Monday, January 30, 2012
--I'VE BEEN HOLDING ON SO TIGHT
…I've got a couple more little micros --"Hirsute," "Window," and "Mad up at Eunoia Review and also here under "Words in Print."
…I passed my 600th acceptance the other day. That's since I started submitting work in May of '09. If you read this blog, thanks for being there with me. Really. Writing is such a lonely gig. Even virtual support is meaningful.
So what does 600 mean? I don't know. I'm not sure. Certainly there's a small dose of validation in getting to that number. But numbers aren't everything. Roxane Gay recently reminded me that quality is paramount and more important than quantity. She named a few great books, classics, by different authors, thus making the point that some writers produce a great amount of work but no one recalls any of it, while the perfect book that resonates with the reader is remember for all time.
I get that. I do.
Not every one of my 600 pieces was remarkable, but most were pretty good. I think so anyway.
In any event, on Wednesday I go back to the novel I am halfway through. It'll be good to re-visit those characters. I've been missing them.
…I like these things to start the week off:
"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still
I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do." Helen Keller
"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." Oscar Wilde
"The act of reaching for a lighter or a spoon is familiar routine, yet we hardly know what really goes on between hand and metal." Walter Benjamin
"There is always something within poetry that desires the invisible." Barbara Guest
"It was just that sometimes reality, the same little reality that served to anchor reality, seemed to fade around the edges, as if the passage of time had a porous effect on things, and blurred and made more insubstantial what was itself already, by its very nature, insubstantial and satisfactory and real." Roberto Bolaño
"They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier's greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the slush of dishonor. They crawled into tunnels and walked point, and advanced under fire. They were frightened to be cowards." Tim O'Brien, "The Things They Carried"
Sunday, January 29, 2012
--I'VE SEEN YOU BLEED, HAVE I SEEN YOU LOVE?
...I have some new micros up at Eunoia Review and here under "Words in Print."
...Here are some things you might find interesting:
19,757 -- Number of IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) attacks in Afghanistan in 2010
20, 483 -- Number in 2011
31.9% -- Number of college students in 2005 reporting they spend 6 hours or more a week on homework
39.5% -- Number reporting the same in 2011
Birth rates per 1,000 teenagers ages 15-19 years old:
1990 -- 60
2000 -- 48
2010 -- 34
Number of miles driven in the US:
2000 -- 2,700 Billion
2008 -- 3,200 Billion
2010 -- 2,970 Billion
--According to New York's Downtown Alliance, lower Manhattan now has more than twice the number of residents, three times the number of hotels and 130 more businesses than it had on September 11, 2001
--At least 22 states reported budget surpluses in 2011
--Violent crime is at its lowest level in over 40 years
--Rates of teens giving birth have fallen to their lowest level in 70 years
--Drunk driving has fallen to its lowest level in 17 years
--State workers in Indiana were given bonus checks worth $1,000 because of the state's surplus of funds
--Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women
--On average, Americans are 20 pounds heavier than they were in 1990
--Elephants eat more than 450 pounds of food EACH day
--They're gregarious and need to be around other elephants
--Most are divas, demanding and pushy
--African and Asian elephants don't mix
--Only female elephants live in groups and ther's always a queen bee who's not a fan of the new elephant
Friday, January 27, 2012
--WHY IS THAT SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
…Last night I went to "Cheap Wine and Poetry" at the Hugo House in Seattle.
The wine was mediocre but just $1.00 a glass.
The poetry was exceptional, as were the performances. I say performances, because there really is an art to reading one's work in a way that both captivates and engages the audience. I'm still learning about this.
Greg Bem, one of the featured poets, walked to the podium after his introduction, said only, "I have fifteen minutes," set his phone alarm, grabbed a candle and swept through the room the entire time, reading and sometimes shouting out some really fabulous beats.
