Tag Archives: Inspiration

Maria Bamford is the Best.

“It takes tenacity and courage to use a glue gun, and it’s the easiest thing in the world to criticize stuff. Click, don’t like, boo.

But if you sing out your Batman poetry to a largely hostile Barnes & Noble crowd; or if you crank out a raw, unedited skull of a granny smith apple, pop that on a Bratz doll torso, upload that to Etsy, price it high. If you think of doing a nude clown opera, you write it, you cast it and you actually fucking do it? That doesn’t show you’re insane. It shows the symptoms of being hard-working—and a huge success.

Now if you’ll excuse me,
I need to get back to La Quinta,
because I have faces to make
in the bathroom mirror.”

— Maria Bamford

 

Connecting Dots From All Over the Universe

Trigger Warning: Organic corpses, law of attraction, Wonder Woman

Humans are good at recognizing patterns, and that makes it a lot easier for writers to come up with dots to connect. As a writer, it is your responsibility to connect disparate dots. Therefore you must consume broadly, and understand how ideas evolve and change.

Some of these changes take an idea and shoot it off into a different direction. When esoteric words pop into pop-culture, their meanings fade from scientific precision to hazy approximations. We associate them with different organizations and political agendas while social media algorithms shuttle us toward more of the same. One or two words is the difference between the Organic Chemistry Society and suggestions for yoga schools.

Annoying? Yes. Useful? Also, yes.

Managing our access to information is also something we need to manage consciously. We have control over how long we sit in echo chambers.

The law of attraction (like attracts like) came up in conversation the other day. My friend made a sexist pun. The sexist part didn’t register until I pointed it out. She said she believed in the law of attraction, and therefore I was offended because I was looking to be offended. Since she wasn’t interested in the nuances surrounding intersectionality, gender politics, sex work, and personal responsibility, I reassured her she was a very nice person and we went our separate ways. I bring these issues up because I’m interested in them, and I want to give others the opportunity to become interested in them.

By sitting in one corner of the thought-verse, we cut ourselves off from some of the key dots we need for the stories germinating in our souls. Feminism, while still important to me, no longer sparks stories the way it used to. By venturing out of those kinds of forums, I read about corpse-cleanup. That took me to an article about the restoration of San Francisco’s columbarium and so forth. My next story, the brain-child of this, has to do with both corpse-cleanup and the different filters through which we view a situation. What does it mean to be clean? What does it mean when a space becomes tainted in an instant? What does it mean to live a life of avoidance?

To find that piece, I had to skip over nine other articles that insisted, with manic fervor, that I am Wonder Woman. Relevant earlier, but no longer. I didn’t read those articles or watch those videos because realizing my inner Wonder Woman didn’t line up with chemical disinfectants and the mundane objects scattered around a murder scene. Those dots didn’t connect for me. I didn’t see the relevance.

But you might.

The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.
– Marcus Aurelius

The dots that are collected will eventually get connected.”
– Michael Raymond-James

 

Hydra Constellation, with Crow and Cup (Zyntara.com)

No Story is Too Small

In the wake of the Seahawks victory, there was some noise about defaced public property. People got drunk and made silly decisions. It was reminiscent of excited fans’ absurd behavior when the SF Giants won the World Series. During the celebration of a baseball victory, a shoe-shine stand on the street corner was burned to the ground.

A man lost his livelihood because of a sports victory.

It turns out that this man, Larry, had struggled for many years with his heroin addiction, and wore a suit to work every day—even though he was sleeping under a bridge. When he was contacted by reporters, he told his story, and said that giving up is not an option.  It’s something he doesn’t believe in.

I must have passed him a hundred times before I learned his name — much less the trials he had overcome before the burning. I’m too fixated on my story, and my own main characters.  I think in movie culture we don’t see the value of having a huge cast, but in text it can be used to extraordinary effect. They crop up in the story later and reveal their importance, even if you didn’t notice at first.

