“All In” Trilogy: Teetering on the Edge

I titled my second trilogy All In, long before General Petraeus’ ballyhooed biography, Chris Hayes’ tedious MSN programming or the latest Marvel extravaganza. The first section begins on the Christmas Eve of 2001, a man teetering out of control following the loss of his brother on 9/11:

There’s just these bits of blackness, and that makes it hard to put everything together. I can see the building on fire and the back of the plane melt in, gone, just sucked in like that, like nothing, and the windows down and the glass and water and me. It is all wall and window, nothing below. I am coming up, all of it hard. I want it. This is what I want. I am in hard. I am not half folded. I am not waiting. I am not holding to anything.I am of this wall, and it all comes down on me, not small or big, not anything, all in my head arched back, my whole fucking body out in light, gone through me, gone through everything, high, released, out from her, not for anything, but hard. I don’t know how much I can really take of this. I’m stuck out. Yes, it’s a story, and, yes, he’s here with me, and this is it. I was going to call Robin, and then the phone rang. I wasn’t going to answer. “Hello?The second section follows the daughter, the third section, the widow, as everyone drifts toward isolation until a Christmas dinner one year later.

You Know How You Are Exactly That…Then Not?

You know that moment where you are at the cusp of something real, where you are wonderfully comfortable and still, where everything seems almost as it should be? You know that clear sense of purpose where you know what you need to do, where you know exactly who you are, where you think there could be nothing more to life? And then you know that shift, where it slips, where the edge is not as it was, that was just there and then not? And you know how you are suddenly out of it, where you are just as you were, as before, not sure about anything at all, least of all who you are?

Yeah, well, I get that from time to time too.

Looking Wise in a Stupid Way

“The thing is we live in an upside world where the only law is our eventual demise.” Stuebing was trying to look wise in a stupid way and it almost worked. “We pretend like we’re trying, but we just can’t handle that basic thing.”

“We think we matter. And we don’t. We never have.” He toed the corpse and watched the foreleg flop back. “It looks like it’s asleep, but it ain’t. It’s just dead.”

Bio Tuesday: The “Buzz Trilogy”

I have written in a variety of formats – non-fiction, short story, novel, screenplay, poetry – and learned gradually that my form is the narrative trilogy.

An early novel, Faster, written in 1994, is an autobiographical piece centered on Buzz biking from London to Morocco. And while there was an arc, it was incomplete.The character was left hanging, adrift. And there had to be something next.

And so I wrote Through – Buzz now traveling across Canada with his young family. I knew almost immediately that the work was a bridge to something else. And Out was clear from the outset, Buzz systematically losing everything he could – money, family, health – until there was nothing left, just Buzz, and that was the end. All of it together was Buzz, which became a template over the years, leading to my present work, the science fiction trilogy Anori.

Bio Tuesday: More on “The Sacred Whore”

The first draft of The Sacred Whore was written in Paris (Spring, 1987) & Saturna Island (Fall, 1987). I walked down the road almost every afternoon to the lighthouse to see the passing Orcas and only ever saw the local seal. I wrote the second draft in the basement of my mother’s house in Toronto, printed it, after a mother month-long edit at my family cottage in Ahmic Harbour during the 1988 Canadian Election debate (John Turner, Ed Broadbent and Brian Mulroney) on a dot matrix that took over seven hours to complete. I wrote the screenplay in San Francisco after watching David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, as a housemate, Lisa, muttered, “That was just fucking weird”. The novel was my first and last piece accepted for a full read by an agent, only to have no response in the end.

Bio Tuesday: The Sacred Whore

The Sacred Whore is my first novel, the story of a group of prostitutes who kidnap a college basketball team to air their views on the dismal morality in the United States. It has its moments, mostly characters realizing themselves. But more than that, it was the dogged focus of getting those 446 pages written. And then transcribed to 706 pages, typed, double-spaced. And then edited down to 432. And again down to 365. And then adapted into a screenplay. And to have both rejected again and again. A harbinger of what writing would come to be.