Last week’s snippets

Last week I wrote a few poems, a few meditations, and a whole lot of a self-indulgent gothic romance. Here are a few of my favorite snippets.

A mask I’m working on. It’s currently made entirely of glue from a hot glue gun.

A. You can want for nothing and still be unwanted. This was a thought that had crossed Evangeline’s mind at least once a week since her sixteenth birthday. Before that, she had small chance of noticing anything wrong with her little world. She’d had a caring nurse in Mrs. Fisher, then a kind governess in Miss Tulle. What had it mattered that her father rarely glanced her way? Why would she care if her mother seldom came back from town?


B. write about it

that moment you edge around

as if tracing the outline

can color the void


C. I want my house to tell you what you won’t learn from my lips. From the mask on the front door grinning with pride, spells spilling from his eyes, to the smell of rot emulsifying in the stomachs of my worms. Maybe you’ll spot the Venus fly traps, or maybe you’ll see a few flies and wonder what kind of mess you’ve befriended.


Tell me which intrigues you the most- a, b, or c. It may influence what I choose to continue.

How Not to Announce Your Independently Published Novel on Facebook

  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. No, I didn’t self-publish because I was rejected by real publishers, I self-published because I’m too impatient and anxiety-ridden to write query letters in the first place.
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. I know, it’s audacious that I’d just go and write a book, then publish it without any authority telling me it was good enough. And then to announce it, like it’s not some dirty little secret? The scandal. Who do I think I am, anyway? Don’t I know writing is serious business?
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. I know the book you’ve been thinking about writing would be much better, but it doesn’t exist, does it? It must be very frustrating, me announcing a clearly inferior work, while your masterpiece is still only 10 pages long.
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. It’s written in the pompous yet jaded style of the Next Great American Novel, but of course it can’t be that because I’m a woman.
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. Yes, it’s just an ebook. No, it’s not a “real book.” Yes, a physical copy would be ideal, but I know how well this book is (not) going to sell. An ego boost just isn’t worth the hundred extra dollars it would cost to format paperbacks.
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. Don’t worry, it’s the most literary thing I intend to write anytime soon. All the other books I’ve written so far are distinctly genre. Much less tragic and much more potentially lucrative. It’s not very professional of me, but I just couldn’t leave this one alone without publishing it. But if I cared about being professional I wouldn’t be posting this, would I?
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. I know you’re concerned about my good name, but names are cheap on the internet, and most of you probably already think I’m a trainwreck anyway.
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. If you hate me, you should probably buy it. Pull it up on your phone during happy hour and read sections of it in a mocking tone to your friends. “We’ll be right back, we’re going to get more drinks,” they’ll say, interrupting a particularly cringe-worthy scene. “What’s up with her today?” you’ll hear them whisper to each other as they walk away. “She’s never mentioned this girl before, why is she so invested?”
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. It might be one gigantic shaggy dog story. Read it and find out!
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. It was either publish this or write detailed character studies of every single creepy man I’ve ever met, so there are some predatory fuckers who should be pretty grateful for this book. Just kidding, I’m still totally going to write those character studies at some point.
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. And if you want to play the “list the ways self-publishing in general and this book specifically are bad ideas” you are going to lose, because I can list way more of them than you. So don’t try, because that would just be embarrassing for you. Not for me. I no longer feel embarrassment.
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. Now that I’m an author I’m even more vicious when people poke at my insecurities, so tread carefully.
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote. It’s okay. Of the 1,200 something books I’ve read it’s solidly in the middle.
  • Anyway, here’s a book I wrote: x

Pacific Northwest Gothic: A Template

 

  1. We start with fear and end with the fantasy. First, there is a corpse on a riverbank. Later, she dances on a stage with red velvet curtains.
  2. The North decays just as well as the South, but in deceptive ways. You won’t smell the body rot coming from the forest over the scent of pine and rain. You won’t be able to tell if the seal is resting on the beach, or has washed up with eyes already eaten out. You won’t see our poverty under our technological gleam, but everything rusts in the rain.
  3. There is no difference between a monster and a predator besides literary conceit. A man need not be overly clever to kill hundreds, if no one is watching. A demon is a man until he is a demon. Until he cannot be explained. Until we do not want to explain him.
  4. You cannot trust the light. It will leave.
  5. Fantasy is a false denouement. The fantasy is the mouth of an ouroboros: a snare to bring you back to the fear. A predator can be caught, or killed, or imprisoned. A monster cannot. A monster lives where mirror meets glass, where mind meets sleep.
  6. Like monsters, we can survive only in the liminal. Horror we can handle, as long as the macabre is fantastic as well. Like the bullied children we once were, we dream up magic to glorify our wounds.

I’d rather be Kilgore Trout

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.” — Kurt Vonnegut

I recently decided something: I’d rather be Kilgore Trout than not be a writer. I’d rather be a piece of satire than just another stretch of silence.

Trout, Kurt Vonnegut’s prolific science fiction author insert, is a constantly shifting joke, his biography changing from book to book. The sometimes-author of 117 books, with a whopping 3 fans, he is also a perfect example of a creative’s defiance. He writes and writes and writes, despite any acclaim. He won’t shut up. He won’t stop trying.

If I can’t be anything else, I’m going to be Kilgore Trout.

