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Eating Bees – a CW post


**Taken from L.P.’s Home Page

If you’ve never read Chucky’s stuff, he’s got a real way with words. He’s got a way with words the way Charmin has a way with toilet paper, or Lucky Charms has a way with rainbows, or MacGyver has a way with turning a shitty Chevy into a moderately useable vehicle. I’ve been reading Chucky’s stuff for the past few years and I must admit that he’s a fantastic source of writerly inspiration (see below).

This right here, is the usual stuff you can expect to find from this mastermind of writerly inspiration. He reminds us here that all writing advice is bullshit. There’s really no one way to make this thing work. You either, as Steven Pressfield argues in his book The War of Art, you either get it done or you don’t. It’s pretty much that simple. Yes, you can, like a wonderful podcast I listen to called Writing Excuses, take every microscopic area out of the field of writing and try to approach it that way. Some people function that way, and as long as they’re able to pin the tail on their word donkey, then who gives two pence about the other stuff?

Below I have attached Chucky’s Smile for the day. Go to his Terrible Minds site HERE to read it in the original.


If you want to be a real writer, like, a really real writer, a writer who does it right, a writer who is officially official and who will earn the respect of the rest of the tribe –

You have to write longhand. Forget your phone. Put your phone away. Your phone is just beaming nonsense into your head — telecommunications chemtrails. Real writers write longhand, on notes stuffed into secret underwear pockets. If you don’t have secret underwear pockets, then you are not a Real Writer. That’s just fact. That’s just science. You write your first draft on notes stuffed into underwear pockets, then you write your second draft carved into a fundamental surface: driveway asphalt, a granite countertop, the stump of an ancient and magical tree. (Hemingway once famously carved THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA into the back of an impudent busboy.) When that’s done, eat some bees. Because writers, Real Writers, definitely eat bees. Writers also all have English degrees, or they all die. It’s like water to fish. We need it to swim.

Also, kill a goat. TRUE writers kill goats. But you gotta kill the goat in a real specific way. You have to get a goat, then yell into the goat’s ear the full text of your first rejection letter. You scream it into the goat’s ear at top volume, then as the goat is reeling from the disappointment borne of such rejection, you seize the moment and snap its neck. (Though Edith Wharton famously dispatched her goats with a blunderbuss full of dynamite.)

Of course, none of this is true.

Because all writing advice is bullshit (though bullshit fertilizes). I’m writing this thing because once in a while we are treated to missives from well-meaning expert writers who have come to believe that The Way They Write is the Only Way To Write, because their process has been tainted by the strong smell of Survivorship Bias. “I survived this way, and so you must, too.”

There exists no one way to write any one thing, and as long as your writing has a starting point and an ending point, I think whatever shenanigans go on in the middle serve you fine as a process as long as it gets you a finished book heavy with at least some small sense of satisfaction. If you’re not finishing your books, you need to re-examine your process. If you’re not at all satisfied with your work, then again: re-examine that process.

And that’s it.

Everything else is just picking out drapes.

If you need a handy flowchart reminder, here’s my ARE YOU A REAL WRITER chart, written by me and designed by Rebekah Turner. Feel free to share!

Don’t care how you have to keep yourself honest. Don’t care how you have to do it. You just find a way to keep writing.

lp

P.S. If you’re in need of the right tunes to get your fingers plopping along the keyboard, feel free to slide over to this week’s BEAT.

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Graveyard of Rough Drafts


 The motto is perfect, and it’s not mine. Hit your deadlines, finish your shit, try very hard not to suck. Wendig has talked over and again about the idea graveyard of first drafts. I have this idea and I like it, but recently I just haven’t been feeling into it. Rothfuss puts it succinctly enough: Sit your ass down and write; no one will write your story but you.

Yeah, well that’s what I believe myself to be facing – the rough draft graveyard. Sure, there’s this voice in my head that’s holding up signs and banners, proudly proclaiming that there is no need for me to worry because I will, one day, get to it, and when that one day comes, there will be no stopping me.

Yeah, I hear you – proud, obnoxious, voice of annoyance.

That’s a lie. It’s one I’d like to believe, but a lie all the same.

