Who Were Me in ’83? (and 2013)
That is, I was feeling my oats as a writer. Things never seemed real to me until I’d written them down, either in my old diaries, new journals or—as I was beginning to learn—when I was living vicariously through fictional characters of my own making.
The Crowded Room consumed my imagination that winter. Even while attending an old high school event, such as taking tickets at the annual Sno-Daze dance, I used the surrounding events as fodder for the story.
“The past, at times,” the 1979 journal states on Monday, Feb. 12, “does leap back, right into your lap.”
That happened this past spring 2013, when I was rooting around for a new project to bring through my new business, StoryShed Media. I’d decided to work on projects I could produce mostly on my own. But when got to talking with other artists (mostly on Twitter), I realized the whole “going it alone” approach was totally wrong.
That’s where this blog collides with that new project, which will be hosted at a forthcoming WordPress site. Since the timeline on CITD is fast-approaching the 1980s, I remembered I’d drafted a novel in 1983 with the working title Out of English. It was loosely based on a correspondence and relationship I had with a Scottish pen pal. During the summer of 1982, I flew to London to live with her for a month. I was 22 years old.
The process I use to write, edit and publish to CITD, I discovered, could be used for the new project, called, obviously enough, the 1982 Project. But I wanted to take things further, since the original draft of Out of English included references to mix tapes, airmail letters, photos and memorabilia from that summer’s trip. I could work through the novel again drafting, editing, rewriting and publishing to the new website. And, in the end, perhaps I’d have material for a book.
Due to the generosity of some fantastic collaborators this past summer, I was able to pull together project branding, a mockup of the site, test audio files from the mix tapes, and a solid revisit of that other me, my protagonist, Matthew James Durand.
I mean, just who was this guy?
Well, in 1983 we’d just met. Thirty years later, he feels like an old friend—an old voice in a seemingly young body. Chain-smoking, brooding and tersely funny, he shared few life details with me. Matt’s father dies of a heart attack while Matt’s in high school, his mother then moves back to her home state of California, and Matt chooses to stay in Minnesota to be with his girlfriend. He makes plans to live rent-free with his aunt and uncle while going to college in Minneapolis.
Then, one day in 1981, a mysterious airmail letter from Scotland arrives. “Who the hell do I know in Scotland?” he thinks. Then he remembers he’d met a Glaswegian girl while visiting Munich as a high school student on a band trip three years before. They’d had a cute meet in the Hilton lobby, traded addresses, but he’d totally forgotten about it. And now she was sending him a letter.
So, why that year and why now?
Well, I’m feeling like the story has something to say to me now that I hadn’t considered before. And like the posts for this blog, I only know what I’m thinking when I write it down. What that message is will only be discovered through writing it out, which I intend to do by posting chapters from the story throughout 2014.
So welcome back, Matt my old friend. Let’s explore your world again, your relationships, your victories and disappointments.
Let’s take that old bugger Time and bend the hell outta him, shall we?