My First Adult Writing Contest (The Post Where I Write My First Flash Fiction Story)

Well, I never gave much thought to this flash fiction business. Thought it was so much window dressing. Thought it was a bunch of malarky. I would have thought the same thing about all poetry if my English teachers hadn’t told me it was meaningful. And then poetry hit me like a smack in the face last year. And it was good. So, I read some of the winners of this contest and they were good. So now I will try to write a story in under 250 words and win the contest! I’ll save this as a draft in case there’s a rule about publishing your story beforehand.

I’m pretty sure I won’t win the contest at all, having never written a story like this before, but I was pretty sure no one would like my blog, so fuck it.

Addendum: here’s the prompt and the quote for the contest:

EVENING-QUARRY-ACCENT-ROSE-TEAR-MINUTE-GRAVE-CLOSE-ENTRANCE-BOW

I want to put a ding in the universe. –Steve Jobs

Oh by the way I found the idea for this on WetInkPress. So you have to write a story under 250 words and use at least four of the prompt words and you can either try to use the quote as inspiration or not, if you do and you are the best at it, you get an additional award.

Ok I think it’s two guys talking, one guy thinks he can change the world, the other doesn’t, then the first guy leaves and feels like he’s already changed the world.

Here goes then.

Tides of evening wash over the graveyard in a sudden flurry. The men spoke with strong Irish accents.

“Mom would be proud of us wouldn’t she.” He tossed it over his shoulder like so much dirt. Not a question, jus

Pause. Outside they are digging themselves out of the snow, so this works well. Me and GF are like fuck it, we ain’t going out in that shit! I don’t know why people are in a hurry to get out. We hibernatin in this bitch.

Anyway

Rolling tides of evening washed over the austere graves in a vengeful fury.

The two men spoke in Irish accents.

“Mom would be sah proud, wouldn’t she.” He tossed it over his shoulder like so much dirt.

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight. “Aye, don’t you think so?”

“I should be glad to never learn one way or another.”

Patrick plucked a rose from a carefully arranged pile at the grave near the newly stacked pile of dirt.

“Our world is as beautiful as hers,” he said, handing the flower to Dennis.

Dennis glared at his brother and threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “Our world is shite.”

Patrick laughed. To Dennis his laugh sounded cold and lonely, weak and powerless in the face of the oncoming night, in this horrible place of death. “If you’ve done with fooling about do you mind lending a hand?”

Patrick turned to the work with joyful fervor. “Look. Even here we make a difference. One stroke after the next.” He threw dirt. And another. “And further we delve into the dust.”

“Exactly that. One day closer to death. One more step into the grave.”

“So we act meaninglessly?”

“Of course we do!”

“Do we not celebrate our mother with every minute we spend here, digging, in a kind of prayer like way, don’t you think?”

“Ah.”

“And by celebrating her, throughout our lives, don’t we make the world a better place? Don’t we then change the goddamn world?”

“Shut up and keep digging you fool.”

Patrick smiled, sccoped the rose carefully into his shovel, and replaced it upon the pile.

Ok, obviously lost the thread there at the end. But that was about 310 words, so only sixty to cut. Now to make the language more poetic, and more dark, and more graveyardy. Nothing like what I had in mind, but fuck it, I guess that’s what flash fiction is all about. It’s some kind of flash of a scene that makes an impression in your mind. But it’s still supposed to have a middle and an end, according to the writer interviews I read about people who have won last year’s contest. The middle is supposed to be the ending, and the end is supposed to be basically giving you some time to wind down from the hock of the middle/end, instead of being a punchline at the end like an O Henry story or something.

Rolling tides of evening washed over the austere graves in a vengeful fury.

Hmm. I like the idea of a tide of evening. Probably read that somewhere else.

The rolling tides of blackish violet announced the evening

The rolling tides of black clouds ferried the evening in among the austere graves. Two men dug shoulder to shoulder near a humble stone.

In his strong Irish accent, Dennis muttered, “She deserved so much better.”

In the beginning I was thinking he was a gravedigger and he was saying sarcastically his mother would be proud that the Irish brothers had gone to America and could only find work as gravediggers. But now I think she should have died without enough money for a funeral and they are burrying her. Maybe she had big dreams and never got to do them. Maybe she died in America after making the voyage to follow her dreams.

In the accent of the old world they had just left, Ireland, Dennis gritted his teeth. “She’d be sah proud of us making the journey.” He tossed the words over his shoulder like so much dirt.

I like the idea of tossing words over his shoulder, but then old Patrick better not be shoulder to shoulder, because then why is his brother tossing words over his shoulder at him.

Ok they are digging graves back to back. Ha! They can’t be back to back tossing dirt over there shoulder into each other’s hole! That’d be a story in itself.

Ok they are face to face.

“I guess she found what she went looking for.” Dennis tossed the words over his shoulder like so much dirt. Nope got to go!

“I guess she found what she went looking for.”

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight. “Aye, don’t you think so?”

Dennis glared. “Should’ve been buried in Ireland at least.”

Patrick plucked a rose from a carefully arranged pile at the grave near the newly stacked pile of dirt.

