Becoming Maurice

I wasn’t always Maurice. Well, I was, but I didn’t embrace it.

Let me explain.

I was born and promptly given my father’s name, which was also his father’s name. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. I was supposed to be Sean (or, if you were my sister, I was supposed to be Diggity Dog – and also a pony). Mom was knocked out on painkillers after going through a full-throttle natural birth, and dad was looking at me there in the nursery. At that moment, my father locked eyes with me and saw his father staring back at him. So, he signed the papers. And like that, I was a Third.

I’m stunned that my parents aren’t divorced.

It was done. My mother didn’t kill my father (though I’d say she had a right). The state had a name for me. A few days later, my sister and I both had Social Security Numbers (she was out of the system for several years). The heat died down on my father’s decision, and life resumed. It was kinda hard for me to remember being, you know, less than a year old.

I’m told by my mother that during those early years she did her level best to get my name established. She knew it would be a problem having two people with the same name in the house (she’ll still yell ‘SEAN!’ in frustration if she needs me to come running). But, it just… didn’t take. She tried my name in full in the beginning, then tried shortening it to ‘Reese.’

Ossua reese
Kinda dodged a bullet on that now that I think of it. My name already confuses enough people.

She eventually used my middle name as my dad and everyone else did. In fact, everyone who knows me from the long haul uses my middle name. Because, until recently, I did not embrace my first name. The reasons were varied, but the biggest was that my sister and cousin made fun of it. Pretty stupid, but there it is. Nothing wrong with the name. And honestly, it’s better than the name I use on the daily. Habit now, though – hard to change forty years of precedent. My daily people still use it. Probably always will, and I’m okay with that. The only people who regularly use my first name are doctors, lawyers, and human resources. We’re not usually happy to see each other.

When I started going after my creative work, though, I made a change. I realized that if I was going to have a career as a creative, my name is my brand. Furthermore, if you’re going to be weird as a part of a life goal with a public face, you might need to distance yourself from that personality so you can work during the day. So… here I am. Maurice Hopkins. Trip if you’re feeling froggy.

It feels to me lately that my life has changed in such fundamental ways that… I don’t always feel like my day-to-day name applies. As I spend more and more time as Maurice (though we’re basically the same person), there are things I say as Maurice than I would not by my day job name. I’m a Gemini. Guess it comes naturally if you believe in that kind of stuff (I generally don’t).

What I’ve discovered though is that Maurice has always been inside of me, waiting to go public. I never ever sign any artwork using my first name at all. Never had, not until Until A Strange Signal. It, and my fiction writing are the only thing to use ‘Maurice’ as my familiar name in public. I strain to think of any time my middle name was ever used for creative endeavors either. Initials at best, but usually just HOP3 in my trademark chicken scratch.

So, I guess I’ll lean into it. See what this Trip guy has going inside of him. Explore the world. Let the middle name handle the familiar daily stuff. But, you can call me Maurice. And, I guess, a Space Cowboy. Or the Gangster of Love. But only this once. Don’t make this whole thing any weirder than it already has to be.


Creative Dispatch – August 14, 2017

Its like, news or something… but creative.

Apologies for the missed blog post last Thursday – the past seven days have been my first week on the path back to steadier income. I driving for Uber now, and I am learning the ropes while investigating a few other options. It’s been an overwhelmingly positive change so far. I like the work, I meet lots of new people, and they talk. I like to talk. When you meet new people and they like to talk, you learn about things you’d never have thought about before. I learned a couple things about recovering from addiction, what it’s like raising money for schools in West Africa, as well as the people in neighborhoods I’ve never been in before. I’ve also been drumming up a lot of old memories about places I haven’t been to in years. Then there’s the facet of a whole new way of employment – that in itself has a story brewing in my mind.

Speaking of which, let’s talk a little bit more about what’s been on my creative docket.

