24 May 2020 by Published in: Uncategorized 13 comments

I’ve begun working on a story about a lowlife named Steve, who, on his last legs after having destroyed his life in the US with criminal activity and recklessness , illegally immigrates to Mexico…but in an upbeat twist, is befriended by a prominent local with a charitable streak.

This chap decides to help tackle the lowlife’s problems, and tries several things to turn his life around before finally settling on helping him develop an enterprise that winds up making the lowlife prosperous.

Of course, human nature being what it is, Steve slips into his old habits over time, and eventually squanders it all and destroys the business through negligence, laziness, and substance abuse. When confronted over this and the resultant imminent failure of the enterprise, rather than resuming a productive path, Steve elects to steal the business’ intellectual property, cutting his benefactor out. He rationalizes his theft and betrayal by demonizing the helpful chap, creating a convenient justification in his mind, because he’s a victim/hero in this false narrative (as he is in the narratives of his criminal misconduct as well, of course; virtually nothing he does is due to being a lowlife – it’s always external forces that conspired against him, thus anything can be justified).

But the theft scheme implodes, being as poorly conceived as his others, and the core character problems remain for Steve, so the outcome is easy to see – although he seems blind to all of this, which is part of how one remains a lowlife in spite of plentiful opportunities to avoid being one.

I’m trying to figure out a compelling ending. The predictable way to go is Steve winds up back on the street, with nothing to show for his experience – no greater wisdom, no prosperity, no relationship, no prospects, and having burned his bridges, no future other than misery – all of which he blames on others, of course. Or possibly in prison – recidivism is common in lowlifes. Depends on how much more illegality he engages in, and whether his past misdeeds catch up with him.

If I need to puff up page count I could probably delve into the psychology some, the character being a walking Venn diagram of borderline personality disorder, narcissism, and psychopathology, with self-destructiveness, promiscuity, dangerous behavior, drug abuse, lack of impulse control, and emotional lability the classic characteristics of BPD, an exaggerated sense of false self to be defended at all costs and a superficial charm artifacts of the narcissism, and a disregard for the value of others except how they can be used (thus the criminality), from the psychopathology. But it might slow the pace and bore the reader, so perhaps leave it out. I can go either way on that.

No matter what I decide to include, though, it seems a depressing, if realistic, denouement is unavoidable.

I’ve tried to come up with a happier ending, but the lowlife has spent his entire life on the road to failure, and lacks the self-awareness to realize that road is one of his own creation – so for veracity’s sake, the outcome is foreordained.

Too melodramatic?

Anyhow, that’s the current project I’m storyboarding, titled The Lowlife Diaries, although God knows I have a lot of other things I could work on. Teen vampires in love. JET. A new Ramsey’s. Another DAN. My restaurant project. So what to devote my time to?

If anyone says another BLACK, I’ll scream…



  1. Ruth Harris
    Tue 26th May 2020 at 8:55 am

    1. He becomes CEO of a private prison company.
    2. He runs a rehab in a ritzy resort.
    3. He lives in a yacht anchored off the Caymans and serves whatever depraved appetites his rich, pervy clients desire.
    4. He becomes Pres of a country. (You pick)
    5. He founds a mega church.
    6. He goes to jail (a super max) where he organizes the guards and other prisoners to do whatever bad (or good) thing you can think of.
    7. He’s murdered but comes back as a zombie who feasts on evil or innocent people. Your choice.
    8. He’s jailed and executed but the drugs the state uses turn him into a super hero (or villain).

    Now keep going and have fun!

    • Bob  –  Tue 26th May 2020 at 8:41 pm

      no redeeming qualities. you’d have to be a masochist to like this character or enjoy reading about him. time to shitcan him and start over

      • Russell Blake  –  Tue 26th May 2020 at 8:44 pm

        Shitcanning him is probably what I’ll do. I can think of a ton of more productive uses of my time than wasting it on such a despicable character. Although Al in The Geronimo Breach is pretty lowlife, and he turned out well by the end. Then again, he had a core of redeemable material. Not so much ol Steve, far as I can tell so far.

  2. Jana Joujan
    Tue 26th May 2020 at 5:54 pm

    The dark bitterness in this story is too all-consuming. The lowlife should be a secondary character who is mocked and humiliated by the author to add brevity to the greater story. Make sure his looks are also mocked such as his “freakishly small head” or “the socks he stuffed in his underwear obvious to everyone”.

    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 26th May 2020 at 6:04 pm

      Well, the story is a dark and bitter one of betrayal and ugliness. However, I’m thinking a lighter touch for the mockable elements, like he’s old but is dressing and trying to act like a teen, or pretending to be a high roller while sweating how he’s going to pay rent next month, or aspires to some sort of recognition as an author or model or whatever other sort of delusion he invents while never achieving anything noteworthy – kind of like the lead character in The Office, who is both loathsome and pitiful. As with that archetype, the pathos comes from the lack of self-awareness required to be in the character’s skin – sort of like Willy Lowman in Death of a Salesman, only with the aforementioned psychological defects. And we can also have as a secondary layer his abject failures with relationships of both sexes, which also speak to his lack of self-awareness. There’s plenty of irony to mine in all this. Writes itself!

  3. Alonzo
    Tue 26th May 2020 at 6:07 pm

    This reads almost like a real life event. Sure it doesn’t have anything to do with your recent investment?

    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 26th May 2020 at 6:11 pm

      I leave it to the reader to fill in the blanks on the page. I’m sure everyone has encountered a miserable lowlife like our fictional Steve before, which is probably what makes it seem so real.

      • Katie  –  Sat 13th Jun 2020 at 3:19 am

        IMHO you need to write this – it will be cathartic even if you do nothing else with it… and even if you don’t finish it. At some point it will resolve itself, and you’ll know the fitting ending. As will the rest of us.

  4. Zarayna Pradyer
    Wed 27th May 2020 at 7:16 pm

    Too painful for me to dwell on other than to mention – creatures like Steve are hollowed out – lacking human qualities, are basically terrified of reality whilst being rewarded for their behaviour by those who don’t realise how far they have to descend in order to see eye to eye with them.
    They are one-trick ponies doomed to forever roam the world seeking victims to feed and validate their delusions. They take whatever they can from those whom they resent for having the qualities they so sadly lack. Because they are incapable of coming up to normal standards, they will do everything in their power to bring their benefactors down to theirs.
    Of course, they are not in any healthy way ‘happy.’ Thus, the best revenge for their victims is to make all efforts to be so.
    As far as your story goes, I can’t see any salvation for Steve. However, life is strange, and one has to be open to the possibility – but only after a long and torturous redemptive rite of passage – such as a whole series of irresistible, well-endowed women who are even more duplicitous than him.

  5. Kirk Alex
    Fri 05th Jun 2020 at 2:59 am


    You have to write this book. Don’t worry about the ending at this point. Just write the damn thing & the novel will tell you how to end it (usually how it works, unless you’re one of those scribes who plans every detail out beforehand, which I don’t think you are).

    Again: Far as the ending goes, don’t let anyone sway you, brother. You’ve been at this game long enough & will know what to do. Funny though, can’t overlook the fact that for some reason I thought of the way Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano ends: (spoiler alert), the dude is robbed & shot by banditos, & his body rolled down a ravine.
    Not saying you should end your tale in this manner at all. Merely pointing out it struck me fast & hard, due to you living in Mexico & being an ex-pat, etc.

    Lastly, you OWE it to yourself as a WRITER to write this piece. It gives you a chance to do something more than the thrillers you’ve spent years toiling away on. Not knocking genre tales at all, my friend, as I’ve written my share, but with this thing/subject matter here, you have a chance to play on Ernie Hem’s & Derek Raymond’s & Ferdinand Celine’s & James M. Cain’s team.

    And yes, some of that psychological crap is okay. Depends how it’s handled. Also, I wouldn’t worry about making your genre readers happy with this tome, you’ve done it plenty of times in the past & have nothing to prove––in that area.

    I believe I said this years before: I always felt that you had the writing chops to do something of real worth and lasting value. Your header (for this post) grabbed me like no other. I went: Christ, is this really Russell talking about writing something with some actual literary merit?

    Do it, Russell. This will be my first book of yours that I will eagerly purchase.


    Kirk Alex

  6. Janet
    Thu 11th Jun 2020 at 11:01 pm

    Black! The people have spoken, begged, cajoled, pleaded. You know it makes you happiest to write Black. I know it doesn’t make as much money but Bella is tiny and she doesn’t eat much. Also no good deed goes unpunished apparently. I never thought Michael was stable, weird vibe.

    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 11th Jun 2020 at 11:08 pm

      That is the understatement of the century.

  7. Peter Nastasi
    Mon 21st Sep 2020 at 8:13 pm

    Russell , I have really enjoyed the Black series! Great characters and stories. Very funny ! Please let me know when the next Black comes out. I have been enjoying them on Audible. Very good reader.


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