One year ago, on April 2th, 2004, I woke up in my house for the last time. By the time the day was over I no longer owned a house and I was a couple hundred miles away. It was, purely coincidentally (I make sure to assure one and all), my 40th birthday.
My plan was to spend maybe three weeks seeing some of my own country before a quick trip back to San Diego to wrap up a few things, then off to Eastern Europe to start a little software company and to get even more serious about writing. I thought I might make it to the Czech Republic in time for the world hockey championships.
You already know what happened. Three weeks later I was in Tahoe City and just getting rolling, balancing a freelance software project with my need to roam. I had already become recognized at bars in Scotts Valley and Zephyr Cove, and was on my way to being a regular at Sam’s Place. From there I headed north, then farther north, then things got complicated.
On the way I wrote a lot, finishing one novel (although I’m tweaking it again now), making a good dent in another, and keeping some other projects alive. Every once in a while an episode here came close to capturing the feel of the road, the solitude and the possibility, and those are my favorite episodes by far. There are a few episodes I never published, and some I never wrote, that perhaps come closer yet. Those will have to wait for the fiction, either to protect the innocent or because the prose just needs more work first.
I have enjoyed writing this silly blog immensely. I’ve tried to keep maintaining my media empire from becoming too much work, and I’ve tried not to let it interfere with my “real writing” too much, but some of my better work is here on this sprawling site. Yes, yes, I know, but I already did quit my day job. There are periods when the prose comes easily and has more behind it, while at others I’m glad I gave this site the title I did. If someone finds the writing aimless and disjointed they can just look at the banner graphic and get over it.
There were days, blowing along empty desert highways with the sun baking my exposed head or groping through a Texas downpour, that I felt close to something, some sort of truth that is the holy grail of the American Road Myth, just out of reach. Motion was a drug, and I know there were times I missed opportunities simply because I could not stop. I think of those moments now, gone forever. The opportunity to photograph the lonely vendor in his shack while it rained in Monument Valley. The run-down little towns that once thrived when travelers like me were not drunk with motion and would stop for a while. The Kansas sunset. I think that was Kansas, anyway.
Finally in November I arrived here, in Prague, already behind on my November novel. I wasn’t worried. It came out pretty good; a techno-thriller that perhaps wasn’t yet thrilling enough but it had good characters. There’s a lot of the road in it, and the desert, and boats on the open sea. A couple parts were thrilling, too, as far as I can tell. It has a long way to go to be a complete reading experience, and it’s number four on the finish-up list.
The past few months have been quiet, and cold. My adventures now are of a different sort, like going to the grocery store and wondering what’s in that jar, or getting “big” and “small” backwards when asking for a loaf of bread, or realizing the sun is rising having just ordered another beer.
So here I sit, one year older and certainly no wiser, in a bar I dubbed Cheap Beer Place, trying not to let opportunity slip past. Trying to get published, working on more short stories, thinking maybe it’s time to get Jer’s Novel Writer into a state where I can charge money for it, and not forgetting the novel that comes after I finish up the sprawling unruly story that is The Test. The Fish will be the one will be the story that will finally decide if I brought anything in from the wilderness.
There’s more to this disjointed collection of musings and ravings than just the author, as well. Were it not for you, faithful readers, not just following along but making your own substantial contributions, this would simply be and exercise of verbal masturbation, only less satisfying. Instead MR&HBI stands as a bastion of literacy, wit, and intelligent discourse in the big, windy place that is the blogosphere.
Did I mention I did some work writing advertising copy?