ss – Draft Six and counting


 

How many f&$king drafts is this short story going to take(interrobang). Seriously, I’ve been at this story all damn day, and my stomach is running low on tolerance for the chocolate snacks, even if they are the small-morsel types. When I’m done, I’m done. Speaking of done, however, the good news is that I’m almost done. I’m right there and I can almost feel the final edit.

There’s only so much time in a day and I’m reminded of that as it’s running past midnight and I’m here at the keyboard. When your life is over, that’s it. That’s all you get. No refunds, no collecting $200 when you Pass Go; nothing. So, whether writing’s your thing or it’s something else, make it work; make your life worth doing your passion.

The story’s about a little girl who lives in her own world despite the numbing effects those around her feel as they live in theirs. She is challenged when trying to follow the sweetness of her own concept of life while she feels an overwhelming resistance to taste the bitterness of others’ displeasure. Can you blame her? It’s come a long way; and we’re still moving. It’s midnight; onward I press.

How’s your writing coming?

 

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Arting Harder


If ‘to art’ is a verb (as Chuck is clearly using it), then what would be the past tense of ‘to art?’ Is it “arted?” Like, I arted in front of my wife last night while making chocolate chip pancakes? Does that really work. Well, Chucklodytes, guess what??

I wrote another 1,500+ words today! I arted so hard today, ’bout blew a fuse! It’s like those scenes in the old Rambo flicks where John Rambo (by complete happenstance, of course) comes upon a game-breaking automatic weapon and just fires until the smoke fills up the theater seats.

Yeah, that was how hard I arted.

 

You Do You


do-what-you-love

Another beauty from Mr. Wendig. When I read this this morning, I about crapped myself laughing. I love the way he puts it – art is art and there’s no one right way to do it. Just because others have done it one way does not mean that the rest of us have to do it that exact way. Just because some of us view a certain piece of art one way does NOT mean that the rest of us have to view it that particular way as well.

It’s a beautiful thing to know that when you do your art, you’re doing your art your way. Just as John Keats put it:

 

Beauty is Truth, truth, beauty; That is all there is to know and all you need to know.

 

Your art is your art. Some may like it and some may dislike it. In fact, some will like it and others will not. And if anyone criticizes you about your art, saying that it SHOULD look one way or another, or you SHOULD have done it one way or another, I agree with Chuck – they can go drink a Middle-Finger Frappacino.

Writing and publishing are two different games, and you should not go cry in a corner just because your stuff doesn’t get published. Your art was successful long before you tried to get it published – it was successful because you finished it, and you wanted others to read it.

Boom! Done. End of list.

Congratulations!

So here’s the deal. When it comes to your art, it’s yours. You own it. No one else. So, put your headphones in, turn the volume up, read Chuck’s wondrous words and again, be on your way.

(*P.S. Check out Chuck’s article below)

Have a word-filled 2016.

lp

 

————-

YOUR 2016 AUTHORIAL MANDATE IS HERE: BE THE WRITER THAT YOU ARE, NOT THE WRITER OTHER PEOPLE WANT YOU TO BE

By Chuck Wendig

 

That blog title is way too long, but fuck it.

A handful of weeks ago, some presumably well-meaning tickledick posted a comment here at the blog. It was a comment that I chose not to approve because, really, I don’t need your shit, Rando Calrissian. This blog is my digital house, and I don’t let strangers inside just so they can take a dump on my kitchen table, especially so we can all sit around, smelling it and discussing it. But the comment was a splinter under my nail, working its way up into the finger-meat. And then reading George R. R. Martin’s end-of-the-year message about not finishing the newest SOIAF also was something that crawled inside me and starting having thought-babies.

Being here on the Internet is a bit like hanging out on a clothesline — some days are sunny and warm, other days are cool and breezy. Some days it pisses rain and the wind tries to take you, and other days it’s daggers of ice or a rime of snow or smoke from a wildfire or some pervert streaking across the lawn and stropping up against you with his unwanted nasty bits.

Being on the Internet means being exposed.

You’re just out there. A squirming nerve without the tooth surrounding it.

That’s good in some ways because you’re exposed to new people, new ideas, new ways of doing things. You’re not an isolated creature here. You are an experiment being observed and are in turn an observer of countless other experiments, and that makes a subtle-not-subtle push-and-pull. But can also be erosive or corrosive — it can wear off your paint a little bit.

