Archive for the ‘marcus bird blog’ Tag

Manhattan Club NYC   Leave a comment

Got the opportunity to chill in this awesome spot for a few days. New York tunup!

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Dream Battles and Emotional Shackles   1 comment

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This is how I see the world at times. I am a man, standing in a place, some kind of limbo, with nothing but a dark beast in front of me. It stares and snarls, ready to tear me into pieces if I am not at my best and my sharpest. If I am not strong, it will kill me because of my weakness, it will take advantage of my shortcomings and all that I know about myself will fall into its guts, dissolving into things people never want to see.

I write about this because I am a human being. Sometimes I do not possess the perfect capacity to deal with things life throws at me. Often times I wonder where I am, if the world I see in front of me is real, or if the world with the beast is the “real world”.

I am battling for my dreams and also battling for my life. To dream is to live, to dream of more is to want to be more. If I do not fight for my dreams, I am sentencing myself to permanently be in a place with no lights and no bars. I am no one if I do not keep trying. To fight for a dream is to fight for life.

I am writing this from a place of some weakness, but I know strength is there. It has to be.

Or the beast wins.

There is a strange duality to things these days. The world is faster than ever and we are all more distant even though we are more connected. We ask less questions, we assume more and we care less. A glance at a facebook page should say everything about you.  A brief glimpse at a resume equals a life. Real conversations are shadows of what they once were. People have less to believe. They have less time to believe in anything and anyone.

Less people care.

Thus, the world is both feeling and unfeeling.

I think i’m writing this blog post because i’m drifting somewhere else, to a place that isn’t pretty, but as an artist, I can only vocalize my emotions through writing and images like the one I created above.

In my 2010 Tokyo Design Week speech, I talk reference the battle with the beast, the beast inside. It has been such a long, tiring battle, and I fear, of late he is gaining the upper hand, but i’ll stand tall and keep blocking the blows he throws my way, until I can’t anymore.

But i’m getting tired. My resolve isn’t the same and this red place, this quiet limbo, where the beast roams freely and howls at the night sky, I fear it will become my home soon, a place I cannot escape from.

But for as long as possible i’ll stay in this reality, away from the beast, looking forward, towards the light.

 

The Grovel Halfway through the new novel   Leave a comment

preegency

NOTE: This image has nothing to do with writing, although imbibing liquor tends to be part and parcel of a writer’s M.O.

 

So I felt like writing about all the connectors that start to fall in place at this point. I’ve probably mentioned it before, when I was writing Naked As The Day, but each time I reach this point something interesting happens.

Basically, the kinds of stories I’m tackling right now are a bit… abstract in some ways. I take a central idea (love, loss, regret, passion) and then weave that into a narrative involving a character that grows and grows until it becomes a story. So far, I realize the stories I’ve written (which are heavily character driven ) require a lot of character development to carry the plot (which isn’t always the most important aspect of the story). After all what is plot? Do I need villains lurking about and mysterious men with Israeli army training making offers people can’t refuse? Not in this project. But I did have some difficulty starting this novel for that reason.

“Abstract ideas” are really what they are… abstract. If I see a man on the road crying beside his son, who is listening to his iPod and I am moved to tell a story leading up to that moment. Where do I start? Who is the man, who is the boy and why isn’t he reacting, why is the man crying in the street? These are the questions that were pounding in my head during the preparation of my new novel, which was based on the premise of a suicidal man who meets a girl the night he wants to kill himself, a girl who takes him out of his malaise.

But the story is a lot more complex than that, since I had to dig deep into the environment of Kingston and create an atmosphere that justifies the protagonist’s weirdness. This was the “abstract” that was a bit tough to figure out. The tone of his voice, his perceptions on the world, the scenarios he finds himself in good or bad, his background his pain, his sexual proclivities, all things that need to be set in stone to flesh out a character.