“She found a new world, to her it was more beautiful, probably because she’d never been there, and having died as soon as she saw it, she hadn’t the time to be proved wrong, and so she probably died happy.” Patrick handed the flower to Dennis.

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “This world is shite.”

Patrick laughed. To Dennis his laugh sounded cold and lonely, weak and powerless in the face of the oncoming night, in this horrible place of death. “If you’ve done with fooling about do you mind lending a hand?”

Patrick turned to the work with joyful fervor. “Look. Even here we make a difference. One stroke after the next.” He threw dirt. And another. “And further we delve into the dust.”

I was thinking of the dwarves from Lord of the Rings when I said, “And further we delve…” but then I put dust, because ashes to ashes and dust to dust, from dust we came and to dust we go. But of course Patrick shouldn’t say anything about dust, that would be Dennis’ line.

“Exactly that. One day closer to death. One more step into the grave.”

Of course here I was thinking of the song “Time” by Pink Floyd,

You run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again!

The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older

Shorter of breath, one day closer to death!

But exactly here is where the image kind of fell to pieces, and I overstated his line and then of course Patrick would never ask this question:

“So we act meaninglessly?”

“Of course we do!”

And then with this next line I was trying to find out what the whole point that Patrick is trying to make:

“Do we not celebrate our mother with every minute we spend here, digging, in a kind of prayer like way, don’t you think?”

“Ah.”

“And by celebrating her, throughout our lives, don’t we make the world a better place? Don’t we then change the goddamn world?”

“Shut up and keep digging you fool.”

Patrick smiled, sccoped the rose carefully into his shovel, and replaced it upon the pile.

I was thinking this would make a good ending image, differently worded of course.

Patrick scooped the rose from the grave and placed it carefully at the foot of his mother’s…stone…headstone…rock…the humble stone…the crumbling humble bumble of a tumbling stone.

Ok if this story is to work I’m going to have to let go of trying to keep with the “ding in the universe” theme. At least so closely. It’s a good image, and it can work if I let it, at least marginally, though it may not be a contest winner. This is, after all, my first contest.

And that’s a line that Hunter Thompson used frequently: “We are, after all, professionals.”

Round three:

The rolling tides of black cloud ferried the evening in among the austere graves. Two men dug near in front of a humble stone.

Dennis muttered, his Irish accent harshening the long ‘o’: “She deserved so much better.”

Why am I fixated on this long o shit? Maybe I’d better use a different word from the prompt. Or maybe: “Two men dug close to a humble stone” Or near the entrance, there cowered a humble stone, and two men dug gravely. Hahahah gravely. Dug with seriousness. Dug in earnest. Dug in painful earnesty. Dug integrally. Dug it like it was Dizzy Galespie in the wild blue night and the mad ones running hurdy gurdy down a street of internal pain and wondering…all of us suffering, all longing, and Dean’s long last old man wandering the streets nearby, somewhere in the mist beyond reckoning.

Or maybe, There cowered a humble stone, and two men bowed low to the hard earth, digging stolidly, digging stoicly. digging. There cowered a humble stone, and along it two men bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving, to wind up here. And us, her only kin, her only friends, the only ones who care enough to bury her.” This is of course too drawn out, but he would say something like that. He would grit his teeth and hurl the dirt, heft the dirt, bring the dirt out of his very soul, which he has been keeping there all her life, only to dig it out now at her grave, digging into his own soul and finding nothing there but dust, all is dust, all is fleeting. What a bitch.

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight. This is good, glinting may be the wrong word, but cool moonlight on bared teeth is both bright and creepy. Patrick’s a creepy mother fucker to be laughing in the moonlight. Which of the two is right? Well, that’s in the eyes of the reader. Life does not present us with judgments. Like Jet Li says in Fearless, basically my favorite movie of all time (maybe after Crocodile Dundee), “Does the tea judge itself? No, we judge the tea.” Or something like that. So what then does Patrick say here, if Dennis life can be…or rather Dennis’s thoughts can be summed up with all is dust…what does Patrick mean to say. “But she does not die in vain, for she has us, and we are who we are because she lived, and because she loved, and we live because she lived, and we love because she loved, and here in the night, working together to celebrate her life and honor her with the sweat of our brows and the strain of our backs, we prove to the world that she was here, that she made some difference in the world.” Ah what a cop out, dear Patrick. Just by getting knocked up someone makes a difference. “No, anyone can stick a hanger up there or fall down the stairs, but no one who raises two boys against the threat of silence and death, against the hungers and terrors of this world, has lived in vain.”

Patrick plucked a rose from a carefully arranged pile at the grave near the newly stacked pile of dirt.

Well he’d have to be stealing this rose from another pile, because roses don’t just grow in graveyards. So what does it signify if he is taking a rose that someone else has gathered, and giving it to his own mother. Well, it could be very political. Robin Hood and the merry men. As this is a very austere graveyard, and his mother’s grave cowers among the other stones, because they are so much bigger and richer, he is taking from the rich, like their view of welfare or some such. They pay the taxes and he takes it. Yes but I don’t know if I want to make that point. Like Kurt Vonnegut said, or something like it, when this country was born you’d better have taken way too much, or you’d get nothing at all.

