What I’m working on for Spring 2020.

The home office setup.

Good morning! That’s the end of our posts for the transition between winter and spring. It is obviously a difficult time. One of the new habits that I’m working on is cultivating more of my Stoic-self to counteract my Aspergers, ADD, Anxiety and Depression. I realize it’s a very white-guy thing to do but it does speak to me and I do think it helps in a wholistic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Way.

Here was March 29’s entry in Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman’s Daily Stoic: Why Do You Need To Impress These People Anyway?

The irony, as Marcus Aurelius points out repeatedly is that the people whose opinion we covet are not all that great. They’re flawed—they’re distracted and moved by all sorts of silly things themselves. We know this and yet we don’t want to think about it. To quote Fight Club again, “We buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like.”

That’s so true. Do I need all these books, notebooks, paraphernalia to call myself a good father, husband, and writer? Some of them do serve a purpose — a purpose I value—showing my story the way I want. But could I be better? Yes of course. For every book I buy, I should donate one to others. To be a minimalist. To be present with my kids and my wife because I regard this time right now as a gift.

I don’t need all that much to tell my story: just a notebook and a computer. And not even really the latter.

But most of all I’m not writing here to impress anyone. I’m writing here in hopes that what I’ve learned over specific seasons of life will help someone else down the line in their own seasons of life. Who knows if I’m doing it well. It’s not up to me other than putting one word after another, one sentence after another, and so on. That’s the only part I can control.

So here’s what I’m working on this spring:

  1. Keeping my family safe, healthy, and together.
  2. Writing the first draft of a novel that I’ve been playing with off and on as an interconnected short story collection that will probably end up being more of a straight-up murder mystery like Winter’s Bone and Before the Fall.
  3. Solidifying my GTD habits and methods for working from home by using Bear and my Journal.
  4. Reading the backlog of parenting books I have.

I hope you and your loved ones have a safe and healthy spring, and if you need anything at all (other than monetary and a visit from me)–despite my nickname (Depress)–I’m actually a pretty positive and optimistic person. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

My newsletter will continue to go out weekly (as long as me and my family are healthy). Please note the new url for the letter as I’ve transitioned away from TinyLetter.

Talk to you again this summer.

Dave.

Current Status for Spring 2020.

This is the face of a writer who is working from home and playing with his family.

The major reason I became a writer is so that I could work from home. Really anywhere.

Now my day-job has nothing to do with writing, but considering circumstances these days in Indiana, mostly everyone is working from home—or have been laid off. The latter is not the case for me, thankfully. But there are a lot of people who are not so lucky.

The Press Gang is healthy.

But for right now, I’m extremely grateful to be able to work from home, play with my kids, and hang with my wife. It’s been very challenging this past week, but it’s been filled with a lot of ups and downs. Who knows what it will be like tomorrow, next week, next month — but today — and this week has been hard but with a lot of great things!

That’s life.

In the meantime I full intend to grow my beard to Alan Moore levels.

The home office setup.

Now for Winter 2020

The new work bag, from out of a William Gibson novel and into my life, designed by Mark Ryden.

Good morning.

I’m coloring a donut throwing unicorn robot with Doodlehog crayons.

So, I have something to tell you all.

The daily reality of my life is no longer a fit to blogging; because, well, life with two kids, a busy day-job, and some great writing projects (here are a few loglines) on the horizon makes blogging more of a chore than a joy. So I’ll write posts during the first two weeks of every new season and whatever I end up posting is it. Can’t promise it will be daily.

So it goes.

Here’s what I’m working on this winter:

  1. Perfecting my GTD process and applying what works to my personal and professional life.
  2. Writing a memoir
  3. Then writing a murder-mystery novel similar in vein to Winter’s Bone.
  4. Engaging in Cal Newport’s Analogue Challenge.

Happy New Year to you all and I hope you have a productive beginning of the New Year.

See you in the spring.

Now for Fall 2019.

Loft space book shelf.

That is all for this season. Apologies in advance for the shorter posts, but I am kind of busy this season. Here’s what I’m working on this fall:

  • Adjusting to life as a family with a newborn.
  • Reading a lot of first novels that I’m mining as I begin to write my third novel that will hopefully be a breakthrough.
  • Editing the novella for (hopefully) publication through one of my favorite independent presses.
  • Developing something completely different from comics or novels or nonfiction.

And that’s it for now. As always, you can find me weekly at my newsletter. Be good to one another. Talk to you between Christmas and New Years.

Currently on my nightstand.

Now for Summer 2019.

Big Woods Restaurant at Hard Truth Hills. Nashville, IN.

That’s all for this season. Thanks for reading some of my radical transparency. I hope you got something out of it rather than my crazy repeated phrases and concepts that may or may not have made any coherent sense. Here’s what I’m working on for the summer: 

1. I’m preparing for the birth of our second child.

2. Spending a lot of time on home improvement as a result of looking at Digital Minimalism and getting the house in order before the baby arrives.

3. Being less planned in what I’m working on, going with the mood of the week. I have diary updates, short stories I want to write, probably a nonfiction article for a magazine to do, a pair of comics, and a short film script that I’m going to play with between now and the fall.

I like to joke that ever since moving to Indiana that the summers are so hot here that I behave in a way that I used to during winters in New York: the only reason I go outside is to go to my car and turn on the air conditioning—which is currently broken, so…But the winters here are no big deal. In fact they’re delightful because no one goes out to the woods to walk around and we do.