As a writer in particular, it has its ups and downs, too. Here, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a gaggle of ink-fingered cohorts who know what it is to do what you do. You’ll have a herd, a cult, a clan, a tribe. You’ll have smaller communities who know what it is you write or want to write, too, whether it’s young adult or epic fantasy or erotic sci-fi cookbooks. And here on the Digital Tubes, everybody is has an opinion, everybody is an expert. And that’s extra-true with writing. Other writers have their processes and their hang-ups and their wins and their losses, and they share it all. Which is, on a whole, a good thing. Information is good. Camaraderie is good.

That, though, can muddy the waters at the same time. This Person is doing This Person’s thing, and That Person is doing That Person’s thing, and Other Person is really loud about what WILL SURELY WORK FOR EVERYBODY (translation, will probably only work for people who are or are like Other Person). And advice gurgles up around your feet like rising floodwaters. Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t say that, don’t write this, this isn’t selling, that is a no-no, publish this way, sell that way, don’t publish that other way, drink this, wear houndstooth jackets with elbow patches, drink that, snark here, snark there, with a fox, in a box, wearing socks, eating rocks, with a bear, without hair, anywhere. We have a whole lot of writers trying to figure out who they really are, and in the process, do a very good job at also telling you who you should be in order to conform to their notions of who they want to be. To confirm who they are, it’s easy for them to also confirm who you should be, too. That’s not sinister. That’s just human nature. It’s easier to become something when others are along for the ride. And it’s also the joy of confirmation bias — what worked for me confirms that I WAS RIGHT AND SO YOU ARE A HEINOUS DIPSHIT IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW PRECISELY IN MY FOOTSTEPS. I do it. You do it. Most of us do, I think.

It then gets further complicated once you have readers. Or, Uber Readers, aka, fans. Because they, too, have opinions on you and your work. They will have opinions on your process. And it’s not that they’re wrong, it’s that they’re — no, wait, they are wrong, never mind. They’re totally wrong, because they’re not writing the stories. They’re right about what they want to read and when they want to read it, but not about how to create it. It’s hard to tell someone how to do their job. It’s extra-hard to tell them how to make their art. Because process and prose and authorial intent are all intensely personal to the creator. Personal and twisted further by the pressures of creation and the potential mental stresses that come along with it — remember, a great many writers and artists also suffer from depression or anxiety or other ghosts in the gray matter.

It’s not just one type of writer over another. This is true of new writers who are just finding their way. This is true of mid-career or mid-list writers who are out there in the wilderness surviving, not sure how to get out of the forest just yet. This is true of super-successful authors who are trapped under the magnifying lens of a massively public fanbase — the sun likely focusing into a laser-hot beam upon their foreheads. All artists of every level are exposed here.

Here, now, is the comment referenced at the fore of the post:

“There is no skill floor or ceiling to being a writer. Anyone who speaks a language, who tells a story, can write. To be published is a stricter process that requires an adherence to professional guidelines and to a standard of quality that is dictated by the publishing office. That you’ve been published so many times is no small feat, and I commend you for it.

But having read Aftermath and Blackbirds, I feel that there is…a laziness to your style that you seem to be either unaware of or have come to terms with. It’s difficult to quantify, but it gives me the impression that you don’t value writing as an art. As a job, certainly. But not as a form of expression. Because otherwise you wouldn’t spend 45-90 days on a book. A soul isn’t bared in three months. Professional or no, no book you truly care for should go from start to finish that quickly.

To know an art is to break established rules in the hopes of producing a truer version of your vision. And you certainly break the rules of writing craft. In the first three paragraphs of Blackbirds you’ve disregarded flow, used inappropriate comparisons, and introduced the main character through a mirror scene. And while these things are permissible, they are not the hallmarks of someone who cherishes what he writes.

Great writing seeks subtlety. It’s the words that are unwritten, the descriptions that are inferred, the meaning that comes across through the subtext of what is explicit that writing excels at communicating. But your writing doesn’t ask me to look within myself for answers. It asks me to look no further than the page. And that, to me, is a tragedy. Because we’re all capable of greatness. But greatness comes from being dissatisfied with how things are, and with pushing the boundaries of what you believe yourself to be capable of in order to achieve your absolute best. And even then, you won’t be satisfied. You’ll push yourself further in your next pursuits, because now you’ve touched on what you’re capable of, but you won’t be satisfied.

