Category Archives: Writing
I’m No Candle, or There’s No Honor in Martyrdom
I believe Harlan Ellison said something like the starving artist is a myth perpetuated by those who don’t wish to pay the artist. I believe he said something to the effect of, “There’s no nobility in starving for one’s art.” He was talking about writing, of course. But it came to me a lot a couple of weeks ago as a quote that was been being posted and read at my school for Teacher’s Appreciation Week compared teachers to candles, who “light the way while being consumed.”
I loathe this idea. I love teaching, but it’s a job. I don’t want to be consumed by it. A candle gives light until there’s no more left. This is not honorable, it’s only the way of things. If I light the way, it’s with a flashlight, which needs taking care of and a recharge. Of course, teaching technology and media, my flashlight is on my phone. I will do whatever I can to help my students find the river and drink, within reason. That, I hope, is honorable. When it comes to my personal health—mental or physical—or it comes to time with my family, or it comes to my other calling, writing, I draw the line.
All the other ”appreciation?” Keep it. Want to show appreciation? Time or money, that’s how. For all teachers everywhere.
The myth that “teachers are candles,” or any myth that teachers should give so much more of themselves than nearly any other career–without the corresponding pay of, say, a doctor–is perpetuated by people who do not actually respect teachers, but choose to believe that they should give more of themselves than they should. And this includes administrators.
Administrators love to point out how they have to be on-call all the time, and do this conference or that conference, etc. Considering they’re paid far, far more than those in the classroom (and so many of them have not been in a classroom, of have only taught a little while), that’s their choice. Teachers should not be expected to do what the administrators are willing to do without the same benefits and pay.
And this is not school specific, but all schools, all districts.
Just a thought.
This was originally posted on my Patreon page, as a Patrons Only post. If you liked this post, please consider becoming a Patron.
The Early 2022 Post, or Man, I Really Need to Step Things Up
Happy New Year! We made it through 2021 and that’s probably as positive as I can be about that experience! I mean, I guess it wasn’t worse than 2019 or 2020, but it wasn’t great. Teaching during the 2021-2022 school year has so far been the most difficult I’ve experienced. We here at casa de Gauthier are still somewhat hunkered down. I haven’t been to the movies since January 2020, for instance, and only go to stores when absolutely needed. Yeah, I’ve gotten my haircut and we’re a little more willing to some things, but we’re still being pretty careful. My nine-year-old, Genevieve, is being homeschooled until the Massachusetts DESE gets their heads out of their asses and do what’s really right for the protection of students (and teachers, but who cares about them!). Still, 2021 saw some exciting things.
In January, I sent a query/proposal to an agent for my middle grade space adventure novel. Having not heard anything for months, I queried other agents, who promptly said, “Thanks but no thanks.” In the last week of December, the agent from January got back to me. While they passed on the novel, they told me that they’d had it on their “maybe” list. So I came thiiiiiiiis close! It’s much-needed validation for the book, so I’m looking forward to looking into more agents and querying.
In February, I went on a limb and emailed Crossroad Press to ask if they’d be interested in bringing out my backlist and maybe a new novel, and they were interested! So that’s the beginning of the journey of the rereleases of Catalysts, Alice on the Shelf, and Shadowed. Alice on the Shelf has been in ebook pretty much since it came out in 2011, but the new versions of Catalysts and Shadowed are currently available, and the new print edition of Catalysts is, too, which is really exciting.
I started editing the new adult horror novel in August and am almost done with the line-edits. December became the month of the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and the new novel took a backseat while I wrote mini-stories and photos, which I did minor editing to in Procreate, spending from 20 minutes to 2 hours working on the stories. Mostly, they were about an hour or 90 minutes, which is the time I’d usually work on editing the novel. Now that the advent calendar story is over, I’m back on novel duty. I have about 25 pages to edit, and hope to get it done in the next few days. As far as the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar story, that can be seen on my Instagram. If there’s interest, maybe I’ll collect the stories on a page here or on my Patreon.
