gchatus

I write short stories every day in my gchat status,
then post them here. If that doesnt do it for you,
well I don't know what.

Countdown to Terror!

This week I’ll be posting about a project I’ve been working on with Ayahuasca Publishing. It’s halloween-themed and involves the hard work of about 40 of my closest friends. Here’s a teaser image from contributor and all-around badass Andrew MacLean — not one of my closest friends (yet), but holy crap is this awesome.

image

On Writers

Some of my favorite writers like to talk about how no one should be a writer. Sometimes it’s cute, a little bit of the “woe is me” that every good writer should be able to perform. But sometimes they get serious and they’re like “No! Stop being writers! Because for these reasons, you are not one.”

But maybe don’t listen to people with a chosen profession who tell you not to do the thing they do. Maybe this goes double for writers who tell you not to pursue writing. Writing is the easiest profession to claim, and to abandon, that I can think of. All you have to do is pick up a pen or open a laptop. Bam. You’re a writer. Put down the pen, close the laptop. Now you’re not one anymore. Woop de doo, here’s the key to the city.

If you want to write because you love to write, Bam. Consider yourself a writer. If you want to try and get published, Bam. If you want to write to make money, Bam. If you write because you love it AND you want to make money, Bam. (But be really patient. And maybe pray.) Hell, even if you’re the kind of writer whose main contribution is just saying you’re a writer all the time, I don’t care. Consider yourself a writer till the sky burns out, my dude.

If you write for attention, to be Tumblr-famous, to make someone happy, to make 5 cents a word on SEO, to get laid, to get something off your chest — whatever. I don’t have to love those reasons. I don’t even have to think you’re a writer. You don’t have to live up to my definition of the word. Hell, I don’t live up to my definition of the word. I’m no writer. I’m “a guy who writes.” That’s an identifier that works for me. And it’s one I center myself around. Take it away and I wouldn’t feel like myself anymore.

But however you define it, fucking A. You do that shit. You be your version of a writer. You do what you need to do to feel like you. You call yourself what you need to. (But maybe not really loud all the time at parties. That “I’m a writer” schtick is always so pretentious.)

But I digress. Point is, you decide what it means to you to “be a writer.” You ALSO decide what parts of writing aren’t for you — and you don’t apologize for that shit, neither. You take exactly as little or as much from writing as you need. (Unless you’re in my freshman comp seminar. Then you best just do what the prompt tells you and stop quoting my blog in class, smartass.)

But if part of your definition of “being a writer” means telling other people not to be writers, then maybe think hard on that part. Think hard on the politics of identity oppression that you’ve co-opted for like, the most meaningless reason I can currently think of. Think hard on your conscious decision to make other people feel unworthy of dreaming a new reality for themselves. Think hard on how that is exactly the fucking opposite of what writing is. Think hard on if this makes you a writer, or if it makes you an asshole.

Sleepness Flights

Four stories up when the lizard falls out of the backseat. You see him photographed in midair, then scrambling, then stretching with his gecko fingers and grabbing back ahold and pulling himself up and they’re patting his back he made it, and you’re thinking you could take the curve sharper next time, but then you’ve got to get it right, no going back. You’ve got to get right. You draw him over and over in your notebook, and each time he’s falling out backward and you can’t get the plot out your head; every story is a band story. Every story is a story about being in a band. Look up that philosophy!

#NYCC

If you are at New York Comic Con this weekend….that’s great for you. I won’t be there. But my comics will be. Booth #2879. facebook.com/curvesandbullets

On Rape Culture in Alt Lit, and Other Things I Have No Right To Talk About

As many will know (and some won’t), this past week several well-known young men in a NYC-based literary movement were accused of rape by women within the same scene. The undercurrents of gender bias within the movement had been a source of contention for some time, and this week’s events have led to ostracization (or self-exile) of the accused, and the closing of two significant online journals as relations between implicated editorial staff fell apart.

I began this as a comment on a friend’s Facebook post, before thinking it was too long and I should just post it on my own feed, and then thinking it was so long I should just post it here. It’s not really the kind of thing I’ve ever used this blog for, but the fact is that I’ve been thinking about this stuff so much this week that it’s actually been difficult at times to think about anything else. And that feels to me like gchatus material.