To release your books in such a short time frame tells me that you’re satisfied, and that breaks my heart.”

I tried for the better part of a week to conjure a more cogent response than “fuck you,” and I got as far as “go fuck yourself.” Like, I tried to go through it once and conjure point-by-point rebuttals — well, no, because of course I value art and art is not beholden to any timetable and it takes the time that it takes short or long and — but eventually my rebuttal dissolves into a gargled cry of “eat a bucket of deep-fried fucks, you squawking chicken-fucker.” With an added, “HOW’S THAT FOR SUBTLETY,” and then a crotch-grab as I cackle and yell, “CHERISH THIS.”

This is someone who wants his vision to be my vision. He has very explicit ideas about how art is made — ideas that, by the way, are provably false. (For writers in particular, looking at the daily word counts of famous writers is clarifying in its sheer variation.) Great writing is not one thing any more than great paintings are, or great music, or, or, or. The variation in art is glorious. The variation in the process that puts the art into the world is equally amazing. Music can be operatic, or punk, or dub-step. A sculpture might be an alabaster goddess or a bunch of fucking cubes stuck to a bunch of other fucking cubes. Food can be subtle and airy or unctuous and heavy or whipped into a foam or shoved between two buns (tee hee buns). Comedy can be a routine that takes years to write, or an improv session that took 30 seconds to conjure.

There’s no wrong way to do it, as long as you’re doing it.

There’s no timetable, as long as you’re taking the time.

Nobody can tell you how you do it. They can only tell you how they do it or what illusions they hold about the process — illusions that often wither under actual implementation.

They can offer suggestions. And you are free to take them, hold them up in the light, and see if there is anything there of value. And if there isn’t? Then you can fling it into the trash compactor on the detention level where it will be ogled and eaten by the one-eyed Dianoga.

That’s not to say there aren’t people you should listen to — a good editor or agent, a trusted friend, a beloved author. But even there, you want to find people who will clarify and improve your process and your work — not substitute it with something that isn’t really yours.

So, in 2016, I advise you to give your middle fingers a proper workout and elevate them accordingly to any who would diminish who you are, what you make, or how you make it. You don’t need to wall yourself off from it, but you also don’t need to be a sweater hanging on the clothesline, either. Get some tooth around that nerve.

Know who you are. Learn your process. Find your way. And don’t let anyone else define who you are as a creator, as an artist, as a writing writer who motherfucking writes.

Happy 2016, writers.

You do you.

*explodes in gory human fireworks*

 

Life, Transition, and Cats


I haven’t written a word in something like three weeks. Not one word – Three weeks! That’s insane.

It’s been an interesting time for me. Lots of demands on my time and I guess that’s just the way it is – that’s where life has me at the moment. Easy enough. I’m thankful for friends and the ones I can count on here. one of my best friends here reminded me that it wasn’t worth getting worked up over. What is, really?

The world is moving, and it’s almost as if I can feel it’s true speed for one of the first times in my life. But then I can step back from myself and see that what I really need to do is laugh at it all.

No need to get angry.

No need to react with discontent,

No need to engage the ego. Nothing every merits such an action. Yet my, my, my, how I feel myself doing it more often than I’d like.

One of my dearest guides has transitioned, passing from the physical back into the world of Spirit. The selfish side of me will miss him, of course. We get so trapped within our physical forms and come to rely on this false sense of ‘reality’ that once our physical tools come undone, we are suddenly useless. How far we stray from the Way of things in this place.

Wayne-Dyer-the-shift-599x357

Then again, where we are is precisely where we’re supposed to be, isn’t it?

Strange how I feel like I’m struggling to put the words down right now. It goes to show how the craft truly is something we must train, foster, and nourish.

How about this? I’ll start. You, dear Reader, friend, audience member, (if interested, of course) will give me the next line. Let’s see what we can do with this.

 

The Opener:

Cats. I had had enough. Jemma’s apartment was unlocked when I entered just after midnight, and I must admit, my good hand, the one holding the cleaver, was a little shaky. But again, cats…fucking cats.

 

Off you go, sling, dabble, dash, and do.

Andrew, I agree. Life is good.

