Dorfing It

frustration

So a long time ago I taught martial arts. I used to tell my students (mostly kids) to not worry about dorfing a kick or punch. Dorfing was my term for screwing up badly. . . everyone dorfs a kick in training but if you focus on the mistake, you never move on and learn from it. This was a lesson I drilled into their heads class after class but, as it turns out, I didn’t really listen to myself.

When I write I agonize on getting the wording just right. I take great pains in the setup and flow of each scene to the point when I can paralyze myself. I see a dorf and I become obsessed with trying to fix it. I become unable to move forward until I perceive it as being just right.

So last night I am writing one of the big action scenes in my novel and, once again, I become fixated on getting it perfect until I realized, I am Uber Dorfing. . . .that is the term for being fixated on one’s dorfing. I realized that I am going to have to rewrite this book another 2 or 3 times at least. If I dangle a participle or trip and insert a double negative, life as I know it will not end. The world will continue to spin and I can, most importantly, fix it later.

It sounds silly I imagine to many, but the ability to forgive my dorfs made the words flow. I didn’t worry if they were perfect words, they were close enough for hand grenades and that is all I can really expect from a first draft.

Just thought I’d share the epiphany.

Flash Fiction – Random Picture Story

So this week’s flash fiction challenge on Chuck Wendig’s blog was to write a story for a random picture. Now, I know this is actually a Peruvian Chullo hat or something like that but that is not the first thought that came to mind. . . I went a little more fanciful with my story. . .

The photo url:

http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=10451892

The Glitter Man
The Glitter Man

For the record it should be stated he did not ask for it. He had, on many occasions begged them to stop. It was to no avail though. They kept doing it every time he fell asleep. He’d wake up and find himself covered with random bits of color. Sometimes it was just glitter sprinkled on him and other times, like today they went all out.

His hair was actually woven into the yarn bits and portions of the hat were glued to his head. He guessed it was to keep it all in place while he slept but, was not quite sure. It happened like this sometimes. The bush fairies would get in a color-fueled frenzy and go crazy.

It was his fault. Had he listened those many years ago and not given milk to the cries in the bush he would have had a much less complex life. He was young and foolish and didn’t listen though. He knew best and he put the saucer of milk by the bush. He had fed them and they had stayed with him ever since.

At first it was just flowers in his bed. Bright little bundles of wild flowers left for him and he had thought it very quaint and special. Then it was flowers woven into his hair. While a little less quaint it was still, interesting and harmless. Then they discovered textiles. That is when it started to go a bit odd.

Hats were the first things. Random colorful hats would be on his head when he woke up in the morning. No matter where he woke up. At home, they were there. At a friend’s house, they were there. Serving in the military, they were there and his drill sergeant was not at all amused. They were always there and he had no way of stopping them. People thought he was insane, they sent him home from the Army. No one wanted an insane man around, even if he was stylishly accessorized with colorful headwear.

Then, just as he thought things wouldn’t or couldn’t get worse, they discovered glitter. He remembered it was a cold day in early fall and there were no colorful wildflower blooms in the fields. He had always thought that was why they found glitter. They could find no color they wanted in nature so, they found it in some craft supply store. Then glue was next because the glitter fell off too much he assumed. Beads, pom-poms, tassels, and streamers followed in quick succession as they branched out their artistic efforts.

Soon after that they began to combine things. Beads in his hair and glittery cheeks. Pom-poms tied to his ears with nasal streamers of rainbow colors. The list was almost unlimited of the things they did. He couldn’t stop them. He tried staying awake but eventually, he had to sleep. He tried having someone watch over him but everyone thought he was crazy and wanted nothing to do with him. He set up cameras to capture them doing it but they stole the film and made streamers out of it and decorated him with shredded plastic tassels.

He was too old now to worry so much about it. He left it where they put it and just went about his life. The people around town all thought him completely mad but harmless and nothing he would do would ever change that view. Once you were mad, you were always mad. No one in a small town ever came back from being bug nut whacko. You just were always assumed to be hiding it better. So he didn’t try. He went about his life as best he could.

He would fish alone and sell his catch to a man in town. He would hurry into the store and buy what he needed and milk to put out in a saucer for them. Even though he didn’t appreciate all of the things they did, he also still couldn’t let them go hungry. It didn’t matter if he did, they didn’t leave so he might as well be right about it in his heart. He was a good man.

He had built a fence around the bush where he had heard them crying those many years ago with wood he found washed up on the beach. Over the years he had added much of the color from his morning gifts to it so that it was a patchwork of aged wood, dried flowers, bits of fabric and yarn and threads and, of course, lots of glitter. He kept adding to it until the fence completely hid the bush and the layers of adornments muffled any crying inside.

