Red Beard was originally 15 pages. I let a friend and my older son read it and both said the same thing to me when finished: "That's it?" They both thought the story was just getting underway. So I began to expand on it. The story so vexed me that at one point I was going to omit it from the book‚ save it for a rainy day. I had completed every other chapter and Red Beard was up to about 60 pages by then. I could have ended it at least three or four times. I just didn't like the endings. Then one day it struck me from nowhere -- how I could take that one story and connect all the other "Tales" in the book. You could call that improvising I suppose‚ and there are similarities in the process as to how bands such as moe. create their music. (By the way‚ one person who reviewed my book was struck by the same thought.) But Rob and I have never talked about my writing style as improvisational‚ and I have not considered the correlations.
When it comes to writing‚ do you have any rituals or routines?
As far rituals go‚ I find a good dousing in mink oil‚ a loosely fitted loin cloth (I prefer deerskin -- not too tight -- Major Johnson and the boys need room to dance)‚ while listening to strains of New Age music at 78 rpms‚ tends to get the creative juices flowing... But seriously‚ deerskin makes all the difference. That said‚ I do my best writing on the beach. I like to go in the morning‚ after a big breakfast‚ take a coffee with me‚ smoke a big cigar‚ a Churchill. I can sit there for hours in a beach chair and write. If I get stuck‚ I simply look up and take it all in. I probably wrote 75 percent of Tales on the beach. It was my routine.
That's funny‚ I do the same exact thing with the deerskin loin cloth… Well‚ fake deerskin -- it's made out of soy. It's crazy how close it feels to the real thing.
Are you endorsing anyone for Mayor of moe.ville this year? I'm leaning toward Tits and Whiskey.
I have to say that I'm very fond of Tits and Whiskey‚ but‚ considering the potential for political backlash‚ I think that diplomatically‚ I must reserve my endorsement for the time being. Again‚ there is something inviting about Tits and Whiskey. If I could just put my hands on it‚ press the flesh‚ I might be in a better position to grasp a hold of the candidate's assets.