There are two constants in my creative life that have been around since I was a child. The first was a love and passion for music. I sang as often as I could. I was in both band and choir through most of my school years. I DJed. I started recording/producing songs of my own. And there’s a large, secret back catalogue of hundreds of songs and snippets of songs that sit on hard drives. Most are poor-quality, some are half-decent, one or two are good as-is, but all will likely go unheard as I march forward with new material that’s actually good enough to release.
I have a similar story for creative writing, my other constant. I’ve written poems, lyrics, short stories, scripts for TV shows and movies, that go back almost 3 decades. Most of the poetry is complete rubbish, especially the sappy high school stuff. I wrote 100 pages of a vampire story that will never see the light of day because, quite frankly, it is just bad. Trust me. The short stories and scripts have some decent ideas that might come to light in some form down the road but in their original forms will never be released.
When I graduated high school, the sky was the limit. I was always writing and always making music. I was laying out a path to make a career for myself in these creative arts (with some acting/directing thrown into the mix as well). But when I moved to Vegas shortly thereafter, life took a detour that put a near-immediate halt to my creative work. I was too busy partying and doing drugs to really do anything other than party and do drugs.
A few party-hard years went by and I started to (slowly) clean up my act. And in doing so, I started meeting different people. Some of which were in the local entertainment industry. As my new acquaintances and I got to know each other, I got invited to do some non-credited writing on a few Las Vegas shows and a few pieces by other writers. It was extra cash and still being in party-mode, I didn’t mind the secrecy of not being credited.
I wrote additional material for several comedy shows as a “ghostwriter” for a few years. Sometimes it was adding a singular joke or two. Sometimes it was a complete script polish. Sometimes it was suggestions. The gigs weren’t steady in any way and I signed contracts not allowing me to reveal what shows I worked on (even though they’re all long-gone by now), but it was fun at the time and gave me experience (and money for partying).
Eventually, I began to hang up my partying hat in 2007 and started getting my life back on track. I had stopped DJing to start working on original productions. I took the name “wonkknow” that year with the intention of focusing my creative energies into music full-time. And I did work on music, but there was an itch that still needed to be scratched.
One day in 2007, I sat down in front of my computer and started writing. I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to write or wanted to say. Looking back, I don’t even remember what possessed me to sit down and write. But I did. And over the course of a couple of hours, I wrote what would eventually become the first chapter of Accepting Gravity. At the time I didn’t have the title. Hell, I didn’t even know this was going to become a book. It was a brief story, an introduction, into something I wanted to say. Something I had to say.
Over the next year, I continued the story and wrote 9 more chapters (and came up with the title “Accepting Gravity”). 10 chapters in total. A decent beginning for a unique narrative of a book. I had laid out a path in the story without necessarily knowing where it was going. I didn’t write with an end goal in mind. I don’t do outlines. I’m a “pantser” of a writer (someone who writes “by the seat of their pants” instead of a “plotter” who plots everything out before they write).
By the time 2009 rolled around, I had stopped writing this book. It wasn’t by choice, but by circumstance. One of the problems with being a “pantser” is sometimes it’s hard to write without inspiration. Spontaneity has its benefits and its drawbacks. I also had the death of my father around the same time and despite having a shitty childhood caused by him, I was still deeply affected by his passing.
So the book was forgotten. Put aside into a digital pile alongside hundreds of other stories, poems, songs, scripts, to collect digital cobwebs. I’d dust off those 10 chapters once in a while and have people read it. Their feedback was almost always positive. Even the allure of positive feedback wasn’t enough to bring me back to the writing desk.
And then a mad orange ape-clown became President of the United States of America. A reality television star. A white nationalist. A phoney businessman. A brilliant self-marketer. I saw an ugliness usurp the White House and a wide swath of the US populous. A President who says climate change is a hoax as our planet is literally dying before our eyes and under our feet. A President who openly talks out of both sides of his mouth and his worshipers lovingly slurp up every single syllable.
I felt scared. Powerless. What was the country becoming? The world? What could I do about it? I’ve written a couple of songs, made a few pieces of art, but none of those outlets truly allowed me to express my feelings about what was going on in the world. And then in 2017, I remembered Accepting Gravity. I re-read what I’d written a decade before and the story began to truly take shape in a way it never did when I started writing. I didn’t necessarily plot out the entirety of the piece, but I knew what all the notes needed to be.
In summer 2017, I started rewriting. 1 chapter out of the 10 was thrown out completely, but the other 9 were able to be easily reworked into the new story’s framework. The book borrows heavily from my life experiences. Characters in the book are mash-ups of people I’ve met and known throughout the years. As I wrote, I was starting to remember events and occurrences I’d long forgotten, especially the physical and mental abuse I suffered at the hands of my father.
Writing this book allowed me to come to terms with many things from my past, not just the childhood I endured under my father. I learned new things about myself. To forgive myself and others for past mistakes. It inspired me to start this blog. Inspired me to be more open, honest, and direct with people. To be more like the determined person I was before I ever did drugs, while still maintaining the lessons learned from those years of insobriety. Writing and completing this book has changed my life.
Originally, I had wanted to have illustrations mixed in with the chapters, similar to how certain copies of Alice in Wonderland had illustrations (one of the many ways I wanted to reference that influential text). It quickly became apparent that wasn’t going to happen when artists I approached either weren’t interested or didn’t have the availability. For those same reasons, I was unable to easily find art for my cover for the longest time.
After many struggles, I remembered a piece of art drawn by an old friend of mine, Aaron O’Donnell. A beautiful skeleton carved out of wood in a crucified position floating in the air. It was something he drew 20 years ago and gave to me shortly after. Luckily we kept contact and even luckier still, he was one of the people who’d read those original 10 chapters and liked what I’d written. We both agreed that his remarkable drawing would work for the cover of my book and he graciously permitted its usage.
The first draft was completed at the beginning of 2019 and the rewrite finished by the beginning of summer. Being a “pantser,” I feel the rewrite phase is where I really iron out everything that is sometimes missing from that particular writing style. While writing and rewriting, I had a very specific playlist that I feel adds to the story (and you can listen to it on Spotify).
It’s a very personal story that’s difficult to describe without ruining the story. The book is non-traditional and personal and metaphorical and interpretive. To give any specificity outside that tagline would risk tainting the reader’s interpretation of it. I’d rather someone tell me what this story means to them than me telling them what the story really is. It glows with the influences of William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, Clive Barker, Alice in Wonderland, & 1984. The tagline for it is:
Methamphetamine. A severed hand. Holidays. Hallucinations. A woman with blue skin. President Trump. Cannabis. Existential crisis. Tarnec beetles. A pool of blood. An abusive father. An absentee mother. Christianity. Heroin. A talking ear. Climate change. Alcohol. Human-sized cockroaches. Guns. The end of the world. And a message: “Jerry has the answers you seek.”
This non-linear Alice in Wonderland-on-meth combines horror, mystery, philosophy, and surrealism to tell the story of a broken beast of a man struggling with his demons, both real and imagined, throughout a grim 2018 in the dark underbelly of Las Vegas, Nevada.
I’m so very proud of Accepting Gravity. I’m glad to have written something that I can actually attach my name to (outside of music). I’ve attempted to craft an experience rather than a specific narrative. An experiment of a story. Meant to be felt more than understood. Hopefully, I succeeded in that.
Buy a copy in either Kindle, ePub, or 373-page paperback: