I was going through my “Writing Samples” folder, looking for anything I’ve ever written that contained mildly entertaining dialogue to use in hopes of convincing a few scriptwriting employers that I’m borderline competent at faking human interaction. Among other things in the folder was this short story I did in high school. I was always fairly attached to it. Not particularly because it was good or anything– I’ve read it enough times to be confident that I have no idea if it’s worthwhile– but because it was one of the few things I ever wrote that got my high school english teacher to compliment me. The compliment came in the form of a comparison to John Mayer’s “Room for Squares,” but I’ll take it. Plus I dig that album, so it works.
I’m not so much in love with the story now thinking back on it, but I thought maybe it would be worth posting. At the very least it keeps me from having to create more original content, which is just a giant pain.
“Do we really have to go to this stupid party?” Jake asked, verbally frustrated at the idea of attending the event.
“I don’t know, let me find out,” I replied. I turned around and shouted, “Hey, do we really have to go to this stupid party?”
“It’s not stupid and you’re both going whether you like it or not,” Stacy shouted back from the room across the hall which she had turned into her own personal changing room despite it being located in Jake’s house. “I guess we do. But good news; I guess it’s not stupid,” I said to Jake, who had now shrunk down into his chair. “I hate you Steve,” he quickly replied, covering his face and letting out a sigh of disappointment.
Jake and I had known each other since kindergarten, and had been close friends for around ten years. He was always the athletic type, playing every sport he could possibly join. I gave up sports in middle school, but he just kept playing. Although he was occupied with all his activities most of the time, we still managed to stay pretty close. Physically, we were textbook opposites. I’m lacking in height and somewhere between normal and slightly above average in the weight department, while he stands tall and rather slim. I usually let my dark blond-ish hair grow out to a medium length, letting the bangs just reach to my blue eyes. Jake kept his brown hair nice and short, never letting it get out of control. Despite our bodily differences, there was little else that clashed between us. We played sports together through middle school, which gave us some mutual ground and time to talk, at least during practice. During games it was a different story, being that we were on different shifts. Jake’s being the starting shift and mine being the shift that led the team in bench minutes. Jake kept playing sports throughout high school while I quit and started focusing on other things. Enter Stacy. I became friends with Stacy around the end of freshman year, and Jake and her became more acquainted over the summer since the three of us spent the majority of our time hanging out together. Jake and I told her we only thought of her one of the guys, yet we both would bend over backwards to do anything for her. She was a bit shorter than Jake, which meant she still had a few inches on me. She was fairly slender and had long, flowing brunette hair and bright blue eyes. She definitely would be qualified as attractive. Stacy, like Jake, spent some time playing sports throughout high school. While it was great for both of them, it left me at least one season with very little to do. I filled the time with anything I could, mostly work. Well, work and food. Once Stacy was done with her volleyball season, she was ready to let loose. When Jake’s basketball season ended, he was ready to relax. Unfortunately for Jake, their seasons both ended at around the same time, and the three of us had some catching up to do. Of course, Stacy was the one who decided when and where that would happen.
“You’re going, Jake!” Stacy echoed from the other room. I stood up and began walking around the room. I stopped to admire one of Jake’s medals from basketball, then turned to him and said “Come on, maybe it won’t be that bad. I mean sure, there will be a bunch of people we don’t know, probably the majority of which will be drinking or smoking, and that one girl you like will be there flirting with all of them, but hey, I bet they have a pool table or something.” Jake slouched further into his chair. “I hate all of those things,” he said. “I hate pool, I hate drunken people, I hate smoke and I hate strangers.” Jake crossed his arms in protest to the idea of any of this. “I know, but I thought maybe if I put it into perspective a game of pool would actually sound fun,” I said, hoping maybe he would laugh. No such luck. “Well it doesn’t. Plus, Lisa will be there and I don’t want to see her talking with other guys. They’re all going to be trying to get in her pants.” I scoffed at this, replying, “I wish them luck. She wears her pants pretty tight. And I bet she has a belt on.” Jake finally uncovered his face and looked up. “I know that was meant as a joke, but if we get there and she has a belt on I’m going to feel slightly more comfortable that her pants will stay on,” he said with what was almost a half-smile on his face.
