Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Personal History of the World

I'm a writer. I write fiction. That is to say, I make stuff up and slap it onto a page. If it's good, and if I'm lucky, a few people will read it and some of them will come up to me, or call me, or drop me a line and say, "Hey, that stuff was pretty good. I like your style, kid." It happens sometimes.

It's nice to have an audience, wonderful really, but it isn't the main reason I write. See, I'm foolish enough to believe that I'm actually creating something besides "content". I call it my personal history of the world, an imaginative appendix to reality. Inside my head it's nothing but potential; a swirl of chaos, invention, and intent, but once it hits the page it's fixed. Solid. It exists, and the more people who read it the more imaginatively real it becomes.


It all sounds so serious, doesn't it? I suppose it could be, if this was someone else's show, but I'm the demiurge atop this particular sub-creation and in my world serious is trumped by strange. In my world, the Devil plays poker in a cheap motel room with a redneck prophet who just happens to have the bones of the baby Jesus in the trunk of his car. In my world, a dying Edgar Allan Poe is the focus of a bizarre pilgrimage, while in a distant time in faraway Japan, a heartless bandit is sheltered from his pursuers by a beautiful trio of foxes. It's a world of war, in which a young man is afflicted by the hideous ghost of his brother and troubled by the unhappy inheritance of a gentle heart. A world where the heroes of the Trojan War reenact their eternal drama with bullets and blood on dirty, crime-ridden streets.

My world is serious, it's silly, it's real and surreal. Sometimes it's poetic and many times it's vulgar. It's countless different things, but it's one world and it's mine. I'm its historian and I'm happy to share it with you. I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Clockwork Betty

Here's a tiny piece of fiction I whipped up and sent to Matchbook Story. Homeboy didn't want it, so I figured I'd put it up here. I also received a pretty funny rejection via email (It was serious, but I thought it was funny). Unfortunately, I deleted it. This version is longer than the one I sent (300 characters apparently includes spaces) and is a re-imagining of a longer short story I wrote a few years ago. Hope you enjoy it.

Clockwork Betty

Two cops found her wandering naked in an old industrial park, no I.D., a serial number stamped in crematory ink on the small of her wrist: BETAy2k10. They covered her in a blanket and gave her a pen, hoping she could write, but ones and zeros were all they got, and her lids snapping up and down like shutters over her liquid crystal eyes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Writer, Be Stoked

This is what stoked me out as a writer- an oil
painting of the main character, Watanabe
Kenjiro, from my book Ghost of Iga. It was
painted by my friend Jason Cheeseman-
Meyer, and if you want to stoke him out,
you'll go to his website and check out his

If you're a surfer, then you know in your gut what being stoked is. You also know what an ephemeral experience it can be and how stubbornly it defies quantification. If you don't surf and you don't know, then I'll try and lay it on you: Stoke is an aggregate emotion consisting of a sense of mental connection and technical accomplishment, fused with unbridled joy and a certainty that what you've just done and what you may yet do are completely worthwhile, for the simple reason that you are doing it. There is no formula for stoke, unless it's You get what you give. If you don't meet it halfway, it'll ditch your ass in a hot second.

Believe me, I've surfed well in what some would call perfect conditions and had a miserable time. No stoke at all. And I've surfed knee-high slop with my friends and left the water beaming. I've also seen some really great surfers who sit in the lineup looking like they just drank the water out of a sewer pipe, and who nail every wave they want and never once smile. Of course, the reverse of all this is true as well. You get what you give.

So what does this have to do with writing? Everything. As writers, we all have a set of ideal conditions and a list of goals in our mind- money, fame, a sweet publishing deal, critical recognition, wide readership, whatever. Maybe they happen, maybe they don't. The few I listed are long shots for most writers- That's just how it is. However it turns out though, you should constantly seek a reason to be stoked. Otherwise, you should probably be doing something else.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Writer's Reverie, or Why I Won't Quit My Day Job

I don't really remember when it happened- It was quite some time ago- but there came a point in my writing life when I quit asking Why am I doing this? and started asking myself How am I going to keep doing this? The answer turned out to be Any damned way I can.

First off, let me just say that I hate manuscripts. They look like crap, they feel like crap, and the words trapped inside their barren pages hate them as much as I do. A story in manuscript form is like a bird in a chicken-wire cage: You should kill it and eat it or else set it free. I released mine into chapbooks and gave them to my friends.

Back then, fifteen years or so, it was just me, a sturdy little tank of a laptop computer, an inkjet printer and a bootlegged copy of Wordperfect. A ream of printer paper, a ream of cardstock, and a big-ass stapler. I was in love.

Things are different now.

For one thing, I'm a better writer than I was back then. Quite good actually, thank you very much. I haven't done a chapbook in a while either, though I've kept copies of most of the old ones, and I still have that big-ass stapler. Nowadays I have the internet. I upload files to create print on demand paperbacks. I create paperless PDF's that I've been giving away for free. I keep this blog and I find my way onto twitter and facebook when I can.

But the biggest difference? Back when I was making those chapbooks I used to think that it would be great to be picked up by a "real" commercial publisher. Now, I know that what I really wanted was to be able to play with their toys and dig in their sandbox. I've come to realize that I'm just not terribly interested in writing as a business. I'm not a merchant, I'm not a brand, and I'm not a commodity. And I'm still too in love with my own vision to have it any other way.