Controlled Abandon

emo-kid

I bleed words, dudes. I BLEED them.

I got a few responses to my previous blog, mostly concern from other authors hoping I’m alright. I guess that’s what I get for a dismal title like “We’re All Going to Die, etc.”

I guess I should have prefigured that post with a warning. Coming to the realization that many of the reasons we do what we do might not add up at the end of the day, or at the end of one’s life, isn’t for everyone. I’m just trying to explore why I write, and in doing so realizing that many of the reasons were pretty vacuous when it came right down to it.

One of my biggest realizations was that my “selfless” motivations for writing, like leaving something for my kids, was actually relatively selfish. I do think it is important to leave some writing behind for my kids, but in retrospect, I can’t imagine them spending a large portion of their lives sifting through my word-shit, trying to understand who or what I was.

There have been times where I’ve stayed at my office late to write a book while my kids are at home. How can I really convince myself I’m “writing for them” in a circumstance like that? Since then I’ve borrowed a habit from one of my co-workers. He doesn’t take his work home with him. It never occurred to me that this was a possibility. But for the past year or so I have left my work at work, and most of my creative writing time at work. It works wonderfully and has reduced my stress levels immensely.

There was a time when I could delude myself into believing writing was the most important thing in my life, because it directly contributed to every other important thing in my life. I was a good father in part because I wrote for my kids, etc. Now I realize that’s bullshit. It’s a delusion onset by selfishness, just like working your ass off for money and never seeing your kids is “working for your kids.”

Do I write less after removing this potential motivation from my roster of inspiration? Yes. I do write less now. But when I write know I do it for the right reasons. And when I’m digging through my shit loads of story ideas late at night, I keep them for the right reason, and I delete the shit I’ll never work on.

Cutting Bullshit Motivations for Writing Helps Cut Shitty Story Ideas from Your Well of Ideas

For me, motivations for writing work in the same way motivations for keeping story ideas do.

I look at an old file, open it up. Ask myself:

“Is this story original?”

Answer: not really anymore.

“Am I trying to say something important?”

Answer: others have already said it. I just didn’t know they said it because I isolated myself for years when I was younger to preserve my ego.

“Does it say something about me?”

Answer: yeah. It does! It humbles me, and reminds me of who I was. It might provide my kids or family with insight into who I was some day. I better keep this!

That’s the one I always fall back on, that last question.

Yep! This is my magnum opus . . . one of them, anyway. Better keep this around!

Yep! This is my magnum opus . . . one of them, anyway. Better keep this around!

But there’s plenty of work I have had published that does the same thing. There are other aspects of my life that speak to my flaws. I don’t really NEED to keep this old fucking story about a delusional kid who has hidden away in the confines of his mind to preserve the delusion that he’s a God, but then it turns out he actually IS a God in this world he’s created. Shit’s been done before. Withdrawing in an attempt to preserve ego is a part of the human condition. Most people go through it at some point or another, in some way or another. Toss it.

One of my old NBAS buddies recently wrote a blog post about minimalist living in the digital age. You can check it out by clicking

RIGHT HERE

The post addresses a lot of things, but the one thing I took away from it was that there’s something very tranquil about turning on a computer and seeing only a few folders. There’s something valuable about letting go of shit, literally shit that we ascribe value to.

This concept isn’t alien to me. I have tossed so many books over the years it isn’t funny. Last year my wife and I started going through all of our possessions and donating them to charity. We did this because we lost a lot of things to mold in our basement. Most of it, we realized, wasn’t really that important to us in the long run anyway. It was just shit.

Same thing happened to me when I was in 10th grade. Our house burnt down, and while I was sad that I lost a lot of stuff, I remember walking away from it with a guitar, an amp, a microphone and an 8-track mixer/recorder. And for the next few years, I had a greater level of focus than I ever had before. I dove into recording head first instead of dabbling in different shit and being a jack of all trades. Now when I look back, I can count on one hand the things I regret losing in that fire, just sentimental shit. I lost two book shelves worth of books and probably 100 CDs. I can’t think of one that was irreplaceable. Come to think of it, I have virtually none of those books or CDs in my small collection now. They couldn’t have been that important.

