Life and Whatnot
That’s an awfully vague title for a post that promises to be all over the place. I’m sure that tweeting a title like that is going to bring in droves of readers.
First and foremost, to answer the question that must be burning the minds of my readers… no, I have not listened to that entire Yes box set. I’m still working my way through it. But I only have one more concert to get through. And it’s been a lot of fun.
It’s been incredibly easy to not blog for the last two weeks. There have been a lot of things going on. School ended for the kiddo. This week she’s been in Girls Rock Camp which is an awesome program that puts together a band in a week. Her band is Triple Berry Magic and she’s the singer. Their song is a timely tune about the California drought. The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree here. She’s been musical from a very early age.
Which leads to the recent loss of my musical mojo that I blogged about recently. I’d been going to an open jam session at a weird little dive bar behind a weird little strip mall in a weird little town near mine. My playing has not been very good, but I kept trying to get back on that horse. This week, for whatever reason, I was just on. And it felt really good to be in that zone where my fingers just knew what to do to keep the groove going strong. And the other bassists there were also very complementary. Since I had last been there, the music licensing people had been in there to make sure that no cover tunes were played live. Dicks! Nobody can ruin art as much as business types trying to squeeze every last dollar they can out of something that they have neither the ability or soul to do themselves. But that said, the constraint of having to come up with original material on the fly really forces improvisation and creativity and that is exactly the sort of musical environment in which I thrive. But the music licensing people are still dicks. Anyway, getting out there and playing well in front of people really gave me the boost I needed and made me feel very much alive.
Two Mondays ago, my excuse for not blogging was that I was too busy writing my novel. I got about another thousand words written and moved the plot along through this second act slump. Last Monday I had no such excuse. I really need to just block out a certain time where a I write, no matter what it is and whether or not it’s any good. A week off can easily turn into a month which can turn into years if you let it. And I don’t want to let it.
Other than last Saturday night, I can’t even think of what I was doing that kept me from writing. I think I’ve just been letting work really burn me out again. Saturday night, however, was a great deal of fun. I did something that I haven’t done in around twenty years. Tabletop Role Playing Games! I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons as a kid and teen, and then we had a great ongoing game in my 20’s for a while (my character was a drunken fighter named Flav who had a weakness for wine and tasty biscuits). I forgot how it came up among my local friends, but it was decided that we needed an adult game of Call of Cthulhu! This campaign starts at the reading of a will, and my character is a paranoid psychologist who has a patient who insists that the deceased is not in fact deceased, and also raves about some horrors out at sea. We didn’t play long enough to get into the really scary stuff, but it’s going to be great to have an ongoing game again.
So, dear reader, you’ve made it through a long post about things and stuff, and if you don’t know me in real life of even in cyber life, you were probably bored to tears. But you got through, and that in itself is an act of endurance. You should probably give yourself a pat on the back and a cookie. I promise to try to be more interesting next time.
I used to be a pretty decent bassist. I’m no Jaco by any stretch, but I wasn’t half bad. But these days I can barely muster up the enthusiasm to pick up my instrument, and when I do, my playing feels kind of limp and somewhat forced, and generally not very good. The last band I was in ended badly for me. I don’t want to go into the details of this split, but I wound up feeling extremely hurt and betrayed and it seems to have shaken my mojo to the very core.
Back when I enjoyed playing, a night of music left me feeling energized and refreshed and generally good. Even on the nights where it was more work than fun, it felt like something was accomplished. I’m not really feeling anything like that so much right now. And I’m not sure how to get that back. And I’m also not sure I want to get that back yet.
The idea of finding new people to play with isn’t even all that appealing to me. Making music with others is an intimate act. It’s almost kinda sorta like being in a relationship. If you play from the heart, you’re sharing that with others, and it can create a strong bond. When that bond is shattered, it’s hard to put the pieces back together again.
So last night…
Getting back to blogging regularly has been like getting reacquainted with an old friend. At first you’re really excited because it’s great to see this old friend but all of a sudden you realize that you’ve run out of things to talk about and struggle to keep the conversation going.
There are things I’m just not going to write about here in a place where I can’t filter my audience. This lack of filter in previous incarnations of this blog (and on social media too) have led to problems, mainly because my wife was concerned about what some of the more deeply religious members of her extended family might think about her being married to a guy as opinionated and sometimes angry and often as foul mouthed (I’m not really foul mouthed, I’m just from New York) as me.
