In Boozo Veritas # 55 by Teege Braune
A Contribution to the My Writing Process Blog Tour
Nathan Holic is something of a renaissance man. He’s a professor, writer, cartoonist, blogger.
His first novel Fraternity Man was released last year by Beating Windward Press, and furthermore, he’s now edited three separate, amazing volumes of Burrow Press’s 15 View of Orlando. His presence is often accompanied by the masculine aromas of mahogany, bourbon, and motor oil, and by inviting me to participate in 15 View of Orlando Volume II, he introduced my work to this city and paved the way for the many opportunities I’ve been grateful to receive ever since. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart (and on my head) for the guy, so when he tagged me to be a part of the My Writing Process blog tour, how could I say no?
The origins of this glorified chain letter are obscure, chiseled away and lost by that mighty sculptor time. Like a delightful virus, it spreads itself from one host blogger to the next, almost as if sentient. Vanessa Blakeslee infected Nathan, Nathan infected John King, Mark Purcell, and now I too caught the bug. The funny thing is that I inadvertently talked about my process a couple weeks ago, but that was more a discussion on how I manage to whip out these blogs after procrastinating until the very last minute. I said nothing of my fiction and realized that I rarely mention it in my blog, so I’ll take this opportunity to discuss that here. Fiction is quite a bit different from blogging. Unless you have a book deal or are already a famous author, you have no deadlines, and most fiction writes are aware that if they stopped making any work at all, few people would care or even notice. That knowledge alone can lead straight to existential crisis. Writing fiction, for me, is about subverting that anxiety into a narrative, usually one that incorporates a monster in some capacity, but before I get carried away, allow me to digress. There are four primary questions that this blog tour obligates me to answer:
- What are you working on?
At this time, my primary goal is to finish a yet untitled collection of short stories. I’m pretty close. A couple more medium length stories would put me at a reasonable word count, and some of the stories I haven’t looked at in awhile could use another draft or two. Short stories, not unlike classic cars, require a lot of time and maintenance. Whether this collection should be marketed as horror or weird, off-beat literary fiction will probably depend on which, if any, publisher decides to pick it up when the time comes. Truth is, some of the stories are more funny than scary. Genre lines are bending, merging; the filmy flesh separating one from another has become punctured and now they seep fluidly into each other. It’s an exciting time to be writing stories about monsters. I also have some longer projects that I would like to complete at some point, but something about the length of a novel simply shuts me down. I have not yet figured out how to sustain that level of concentration. Novelists, please send advice my way! How do you endure three hundred plus pages?
- How does your work differ from other of its genre?
I guess I would hope that after reading my work the answer to this question would become self-evident. That being said, I’m not sure how to answer this. With a little luck, critics of the decades and centuries to come will debate this topic endlessly. Recently, as a reader I have become very captivated by the weird fiction movement invigorated and championed by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer among others. Humbly I must admit that I have too much to learn about it to tell you how exactly my fiction differs other than to say that weird fiction seems to embrace such an eclectic array of writing, horror, literary, surrealist, and otherwise, that differing may be inherent to one’s participation within it. You dig?
- Why do you write what you do?
As I mentioned earlier, I love monsters. I have always loved monsters, and when I was a kid I had a toy called My Pet Monster, which I handcuffed to my bed in order to protect me from other monster that might otherwise come into my room and eat me as I slept.
Nevertheless, not all of my stories feature monsters as obvious as those with which I was obsessed in childhood. Sometimes the monster are the good guys, and sometimes I may even point out the, no doubt, ground-breaking observation that even people can sometimes become monsters. Your mind is blown, I know. That being said, a story about something that could happen to you or someone just like you on your way to work, I’ll most likely leave to some other writer. I’ve never been all that interested in writing realism for some reason, though as I reader I never want to become so mired in one genre that I close myself off to all the really great work that is out there. So why do I love monsters so much? Maybe, totem like, they help me contain, explain, or understand anxiety. Probably rich subject matter for a future blog.
- How does your writing process work?
It is very important to me to have a routine. I’m not the kind of person who can just automatically jump into that headspace and dash out a few lines in between day jobs. I can write into the wee small hours of the night or get up before dawn and have pages already completed before the sun comes up, but I will most likely do neither unless I absolutely have to for some reason. I am lazy and also bartend at night, which means that I’m probably working or sleeping in those moments ripest for creation. If I can get up and set aside a couple hours for writing in my pajamas as I sip a cup of coffee before the day’s responsibilities tear me away, I’ll do so. I also like writing in public places and usually search out a cafe or coffee shop in which I can feel particularly at home to write for a couple hours in the afternoon. The Drunken Monkey is one of my favorite spots in Orlando, though recently they’ve been too busy for me to get really comfortable, which is great for them; they definitely deserve it, but selfishly, I miss the days when I was their couch’s sole occupant.
The times and places have changed continually throughout my life, but the need for a routine has remained constant. Periods in which my life or schedule has dramatically altered, whether it be by choice or because of factors beyond my control, my writing has inevitably suffered. This is often accompanied by episodes of crippling self-doubt that make a new routine very difficult to establish. When I was younger, I would become so frustrated by this cycle that I often tried to swear off writing altogether, but I could never stick to it. Didn’t really want to anyway. Even when I wasn’t writing them down, ideas for stories were never far from my mind. Recently my fiancé and I moved and at the same time I accepted an opportunity to teach English for an incredible organization called the Adult Literacy League. Both have been very positive changes, but simultaneously have left my writing in a slump. I’m trying to be okay with it, figure out what feels right, and reestablish a routine without becoming overly frustrated. I am happy to say that I have no intention of swearing off fiction.
Well, I was supposed to tag three new writers, but I put that part off too long, so I’m going to give my literary friends a chance to tag themselves should they so desire. Stephanie Rizzo, what do you think about all this? What do you do to breathe life into your incredible short stories? Jared Silvia, you’re another writer I love and admire. How do you make it work? Adrian Alexander, I have to admit, I’ve only had a tiny taste of your writing, but it left me longing for more. Do you follow some kind of process to make that happen? Amy Watkins, we haven’t heard from a local poet yet? As a person who writes in both essays and poetry, do you have any input on the different processes involved for one or the other? Adam Smith, all the way across the world in Australia, did you find your process changed dramatically when you left Orlando to go down under? I know so many amazing writers, this list could go on and on, so I’ll leave it at that. “Writer, tag thyself!” (as Jesus is purported to have said (or something like it)).
Also, it’s my birthday!
Teege Braune (episode 72, episode 75, episode 77, episode 90, episode 102) is a writer of literary fiction, horror, essays, and poetry. Recently he has discovered the joys of drinking responsibly. He may or may not be a werewolf.