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.


Monday, September 20, 2010

The Reasons Are There, Don't Say I Didn't Warn You...

20 Reasons to Not Date a Writer...

I think that my ex would find most of these to be especially conclusive. We don't make good dates, people. We just don't make good company as we probably will not find you nearly as interesting as what our characters are going through at the time. If you don't buy that, then what's more interesting (two examples so as not to be labeled 'sexist,' always a lovely adjective that I find 'feminists' like to affix upon me with a fanfare usually left for parades and New Year's Eve galas):
  1. Girlfriend is talking about her day in which her and her bestfriend got in a fight lasting approx. 23 minutes in which only two words were actually spoken and the whole thing ended when that especially hot guy from Twilight showed up on VH1. You are erstwhile thinking about a ridiculously harrowing scene from your sure-fire breakthrough novel in which two friends must fight to the death whilst the third friend is hung upside down and slowly lowered closer and closer to a Vlad The Impaler-esque spike.
  2. Boyfriend is letting you know of the most recent heart-rending defeat of his local college and/or professional sports team, and can you believe that call? Bullshit! Meanwhile, in your mind, you are busy fine-tuning the technical aspects of armies about to run down into a trench to start an epic battle you labeled in the first chapter as "The Battle of Red Trench" where the ground must literally flow with blood. Who cares about football?

And there. I mean, what are we really talking about here? Obviously that writers are inherently vain and self-serving. Possibly assholes that find themselves much more interesting than they find you. This says one of two things (and note that the second solution is quite possibly just because, me being a writer, I see myself as just incredibly fascinating):

  1. Unlike other people who kind of figure out what their "self" is by the time they turn, you know, 12, writers are the metaphysical equivalent to that kid in first grade who still has "accidents" and whose undergarments crunches while s/he walks.
  2. We really ARE just that much more fascinating. We don't have a lot of friends because we are wayyy too busy trying to nail down why we are different from you, and how come a 30 minute discussion on the principles of 'friendship' don't make other people giddy in contemplative exaltation.

That is two lists in roughly a paragraph. Obviously I have no idea what I'm trying to say here or I would actually work these into a real paragraph. (Although I read somewhere that making lists is better in blogs, or some such nonsense? I don't think I will ever have a very good blog following.)

But maybe I'm being a little too hard here. I really do find my girlfriends interesting, I'm usually just off on my own planet, doing my own things. This draws a thoroughly depressing problem that writers are usually inept at human contact, and yet we yearn for human contact through our literature. Does that not strike you as inherently sad, and perhaps a little destructive? We want that human contact only after it becomes somewhat base, where you want to talk to us because you like what we wrote, and not because I am, let's say, me. I want your adoration and praise, but that's much easier for me to take than being really really good friends, or significant other with you. In short: it's much easier to have fans than friends, because I don't have to really export much of myself into our relationship. Instead, you see what you want to see through my writing, and then you draw a (perhaps unrealistic or false) view of the writer. Now I am whoever you want me to be, and that won't change because I probably won't hang out with you, because I am probably busy, y'know, writing. And even if we did, I probably would decline, because then you'd see me for what I really am, which is an incredibly shy, yet superficial person who would rather have you as a fan than a friend. And no, you can't have a friend who is also a fan. Friends tell you when you suck, fans just smile.

So, am I lonely? Yes. Very. Would I change it if I could? Probably. But I can't. My demeanor is inherently secluded and standoffish. I want to communicate with you through my literature, and then I want you to really like it and then come to believe that you therefore inherently like me, even though we have never met. I have my friends that exist in my novels. The characters are my friends, and they are diverse and all hilarious and fun. I hang out with them daily, and really, that takes up an awful lot of time and energy. So much so that by the time I'm done, sleep comes quickly.

I just realized that this has become a rant about why I am lonely as opposed to a nice link to a nice list on someone else's website. Funny. But not really.

More on this in a later post, I think. There's more here.


Monday, August 23, 2010


"Behold!" A man, stage left, done up like a double-breasted penguin pimple wields a rapier of comedic length and flimsy design. With as much fanfare as he can muster, he brandishes it up to the rafters where The Amazing Avian Alvin is perched, ready to nose-dive into the crowd below.

Only, he will not hit the ground. Instead he will fly. At least, that's what was advertised.

