So I have this little tradition that I keep to when I finish writing something big. Not just one of these, little pieces of Mental Flatulence. By “big” I mean a novel, and by a novel I mean the two… yes, TWO that I’ve now completed in my 43 plus year existence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. For those that haven’t seen my social media feed, guess what? CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD is done. Edited. E-Formatted. All that I have left to do now is format it for print and wait on my cover. For anyone that’s interested in the final specs, it clocked in at 397 pages total. That’s a bit shorter than ENDWORLD – A NOVEL, which came in at 442. That number will obviously change when the final, print formatting is done but it’s a good gauge of how much went into this. Almost six years of writing—with extended spells of not writing a word because of, as Beast Boy says in “Teen Titans GO,” “life, man… life.” When I first started writing it, I was an impressionable, 37 year old, first time novelist. Now? I’m still impressionable. But I’ve lived a lot of “life, man… life” in the years since I wrote “I’ve been here before.” No need to rehash the specifics of my life, lived herein. I’ve done that enough, haven’t I?
Some of you may know this and some of you may not, but when I start writing something—whether it’s an Endworld book or one of my many, aborted other attempts at writing—I create a playlist on my Spotify. There are a whopping three, related to this at the moment and they are, aptly titled If ENDWORLD Had A Soundtrack, If CHILDREN Had A Soundtrack and If HEAVEN Had A Soundtrack. All are publicly viewable and able to be listened to if you so desire. If you want to check them out, drop me a line and I’ll shoot you the link(s). I think they’re pretty good. A bit on the dark side. Nary a Taylor Swift song on any of them, though I think… yep. “Love The Way You Lie” by Rhianna is on there. They skew mainly 90s and 00s Alt Rock and Classic Rock, with a little classical thrown in. So? If you love you some Social Distortion and Metallica, alongside Billy Joel and Bonnie Raitt, then your musical tastes are as eclectic and fucked up as mine and OMG, DID WE JUST BECOME BEST FRIENDS!?
Seriously, though, music has been and remains one of my biggest sources of inspiration. That, and real life. The people I know and have known; the ones I’ve loved and sadly lost. My kids. Even my work from time to time. These playlists are exhausted over the time that I am writing the book or story they are related to. I think I’ve listened to If CHILDREN 100 or more times, all the way through. It was constantly on in the background while I was writing and occasionally, it bled over onto the pages like “life, man… life.” There’s a Pink Floyd reference in CHILDREN. A Beatles reference, too. They’re veiled—getting the rights to anything like that is a pain—but they’re there. Anywhos, my tradition? I listen to the soundtrack, most representative of the book or story I just finished writing one more time. Today? I’m listening to If CHILDREN and once it’s done? It’ll be retired forever.
It’s amazing to me how much music can reflect your life. Or rather, the music you listen to. A friend once told me that “God speaks to you through the radio” and gosh darnit, she was right! Take now. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” by Elton John just came on. Apropos? You bet. The playlists start out small—maybe 25 or so songs—but over the course of writing and living they grow, and blossom. Songs are added, and others are removed. Today, If CHILDREN has… 102 songs total on it. Everything from “My Immortal” by Evanescence to “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember” by Otis Redding. And those are just the last two that played before Sir Elton! There’s instrumental—Beethoven’s “Pathetique” is on all three playlists—and electronica—“Derezzed” by Daft Punk makes ENDWORLD and CHILDREN, but not HEAVEN and to tell you why would venture into spoiler territory so I’m going to STOP before I go there.
The point is that the final listen-through? It’s equal parts cathartic and soul cleansing. I find myself, reluctantly or not reliving a lot of what I went through from start to finish over the course of writing it. Love. Action and adventure. Parenthood. Loss. You name it, and it’s there. Memories. Like snapshots in a Viewmaster. Fading Polaroids of moments in time, captured forever. Nothing more. The Why or the How of something that happened to me? It’s no longer significant. I’ve cried my tears. Shit, I cried when I posted the final specs on CHILDREN earlier today and teared up again when I started reading and replying to people’s responses. It’s the end of an era in my life! I’ll still cry more in the days, months and years to come, but the ones that I’ve shed before this? They’re gone now. This house… this vessel? It’s clean. FINALLY. There is only the NOW. Ever-present and more significant than ever. My friend? I missed you. Now lets go fuck some shit up, turn the universe on its ear and be spectacular.
