I Hate Romance

Uh oh. You've made Donnie Yen angry. Prepare for asskicking.
(craveonline.com)

Even before the love of my life died, I hated romance as this post from 2010 attests. This is nothing new.

Immediately after Male died, I couldn’t read. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t concentrate or do anything productive, which left the boob tube as my only option besides silence. I hate silence unless I’m reading. I didn’t so much watch television as have it on in the background while I blankly stared at walls (like my cat) or cried a lot.

I couldn’t watch anything that had even a hint of romance in it. If there was so much as a conversation between a man and a woman that didn’t involve work, I’d turn it off.

This left me with few options since almost every form of entertainment today has a superfluous love story. I absolutely hate the superfluous love story. If you’re going to have romance in something, put it right there on the cover or in the description, because if there’s one thing I cannot stand, it’s getting sucker-punched with a romantic subplot that doesn’t need to be there in the first place. This applies generally, but particularly in the weeks following the death of the love of my life.

This penchant for throwing love stories about willy-nilly is the exact reason I don’t watch a lot of Hollywood movies even though I live in Hollywood. In the same way that restaurants don’t feel the need to mention on their menus that fucking onions are in everything they make (I hate onions), Hollywood throws the unnecessary love story into practically every movie produced.

There’s a movie about aliens coming down and taking over the human race? Add a love story. Action flick? Love story. War movie? Love story. Horror movie? Love story. A movie about genocide? Throw in a goddamn love story, because love and genocide go perfectly together I guess. I find it rather sexist, as if the only way they can get women to watch their schlock about stolen cars is to add romance in there.

I hate the superfluous love story. If I want to see a love story, I’ll watch a goddamned love story, but why must you ruin a perfectly good action movie with a love story that adds nothing to the plot? Not only does it not add, but it actually slows everything down. I don’t want to see that. If I watch an action movie, I want to see action not bloody love.

So, this left my viewing options very limited. I watched a ton of war movies, kung fu and wuxia (I’m all caught up on Donnie Yen now), and Korean revenge flicks.

Uh oh. You've made Donnie Yen angry. Prepare for asskicking. (craveonline.com)
Uh oh. You have angered the Donnie Yen. Prepare for asskicking.
(craveonline.com)

Did you know that Korean revenge is a genre? It is in my world anyway, and it’s one of my favorite sub-genres. South Korea has been making some mighty fine cinema for the last decade or so. If you haven’t seen Oldboy (not that godawful American abomination that has no right to exist, but the real one), go watch it now. I’ll wait.

Fucking amazing, right? Is that not the best movie you’ve seen in the last fifteen years or more? Damn straight it is. Park Chan-wook is a cinema god. Granted, nothing he’s done since has touched the cinematic brilliance of Oldboy, but I cut him some slack. It’s hard to rival that movie, because it is so unbelievably tits. Just like Ridley Scott can never touch Blade Runner, they should keep making movies anyway, just on the off-chance that they manage something nearly as good.

Anyway, Korean revenge movies. It’s a thing that I adore. They rarely throw love stories in there, and if they do, they’re integral to the plot, as in Oldboy, so it doesn’t bother me overmuch.

I’m the same way with books. The only romantic type stories I can deal with in literature are the kind that end badly like Wuthering Heights or Romeo & Juliet. I don’t mind romance in there as long as it’s the star-crossed variety. If one or more of them dies in the end, I’m in.

So, after all this preamble about disliking love stories, why is it that when I wrote the latest part of The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton, a detective series I’ve been writing that has nothing to do with love, I added some sexual tension between Walker and Betsy? I haven’t published the latest installment of The Dwarf yet, because this fact chagrins me. I’ve even written the book’s ending where, well, I don’t want to add spoilers.

The romance in my writing is a lot like the horror in old horror movies; implied, but never  shown. Have you seen the The Haunting (1963)? It’s scary precisely because they don’t show anything scary. It’s all implied. It could be because of a tiny special effects budget or it could be that the director knew that the phantasms created in the imaginations of the viewers are way scarier than any animatronic creature Hollywood could invent. They remade The Haunting in 1999 and it’s boring, because they thought special effects could top our imaginations. They were wrong. They were wrong to remake it in the first place.

STOP REMAKING OLD OR FOREIGN MOVIES, HOLLYWOOD.

Soap box over.

Why is it that when watching or reading something to entertain myself, I look for something without romance, but when I wrote it, I added it in there? Why am I such a huge hypocrite? It doesn’t really add to the plot. It doesn’t really move the plot along. It doesn’t have to be there, but it’s there anyway. Perhaps later today or tomorrow, I’ll pull the trigger and post it, and you can let me know if you think it’s superfluous or not, because obviously, I haven’t a clue.