And why is he giving his brother a rose. He is taking a part of his mother’s soul, say, if they brought the flowers there to lay at her grave, then he is taking a part of his mother and giving it to his brother, how is it he can bestow this blessing? I suppose it is because he took from her her caring nature, her optimistic view on the world, or perhaps is currently blessed…I mean possessed by her spirit and therefore is acting in her stead towards his troubled brother.

Patrick held the rose delicately and proferred it to his brother. “Like this rose, she is now dead, but her beauty lingers with us.” Hm that sounds good, but lingers has a bad connotation I should think.

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “This world is shite.” I think I can just take out “this world is shite” since Patrick has refrained from saying anything about the world now and they don’t have to be talking in Irish accents. But slowly opening is good, not for the wording but for the image, it’s like a mouth that opens to swallow them, not a new image, but a strong one nevertheless.

Patrick laughed. To Dennis his laugh sounded cold and lonely, weak and powerless in the face of the oncoming night, in this horrible place of death. “If you’ve done with fooling about do you mind lending a hand?”

Here of course I was thinking of the song “Weak and Powerless” by A Perfect Circle. And the graveyard isn’t really a horrible place of death. But to Dennis it is. Should the story be more biased towards Dennis view of the place? If not, then I’d have to say how it sounded to Patrick. Maybe: Patrick laughed and the sound echoed in the cold night, off the face of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens, clear and delicate as fine crystal. Dennis was unnerved. “Don’t you know it’s bad luck to laugh in a cemetary?”

Is it? I don’t know if anyone thinks so. But Patrick would scoff, “Ah but what’s the use, Dennis, since it’s all dust to dust up in here anyways.”

Patrick turned to the work with joyful fervor. “Look. Even here we make a difference. One stroke after the next.” He threw dirt. And another. “And further we delve into the dust.”

Maybe: Patrick sunk his shovel into the earth, the soil, the terroir, the fertile ground ready to grow a briar and a rose, like the song about Barbry Allen…sorry…Patrick sunk his shovel into the dirt, “Every action has meaning. By merely thinking, and the remarkable and instantaneous aquiescence of my capable muscles, I have thus caused this ground to clear the way for my mother’s broken body. Further and further we delve, where if we had not been, if she had not been, no delving would be done.”

Delve. Acquiesce. Hm…Wordpress spellcheck does not recognize the word aquiescence.

“Further and further we delve in to the dust to which we too will soon return,” Dennis spat. “Stroke after stroke, each stroke one stroke closer to death.”

Patrick scooped the rose from the grave and replaced it carefully at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Round four then:

The rolling tides of black cloud ferried the evening in among the austere graveyard. Two men dug in front of a humble stone, decorated lovingly with freshly cut flowers.

Close to the gated entrance, there cowered a humble stone and two men bowing low to the hard earth, digging.

Cose to the gated entrance, a clean and proud, if relatively diminutive stone, decorated lovingly with freshly cut flowers, watched over two men who bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving to make a difference, just to wind up here.” Dennis tossed his words like so much dirt. “And hardly a proper burial.”

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight.

Cool moonlight reflected off of Patrick’s crooked teeth as he smiled. Oooo. Patrick’s crooked smile reflected cool moonlight. Patrick’s toothy…Patrick’s sawtoothy…Patrick’s snaggle-tooth grin reflected cool moonlight.

“We live, because she lived. We love because she loved. Tonight, brother, we celebrate her life and honor her with the sweat of our brows, the strain of our backs. The woman who raises two boys against the hungers and terrors of this world, she has not lived in vain.”

A little preachy, but getting there I guess.

Patrick plucked a rose from the arrangement at the stone and proffered it to his brother. “She is as dead as this rose, but similarly, her beauty lives on.”

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “The rose will fade in a matter of hours. From dust we come, to dust we return.”

Patrick laughed and the sound echoed in the cold night, off the face of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens, clear and delicate as fine crystal.

Dennis was unnerved. “Don’t you know it’s bad luck to laugh in a cemetary?”

“Even here we make a difference,” said Patrick as he sunk his shovel into the dirt. “Each stroke clears the resting place for our mother, who we can bury properly because of this difference we have made.”

Shit still don’t know what to do with that.

“Further and further we delve in to the dust,” Dennis spat. “Stroke after stroke, each stroke one stroke closer to death.”

Patrick shrugged and scooped the rose from the grave, replacing it carefully at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Oops. 378 words now. Round 5, and at this point I’m just going to go with it. It’s been an experience anyway. And I’ve been working for…two hours?

Ah but shit that 378 included asides by me so not so bad after all.

Final round, all cut up:

A rolling tide of black clouds ferried the evening in among the austere graveyard.

Close to the gated entrance, a small stone decorated lovingly with freshly cut flowers watched over two men who bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving.” Dennis tossed his words like so much dirt. “And hardly a proper burial.”

Patrick’s snaggle-tooth grin reflected cool moonlight. He plucked a rose from the arrangement. “We live and love, because she lived and loved.” He proffered the flower to his brother.

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “The rose will wither in a matter of hours. We will wither in a matter of years.”

Patrick’s eerie laugh, clear and delicate as fine crystal, echoed off the face of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens. He sunk his shovel into the dirt. He emptied his shovel to the side. “Each stroke we make, even here, makes a difference.”