“Are you two all set? Lets head out already!” Stacy yelled from the hallway. “Yeah, as long as we can stop at a gas station,” I shouted back while putting my hand out to help Jake up out of his chair. “I need to get a bottled water for tonight.”
Jake, Stacy and I all piled out of the house and into the car, Jake sluggishly trailing behind, muttering almost inaudible phrases. “Are you excited?” Stacy asked while giving Jake a nudge. “I hope we get into a non-deadly car crash on the way there and are forced to turn back,” he responded. I wasn’t sure if he was joking. “You aren’t allowed to sit anywhere near the wheel, I no longer trust you,” I told him. I opened the driver’s side door and sat down behind the wheel. Jake jumped in the passenger side while Stacy climbed in the backseat and slid over to the middle. As I went to put the key into the ignition, I noticed the dome light was still on. I wonder how long that was on. I put the key in the ignition and turned, only to be greeted with the sound of a sputtering engine. “What’s wrong with your car, Steve?” Stacy asked, obviously anxious to leave. “I think the battery is dead. Must be from the light you left on.” I answered back. I looked over at Jake, who was now almost ecstatic. “That sucks, oh well. Lets go back inside,” Jake said quickly as he opened his door back up and jumped out. “You aren’t getting out of this that easily,” Stacy said. “I’ll just call Lisa and she can pick us up. And I didn’t leave your light on!” I undid my seat belt, grabbed the keys, opened the door and exited the car. I gave Stacy a grin and mouthed, “Yes you did,” then closed the door. Of course I didn’t mention that she wouldn’t have had to worry about this if she would have just driven over to Jake’s herself, but then she would have said that it wouldn’t be a problem if Jake just had a car and it would have gone on for about five to ten minutes, depending on how long I felt like continuing because Lord knows she would keep the argument going for days if she could. So instead I decided I’d silently finish the debate myself. Stacy was occupied attempting to get a hold of Jake’s crush, so I took the opportunity to check up on Jake. “What’s the matter? At least now we’ll get to go with that girl you like,” I said in an attempt to cheer him up. “She has a name, first of all. And second of all, I don’t care if we get to ride with her, I want to hang out with her and not at a stupid party,” he responded somewhat angrily. “I know she has I name, it just feels so much more secretive when we don’t say it. Plus, I thought we already established I was told that this party was not stupid. I’m assuming there is an IQ limit or perhaps you have to show your ACT score at the door or something. I don’t know how it’s enforced, I just know that it’s apparently not stupid.” Jake sighed at my statement. “Shut up,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone. “Look, I’m just saying, you better have quite the plan if you want to get to hang with Lisa and not go to this party,” I told him. “I’ll figure it out somehow,” Jake responded with a thoughtful tone.
“Alright, Lisa will be here in like five minutes. Lucky for us, she was just on her way to the gas station over by here, so we caught her at the perfect time,” Stacy informed us. “Oh, joy. Lucky us,” Jake responded with a forcefully enthused voice. “Stop acting like you don’t want to go. Besides, you’re going with your crush now,” Stacy said. “She’s not my crush!” Jake shouted at her. “How does she know I have a crush on her?” he whispered to me. “Everyone knows, man. It might as well be your status on Facebook. You should just change it to ‘Jake has a crush on Lisa,’” I said. Jake’s uttered the most subtle response he could at the time. He swung his left fist and punched me in the shoulder. “I deserved that,” I said, rubbing my shoulder at the point of impact. He still punches pretty hard. Despite Jake’s size advantage and the fact that he was visibly more muscular and physically stronger than me, I still insisted I could take him in a fight if it came down to it. I couldn’t, but that’s not the issue at hand. I watched as Jake walked over to the corner of his garage and leaned up against the wooden frame. I felt bad that he was getting dragged somewhere he had no interest in being, but I wasn’t going to let him sit at home alone. I’d happily sit at home with him, but Stacy wasn’t going to let the two of us sit at home. Of course, now that the car wasn’t working, we could just stay at the house being that it is packed with enough food and soda to last a few months. But now that Lisa knew the three of us were stuck, she wasn’t going to let us sit at home either. I haven’t totally figured out exactly how long that pattern could continue for, but my guess is far longer than where Jake and I would have ended it, at two. Girls have this weird need to go and be seen, it seems.