Do you write romance in your stories that have nothing to do with romance? Does the superfluous love story bother you? Do you love Donnie Yen? Do you wish I had gotten to the point much sooner? Do you even know what the point is?

Dwarves & Grief

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You may have noticed that pretty much the only posts on this blog these days are either part of a fictional story no one really cares about or my thoughts on grief and how much it sucks.

I suppose there’s a good psychological reason for this. The grief post are there, because, well, I have a lot of it since Male died. The Dwarf–as I’ve come to call it because its real title is ridiculously long and àpropos of nothingposts are there, because the only people I seem to want to spend any time with lately are the ones in my head.

I like visiting their world. I like my characters, I like making them do things, and I like seeing how it all fits together.

Even when I’m not writing The Dwarf, I’m thinking about it. Yesterday, I updated the cover for the book to this:

THEDWARF6CROP

Why? Well, I don’t know. I just did. I wanted it to look even more reminiscent of an old film noir, even though the story isn’t really noir at all. I suppose the gumshoe aspect of it makes me automatically think film noir.

I also went through the whole thing and edited it yesterday. I added another character, Shamus the dog. He belongs to Betsy. I added this to the end of part 4:

Bets and I drive back to the sweet, sweet city in her ludicrous compact car. I show off how bravely injured I am. She almost slams the car door on my legs. Always the nurturer. Her car suits her about as well as her name. On the other hand, her gigantic slobbery dog who insists on putting his gigantic slobbery head on my shoulder the whole trip home because he loves me so much, fits her perfectly. She says it’s a coincidence, but of course, she named Shamus after me.

How many of you get the joke about her dog’s name? Is it a little too obtuse?

I know Walker really well at this point, but I haven’t worked on Betsy all that much. Probably because I’m writing the story from Walker’s point of view and because she’s a lot more similar to me than Walker. Reading through what I’ve already written, I found her to be a little harsh for no real reason, so I softened up her dialog a bit and gave her a dog since you can’t be an entirely bad person if you love a dog. This is reminiscent of myself since I tend to be rather unapproachable to people, but turn to mush around puppies. I like most dogs better than I like most people.

Both of my main characters are based on aspects of myself and aspects of Male. They both have qualities of each of us. If you put Male and me in a blender, and poured us out into two other people, those people might be Walker and Betsy. Writing this story, is allowing me to work through the grief of losing Male, because I can keep parts of him alive through my characters. So much of him is in here. I miss his sense of humor.

I fleshed out the rest of my characters as much as I could and even gave them stand-in visual representations. Not that they really look like this, but I’ve found that it helps writing if I can picture roughly who they are. I suppose if they made a movie of my book, this is who I’d cast in the parts (never mind the fact that some of them are dead or make-believe).

And so on. Strange that most of the visual representations I chose were from classic Hollywood. I guess that also fits with the film noir style title. Walker is more of a cross between Errol Flynn, Toshiro Mifune and Cary Grant. Take Cary’s suaveness, charm and humor; add in Toshiro’s swagger and toughness tinged with sensitivity; and Errol’s affability, smile, and refusal to grow up or take anything too seriously, and you have Walker.

As a result of the way Storymill, the creative writing software I’m using, allows you to not necessarily write in an entirely linear fashion, I wrote a scene that I wanted to happen in the middle of the story, a few thousand words from where we are now. That scene led to another, and today, I wrote the book’s ending. I know exactly how the book will end, but I still have no idea how it’s going to get there. This is what my book looks like now:

Screen shot 2015-05-14 at 2.06.41 PM

Between Competing Goons and The Love Duck, and Fuzzy and Squishy and The End (what’s with these scene names?), I have a whole lot more book to write. I’ve got the beginning, a bit of the middle, a very tenuous end, and an idea for the next book in the series, which is going to be a prequel. I’m getting way ahead of myself here, but I’m very happy with the way this story is progressing. I seem to have little difficulty writing it and it helps with the grief. Now, if only I knew what I was writing…

For now, I’m just going with it. It seems to be working for me, since for the first time ever, I’ve written over 10,000 words on the same story. Not even during NaNoWriMo have I written this much on a fictional story without running out of steam and without hating it, so yay me.

Screen shot 2015-05-14 at 4.49.50 PM

Maybe someday, I’ll write something with a broader appeal again, but for now, I’m afraid you’re stuck with The Dwarf and grief posts.


Have you ever written in a non-linear way before? Do you know how your stories end as you’re writing it or do you wing it? Have you ever written or read the end of a story before the rest?

A Story That Must Not Die

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I’m tired of my story. I’m weary of carrying it around with me. I’ve been steeping in it forever and it’s tiresome. I would like someone else’s story for a while, preferably with lots of free time and a happy ending.

The chapters of my story are varied, but they share the same root. They’re woven together into a tapestry… a crappy tapestry… a crapestry.

