So Busy. So Sorry.

The Saint Of Lost Causes - Front Cover

A meeting with my publisher revealed that the publication date for my debut novel is looming closer than I expected. And I’m terrified. Of course, this sent me into an actual panic with all the tasks I had to accomplish before the book is ready to be launch into the world on JANUARY 15th!

And this is also my most hectic time of year at work AND we are re-homing my mother to a smaller domicile to reduce the likelihood that she might fall down the stairs when seeking late night ice cream. At the same time, I picked up a couple other writing tasks for different spots because of course I did. The challenge level has been intense.

So, a number of other items were set aside, including my blog and some conversations with indie writers I wanted to launch into… but soon, my pretties. Until then, check out the pre-order option on my forthcoming novel, The Saint of Lost Causes, available at Barnes & Nobles, Amazon, or (hopefully) your local retailer.

(Re-) Establishing a Writing Habit

original photo by Andrea Picaquadio

I was once invited to speak at a “writers’ salon” in Phoenix and, only on the day of the event, did I discover that the topic of conversation was “Writer’s Block.” I panicked. Immediately, I began to worry that I would be seen by this group of aspiring writers as a pariah, a merchant of slanderous statements, or worse, because I did not (and do not) believe in Writer’s Block.

I know, I know, the horror! After all, every writer struggles with their craft. The overwhelming anxiety of that blank page. The dread of being “good enough” and the nightmare of impostor syndrome. I’ve dealt with it all. But writer’s block? That is something foreign to me because, for me, writing has always been a trade, a means to an end.

To me, writing has always been about habit. If you commit to the habit of writing, whether or not you’re producing the caliber of work you want, you’re still producing. A lot can be done in the editing and refining stages, but actually getting the ideas down on paper is often the greatest impediment to most writers.

To combat this, I cultivated strong habits early on… which is wildly ironic because I’m generally a creature of only bad habits. For years, I produced between 2k-5k words a day about five days every week. Not all of it deserved a gold star, but it allowed me to produce more than a book a year for several years while running a daily music + arts blog of some note and maintaining a professional life auxiliary to these activities.

I had set times when I preferred to work during the day &/or week, like in weeknight evenings or weekend mornings, but I would also sit down to smash out some words on my laptop if I felt inspired to do so. Writing begets more writing. Idleness, boredom, those words were concepts that existed for characters, but not in the real world.

Then two things happened to derail me. I got my first book contract and the pandemic put my latest fiction podcast production on hold indefinitely.

Now, that first part sounds inspiring, right? A book contract? The dream becomes reality? That’s certainly what it felt like for me. It was a modest proposal with a newly established publisher out of Austin, but I was overjoyed that someone selected my manuscript for publication. What came next was a bit unexpected, however. So much work goes into a novel before publication! Let my naivete wash over you because I cannot impress upon you enough how unprepared I was for this process. I have still not traversed the entire course so I don’t want to say more quite yet, but the path is long and arduous and you can never copy edit enough – NEVER!

Anyway, the work required to get my book ready to go to layout (woohoo) sucked away time I usually assigned to writing. And, because I’m never working on just one project, I also had been working on writing the second season of a fiction podcast. The first season was cast, rehearsals had begun, and we were about to go into production when the pandemic began its nefarious spread. The show had to be put on pause and, as the outlook grew ever more dire, I began to wonder when the confines of our sound studio would be possible once again. I set my script aside. I will pick it up when I can gather my rapscallion team of voice actors to cram into the studio again.

So, with no book to work on and no script to work on, I took a break. I read books. I paid attention to the people in my life… kinda. I mean, come on, as a writer I only have one foot in this world at any time anyway so you should only expect so much from me. At least, I’m upfront and honest about it.

But now the forthcoming novel is off to the layout team and it’s time to move beyond the hurt of the podcast production pause to focus on other projects until the cast can return to the studio so I need to return to my writing practice. And I’ve hit a stumbling block.

I don’t want to call it “writer’s block” because I am flush with ideas I’m eager to start fleshing out but setting aside the time, attacking the page, actually sitting my ass in the chair and typing words is presenting its own challenges. I realize that I’ve fallen out of the habit of writing. The daily practice of sitting down, focusing, and putting “pen to page” has been put aside for more than six months now and I need to re-establish the routine.

I’m going to start by doing what I advise other writers to do when facing that proverbial block: start writing. Set a modest word count goal and achieve it without worrying about the quality of content you’re producing. That can come later. Once again, getting the words down is always the biggest impediment. First, one needs to make writing a habit. Only then can you begin to worry about other things, like refining the work or giving shape to larger narratives.

I like to call this shit writing. I do a lot of shit writing. I have notebooks full of it. Sketches of characters. Outlines for stories. Bits of dialogue. Sometimes entire chapters that exist out of place from any story ever written. I scribble down impressions of moments, of people, of places, of shoes. Boxes of notebooks. My home is a fire hazard unlike any other.

I’m assigning myself 5,000 words of shit writing a week. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to get done. I can up the ante once I feel a pattern is in place. For me, it’s about setting small, attainable goals and then reaching a little further once I have a handle on the new situation. Maybe I’ll increase the word count. Or maybe I’ll hone in on one writing project. I like to remain open to the process.

