I went to Comic Con this year, joining two panels for discussions about villains and diversity, respectively. I can't describe exactly how nervous I was. I might have been so nervous that I became numb to the anxiety, but my friends could tell that I was shuddering. Marvelous.Read More
The sound of an alarm is shrill and sharp, and most people can't sleep through one. I don't have that problem—never have. Needless to say, I seem to have missed the switch from November to December. Even work was able to surprise me with things I hadn't yet done. (And work is one of the things I generally do impeccably.)
I've gone ahead and removed the NaNoWriMo update thing from the site since November is over. I didn't win, but I'm okay with it. The month of November was less productive than I wanted it to be, but it got me back on track. I'm more productive now than I've been in months. I've completed two short stories, started a novel that I'm flooded with inspiration for, and I've written a lot of non-fiction stuff.
Moreover, as January approaches, I'm going to be submitting a bunch of stuff to the OWFI Writing Contest. It's gonna make the convention this spring more fun. Honestly, if you're a writer in Oklahoma, and you don't go to the OWFI Conference, you're missing out.
A Murder of Storytellers is coming out with one anthology in January that I'm helping to edit! It's called Theater B. I want to get you excited about it, so I'll repost the blurb from the back of the book, which I wrote. Enjoy...and anticipate!
Evil Dead. Grindhouse. Brain Damage. Motel Hell. Night of the Comet. There are no conventions that the vanguard writers of these films wouldn't eschew. There are no rules that they wouldn't break. These maestros of the macabre took everything we know about horror and set it on its head, all for fancy's thrill. For them, there is no caprice too bizarre to indulge. No limits. No precautions. Just you, a story, and the wind rushing past you with the ground fast approaching. Oh, and your bungie cord isn't attached to your harness. Your evil hand must have loosened it.
Maybe the voice living in the zit on the left side of your nose can help. Why don't you ask her? Oh, yes—your zit is a chick. The incarnate ghost of your dead great-aunt.
Theater B is a collection of short stories written in the same vein as the classic B movies that we fell in love with for their utter lack of shame. They are orgasms of creativity, sluicing imagination from every orifice. They are monuments to the raw idea, bereft of filter, spawned to electrify, to terrify, and to nauseate.
Last thing. Look up! It's a new logo! It doesn't look very different, but you get special bonus points if you notice the sleek differences. 😉
Today, I was having brunch with my family when I came to the realization that three of us had berry lemonade drinks standing next to each other. One of them had been further away, but my niece's wild gesticulations risked the cup being hurled onto someone's lap. When all three were in a row, I decided they were an ensemble. The one that was about two-thirds full, I decided, called itself One-Third because “that's how empty it is.”
You may have to have been there. Still, it's not uncommon for people to perceive as empty-to-some-extent anything that isn't 100% full. It's a key element in clinical depression—negative apperception, we call it. It can be very sad to watch someone you love engaging in it.
Anyway, I've taken a bit of a break from NaNoWriMo. Not really a break so much as a pause. I have a lot of inspiration, but my self-critic is strong. When I stopped writing things that absolutely had to be written, I had difficulty continuing to write this new novel: a satire about contemporary American culture. I keep watching my word count slip away from me as the days in November pass me by unencumbered.
Today, I hit 10,000 words. That's one-fifth of the way to the NaNoWriMo 50k word goal. Four-fifths empty, if I let myself think that way. One-Third doesn't care that he's practically full. Shouldn't I be more concerned that I'm mostly empty.
Apperception goes both ways, and it requires that raw data be parsed by a conscious self. I can't choose my perceptions, but I can absolutely impact my apperceptions (with practice and effort). So, to keep myself from giving up, I'm telling myself tonight that I am one-fifth full. The proportion by which I have not reached my goal is only important insofar as I focus on it more than I do the proportion by which I have reached my goal.
I'm trying to be positive these days. It's hard, but it's practice I need.
Right after work, I came back home and poured out a short story for an anthology that should be coming out some time early next year. Is it excellent? Probably not. But this is NaNoWriMo, and the story was 1,888 words long. So not only did I make my goal for today, but I manage to create a pretty cool piece of supernatural gay erotica.
I want to share it so badly because I'm proud of the twist in the story. Part of me wonders whether I should use a different pen name for erotica. Then I remembered that I wrote a splatterpunk short story that is part of an anthology that I have promoted on this website. Overall, the latter story is significantly more horrifying to myself—as a person—than the former. If I'll put my name on a piece of splatterpunk, why wouldn't I put my name on a piece of gay erotica?
There's no good reason. That's my choice. I'm a writer. Moreover, I like to think of myself as the sort of person that can explore genres that make not only others uncomfortable, but that make me uncomfortable. And I choose to stand behind that work because I believe that art, literature, and expression in general should not be subject to the caprices of society. In fact, expression itself is designed to challenge what we believe to be good and just.
Pieces that challenge that which we know to be good challenge our moral worldview. They ask us to explore the good in us, the evil, and expose the extent to which we are willing to forgive those who do awful things. I think I capture this more extensively in the recent short story I wrote, “Xinsheng,” where the main character asks us to consider her terrible actions in the face of impossible odds. They force us to look at evil in context and to re-examine what we believe to be good.
I think it's good to be challenged. And I think it does a disservice to humanity if we fail to place ourselves in positions where we can be fairly criticized. So my name will go onto my gay erotica story, and it'll be promoted on this site without shame or fear.
A little trepidation, sure, because I think that a lot of people find the inherent complexity in human behavior to be frightening. And I'm ever-so-slightly concerned about being judged. But who isn't, really?
Sometimes you find yourself unable to really sit down and do anything productive. Yesterday, I managed a good word count for NaNo. An excellent word count, actually. Over 3,000 words in just one day. But that was a Sunday. My first Monday amounts to very many fewer words.
It's not the worst--I'm not that far behind actually. I am, in fact, ahead of where I need to be if I had only made the goal of writing 1667 words per day on November 1st. So there's that. Everyday is not the best day; that's my lesson for today. Sometimes, you just don't make your goal. Don't let that stop you. Forgive yourself and carry on.
Life made up of failures. But there are plenty of successes among those failures. Focus too much on the failures, and you'll be swallowed whole by them. Tomorrow will be a better day. Maybe not the best, but definitely better.
A great thing did happen today. Muzzleland Press wrote a review about Broken Worlds. I think it's fair to say that we didn't get 5-out-of-5 stars, but we did demonstrate that Broken Worlds is a quality piece of fiction from a new editor and a relatively new publisher. Every single time we produce something, we improve our ability to produce that thing. I'm honored by Muzzleland's willingness to review our work, and I expect that the next anthology will be better. Not because Broken Worlds wasn't, but because we should always be striving to improve ourselves.
I hope I'm improving myself until the day I die, both in the way I write and in the way I edit. And in all the ways that have nothing to do with my career in literature.