Woah! It’s another new year…!
Actually, it’s March, much too late to wish you a “Happy New Year”.
My life has changed in many amazing ways, and I’ve been up to some cool stuff.
I spent the last two weeks making some long overdue changes to the website.
The “About” page has been updated—it reflects the changes in my thinking and circumstances—the blog has a new look, and my collection of “Works” has a new entry.
My latest work is not a story, but a li’l piece of academic writing on the subject of ancient snakebite cures, namely the Brooklyn Medical Papyrus, which is an Egyptian medical treatise, and Nicander of Colophon’s Theriaca, a Greek didactic poem. It’s published through CUNY Academic Works, so clicking on the link will lead you there (just a heads up).
I’m thinking that the next thing that I publish will be a story, maybe even a collection of poems, my brain is kind of overflowing with ideas at the moment. Doing website stuff comes with it’s own sort of satisfaction, but I’ll be happy to stop thinking about HTTPSes and start tip-tap-typing out some mind-bending sentences again.
In August of 2021, my younger brother and I gathered up some equipment, and our bikes, and traveled our way up to Albany from our home in Brooklyn. This adventure deserves it’s own post, so it will get one (soon). I’ll just say that it was totally insane and absolutely necessary. Consider this a teaser:
Since my return in late August, I’ve been working at an insurance filing company. It’s been mostly remote—the pandemic has permanently changed the professional landscape in that sense—but sometimes I’ll bike to the office in Jersey City, just because I can. The ride includes a ferry across the Hudson, which is totally worth it.
This new job has been great for me in many respects. The biggest plus for me is that my writing output is the highest it’s ever been.
The Mental Shift
Writing was especially hard during my college years, and especially especially hard during the Pandy. Sweet Grass and Noxious Poppies has been in the works for something like 3 years!
Looking back at my previous update posts, by August 2019 I’d written 8 chapters (I don’t remember when exactly I started this project). By June 2020 I’d written 12 more, but between June 2020 and January 2021, I’d only written 2.
Since my last update in January of last year, I’ve written 13 more chapters (for a grand total of 35), my current word count is 31,186 (up from 19,145 in 2020). Most of these new chapters were written during this new period of my life, where I work instead of going to school.
So what’s changed?
Here’s my theory, writing essays, completing assignments, and doing other sorts of academic-type stuff uses the same part of the brain that writing a novel does. Whereas insurance filing does not… It’s sorta like file this, file that, this form is for Texas, that form is for Tennessee, Idaho has some tricky stuff to look out for… By the end of the night, I’ve used one part of my brain all day, but preserved the other, with the result that I’m ready to write.
Not to mention the sort of financial stability that having a job like that provides… It’s easier to write knowing that you have the bread to buy bread. Some people will tell you to quit your day job… why? Having a job is dope.
I have a lot to be grateful for.
A Little Bitter, Like Broccoli Rabe
I hate to say it, but towards the end, the academic world was wearing me out. Even reading books was becoming a chore.
Now, I find myself pleasure-reading again, and not just novels, but scholarly tomes on ancient cultures, like The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean.
I certainly don’t regret college either. I met my best friends there, and professors who inspired me, who opened my mind, and through their wisdom made me great. Also, I wouldn’t have my current job if I didn’t have a degree.
I feel that I need to say all of this for any younger people who might be reading my stories and essays. Let it be known! M.Q. Stewart says, stay in school, don’t quit your day job. Be dependable, be independent!
What About the Rondout Chronicles?
I hear you asking.
Oh, that ol’ thing? That weird little graphic novel?
Oof! That project might get shelved for the time-being. If I were still pursuing a career in academia, then I would need a project like it, where I draw instead of write. Now that I’ve retrieved that part of my brain, I can finally start writing the crazy-ass novels that I’ve been dying to unleash unto the world.
Geez… that was such a Pandemic project. Nostalgic, rough around the edges, manic, strange, bursting at the seams… Don’t fear, I haven’t scrapped it entirely. Maybe it will be it’s own novel, with drawings à la Breakfast of Champions.
I will leave you with two pencil drawings from that project… In these images, Pencil Stevens attempts to help Gaius Caligula overcome his disappointment and grief, coming to him in the form of a Daoist master and a Psychoanalyst.