"Don't be here in ten years." – The Factory Line

Posts tagged “writing

Some Unstructured Thoughts on the Act of Writing Frantically

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.”

Ian.

 


Bouchercon 2017 Attendees list is up.

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,

Ian

 

 


On Writing Slang – A Short Lesson on Writing Montreal Franglais.

*Picture is from the ABSOLUTELY perfect example of Montreal Franglais : Balconville by David Fennario.

I love writing slang. I love writing Frenglish too. I loved Gabino Iglesias’s Zero Saints because it mixed English and Spanish flawlessly.

These transitions in language come naturally to me. As someone who was raised in a city where you can easily switch between two or three languages at any moment in any discussion. Montreal has it’s own slang, it’s own language. We grew up part Québécois, part Canadian, watched American television and mixed everything and anything from Spanish, to Creole to Greek and more recently, Arabic in the daily language of things. The specific language here is known as “Joual”, and “Frenglish” or “Franglais” which are slightly different interpretations of a similar thing and used frequently.

Writing Slang is a very “oral” issue. You have to get that feel for the moments where people switch “naturally” between one language or another. I noticed similar patterns between Iglesias’ work and my own which lead me to believe there might be similarities in the pacing and tempo.

Writing slang is also very hard and it comes with a problem: You want to have that “legitimate” local flavour but you might not want to alienate every reader out there. There are two ways you can go about his :

1 – write the entire story in slang and make it a “local” piece of literary work that people might be interested in IF they are interested in that local culture.

2- Integrate enough of it to get that “reality” in the story while allowing the reader to stay in the story.

The bottom line is that it has to ring true. I’ve decided to include some Joual in every or my works. It becomes a hard balancing act that I’d like to think I’ve managed to pull off over the years.

Below is a deli scene from my upcoming novel : “Down With the Underdogs.”

I find delis, in Montreal at least, is the absolute best place to ring true to both Frenglish and the working class, so if you’re looking to write slang, this could be an example for you.

Take care,

Ian.

Excerpt from the upcoming novel Down With the Underdogs.

“Good! That’s good for you. What can I get for the boss then,”

“Two hot-dogs, mayo, and a coke.”

“Alright,” Vincent said. He turned to some kid over at the counter. He was busy on his cellphone. “Hey. Michael. Two steamé avec mayo.”

“Add a fry to that.”

Avec une fritte!” he added. The kid wasn’t moving. Vincent sighed. I laughed.

“Coming up,” the kid said in English with a thick Quebecois accent but only after finishing his text.

Vincent looked to us. “Eh! I’m gonna have to get rid of that kid.”

“Doesn’t work much?”

“He’s got a girl on his mind that one, I tell you,” he said as he ran a towel over his counter.

“Don’t we all?”

“I mean. I’m no brain surgeon. But he’s not going to school, he’s not really working. I got him here part time and as far as I know he’s got nothing else going.” He nodded his head. “C’est ben’ triste quand tu y’ penses.” He added in French. “I don’t know. Maybe I don’t know anything, but he’s not looking to learn the job, you know? This is a subtle business.”

“A diner is subtle business?” Phil asked.

“Of course it is? Are you kidding me?”

The waitress came around, “Vince’,” she said, “deux poutines ‘pis une rondelle su’a’ trois.

Vincent shouted the order in Frenglish to his cook and leaned back on his counter. “It’s like in the morning, he makes the eggs and half the damn egg is sticking there, burnt to the plate. Une croute ça d’épaisse, osti. And I tell him, ‘Jesus Christ that’s my profit you’re burning over there.’ And I’m not even talking about the time we’ll waste cleaning this mess up. Ciboire! Où l’autre jour,” he sighed. “I mean we get some of those fruit flies in the garbage back there, ‘tsé! Ta-bernak! Some mess that was. So I go out and they sell me this powder to put in the bottom of the bags and this kid he sees the powder and he doesn’t ask about it and the bag’s empty and he just changes it. No wonder I’m losing my shirt over this place.”

We all thought is was funny. We all smiled and had a good time. The guy was probably just as broke has he was saying he was. There’s no way there was any real money in food services. But it was the way he turned all of it into a grandiose story of life and death.

I liked it. I liked it a lot.