Seemingly small stories like this are all part of something bigger. As we’re writing, we fall in love with main characters, main events, and main ideas—forgetting that ‘throwaway’ characters also have histories, families and dreams. They don’t carry the burden of the main narrative on their shoulders, and are free to explore the world you’ve created. They’re free to be afraid, to spy, to run from one scene to the next—and surprise you with what they reveal.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
— Vincent Van Gogh

There is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view.
— Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Any path that narrows future possibilities may become a lethal trap. Humans are not threading their way through a maze; they scan a vast horizon filled with unique opportunities.
— The Spacing Guild Handbook

Liebster Nomination, and embarassingly personal stuff

Check it out! Margit Sage of Ominous Whimsy nominated me for a Liebster Award!  Liebe really IST für alle da!https://i2.wp.com/margitsage.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/liebster-blog-award-2.png

Rules:
1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them. (Done)
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator. (See below)
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers. (See below)
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer. (down further below)
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them. (Message delivered)

ONE:  What is the soundtrack to a great writing day for you?
RAMMSTEIN
.  At least right now. Ask me again in a few weeks and it may be showtunes, The Duhks, Qntal, Christen Lien; who knows.

TWO:  Is there a song that embodies your favorite character (or poem) that you’ve written? If so, what is it?
Almost all my characters have theme songs. Music helps us set the tone. For one of my toughest, hardest characters, Sirenia’s “Save Me From Myself” jumped out immediately. The song is so mournful, it reminded me of all the impossible choices she made and decisions she refuses to second-guess. She amasses political and martial power because she’s hurting; and no amount of armor will ever be able to make her feel safe again.

THREE: Do you know exactly what each of your characters looks like? Or do you just have some vague notion (or none at all)? Does your visual conception of characters change over time?
Some characters are as clear as day — right down to their cheekbones and the smell of their sweat. Other characters are more vague, as though they’re two blocks away. I have a file of image references, but connect more strongly to their personality than their appearance.

FOUR: Why do you write?
Because I have to.

FIVE: How does your writing begin? With a visual, a concept, or something else entirely?
It always feels like addiction in the beginning. Sometimes it’s a piece of music. Sometimes it’s visual, like a key on a bracelet. Unbearable emotion is another source. If I can’t talk about it — or talking isn’t enough — I apply those feelings in a completely different context and let them unravel there.

SIX: When you write, where are you? What are you surrounded with/by?
I am in the story. I am in the character. Whoever is talking and thinking — whoever the narration focuses on — I am in their soul and their heart, feeling around. If they laugh, I laugh. If they cry, I cry.

SEVEN: What author do you wish every writer you talk to had previously read?
Joe Abercrombie. Or Paulo Coelho. Or both — I love a hard-ass with a soul.

EIGHT: What are your writing goals this year?
Snag an agent for my fantasy novel, finish the steam book, and finish the antichrist book.

NINE: What advice would you like to share with your blog readers right now?
That thing you want to do, you can do it. Seriously. Even if you’re scared.

TEN: What is the reaction you’re most hoping for from your readers? What reaction would put a giant grin on your face?
I want them to feel. I want them to relate. I want them to step outside themselves for just a moment and realize how much more is possible — and then I want them to pass it on.

On a more superficial level, I want to see them dress up as my characters for a packed reading at the Castro Theater. That would be such a great party.

~

Now you, RD, Yvone, TomCarry, Susan, Shana, Bob, Michelle, Kira Lyn, and Drew must answer the following ten questions:

  1. What’s the harshest piece of criticism you’ve grown from?
  2. If you had to be without one of your five senses, which would it be and why?
  3. What material is hard for you to write, and how do you tackle it (emotional rawness, erotica, gore, etc)?
  4. What did you have in mind when you started blogging, and how did your blog deviate from your original idea?
  5. What’s the strangest compliment you’ve ever received?
  6. What question do you wish people would ask you, and how would you answer?
  7. How do you deal with an unhealthy obsession (if you don’t have obsessions, I suspect you’re fibbing — but go ahead and give advice for ‘your friend’ who does)?
  8. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do, and what would be the first step toward accomplishing that goal?
  9. What makes you a great friend?
  10. What does your personal paradise look, sound, and smell like?

The world is not obligated to care.”
– David Drake, from Shared Worlds Exhibit

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.”
– Eden Ahbez

On the subject of Evil : Dog Eat Dog

My favorite song from Les Misérables.