The spotlights burn on him, and casts a triptych of silhouette reliefs on the purple and yellow ceiling. I am almost too scared to watch. The tremolando of snare drum builds to a climactic and tongue-twisting pace – paradiddle-diddle paradiddle-diddle paradiddle-diddle. Just when a crescendo is reached; right when the blasting percussive claps reach a pitch so fevered it's lethal, they stop.

The rest of the world disappears, and all there is is him. He is entirety: Alpha/Omega, Lover/Enemy, Body/Soul, Flyer/Faller. Then, as if it is the most natural thing in the world, he jumps.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Casting Call!

So here's the deal, guys. I need you. I need you now more than ever. It's like The Battle of the Bulge, or the Alamo, except not at all. Let me explain...

Over the past couple months, I've been kicking around the idea of putting together a book club podcast that would discuss mainly literary fiction. Why is this? Because I love books! I love talking about great works -- new and old -- and I think anyone who says they don't just haven't given it enough of a shot. I think that if people had a better way to interact with these great works of literature, then they wouldn't seem so lofty and impenetrable. That's why I want to do this. It won't be like your yawn-inducing English classes where you learn bullet-pointed topics on some dusty tome, no, this will be (hopefully) FUN! INVIGORATING! FRESH! Notice the zany colors? Notice how in no other part of my blog have I used any other color pallette than gray on black? You know why? Because this is different. It's a subtle cue, I know.

NOW! Deets:

When: Bi-weekly podcast. Two books a month.
Who: Younger people or people with a young demeanor. I want to appeal to people from 20-35.
How: 4-5 people will have a discussion on a given book, much in the same way that a book club operates. The only difference will be that ours will be in the iTunes podcast store, and inclusive of everyone's opinions. Optimally, I want to have a chatroom, twitter, and email for the show so people can add their two cents. (Exciting? Exciting!)
What: Books will be chosen primarily by our cast.

Ken, this sounds great! How do I get in contact with you?
Excellent! I'm glad the colors appealed to you. I'd recommend emailing me ( if you're interested in being a part of the team. If you're not comfortable with being a personality, but you still want to be involved, let me know. There will be other spots that need filling (producer role immediately comes to mind). You can also find me on twitter, facebook, (links to the right) or just comment below. If nothing else, we'll have fun.

Let me know if you guys have any more questions, and I'll answer you ASAP. Thanks for your time!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Conflict! FIGHT!

I'm currently reading THE UNTOUCHABLE by John Banville, and is full of internal conflict, told in first person. This style lends itself to the traditional Banvilleian style of page-long paragraphs and ruminations on the beauty of bird eggs, but hidden in that fabric is the over-arching metaphors of internal conflict that turn the screws of tension so subtly, you become entranced in the plot without even meaning to be.
I thought it might be fun to spend a little bit of time talking about some aspects of story-telling, as opposed to my other bromides which go on and on without ever reaching any sort of denouement.  So, today I am going to follow after one of my blogging idols, Anne Mini, and talk about Conflict!  I know, intrepid readers, we are sailing into some frothy, jaunting waves for sure!  An actual discussion on craft?!  Cry the shipmates from the crow's nest of my Blog/Galleon, Dear God, Captian Ken!  Are you trying to capsize the old girl?

"No!" says I in a particularly jaunty pirate accent, "I am bringing her into her own!  Now wrack the garders, spool the tanks, swab the poop-deck, and hard to starboard!  We are venturing into forbidden lands!"

"But captain," says my first-mate, "think about the the families who may be torn asunder by such an ill-advised romp into such tremulous tides!"

"Ar," says I, "that I have Good Mister Common-Sense, that I have.  And after a long discussion within meself, I came to the conclusion that I do not care about you!  Yes, 'tis true!  For you are nothing more than a fictional construct of ubiquitous characters which I have created specifically for the purpose of spooling tanks, and gibbing the rafters.  So get to it!"

The first mate's shoulders slump and he glares at me.  "We do not know what 'spooling,' 'gibbing,' nor 'wracking' is, sir."

I put my foot up on the stern of the ship, peering out into the waving luminescence of the open sea.  "Nor do I, Good Mister Common-Sense.  Nor do I."

And that was some weird meta-lesson on conflict.  Bam.  Didn't know you were learning about conflict while you were reading some of my internal monologue did you?  Well, there you go.  Now, let me break it apart a little more with an example that is about as far away from pirates as you can get....

John Banville.  This guy.

Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea, and all around Irish badass.  I bring him up because of his ability to create conflict in places where one would not necessarily place conflict, namely in each and every character.  "But Ken," some of you say, rolling your eyes, "lots of authors have conflictual characters.  Characters conflict with other characters all the time, in fact, that's what conflict is."  True, true.  That is, but what I'm talking about goes far beyond two characters arguing or fighting, or one character battling within himself, what I'm talking about is having every character being a conflict within theirselves.  Right now, I am reading a book of his called The Untouchable.  Perhaps not as regaled as The Sea, but I don't think you can go wrong with either one of these books (or his newest work: The Infinities).  Let me try to explain this a little better...

There are many examples of this throughout the text, but I'll start here, for the sake of clarity, with perhaps the most obvious.  The party scene at the beginning of the novel (near the beginning of the second chapter) the narrator (Victor Maskell) concludes that "So what we were frightened of, then, was ourselves, each one his own demon."  Here we have the beginning of this meta-lesson, much more elegantly written than my poor excuse above

I think that's the kind of conflict that I most enjoy, and it's one that I see the least of. There tends to be this over-arching theme of protagonists being almost completely "pure" in that they will do good for good's sake, and leave out rumination as a gaudy excuse for waxing poetic, but I think it can be done correctly.
Characters should always be a conflict within themselves. Going back to the Banville example -- an anti-semite Jew; a ladies' man who lives in squalor; a beautiful woman, lovingly depicted as wearing a dress like "the carapace of a scarab beetle" -- we get these great examples of meta-conflict that all orbits around the main pillar that stands morbidly in the center -- the knowledge that Maskell was a Soviet spy.

It's really an incredible book. One point of conflict is important, but the main character should have at least, say, three different factors that should share the reader's brain, otherwise the work will seem, at least to me, rather disengenuous. Main characters, or POV characters need these extra layers in order to keep a reader guessing, and keeping them on edge. Keeping characters lying, and keeping your protagonists on shaky moral and ethical ground will lead to a much more satsifactory denouement.

Hm, this post kind of started rambling, but I think it stands for itself: keep characters interesting, and witholding secrets (for a logical, plot-driven reason) and coveting something that is, in itself conflictual, and you will have something that can fall into rumination on pidgeon eggs and get away with it... as long as it continues the plot.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Damn it.

I realized today why literary fiction so often has plots that are very loose, and/or non-existent, and its for the simple reason that, holy shit, all of a sudden, writing rules for ghostly habitation sound ridiculous amidst everything else I've written. I'm grumbling something fierce right now. Hopefully this is something that's doable. It would absolutely suck to get this close only to find out that what im doing doesn't mesh. Good Lord, give me strength, and some skillful muse that can help me wrench out this windy plot amidst everything else I'm trying to do.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Bad Poetry!

Isn't a struggling writer's blog obligated to have on it some really bad poetry?  I think so.  Here's mine.  I wouldn't post it if I didn't think it was worth reading.  I laughed a lot writing it, and that's enough for me.  I think any poetry I ever write will end up just being Seussian story telling.  I got this idea from watching one of those TLC shows about "the most haunted places," and there was a ghost in a hotel that... turned on televisions.  I thought "how horrible would it be if I were a ghost, and all I could do was turn on a tv?"... and then I realized that rhymed, so I wrote poetry.  That was the extent of my muse's interplay on all of this.  Deep, right?

A Not-Particularly Scary Ghost Story

If I were a ghost, how sad would it be
If all I could do was turn on the tv?

My soulless body would undoubtedly scare
Enough to make the locals beware;
But all I could do was turn on the tv.

I would live in a big house, all caked in grime
I try moaning and groaning just to pass the time;
But all I could do was turn on the tv.

Queues set up, so windy and long,
And visitors pay just to hear my song;
But all I could do was turn on the tv.

“Where is screaming?” they bellow with rage,
“I want a ghost, a phantasm, a rattling cage!”
But all I could do was turn on the tv.

“That’s not a ghost,” the little boys grumble,
“That’s just bad wiring, a mistake, a fumble.”
But all I could do was turn on the tv.

A séance takes place inside the great hall,
Wishing and hoping I may answer the call,
But all I could do was turn on the tv.

So, I turn on the tv, and turn it up loud,
“That doesn’t count!” exclaims the belligerent crowd,
But all I could do was turn on the tv!

“Show us your power, oh harbinger of death,
“We await your sign with bated breath!”
But all I could do was turn on the tv.

