At some point, an artist realizes the work is for the self, first and foremost. Sure, you want an audience. Need to communicate. Put out a message. Dress it up with gimmicks. Shout out, "Look at me! Look at what I've done! I'm an artist!" That's all fine. Sounds like Bowie or Warhol or Wes Anderson or some shit. I don't care. I wrote the thing. The thing is what matters. It exists. It's real. Like everything I've ever created. But better. Because it's what I always wanted to write. And I did it.
So, what is it? It's not horror. I don't really do that anymore. Not sure I ever did. Okay, I wrote a few stories back in the day that copied Poe, Lovecraft, or King. The greats, you know? You've heard of them. Those authors will always be part of me. Of who I am as an artist. But this isn't horror. Not supernatural, not paranormal, not science fiction. I've given all those a shot. Succeeded sometimes. Failed more often. It's not mystery or suspense or thriller or romance. I've tried those, too. Sometimes I was good. Most of the time, not. And for what it's worth, it's not erotica. And yes, I've given that a go. Might even put one out soon. But not this. This is different. This is real. This is me. This is everything I ever wanted to write.
The book's about a rock singer named Dante Rose. He broke up with his band about ten years before the start of the story. He's stuck playing solo gigs as a cover artist. This is his Purgatory (read The Divine Comedy, please). He's not the most reliable narrator, so his view of the past is skewed in his favor. Like the rest of us. He blames everybody but himself for the break-up. Can't see his own faults. But he's a great guy. Loving husband, devoted friend. Hard worker. Selfless.
His wife Penny wants him to succeed. Does everything she can to help. Like her namesake (read The Odyssey), she's loyal and dutiful while Dante's lost. But she has a health scare. This is his Hell. She's the most important thing in his life. More than his old band. More than the music. She's his biggest inspiration and motivation. He knows he needs to make his run now more than ever.
That's the gist. There's also a shit ton of music (of course). Rock and roll saturates the piece. Everything from Elvis and the Beatles to Black Sabbath and Metallica to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Even Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats make an appearance. Dante plays, sings, listens, writes, and breathes rock, soul, country, blues, and rhythm and blues. Everything I know. Everything I grew up listening to. Everything I love.
At the very least, I've got an artist's coming of age story here. It's also subculture fiction, but not quite, because the band's ten years in the past and Dante works at a grocery store now. That's really his subculture. This probably isn't quite literary fiction because the scholars will tell me I use "fuck" too many times. What can I say? I love that word. How many times have I told you my dad's a truck driver? But there are allusions and metaphors and motifs and foreshadowing and all the shit that makes what I learned in college worth the money my parents shelled out. The shit that makes me look clever. Makes me shout, "Look at me! Look at what I've done!" Oh, wait a minute, I already wrote that part.
I've considered a bunch of titles. Maybe you can weigh in? At any given time, the novel's been called, Rock Star, Rock Star Dream, Strings of Theory, Dreamer, Follow That Dream, Looking for Today, or Tomorrow's Dream. Not sure what I'll end up with. Doesn't matter. I'm excited. Hope you are. Hope you catch the vibe I'm sending. If nothing else, hope this inspires you to chase your dreams. Never give up. Whatever they are. Don't let them wither or fester. Or dry up and die. Or stink like rotten meat. Or explode. Okay, you get the idea. And yes that's a Langston Hughes reference. I fucking love that poet.
Thanks, Mom and Dad.