Next up was Peter Pereia, Greg's opposite in content and outlandishness. He was soft spoken. His poems were stories. They were sweet and lovely. He was brilliant.
And then there was Amber Flame (real name?). She is a playwright, has won poetry slam contests, teaches drama to preschoolers, and sure knows how to own a room. She was swearing and gesturing, cracking jokes and many times reciting her poems from memory, emphatically, poignantly, venemously. She was outstanding.
So three different presentation styles, three completely different writing styles. It's a good reminder that one should just be oneself. No need for copy cats. Just do your thing--whatever it is--and do it to your very best.
…AWP sold out in record time. 9,300 people are attending. It seems a bitter irony that there are more writers than ever when readership is at an all time low.
…I spent two days writing a story. I never do that--put so much time into a single piece.
But this one was longer (appx. 3,000 words) and I plan on entering it in the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association contest. They get hundreds and hundreds of stories. They pick a winner and runner-up and name those at the conference here in Seattle this July.
You never know. Somebody has to win.
I like the story. I wish I could say I love it. On a scale of 1-10 I'd give it an 8.5.
…I like these things today:
"He is the longed-for, and the one who long; he is
the arsonist--and he is the scorched." Ovid
"In the middle of the journey of our lives,
I found myself upon a dark path."
"...the hill has not yet lifted its face to heaven that perseverance
will not gain the summit of at last." Charles Dickens
"The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you
lost all your money." Bernard Meltzer
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
--HERE, LET ME SHOW YOU SOMETHING
…I have a new poem, “A Recent Split” up at Orion Headless and here under words in print.
Also, yesterday I received the inaugural issue of Mad Rush with one of my poems in it:
The Fashion Model
You are no longer so beautiful.
A leper now,
Flakes fall from your lips when you speak or sip
Or try to skim a kiss.
Your skin is ruddy dandruff dust.
Your hair is wicked white nests.
Just this instant your bones are molding,
Your organs molting.
The smell is rancid yet familiar,
As unforgiving as damnation
And so I think I’ll stay here
Watching you smolder
Every patch of plastic melting
For all to see.
Monday, January 23, 2012
--LOVE IS HERE, LOVE IS NOW
...I have a new poem, "Archival" up at cur.ren.cy and also here under "Words in Print."
...Today, right at this very moment, the sun is shining. She looks pretty and proud, not at all lonesome up there in the sky all by herself.
The dirty dregs of snow are sliding off the road banks or pooling in the street like grainy oil. The town and land is no longer perfect and beautiful. Rather, now the purity has been stripped away, like a woman without makeup, like a man telling you his secrets and sins.
Both images are real, both are true, but we lean toward one and away from the other.
Maybe that's why the world adjusts itself at night.
...This is another piece that was published in an anthology edited by Lydia Davis at 6S. Each story has to be six sentences or less...
The box smells musty but after I shift some contents, it doesn’t. Maybe twenty-five years have passed since I’ve seen this; brittle now but still bearing the faintest sweet scent, still blushing berry hues in the bed of its pedals.
I carry it down the steps like a trophy, a gift, a caught butterfly, and I imagine time as things were when you held one side of your gowned chest to me, so clear-skinned and optimistic you were then, me pimpled and nervous that I’d stab you with the corsage pin.
I reenact it all, right down to the part where I hear your insistent voice say, “If we don’t get going pretty soon, we’ll never make it.”
Sunday, January 22, 2012
...I'm at Starbucks this morning. Still having some residual issues with no TV or internet service following the storm.
There's the cutest little girl looking at me right now. She has a stuffed moose under her arm, lipstick pink shoes and sparkly, hoody sweatshirt.
I love kids and wish I would have had more than the two I did.
If you're thinking about having kids, I think 5 is a good number. At leat five.
I was feeling a little grumpy this morning until that little girl waved, smiled and said, "Hi." Now I'm feeling sort of happy.
