in Sanity, AZ – Day Two: A Cabin in the Woods

No To-Dosday this week. Instead, you get to learn a bit about my newest collaborative effort: in Sanity, AZ.

I met my writer-collaborators years ago. Mike and I met through mutual friends. Marcel, Joe and I met through Starbucks where we worked with one another.

I do not think, at the time, any of us though we would work together. Hell, Marcel and I almost got into more than one fight.

Over time we grew close, all of us. Mike and were kindred spirits in our appreciation of art, in any form, as a social criticism. Marcel and I ended up going to school together at Cal State University Long Beach where we took many classes with one another. Joe and I shared many late night discussion on film – its current state, where it had been and where it was going.

Over time the four of us have grown close. At first, this was a simple system of checks and balances; we would email back and forth, criticizing and encouraging one another in our various attempts at the life of an artist. Time and time again the idea of collaboration arose, but never bore fruit in action.

Then came in Sanity, AZ

Though titleless at the time, we decided to create a comic together. The comic medium seemed to be a common ground amongst the four of us, a fertile land where we could create and learn together. We knew it would be horror. We knew it would involve a town in the desert. But, for the life of us, we did not know how we would write as one.

Marcel, I believe, was the one who suggested a retreat, not unlike Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont once did. I did some looking and found us a cabin in the mountain-woods outside Julian, an hour or so outside of San Diego.

We turned off our phones. We each purchased a single bottle of alcohol and some food. Marcel brought a shotgun.

The writing began.

For seventy-two hours we followed a strict routine: We woke, showered, drank coffee, did a writers exercise (a different one each day), ate breakfast, turned on music, wrote for four hours, ate lunch, wrote for five hours, ate dinner, read our work to one another, criticized one another, and then drank until we passed out.

For my own part, it was one of the greatest weekends I have ever been part of.

By the time the weekend was over we had succeeded – we had finished a one hundred and sixty page anthology of horror. Though success was attained, I would hesitate to say it came smoothly. There were arguments, a great many of them. Egos clashed. Conversations of intent, perception and literary construction came with constant frequency. At one point, a particular writer got so frustrated he grabbed his rum and fled into the woods where he remained until the rest of us went after him.

It was maddening, frustrating, challenging, and, above all, life-changing. By the time we were headed home we had managed to, somehow, smash and beat our distinct personalities into a harmonious hum of narrative. We had crafted a story that had rhythm and moved with the sweetest peaks and valleys of a symphony.

This book, love it or hate it, is a crowning personal achievement for each of us.

But before we could pat ourselves on the back with too much vigor, we had to figure out what the fuck came next…

Tomorrow: OKAY, NOW WHAT?

Yes, this is the cabin we stayed in.