Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hmm. I seem to be functioning again.

I'm taking a break from my usual art policy to give you an image that may be of some interest. I took this object from my wallet, where I've been keeping it as a souvenir of my idiocy.

A year or so I was taking an art class that had a few mentally ill people in it, one of whom was full-blown delusional. Poor bastard had some nasty father issues and a belief that microchips were going to solve every problem the world had to offer. He did lots of Utopian planning and diagrams and was sadly sweet.

Anyway, as is frequently the case he wound up taking a shine to me. (I don't know how often I've wondered what it is about me that attracts criminals, lunatics, children, junkies, animals, and eccentrics -- and why it doesn't attract women.) So one day he pulls something out of his pocket.

"Take this, brother. May it serve you well," he said and put it in my hand.

"What is it?" I asked.

"Acid," he said.

Question: You are in a public place and a stone fucking crazy man -- someone you know and you know is really, really nuts -- hands you something and tells you it's acid. What do you do?

Answer: Pop it right into your mouth without even looking at it. Thankfully, it wasn't a hit of acid. It was half of a plastic frog. What was going through my mind at that moment? I didn't want to disappoint my friend by rejecting his gift.

As soon as I get enough money, I'm hiring an oaf wrangler to keep me from doing that kind of shit.

So I did line edits on three stories for Swill today, including one crime story in the classic noir tradition, one knotty, gnarly character portrait, and one by our first... Look, I'm not going to say real writer. That ain't fair to anyone.

But the first writer whose books I've purchased and have on my shelves has contributed a story to Swill and it is hi-larious, just fat packed with L*A*F*F*S. At least if you're as misanthropic as I am.

There is a real pleasure for me in doing line edits; this gave me the extra thrill of fucking with the prose of someone I read for pleasure. (Note to all: I edit with a heavy hand and the understanding that I'm just giving the author something to consider when doing that last rewrite.) Thank you, Mr. John Shirley.

(And while I'm plugging, Mr. David Byron, who as you may recall has taken a couple of my stories, has asked me to alert you to his new publication, New Voices In Horror Volume One. I don't know much about it but the essay on writing for the web that he's posted at the link is well worth your attention.)

Anyway, I've got a batch of beans and a pot roast cooked, I finished what's hopefully the final version of my business card exterior, I got caught up on some of my shamefully-late emails...

So, why weeks of nothing and then function again? This is a serious issue for me. How do I get myself to work? Was it killing those rats the other night? Do I need animal sacrifice to bring myself fully to life?

Sad fact of the matter is that I'm not a self-starter. I need deadlines, encouragement, both serious challenges and the option of blowing everything off if I find myself swept away by some grand creative impulse. I need juuuuuust the right amount of pressure. School, Swill, the writer's group -- hey, these days requests from stray editors -- all help me stay in that zone of functionality.

I wasn't overtly miserable during my break but it really bugs me to have free time and no volition to fill it with. Of course the fact that the end of the semester coincided with the concurrent ending of two major projects wasn't exactly optimum. The fact that it happened in midwinter did me no favors. I should crank up the SAD lamp the missus got me, he said. I should eat breakfast and take vitamins.

But most of all, I should get to work.

1 comment:

robp said...

I am now listening to Blue Oyster Cult because of you. Of course, I own it because of me, but I went to the John Shirley site and discovered he'd written a novel called Transmaniacon MC, which is the catchy first song on the first BOC album. I still don't know what the hell the song's about, nor do I really care; the Shirley synopsis sounded interesting though, maybe it's based on the lyrics.

Oh, snagged a copy of Ellison's Angry Candy for $3 last night, which I suppose was inspired by the need to email Ellen Datlow. Which I did, and I think I included you in the forwarded summation I sent about her new anthology series. If not, lemme know; I have about a page in a Word doc that includes the full announcement about the demise of YBFH and Ellen's responses.