Dennis agreed. “Further and further we delve in to the dust. Each stroke one stroke closer to a grave.”

Patrick lovingly scooped the rose from the grave, replacing it at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Now for the title. Got to be good since it’s such a short story. Basically my thinking for this final cut was don’t overtell the story. The line about the terrors and hungers, I really liked that, but it’s not something someone would say, unless they were really damn smart. It’s something the narrator could say I guess, but there’s no place for it. So sadly it goes. And I want to leave some to the imagination, about the relationship of the rose to the person, and I didn’t want to get to sappy about we love because she loved, because I think that’s a Kirk Franklin and The Family song.

But the title, what a bitch.

Twilight in the Garden of Souls

Like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Digging

The Brothers Who Think Differently About Death and Other Things, Too.

That title endebted to Zoolander’s school for kids who want to learn to read and do other stuff, good, too, I’m sure Matticus will come through with the accurate quote there.

A Proper Burial

Like digging, these two titles at nothing to the story.

Laughing in the Cemetery

The Dusty Rose

Dust on a Rose

The Petal and The Rose and The Stone and Casper the Friendly Ghost

The Hand The Furnace The Straight Face

That’s a Project 86 song, by the way.

Burial…It’s a Real Bitch When You Do It Yourself

DIY Burial

The Hipsters in the Cemetery

Burial for Fun and Profit

Further and Further We Delve into the Dust

That’s fun but doesn’t add anything either. Son of a bitch.

But then the guy who wrote last year’s second place entry: Dutch Baby, also had those exact words in his story, so his didn’t technically add anything, even though he said that you have to make your title work for it’s pay.

Death Makes People Think About Their Lives

Making A Difference

Vanity

Pride

Pride Turns to Ashes in Their Mouths; and Their Bones Littered the Desert Until Judgment Day

The Cold Hard Earth

The Entrance

The Exit

Coming In Through the Out Door

Entrances and Exit

Exeunt

Farewell

By The Sweat of Their Backs

By The Strain of Their Backs and The Sweat of Their Brows, They Confront the Terror and the Hunger of The Cold Hard Earth

Strain and Sweat, Tears and Toil

Hey there you go. And I used another word from the prompt.

For this to, is the lot of a man. And the cemetery is a sort of a lot isn’t it.

A vacant non-vacant lot where the kids can’t play baseball.

Well I wasn’t going to post this until the contest was over but fuck it. I’ve had so much fun I don’t care whether I win the contest or am disqualified. And I can’t wait to see what you think. And just in case everyone doesn’t want to read all this muck about, I’ll post just the story first and then this.

And I just printed it out and realized a few things. Lovingly was used twice. And two adverbs right next to each other “decorated lovingly with freshly” not good.  And dirt used twice too! Shit. And did I mention there’s kind of an incestuous homoeroticism going on here? “…loved.” He proffered the flower to his brother.” Well shit. Sounds like a proposition to me. Oo if he extended the flower to his brother we could add some further sexual innuendo there. Patrick’s totally gay for his brother. What’s a better word for “lovingly scooped?” Oh man if he “ladled” it out it’d be like he was eating homemade chicken noodle soup straight from his mother’s grave, how nourishing is that.

Hm, shit. This story is actually not a story. It’s more like a poem, an arrested image. A photograph in words. And that’s fine. And I’m still going to submit it. But I think it’s not actually a story.

Strain and Sweat, Tears and Toil

A rolling tide of black clouds ferried the evening in among an austere graveyard.

Close to the gated entrance, a small stone decorated with freshly cut flowers watched over two men who bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving.” Dennis tossed his words like so much dirt. “And hardly a proper burial.”

Patrick’s toothsome smile reflected cool moonlight. He took a rose from the arrangement. “We live and love, because she lived and loved.” He extended the flower to his brother.

Dennis accepted it and dropped it into the slowly opening grave at their feet. “The rose will wither before dawn. Our fate is the same.”

Patrick’s laugh, clear and delicate as fine crystal, echoed eerily off the faces of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens. He sunk his shovel into the loam. He tilted his shovel and watched the stuff accumulate along the mound. “Each stroke we make, even here, makes a difference.”

Dennis nodded. “Further and further we delve into the dust. Each stroke one stroke closer to a grave.”

Patrick scooped the rose from the pit and replaced it at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Ha, so I went to post that, and these suggested tags came up: Neurological Disorders, University of Auckland, Cannabis.

WTF

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Sinnerman (The Post Where I Write a Whole Essay)

Alright ya’ll fuck it this shit’s going into overdrive right now. I’m going to finish this damn thing, essay, blog post, whatever you call it so it seems easier to do.

What’s the point of the post? What am I trying to say?

I want to convey all that I learned in my first week of blogging. Especially as it relates to other people like me. Maybe if we all thought we could interest others by being open and honest, we’d have fun blogging right away, and we wouldn’t feel the need to preface everything with, well you won’t like this…but here it is.

But maybe it really is the prerogative of everyone to say that. And maybe not everyone is exactly like me. Not everyone is really saying that they don’t want anyone to read it and then at the same time hoping everyone does read it. Maybe they actually don’t want anyone to read it.