“A sacrifice is needed!” a fat lady reports,
She's very scary: black lipstick and cargo shorts.
But all I could do was turn on the tv.

Pentagrams and sheep’s blood are strewn all around,
Then everyone sits, cross-legged, not making a sound.
…But all I could do was turn on the tv.

They all get up, eyes rolling, virulent and rude,
Saying that they don’t understand my attitude.
But all I could do was turn on the tv.

“I have an idea,” the woman says again,
“Toss the tv out!  That’s a fine place to begin!”
But all I could do was turn on the tv.

They toss it out with an old “heev-ho,”
I get very angry when I see the screen go,
Because all I could do was turn on the tv.

What happened next was quite the blur,
And why twenty corpses surrounding me? I’m not sure.
Because, after all, all I could do was turn on the tv.

The tv is back, and my soul is on the mend,
But now I have twenty of the worst kind of friend.
They shriek and holler, bang pipes and curse,
Loud, obnoxious, caustic, terse.
Oh, how I wish that they would just let me be,
Because, honestly, all I want to do is turn on the tv.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Twenty Minute Oil Change

I began writing this essay while I was going through this stuff, but it took me another two days to get it to where it is somewhat publishable. I think that there is still some stuff that I would like to add, modify, and subtract, but for the sake of a 1.5k word essay, it will do. The title of this essay is "Twenty Minute Oil Change," and it is a recounting of my time at the hitherto named carshop "Qwik Lube". I have changed the name to avoid any sort of legal recourse, and all information regarding the specific sale has been changed.

I am writing this from inside an incongruous amalgamation of various states of disrepair and failure. Qwik Lube is an anachronism, surrounded by hulking bodies of lustrous steel beams and girders that hold within them, like some titanic filigree, lambent windows that reflect the sun, causing the structures to shine like great, princess-cut gemstones. I, on the other hand, am in a squat white, slap-dashed tin structure, marked with the tincture of years with rust, grime, and dirt that pock its outside walls and corners like liver spots and furuncles on an old drunk. A veritable rough amongst diamonds, he looks to be either on his way up, or way down from another epic bender, attempting to forget his embarrassing lot in life. Cast to the gutter, and sleeping off a roiling hang-over, he lays, prostrated among the benthos, carrion, and detritus that swirl and scurry about him, to which, he simply mumbles, “let me be, let me be.”

As a general rule, I try to make it a rule to avoid places anthropomorphized as a miserly drunk. Perhaps that is both shallow and vain of me — if you said so, I don’t think you would be wrong — but I am an indelible creature of comfort. The way I see it, humanity created beds, roofs, air-conditioning, and plumbing so that I don't have to live out in the wilderness among all the shit and dirt and gadflies. Camping is uncomfortable, and so are thirty-year-old rust buckets that are visibly deteriorating, and I am willing to fork over a few extra dollars for the creature-comfort of knowing that I will not be lanced, decapitated, or otherwise crushed by an oxidized girder. With this in mind however, there is a radical difference between “few dollars” and “twenty.” Thus, I approach the double garage doors with a feeling of apprehension, spurred on by the promise of diminution.

The front wheels of my car roll over the black rope sensor laid out in front of the adit, and a bell rings from inside the garage. From somewhere, I hear the muffled sound of a moan, followed by the emergence of a face from underneath a car. The face scowls at me. He looks pissed; he looks like he’s ready to get home. I can’t say I blame him either. It is five-thirty and the shop closes at six. It is kind of a dick move on my part.

Earlier that same day, I was told that I have a “disarming smile.” I try to disarm him. He does not disarm.

When he gets up to my car, he says, “oil change,” and I nod in agreement, but it isn’t a question. I believe that if I had asked for anything more complicated, he would have told me to fuck off. He stands in front of my car, guiding it into the garage. After I park, I remove my keys from the ignition and a hand darts through my open window, mere inches from my face. “Keys,” says a different voice, and I hastily relinquish them. The acephalous hand requests that I wait in the waiting room (where one usually does do the waiting).

I perform my task admirably, grabbing my notebook and tucking a black pen into the crook between my upper ear and temple and leap away from the harried action already taking place beneath my car’s raised hood. The door slaps closed behind me obdurately.