I’ve flown up and down highways howling this at the top of my lungs. It’s the mind-set of one who would scavenge the dead long before ever thinking they were human. Grimdark books are peppered with these folks. The simple truth of scarcity-thinking permeates each word, and you can imagine — as Thenardier and everyone like him does — that the Harvest Moon shines on him and him alone.

The death of compassion is the birth of evil.

Lyrics:

THENARDIER ~
Here’s a hint of gold
Stuck into a tooth
Pardon me M’sieur
You won’t be needing it no more.
Shouldn’t be too hard to sell.
Add it to the pile
Add it to the stock
Here among the sewer rats
A breath away from Hell
You get accustomed to the smell.

Well someone’s got to clean ’em up, my friends
Bodies on the highway
Law and order upside down
Someone’s got to collect their odds and ends
As a service to the town!

(Valjean arrives, carrying MARIUS.
VALJEAN collapses)

(THENARDIER robs marius)

Here’s a tasty ring
Pretty little thing
Wouldn’t want to waste it
That would really be a crime
Thank you sir, I’m in your debt
Here’s another toy
Take it off the boy
His heart’s no longer going
And he’s lived his little time
But his watch is ticking yet!

Well, someone’s got to clean them up, my friends
Before the little harvest
Disappears into the mud
Someone’s got to collect their odds and ends
When the gutters run with blood.

It’s a world where the dog eats the dog
Where they kill for bones in the street
And God in His Heaven
He don’t interfere
‘Cause he’s dead as the stiffs at my feet
I raise my eyes to see the heavens
And only the moon looks down
The harvest moon shines down!

Night Ride Through Time and Into Death

I just got a truck. Part of getting a truck in California is that you have to make sure it passes the emissions test. My truck has been very stubborn about this, so every time I get it fixed I have to put three days of driving on it to get the computer to run all the checks.

On this particular full-mooned evening, I drove around with my dojo-sister, J, and wound up at the beach.

As we walked along the shoreline, J found this:

Image

Corked and sealed with wax. We wondered who it could be from, and how long it had been there.

“We gotta open it!” I said.

“Maybe it’s from a Nigerian prince,” said J, “offering up his fortune to whoever finds this note.”

“Great, so our message in a bottle is spam?” I said. We laughed.

We bring the bottle back to the parking lot where there’s some light. We’re beside ourselves with excitement over this mysterious midnight adventure. We try and guess what the note inside says with increasing absurdity and silliness.

“It’s probably in Chinese,” I say, opening it. I take out the plastic baggie and unfold the note.

“Is it in Chinese?” she asks.

I smile and shake my head. “Yup.”

It is definitely in Chinese.

Image

I only recognize a few words, so I put it up on Facebook and a translation came back pretty quickly.

Image

J felt a little sad that we opened the girl’s bottle, as though doing so had undone the prayer.

I think her grandfather heard the message the moment she left it there on the beach.

It made me think about my own (only) grandmother. When I spoke to her on the phone today, she seemed worn down. She told me she has degenerative arthritis. She has a birthday coming up, and she said that each year she wonders why. She’s ready to go. I asked her if she had a time-frame — if I should come out to visit her. She said no… that she’d rather I remember her as she was. This is a woman who, last year, wanted to take me out to jazz clubs with her boyfriend and teach me how to order drinks. When younger men asked her to dance, she’d refuse them with “thanks, cupcake.” My brother and I have her pegged at perpetually forty-five. She’s in her eighties, now. She said that she’d had a good life, and one of the things she’s especially proud of are her grandkids.

“Don’t waste opportunities to be awesome,” my brother said. “There’s a little under five hours today to get it done.”

We have less time than we think.

 

Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”
― Langston Hughes

These Are The People I Want In My Life

I found this beautiful poem through a friendship with a musician with a beautiful soul. I would not have met her if I didn’t know writers with beautiful souls. Beautiful souls are true, and shine bright, whether they glow with compassion or writhe in their own torment. For me, beauty lies solely in entelechy.

The Invitation
by Oriah
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can  disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.