Writing: It Takes a Village

For the thing I’m writing right now, I of course needed info. This is just for today and yesterday, too. Here’s the process:

  • What’s a likely military-cargo plane out of the Middle East?  ➔ called my dad (retired USAF)
  • Where’s John Wayne buried? ➔ asked Google
  • How does a doctor get certified to perform surgery? ➔ facebook-mailed a doctor-friend (who’s also a writer)
  • What other Road Rage-ish kind of stories are out there? ➔ texted a friend, ended up talking about Lorenzo Lamas for many rounds, as you do (also discussed the wearing of vests without a shirt underneath)
  • What kind of plane would a doctor have, for weekends &etc? ➔ emailed another friend (USAF, and a writer)
  • What’s that Spider-Man cover with Pete in the middle, his troubles all around? ➔ asked on Twitter, and some very helpful followers seemed to already know
  • What’s a good body of water around Albuquerque? ➔ emailed a friend down there (narrowly avoided the usual slate of Walter White mentions I always have handy)
  • What’s James Stewart’s character’s name in Vertigo? ➔ “Scottie,” said Google, in kind of an insulted tone
  • How many gears would a 1981 Shovelhead most likely have, if it was somewhat stock? ➔ texted my brother, and he knew right off
  • For the details on a non-public ceremony coming up in a few pages? ➔ do I make it up, or do I ask friends who know it? I think I’ll just write it, then have one of them read it, tell me what-all I’m doing wrong, and how insulting I’m being (hopefully? some. this is supposed to be art, after all)
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    Sequencing a Collection

    Of flash fiction, anyway. Just stumbled on this—I forget who it was for (maybe Christopher Rosales, the editor? maybe myself-only?), but I know what it was for: States of Grace. The little pocket-sized book I still can hardly believe I was lucky enough to get published. Not e-, not even on Amazon, I don’t think. And right after it was all set in stone, I started kicking out more of these short-shorts, of course. Because they’re maybe my favorite form of all. I should do a part 2 to States someday. Or an expanded edition.

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    Building Your Bad Guy

    Was just on a panel about villains at Denver ComicCon—actually, my second villains-panel there—and then, just now, I went all the long way down to Alamo Drafthouse to see Footloose on the big screen for the first time in thirty-two years, then listened to the Sir Patrick Stewart episode of The Nerdist on the way back, and . . . it all left me thinking, I guess. About antagonists, and the building of them.

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    Writers, Writing (and not)

    Makes me half-nervous, making fun, as I know you see your own frailties best in others. But still—well, I don’t like coffee, or beer, or fine dining. But I’m sure I’m a poser in some way all the same:

    List of Things That Don’t Make You A Writer

    When I moved to Austin, I was surprised to learn that every guy and gal hanging out at a coffee shop was a novelist, every barista was sitting on a few truly outstanding, and unpublished, literary masterpieces, and everyone with a beard, a bike or a flowery skirt was either a great poet, the next…

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    A Good Week for Novellas

    Y’all been hearing the same thing I have? That we’re kind of easing into a novella-friendly space? Like:

    And more and more, I’m sure. As for what constitutes a novella, a short novel, a novelette, a long story . . . who knows. I mean: editors know. There’s word-count thresholds. Granted, they maybe vary from house to house, from mag to mag, but they’re more or less not all that different from one another.

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    Lake Access Only

    Which is a slasher I wrote  . . . two years ago? I’d just reread The Virgin Suicides, and thought, Man, that was cool, sure—along with American Psycho, maybe the book of the nineties—but, wouldn’t it be cooler if that royal first-person delivery could be used to deliver something with a lot of people dying in gruesome ways? So: Lake Access Only. Which turned out cool. At least, I verymuch dig it. Yet to sub it anywhere, though, as it’s a weird one. Also? I may dig into it this summer, see if I can make it work as a screenplay instead. Which’ll require just completely ripping its innards out, and putting completely different innards in. But that’s how adapting goes. Anyway, LAO, its kind of central . . . I want to say ‘secret,’ but it’s more of a reveal, which of course the slasher is special-made to deliver right at the end. That reveal in LAO, I just found it on the shelf at Goodwill. Which is to say, had I found this sunglasses case before writing LAO, I probably wouldn’t have written it, as it was already in the world, and things that are already in the world aren’t really worth writing about.

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    Ye Olde Writing Tips

    twitter

    First among them would be Don’t adopt antiquated speech patterns and/or diction for your subject lines, unless you’re Cormac McCarthy. But even he (He) doesn’t use “ye”—which, correct me if I’m wrong, but nobody did, right? It was just a tyopgraphic/typesetting shortcut, which still  got a proper “the” when read off the page.

    Anyway, searching for a different email, I stumbled on this/below: Chizine hit me up for ten writing tips they could tweet out into birdland and beyond. But that was two years ago, and there’s zero chance I could ever find them, and less chance I ever stumble onto this dark corner of my inbox again, so, this post will be my preserving jar:

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    Letter to a Just Starting-Out Indian Writer, and Maybe to Myself

    I read this first at Isleta Casino in Albequerque. Not just randomly, mongst the slots, but for a keynote-thing. Why I wrote a commencement address for that, no idea. Then Jon Davis (there at Isleta) asked me to read it for his MFA students at IAIA (click around, there’s also a chapter of Mongrels out-loud, first-time ever, and likely the only time I’ll read that chapter in front of people), said he’d post it for all, and he wasn’t lying:

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    Jeremy Robert Johnson & Skullcrack City

    skullcrack-city

    Because I kind of insist on assigning amazing stuff for my grad workshops, I of course assigned Jeremy Robert Johnson’s Skullcrack City (my original write-up here). It was dug by all. Here’s JRJ’s answers to the questions we crowd-sourced:

    —To start with the ending: Is this bleak or is it hopeful? Are they (that is, ‘we’) winning? What others ending were under consideration, if any, or did you have this as your get-to point the whole time?

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