Steep Inclinations and Perpetual Tuesdays

Okay, so I think I have the song list for STEEP INCLINATIONS sorted out. It’s all subject to change, though, because the story still hasn’t been finalized. I think I know what it’s all about, but I haven’t worked on it long enough to really have it all sorted, or to make sure the song lyrics tell the story. Truth to tell, the song lyrics are all in transition, because many of them are older pieces and lyrics that I’ve been waiting to use for twenty years or more. Grand lyrics I’ve long felt needed airing, and they won’t truly get their day this time, either, because I need to change many of them to make them fit. Not entirely rewritten, as many of them are sort of universal, and can be applied pretty nicely to a number of situations, but as this is a concept album with story as its backbone, through-lines have to be drawn. I have no idea what the final running order will really be, though I think I’ve got a good working order right now; I won’t know for sure until I’ve got the story written and the music recorded.

The music I’m using to lay out the basic album are all tracks of clever jam music Etcetera recorded between 1993 and 1998, and then in 2006. It’s a blending of source materials, some written by the band in rehearsal, and some by individual members demoing certain riffs and pieces by themselves, and then inviting the band in to collaborate. As some of these people are no longer members, I fully intend to demo the pieces myself in rough mix form, and then play the recorded demos to them, to seek their approval. I trust they’ll give it, but I can’t be sure, so I’m not pinning my hopes on it. If I have to pull the songs (or sections of larger pieces), I will, and substitute something else of equal length and value. I won’t let the space go to waste, but I also can’t countenance the songs languishing in limbo. To the best of my knowledge, neither former member has used their song contributions in any meaningful way. So I want to fix that, and clear the slate of all the old ideas I’ve long wished could be on a proper album. Since I can more or less do that now, I figure, why not?

For inspiration, I’m using a mix of rock operas and concept albums by The Who, Genesis, Yes, and Pink Floyd, as well as Elton John and perhaps some Queen, though they never really did a proper concept album. I’ve got Tommy, Quadrophenia, Townshend’s Psychoderelict, and Empty Glass, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Tales From Topographic Oceans, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall, Captain Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy, and maybe A Night At The Opera, and A Day at the Races.

I’m not borrowing anything but rough ideas and structural considerations, but I have my format, and it’s far enough along that it really won’t be the same as any of those classic albums. I’m married to the three-disc set-up, because I really want to use up all of these older ideas and find them a final resting place, as it were. I think most of the ideas are outstanding, if performed rather dodgily in many cases, and I really believe that the album will be a landmark piece I can look back on with pride, once it’s done and distributed. The basic concept has lived in my head for over twenty years now. It’s well past time I implemented it.

Meanwhile, I still have half of PERPETUAL TUESDAY to plan out, so I’ll be ready to start writing tomorrow, when NaNoWriMo commences. I have to sit and listen to a couple of albums and get the rest of my subheadings sorted out, so my format will be complete and I can just focus on filling up the landscape with words and ideas, traveling from sub heading to subheading and chapter to chapter like signposts and way stations. I think it will work, but it may need tweaking as I go along. I just want to have a road map in front of me, so I can focus my energy on output and trying to write something new but strong. As much as I love my TERMINAL MONDAY, it has a number of accessibility problems, and I don’t know if PT will solve those problems, but I think that, if I write it well, the new novel will at least validate and perhaps even illuminate the previous novels, and they will receive reflected praise.

One of the things I’m going to have to watch is the proliferation of over-the-top sex. TM had an awful lot of it, and I’m not entirely certain that didn’t hurt my chances of finding an audience for it. I could be completely wrong, and PT might actually fare a lot better if it’s more explicitly pornographic in nature, but I am having trouble believing that ramping up the sex will help my case. We seem to live in an absurdly conservative time, where more and more people are indulging in moralizing and shaming people into adhering to their pious standards, regardless of whether the people they are shaming hold the same beliefs or not. A lot of self-righteous crap seems to be going around, these days, and the more I fight it, the more tired I get. It seems to me that, while I can’t keep the sex out of my fiction entirely, letting the sex dominate runs the risk of losing an audience that might have appreciated the novel better if it weren’t quite so graphic and salacious. I don’t plan on censoring myself, but I do plan on not planning for orgies and such, regardless of whether my instincts tell me the plot calls for more sex.

Having said all that, I’ll probably open with a big sex scene and throw all of that caution to the wind, just to make a point.

We’ll see.

One thing’s definitely for sure, though; I plan on representing my gay and lesbian cast members more honestly this time around. I can’t have all of my LGBTQ peoples running around flagrantly displaying their sexuality, let alone compromising their proclivities to make an exception for Rich and Andy just because they’re Bisexuals in a plot largely dominated by people who don’t identify as such. The overwhelming message of TM would seem, from hindsight, to be that all writers are bisexual, which is absolutely outlandishly untrue. I only know of a few writers who identify as Bi, and I think that, while my type have been underrepresented in fiction in general, making virtually every character an oversexed omnisexual doesn’t really plead my case effectively. I don’t know how many (or few) people have read Terminal Monday all the way through at this point, but I haven’t received many compliments or reviews of the piece, and almost none from people I know to be LGBTQ. I’m trying not to read into that, but it does rather argue the question of whether I fairly portrayed my cast in the last completed novel.

Anyway, that’s enough babble for today. Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow, when I’ll probably start off with a steaming bowl of erotic fiction, and end by posting some fiction instead of a proper post, depending on how the fiction comes out tomorrow.


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