Aug 06, 2023

Today I turned fifty-one.

I also uploaded Hallucinabulia: the Dream Diary of an Unintended Solitarian to CreateSpace. They'll typeset it, and when we know the physical size of the trade paperback, Tim will submit his cover design. It completes the Ghosts Trilogy.

Both Hallucinabulia and Chasing the Last Whale will be available in e-book versions. My publisher promised me that Ghosts and Ballyhoo would also be available as an e-book, but I'm pretty sure that won't happen. Promises are easily made; it's much harder to keep them.

The next project will be to finish Assault Troops of World War I: The Central, Allied, and Neutral Powers, and then I'll start on one of the ten novels I've outlined. I said I wouldn't write any more military-history books, but I had to do this one. I've uncovered information nobody has ever written about in English. This book will blow the minds of the dozen or so faithful readers who buy my military-history books. Also, writing it will be a huge challenge. I simply can't resist.

Originally, I'd planned a whole slew of books, but the publication of the Ghosts Trilogy makes a lot of them moot. That's okay. I'm sure I'll come up with other ideas, both in fiction and nonfiction. Ghosts and Ballyhoo was unplanned, and making it into a trilogy was unplanned. I seem to have the most success when I fly by the seat of my pants. Truth be told, I'm not interested in writing most of the books I'd outlined. I'm still in flux. What seemed brilliant two years ago now strikes me as trite, dull, and unimaginative.

Tim wants me to do an illustrated book, because he says I have a style, and it would be criminal of me to not use it. Mom was always after me to write a memoir of my travels. Maybe I'll combine the two. I can still see the Swiss guy who spent seventeen hours bending my ears on the ferry between Korea and Japan. He looked exactly like Gene Shallit and sounded like a cockatoo. He sat crosslegged with his hands on his knees and inflicted on me a stream-of-consciousness monologue about food, shoes, pottery, soccer, the history of Mongolia, and snow. I finally willed myself into a defensive vegetative state. My eyes were open, but I could no longer hear him. Safe inside my head, I just watched his mouth move.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Scott Thunes for Bass Musician Magazine, the first interview I've done since 2002. It'll be published sometime in September. He did an absolutely wonderful job. It's safe to say that neither of us are the people we were when we met in 1996. We're both much improved, I think. I'm not sure I want to go back to interviewing. It was easy to interview Scott because he's now my friend. He was also once my Collateral Ghost, so by interviewing him this final time, I tied up a lot of loose ends. It'd be different if I interviewed others, especially people I don't know.

The funny thing is, all I wanted to be was an interviewer. I never really wanted to be an author. Since high school I was a prolific letter writer and journal keeper, but I never expected to make a living by writing. I wanted to be a music journalist, even though I have no formal training in music, I stutter, and I'm socially very shy.

What I loved about music journalism was the connection. Not on a personal level, but on an artistic one. Most of my interview subjects understood that I wasn't like the others. I wanted to create performance art. What we did was perfectly real, but it was also contrived, in that it was entertainment. I saw no need to try and anger people or suck up to them. By letting them know in subtle ways that we were collaborators, they relaxed and joined in the show. What I enjoyed most about it was eliciting information that nobody else did. That was the challenge. I even enjoyed interviewing people whose music I didn't like at all. A few of them gave me the best interviews of my career.

But I've spent the past eleven years teaching myself how to be an author. It's a completely different skill set. And I'm a completely different person now.

I don't know what the future will hold. Still, it's the future I'm interested in now, not the past. I'm no longer haunted, angry, or regretful. I'm at peace. I really wanted to remain a music journalist, I really wanted to remain a master model builder, I really wanted to keep playing the bass guitar, and I really wanted to marry the woman I recognized and remembered when I met her.

All of that is gone now. Tonight, on my birthday, I picked up the Carmen Sting Ray, tuned it, and tried to play this bass line.

Not possible. I can hear it in my head, but my hands just won't cooperate. It's too bad, because for some reason I really want to play that line. I haven't wanted so badly to play in years. It wasn't to be.

I probably won't return to interviewing. I think it would be like trying to play the bass again. Everything has its time and place, and I think it's now time for me to be an author. I think it's my place too.

Whether or not I'm successful is up to you.