Creative Progress

  • Ossua: This has unfortunately stalled. I need to restructure it after reports back from my critique group. As is typical of a big idea, you need other people to show you the flaws in what you think is already concrete. It’s very much like the scientific method. In this case, if you’re going to do something extraordinary, you need to make sure you’re showing it in the best and most accessible way possible to others who do what you do. So… this could take a while. The story while interesting lacks some common things the group pointed out. So I have a lot of work ahead of me after I have figured out the way forward.
  • The Dream of the Nineties In Film: This has been a blast to write, and it’s coming to a conclusion soon. I think when it is complete, I will have the basics for a non-fiction piece that covers the nineties in film as well as my own personal experience of growing up in the decade. A lot of it has been cathartic. And a lot of it has simply been great fun. The completed work will need to be edited and then formatted (the whole format has been an evolution in progress since day one). I’ll need to add in some extra things – but that’s good. It will give new content and also show some growth hopefully. I’m not sure if it will be something I sell or provide as a portfolio piece for people who want to look at my blog writing capabilities or want an example of my ability to use InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Perhaps both on a long enough timeline.
  • New Short Story Seed: A gypsy cab driver with a slick, tech-capable ride in a cyberpunk future has an interesting night.
  • New Short Story Seed: Quantum Entanglement sheds new light on the very existence of life on earth as our sun begins to gutter out.
  • Short Story Mashups: I submitted a trunk story about societal collapse to my critique group against my better judgement last week. I liked the story when I wrote it two years ago, but when I look at it now I feel it needs something more. It turns out the group really liked it, and they noted that it dovetails with another story I submitted earlier. They’re completely right. It should have been really obvious to me, but it wasn’t. In the process, I’ve tagged at least two other stories that would also mash up to create a solid narrative. It needs more meat on the bones to become more than a novella, but it’d be worth the work as a great, Lovecraftian science horror piece. A new sticky joins my Kanban board.
  • Blog Work: I submitted an application to work for an online blogging company and also am speaking with a marketing company in Philadelphia after an interesting opportunity cropped up. Apparently, I may be able to put my storytelling ability to work for them. Hoping to learn a little more about that soon.

In Other News

I’ve been working on getting things done around the house. In addition to the usual stuff that keeps our house pest free and makes sure I don’t get arrested for public indecency, Project Retro has come out from its storage bin and awaits proper cabling. I have several of my old gaming systems lined up on a rack that was previously used to hold storage bins but has finally been cleared. I look forward to a chance to finally play Burning Rangers, as well as several of my old favorites like Xenogears or Sonic Adventures. They’ve been mothballed for a long time, so it’s good to see them out again. Once everything is set up, I shall have to celebrate with other gamers of the retro persuasion. I’m a little short on games (I’ve had to sell many) but 2nd and Charles is right around the corner.

On top of that, driving for Uber occasionally means waiting around to catch a ride. While waiting in the PHL ride share lot for the next person in queue, I had a chance to find a new author: Duane Swiercynski. Well, new to me. He has been working in crime and spy thrillers on the novel end of things for a while, and also writes a lot of capes and cowl work at Marvel. I started out with Severance Package, a tidy little story about an intelligence front company that goes incredibly pear shaped. It was Tarantino-esque in its over-the-topness. This has led me to acquire copies of further works, specifically The Blonde and Canary as well. If those go well, I may dig deeper in my quest to branch out a bit from Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Horror. I always felt that thriller genre stories needed more aliens, cyborgs, monsters, and ghosts. So to add them, knowing the original formulas helps. I’ve tried a little Hammett and Chandler in the past year or so. I also have some good examples in the Jonathan Maberry vein from the Joe Ledger series. The repertoire is building.

So, that’s the post for this Monday. It may take some time before I can really tackle the next phase of Dream. 1998 has a very long list of films to get to, but we’ll get there.



Learnings – Writing Challenges

It’s been two months since I started this crazy writing challenge and there’s been a lot of stuff learned. I wanted to set aside just a minute to think out loud, not just for myself, but also for the lot of you that have been tuning in every week.

