New Project

Here's a panel from a project I'm working on for a special edition of Sunstone Magazine. It's a special comix issue, for which I was invited to contribute. I am writing and drawing the piece, which has been great because I used to eat, sleep, and breathe, comic books when I was in high school. I've dabbled a little since, but this is really letting me get the rust out of my joints. I'm not going to give away the whole farm, but I thought I'd throw this out to answer the question I've been getting a lot lately: "What are you working on?"

Good Point from Jon Ogden

This snippet from an excellent argument on Mormon Artist.

We Mormons have the same expectations of Church members in almost all other professions. We expect, for instance, that dentists will favor dentistry over promoting religious orthodoxy while they are at work. To illustrate, we don’t expect dentists to give the missionary discussions to clients strapped, mouths agape, in the dentist chair. Nor do we expect accountants to slip copies of their testimonies in with their client’s tax returns. Dentists and accountants may be inspired in certain instances to share their beliefs, but we generally don’t expect such acts to be a mainstay of their professions. We shouldn’t expect it from artists either.

This saves me a blog post, really. What's more important, though, is why so many assume that artists should be doing more evangelical work than a dentist, because they do. My wife's Uncle Joe has been making this same argument about "uplifting work" for a long time.

Some Projects

I'm off to another conference (sigh). This makes three out-of-towns in October, which is really high on the "¡Aye Carumba!" scale. So high, it's actually prompting a change in behavior on my part: I'm planning to back off outward expressions of my creative life, at least for the moment. Rift is out, and there's a certain amount of work to be done there with readings and events and promotion, but other than that, I'm itching to make new things and finish old projects. This means I'm not necessarily going to say no to new projects and appearances, but I'm going to start selecting things that fit into the "create mode" rather than the "present mode." There is a time and a place for present, but I feel like I've been presenting myself into a place where my store of created material is becoming depleted pretty fast. The tank isn't on empty, but it's not on full either.

I want to finish a collection of interlocking stories I've been working on for a really long time. It's called Small World, and there will be six long stories of about 25-30 pages each. In each story a character and/or situation from a preceding story will take center stage. In fact, each successive story will add to the plot and subtext of the earlier stories. Yes, it is a little bit like LOST in story format.

I want to throw myself into the blog a bit more. I am working on short memoir posts. On my trip to DC this week, I'm going to be sketching these things out. I'm also working on some ideas about how a creative life and family life spark when they bump into each other. I'll have a long first post out this Sunday.

And finally I want to work on my retelling of the old folktale "The Little Red Hen." In my version, the hen asks for help from a pig, a cat, a goose, and a coldwar-era Soviet tactical robot.

Research Trip

Due to a combination of forces (my wife taking the kids to a family reunion in Missouri and Oklahoma, and my getting some faculty development money) I was able plan a research trip to get my next big fiction project going.

The novel is going to be called They Very Cowboy, and it's about two guys who are obsessed with different aspects of the American West. A Japanese guy named Kenji is hooked on cowboy culture, and a German named Reinhardt is immersed in Native American culture. They adventure on their own through the West until they meet at Four Corners and continue their journeys together.

Basically my plan is this: scout locations and do a little method acting, see what will happen. I'm going to head east to Green River, cut down through Moab and head over into Colorado, then through the east side of the Navajo reservation, hop on sections of Route 66, then pop over the mountains to Boulder City, head through Vegas, and climb home. I will be on the look out for strange things.

View Larger Map

It's going to be hot, man, 120º in and around Nevada.

I'll be posting photographs over on my Flickr account and I'll be writing dispatches here as things come up.