And this morning I heard an accoustic version of the song, "Rainbow Connection." It's cute as a peach, that song. I'd only heard it before sung by Kermit the frog. Some british band sang this morning's version.
...I'm reading "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." A little late, I know. After seeing the movie, I have immense appreciation for the screenwriter of that film. The book is very bloated. I'm actually surprised it was so popular. All of the names and excessive details are boggling.
...I hope you're having a super Sunday.
Here are some things I like today:
"If you are patient in one moment of anger you will save a thousand
days of sorrow." Chinese Proverb
"Every writer should have a favorite bartender." Robert Hershon
"Don't get yourself trapped into thinking you have to publish. The only thing that is necessary is your nest poem. Your next story. You next song. Your next expression, whatever for it happens to take, of treading through the unusual, incalcuaable sad-splendor of life." Lucas Farrell
"The face you look out of
is never the face
your lover looks into." Peycho Kanev
"The role of the writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." Anais Nin
"It's natural enough to have thoe moments of, 'Maybe it's just not meant to be.' The important thing is, What do you do after you have that thought." Brett Foster
"A friend is one before whom I may think aloud." Emerson
"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." Martin Luther King Jr.
"Americans are still stupid people, by and large: they believe anything you tell them."
"The bigger the lie, the more they believe."
"You can go a long way killing black people in this country."
Saturday, January 21, 2012
--IF I TOLD YOU, YOU WOULDN'T BELIEVE ME
...I have a few recent things:
-"The Day the Universe Learned to Lean" at Matter Press
-"The Hater's Club" at Close to the Knuckle
-an interview at Crack the Spine
All are also here under "Words in Print"
...The power is back on at my house. I am not at my house.
I spent the night in Seattle with my son and three of his friends. I turned up the heat so high it was like sleeping in a blow torch, but after all those days of freezing, it felt delicious.
I laid on the bed and typed up some of the stories I wrote longhand to see if they'd hold up and they did.
Today we are supposed to have 70 MPH winds, so who knows what's going to happen to all those tree branches.
...I am standing up writing this. I'm in the lobby of the hotel. Actually this is an Inn. I'm not sure what makes a place an Inn as opposed to a hotel. Maybe you know.
I'm listening to the workers talk. There are four or five of them, all in crisp green shirts, most of them with really nice smiles. Everyone is speaking in Spanish.
Spanish is a good second language to know. For a while when we had a Hispanic nanny, I was very close to becoming fluent. Then I stopped practicing and out the door went my Spanish.
...There are many other things I want to say to you, share with you, but I have to skeddadle.
More to come.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
--I THINK THIS IS THE END OF IT
…The power went out.
It came on for ten minutes, then it went out again. Then again. And once more.
It’s been out for five days, which is the reason for my lapse in blogging.
I’m trying to be a good sport. There are worse things, right? Homeless people. Kids starving in Africa.
I’m at a local Starbucks. On the way, I passed down power lines lying across the middle of the roads, cars in ditches, trees downed over roadways, broken branches hanging on telephone wires.
It’s a bit like winter Armageddon.
Please keep your fingers crossed for me.
…So the last four nights I’ve read by lamp or candlelight—still Kim Chinquee (“Pretty” this time. I’m convinced she is one of our generation’s greatest and most unique voice; a kind a Carver for our times).
I also got “Stripped” in the mail, Nicole Monahgan’s assemblage of some forty flash writers (me included). No story is given an author byline (not for a year anyway) so that not only is author gender stripped away, but identity as well, of course.
There is some really good work in “Stripped.” You should check it out.
…When I wasn’t reading by lamplight, I was writing longhand on a real paper tablet.
There’s something about filling up the pages, seeing actual ink and you own preposterous penmanship with its scrunched letters looking like drowned spiders.
I wrote a lot—maybe 30 pieces, all very short.
The outage is going on day three when she decides.
Both of them are bundled in sweats under heaps of covers and her grandmother’s quilt. Both of them have started to reek, his skin exhaling garlic and cilantro.