It’s not likely that I will come back to it. I know this because I keep a writing folder with all of the things that I’ve started – all of these “almost ideas” or “half-way nourished ideas” just sitting there. I wonder if anything would change within me if I renamed the folder ‘Graveyard’. There’s Mr. Proud again, telling me that it’s not a graveyard, because that word suggests that there is no bringing them back to life. This is true, and I’ve consulted with Mr. Honesty and we’ve come to an agreement. Once they go in there, they’re not coming out.

The realization for me is more about honesty. I mean, when I commit to something, I need to commit to it.

But Wendig has also said one other thing when talking about the Graveyard. That is – if you absolutely must bury something, at least use some of the parts. Use the ideas or concepts or scenes or something within a new work. Use all that energy. Don’t just put in all that energy and not get something out of it.

So that’s where I am now.

I’ve been playing quite a bit of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag of late and I have this idea of a pirate story…and it may just include some pieces from the graveyard.

 

 

 

** Thanks to 9x2english.blogspot.com for the image. 
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You’re going to die


I’ve told you about how much I love Chuck Wendig in the past. This is another example of his stuff. He writes all the time and is one of my prime inspirations in the writerly life.

I haven’t written in a bit, but it’s still there and I’m still at it, tackling the big piles of the distractive life as it fires it’s photon missiles at me when it thinks I’m least expecting it.

This post is a reminder, Penmonky style, about living for the moment.

There is no such thing as later/tomorrow/the future/ afterwards. There’s only now.

I know you know this, but we’re always the cocky fuckers who forget and think we have time, which is never the case, is it? It’s always Father Time who’s got us, by the nethers…the perv.

lp

YOU ARE TOTALLY GOING TO DIE

Many Broken Graves
Over there? That’s your gravestone.

It’s there, on the hill. Or in the valley. Maybe under a cherry blossom tree or by a babbling creek. Or maybe you’re a sack of kitty-litter-looking ashes on a mantle somewhere. It doesn’t much matter because, drum roll please, you’re dead.

Or, rather, you’re going to be dead. One day.

No, I’m not threatening you. I don’t have to. Life paired with time have together earned that pleasure. Unless you’re some kind of vampire, you were born with a ticking clock whose watchface was turned inward so that none can see it.

You are totally going to die.

I’m not Miriam Black. I don’t know when. Might be 50 years from now. Or ten. Or ten weeks, days, minutes. I certainly don’t know how. Cancer might juice your bowels. A hunk of frozen shit might fall off a 747 turbine and crush you in your recliner. Bear attack. Meth overdose. Choke on a hot wing. Stroke. Heart attack. Robot uprising. No fucking clue. And I don’t want to know the specifics. I don’t need to know the specifics because we are all given over to the universality of a limited mortality. The one aspect of our lives that is utterly and irrevocably shared is death.

That’s grim shit, I know.

I’ve spent a goodly portion of my life worrying about death. Or, more to the point, about how it’ll get me. I picture death less as a comical specter and more as the black dog of myth, always hounding my steps, ducking out of sight as I look for it, but always regaining my scent and waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Sometimes this manifested as a kind of hypochondria, a condition no doubt exacerbated by a Reader’s Digest Medical Guidebook I found in my house when I was around 10 years old, a book whose graphic flowcharts aimed to help you discern the truth of your symptoms — though of course they usually ended up convincing me I had some kind of rare tropical doom parasite. (For a while I seriously thought I had worms in my face. For no reason other than my teeth had left marks on the inside of my cheeks and became convinced that these divots were WORM TUNNELS. So, y’know, thanks Reader’s Digest.)

If it wasn’t hypochondria plaguing me, it was sheer existential terror. The realization that one day everything I know and everything that I am would one day hit an invisible wall and drop off into a deep, black sea trench, never to be reclaimed. And maybe never remembered — after all, all those who care about me would one day be dead, too.

I know. WHEE, right?

There comes a point when all this either was going to keep pinning me to the ground like a heavy boot or it was going to be the thing that I could push past or even use as a springboard to fling my dopey ass forward. One day it occurred to me that this revelation about death could be viewed as something representative of freedom. A grim, unruly freedom, one with a somewhat grisly underpinning, but freedom just the same. Because we all share this thing. We all share the reality of an impending death. We are all dying. Right now. All part of a cycle of birth, life, decay, death, all part of the washing machine tumble of chaos and order, structure and entropy, light and dark.

