Where the hell have I been?

The past two weeks have been a blur. Even I don't know where I've been half that time. The time I can catalog has been very exciting though.

This past weekend I spent in the woods learning how to find my way around them, then find other people lost in them, then treating those people and getting them the hell out of there. It's a GEMA-certified course, so now I can join local or national search and rescue teams when folks go missing, which is pretty cool. As a bonus, I now know how to make myself findable if I ever get lost, which would suck since I just learned how not to be lost.

As for why I did this, well... My wife needs the training for her job, since she's the coordinator for animal rescue for the Humane Society - which also means that, in the event of a disaster, she's going to be responsible for finding people too. Since she had to do it, I felt like it was the duty of a good husband to spend that time with her, and I ended up really enjoying the hell out of it. So now, I can not only go with her on these rescue missions, but I can actually be useful.

Let's see... Last week, I signed some papers which made me an agented writer. I am now represented by Byrd Leavell of The Waxman Agency, which is nifty. Ever since I signed with Penguin Books, I've been approached by various agents from various places. I even had my editor at Penguin screen a few - and none of them really fit the bill.

But Byrd and Waxman really seem to get what I'm up to, and support where I want to go with my writing. I really feel like the final piece of the big puzzle has been placed - I actually have someone out there fighting the good fight to see the stuff I want to write and love writing get some attention, instead of just "Hey, more Wal-mart stories plzkthx".

I have to be honest - the stagnation in my writing and my periods of "writers block" have a lot to do with my not wanting to write about myself anymore. Ever since book 1 came out, I've been pretty much over the whole "I want the world to know about me and what I do" thing, but not so much due to the subject matter (me) and more because the world seems less interested in the stuff I'd like to actually talk about. I've been really into sharing the periods of my life that saw development and growth, and less into the whole "Holy crap, I fucked over Wal-mart while PeTA protesters left logs of poo and Dell computers in the bathroom!" thing. Those stories are definitely funny, and I love sharing them... But I have no more of them.

That's not to say I have no more zany madcap adventures to share. I have tons, including the time Mike and I set a car on fire. But the thing that drove me when I first started writing - the need to be as zany as possible in my writing, without regard to how it affected me as a person - is gone. The Wal-mart story had an aftermath that I never shared in my writing (I had to do volunteer community service). I didn't write that bit or how it affected me or what happened during that time, because at the time, I wasn't concerned about forming a whole story about my life out of small stories and vignettes. I was concerned about getting attention - as much of it as possible. So I told the tale that way.

Now, I'm not in that place anymore. I suppose it's a factor of getting older or maturing or some shit, but I'm far more interested sharing the change aspects of my life rather than the events themselves. And every time I sit down to do that, I have to fight a war - not just a battle, but an entire war - in my own head.

Total Prosers is my favorite story that I've ever written. I can say that now that some time has passed after writing it, and after comparing it to everything else I've ever written. This story, on the surface, isn't really worth writing twenty thousand words about. A boy tries to cheat in school, gets caught, forms a friendship with his teacher and takes things too far. It's not movie material. It would make a horrible novel. In fact, its not even in the top ten most impactful moments of my life. But the vignette itself - the slice of my life it conveys - is important to me. The way it was written, the emotions conveyed... Everything down to the individual word choices in places - it's my favorite thing I've ever written.

That's the kind of thing I want to write now. That, and my little attempts to help people figure out things it took me forever to figure out, like how to work out in the gym and how to win a fist fight. I think what's really surfacing here is that I'm reaching a point in my life where it's no longer enough to just make people laugh or be the class clown for a moment of attention. I actually want to get through to people. I want to share with them moments and advice that let them say, at the very least, "at least I'm not alone in this world" - and in the best case scenario, I can actually help them get through some of the gnarly shit they're going through.

Reading through my old journals and stories, I know that my intention has always been to get people laughing and help them escape, however momentarily, the dull, or annoying, or painful moments of their life with a little tale of silliness. But how I go about doing that these days (or at least, how I want to) is completely different from how I started. And every single agent I've spoken with up until now saw more potential in the Wal-mart story and PeTA cow story and Dell story than they did in where I want to go with my work. So when I met Byrd and talked through the things I have in mind for myself, and his reaction was not one of "Well, that sounds great, but how about this idea I got while reading two of your stories" - it was very supportive and forward thinking. And that's a good thing.

Insofar as the new MI book is impacted, all this has done is call my attention to the fact that I need to get it done, and quickly. I won't go down the same old roads of promising a bunch of shit I'll inevitably fail at, but I will say that my focus has been retrained on getting this book done. Maybe I'll even do something about it here soon.

So, what else... There's been a lot going on which has gotten in the way of writing, and I've bored you with enough of the details of two of them that I'm not going to go into the rest. But it is good to be able to sit down and jot this out and not have to answer a phone every 2 minutes.

I also got Photoshop CS4, and it's freakin' awesome. I love it love it love it. But I will say I'm aggravated that the much promised 64-bit processor support for Macs isn't there, which is annoying.