He keeps pulling her close, saying, “Body heat, Baby.” Baby is new. Baby is not a moniker she’d ever have expected him to use. Baby is something they’d once planned to have.
Now they’ve got this house in the hills. Heavy, heavy snow has crushed so many things: her blueberries; old trees; Bo’s abandoned doghouse; them.
Last night, searching with a flashlight for a fresh pair of pants, she found his jeans instead, and the note. Her name is Holly. Young. Or else she’s just girlish, the way Holly wrapped the tail end of the y with a heart.
Her mother had warned her that to save a marriage meant being a whore in the bedroom. Whore. The word on her mother’s lips sounded salacious like Satan was saying.
While he snores, she takes inventory—they did it in a cluster of trees, in a U-Pick strawberry field, on an airplane, a church parking lot, and once on the top bunk while her niece slept below. They had been quiet that time. It was like playing with plush, Play dough, holding their tongues, sucking back gasps, moving underwater almost.
What was enough? What was plenty?
Thaw should come soon, and with it, possible flooding. Around spring time things will adjust, renew and blossom. Some will be better and some will have disappeared forever.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
--WHY DON'T WE JUST SAY WHAT WE MEAN
It snowed a lot.
Big flakes the size of bread slices.
I enjoy a really good snowfall. For 20 some years I used to hate when it snowed because I was in retail and snow means death for retail because every stays home and no one shops.
In the same perverse way I used to get depressed when it was sunny on the weekends because that meant people would play outdoors rather than go to the mall.
But not I am making up for all that.
I stood by the big picture window and looked up into the sky. It was filled with shredded coconut. Very cool. I loved it.
Unfortunately, since I live in the boondocks and we still have telephone poles, the power went out for a long stretch.
But it's back. It's back and there's still seven inches of white outside.
...Today I got a batch of the new Durable Goods.
This story, partially about my parents, was in it:
It starts with gasoline.
My father an attendant, back when they had them in those days. Mother showing up on empty.
From there, they had two botched abortions, then me, a trailer home smelling of barley and brine, a place ravaged but replaced with shattered things.
It ends with gasoline, my father soaked in it one night after passing out on the couch. Mother putting the can down, flicking a lighter, saying, “Enough is enough.”
Friday, January 13, 2012
--MY HANDS ARE HOLDING YOU
…I was good at math up until the third grade. In fact, I was so good at it that me and another girl and I got separated from the rest of the class. We had our own book and no teacher. We were told we didn't need one, that we could learn the material on our own.
That didn't work out so well. Not for me anyway.
I fell behind.
Then I was moved back in with the rest of the class but fell behind there too and never did catch up.
Since then I've convinced myself I'm not good at math and, guess what? Myself is correct; I'm not good at math.
But I do love statistics and facts, lists. I like little nuggets which have a superficial truth with a deeper truth beneath it.
Here would be some (very random but interesting, I hope) examples:
In a surprise (to me anyway), album sales actually rose in 2011.
77,000 albums were released.
