bITS 'N CHUNKS
This is another from my FB challenge a while back and I'm not gonna lie, I love this story because it's sordid and cynical (and not representative of what I actually think, please don't come for me) and it marks the point where my writing shifted from cool & calculated to not giving two fucks. It's very stream of consciousness and I fully admit it makes no sense. It's very...Chuck Palahniuk? As much as I love it, I've also never had any real desire to shop it around anywhere. It's not bad and it's not TOO weird to make it somewhere, it's just one of those things I'd rather share for free and be on with it. I think it's because it's a little too early-aughts quirky, it feels like one of those "started from the bottom now we here" stepping stones to me being able to control my language. But looking back it's the surreal, cinematic direction I ended up taking. I feel like every few years I try to ape myself. It is very NSFW for language & sexual content.
Ia, ia everyone,
So, I finally did it. I reached the end of yet another torturous short story. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it but ideally I'd like it published to a wide audience. I'll talk about this story again in a few weeks, but for now let's talk about the process of getting it done!
I don't write a whole ton about my writing process because...well. I don't do a whole lot. I keep my notes orderly and everything, and in an easily accessible place, but...usually my ideas spring forth from an idea. A song. A memory. Some shit I just want to make weird. I've tried to make my process seem more prim and writerly but my brain just don't function that way. I do not fly by the seat of my pants, but I do ride down the street on my bike with no shoes & no helmet. See?
So, first let's talk programs:
I used to use Evernote, but after they got freaky with their privacy regulations (as anyone that eventually allies with Google is wont to do) I switched back over to Microsoft OneNote. OneNote is robust enough for me and I KNOW MS is probably selling my private information so no surprises there.
Here's how my typical space looks like. I have OneNote on my phone and my desktop and I frequently use the web version. I think it's important to note here that I have pretty bad joint pain in my hips and wrists which often necessitates laying the hell down.
As you can see, I don't get too fancy with it. When I color code thing it's mostly for fun. The big chunks of space missing are super seekrit projects and what not.
Anyway, I'm trying to get a little better at organization. With OneNote, I can keep better track of my revisions. For example, I had 3 versions of one story saved at one point because I was taking bits and pieces from each copy and creating a new one. Like majolica.
Now the real reason I would do that is because I'm a huge fan of deleting things. Sweep that right on out! If it's bugging me, troubling me, that means the story is not going in the right direction. Take a break from it and delete a couple pages, see if you really miss them.
My usual mode of writing used to be heavy on purple prose but the older I get the more I want to tell all the truth, but tell it slant. I'm trying to get to a point, you know? I can say that point in a nice way. In a kind way. In a mean way. But my issue was always just getting to the purpose. Focusing on short stories has helped me a lot in this regard. I can still turn on the flowery poetry but I save that mostly for fanfiction or bumping my NaNo word count up a bit. I don't hate it, I just don't do it anymore. Jeez, I guess I'm one of those dreaded postmodernists now. But then I ask, when exactly is too much prose too much? Who am I writing for? To what am I writing?
I'll end this with an little example of how my thought process goes with this newly finished story. I haven't given it a title yet. But according to my time stamp in OneNote I've been working on this for roughly 4 months (since February 27).
Here is the opening from the original draft:
Dario kept fiddling with his cheap cameo ring. The gold plated band was tarnished and the ghostly white image set in black was dingy and scuffed. It really looks more antique than it is, he thinks, and that's pretty cool.
It's all he really wants to focus on, not his friend being slowly lowered into the ground on this drizzling, damp, suffocating afternoon.
A man stood at the head of the casket, dressed in heavy black robes and gloves like the others. Dario thinks he must be a minister but this gathering was secular as far as he knew. There wasn't even a wake or a visitation.
His skin is golden brown and his face weathered by age. He might be much younger than he appears, though. He has a leather bound book that showed the wear and tear of age and countless openings, but Dario thought the cracks resembled a symbol he's seen before. If it was what he thought, Cherise had them all over her house. From the prints on the couch to the soap dispensers in her bathroom. Just all over the damn place. She'd become damn near obsessive about it towards the end of her life.
"And now we lay to rest the body of our beloved sister of mud, and bring her home." The man's voice baritone voice boomed; definitely clergy, Dario thinks. "Though she has swum away from all this world's pain and suffering, may she return to us…"
And here is what it became:
These strange, bougie looking people from the small Mississippi community had rented a church out and re-dressed it with black drapes secured with gold ropes like royalty had fallen, and the same strange white symbols Dario's always seen in Cherise's house.