If you really want to get technical about it, these are the chapters of my story:
Picture 3

There are nineteen of them, including the introduction. Even though I’ve only lived half a life so far, I’ve written a whole story. I did so hoping that the remaining years will be very boring. I’m totally looking forward to boring. I want to yawn and nap my way through my 50s. Playing bingo sounds great.

My life makes for a fascinating book in need of some serious editing. It will be published posthumously or when my parents die, whichever comes first. I’ve already written the highlights in the post called Dented Bucket List, but some of them include:

Meningitis.
Child sexual abuse.
Anorexia.
Self-harm.
Alcohol abuse.
Drug addiction.
Homelessness.
Prostitution.
Sexual assault.
Traumatic brain injury.
Skin cancer.
Domestic violence.
Identity theft.
Attempted murder.

It’s a long laundry list of shitty, shitty things. Most people are horrified when I tell them one of those tidbits, let alone all. They all happened to me. They are my story.

I can’t help but roll my eyes on the inside a little at the reactions I get when I tell people my story. People are horrified. They always are. They don’t know how to react. I don’t blame them; I wouldn’t know how to react either. I’ve had decades to digest (or ignore) all that has happened to me. The people I tell only have a few seconds of reaction time.

People look at you differently when you tell them that you were tied up, blindfolded, gagged and sexually tortured starting at the age of seven, which was just the first tile in a domino effect of abuse. They can’t help it.

Nobody has the same life experience as me. Some people can relate to certain experiences, but other things leave them dumbfounded. No one I’ve ever met has experienced all of the things on that list. People can relate to one, three, maybe even five of those things, but all of those ingredients together are unique to just me. I’m so lucky.

No matter how bad your life story is, there are always people who have it worse than you. I’ve never experienced war first hand. I didn’t survive a Holocaust. I’ve never been unjustly imprisoned. I wasn’t born into slavery or sold as a commodity. Well, when I was a prostitute, I very much was sold as a commodity, but I was the one doing the selling, so I don’t think that counts.

It is not a competition to have the shittiest life. If it is, I’m not even in the running. I’m bush league compared to Malala Yousafzai or Squanto.

There are always people worse off than you. I am lucky. I’m relatively healthy. I have most of my original factory equipment. I have freedom of speech, politics and religion. I can walk, see, feel, taste and partly hear. I am still alive. I survived, at least, physically. Mentally, well, that’s a different story. There are wounds on top of scar tissue in my psyche that are still fresh and they probably always will be, but I am alive to experience them.

I don’t want people to think of me differently when they hear my story. I don’t want people to walk on eggshells around me. I roll my eyes on the inside, because horror is exactly what I don’t want. I’ve had enough horror. I experience horror at night when I try to sleep. I will always be visited by demons in the night when I’m most vulnerable and my conscious mind cannot protect me. I will always sleep with a baseball bat next to my bed.

As much as I shun my story, as tired as I am of carrying it around and letting people read it, I wouldn’t change it. I sure as hell don’t want to relive it, but I don’t regret it. It is all of those things that make me who I am. It is mine.

I haven’t opened any of those chapters in a dog’s age. When I wrote my story, I wrote it straight through, like a woman possessed, every day, as much as I could until it was done. When I finished, I closed it, saved it, backed it up and never looked at it again. It was outside of me. That was enough.

My story is a story of loss, hardship, heartbreak, very few lucky breaks and many awful, awful things, but I won’t get rid of it. I keep it in a file folder, because when I’m ready to put it out there, it just might help someone. If my words can help another soul not feel so alone, if they can relate to a little piece of me, then it was all worth it. Selfishly (because I want to help) and conceitedly (because I think I can), it is a story that must not die.

So, what’s your story? Share it at Stories That Must Not Die.

There’s A New Kid In Town

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And it’s looking to kick ass and take names. I’m not sure what we’ll do with the names once we take them, but there will be ass-kicking. And possibly cookies and punch.

I have been asked to contribute to a new blog called Stories That Must Not Die. It’s a sort of replacement for the extinct Black Box Warnings. “A safe space for our hardest stories.”

STMND (Not quite as catchy of an abbreviation as BBW or TOC) was started by our lovely Rarasaur. She might not be with us for a while, so we’ll carry on as best we can without her.

Speaking of Rarasaur, show some RAWRlove over at Queen Creative, please. It doesn’t even have to be cold hard cash; they’re even accepting love in the form of nuts and meat. Send nuts! I dare you!

I was a contributing author at both Black Box Warnings and The Outlier Collective and it honestly pissed my Wheaties that both of those sites disappeared over some interpersonal drama. They were both safe places where people could tell their deepest darkest secrets and they are both gone.

