A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Sunday, October 27, 2002


As I write Everlasting, I sometimes jump ahead and write a short section or something that seems to be ticking in my brain. Then, I tend to incorporate these bits and bobs into the real files as I reach their spots. The unmarried chunks are named on my hard drive according to their section headings (as you’ll see in the prologue on the site, each section gets its own title—taking the Cut My Hair chapter thing way too far), and the real bits are numbered. Last week, I finished up 1.5. Today, I was thinking of writing a stray bit, as I didn’t know if I wanted to jump from where I left off to this particular scene (Ashley visiting Lance’s apartment for the first time), but something told me to go ahead and name the file 1.6. We’ll see if it stands.

To lillustrate my point further, I added a previously written section onto the back of what I was working on today. It's an e-mail from Lance to Tristan.

I wonder if maybe sometimes I take the wrong approach on the titles. Generally, I name the sections with a reference that has something to do with what is happening. Today’s is “In Every Dream Home a Heartache,” and I wonder if that telegraphs too much to the reader what they should be reading into the moment. Like the date they go on titled “A Woman and Her Modern Monkey.”

Interesting side note: I was just flipping through some notes, and I had forgotten that the original title for The Everlasting was Cosmic Dancing. I guess I was listening to T. Rex that day (or at least Morrissey covering them). Glad I changed it.

Today’s work music: Madonna – “Die Another Day” single; DJ Shadow – The Private Press; an NME charity compilation called 1 Love (so good we played it twice! none of those cheesy, piss-take covers here! quality!); JJ72, I To Sky

Current soundtrack: Sugababes, One Touch import version

Saturday, October 26, 2002


Finished Wish today. It ends very well, takes some unexpected turns. Overall, a satisfying little series.

The process for finishing up is this--today I just completed the rough draft, the first run through. Now I print it out, and at some point before deadline (this coming Friday) read the text cold, looking for spelling and grammar mistakes and lines that don't ring right.

The music for a Saturday afternoon was Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Cruel Smile and Suede, A New Morning.

Current soundtrack: Information Society, Information Society

Friday, October 25, 2002


Been workin on Wish vol. 4 for the last 4 days. A chapter a night was my goal, but I actually got two done last night. I'm sad that this is it. It's getting really sweet in the end. There is one double-page spread that just melts the heart.

I continue to work on it with completely inappropriate music. One night, it was The Dandy Warhols Black Album, their real second album, unreleased since it's a rambling, off-it's-head, drug-fueld, glorious mess. Tonight it's Clipse. There's no one out there making music like The Neptunes these days. Those guys are geniuses.

Current soundtrack: Clipse, Lord Willin'

Wednesday, October 23, 2002


Okay, my Murder Ballads Night article is now online. It's formatted terribly, so it's hard to tell where the questions are vs. the answers--except the questions are shorter and end in question marks. But, it's there, at least.

For those of you keeping score, here is the missing question, to be inserted between the one about her favorite murder ballad and female serial killers: Have you ever considered homicide yourself? Is it just me, or are there some seriously idiotic drivers out there? I prefer aggressive, European-style, aggro drivers to the numbskull, indecisive slowpokes we get on our roads. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t experienced murderous thoughts while driving. I’m an impatient asshole.

Also started the final volume of Wish last night. Just did the first chapter, so no major happenings yet. Though I found it funny that I was listening to Luke Haines' Baader Meinhoff project while doing it--a concept album about a "hate socialist collective" fueling the writing of fluffy romantic comedy.

Current soundtrack: Ash, Intergalactic Sonic 7"s, disc 1

Sunday, October 20, 2002


My muse was ducking me today. I think I wrote five paragraphs in two hours or something. Not good. I am working on a section of The Everlasting where we meet our male villain, Thaddeus Prince. He is actually an old character of mine from a novel I started in 11th Grade called The Other Side of the Street (which, those of you who read the character bios in the false front of the site will know is now one of Percy’s books). In fact, Lance and Ashley are both also carryovers from that book. Originally, Thad was an opium-den poet (the Prince name being a nod to Machiavelli; the character itself inspired by a junkie in the 1945 film of The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I viewed regularly at the time), now he is a rock star; Lance was a country boy who had come to the city for the first time; Ashley was a debutante, but is now just a bitch (to be blunt) and in public relations. Things morph—but since characters (and people) are always “types,” I find much can be transferred.

