25-04-13

Guest Post William Dickerson + Excerpt No Alternative + Giveaway




A Thrilling Example of My Day as a Writer



7:15 am: I have what’s called a Zen Alarm Clock, which consists of a series of solitary chimes at pre-planned intervals.  It chimes once, softly, then again 3 ½ minutes later, then again about 2 minutes after that.  Again and again and again…each increment gets smaller until the body recognizes the sound and awakens naturally; or, at least in a more natural way than rousing suddenly to a shrieking alarm.  The one hiccup in my zen-awakening is that my dog, Duet, without fail, hears that first chime and proceeds to stomp on my head, rendering the remaining succession of chimes pointless.  I assume the creators of the Zen Alarm Clock had not accounted for canine bedfellows.

8:30 am: I consume breakfast – usually granola with almonds and sliced bananas.  Blueberries are sometimes substituted for the bananas, but not often.  Very large cup of coffee.

8:30 am - 11:30 am: I write as much as possible.  If I’m writing a novel, I don’t limit myself; I just keep going until I can’t go anymore.  If I’m writing a screenplay, I often limit myself to 5 pages a day.  That way, I know I’ll have a draft in 3 weeks.

11:30 am - 11:45 am: I pace around my apartment and eat some kind of snack, while pacing; it’s usually goldfish crackers or whatever salty, crunchy treat my wife has provided for my pacing-time.


11:45 am - 1:00 pm: I research the subject matter that I’m writing about and plan to touch on in the next chapter or scene, if indeed the research is necessary.

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Lunch break.  Lately it involves an open roast beef sandwich with Swiss Cheese and Trader Joe’s Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce.  I usually watch the news while eating, in case something important has happened outside the confines of my workspace.

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm: It’s back to writing!  This is about the time Duet feels she needs to take part in the writing process.  She insists on getting on my lap, which makes it difficult to write, so I pull up a chair next to my desk and she hops up and sits beside me.  One might call her my editor.  I have no idea if she can read English (though, she is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and was bred to warm the bed of the King, so if she understands anything, it’s English), but she does seem mostly critical of the things I write.  This is evidenced by her uncanny ability to snort directly at my computer screen, leaving behind a spatter of mucus on the glass. 

4:00 pm: I pause to feed the dog (and take a moment to wipe down my computer screen) and make myself some tea.  Green tea, most of the time.  A little caffeine goes a long way at this point in the day.

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm: If I have anything left in me, I’ll write a little more.  But, more often than not, I transition into more visual tasks like storyboarding film projects, video editing, monitoring my presence on social networks and promoting my material that’s already out there in the world. 

7:00 pm: I get a call from my wife telling me she’s on her way home from work. Perfect time to call it quits and cook dinner.  Lucky for her, I’m a natural in the kitchen. 

8:00 pm: “The Daily Show With John Stewart” followed by the soup du jour on the Netflix menu. 

10:30 pm: I embark on a journey toward REM sleep and wait until my Zen Alarm Clock or my dog wakes me up again.