 

 

 

Humans of Perth – by my bro (Jason Miller)


hopYou may have heard of or even visited the wildly popular site, Humans of New York. Well, my brother Jason has lived in Perth, Australia for the past …long time, and has come to be the man in the spotlight for the Land Down Under. I woke up this morning and received an e-mail from him, accompanied by the interview ABC News did on him a short while back.

As I understand the story, he started his project just by taking his camera with him on his lunch break and shooting different faces (with permission, of course). After hearing of Brandon Stanton’s method for the New York project, Jason decided to go a bit deeper with his lunch breaks. His Facebook site, Humans of Perth, has grown since he started and has attracted the attention of several major news sources, most recently (as mentioned above) ABC. Here’s a link to the report or click here if you’d like to listen to it.

First off, many pats on the back in congratulations to my bro, and secondly, I urge you to go ahead and check out his site on Facebook – Humans of Perth. What a great story and an inspiration to all of us – another lesson and a reminder to all of us to make the allowances for our curious heart. Go with it. Follow that path. Ask the questions. You have time. Take the risk.

Well done, brother.

 

Faëryn’s Journal (79) – Day IV: The Makings of a Party


interior

The opulence of the castle’s interior held its radiance as I trailed the wizard’s quiet steps. White walls shot into the sky of its insides, far outside the scope of my vision. I could not help but feel out of place here in these halls; my level of comfort had long been part of the body that was the forest, the trees, and the spirits within them. Although I was the guest here, my body was not right.

The echoes which drifted back to us were those of our footfalls, and they were more whispers than anything else – almost phantasms of sound playing games with my Elvin sense of reality. They existed only if I seemed to imagine them, and when they were not, I questioned whether I imagined them at all.

Upon my travels through the towns of men, I had learned of the word ‘chandelier’ – an arrangement of lights hanging from somewhere above. I did not know the reason for this ceremony, nor why the arrangement of the lights never followed any sort of specific pattern. At first sight, I remember feeling almost afraid. The only reason for such a gathering of luminescence in the High Forest was generally a fire, and one that bright was cause for alarm. Yet those in the world below were mere flickers of a candle compared to those hanging above us as we walked the halls in this place of sorcery. I looked upon them at first with awe in their arrangement. Stagnant glimmering things, they reminded me of the fireflies of my home – giddy spirits of flight and whimsy, which hummed through environments of positivity and celebration. But these were all clustered together, and they changed color, dimming from hue to hue in a progress I could not follow.

But they were floating. The lights were not made in the cities of man, but from some other ethereal material. They were simply hovering fountains of flowing light – and I was there as audience, captivated by their glimmer, their changing color, and their glittered mystical showers.

“My friend.” Heinekin was smiling in the glow of his long untarnished robe. I noticed I had stopped following him and had been led astray by the show of lights off to one of the two sides. Heiniken stood at the other side of a small stone bridge, under which flowed a calming white stream, the extremities I did not attempt to discover. I shook myself away and made my way across the bridge, rejoining my guide.

Several turns and archways later, we entered a room occupied by four others. “Here we are,” Heiniken said, stopping and turning to welcome me to pass him on the way inside. He gestured to an open seat at a short table made of red oak. The light caught the surface and it glimmered as I approached. I noticed the others standing in my periphery. They had risen as we came in. I made cursory eye contact, and brought my eyes back to the glitter-clad stone floor. I took my seat before I allowed my head to swivel in surveying of those seated around me.

“You sure that’s your seat?”

I looked up to the gentle growl of a voice. A swirl of fright rolled through me. Sitting across from me was a ~

KIra

“Dragon!” I yelled and the lightening of my reactions thrust me backwards. My seat dropped and my body slammed upon the unforgiving stone. I rose in a flash to my feet, the string of my bow pulled, but my hands shaking with the unsure arrow. Three trials later, just as I had the bow and arrow placed at the ready, they flung from my hands. They moved through the air, separated and lay lightly upon the oaken surface of the communal table.

“It’s not often that guests break my furniture during their first day here,” Heiniken said.

I looked up at him. His demeanor was wizardly – calm, implacable, and I was unsure as to how to read it. Some chuckles came from the table, then I looked down to find the wooden chair now in small jagged wooden pieces across the stone.

“Oh great Mielikki, dear, I’m so very ~”

He chuckled and I watched then each piece, great and small, reform and connect, and the chair in seconds was again standing just as I had found it when I walked in. “Now, shall we try again?” he asked. “Kira, since you’ve already initiated contact, perhaps you should begin.”