So at some point I just quit, very publically, posting about how blogging was hurting my marriage. And then I tried blogging anonymously for a while, using a blogspot blog and a pseudonym. But I like having my name attached to things I write. (I’m not really a narcissist, I’m just a Leo.) So at some point I decided I’d give it another try, this time without calling people douchebags or fucktards or asshats or any of my other favorite colorful epithets, and maybe instead I could talk about TV shows I was enjoying or music that I was into. And of course the timing coincided with the boom of Facebook, and getting people to actually read something on your personal blog instead of taking a quiz on which something or other you are based on a few seemingly unrelated questions can be a bit of a challenge.
So what’s the deal with blogging in the social media age? Is there any audience for people who are writing things that aren’t cheap click bait? This guy started blogging again and you won’t believe what happened next! Are people still even reading blogs? And is there any kind of money at all to be made from it? (I’m not really such a blog whore, I’m just always broke.)
Also, what the hell should I write about here? So far it’s been nothing but a few paragraphs about the writing process itself and for one, reading about the artistic process of beloved masters of the craft only has so much mass appeal, let alone the ramblings of some guy who made a trashy movie over a decade ago and hasn’t engaged in much notable creativity since. And for two, there is no two. I need to step it up. I don’t want to share my work in progress here (though perhaps some password protected snippets for the purpose of critique). And I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about what to write here when I’ve got a damn novel I’d like to finish. But I still think that blogging might be a good exercise. I’ll figure something out. (I’m not really this confused, I might have an idea or two up my sleeve.)
It’s official, I am writing again. I’ve gotten past the couple of years pause in the zombie novel that I’ve been procrastinating on for a while. While joining the local writers group and meeting other people definitely helped give me momentum, I think the change of scenery and breaking free of the usual routine is just what I needed to actually type some new words. While writing a few pages of fiction is no huge accomplishment, getting past a spot where I really didn’t know how to get from point A to point B was a challenge.
I also took the opportunity of being away for a long weekend to update my blog template. That was a hassle! Just getting my laptop to run Artisteer was a struggle. I don’t use the laptop often, so when I do, it requires updates. Big. Resource-hogging. Updates! Every time I reboot, there’s more updates to install. But then once that was done, I was able to bang out this template pretty quickly.
I’ve also been enjoying taking pictures of neat things and instagramming them. Here are a few…
A photo posted by Jason Buckley (@buckleybass) on
Wow, I’m blogging again, twice in one week even. This must be a record for me lately. Remember when I used to post random things several times a day, before social media made it so much easier to get the attention of everyone I knew rather than hoping that random strangers might somehow make it to my personal website and like what I have to say or share and maybe even comment on it? Things are very different now. Nobody is going to read your blog if it reads like their facebook feed. You need to have something that stands out.
At this point the only reason I’m writing here is to get back into the practice of writing regularly. I am fairly certain that not a damn soul is actually reading it (at least until I start shamelessly pimping it on the aforementioned social media again). Besides being out of practice of writing regularly, I’ve also fallen far behind on my tech skills. I was actually a web designer in what feels like a lifetime ago. I’d whip up a user interface in Photoshop, slice it, dice it, create animated rollover buttons and then turn that into my template and then use Blogger to upload it right to my site. Do people even do it like that anymore? Technology keeps evolving and I eventually got into other lines of work and didn’t keep up. So now I’m trying to do the blog thing again with an ancient template that needs some serious work. I need all the right plugins, sharing buttons, rss feed stuff, and possibly some kind of ads that are not by google since apparently I am banned for life from using their ads after urging my readers to click and click and click on the ads for various politicians’ campaigns during the 2008 election cycle. I’d like to hope I personally cost Mike Huckabee’s campaign tens of dollars before the axe fell, but it was probably more like tens of cents.
The whole reason I’m dusting off the cobwebs here after all this time is because I’ve joined a local writers group. I need to get back into writing and having a blog is the perfect venue for doing that, even if at the moment it’s just for getting back into the habit of writing something, anything, on a near-daily basis. Last night I attended my first meeting, and met some very cool and talented people. There was a lot of interest in my zombie work in progress. One of the people there is a virologist, which is a very good profession to know when you’re dealing with a viral-borne undead apocalypse. And another one had just published a zombie short story. You can read that here. I really love how she was able to hit everything that terrifies us about zombies with such an austere economy of words that makes it all the more challenging. When you’re writing a whole story in a page, every word counts!
Meeting others and discussing my project was a very positive thing. Hearing that there is interest in what I’m doing always helps, but putting it out there that I’m working on it makes me actually have to not just talk about working on it as I have been for the last few years, and actually work on it. I better not fuck this up and look like an idiot!