90% of the sales came from the top-selling 1500
Adele sold 6.75 million albums
Justin Beiber was second with 3.39
20 years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman
Today the average fashion model weighs 23% less than the average woman
Top five most stolen vehicles:
1. Honda Accord
2. Honda Civic
3. Toyota Camry
4. Acura Integra
5. Cadillac Escalade
Will next year be financially better for you:
(Percentage who said Yes)
2007 -- 42%
2011 -- 30%
Number of firearms discovered at TSA airport checks:
2005 -- 851
2011 -- 1,238, or 4 per day
Percentage of married adults in the US:
Despite high gas prices, SUV's/trucks/vans combined for 55% of all vehicle sales
Registered organ donors in the US:
46% -- Percentage who say they never wonder whether they will go to heaven
44% -- Percentage who don't spend time seeking "eternal wisdom"
18% -- Percentage who don't think God has a purpose or plan for everyone
"We might as well be cars. That makes more sense to me than believing in what you can't see." --Ben Helton
31% -- percentage of Swedish women say they are attracted to both genders
20.4 -- number of lifetime partners for New Zealand women, highest in the world
10 -- number of minutes that sex lasts for Thai women, the shortest time in the world
41% -- average of French women who have participated in orgies
10% -- average number of Greek people who say they have sex 5 times a week, the world's highest
German women rate their male lovers the worst in the world
There are more than 15 million Americans presently on food stamps
24% -- Bomb-squad technician
15% -- High-rise window washer
14% -- Armed forces
8% -- Miner
7% -- Police Officer
Cosmetic Procedures in 2010 by age group:
30-39: 2.4 million
40-54: 6 million
55 and older: 3.3 million
Women who color their hair color it:
55% -- Brown
23% -- Blonde
12% -- Red
10% -- Black
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
--LOOK AT THESE KNUCKLES, THEY'VE GONE WHITE
…On the radio yesterday, the disc jokey said he didn't think newspapers would be around ten years from now. While I think he may be correct, hearing someone say that out loud kind of threw me, made me pause for a moment, stirred something inside of me.
It wasn't a friendly feeling.
I tried to remind myself that change is not often welcome, and that technology--for the most part--improves things.
I started thinking about magazines and books and how they will likely disappear as well.
That sort of made me sad.
I don't think people will stop reading, but I do think they'll read less.
…Yesterday, as well, I got a new Esquire magazine. It's my favorite, and I get a lot of magazines.
I love the "What I've Learned Column." There always seems to be something to glean from it.
Here were my favorite bits:
--Gangs are formed by kids who want love.
--My mother saw me in a gang jacket and said; "You're out of the gang or you're out of this house. You decide." For the next few years I had to run every day. They were waiting for me after school. I climbed out the back window. They beat up all my friends, stabbed two of them. But they never got me. I could have won the Olympics with the way I was hurdling. --Charlie Murphy
--Critics can say horrible things. It only hurts when I agree with them.
--Every time one person gets a piece of information, the likelihood of that information being exposed grows exponentially. It's no longer two people who said something. It's two people squared. --John Cryer
--Aspire to hard work, talent and passion. Fame is not something to aspire to.
--Moving to New York is like taking the lid off the can. --John Oats
--Chekhov has this wonderful line in "the Harmfulness of Tobacco. He says, "There's no one I can open my heart to." Ultimately, love is about opening your heart and being received for who you are. First you have to love here before you can go there. So that's the work. --Jeffrey Tambor
--Respect is what you get when you take the ball away from somebody.
--Being the youngest of twelve kids and having your underwear handed down teaches you how to share.
--What I've learned from being successful is to be thankful. --Scottie Pippen
Monday, January 9, 2012
--YOU HAVE TO ADMIT THAT IT ALL MADE SENSE AT THE TIME
…Yesterday I got a check in the mail for $60. It was for a story I wrote called, "Sphinx." I wasn't expecting to get paid.
There's something validating when you receive a stipend for your writing, even if it's a nominal amount of money.
The first payment I ever received for writing was $40 two decades ago for a story called "White Pianos." I took second place in a contest Byline Magazine had.
The second check came two and half years ago and was for $10. I have that check and the $40 check framed.
In all, I've made less than $500 for my trade.
I've likely spent more than that on paper and printer ink.
Last night I was at a dinner party. When people find out you're a writer they get very animated and curious. They ask the obvious questions. Some wince when they find out you don't have a novel on the shelves in Barnes and Noble. Others prod you to self-publish.
A few look at you with narrowed eyes when you describe your writing as "dark."
I used to not be able to attach the W word to my name. It's gotten better, yet it still feels funny to call myself a writer, even though that's the thing I spend more time doing than any other activity.