I’m looking forward to what 2022 has in store and hope I can up things a bit—getting more Patrons, selling more work, and generally getting more stuff done. Echoes on the Pond will be released this year, which is exciting. I look forward to holding my first published novel in hands. I’m hoping to get more things going on my platforms. Part of that is health, too. I need to work on exercising and eating better, so that’ll be on the agenda.
If you’re so inclined, becoming a Patron of my Patreon page will help. I’ve been posting more there than on here, and Patrons get the inside scoop on things, including the titles of the works, occasional previews, excerpts, and perhaps more this year, especially if I get more Patrons.
It’s been a rough few years and I’m hoping 2022 will begin alleviating our pains. Thanks for reading, and I hope we’ll continue this journey for a long time to come. Again, happy New Year.
Gabby Ray Arrives!
Gabby Ray has lived in my family since 2007. It began as a joke but I’ve used the character as an example for years in my class when I teach Photoshop, InDesign, etc. Last year, I did a project with the students and actually did the project with them. Writing, drawing, all of this comic book.
The assignment was to take a myth, fairy tale, folktale, or legend, and adapt it as a story for an original character the students created. So I did this. It features Easter eggs of my sister, her partner, my wife, and both of my daughters. Han Solo and Harlan Ellison might also make an appearance. Most importantly, my mother makes an appearance.
My Patreon Patrons got to see it first. I hope you enjoy it!
Writing for Fun and Nightmares, My 1st Attempt at Fan Fiction
I have never written fan fiction. The idea idea of fanfic as a major thing is, to me, a fairly new thing, definitely since the rise of the internet. When I was of an age to really want to write fanfic, the internet was in its infancy and I didn’t have a computer. By the time I got my first computer and access to the internet, when I was 21, I was too busy writing Bill Gauthier stories to try my hand at fanfic, preferring to wait for the day that I was hired by a licensed property to write stories. Sometimes, though, an idea comes and it just won’t go away.
In the last few years, I had an idea regarding A Nightmare on Elm Street. Longtime readers know I’m a big fan of the movies, particularly the first five. Except the second movie. It’s bad. But, what if those stories could be told in a way that they were like five parts of a bigger story? This idea wouldn’t leave me alone. Finally, I decided to try my hand at fan fiction.
I haven’t done much, focusing on my other projects. I don’t really have any plans of sharing any more of this fun writing with anyone except–maybe–close friends. But here is what I did for the beginning of my unofficial fan-novelization of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. I hope it’s mildly enjoyable, at the very least.
Prologue — A Dream
He feels like he has lived to reach this moment. Everything that happens afterward hinges on this particular moment in time. As he steps into his workshop, his work shoes shuffling against the concrete of his area, he chuckles. The chuckle comes from the throat and sounds a little phlegmy. That’s all right. It is as it should be.
He approaches a workbench and grabs a grimy old leather work glove from a shelf that’s against the wall across from his cot. Because the boilers need constant attention, the owners of the power plant let him live here. No, lets him live here, present tense. Right? He lifts the canvas bag up, the items inside clanging together as he upends the bag. Knives fall onto his workbench near the copper plate he’d put aside. He lifts the brim of his hat and wiped the sweat beading on his forehead on the red sleeve of his sweater. Not wiped but wipes, except, he’s not sure that there is sweat beading on his forehead.
It doesn’t matter, though, because he has work to do. Thinking about it makes him chuckle again.
He picks up a knife with his dirty, fingernail-bitten hands and begins the process of disassembling. He looks at the sketches he made on the old notebook, his crude drawing more detailed than almost anything else he’s ever done. He chuckles. That’s not true. As he disassembles the knives, he remembers the dream that brought him here, the dream that was so intense that it almost had to be more of a vision than a proper dream.
In the dream, a child ran from him, laughing and smiling. He laughed and smiled, too, and said the same sorts of things he’d said before when he’d play around with the children (sometimes he remembered the child being a little girl, sometimes it was a little boy) in the neighborhood. He knew he had to wait for the real fun to begin, his fun. For the child, it was new. Being at the power plant, being in the boiler room was exotic, fun. The ultimate playground. It was the kind of place Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t allow them to play. Soon, though, the child grew scared.
