I was thinking about the differences between my work and the work of other writers, about what sets me apart in working habits and style. I started thinking about the hardest working musicians in the world (my mind wanders, stick with me). I got caught on an idea.
When I write, I have no plan. I have nothing to guide me or anchor me to the ground. With vague concepts and a tune in my head, I sit down and jam it out, quite like The Grateful Dead. Now, I am not a Dead fan. But I have nothing but respect for that band and what they did. They were a jam band, a group of musicians that was on the road for decades, one show after the next, very few breaks, very few stops. They started their own label, released music on their terms, and kept truckin’. When I think about the way I write, I find inspiration and guidance by invoking the Dead.
I write year round. Most writers have a season. They have a book plotted and planned. They write it and then stop for a few months while they plot and plan a new one, as with most bands. They write an album. They tour the album, then take a break for months or years before they write a new album. I finish a book, rest for two weeks, and get started on the next. I’m always on the road, always playing a show.
When a jam band like The Grateful Dead sat down to play, they had very little planned out. Their songs could go on for hours as they played off each other, back and forth. When I am writing, I need no direction. I need no plan. I get on stage with my characters and they just jam. They play off each other and I write it all down. In this fashion, I wrote four books last year. This year, if all goes well, I will finish five. I have many different series going on at the same time. When the time comes, I just change the tune and play the next song. One story runs through the next.
Jerry Garcia had three fingers on his hand while he played the guitar. Didn’t stop him. I am bipolar and dyslexic and I type with three fingers. Doesn’t stop me.
I may never be a huge success. I feel my work is more cult classic than break-out star. I’m fine with that. In 2016, I will start releasing my first three books on my own. I will always have readers, will always have people that follow my books as I truck down the road. I do not feel the need to win everyone over. My books are too quirky and strange, too off-the-beaten-path to be accepted by the mainstream at this time. I can’t let this trip me up. I need to get out on the road. I can’t sit in the studio anymore. I belong out there. I belong on stage.