So after writing and plotting out a few chapters, I found that the writing so far is more dense. In my first two novels I had shorter chapters that set a pace to what was happening. Because this one is more open-ended, the chapters are much longer. For comparative purposes, Naked As The Day had a total of twenty six chapters, running at 75,00 words (2,800+ words per chapter). I’m currently at 41,000 words for the new book and on Chapter nine (average 4,555+ words per chapter). I don’t’ think this means that I’m going to have twenty-six chapters of the new book which will turn it into a 100,000 word book. Probably during the editing I will break up some of the chapters, but for now they tend to run eight to ten pages each. This actually fits with the mode of the story and the “stream of thought” manner in which is it written. This book can easily end at fifteen or seventeen chapters, since that will take the book into 150 page territory, which is my aim.

But my main observation now is that the “sense of the universe” I’ve created is much clearer. There is less doubt about how to write certain things and deciding when to introduce certain character and conflicts. I guess this might be a repetitive theme with my observations, but sometimes when you create a story from nothing and it starts to take shape, going from 4 pages to 80, there is just something about that which makes me feel as if I’m doing something correctly. So there is still significant writing to do, but from this point on I feel like I’m closer to figuring out all the little angles that were confounding me when I started this book. I can see how something’s might play out as I push towards wrapping up the first draft.

cheers

 

 

Seven Days Seventy Five Pages   Leave a comment

 

 

I’m approaching a point in time now where I need to have a structure to look at my book “at a glance” Basically, what I’ve discovered when writing a novel, is that you can plot it out and have an idea of where you want the story to go. You can dutifully expand on this structure and get a very solid outline of how the novel will sound and feel as you write it. It becomes and A to Z map of where the story will start and end. But inevitably, there will be bumps in the road depending on the motivation a character has, or the degree to which you will eventually agree with the character’s direction.

So i’m at 75 pages of this new project i’ve written that will be set in Japan and a part of me knows the next few steps, but I think all this writing has left me slightly burnt out. So i’m taking a day to just chill out. I’ve spent some time mapping and remapping aspects of the the book as it develops, but inevitably, I didn’t feel much like typing. This has happened to me before, and it’s a mixture of mental and physical fatigue. So generally, if I have a long stretch of incredible writing, i’m usually well rested and reasonably clear (although like many a writer i’ve pumped out 15 pages in a few hours after a hard night of partying). But with complex projects like this, I think that aspects of the story can burrow int your mind and cause certain doubts about the storyline and where its going. The more tired your body and mind is, the harder it is to write.

I tend to be sort of physical with my writing process… and i’m constantly jotting down notes on a pad, or pacing around referencing my “at a glance” system, which is just a sheet or two of cartridge paper with the direction of the novel laid out in tiny bubbles. When i’m feeling like i’m writing too much for a certain part of the book, or if I’m questioning what i’m doing too much, then I step back and look at the “big picture” to see if things fit.  Now this is a personal quirk of mine that i’ve always had to deal with. Sometimes I get too worried about the correctness of my story as i’m writing it.

I know that people can write a lot and then take out what you don’t need later on, but i hate writing stuff that I’m not going to use, so I try to be reasonably efficient. I prefer to add more later, than trim the fat. I guess its just how my mind operates. Or i could just be writing this blog post to blow off some steam and get away from the laptop for a bit. Regardless, hitting 75 pages this quickly only means that a part of the story up to this point has been quite clear, and depending on how I proceed from this point on, I might see a drop in the per page per day count if I am still struggling with certain directional hurdles.

Based on the outline i have of my book the project will be no less than forty five chapters, and i’m up to chapter 13, so there is a good bit of writing left to do. If I can keep this stride, then in two weeks I should be able to hit well over 120 pages. I’m already at 38,000 words in just a week, and i will hit 50K (minimal novel length) in no time. This isn’t really a race, but as i wrote in a previous blog, i’m going harder than usual with this project because I wanted to have two books out this year and I don’t want to be actively writing at the end of October. I want to be in revision and release mode.

