Writing into March

Bookish & Particular Issue #2

MichaelVanKerckhove.com. Illustration by Borja Cabada.

Welcome

Hello! Welcome to the second issue of Bookish & Particular: The Writerly Life of Michael. If you haven’t read Issue #1, you can do so HERE.

Firstly, my writerly site was featured in an article about writerly sites by Ontario writer and digital marketer Alex Tucker: 5 Writer Websites to Inspire Your Own. Check it out!

Now, as we try to climb out the winter funk, I’ll admit that my dedicated endeavor of writerly creative output has been minimal of late. Amongst various life things, Journaling and job search stuff have taken up some of my available bandwidth.

I’ve been journaling since I received my Pac-Man diary for Christmas in the third grade. Followed by my Michael Jackson notebook a few years later (with the “Human Nature” single cover) and then the official launch in junior high of The Pages of My Life series of nineteen spiral notebooks. (That title is way twelve/thirteen-year-old Michael and it stuck.) Then my online LiveJournal, other blank books, and now the POML “reboot” written in more Moleskin sized pages. I also have my “little” journal for daily snapshots to help curb the stress of dedicating time to write the sprawling epics of Everything. These journals have all been and will continue to be extremely valuable in my writerly life as resources for my personal stories. They also help de-clutter my brain as needed and overall get me writing.

As for the job search, well, I’ve crafted a number of cover letters and emails over the months as I look to replace or supplement my restaurant job. That whole full-time vs. freelance vs. a nine-to-five vs. the gooey flexibility of the food industry vs. passion vs. security thang. Lots to think about, and a full-time job in itself! So, send good vibes, please and thank you.


From the Pen

Grandma’s typewriter: Remington, circa 1949. (With Canadian Club bottle, 1963.)

I’m gearing up for a couple Live Lit shows in April. For the April 3 show, I’m working on a new story about creating my space (physical and emotional) in the past year and a half plus of living and being on my own for the first time in a long time. It’s a follow up of sorts to my Salzburg piece chronicling the lead up to my move back to Chicago—which I submitted to Belt Publishing’s forthcoming LGBTQ anthology. Alas, I was not selected. So now the story is a free agent…. For the April 2 show I’ll be updating and polishing a story from the archives. I look forward to working on this one as well.

One of my Big Projects I want to give some love to this year is my “1950s novel.” Back in 2004/05, I wrote my last full-length play, and I’ve been toying with adapting it into a novel. So far, I’ve adapted the first few scenes. A pretty straightforward adaptation so far: directing and designing the play of sorts while allowing for the inner thoughts and seeds for backstory inherent to prose. I have the story and the characters, and I look forward to spending more time with them.

To learn more about past online and print publications, head over to my site’s Publications page.


On the Stage

Performing at TenX9 Chicago, 2014. Photo: Nicolette Nunez.

Here’s the latest rundown of my 2020 performances. Hope to see you there! For details on my performance history, visit my website’s Performance page.

I recently read at Do Not Submit, Andersonville, an open mic series with neighborhood editions throughout the city. I read my piece, Like-ology. I had to trim it a little due to time, but it was well received and I’d like to do more with it someday.


Off the Shelf

The upper three shelves of my built-in, a favorite place in my apartment.

I now have an affiliate bookshop at Bookshop.org! This new site is “an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.” An indie alternative to Amazon if you will. Whenever possible, book links in this here newsletter will be directed to the site. I’ll be adding more titles to the shop as I go along.

Latest read: Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. It’s one of those books I certainly knew of but didn't really know anything about. This was my year to learn I suppose. I loved it. There's a languidness that maybe fits, I think, with the Southern setting. Things happen and there's suspense but it's not all heart racing and intense. I appreciate that. I also appreciate it in terms of other Let's meet the various denizens of a small town novels like Peyton Place and others. With McCullers’ book, you fall for the characters and hope things turn out for the best. Even with a title like this. I recently watched the 1968 film starring a young Alan Arkin as Singer (who was amazing, even as I cast Ray Bolger while reading it.) I enjoyed it overall. Interesting to see what departures from the book were made to streamline the plot and make it its own thing.


On the Screen

Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash

One of my favorite Twitter feeds is The Daily Kerouac. Much of my own Twitter is retweets like this gem: I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop. Yeah, pretty much. I also recommend Chuck Wendig’s Twitter feed. He writes, he inspires, he gets political too. He also wrote a damn fine writing book called Damn Fine Story which I also recommend.

I recently watched Ken Burns’ 2011 documentary series Prohibition, one if his short three-parters in between his epics. I knew of it but missed it back in the day. I’m a sucker for a deep-dive Ken Burns film (and pretty much anything historical and nerdy), so I was all about it. Along with connecting the dots between the temperance movement and labor and immigration issues, as well as getting a solid portrait of Al Capone, my biggest takeaway was Oh yeah, those beer brands have first names! Miller and Schlitz are people, people! I also recently watched Some Like it Hot for the first time since college, and as it’s set during the Prohibition period, it was cool experiencing it again with all that learning fresh in my brain.

