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Harris Gray ResolutionsSour Grapes, by Gray

Yep, I got a mouthful of them. But 2014 is going to be a new year.  A new me.  

Upon reflection on 2013 and the last 15 years, I have a lot to be thankful for. I recently had my business’s 15th anniversary. Published two books last year with one of my best friends I’ve ever had and will ever have.  My family is healthy and I love them, they in turn love me.  I truly have a lot to be grateful for, to be gracious for, to humbly thank all those who have made this past year, this life worthy of thankfulness.  

Instead, I crave, yearn, desire for more.  I need to have our work looked at, read, consumed at astronomical rates.  To have readers, critics & other writers see us for the geniuses we are. That our work is seen as meaningful, funny, thought provoking and ready to put a serious belly laugh on you.  A laugh so severe, you pull a stomach muscle and need medical attention.  

But time and money get in the way.  We can’t spend nearly as much as we would like on our “craft”.  We are a long way from our writermobile tour that we are set to do at a moment’s notice.  Our wives taking turns driving, as we spins yarns in the back of the RV.  Going from town to town, signing books & giving out half-ass advice & pieces of our hilarity.

The business.  Fifteen years of blood, sweat & tears (wow, that would be a great band name).  Sure, I have the best employees, customers & friends a person could ever ask for.  Again, I am told I need to see the bright side. I try, Lord, I try.  Those are great things, immeasurable things.  I still have mountains of debt.  A 75 hour work week, daily stresses that show on my face, demeanor and general attitude.  If I could have one week of continuous vacation once a year with my family, it would be a damn miracle. My lovely, loving wife, always the optimist. Lets me know that most small businesses only make it two years.  I think those people had the sense to get out when they could.  

Upset with myself for not seeing the bright side.  My wife, family, friends & customers are all supportive and amazing.  People who love me and want to be around me, supporting me.  Then, I get ever more depressed because I don’t appreciate them way I should.  Self-loathing to the nth degree starts again.

Every year, I say to myself and I am told how perseverance, hard work & a great attitude will make 2007 better than ever, then 2008, 2009 and so on. Well, it’s 2014. The guy I write with has so much talent, heart and desire that I want 2014 to be a year for him to remember.  A writing year like no other. Where time is abundant, and the ideas flow.  Where the scotch is old and the storylines are fresh.  On the road, with our wives in tow.

I hope for, will work hard for, a certain amount of success in my business’s 16th year. To work a reasonable week, so that I can see my loving, caring, understanding family. To take my deserving family on an adequate vacation.

I love the works of Arthur Miller, Lorraine Hansberry and Philip Van Doren Stern. But can’t figure out whether I am more like George Bailey or Willy Loman.

Yep, 2014 is going to be a new year.  Walter Younger had it real tough. George Bailey had so much to be thankful for, but Willy Loman had a life insurance policy.

Harris Gray ResolutionsFine Wine, by Harris

Don’t look now, but 2014 is shaping up to be a great year! 2013 was an odd duck to put it nicely, but if nothing else, an essential step toward 2014. Calendars aren’t like high-rise hotels, you can’t skip 13. So 2013 was a step, even if it the tables were turned and we were the ones who got stepped on in order to get here.

You know how (if you’re lucky) you wake up one day and drink a bit of coffee on a long morning flight home and realize how blessed you are to have your partner? I’m reading a novel by Stephen Dobyns, The Burn Palace, and there’s this bookish nerdy kid who follows around the cool kid, hoping they’ll become friends. That’s a recurring theme in novels, an appealing one to me, never mind that I always fancied myself the cool kid. Of course I’m not, I’ve always been that other kid. And just as the storyline always goes, I eventually get the cool kid to like me. Now we’re writing books together.

Yes he’s a little gloomy sometimes – and I like that! I get the biggest kick out of cool dudes’ tales of woe. Probably because they actually have tales to tell, unlike us bookish nerds, and they tell their tales hilariously. Somehow the cool suffering dudes know how to make you laugh. In this particular real-life story of mine, it also turns out they know how to write. That is what you call a blessing. I think last year’s trials and tribulations were necessary to open my eyes wide enough here in 2014 to see it. So thank you, 2013.

(But still, good riddance, 2013, you hurt a lot of people and so I can’t help but think of you as a necessary evil, and I don’t know many people who feel otherwise.)

Back to Stephen Dobyns – have you read this guy? He’s incredible! Such a unique style. I remember reading his novel The Church of Dead Girls back in the 90’s – I was pumped to write like that guy! Exactly like him! Of course I couldn’t, but that desire launched me forward, and I started off writing sorta like him, and then as the pages and days piled up, nothing at all like him, but by then, who cares?!? Stephen Dobyns had unleased the story in me. That is such a beautiful thing, that one writer does for another.

And I’m going to tell him so. This is new in 2014! Connections, connections, you have to make connections! That’s what all the how-to-be-a-(marketable)-writer bloggers tell you. Of course I knew they were right, but oh how it hurt trying, all year long in 2013, trying to connect with people I didn’t know….

…and then in 2014, it finally dawned on me: I should connect with people who I feel connected with! That might actually be fun! Which made me realize, I’ve never told the guy who inspired Java Man, the brilliant science writer Stephen Hall, just what he has meant to us. So I did, and next thing you know he has a copy of Java Man in his hands, and we’re calling him Steve. And regardless what happens from there, the world just feels a little better having corresponded with this gentleman.

And so Stephen Dobyns is also going to receive an e-mail from Harris Gray, telling him how much we admire him, and how a passage in The Burn Palace, about this nerdy bookish kid wanting to be a vampire when he grew up, because “Have you ever seen a nervous vampire?”, how it made us think that he might get a kick out of a story about, yes, a nervous vampire who didn’t have the self-confidence to bite someone. And then maybe he’ll let us send him a copy of Vampire Vic, and who knows, maybe that will lead to a mention to someone else who we’d enjoy being connected with, and so on and so on, in the magical way that connections often work.

Finally, did you know my writing partner loved Lorraine Hansberry? I didn’t. Likewise he didn’t know that a few weeks back I stumbled across Sidney Poitier on a movie classics channel, that I paused for a moment (with finger on the Channel-Up button) to enjoy the master, and ended up spending two hours falling in love with A Raisin in the Sun. Incredible writing feeding stellar performances. Until now, 2014, I had no idea who Lorraine Hansberry was. Thanks to my partner (and Mr. Poitier), that problem has now been rectified. Makes me excited to taste more of those grapes he bottled these past fifteen years.