Archives for category: Writing

It’s official! We’re a bonafide participant in Six Sentence Sunday. Check out the other lovely blogs here:

I leave you with six sentences of a dizzying passage from “Phineas,” a short story.

We got home well past midnight. I told Bruce I was hungry. He said we hadn’t anything to eat because I was a dumb fuck. He wouldn’t look at me, and when he slammed the bedroom door, I heard it click. Locked.

“No,” I moaned, listing into walls, staggering around in the semi-dark.

Have a lovely Sunday.


Salut mes amis!

It’s Sunday and it’s raining, so that means it’s time to share some deets on the Big Project. At the end of this post, I’m going to provide exactly six sentences from the rough draft of this monstrosity, emphasis on rough and draft. The Big Project exists both in my head and in a steadily growing Word file on my aging Macintosh, but once the first draft has been “finished,” it shall be called The Novel. No working title as of yet.

So what’s it all about?

It’s not exactly a genre piece. There’s some mystery, some romance, some thiller-y and police procedural-y elements. It’s literary fiction. Character driven. Both internal and external hurdles to overcome. A Great Statement may be made.

‘WTF is literary fiction?’ You say.

The folks at Write Anything answer:

In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character and tends to be multilayered stories which wrestle with universal dilemmas rather than with plot. They usually provoke the readers beliefs and thoughts, often with an outcome of changing or altering their audiences outlook on life. More often than not, literary fiction addresses what might be considered more serious issues to uncover a truth bringing its audience; by the way of the main character; to a deeper understanding about life.

Sounds pretty pretentious, I must admit. But I will also admit that lit fic is my favorite “genre,” if you prefer to call it that. Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate lit fic from certain genre novels. “Genre” is this context meaning “romance,” “mystery,” “science fiction,” and the like. Some people (mostly genre writers) do not even believe that literary fiction should be a category unto itself. I am not among that camp!

Also, sometimes lit fic is accused of lacking plot. In other words, nothing happens. Or at least nothing seems to happen. L’horreur! Write Anything also has something to say in reply to that:

In literary fiction, the plot bubbles underneath the surface. The important factors in literary fiction is what is happening in the thoughts, minds, desires and motivations of the characters as they move about and within the setting. Adding a further layer upon that, are the underlying cultural expectations and social issues which influence the motivations and actions of the characters.

So there you have it. A fitting genre for an anthropologist of the cultural kind. The Big Project is meant to be lit fic, but who knows if it may morph into something else entirely — still being in an infantile state and all. It may also fit in the categories of transgressive and neo-noir.

Themes of the Big Project include: redemption, guilt, unlikely love, and some other things. Oh and PRIDE.

In the realm of television and film, they tell screenwriters to create a pitch. Basically, summarize what it’s all about in a few sentences. This is a novel, but I thought it would be an interesting challenge to come up with a blurb (i.e. pitch). I ended up writing this:

Undercover Special Agent Keegan Rodriguez tells himself it’s okay to snort drugs and sell his body for leads — until he finds himself under the covers with the alleged linchpin of a network of sex and crime. He’s a little bit unhinged, and he definitely doesn’t like cops. But when he begrudgingly agrees to help a burned-out detective with a case gone cold, Keegan finds that he might have buried himself a little too deep. Together, they fight addiction and corruption in a quest for trust, redemption, and the missing pieces of themselves. Set primarily in contemporary Orlando.

It actually helped my creative brain a great deal…. to summarize what essentially is a novel into a mere paragraph.

Anyway, at the beginning of this rambling and poorly outlined post, I promised six sentences.

‘What’s the deal with that?’ You say.

It’s six sentence Sunday, and it’s for real. Since this is my first time participating and I have zero forethought, I’m not listed on the 24 June section. Whatever.

His hair is jet black, receding and greasy. Purple veined hands reach up to pat down his suit jacket. He is shamelessly overdressed for this dive. He blinks once, and then twice, black eyes conveying quasi-interest. Finally, his fingers have found what they sought. He pulls out a long, hand-rolled cigarette.