I just finished eating dinner. I think I need to get some typing done just to get in the mood. I got in the old Zipcar and drove to the Super 88 Market. Then GF told me she wasn’t there yet, she was still in school, and why did I have the car? Shouldn’t we just walk? Well, too late for that, and actually she didn’t protest. It was cold as a bitch out there, like a freeze drying cold, and no gloves, too. And that place was pretty ghetto. But I guess it’s kind of like this blog. Like there was everything you needed there but it was just kind of put around and that’s it. No thought went into the marketing of it, like they do at Whole Foods with the nice lighting and mirrors and colors and all that shit. No everything in the Super 88 looks lurid as shit. But it’s probably the same exact thing. Then we came home and made stir fry together and it was pretty good, although I dumped on too much sesame oil. And now I’m feeling sleepy as fuck even though I made us both coffee and gulped that shit down. I was thinking of having wine, too, but I guess that will put me to sleep even faster. Then I was thinking of what I was going to read. And this essay thing was bothering me, so I thought I’d better just fucking go hard on this shit.

If I’m going to be a writer I’d better damn well act like it.

There’s this Amway CD where this guy’s talking about how to discipline yourself. He says, “You don’t think you can write yourself into taking action do you? You think you go to an athlete’s house they got notes everywhere that say, ‘You need to practice!’ Open up the cabinet. ‘You need to practice!’ Flip the toilet seat, ‘You need to practice!'” Yeah I think of that every time I write something I wish I actually did. “You need to practice!” He tells a story about this couple their kid had to wear leg braces. He said they told her if she wore them for a year they’d take her to Disney World, so she was motivated to do it. Instead he said they could’ve gone the route of the post it notes and held them in front of her saying, “You need to wear these braces! You need to wear these braces! You need to wear these braces!” I think his name was Mark Gorman. That was some funny shit. I can just see the adults shaking the braces at the kid and saying that over and over again. Haha. Ok, fuck it. Back to the task then.

When I started blogging just a few weeks ago it was kind of on a lark.

I started blogging a few weeks ago because I’d come home from work early and I had too much coffee.

A few weeks ago, I came home from work jazzed up with caffeine hit straight out the gills from a shot of espresso in some coffee like a hi jinx high jumping bravo gomorrah out this bitch and I said fuck it! I’m writing a blog bitches. Well it wasn’t the first time some shit went down like that. But you know it was the first time I decided not to self-edit. I wasn’t going to worry about the impression I was making. I was just going to type whatever the fuck came into my head and let the chips fall where they may.

Some people can get away with saying “let the chips fall where they may” and come off sounding pretty cool. I don’t think I got it here.

A few weeks ago before going to work at the bar, I paid four dollars for a shot of espresso in a large cup of coffee. Then I got sent home early. Soon enough I found myself sitting in front of a computer, across the table from my girlfriend, with my fingers shaking and not a god damn thing to do. So I started my sixth blog.

This time was going to be different. Instead of trying to be cool and witty and awesome, I decided to just write as fast as I could and hit publish. Then I decided to read other people’s blogs and do the same thing to the comment box. I guess there was no real goal to it. I always think I need a blog to build an audience for my novels that will be written sometime in the next ten years. So I’ve started a lot of them. I always try to actually add value to the blogosphere with the shit that I write. And so I usually post about  five times and call it a day. Because I know you’re not supposed to post more than once unless you want to alienate your audience. So I just go at it for a while and then just up and leave. Nothing to hold me there since no one ever commented on my blog before, at least no one that I didn’t know in person. So this time I was just doing it for pure fun.

Damn it. It’s the fun things. It’s the not fun things that make you better at what you want to do. But what’s worth doing if it isn’t fun? Maybe I should stop writing this essay because it’s stressing me out. Fuck it.

If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, you’d better have a blog. And that’s the first of many rules you’ll encounter. The second rule is don’t post more than once a day. The third rule is control your image. Revise what you write, just like your novel will be revised a million times. The revolution will be televised. Revised.

Any serious writer in the 21st Century better have a blog. Unless you already have a published novel and it’s selling millions. Then someone else will keep a blog for you. But you’ll need a way to reach your audience. Build your tribe.  Your platform. Deliver your unwitting followers into the hands of the man.

The revolution won’t be televised until it has been revised.

An unpublished writer who’s serious about publication better have a mailing address and a checking account.

I’ve started about six blogs and five of them weren’t any fun. I’ve started about six blogs before this one and five of them weren’t any fun. The last one was just about as fun as a barrel of friendly monkeys with bleached assholes.

In my time as an aspiring writer (by aspiring I mean I wrote an essay in fifth grade that got a gold star and I said hells yeah I’m onto this game for sure and not getting a real job because I don’t want space taken up in my brain that I could use for writing) I have begun many a blog. Some for profit. Some for learning. Some for burning. Some for turning and some for yearning. Some forever and some to be tethered. Some some some some.

You might not know it to look at me, but I’ve got six blogs going. No one’s looked at any of them. Except one. It’s awesome. I love it so much. It’s so much fucking fun. Man this blog shit is so much fuckin’ fun.

I’ve started six blogs and five of them weren’t any good. The last one I started because I had too much coffee. I jumped on that shit and said fuck it, this blog is going to suck way worse than the other ones. And I just started writing whatever I wanted. And posting like a motherfucker I mean I was just doing crazy shit!