He heard the child call out for him. He didn’t respond. He stood, back against a metal wall, barely containing the laughter he felt building up in his chest. As the child grew more panicked, he grew happier. His wheezing breath grew quicker. He followed the sounds of the child’s mewling until he saw the small boy/girl in her/his Sunday Best. It sickened him, really, how prim and proper these children could be.
He chuckled and the child turned toward where he’d been. The child saw nothing. He saw them, though. He slowly, silently crept behind the machines, and when the child stepped toward where he’d been, he leapt out and struck.
He chuckles now, as he welds metal to more metal. In his dream, he’d killed the child with a claw on his right hand. Long, deadly fingernails, like a bear’s or a lion’s tore through the pale flesh of the child. His other hand had held the child down. That’s when he knew what he had to do, what he had to build.
After warming the metal, he shapes it on an anvil. He uses a stone spinner to help shape the already curved knife blades. He then welds the blades to more metal and tests the feel against his fingertips. A surge of energy and excitement pours through him and he chuckles again. He can’t help it. At last, he will do what he’s needed to do in the way that he’s needed to do it. At last he’ll show them.
And they need to be shown.
He thinks of them now and anger bubbles in the pit of his stomach. They smile at him, and the children are kind to him, mostly, but he remembers when the parents were children themselves and how they weren’t kind to him at all. Oh, no. He’d never really been one of them, though he grew up around them, somewhere on that long street ran not quite through the center of town, but almost as long parallel to Main Street, a few streets over.
He’d been an orphan in the small town of Springwood. Somehow, most of the time his foster parents lived on Elm Street. Though he lived on other streets in the small, suburban town that lay to the northeast of Los Angeles, it was Elm Street where he’d spent most of his childhood.
Elm Street was comprised of four basic sections that were almost separate neighborhoods on their own. The northern most end of Elm Street were mansions. It was also the smallest part of Elm Street. Some of the residents in those large houses wrote N. Elm Street as their address, though there was no official North Elm Street. He’d seen these houses as a child, and had even done some odd jobs in them as an adult, but he’d never lived among them. Not that he’d ever wanted to. The children and teenagers who’d lived in those large houses and mansions were amongst the cruelest he’d had to deal with throughout his childhood and adolescence.
The next section, moving south down Elm, was the largest section. This section was home to the upper-middle class houses. He’d lived in two of these houses growing up, 1570 and 1428. The people of 1570 had been horrible. The man of the house was considered a stellar citizen of Springwood, even sat on the town council, but would put his cigarettes out on him. He’d only been eight years old and had already known pain. This same great denizen of the town would also make nighttime visits to both of his daughters. He’d been a rotten man. As a child, he eventually got out, but he’d had to kill a cat to do so. He’d lived at 1428 when he was seven and the people there had been terrific. Still, his anger could sometimes be too much for them and he’d been removed after a particularly bad tantrum.
Driving south down Elm Street, the houses grew smaller. As he checks the hinges on the fingers, he muses that he’d spent three years in one of the houses. The family had been okay but didn’t really give much of a fuck about him. This was where the middle-class and, eventually, the lower-middle class families lived. The cars weren’t as nice as the other section, and there were more divorced parents and trouble down here, but not much. As he’d grown up in the forties and fifties, things were still pretty good. As those who lived in that section Elm Street were fond of saying, they didn’t have much but didn’t need much. It was funny, he‘d noted as a child, how those who said that always looked north, up Elm Street and to where they dreamed to live.
The blades were sharpened and on the finger pieces, the finger pieces were hinged together, and now came the time to rivet each finger to the copper base. He takes a straight razor that he’s had since he was a teenager and cuts into the metal. He cuts and cuts until time passes and he’s left with a three-by-four-inch plate that covers the back of his hand perfectly. Throughout the cutting process, and into the mild shaping process, he remembers where lived the longest on Elm Street. The South Section, as it’s often referred to. No need to say “of Elm Street” afterward. If someone asked, “Where’s this freak from?” and another replied, “Oh, he’s from the South Section,” everybody knew what that meant.