There you have it! Six sentences from the Big Project. Now back to the actual writing part…

Dolphins are pretty damn swell, and I’m pretty sure they can also save reluctant writers from getting their faces eaten off by self-doubt.

It’s scary to start stuff.

It’s terrifying really, which is why it’s easier to not start anything at all. It’s easier to remain on a “safe island,” insulated from that fear and surrounded by things that just “are.” You don’t have to start them, or end them, or plan them, or anything. They just “are.” And everything stays the same, and you’re okay with that because that’s what you know. Maybe, sometimes, you want something different or something new, but you laugh that off. You are crazy to want change. CRAZY!

Fact is, Safe Island is boring. There’s nothing going on. You win at everything because you’re not doing anything. One day is the same as another. Static. Stale. After a while, it may even smell a little musty.

So one day you think, “I want to start this or that,” but there’s always tomorrow. Right? Tomorrow will come, and it will be a whole new day. Twenty-four hours to start whatever it is that you want to start. So you’ll just kick back for today. Walk the dog. Have a beer. Watch Anderson Cooper. Go to work. Whatever it is you do on Safe Island. You will see the same people, and they will say the same things. Maybe they too are marooned on Safe Island. It will be comforting. Comfortable.

Tomorrow will turn into the day after that. The day after that will turn into next week. Next month. Next year, even.

People say that it’s easy to procrastinate. I think not. It takes effort to ignore the inevitable. It’s stressful. Every day you wallow in a state of “what if?” and “no, I don’t need to do that today.” It’s almost a full-time mental job. People think procrastinators are lazy, unmotivated, stupid, etc etc. Truth is, they are exhausted.

It is anxiety. It’s indecision and uncertainty. It’s your mind whirling out of control, going in four directions at once. How can you start something if you’re not sure you can finish it? What will people think of you if you cannot finish it? How can you start something if you’re not sure what you’re even doing? Will you fail or will you succeed? What is failure, what is success? Isn’t simply doing something a kind of success?

You don’t know, because you’re too busy freaking out. Starting stuff is scary, but Safe Island is not scary. So you stay there. Because it’s nice on Safe Island. The weather is beautiful. The people are friendly.

But sometimes scary is good and good is scary. One day, global warming will catch up to us and all of the polar ice caps will melt. Safe Island will sink into the ocean and become a coral reef, and you will sink or swim or evolve a pair of gills.

Creative types are notorious procrastinators. Maybe it’s the thrill of a deadline or the fear of not being good enough.

And the difference between being personally successful or unsuccessful is whether or not you make the effort to escape from Safe Island. You may need to hijack a dingy. You may even sink into shark-infested waters, but hey, that’s a lot more interesting than being a hermit and watching infomercials all day.

Believe it or not, I was terrified to even begin this puny little blog entry. This is the extent of my creative paralysis and my perfectionism. I was afraid to fail at writing a blog that no one even knows about.

So, against the wishes of Safe Island, I’m starting on a journey. Well, I’ve been on the starting stage for a few months now, just thinking about it and writing snippets here and there, because starting stuff for real is super scary.

I’m writing a novel. Yes, like everybody is doing these days. But damnit, I want to do it. I love to write, and I love to tell stories. I might capsize my kayak and get eaten by a shark or stung by a stingray or whatever, but there are also dolphins in this god forsaken ocean. Dolphins are pretty damn swell, and I’m pretty sure they can also save reluctant writers from getting their faces eaten off by self-doubt.

I will also stick with my short stories because that is the domain of commitment-phobic writers. Which reminds me that I have a story I’ve been terrified to send off. It’s my baby, but again there’s always that doubt:

It may not be good enough.

“Well, hell!” I say. Nothing is ever good enough, so get over it and do something.

And if I never mention this novel again, then you’ll know what happened. Send the US Coast Guard.