In my post for Black Box Warnings, I wrote about domestic violence. At The Outlier Collective, I talked about body image issues. On my TOC post, there was a girl who read it and decided to get help for her anorexia. I was able to directly impact someone by sharing my words and that has never happened to me before or since. It’s all gone now and that’s just wrong.

Anyway, we have a lot of cooks in the kitchen over at STMND and I’m only one of them. Some of the cooks I know well and there are others with whom I have only passing familiarity, but they were all chosen by Rarasaur, so they’re all good people (except for me).

I haven’t written anything over there yet because I’m a fan of structure and deadlines, and we haven’t had a meeting to discuss how this will work. Or maybe they did and I wasn’t invited. Without structure, I just sit here twiddling my thumbs. Do-dee-do.

When I post over there, I’ll let you know. For now, check it out and follow, please. And don’t forget to send nuts.

Evolution of Blogging

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Way back in the aught-aughts, when MySpace was still a thing and you were five years younger, I started a blog. It was actually this blog for those of you who weren’t here then, which is all of you. It was a very lonely place then, just me and the fake castle in the fishbowl.

The Royal Fishbowl Castle
The Royal Fishbowl Castle

I didn’t give starting a blog all that much thought, which is probably a good thing. Had I considered the fact that FOG would still be here five years later and there would be over 5,000 people and spambots who subscribe to it, I would have been paralyzed with indecision. As it was though, there was no pressure since no one was reading it besides me.

This blog doesn’t look much like it used to. I don’t have a screenshot of the earliest incarnation, but here’s one from 2012:

I should really clean out my library folder.
I should really clean out my media library more often.

ZzzzzzZZZzzzzzZZZzzz. How boring. That was before I even drew a custom header font. The only constant in all that time is the fish. The goldfish has been here since the beginning. It has been my blogging companion and I’ve gotten very used to its dopey eyes and pursed lips (do fish have lips?). I can’t imagine the fishbowl without the goldfish.

FOG has been around for five years. In the relative age of blogging, that’s a really long time to have a blog that is still active. Somehow, I haven’t gotten tired of it yet.

I write way more now than I did when I began. When I started, I thought that every post I wrote had to be infinitely quotable, insightful and magnificent, or I took the opposite approach and posted whatever crap happened to be on my mind. I’ve since found middle ground. I don’t write just to write something, but I don’t write to be quoted or insightful either. I don’t write for an audience, but I invite you in to read it.

I have a confession to make. In the early days, I was obsessed with blog stats. Strangely, that was before I had any stats to look at. Perhaps it is because no one was reading this blog at all that every view meant so much. Now that you’re here, I’m not obsessed with numbers as I once was.

Numbers aren’t important to me anymore. Comments are what matter. The fact that you take the time to read and comment still surprises me. Every time I see that little notification word bubble glow orange, I get excited even though it happens a lot now. It’s like getting multiple packages in the mail every day or daily coffee delivery from a unicorn. In the last year or two, there’s not a single post that has gone unread, unliked or un-commented upon. That still blows my mind.

Now that I just said I don’t obsess over stats anymore, let’s obsess over stats for a minute, okay?

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Holy crap.

Pretty durn impressive for a socially awkward misanthrope who hasn’t done a lick of promotion. Where it says best ever views? That was the first time I was Freshly Pressed in 2011. I’ve been Freshly Pressed three times since and I’ve still not managed to top 1,386. The last time I was FP’d a week or two ago, the bump from Freshly Pressed wasn’t much to write home about. FP ain’t what it used to be. Back in my day, we had to Freshly Press uphill both ways.

Most of my followers, like most of yours, are spamblogs, but there are at least five real people who follow me. Hi! There was a time when, as soon as that follower number increased, I would go look at my new follower to see what they were like. Most of the time back then, they were real people. Nowadays, I don’t even bother digging into followers because they’re almost all spamblogs. I check people out when they comment, not when they follow. So, if you’re lurking on this blog and not commenting, I’m not seeing you because of stupid, stupid spamblogs.

When I look at my posts total, I’m always amazed that I’ve written so few of them in five years. I haven’t even broken 1,000 posts yet. Tsk tsk. In some ways, it feels like I’ve been writing posts forever and there should be way more than 885 posts in 1,825 days. In other ways, I’m super impressed by that number since most of them are not throwaway posts. Most of them are posts I took the time to put together and I’m even quite fond of a lot of them.

Anyway, it’s been one hell of a five-year ride. This blog has meant a lot to me, even when I hated it because it mocked my inability to draw readers or write anything of value. It has always been there. It is my friend, companion, confidant and somewhat of an obsession in the sense that the question “what am I going to write today?” is always on my mind. It is where I can really talk about things that matter. It is where I’ve found people who really matter. It is my home, especially now that you are out there reading it, so thanks for that. Cheers and here’s to another five years!