Lisa pulled up in her beat up compact car. She managed to leave tire tracks in the yard from overshooting the driveway. “That’ll compliment your mom’s flower pots nicely once they start to bloom,” I commented. Jake went to punch me again, but pulled back. Maybe it’s because he agreed, or maybe he actually found some humor in it. Regardless, I didn’t get hit. Stacy opened the passenger side door and jumped in. I got in the rear passenger side, and Jake took his sweet time walking around to the rear driver’s side door, bending down half way through his trip for a few seconds. “Took you long enough,” Lisa said, jokingly. “I found a nickel. It was heads up,” Jake responded, almost monotone, while holding the nickel for everyone to see. “You still believe that that’s good luck?” Lisa asked, laughing at the thought. “We’ll see,” Jake responded quietly. Jake buckled his seat belt and Lisa backed out of the driveway. “Don’t forget, I want to stop at the gas station,” I reminded everyone aloud. “I already stopped there, I don’t want to stop again!” Lisa said. “What am I supposed to drink if I don’t have a bottled water,” I inquired. “Um, beer?” said Lisa and Stacy almost in unison. “I’ll just get some water from the tap when we get there, I guess,” I responded. I had no interest in being drunk. Jake didn’t either, but we objected for different reasons. Jake wasn’t overly religious, but the Catholic school education we both received must have gotten to him enough that he abstained from alcohol, drugs and the like. I, on the other hand, didn’t like to look like an idiot in front of a crowd unless I could control it. Also, I wanted the option to leave when I wanted and I wasn’t about to let two other drunkards drive me home. That, and I just never had an interest in those types of things. These were far less noble of reasons than Jake’s, sure, but effective nonetheless. Lisa, like Stacy, enjoyed her adult beverages. She had a strong moral objection to drugs but for whatever reason she deemed drinking a much more acceptable past time. I’ve stopped trying to figure these things out. Maybe it all makes sense when you’re wasted.
We were about a quarter of a mile out of the driveway when Lisa lost control of the vehicle. “What the hell happened?” Stacy shouted. She was confused at Lisa’s sudden maneuvers that had thrown her from her comfortable position in the passenger seat. Lisa was able to put on her brakes and regain control. Everyone was fine, but the car felt lopsided. I got out to take a look at the problem. When I walked around the back of the car, I saw the back tires were almost flat to the point that we were essentially driving on the rims of wheel. “We aren’t going to get anywhere on these,” I yelled to Lisa, who was sitting with her legs hanging over the driver’s seat with her door open. “Your back tires are flat. You must have run over a nail or some glass or something,” I told her. “Well this is great, now what are we supposed to do?” She asked. “I’m assuming you don’t have two spares, so I’d suggest we just drive it back to the house, because that’s about as far as these tires will take us.” Lisa turned to explain to Stacy. I then saw Stacy pull at her own hair and release a very frustrated groan. I jumped back into the car and refastened my seat belt. “We’re never going to get to this party, are we?” Stacy asked, not totally expecting an answer. Lisa started the car back up. “Who cares at this point,” Jake said, half sure he finally got his wish but half thinking this wouldn’t be the last attempt to get to their destination. A quick beeping noise was heard from the front of the car. “Nice timing, I’ve got to get my oil changed too. I guess I’ll just take it down to the garage tomorrow and get the tires fixed and the oil changed.” Lisa turned the car around in the closest driveway and started heading in the direction of Jake’s house. The ride back down the street went pretty smooth, aside from the bumps on the road being increased for Jake and I, being that we got the full feeling of those flat tires. Lisa pulled the car into the driveway, managing to define her tire marks in the yard a bit more in the process. “Well, at least you are consistent,” I said. She ignored me. “Stace, you and I are going to start calling to see who is still in town. There’s got to be someone who will still pick us up,” Lisa said. “Alright, we’re going inside to make a pizza,” Jake told them. “Don’t even think about it. This isn’t over yet,” Lisa responded.
For about the next half an hour, the two girls were on the phone, desperately trying to find anyone who could come pick us up and take us home after. Jake and I watched from the dining room. We would have stood outside by them and listen to them beg for anyone who would help their cause, but it’s much more convenient to sit while eating pizza. “OK, that’s enough for one night. Can we just crash here?” Lisa asked, somewhat exhausted from the desperation of trying to find help. “Yeah, that should be fine. I’ll check with the parents but you two should be good to stay,” Jake told her. “Well, so much for the party. I guess we are stuck here for the night,” Stacy said, obviously disappointed but not enough to protest any longer. I looked at Jake and watched him pull out a pocketknife along with the nickel he found earlier. “Smooth,” I said as I nodded at him. “Good luck charm, eh?” Jake smiled at me.