She said she’d be there for me. She said forever. Then she amended the declaration; “I’ll be around until the first of us dies, or at least until one of us flunks out of high school.” She suspected I’d be fleeing the scene before her, mainly because I’d become careless and had stopped showing up for most of my classes.
I could hardly be blamed. I was beside myself, smitten with love for Dawnielle. My life—the bland summation of fifteen whole years—now belonged to the trout fishing ballerina with bowl cut hair and stone cutter’s eyes.
I said, “Name something impossible and I’ll do it for you.”
“Buy me the moon.”
“Ah, that’s too easy,” I said.
The next morning I watched Dawnielle leave her house for the bus. She stopped immediately, struck by a series of chalk moons I’d painted in succession across the sidewalk. From a hiding spot, I watched Dawnielle break open a grin, and it felt as if I was the books she hugged against her chest, the light glittering in her eyes.
Another time I said, “If you knew how much I loved you, you might be frightened.”
“I don’t scare easily.”
“I love you so much that sometimes it’s hard to breathe when you’re not around.”
“Just practice holding your breath. It’ll come in handy for swim meets.”
“I love you more than my parents.”
“I would hope so, your parents suck!”
“I love you more than God.”
“Now we’re talking.”
I was afraid to kiss her. I did not want to soil or stain or defile her in anyway. To me, Dawnielle was the perfect creation; the sphinx before Napoleon’s cannon blast, before erosion and sun damage. I could never stop gazing at her. She said, “Most boys go blind doing that other thing.” And here she made an up-and-down motion with her hand. “But you’ll be the first to go blind from staring at me.”
“Do you think you’ll ever fall in love with me?” I asked.
“I’m working on it.”
We traded dirty jokes our brothers had told us. I bought her perfume that smelled like pomegranate because it was her favorite fruit. I wrote her poetry that made her laugh and cry. She said, “You’re a really good person.”
When she went missing, I thought she was pulling a prank. Dawnielle liked surprises and sneaking up on me, shouting “Boo!” so I’d jump and start to get angry. “Go ahead,” she’d say, egging me on, “Yell at me. Get really pissed.” But I couldn’t ever get mad at her, just as I still can’t get her out of my head to this day.
She never ages. She’ll always be fifteen, perfect and pure, a little aloof and unattainable.
I picture her in slow motion, skipping or twirling inside a shower of leaves. I imagine her leaning in for our first kiss. I recall the scent of her breath.
My wife says I drift a lot. “Everyone daydreams occasionally,” she says, “but you, you get lost in other galaxies.”
And she’s right, of course. We’ve been married thirty years and, like any wife, she knows me better than almost anyone.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
--EVERYONE'S WAITING FOR YOU TO BE FAMOUS, SO HURRY UP ALREADY
…Yesterday I wrote seven poems and two stories. I think they were good, but you never know.
…The story I wrote last week about the overweight bus driver named Tiny got accepted by NAP and will be in their May issue. Jesse Bradley even called me on the phone to let me know. That's pretty unusual, but a very nice touch.
…I tried watching Portlandia. I wanted to like it. I did not like it. It features several of my favorite actors, but the show tries too hard. It's like the weirdest Saturday Night Live sketch, but to the 10th power in oddity.
…Whitney Cummings is a very funny person. Her show, "Whitney" is not very funny, but her standup is hilarious. She's one tough lady and you'd have to have thick skin to be her boyfriend, but boy would you laugh a lot. She's also pretty coarse-- "Why do all testicles look like they're 150 years old? And now you guys are shaving them. Are you kidding me? The last thing they need is more exposure."
…I also watched Zack Galifinakis do standup for a special DVD he did. It was disappointing. I'm pretty sure he was bombed out of his mind. He knew his performance sucked, too, because he kept losing his train of thought and would interject, "Man, I suck!" But the audience would laugh anyway. Maybe the whole place was plastered.