The Other Side of the Street was a faux-Fitzgerald knock-off. I was 16 and lazy, and I didn’t want to research, so I thought I could fake my way around things by setting it in the prohibition era, but by not saying it was in that time, I could say it wasn’t really. I think I handwrote somewhere over a hundred pages of it, which I likely still have. I doubt I could read it, though, as I can barely ever read my own handwriting. (Michigan schools taught me to hold my pen in a big fist, and I could never get out of it.) Its central metaphor was a tree on Lance’s farm that had a heart-shaped nest in its branches. When he left the tree, he left himself, and the end of the book had him returning to it and dying hugging its roots. Lance also has a shameful history as a superhero that predates this book, as a member of a group my friend and I created when we were around 10 or 11. His name was Cur. I know there is a briefcase in storage at my dad’s house that has many of my younger delusions, and I bet you there is stuff about Cur in there.

All that stuff is gone now. Beyond the base characters, though, I think the only element that remains is Lance’s journal. I don’t recall using any of the character’s writing in the first book, but I remember a section about him keeping one. One of the voices used in The Everlasting is Lance’s journal. I have basically three narrative voices in the book, all intended to serve different purposes (though the lines blur). I would explain them, but it would get pretentious. Plus, I am wary of explaining too much.

To look further into the development of characters and stories in general, I direct you to “In Your Car” and “Wishing for an Edge of the World” in the Short Story section on the site. The lead males in both of those stories are the middle ground between the two Lances. The offscreen Vicky of “In Your Car” and the girl in “Wishing” are both early versions of Mandy, the second girl in Everlasting. Vicky’s boyfriend in “Car” will also show up to fuck with Lance. I actually look at those two stories in one lump with “Flash,” as the post-Cut My Hair shift in my fiction from adolescence to early adulthood. “Flash” was the perfection of what came before it, and the other two were missions of discovery.

Anyway, I have moved my operation to Starbucks for an afternoon. Portable computers, portable music players…modern life is rubbish. I am not sure how often I will do this—presuming it works to get me focused—given the incredibly angry yowl Sadie released when she saw me getting dressed to go out. That cat has an amazing internal clock. She knows when it’s time to eat, and she knows evenings and weekends are supposed to be her time. She despises you Oni fans for taking me away eight hours a day. Fuck your comics habits, she requires the ability to have me around in case she feels like not ignoring me.

But sometimes writing at home can be a problem. The main distractions being e-mail and the internet. I don’t even have to get out of the chair to waste time. Just click to a different window. And yeah, you can turn those things off, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to convince yourself to turn them back on for a second, and before you know it you’re proofing design for Jingle Belle and Hopeless Savages.

So, it’s a Soy Hazelnut Mocha and a Peanut Butter/Chocolate cookie for me (go, fatty!) and let’s get back to section 1.5, “Dizzy Heights.”

And I am thinking of calling Thad’s band The Swank. It’s a bit of a challenge to write about bands in a book set in Portland and not have it seem like someone real. So, I started thinking about current trends, which would exist outside the Portland of 2000, and band names like The Strokes, The Hives, The Vines, The Faint, The Music, The Coral, The Streets, etc. "The + One Word" equations. The Swank. I was thinking it should be something kind of lame that says the band thinks pretty highly of itself, like they need to tell you they're cool. (This is how I spent my time walking from the house to the coffee shop. That and listening to the second half of the new Low. I listened to the other half on a walk yesterday. The album hadn’t been resonating with me prior to these excursions. It’s a headphones record, not background music. I needed it to be loud between my ears. I am getting it now.)


I think my favorite lines today are: “‘Hey, man, that’s why I make music.’ Thad snickered. When he laughed, it happened in the top of his throat between his mouth and his nasal cavity. It was a bit like a stuttering garbage disposal.” I’ll probably hate it later, but for right now, it works for me.

I actually got a fair clip done once I got to Starbucks (2,688 words in about two hours, as opposed to 345 in about the same amount of time at home). My space at the shop got a little uncomfortable, as I was facing west and the sun was going down behind me for a bit. The sun is my enemy. Where the hell is my fall weather? Where are my clouds?

Today’s tunes for writing: Richard Ashcroft, “The Miracle” (b-side to “Check the Meaning” 7”); Pulp, We Love Life and Pulpintro; The Dandy Warhols, Dandys Rule OK; Low, Trust; The Small Faces, The Darlings of Wapping Wharf Laundrette disc 2; Mansun, Litte Kix

Current soundtrack: “Genius,” my favorite Warhols track ever (it's on Dandys Rule OK)

Thursday, October 17, 2002



This Murder Ballads article got all dramatic today.

I turned the piece in two days ago. I was pretty happy with it. It’s chatty, funny—basically, everything that all the articles in the other papers will not be. Which was exactly my goal. I didn’t want a list of people playing and a ridiculously dull explanation of the night’s concept.

My editor e-mails today and says, “Gee, instead of this, can you do a list of people playing and a ridiculously dull explanation of the night’s concept?”

Once the steam coming from my ears stops coming, I write back and remind her that I’ve given her exactly what I pitched, and that I had decided to do it this way for a reason.

