Monday, September 26, 2011

Happiness is all about spinning plates.

I think it's time for a rebuttal to a post I made closer to the beginning of this year. There aren't that many, and I think it's even on the same page, so if you want to go back and read it, please, go ahead. I'm not even going to link it because, seriously, scroll down with your scroll wheel. It's right fucking there. You want me to feed you, and work your mandible for you too? No, you shitcogs. Do it yourself. Lazy fucks.

Any-who. The post in question is the one in which I thoroughly railed on authors for being, usually, so far up their own asses so as to never make true human connections because we are, quite literally, far too pleased with ourselves to see anyone beyond ourselves. Even others are there only as a reflection of ourselves. I think that I would like to revisit that, and maybe even say that that was an overdone idea… perhaps not completely extirpate the ideology all together, but at least to add an addendum.

Since that was written, I have looked back on it a few times and wondered if what I wrote there was actually true. Did I mean that, or was I just being morose and grim? I think that there was definitely some truth in it, but for the most part, I overplayed the sentimentality inherent in a writerly life and mistook my need for fans to be above that of friends. I think that’s my biggest problem with the piece. That was inherently stupid and wrong. I want to make you laugh, and I want you to like me for it, but I also want people to like me and I want to like them. There's a looot of likin' going on there, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if I scrawled a "I like you. Do you like me? yes [] no []" message more than a few times.

We are all looking for that human connection. That one person who you feel more strongly connected to than anybody else – or at least a bunch of people that you are comfortable around. The older I get, the more I realize that’s what this life is really about. It's about those connections. And even as I write this now, it sounds like a bad motivational poster, but goddammit, it's true. What we want more than anything else is to feel like we are, in some way, impacting others. We want to feel like we have made a difference in someone's life for the better, and I'd go so far as to say, it's really not about other people affecting ours. That's perhaps the magic of friendship… or at least true, heart-felt friendship or love. You are in it because you want to make that other person happy, and in so doing, you have heightened your own existence as well.

So, am I inherently the cold, sociopath that I made myself out to be? I actually don't think I am. I think that I want to please my friends with any modicum of skill I may have, whether that be through words or whatever other skill I may or may come to possess at a later date (spinning plates has always been a talent that I yearn to master). My existence, your existence, and everyone else's existence is all contingent on the fact that there are others that exist. And I think that's what is most important -- we brush up, feeling and testing our weight against the presence of others. How we affect others is not only our legacy, but our quantifiable and qualifiable happiness as well.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Writing Like the Big Boys

By now, if you haven't heard VS Naipaul's newest idiocy about how women cannot write, then essentially what happened was Naipaul made a giant ass of himself by saying that he can always spot the writing of a woman and that it is always inferior. (Fun quiz to see how Naipaul-esque you are... I ended up with 8-10... not bad.)


It's guys like this that make me just want to shout "women of the world, in case there was some sort of question as to whether or not this was the prevailing sentiment of men, I don't think I'd be wrong to say it… well it is, but we're not all douche bags! Just most of us!"

I love many authors who happen to have lady parts. Some of the best horror writing, science fiction, and fantasy (all largely considered male-dominated fields) are women. Women have been doing great things in fiction, far well and beyond the typical anachronistic "women are all overly sentimental" schtick that Naipaul is yodeling to no one in particular. I dare anyone to say that after they read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. You want fucked up shit galore without the "sentimentality" of Jane Austin? Fucking go read that book.

I think that that's the biggest shitburger here. Naipaul is going back to this trope that women are essentially all the same. This sense of the feminine hive-mind is so engrained into guys like this that they are stuck into thinking women are all writing fanciful romances about Doctor Six-Pack with a nice ass, bedding the bedraggled mother of four who doesn't have time for make-up anymore. Like, you know, all women really just want to read about hot dudes who love their spouses or sexy-time partners. Right. Because no woman would ever want to read about explosions and/or espionage… or BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. (Seriously, great frikkin book.)
Meanwhile, it is believed some men are sentimental, others are into action and violence… some are just x, y, or z. (There is also a lot of impressions from women that seem to illicit a similar trop among men that we are all indeed misogynistic… which gets us into something of a circular argument, so I will leave that be for the time being.) Women, according to Naipaul, are pretty much all slaves to their mood swings. I guess because of estrogen. Estrogen and periods. And mushy lady brains.

This is all just to say that I would like to stand in solidarity with my lady-author friends. Y'all are great. I've read enough about 30-something men with unfulfilling sex lives to last me a while. Now let's all get back to doing what we do. Namely, writing.

My newest novel is about a doctor with six-pack abs…

Thursday, May 26, 2011

BSG: Burnout

Just like Starbuck near the end of season three, I am absolutely burnt out on this show, and I still have a season to go.