Anyway, since I abandoned several of my motivations for writing, I’ve also scrapped several motivations for keeping old stories. Subsequently, I’ve scrapped a shit load of old stories and blog posts and other junk that I’ll never use. It felt great to objectively look at the old entries I wrote for a feminist encyclopedia that lost its publishing contract back when I was in grad school. I was never going to publish those anywhere else. Sure, they took hours to write, but why keep them? Trashed.

Or the articles I wrote for a Magic: The Gathering website back when I was really passionate about the game. I had close to ten and had planned on doing a monthly article for the website. Then I lost interest in the game for a year and by the time I returned the articles were essentially obsolete. Why keep this shit around? I will literally NEVER use it. The only thing it does is soak up time while I’m looking through my files trying to figure out what to work on next. Junk it.

Or the essays I wrote for my college newspaper that I never published because I got caught up in other things. They were too juvenile to publish, even on my pretentious, self-absorbed blog. Why were they still around? I remember thinking I could scrap valuable insights from them to use in stories. But it just made me stagnate, relying on things that I had already thought about. Tossed.

A lot of this material kept me looking back instead of looking forward. I was losing steam, but still caught up in a mentality that I could dig inspiration out of old stories instead of coming up with new ones. I noticed this when I started digging through old pitches to try to “create” new ones. I knew I needed to purge this shit.

I’m willing to bet there are a lot of writers who already made it past this part of their career. But I’m also willing to bet there are quite a few who haven’t.

I’m also sure there are plenty of people who don’t need this in their writing career. Maybe they still dig from their well of tales. Maybe they need their assortment of motivations so they can write every day. I know there are folks who say “who gives a shit why you write, as long as you write!” I respect that, but it isn’t for me.

I needed to abandon some of my motivations as a writer, thus my previous blog post. Though I write less now, when I do write, I know it is something that is valuable to me for all the right reasons. It has abolished self doubt. It has taught me which genres will work best for me. It has helped me delete countless files I’ll never use due to my improved focus. It has provided me with an improved sense of direction. Most important, it has allowed me to accept my place in the world, separate delusion from reality.

We’re Going to Die. Everyone Reading Our Work Will Die. And That’s OK. Write On.

All roads traveled . . .

It looks like a few more of the publishing houses I’ve had the pleasure of working with have died. I just acquired the rough equivalent of a death knell from one of my former publishers, which I’ll leave unnamed because they haven’t given up the ghost yet. Obviously it is NOT EP or NBAS. They will live on FOREVER! I also found out that Pill Hill Press is no more, which is sad because I just barely got my hands on Shane McKenzie’s Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, which one of my stories appeared in quite some time ago. I hope it doesn’t go out of print. Shane did an awesome job on that one, and it was an honor to be included in an anthology with some of the greats in horror.

Found out a few months back that my second book, accepted last year, likely won’t be seeing the light of day any time soon. If it does under the publisher I’m currently (presumably) under contract with, there’s a chance it won’t get many sales due to author-publisher conflicts in the community I’m a part of. CLICK HERE for more info on that. This is the second time this damned book has been delayed due to folding presses. Black Sails expressed interest, then disappeared. It’s starting to become fairly common.

Of course it is time to re-evaluate my approach . . .

I’ve been thinking of carving my next novel into a fucking rock ledge somewhere, maybe an Adirondack slide or something. It should have some staying power then.

You won’t forget my bizarro cautionary tale of masturbation now, fuckers!

I think for many authors, the allure of the printed page surviving us is part of what drives us to write. Ever since I was 18, I’ve been obsessed with leaving more behind than two dates on a marbled stone with my name above it.

For a while I took solace in family. You know, at least our offspring will give a shit about the legacy we leave behind, right?

Then, when my grandfather died, I remember my father digging through a pile of trash to extract letters and pictures from our ancestors. They were discarded during auction because they had no monetary value. My dad fished them out, thankfully. Three or four generations go by and the legacy means little to most. Put all your eggs in the familial basket, you’re rolling the dice to lose. You become a footnote in your progeny’s legacy.

