creative chops shaped by chicago

Creative Chops Shaped by Chicago

Miles and Miles of Killing

When I look at my future, I’m not sure what I see.  I’d love to be able to say that I see greatness on the horizon, but in truth it’s all a blur.  But today I finished my first edit to my detective novel Miles and Miles of Killing.  It’s been a long road for this project.  I started this staggering endeavor almost ten years ago.  I had just moved to Chicago and had really no idea what I was going to do out there for work.  I didn’t have any prospects and was living off of Florida unemployment while I looked for work and started developing my creative chops while writing Miles and Miles of Killing.

The first hundred pages or so just poured out of me.  I probably wrote that first portion in two months, then I hit a wall my creative chops couldn’t climb.  A cement wall with barbwire and guards with automatic weapons.  For the next several years I tried to scale that wall.  It drove me mad that I couldn’t finish it, then after two years of being stuck story wise, I was out with a good friend of mine.

Creative Chops with Tight Phantomz

It was a Sunday afternoon during a particularly crazy summer in Chicago.  We were walking around Wicker Park smoking a joint, I had taken off work because I hate working.  There was a street festival going on…Green Fest I believe.  My engineer and good friend Mike Lust, a Chicago Rock n Roll legend, was playing on the main stage.  I got a shout oout during his set.  And my buddy Rich, who had never heard Mike’s band before, was loving the set.  His band Tight Phantomz who had recently released a double LP was putting on a god damn show for everyone.  The band was passing around a bottle of Jameson while they were performing and you could tell that old boy was crunk on stage.  But Mr. Lust is a professional with high kicks and plenty of moxie on stage.

I don’t really know how it happened, but after Tight Phantomz set, we got lost in the surrounding neighborhood for a while getting stoned out of our minds.  It’s a tremendous area for your creative chops to thrive, the historic houses that make Wicker Park the gem it is, all the hipsters riding bikes, pretty scene girls getting twisted on PBR and dancing to the Talking Heads, and graffiti writers keeping the place colorful, it’s a whimsical place.

Complications of the Story

See when you are writing a Detective Novel, you have to keep in mind the investigation aspect of the story, the twists and turns, the clues you intend to drop on the reader, and the place that you are writing the story.  I’m naturally a stream of conscious writer, I’m not much for outlines and notes…just write the damn thing.  However when it’s a novel such as Miles and Miles of Killing, at some point you need to start thinking about the ending.  And you need to start writing to that ending…and I didn’t have an ending.  I didn’t know who “done it”, or even if all the characters have been introduced, so I hit the wall.  It’s a stressful thing.  You don’t know where to go.  Then as time goes on you begin to avoid looking at the project.  Your creative chops try to move you on to something new.  And you do, but in the back of your mind it haunts you.  You didn’t finish.  There is still work to be done.

Finally on that hot summers day in a city that has shaped my creative chops, I found that ending.  With the help of a good friend, who has always been my sounding board for my work, helped come to the conclusion for me. He didn’t give me the answer, but he helped me get to that answer.  And then finally after several more years of working, I finished the book.  Miles and Miles of Killing is ready for the Editor.

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