“He doesn’t get it,” Vincent continued. “Y’ comprends pas,” he repeated in French. “You got to count everything. Every bag, every egg, every bun, everything, Ostie!  Otherwise you’re eating your profit, ‘tsé.” The deli’s phone rang. Vicent picked it up and shouted “yeah?” He paused for a second and then started speaking Greek. He looked back at us and switched to French and English gain, “Heille ça s’en viens là, guys! Alright? Deux minutes, OK? before going right back to shouting in Greek on the phone.

There was no other way to say it: I fucking loved this city.


My “Down With the Underdogs” tribute to the mystery scene

My “Down With the Underdogs” tribute to the mystery scene

 

To the former punks

And factory workers

Border crossing saviors

Shitty lawyers

Tattoo artists

barmaids

Cops

and

Ex-cops

or ex-cons

and ex-military.

 

To the inner-city players,

Of both style and substance

Silent geeks, the crazy kind

And other Fuck the World

Types or people,

 

My kind of people,

Always.

 

Down with the underdogs.

 

And now some context to this post:

I’m in the editing of my next novel, Down With the Underdogs, with no date in sight, but I am starting to think about things like tributes and photos and covers and working on expanding my network…that kind of shit.

Some version of this thing will go in as tribute in the book.

As for networking, I decided to go to any artistic or literary event I could find these past few weeks.

Tonight, I went to a mile-end poetry reading. And I’m a kid from the East, so you know I don’t fit in no fucking mile-end poetry reading. I also happen to be a poet who doesn’t really like poetry, or as Bukowski would say, “it’s all so boring! Where’s the guts?”

I mean, Cat Kidd was as impressive as I expected her to be, but the rest of it, I could’ve lived without. I mean, they can do whatever they want and who gives a fuck, it’s all good and well and everything, but it did make me realize just how much I could appreciate the mystery scene I landed in a few months ago.

So there,

Some of you I’ve met in real life, others I’ve only met online, but there is this unique meeting point of so many representatives of the working class in the people I’ve met. The bottom half of society is well represented with you and I wanted to say it, I guess.

Take care,

 

Ian


First Bouchercon From the Top of My Head

First Bouchercon From the Top of My Head.

I’ve slept about 12 hours in three days and met a LOT of great people. Please don’T feel left out if I don’t mention you here.

 

  • – –

New-Orleans is way too warm for the average Canadian.

Apparently, New-Orleans is way to warm for New-Orleans because they blast that AC pretty fucking hard.

Bouchercon is actually really fun.

Eric Campbell could be one of the nicest person on the surface of this earth.

Eric Campbell could end up being the most important publisher of quality authors in the next 3 to 5 years.

Somehow ended up riding along on a lunch with Gary Phillips.

Gary Phillips has the most amazing voice you’ve ever heard.

I could listen to Gary Phillips talk for hours on end. You should as well…

Terrence McCauley was so nice, I was wondering if Terrence McCauley was a closet Canadian.

I might make the “closet-Canadian” a thing… will try it next year see if it sticks.

I don’t know if there’s one single Molecule of evil dark matter in Kate Pilarcik. If it’s in there, it’s gonna take the hubble telescope to find it.

Continuous conversations was really fun. I hope they expand on the concept next year.

Some of the bigger authors did feel douchy on the pannels.

I may ask James Ray Tuck to tattoo FTW on my hands some day.

Christa Faust, however, did not feel douchy at all.

Christa Faust so fucking intimidating to me…turned out to be SUPER welcoming.

I did not know who Christa Faust was when I met her. She didn’t care AT ALL.

In fact I didn’t know who anyone was in the mystery scene. That didn’t seem to matter at all.

Joe Clifford has the charisma of a superstar.

I want to write a movie where Joe Clifford is the lead role.

Maria alexander is just a totally weird and likeable person who knows japanese sword techniques.

The Mystery scene is probably the best place for any grown up punk to land his sorry ass.

Met John McFetridge in real life.

John McFetridge is much taller than expected.

On the other hand, Eric Campbell is much shorter than expected. (sorry!)

Met at least three other Canadians… Why haven’t we heard about them/us in any way, shape or form… yeah we know why, right?

Montreal doesn’t really have a mystery scene. People really seem to dig that shit. We need to work on that.

Benoit Lelievre really needs to go to the next one and I’m fucking serious.

 

 

 

 


Pick a line. Stick to it. Don’t fuck up. (Being Canadian Also Helps)

I used to be a very negative man. I used to believe no one was going nowhere and why not get it over with sooner rather than lather.

This week of first : first day of graduate school, first time I buy a home and fist time I take a plane.

