Writing Under Giant Trees ~ A View From The Keyboard of Hosho McCreesh

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On the wonderful Hypertext Magazine site, Hosho McCreesh spoke a bit about his intriguing new novel, CHINESE GUCCI, and his complicated narrator: “For me, Akira represents many things about America, and masculinity that I hate. In an almost allegorical sense, I want a reader to feel about Akira the way I feel about America. America is a young, spoiled, stunted nation — one lost to façades. It’s a nation that can be brutally incurious about the world, one that views other countries simply as resources, and one that lumps the whole of Asia into a simplistic archetype that it only relates to through either an exotic wonder or warfare. But I also see America as a clever, creative, and ambitious project, one with real promise. If we can get and keep our shit together. These competing visions of America are in constant combat for me, and the soul and character of the nation are the ultimate stakes.”

McCreesh took a minute from the busy weeks around a book’s launch to share with A View From the Keyboard an excerpt from his novel, as well as a glimpse into his unusual creative workspace.
McCreesh: There are two reasons I picked this spot.

The first is simply necessity. I’m not really a “writer” so much as just a guy who writes. I have a regular 40-hour-a-week gig, so I have to find time to write when and where I can. This spot is really close to my work, and I wrote and edited a fair amount of Chinese Gucci here — in the backseat of my car, parked in this nice, shady spot (or one like it) over my lunch hour. Typically I’d kick off my shoes, and climb in the backseat with the pillows I keep in my trunk. I’d crack the windows to the breeze, set an alarm, lay down with my laptop on my chest, and start tapping away. When the alarm went off, I’d pack it all up then drive the minute or two back to work.

The second is because sitting under giant trees is relaxing, and helps keep the smaller frustrations of life in perspective. There’s truly something dreamy about staring up through sun-dappled branches into the New Mexico sky. Whatever was happening day-to-day at work, the simple act of accomplishing a little on the novel every lunch hour really protected the spark you need to have to keep going, and those hours eventually added up. What you can’t see is the liquor store a couple blocks away, which always makes for an interesting cast of characters, the type that can make you rethink the ol’ 40-hour-a-week-gig.Screen-Shot-2018-12-11-at-3.09.43-PM-2-660x400

As the photo is of the back seat of my car — where I did loads of work on the novel, I figured an excerpt set in the main character’s back seat, was apropos:

EXCERPT:

Akira woke — freezing. The windows inside the Skyline had a thin sheet of frozen condensation. He ran a fingernail along one and a little snake of soft ice unraveled, and dropped near the door lock. Akira promised he’d start carrying a blanket and some pillows in the trunk of his car for nights like this. The ugly, warm musk of stale beer sat thick in the cabin. He thought he might be sick.

Akira opened the door and stumbled out into the frost. There wasn’t a cloud in the frozen night sky, and the moon was a sliver surrounded by tiny, distant stars. The urge to throw up passed and he took a piss instead. The hot acrid stink of it almost steamed on the cold black rocks as it poured out of him, his guts draining. Back inside, he checked his phone. The battery was dead. He found his keys in the ignition, turned them, and fired the engine. The clock on the dash read 3:37 a.m.

His forehead hurt. In the rearview he noticed a red lump. He tested it with his fingers — sucking air back in through his clenched teeth as he did.

Pieces of the evening began to come back to him: Handfuls of chips stuffed in his mouth; jalapeño cheese sauce caked on his pinky knuckle; beers and beers and beers; peppered jerky; then gin, straight gin. He found the bottle in the back seat and thankfully it was still pretty full.
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Hosho McCreesh is currently writing & painting in the gypsum & caliche badlands of the American Southwest. His work has appeared widely in print, audio, & online.

Thanks, Hosho, for this glimpse into your work. And thanks to everyone, as always, for reading. May your New Year bring your good luck and good stories! ~ PMc←
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Writing in a Moment of Crisis ~ A View From the Keyboard of Greg Olear

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If you know me at all, you know that I am a sucker for kitty cats in the writing space. (Kitty cats anywhere, really.) Greg Olear, the founding editor of The Weeklings and the author of the novels Totally Killer and Fathermucker shares his space with this little guy. And also if you know me at all, you know that I am a sucker for thought-provoking, bold, informative writing. Greg Olear writes just that sort of stuff in his writing space…with his cat. And if you can’t find Greg in his writing space, you will certainly find him on Twitter, where he spends most of his time.

For now, though, here is Greg Olear’s View from the Keyboard:

Olear: I’m cheating a little, but this is my view this morning from my writing space. Titus, our new kitten, is sunning himself. My laptop is about nine inches away from his face. I am lucky because I have my own office in my house. Behind me are three gorgeous wooden bookcases, filled with books. There are also bookshelves built into the wall around the window that Titus is in front of.

I love this space because I can look out the window as I write onto the street, which is not busy busy, but not not busy, either. It makes me feel connected to the community. I’m not a “retreat into the woods by myself and drink whiskey and write” kind of writer. I’m more of the Samuel Johnson “tired of London, tired of life” variety. I write almost every morning, first thing in the morning. After 11am, I’m useless.

