Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Was that title profound enough? I sure hope so. It is an attention getter, after all.

If you haven’t gathered yet, there’s no real rhyme or reason to when I post. I’m trying to make it at least weekly. Hey, I never said I was perfect. I’m an artist (ugh, did I really just say that?), I’m allowed to be wishy-washy and unreliable. It comes with the territory. I have to wait for my “muse” to visit, even though that’s the perfect way to not get shit done. Also, something interesting that was pointed out to me last time I posted: my blogs take the format of Cracked.com articles. Seriously. Go back and look at all of them. I never even kind of realized this. Now I’m self-conscious.

But I’m gonna keep doing it.


Wikipedia “creative insomnia.” It’s a thing. It’s also scary.

So, publication number seven is in the pipes. The lovely ladies at The Siren’s Call have accepted my newest tale to be featured in their Halloween issue. That’s great! What’s not great is that my tale for Demonic Visions #5 is stuck in my brain and refuses to come out onto the page. What’s also not great is that I still haven’t reached out to any other publishers besides DV or The Sirens Call save one, and I haven’t heard back from that one since August, so I’ve no idea whether to be expecting an acceptance or rejection letter. The realist in me says to expect a rejection one, that way when/if it does come, I’m not disappointed. Sad, right?

My new goal as of late has been to convince my friends around me to give writing a try. If not writing, than some other creative medium. After talking with a lot of them, I find that they’ve got some pretty incredible ideas (that they inevitably claim as suckish), but they’re in the stage that I’m all too familiar with: being afraid of the transfer from mind to medium. It’s painful when you have an idea that glimmers in your head, but upon its placement into a tangible form, it’s nothing like you thought it would be. It’s pretty lackluster, you think. Why did you even bother? I have advice for those of you stuck in this part of the process.

relevant, and awesome

Do it anyway. I don’t care. I don’t care what your reasoning is. I don’t care that you aren’t a good writer, you can’t draw, you can’t sing, I don’t give a single shit – because until you try and fail, you don’t know. You have no right to say these things. After you put your neck on the line and have it mercilessly split, then you can say you “can’t” – but you can’t.
Wait, what? Yeah, paradoxically, by trying and failing, you still completed something, which means you can. So boom. You literally can not can’t. Seriously though, I understand the frustration. It’s scary as hell to try and breathe life into an idea you hold so dear. But hey, as soon as you tell someone else about the idea, it’s already began to grow. It’s already taking a life of its own, so why not help it along? It’s way too strangled in your head. You’ve got too much shit going on in there, anyway. Let it out! Even if it sucks something awful (which it won’t, and if it does, can be revised), it’s still something you made. I feel 3000 times better about myself for writing a shitty thousand word story than I do after sitting and playing Super Smash Bros for the 3DS for two hours.

but guys it’s so awesome holy shit there are so many characters and it’s so cool and and and

I feel like everyone needs a medium of creation. Maybe that’s because I’m a writer and a performer, and it still feels strange to write that sentence. To call myself a writer or a performer, I feel like I’m that guy. Would-be writers, music or otherwise, are constantly updating everyone on their “work” that never seems to appear in a public medium. I’ve written pieces that people have read in newspapers, books, and online. I’ve gotten up on stages and made an ass out of myself. By definition of the words, I’m a writer and a performer. The thing with artsy types is that they don’t like giving themselves those titles. They feel unworthy. Stephen King is a writer, okay? Not you. But that isn’t true. The first step to being a writer, performer, artist, esteemed lord of the mimes, etc. is to admit that you do that thing. At this point, me saying “I’m not a writer” is stupid. “Commercial” success aside, I’ve proven that.

There are some that contend there are just some people that aren’t cut out for self expression. I call bullshit. There are so many infinite mediums to put yourself into that it’s literally impossible to be unable to express yourself. You can make old-school 1930’s style film posters. You can make sculptures out of shit you find at a scrap yard. You could sneeze onto a blank canvas with a bloody nose. I think to claim anyone isn’t cut out for self-expression is a pretty fucking ignorant thing to say. You know what makes people feel insignificant? Elitist assholes telling them to give it up. Life isn’t a movie. Not everyone gets a fire lit under their belly by discouraging remarks. Some people take them to heart, and actually give it up.

Don’t.

gettin’ a little inspirational in here, don’t you think?

nunquam sing Imp

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Hello? Is this thing on? Whew, that was dusty.

I’ve been doing a lot of struggling with my status as a ‘writer’ as of late. When it comes to fiction, it seems I’ve finally encountered the ever-trendy Writer’s Block. I have a tale for Demonic Visions #5 due by mid-October, would like to get something in to The Sirens Call for their Halloween e-zine, and am trying to convince others among me to take up writing for themselves. I’m still churning out opinion pieces for the college’s newspaper (The Eagle, that is), so I can at least say I’m still writing, but I’m not doing so nearly enough. I don’t have a daily required word count on myself. I don’t blog or keep a journal regularly. I know I need to, but carving out this routine is harder than I suspected. When I get home after all day in class or at work, I just wanna be a vegetable. Excuses, excuses, I know. Where I go next is problematic to me. I’m 21 years old with 5 publications under my belt (not counting the newspaper), so the sky should be the limit. But I don’t feel like the sky’s the limit. I feel like I bumped my head on the ceiling.

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relevant

One thing I don’t tell people very often is that I constantly worry about the validity of my current publications. Don’t get me wrong, The Sirens Call is definitely a major name in the horror biz, and Chris Robertson has compiled quite the star-studded cast for Demonic Visions (including RAMSEY CAMPBELL. I was in a book with Ramsey Campbell!) But I wonder if by not branching out a bit more I’m making myself look too much like an amateur. Granted, I don’t have the infamous pile of rejection letters aspiring writers do… but that’s because I haven’t submitted my work to enough places to amass those rejection letters. For that, I am ashamed. I really need to renew my Duotrope account so I can get back to publisher-shopping. This blog is an attempt to begin writing again. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate when writers have to update you every time they achieve a minor accomplishment? Author Facebook pages that consist of nothing but statuses similar to “guess who got 1000 words today?” give me a resounding case of “WHO GIVES A FUUUUUUUUUUCK.” Don’t try to sell me something that’s not finished, okay? This isn’t Kickstarter, I’m not investing in an idea. I want results.

Above: me when someone posts a status about being a writer

I’m also beginning to try and step into the ring of true literary criticism of my work. I’ve began to shop it around to professors and ask them to critique it – did I mention that I’m a sensitive guy and that despite my mild taste of success my ego is still about as durable as stained glass? There’s definitely been instances of professors essentially saying to me, “It’s good, but…” and then handing me back a page riddled with highlights. Yet at the end of it, they’ve said “But you’re the published one, so…” Does that really make a difference? Does that make me immune to criticism? I don’t think so. I don’t think so at all. I’ve still got a-lot to learn. One common criticism or comment I get is that my style is super wordy. Very King-esque. I enjoy it, that’s my voice in there, but others see it as needless words. I’m just saying, Tolkien is a famous author, and he had some god damn needless words in his work. I’m not gonna go all Hemmingway on everyone and use 3 word sentences in my work because someone else is too impatient to read 1500 words.

Charles Dickens 

One final demon I’ve been grappling with is the novel vs. short fiction idea. Friends and family alike ask me when I’m going to write a novel, and the truth is I have no fucking idea. I’m with my man Edgar Allan on this one, I love novels, but I’ve always been in love with pieces that I can sit down and read in one sitting. Anthologies and short stories are like the potato chips of reading to me. Sometimes I prefer them to a full meal, you get me? I have no big novel plans right now, but I do aspire to have my own anthology somewhere down the road. I don’t think I’m incapable of writing a novel, I just haven’t gotten an idea that, to me, held enough merit for 300 pages and blank-hundred-thousand words. I feel like I operate effectively in short fiction, in and out before they know what hit them. I love the quick set up, and I’m a sucker for the open-ended or twist endings. My writing reflects that, for better or worse. At the end of the day, I still feel I should identify as a writer, which is a sentiment that was echoed today by a rather successful author.

Today, NY Times Bestselling Author Margaret Coel came and spoke to us aspiring writers about, well, writing. Mrs. Coel is a wonderful woman, a fun personality, and a successful author. While it was valuable to hear her perspectives, I’m unsure if the write (see what I did there?) questions weren’t asked, or if I’m just a closed-minded asshole, but she really didn’t say anything I didn’t already hear somewhere else. The rules of the game are read a lot, write a lot, and be persistent. End game. If you want to be taken seriously, either find an agent, or market yourself well via digital publishing. Having recently read Stephen King’s “On Writing,” and having picked up a few tricks during my short time in the trade, none of this information was new. Just from a different mouthpiece. This is something I want to do, but I want to be taken seriously. I’m not some casual horror flunkie dipping his toes in the water. I’m playing for keeps. And as far as I’m concerned, I’ve got a long life ahead of me to get good at it.

