Episode one is now available in iTunes and on Google play. I have a cold, good luck trying to understand anything I say.
I mentally checked out my senior year of high school just like everyone else. My school was enormous, thousands of students, so there was a vast list of blow off options. The other kids took golf, they took weightlifting, drafting, metalworking and even something called principles of technology because the teacher was funny and the class was easy.
I was a latchkey kid, I didn’t have a bedtime or rules other than to brush my teeth before bed. That teenage freedom could have been spent chasing girls or experimenting with drugs, instead I spent my entire senior year (and some might say the rest of my life) playing computer games online. I stayed up until three or four in the morning knowing that I would get several ninety minute naps in during the school day as long as I planned my schedule wisely.
The last semester of my senior year I had two spots for sleeping, but my picks weren’t like everyone else — without rules you come to hate both convention and authority (I strongly advocate parents look into this method of child rearing). My first pick was Trigonometry with an enthusiastic ginger man named Mr. Schultz, he always smelled like cigarettes and took a dramatic stance before writing on the blackboard. The second, Probability and Statistics with Mrs. Albert. She was authoritative and matronly — the math department chair and she let you know it, but with a grin.
Mr. Schultz knew me and knew I was an excellent student despite looking like an extra from the Smells Like Teen Spirit video, so when I sat my head down on my desk the first day he didn’t say a word. On the other hand, Mrs. Albert didn’t know me, she didn’t know I was taking her class as a laugh riot, and she didn’t take kindly to my sleeping. I was overweight and had long greasy hair, made worse by a bathroom blond dye job and and ill fitting thrift shop uniform — I was a relic, a grunge hanger on in the nu-metal era. She treated me like a burn out and I didn’t begrudge her, I brought it on myself. This was our first exchange, which was recalled to me years later by Mrs. Albert herself.
“Young man, young man! Get your head up off of your desk and pay attention, you will not sleep in my class. I will not let you fail.” She stomped over and loomed. I had fallen asleep before attendance was taken, face wet with drool.
“It doesn’t matter, I am going to get an A...” I tried to say but noticed a long strand of spittle was drawn from my bottom lip to my desk mid sentence. I swatted it away like a cobweb and laid my head back down and covered the slick with my forearm, ignoring her. She was mortified and went on to badger me with questions every chance the room fell silent that first week. Eventually she relented once she realized that lazy as I was, I was numbers person. I had all the answers and I delivered them with all the snark of teenage certainty.Take that old lady. It isn’t a skill, something I hone, it’s innate and it’s never done me a bit of good. After that she let me sleep, even when she collected the homework that I placed at the edge of my desk. In the end I got a small A on my report card and she got a small lesson about books and covers.
I told you that story because I have been sleeping in class my whole life. I have done a sleepy version of whatever I am good at so that I never fail, the problem is I don’t particularly like the things I am good at. I didn’t want to be an engineer, or a physicist, or the online king of selling garden gnomes. The former is what they told me to do, the latter is what I ended up doing with the last ten years of my life.
So four months after my wedding, without consulting my new and wonderful bride, I quit.
I didn’t have a plan, or a back up to that plan, or even a hope of succeeding. I wanted to fail and I want it to be spectacular. I’ve taken this year to create things that I love in hopes of finding some means of supporting myself, wife, and dogs — to chase the elusiveness of loving what you do for a living without having to lie to yourself, or peak at the index fund you’ve been able to sneak a few bucks into.
I love stories and story telling. I don’t know if writing novels is what I meant to do, but it is what I had the tools to do so the last 8 months I have been writing a manuscript. It’s a crime story of sorts and my first draft has been sitting around without a plan. Today, August 19th at 3:24AM that changed.
I am going to read it as a podcast serial, in its raw and unedited form. Why? Because I have a problem with authority and Stephen King’s excellent memoir On Writing explicitly states to not open the door and let anyone see your work until you have completed at least one full revision. I hope some of you creative people will listen, or begin to listen and tell me why you abandoned it, because I need to find out if I can write. And if I can write I then need to know if I have an audience.
I’ll talk about storytelling, I’ll read from scrivener, and I will assail my work with more umphf than any troll. Swan dive or belly flop, I hope you’ll join me.
I give you HACK: A euphemism for revision or the word that brands me back to a life I don’t enjoy. And if I die, at least I tried (for once).