Friday, July 28, 2017

That Black Hole We Call Writing

Writing isn’t all that we do, is it? What’s your second favorite activity?

by Paul D. Marks

You mean there is one? Who has time for secondary activities? Writing is like a black hole, sucking in everything around it. Housecleaning, socializing, hobbies and fun, get skimped on. And even when we’re doing those things the mind is always thinking of that next plot twist. Even when I’m relaxing doing brain surgery hobby in my spare time I’m thinking about scalpel twists and plot twists.

But when I have time to do other things, you know like sleep, there are several things that I like doing, can’t just name one second fave. Like others have mentioned, reading is one of my fave activities, but lately I get so many requests to read for blurbs that I have virtually no time to read for myself. In fact, I’m so overextended in that area that I’ve had to put a moratorium on accepting new material to read. When I do read for pleasure of course I enjoy reading mystery/crime fiction of various sorts, though usually not in the cozy area (no offense cozy-ites). I like reading works from the classic era of crime fiction, Chandler, David Goodis, Jim Thompson and others, as well as current crime fiction. I also enjoy reading mainstream, the classics and non-fiction. My favorite book is Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge. But when people ask what I’m reading I’m always hesitant to mention current authors for fear of the hurt feelings of those not mentioned.

I like music, both listening and playing. My first dream was always to be a rock star, whose isn’t? But I knew I didn’t have the chops. Still, I enjoyed being in bands when I was younger. And I still have acoustic, electric and bass guitars that I noodle on, though not as often as I’d like. I like listening to (and playing) a variety of music genres. My faves are the Beatles, hands down. And I enjoy 60s music, New Wave and punk. And today’s alternative. Have been listening to Rodney (no longer on the Roq but now on Sirius) forever. I also like swing music (and got to see a bunch of swing bands and singers that were still around when I was younger when my friend Linda and I would seek them out, I feel very lucky about that), cowboy music (not to be confused with country music). I like a lot of classical, especially baroque. Peruvian and other things.

Movies, of course, both watching and working on them. I spent many years doing script doctoring, no screen credit, no glory. But it sure was fun…much of the time. Except that time that a producer threatened to send his friends in the Mossad after me… As for watching them, a lot of newer movies leave me cold. I used to have broader tastes in what I liked to watch. I’d see almost everything, big films, little films, art films, foreign films. Today I prefer thrillers, though lately again I’ve started watching a little broader range. And I love old movies from the 30s and 40s and some 50s and 60s. Though the 70s was also a true renaissance for American films—lots of good stuff there.

Speaking of Hollywood, I love researching the history of Hollywood, LA, and history in general. And when I’m working on a writing project if there’s research to do I can get lost for hours going from link to link. It’s a “legit” way to play hooky from the actual writing.

I also collect toys, you know that plastic “crap” you threw out when you grew up. Army men, cowboys and the accessories that went with them. Well, my parents threw out (actually gave to the Salvation Army I believe) my toys when I went overseas but eventually I started collecting them again. When I started going to toy shows, I felt a little funny, but when I met other guys my age, including vets, bouncers and other assorted tough guys, and there’s a whole subculture of us out there, still playing with our army men, I felt like it was okay :–) . And I like photographing the little guys, as well as other things. In fact, I love taking pix in general, so that would be another second favorite thing, along with all the other second favorite things.

In the olden days, I liked to SCUBA dive, but haven’t been able to do that in some time. Travel’s also in there. And I always wanted a boat—well maybe someday.

But my two favorite things, corny as it sounds, are walking the dogs and hanging with them and Amy—and when we had cats hanging with them too. We live in a semi-rural area and I enjoy walking the dogs almost as much as they enjoy it. Yeah, corny but true, what can I say?




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And now for the usual BSP:

My story “Blood Moon” appears in “Day of the Dark, Stories of the Eclipse” from Wildside Press, edited by Kaye George. Stories about the eclipse – just in time for the real eclipse on August 21st. Twenty-four stories in all. Available on Amazon.



23 comments:

GBPool said...

Sometimes those hobbies writers have turn themselves into books. I collect Santas. I have 4000 now. I worked in a miniature store selling dollhouses years ago. I made some of the things we sold. I turned the hobby into three Christmas books. What if those toy soldiers helped solve a crime...? You never know where writing and hobbies can work together.

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh that the Beatles mention came up. I spent last Saturday at the Tumbleweeds Bar and Grill in Huntington Beach. They have a Beatles Meet-up every couple of weeks where you can join in the singing and join the band onstage for karaoke or to play an instrument. Great fun.

