So this is what I have for the opening paragraphs of my new novel/manuscript/project Astoria. There will of course be changes, but just thought I’d share the first few paragraphs to give everyone or anyone or just one a taste of what I’m writing about for the next couples months, at least with respect to fiction.
“My world of self-loathing and its life partner self-pity was shattered when Erica Smith dropped her engagement ring on the greasy counter top of Marty’s Diner. Not shattered to pieces mind you and for that matter not instantly, otherwise my part of this story would most likely end in the next sentence. No, no. There is more to Erica and I than just this and I will get on to it shortly, but Erica Smith, in the diner, with the engagement ring would definitely be the game, er, life altering instant for me, Jack Dylan.
For Erica it was something else entirely. For her it was when she left her “fiancé” in South America to come home. She really is a sweetheart, you just have to spend your life growing up with her and you will literally fall in love with as I did.
For Nikki Smith, Erica’s younger sister and by default mine as well due to the fact that she was growing up along side Erica and I, it would have to be the moment she decided to spend the night with our mutual friend and my roommate at the time, the venerable but not as yet veritable king of one-offs, Omar Thompson.
For Omar it was not his night with Nikki, as ground breaking as it was, it was when his father died, leading him along a dark path toward a similar fate.
For Cynthia Kim, the greatest Korean lesbian I know (she also holds this title under Korean and lesbian individually) it is definitely a toss-up between when she met Janelle and when she got fired. But one led to the other so maybe it was the first.
For Chris Hanson, my favourite musician friend (he doesn’t hold either individual title, but we’ve talked about this and he’s cool with it) there is also the choice between his experience with slutty Holly and Sam his guitarist telling him to find another string strummer.
Up until these moments we didn’t know “our asses from a tea kettle”, as my father liked to say, which means we knew some things, like how to pay rent and sleep with people and on one occasion pay rent while sleeping with people, but when it came to the big stuff – careers, love, happiness, and how to deal with tragedy, rejection and not having a clue as to who we really are and what we really want – it was clear we were pretty much fucked. We were dormantly waiting for something to shock us and leave us in an awe inspired state about the magic of life and love. We wanted the lessons of life to empower us to act, to make something of ourselves that we’d never thought possible and in doing so become the best possible versions of ourselves. While none of us gave voice to this desire, with the exception of a few empty words over some drinks here and there, it was, nonetheless, there. Were the hurt and pain and the hours taken up by the demon bitch that is uncertainty worth it? That’s not really for me to say because one thing we’ve definitely all learned is one person’s paradise is another’s hell and whether you’re ascending or descending all depends on your perspective and the perspective of those watching you. There is no clear answer so I’ll let you be the judge of us. One thing, however, is clear: there is no wrong time to follow your dreams, to grab hold of them and run as fast as you can to wherever and whenever they take you, because, if you don`t, you might wake up one day and realize that your life is filled with only nightmares – those former dreams that have withered and died and they are now trying to take you down with them.
This is the story of how we woke up and realized what we wanted wasn’t exactly what we needed and that to get what you need you have to fight for it, sometimes, at least for the important things, while sacrificing something that was once thought vitally important. At the time we thought life was working its way through us rather than us working our way through it. Our choices since those inciting incidents that turned off our respective auto-pilots and destroyed the switch – as all good and true life changing moments should – got us to where we are…which is far from where we started…and not where we’d thought we’d end up.
Following your dreams can be funny that way.”