So, it looks like I may have done that thing again, where I vanish off into the wilds of the internet for long periods of time. The last few months have been pretty odd for me, since as I mentioned in my last post I quit my full time job as a reporter and moved back to my native hometown of Pittsburgh. Wait, did I mention the Pittsburgh part? Lord, it’s been so long, who even knows? If I didn’t mention that part, lets just assume I did and move on.
To make ends meet, I’ve picked up a part time job working at a local Best Buy. It’s not glamorous work… I am what is known as the Asset Protection Specialist (Associate? Champion? Not sure what it is at the moment… Best Buy has a tendency to change the titles they dish out to their employees pretty frequently). Basically, this means I stop people when they’re walking out the door and check their receipts to make sure they’re not actually stealing that 60 inch TV they are nonchalantly wheeling out the door. Since I’m the first person people see when they walk in the door, it also means I get to answer some of the weirder questions, like “where is the jewelry section?” and “what do you mean this isn’t Bed Bath and Beyond?”
It’s been a nice change of pace. But since my departure from Ohio, I’ve been struggling with a different problem: namely that I can’t seem to write anymore.
Here’s the thing about my creative process: I don’t really have one. In the past, I’d just plunk down in front of a word processor and start writing whatever ridiculous thing would come to mind, usually giggling like an idiot while I did it. Sometimes, I’d stumble across a plot point that I’d go back into the story earlier and elaborate on, or sometimes a scene would call for some additional foreshadowing from a character I’d have to add in later. But the important thing was that while I was writing, I was having a good time while doing it. I’m no creative writing professional. Not by any means. It always was just a way for me to unwind, and possibly to entertain one or two different people who took interest in my babbling.
In the last year, I’ve also figured out I have a fear of being read by more than a few people. THANKS, WordPress (Just kidding, you guys are great! Please don’t hurt me). I haven’t been able to write creatively for about a year now, and I’m writing this now to try to call an end to that.
Which brings me to the book, and to my friend Matt.
I’ve known Matt for most of my life. We went to pre-school together, and we were pretty close up until both he and I moved around third grade. We still traveled to see each other about every year for a while, and while we haven’t physically seen each other in probably 15 years or so, we do still keep in touch so we can laugh about our ridiculous lives. Matt has a thing for movies, and during high school he and some of his friends had an unofficial movie company. One of their amateur movies was a faux-horror story titled Bug Ape Gorilla Man.
(WordPress wants to change “faux-horror” into “fax-horror.” I am simultaneously intrigued and uncomfortable.)
A few years ago, I was starting to feel the strain from constant newspaper deadlines, and expressed my frustration to Matt that all I can write are police briefs about terrible things being done by terrible people to their terrible friends. Matt proposed the idea to me: that I write a long form story based on the plot of this original, amateur movie. The original plot involved the main character, Peter Bobiniti, and his three friends Chester, Spanky and Heywood Jablomie, on the hunt for a bizarre man-monster with bee powers, and possibly a werewolf, outside of a run down mansion in the woods. Matt asked me to write this story and to “make it make sense.” I said something along the lines of “yeah okay” and got to work.
It took a while, but most of that was world building, honestly. The book takes place in Western Pennsylvania, where we both grew up, and things started to get ridiculous almost instantly. I can remember sitting there and giggling as I wrote a silly vegetable cult into existence, and to this day I wish Amazi-Marts were real. The plot started to get silly in the middle, and I’m not quite sure the characters could have rebounded after some of the injuries they sustained, but overall, I was pretty proud of the finished product.
Matt’s support during this time was instrumental, especially since he envisioned an entire series set in this universe. Together, we started to pound out a definite narrative and laid down some groundwork for the future. Though, honestly, due to the fact that I kept going off the rails, I may have screwed up the original book plots a fair bit. Without Matt, I wouldn’t have finished writing the book at all.
Alright, here’s an embarrassing secret for you. It took me about two years, all said and done, to write Bug Ape Gorilla Man. In that time, I did not realize Heywood’s name was a blowjob joke. I blame this one on being a recluse… I didn’t physically have a reason to say his name out loud until I had finished writing the book and shipped the final copy off to Matt. I think if I had realized, I would have added in at least SOME reference to it. As it stands, it’s established Heywood had some really crappy parents, so if anything his name adds to that a bit. But WHATEVER, I’m not bitter about missing a golden opportunity. No, I’m not crying… I… I just have something in my eye…
Right… Okay. Moving on. So, after I finished, Matt had the book published as an ebook on Amazon.com. This was about two months before I left Ohio. I responded by being extremely thrilled, and… then never told anyone. Not family, not friends, not a single living soul. Having your work read is an enormously personal thing. Some of the characters I based off of people I knew, others I made up. I can tell you what my mindset was when I was writing each part, who I was talking to and how each plot point came to be in my mind. It’s a scary thing to let someone else into it.
But, you know what? A writer who is afraid to be read isn’t much of a writer at all. And so I’m going to post the link to the book here so I can finally get this weight off my chest, and then maybe even move on.
Here’s the book. Pick it up if you’re so inclined. And thank you for reading this far down a long blog post.
Keep on writing, WordPress.