"Some Tears May Be Crocodile, But My Salt Is True."
Is it possible to curate the 50 Most Bad-ass Movies Ever in under 7k words? Apparently so. Hint: there's no Adam Sandler. Yes, feel free to tell me every way I'm wrong.
So, on Friday I turned in the very final draft of my story collection Title In Flux (not the title). It's ramping straight into production and will be out a year from now. Hitting the deadline required a level of madness unseen since that Robitussin-and-Coors summer I lived in a squat and roofed houses with an oven mitt and a borrowed hammer. Wait, did that actually happen? The last six months have been completely immersive and terrifying. Warranted doubt. Unwarranted doubt. The myopia of re-writing one sentence down to the participle for twelve straight hours. I'd come home every day disheveled and spent, and my wife would be like, "You know we're married, right?" and my first thought would be, "Can we just let it all fall apart with a tragic narrative arc that falls somewhere south of Ray Carver? Because, baby, I need the material." And then my daughter would jump on my lap and slap my face and be like, "You know I am your offspring and we share common DNA, so you should be evolutionarily invested in my well-being, right?" And I'd be like, "Can you rephrase that in a more incisive and nuanced fashion, deleting any adverbs and then perhaps working in a delicate analogy involving a cold hamburger and empty ketchup packets?" Yes, I have been a madman and a fool, but it is all done. For good or ill it will soon be on the shelf ready to be ignored, loved, crucified, dismissed, embraced, pulped, derided, savored, or remaindered. No shit, I should have gone to law school.
Becoming A Confident Artist In Nine E-Z Steps:
1. Somehow get through your twenties without giving up, while simultaneously coming to the almost-impossible-to-embrace-during-your-twenties notion that you'll have no clue what you're doing until you've got a decade of practice and perspective under your belt. 2. Feel no pressure to exhibit. You don't need to hang your beginning paintings in a cafe or publish your unfinished short story to prove something to your friends or parents. 3. Don't Be A Tool. Putting down other people's work is an ugly art form in and of itself. Be supportive. Be generous with your time and attention. Drunkenly making a "connection" with someone semi-famous at a party will help your career a lot less in the long run than being remembered ten years later as relatively human. 4. Being known as the best painter in a college painting class is utterly meaningless. 5. Never try to convince anyone of anything. 6. Move to an unexpected place, like Little Rock or Topeka. Attend free or cheap classes, found writing groups, use a church basement on Saturday mornings to hold Sculpture Salons or rehearsals for puppetry productions of Beckett and Brecht. Be the person that drives events instead of the one that complains about the lack of them. 7. Take a shit job with a company that does finish carpentry or Zen landscaping with the idea that once you've done it for a few years you will have a skill for life that will subsidize the making of art, which really just means being able to work less than twenty-eight hours a week and still afford materials plus a sunny light-filled loft. 8. Genuinely listen to advice. Don't be constrained by it. 9. Aside from those who are lucky, have famous parents, or are fortunate enough to have a patron who requires acceptable favors, almost everyone successful works their butt off. Confidence comes from the knowledge that you've allowed your work ethic to equal your obsession, and that you would have done so regardless of how you're ultimately received.
BONUS ADVICE: Save the 60k in MFA loans and backpack through Southeast Asia for a year instead.
Was up til 4:30 last night. Partying with friends? Nope. Checking out Red Fang at that new after-hours club? Nope.
If this isn't the coolest design project ever, I don't know what is. Where else do fine design, iconic 50's album covers, and thrash-metal ever meet?
John Lennon was shot Dec. 8th, 1980. We listened to the radio reports in my mom's tan Impala wagon. I remember wondering if I'd earned the right to be sad. The next day I was sitting in Modern Music (the kind of class I'm sure no longer exists in a single middle school in America) and everyone was making jokes. The teacher (young, Sears sweaters, mustache) was usually friendly and enthusiastic even though our class was full of knuckleheads. Most days we listened to and deconstructed albums (Heart, Wayne Shorter, Zappa, Godspell). Normally mute tough guys actually paid attention and even made intelligent comments. We debated the relative merits of Ozzy. We tried to describe tempo. We argued Pert v. Bonham. But on this day the teacher snapped. He rushed into the room, shut down the jokes with a slash of his hand. Was he actually almost in tears? We listened in silence as he went on an extended rant about the shooting, about the incalculable loss to popular culture. He concluded, with pure conviction, that Mark David Chapman should be executed.
I remember the rest of the day walking around in trance, relatively sure that something important had finally happened in my lifetime.
Just sent three signed books to the Ferguson Municipal Library for the Hope Through Stories program started by author Joelle Charbonneau. You can read about it here, send books also, or just donate. It's a great idea. Support the students of Ferguson and the work the library is doing.
Love Gone Girl? Feel the need to have it hotly debated along gender lines? Is it about time we made Yawning at Affleck a spectator sport? Are you dying to read my true feelings on Nancy Grace? Is this P/CP the absolute best way to waste most of your afternoon? The answer to all and more is a resounding YES! Diana Spechler brought the charm and I brought the pastry. And then the gloves came off. Check it out here.
Hey, from now until Halloween the excellent Candlewick Press is selling The Infects e-Book for a buck ninety-nine. Which is probably sixty cents too high, but still. And as part of the promotion, it will infect your Kindle with an ineradicable virus that swallows the code of all your unread novels and re-writes them as Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation. Zombies and October are like peanut butter and jelly and spleens. You so can't afford not to jump on this opportunity.
I have a story in the new
London-based ebook anthology TRANSATLANTIC. It's available in the US through Oyster Books.
Really worth checking out, packed with great writing. Support the arts!