At the very least, I feel that the voice of this project is interesting, and I feel that writing a novel set in Japan will be interesting to many of the people over the years who’ve asked me about life there, particularly life in Tokyo. I feel that if a story is burning inside you to tell, you should tell it. What’s interesting about this manuscript is that when I was in Tokyo I couldn’t write this. I was too busy at that time. Also, I didn’t want to write this book before I had finished “Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken”. Just a few days before I started this project, I felt like in many ways I was completely done with the preparation of that novel. I’d prepared the hardcover mansucript, I’d released patched up and slightly reformatted versions online, and I had a marketing plan and strategy mapped out. But what I didn’t believe, was that my first real published novel was the do or die test. All I knew was that, if I wanted to write anything else, I needed to get that one out of my system. So I did, and after releasing it, trying my hand a few book readings and spending more time than i’d like on re-editing and re-formatting for typos and so on, I could see that there was a future with another book in it. In fact, I was happy to start this book, because i’m one of those people that always has five to ten big ideas in me, and when they latch on to me, it is almost like being possessed. I can’t sleep, I focus only on that task and in a way it becomes my world.

So this is an exercise in getting it done rapidly, putting it out there, then releasing it so I can move on to the next one, whatever that is.

this is me blowing off steam

cheers

 

Osaka Storia and Bina Memoria   2 comments

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I smell Osaka in the wind tonight.

Osaka was where she lived, and I’d take the train from the small sleepy town I lived in, somewhere in the middle of Japan, and I’d hop off when I reached Osaka Station, my heart beating with anticipation for the moment she’d come into my vision. I don’t know why it was on the wind tonight in Jamaica of all places, but it was there; the smell of the trees and flowers around her building, mixed with the sweet  touch of the inside of her apartment. I stood there, in the dark nighttime looking up to the sky, frozen in place. I had somewhere to go, I had something to do, but I couldn’t move, because I smelled Osaka on the wind, and I smelled her.

I saw us, walking together from her place to a small market nearby. She had plans for dinner, and I was smiling as she spoke, telling me what vegetables she needed to make it taste just right, and the twinkle in her voice as she told me she wanted me to enjoy the food. I watched her roaming through the supermarket, eyeing this ingredient and that, her eyes focused on the task, while I, a lingering shadow, observed from some distance away. The dinner was great that night as we smiled and chatted about nothing in particular, our heads light with the touch of red wine. It was cold, and that night she kept me warm in our embrace and I lay there, not wanting to leave forever.

I take a few steps forward, and I take a deeper whiff of the air around me. Yes, it is there. That sweetness that was both the smell around me and the moment; times we walked around a canal by a huge overpass near her place, watching trains streak by like illuminated snakes in the distance. There is an image of her that comes to mind. It is a cool windy September evening, and she is standing in front of me, in a summer dress, the wind blowing her hair around, her eyes comfortable with the promise of what we might have. In the background, green grass stretches as far as I can see into the distance. Around us, people walk and jog, children throw baseballs and people sit on blankets, but all I see is her, the summer dress she wears and the way she looked at me as the wind blew.

Now my mind is flashing to images of us in Tokyo, laughing as we run to catch a bus. We are late, and the bus is almost ready to go. I’m awkwardly holding my backpack, and she is lugging a small suitcase. I hear it clack clack on the sidewalk as we cheer each other on. She tells me we will make it, and I respond in a huff, agreeing with her. We make it to the bus on time, and laugh at each other constantly on the way to our destination. The bus ride is about two and a half hours, and I watch the evening grow into darkness through the window with her hand in mine. I can smell her against me, and feel her breaths against my shoulder. We talk sometimes, and sometimes we don’t. The bus dropped us near to a quiet inn, a Ryokan where an old lady gave us our room keys. We had a private room, outside in a quiet garden in front of a quiet enclave of tress. If you listened carefully, you could hear the running water of a river somewhere nearby. The room was cold and she kept me warm again, her hair spilling onto my chest as she held me, the laughter and memories of the evening before echoing throughout my consciousness as I vanished into her aura. I remember feeling there was love there, but I also remember feeling weak. Tokyo had me on edge, with its demands that left bank accounts near empty, and my mind a swirling maelstrom of doubt.  Her smell, her warmth was one of the few lights out there. This trip was one of those escapes, a drift into the outskirts of reality that was just us.