So, first, this (which you sort of have to read for the next bit to make sense): http://www.hobartpulp.com/web_features/an-open-letter-to-the-internet

The article I’m linking to offers a female perspective that questions everyone involved, both the men who’ve come under fire and the women who have stepped forward. It’s a really interesting piece, and I’m glad I read it. I found myself disagreeing throughout — but not because I didn’t see Ellen’s point on the questionable nature of these accusations.

In fact, the article made me realize that I had been aware of that nuance all along. For me, I hadn’t been as concerned about all this on behalf of the women involved (which is, I realize, weirdly problematic) as I have been just really angry at the men involved. All this stuff concerns levels of intimacy and communication that can be really difficult to navigate (which is one of Ellen’s main points), but I suppose I’m making the assumption that these men are parts of social communities that, if they’ve been paying attention, should be making them at least a little more sensitive to their own power.

Perhaps not sensitive enough to do the right thing 100% of the time (or even some low percentage of the time), but to be self-aware enough not to publish books detailing the abuse they have inflicted on women under the guise of fiction, without any kind of attempt at real-world reconciliation with the women in question. Self-aware enough not to be, in some cases, quite egregious repeat offenders. Self-aware enough not to use their positions of power to encourage discourse through journals, forums and websites that continued to exclude non-white, non-male points of view on issues of gender and representation as these allegations came to light.

This article made me realize that for me, it’s not about whether or not these women were raped, or if these men are rapists. It’s about some kind of baseline standard for men who don’t have to be perfect, but are in positions of such extreme cultural and educational privilege that I feel comfortable assuming they should know better.

And maybe that’s a tough standard for some 23-year old kid in the middle of the NYC social scene to live up to — I was there once, and it’s a fucked-up place, and I was not a very nice person when I was in it. Perhaps I wasn’t a horrible person in quite the same way, or to the same degree — but as Ellen says, the degree of this stuff is what it’s all about.

But I also think that the language being used here about how these men’s lives are ruined is hyperbolic, and symptomatic of alt lit’s tendency to put its more preeminent members under a microscope. Thus far, this has been about public shaming, rather than out-and-out destruction of another person’s ability to live and function. No one has talked about bringing anyone up on charges. This seems to be more of a discussion about how we treat each other, rather than how we get each other arrested — and I’m pretty sure it will stay that way.

I will cede that the lives of everyone involved are likely to be quite changed, at least for a little while, in light of these accusations. But not forever (or even for the 23-year-old’s version of forever, which in my experience means “what if people hate me until I’m 30?”)

But outside of bankruptcy, disease, and natural disasters, it’s pretty hard to permanently ruin the life of any well-educated first-world young man. Things will get ugly for awhile for them — maybe a long while. And then they will probably get less ugly. And maybe that needs to happen for those men to change. 

Morning in Bed

I say that the reason you can tell it’s morning is because it’s light out but the streetlights are still on. She points out that I’m just not friends with a lot of people who aren’t like me. When I lived in California we used to go to local bars with our friends. We had the same friends. We knew the same bars. We didn’t go often. When I teach I like to plan early. I buy comics not to read them but to stack them in corners. You haven’t been around awhile. When it’s time to leave we go. 

http://entropymag.org/a-review-of-the-wes-letters/

Morning on the 805

His tongue wrapped around the cigarette once, twice. He learned that filters are hot and uncurled his tongue and took the cigarette between his finger and blew out smoke once, twice. He adopted a stance he must have gotten from a magazine, propping himself up on one knee and looking out over the city.

"Yup," he said, and I looked at the skin bunched at his joints, the way it was drying out above ground. The sun shown gold through his fins. He licked his eyeball and caught himself halfway through and I pretended not to notice.

He pulled a thermos out from somewhere and unscrewed the cap and poured a swig of something directly down his throat and then offered the thermos to me. I took a smell of it and wished I hadn’t and thanked him and said that was okay, I had my own.