I have a little bit of a confession to make before doing the rest of this write-up. I might– and I want to make sure it’s clear that there’s a very small, microscopic possibility that is in no way prevalent in this post– have a slight crush on Dessa. I’m not saying I do, I’m just saying I’ve seen her perform every time she’s been in Madison, watch in total awe with constant head nod that bobs just enough to keep my jaw off the floor, and stammer through every chat I have with her at the merch booth after the show. So, I mean it’s not like it’s for sure or anything. That said, here’s my totally objective review of her show at High Noon Saloon on October 12, 2011.
Wednesday night at the High Noon Saloon had a sort of strange vibe to it. I walked into the box-like venue to the sounds of Lovely Socialite Mrs. Thomas W. Phipps, who were already a half hour into the set by the time I arrived. Their up-tempo, freeform jazz sound encompassed the room, bouncing between the barstools and patrons on either side of the sparsly covered floor space. It’s not that the band wasn’t good. They were. It’s just that they were playing a show in Wisconsin while the Brewers were in the playoffs. It’s the equivalent of having a television show on basic cable at the same time as a Presidential press conference; you can keep going but you’re going to be interrupted. The band kept playing to their supportive fans, but it was background music for plenty. Then the Brewers lost, and the music became even more irrelevant.
Luckily, it was around that time that Dessa arrived. She walked through the main entrance, past the group that was gathered staring at the television set that hung on the wall, and through the crowd to the broom closet that is the back stage at High Noon Saloon. She walked back and forth through the venue multiple times, no quite pacing but very much with an almost intense focus. With a last lap through the venue in her track jacket and yoga pants, she was gone until show time.
When the band took the stage, all feelings regarding the Brewers game were gone and all ignorance to the talent on stage disappeared. This crowd was gathered for one reason: To watch Dessa. She reappeared from behind the stage door clothed in the very definition of a little black dress, which she wore with a pair brown boots that rode up her shins. If she was any less comfortable in her performance garb than in her pre-show “warm ups,” it was difficult to tell. The second she grabbed the mic it was clear that the dress wasn’t hiding any insecurities.
Dessa immediately commanded the attention of everyone in the venue. Whether it was during a song, her chats between pieces with the sound technician, or her explanation of why genres are antiquated forms of classification, there wasn’t a single set of ears in the building that weren’t perked when her voice hit the speakers. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever been at a Dessa show. She’s a completely commanding figure, despite the gentle tones of her melodic voice and somewhat self-depreciating ethic of her mid-show banter. She can stand on stage and insist she messed up a note and the crowd will dismiss it– as they should. It’s not a single note that makes her so enchanting, it’s the entire performance. She’s performed in front of rap heads and had them sit silent while singing excerpts from “Hallelujah” and had it receive a chorus of applause.
When backed with a band, Dessa seems to take on a different consciousness. When she’s got the entire stage to work, she does just that. Her rap persona is intense, rocking verses that challenges “everybody talking about [her] tits.” With the band involved, it’s a far more intimate show. She doesn’t challenge the audience as much as work them, and when some of that stage space is lost by other performers and bandmates, she works them, too. There’s not a moment that anyone of the members of the band don’t seem to be enjoying the experience. Dessa can flash a smile and sing at her bassist, who returns the motion by singing along or swaying with the music. It carried to the crowd, who happily sang along. There were no shortage of loyal supporters in the audience, which created a bit of a backup ensamble for Dessa. The entire show was a love affair for all parties.
The show consisted of a setlist of mostly older tracks, but they came with a reworking at the hands of the instrumental backing of her band. The orchestration of the songs are far more similar to their sound on her Castor, The Twin album than their original renditions, which give them an appeal even further past the rap and hip-hop crowd that generally takes to her collective family, Doomtree. Even with the new sound behind the familiar lyrics, fans recognized them almost immediately and greeted them with cheers. Perhaps none was better received than “Sadie Hawkins,” a song that showcases Dessa’s sharp mind and quick tongue, as she raps in a double time that quickly changes in cadence to a melodic chorus where she declares, “if there’s a damsel in this dress, she’s too gone to save.” If what Dessa has is contagious there is no saving the audience either, as they all had clearly caught a case by the end of the set.