When describing the waiting room, we must use the term “room” liberally. It has four walls, and although the walls did not come into contact with the ceiling, it is essentially room-like. Perhaps the phrase “waiting cell” would be more applicable. The cell is, in itself, an interesting phenomenon partly because of the pungent odor of cheap cigars that entwines itself around the entirety of the dozen square feet of the enclosure. This strikes me as odd not only because of the incongruity of the idea of someone smoking inside a building lined with oil, but because the smell does not permeate any other part of the garage. I am happy to report that I am in solitary confinement in this waiting cell. For this, I am grateful. Although I wouldn’t say I am an agoraphobe, there are not many things as distressing as perfunctory small talk in a confined space with a stranger. Five chairs are backed against the near wall, and I sit in one, and slide another in front of me where I lay down my notebook, and begin writing.

I have discovered the source of the cigar smell. It is being generated by a small air-freshener sitting astride an ancient vending machine. I now find I have more questions than I had previously: What company would manufacture an air-freshener that smells like a Swisher Sweets? Furthermore, what kind of patron opts for the “eau de cigar” over, say, Lavender Breeze, or Vanilla Heaven? Finally, in what kind of musky hell is the aroma of a spent convenience store cigar an improvement over the original stench? These questions I dare not breach for fear of the answers.

I am beginning to realize how awkward I must look — crumpled overtop of a chair, partaking in the entirely emasculating task of writing in something that looks like a diary. The two mechanics are talking to each other, and, as if I am eighteen all over again, I am struck with the sudden fear of being called a nerd; back to the days of high school and college where being caught reading a novel not assigned by a teacher could get one relegated to the ghettos of the “Unpopular Table.” Where anything that you did was scrutinized, tested, prodded, and subjected to a litmus test of “brosimilitude.” Everything must feed into that man-ethos: video games, and slightly delirious, ball-grabbingly uncouth jokes that must be told over and over and over. I hastily tuck my journal away, and go about doing something more mind-numbing and drab: I turn on the boob-tube.

The TV turns on with the satisfying pop of cathode ray tubing heating up. The picture warbles, then the noise drowns out, and gives way to sweet undiluted picture. ESPN, baby. SportsCenter. What’s up with the Phils? In-depth look at the NBA playoffs. Gridiron. Steroids. Sex, sex, sex. Who’s going to win the west? MVP candidates. Stats, scores, analysis. Cold hard facts and figures. Pasty white guys in glasses and bad suits. Women in sex-kitten, business-chic. Sex. Commercials. Beer commercials. Here comes the Silver Bullet. Areolae perk beneath painted-on wife-beaters. Who needs a woman when you have your favorite lite beer? Nutri-system. Viagra. Guy stuff. SportsCenter.

I get lost in the programming. I am so inundated with OBPs and SoGs and triple-doubles and breasts that I almost don’t hear the hood to my car shutting. My car is done, but my mind is still riding the bibulous carousel of cleavage. I open the cell door and walk through, where my friend, the pissed mechanic, is frowning at the checklist in his hands the same way a doctor might check vital charts. I know what he expects — it is something of a ritual between man and mechanic — the obligatory “once-over,” pointing out obscure and seemingly irrelevant gaskets, cogs, and other whatsits. A sign of masculinity achieved and maintained. Cars, sports, tits: the trifecta of testosterone.

I duck from the obligation, ready to get on my way back home to read a book, and write a story. I thank him and enter my car without much more than what is deemed polite, but I would not even know where to start in this charade. I drive away from the waiting cell. I drive away from the drunk man, mumbling in basso profundo, "let me be, let me be," as he nurses his aching soul, drowned by cirrhosis, aching with priapism, and lost among vainglorious virtues that are inherently empty and mindless.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What It Means To Write a Novel.

In Rachelle Gardner's latest blog post, she talks about whether or not it is "fun to write." My response became something of a treatise, and I felt like it would be worthwhile to post it here since it formulated into something that resembled a blogpost of its own...

I think authors of predominantly short stories and short-shorts find writing a much more enjoyable thing. They can come to an end of a story in about a week or two, and then they can edit, and be done with it. This isn't to say that what they do is easy, because it is not, but I think authors who venture into the territory of novel-writing are intrinsically masochistic. Writing a novel will undoubtedly test your mental fortitude, and make you -- more than once -- have rather funereal existential breakdowns where you are your own worst enemy. Think you're up for it?

"I'm so bad at this."

This will become your imagination's calling card every day as you sit down to write.

"This is never going to get published."

This will follow you when you save your document for the night.

