The feeling of failure, the will to quit, that shit doesn’t come from the act of writing.
The will to quit comes from the lack of basic need, food, shelter, rest…comes from the social need of “success” that is measured by the number of sales.
But none of that takes into account the notion of a successful writing session. My writing process comes in very intense outbursts of frantic writing. They come as single hours of insane typing where the entirety of the world doesn’t exist anymore. My favorite moments happen when I can’t even keep up with the words in my head. My hands can’t type fast enough, sometimes I even beat Word to it’s speed. The letters appear half a second after I typed them and a full second after they came up in my mind.
The best moments happen when I go blind on the screen and the words just come out. It’s an absolute mess to clean up but I did learn to maximize those creative outbursts in time. Making sense of the emotion, you can do that later when you mind is no longer on fire.
It’s very hard to fall into that one moment of absolute genius or madness. I think music and art is a better place for that mind frame than writing but it’s not impossible. If happens, every now and then, I manage to fall into that insane grove that only people like Trent Reznor seem to find all the time and the words come out. Weird shit comes out, very good shit comes out.
The problem with it is that more often than not, it can’t stand on its own. It’s just a piece of something that could be and nothing more. It’s a few pages at a time. I can go insane, frantic even, and shell out 1200 words in twenty minutes, that has happened. But those words won’t make any sense to anyone, maybe not even myself.
Because the mind frame I was in when I was writing so frantically only existed in that very singular moment. They can only be a collection of momentary lapses of reason.
I mean. You play a riff or you play an entire song… it may last 3 minutes. If you’re Neurosis, it will last 8 or 10 or maybe more, sometimes. That song has a few parts, 3, sometimes 4, rarely 5 or more. They repeat themselves and add on to each other and I love music. Music is absolutely necessary to the “emotion” of writing. But the writing itself doesn’t really work as répétitions of 3 or 4 or maybe 5 parts…
An album is twelve songs, an art expo is a handful of artworks and each and every one of them is perfectly valid, but a novel is a marathon, not sprint.
A novel means locking down all the feelings, the need to rest and the will to stop. A novel means writing when your body is ready to quit. It means to keep going, one line at a time, the way you count your meters at the end of a long race you’re just fucking done with.
It’s not about losing your mind onstage and feeling the single riff through your fingers like the world depended on it. Writing is a slow game and it’s strange to think of it that way, but it’s true.
It’s very, very hard to make something out of a hundred little moments of madness. Poetry works like that, songs work like that. You can put all the insanity of the universe in a few short pages, sometimes a few short words. I still think some of my best work comes in those short bursts, but the need to write novels is still there.
So you take those moments of absolute genius and you make a story out of it. I mean, A novel is 70 000 words, 80 000 words, 90 000 words. It’s ridiculous to write a novel, what an insane enterprise. Why do that at all?
I just need to do it. After all this time, the need is still there. I fucking hate it sometimes, but it’s still there.
And of course you could say “you just need to add up all those moments of pure genius/insanity. JUST those moment,” and that would make a standalone novel or story or anything else. That would be a beautiful thing and I think I’ll get there one day. I hope I make it there one day. It’s the kind of thing that can keep me up at night. CAN I WRITE A BOOK LIKE THAT?
So far I only think Burroughs has managed to do it with Naked Lunch and he probably lost his mind right there and then.
It’s getting harder for me not to go there though. I’ll admit to that. This kind of FRANTIC writing is kind of calling me. It’s a bit obsessive when I think about it. The simple act of writing is not enough anymore. I’ve filled pages and novels and it’s all fun and good, but the need to create something more than myself is still there.
I was good at hard realism and I’m still good at hard realism. But I still have this need to break all the rules again. I haven’t done that in so long, I think I’m ready for it.
I don’t know if it’ll be successful. I don’t really know at all.
Feels like this one’s out of my hands for once.
“We’ll see in a year,” I keep telling myself. “We’ll see in a year.”
I could have confirmed this way earlier, but was short on time with the family, moving and Back to School.
But I have a few hours now, so here it is :
I will be at Bouchercon 2016 in New-Orleans for two days, Sept 15 and 16, 2016.
It will be both my very first Bouchercon and my first real trip outside of Montreal. (Going to Ottawa doesn’t count.
If you are in New-Orleans, the good people at Down and Out books have asked me to read at their fifth anniversary party @Cosmios in the French Quarter.
For more info : https://www.facebook.com/events/1240279356003868/
Si non, on se voit à la convention, bonne journée :
At last, I can announce it.
My next novel will be out with up and coming indie publisher, Down and Out Books, on July 22nd, 2016.
It’s been a lot of hard work and patience, but I believe it paid off in the end. I would like to thank Eric Campbell from Down and Out Books and Benoit Lelievre from deadendfollies for making this happen. Additionnal thanks are due to mr. John McFetridge for the blurb.
You can PRE-ORDER the ebook here :
About the novel :
GRAND TRUNK AND SHEARER
When Cillian Kennedy’s body was fished out of the canal, no one believed his death was due to natural causes.
But when the police wrote it off as an accidental death, four of his friends and family roamed the city in the search of any clue that may lead to the killer.
Answers were found down dead end roads, on the edge of the industrial harbour front, in an abandoned building now a crack den, through obscure networks of anti-racist skinheads, the racist Heritage Front, former gay bashers, the flailing Irish mob and the Mohawk MMA circuit.
