A linguist, a lake monster, and the looming shadow of death—news of an unknown creature in the New Bedford Lake coincides with news that Natalia’s cancer has returned.
On the shores of the lake in a strange house with many secret doors, Robert and his family must face the fact that Natalia is dying, and there is no hope this time. But they continue on; their son plays by the lakeside, Natalia paints, Robert writes, and all the while the air is thick with dust from a worldwide drought that threatens to come down and coat their little corner of green.
A lament for what is already lost and what is yet to be lost, Descriptions of Heaven leaves only one question to be asked: What’s next?
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I wrote my first book while living in my parent’s basement.
I now have a wife, a house with a home library, and a dog. These good things in my life aren’t the result of stellar book sales or frequent speaking engagements. The best parts of my life are the result of me giving a damn, giving the time, and giving the energy to making it happen. That’s how my first book, Descriptions of Heaven, happened. And that’s how my current novel-in-progress, and also my series, Dialogues: a Collection of Creative Conversations, are happening.
I started publishing short stories in 2010. My first story, There’s War, was published in a bizarro magazine called Bust Down the Doors and Eat All the Chickens. That same year I had a piece published online by National Public Radio for round five of their Three-Minute Fiction Contest. Truth be told, I liked equally well both sets of stories I was published alongside. My writing has since appeared in places such as 3:AM Magazine, MonkeyBicycle, Spelk, StoryFinds, Unbroken Journal, and as|peers.
At this point in my life, I have had very little influence on the world of literature. Though I hope my small contribution has meant something at some point to some small group I’ve helped highlight. I produced an album of spoken-word poetry many years ago. On numerous occasions I’ve emceed at Poetry Slams. I’ve read submissions for VLP Magazine, South Dakota Review, and Heart & Mind Zine. I wrote a reader’s theater play for a middle school class of English Language Learners. So I hope I’ve done something of merit for the literary arts. If anything, I hope I made writing, reading, and performing literature fun. Because it is fun. While literary criticism as an academic discipline is all well and good, we need to remember that a passion for the written word is the basis upon which students of English declared their majors. So why not cultivate that? Teach what it is to love literature with a sustained passion? Maybe my acts and my conversations won’t amount to much more than expressions of love for writing and reading. Yet, if it does, I feel like I will have given something worthy to the world.
I’m a homebody at heart, an adventurer by choice, which is good for a writer who needs experiences followed by long periods of distillation at the writing desk to turn adventure’s emotions and memories into well-written stories. My quotidian hours are spent with books in the morning, followed by time at my desk or kitchen table, drinking coffee while typing or writing by hand. Nearly all my first drafts are done with pen on unlined printer paper. Lines constrain my writing almost as much as a word processor’s fonts. I write big or small. I scratch and scribble. My hands work, and I feel alive. Later, after lunch, I might go for a walk, clean around the house, possibly read, or work on other writing. Writing is a process of persistence. But it should not be one of desperation. My art grows with me, and I with it. I’m not sure if I’m a natural writer. I am sure that I’m a natural artist, and words that tells stories are what I use to craft my art. I’m a connoisseur of well-written art.
My creative process changes all the time. Life rarely lets me form a consistent habit, be it a specific type of pen, a particular place, or a daily time. So instead of saying “life gets in the way,” I try not to let a habit get in the way. Whatever I wrote about my writing life as it is today will be different tomorrow, different with the next book, different due to poverty or folly, different due to windfall or acumen. That’s why I make writing the habit—not a time or place or utensil, not a drink or music or mood. Make writing the habit itself and your habit will feed your ever-changing process. That’s what I aim for—a writing habit, not habits around writing.