…Lastly I saw Russell Brand's standup schtick. Russell is so damn hairy, like an Australian Jesus, and he has a very thick accent, but once you get used to him, he's endearing and charming and it's easy to see why he gets a lot of chicks.
Here's a sample: "Sympathy, when used correctly, can easily be turned into fellatio."
…I like these for the weekend:
"What a dangerous profession, to be dying for attention." Alana Noel Voth
"Never trust a naked bus driver." Woody Allen
"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh
try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere
behind the morning." J.B. Priestlet
Thursday, January 5, 2012
--WELL, NOW, AREN'T YOU THE ARTICULATE ONE?
…I’ve got my mojo back.
Yesterday I wrote four stories in a burst of two hours. The last one needs some tinkering, but I really liked the other three, plus one got accepted that afternoon.
…I started reading “Oh Baby” by Kim Chinquee again. She’s astonishing. Each piece is so perfectly and beautifully truncated. The stories might only be a paragraph long and yet they never leave the reader wanting more. There’s a certain melancholy honesty in her writing. I’m a huge fan and have been. She was one of my first inspirations for writing flash.
Kim also has another collection called, "Pretty."
…I wrapped up season 5 of “Dexter.” Do you watch it?
The supporting story lines are a lot more intriguing than the main one. They may have jumped the shark with the Doomsday Killer.
…I wish more people would go see “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” It’s so well done. I’ll be very sad if they don’t make the other two films.
…This morning I ran to Temper Trap. It’s quite good. You should give them a listen.
…I saw this and liked it:
“You will always having to be getting up from your chairs.
To move on to other heartbreaks, be caught in other snares.” John Ashbery, “Some Words”
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
…I have a new story, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” up at Pure Slush.
Also, a 25 word piece, “Lady Like” was named Best Of 2011 at Nail Polish Stories. It’s here with a collection of 25 word stories under the heading “Limo Scene” under Words In Print.
…I saw this post today from Charles Wendig on “30 Things Writers Should Stop Doing.” Some points were redundant but others hit a chord. Whether you’re a writer or not, I think there might be something here for you…
I culled down my favorite points to these:
Fuck dreaming. Start doing. Dreams are great — uh, for children. Dreams are intangible and uncertain looks into the future. Dreams are fanciful flights of improbability — Pegasus wishes and the hopes of lonely robots. You’re an adult, now. It’s time to shit or get off the pot. It’s time to wake up or stay dreaming. Let me say it again because I am nothing if not a fan of repetition: Fuck dreaming. Start doing.
Right here is your story. Your manuscript. Your career. So why the fuck are you running in the other direction? Your writing will never chase you — you need to chase your writing. If it’s what you want, then pursue it. This isn’t just true of your overall writing career, either. It’s true of individual components. You want one thing but then constantly work to achieve its opposite. You say you want to write a novel but then go and write a bunch of short stories. You say you’re going to write This script but then try to write That script instead. Pick a thing and work toward that thing.
Worry is some useless shit. It does nothing. It has no basis in reality. It’s a vestigial emotion, useless as — as my father was wont to say — “tits on a boar hog.” We worry about things that are well beyond our control. We worry about publishing trends or future advances or whether or not Barnes & Noble is going to shove a hand grenade up its own ass and go kablooey. That’s not to say you can’t identify future trouble spots and try to work around them — but that’s not worrying. You recognize a roadblock and arrange a path around it — you don’t chew your fingernails bloody worrying about it. Shut up. Calm down. Worry, begone.
It’s not going to get any easier, and why should it? Anything truly worth doing requires hella hard work. If climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro meant packing a light lunch and hopping in a climate-controlled elevator, it wouldn’t really be that big a fucking deal, would it? You want to do This Writing Thing, then don’t just expect hard work — be happy that it’s a hard row to hoe and that you’re just the, er, hoer to hoe it? I dunno. Don’t look at me like that. AVERT YOUR GAZE, SCRUTINIZER. And get back to work.