The ushers were draped in black cloaks like sculptures that repulsed their master. They stood still in the aisles with their heads tilted up and their arms out. They were humming so low and deep Dario thought his pew might be vibrating.
Dario keeps fiddling with his cheap cameo ring. The gold-plated band was tarnished and the ghostly white image set in black was dingy and scuffed. Cherise had given it to him a year or so ago, claiming it was true vintage ‘60s piece from an antique shop. It's all he really wants to focus on, not his friend's body resting comfortably in the long rectangular stone casket. The lid was engraved with the symbol. He supposed it looked a bit like a tree surrounded by a jagged circle. Was it fire? When Thad asked Cherise about it last, she said simply that it meant you belonged to somebody.
What do you think? Right or wrong, the second version is more satisfying to me. Yes, the first version sets the setting. It's very descriptive. You get to know characters without them saying too much. I firmly established we're dealing with a black gathering. But what led me to the second version is asking myself questions: how much does the protagonist know about these people? Considering his actions later in the story, how much is he going to get to know? How serious does he take this? Basically, the tone didn't match my goal for the first version and it was taking a long time to get started without doing a whole lot.
Another so you can see what I mean:
"Excuse me," he called, rain splashing his lips. "Excuse me!"
The clerical man was not particularly tall and certainly only an inch or two over Dario, but he looked clear above him then down, as if a child had gotten his attention. Up close, Dario feels like he's seen him before. His angular features and black hair with tufts of pure white are so distinctive he must have, but he can't think of where and when.
"How can I help you?" the man said. Even his whisper reverberated in the small space between them.
"Is there going to be a repast at her house?" Dario asked. "I haven't been told anything."
The man tilted his head up just so he could peer down at Dario.
"I thought I could go pick up some of her belongings."
"They will see to that," the man said. "Whatever they leave behind you can have. But do not remove anything with this on it."
Again, this is frustrating because it's serving a function yet somehow not. Why is there so much dialogue? This is a close friend of hers and she died suddenly, there are no items to get post funeral. We are already at the funeral where we should be. This was omitted completely.
You might be thinking, damn that's a lot of good material to leave on the cutting room floor. But that's what it's for. Keeping my revisions means I can repaste them in as I find necessary, but when I breeze through the whole story I don't really feel like I need to. I create big, expand, then widdle it down little by little until I've told all the truth, and told it slant.
What's up everyone,
Today I present you with maybe my personal favorite short story I've written to date haha. This was published back in 2013 in a web zine called Razordildo that is no longer with us, but with a name like that you can imagine what they published. WEEEIRDO isht. I loved it and I loved writing this, I just wish it had a better ending. I've been really thinking about re-working it or doing a Similar But Better but I don't know...the words seem to be ironclad? In short, I can't fuck with it. Please be warned it's a bit NSFW for sexual content.
What's up everyone,
This story right here is from a flash challenge I did with a friend on Facebook a few years back. I wrote one piece of flash fiction every day FOR A MONTH. It was a good challenge because it got the ol' literary muscles working but I kid you not when I say maybe 4 of those were any good and of that pool one is debatable. I read this over again and it was a total throw away story but looking at it again it's a pretty aight piece of writing. I have no desire to really submit it anywhere professionally so here it is! I don't remember why the title is Duran Duran inspired.
What's up everyone,
Hope you're having a ghoulish whatever time you're having. My goal for this blog is to publish stories that may have been orphaned (that is to say, published at some point but lost in the shuffle or website no longer available), stuff I've posted on Facebook and actually kept, and probably some WIPs. I'll also be linking my monthly reviews for Luna Station Quarterly so I can keep track of them starting in June and thoughts that might be too long for Twitter or too hashtag deep for Instagram.
Oh, speaking of social media, I'm freely available on Twitter & Instagram if you want purely visuals or chat about how terrible life is but we're optimistic it's getting there. And wrestling. On the other hand, if you want to talk about JUST wrestling and none of that other bullshit (with the exception of cats), here is my mark handle. I'll tell you my viewing schedule and everything.
Let's see, I think that's it. I'll be scheduling some stories up soon and probably do a little MST3K on myself like we did in the old days. Please standby.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...