Despite a chat with the audience about her struggles with vocal lessons, difficulty breathing properly– meaning through her vagina (her words)– and insistence that she messed up a note at the end of “The Chaconne,” her charm and ridiculous amount of talent gave the audience every reason to believe she could do no wrong. If there was one thing disappointing about her show, it’s that she isn’t performing in bigger venues by now. The girl can rap, sing, and sure as hell can win over a crowd. If you haven’t heard of Dessa yet, consider this your wake up call. Once you hear what she can do, you’ll be in a far better dream.
Alright, I said I would talk about something I was obsessed with and I was blackmailed by a friend to make a post today, so here’s knocking two out with one stone. Not that I would ever throw stones at people. Unless they were assholes.
I’ve have an unhealthy love for all things comedy since probably eight grade or so. It started when my cousin turned me onto stand up comedy with a Mitch Hedberg album. Here’s the thing about Mitch: His humor is simple enough that most people can understand the concept of what he’s saying, but the more you listen to it and understand it, the more hilarious it becomes. For example, one of his jokes goes, “I had a parrot and the parrot talked, but it did not say it was hungry, so it died.” That joke, on it’s own, is hilarious because it’s absurdly simple and kind of stupid. I could understand that joke as an eighth grader. I didn’t understand why “The mail man is a drug dealer and he doesn’t even know it, and he’s always on time” was funny. It’s absolute genius, and makes the parrot joke make so much more sense. They aren’t directly related, but they totally are.
Anyway, I want to say Mitch was probably my first taste of stand-up. It was him or Bill Engvall, and I’ll be ashamed if it’s Engvall so we’re going to say it was Mitch. So after listening to Hedberg’s album, I under up buying his CD/DVD combo of Mitch All Together, and watching the DVD was probably the first time I had ever seen stand-up and actually processed it for what it is. Thinking about that statement might make me sound like an idiot, because it really shouldn’t be that difficult to understand how stand-up works but if you think about it, it’s a really fucked up idea. It’s basically getting up on stage and having a one-way conversation with a room full of people based on the belief that you think you’re funny. Watching Hedberg do it is probably the absolute worst place to start, with the exception of watching maybe Andy Kaufman. Mitch’s stage presence consisted of staring at the floor and never making eye contact with the crowd, as he had terrible stage fright. Of course, I then made the jump to Dane Cook, who spent his first Comedy Central special ripping off his tanktop and dousing himself with water while crawling around the stage so I really couldn’t have fucked up any more in how I came to learn stand-up.
Really though, every one of those examples are just another part of a really strange art. I really no longer hesitate to call stand-up an art for a couple reasons: Firstly, I’ve spent too much time studying and learning about stand-up that it would be a bit of a waste if it wasn’t some sort of achievement. Secondly, it’s a presentation of personal expression through a creation to an audience. That’s art. It’s a little neurotic and self-absorbed, too. But that seems very art-like as well.
Nothing has confirmed this belief more than listening to WTF with Marc Maron, a podcast with a comedian talking to comedians about, well, a lot of things but mostly comedy. The really fucked up thing about the podcast is the overarching story line of Marc’s personal problems. About half of the guests that he has on his show, he has on to talk about some sort of resentment or distain for the person. Not because of anything they have done to him in the past, but because he viewed them as more successful than he was at some point or Marc assumes they had a problem with him. As it turns out, Marc’s assumptions are almost never correct and the person he is interviewing often have more mental issues than Marc does. What is really fucked up is finding out about the self-medication, the therapy, the self-loathing, and the substance abuse that takes place behind the scenes and then watching a comedian that talks about those things take the stage and watching how they manifest in the performance. They almost always do, yet no one really notices. Other comedians do, but the audience is pretty clueless to it. The performance itself becomes sort of a therapy session.
