! I’ll have to try it and see if it works. I can’t allow writing to take over my life again but there’s no real reason I can’t still do it, is there? So, maybe it’s not a real problem, just the fear of success/failure. Christ, am I nuts or what? Am I the only one who’s terrified of both?

This whole thing sounds like a mid-life crisis, doesn’t it? (I know that’s what The Wife is worried about!) I don’t know, maybe it is. I’ve never been middle-aged before, so I guess it could be. Thing is, I don’t think it’s a crisis. It feels more like an awakening, ya’ know? I’m not looking to buy a Porsche and replace The Wife with a 20-year-old blonde with silicon hooters and no brains. I don’t want a tummy-tuck and hair plugs. All I want is to actually live a normal life. I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing so far . . . well, on a strictly personal front anyway. I think I’ve done pretty damn well on the husband/father front (Though The Wife might disagree with the first!). It’s just that I’m not happy with who I am as an individual. I need to do things that will let me feel satisfied with who I am, not just doing things that are needed to keep the family running, ya’ know? Does that sound whiny? I don’t mean it too. I just need more out of myself is all. I need to be better than I am.

Well, that’s enough torture for one day. If you all haven’t fallen asleep yet, you can move on to better things now. Thanks for reading all the way through, if you made it without gouging out your eyes in boredom. Oh, and Lynn: thanks for making me look at this directly. I appreciate it. Well, enjoy your weekend all. I’ll talk to ya’ next week. Who knows? I may even have some writing to tell you about! :-)


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Just Free Forming . . .

I've Stood

I've been disenchanted in the face of dreams
Taken the brutal paths of misunderstanding
Gazed across the frozen lakes of alone
Spiraled through the swirling storms of empty
Seen the burnt remnants of wishes wash into the gutter
Laughed madly at the hollow jokes of faith
Stood small amongst giants and towered above the small

I've gazed in the eyes of a stranger inside a mirror
Drank bitter teas of truth and sweet wine of lies
Heard the slow silence of deep nights
Felt the warmth of ice rain on bare skin
Run through green woods in deep shadow
Raised my voice in misery and joy to an empty sky
Stood against the driving surf amidst a crowd on an empty beach

I've danced when there was no one to see
Waited unseen beside greatness
Sung drunken songs before the sacred altar of conformity
Wept softly in the face of simple kindness
Walked in the steps of genius and been humbled
Spoken loudly when wisdom demanded silence
Stood beside close friends and remained unseen

I've faced many fears and feared many faces
Sat upon damp grass contemplating a white moon
Waited outside empty windows for the glimpse of a friend
Driven silent highways with only wind for a companion
Watched fires burn in the depths of calm waters
Slept beside warmth that made the night colder
Stood upon crumbling ground and laughed

I've lost faith but never broken it
Wished with all my heart for dreams I never wanted
Listened to fools and ignored sages
Tasted the salt of tears I truly earned
Wandered through lands no one else could see
Prayed that I would never again need to pray
Stood too long in one spot from fear of moving

I've known the quiet heart of mayhem
Flown through winds of change on a tattered kite
Wondered at the smallness of life's greatest moments
Smiled at the brilliance of children's simplicity
Cursed into the oblivion of idiocy
Played at working and worked at playing
Stood just tall enough to be seen when I wished to

I've played hide-and-seek with angels in a forest of pins
Helped some in need who never knew
Hid from the cold demands of my own realities
Lain on the hood of a rusting metal beast and conversed with the stars
Held the secrets of others but never revealed my own
Caressed black wool and shivered as emptiness devoured me
Stood the best I knew how and never apologized

Copyright 2007 by James A. Coppinger

Monday, July 09, 2007

Quiet, Please.

I don't have it in me to be entertaining today. Well, not just today actually. I don't know that I have it in me anymore at all. One of the things I've discovered recently is that I've spent a good portion of my life "entertaining" other folks. Being the jovial, smiling, wit who can make folks laugh on cue. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, but for some reason it's one thing I've grown tired of. I don't want to do it anymore. Sometimes I just want to sit quietly and not talk. Sometimes I just want to sip my drink and watch the sunset in silence. Sometimes I don't want to have to fill-in-the-blanks with a clever story from years gone by. I want to be the quiet guy sitting at the table for a change.

That sounds kind of odd I guess but it's a good thing. I just don't want to perform for folks anymore. I'm me . . . Jim. I don't have to be the peacemaker and the guy who shuts down all the arguments with a joke. If you wanna fight, go right ahead! I'll sit here and relax while you do. If you spout off some stupid ass, hateful, or just plain ignorant comment in a crowd full of folks who are staring at you like you've got six-heads, that's your problem. I'm not bailing you out with a quick one-liner anymore. If you act like an ass, take your lumps. It ain't my problem.

I like the idea of being quiet for a change. (Though it's making The Wife nervous. Sh'e not sure how to handle it!) Just want to say what I want, wen I want. Not because I think I should. That may mean this blog gets kinda dull from time-to-time. Sorry 'bout that but it is what it is. Today's a quiet day, so everybody grab a drink, sit back and . . .



Monday, July 02, 2007


Do you think it's possible being a vegetarian helps you heal faster?

I went to the rock gym again on Friday (with The Boy, my nephew and Bro-In-Law. Was much fun!) and I damaged my left hand. I was really pushing it and I slid off a grip, tearing all the skin off the pads of the center two fingers of my hand. Think about the hole left by a large blister just below the knuckle, and you've got the general idea. The tears were deep, too. I was down into the dermis at least. Now, I've had this type of injury before (we all have at one time or another, no?) and it sucks. Everything burns! Air . . . water . . . touching it with another finger . . . everything feels like fire. It usually takes a week or more of this agony before the new skin grows over it enough so you can wash your hands without screaming (Ok, so I'm a whimp!) Not this time though.

I did the damage Friday night at about 9:00 p.m. and by Sunday morning the rips had healed over to a hard skin that I could touch with no problem. Even soap didn't sting!!! As of this writing (Monday p.m.) They've healed up to the point where they don't even hurt anymore. Another two or three days and the damn things will be fully healed. Bizarre! Shit, it normally takes me a week to heal up a simple blister and these were MUCH worse.

I don't know how the diet could affect that but I can't think of anything else that might.

On other fronts . . .

Did a graduation party for my niece over the weekend. Nice party (except for the three year old who screamed, threw cake at his mother, and repeatedly punched his father in the face for several hours non-stop. Luckily, he's no relation to us . . .) Yesterday was just a crash day. We hung out and watched movies all day. (in between naps, anyway!) It was a nice afternoon. It's nice to just de-pressurize once in a while. It's been a crazy two months of running from event to event.

I saw this on the Web this morning and it made me laugh:

What's the difference between having "guts" and having "balls"?

GUTS: is arriving home late after a night out with the guys, being assaulted by your wife with a broom, and having the guts to say: "Are you still cleaning, or are you flying somewhere?"

BALLS: is coming home late after a night out with the guys, smelling of perfume and beer with lipstick on your collar, slapping your wife on the ass, and having the balls to say, "Roll over, You're next!"

I'd have to say that I have guts, not balls. (Cuz if I did, The Wife'd make SURE I didn't for much longer!!!!!)