Monday, June 21, 2010

Not Finding Myself Again

When I sat down to contemplate this week’s blog – about hobbies and how they interact with our writing – I suddenly felt like David last week. Hard-pressed to comply with C.J. Ellisson (which, in Jerseyan, translates to “she who must be obeyed”) and her topic of the week.

All kidding aside (yes, C.J., it was a joke; don’t rip my arm off and try to beat me to death with it…again), I took stock of the topic and realized, quite shockingly just how few of my hobbies actually make it into my novels, novellas and short stories.

That might sound amazing to C.J., but it’s true. She might remember when I did the interview with Harley Palmer for Labotomy of a Writer some time ago, in which I stated that a lot of my personality makes it into the personality profiles of my characters (and she commented "LMFAO").

However, my hobbies don’t. My characters aren’t riding mountain bikes. They aren’t hiking in the woods. They aren’t camped out in front of the television for a creature feature marathon. I think the only hobbies that made it into print were a library full of old books and some old music from the house scene in Land of the Blind.

I'm guessing I might want to correct that flaw real soon.


So that my characters might better find some common ground with the average reader. Right now, I think I’m getting an audience of nerds and geeks. A lot of the romance (aka "you-only-wish-it-could-happen sex") scenes in Slow Boat to China sound like what a nerd might write about the hot girl in school (if that hot girl was Heather Hunter or Mia St. John). 

I am not technologically-inclined (no matter how many times I help my mother fix a problem with her computer), yet Land of the Blind has a lot of elements of Michael Crichton in it. It seems that I have borrowed hobbies from other people.

I’ve always wanted to travel, but circumstances have, thus far, prevented anything extensive. That’s why my characters in Land of the Blind travel around the world so much.

My characters seem to be reflecting the hobbies I WANT to do instead of the ones I AM doing or SHOULD be doing.

Can someone please find Jenny Jones so I can get a makeover?

Hmm, no luck? Perhaps I should do it myself and Sunday may just have provided the spark.

When mother sister-in-law and I took my older brother to Outback Steakhouse for Father’s Day, they both had a field day ribbing me about my lack of social graces, with our waitress. Even though I did give the waitress my business card (she wants to be a writer, too), I felt as if I had worked much too hard to build a rapport with her.

Later that night, I got an e-mail from Mikaella, a girl I'd lost contact with some time ago. It seems I've become interesting again for her. And, to top it all off, I had messages on my cell phone from another hot woman whom I'd given up on. That brought some interesting words to mind (like "one lucky bastard," "dumb sap" and "you'd better sell a lot of novels to pay for all of this").

Since that day, however, my juices have begun flowing again (my creative  juices, you perverts).

My brain – now in tune with common sense – is wondering what it must do to build up more of a connection in this reawakened social situation. It must help me rediscover what might have made me attractive to them.

It is reminding me of my love for nostalgia -- old music from Doris Day and the Mills Brothers up through the nostalgic oldies of the 80s; old books; old movies. It reminds me of my Navy days -- the ones where I rode Japan's highly efficient trains just to see the countryside, not the ones where I saw burning oil wells off the coast of Kuwait during Desert Storm.

Come to think of it, my war experiences haven't made it into any stories. You'd think being sealed down in engineering while 1000-pound mines brushed alongside the ship or hearing about Iraqi MiGs armed with Exocets streaking out with orders to sink USS Blue Ridge would provide prime action. Sorry, I might get around to it someday.

Well, let me get back to the narrative; I'm rambling.

Where was I?

Oh, right. My brain.

It is telling me to remember my fondness with classic television, for reading classic novels and also for leaving myself open to learning new things.

It has even reminded me to exercise more and plan to get involved in sports and leisure again (to avoid “Dunlop” disease*) so I can keep up in...sports. Yeah, sports. That's the ticket.

And, best of all, these hobbies just might be perfect for Devereaux Marshall Fox (Land of the Blind), Cantrell Ryker (Hunters) and Pegram Kimble (Slow Boat to China).

They might also be perfect for me.


In case you were wondering:

* Dunlop Disease -- when your belly Dunlop over  your belt.


  1. Gregory, my man,

    I am insanely jealous over the sudden development of your love life!

    Having flames "drop" into your lap (whether it's padded with the Dunlop malady or not) is something I only dream of. Tell me, which of the writing 'Gods' did you please, and how did you do it?

    Lucky bastard, indeed!

    The last thing I had dropped into my lap was my 25 pound half Siamese, who rolled over in her sleep, falling off the seven foot tall book case by my desk.

    (Not a pleasant feeling.)

    Sigh. I guess I shall live vicariously through your revolving door of lovers... (and make sure you write some of that in your work! You know, to give us poor smucks some ideas!)

    And as for those flowing juices - yeah, right! Call me a Pervert with a capital "P".

    In my world of writing - those juices are one and the same - a well lubed love life usually pumps up the brain cells for a whirl wind of delicious story ideas...

    Like the old Gene Autry tune..."I'm back in the saddle again..."

    Peace out.

  2. Dunlop! Love it! Never heard that one before, Greg.

    I'd love to hear about Japan's countryside through your work - make one of your heros venture there, please. And the LMFAO part was because I knew your history and when I read Ryker in Hunters I was cracking up. You even made him from your home state. How could I resist?

    And not to worry - we all write about our characters doing stuff we want to be doing. Isn't that the joy of writing in the first place?

    To boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before! Hey, we can learn a lot from Star Trek.

  3. I think I'm going to include it in the sequel to "Land of the Blind." This one will alternate between the past when Fox became the Adventurer and the future where people will generally rue the day he became the Adventurer.

    Thanks for great comments.

  4. Star Trek? Did someone mention Star Trek?

    I am a classic Trek fan - dating back to 1976. I even belonged to the national organization called Star Fleet, wrote K/S fan fiction for years, named my two children after Star Trek Characters, had a Star Trek Wedding (the tape was shown on Funniest Home Videos) and actually spent money to go to Star Fleet Academy, in order to graduate from the medical program.

    That was then. This is now. And even though I have let go of my ST obsession, I still need a life!

    My dream man? As Brave as Captain Kirk, as smart as Mr. Spock, a bedside manner like Doctor McCoy, and could fight and drink like Scotty!

    (*sigh) I'm still looking...

  5. Greg, so much richness is floating around in your mind you must surely use it! I love the post! Rambling or not, it's great to look inside. And good look with all these reawakening contacts :)