None of us — not a single one — are promised tomorrow.

We share that because we share the possibility of death.

But we share something else, too.

We share This Fucking Moment Right Fucking Here.

This one. The one with the masking tape across it and the permanent marker signifying:

NOW.

We all get now.

We all get the moment in which we exist.

A lot of you are writers. (Or “aspiring” writers, a term I hate so bad it causes a sudden chafing of my testicular region as if some surly ghost were rubbing a spectral bootbrush against my nads even as I sit here and type.)  And whenever I talk to writers and we get down to the nitty gritty of what they’re doing or hope to one day accomplish, they’re often mired in a sense of fear. Paralyzed sometimes by the what if’s and the big blinky question marks that look as much like a swooping scythe as they do a piece of punctuation. And a lot of writers are forward-thinking or future-leaning, expecting that the day will come that everything will work itself out and life’s magic highway will present them with an endless series of green lights…

…and they’ll finally get to do what they want to do.

My father lived his life in preparation for his retirement. Set everything up so that he could retire a bit early, move out West, and live his remaining years with the pleasurable, simple life for which he had waited. Of course, he died a few years into that retirement — so, while he had the privilege of living some of his dream, it sure wasn’t much when seen in the shadow of an entire life prepared for it. Too little time in the sun, too long in the anticipation of it.

Writers, artists, anybody: you are not promised that time.

You are promised right now.

I’ve said this before and I like to give a lot of these go forth and do it, please excuse my Doc Marten firmly ensconced in your spongy squat-grotto talks, and this one probably isn’t all that different from things you may have heard me say before. But it’s a thing I sometimes like to remind myself, and since this blog is primarily me-yelling-at-me, it’s a thing I’m going to remind you about, too.

You’re going to die, writer-types.

But you have now, right now, so use it.

And you may think that this advice for the aspiring-types only, for those novitiates on the Sacred Penmonkey Order, but it’s not. It’s for you story-seasoned word-brined motherfuckers, too. Because writers with careers short and long, we sometimes get a little lost in the weeds. Lost in things outside of us. Trends and markets, industries and Amazon rankings. We find ourselves jealous of other writers or fearful of the uncomfortable arranged marriage between the forces of art and commerce. Sometimes we forget that we have things we want to do, stories we want to tell, and we lose that in that the briar-tangle of uncertainty and anxiety and existential unease. Because just as we can as humans worry about the very nature of our existence, we can worry about our existence as writers, too. We worry about how long we’ll be allowed to do what we do. We wonder when someone will figure out that we’re stowaways on this ship, imposters at this party, strangers in our own chosen lives.

None of that really matters. I mean, it matters in little ways — in intellectual, commercial ways. But it doesn’t always help you to tell the tales you want to tell. It doesn’t always force that quantum entanglement between your ass molecules and the chair protons so that you can create some motherfucking art quarks, does it?

You can’t control a lot of the things you’re worried about.

You can maybe adjust them, or nudge them.

But you can’t control publishing. Or the audience. Or bookstores.

You can’t control whether a fridge-sized shit-glacier will drop off a plane and kill you.

What you can control is the height of your chair. You can control a little of your comfort as you sit at the desk — or stand, if you prefer. You can control which word processor you use, or which notebook you prefer. You can control what words you put down, in what order, and what story grows up from those words. You can control the work. That’s yours. Everything else is open to your occasional influence, but the one thing you can control is that you are writing this book.

And you have that control right now.

In this moment.

Not tomorrow.

Not in ten years.

Because you don’t know what happens then.

You do know that one day, it’ll all be over. And I can’t speak to what comes after — Heaven, Hell, Hades, Happy Hunting Grounds, Toledo — but that’s not the point. You don’t live for the end. You live for the moment. You live for this thing you want to do.

So, do it.

Right now.

You’re temporary.

Use that to create something permanent — or, at least, closer to permanent than you.

Let death motivate you. Let your inevitable demise impel you forward.

Go. Create something. Be the best version of yourself. Now. Here. This very second.

While you’re still alive.