The South Section was the small section of Elm Street that was, quite literally, on the other side of the tracks. The West Station train cut through Elm Street, running parallel to Spruce. This small part of Elm Street (though larger than where the mansions and enormous houses were) was all lower-lower-class. Generally, if you were a child who lived in the South Section, children from the other sections couldn’t play with you. Sometimes, if you’d come from one of those other sections and hard times had fallen on the family, then maybe things would be all right and you could have friends, but you always played in their backyards or out on the front lawns or sidewalks, never in the house, and your friends were never allowed to go to your house.
This is how he knew the truth about Elm Street, about Springwood. He chuckles as he rivets the fingers to the plate. Certainly, they’d call him a monster if they knew what he plans to do with his new toy, if they knew what he’d done on the outskirts of L.A. a few months back and over in the town of Longmeadow a year before. The impulses are too strong to ignore anymore and besides, they have it coming. Sure they smile and wave at him. They grew up with him, but he’ll always be the weird guy.
He attaches the plate to the work glove. It’s careful work, he doesn’t want to wreck the old glove anymore than it already was wrecked. And, finally, it’s done. His heartbeat rams in his chest and he feels an erection grow in his work pants. He flips the glove over to look at it palm-side up.
He slides his hand into the glove and it feels like coming home. He lifts the hand and is surprised by how heavy the glove is. Good. Momentum will help cut through cloth and then flesh. He looks at the clawed glove from one side to the other, wiggles his fingers, and chuckles and the sound the metal makes on metal.
He flicks his hand and splays his fingers simultaneously.
The sound is deadly and frightening. He imagines what the sound alone would do to a child and he laughs.
Yes, he thinks. This is where it begins.
Funding My Art in the 21st Century, or I’m on Patreon Now
It seems appropriate on what would’ve been Harlan Ellison’s 85th birthday to tell you about my Patreon page. Harlan was big on making sure writers and artists were paid for their work and this is something that, having been publishing for 20 years, I am really in need of. While my teaching career pays well for being a public school teacher, the writing part isn’t earning enough, and since I’ve been pretty busy writing and trying to get my career back on track, I’ve been playing with the notion of starting a Patreon page. I didn’t think I had a big enough following to go there, but an artist friend of mine, Kim Gatesman, suggested that I didn’t need much of a following. After asking on social media, I had several people urge me to create one, so I did, about 21 days ago.
It was a difficult decision but it’s made. I’m still working out the wrinkles, but I have some ideas. Possible chapbooks of my stories. Maybe a collection of the reviews that I have done here, like A Nightmare in Gautham, Friday in Gautham, From Gotham to Gautham, and From Krypton to Gautham. Or even just continuing to do more reviews or studies or whatever you call them. As summer approaches, I’ll be playing more on Patreon and thinking of perks or whatever they’re called there.
And that’s why I’m writing about my Patreon here. I feel bad that I have followers here on my blog but I don’t blog as much as I once did. I’ve been focusing on my novels and work-related things. If you’re interested in what I write, if you like what I write, I strongly urge you to become a patron. It will do two things. 1) It will show me you’re not just interested in reading what I have to say but you’re willing to sustain my ability to write it, and 2) It will guilt me in having to post more. If I have people willing to part with their hard-earned money because they like what I write, then I will be more likely to find time to write the blogs.
Thank you for reading, and I look forward to your support.
And now, here’s Unca Harlan Ellison talking about this very thing. Man, I miss him.
Aftermath & Updates
Today is Dad’s birthday. He’s 78. I talked to him tonight and made him laugh a few times. It’s a gift, this ability to say the thing to make him not cry. It was a gift that I used during the two days we stood by Mom’s deathbed. I helped my sister through, too. So that was my present to Dad tonight. I made him laugh. It was something small, but it was something.
I’m numb. It’s been a month and five days since my mother died and it feels…wrong. Strange. Inconceivable (and, yes, it’s okay if you read that in Wallace Shawn’s voice, I did, too, as I wrote it). She was a force of nature. And now…
I’m told I haven’t been the same, that I’m not myself. Everyone expects it, of course, but still. I haven’t had a full breakdown moment, yet, where I wept and cursed the heavens or anything like that. My crying has come in moments, flashes, and then gone. I have laughed a lot, telling funny stories about Mom, which I think she’d prefer anyway. But still, I’m numb.