The dragon thing cleared its throat and stood. Its frame actually lowered as it stood erect. It’s scaly skin was a beautiful reddish orange, and its eyes were of the same color, but richer and clear.

“I’m Kira, and you needn’t fear me devouring you whole. I am a dragon, yes, but not a full dragon. Not exactly,” she said. “I’m Dragonborn. It should be enough for now that I tell you this much – that I won’t kill you. I’m new here as well.” She gestured to everyone around the table with a nod. “Everyone is.” There was a pause then and I wasn’t sure if she sighed then or was unsure as to what to say to me next. “I am pleased to make your acquaintance,” she said. She grunted and sat back down in her seat. It seemed that it was more the case that she sat ‘up’ in her seat, but perhaps it was a strange ritual of her culture to which I was simply unfamiliar. I was weary of such things; I have never seen those of this creature’s features. The others were human-looking and I felt more accommodated to their ways, but I took my time looking at the draonborn, not knowing what at all to expect from her.

The others went around the table introducing themselves. From the dragonborn there was Tom Cullen, a younger nondescript human. He seemed to me like a farm worker, one closer to nature, from the way he dressed. But it was his behavior that was the most unnerving. I have only found humans to be those I am unable to read. I’ve gotten better with my experience, although most of it has been at a distance. My interaction with them has not always been the most intentional. But this one made my insides strange, turning, different.

He spoke quietly with his eyes down, not to any one of us directly. efusing to focus on those who would listen to his words. His hands fidgeted with something as he spoke. I spotted it instantly as currency, human coin. His hand twirled it back and forth across his knuckles. But the coin moved seemingly without his conscious effort. He looked up and met my eyes once. He made a quick assessment of my face as his fingers allowed quick tickling of the round ounce of silver. He brought his knuckles together and the coin flipped back and forth from one hand to the next.

He straightened then, and smirked. He brought his hands up to his face, begging my eyes to watch. “Did you know that the skin,” he whispered. “Makes the best of masks.” In a fluttering of his fingers, he turned his hands back to me, showing palm and his hand’s obverse. The coin was gone.

“Malcer,” said the man next to him. His voice was grumpy and sounded like the grinding roots of dying elms. A wilted denim hat sat plopped upon the silver tufts which hung upon a young man’s face. His drab traveling robe in need of a good river wash spoke of a man who had known more of the road away from the city of man than the city itself.

“Faëryn of the High Forest,” I said. My voice low with my slight bow.

He grunted. “Been around there a few times in the last hundred years or so. I remember sharing a cup of cinnamon oak wine with your kind once. I was young then, helped out an Elvin friend with some issues with the leaves of the Grandfather Tree.”

I heard my home on this man’s lips and placed my hands together in an Elvin butterfly salute. “Your travels warm the land of my home,” I nodded slightly in the respectful gesture of this man I had never met.

He grunted again, “Cute little fella’” he said. “I was sorry to hear about what happened to your home. And your father.”

Fire grew within me.

“And I don’t think you had a chance to get out of it, if that makes any sense. You or your family.”

“How do you speak of my father like you knew him?” My reaction was swift, but caused by something that still played me like an elm flute.

The man shook his head and looked around the table briefly. “Heineken, I have reason to believe that not all present are understanding of the workings of a wizard.”

The wizard of the castle addressed me then, calmly. “No need to be so hasty for answers, my dear Sylvan. All in good time.” He handed the voice over to the last member of the table other than me, a burly tree of a man who greeted me only with the smiles of the sun. A light from above shone upon him, taking my focus off Malcer, his denim hat falling into the shadows. Heineken’s house was an animal under its master’s control.

“Blessings young traveler,” he said, his arms opening as he leaned in. Without the slightest hesitation his oaken arms crunched me into him and I was clung to his body with force. I yelped a bit and the pressure vanished as he pulled back and held me by the shoulders. “Oh Sweet Lathander, are you all right?! What’s wrong?”

“Elves,” Heineken cut in, “Mr. Thresh, are not accustomed to the necessities of physical touch as you are.”

The man turned back to me and guffawed. “Ha! Well, you have my apologies, young friend. I am Dolan Thresh.” He held a hand out, realizing it would be more accommodating greeting for my kind. Abashedly, I bowed my head and offered the butterfly greeting of my people with my introduction.