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Mosquito Gun – Part II…err III


All – 

     Mos-Gun III is up. If you’re not sure what it is, this is my short story done in 200-word increments with others who are in the make-a-200-word-story-in-200-word-story club. AnyWHO, Part II was proffered by my good man, PaulfNY (signaled by the aster*sk) Rock on, brother. To the rest of you, have at it. 

LP

___

Mosquitoes suck. Fact. I’m not just talking about their physical abilities, but more of how, well, how sucky they are. I cannot stand the little flying dicks. But I can’t be the only one who feels this way. In fact, I’m going to make sure that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Because as much as I hate mosquitoes, I hate large groups of people even more. That’s why the mosquito gun is the perfect invention, and I promise, the one I have in the basement is the only one around.

            The concept is pretty simple. I’m using something I hate to piss off another something I hate. In this way I can have two things that I hate hating each other at the same time, thereby bringing me joy.

            The process itself has taken me long enough – a few years at least; I don’t know, really. I lost count. But I’ve basically just collected a shit-ton of mosquitoes, frozen them and threw them all into this huge vat. Then I load them all up into these tubes, full, I mean chock full – almost like a European mosquito soccer match. They’re all pinned in there, trying to fly around. All they want is to get out. They’re pissed – just how I want them. 

*So, I’m out on the street now, and I’m ready to start using my gun.

My first target wobbles into view. It’s that fat obnoxious prick that manages the local supermarket. I’ve had more than a few run-ins with him. Payback time, now. I level my Mos-Gun and let rip. One fat mosquito squeezes out of the barrel and goes racing towards him. He bats it away at first, but it turns out that thing is pissed!

It zips up and down, darts in and out and pretty soon, blood is seeping from hundreds of little bites and the fat prick is screaming. I feel an excited tightness in my chest and squeeze off more rounds. They surround him in a cloud and soon, his body slumps to the ground.

Fuck me, it works! I wander down the street, indiscriminately loosing more and more mosquitoes at my enemies. People run screaming, banging into walls, cars, falling over in the street…it’s wonderful.

Then, on the horizon, a figure appears, the sun at his back. He pauses on the horizon, his fingers twitching over something at his side. My stomach drops as I realise it’s a huge can of RAID.

 

**I can see some sick smoke steaming off of shoulders of this no-named vigilante’s silhouette. I feel myself take a deep breath. How is that I’ve created the perfect weapon only to be knocked out cold this early in the game? But I don’t have the luxury to take my time with choices. The man’s on the hill has spotted me and has leapt in to a dash toward me.  Fuck.

            Now what?

            The goofs I left on the pavement in my own concocted swarms of mosquito-army syrup are starting to stir and get back up.  Their moans will soon turn into curses and flying fists. Not good. Time to leave.

        Well, if he wants me, he’s gonna have to work at it. I wait for him to close in within reach before I pump out the last few hundred frenzied mosquito drills into the air around him. This slows him, and it’s just the time I need. He’s procured a hidden can of RAID and holds a constant spray, spinning, trying to hit them all and catch me at the same time. But my little blood-sucking buzzard battalion take as many hits as they can before they go down. 

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Wendig Flash Fiction – 200-word Intro


Hey all – Chuck Wendig’s throwing out a weekly 200-word flash fiction challenge.  Thought I’d toss out my first 200 words.

-lp

Mosquitoes suck. Fact. I’m not just talking about their physical abilities, but more of how, well, how sucky they are. I cannot stand the little flying dicks. But I can’t be the only one who feels this way. In fact, I’m going to make sure that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Because as much as I hate mosquitoes, I hate large groups of people even more. That’s why the mosquito gun is the perfect invention, and I promise, the one I have in the basement is the only one around.

The concept is pretty simple. I’m using something I hate to piss off another something I hate. In this way I can have two things that I hate hating each other at the same time, thereby bringing me joy.

The process itself has taken me long enough – a few years at least; I don’t know, really. I lost count. But I’ve basically just collected a shit-ton of mosquitoes, frozen them and threw them all into this huge vat. Then I load them all up into these tubes, full, I mean chock full – almost like a European mosquito soccer match. They’re all pinned in there, trying to fly around. All they want is to get out. They’re pissed – just how I want them.

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Efficiency


Heart            Max sat amongst the dead, whistling to himself. There wasn’t must else to do during a hollowing . After all, it was punishment and, like the rest, he just had to do his time. But his whistling wasn’t out of boredom, but a natural reaction  to deal with the frustration of having to wait for Aiden.