Very quickly, I found the one thing I could do was write. I’ve been working on the new novel pretty well. I’m just over 64,000 words into it and know the story is rolling. It’s mainly telling itself. I’ll call it The Monster right now, because it fits the book, though that’s not the working title. I haven’t worked on it as much as I’d like because I’m taking a state-mandated course for my teaching license, and the general exhaustion I feel through this time of melancholy, but I’m still doing well. I submitted Echoes on the Pond to an agent. Well, the query letter and first ten pages. I’m hoping he’ll bite. It’s a good book that I think deserves a chance in the sun. Once I finish the first draft The Monster, I’ll begin editing/revising my middle-grade science fiction novel, which I’ll call SpaceGirl for now. G and Pamela loved it and I think it also deserves its moment in the sun. It feels good to be wordslinging again. It’s falling into place in a way I haven’t felt in a long, long time.
One of the things I’ve done as I mourned is listen to Bruce Springsteen. All right, let me revise that. If you’re a reader of this blog (or my social media, or you know me personally), you know that I listed to Springsteen a lot. Well, of course I’d listen to him during this trying time. I’ve found The Rising to be an album that rises to the challenge. No pun intended but feel free to laugh. “The Rising” itself is a song about having died and going to the Great Beyond, whatever that is. But songs like “Lonesome Day,” “Countin’ on a Miracle,” “Mary’s Place,” and “You’re Missing” are built for this kind of thing. Maybe I’ll write about these songs in regards to this.
One of the things I’m afraid of is that I’m talking about (or writing about) Mom too much. I’m worried people will think I’m trying to play a pity card or something. I’ve been assured by friends that it’s natural, but it’s still a fear.
Anyway, I’m bouncing along, doing what I can. I feel lost, still, most days. My mind allows me to jump to jokes and stuff like that to protect me, I guess. Either way, I’m working on a dream (to steal from Springsteen again) as I write, and I’ve been very lucky to have a good support system around me. That’s where I am right now. I hope you’re well. And I’m glad I got to make Dad laugh for his birthday. I did something good today.
In 2019, I Promise to Something or Other, or I’m Here, See?
As has been the case for the last few years, I’ve meant to write here sooner. When I think I might, though, I think of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancin’ in the Dark,” the opening lines of which are, “I get up in the evenin’ / And I ain’t got nothin’ to say.” That’s how I’ve felt. At least a little. I have things to say, but are they worthy of being said? Now right there is a problem that the internet has created, isn’t it? Lots of people saying shit that doesn’t need saying. I certainly do that enough on Facebook and Twitter. And even Instagram, when I think about it. But this is my space and….
And I’ve been working on other things. Here’s what’s gone on:
I started writing a middle-grade science fiction adventure novel in July because my youngest daughter asked me to write a story for her. At four years old, we began reading junior novels to her and she loved them. That summer, she asked me to write her a story but with grad school going I didn’t have the time. I began it this summer but once she was out of daycare in August, I didn’t have the time or energy. Then school started. I got back into writing in the fall, though, when I edited and rewrote Echoes on the Pond. Right around Thanksgiving, I began submitting it. I’m still waiting to hear back from an agent but we’re very close to the two months where I may not hear anything. But either way, Echoes on the Pond has begun going out there.
In December, I finally finished the middle-grade science fiction adventure story. It’s about 21,000 words and I read the first draft to Pamela and G and they loved it. G was so happy, she kept hugging and kissing me. She’s six now and she loves those longer books even more. So that’s the next to be revised, right after I finish…
A new novel I’m writing! This one is an adult novel, horror/supernatural suspense/dark fantasy. I’m only about 25,000 words in so far but I feel like I’m digging well and may not break the story too much.
I have a short story I need to put into rotation, too. The other stuff I’ve written about? Well, I still need to work up my druthers to pitch column ideas, but it’s there. The main thing is that I’m writing again and having fun doing it.
