Paint It Black

I have always found goth or emo-type people to be affected. I've never understood why someone would take an interest that most people find bizarre and turn it into a lifestyle. It always seemed like a cry for attention to me - kids who were lonely, feeling on the fringes of their social world, who just want to say fuck it and take their differences to the extreme.

Having said that, I started wondering yesterday what happens to these people when they grow up? Of course there's the famous example of Marilyn Manson, who found a way to make money at it and so never had to. But at some point, most of us have to move out of our parents' houses and get on with our lives. Eventually we all get out of school and have to find real jobs, spouses, and the ordinary day-to-day world begins.

I guess some people just go underground, of a sorts, dress normally during the week and take on a different persona in their free time. But even that, it would seem, would eventually have to end, as the places you frequent and the crowd you fit in with get younger and younger than you each year. What is that day like, when you realize that all those black outfits will no longer be worn? When the black nail polish and lipstick get put away for the final time? How does it feel to finally be forced by society to slough off a personality, a personality you originally acquired to deal with society to begin with?

When I was in high school and college, there were lots of goth kids around. I wonder, as I look around at my Generation X as we've aged, how many of those soccer moms and baseball-coach dads I see everywhere were once those goth kids? Do you lose your angst, or just swallow it? Do you one day decide that the world isn't a bad place after all, or do you just drink the kool-aid?

I can't really speculate too much, as I was never one of them. I was in school, as I am now, just one of those average people who sort of gets along with everyone. I had friends of all ilks, and still do. I blend, like a chameleon, from the PTA to the computer geeks to the art scene. Whatever the weather brings.

Speaking of which.

Raining and cold today. Received a idea yesterday from the fiction gods, my own version of the gothic horror stories of Poe and his ilk. Am still editing the atrocious sci-fi mess that I wrote, though at least I feel now like it is starting to shape up somewhat. Maybe I'll go dress up in all my black clothes, and spackle on the black eyeliner. March on, Marilyn.

Now playing: a-ha - Little Black Heart
via FoxyTunes

25 January 2008

Anthony Burgess and the Martini Method

There's an old story about the writing habits of Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange, for those of you who don't know). Legend has it that his method for production was to force himself to write 1000 words a day, 365 days a year. Every day, when he'd finish, he'd stop working and reward himself with a martini. When I read this, I thought to myself, hmmm...1000 words is doable. And 365,000 words a year is certainly production. So, I've tried it out, and so far, so good.

I write something, anything, 1000 words. Even if nothing salable comes of it, the exercise itself is honing my craft. I learn something every time I sit down to write. How to create believeable dialogue. How to take a character sketch and shape it into a story with direction. Sometimes I just make one line better, more accurate, more artful. And then I am free for the rest of the day. Free from guilt, and free to think, wonder, and imagine.

Good news has come today. A story I sent off a few weeks ago to a British horror magazine has passed the first read with the editors. Not an acceptance, but it has put me on cloud nine. It's progress. Yeah!

21 January 2008


I'm not exactly sure what's wrong with me these days. Maybe it's winter, and the fact that it's been perpetually cold and/or rainy since Christmas. Maybe it's the mounting stack of rejection slips I am collecting, breeding on my doubts and fears. I can't quite pinpoint the cause, but the effect has been staring at a blank screen for days. I've written several sketches for stories, but nothing is going anywhere. The fact that I'm not writing has started breeding a low grade panic in me as well, which in turn contributes to trying to force myself to create something. Deep down I know that there is no such thing as forcing creativity, but the fact is, I need to sell something - I need to start making money at this profession, or it won't be a profession for very long.

Apparently, I'm not the only one having this problem. Wil Wheaton and Elizabeth Bear seem to be having the same sorts of troubles. Luckily for them, however, they have deadlines and agents/editors on their backs. I have nothing but my own motivation, which has not been very active for the last couple of weeks.

One bright spot. Yesterday I got out of the house and started driving. I have always loved to do that, just riding around, listening to music and thinking by myself. And for those few moments, it worked. Stuff started flowing again, as if I'd turned on a tap. Sadly, I had places to go and shit to do, so not much came of it, but it gave me hope.

Therefore, the new plan is GTFOOTH, otherwise known as Get the F__ Out Of The House. I'm going to pack up my laptop and go somewhere. Anywhere. Ride around. Stop at a coffee shop and work with no distractions for a couple of hours. I think that by staying home all the time, the first Law of Procrastination comes into play. It's a sad day when I keep up with the laundry around this place, but right now there's not a dirty towel in the house.

Yeah, I need to get outta here.

18 January 2008

Working Again

Today was my first full day back into writing since the holiday season began, and it felt both strange and comfortingly familiar. I am out of practice and have had a very hard time concentrating today when I try to flesh out scenes from the current story I am working on. Conversely, when I work on journaling and just let myself sit and think, ideas are flowing all around me begging for an audience. So, part of the day was spent researching those new tidbits and writing notes for other projects. I think it will take a few days to get my groove back, per Stella.

I am so often pulled in several different directions. I love sci-fi and fantasy, and am working on several short stories in that genre. I have a book inside me about addiction and the havoc it wreaks on families, which is decidedly not sf, but that I wrote the opening scene for today. Also a big fan of African American literature, Ernest Gaines, and Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, and I want to write a book that brings that experience into the modern age and in connection with white Southern youth who try to overcome the prejudices of their ancestors. Then of course there's Lilith, who stalks me unashamedly and without end, waiting for her turn. They are all in there, begging to get out, and I feel sometimes like a tiny pinhole in a bag full of water.

I got a rejection letter for "The Question" a couple of days ago. Was disappointed, but hey, that's the game. Re-submitted to another magazine this morning, so we'll see.

I'm kept hopeful, and encouraged, by successful writers who are kind enough to blog about their writing process. Although it doesn't make it any easier, it is so comforting to hear that a well-known published author struggles with the same day to day problems as I do. Thanks Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Bear, Wil Wheaton, and William Gibson. Thank you for giving me a frame of reference along with a healthy dose of reassurance.

09 January 2008

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