"All of my characters are thinly veiled interpretations of myself."
This will haunt you as you read it over with a critical eye.

"I didn't write anything AGAIN today."
This will become your own, personal cat-o-nine-tails that you flagellate across your own metaphysical back.

It is truly, as Colum McCann says in LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN, "another day, another dolor."

And despite all these things, you have to, as Ms. Gardner says, love what you do. It's not ALWAYS fun (though I do find that most of the time it is), it's not ALWAYS an eye-opening experience (though there are definitely times...), and it's certainly not always artistic. A novelist is slave to the details. If you want a character to move around, you must get him there, one way or another. Bus, train, car, missle, rocket, submarine, alien transport, or sky bridge made out of crystal.

Novels are, ultimately, labors of love. You must love them, but there is no guarantee that they will love you back.

But you're okay with that, right?


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sleep = Necessary Evil

Over the weekend, I was struck with a rather potent disease that has no name, and only one cure....

The disease is known as "Writer's Block." The cure is to run, not walk, away from your writing for a period of about a day and a half and play video games, read a book, and sleep. Emphasis is important here; please notice the word sleep is italicized. You will understand better in the next paragraph. Promise.

I like to see myself as a dedicated person. You may not always see me on the honor roll (hell, I never was) but I was always dedicated to something. I throw my whole being into something and do it as hard as I can. In my early days and into high school, it was baseball. In some weird interim between high school and some college existence, it was video games and its industry. Since then, it's been concerned primarily with telling stories through any medium, be it novels (my first and foremost love), short stories, screenplays, or even video games; I just love telling a good story. Sounds great, eh? Well, it is... until I get caught up and realize the sun is coming out because I have forgotten to sleep. (See?) I tend to neglect important things like food or sleep when I get going on something I'm passionate about, and that led to some problems over the past couple months, and honestly, led to a little bit of a burn-out for me. But do not fear! For it -- like a particularly awful kidney stone -- has passed... although not in the same manner.

It isn't a problem that I think is very common -- I think most people are not going to forego sleep to find out what is happening in their story, particularly because it is theirs, so how could they not, am I right? Well, I realized that my lack of sleep led to some truly spectacular output (end of the first draft is just over the horizon, people! get champaigne and streamers ready!) but it also wore on me. I learned that the simple things -- keeping your workspace clean, eating healthy, and sleeping are all terrific ways to keep yourself from burning out, and if you have already burned out, or just suffering from writer's block, it is a great way to resituate yourself in your environment, and get back to your story.

I think that was one of my friendliest blog-posts in a while...


Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Is This? (Or, Ken Flies off the Deep End)

To begin: This is SPARTA!!!!

Now, to the real post...

Recently, I've become a little fed up with a lot of blogs out there, claiming to purport the continuance and elevation of art, specifically within the realm of literature and writing. I have come to the conclusion that the majority of these blogs couldn't care less about that. All they really care about is growing some festering, gelatinous group of RSS followers to mindlessly accept whatever they eschew as canon. I'm not going to name names -- it doesn't really fix anything, it just turns into flame wars (which I would undoubtedly lose) -- but I would like to point out some of the irksome habits that the blogs, and its followers adhere to.

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Progress

Oy, lads 'n lasses!
No, no that was dumb... let me try that again...
Arrrr me hearties!
Shit, I don't like that one either....
Well, hi there Mr. and Mrs. Internet trolls!
Eh, too "Leave it to Beaver"...
Suuuuuup boiiiiiii?!?
Shit... no....
Hey guys, got a quick update on everything for y'all!
Perfect... perhaps without the y'all, but we'll roll with it.

Today is Friday (sweet, sweet, glorious Friday!) and I am psyched! I'm psyched because my girlfriend got into town last night (love you!) but I'm also psyched because writing is just becoming something that is part of me. After these last three months or so of writing damn near every day, I have become so accustomed to getting my one thousand words a day in that it becomes almost a second nature... let me explain with a little story.

On Tuesday, I put down my pen and texted E___. It said, essentially, that maybe I'm burned out on this, y'know? I write so much that maybe I should just give it a rest. Refresh my writerly well of creativity, and get a grip on my life beyond the strict confines of one-inch margins. I asked her what she thought of the idea...