I’d rather be Kilgore Trout than publish nothing, waiting for the perfect draft, the perfect circumstance, the perfect amount of encouragement. I’d rather die in obscurity, prolific and unappreciated, than give in. I’d rather say everything than say nothing, I’d rather show my hand than keep it close to my chest. I’d rather be Kilgore Trout than wait to be noticed, wait to be validated by some exterior authority.

Of course, there are some differences between Kilgore Trout and I. Primarily, I am not a man, so endless creative confidence on me looks less like a virtue and more like a sin. And yet, for me, Kilgore Trout resonates. I don’t know if Vonnegut meant him for me. I don’t know if he’s meant to be a beacon for the ironically optimistic and constantly daring, but he’s mine now anyway.

Because here’s the truth of it: There are always going to be people with less talent and more confidence than you. There are always going to be people with less talent and more confidence and more acclaim than you. And if you dare to publish, dare to paint, dare to create and tell the world about your creations, you are also going to be that to some other more talented, less confident person.

But every so often, in a blue moon, someone will look at your art and get it. Someone will laugh at your joke, or get that fierce look on their face that means they understand your anger. Maybe you’ll even get three fans.

So fuck it. Ignore comparisons. Be the one who goes for it. Don’t be the sad thing in the corner griping about how you could do better if you only showed off. Be a modern Kilgore Trout. Post your selfies. Read your shitty poetry aloud at parties. Sell your art for more than your family thinks it’s worth. Write a blog that no one reads and keep posting about it even though your friends find it embarrassing. Follow every idea that stirs your passion, no matter how absurd, no matter how unmarketable.

Oblivion is unavoidable, so there’s no point in face-saving silence. Keep writing. Keep saying things. Refused to be restrained. Be Kilgore Trout.

The Visionary

Her fingernails snip the stems of daisies and dandelions as she dreams of rings. Another flower crown, another fairy ring, another circle of friends, another playground game. “What if we were a spaceship?” she asks the other kids. “I saw in a show they can make them this way. We could spin through space.” The grass isn’t green, but these flowers are hardy things. If they can survive the playground, surely they could survive space.

Her parents watch early morning shows. More murders, more police killing children. The suburbs are vast and strangers are frightening, so they drive her to school every morning. In class she practices hiding in case of a mass shooting. Under her desk some former student drew a flower. Another drew a rocket. She traces over them with her own pencil carefully.

What if I could grow spaceships? she thinks. While the teacher talks about closing blinds and escape routes, she draws a tree around the rocket, making it into something living. “What do bullets do to trees?” she asks, hand raised. “If we had school in trees would we be safe? What if we wore trees, if they grew around us like clothing? Could trees be spacesuits?”

She loves what thrives despite everything. Not her momma’s orchids and lilies, but weeds growing unwanted in the driveway. She makes a chain of dandelions grown entirely from concrete. She isn’t sure what it means, but wears them as a crown above her pigtails long after they fade. They are a force field, unlike her age. She feels, even this early, the weight of history. An inheritance of violence and greed, already turning against her. She knows, in her soft child way, that evil things loom heavy over her family, but her dandelions weave golden armor around her, and she walks through a world capable of healing.

Everywhere, growing things.

“What if?” she asks. She wants to know what space is. What it’s made of. What grows there. If it might be safer than here. Sometimes teachers know the answers. Sometimes they just want her to stop questioning.

She doesn’t. She asks librarians, asks her phone, asks everyone she meets. The dandelions taught her all about thriving. About wiggling into places no one wants you to be, or dreaming up schemes no one wants you to think. Eventually, like them, she’ll get what she needs.

“A torus spaceship is like a somersault,” she tells her friends. “The outside is moving, but inside you feel safe.” They tumble down a grassy hill and into space.

How to be a successful manic pixie dream girl

Forget whatever you might know of your origins. Forget what you love, and especially forget what you hate. Shrink into toddlerhood – make sure your waist shrinks too. No one over 110 pounds could possibly be eccentric.

Fall in love eternally. Love the carpet, the table, the dogshit on the street. Don’t admit to loving any one person. Love everyone, but not faithfully. Your fickleness is your most charming feature. Kiss strangers. Ignore any flickering doubts of inappropriateness or unease.  Do somersaults in dangerous neighborhoods. Never feel alarmed. No one can be more eccentric than you, so no one could possibly cross your boundaries. Ignore financial, political, and civil rights concerns. Who needs rights when you have imagination?

Develop a unique giggle. Be sure to laugh more than you speak. Dye your hair, or at least cut it short. Only eat adorable food. Pickles. Popcorn. Cupcakes. Don’t shy away from adorning yourself in vegetables, trash, or clothing you find in the children’s section of Goodwill (you should be small enough to fit children’s clothes by now).

Remember, you have no boundaries, no needs, no past, no future. You are the moment. You have no concerns, and your only love is transformation. Take delight in your imaginings, but never write them down. That’s too permanent, too serious. You need to become a creature of light, as insubstantial as a cloud. Allow your insignificance to grow until you become significant though it. Walk down the street like it doesn’t exist. Only the moment exists, and you are the moment.

You’re almost ready! Go into the world with the sole intent of finding sad chaps and making them happy. Find the most mundane schmuck possible. Approach him unforgettably. Remember, your charm depends entirely on your ability to slink out of reality. Leave. Leave and don’t come back. You’re not a person. You’re an experience. Don’t be easy to find again. Never pursue. Introduce, enchant, and fall back. Let the world’s saddest schmucks come to you.

Steal their wallets, their cars, and their bank accounts. After all, your fickleness is your most charming feature.