Featuring some of Montreal’s most notorious neighbourhoods, and told in a uniquely gritty raconteur voice, GRAND TRUNK AND SHEARER offers more than the typical run-of-the-mill mystery novel. At a crossroads between noir, private eye and literary fiction, it is a book that will please those who have come to ask more of the genre with profound characterization, down to earth style, minimalist setting, believable violence and flawless dialogue.
Praise for GRAND TRUNK AND SHEARER …
“D’Arcy Kennedy’s search for his brother’s killer is a gut-wrenching trip into a world of people left behind by gentrification, forgotten by changing politics and trying to hang onto what little family they have left. It’s authentic, it’s raw, and it’s got heart. It’s a trip worth taking.” — John McFetridge, author of A Little More Free
Praise for Ian Truman …
“The Factory Line captures an entertaining voice in a highly readable manner which relays the exploits of some blue collar factory workers over the course of a day.” — Brian Lindenmuth, Spinetingler Magazine
“Truman has an incredible ear for dialogue…There aren’t two pens like [his] in the writing business.” — Benoit Lelièvre, Dead End Follies
“Truman’s A Teenage Suicide follows a group of friends working through late adulthood issues of identity, depression, and lots of tough choices. Set in and around Montreal and in particular its punk, art, activist and student scenes, its down-to-earth raconteur style provides an enduring snapshot of young-adult life in the big city today.” — Expozine Awards
I am about to announce my first “officially” published work, as I was lucky enough to team up with an up and coming indie of the publishing world, and I found myself thinking about the path that led me here.
Part of my intellectual process is to understand patterns very easily and part of my spiritual search is to understand the origin of such patterns (or paths) and their influence on the person I am today.
It is often said that any artist who’s “made it” had to fail time and time again in order to learn and grow. I can only say that the clichés are true as I was trying to figure out how many pages I had written and scrapped before getting to this point.
I did a pretty complete breakdown of everything I could think of between being a geek writing his own role-playing games when I was in fourth grade and looking into a chunk the huge market of mystery writing. (soon to be announced officially.)
3 role-playing games – say 90 pages total
4 short stories in high school – say 20 pages total.
2 personal essays in junior college – 80 pages total.
5 “short” political dissertations – 200 pages total.
20 smaller college works – 8 to 12 pages – say 160 pages total.
(I’m not even gonna count all the weekly 2 to 7 pages assignments)
About 50 songs (music and/or lyrics) – 50 pages total
1 really bad script – 90 pages
1 really bad novel idea – 60 pages
2 full length plays – 120 pages total
1 short movie script – 6 pages
1 good full length movie script – 100 pages
3 novels : say 800 pages
1 self-made translation : 140 pages
2 poetry collections : 160 pages
4 years of curating texts for the MainLine Gala for Student Gala.
An unspecified amount of arts events and designs
Plus plans for a series of 5 graphic novels which I have yet to count…
2166 pages of “unsuccessful” or DIY writing to get here. At least 420 pages of which I literally scrapped. Most of it I used but have yet to pay out and some if it I actually look to make small amounts of money from.
I’m not even counting the letters, proposals and blog posts.
@250 words a page, that’s over half a million words I wrote before I got a book deal. (541 500 to be precise)
(With all the proposals, treatments, blog posts, letters, homework, submissions… I’m confident I’ve hit the million words by now… but let’s stick to manageable figures for now.)
So I guess the message is this, If you write every day, or even every week. If you started young because it felt natural to you, keep doing it. Half a million words and counting…that’s what it takes.
If that number scares you, you should probably do something else.
“Until you die or it dies in you” – Charles Bukowski.
I was cleaning up around the corner and took a minute to take a look at the good old bookshelf as I was shoving the “Minions Operation” on top of the shelf. I realized my top shelf was pretty good and simply felt like sharing it with the internet. And quite frankly, with the loads of crap running around the web, I think we could all use a bit of smart reading for a change.
From left to right, front to back :
Eldridge Cleaver – Soul On Ice
Ray Bradbury – Farenheit 451
Sun Tzu – The Art of War
Collectif – Le Refus Global
George Orwell – 1984
Faulkner – The Portable
Kevin Toolis – Rebel Hearts, Journeys in the IRA’s Soul
Thomas King – Medicine River
Joseph Heller – Catch 22
Henry Rollins – The Portable Henry Rollins
Charles Bukowski – Post Office
James Baldwin – Giovanni’s Room
Charles Yale Harrison – Generals Die in Bed
Charles Bukowski – Hot Water Music
Beth Lahickey – All ages – Reflections on Straight Edge
Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club
Maya Angelou – Tant que je serai noire.
Haruki Murakami – 1Q84
Ernesto Che Guevara – La Guerre de Guérilla
Collective – We Owe You Nothing – The Punk Planet Collected Interviews
Henry Miller – The Tropic of Cancer
Faulkner – As I Lay Dying
Truman Capote – In Cold Blood
Truman Capote – Breakfast at Tiffanys
It’s also uncanny how much that photo is representative of my writing style and political views : lots of satire, plenty of punk/hardcore, a bit of literary and a bit of noir, enough minority rights to be aware of things going on in society, some military strategy and distopian novels, completed by a heavy dose of working class books.
Perhaps missing from this image but among my favorite works :
David Fennario – On The Job
David Fennario – Balconville
William S. Burroughs – Naked Lunch
Dennis Lehane – Mystic River
Crass is the danger of stillness
Crass is the will to action
Crass are the pitfalls of hatred
And the narrow paths of love.
These poems of ordinary havok
Are a call to arms
Entrenched in dirty realism
Grounded by raconteurs
And a heartfelt dose of satire.
Now available on AMAZON KINDLE