1. An obsession with writing
love letters or love poems.
I used to write a lot. My preferred platform for publishing was online mailing lists. I enjoyed mixing the sincere with the ephemeral.
In the years since, people have asked if they could read or re-read some of the things I'd written. Having never attempted to get published in the traditional sense, there was nowhere to send them. There was no "hard copy".
Lost computers, sketchy hard drives... of the two novellas and 300+ poems, letters, and stories I sent out between 2000 and 2007, only a couple dozen pieces are still kicking around.
A few years ago I was in Los Angeles and I did an interview for a KCRW podcast. Hearing it, a few Wrestlers got in touch and one suggested I put together an archive before I lost the rest of it. It took me a few years, but I think that's what Burning the Days is. I suppose it could evolve into something other. As with past projects, I stole the title, this time from James Salter. (Past victims include David Milch, John Giorno, and Marissa Nadler.)
I'm currently writing my first novel. If you sign up to the mailing list, you'll occasionally get stories / letters / poems in your inbox. The schedule is unpredictable. Basically, any day I don't work on the novel, I'll send an entry to the mailing list. The less frequently you hear from me, the better the novel is going.
If you were a subscriber to any of my projects -- and you happen to still have some of the writing that's not represented here, please send it along. [Edit: Some thoughtful and dedicated readers have now sent me hundreds of entries, including the 2003 novella. I'll update the site when I get a chance. Thanks!]
& APPROXIMATE TIMELINES
2000 - 2003
In the spring of 2000, I started a mailing list called Victory Shag. I used it to send love letters and romantic stories to subscribers. Sometimes I sent them daily, sometimes just weekly or once a month. The schedule was irregular. Call it whim or caprice. Once, I even sent out 48 entries in 24 hours, one every 30 minutes, in order to raise money for the charity Sweet Relief.
VictoryShag.com contained no archive. Just a black screen with a box for your email address and two buttons: "Sign Me Up to Shag" and "Forget That I Exist". There was zero explanation of what one could expect when signing up.
The letters were always written to women in my past -- often years in my past, but on occasion days or even hours in my past. A few times, they'd be sleeping behind me while I wrote. While composing each letter, I tried to put myself into the mindset I'd been in while with the person I was addressing. The send-outs were always thoughtful and positive. I had no interest in dredging up negative feelings; I still don't.
I did this for three years. Hundreds of entries. Thousands of subscribers. The project got attention from daily press and radio.
What entries I still possess are archived under Ghosts & Lovers.
50 Pounds of Mud in a 5LB Bag
One day, seemingly out of the blue, I emailed my subscribers telling them Victory Shag was done and that they should unsubscribe. If they didn't, they'd start to get daily entries for a new project, a novel called 50 Pounds of Mud in a 5LB Bag. No one unsubscribed.
I'd stolen the title from a John Giorno poem, and it was the best thing about the project. I quickly grew bored of the whole thing and, with apologies, abandoned it, feeling like a shit-heel for making people read 50 pages of a story they'd never hear the end of.
I hibernated for the rest of 2003 and at the end of the year, I emailed the subscribers and told them about a project I planned to start in January:
Wrestle the Future to the Fucking Ground
2004 - 2006
I'd always hated the name Victory Shag, which I'd originally chosen for a record label I'd been planning. The name made sense for the label; it didn't make sense for love letters. I didn't want to keep writing under that title.
So, I (unintentionally) tweaked a David Milch line and christened the new project Wrestle the Future to the Fucking Ground. Unsurprisingly, it also was a mailing list with no archive. (Snapchat ain't got nothin' on me!)
Similar to Victory Shag, but without the self-imposed restriction of being addressed to former lovers, the entries were more varied: poems, stories, snippets--rarely letters, in the traditional sense, even though each was emailed to subscribers.
I did just under 100 entries over the three years, so not even an entry a week. (Not included in that number is a second 48-entries-in-24-hours-novella, which I also did for Sweet Relief.)
The few entries I still have from this project are archived under Wrestle the Future to the Fucking Ground -- unless they were about women I'd first written about in Victory Shag, in which case they're archived under Ghosts & Lovers. Any G&L entry that has numbered sections is made up of VS and WTFTTFG entries, with the first portion being from VS and the remaining portions being from Wrestle the Future...
During the same time frame, I wrote a screenplay, Chimera, that was sort of an amalgamation of the 2003 and 2006 novellas. (I spent four years in film school in the 90s and wrote, produced, and directed a feature film when I was 25. Don't look for it; it's not online so you won't find it, and it's terrible.)
In 2007, Chimera ended up in the hands of a well-known Canadian director who was living in Venice, California. He called and suggested we meet, which is how I ended up in Los Angeles for the first time. Nothing became of the screenplay or my relationship with that filmmaker, though I'm forever in his debt for introducing me to LA, which is the only place I've ever felt homesick for. If I could legally work in the USA, I'd have immediately moved there.
The January Project
In December of 2006, a friend and I came to agreement that we thought would boost our creativity: I would write something every day -- a poem, a story, a letter -- and, being a musician, she would write a song. We'd begin the start of the new year and continue for the month.
It started off well for me, but she wasn't holding up her end of the bargain -- nothing the first week. When I complained, she commented that "Songs are different," implying they were simply harder and the agreement wasn't fair. We changed her end of the agreement to be one song per week, but it didn't improve her output.
Out of frustration, one of the days I wrote a song -- something I'd never done before -- hoping it would nudge her along. No such luck.
In the end, I wrote about 27 pieces over the 31 days and my favorites are in The January Project archive.
As a consolation, about 6 months later, my friend recorded the song I wrote after changing a few of the lyrics. I've put her video in place of that day's entry.
Burning the Days
In the decade following The January Project, I did very little writing. I ran businesses for other people and opened a store of my own, which I sold at the end of 2016.
I've subconsciously decided that I don't want to return to the working world as it bores me to tears and leads to nothing but bridge-standing.
With the exception of $500 I accepted in 2013 to write a short screenplay to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Elgin Theatre, I've never made a dime from writing (though I was once a Managing Editor at a small weekly magazine).
At present, I'm working on two writing projects which I'll hopefully interest someone in paying for. (I know that's really not how it works, but I'm stubborn.) One is a six-hour TV show and the other a long-prose piece I'm hoping will be a short novel. Neither has a title, though the show is based on a screenplay I wrote a long time ago called Two-Legged Dogs.
I've committed myself to writing every day, and it's going well. On days I'm unable to come up with pages for the show or the novel, I'll send something to the Burning the Days mailing list. Good?