She replies and says I am right, and that she maybe should have thought about it more. But, it’s all moot, as they no longer have room for it. I’ll get a kill fee (yippee, usually less than half the rate) and maybe I could write up a blurb for the listings page.

Now, part of me wonders if maybe she thought I was being uncooperative and is deciding to send me on my way. Which is fine, since I tell J-Lu to kick me in the nuts if I write for The Mercury ever again. At that moment, the feeling would be mutual. But at the same time, I have had this happen before, and changes can flow swiftly and without warning. The Low piece I linked to a few posts below was cancelled at least twice, and still saw publication. It usually has to do with advertising, with space disappearing if ads aren’t sold.

Nah, the only thing possibly underhanded here is that I was being asked to rewrite the piece while it was being cancelled. Why would you ask me to do more work if you think it's going away?

I agree to do the listing, and even suggest that I write an explanatory intro to the original q&a that can double as the listing. If the article doesn’t run, we have our blurb; if things change, it’s fixed to meet her needs.

The next e-mail informs me that everything is back on, the article is in, and yes, do the intro thing. She even goes so far as to tell me to cut a particular question to make room--though, of course, a question that is one of my favorite bits. So, bittersweet.

All this for, basically, after taxes, a DVD. (Okay, I do really like DVDs, so it's worth it.)

I was hoping to start Wish vol. 4 tonight, but I’ve still got to write that intro, and I just spent all this time bitching here.


If it actually does see print, I'll post a link here. If not, I'll post the whole article. I hope it does, though. I hate when you do an article on a nice person and you make them think you are going to help them promote their event, only to have it not materialize. That's poopy.

[SIDENOTE: I have added links to a review I did for artbomb.net as well as an interview Warren Ellis did with me there to the "other writing" section on the site.]

Current soundtrack: Spoon, Girls Can Tell (not a recommendation, so no link – I am listening to it because they are playing here Friday and someone gave it to me; I don’t like it); Pet Shop Boys, Release

Wednesday, October 16, 2002


Quick update: Popimage, who have always been friendly to my stuff, have two really nice plugs for Cut My Hair in today's update, as well as some general kindness about Oni. Read the first editorial here and then I am the final item in Top of the Pops.

Current soundtrack: The Jam, The Jam at the BBC disc 3

Saturday, October 12, 2002


Site update: Today I added the story “$#&*%¢.” It's an old, goofy thing I've always had an affection for. I am not sure how the actual writing really stands up, but what the hell. This is likely as far back as I will go with what I post. Not much before that really deserves to taste air.

Today's soundtrack:Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes [Deluxe Edition] Disc 2

Friday, October 11, 2002


I'm working on a piece for The Portland Mercury due next week that's about an annual October event here in Portland, where a bunch of musicians get together for a night of Murder Ballads (a la Nick Cave). It's my first experiment with conducting an e-mail interview and attempting a strict Q&A. Previous interviews with Solex and Alan Sparhawk of Low were done over e-mail, but I wrote a bigger piece, stifled their voices with my poopy prose. I figured this article would be more interesting if I tried something different, because otherwise, with only 350 words, I'd likely just list all the people who are performing, explain the concept, and then be done with it. Boring.

My first idea was to quiz the organizer, Jen Bernard, on her knowledge of murder trivia, and even enlisted the Oni board ghouls to help me find some interesting tidbits. But then I realized I might end up with a bunch of non-answers if she didn't know what I was talking about. So I adapted the approach to something more organic--midway informational, midway death-obsessed.

Anyway, my point is supposed to be that the e-mail interview is a lazy technique for the interviewer. I began to suspect this when I was engaging in them as an interviewee. Now, I’ve done some with folks that are really good—Barb Lien, Chris Butcher, Sal Cipriano—and a recent one for Borderline that Andrew Cheverton conducted that was phenomenal. But, I’ve also noticed that many folks cut and paste the entire exchange and do nothing with the text. They don’t edit it, they don’t clean it up, they just run it. Resulting in embarrassing typos and poorly worded sentences, and other gaffs that the reporter and the editor should have caught. It’s not my job to proofread, and essentially, you typed about one sentence to my every paragraph, so what in the end do you actually do?

Believe me, I am editing this piece. I am fashioning it into something cohesive. In fact, my problem is Jen did too good of a job answering me. All her responses are good, interesting, witty. There’s just too much. My first version, with a couple of questions cut out, came in way too high. Actually, given the subject matter, the first word count is just too weird—666. I had to cut it down to 350; I gave up at 365.