So I’ve become obsessed with everything behind the actual act of stand up. I love hearing to comedians talk about what brought them to comedy. I enjoy listening to what they have been through. Not in a sadistic way of, “I love listening to others suffer,” but listening to someone like Maria Bamford talk about being deprived of any sort of emotional gratification by her parents and then listening to the punchline of one of her jokes be, “Does baby look pretty now mama?” and there’s a bit of a “oh, shit, that was real” moment. And yet you still laugh, because the premise is hilarious. It’s kind of a demented thing to process in your brain, because you’re laughing while someone express their pain and struggle in front of you.
So since picking up on WTF, I’ve been watching a lot more of the alternative comedians than I what I started with. Now granted, Mitch Hedberg isn’t exactly your normal comedian, but when he was sober he could play to most audiences. Dane Cook became the definition of normal comedy. It’s people like Patton Oswalt, the aforementioned Maria Bamford, Eugene Mirman, David Cross, that either put on abstract performances or do something that is inertially not comedy. There’s not a set-up, punch structure to it per say. Those are the most interesting performers as far as I’m concerned, and it has nothing to do with the actual performance. So if you ever get the chance to listen to any of them speak away from comedy, do it and then watch a set from them. It might fuck with your perception a little.
Now, the real question that I have to ask myself: Is it normal to be totally enamored by the problems of others that you try to identify them while they do their profession? Maybe I’m the one that should be going to therapy, but I’ve kind of thought that for awhile anyway.
Valerie was born in a hospital that blocked the sun from a graveyard. She spent every moment after getting as far away as she could, though said she ran from nothing.
Calls from home weren’t unheeded, but calls to return were ignored. It wasn’t until years later, the one that would bring her back called.
As she aged, so did family and friends. One by one they passed while Valerie stayed. Until she returned home, visiting the shadow.
(You can read an explanation as to what the hell this was by clicking here.)
I decided as a way to sharpen my writing sword (that analogy does makes it increasingly clear I need to) before National Novel Writing Month this November, I would enter a few writing contests. I don’t necessarily want to do just any contest because I find it difficult to write completely freely. I enjoy having parameters of some sort. So I’ve set my sights on a few that set odd stipulations. The first of which that I have completed my entry for is the Esquire‘s short story contest.
It’s the 78th birthday of Esquire this year, so their writing contest is to write a short story in 78 words, which they are calling “aspens.” The idea, as I understood it, was to tell the story of a life in exactly 78 words. I very well could be misinterpreting the rules. Perhaps you can tell any sort of story, as long as it meets the word count requirement. On some of the forums I frequent, I read several stories for this contest that told a specific scene or moment. I found it more challenging to summarize an entire life in such a short time, so I decided to take that route. Maybe that’ll bite me in the ass. I really don’t care about winning as long as I make something good, especially considering I probably don’t have the appreciation for the prize that others might.
There will be 10 winners selected in the contest who will be flown to New York to participate in a writing workshop taught by Colum McCann, with the grand prize winner nabbing a scholarship for the fiction workshop at Aspen Summer Words. It would without a doubt be an amazing opportunity to work with a successful, notable author and have a chance to take part in one of the biggest literary retreats in the world. That said, I don’t think I would get as much joy out of those prizes as others. I believe that for a similar reason as to why I believe I won’t be in a position to experience them: I’m really not that good at writing fiction. I don’t think I have anything profound in me. I can write it and it might occasionally be good, but I’m not Colum McCann. I’m not even Nicolas Sparks, who very well may be the most disciplined hack that has ever set his fingers to the keyboard. I’m just me, and I just write me, and there’s not a whole lot of esoteric musings that are going to fall onto the page from that. I guess that’s not to say it’s not enjoyable to read, though that decision will have to come completely of your own accord, it’s just a different type of writing than what that community seems as though it would like. Maybe that’s a really judgmental thing for me to say. Maybe Colum McCann takes himself just as seriously as I take myself. Who knows. I guess we’ll find out.
If you missed the link the first time, here it is again so you can read my entry.
Some background on the story:
- The first thing I came up with for this was the idea of the hospital next to the graveyard. I wanted a “full circle” effect of being born, spending your whole life going as far as you can, and ending up just yards away from where you started. When I type that out, it’s really kind of depressing.
- Part of this concept came from a conversation with a dear friend about fear, accomplishments, and the inability to remain satisfied.
- The character in the story is in no way based on said friend, but I still totally jacked an idea from her.
- If I had more words, I would have said a lot more.