Autobiographical Fiction

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Autobiographical fiction is the genre I’ve assigned for the short stories that I’ve written based on real events in my life. It is not truly autobiographical, because the characters are typically a third person who goes somewhere other than where I really went, but it is not truly fiction because it is based on real events. Some would argue, and rightly so, that all fiction is, at least in part, autobiographical.

What’s it like to be a teen prostitute? The short answer is, I don’t entirely remember. I only have snippets of memory here and there. The fragments I have are very vivid though. They make me cringe alone in the middle of the night. Out of all the crummy experiences I’ve had in my life, that’s the chapter I’ve written about the least. As far as I can remember, I’ve only written one story about that period. Why can I write detailed accounts of my experiences with domestic violence in the first person, but I still can’t write about child sexual abuse or prostitution in anything other than third-person?

I’ve started to write about the child sexual abuse I went through as a kid, which I think is good, but it mostly comes out as third-person fiction or as glancing blows, never direct hits. Lately, I’ve written two fictional stories about it; one from the perspective of a teddy bear, the other from that of a time traveler. Both are fiction based on real experiences.

Even though these are my memories that I’m tapping into, they don’t seem like mine. They seem like third-person. When I remember those times in my life, I tend to think of myself as a character in a book. I almost step outside of myself and watch rather than see it through my own eyes.

I step outside myself a lot. I am pretty sure I got this disassociative ability during child sexual abuse. It’s probably not healthy to step outside of yourself and see what’s happening through omniscient eyes. Some would consider it a form or manifestation of mental illness to experience your own life in third-person, but it can’t be helped.

That ability to disassociate is what allows me to write fiction. When I write fiction, I see it. I feel it. I know what my people look like, their facial expressions and their surroundings. I know how cold it is and what they’re wearing. I see the events unfolding before my eyes and I write it down. I could make my characters wear clown shoes or do a little dance, but they generally tell me what to do instead, like a lucid dream. I just write it down. I never experience fiction through my character’s eyes though. I typically see it from above like a stage play. I feel what the characters feel, but I am not them. I am merely an observer who has tapped into their consciousness for a while. I’m the puppet master.

Fiction is fascinating, isn’t it? I find it so anyway. The fact that we writers can step out of ourselves and experience another person’s life for a little while or even make up an entire universe for them to play in is really interesting. Where does it come from? Where do these characters that live inside of our brains come from? The same could be said for musicians or artists, or really, any creative endeavor with a finished product. Where does it live when we’re not working on it? What happens when the story is over? Where do our characters go after “the end”?

I’ve written more full-on fiction that really has nothing at all to do with my life than I have autobiographical fiction. The process is the same. It starts with an idea or an image or a piece of dialog, which percolates in my mind for a while until there’s enough meat or the words sufficiently bother me to the point where I can’t do anything else until I write it down. Sometimes, I see a prompt and a picture comes immediately to mind. Other times, it takes a long time to come to fruition. There’s no rhyme nor reason to it.

Incidentally, my regular blog posts work the same way. It usually starts with a topic I’d like to write about. Then a sentence forms in my mind. When there’s a paragraph, I go write it down. The only difference is that, with regular blog posts, I don’t see images or characters; I see words.

I enjoy writing autobiographical fiction the most. Actually, that’s not true. When I’m writing it, it’s pretty painful, but after it’s done, it gives me the greatest sense of accomplishment, more so than fiction that isn’t based on my life.

The fact that my latest piece of autobiographical fiction, One Night In Summer, was Freshly Pressed gave me mixed feelings. I had a sense of pride to be chosen for the honor again, but at the same time, it felt a little like an invasion of privacy. As if all of those people were in the woods with me watching that scared little girl, too, without an invitation. However, that little girl has spent too long alone in the dark, terrified. It’s time that she came out into the light. If the only way I can do that is through autobiographical fiction, for now, it’s good enough.


What’s your take on fiction? If you write fiction, do you disassociate from your characters and see them omnisciently or do you see the world through their eyes?

This post was inspired by an interesting post at Mindful Digressions on whether a non-fiction post can be turned into fiction by changing it to third-person. Do you think just changing pronouns in a first-person factual story can be considered fiction? Stop on by and weigh in.

Why I Write

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Another week, another Weekly Writing Challenge, where we are to talk about the origins of our writing. I’m not feeling particularly inspired this morning, so I’m just going to answer the questions as asked.

Which books did you love growing up? Which poems?

I’ve already written about my favorite children’s books growing up. Some of my favorites included everything by Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry, Curious George, Winnie The Pooh, and my favorite poet was Shel Silverstein.

Do you remember your first original composition? What was it? How did you feel while writing it?