The future looks as bright as the lights of a freight train

 

Nitor

Hey boys and girls, did you miss me?

Yes, yes, the prodigal son returns much to the chagrin of all 20 or so people that actually follow me. I haven’t updated this blog since roughly September, when my first publication(s) were headed out. Annnnd a lot of new things have happened in my life since then. With a little encouragement from a certain special someone, I decided I should breathe some life into this. Especially considering that I haven’t written for “The Eagle” (our College’s newspaper) more than once this whole semester.

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above: semi-accurate representation of me this semester

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say, “holy shit I’m almost a senior in college.” When I walk out of this place next year with a Bachelor’s in Literature with a minor in Music, how unemployable do you think I’m going to be? Here’s a shocker for you (that some people will hate me for), I’m pretty sure I’m going to get my first few B’s of my college career. Granted, that doesn’t upset me. There are people that will be disgusted with the fact that I’ve lasted this long with all A’s, because, you know, <sarcasm> I wake up every morning with the thought “I’m just going to put everyone else to shame.” That’s just how I operate. I’m kind of a dick. </sarcasm> I knew going into this semester it would be a transitional one for me.

My relationship of 4 years ended back in November, and with that came an entire paradigm shift that most people probably experience once or twice in their lives. It started back when I was in high school, persisted through some rocky times, and stupidly, I proposed because of the promise of a false sense of security. But, as a good friend of mine says, “a ring never plugged no hole,” and indeed, it did not. It takes two to tango, folks, but three’s a crowd. On the bright side, that paradigm shift allowed me to pursue a 2-year-long crush that happens to double as the love of my life, so, there’s that. Am I sharing too much with you people?

the above statement is false

In terms of writing, I’m in a really strange place. I have ideas for miles and miles, and unlike when I was just starting off, I actually believe I can do these ideas justice. That was why I never wrote before, I was afraid of the “loss-of-self” that would happen to the idea between my brain and the paper. To any other writers in this predicament, my best piece of advice is: get the fuck over it. Write it down. If you hate it, you can edit it and edit it until you don’t, or sometimes you just have to hate it. H.P. Lovecraft loathed some of his most famous works. Anyway, point being, I have ideas, and I have (enough) confidence to give them a whirl… I just need to actually sit down and write them out. Typically, about the time I feel “inspired” to write is the time when I’m tired enough to want to pass out. This is called creative insomnia, and I feel no strong desire to be an insomniac. As well as it would work with my “brooding author” image, I like sleep.

Since September, I’ve had 5 short stories published. 4 in the Demonic Visions series, books 1, 2, and 3, editted and compiled by Chris Robertson. 1 by the lovely ladies at Sirens Call Publications, a few of which join me in said Demonic Visions books. In June, Demonic Visions 4 will come out, and provided I can pull my head out of my ass, I’ll have a story or two featured in there as well. My goal over the summer, as far as my writing career goes, is to branch out a bit. I love the DV series, but I feel like I need to get around a bit more with my writing, so that I might not seem like a one-trick pony. Hopefully I’ve impressed a reader (*cough* publisher) or two with my work.

Is anyone really surprised that I have work in a book with this kind of cover? You knew what you were getting into.

Recently, I feel as though adulthood has slowly settled its way into my brain. I haven’t necessarily felt ostracized from my friends, just like we are growing in separate directions. I no longer feel the need to empty my wallet during each Steam sale. Instead, payday usually brings a new slew of books onto my shelf. This year, I made it a point to be sociable and a party kind of person. Now that I’ve experienced that and found my happy medium, I’m retreating back into cynic-mode. People here at Chadron are really big fans of compromising their beliefs or opinions depending on who’s around, and I hate that shit. I have a Metallica tattoo on my left shoulder, but don’t tell the music department. They’ll all laugh heartily and scoff at me, despite the fact that half of them are most likely Metallica fans themselves. But it isn’t the cool thing to do. Apparently, high school mentality dies hard.

Thoughts of post-college life used to petrify me. Now, I’m excited to see what it holds. Even if it’s sorrow or rage or whathaveyou, at least I will have lived and learned outside of the realm of my hometown. I’m gonna pass the mic to my man William Blake to close this one off: “Expect poison from the standing water.”