Like you, I have way too many secondary hobbies. Lately I've been focusing on them instead of writing. Need to get back to work.

Caitlind Alexander
Author, children's books

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Yeah, my mind is always thinking about plot twists when I'm doing other things, too. And it's amazing how many writers are or were into music at some point.

AJ Wilcox said...

An old hippie rock star... I'm still working on that goal Paul.��Q

Sally Carpenter said...

I love the old movies too Paul. I don't even watch new TV shows anymore; the classic series are so much better. Yeah, my hobbies have fed into the writing. I turned my Monkeemania (collecting, music, concerts, fanzines etc.) into my Sandy Fairfax series and my WIP series is based on my love for all things '60s. Far out!

Paul D. Marks said...

Gayle, I think it’s great that your hobbies have turned into books. And since you mention toy soldiers solving a crime, years (decades) ago my then-writing partner and I wrote a script about a kid’s toy soldiers coming to his aid.

Thanks, Caitlin. So do you join in the singing? And I know what you mean about the secondary hobbies taking over. Sometimes we need to get out of the writing black hole.

Dieter, I think the connection between writers and music is a real one. There do seem to be a lot of writers who were into music or still are. Something about the creativity involved, I’m sure. And we are always thinking of plot twists when we’re doing other things, aren’t we? We’re never really at rest.

Well, AJ, to that goal, remember the words to the Byrds’ song So You Want to be a Rock n Roll Star: “So you want to be a rock and roll star? Then listen now to what I say, Just get an electric guitar, Then take some time and learn how to play, And with your hair swung right, And your pants too tight, it's gonna be all right…” You’ve got the look already :-)

Sally, I think it’s great that you’ve been able to turn you hobbies and Monkeemania into your book series. Why not? They say write what you know :-) . And I’m with you on the old movies!

Jack Getze said...

One of my favorite Los Angeles stories is Lucky Baldwin, probably because I went to Martha Baldwin grammar school. Google him if the name's not familiar.

Art Taylor said...

I knew much of this about your past (script-doctoring) and the things you enjoy (Chandler always)--but the toys? That's new! Such fun!

Paul D. Marks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul D. Marks said...

Well, I have to keep some things back to be mysterious... And there's still more. But yeah, toys and Beatles collectibles, even some art deco stuff, though I haven't been doing the latter two much lately. And the toys are fun but I barely have time for them because of that writing black hole ;-) ! Thanks, Art.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Jack. I am a little familiar with Lucky Baldwin but could probably stand a refresher course. I know Baldwin Hills is named after him.

Kaye George said...

Ah, now I know why we get along. I honestly think Somerset Maugham is the most underappreciated English-language writer, a genius. I'm glad to see someone else likes him.

Serita Stevens said...

Besides writing, I am a forensic nurse and do legal nurse consulting so I keep up with all the literature and new things in the field as well as watching shows like forensic files, cold justice, etc.

Paul D. Marks said...

Great minds and all that, Kaye ;-) . And yes, I agree with you re: Maugham. He seems largely forgotten today, which is a shame.

Paul D. Marks said...

That sounds fascinating, Serita. And definitely good background for writing.

JP Bloch said...

I used to go hiking/backpacking a lot, but a surgery about 20 years ago put an end to that. I'm really quite happy hangin' with my dog and reading and watching old movies in bed. I've written 6 novels in about eight years, so I'm chillin' at the moment, though unfortunately an idea for a story came to me the other day.

Paul D. Marks said...

Sorry to hear that your surgery stopped you from hiking, Jon. But hangin' with the dog, reading and watching old movies sounds pretty good!

Janet Rudolph said...

Love learning more about you. Toys, huh? Cool.. wait until you see what I collect! and, yeah, hanging with the dogs..always good.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Janet! Yeah, I keep telling people I want the same things for presents today as I did when I was eight :-) . And now I'm really curious to see what you collect!

But yes, dogs = good!

Susan C Shea said...

Sorry I missed this on Friday but it's packed with such interesting material - and I feel I know a lot more about you. Thanks, Paul. No wonder you;re such a sharp writer. Your interests are broad and deep and you've had enough career moves to make you a discerning listener, watcher, and reader.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Susan! I'm a jack of all trades, master of none ;-). But it's fun. And I hope you're doing well!

EA said...

Great post, Paul. Love the pics! Elaine

Mar Preston said...

It's nice to get to know you better.