I don’t remember writing much as a kid, but since most of my childhood was obliterated by a head injury, I don’t remember much from my childhood at all. I have vague impressions of this kind of paper:

image from zingerbug.com.
image from zingerbug.com.

It was constructed of some sort of flimsy, not quite white paper-not quite construction paper hybrid. The lines were nearly an inch apart because when we’re first taught to write, we make gigantic letters with tiny hands. There were dashed lines in-between the writing lines so we could tell the midpoint. Being left-handed in a right-handed world, when I was taught to write, I didn’t write neatly. I recall being scolded for penmanship, but I have no idea what I wrote.

When I was a child, I wasn’t so much a writer as an artist. Somewhere around first or second grade, my art teacher finagled a scholarship to Cranbrook Academy Of Art for me. I don’t recall how long I went there or many of my experiences. I have an overall impression of liking it very much though. When the scholarship ended, I went back to public school and never took an art class again.

My family didn’t approve of art as a profession or even as a hobby. They encouraged me in music and dance, both of which I supremely sucked doing, but not in art. To this day, I’m not sure what the distinction is. Being a dancer or musician was alright, but not an artist or an actor. My sister had an interest in drama and that wasn’t approved either. I’m not sure their opinion on writing since, by the time I started writing, I had learned not to share it with them.

Did you secret your writing away or share it with family and friends?

I’m much more of a secreter than a sharer. I wasn’t one to share as a child and I’m not now. The only difference is that I have a blog where I share everything these days. I write anonymously though, so I’m still a secreter. I am uncomfortable with people judging my work in person. I could never have a gallery show and I would be incredibly awkward at book signings. If I were ever famous through my creative efforts, I’d hate it. I would be a bit of a recluse like Alan Moore.

Hopefully, with better hair though. Alan Moore from the wiki linked above.
Hopefully, with better hair though.
Alan Moore from the wiki linked above.

What sort of writing do you enjoy doing best? Fiction? Nonfiction? Creative Nonfiction? Poetry? Memoir? Other?

All and none of the above. Honestly, I don’t really enjoy writing anymore than I enjoy breathing. It’s just what I do. The only thing I can say for certain is that I really don’t enjoy poetry. I’m no good at it and it feels like a chore. I try to avoid writing poetry as much as possible.

What are your writerly aspirations? Do you write for yourself, or to become published?

If blogging didn’t exist as a thing, nobody would ever read a word I’ve ever written. I have no writerly aspirations. I do believe that somewhere deep within me resides a novel or two, but so far, I have failed at getting them out. They are stubbornly staying put. I can never pry out more than a few thousand words.

I’m alright with that. they’ll come out when they’re damn well ready. I may be 80 years old before they do, but that’s okay. I’m in no rush.

Why do you write?

I don’t write to be published. I don’t write for you, though I invite you into my fishbowl to read it, and I sometimes think about you when I write. I don’t even write for me. I write to keep the noise level in my head at a reasonable volume.

I’ll be trying to sleep or take a shower and the words will make themselves comfortable in my brain. It’ll start with one word or phrase. Then a sentence will form, and another, until they become a paragraph. These paragraphs won’t leave me alone until I write them down. They’ll keep pecking at my brain until I pay attention to them. I don’t think when I write; I only start thinking when I edit.

What keeps you writing?

The words keep coming. It’s as simple as that. If the words weren’t there, I probably wouldn’t write. Sometimes they desert me for a while. I’ll go a day or two, even a week or two sometimes, without any words, but they always come back eventually.

Do you have a daily writing practice? Tell us about it.

I try to write on this blog every day. I’m not sure why. It’s not like everything I write is quality. In fact, most of it isn’t. Out of a whole post, sometimes, I’ll really only like once sentence or phrase, but it wouldn’t make sense out of context, so I have to leave the hundreds of dead words so that the sentence of good words has somewhere to live. I’m not attached to a lot of posts on this blog, but they all come from me. I always hit publish anyway, because every now and again, I make something I really love and that’s worth all the filler.

The Last Vicodin

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Well, it’s here. The last day of NaBloPoMo. And guess what? I WON! I beat that damn challenge into the ground and stomped on it until all the air escaped its lungs. Through a work deadline, Thanksgiving and assorted obligations, I wrote every day in November.

Alright, I admit that I cheated a bit. While I did post every day, I didn’t technically write every day in November. I front loaded some posts so I didn’t have to worry about it. During the first few days of November, I wrote a half a dozen posts as spares. I knew there would be a few days where, no matter what I did, I couldn’t think of anything to write. How did I know this? Well, that happens under normal circumstances, let alone under the pressure of NaBloPoMo.

There were a couple of days that I didn’t write a thing and I used those spares. I got into the habit of writing tomorrow’s post today and scheduling it so that, when I woke up, it would be there already. That was a nice feeling; waking up to a post already posted. That meant all I had to worry about was tomorrow, not today. Tomorrow is much easier to worry about than today. Tomorrow is so far away.