 

Vola libere, sed semper domum redi

 

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” – Winston Churchill

Some of you, my professor included, may have noticed my lack of a blog post on a professional development book. truth time: I didn’t read one! My week was insane, and I kinda didn’t wanna read it because as much good stuff as I’m sure was in there, teaching strategies, at least right now, are not my bag. MOVING ON

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30 books. 30 books is what I’ve read between January and today, if you count some rather sizable graphic novels and some over-arching comic books story arcs (a.k.a spanning several issues). For some time now, I had been down on myself for not doing as much reading as one would expect from a literature major. The classics were wearing me out, the 5 page papers were driving me insane, and I had had it up to here -invisible line- with obscure poetry about a certain red-f’cking-wheelbarrow. And just then.. a light at the end of the tunnel – an excuse to read novel after novel, not necessarily as brooding and complex as any Scarlet Letter, but much more readable, and definitely more relatable. Hell, sign me up!

And sign up I did, sign up for an “A” contract in a class called “Adolescent Literature”. After getting a look at a reading list including the likes of The Outsiders, the Hunger Games, and some graphic novels I’d never heard of, another class of reading Walden could kiss my happy, anti-transcendentalism ass. Thanks to this class, I’ve done some things I would not have before – such as start a Twitter feed, and this blog page! No one wants to hear the dumb crap I have to spew, I thought to myself. What good is a blog past me just talking to myself?
Little did I know – these blogs and tweets and crazy technological wonders were to be used as part of a learning platform – to network with other human beings. Damn! What a concept! And here I was thinking the internet was around for little more than cat videos and obscure, brooding facebook statuses (SARCASM).

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This class is unlike any I’ve taken before, in the combined sense that I not only enjoyed what was required reading (most of the time), but doing my homework was a bit of a relief. Being forced to blog every week means having to regurgitate my thoughts about a book or a theme, and if I thought the author was a jackass or the book was pretentious, being able to say so for the world to see felt kinda good (still waiting on Sherman Alexie to explain to me how owning a kindle makes me a fucking elitist. Genius.) If I thought a book was awesome, being able to compare reasons why with someone else was also awesome. I wish in-class meetings had either been more frequent or had more people, but that kind of thing happens with an online medium. I still managed to get some good back-and-forths going with people, and this blog has forced me to pick back up a once-frequent medium of posting angry things on the internet. While it’s not fiction writing, it is something. I’ve decided that I’m going to start calling myself a writer. Not pretentiously, mind you, and not in the sense of “I hang around coffee shops and write” writer. But it’s something I do, and it’s something I do well. Why not take the title? I feel like I meet the qualifications.

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With such a comprehensive reading list, one is forced to gain some perspective outside of the (typical) middle-class, white American adolescence. I do not know what it’s like to be an indian on a reservation, to be a raped teenage girl, a (fabulously) gay man, or anything else of the sort… and being able to glance into that lifestyle, even for just a little bit, broadens an otherwise small horizon. I won’t lie, when I first heard “adolescent lit”, I thought of some rinse-and-repeat franchise like A Series of Unfortuante Events or Goosebumps, I hadn’t considered works like The Hunger Games. This kind of literature can provide an escape point or a point of identification for adolescents – I’m just wondering where the drop off is between “young adult” and “adolescent”. Plus, what exactly is “middle grade”? Problems are not  specific to a grade level. I come from Alliance where parents can’t buy their children toys off of infomercials because they aren’t old enough to call the hotline – I know a thing or two about early onset problems. Problems in adolescent literature aren’t problems exclusive to adolescents, they just come from different perspective. Plus, every parent in every adolescent novel or horror story for that matter is a total douche. If you had just believed your kid in the first place, maybe you wouldn’t have gotten abducted by aliens.

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Above: Somewhat related.

When it came to my independent reading for this class, I tried my best to convince my fellow readers and compatriots that Superman and Captain America had just as much literary complexity as lame-ass Arthur Dimmesdale or Charles Dickens’s Pip. A good 3/4ths of my independent reading had to do with graphic novels and comic books, and the accompanying blogs were me trying to convince a class of mostly women to pick up a comic book. Did I fail? Most likely. But luckily, Dr. Ellington included 2 graphic novels in the syllabus, so I can hop on the bandwagon of the success of that week. This all culminated in my inquiry project being my own syllabus for a graphic novels course. If I changed even one mind, I call that success. If I didn’t, well, you can’t win ’em all. In fact, you lose most of them it seems. Seriously though. Break the stereotype. Comics aren’t just for teenage boys, aren’t just for nerds, aren’t just for dorks. Yeah, shows like “Comic Book Men” don’t do us comic readers any favors, but come on. Dudes dig chicks who read comic books! Fact.