He was a good man. He would feed them because he had no choice but he would also hide them away. He would make sure that when his days were done they would not find another to do this too. He was neither angry nor bitter about it. He thought of them as his children and had genuine affection for them in his own way. He also wanted to make sure that no one else would ever suffer the same harshness in their life.

They meant well. Of that he was sure. They meant all of their efforts in love and affection as a way of thanking him. They didn’t know what it cost him and like a good father, he would never tell them even if he could. You accept. That is what parents do. They meant for him to be bright and cheery like a smile or a summer’s day. He saw it. After all these years he saw it and understood it and accepted it. He cherished not being alone. He cherished what they meant to do because, they meant well for him.

The children of the town called him the glitter man. They thought he was quite mad.

That was ok.

He would make sure they never knew the truth behind the glitter.

 

Getting Back On Track Writing

cover design for Sparrow
Rough Idea for the book cover design

Trying to back on track writing my novel but. . . it can be hard to pick things back up again. Working on a cover design. . .that usually helps me find the mindset again. Focusing on one image that would speak for the story helps me strip down what the idea was to start off with and get back to the basics of it all.

Flash Fiction Challenge Ten Titles You Made Up…

This is my story for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge Ten Titles You Made Up… Which was to take the title and do a 1000 word or less story for it. . . .so. . .this is what I got…

It’s a bit of a different take on the “sitting outside” part of the title. . .

 

They Sat Outside Eating Cake

“The monkeys are agitated again.” Nix hissed from several of her thousand mouths.

“They are always agitated about something.” He replied.

“Ya, but this seems like one of those big agitation things not just a little ripple.” Nix replied as she looked across years of time, watching the pattern bubble to the surface. “It’s building and building without any place to go.”

Cthulhu made a vile gurgling noise of annoyance.

“Don’t get mad at me.” Nix hissed.

“I’m not.” Cthulhu shuffled over to peer at the bubble Nix was describing. “It’s just damn annoying. They are finally getting it right and they are going to implode, yet again.”

“Maybe we should go talk to them and explain.” Nix offered without much hope the idea would find any acceptance.

“Ya, that’ll work.” Cthulhu chuckled and inadvertently caused a mud slide in Peru.

“Stand back you. Geesh!” Nix scolded him. “Look what you’ve done.” She said surveying the destruction. “You’ve got to keep a handle on that. Just because the monkeys are being stupid doesn’t give you the right to do that.”

Cthulhu twitched his tentacles apologetically. “Sorry.”

“It doesn’t do to vibrate the veil too much. Nothing good comes of that.” Nix smoothed the veil out again, purring soothingly until it was still.

“So what are the monkeys upset about this time?” Cthulhu asked.

“Oh, everything. Apparently they have separated themselves by every possible way of classifying each other to point out every difference so they can properly despise each other in every way. Right now apparently they are upset that people who look too much alike want cakes when it should be people who look different that get cakes.” Nix explained.

“Can’t they just share?” Cthulhu threw up half of his tentacles in frustration.

“I told you we should have used something a bit more group friendly. Monkeys are just nasty little cusses when you get down to it.” Nix told him.

Cthulhu shook his head. “Wouldn’t work, trust me. I’ve done the math. It has to be an omnivore that has a sweet tooth and is smart enough to figure out butter cream frosting or it’s just not worth it. Herbivores would make nasty cakes with no eggs and fluffiness and a carnivore would make it out of meat.“ He sighed a musical chorus of sighs that would, had it been heard by a lesser being, driven the listener mad. Nix, mother of night, she of a thousand whispers, however, found it somewhat soothing.

“We should go talk to them.” Nix said again.

“No.” Cthulhu objected again.

“Why?” Nix asked.

“Because every time I do that they go insane and start eating each other and every time you do they all start thinking the world is ending and then they stop making. . .”

“Cake.” Nix finished the sentence for him.

“Exactly. Hopefully they will stop caring about stupid things and stop worrying who has an inny and who has an outie and get back to the job.” Cthulhu said and Nix rippled the darkness in agreement.

“They are good at making cake.” Nix said after a few moments of non-time.

Cthulhu nodded in agreement.

“Can we. . .?” Nix let her voices drift off, the unasked question hanging in the air.

Cthulhu gurgled in amusement. “I suppose it can’t hurt too much.”

“I mean, they are already all worked up.” Nix said and Cthulhu nodded. “So what’s the harm?”