I don't think she really cared, honestly. She said something about 'well, do what you want.' I can't blame her... I talk about it with her more than I should, I'm sure it's rather aggravating, but I know that she just wants me to be happy, and if taking time off would help -- then she would be all for it. So, I picked up a book I've been aching to read: Dan Chaon's you remind me of me (ostensibly all in lower-case as to make sure everyone knows that the book is a serious work of literary fiction... which it is), and read the whole thing in a period of two nights.

"Wow!" thought I, "what a tremendous book. I would like my book to be that beautiful!" So then, on Wednesday night (so I guess it was only 1.5 days of not writing) I spat out like, three thousand words without feeling the bottom of the well. It was like the whole thing was somehow magically refilled to the brim with silvery miasma that is... whatever it is you need to write. Is that drive, creativity, or something else? I don't know. I just call it like I see it.

Then, still drawing from that well last night, I wrote a ~3,000 word short story about a man who suffers from batophobia, or, the fear of standing next to something really tall; which I just found absolutely fascinating. I stuck him out in the middle of the grasslands and put him in a small ranch house -- all alone and ornery.

And now it's Friday. I don't know if I'll write anything today, but I would imagine at one point, I'll pick up my pen and jot down notes that will get me really keyed up. Then by the time that work is over, I'll be so bursting with story that if I don't tell it, I'd be liable to burst at the seams. Now that I write that, it seems an awful lot like foreplay... odd.

Anyway! I'm signing off. I think I may start posting stories on this sight that I don't really think will make it to competitions or publications. I do a lot of character peices that are only to help me think of new characters that I might use later as a sort of toolbox. Anyway, if I do, you'll start seeing those on here. If I decide not to, you won't. Enjoy your Friday, and get ready for the fete that is the weekend!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Totally Didn't See This One Coming...

So, I'm sitting at home the other day, happily scribbling on my yellow legal pad, minding my own business, getting a lot done on the manuscript, feeling all happy with the way everything is going, and then, completely unprompted, one of my main female characters just comes out and says "I love a woman," and means it.

"But… I had no idea," I said to her, laying my pen down and wrapping my fingers against the legal pad. "When did this happen?"

"Oh, I'm not really sure. I’m quite as surprised as you are by this recent development."

"I see… Does she make you happy?"

"Well, yes, but as you can see from everything else that has happened…"

"Yes, that does make it all a little harder, doesn't it?"(*)

We were quiet for a moment, afraid to say anything stupid. What do you say to the character who has just come out of the closet to you? I hadn't really planned on what I would say. I didn't think this would come about especially in my first novel. Maybe my fourth or fifth, you know? I wasn't quite sure how I would go about it. I asked her.

"Just write me like anyone else, I think," she said, dolefully. "I mean, I'm still human, I just have this monster crush on that other chick you paired me with. Does that somehow make me intrinsically different from anyone else and their love-affairs?"

"No," I said. "It makes you just like them." I paused, taking a look out my window and sipping on my tea before I continued, "I think, more or less, I'm scared about writing you like this because of the ramifications of it."

"What are you talking about?"

"Well, you know, being a guy, how would it look if I went around touting a lesbian character? Wouldn't it come off like I was just perv, getting off to some girl-on-girl action?"

"I don't think so," she said thoughtfully, "I mean, you haven't written anything like that this far into the novel. It would seem odd that all of a sudden, just because I was gay, that someone would rail on you just for putting down the truth about me. In fact, I would go so far as to say if you didn't portray me correctly, that it would eat at you for a long, long time. See?"

"Okay," I concluded. "You are totally now going to be a lesbian, and you are going to be awesome."

"Good," she said, smiling. "Now would you mind getting back to the story? I've been driving in this goddamned car for like, three paragraphs now. It's getting kind of boring."

"Sure," I said. I picked up my pen, and continued her story, one word at a time.

By the end of the conversation, I was very excited about the development. It is a part of her – the same way that other characters love members of the opposite sex. As it stands, it hardly takes up any place at all, but I think that in these times, one must be able to approach matters of sexual orientation with steadfast confidence that sexual orientation only makes up a small part of a character in the same way that it does with a hetero-normative character. She has already taught me a lot, and I think there is still much to tell. This is one of the perennial joys of story-telling: Letting characters that you thought you controlled doing something completely different, and ending up teaching you something. It makes me wonder if these aren't real people on some other plane, letting me borrow their own lives for some small moment, documenting their trials and tribulations, and asking only that I do it with the utmost conviction towards art and sincerity.


