…and while it’s taken 20 years, the music’s the better for it.

I’m reading Mike Doughty’s memoir Book of Drugs, in which he recalls the dual paths of his addiction and his music career. Only halfway through and it’s clear how the two fed off of each other.

After Doughty left Soul Coughing, his solo career has produced many of my favorite songs of his (I Hear the Bells, Looking at The World from The Bottom of a Well, Ossening, Sunshine). So while his path has been strewn with unpleasantness that nearly killed him, the work that emerged out of it seems better for it.

All of that said, listening to Ruby Vroom and Irresistable Bliss knowing how fucking miserable he and the band were, it’s hard not to hear the chaos and the deeply-rooted self-destructiveness that seems to infuse all of the songs. There was some nasty, death-dealing tumerousness in that early stuff.

Which is part of what makes his most recent album (Circles) that much more fulfilling a listen. He’s recut a selection of songs from Vroom, Bliss and Soul Coughing’s final album El Oso. It’s a completely different take on a bunch of familiar tunes. And while the uncapped batshit unhinged note doesn’t snake through songs like Super Bon Bon any more, the new cuts show that everything you loved about Soul Coughing was Doughty. The lyrics, obviously, but also the instrumentation, the beats, the loops, the whole thing.

The book is interesting. But the album wants to be your new favorite. Go get it.

Broke 15k words today. Really thought I would be doing something with more emotional resonance. Instead of the deadly boring combination of exposition and jargonizing that this thing is turning into.

I’m not worried that my soul is dead and I’ve squandered what little potential to make “important art.”(much). But I am wondering at what point anyone, myself included, will start caring about my main character and the journey he seems locked into like a death march.

It’s true. Plant your butt in the chair and stare at the screen. Just stopped for the night having blown through a total of about 2300 for the night. (And some of them are actual words!)

NPR tonight carried an interview with #Roald Dahl’s youngest daughter Lucy that offered fascinating insight into the way Dahl worked. Not surprisingly, routine was at the heart of Dahl’s success.  She says:

His work sessions were very strict — he worked from 10 until 12 every day and then again from 3 until 5 every day. And that was it. Even if there was nothing to write he would still, as he would say, “put his bottom on the chair.”

You can hear the whole thing here.

12,000 words. Well behind pace. Draggy. And holy crap it all sucks. So much. On the flipside, my punctuation skills tonight are unstoppable.

“You Cannot Create Experience, You Must Undergo It.”
Thorin Klosowski, lifehacker.com

We’re often trying to find shortcuts for learning new skills, making things, and getting everything done, but writer Albert Camus reminds us that none of those activities are a substitute for experience.Read more…

Camus nails the essence of #NaNoWriMo. You cannot learn something without experiencing it – doing it – for yourself.

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Let’s just get this over with now, shall we?  In six days of NaNoWriMo, I think it’s safe to say I haven’t written a single line, character or setting what doesn’t feel like I ganked it from someone. When my novel finally publishes, I won’t really have an acknowledgement at the end of the book; it’ll be more of a confessional. 

To that end, the beginnings of a partial list, as well as what the natures of my various sins have been.

Cory Doctorow – science fiction set in the near future; incorporation of ubiquitous technology; Protagonist/heroes of unconventional or otherwise schlublike looks.

David Foster Wallace – endlessly recursive parentheticals; the thought for about three minutes that I might need to include footnotes.

James Joyce – I’ve started Ulysses three times. I had the gall to compare this thing I’m working on to it, even referring to it as “Ulysses of the Suburbs.” I’m sorry. From you, I stole characters who make obscure self-referential conversations with each other, as long as long, drawn-out internal monologues.

Warren Ellis – I swear I think that my main character’s occupation as a streamer – a person who gathers photo, video and audio of events and streams them to the rest of the world – is a direct ripoff of a character that Warren Ellis used in the beginnings of a story he published serially in the web back in the early aughts. Warren, if you read this and it turns out I’m right, please contact me and I’ll happily go fuck myself for stealing a character.

Alan Moore – Okay, so the antagonist’s name was V. There. I said it. But I did finally change it, which leads to my need to apologize to…

Neal Stephenson – Jack. I renamed V Jack. While my antagonist isn’t a time-shifter, nor has half of his penis been eaten away by syphilis, his knack at finding himself in implausibly picaresque situations is derivative at the least, and a copyright violation at worst.

Leo Lionni – Dude, you can’t expect to write a manifesto to individualism as Swimmy and not expect it to leave a mark.

Neil Gaiman – No magic, no devils, no Croup and Vandemar. But I have a sinking feeling that some sort of horror is going to find its way into my NaNo. You’ll be largely to blame for it.

Neil Peart – 2112, the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx. What was I to do? The underdog finding a long-lost thing, speaking truth to power, and being crush when power doesn’t listen thing? Magic. 

I have no doubt that this list will continue to grow.  But my Lord it feels good to get that off my chest.