Sunday, May 9, 2010

Moonlight Sketches: A New Beginning

You might notice two things.

One thing is the new title on my blog. I've chosen the new title "Moonlight Sketches" after doing away with the old one, "Gothic Times" (R.I.P.), which I might resurrect at another time. Moonlight Sketches also happens to be the title of my new book coming out in Spring 2011. It's a collection of short stories about the fictional town of Darwin, Newfoundland, a place with a light heart and a dark soul. At present, there are fifteen stories, all connected by the fact that they take place in Darwin. Each story focuses on a different character, although, just as you everywhere you go in a small town you meet the same people, there are recurring characters throughout this collection.

I've been writing about Darwin for a long time now, really since I was about twenty years old. Kind of like Stephen King has "Castle Rock, Maine," I have Darwin, Newfoundland. I could set my stories just about anywhere, but it really helps to have this place that I can go to, where I know the landscape and the buildings by heart (although every now and then, a new person will appear or I'll encounter a new shop or a tucked-away corner of the Laughing Woods that I didn't know was there). Darwin is a rural area, surrounded by the oceans and trees, inhabited by people who know each other's names, but not necessarily their secrets. That's true to life of course, and it's just as true in the city as it is in the countryside. I could write "sunshine sketches," as Stephen Leacock did--although Leacock was well aware of the duality inherent in most people--but I choose to write "moonlight sketches". The darker, hidden side of people's lives is always far more interesting than the face they present to the public, and that, essentially, is what most of my writing is about.

It would be premature to say much more about Moonlight Sketches for now. I'm in the revision stages for my publisher right now and have to be finished it by the midway point of this summer. But, as the summer goes on, I'll be taking time to highlight each story and tell you a little bit about it--its basic premise and where the idea comes from, more or less (though who really knows?). By the time the book comes out, you'll have a pretty good idea of whether it's something that interests you.

I'm also aware that some of you are just interested in the writing process, as well as the publishing process, so I'll be blogging more about that too as I go. Sometimes I'm not sure what exactly people want when they read the blog of an emerging writer, so I'll just have to go with my instincts and write about the things that interest me and hope that they interest you as well. Having said that, I'll be posting stuff about other people's writing as well. That includes not just local authors, but writers in general who have inspired me in some way. In fact, I've already composed a list of top forty novels that have inspired me to write, and I'll be counting down that list over the summer, just for fun.

The second thing you might notice is that I'm blogging again. It's been a while, I admit, and really it's been too long. I enjoy writing and blogging, in particular, is a form of expression that gets my creative juices flowing. I intend this to be a place where I work some stuff out, not just where a certain project needs to go (I'm also working on three novels this summer, all near completion, just needing some prodding to get them across the finish line), but as a means of working out my thoughts about life in general, about the kinds of things that impress me or worry me or concern me about "the world". By "the world" I just mean everything and everyone, all the sane and insane, sensible and maddening things I see around me and think about constantly.

You see, I think a writer is not some special creature who knows how to use words better than anyone else. Of course, a writer has to have a vocabulary and know a little something about the craft of writing itself. But I honestly think some of those things can be learned, accumulated, if you will, over a period of time. A writer--a fiction writer, that is--is someone with a story to tell, the compulsion to tell, and the means of getting it onto the page in such a way that the reader will be entertained. A writer sees the world a little differently from most folks, but only because he or she notices the details and (here's the kicker) wonders about them, questions them, picks them apart, and puts them back together in the form of a story that, hopefully, someone else will want to read. If he's lucky, some readers (certainly not all and perhaps hardly any) will read that story and say, "Yep, there's truth in that thar tale." But I wouldn't count on that.

A writer is just someone who writes.

I mean, really, that's the truth of it. There's no mystery. It doesn't make me (or any writer) special. It doesn't make me any better than anyone else. Just as a carpenter feels the need to build things and a mechanic feels the need to understand how a car works, I need to understand how humanity works, talk about it in a form that makes sense and entertains someone. I need to write. That's all there is to it.

So I'm writing again in this blog, working on my collection and my novels, and expressing myself all over the place. I've been doing it a long time now and nobody's ever told me to just stop doing it. But even if they did, it wouldn't matter. It's not really an addiction. It's just something I do. To say I enjoyed doing it wouldn't always be true. Sometimes, I do. Sometimes, it's the most painful thing a person can do to their own brain. But I do it.

The sun shines. The rain falls. The writer writes.

Till next time,


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