The funny thing is, I still have a few of those spare posts left. I’m a bit of a hoarder. I severely sprained my ankle a few years ago, and sans health insurance, I couldn’t take anything for the pain because I had nothing to take and couldn’t afford anything to take. A very gracious friend of mine offered some Vicodin. I took her up on her offer. I took one a day, half in the morning, the other half at night for a week. It very much helped. However, I couldn’t bring myself to take the last one, because it was the last one. After that, there was no more and I might need it more later.

I did the same thing with blog posts this month. I kept writing new ones instead of using the spares, because it was the last one. Well, fuck it, I’m taking the last Vicodin. Although, now that I don’t have to post, I think I’ll end up posting a lot more. My brain is contrary like that.

KNO07270
Image from webmd.com

This month has been quite an experience for me. For the past few years, I’ve tried NaNoWriMo. I have never even come close to winning NaNoWriMo. I never even made it to the halfway point.

I’ve realized something about myself lately; I might not be a novelist.

That’s a hard pill to swallow. I write, so I must be a novelist, right? Every writer’s dream is to write the Great American (or whatever country you live in) Novel in title case, right? Well, maybe not. I’ve been working on at least half a dozen novels for the past ten years or so. Actually, I think the oldest one is about fifteen years old by now and it’s still unwritten. It’s still just an outline, character sketches and a first chapter. It might not ever be finished.

The information conveyed in the last paragraph used to bum me out, actually quite a bit, if you want to be honest about it. I am a failed novelist. Sigh.

But the other half of the realization that I’ve come to lately? That’s okay. As long as I keep writing, it’s all okay. It’s not that I’ve given up. It’s actually quite the opposite. Sliding from under the oppressive weight of the Great American Novel has freed me up to focus on other things. I would like to publish some books and I think the books I’d like to publish now are doable.

I’ve already written one children’s book that could be published if I ever finish the art. I have at least three more children’s book ideas, one of which I’ve started already.

I would like to write a flash fiction book–a bunch of little stories all sewed up together with a common theme, somewhat like Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio*, but not. If successful, I could do a whole series of these topical flash fiction compilations.

I would like to finally finesse my autobiography. Before I even knew about NaNoWriMo, I won that fucker. I was a writer possessed. I went to work, came home, wrote until sunrise and did it all over again. On the weekends, I didn’t eat and hardly even peed with all the writing I did. It is the story of my life as told by me. It is nearly 100,000 words of self-imposed therapy. I could not stop until it was done and I finished it. Once I finished, I backed it up in a thousand different places and never touched it again. That was in 2009. I want to actually finish it.

So, I may be a failure at NaNoWriMo, but that’s okay. I am not a failure at everything else. I don’t think I’ll ever try NaNoWriMo again to be honest. I’m not good with that kind of pressure to do things that I might not even be capable of doing. I prefer pressure to do things that I want to do. Other than from a bird’s-eye perspective, I don’t really even want to write the Great American Novel and forcing myself to do it makes me want to do it even less.

Conversely, forcing myself to post every day on this blog made me want to do it more. Now that I WON, I’m actually kind of sad that it’s over. While I didn’t write every day in November, I did post every day in November, so I’m counting that as a big, goddamn W.

Tomorrow, I’m going to post one of those spares and take a much-needed day off from this blog, but I’ll be back. Hopefully, every damn day.

I’d like to thank YeahWrite and my rownies, and Nano Poblano for all the support you’ve given me this month. Let’s do it again next year.

* If you fancy yourself a writer and you haven’t read Winesburg, Ohio, you really should. Anderson mastered the short story woven into a novel format in this book. It is one of the best American novels ever written.

The Problem With Words

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The problem with words is that I just don’t seem to have any these days. I haven’t written a post that I’m really proud of in a while. What I’ve written lately has mostly been gnashing of fingers against a keyboard in a lackadaisical manner. Plkaheg34qn fgea;lkf. FLARGH!!!

I have a bunch of drafts in my folder. At least four of them are half-started guest posts. Mme. Weebles kindly asked me to guest post on The Outlier Collective. If you’re not familiar with TOC, it is a brilliant blog where different writers share their thoughts on a given topic. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but the topic I have been given has to do with something I’m all too familiar with, yet haven’t written a lot about.

There are four posts in my drafts folder, each of them abandoned for various Goldilocks reasons. One is too personal, the other is not personal enough and the rest are not just right. I can’t seem to find my footing. Fortunately, I think I have a bit more time to write something, and I am trying, but everything I’ve managed so far is just awful.