- The development of the story probably took about three weeks until I had the full outline of what would happen in my head.
- The written outline is far more than 78 words.
- Once I sat down to write the story, it took maybe a half hour, and most of that was coming up with the right sentence structure to maximize space.
- The most helpful tool in minimizing word use: Twitter.
- I’ll probably read this story tomorrow and not like it at all.
- Right this second, I kind of like the story.
I feel bad. Well, I don’t actually feel bad, but I do feel kind of guilty. I haven’t really updated this blog in a bit, and I’ve got things to provide content. I just haven’t actually made any of it available. So here’s me relieving my guilt by doing a quick post explaining why I’m such a lazy piece of shit.
Ok, so the next episode of the podcast is recorded. It’s been recorded for over a week. The thing is, I have to edit it. Frankly, I don’t like editing it. Eric and I usually talk for about an hour to an hour and a half, and I cut it down to between forty-five minutes to an hour and fifteen minutes. That doesn’t sound terrible, but I have to listen to the entire thing to cut it. So take the entire length of the podcast and double it, and that’s about how long it takes me to make a listenable episode. Now, I very well could just record the episode, throw it up online, and let it be. The thing with that is, we don’t have the greatest pacing. We record over Skype, which by default has a slight delay, and we pause for extended periods or talk over one another fairly regularly. So I cut the dead air, I cut the things that are pointless, and I remove all the things we say that then we agree we totally shouldn’t have said. Is that dishonest? Maybe. Maybe we should just upload it right when we finish recording it and just hope everything resonates with people the way we hope it will. It’s not like anyone’s listening anyway. Regardless though, I have to edit the damn thing. I will…Eventually.
Aside from that, I’ve got some contests, projects, etc. that I should work on and post up here, but I haven’t done that either. It’s not lack of wanting to do it, trust me. I’d really like to do it. Unfortunately, I have this mechanism in my head that prevents me from doing it. What happens, as far as I’ve been able to decipher, is something like this: I get the idea in my head that I want to do something. Regardless of what it is, the second that I have decided that I want to do it, I can no longer focus on anything else. All I can think about is doing it. I’m sprinting at this point. I need to accomplish this thing as soon as I possibly can. The problem is, I’m doing a marathon. So now I’m pushing as hard as I possibly can to get through the first part of this extremely long process. Also, there’s hurdles. Or obstacles. There’s shit in the way, is the point. This, admittedly, isn’t a great analogy. What I’m getting at is I burn out before I actually get into the goddamn project. So that’s where I’m at right now. I’m burned out trying to complete projects, plus I’m in school and I work. Rather, I go to a place that pays me for attending for several hours, but I’m away from my laptop during it so my process is slowed anyway. Oh, and I’m trying to do some freelance writing.
That part is going fairly well. The freelancing that is. I’m working on a piece for a legitimate publication, which is really cool (I refuse to say the name of the publication and I won’t reveal any information about it for fear of totally fucking it up, which is a good possibility). I also got paid for my contributions to GotGame and while it’s not going to be a life-changing amount by any account– except for perhaps a homeless man who just needs a few bucks to turn his life around, but he’s actually just going to spend it on weed and booze. Which I am totally ok with, for the record. I just wish they would be honest about it. I’ll give you change, just tell me which of your vices you’re feeding with it– it’s still a step in the right direction. Holy shit, that was the most useless tangent ever. If you didn’t have to go back and reread the first part of that sentence to remember what was going on, I applaud you. Please tell me where you get your Ritalin. I just ordered the 2012 copy of Writer’s Market, which will hopefully give me some good leads and explain the proper way to do queries because I’m totally winging it at this point. I submitted a query that I’m extremely happy with, but I don’t have a clue if it’s actually a query letter. It reads more like the introduction to a story. I guess the concept is that hopefully they’ll want to hear the rest of the story. Hey, maybe I just figured out what I’m doing! This blog does serve a purpose. Now I kind of understand my own process.
Ok, 900 words later and I feel slightly less bad about being a failure. Once I have some stuff done, I’ll put it here. I swear. Maybe I’ll throw some old stuff up on here to suffice. Or I’ll just do a weekly post about what I’m obsessed with currently. That sounds like a good idea. Let’s do that. Check back for what I’m obsessed with next week. Maybe I’ll follow through on that one.