In a recent email, E called me a “poltergeist,” and I’ve increasingly grown fond of this image of myself, although she meant it as an insult.
I know a lot of people probably have fight fantasies, little daydreams where you take out all your aggressions on someone deserving. When I was a kid, it was a group of bullies from school. I set up pillows on my bed and punched and kicked them, acting out the entire scene. Later, I got a punching bag that I used up until I left home. My victims became more anonymous, groups of inner city gang members (which I knew about only through television) and other ominous criminals.
Of course, I also got into actual fights from time to time. These events typically lasted little more than a couple of minutes. Usually they got broken up before they really got started. Even so, they were awkward, ugly.
In my crime-fighting fantasies, fights are beautifully and meticulously choreographed, right down to my explanations to the cops afterwards. Although they sometimes involve a specific person with whom I’ve had a recent altercation, they usually involve random muggers and thugs you might run into late at night on the subway. Lately, I have not only fantasized about a fight, but I’ve added the power to hypnotize my nemeses into believing they are having a heart attack, have some late stage cancer, or have a broken arm or leg, thus avoiding the gymnastics of having to actually throw and avoid punches.
I’m trying to think back on my family life growing up. E once mentioned that she thought I probably hadn’t gotten much affection from my father as a kid. This was, of course, a kind of knee jerk, pseudo-psychological analysis based on less than nothing. In fact, it was always clear to me that he was hyper-conscious of showing affection, even though it seemed to be unfamiliar and tentative territory for him. I think he shares with me a strange kind of shyness that makes us easily embarrassed, but I never felt that this embarrassment equaled a lack of affection.
My mother, although more outwardly emotional that my father, is also very tentative in approaching issue that might be sensitive, even my tattoos.
On the morning of 9/11/01, when she called me during the attack on the World Trade Center, Chris Weingarten had slept on my sofa the night before. At the time, he was living with relatives in New Jersey and doing an internship at CMJ magazine. If we were out late, as we were the night before, he would miss the last bus to New Jersey and crash at my apartment. When she called and woke me up after the first plane hit, I woke up Chris and told him. When she heard me talking to another man, she started asking me odd questions that I didn’t understand at the time. Are you home? Who’s there with you? I started to get the feeling that she thought I might have spent the night with a male lover, but she wasn’t sure how to breach the subject. Under the circumstances, I’m not sure why it would have been interesting or important.
As time wears on, the project of being or ever becoming a “great writer” seems more and more a narcissistic and romantic fantasy. It’s true that my commitment to the project has had lulls and spurts over the years, and even during periods of my most intense application, I accomplished little – a small collection of short stories and poems, some unfinished plays, two and a half novellas. I’ve been moderately satisfied with a few of the finished products and thoroughly disappointed with most of the rest.
This is not to say that my life so far as an “artist” has not had some successes, although “success” must be measured on an appropriately small scale. I have written and performed many styles of music and dabbled in other mediums such as graphic design and video. But all this time, the project at the forefront of my mind has been literary.
In the past year, I turned thirty years old. It’s mere superstition to think that my age is really any kind of barometer or landmark with which to measure artistic accomplishments, but it does seem to be a convenient time to turn somewhat away from the distractions of youth and focus on adult goals. In other words, the time is right to dedicate myself as fully as possible to the project.
Over the course of the past year, I’ve taken a few steps toward immersing myself in the project. I’ve attempted to follow the literary market more closely. I’ve edited and re-written some of my older work. I printed “chapbook” versions of some of my work and distributed it around. I started writing the elusive “third novella” of my planned trilogy. I started writing several smaller pieces, distractions mostly. A handful of these distractions are finished in a sense, but I’m not inclined to try and publish any of them. Of course, and perhaps most significantly, I also moved to New York.
And another step into immersing myself in the project is to begin to identify myself in the mindset of a man of letters. Thusly, I begin this latest attempt to keep a “writer’s journal” of sorts in order to leave some kind of trail of my thought processes. As I usually do with these things, I’d like to maintain the conceit that, in addition to serving as a tool for organizing my thoughts and staying in the practice of writing when I can’t keep my mind on any particular story, this notebook will someday be of scholarly interest. For some reason, this conceit encourages me to continue.
With that in mind, one goal that I have with this journal is to create a document that one might read in order to discover the definitive answer to the question, “who is M. David Hornbuckle?” Toward that goal, I will incorporate, as I deem appropriate, a few sparse autobiographical musings I have written over the past few months, as well as others that I may compose in the future.
I also have in my possession another “writer’s journal” that I began about two years ago. Like this notebook, I also approached that journal with the conceit that one day it would be of scholarly interest. I recently re-read the journal and determined that no one should ever read it under any circumstances. I found that the writing was, on the whole, mundane and lifeless – at times downright embarrassing. After reading it, I then added, more than a year after the final entry, yet another entry.
Despite its downfalls, there are a handful of germs of thought that I would be remiss in dismissing forever. Most of the entries concern a young woman whose acquaintance I had made just before beginning the journal. I added the additional entry because even though I have moved a thousand miles away from that little Southern college town where I met her, she also now lives in New York, and that is obviously not entirely a coincidence. However, the precise correlation/causation is not at all obvious. I’ll explore that idea more as this document continues because there is some deep drama in the story of my friendship with this young woman, and the drama goes on. I have a strange feeling that it will continue for as long as I live.
So – who is M. David Hornbuckle? This begs a series of other questions along the lines of “why should I care?” For the moment, I’m going to work under the assumption that you have your reasons. In case this document should somehow become the only fragment of evidence of my life, here is a very short summing up of some mundane things that have to be gotten out of the way.
I was raised in Alabama, sometimes in Birmingham and sometimes in a smaller town further south called Dothan. In junior high I started to develop interests in creative writing and music. By ninth grade I was writing songs, as well as singing and playing guitar in rock bands.
I went to college for two years at Mississippi University for Women (there’s a story there, but not as interesting as you might think), then got married and finished my degree at the University of Alabama-Birmingham where I received a B.A. in English with minors in philosophy and music. I was drawn to Gainesville, Florida by what seemed at the time to be a vivacious music scene. There was also a respected creative writing program there at the University of Florida.
I didn’t go back to school, but I did play in several bands. One of those, PopCanon, became somewhat popular regionally, but several key members of the group (including myself) were prohibited by day-jobs and mortgages from committing the time and energy required to really be successful in that business. In the meantime, though, we made a few albums, toured a little bit, made the most we could out of the experience. It was great fun when it wasn’t grueling work.
While in Florida, I got divorced, became a bit of a drunk, had some adventures and some mishaps. Then I moved to New York, and here we are now. Good enough? Intrigued? Bored? Well, that’s enough of an introduction either way. I’m pleased to meet you as well.