Tag Archives: Mulch

Word Colored Glasses or: We’re All Crazy And That’s Okay

I am turning into a crazy person.

The reason I know this is because of what happened recently when my friend from work was telling me about the story about how he raked the leaves in his yard, bagged them up, and took them to the dump.

A sane person would have nodded politely and waited for the mundane narrative to be over. I on the other hand reacted like this:

“How could you send those precious leaves to the dump?” I asked horror. “How could you let nature’s bounty go to waste like that!?”

Perhaps this is a good time to mention that I have a garden. Having a garden means that I’m constantly on the lookout for vegetable materials to use for mulch. I save kitchen scraps. I rake up my mown grass and keep it in a pile. And of course, I keep my eyes peeled for bags of leaves sitting on the side of the road.

Owning a garden has given me something of a different perspective on things than non-gardeners have. Where they see trash, I see mulch. Sweet, beautiful mulch.

Writing is a bit like that too. It puts you on a different level from non-writers. It’s not necessarily a better level. Just different.

When I try to talk to non-writers about writing I often feel like I’m not really getting through to them. They’re often interested in what I’m saying, but they have no way to connect with it on a comparable level.

Often they’ll bring up their cousin who self-published a book and sold like a hundred copies. Everyone I talk to about writing has a cousin who self published a book. I’m beginning to suspect it’s actually always the same guy, and that somehow he’s manipulating some weird loophole in the space-time cousintinuum. [Error. Error. Error. Pun Failure. Complete Prose Breakdown. Error. Error. Error.]

When normal people get sick, they think, “I sure I hope I can stop puking soon.”

When writers get sick they’re sitting there with their head over the toilet bowl thinking, “It would be totally radical to write a story about a guy who gets sick and pukes up a human finger, and he doesn’t remember how it got there.”

We see the world through a different lens: the lens of story. It gives life some pretty radical hues. Sometimes it can even fool us into seeing narratives where none exist.  But we love it anyway.

So here’s to you, fellow writers. I’m honored and extremely thankful to have this small connection with all of you. Chances are I’d still do my writing even if I completely alone in this endeavor, but having all of you here to cheer and encourage me makes every day just a little better.

And, for what it’s worth, I’m thankful for all of you non-writers out there too. Yep, I can see you lurking in the shadows back there. You may not always be on the same wavelength as us writin’ weirdos but that doesn’t mean you’re not every bit as awesome. Oh, and the next time you see your cousin, tell him to keep on  truckin’ with his writing; he’ll make it to the big-time someday.

The Marketability Monster

I have a problem people. See, the thing is I’m doing my best to build this whole “writer’s platform” thing so that I can grow my fanbase. I have to say that on the whole it’s a lot of fun interacting with all of you, and writing this blog every day has been a great experience.

There’s only one problem. I’m doing it wrong.

Well, not everything. Just the one thing mostly. But it’s something important. See, I’m supposed to be turning myself into a brand. I’m supposed to be building up the kind of persona online that will hopefully draw people to read my books.

It shouldn’t be that hard. When you think, Heinze you think catsup. When you think IBM you think computers. When you think Toyota you think dying in a horrible fireball of twisted metal that’s hurtling toward a group of unsuspecting preschoolers.

And when you think Albert Berg you think…well what exactly? This is the problem for me. I’m supposed to pick a genre and stick with it. And I know it’s good advice.

Stephen King writes horror. Michael Connelly writes mysteries. Simon Winchester writes non-fiction about smart people.

The problem is I do not want to be pinned down. Let me give you an example.

The story I’m working on currently is called The Mulch Pile. The Mulch Pile is a story about two brothers in a disfuntional family and what happens when the garden mulch pile comes to life and starts wreaking havoc in their already unbalanced lives. You could loosely classify it as Horror.

But the other day I was mulling some ideas over in my head, and I came up with a loose outline for a story about a goth dude who drives a Mary Kay pink Cadillac, a homeless woman, and an everyman sales clerk who all get in way over their heads when they face off with a group of drug-dealing grannies. I’m not sure where you classify that one, but I’m pretty sure its as far from Horror as you can get.

And I really want to write both of them. I know it’s wrong. I know it’s absolutely counterintuitive. I know people want to know what to expect when they pick up a book with my name on it.

But I can’t bring myself to commit. There are just so many wonderful stories out there to write, so many crazy things I want to try out. How am I supposed to narrow it down?

This is usually the part of the blog where I give you some kind of answer, some resolution to the problem presented. The problem is I don’t have one. Maybe I really should just buckle down and forget about my dreams of diversity.

Maybe you’ve got a better solution. Or maybe you’re facing the same problem. If you’ve got some advice for me, I’d love to hear it. If you’re in the same boat, I’d love to hear that too.

For now, all I can say is that I’m enjoying the ride. I may not be making much of a brand for myself, but I’m having a whole lot of fun along the way.