Finally, I absolutely loved 1917. It has everything: war, history, friends, brothers, symbolic cherry blossoms. I eat that shit UP, I tell you. Okay, carry on.


In the Air

Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

I also recently finished reading Eric Nuzum’s Make Noise: A Creator’s Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling. He offers plenty to think about as he organizes what we know/didn't realize we knew/didn't know about podcasting for anyone considering adding the medium to their creative wheelhouse. And yeah, I’m considering it. American Public Media posted an open call last year for podcast pitches. I had fun putting my (not selected) pitch together, but now I feel like I have the tools to make that and other ideas stronger. So ya know, we’ll see….


In Real Life

I’ll just say here that I’m happy Spring is upon us. I’m ready for my bike and the lake and the sun (but not too much sun because I’m still a bit of a vampire) and feeling a little more alive than I have been this winter. How about you?


Thank you!

Thank you so much for reading! It means a ton.

Help share the love by sharing this issue:

Share

Or the whole thing:

Share Bookish & Particular: The Writerly Life of Michael

Did you receive a link or stumble here from elsewhere and would like to receive new issues in your inbox?

Finally, if you’d like to buy me a coffee to help in my writerly endeavors, click this shiny button (Thank you!):

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Cheers,

Michael

We Begin

Bookish & Particular #1

MichaelVanKerckhove.com. Illustration by Borja Cabada.

Welcome

Hello! And Happy New Year too (2020, what?!) Welcome to the first (at least monthly but maybe a smidge more now and then) issue of Bookish & Particular: The Writerly Life of Michael. A dear, dear friend once described my personality thusly, so I’ve adopted it into various aspects of my creative life. It’s the name of my neglected Tumblr. It’s also the name of my catch-all publication on Medium. So why not keep going?

As I make my way out of the holiday fog, the first big writerly thing I’ve wanted to knock out is the launch of this here newsletter. So far, thirty-two of you are receiving this in your inboxes, but hopefully this will grow as I keep going (tell your friends!) Have patience, my guinea pigs, as I figure out the lay of the land. You’ll see I have a handful of headings about various creative endeavors and creative things I’m enjoying. I think they should about cover what I want to share with you.

I am 45 years old for most of 2020. Two pretty strong numbers there. And I want to DO something with that strength (I think we’re all looking for a solid 2020 even as the state of world is more overwhelming now than ever before). I have a ton of goals for the new year, from creative projects to non-restaurant industry employment to freelance writing income to various personal projects.

I look forward to sharing the adventures with you.


From the Pen

Grandma’s typewriter: Remington, circa 1949. (With Canadian Club bottle, 1963.)

Or you know, my laptop or maybe my grandmother’s old typewriter one of these days.

In September, I set sail on my adventures over at Medium.com. I joined the Membership Partner Program to get unlimited access to all stories on the site and to maybe make a little cash myself. So far, I’ve shared work mostly from my archives along with a bit of new work. I started the aforementioned publication, and my Cure-inspired piece on editing was published by The Writing Cooperative.

There are folks on the platform who post multiple stories a day and have made it their full time job. I am not one of them. Still, I’d like to get back into it, find my rhythm, launch some new publication ideas, submit to the many already existing publications, and see what happens.

In the meantime, I have a ton of works and ideas in progress: those short stories, novels, and personal essays that need some love. I want to give as much as I can this year. And devote some time to slashing my way into the freelance biz. I should stock up on more coffee now….

To learn more about past online and print publications, head over to my site’s Publications page.


On the Stage

Performing at TenX9 Chicago, 2014. Photo: Nicolette Nunez.

For those of you who don’t know, I am active in Chicago’s vibrant Live Lit community, dating back to performance events with NewTown Writers in 2002 and then riding the wave of new storytelling events and groups in 2009. For details on my performance history, visit my website’s Performance page.

In November, I made my fourth appearance at Is This a Thing? The theme was Home. I shared a new story about my family’s possibly cursed swing set I’ve titled Stings & Fractures. You can read it over on my Medium.

I’ve booked two shows so far for 2020, thanks to the fabulous Ada Cheng. On April 2, I’ll be performing in Am I Man Enough?: Stories of Toxic Masculinity at the Center on Halsted. On September 9, I’ll be at Volumes Bookstore for my return to Pour One Out, with the theme My Worst Enemy. I have a couple of stories from the archives I’m considering for these shows. More details to follow as we get closer!


Off the Shelf

The upper three shelves of my built-in, a favorite place in my apartment.

I can’t call this newsletter Bookish without talking about books! 2019 saw me reading 3,596 pages over fourteen books according to my Goodreads Year in Review. I didn’t quite make my twenty books goal, but still not bad considering all my Medium and other interweb reading plus keeping up with my Poets & Writers magazine. And ya know, writing and life stuff. I’ve lowered this year’s goal to fifteen as I do have some longer works I’d like to dive into.