So, here goes my impromptu session of ‘what I’ve learned during my last two months’ session.

– First and foremost, I’ve been learning to cut things a little closer to their cores. I like to let things reel out and take as long as they take. Unfortunately, in a world of dwindling attention spans, that doesn’t always work.

Skip a bit, brother.

So Brevity is a thing I’ve been working on. In my editing passes, I look for two things primarily. the first is ‘Did I say this already?’ I like to repeat myself, I think for emphasis… but it doesn’t do any emphasizing.  Second, I ask ‘Do I need this?’ If a thing doesn’t serve a function in telling the story, I axe it. I feel these two things have tightened the work. I can even see it coming up as I write, not as I edit. Behaviors are being learned, and that’s good.

– Randomness promotes new ideas. The script has been doing well by me. Putting together things I didn’t think would fit made for things I wouldn’t have otherwise explored. Moneyworkers, for instance, put wizards, the temptation of power, the corporate world, and occult societies in one place in a contemporary setting. Then I had The Ferryman in which I did a horror pursuit story in a starship featuring biotechnology and dogs. I don’t think I would have come up with these on my own. I can write about each component individually – but it’s made me explore familiar components in unexpected ways, which has resulted in sudden intuitive bursts and creative explosions.

– Being on a schedule helps the process. I have a deadline to which I hold myself accountable. Every Wednesday morning, it’s time to post, whether I feel the story is shit or not. I only missed one challenge day so far, and given circumstances, I think it warranted the delay. Plus, the following week I had a double header in which I caught up. It was both gratifying and terrifying to take on 4,000 words in a week, and I finally digested a bit of a story I’d been working on for a very long time. Even if the whole deadline is artificial, it metaphorically makes the occasional diamond out of common coal.

– I also know now that maybe keeping my personal and business lives separate in social media hampers me a little. When I started this thing, I had about forty some odd likes on my Facebook Author Page by sending out invites over the course of two years. I picked up about fifteen more in a month when I took the page to my actual Facebook timeline. And then I saw the organic outreach quadruple in my post reaches. People actually subscribe and read a lot more (or let’s be honest, people click more) when I open myself up to more than just people who like the page.

– If Facebook’s analytics are to be trusted, there may be enough people taking an interest that I can seriously research self-publication of my short stories. If I could turn even a couple of short story clicks from the blog into a paid, ninety-nine cent borrows from programs like Kindle Unlimited, I might actually be able to make beer money of the project.

– If I look at everything I’ve written since I started this, we’re looking at 22,000 words in a little over two months. This is huge progress since my writing slowed down a few years back. If I could keep this type of schedule up for editing and writing, I could finally expand into the spaces I’ve always wanted to. I’ve always wanted to write novel length work, and these little exercises could snowball into the ability to do better work in a longer form.

– It’s made me get back into graphic work again as well. Every week I place an image. It’s usually not mine – the stuff up now is stuff I find in image searches, most times with some touchups or composition work done in Photoshop – one of my first creative loves. But, it’s making me want to look into providing my own illustrations/photos or to collaborate with other creatives in my circles. I want to take all of that stuff from online down and make something I can actually post that I made between my own illustrations and my photo edit skills. Plus, it’d make for good cover art for online publication or eventual print publication.

– People care. I get a lot of feedback from a lot of places. I have a critique from one person in particular just about every week, and several others to boot with more intermittent frequency. A lot of the feedback is very useful, and that feedback often times informs the work as I progress through my challenge.

– It’s rewarding personally. For a while there, I wasn’t writing. I was just numbing myself with Netflix and video games. Wrtiting makes me feel like I’m doing something positive, something constructive. It puts me in a better mood and makes me strive for bigger things creatively.

I’m sure I’ll learn more along the way, but this is what I have for now.

In the meantime, keep reading and I’ll keep writing.

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