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Lately, the fiction writing has been uninspired. We are in a moment of crisis in our country, our republic is under attack, and I am using my meager platform to inform my readers of the Trump menace. I’ve just published a book, on my own hastily-invented imprint, called DIRTY RUBLES: AN INTRODUCTION TO TRUMP/RUSSIA. I’ve been tweeting about this and writing about it for 18 months, and I decided to put it in book form. I did this because I feel it’s my civic duty to do everything in my power to get us out of this mess.

Here is an excerpt:

As I write this, a third of the country rightly recognizes Trump as a clear and present danger. A third will defend him no matter what he does, as a matter of blind faith. Whether the middle third is able to call out the naked emperor standing before us may well determine whether the United States survives this unprecedented crisis.

There are powerful forces working to silence these cries of “The Emperor has no clothes.” The talking heads at Fox News and InfoWars, the editorial writers at Breitbart and the Wall Street Journal, and an army of bots on Facebook and Twitter are adamant that Trump is wearing only the finest threads. Mainstream media outlets insist on giving equal time to the “Trump’s new clothes are fabulous” crowd, despite his indisputable nakedness. To too many evangelicals, to denounce Trump as a naked emperor is to renounce Jesus Christ Himself.

Furthermore, the story, the real story, strains credulity. Are we really to believe that a Russian dictator helped install his compromised asset in the White House, and is now exerting influence over said asset’s key decisions? That is the stuff of bad spy movies, surely; not the AP wire!

And yet here we are.

Trump once boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose the support of his voters. I beg to differ. If he did that, there would be irrefutable evidence of a terrible crime, a literal smoking gun, and that would (I like to think) sway the minds of even the most obdurate #MAGA apologists.

Trump/Russia, however, is not bang-bang. There is no single smoking gun. Instead, there are thousands of them, firing simultaneously, and the result is a noxious fog that hangs over everything, clouding our view.

This book is an attempt to see through the fog.513Whs9XRAL

→Thanks, Greg, for a glimpse into your space and your work. Keep up the good fight, man. And as always, thanks to everyone for reading. ~PMc←

View From the Keyboard ~ An Open Call

Is it because I am a writer, or am I just plain nosy? There is something about peeking into other folks’ lives and habitats that I find fascinating. Should I confess? I am a bit of a voyeur.

I remember one winter’s eve when I was writer-in-residence at Interlochen Arts Academy a couple of months after September 11, 2001, and I was in the backseat of a colleague’s Subaru as we headed across snowy landscapes to a restaurant on one of the many small lakes up north in Michigan. All that snow and all that dark, dark sky made the houses, few and far between, loom up from the shadows, their windows bright and glowing from the lights within. And as we passed, I looked in each of them, saw husbands and wives sitting in reclining chairs staring at a television set bringing that time’s bad news from the world. I saw an old man with a messy ring of white hair dressed in a flannel robe sitting by himself at a kitchen table, his face tilted towards a big bowl of something. I saw children reading and children playing video games. I saw empty rooms. And despite the cold and the snow-covered earth and the bleak blackness of the sky and the knowledge that things out there, out in the world beyond the warmth of the Subaru, were a bit out of our–of my–control, I found comfort in these quick, bright glimpses of the lives of others.

I’m in the city now, and at night walking or driving or sitting in my third floor apartment with a unique view of this Chicago neighborhood, I continue to look towards the windows of light, to see what art my neighbors hang on their walls, what is playing on their absurdly wide-screen television sets, where their cats like to sit, what they wear in the evenings, who still has Christmas decorations up (it is, after all, April, folks!) I am drawn to and enamored with these surroundings not my own.

And so, it is in that spirit of voyeurism, maybe, that I invite you, my writerly friends, to submit to me a picture of your writing space. I’ll call this segment of the blog “View From the Keyboard,” but know that I am not limiting submissions to those of you who write on a keyboard. Whatever space you write in, whatever tools you use to write, whatever trinkets or photos or books or animals or libations, etc.,  you surround yourself with can be part of your photo. I’d also like to know what you are writing. And once I start to gather these submissions, I will begin to post them now and again, and share your spaces and your writing with others as well.

The How:

  1. Take a photo of your writing space (with or without you in it.)
  2. Write a brief description/explanation of this space. Say whatever you want about it. Some ideas–why this space? What little thing here inspires you? What can’t we see in the photo? How much time do you spend there? What time of day do you write? And so on. You get the idea.
  3. Submit–if you are willing–no more than 250 words of something you have written in this space.
  4. Self-promote anything you might want to here. Website? Publications? Etc.
  5. Make sure to let me know how to contact you in return.
  6. Send jpeg of photo. Cut and paste text into an email. Send to templeofair@gmail.com
  7. In your email, please put the words “I agree to let Patricia McNair edit this submission for publication on her website/blog.” And don’t submit if you don’t agree to this. I will respect your work and your words as best I can.

The What Next:

  1. Be patient. I will respond as soon as I can. I am hoping to use each submission I get, but may have to discriminate along the way depending on number of submissions and their appropriateness.
  2. I will contact you if I use your submission on my blog, but may post it before you receive and respond to the notification (see #7 above.)
  3. Check back regularly to see what others are posting. Share the site with friends. Expand this community of writers.

Finally;

  • Thanks in advance to everyone who participates in any way, either by submitting, reading, or sharing. Looking forward to hearing from you!