Great Cthulhu nodded in agreement.

“Let me make the hole though, you keep jiggling things too much.” Nix told him and Cthulhu stepped back to let her slide her many hands into the time space fabric so he could reach in.

“Get chocolate this time. No more of that tutti-frutti weird stuff. That’s not proper cake.” Nix said and Cthulhu sighed. He kind of liked the weird flavors but, he nodded. Chocolate was good too. As Nix slipped the veil ever so carefully outside a downtown bakery and made an opening, Cthulhu slide several of his huge tentacles in, deftly grabbing at the cakes within the shop. They both tried to ignore the screams and other assorted odd noises that followed as he pulled out a cache of cakes into the dark with them.

“Ewww.” Nix winced.

The monkeys were all upset now. Those in the shop apparently had gone quite mad and gone on a zombie like rampage through the city eating people. Cthulhu looked embarrassed.

“I told you. They freak out when they see me.” He said by way of explanation.

Nix shrugged and began to lay out the cakes in proper fashion so they could see what they had gotten. There was a wide array of flavors and styles and, thankfully, some good old fashioned chocolate cake as well. Nix purred in excitement.

Cthulhu though was watching over time and troubled by the monkeys growing instability. He wished he could just tell them to stop but, he knew they wouldn’t listen. They were all howling and hooting about their own vision of their purpose, their destiny. Nothing was going to calm them down but time and maybe less caffeine.

“We should just tell them.” Nix said.

“Can’t.” Cthulhu shook his head. “They’d never believe it.”

“But if they keep going off they will end up doing something drastic again.” Nix warned.

Cthulhu nodded.

“And then…” Nix started.

“…No cake.” Cthulhu finished.

“Right.” Nix nodded. “ So we should tell them before they get all twisted up about their purpose or destiny again and start lobbing bombs.”

“They wouldn’t listen.” Cthulhu sighed.

“Then we slap the shit out of them and tell them Oiy! You! Shut up and make cake. That is what you little monkeys are supposed to do. That is all you are supposed to do. Now stop being fussy and make more cake!”

Cthulhu took a slice of cake. “They wouldn’t believe it.”

Nix sighed, he was right.

They just ate their cake sitting outside of space and time and watched the monkeys.

 

Flash Fiction – Creating a Character

This is my flash fiction bit for the Creating a Character topic. . . .something rather normal. . . I noticed everyone was creating dynamic characters and I thought I’d try and create a very normal one. . .to the extreme. From the Flash Fiction Challenge:

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/08/21/flash-fiction-challenge-time-to-create-a-character/

 

Bob is a normal guy . . . amazingly and mind numbingly normal actually. He is so ordinary that there is nothing to really point out about him that would distinguish him in any way from anyone else. He is of average height, normal weight that fluctuates within normal seasonal parameters. He has very non-descript looking hair that is always cut in a very normal fashion and even when he tries to do something different, it seems he only does what lots of others are doing and it remains totally average. At work people barely notice him at all. When asked they would be more likely to recall his desk and chair as obstacles rather than remember the man sitting in them. Bob was just terminally normal.

Then one day Bob woke up at his regular time and proceeded to begin his typical routine. As he began to lather his face to shave Bob suddenly realized that he was so amazingly normal and bland, he could no longer even see himself in the mirror. He was simply not there anymore. Which, he thought to himself, was pretty much normal, all things considered.

Flash Fiction Challenge – Pop Culture Mash Up

This week’s flash fiction contest at http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/ was a mash up of two random pop culture things. I got Scooby Do meets Donnie Darko. . . this is the result. . .

 

Getting It Right

“This week on Ghost Catchers we are heading into the halls of education that became the halls of death!” Fred gave a dramatic pause.

“Cut!” The director screamed in his earpiece.

“What’s wrong with that?” Fred asked incredulously, sure his introduction was perfect.

“Fred, your selfie camera is angled up your left nostril.” The director explained in a pinched voice, then exhaled loudly over the radio, and said, “Just tilt it up some, ok?”

“Oh.” Fred readjusted his camera and then started over; pausing only briefly to wonder just how stoned the shaggy headed director was getting back in the control van. “Ok . . . take two. This week on Ghost Catchers we are heading into the halls of education that became the halls of death!” He gave a dramatic pause before swinging around his camera to show their guest hunter of the week. “And with us is the student that escaped these halls once and now he is coming back again to face the spirits of his fellow students who died here.”