Nah this shit isn’t working out.

Got to get at the point right away.

If you spend any time reading new blogs you’ll see a lot of disclaimers. “Don’t read this…it’s not for you!” some will say. “This is not suitable for general consumption…it will not enrich your life.” “I don’t know who would be silly enough to read this.”

New blogs are like new gym membership. Everyone is telling us we need to blog. You’d better have an online presence if you’re going to do anything creative. You know you need to have a blog. So you get one, post five times and melt away. And no one gives a shit because no one knew you were there anyway. Unless you stole the domain name they wanted to register for their new blog.

Maybe I need a new focus. I’m trying to turn this into some kind of rant against commercialism or something. I don’t know. In my head. A small bell tolleth.

Maybe I should just write why people should have a blog, and why I think it has value even if you think it’s shit.

You should totally have a blog. You already do, or you wouldn’t be reading this. But you totally should. Stop worrying about what everyone thinks about it. Well, that’s impossible because that’s the reason you should have a blog. It’s good for your soul. It makes your soul grow.

Ah fuck me.

My writing teacher in college once said, You have to be pretty arrogant to be a writer. To think people want to spend some of their lives reading your thoughts. That’s pretty arrogant. So I guess writing isn’t for the faint of heart. And if it is, it comes to us meek ones and we don’t know what to do with it. We have to write anyway, we just like to write and we do want people to read it, but we’re not arrogant enough to think that they’ll enjoy it if they do, we think there’s definitely something else they should be doing, because we should probably be doing something else, too, unless we shouldn’t. So we start a blog, because there’s no requirements or prerequisites, you just type some shit and hit publish. But of course you feel pretty guilty about that because you know it’s not good enough to be published. So you try to warn people away from it. I know I published it, but don’t read it. I just did it because I want it to be out there, I want to have said something, I wanted to fight against the silence, but I don’t want to waste your time. And that’s what you would be doing if you read this. You’ll see it in many different degrees. The one extreme really doesn’t want you to read it, because they are a hundred percent sure it sucks. Then you have the ones who jokingly say, ah you’d be silly to read this drivel, right before they implore you to follow because they really are offering up some kind of entertainment, they feel, even if it isn’t Shakespeare.

But who the fuck wants to read Shakespeare? God damn it, I’m tired of this shit. Howard Bloom can pass out if he wants to I’m not reading any Shakespeare.

Alright, don’t know where that came from since Harold Bloom’s The Invention of the Human is a pretty awesome book. Or am I just saying that? Where is the ego or the super ego…who am I…the one who reads Shakespeare or the one who laughs at him…the one who wants to be original or the one who laughs at originals the one who knows whether or not he likes Shakespeare…no.

Five of the six blogs I’ve written were shit. I started one out of boredom one night, having had too much caffeine and too little to do, and I broke all my rules for blogging or writing in general. For life in general. I said whatever I wanted to. I punched my inner critic in the face. I bypassed the censors. I didn’t look back. I made grammatical mistakes. I said fuck three hundred times an hour. And I’m having a great time.

If you had shown me this blog back then, I would have said, oh yeah that’s where I post my readable material. Now I say, Oh yeah, that’s G Flanders lite. That’s for the people who don’t have the time. The people who would like me but don’t really have time to be down with me a hundred percent. Not like the readers of Anyone’s Ghost. Those mother fuckers are down to ride. Those mother fuckers put up with a hundred posts a day and still find time to write amazing posts themselves.

When I started that blog I felt the need to classify each post as readable or unreadable. It was half a joke with myself, like most of the things I said in my ridiculous posts were. If I started thinking about a crack in the wall while I was talking about Proust, I switched to the crack in the wall. Because fuck it. If I want to write like I think than I’ll just do it and let the chips fall where they may.

I’d write shit like that, too, or at least think it. Well if you don’t like it, I’d think, go read some other blog. Leave me alone. But I didn’t feel like that at all. It’s just that inner critic, you can’t keep that bastard down. He jumps right up and says, hey man, nobody’s going to like that! And you feel the need to answer him, to answer all the bastards that won’t read your blog because they don’t know it’s there, because you post too much, because you use the f-word, because you ramble like a Led Zeppelin song. You feel the need to assault them because you feel them laughing at you, when what you’re really feeling is your own ego telling you that this is not your best work and no one should have to sit through it.

It’s a protective measure. And maybe it makes you feel a little bad ass. I think, hell yeah, I’ll show these mother fuckers. I’ll say whatever I want and they’ll have to deal with it! Meanwhile, mother fuckers who read it are either enjoying the shit out of it or just leaving or just not even showing up to decide one way or the other. And the people who enjoy it, well maybe you’re constantly afraid of alienating them once you’ve got them reading. You didn’t know it could be so fun, to have people connect with what you’re just spouting off, but now that they are, you’re inner critic grows stronger and stronger and you think you should defer to him for their sake. Because you’re sure he knows what they want.

But somehow I’ve managed to fend him off pretty well. He shows up a lot. But most of the time I outrun him. And I would encourage anyone who has felt this way to stop apologizing for it. Embrace it. Bare your soul and connect with those that connect with what you’re saying. Because then you would not be so all alone. And when writing can do that for you, well what the hell else do you want from it?

