Mucky Snowy Saturday Update

Greetings from the Magical Orangutan Laboratories. We’re getting ourselves one last blast of snow here but since the temps aren’t going below freezing, it’s just leaving slushy slush snow. Regardless, it’s enough to cause hours and hours of bad driving decisions. Which doesn’t affect me much since I’ve no car or no plans to head out of my warm abode, especially when I have hot tea, homemade bean soup, and Sparks playing on Google Music.

I’ve been in a flurry of activity with lots of writing, some freelance work, and crippling poverty. On the writing side, there’s this:

  • I’m working on a short story based on the old fable, Belling The Cat. If all goes right, I’ll submit it for publication.
  • I’m also polishing up a bit of flash fiction that I’ll probably submit to flash zines or something like that.
  • I’m pondering a rework of a novella-length short story wrote a long time ago, The Road to Rigor Mortis (to the joy of some of my friends, I’m sure).
  • Also, there’s a thing that I’ve been scribbling in my journal. Something tells me its name is poemanifesto. I’ll probably be posting that here.
  • Recently, I’ve been blogging for a local group called Cincinnati Bloggers and have two articles up there:
  • I’m freelancing as a virtual assistant but slowly meandering my way towards freelance copywriting & proofreading. If you need something written or read & edited, I’m your In Person.

Add to that a recently terrifying decision on my part: signing up for an open mic comedy show.

Comedy Open Mic at Legends Bar & Venue

After years of people telling me to be a standup comedian, I’m taking the dive. And no, I’m sharing my act here. Yet.

Back to the writing…

 

 

 

 


* Footnote

I got to see Neil Gaiman courtesy of tickets won from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

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Fiction: Write Hard

The Author felt uninspired. The empty page on his computer stared back at him in blank indifference. It was, he thought, going to be hard to get some words out today. This wasn’t a new feeling these days. Moments of empty creativity were frequent and he often had a hard time pushing through. He likened it to Sisyphus’s plight with the boulder: a writer without inspiration was its own Hades. Stare at the screen long enough, a moment of inspiration might appear. He would manage to get a few lines out and then, well, the boulder would simply roll back down the hill as he realized that what he was writing didn’t click. He hated writer’s block. It meant that he wasn’t writing and he hated not writing very much. It was his raison d’être: he was a fiction writer. He loved it and he spent many, many hours finessing his craft. Writing was also his source of pride. At parties or on dates, whenever somebody asked what he did, he would tell them, “I am a writer.” Writing was what he did, it was what made him happy. Writing melted his anxieties away. If he was not writing, he was not living the life he wanted. If he wasn’t writing, he felt a fraud.

There was a time when writing was effortless for him. He knew a keyboard so well that he could just shut his eyes and begin typing and the words would just come, flowing from out of his head through his arms and onto the keyboard. It was like osmosis in its simplicity. He enjoyed the act of writing and creation and always fancied himself to one day live by writing professionally. In fact, after he had been fired from his previous job in customer service for spending more time writing than actually doing what he was hired to do, he decided that it was time to stop working for “the man” and become the author, the professional writer, that he knew he could always be. He began to submit stories to magazine. He saw more rejections than publications but when he did finally get into a few periodicals, he made some modest coin from that. It wasn’t enough to cover his bills, so he started doing freelance work with a few friends. They enjoyed the way the words seemed to come naturally to him and were astounded at his prolific abilities. It still wasn’t enough to completely keep him afloat month by month but he managed somehow to find ways of writing and, by proxy, make money.

Until recently, that is. He started noticing that the rejection letters became more numerous. Guessing that he was perhaps in a rut creatively, he tried writing in different ways, switching to poems and non-fiction essays. Though he had some success with those, it wasn’t what he enjoyed doing. He was a fiction writer and he ached to return to the world of imagination. So he decided to go all in and try to create a whip smart cracker, one that no publisher could deny. That’s when the writer’s block began. That’s when the writing stopped being fun.

He decided to make a sandwich, so he ambled into the kitchen. He sliced a tomato, buttered the bread, added sliced turkey and cheese. Food is fuel, he thought to himself. Why, halfway through this sandwich, I’m sure an idea will come. As he bit into the sandwich, he chewed, he imagined, rather thoughtfully. He closed his eyes, enjoying the tastes roll over his tongue, creation by mastication. He swallowed the bite and opened his eyes.

Nothing.

He took another bite. And another. And one more. Each time, he’d close his eyes and try to imagine something, anything, just one word, that could entice him. He took one last meaningful bite and bit the inside of his mouth.

He sat down on the couch and read a book. Perhaps this would inspire me, he thought. As it happened, his mind wandered as he struggled to get through two pages of the book. In frustration, he flung it at the floor, got up, and sat down at his laptop. “Brute force it has to be,” he grumbled and began typing.