The guest host looked at him blankly. Fred waited for a response and when he was sure the guy was just going to stare at him and say nothing, he swung the camera back to himself and continued the introduction. “Two years ago a student entered these halls on a normal Monday morning and went to his home room, just like he always did. Once there though he detonated a bomb he was carrying in his backpack killing himself and the 20 students in the classroom. The horror of those moments has been permanently etched in these halls and people from the local area swear they have seen and heard the students screaming over and over again at night.”

“You know you sound like a complete tool, right?” The guest hunter said.

Fred paused, bewildered.

“Just thought someone should tell you because no one else seems to.” The guest hunter finished, shrugged, and started walking to the homeroom.

“Wait. Hey! You are with us, we are the investigators!” Fred called out looking to his teammates for support. Daphne was busy trying to figure out why her bra was glowing through her shirt in the night vision cameras and arguing with the producer about it. He wanted her to leave it because it would increase ratings. Velma was trying to control their dog Scooby that supposedly could sense ghosts, usually by yelping and running in the opposite direction as fast as possible. Fred realized he was on his own.

“Fred, dude, we’ll fix it in editing.” The director told him in the earpiece. “Just roll with it and go on.” Fred gave a scowl and then hurried after the guest hunter.

“Hey,” Fred called out and then realized that he didn’t even know the guy’s name. ”Hey, what’s your name again?”

The guest hunter didn’t pause, he just waved Fred’s question off like some bothersome gnat flitting about his head and walked purposefully to the blasted classroom doorway. “Go away Fred.” He called back as Fred caught up with him.

“Hey dude, I’m the star of this show so you listen to. . .” Fred began to say but the guest cut him off.

“No Fred, you are the douche of the show that thinks he’s the star and this isn’t about EVPs or any of that other ghost hunter horseshit. This is about them and me and something that went wrong.” The guest turned to him, his face calm but stern. “I was there. I was supposed to be there. They can’t stop being there till I go back so this isn’t about your little show, this is about them; the students that died that can’t stop dying till I get it right.”

Fred looked totally confused. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“That morning, I was there, in the room with them. The bomber, he had a moment where he thought that maybe he shouldn’t do it. I mean really, really thought about it and when that happened I saw him leave the room, I saw him go outside and I followed him. When I left, he blew up the room. I wasn’t supposed to see that moment but I did and I left when I was supposed to stay.” The guest explained but seeing the blank look on Fred’s face he knew he was totally lost.

“All you need to know is I agreed to be on this piece of crap show because it was the only way I could get back into this building again.” The guest said.

“We have won several local cable awa. . .” Fred protested.

The guest went on talking over Fred. “Sometimes when we have two choices we create a divergence of reality. He had a choice to go home or to stay and kill. I saw that thought about going and followed it but he stayed and killed everyone. I wasn’t supposed to see it and I was supposed to stay and die. Now there are two realities fighting it out and these kids can’t finish the dying without me.” A hellish light began to emanate from the room and they could hear faint screams starting and then begin to grow louder. “Every night, they’re still dying until I get it right. Both realities can’t exist, one has to end.”

Fred was totally lost but Velma had come up and understood what the guest was saying. “So you have to redo the day with them, the right way?” The guest nodded. “Can you tell us your name at least?”

“Unknown Remains #12. The new kid whose foster family never reported missing, whose paperwork never got filed in time.” He smiled a bittersweet smile, “I’m Unknown Remains #12, nice to meet you.”

Velma’s eyes welled up with tears. He saw that and smiled at her. “I’ve got to go.” She nodded.

He turned and went into the classroom.

 

This time he got it right.

 

Flash Fiction – July 24th – Essay

This week’s flash fiction from Chuck Wendig’s Blog is an essay on why I write. . .what makes me a writer? What compels and drives me to do this? In contemplation of this I have come to understand something about myself hitherto unknown or at least unspoken. I am not a writer.

I am a storyteller.

Writing is one version of this but I also enjoy telling stories orally. My artwork tells a story . . .at least it does when it turns out right. That is what compels me, the need to tell stories. Though, I will admit, the “I can tell stories through interpretive dance” thought line was a bad idea from the get-go and I do apologize for that, it won’t happen again.

The reason why I write is that it is one way of telling stories and a way I can tell the stories to as many people as possible. So then, the question is not “why I write” for me but rather what drives me to tell stories? The answer to that is rather simplistic and straightforward. I tell stories because it makes me happy to tell stories.

The why’s and how-comes of that would keep a therapist in business for years trying to untangle. Was it a lack of attention when I was a child or a sense of narcissistic egotism that makes me feel that my stories are so important they must be told? I don’t know. One thing I have learned is that sometimes, it doesn’t matter why, it simply is what it is.

