Lattice Issue 1: The Good Coffee


I’ve always liked writing, and I’ve always thought that one day I’d be good enough to get there, to get to a place where my stuff could be packaged in some form and presented wholesale to some kind of public, a percentage of the whole, eager and happy and critical and all those things that fans’ do to products. But as I got older and learned more about the process of taking what I thought was good to the hands of the masses, I realized I did not like the system very much. It wasn’t that so many hands had to touch my work before it became known—though that certainly factored, and continues to factor—but it was mostly the time, the estimates in terms of months and years before the veritable they would be ready to release. They offered money, but took time. It wasn’t something I ever liked. For whatever reason my internal machinery prefers having the time and is happy to forfeit the money. I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I’d rather just do the whole damn thing myself.

Another aspect of writing I’ve always wanted to work on is a serial, a magazine of some form, made up of interlocking fictions that exist in the same universe and may even share characters, themes, and macguffins. Old mystery novels had this going for them, and the series was made stronger with each new installment. Supplementary characters would return in later volumes, rewarding the attention of early readers, injecting equal parts nostalgia and excitement. I think deep down we want to see characters come back, even if they’ve fallen down elevator shafts or perished in a fire, even if they were just plot devices.

Knowing these two things, I went looking for a platform that would allow me to write serial fiction on my own, deliver it to as many people as I could, and charge just enough to buy groceries. This is how we are here. I’m using a service called Periodical, and it delivers on its name. Every month (and possibly more often than that) you’ll receive a new issue of both fiction and non-fiction from me. You’ll pay two dollars a month for it. I’ll deliver somewhere around 10,000 words of new material in four categories: a new chapter in an on-going series, a new chapter in a finite series (chapter 1 of 10, for instance), a month’s worth of The Heart is Raw, my essays on pro wrestling (seemingly unrelated, but I think they’re pretty good and you don’t need to like wrestling to read them.) Finally, there will be a piece like this every issue, detailing my thoughts on what I’m writing, recaps to events, and helpful hooks for new readers who don’t want to start at the beginning. This is what the money is for.

This may be a little overwhelming at first, but Lattice is the overall title of the periodical. Inside it are three items at present. Skypunch is the name of the serial fiction, the one that should go as long as this periodical exists. It has no set end, but stories inside it will conclude and begin anew, much like a soap or a franchise. Moonbow Easy is the name of the novel, which has eleven chapters, the first contained herein. When those eleven chapters conclude, a new book will take its place, and Moonbow will be collected into a special issue all of its own. The Heart is Raw is the name of my wrestling reviews, but I promise no viewing of wrestling is necessary to enjoy them. I do my best to write them for an audience who probably doesn’t care about wrestling, but appreciates both high drama and character studies.

I’ve already been asked this question plenty, so I’ll answer it here. Why name the publication Lattice? This is all Dave Eggers’ fault. In A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, one of his lengthy soliloquy’s talks about the lattice as metaphor, an interlocking and connecting truth which can strengthen each individual thread. I thought it was the perfect exemplar for what I’m trying to do. Each individual piece may be small, and may communicate something frail, but together it is mighty.

I’ll let Eggers’ words speak for himself. From page 184 of my copy, anyway: The lattice that we are either a part of or apart from. The lattice is the connective tissue. The lattice is everyone else, the lattice is my people…. The lattice is everyone I have ever known…I see us as one, as a vast matrix, an army, a whole, each one of us responsible to one another, because no one else is. I mean, every person that walks through the door… on and on, all these people, the people who come to us or we come to, the subscribers, our friends, their friends, their friends, who knows who knows who, people who have everything in common no matter where they’re from, all these people know all the same things and truly hope for the same things, it’s undeniable that they do, and if we can bring everyone to grab a part of the other, like an arm at the socket, everyone holding another’s arm at the socket, and if we can get everyone to, instead of ripping this arm from the socket, instead hold on to it, tight, and thus strengthening— Then…”

This is my beacon for this periodical. Together, my friends, my subscribers, my fans, my critics, and the people who have no idea who I am but will, we’ll all make this thing whole. I cannot do it without you. I don’t want to. I want to go on an adventure, and I want you to come with me. I want to make you happy and break your heart and make you empathize and this is the best way I know how.

Skypunch begins with a dream, and our hero awakening, sleeping halfway through the day. Their mother interrupts her dream, calls her a sleepy-head. Our hero wakes up. This is the beginning of a long journey, but she has no idea. The dream gives a clue. Our hero Is Aubry Bernadette Callan. She’s 19. She just finished high school. She has college acceptance letters. She has a boyfriend. She has internship offers. One of them is pretty exciting. I’m going to do my best not to spoil anything, but instead explain how I came to such decisions.

Skypunch is going to resemble an role playing video game, or RPG as most people know it. You’re going to come across many RPG cliche’s in the story inter-weaved with soap, and the first one is sleeping in, being woken by a mother figure. RPG fans should probably have a good idea what’s going to happen to the mother. Soap fans may have another idea.

Moonbow Easy is a story about climbing out of a terrible situation. Our hero, Odette, works at her Uncle’s hotel. It’s in a small mountain town and she can’t get out. Her life has fallen apart and she’s stuck, and this story is about her getting unstuck. I know it seems odd that both stories star female protagonists, but I promise that’s a coincidence. My last two stories had male protagonists. If you are a subscriber, you get them for free, and can happily get some male perspective there for the time being. Skypunch will follow several characters, some of them male, so the parallel won’t exist after a few issues.

The Heart is Raw hit its stride this month, after the first month of figuring out what exactly I wanted to do with the column (again, as a subscriber you get the first month of the column free in a separate issue. This thing is—and will continue to be—full of free goodies). I write about pro wrestling from the lens of reruns, therapy, catharsis, and that annoying thing in your life you should have moved past, but can’t.

That’s it for this month. With every issue, there will be a production diary section like this that summarizes things, gives updates, and provides a little help for new readers and reminders for everyone. It’s the kind of thing video games have, but novels never do, even though people put both down from time to do other things.

Lattice will soon be available on iOS Newstand, Android, Kindle, other ebook readers like Kobo and Sony, but today it’s available via the browser. You can subscribe and read each article, and save them to your preferred read-it-later app like Instapaper or Kindle. It’s something I want available in as many formats as possible, and I’m going to do everything I can to make it happen.

June 27, 2013