As always, you’ll be able to find my weekly progress in my newsletter. Don’t hesitate to subscribe, say hey, or talk to me about whatever is on your plate. I’m here and willing to listen to you as you’ve willingly subscribed to listen to me.

Have a great summer. Stay cool. 

First piece of short fiction published.

My first short story was published in this!

To kick off the summer posts, here’s the first big win of the season: My first short fiction story was published in Providence College’s The Alembic.

This, obviously, is a big deal for me. For years, I’ve wanted to be a published fiction writer and now I am. For some reason…I never committed myself to submitting. I was more focused on the output of work than submitting it, but in the past two years, I realized that I’m not going to get anywhere if I want to publish a novel or anything else if I don’t submit my work to publications to show that, yes, I can write fiction. I don’t know why, but I think it has something to do with my tendency to talk a good talk but not act on it. That’s something I worked on overcoming this spring and I have to say that I’m getting there. I’m not perfect, but I am getting there as a person and a writer.

You read the whole story for free here, but you have to download a pdf, and then scroll to page 30. It’s called “The Club,” and it’s the opening to a novel I’m going to start writing in Winter 2020.

Let me know what you think.

What I’m working on now for Spring 2019.

Just a stack of books I have downstairs. You should see my nightstand.

That was the series of posts for spring. Thanks for reading and following along. I’m going back into my Writing Den, where I’m going to spend a lot of time in my notebooks, and catch up on the stack of books I have. I’m going to rest, dream, and mess around in a notebook.

Also, I’m going to move house.

We closed on a house this past Friday and we’re moving over Easter so there is A LOT to do and I won’t have a lot of time to be messing around online, so I won’t be posting on here, Twitter, or Instagram again until after Summer Solstice, BUT! My newsletter will still go out weekly. In fact, I’ll be writing it as I hit post on this.

Have fun, be well, and enjoy the weather. Now take a hike!

Now for Winter 2019.

The Adirondack Mountain Range framing the golf course across from my parents house.

Hi,

I’m currently not updating this website because I’m writing these things:

  1. I’m writing the fourth and final draft of the Emerson Novel, a book about two teenagers who find out that what they write can change reality.
  2. I’m also submitting fiction. One of my first stories will be featured in The Alembic.
  3. I’m not updating my Twitter or Instagram, but if you want to keep up with what fuels me and my writing life, subscribe to my weekly newsletter. It’s filled with strange, wonderful, and hard things I thought about that week, and what I read, listened to, or watched that I found memorable.

And that’s all. Stay warm. Stay close. See you in the spring.

Naturalism

People are sending little satellites into the atmosphere for over fifty years. Basically these things are the size of a pack of cigarettes, with a black balloon fastened to it. Imagine if this package of cigarettes sends a wi-fi signal over a 100 miles and connects via Skype or VoIP. It could connect into people’s cell phones wifi and connect to people on the other side of the planet. Imagine that suddenly everyone is able to speak to each other in English.

Reminds me of the online teaching I do. This idea would put them out of business. 21ST century pen-pals.

I teach English as a foreign language online through an organization based in Shanghai. I connect with a group or individual students through software called Adobe Classroom which is basically just a chat box and a powerpoint presentation. Every day, I talk to someone in Sao Paolo, Brazil, or Shanghai. Occasionally Europe. The likelihood that I would ever meet these people is slim to none. That’s the power of the Internet these days—I can talk to someone and hear their story from thousands of miles. We become a more connected, story-driven world through language.

The satellite idea is pure Warren Ellis. He came up with it for his graphic novel anthology series, Global Frequency. His work is about outbreaks of the future, and how humanity can be affected by future technology. What’s your work about?

Mine is about empathy. Characters creating their story in anyway they want despite being challenged at every turn, suppressed from being able to tell their story. From their parents to their environment. Most especially, most of my characters refuse to accept how others define them and mold them into what they want you to be. 

I realized I was a naturalist when I read The Red Badge of Courage in ninth grade. Except I’m a hopeful naturalist.

A naturalist story is literary criticism for characters shaped by parents and environment—where we live, who our friends are, etc.—and usually these two sides come into direct conflict with each other and most of the time the story ends badly for for the main character. It’s a subset of realism. Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Faulkner, Emile Zola. Most especially Hemingway. All of them use naturalism.

Naturalism means we live in a bubble. Usually, naturalist writers sacrifice their main characters and people who can climb out of their naturalist-make-up become wholly and uniquely themselves. But that never happens in a naturalist novel. That’s why I teach, because I think we are formed by our naturalist upbringing, but when we go to college, or travel, or speak to other cultures we are given the opportunity to break out of that bubble. It’s what Anthony Bourdain believed. You become informed. You learn how to respond to people, cultures, others in ways that are way out of your context. A lack of desire to be informed or change is the outcome off a naturalist novel and that–well–that usually doesn’t end well.

We can break out of our bubbles—to not do so is to fail at life in general. We’re better than that. And that’s what I’m here for. That’s why I write and teach and advise.

Walden: The Graphic Novel out now.

I’m proud to announce that the preview copy of the first chapter of Walden the Graphic Novel is now available for download. Here’s the back page copy: 

In 2016, Paul Smith’s College English teacher David Press passed his colleague, climate scientist Curt Stager (author of Deep Future and the forthcoming Still Waters), and said: “I have an idea.” 

What grew out of that is this graphic novel in which Stager and Press with Emilyann Cummings  analyze how climate change has affected one of America’s iconic landmarks–Walden Pond–and look to the future of environmental change in America’s waters.

Read the 16-page preview here. Let me know what you think!