We went to a museum the day after arriving at the Ryokan, and I remember getting annoyed with her as she walked around taking pictures. She was so dogged in her determination, so intent on taking pictures of everything, I felt ignored. At the time I didn’t realize that I was observing her being lost in everything around her. She was lost in the trees and time and space, lost in the beautiful artwork and the sun’s rays bouncing off the trees branches around us. Lost she was, in the slightly shaking blades of grass, silhouetted by a backdrop of the Japanese mountains. I felt she was ignoring me in these moments, but now I know, I wanted her to be lost in me.

The smell is still there and I’m standing on a series of large outdoor tiles that lead into my house.  I take another whiff and I see her in her kitchen in the morning, laughing at me as I tell her she can’t always eat bread and coffee for breakfast. Just watch me, she says, and serves me the same thing. That was a day, a valentine’s day I think, when I was on the edge of reason for other reasons. Something was happening to me, I was feeling sick all the time. The stresses and demands of the Japanese life seemed to be getting to me. I had seen a few doctors and all of them simply told me I need to relax. You are probably depressed, one doctor said after I told him about some chest pains I was experiencing. I told her how I was feeling about her. The strength of my passion, and what it might mean for the future. That day I felt like a piece of meat on a chopping block, with the butcher’s hand held high, waiting for a customer to tell him which piece they liked best. My revelation made her quiet that day, and as we walked through some quiet back street after breakfast, she didn’t say much. I didn’t know what this meant. I always felt like I was putting myself on the line, but she was worth it, in my mind. Her silence was painful, and as we spoke later I—

My feet squelch on moist grass. I’m on the lawn, looking at the clouds. The garden is dark and the white walls look dull. I hear a car drive by somewhere in the distance. There is something I need to do, somewhere I need to go, but I still can’t move. The demands of a Kingston night are being drowned out by a smell I can’t touch, and by the memory of a woman I haven’t seen in a long time.

Then I remembered the panic attack. It was a night in Tokyo before I lived there, and I was with her, on a weekend excursion. We were with some friends at a large restaurant. They were nice people, but I was feeling a bit tense. Something was boiling inside me in a strange way, something I couldn’t place. In the middle of the meal, I suddenly felt hot, and I couldn’t breathe. Excusing myself from the table, I walked through a small entryway to the front of the restaurant, unsure of what was happening. On a balcony outside, I took in several deep breaths, and tried to stop my heart from racing. I didn’t know what this meant or why. Maybe it the demands of my new life were overwhelming, maybe it was something, else, I didn’t know. The touch of an arm on my shoulder let me know someone was there. It was her. This was a time before we really knew each other very well, and I fought with my mind as she looked on me with concern. I don’t want to lose her, my mind said. I told her the truth, and I wasn’t sure why I felt so panicked. She smiled and gave me a hug, and told me not to worry. Take your time, she said, and went back inside. Tokyo felt like such a raging beast at the time, with its circuit board architecture, bright lights and endless stream of people. I felt a little better sometime later, and thanked her for being so patient with me.