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EXCERPT NO ALTERNATIVE


CHAPTER TWO 

 William sips a cup of instant coffee at the kitchen table, reading the Sunday Edition of The New York Times. It’s not that he dislikes coffee beans; he simply acquired a taste for stirring grounds into a steaming cup of water, because this was how they did it in the army. He’s a creature of habit, a man who is happy with routine. He’s also a sitting Supreme Court Judge, in the Empire State of New York, and he sits at his head of the table as though he’s on the bench. He looks the part, he always looks the part, minus the robe. He has just settled into enjoying this weekend ritual when crunching guitar and thunderous drumming reverberate through the walls, circumventing the insulation, shaking the foundations of the house. He removes his reading glasses, looking up with subtle disdain.
 In the lush backyard, Thomas’s mother, Maureen, waters a flower garden. If Martha Stewart was a hippy with a biting sense of sarcasm, she’d be Maureen. Noticing the impending noise, she halts the hose. A small poodle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel skitter around her. The dogs of the privileged. The King Charles was bred to warm the bed of the King of England, and warm the bed it did. Now they warm the beds of American politicians. The perfect lap dog, foot and leg warmer, cursed with a mouth filled with absolutely terrible teeth, either on account of generations of inbreeding, or on account of their British birthright.
 Meanwhile, Bridget listens to rap music in her bedroom, her foot pumping anxiously at the base of her easel, as she continues to labor over the sketch of fruit. Bridget likes rap because her brother hates it, because her family hates it, her friends hate it. Thomas tried to sell her on the idea that if music is defined by the counterbalance of melody and rhythm, then rap is not really music, since it contains no discernable melody. It’s nothing more than performance poetry set to rhythm. As if some grunge-addled white boy is in a position to define the merits of rap. Bridget, on the flipside, sees it as the most daring of contemporary music, full of energy and anger and perfectly expressive of her own teen angst. But is she really in any position to define it either? She stares blankly at her sketch. She hasn’t made much progress. She feels like she’s having trouble focusing. Understandable, given her nature. Bridget’s appearance is neat, she’s at least showered this morning, but her room is an abject mess: grimy plates tilted haphazardly on something that must be a desk; empty packets of cereal; half-full mugs of coffee; shattered pieces of saltines; pencils stuck in the ceiling, suspended above her like stalactites; globules of glue adhered to the fibers of her wall-to-wall carpet; a suspension bridge of empty Gobstoppers boxes connecting her dresser to her windowsill, just waiting for the wind of her presence to surge past and upend it.
Hurricane Bridget. Posters of assorted hip-hop artists line the walls – Wu-Tang Clan, and their 36 Chambers, ain’t nothin’ to fuck with – and a spirited hamster, Bumpy, runs in a caged wheel on a shelf. Bridget erases an edge of a peach, which she’s added to the apples, then stops, distracted by the repetitive assault of garage rock blasting from below. “Fucking hell.” She cranks her rap music all the way up, adding insult to aural injury. Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” promotes rawness, but in no way is that rawness associated with the low-end his clan produced in the studio. Unfortunately, the bass from Bridget’s modest tweakers isn’t nearly substantial enough to provide adequate consolation, but she bumps her boombox to the max anyway. It’s the intention that matters to her.
In the garage, the scene of this domestic disturbance, Thomas pounds the skins of his new drumheads as Connor strums a hand-me-down Fender Stratocaster, its distorted sound driven through a decent combo amplifier, solid state, but doing its best to replicate the sound of vintage tubes. They play the same three chords over and over again, religiously, immersing themselves in a blanket of unadulterated noise. It feels like only this vibration exists, as though nothing else flows within the winds of this world. If all of humanity is connected by one underlying force, the unity proposed by followers of Yogis worldwide, surely it’s connected via the vibration of the electric guitar. B, to C, to E minor. Power chords, the index and ring finger, clamping down on tinny and tiny strings, sliding from fret to fret, as if charting the path toward sonic salvation. Or oblivion, the apocalypse, depending on your point-of-view and taste in music.
The overhead light in the garage flickers on and off, three times in regimented intervals, as though William is trying to communicate a message in some kind of covert Morse Code, as he had once done as a soldier in the jungle years ago. Thomas and Connor cut the song short and look up at Thomas’s ‘rents, perched at the top of the small staircase. Maureen squints down at the teens. “What are you guys doing?” “We’re playing,” Thomas says. “Can you play softer?” “Not really…loud is the whole point. You said it was okay, Mom.” “I didn’t know that Tinnitus was part of the deal.” The youngsters just stare at their elders, who in turn, stare back at them, a Berlin Wall of understanding between these people. “If we’re going to be forced to listen to you, how about playing something we like? Or at least know?” Maureen asks. “Do you know any Grateful Dead?” “Don’t you have to be on acid to enjoy that stuff?” William, who’s trying real hard to let Maureen do all the talking in this situation, can’t bear it any longer. He chimes in, ominous and monotone: “Thomas…” “You guys have one hour,” Maureen says. The parental units leave the teens to their order of business. Thomas and Connor erupt into a fit of laughter. Thomas turns to Connor, egging him on, “Turn that shit back up, man, and make it louder.” Connor grins like a spoiled little kid, “Fuck the Grateful Dead.” Thomas smacks his drumsticks together, firing off a four-count, launching them into the throes of the next song. If you can call it that.

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