As Gloria got out of the taxicab, she couldn’t believe her luck: dinner at one of the most lavish restaurant in the whole of the city, Chez Nous, with one of the most handsome, not to mention the most successful, sales associate at her company. It was, well, she thought to herself, the most. As she walked towards the entrance, a doorman welcomed her and opened the door. She took in a breath.

He decided that he didn’t like that particular idea and started again.

Sun-spotted, misbegotten son of the holy Earth, Rokko Molloy, wiped sleep out of his eyes and gave the finger to another besotted day. Thinking second thoughts, he switched from finger to thumb in hopes of a passing mystical plane would pick him up.

That wasn’t working either. He still felt hungry so he had an apple. Then he made some coffee. Hours passed. Then he made another pot of coffee. Very soon, he had to go to the toilet. Which he did.

The economic anxiety of not having anything published, much less written, was starting to creep up on him. He hated looking at the balance at his bank account. It made his guts rumble and feel like liquid. There was the $20 charge for a dinner out with friends. There was the $10 he spent on a six-pack of good beer. Groceries, for he loved eating fresh foods, were always a constant purchase. His balance stared back at him, the dwindling numbers plastering him with a baleful, judgmental eye.

He sniffed under his right arm and decided that he needed a shower. Lots of people took showers and had great ideas while doing so, he thought to himself. So he turned on the water, undressed, stepped in the shower and scrubbed and scrubbed some more. He drew words on the shower glass door. Then he made squiggly lines, smiley faces, and even a duck. He got out and robustly toweled his body dry. He brushed his hair, dressed, and checked the time on his mobile.

14:47

It was getting late in the day and still not one idea had came calling. No matter how hard he tried, it was all for naught. He felt himself beginning to stress. The tension he felt in his stomach growing unbearable. His insides burned, tears welled up in his eyes. He was frustrated. His fists closed shut so tightly that he heard his knuckles. He closed his eyes and felt the warm dribble of a tear down his face. It was too much, this feeling of failure and loss of his ability. His chest felt like he was being squeezed, his shoulders hurt all the way up his neck.

He let out a scream of frustration and resignation and just hitting random letters on the keyboard

as;dlkfja;sldkfja;sdlkfna;wdljfhnqa;dfjahnsd;fjnwef’odsbnxc,amwehfo;i lwae;dfjawnsdv.zmb nr.fjm,aew

This wasn’t as cathartic as he had hope so he erased it and started again.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Zip Dingworth and this is the story of my life.

No. He have it another go.

Once upon a time, there was a hack writer and he was just so fucking useless!

He started once more but all he typed was

FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK AND MORE FUCKING FUCK

Then he typed

FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So many exclamation points. He highlighted the word and changed it to bold, then to italics, then to bold italics. Then he just erased it.

He hated this. Desperate, he wanted to just puke the first words that popped into his head but all he could type was FUCK. One final time, he deleted what he wrote and typed the first word that popped into his head.

FUCK

This wasn’t wholly original, he thought, but it would have to do. He tried to think of another word but blanked, so he thought of a number.

69

No, godfuckingdamnit! too obvious. Make it another number. With great originality, he wrote

70

He deleted it and rewrote it as

SEVENTY

So he had two words. He thought of another

WAYS

Ways? Can you show me the way to… and then he typed

TO

To where? Make up something, for Christ’s sake. Anything. Success? No. Omaha? God, no. He let out a sharp breath and closed his eyes. Rolling his head, he felt the ache in his neck from the tension. He slowed his breath. Allowing himself to calm, he began thinking of directions he would, personally, like to fuck. Breathing in, breathing out, he felt a calmness. His eyes closed, he began to just type the first words in his head. Words that could come naturally, words that expressed a concept as weird as fucking seventy ways towards it could be. He went for it: his fingers dancing sightless over the keyboard and finally hitting the ‘.’ with a resounding thump.

He opened his eyes and looked at what he had written.

FUCK SEVENTY WAYS TO TRANSCENDENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS USING THE LIMBO CHEDDAR TECHNIQUE.

He sighed dejectedly as his ringer finger began drifting towards the backspace key. He chuckled at the futility of the phrase. He laughed again when he realized the absurdity of what he wrote. It was all silly, but it felt somehow right. Something in the phrase sang to him and he smiled. He began typing.

Excuse me, miss. I have a favor to ask. This isn’t a pickup line. Well, maybe it is but it’s not that kind of pickup line. I’m a traveler between dimensions. And right now, I’m lost. In truth, I’m committed to an experience in this current form.

