Saturday, September 28, 2019

Year of an Indie Writer: Week 39

Scott D. Parker

Are you a monogamous writer?

So, as a fiction writer with a separate day job, I have the luxury of finding myself in writing slumps and not having to worry about paying the bills. The slumps are a pain, to be sure, but I've been able to wallow in them, diagnose why they started, and then finding ways out of the hole.

I've been in one for a little bit, probably late summer until now. I've given myself permission to not write, but I plan on getting back on the horse come Tuesday, AKA 1 October.

A few, I printed my three or four works in progress and I've been reading over them, figuring out which one I want to restart. One's a Ben Wade tale so that's 1940s. The other is a mystery set in the present day. Ditto for the non-mystery novel I began in the summer. Then there's the sequel to a short story I submitted to an anthology. It's an action tale, and I enjoyed writing it so much, I want to write more.

Thing is, each of them bring a certain vibe in my imagination. I like all the vibes, especially considering each of them are in different genres.

I had an idea just this week: why not work on multiple projects at the same time?

Up until now, I've always written on one project until completion. It's worked well. I've written novels in a month using this philosophy. All waking non-writing moments enable me to think about next scenes, working through plot points, etc.

But if I hit a wall for any reason, the writing gets derailed. And if I can't get back on track, then the writing grinds to a halt.

I know other writers have multiple projects going at the same time. Veteran writer Robert J. Randisi works on multiple books per day. James Patterson undoubtedly does the same thing. If one book ain't jiving, shift books.

It's an idea I'll be testing, just to see how it works. Why not? Trying something and failing is way better than not even trying in the first place, right?

How Did You Celebrate Batman Day?

Last Saturday, we celebrated the manufactured "holiday" known as Batman Day. Why? Marketing and selling. But it was still kinda cool to see all those Batman-related hashtags and images.

I started by watching the Batman episode of the new Scooby-Doo and Guess Who
. Later, with the wife taken ill, I watched the end of Batman 1989. As those credits rolled, Batman Returns began in split screen. Why not? Ditto for Batman Forever.

Later in the evening, I ended up watching the first of two direct-to-DVD movies featuring Adam West and Burt Ward, The Return of the Caped Crusaders. Really, really enjoyed it. I closed out the evening with Batman comic 321, the one written by Len Wein featuring the Joker throwing himself a morbid birthday party.

It was a fun day. What did you do?

Sting's Brand New Day is Twenty!

Yesterday was the twentieth anniversary of the release of Brand New Day, Sting's sixth studio album. I loved that era of Sting fandom and I wrote about it (because of course I did).

The next anniversary is this Friday when David Bowie's ...hours also turns twenty. That was a great week back in 1999: two veteran artists releasing new music.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Inspiration, Perspiration, Passion & Paris

I’m writing this on a train trundling to London to meet up with a couple of police officers (one serving and one newly retired). I’ve started the new book and realised that there are a bunch of things I don’t know that I think I really should. So the plan to ‘pants it’ and just write has already been slightly derailed, but you know what? It’s fine. I’m progressing. I’ve got a beginning and an endpoint and a series of hits and i’ve begun to understand what drives my protagonist, my villain and some of my characters, so the book is twisting and morphing. It’s – to quote the good Herr Doktor Frankenstein – ALIVE!

Now, if only I could carve out a nice chunk of time to actually write. The summer has been crazy busy, and the start of the autumn seems also packed. I went to Paris (France, not Texas*) last Sunday with the Lovely Husband and some friends. We went for lunch at Les Deux Magots (one of my favourite restaurants, and also a favourite of Hemmingway. When he was alive, obviously, though for all I know he’s haunting the place to this day and bitching that everyone’s gone soft).

We also went to see an exhibition at Atelier Des Lumieres. This innovative exhibition space specialises in digital exhibitions where they take Ultra HD scans of famous artworks then project them in huge scale on the walls floors and ceilings of a concrete lined former foundry building.

The result is not dissimilar to walking through the paintings, or living ‘in’ the artwork. Their previous exhibition paired the work of Gustav Klimt with a contemporary Friedensreich Hundertwasser**, and I found the experience so emotionally overpowering that I went repeatedly and cried often.

This time, the subject of focus was Van Gogh, and I was less emotionally impacted. Van Gogh’s colours are awe inspiring, but the works themselves – primarily the subjects – just left me left me a bit meh***. But you know what was interesting? The scale of the projections really exposed the actual work that had gone into the paintings, and the actual speed at which this Master worked. On some areas of pictures I’ve felt I’ve ‘known’ for years, the canvas, raw and unpainted, pokes through, on other areas the paint is so thick it’s hard to believe it didn’t fall away from the surface. And none of it’s perfect. The shaping, the application of the paint, the almost hyper-tones used are all in some way ‘wrong,’ and contributed to Van Gogh being dismissed by the Art world during his life, but are often what draws people to his work and has lead to his posthumous recognition as a Master.

And I take some comfort in that. Not the being a penniless unknown til after I’m dead. On that aspect, I’ll pass, thanks. And not on the fact that when I’m dead I’ll be spoken of in the same sentences as Vincent (nice idea, but even my ego has limits). No, I take a great degree of comfort in the idea of passion trumping perfection; on ideas exceeding form. On not giving a fuck about the exposed canvas or the too thick paint; on making the work and moving to the next. I’m very much here for that.

And on the topic of inspirational work, I Saw The Farewell this week and am still tearing up every time I think of Lulu Wang's beautiful picture about family and love and distance and culture clashes and loss. I cannot recommend it enough. The soundtrack (feat the wonderful Mykal Kilgore)is wonderful and is now my new writing music.

And so I’m back to the Novel. I’m finishing this post after my meeting with my police contacts, who spent a gleeful couple of hours explaining why everything I’ve ever seen on TV, film, or read in a book is wrong, and who only reluctantly allowed me – for the purposes of not having my narrative grind to a halt in procedure – to allow me some artistic leeway. And the novel now feels even more exciting. I’ve a whole subplot that was there all along but which they managed to tease out from the weeds it had got lost in , and a possibly major character who was a plot device until a couple of hours ago.

Amazing how these things - An artistic genius, a trip to the movies, and a pizza with people who know their job in detail – are all fuel to a fire that will push me forward into the autumn and hopefully to a brand new book.

(*Wim Wenders gag. You don’t see those very often these days)
(** The first sentence in Hunnertwasser’s Wikipedia Bio is “The Second World War was a very difficult time for Hundertwasser and his mother Elsa, who were Jewish.” I’m giving this the NoShitSHerlock award 2019.)
(*** Cue the Goghista’s on Twitter lining up to tell me why I am (a) wrong (b) a Phillistine or (c) a disgrace to humanity)


Derek Farrell is the author of 6 Danny bird mysteries. “Death of a Diva,” “Death of a Nobody,” “Death of a Devil,” and “Death of an Angel” can all be purchased from the usual e-stores or directly from the publisher here. The fifth, “Come to Dust,” is available exclusively as a free download from his website . The sixth - Death of a Sinner - is on Fahrenheit Press's fall 19 slate. 

His jobs have included: Burger dresser, Bank teller, David Bowie’s paperboy, and Investment Banker on the 80th floor of the World Trade Centre.

He’s never off social media and can be found at.
Twitter: @DerekIFarrell (
Instagram: Derekifarrell (

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Let's talk about fear shall we?

Writing is an inherently terrifying proposition. Laying your thoughts and ideas bare for the world to see. Those soft, fragile things that burst forth mewling and covered in afterbirth that you love but you also kind of hate becasue they drive you crazy. In an act of bravery or abject foolishness we share these ideas, our stories, with friends and strangers and we pray , if you are so inclinded, that they won't laugh, unless that is your intent, or worse , stare at you blankly and mumble 
      "That was nice." 