 

Well that seems pretty good. I brought it around to how I feel about blogging now. What I think blogging really is. What the benefit for me really is. And I’ve identified the over arching sentiment that makes people put disclaimers at the tops of their blogs, instead of picking out each individual one like a fact machine or something.

 

Five of the six blogs I’ve written were shit. I started the sixth one out of boredom one night, having ingested too much caffeine and having too little to do, and with it I broke all my rules for blogging, for writing in general. Hell I broke all the rules I have for life in general. I said whatever I wanted to. I punched my inner critic in the face. I bypassed the censors. I didn’t look back. I made grammatical mistakes. I said fuck three hundred times an hour. It was awesome.

I conceptualized this new blog in my mind early on. I thought if I garnered a following writing these mad thoughts down…typing as fast as my mad thoughts came then I could always start a new blog that would hold material that REALLY added value to people’s lives. Now that I have some followers, and I am following some, and now that I have made meaningful connections with other minds like mine, and now that I have understood a tiny bit about what blogging is all about, I look at this new blog as G Flanders lite. This is for the people who don’t have the time. The people who would like to read some crazy G Flanders shit but can’t be down with the get down a hundred percent. This isn’t just for the readers of Anyone’s Ghost. Those crazy bastards are down to ride any time of the day or night. They put up with three, four, five random posts a day and still find time to write amazing posts themselves. This is for posts that I revise. Posts that I select instead of just throwing whatever comes into my head. For the less fun writing, but perhaps the writing that could reach a greater audience than my core audience. I see this blog as being a gateway into my writing. Because with these followers and my “like” count on Anyone’s Ghost, well shit I have to admit I’m starting to get that writer’s arrogance.

When I started Anyone’s Ghost I felt the need to classify each post as readable or unreadable. It was half a joke with myself, like most of the things I wrote. But at the same time I really did feel like people would get to the end of a post and say to themselves, well shit there’s ten minutes I’ll never get back. I wish someone would have warned me. Because that other post was so great, why does this one ramble around in a circle of shit? So the “Readability Index” was my clever way of telling people that if they wasted time reading these posts, well I washed my hands of it early on. Don’t say I didn’t bloody well warn you! Because I know that’s what you’re saying!

I’d write shit like that, too, or at least think it. “Well if you don’t like it,” I’d think, “go read some other blog. Leave me alone.” But I didn’t feel like that at all. I certainly didn’t want people to leave me alone. It’s just that inner critic talking, you can’t keep that bastard down. He jumps right up in your grill and says, “Hey man, nobody’s going to like that!” And you feel the need to answer him, to answer all the bastards that won’t read your blog because they don’t know it’s there, because you post too much, because you use the f-word, because you ramble like a Led Zeppelin song. You feel the need to assault them because you feel them laughing at you, when what you’re really feeling is your own ego telling you that this is not your best work and no one should have to sit through it.

It’s a protective measure. A defense mechanism. And besides that maybe it made me feel a little bad ass. “I’ll show these rubes. I’ll say whatever I want and they’ll have to deal with it!” Meanwhile, the bloggers who read it are either enjoying the shit out of it or just leaving or just not even showing up to decide one way or the other.

And then, as people began to follow Anyone’s Ghost, and comment on it, and like the posts, well then I was in big trouble. I became constantly afraid of alienating them with some new random tangent that even they didn’t want to waste time on. I didn’t know it could be so fun, to have people connect with what I was just spouting off, and now I had something to lose. And that was fuel for the inner critic, like a protein shake for that bastard, like creatine even. He grew stronger and stronger and I began to think I should defer to him for their sake. Because he always seems like he knows what they want.

Luckily I realized what was happening and I managed to fend him off pretty well. He shows up a lot. But most of the time I outrun him. And I would encourage anyone who has felt this way, anyone who has heard that bastard whispering, “Don’t publish this. Don’t waste people’s time. It sucks,” I encourage you to tell that stupid fuck to go straight to hell. Stop apologizing before anyone has a chance to complain. Embrace your own voice. Bare your soul without reservation and you will connect with those that connect with what you’re saying. Because then you will not be so all alone. And what greater gift could writing give you?

That’s better. Took out the you’s and whatnot. The last line should be better though. And maybe I’m forcing the Bob Dylan reference in the second to last line. If it’s not going to work it’s not going to work!

And maybe the call to action in the end is a little too wide. Like there is something to be said about running faster than your inner critic and writing some crazy shit, and then going back over it. That’s what writing is all about. Not just pissing all over a piece of paper and calling it art. Hm but what is blogging all about? Well I guess we’re talking about two different things entirely.

If you want to start a blog where you can just write whatever you’re feeling and connect with some other poor bastards who can empathize, well just jump into that shit like a mother fucker. I encourage you, leave your editor at home. Pay no mind to the rabble. You will find that a few people, if you take some time to look around and find someone saying pretty much what you’re thinking, you’ll find that they and you will benefit from the interplay of ideas that just comes straight out of your mind.

What’s the purpose here. What am I trying to say? Stop apologizing, basically, but why do I want them to stop apologizing? I really just want to relay how I feel about personal blogging, about how I felt like I had to apologize for it at first, and now I realize it’s awesome.