You know you’re a writer because it’s not just what you do, but rather, it’s who you are. So why deprioritize that thing which forms part of your very identity?
Complaining — like worry, like regret, like that little knob on the toaster that tells you it’ll make the toast darker — does nothing. (Doubly useless: complaining about complaining, which is what I’m doing here.) Blah blah blah, publishing, blah blah blah, Amazon, blah blah blah Hollywood. Stop boo-hooing. Don’t like something? Fix it or forgive it. And move on to the next thing.
You hear a lot of blame going around — something-something gatekeepers, something-something too many self-published authors, something-something agency model. You’re going to own your successes, and that means you’re also going to need to own your errors. This career is yours. Yes, sometimes external factors will step in your way, but it’s up to you how to react. Fuck blame. Roll around in responsibility like a dog rolling around in an elk miscarriage. Which, for the record, is something I’ve had a dog do, sooooo. Yeah. It was, uhhh, pretty nasty. Also: “Elk Miscarriage” is the name of my indie band.
Writers are often ashamed at who they are and what they do. Other people are out there fighting wars and fixing cars and destroying our country with poisonous loans — and here we are, sitting around in our footy-pajamas, writing about vampires and unicorns, about broken hearts and shattered jaws. A lot of the time we won’t get much respect, but you know what? Fuck that. Take the respect. Writers and storytellers help make this world go around. We’re just as much a part of the societal ecosystem as anybody else. Craft counts. Art matters. Stories are important. Freeze-frame high-five. Now have a beer and a shot of whisky and shove all your shame in a bag and burn it.
I said “stop hurrying,” not “stand still and fall asleep.” Life rewards action, not inertia. What the fuck are you waiting for? To reap the rewards of the future, you must take action in the present. Do so now.
Monday, January 2, 2012
--HEY REMEMBER THAT TIME WHEN MY FAVORITE COLORS WERE PINK AND GREEN?
--HEY, REMEMBER THAT TIME WHEN I ONLY ATE BOXES OF TANGERINES?
--HEY, REMEMBER THAT OTHER TIME WHEN I WOULD ONLY READ THE BACK OF CEREAL BOXES?
--HEY, REMEMBER THAT TIME WHEN I WOULD ONLY SMOKE PARLIMENTS?
…"And now we welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been" Rainer Maria Rilke
….What is your New Year's Resolution?
41% -- Lose weight
32% -- I don't make them
11% -- Get a job
8% -- Make a major purchase
8% -- Fall in love
…7 million smartphones and tablets were activated on Christmas Day
…Yesterday I had this piece published at Ascent Aspirations:
Where I Am
I am not as ferocious
or unknowable as you might think.
Look at me.
No, I mean look at me.
Take my face in your hands and hold it there.
Search for the center of me,
that soft landing
which is neither a mustang or
but rather a little girl’s room
painted pink and soft yellow
like kind sunshine.
You are having difficulties,
I can tell.
You men make it so complicated.
I am a princess.
I am your best friend
And open eyes.
now take my hand
here, open it,
see the fingers uncurl
Find the creases in the bend of my palm.
Find my life line and see if you’re not there.
You have always been there
even if you never knew it.
You’re not a fool.
Neither of us is.
And that’s why,
you need to slip your hand inside my shirt.
it’s okay, I want you to.
Yes, I’m sure.
Start at the hem, go under and up
over my belly.
I want to feel skin against skin there
where it’s warm and soft
and receptive and sacred.
Reach up under my shirt and don’t stop
until you’ve reached my breast,
the left one,
but go past,
not skimming or stopping.
This has nothing to do with my bosom,
it never has.
Okay, now press your palm there.
Yes, right on that exact spot.
Do you feel it?
That’s where I am.
Blood pouring from a spigot,
needing a receptacle.
still, alive, yes.
waiting for love,
endlessly waiting for you.