To me, this show is nothing short of a master's class is television -- more so than Lost, more so than anything Mr. Whedon has done or will ever do. There has, to me, never been a show with so many characters with whom I feel desperately connected to. Through their experiences of loss and regret, through their times of adulation, love, ecstasy, I feel it right there with them. I believe that, of course, there is a significant amount of acting talent (and production, and everyone else), but I always take these interactions straight back to the writers of the show. It's definitely a bias, and I realize that, but without the amazing story arcs that fuse the audience to these character's psyches, you wouldn't have the same show that you have. Instead, you would have a normal, run-of-the-mill sci-fi program. The show transcends that -- not in a bad way, not that there is anything less exciting about transcending the genre, nor am I insinuating that genre shows are somehow inferior. What I am saying is that this is a show, based on space marines and starfighter pilots that asks and attempts to answer metaphysical questions. It isn't about the special effects -- it's about the people.

I could honestly go on for days. Days and days and days about this show. Anyone who will listen, I will laude and sing its praises. It deserves them all. Not only for the end product, but for all the incredible work that went into this experience that I am consuming a few years later than I would have liked to. But I am beginning to feel burnt out on it. Why is this happening?

I equate this to reading a very long, very good novel. It's spectacular. You can't get enough. And then, all of the sudden, you've had enough. It's like a punch in the gut while you sit there, looking at the words on the page, and you think I just don't care anymore. Or maybe it's not that. Maybe it's not that you don't care, but rather you simply can't care. A part of the experience has grown uneventful. Maybe you reach a lull (and in a 600-1000 page book is expected to have some digressionary longueur and metaphysical meandering) or a close inspection of a charcter or plotline you find very boring, tired, dull. "Okay," you think, "I get it. Why are you spending twenty pages/twenty minutes belaboring a beleagured point?"

It's important to the story. You secretly know that. You don't want to think that what you're reading is important, because you honestly want to skip over -- go to the next episode or chapter -- to forget this crap and move on, but you can't. Or at least I can't. Things need an order to them. I picked this up from my mother, and it has continued for as long as I can remember. Things with story arcs must be started from the beginning and end where they end, following every step along the way.

I am a believer in the narrative structure -- that sometimes, you have to read the uneventful stuff to make the eventful stuff cooler, more colorful. So, I humbly tread on, grumbling and delaying some base need to find joy on every page. I read pages and watch episodes in which I can clearly see the dominoes being lined up so that they may be knocked down, but that does not equate to excitement. It is just somewhat boring.

So that's where I am at now with BSG. I know that when I get past this one episode, everything will be honky-dorey, but I seem unable to watch this episode in one sitting. Instead, I am forcing myself to watch a few minutes here, and a few minutes there. Just trying to reach the end credits.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Unmitigated Energy, Released in a Circle

Since I've last updated this blog, quite a bit has happened.

I started a website, and immediately destroyed it irrepably (I have no idea what I have done, nor how to fix it), gone on twenty (-ish) first dates, written six short stories, and maybe (maybe) found a new job.

Oh, I have also realized that blogging is kind of important. Not even in a "Ooooh, I really want to express myself" kind of way, but in a serious "if you want to be commercially successful, it's good to have some background of writing prowess over a prolonged period of time" sort of way. So that's why I'm back here, doing what I do (or should have been doing) for, like, the past 2 years.

I am starting a book club in the next month or so which should kick off some level of literary profundity that has been sorely lacking in my life. Not that I haven't been reading tough literary novels, it's just a matter of me never discussing them. It's an issue. To rectify, I will be creating two more blogs as supplements to this one over the course of time.

The idea behind this venture is simple: I love to talk about media. Call me a wild, untamed man if you wish, but talking about difficult concepts is kind of what I am all about. The problem with this has always been, since I graduated, that I have no one to talk to about these things that I want to discuss. That's why the bookclub (we're reading Faulkner's The Sound and The Fury first, which I have somehow never gotten around to reading) is going to be so enjoyable. Real intelligent discussion with people I don't really know. It has me geeked out, honestly.

Did you see that? That paragraph was supposed to talk about the two side projects, and instead devolved into the book club again. The two side projects will be the Instant Queue Movie Review ( and something that I would like to incorporate straight into this blog, which will just be a basic book review, hopefully spurring on some sort of discussion outside of base "this book sucks" and not quite to the harvard literati level of analysis. Books and movies will be chosen seemingly at random and given a significant amount of time to shine and will hopefully spur someone to either buy the book or watch the movie. That's the plan anyway. There's a good chance that this could fail, but I'm an optimist. Of the eternal variety.

I may be down, but I'm not out. Hope everyone is having a terrific Friday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

First Look

Hello, guys. I wanted to post the "back cover blurb" for the novel I'm writing. No, this doesn't mean I sold it, or even that I'm done writing it, but I thought that it was worth posting. This was my first attempt at doing this, and know that I don't even think it's perfect yet, but it works. It gets across everything that the story is about, so while it passes the utility test, I don't think it passes the aesthetic test. Work in progress!