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So I guess the question that remains now is will I continue to spill my brain droppings all over this page, even recreationally? It’s hard to say. I guess that really depends on if anyone else does. I definitely plan on continuing to skulk my Twitter account. I dunno if I’ll continue to update it, but too many people share too much cool stuff for me to just ignore it all together.

Either way, if you’re reading this, thank you for joining me on this ride. I don’t suspect it’s over – but for right now, we need to head to a rest stop. My brain can’t handle much more responsbility.

Excelsior!

When I was in the 3rd Grade, I read the first four (then the only four) Harry Potter books. By 5th Grade, I had made my way up to Tom Clancy novels, and by 7th Grade, a Stephen King book was pretty much always within my reach. Books cowered in fear at the sight of me, and I was no stranger to the librarians (in both the school and the city library). But then something happened.. something I can’t quite explain. Something that would alter my relationship with reading for years to come.

I went to High School.

Wait, what? What exactly does that mean?

It means that, in terms of Don Gallo’s article “How Classics Create an Alliterate Society”, I was part of a rare area in the middle. I didn’t absolutely hate the reading that was required of me, I didn’t have trouble connecting with the novels because the characters “weren’t like me” or because the themes were “too adult” for me (Tom Clancy in 5th Grade, people), but I was very, very much so in the category of those disinterested in the reading.. or at least most of it. The Scarlet Letter, Romeo and Juliet, Once Upon a Town… all of these nearly bored me to tears. The Scarlet Letter was melodramatic nonsense in my high school self’s opinion (and while I appreciate it now, it still is). Anything Shakespearian still busts my chops, simply because the language he is writing in is not English. It’s not. Asking us to read Shakespeare UNTRANSLATED in 2013 is like asking someone from Shakespeare’s era to try and read text-speak.

http://weplaydifferent.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/shakespeare-iphone.jpg

Despite my lack of interest in these various “classic” titles, I did read them, all the while wondering just who the hell was part of the tribunal that gathers to pick the most painfully dull books to teach as “classic”. There is perhaps nothing more torturous, in my opinion, than having to read something you are plainly not interested in. High school’s method of teaching didn’t help much, just as Gallo mentions, nonsensical quizzes over trivial details in the books ensured not only that I didn’t want to read it, I didn’t care enough to keep track of details like “exactly how much time does the turtle spend on the road in The Grapes of Wrath? Round to the nearest hundredth”. That type of curriculum is choking and fosters only resentment for books. If you really want someone to be interested in a book, talk about it. I don’t mean quiz, I mean sit around and BS about the book; leave no thought unacknowledged and no question unanswered, no matter how trivial.

Gallo mentions the amount of good even 20 to 30 minutes of free reading could do in high schools, and I agree wholeheartedly. In grade / middle school, we had an “A.R.” reading program. We chose a book, read it (with allotted time in class that was usually used for the teacher to grade or wind down), and took a short quiz on it. There wasn’t any required reading, it was whatever we chose. I think the sudden shift from open fields to bleak cells is part of the reason that my relationship with reading has / had been tentative throughout and since high school. Being told what is classic, what is well written, what is good reading and what is not is definitely not my bag.

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As a teenager (which I still am), I plunged headfirst into the dark and the strange that literature had to offer. I went through Stephen King titles like candy, H.G. Wells and I become well acquainted, and I even sampled the occasional thriller by Tom Clancy or Steven Gould. The Goosebumps books from my childhood (and my earlier blog post) and the Lois Duncan novels from grade school had led me to this path, had given me a taste for the macabre and the darker side of what literature had to offer. My path had been determined. If given a choice, red definitely would be the color of my lightsaber.

As I got older and continued deeper down into the literary trenches, two pieces grabbed a significant hold of me and haven’t let go since: The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe, and The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft, both a culmination of years and years of horror films, books, and TV shows. Both deal with the dark recesses of the human mind, both drip with hopelessness and insanity, and both were exactly what I had been searching for. The writing styles, while a bit purpley in the case of Lovecraft, were perfect. The description of dank, dark catacombs beneath a manor or the bizarre geometry of a city lost to the city could not have painted a more vivid image in my mind. I had finally found my literary holy grail. Hopefully, through the duration of our time together, I can share this sinister grail with you.

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Carpe Noctem.