Our hotel room had an interesting retro theme and this was a talking point each time we went back into the room.  We were in that moment feeling each other out, testing the waters and trying to understand it all. Waking around the city the next day, I let her know that seeing the constant stream of people around me was unusual. You’ll get used to it, was her gem of wisdom, and she was right. With her hand in mine, we drifted through faceless crowds on quiet streets and public parks. In one of these places, a shiny sculpture of a crocodile was on the ground, and I, not one to ignore a moment to capture on film, decided to sit on it. Take a picture, I said, gesturing to her while sitting on the object. Then, I fell to the ground, because the surface of the crocodile was so smooth, as I sat I simply slipped off. There I was, my long legs up in the air, with her in the distance laughing uncontrollably at me. She was laughing with her hand over her mouth, but it came loud and clear over the calm summer air. I told her to take the picture anyway, and laughed along with her.

The yard is dark and empty, and the occasional rustle of a bird flying in the night is all I can hear. I can still smell Osaka on the wind, but it is fading now. I take a few more steps forward, and I can feel it drifting away. I can’t taste that touch of her on my tongue anymore; the strong visuals and the flood of memories are getting harder to hold on to. The invisible cloud of Osaka that was hanging over my house is moving away to its next destination. I pace about a bit more, trying to hang on to the smell, to remember her, feeling so close to me in this moment. Then, it is gone, and I’m standing in the dark on a cool Caribbean evening, wondering where she is.

Writing potion in a massive Ocean   Leave a comment

For what seemed like the hundredth time in a few days, a person called my name. I was hanging out at a local drinking hole, my mind still a bit tired and fried from the sleepless two weeks leading up to my online book launch.

My friend looked at me in the eye and said, “So, how is it going?”

Unsure what he was talking about, I replied, “How’s what going?”

“The book thing,” he said.

“Oh that,” I answered.

I said “Oh that” not because I forgot I released a book recently, but i’m actually trying to figure out a plan. What is the next step after releasing a book if you aren’t a famous celebrity or selling a “how to do X thing” ebook? I’m not sure yet,  and i’m trying to figure out how relative brand equity works.

The internet is chock full of similar advice from authors who are reasonably successful, but they all repeat the same thing with no technical details but everyone basically says:

1. Write a good book –> I mean, really?

2. Have a good book cover –> I mean, really?

3. Use Social networks —> this is starting to feel repetitive.

i’m not being negative, but I find that this sort of information is topical. With all the talk of messing with Amazon sales rankings, using Google SEO and keywords, building author platforms and blogs, increasing web traffic and doing PR, being a writer is an entirely new ball game.

I’m not sure if I can sit back and simply say “Write a good book.” I’m sure there are tens of thousands of good books out there, but no one reading them. You need bodies behind you, people in the trenches with your book in their hand. These people need to love what they read, and be very willing to share this with other people.

I’ve already figured this all out, which is why i’m sort of in a mental grey area now. I’m pleased with how my online book launch went, and it was cool briefly popping up #75 on a small bestseller list. But how do I keep it consistent? How do I get to the envious 100 downloads (or more) per day? Is it blogging frequently? Getting an agent? Making a viral youtube book trailer video? I have no idea.

This, I think is the hardest part of being a creative, is that you can’t really “see” certain end results because you don’t know what will stick. There is so much data out there, that trying to process it all and make sense of it can be overwhelming.

At the very least, i’m going to experiment with a few things. I’ve never shot a book trailer, so I’m thinking of how to make an interesting one for my book. Possibly that can get me some sales.

Also, my brand equity is based on me being a sort of “cool dude who wanders around and makes videos”. I’ll have to figure out how to translate that into the book brand.

Shaping who you are in the public eye is one thing, but at the end of the day people need to sit down for six to eight hours and read your book, and then deliver the verdict. So i’m giving myself a week to get some reviews. I’ve received two on Amazon already. (one five star and one four star)

Hopefully if i hit five to six reviews and they are all positive then maybe i’ll start figuring out a bigger brand strategy.

so yeah, at this point in time I really cannot predict the future. I think my book has potential, but i feel like a little fish in an ocean trying to get the attention of a cruise ship passing by.

hopefully that vibe will change soon.

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