What I learned after spending a year in Florida: I can't write in Florida.
Something about the nonstop permanent-yet-impermanent chaos of the Sunshine State, coupled with the biorhythm-altering utter lack of seasons, can make a man confused, spinning his wheels, distracted by shiny things, buttered all over, reaching out in the darkness for something stable amidst the whirlwind of data.
Of course, that's not to say it isn't a blast. If one must be distracted from the Great Work, at least it's by awesome piano bars, steak and absinthe, bubble tea, beachcombing, birdwatching, fine cigars, oysters and island-hopping. That, and keeping busier than ever with all those little things I quietly do in the background.
So, here I sit in paradise, thinking, ever thinking, about those four in-progress novels sitting on my desk. One of them - The Alternation of Night and Day, is technically finished but I keep tweaking on it. And tweaking. As I've noted before, though, I'm not one to rush these things, even if it is tawdry little Kindle pulp fiction novellas and not War And Peace we're talkin' about here. They'll be finished whenever they're finished, deadlines be damned. But it's my fondest hope, dear reader, that at least two of these will manifest before year's end:
The Alternation of Night and Day. I couldn't decide if I wanted to write a boxing novel or a voodoo novel next. So I did both. An Irish boxer living in Louisville in the 1930s decides to seek an occult solution to his personal and career woes.
Solar Station A. As mankind just starts to get to the point where ordinary citizens can get their own personal small crafts to go zipping around in space, one of the early adopters gets out there and discovers that we have not been told the truth about what's really going on in our solar system.
Matilda Heron. An actress with a 17th century theatre company becomes entangled with a strange secret society, and increasingly finds herself having difficulty differentiating the events of her life from the events her characters experience onstage.
The Tract of Blood. A sequel to The Moleskin Checklist, in which Jack has become a compulsive gambler and golf club hustler in an Arizona resort town. Jack is traumatized by the theft of his precious "Tract of Blood" notebook. Sappy and his mysterious new exotic mail-order girlfriend aid Jack's quest to get it back, whether he wants their help or not.
Ernest Hemingway did some of his finest work in Florida, and so I must ask myself how better to follow in his flip-flopped footsteps. I'm thinking I need to drink more rum. In an effort to better assume the beingness of ol' rockin' Ern, I plan to pack up stakes and head to a remote group of islands in the near future. Here, I believe, I will slap out my finest work.
Then again, Hemingway died depressed and blew his brains out. Maybe I should be more like Fitzgerald and just go back to guzzling gin rickeys at Louisville's haunted Seelbach Hotel?