An excerpt from contributor Josh Malerman’s “Afterword” to his novella in I Can Taste the Blood. Watch for more from Josh this Thursday, June 23!
Let me tell you a quick story:
My friend Mark Owen and I started writing songs in college. We hadn’t hit the stride we would later, when we moved to New York City and started a band and traveled like blind maniacs for half a decade, but still, we cared a lot about it back then. Cared enough that when a local producer (the fella had a tape machine in his basement; this definitely qualified as “producer”) cancelled an album’s worth of a recording session on us, we didn’t know what the hell to do. College was coming to an end. Our friends had already moved out of town. It was just Mark and I and these songs and this session that was supposed to happen and then (dammit) didn’t. We were so lost back then that we didn’t even walk up the street to feel bad about it; we sat down on the guy’s front lawn and internally freaked out.
“What are we going to do now?” Mark asked me, and I knew the second the words left him that it was a huge question he was asking.
What are we going to do now didn’t mean Well, our week is freed up, what do we do now? And it sure didn’t mean where do we record instead? What Mark was asking me was the same thing I was about to ask him:
What are we going to do now with THE REST OF OUR LIVES?!
We’d arrived at that mythic post, where every young (or old) artist-to-be must decide: do we give up songs and books, finish school, and join the holy-roly-poly machinery?
Or do we spend the rest of my student loan money on recording gear and record those blasted songs ourselves?
Of course we did the latter (the former would’ve made for a terrible afterword.) We bought a Tascam 4-track cassette machine, recorded something like six albums on it, mailed those albums to our friends, moved to New York City to play the songs with said friends, got a loft-ish space where we split up “rooms” with tapestries, practiced a hundred songs, recorded a hundred songs, played some shows, hit the road, played a ton of shows, made seven studio albums, and holy-crap we’re artists and holy-crap thank God we didn’t turn our backs on it when we were trembling on that producer’s front lawn, back when we were so scared that the only thoughts going through our minds were drooly, wavy lines.
For us, that was living.
It still is.
I wrote novels out there, too. Riding from city to city I worked on book after book, sometimes handing rough drafts to the headlining bands, sometimes writing an entire novel because I drank a lot and told someone in Mississippi I would.
For me, that was living.
It still is.
And what a thing it is to chase!
Five Unique Voices.
Five Disturbing Visions.
The Blood Flows August 2016.