As far as other things in life, they’re fine, I guess. Medical bills and student loans both suck. I’m sick of dealing with those people. The world seems like it’s ready to fall apart around us but there’s also an energy and hope that I’ve never seen before. My depression has been pretty bad for the last month or two, but I know that’s how it works. Depression seems like an ocean, to me, with the waves ebbing and flowing and right now, it’s stormy and the waves are big. My job is to ride them. My mother has had a rough go of things and that hasn’t been fun. Things could be improved upon in my family’s lives but overall, I’m happy.
The main thing, for this blog, is that I’m writing again. And I hope that this means I’ll be here more. Time will tell. Take care of yourself and happy 2019.
“René Descartes walks into a bar. The bartender says, ‘Would you like a drink?’
Descartes says, ‘I think not,’ and disappears. A moment later he reappears and says, ‘On second thought…’
Anyway, Bill, this is Harlan Ellison.”
That was how my second voicemail from Harlan began. It was a moment that knocked me out. I’d already received a call from him the prior fall, in November 2006, but there I was leaving work in the spring of 2007, hearing the gruff voice again. A voice I’d heard in audiobooks, CD recordings of lectures, and on television was, again, coming from my phone. At the end of the message, he left his phone number.
I never used it.
Harlan Ellison died on June 27th. I heard about it on June 28th, which happens to be my wedding anniversary. I am heartbroken.
It’s taken me almost two months to write this because I wanted to get it right. I don’t know that I have. Harlan’s work has amazed me since I first started reading it when I was 19 years old, in 1996. I have trouble believing that I’ve been a reader and fan of the guy I first saw on television through his commentary on Sci Fi Channel’s Sci Fi Buzz when he was in his 60s and I was at the end of my teens. Turning 41–an actual friggin’ adult!–and Harlan is gone. People talk about their favorite Harlan Ellison stories. Of course, “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman.” and “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” are classics and I love them both. I am partial to “Jeffty is Five” and “The Resurgence of Miss Ankle-Strap Wedgie,” and also “Incognita, Inc.” But trying to list favorites is a mug’s game, as Harlan might say. Every time I think of a few, a few more pop up that I love. His nonfiction was amazing, too. It made me want to try my hand at nonfiction, which is how I got into blogging, and even had the nerve to pitch my column to Dark Discoveries Magazine back in 2004.
But his writing, which was how he defined himself, was only a part of what I loved about Harlan. His personality seemed very similar to mine at times and I loved that he would say what he believed, throwing the chips into the air and letting them fall where they lay. For a kid who spent too much of his adolescence trying to figure out who he was, just living your life by your rules and to fuck with anyone who didn’t agree was refreshing. Looking back, I realize I may have taken this too far at times because Harlan had something I lacked: courage. Or the stupidity of just not being scared by anything. He was a Force of Nature, I was a Fart in the Wind. I look back on my column, American Gauthic, and some of the things I wrote online and said in real life during my early-to-mid-to-late-20s and cringe. I should not have gone there. I was not then, and am not now, Harlan Ellison, who could mostly get away with it. That said, the column did build some bridges and it is the thing that got me the voicemails from Harlan.
In the fall of 2006, upon renewing (or changing my address for) my HERC–Harlan Ellison Recording Collection–subscription, I sent a letter saying I was writing an essay about him if he’d like to read it. Harlan (or, more likely, Susan) sent a Post-It attached to an issue of The Rabbit Hole saying yes, so I mailed the manuscript to him.
A few weeks later, I was leaving work at my newish job as a teaching assistant and I saw I had a voicemail. It was Harlan, thanking me for the essay, telling me it was good, and correcting some mistakes that I’d made. I was thrilled. I wish my phone company at the time had let me keep the voicemail. I revised the essay and sent it to the magazine. The next spring it was published and I mailed the copy or two that Harlan had asked for to keep in his files.
Spring of 2007 was a good time for me. I had met the woman I was pretty sure I was going to ask to marry me. I had been hired as a teacher. Things were looking good. As I left school, I saw I had a voicemail. I opened it and heard, “René Descartes walks into a bar….”
Harlan Ellison had a large impact on my life, just as he did on many readers’ lives. His words, his personality, his performances, his life helped me through difficult times. Harlan’s message in his writing and in many of his lectures and public appearances was to be ourselves, to not take shit, to learn and think and love and help and basically try to be our best. And that was a message I needed at critical times in my life when, as someone coming from a lower middle-class background, elitism was a definite no-no.
Harlan and I had a few exchanges via his bulletin boards, but I was never able to bring myself to actually call him after he gave me his phone number in the spring of 2007. I was just too goddamned afraid, which would have disappointed him. I wasn’t afraid of him, I was afraid of me. It was stupid, and I should’ve listened to everyone around me, but I didn’t.
And now, Harlan is gone. I didn’t know him. I wasn’t a friend. I was a reader who admired his work and what the man did in his life. There are many out there who can tell stories of bad behavior and this and that and fuck them all. Harlan Ellison was a great man. His stories could cut you, make you feel, make you laugh, make you cry. He always believed in the possibilities of human beings. Harlan wanted what was best for us and for us to live our best lives with ethics, and for us to also know we’re all broken to a degree. We all have ugly sides that are part of being human. He wanted us to experience good art, good food, the best of what humanity had to offer. He knew, though, that there was violence beneath it all, and he had no problem revealing and, in some ways, reveling in it.
Harlan Ellison is dead. Words I knew I’d have to write someday but still feel strange to see together. Like Robin Williams and Wes Craven, another of my heroes gone. But, never truly gone. Because the work remains. And that is what Harlan wanted, for the work to last far longer than he did. I’m up to carrying it along. Join me?
Tippity-Tapping While the World is on Fire, or I’m Here & I Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
Do you want the general update first? Yes? All right.
I received my Master’s Degree in May. I am officially a master. I get a seat on the council without whining. So there’s that. I’ve been catching up on reading that I put off while reading for the graduate program. Don Winslow’s The Power of the Dog and The Cartel…holy shit! These are good books. Stephen King rewarded me for the Master’s by publishing The Outsider in May and kicked my ass with it. Jeremy C. Shipp’s The Atrocities was a hallucination nightmare and recommended. There are other things, too, but we’ll worry about them another time, if at all.
I’ve been writing, too. I’m editing Echoes on the Pond and should be doing revisions next week. I should be able to begin submitting to agents/publishers by August. I also started a new novel, which is a middle readers novel. My youngest daughter loves novels as much as she loves picture books. At five years old, she’ll sit and listen as her Mom and I read a chapter or so a night. This has been going on for about a year. While I was still in grad school, she asked me to write something for her. Well, it just so happens that I had a story I came up with when I was between 10 and 12 years old, I even drew a picture of it. Funny enough, I found the drawing about four or five years ago in my parents’ attic and brought it home. It’s a slightly revised version of that original idea but I’m writing it now. I also wrote my first (good) short story in a few years and submitted that. It feels good to be back on the horse.
And that’s the thing, that’s the real topic of today’s post. It feels so good to be writing again for me and, by extension, you.
I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years writing academic papers with only a few small forays into my own writing that I feel like the world is mine for the taking. But it has also led me to think about (or rethink about) (or re-rethink about) some things. This blog is one of them. Now, before you get all sweaty and freak out, having waited oh so long for a new post from me and now you’re afraid I’m about to say I’m going to stop, calm down. If there is anyone out there reading these posts, I assure you, I intend to keep them coming. I’ve thought about several topics to write here on the blog in the last few months. They include:
- How the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Margot Kidder made me realize how their characters taught me about women when I was a child
- Writing about keeping the dream alive when everything seems to be working against it
- General observations about the world
- A remembrance of Harlan Ellison
The first and last things especially have hit hard. The thing is, though, as I look at the time that I have, it’s limited. I can either work on my novels, stories, general fiction that I hope to submit and get paid for, or I can write blog posts about things that I’d love to talk/write about but there’s no chance of getting paid for it. Money is very much in my mind right now. I owe over $100,000 in student loan debt. And even though on paper my wife and I make a pretty good income, the cost of living is rising ridiculously. This past month alone, I’ve found myself tight in the wallet, and I foresee next week is going to be really hard. Part of this is that changes will have to be made, and I dig that. But I also need to be able to earn some extra income. So while I’d love to be able to write more here, I think I’m going to look into turning these ideas into essays, columns, whathaveyou.