The key detail for me to focus on right now is reincorporating the daily habit of creative writing into my life once again after this extended interlude. Even if you start with 200 words a day, you will be surprised at how the regular practice of writing will change your approach to the craft. The important thing is to start somewhere. If you haven’t made writing a habit, I encourage you to set a modest and attainable goal for yourself to make it a daily part of your life, even if it’s just five days a week, like me.

I’m getting started right away. Like, now.

Summertime Writing Prompts

Summertime is not a season of joy for those of us in the sunny Sonoran desert – where I reside. No, it’s a brutal hellhole of pain and misery where every day beats you down just a little more than the one before it. Don’t get me wrong, I love my weird desert state, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to die every-single-August.

Unlike our cold-weather-counterparts, we retreat indoors for the sunshine season and hide away in darkened rooms with the A/C cranked as low as we can go (or afford to go). That does provide some of us writerly folk with the perfect excuse to stay indoors and put pen to page. I’ve been enmeshed in the editing process with my publisher for my first novel so I haven’t had much time to work on new stories. And writing new stories is the only thing that brings me joy so my seasonal depression is super charged this year.

Now that I have my manuscript over to the layout team, I can maybe relax a little and maybe scribble away at some new ideas. I’ll often start stories or outline tales that I don’t flesh out fully. I have boxes of notebooks full of them, actually. I don’t feel like they’re missed opportunities, but moments spent cutting my teeth, panning for gold, testing the water…. please apply your applicable own cliche.

The point is, these hours spent scribbling on stories that go nowhere are hours well spent.  They helped shape my process, my voice, and my practice. And, every now and again, they took hold and grew into something far more than a one-night-stand story. As we’re charging our way through the furnace, I thought this would be a good time to share some writing prompts for other people who might be sharing extra indoor time.

Original image by Simon Berger [IG]

Original image by Julie Aargaard [IG]

Original image by Ithalu Dominguez [IG]

Writer’s Spotlight: Marguerite Duras


The discovery of the writings of Marguerite Duras changed my adolescent life. They helped me give shape to my own literary ambitions and provided me a sense of place in the world by distorting my vision of it. Before Duras, I was the distortion. And, once I found her, I knew there were others like me who lived between the cracks and in the cobwebbed corners. It wasn’t just men who could cast off convention in the name of passion and art.

Marguerite Duras was a French writer born in Vietnam (which was called French Indochina at the time), a member of the French Resistance, a Marxist, and an experimental filmmaker. Her writing moves like slow molten liquid between poetry and prose. Basically, I’m obsessed. Weirdly obsessed.

There are other writers I find my style more closely aligned with but Duras is that first love that gets weird. Not holding hands at school and hand under the shirt make out sessions. Full-on, in the elevator, in the car, threaten to stab an overly friendly ex, cut off all your hair love that you need to walk away from to get a handle on yourself.  That kinda love. The name of this blog is even a nod to her work.

“Very early in my life it was too late.”

This line from The Lovers, the first novel I read by Duras, is always in my mind. The affinity was built from there. I discovered her right around the age of 14 or 15, shortly before her death in 1996. At the time, finding her books in translation was a bit of a challenge. I slowly cobbled together my collection.

I’d find a copy of a Black Hair, Blue Eyes at a used bookstore. Once I uncovered a copy of The Malady of Death at a thrift store. And, miracle of all miracles, I once found a first edition of The Ravishing of Lol Stein to replace my own battered, secondhand copy. As time went on, I did begin to see novels other than The Lover from Duras at bookstores, fresh from the printer in English translation, but her body of work remained illusive.

I attended grad school in San Francisco and ransacked bookstores from Walnut Creek to Ocean Beach and from Marin County straight down to Santa Cruz. My Duras collection got downright respectable and I read through each tome as soon as soon as it was purchased. It was a magical time in my life and I am grateful for her companionship during those years as I struggled to come to know myself and how my identity was tied to love, sexuality, society, language, and whatever might exist underneath those layers of hard-packed earth that divided my idea of self from the burning core of my being.

Duras helped me dig myself out muck of societal notions while teaching me about the fluidity of language. The Ravishing of Lol Stein holds the place of personal favorite. It is surreal and post-modern in its explorations of the boundaries of sanity and love. There is something distinctly feminine about her writing and her worldview that Duras herself acknowledged.

If you have not embarked upon the writing of Marguerite Duras, I suggest you do so immediately. Right now. This minute. It’s important for the betterment of your being. Writer or otherwise.




For Further Reading on Duras: 

“A Man and a Woman, Say What You Like, They’re Different”: On Marguerite Duras by Rachel Kushner from The New Yorker

Key Theories of Marguerite Duras by Nasrullah Mambrol from Literary Theory and Criticism



A Brief Intro

Hello new readers,

I’ve spent more than a decade blogging at YabYum Music + Arts about, of course, music and arts, but my one true love has always been books. Reading, writing, writing about reading, reading about writing. You get the idea. And, in my off hours from YabYum, I usually spent my free time scribbling away stories. One of those stories is under contract to be published early next year so I thought this might be the right time to shift my blogging energy in new directions.

So please bear with my while I get my grounding and begin this new literary undertaking. I expect this to be an interesting and awkward journey. We might not be far enough along together for me to say “Trust me on this,” but trust me on this.