He nodded and licked his eyeball again, this time without hiding it, easing into it, finding a place for himself. I pulled out my thermos and unscrewed it. My own eyeball floated to the liquid’s surface. I grabbed it and sucked the coffee off, then popped it in above my cheek.

The world blinked into resonance; colors firmed. He blew out smoke and I looked at him. His skin had warmed. His fins disappeared.

its raining in dark city and the electrodes have the white house

I’m not gonna say we weren’t following orders but its just not true, the directions were just from the ape-lizard running through the rain demanding for us to follow him and by that time we just did, by that time we had no one to count on, we were a band, a war party, we were trying to get each other through. This was our St Elmo’s Fire kind of moment and the thing is that you are Demi Moore right now, it is 3am in San Diego and a time either the same or different where you are and I am a young Rob and Emilio and Andrew cutting the bars and climbing the fire escape and banging down the door.

Then we save you and succeed and we’ve all learned something and then there’s a fucked up soundtrack, oddly enough its Aesop Rock and you’re all “no one but shithead hipster bros listens to this shit” and I’m like “yeah baby” and I pull out a copy of Fight Club and Trainspotting and Catcher in the Rye and I ask you if you”re into this shit, this is the real shit, and then I get serious and tell you if you really want to know me you’ll read Infinite Jest or better yet Finnegans Wake.

At this point you’ve made your decision, you leave me through the back window and Woof the ape-lizard catches up, he watches you go and asks me if you wronged me and if he should catch up and eat you and I say no it’s cool, and then we put our arms around each other and laugh and there’s a freeze frame and a sweaty sax solo. Rob Lowe plays the drums.

You’re Falling Asleep, Quick Do Something Awesome

I can’t tell you how many nights are like this, listening to Rave Down on repeat and reading issue 7, pages 4-13 over and over to crack the code. Someday we will own a motorbike, someday we will drive a lime green Vespa across Europe just like Wendy did, someday we will design That Winning Thing, someday we will live up to the promises we made ourselves, or maybe we are already but it’s happening in slow motion, maybe we thought the future would be faster, maybe it only moves quickly when you are satisfied, maybe we are never satisfied, maybe we say this like we are proud but the truth is we are bored, maybe we are always trying to fill a hole inside us, at least that’s what Tom Peyton said but you haven’t heard that record, that’s 1971 and that was a lost year, don’t bother Googling this, it’s an alternate history, someone call the Time Police you’re getting old, I’d tell you my brother wrote this but he can’t write, he’s living in El Paso and he never leaves the house, not like me not like me. I heard you were in a band, good for you, have a good summer, I heard you joined the Navy, I heard you went to summer camp, I heard you backpacked through Europe, good for you, have a good summer, I heard you got some autographs, I heard you made the play, I heard you got the girl, I heard you got pictures of the whole thing, I heard it’s in a place where people can see, I heard you’re using something called the internet, your father and I don’t use the internet, I heard you saw a lot of bands this summer, I heard you went on a lot of walks, I heard you beat the heat, I heard you became an elf-wizard, I made up that last one, I heard you played soccer, let’s talk turkey, let’s talk about why you’re proud, let’s talk about 11 ways to rethink architecture, let’s talk output, let’s lay down the law, let’s remember Diane hasn’t forgotten you, let’s try this trick and spin it, yeah.

You and the Ones You Love

I have this theory that real writers don’t talk about writing, that real druggies don’t talk about drugs, that real depressives don’t go around telling you how sad they are. This makes it easy not to be impressed by people who feel the need to convince me that they Go Hard — if you have to say it, you’re not doing it, friend.

I knew this guy and it took me three years to figure out he was a fraud. The funny thing was he’d been telling us all along he was one, but I attributed it to the statute above and logically assumed the opposite; that he was the Real Fuckin’ Do.

But I was wrong, see, and copping to fraud was the only honest thing he’d been telling us, buried in lies. This guy was a joke. It was so obvious in retrospect that he was a feeb dressed up like Joe Cool. I should have known it when he wouldn’t skinny-dip in the ocean. I should have known it when he told me his zodiac sign was Shark.