Recognizable sensations were firing in his head. It an electric prickle that he had almost forgotten had existed. As he continued typing, the hairs on his head stood erect. He was writing again and it was easy. The words rained unhindered the page. It felt triumphant, it was ecstatic, it was creation.

The Author had returned. He was writing again. It may not be the story but it was a story. And for now, that was good enough.

So it was that the Author continued writing well into the evening. And he kept writing more and more until finally he had reached

The End

Stolen Time Sunday

It’s 20:00 EDT as I sit down to write this. The D means “Damnit!” as we all tried to figure out whether we Spring Forward or Fall Back asleep. I know I could use that lost hour. I could spend it reading Proust’s À La Recherche du Temps Perdu. I’ve never read it before and I should like to before any further time passes. Regardless, whomever thought Daylight Savings Time was a good idea should be rounded up and shot. Okay, maybe not shot but someone should be outside of their bedroom every night playing “Flight of the Bumblebee” on a tuba. Which reminds me of a bad pun that I just made up…

Q: Can we do this?
A: Of Korsakov

I should stick to limericks.

If Proust is not to your liking, a much easier and quicker read can be found with this Harlan Ellison classic: Paladin of the Lost Hour.

– Doing It –

It’s been noted — by the Author hisself as well as others — that I have fallen off the Happy Wagon, that I am spending too much time in my head and being “too much the artiste, Herr Case”. This is true. I’ve been in a slightly worried state, finances being what they are and external stresses dribbling into existence. I’ve let them run off with my Fun and Creativity. As a result, I’ve slacked off the path and got my wheel stuck in a muddy gulch. No, I’ve not been a happy camper.

To remedy this, I’ve hard started my creativity up again, writing up to 2,000 word per day and working on a few other things like making disturbing doodles like this.

A doodle of some odd things I've created, including a spiderwoman, a zombie face, and a guy on a cross complaining that his foot itches.

Some days, this is where my eyes go. Then I take it into MS Paint and give it a good Paint Bucketing.

Additionally, I’m writing “1,000 shitty stories” (aka finessing my craft) so that I can submit and be published. We’ll see where that road takes me.

– What I’m Listening To –

I recently downloaded the BBC Radio app to my Android. I did it in anticipation of listening to the Hexagonal Phase of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but I’ve wandered off the plains and have been enjoying BBC Radio 3, as well as Radio 4 and 4 Extra. I used to listen to this crap all of the time on my laptop or computer, so it’s nice that I can now carry these stations around with me where ever I roam. Outside of a few very valued and valuable public radio stations here in the Queen City, our radio choices are either weak shit, runny shit, coiled shit, or shit sandwiches. I quite enjoy having intelligent radio.

– Neil Gaiman Is My Funk Daddy –

One of the things that significantly jump started this new bend was going to see the glorious Neil Gaiman speak this past Thursday. I know he’s very popular and tickets run out fast whenever he speaks at a venue but if you do get the opportunity, go see this man. Aside from being an amazing writer, he has a very subtle energy that inspires one to go and do incredible things. Take, for instance, his commencement speech at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 2012.

As he says, making good art is difficult but when the work is done, the results can be mesmerizing. One piece of art I recently created was a writeup of the evening’s events on the Cincinnati Bloggers page, which you can read here.

So there you go, my advice to you is to make good art.

– Cincinnati Eats –

Unwilling to spend all day today stuck inside making good art, I venture into town for a very late breakfast/late lunch/pretty much on time dinner at Skyline. Forget all of the bad things you’ve heard about Cincinnati chili. The naysayers and detractors simply have no poetry in their heart or love in their soul for a regional dish that warms your body as much as it nourishes your hunger. Yes, Cincinnati chili isn’t traditional chili, which is why it is so misunderstood. It’s a Greek-inspired meat sauce drizzled over spaghetti and topped with cheese. Some get it with beans and/or onions. To me, it is ambrosia. If you’re ever in Cincinnati, allow yourself this delicacy.

Afterwards, I stopped at the nearby Aglamesis Brothers. Say what you will about Cincinnati’s German history, its culinary roots appear to be in Greece. And while Oprah Winfrey has done all she can to promote that other Cincinnati ice cream establishment, many locals rave about this humble little ice cream parlor and candy shop.

With that, I’ll leave you with a photo of my scoop of Chocolate Almond and Pistachio ice cream.

Two scoops of ice cream, chocolate almond and pistachio, from Aglamesis Brothers.

Chocolate Almond and Pistachio. The nuts make it healthy

Yes, it was delicious.

Take that, Shawshank Redemption!

Walked the neighborhood in the night, it’s quiet save for the cars with loud stereos and loud people talking loudly on their phones. How can you be that loud and have that lung capacity?