I have, of course, purchased books over the last year to join the read and to-be-read books already on my shelf. I’ve purchased them at a handful of local bookstores such as my beloved Unabridged Bookstore and closer-to-home Women & Children First and Uncharted Books. I also grabbed a stash at the Newberry Library annual book fair in July (my first time going!). And from national chains like Barnes & Noble and the Half Price Books up in Skokie. And yes, I’ve also purchased books from Amazon. I know… But sometimes they “accidentally” fall into my cart when I’m ordering pantry shelves, new work pants, or my favorite ink pens. Lately, I’ve come across more Amazon shaming than usual. Maybe it’s an end-of-the year reflection thing. I totally get it, but it’s still a little annoying.

With that, an interesting online Amazon alternative is launching soon. I just read the article in Poets & Writers about Bookshop.org whose mission is “to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community." I may have to sign up for the affiliate program for future book links in this here newsletter!

In the meantime, I’ll link my current read, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea’s memoir, Acid for the Children, to its Unabridged listing. I’m in the home stretch and I’ve been quite enjoying it. I went to his book launch tour stop at the Music Box Theatre and had a great time. Less of a reading (he didn’t, really) and more of an interview where he discussed the book’s content and his writing process. I loved what he said about often approaching a story with a feeling instead of an action. Something to think about as I forge ahead.


On the Screen

Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash

The place for movies and TV shows! Like most of us, I don’t have time to see All The Things and I don’t stress out about keeping up. But here are a few things I’ve been recently jamming on or looking forward to.

I’m finally caught up with Call the Midwife on PBS thanks to Netflix and remembering to DVR the recent holiday special. It’s the late 50s/early 60s! It’s East London! There are nuns and not-nuns and nuns who become not-nuns and vice versa! There are lots of new babies and sometimes it’s all happy and sometimes it’s tragic! There are fabulous Mid-century coffee cups and tea service I covet! After eight seasons and counting, folks have come and gone, moved on or died. It gets me every damn time. Watch it.

I recently finished the latest season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I love how this time around the lens widened to play with more parts and places of the time period. I also love how Lenny Bruce continues to be a part of the world and I’m a little nervous about what will happen with him next season (he doesn’t have much time left…) I’m a little nervous for Midge too….

As of this writing I am one episode away from catching up with Big Mouth. I have been absolutely loving it. Now I wonder what the conversations between a twelve-year-old Michael and his hormone monster would be like—or what the conversations would be like now for that matter. Perhaps another writing project I can add to the pile….

To celebrate my mom’s recent birthday, I re-watched Shirley Valentine, which was one of her favorite movies. I hadn’t watched it in years and gasped when I realized that Shirley is 42. I’m older now! The middle-age life ponderings hit closer to home this time, but overall it was a lovely experience.

Next up: The final season of The Man in the High Castle because it’s intense and nerdy and it’s been a wild ride; and the third season of Sneaky Pete in part because Giovanni Ribisi has aged very well and also I want to know what further havoc that poor family will have to endure.


In the Air

Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

I need to/would like to listen to more podcasts. There about 800 thousand out there (my own guesstimated number) and it’s hard to keep up. I used to listen to more when I had an office job. Still, I have the Stitcher app on my phone to bookmark favorites and new ones (or more likely new to me) I’m intersted in catching. I recently started listening to The Constant: The History of Getting Things Wrong. The show falls into that world of nerdy quirky history that I groove on and is based in Chicago, so yay local writers! I must listen to more.

Of course my writerly brain has thought about my own podcast. I recently picked up Eric Nuzum’s Make Noise: A Creator’s Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling for some inspiration and how-to. I look forward to diving into that. If I do launch anything, you’ll hear about it first right here.


In Real Life

You mean I have to go outside?

While yes, I’ve been going to work and seeing friends and things, I’ve also been focusing on various apartment projects. My writer pal Ines has gone on a great purge, and I for one am already feeling less stressed about the states of my pantry (see aforementioned shelf purchase), the office shelf of my hall closet, and my desk drawer. Getting there bit by bit…


Thank you!

So hey, thank you so much for reading! It means a ton.

Help share the love by sharing this issue:

Share

Or the whole thing:

Share Bookish & Particular: The Writerly Life of Michael

Did you receive a link or stumble here from elsewhere and would like to receive new issues in your inbox?

Finally, if you’d like to buy me a coffee to help in my writerly endeavors, click this shiny button (Thank you!):

Buy Me a Coffee

Cheers,

Michael

Welcome!

Welcome to Bookish & Particular: The Writerly Life of Michael by me, Chicago writer and performer Michael A. Van Kerckhove.

In this little newsletter, I’ll share new publications from Medium and elsewhere, share upcoming performances, let you know what I’m reading, watching, listening to, working on, and oh, whatever else I’m feeling.

Sign up now so you don’t miss the first issue. And right now, everything is free! :-)

In the meantime, tell your friends!


[Illustration by Borja Cabada.]

Coming Soonly….

This was the only post that Substack imported from my Medium account. It refers to a Publication that I have yet to really launch: High School Poetry Corner. So something for y’all to look forward to.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Starting this now to hold myself accountable. Gotta begin somewhere. Perhaps you’ll join me?

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