“It is by the grace of Lathander the Bright that we have shared this path. You have my sword, my blood, and my heart.”

There was an exhaustive sigh across the table. “Can we sort of push things along, please.” Tom Cullen was looking at Heineken pleadingly.

“Wizards, Mr. Cullen, are often want to enjoy a bit of human spirit,” said our host, graceful. “But yes,” he addressed the party as a whole, “we may continue after we hear from you, Faëryn.”

My words were few, but I stuck to the topic that I knew, wanting only to give the basics of who I was and the story of my arrival.

~

         “And now that you all are here, here is my task for you. Collectively, I’d like you to ensure the safe journey of a particular caravan. There is a family of royalty who needs to make their destination. They happen to be passing through some lands that are rather dangerous.” He looked around the table. “Their survival is something I am asking you to protect.”

“We were brought to you great castle in the sky so that you could tell us to protect people down below to get from one point to another?” Kira’s voice expressed another flavor of dissatisfaction. “I’m sorry,” she said, getting up from the table, the height of her form dropping a bit when she stood. “If you don’t mind, I’d rather just be on my way. Forgive me if I was expecting something a bit more of an adventure.”

“Please,” the great wizard said, raising his hand to her. Kira’s body lifted and was reset into her seat at the table. “Do sit down.”

When she was seated again, Malcer’s voice came through, his head shaking a bit. “The ways of the wizard; they never understand.”

“I beg you all to be patient,” Heineken said. “I am not finished addressing you.

“Let us begin here,” he said. He made another slight motion with both of his hands and, together, we were wrapped with beautiful green traveling capes clasped in front of us with a shiny golden broach – a serpentine beast eating its own tail. The end of its tail carried three small red stones, a deep velvet green one sparked in its eyes. It clasped in front, and each of us, I noticed, felt them, touched them, wanted to understand them.

“You are henceforth to be known as the Clan of the Mist, an explanation to which I am cannot now reveal. This broach is your symbol of unity, your safe ground, your bastion of community and trust. The caravan is your current task, not the full adventure to which I am asking you to commit. I am sending you forth, in no uncertain terms, into an unknowable future of both glory and misery. You will find yourselves risking all in search of your own personal glories, and with great reward, as natural law has it, comes the greatest of risks. From outside the circles of these trials, this very adventure own vision, both Death and Eternity will be watching. I have selected you for a grand and thematic journey, and it has taken me a good deal of strain upon my patience. But I am quite confident that I have chosen with an adequate degree of sapience.”

He looked over to Kira and gestured with an open hand. “Yes, my dear Dragonborn. Should you choose to leave now, and return the sanctity of your mundane life of prize fighting for survival, I will allow you to do so. You’ll not be asked for anything further, you will return to your life, and you will not hear from me again. This I leave as your choice.”

Heineken stopped then and waited, looking at her.

Kira said nothing.

“But should you choose to say,” he looked then at all of us. “I will accept this as your final formal declaration of acceptance, and there will no longer be an option to turn back…ever.”

None of us said anything.

“Well then!” Heineken smiled and opened his palms. There was a renewed light which shone then upon the entire table. “It pleases me to have you! Let this be your welcome from me and the entirety of my cloud home. You will stay for the evening and your entertainment and meal will be grand. You will leave at first light, and it will be as a party in whole.”

We dined, and some of us even laughed, we got to know each other a bit. There were words spoken, and in our own ways, we were still ourselves, yet we also knew that we had given ourselves to Heineken and this party. And the next day we would find out a small part of what that meant.

Writing is a Profane, Irrational, Imperfect Act


“Kill the perfect. Slay the angels. Fuck the gods.”

Chuck always seems to find the words.

To the writers, may you run toward your own success.

-lp

WRITING IS A PROFANE, IRRATIONAL, IMPERFECT ACT

Writing is a profane act.

I don’t literally mean in the FUCK THIS, SHIT THAT way (though for me that tends to be true enough just the same). But I mean profane in the classic sense: it’s a heretical, disrespectful act. Crass! Irreverent! Writing and storytelling is this… nasty task of taking the perfect idea that exists in your head and shellacking it all up by dragging it through some grease-slick fontanelle in order to make it real. You’re just shitting it all to hell, this idea. You have it in your mind: golden and unbreakable. And then in reality, ugh. You’ve created a herky-jerky simulacrum, a crude facsimile of your beautiful idea run through the copy machine again and again until what you started with is an incomprehensible spread of dong-doogle hieroglyphics.

