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.”
The list of attendees for Bouchercon 2017 is up. (http://bouchercon2017.com/attendees/)
The Schedule is also starting to shape up. I know I’ll be there from Friday PM to Sunday and will keep you posted on developments as soon as I get any.
See you there and take care,
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.
Yesterday was a pretty good evening. We had fellow parents over, had pizza…the kids ate well, then we took out a bunch of lighting kits in the alley, neighbours lend some power cords and electricity and we got to do our first (semi) pro photoshoot while the kids were painting wooden hearts and the baby was asleep…There`s nothing a few homemade/diy KINOS and 60 foot of electric cords can`t do…
I mention semi-pro because none of us were paid, but within about twenty minutes, there were two cinema tech, one fashion designer, one writer (me) and our publicist next door who were chilling in the alley to take some pictures of the shed (and my promo shot for my next book) at the same time…I guess I do live in a really cool neighbourhood.
And just because nature does not give a shit…a tree will fucking grow anywhere…
…In my next novel, of course… (but the title caught you, didn’t it?)
I was sitting there, struggling to try to get my character in and kill the guy he’s supposed to kill and find a way to somehow cover his tracks and try to make it sense and I was sitting and writing and writing and re-writing… shit wasn’t working and WORSE, shit didn’t sound like my book or my characters…
Then I said to myself, “fuck it, I’m burning down the motherfucker.”
With the guy sleeping in it.
I just set fire to the house.
Because my character’s that kind of an asshole anyways. He ain’t no fancy hitman. He’s a guy who gets pissed and just does shit and this time he wanted to burn down the house. It made sense right that moment so he fucking did.
Simple as that.
Which leads me to a kinda-well-known writing tip: Let the characters speak for themselves, they often know what they’re doing better than you do.
Keep writing every day, (I know I’m having a hard time with it.)
So yesterday was a huge night for me…
After graduating from Concordia and putting years of work into my writing, I have received yesterday my first literary award. That’s right, the Expozine Alternative Press Award for Best English Book was awarded to A Teenage Suicide and it came with this amazing blurb.
“Truman’s third self-published novel 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.”
For those of you who don’t know about it, Expozine is Montreal’s bilingual small press, zine and comic fair. It has been going on for almost ten years now in Montreal’s notorious Mile-End district and is often the best place to make a name for yourself as a young author in the city.
This really means a lot to me and I do hope to use it as a springboard for my future projects.
I want to send thanks and praises to the people who worked on it :
Benoit Lelièvre, Editor.
Lori Hettler, Proof-reading and creative comment.
Mary Lee Maynard, Photographer (and lovely spouse)
Also, the three models who agreed to work for very cheap, Charles Laurier, Marianne Lapointe and Catherine Ripchensky.
“Expozine is organized by Arcmtl, a non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting and preserving local independent culture, and is made possible in part thanks to the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des Arts de Montréal.” – Expozine website.
You can find everything here in both French and English : http://expozine.ca/en/awards/2013-2/