What I’ll do is I’ll go ahead an insert a paragraph after the first paragraph, so a second paragraph, wherein I endorse having a personal blog where you connect with people and just write whatever your feeling, even if you have a regular blog where you try to add value in a specific intentional way to the world.

So second paragraph:

What I ended up with is what Seth Godin used to call a “Cat Blog.” Something that shouldn’t be interesting to most people. But somehow it is interesting. Somehow it did resonate with some people. Because writers, well shit, we all go through a lot of the same things. Especially those of us who aren’t arrogant, and who have time to look at other bloggers. Even though I was starting a personal, stream-of-consciousness style blog, I didn’t expect anyone to read it because I couldn’t be bothered to read theirs. I wouldn’t even read a novel by a popular author because I figured they were probably crap, all the good stuff has already been written. I’ll just go read Catch-22 for the eighth time. But what I found was there’s gold strewn across the swamps of the blogosphere. And then I realized that the whole damn swamp WAS gold. And this will probably raise some contention, you see there I go thinking about how this will be received. But I found immense value in reading the thoughts of other people, even when they didn’t exactly match up with what I was going through at the time or anything like that. And having the people I thought were interesting think I was interesting, well that gave me the confidence to write some shit like this! It really changed my whole outlook on what writing actually means.

Okay maybe this should be the last paragraph.

So I encourage any writer to go ahead and do some dumb shit. Just write whatever comes in your head. Use a fake name, make up an email address, don’t tell any of your 3D friends you’re doing it, and connect with some other minds. Because that’s what it’s all about. That blog will be like a record of your head, what happened to you, and it will be like your mind just available to someone else, searching for another mind like theirs.

Ok starting to get muddled now. Starting again from the top.

Five of the six blogs I’ve written were shit. I started the sixth one out of boredom one night, having ingested too much caffeine and having too little to do, and with it I broke all my rules for blogging, for writing in general. Hell I broke all the rules I have for life in general. I said whatever I wanted to. I punched my inner critic in the face. I bypassed the censors. I didn’t look back. I made grammatical mistakes. I said the f-word three hundred times an hour. It was awesome.

What I had created was what Seth Godin would call a “Cat Blog,” something I had always tried to avoid, as I had thought it was not the best way to establish a “following” or build a “tribe” or create a “platform.” But Anyone’s Ghost gave me what’s at that heart of all of those words: Bloggers read what I wrote, I read what they wrote, and for the first time in my life, in my writing career, I made meaningful connections with other minds solely through the written word, and so came to understand a tiny bit about what blogging, and writing, is all about.

When I started Anyone’s Ghost I felt the need to classify each post as readable or unreadable. It was half a joke with myself, like most of the things I wrote. But at the same time I really did feel like people would get to the end of a post and say to themselves, “Well there’s ten minutes I’ll never get back. That other post was so great, why does this one ramble around in a circle of shit?” Thus I created the “Readability Index,” my clever way of absolving myself. “Don’t say I didn’t bloody well warn you! Because I know that’s what you’re thinking!” I’d think, “If you don’t like it, just go somewhere else and leave me alone!”

And yet I certainly didn’t want people to leave my blog. I found myself checking my stats every five minutes wishing more people could see how clever I was even when I wasn’t REALLY trying. And still I couldn’t keep my inner critic down. He would jump right up in my face and say, “Hey man, nobody’s going to like that!” And so I felt the need to respond aloud to my own mind, to preemptively answer all the bastards that wouldn’t read my blog because they didn’t know it was there, because I posted too much, because I used the f-word, because I ramble like a Led Zeppelin song. I felt the need to attack these imaginary readers because I could feel them laughing at me. What I was really feeling was my own ego saying that this is not your best work and no one should have to sit through it.

It’s a kind of defense mechanism. And besides that maybe it made me feel a little bad-ass. “I’ll show these rubes. I’ll say whatever I want and they’ll have to deal with it!” Meanwhile, the bloggers who actually end up on the blog were either simply enjoying the writing or deciding not to read it and leaving.

When people began to follow Anyone’s Ghost, and comment on it, and like the posts, well then I was in big trouble. I became constantly afraid of alienating them with some new random tangent that even they didn’t want to waste time on. I didn’t know it could be so fun, to have people connect with what I was just spouting off, and now I had something to lose. And that was like a protein shake for my inner critic. He grew stronger and stronger and I began to think I should defer to him for their sake. Because he always sounded like he knew what they wanted. Luckily I saw what was happening and was able to fend him off. And the better I get at doing that, the more I like writing.

I encourage you to go to war with your inner critic. Use a fake name, make up an email address, don’t tell any of your 3D friends you’re doing it, and throw together a “cat blog.” Write about your cat for three thousand words. Write about your goldfish or your stuffed rabbit. Connect with some other minds. Somehow, I guarantee whatever you say, if you say it honestly, will resonate deeply with at least a few other bloggers. And in between sessions of pouring your wild thoughts onto the screen, be sure to spend some time reading those other “Cat Blogs” out there. You may be just as surprised at how deeply the stray words of another mad blogger resonate with you.

Hoo shit that’s it for now! God damn! Got to go to bed.