The end result will never match the expectation.

You will never get it just right.

The idea is God: perfect, divine, incapable of repudiation, utterly untouchable.

The result is Man: fumbling, foolish, a jester’s mockery, a bundle of mistakes in tacky pants.

Nobody is good enough to tell the stories and ideas inside them. I mean that sincerely. The ideas in my head are shining beams of light, perfect and uninterrupted. And when they finally exist on paper, they end up fractured and imperfect — beams of light through grungy windows and shattered prisms, shot through with motes of dust, filtered up, watered down.

But sometimes that’s enough. Sometimes, a beam of light is still a beam of light no matter how diffuse it is, no matter how dirty the light, no matter how filthy the floor is that it illuminates. And when it’s not enough, you keep on trying until it is. Because eventually, it becomes that. The only reason it doesn’t become that isn’t a lack of skill or talent, but giving up before that lack of skill or talent shows up on the page. The only true failure is giving up and giving in.

I write this in response to a colleague who was talking on Facebook about the ideas in his head never matching the expression of those ideas, whether from a lack of skill or talent or intelligence. Thing is, it’s true. My colleague is right. Those things will never match. No matter how hard you try, because the only way to get our stories out of our heads and into your heads we first need to translate them into mundane language. And when you translate one language into another, you introduce imperfections, inaccuracies, misunderstandings. You move the Bible from Enochian angeltongue to Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English and you lose something vital — once, the Bible was about a guy named Dave who saved the Galaxy with his unicorn army. Now it’s blah blah blah something about “Jesus” and “loving one another.” Writing is always this: an adaptation of the sacred into smut. Dragging the divine out of his Sky Chariot and into the human dirt.

But me, I like that aspect.

I like making God into sausages.

I like dragging those angels down into the slurry, dirtying their wings, breaking their harps.

I like translating the beautiful celestial song and grunting it in our human chimp-shrieks.

Because that’s the only way it will ever exist.

Because if there’s one thing that is imperfect about perfection –

It’s that it’s too perfect to live.

It’s unreal. And I don’t truck much with unreality.

Writing unwritten is a promise unfulfilled. I’d rather make the promise and complete it badly than make the promise and never even try. A story untold is a life unlived. What’s the point? If you want to do this thing, you have to set yourself up against unrealistic expectations. You cannot combat perfection because perfection? That smiling, shiny jerk always wins. You do what you do, crass and irreverent as it may be, because committing heresy in the name of art is far better than huffing invisible God-farts and cleaving only to invisible philosophy.

We’re told to do no harm.

But sometimes, you have to trample pretty daisies to get where you’re going.

This also means setting for yourself realistic, reasonable metrics for success. A day’s worth of writing is a success. Finishing the thing is a success. Separate that out from the aspect of professional, business success. You can’t control that kind of success, though you can maximize your luck and that means first finishing what you begin. If you want to create? Create. If you want to write and tell stories, do that. Don’t give yourself over to unkind, cruel standards. Judge yourself fairly. Work despite perfect expectations. Those who try to master perfection will always fall to those who iterate, and reiterate, and create, and recreate. Art is better than philosophy. Creation, however clumsy, is always better than sitting on your hands and fearing what damage they can do.

Kill the perfect. Slay the angels. Fuck the gods.

You’re human. You’ll get it wrong. Everybody gets it wrong.

But getting it wrong is the only way you get close to getting it right.

How was the first weekend of 2015?


imagesThat was quick, wasn’t it? A flash insight into the workings of Time. As soon as the the ball drops and a new year is upon us, we always think about how quickly time flies. ‘Where did it go?’, we wonder. And somewhere not too long after that thought comes another thought, ‘Shit. I have to go back to work.’ And we do, and boom, before we know it, it’s over again. Another year whizzes by. And in another blink, another 20 years after that.

Oh the comedy of the Universe.

But what else can we do but enjoy each moment given to us?

My first weekend? Well, some of this, some of that. I wish I had more time with my wife. Yes, Love, I know we see each other every day, but hey, when I want more time, I want more time.

Her response is something like, “If you wanted more time with me, why did you play D&D for 10 hours?”

Let’s move on.

Had some pizza, read, a bit of prep, a bit of work,

What about you out there? How was your weekend?