Monday, December 31, 2012

These Are The Voyages

It’s time.
Words: the Final Frontier. These are the voyages to the Bottom Of The Glass. Its five-year mission: to explore strange perspectives, to seek out new music and song arrangements, to boldly write how no man has written before.
Yeah, it's hokey and bold and completely BS. The starship Enterprise had a five-year mission, too. Tells you what those damn mission statements are worth, right?

In March of 2013, Bottom of the Glass will turn five. We will have spent five years writing about anything and everything, with a particular affection for popular and rock music from the past half-century.

We’ve written close to 1,200 entries and received more than 800,000 page views without making a penny of profit. Our fan base has fluctuated and changed with the years, and we have valued everyone who visited, most especially those who chose to return. I can think of few compliments more valuable than a return reader.

My personal mission with BOTG was to condition myself for writing, to do so consistently and regularly, in the hopes of eventually translating that conditioning into a more ambitious project. (And to embark on an adventure with a true friend and mentor. Because I’ve never embarked on an adventure with a true friend that I’ve lived to regret. Yet.) After five years of enjoying BOTG for what it is -- a very healthy psychological escape and means of (sometimes) creative expression -- it feels long past due to try something bolder. And what better time than at the dawn of a new year?

It’s time.

This fall, I was made aware of a young adult novel written by a girl who graduated high school the same year I did. She was a stunning, mesmerizing young lady who went on to become a licensed psychologist. I caught wind of her book on Facebook, saw that it was being offered for free via Kindle for a limited time, and immediately pounced on it.

One night in high school after an away basketball game in town, I was given the rare opportunity to go hang out with some of the popular kids. We all went over to one guy’s house and just hung out. Listening to music, watching TV, talking, all of it without the presence of alcohol or tobacco, which always seems trumped up in its omnipresence in teen movies. Anyway, this young woman, this future author and I, we found ourselves in a private conversation where we listened over and over to the lyrics of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel, sifting through the references, debating what the hell Billy was ultimately trying to say.

(But seriously, what is the fire, who did start it, who tried fighting it, how did they fight it, and why didn’t they fucking win?)

While I’m proud of this former classmate, mostly what I felt as I read the first 40 pages of her book was this burning annoyance in the depth of my chest: jealousy. She finished what I have failed to finish.

Am I a better writer than her? Can I write a better story than her? Honestly, that’s not really the origin of my jealousy. How can I know whether I’m better at marathons when I’ve never finished one? So in the mental competition between myself and her as a novelist, she's kicking my ass either way.

So, it’s time.

My writing endurance is solid. I am now addicted to scheduled writing. Eight to 10 entries each month, 600-800 words each entry. If I took half of my entries from the year and dedicated those words to a novel, I’d have between 40-50,000 words. That’s roughly half the length of your standard YA novel.

What I know with near-certainty is that I still remember that encounter while she does not. She probably had a thousand encounters with smitten boys trying to seem smart and discussing some song or poem or book with her, while I only had a handful.

But this girl, and Billy Joel, and being 40, all of it’s screaming that it’s time I invested serious time and energy into doing this. It’s time.

I cannot say what the future holds for BOTG, either long-term or short-term, because part of the fun has been that Bob and I haven’t worried too much about it. I plan on continuing once each week with BOTG for as long as Bob will have me, for as long as the two of us can keep it going, but BOTG was never entirely the ends for me but rather the means to something, and it’s past time I explore that.

Wish me luck. It'll take some luck.


G. B. Miller said...


You're never too old to start the writing gig and get a novel published (I'm living proof of that as I've just got my first commericially published novel at the ripe old age of 47 1/2).

I wish you the best of luck in your new journey, and if you can keep my attention here with your blogging, I'm sure that you'll be able to keep my attention with whatever the end result will be with your writing.

Daisy said...

I can't wait to read your first completed novel!

Billy said...

@GB - As one of our more recent regular readers who comments, thanks for hanging out with us for a while! As for your kind words of confidence about the book, who's to say for sure. I only hope I get to a point where I have something in my hand that can either prove you right or wrong!

@Daisy - I look forward to stealing your optimism at some point!