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“This post is too suck!”
Image from telegraph.co.uk

There’s either too much personal in there and it turns into a rant, because I cannot talk about these things without getting angry, or there’s nothing personal at all and it turns into a rant about societal woes. I always seem to end up at rant when I don’t want to.

I need to find the right balance. I would like this guest post to be special. Well, I want all my guest posts to be special, but this one is a meaty topic that I could say much about, but I am failing and flailing.

I keep telling myself, “Ok, this isn’t working. Start a fresh one.” I do. Then I write myself into one of the two corners; too personal/not personal enough. I’ve done this four times. “Well, leave it alone today and start fresh tomorrow.” Result? Same corners leading inevitably to rant.

Onward to draft #5.

What do you do when you just can’t seem to get the words right?

Remix: A Fight Club Moment

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Go back through your blog archives and find a bloated, nasty, air-filled paragraph. Copy it in all it’s former glory into a new post. Paste it a second time so that you can edit it until it cries for mercy and we can see the strong, shiny, new version below. Strip out the adverbs, replace weak verbs with strong verbs, axe the bloated phrasery that takes up space and yet says nothing.

Original version – June 30, 2009

MmmmMitchum. This dude had swagger.
MmmmMitchum. This dude had swagger.

I was watching an old interview with Robert Mitchum the other day. After thinking that he was still hot even in his fifties, it hit me that he was dead. I mean, it really sank in that he was thoroughly deceased, and therefore, most likely no longer attractive. So, in the self-centered, predictably linear way that we dreary humans relate to everything, it also struck me that I too will someday die. It’s not uncommon that people I admire or respect are dead. In fact, it seems to be the norm. Strangely enough, I don’t really think about the fact that they are dead all that much. I don’t often think about the fact that I will die, too. But then again, who does? Really, it’s impossible to live every moment as if it’s your last. If it really was my last moment, I wouldn’t be sitting in front of a computer right now. Somebody has to pay the bills.

I guess the best that we can hope for is that we leave something behind. I’m not talking about children. Rearing a child is no guarantee that anything about you will remain after you are gone. Children are all fine and well and good, but don’t kid yourself into thinking that just because you managed to connect a sperm to an egg that you’ve done something special. A last name and some chromosomes do not a legacy make. I’m talking about tangible results of a lifetime: art, music, words, causal change, anything, something completely personal, completely you. A lot of the people who have touched my life – musicians, writers, artists, directors, actors, scientists, philosophers – no longer exist on this planet. Yet, they all left a body of work. They left something tangible in their stead.

If you’ve ever seen Akira Kurosawa’s film, Ikiru, it’s the same principle. ***Spoiler Alert*** Watanabe knows he’s going to die but before he goes, he decides to try to change the system. He spends all his remaining time as a civil servant trying to build a small park. It’s not much, but it’s something. The thing is, once he’s gone, nothing really changes. His little world still contains the same red tape and the same credit-stealing assholes. But, he managed to accomplish that one thing in the time he had left. I have yet to build my metaphorical park. Not that I’m planning to die anytime soon or that I regret any of my life at all. It’s just that I feel like Watanabe in the beginning. ***End Spoiler *** I don’t feel as if I have accomplished much and that the system is too big for one person. I’ve lived a lot. I’ve packed a ton into this comparatively short life of mine. But have I left an impact on anyone or anything? It’s hard to say.

This life of ours is so goddamn short and so full of nonsensical, man-made distractions that it’s hard to keep perspective at times. Sometimes we lose focus on what actually is important in life and it’s not your bank account or who’s going to win the next American Idol. It’s what you do with the time that you have and what you leave behind you. Have you done everything you could do to make this life worth living? Have you tried everything you could have? Have you been too scared of living to actually live? “If you died right now, how would you feel about your life?” Have you even thought about it? It’s just people out there. People like us. Rocks, water, sky, fish, birds, clouds, grass and trees on a tiny globe wobbling around in infinite space. That’s all there really is. That’s all that’s important anyway. “This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

Word count: 661

Eesh. Just how many references are in there? This post is a mess. It goes in a billion directions at once. I like the message though, so I’ll rewrite it.

The Edit

I got rid of practically everything. Edit in process:

Picture 1

I worked with what was left and ended up with this:

Remix 1 – the cut out the chaff remix

I will die someday, but I don’t dwell on it. Consistently living in the moment is impossible; we get so preoccupied by life that we forget to live.

Many trendsetters are gone, but they left tangible results, e.g. mathematical theorems, scientific breakthroughs, fiction, art, music. Their work benefits others.

If we all worked to make the world a better place, it would be. Leave it better than you found it. Even small things can cause big change. Carpe diem.

Word count: 79

Prolix post revised without all the words and movie references! Phew. That’s better.

Remix 2 – the one sentence remix

Life is short; seize the day and leave the world a better place.

Word count: 13

Right to the point.