That said, this isn’t going to be a long blog post. I just got done doing my taxes and between that and work my brain is basically oatmeal. But I wanted to write something. Needed to. Because now that CHILDREN is done and HEAVEN is underway… the circumstances of my life are different. And life inspires. And while CHILDREN is a much different book than ENDWORLD, I can almost guarantee that HEAVEN will be something else entirely. Still, there are a few people I want to thank and sadly, I only get one dedication per book (that’s the unwritten, writer’s law, folks; sorry). Honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way. The dedication at the beginning of CHILDREN has been written for a long, long time and I’ll reveal it to you at the end of this composition. But in the interim:
To the musical artists that inspired me to create three Spotify playlists and write now TWO novels (holy crap: I’m still in shock): From Evanescence to Otis Redding, Beethoven to Daft Punk, Soundgarden, Shinedown, Drowning Pool, Adele and Dire Straits and everyone in between, thank you. Thank you for writing music that inspired and continues to inspire people daily.
To the people that inspired me, both present and past, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. You know who you are. The O’Briens and Wetherhills. The surnameless Mercs and Explorators. Vogelsongs. MacIntyres. Refields. McClanes. Markinsons and… you get the point. Sadly, I cannot promise that you all made it out of CHILDREN intact, nor can I assure you that you will survive HEAVEN. Seriously, though, I tried to save as many of you as I could but… yeah. I failed. What I can promise you is that you served or continue to serve the story well and that regardless of your fate, you are and always will be, forever, a part of Endworld, another universe on another side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. To quote House Greyjoy: “What is dead may never die!” Even when the pages have yellowed and turned to dust.
To Nicole Marsh, who was there for Book One, and a good portion of Book Two. To not thank her for being my sounding board and live-in critic would be careless of me. Regardless of where we are now, her support throughout much of the writing process—which is oft times a very, lonely place—cannot go unrecognized. It was always nice to come back from that place that we writers go and see her there. Funny story, folks: In ENDWORLD – A NOVEL, there is a character, named Nicole who pops up briefly at a very specific point. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment but if you read it, you likely remember it. Nicole always gave me a ream of shit for her “cameo appearance” in ENDWORLD. As I explained to her then and I’ll explain to you now, The Endworld Series was always more than just a trilogy of books. Sure, they’re a self-contained story. William MacNuff’s story. From onset to the end which is, sadly, coming soon but there’s more to it than just that. There’s so, SO much more to write once I’m done William’s story. Will I? I leave that up to the whim of fate. And if I’m meant to, I will. But that character features prominently in another story. God willing, you’ll all get to read it one day. One novel at a time, though.
To the universe for consistently making my life interesting. You’ve got a sick sense of humor dude/dudette, but I love you. Thanks for always managing to put a smile on my face, even if it’s a nervous one.
And last, but certainly not least to my children, Cara and Natalie. You two? You’re my everything. I honestly don’t tell you that enough and I should. Daily. The love I feel for you… well? It transcends anything else I’ve ever felt in my life. I may never achieve anything beyond what I already have from this day forth but the fact that you two exist? I am blessed. Barring anything else, you two are and will remain my legacy. Which is why, when it came time to consider and decide upon the dedication to CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD there was, honestly, no alternative.
To Cara and Natalie, my beloved children of this world.
I think that’s as good a place as any to end, don’t you? “Welcome To The Machine” by Pink Floyd just ended and now? Silence. If CHILDREN Had A Soundtrack is over and hereafter retired. On to If HEAVEN and just for shits and giggles, I shuffled it. Song number one? “When We Were Young” by Adele. Apropos? You bet. Thanks universe. You have always been and remain a fickle and unpredictable companion.
Winky emoticon guys and gals. Smiley face. And holy crap: This was blog entry number 99! Coming soon: Entry number 100! I still have no idea what it’ll be about but stay tuned. And I’ll catch you all on the flip side.