Of course, I’m doing this for an editor who just looked at this site and wrote me to tell me I am the biggest dork ever. Thanks, Julianne! Now I know what it’s like to work for an asshole like me. And I mean that in the fondest way possible. xoxo

Today’s soundtrack: Suede, A New Morning

Thursday, October 10, 2002

I've a new editorial in my Big Talk from the Smallest Face column on the Oni website. It looks at common mistakes of folks trying to break into the "biz."

Spent the week acting literary, going to readings by Chip Kidd and Michael Chabon. You know, pretending I am actually cultured.

Sunday, October 06, 2002


Since this is going to be more of a personal work journal, I guess I should focus on myself when I am actually working on writing. I post plenty on the Oni Press message board, so I suppose for the most part Oni news is not really required here. I mean, I figure Oni fans have enough of me as it is. (Oni Press Message Board) We'll see how this goes. I am not used to letting the creative process be apparent, but you never know, I may like it.

Yesterday I turned in Angelic Layer vol. 4 to my Tokyopop editor, Jake Forbes. About five days early, too. It's funny, because he and I generally only seem to know what is going on in the books up until the very page being worked on. So, for volumes 2 and 3, CLAMP kept us hanging in regards to what Misaki's mysterious weakness in battle was. We get the answer finally in vol. 4, but then they stop the book in the middle of a crucial match. CLAMP can be very obtuse with some things, and then hit you over the head with others (Misaki's mother, for instance).

I wrote a quick segment for later in The Everlasting, too. I had an idea for a fragment in part 3 that was spinning in my head, so I just jotted it down.

Today I have sat down and am plugging away at section 1. I am currently somewhere around page 69. That may not sound like much, but when I sort of hit a wall with the first section, I spent some time writing later bits. So, I have a good clutch of pages beyond the point I am at. And for a bit of the scope of this, the manuscript for Cut My Hair was about 261 pages and one font size larger than what I am using now. And if I were to suggest a comparable point in the story, I would maybe say midway through chapter 5 in that book--but the structures are a bit different.

I haven't said much about The Everlasting publicly as of yet. The structure is pretty simple--we follow Lance Scott as he encounters three different women. He learns a bit in each relationship, and ultimately we are watching a journey as he figures out how to love. Since this is part 2 in the so-called Romance Trilogy, it's the darkest of the three. (Hard to imagine, given how dark you could consider Cut My Hair to be--but it was dark in the fairy tale sense, as that book was the fairy tale of the trilogy. This is a whole other kind of dark.) This is a book about being 25. Listen to Gene's excellent Drawn to the Deep End album, and you'll find its kindred spirit (much in the way Cut My Hair was married to Quadrophenia). Gene's main writer, Martin Rossiter, is a year older than I am, so each release seems to come out right in line with my life. That album was a big comfort at 25 (note the line in "Why I Was Born": "never alive until 25;" and on Gene's new one, Libertine, the romantic anthem "You" and the line "30 years of storm clouds cleared for you" to see proof; each were released when I was the age mentioned). Other main songs to give you a hint of what is in my brain are Manic Street Preachers' "The Everlasting" (naturally) and Mansun's "Legacy," which is currently the quote at the front of the book.

I've also said before that this is going to be more personal, probably closer to me than people assume Cut My Hair was. That said, it's way off from the truth. You do amazing things to your life when you turn it into fiction. Stuff gets shifted around, distorted--it's not nearly the same. I'd be curious, are there books of criticism out there that take pseudo-autobiographies and compare them to the real life of the author?

For my main literary inspiration: Fitzgerald's second novel The Beautiful & Damned. If I can continue to emulate his track and if Cut My Hair was like This Side of Paradise in that it was an exuberant, youthful mess, then this book should be a sprawling masterpiece of tragic love. And the next one should be perfection.

The Everlasting is also set in 1999/2000. I like nailing my stuff down timewise, since I can't seem to avoid pop culture and music references. There is no way to keep any work current up until publication when it comes to those things, and since the references will make it dated anyway, I figure why not ground it?

For those interested, the music in the background as I have been writing today has been the world's greatest approximation of a rock band, The Strokes; The Beatles, Abbey Road; The Primitives, Pure; Yardbirds, The Complete BBC Sessions; and Audio Learning Center, Friendships Often Fade Away.

I also downloaded some recent Morrissey BBC sessions from Ambitious Outsiders (three unreleased songs), and a live version of Suede's "Oceans" from Suede Online. Finally, Gene have a Real Player file for a demo called "If I am a Friend" at their official site. It's another fragile ballad ("comfort without love is more than nothing"), and just lovely. I only wish they'd give it to me in a more permanent fashion. At least MP3! (Gene's website)

And when not feeling the effects of some rather spicy pad thai from last night, I am munching on curry flavored Pringles that were smuggled to me from England by Chris Siddall. Cheers, sir!

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Hmmm...not really ready to do this yet, but how about one for a test, eh?