Southern Hospitality

Jerry Steward and Henry Easton Lewis are best friends on a journey to forget. With an old pick-up, two duffel bags, a malfunctioning GPS unit lovingly named "Bertha," and a slew of their own secrets to keep, they set off from their small university in Maine on a trip down to the tropical climate of Florida. However, when they find their plans derailed on a plantation-lined back road in central Georgia, the pair will be forced to not only confront the grisly history of the area, but their own pasts as well.

It is in one of these houses that they find the one remaining soul who still calls Old Tawnee home. With no way to reach the outside world minus a long hike, the two are forced to take the strange Ms. Jeffries' hospitality for the night. However, with each attempt to leave Old Tawnee, the more they are confronted with the possibility that it may be impossible. All the while, Jerry is becoming increasingly aware of a nagging darkness that is growing more pronounced with each passing night. And with each attempt to leave, the mysterious matron of the plantation seems to recognize them both as people they aren't…

In a unique blend of "lad-lit" inspired literary fiction, forged by a plot with a grounding in the paranormal, Southern Hospitality seeks to ask and answer questions on masculinity, religion, slavery, and friendship all while following the chilling plot and secrets of Old Tawnee Road.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Look into My World

I don't think the way I write is particularly novel, but I don't hear about many authors that do it the way that I do. So below is a quick rumination on how I begin short stories and chapters. It pretty much explains why most of my stuff has this one great part, filigreed with flimsy shit. I'd be interested to see if anyone else writes like this. It's the only way that I can start a new project, as outlines and other tools of the well-established and well-intentioned author can do to their heart's content.

  1. Open a Microsoft Word blank document. It is absolutely imparative that the blank document should read "Document1 - Microsoft Word" in the top left hand corner. If it's any other number, you MUST close down the entire program, and restart so that it is 'Document 1.' This is because I am insane and therefore, by extension, so are you.
  2. Make sure that the document is in Print Layout view, all margins are 1", left-justified, and change the font to 'Times,' not Times New Roman. Why? Because fuck Times New Roman, that's why. I'm bucking the establishment, people. Follow or get out of the way.
  3. Now take a break. You've just tamed a digital beast. I recommend flipping through your "favorite words book" that currently resides on the corner of your desk next to six dirty coffee mugs that you keep there because you are a "nester." Flip through the book and laugh at particularly disgusting words. Great. Now we have some material.
  4. Return to your 'Document1,' and write the first sentence that comes to mind. It can, quite honestly, be anything. (I did one yesterday where my first sentence was "Molten lead looks as though it should be squeezed from a frosting bag in the cavernous kitchen tucked cozily away in the lower levels of the Fortress of Solitude." I have no idea what that means.) If done correctly, you have tapped some unthought thought. It should sound awkward because you haven't been thinking about the unthought until now.
  5. Now, expand that into 2 paragraphs. Read it. It should be thoroughly ridiculous.
  6. Can you see anything in it? In the same way that people used to predict the future through mediums like tea leaves, I have found that some of my best work comes originally from an amalgamation of unthoughts that slowly solidify into something readable. However, sometimes it's just an absolute catastrophe. At that point, the best trick is to close Microsoft Word, reopen, and look! An untarnished Document1! (And you don't just backspace because the words were already there, of course. Duh. [Remember: insane.])
  7. Now that you have the makings of a new short story, I recommend that you delete 'Document1'. Chances are you won't have any need for that particular one ever again.

And that is all there is to it. For me, it's a great mental excersize. I always feel like I'm finding something out about myself by doing it this way. It's always interesting to see what your mind will come up with when given free reign to do whatever it wants to. I hope that you'll try it out and let me know how it goes.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Banning books is about as cool as rape.

There are certain times of the year when we get to let down our guard and really live in that indignance that we feel all throughout the year. We are, after all, a group of people who wish that everyone can live by their own ethical and moral code as long as it does not attack anyone else or impede on their rights to live a life of their choosing. Obviously this puts me at ends with religion in all of its manifestations. I'm not one to claim that religion is technically a bad thing. I believe that there are many very righteous and good-hearted people in all religions, but there are also just total dickholes. Like this guy in Missouri. What a gigantic dickhole.

Perhaps I shouldn't even take this debate here. Maybe it would be much better to simply point out (as The Rejectionist does here) that this supposed man of higher learning and educational leader can barely string together a coherent thought. Perhaps it would be of greater coincidence and candor to point out the fact that he sees rape as pornographic (as Laurie Halse Anderson does here). Maybe I should just simply say "what a fucking lunatic. Sit down, you're embarassing the rest of Christianity with your inane mawing at book you probably beat off to on more than one occasion," and that's not really that bad of an idea. Because you know he probably did. That's kind of a thing for these gourmand religiofascists... what really makes them sick, really turns them on. I will not say it directly, but I know there are an awful lot of Republican senators getting caught with their junk sticking through glory holes.