If he could have, he would have reading material, or a game, something. But this was punishment. Their crime was arguably trivial, but technically yes, it was illegal. But that was over. Here they were being punished, and punishment meant no reading, and no games. None of the usual Federally regulated distracting were allowed during a hallowing. The condemned would sit there and do it.

A clinking came to his ears from awkward around the corner and Max lifted his head just as a bearded man emerged leading with a small bag. He stepped over several bodies, blank-staring and bloody, before saying anything.

 

“Just where I left ‘em.”

 

“Right, Aiden, just where you left them,” he started. “How about just where I told you they’d be. Our penance wouldn’t be so bad if we could just get our work done every day and be done with it.”

“What are you talking about? What do you think we’re doing?” Aiden let the whited bag fall atop the blank stare of a lifeless balding man, his dress shirt and salmon the heavily splotched with what had leaked down from a deep gash in his neck. Aiden bent over the bag and removed two pairs of gloves and a clatter of long-bladed knives. One more reach and out came a large folded canvas bag.

“I’m talking about efficiency,” said Max, standing and moving toward his partner to collect his gloves and two blades. “I’m talking about you actually doing what you say your going to do and bringing the shit we need when we need it.”

Aiden stood and sighed deeply, talking casual glances at Max as he donned his gloves.

“ ‘Snot all that bad,” he said, bending again and unfolding the bag. “I mean, what do we have here, “ he said, looking around and holding the bag open toward Max. “A buck, maybe two.”

Max raised his brows and turned his palms up, hoping the how-is-this-not-making-sense message would get across.

“Two eighty, Aiden. Two hundred and eighty. And we pay our time down by the body, not the minute, remember? So the more time you waste, the longer we have to wait.”

Aiden was silent, still holding the bag open toward Max.

“See?” Max said, pointing a frustrating finger at the empty bag. “This is a perfect example. We’re supposed to hollow close to three hundred today, right? But my “partner” is holding the bag open to me.” With gloves and knives in hand, Max did his best to make air quotes. “So, you’re suggesting that I do the hollowing hand you just sit there and hold a fucking bag open, right? Efficiency, Aiden! Ee-fish-en-see!”  The last word, emphasized with syllabic slaps with the back of one hand into a the pam of the other.

“Fine,” Max went on, realizing the futility of his partner’s enlightenment without adequate demonstration. With a plunge of blades downward, the chest of a body at Max’s feet, an adolescent girl, slender and blonde, cracked. Max dropped to his knees and tore at the flesh, cutting with a long blade and prying with fingers.

Ribs cracked and Max’s gloves were soddened as he dug into flesh. When he could reach, he made several slices with the blade and dipping into the sanguine chamber of the body, Max removed the girl’s once beating heart and tossed it lightly into Aiden’s open bag.

“That was Example A, “ Max said. “Now, Example B. Drop the bag.” Max pointed to the ground at his partner’s feet, and Aiden complied.

 

The next few hours had Max and Aiden punching through chest cavities of human flesh and filling the bag in the room with soft wet tosses.

Max heaved a sigh at the final toss and handed his carving tools back to his parner.

“And that’s it, my friend,” he said to Aiden. “All two hundred and eighty of them.”

It took several minutes to pack up their things, and lock themselves in the nearby hermetic chamber – a side room with large square windows allowing the operators to visually observe the waste disposal.

Aiden and Max sat in front of the windows and two large screens, each sprinkling their keyboards with their own respective tappings.

“Sealing us in,” Max said. Two more taps on the keyboard and the seal was an audible set of snaps in the room.

“Waste removal engaging,” Aiden followed. Two red lights began to twirl in the wide room dusted with heartless bodies. Then, there was a large crack in the far wall, and the floor began to drop away from the room with a robotic rhythm, revealing the black universe beyond.

Through the portal, Max watched the bodies empty into the ocean of space. Another day of waste reduction.

“Aiden?” Max asked.

“Yeah?”

“Where’s the bag?”

Silence was the reply, and seconds later, Aiden came to the portal and joined him. Amid the floating frozen bodies, a small canvas bag twirled amid a small cloud of human hearts.

“Any questions on today’s lesson?”