Feel the wind begin to chill, it’s going to get colder. Feel the rain, take off my hat and my jacket, I’m in my undershirt feeling the chill rain drop on my clean head, on my naked shoulders. I’m being spit blessed. Unto this I receive your blessing, night cold rain wind.

The chorus of a song sticks in my head, I don’t bother to clear it out, just let it carry me, raise my arms in the way a boring ass hero baptized by rain is in all of those movies. That’s not how I’d do it.

EXT. ALLEY AT NIGHT.
It’s raining hard. Water gurgles from gutters onto the broken pavement, a forgotten alley, rain drops glistening the shattered glass and empty chip backs like a shattered disco ball. Leaves and muck dapple the uneven walkway to a 3×6 drain. Overfilled garbage cans receive the downpour, adding a sweet, sickly stench to the air.

The rain intensifies, litter, leaves swept up in the torrent flooding towards the sewer drain. A moment passes and part of the ground begins to buckle, a bump develops in the mud, growing larger and larger. Before long, it becomes a thick, viscous, organic veiny bubble. The rain beats down on it as it grows out of the ground. The bubble is rumbling, liquid inside. Something alive, something.

The cyst, for it is a cyst from the earth, the muck, the sad, continues growing, blocking the mud and water.

From inside, something is fighting to get out. It has to get out, panicked punches and kicks until the cysts bursts open, deflating as it empties blood, mucus, shit, vomit, everything. Sliding out among the sick, a pale naked body plops out, rolls over, and lays still in the filth, the mud, the debris of the alley. The body is hairless and still, on its back.

Is it dead?

It jerks violently, spasming, choking, until it rolls over and pukes its insides, the bile and gunk in its lungs, coughing, choking, shitting itself, piss dribbling between its legs. Exhausted, it collapses again unto it’s back. It heaves for air and chokes as mucus coughs up out of its mouth and nose.

It’s a boy!

He stares up. Rain illuminated by the street light drops on its face, looking like stars zooming past. The lights hurt his eyes Confused, scared, cold, he starts to scream, screaming out loudly until the screams turn into sobs, hard sobs. Sobbing known only by the lost.

Now that’s how you write a birthing scene.

What Fresh Hell

I’ve been a Doctor Who fan for over thirty years and, for just as long, a devotee of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. My fervid belief, consumption, adoption, and adaptation of these products in my life have been a part of my life for four decades. I’m not well read in the Classics, yet, I can rattle off an obscure Adamsian phrase like a shot. My schooling in philosophy isn’t much, so I rely on the wily cynicism found in Hitchhiker’s and the darker Who stories. I feel like a hollow person, if I really wear my self-deprecating brain. I’m a chocolate egg; delicious and enjoyable but nothing except stagnant air when the shell is cracked.

My writing is very florid and well-worded, and yet, I’m not a published author beyond freebies I’ve given to various websites in hopes of padding out a writing resume. Indeed, I sit here, mere weeks from the age of 47 and find nothing upon which to hold this foundation of Being A Writer from the wrecking waves of time.

In short, I do not write enough. And what I do write tends to be blisteringly self-critical. There is nothing romantic about writing, for sure. It can be a very difficult process, indeed, especially in generating ideas worth writing about. I sympathize with the renowned lady of letters Dorothy Parker when she opined, “I hate writing. I love to have written.” Terry Pratchett echoed this sentiment as well in a post on the Usenet group alt.fan.pratchett:

Here’s a tip, though. Successful writers don’t pass the MS around to all their friends after they’ve done five pages; they get a grip on grammar, punctuation and spelling (even if accurate fast typing escapes their grasp:-); if they work in a genre, they read widely outside that genre; they get hold of one of the vast number of books which, while of variable quality as far as actual writing advice goes, are usually pretty sound on the mechanics of getting agents, submitting MSS and so on; and they want to WRITE. Too many people want to *have written*.

Funny note, I actually tracked down the original Usenet post that the last, much missed, and very dead Sir Terry made on this subject. Usenet of old, I miss you. You were so much fun.

(Small brag but I apparently once made Sir pterry laugh using a catch phrase from the Goon Show.)

In our society, to be a writer, you merely have to write. To be a thinker, you think. To be a drinker, you run up a high bar tab. As long as you have ideas, you can keep going. And going. And write. And write more.

And so it goes.

However, I do need to take the imagery by it metaphors and write more. Every day. Not just wimpy, limpy little entries like this but something big and bold and brash and blonde. Perhaps, not blonde but alas, I needs must figure out a way to stuff my chocolate egg full of thick, rich, and creamy fortitude.

The words. Get them out. Make them work. Repeat. Here endeth this episode of The Impostor Syndrome.

And so we bleat on…