I write because I want to share my stories.

Where I get the stories is something I don’t know. My mind just works that way, it creates even when I don’t try and create. It fabricates from things I see ideas of what could be or what might be hidden right behind plain view. It just happens. It is just who I am. There is no poetics to it, just a simple fact of me. It is just how my mind works

So the final answer would be, I write because that is what I do. The why of it doesn’t matter except to my therapist. I do it because that is who I am.

Though I do feel in a strange way that I should now stand up and say, “Hi, my name is David. I’m a writer.” And wait for the twelve step crowd to welcome me. . .

Who am I writing for?

That is the question that has been bothering me for the past few days. . . just who am I writing for?

This is a question that has gotten into my mind the past few days because at 25k into my novel  I am reading it and realizing I may or may not continue reading on from that part. I might not even make it that far. While the story is good, the dialog witty. . .I am writing for someone else.

So I am left wondering if maybe I just have not found my voice yet. Pounding out more writing will help with that but I am also left with a nagging feeling that I have been writing for someone else. It reminds of something Neil Gaiman said in his speech (Which is really awesome and worth watching)  “Make Good Art”: The only projects he regrets are the ones he did for a reason other than really wanting to do them. That he writes things he wants to write so even if they fail, he still has the fulfillment of having written what he wanted to write.

So I am looking over what I have written and am left wondering if I am writing for me or for some idea of what some unnamed reader might like and buy.

So, lesson of the day, write for me. Combining that with the lesson before I am not going to restart, but from this point forward it will be what I dig. I will go back and renovate the rest later, redo it all if I have to. But from this point forward in my book, it will be shit I dig and how I dig it and fix the rest when I get done.

Still Kicking

Fear

It is a powerful motivator. . . or should that be de-motivator? Fear of the inevitable rejection that is part of being a writer. It happens and will happen and you can’t stop it. It is part of the writing process, not everything you write will be gold. Sometimes the things you think are best no one else ‘gets’ so they are rejected. Sometimes the things you are really, really unsure of hit the spot and people like them.

In most things there are benchmarks that if you strive for them you’ll fall within acceptable parameters. Things can be measured and calculated so that your efforts have a good certainty of success if you follow those guides. Ys, writing does have some rules but even if you follow them, it might still suck. Even if it doesn’t suck it might fall outside current trends or needs. Even if you hit the right time with the right idea inside the guidelines. . . sometimes the current trend is to color outside the lines. All of that uncertainty creates. . .you guessed it. . .

Fear

Then there is another kind of fear. It is a lack of faith. Sometimes you look at words you wrote the day before and though you were sure they were rock solid then, now you are not so sure. You second guess, worry, and that restricts further words. Lack of faith in your words is a huge fear.

Fear.

The worst fear though. . .at least for me. . .is being irrelevant. What if my best words at the best time about the best ideas are just. . . .nothing? That is the biggest and worst boogey-man in my writing closet. Irrelevance.

So I sent off several short stories to editors yesterday. They were sitting here and I had done nothing with them for over a year. I tweaked them and read them and I am pretty dang confident they were really good. I was also pretty confident that I am tired of fear. So if they are accepted, hooray for me in getting published. If they are not I will submit them someplace else and keep writing.

I am done letting fear guide my hand.

Ya. . .some stuff will suck but even if it does I will learn from it and move on. I used to tell students that the first hundred round-house kicks will be bad, the next thousand will be better but in the end, by the time they hit black belt they will have thrown an average of 25,000 roundhouse kicks. . . they’ll finally be doing good kicks. By the time they hit 4th dan and are a master they will have thrown over 100k and finally, they will be doing really good. If they ever hit 9th dan grand master, then they will be perfect. But each failure teaches a lesson. A slight modification of technique and timing that teaches us but only if we allow ourselves to throw them knowing they might fail. It is that willingness to be imperfect in our efforts that will guide us to achieving success.

So I threw a few kicks yesterday. I’ll throw some more today.

Some might hit.

Some might miss.

In the end. . .its ok either way.

Because at least I am still kicking.

Daily Progress

At 20,294 words now. Was up to 23k but deleted a bunch of stuff I really didn’t like. Finding it hard not to get lost into banter between the characters in the story. I periodically have to kick myself and remember “show, don’t tell” to get myself back on track. So I deleted about 4k worth of words and wrote back better stuff. Still fighting the urge to edit myself as I go along. . . but that section just went spiraling off into the “who gives a shit” area of playful banter. It had to go to get back to the meat of the story.

So back on track and moving forward.