I was never in “absolute poverty.” I am well aware of that. I was never in a war nor had I ever lived in a bombed out country. I was simply working class in an era that has very poor prospects for the working class. Factories are closing, warehouses are closing. The kinds of jobs I used to know how to do aren’t in demand anymore.

I had to make a change and it was going to take work. That what the moral of my first novel, The Factory Line : “Don’t be here in ten years.”

It actually took a decade to get out of it.

These past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a good woman, we had children together and worked tirelessly to make ends meet, keep jobs (with very mixed results) and get ahead in life.

I have eaten my “yellow cans of beans” for years to save every buck I could…(for those who are not from Canada, there is  such a thing as “the yellow brand” here that is the cheapest version of anything in a yellow can with the simple name of the item written on it, very “Dharma initiative”.

I am also well aware that I am lucky enough to be Canadian, where healthcare is free (I’ll take a waiting list over a 15k bill any day!) and education is cheap.

I can now say that all those years of patience and sacrifice have paid off… Yesterday I’ve started my MBA. That’s correct. A Diploma that costs tens of thousands of dollars in most of the developed world (especially in the US) will cost me about 7000$ CDN total, and half of that will be subsidized by the provincial government one way or the other because I am statistically poor. (I do feel very rich even with my income and the possessions I have… most people ask for too much, that’s for sure.)

I am a working class kid doing an MBA at Concordia. I had my first day yesterday and it was amazing. Concordia is amazing. We had discussions about the influence of “structures” over “individual behaviour” and how such or such system allows liberty or how others favoured “deviant behaviours” and so on…

I now have a chance to make a dent in the bullshit I know still exists.

I was confirmed in my belief that this was no small achievement when I say statistics in La Presse about the “state of things in Montreal”… Most people on this city are still very poor. Only about 22% are owners of their own homes, much less in the parts of town me and my family are from (Tetreaultville to Centre-Sud), the whole lower-East end of the city.

It’s still poor. Numbers aren’t that good. Wages go from half the Canadian average to 2 thirds at the very best. Lots of unemployment, welfare and single moms.

I feel luck and proud to have made it that far. Once I’m done with grad school, I need to find a way to help out in whatever ways I can.

Today I can’t say I’m still working class. I still work a warehouse until I get a better job, but my livelihood is no longer solely resting on my hands for labour.

I’ve become the owner of my own apartment as well yesterday. Went to the notary and signed papers right there. It wasn’t such a huge moment in of itself. Perhaps the significance of it will be felt when we actually move in a few weeks.

It was hard to move out of “rentals” as the prices keep going up and wages are stagnant, it’s very difficult to “make it.” have the minimum deposits and clear the bank’s. I was lucky enough to have my parents help me. It took absolutely everything we had, me, my wife and my parents, for me to get a loan. I had saved up 10000 dollars (at a rate of about 1200 a year) and my parents chipped in the last 3000. We have a very simple two bedroom condo that will cost us about 900 a month with all taxes and fees included.

The way rents are going, we landed exactly where we needed to land.

This week I will take the plane for the first time as well. I will fly for two days to New-Orleans for a book convention.

Years of work are coming together on this. I self-published out of college, managed to meet a few good people with that. Kept writing and putting out books, working the indy scene in Montreal until I won an Indy prize for a novel.

I stopped my instincts of self-publishing again and looked at the market. There were a few new publishing houses doing this completely differently than the “old” publishing system. I was lucky enough to know a guy who knew a guy and got onboard one of those publishing houses at they were on the rise. That was about two years ago.

The publishing house was Down and Out books and they’re turning five in a big way with releases every month and a Bouchercon anthology coming up with many of their authors on shortlists for awards.

I will go to Bouchercon this week thanks to them.

I am very grateful.

 

If you’ve read all of this, maybe you wonder what words of advice I could have. I wrote them a while ago in Northern Gothic, I believe :

“Pick a line, stick to it, don’t fuck up.”

Being Canadian also helps, seriously. (Nearly) Free education is a fucking bliss.

Take care,

 

Ian

 

 

 

 


Interview in The Big Thrill – The Magazine of the International Thriller Writers.

Here’s an interview I did with The Big Thrill – The Magazine of the International Thriller Writers. It came out yesterday.

Thank you to Terri Nolan for giving me so much of her time, do visit her website here : http://terrinolan.com/

The Interview was summarized here :

http://www.thebigthrill.org/2016/08/grand-trunk-and-shearer-by-ian-truman/

 

Take care,

 

Ian