Now, I may look into Patreon at some point, once I’ve hit my writing groove again, and if I do, you will be the first to know. I may pitch some ideas for columns, too. Maybe bring back American Gauthic or something else entirely. I don’t know. But if going through grad school taught me anything, it taught me that I can juggle some of these things more than I ever thought I could. And if the last three weeks have done anything, they’ve lit a fire under my ass.
What happened in the last three weeks to do this? 1) The money thing. 2) The death of Harlan Ellison
If you’ve been a longtime reader of mine, you know how much Harlan Ellison meant to me. Since his death, I’ve been watching commentaries and listening to his lecture CDs put out by Deep Shag Records. It has reinvigorated me. I’d like to write more about Harlan but I think that should be its own post, and I also have another idea. You’ll know when and if I pull that other idea off.
So there we go. As the world burns around us, I am doing my thing. Writing, telling stories, and watching. I will report back, I promise. How and when is the real question.
You Mean It’s…2018?!, or Just WHERE the Hell Have I Been?!
I am a little shocked that I haven’t posted here since last New Year’s Day. I mean last New Year’s Day, 2017. A lot has happened…and not much has happened, too. If you want the short of it: I’m doing well, so is my family, and I’m nearly done with grad school. Once I am, I’ll post here more. I hope you’ll forgive my lack of posting (though I’m not entirely sure anyone really cares about these blog posts). And that’s it! See you when I see you.
All right, that was the short of it. I didn’t do the thing with the ellipses up there to be cute, though. They’re there if anyone doesn’t want to read beyond that brief, general update. If you’re still here, it might get long. We’ll see.
Anyway, 2017 was an interesting year, wasn’t it? We went from having one of the best presidents in modern history to…well…HELP US!!!
Yeah, and that was just January 2017.
I had a not-so-great year at the day job. Being a teacher is great, but sometimes things are tough, mainly from adults. Still, that wasn’t the only problem, because I was having issues, too.
As I mentioned in my last post, I thought I may have been suffering from depression. Well, in May I finally saw my doctor and spoke to her about. She said, “You’re a textbook case of depression.” We talked about mental health and how even that can be “broken” or something like that. She prescribed something and by the summer, I was feeling better, and by late summer I was feeling the best I’ve felt since I was a little boy. Things at work got better and–most importantly–things inside me got better.
Most of my free time was spent working on grad school through 2017, or grading. I turned 40 in August. Forty. I mean…I’m an adult now. Except that…well…you know.
There was a leeeetle Bill Gauthier writing done here and there, though nothing finished. Grad school and papers took up too much of that time. And grading. And being a father to a 19-year-old. And being a father to a four-now-five-year-old. And being a husband. And a dutiful son. And… You get it. Still, don’t you worry! My plan is to finish grad school–I should be done by May–and then take a few weeks just to veg out. Then I’ll be jumping right back into Echoes on the Pond, making another sweep through, and attempting to submit it. I’ll start working on other projects that have been on the back burner for far too long. We’ll see how everything goes. One thing that grad school taught me was that I was capable of far more than I thought.
Let’s see…what else about 2017…?
Oh! The Dark Tower movie! Loved it. Justice League! Loved it. Wonder Woman!! LOVED it!!! Coco! Loved it! Star Wars: The Last Jedi!!!! Are you fuckin’ kiddin’ me?! I LOVED it! Oh! IT! Loved it! I could go on, by why bother? I enjoyed most of what I saw. And as far as The Last Jedi, I feel as though I could write my master’s capstone on that!
Am I missing anything? Except for the fear of the impending End of Civilization®, not much else. Of course, I’ll post this, walk away, and think of seventy other things, but for now, I’m going to take my leave. I’m looking forward to getting my Master’s Degree and getting back into writing for myself and, hopefully, for you.
Until next time…