*What does this mean? Oh, wouldn't you like to know…

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Now, gentle readers, starts my nervous hand-wringings and contemptable snappishness.... if that is a word.  I have one short story that was mailed this morning, and another waiting breathlessly to be sent out, both harboring that inextinguishable desire of wanting to show a glow so formidable that when the readers at the respective lit mags lay their furtive glance upon its pages that they cannot help but run to the nearest blackboard and write, in large, swooping hand, "A+++++++++". 

I think that they are good stories.  Probably two of my favorites.  For that reason, I am setting unrealistically high goals for them, namely, getting published.  The chances are slim (I have sent them to highly selective publications) but my hopes for them are anything but.  I should hear back from the one I sent out last month within a month... and the other one about the same time.  Stay tuned for more fumings, rants, ravings, and maybe a particular shade of joy should the story get published.  It will more than likely contain size 72 helvitica at some point during that blog post, should it weasel its way past the editors and into a magazine.

I imagine this post as the glass bottle of milk or champaigne being cracked against the hull of a ship that is departing the harbor for the first time.  So come with me as I begin the slightly painful journey that is "doing this for a living."  The water is treacherous and deep, and the bottom is lined with ships that didn't make it.


Monday, February 22, 2010

This may come as a shock to you...

I'm writing some fun stuff right now, and I think I have stumbled across what may be the most providential moment in my writing history.  It is like a precipice that propels friendship down down down and dashes it against rocks.  I think it is so perfect, it may almost be in the realm of cliche.  It's just a simple sentence, but it does several things that I think make it so great, and I wrote it yesterday, so pardon the idiosyncratic nature of this post...

Maybe it comes as a shock to you, but I don't give two flying fucks about you or your motherfucking _______.
See?  How fucking wonderful that sentence is?  It's like a writer's madlib.  Just put in whatever, wherever when you need a big punch, and it works out great... here's some examples that I just came up with:
Maybe it comes as a shock to you, but I don't give two flying fucks about you or your motherfucking rubber ducky. (Bert finally letting Ernie have it in their three-room flat on the lower west-side.)
Maybe it comes as a shock to you, but I don't give two flying fucks about you or your motherfucking revolution. (What Benedict Arnold should have said to George Washington.)
Maybe it comes as a shock to you, but I don't give two flying fucks about your motherfucking last name.  (Admittedly not as poetic, but equally as effective utturance delivered by Romeo Montague to Juliet Capulet outside her bedroom window. The phrase is changed slightly.)
Maybe it comes as a shock to you, but I don't give two flying fucks about you or your motherfucking e-book pricing structure. (Macmillan to Amazon)
Maybe it comes as a shock to you, but I don't give two flying fucks about you or your motherfucking rules on what constitutes "decent fiction". (Micheal Chabon against the literary fiction monsters that love to hate.)
 Maybe it comes as a shock to you, but I don't give two flying fucks about you or your motherfucking fear of what others think about you. (Roarke to Keating in The Fountainhead.  That is essentially the Ken's Notes to the entire friggin' book, in case you were wondering.)

... and really, it all goes on from there.  Pretty heavy stuff, right?  Anyway, this wasn't too serious of an entry... but you know... you get what you get.

I have 3 followers now!  I feel like I'm heading places, Jerry!  I'm headin' all the way to the top!

That is all. 


P.S. -- The thoughts and views shown in this blog do NOT portray the views of any other person other than the author of this blog.  Anything said here was a fictional representation and meant only to be funny.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Year's Resolutions and the Whats-Its That Coincide Therein

Keep writing. Keep doing it and doing it. Even in the moments when it's so hurtful to think about writing.  - Heather Armstrong

It is undoubtedly too late to wish everyone a happy New Year.  It is, in fact, about nineteen days too late -- give or take a few hours.  So I won't do that.  You've already doffed the celebratory paper cone from your head, so saying "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" will only make people wonder if I had lost my mind.  I haven't.  In case you were wondering.

Much has happened since I last wrote here.  Almost an entire month has passed, and so far my inability to keep a blog has been a frustrating spur in my side.  It's not as if I don't think about the blog, because I do.  It's just that I am always so busy.  I am writing more.  More than I had last year, thanks to the Inkygirl's 1000 Words A Day Challenge.  Many people don't like the idea of chaining oneself to a chair and forcing a thousand words out where nothing is to be found, but I've found the excersize to yield considerable results thus far.  Let me tell you a little about my experience twenty days in...