Those words, delivered with all the sincerity of a used car salesman, are among some of the worst words a writer can hear. I don't want "nice"   I want amazing! I want incredible!  I want you to stand there slack jawed and drooling. I want my story to move you. Well there is only one way to get that kind of response. 
    You have to face your fears. 
I'm working on a novel that tells the story of two fathers. One black , one white both ex-cons who are trying to avenge the murders of their sons, gay men murdered in an apparent hate crime. My protagnist are not role models. They are both older alpha males trapped by their own demons and the rapidly outdated ideas of masculinity. These hard men did not have great relationships with their sons. Some would coll their relationships strained, Others might call it toxic. 
   I've let some people see the early chapters of this book because  A) I'm tackling a subject that i feel demands nuance and sophistication and I want to make sure I'm on the right path. B) I have some friends who are some of the best writers working today (I'm looking at you Nikki Dolson and PJ Vernon) and I selfishly want to sit at the base of their learning tree. 
    Most everyone who has seen the nascent novel have been exceedingly kind.  For that i humbly thank you. However,my agent, who's job is to make sure i write the best book I can challenged me. I start the novel at the funeral for hte boys. He read the first few chapters and then asked me why I wasn't starting it with the murders?  To paraphrase him , that's  the firecracker that will set  the book off. 
   I took a few days to ruminate on the answer. 
In the end I realized why I hadn't started with the deaths of the sons of these imperfect men. 
    I was afraid. 
 If I'm being honest , and why wouldn't I , we're all friends here right? ,  I was afraid to go there as the kids say. I didn't know if  I had the skill and ability to enter the minds of parents who are confronted with the absolute worst thing any parent can experience. I was afraid to try and articulate the searing,soul crushing, heartbreaking feeling that comes after you hear that your child , your baby boy ,  is on a cold metal slab. And frankly I was afraid to feel those feelings myself. I don't have children but when I write a piece of my mind melds with my characters. It can lead to some dark thoughts and late night whiskeys to cauterize the wound in  my consciouness. 
  Here's the thing though. I firmly believe that if you want to be a writer you HAVE to go there. You have to metaphorically drive through the bad neighborhoods. You have to walk down the dark roads. You have to claw and scratch through the dirt. It is the only way you can make sure you are being true to the story that lives in your head. 
    I saw an interview with Bruce Springsteen the other day and he said an artist is someone who tells lies in service ot the truth. I believe the job of a writer is to tell the truth. No matter who doesn't want to hear it. No matter who might feel uncomfortable. No matter if it might hurt some feelings and step on some toes. Tell the truth. Even if your voice quakes. 
   Now some people might take this to mean that you can say whatever you want and no one should challenge your words. That/s not what I'm saying.  Oh you can say or write whatever you want but I believe in the depths of my heart that you better be ready to stand by whatever princples you espouse. That's a part of the equation too. Have the courage to stand by your convictions even if somone decides to call you out on Twitter. Or Facebook or the Do Some Damage comment section.      
     You don't have to be fearles as writer but you have to be brave.  Fear is not a sign of weakness but surrender sure is. 
  If you consider yourself a writer you can never, ever surrender. To quote Al  Capone 

    "I'd rather swallow my blood before I swallow my pride." 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Something Stupid (or Not)

I'm pressed for time this week, so I'll have to keep this entry short. And on top of that, what's here is not even anything I wrote, but that someone else did, the great Polish author, Witold Gombrowicz.  I particularly like his book Cosmos, which is a mystery novel of sorts, though it tackles not just murder but what you might call metaphysical matters. 

I've written about the book, in fact, and I'll link to the piece here, if you want to get an idea of what Cosmos is like: 
Wrapped Up in the Mystery of Cosmos.

But anyway, that Gombrowicz quote I was talking about, getting back to it - here it is:

"Great! I've written something stupid, but I haven't signed a contract with anyone to produce solely wise and perfect works.  I gave vent to my stupidity...and here I am, reborn."

Applies to most writers from time to time (certainly applies to myself sometimes), I think.