Friends are the same way. We can invest in others socially. We’re physiologically driven to do so. We can reinforce the importance of our peers. But when it comes right down to it, even if we outlive our peers by a decade or two, we’re all going to boil down to a pile of bones and a series of ideas we shared with others who also end up as bones. But don’t get me wrong. I still think there’s got to be something more, perhaps a selfless dedication to humanity as a whole.

Butterfly effect optimism. Some sort of pay it forward policy that can live on and make the world a better place.

There comes a point where we have to come to terms with the fact that we’re all going to end up as dust. The older I get, the more delusions start to become outweighed by reality, the more I’m reminded of Shelley’s “Ozymandias.” His kingdom turned to dust, and he was so arrogant and prideful that he never conceived of its demise. I’m not a big fan of classic poetry, but this guy hit the existential nail on the head. Pride, in all manifestations, is shortsighted at best.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

I find it amusing that in mythology, we conjure up these images of the muse, the timeless Calliope who grants us inspiration. Imagine: immortal beings concerned with scriptures that last only a handful of lifetimes. Any manuscripts that live longer are perverted into tools that cause pain and suffering just as often as, if not more than, enlightenment, (e.g. The Bible). Why would immortals ascribe so much importance to things that in the grand scheme of things are so insignificant?

Even more ironic is the fact that over time these legendary characters have become mere footnotes in modern fables that are little more than compilations of past lore. Calliope is relegated to cameo appearances in “high brow” popular fiction.

I like to believe that if she existed, she would have moved on to better things by now.

“Let me double check . . . yes. It says here that I give 0 fucks about your creative endeavors. I’m too busy helping Maroon 5 make timeless hits. Lolz. Just kidding. I don’t give a fuck about them either.

Despite this seemingly dismal foray into the reality of writing and publishing, I can’t stop. Like many of my friends, something compels me to move forward. But I’ve reached a new stage. I’m no longer infused with the sense of self-importance that once inspired my writing. I write expecting to fall on deaf ears, so that every time my voice is heard, it propels me forward. I feel like my stories and I are comrades in battle, and I become more of a veteran of the small press scene every time I see one of my stories go out of print in an anthology no longer published. I feel like a hero in some small way when I rescue a story or novel from imminent death. I’m hoping I can do that next year with the book I was supposed to publish with Spectacular Productions.

In a fucked up way, authors all like catchers in the rye for our stories. We stand at the edge of the field, trying to save our ideas from falling over a great precipice into non-existence. Each one is a part of us. Self-preservation is our instinct, and it is wonderful that artists have transcended the need to preserve only our biological kin, that artists produce ideas, images, experiences as offspring. There’s something romantic about the futility of trying to outlive ourselves against all odds.

Twisted Tuesdays: 13 Creepy/WTF Websites

bizarrojones:

This is a great collection of weird websites. Love this!

Originally posted on Bizarro Central:

internet mold

Most of these sites are from the “golden age” of the internet and some are newer. They all have something in common, whoever created them wanted to scare you, make you go “WTF,” or even join their apocalypse cult. Enjoy!

1) Dong Ghost, a creepy Korean comic translated in English. Proceed at your own risk!

2) More WTF than creepy. It’s entertaining. Just keep clicking.

tumblr_mjg5igheYR1qgleipo1_500

3) If there was ever a haunted site, magibon is it.

4) Official site of the Nike-wearing doomsday cult. Prepare for an internet time warp!

5) Occult magick fun. Abracadabra.

6) ” WARNING: This website contains both a hypnotic induction and subliminals and is both mentally and psychologically toxic.” 

7) “WWYS® has been formed by a consortium of international companies – including leading financial and genetic research institutions – to create a product that gives you an actual CASH VALUE for your soul.” 

View original 79 more words

People Suck . . . Except Mormons, Who Will Always Respect Your Wishes. Especially When You’re Naked

me specialMy name is Kirk Jones, and I’m socially awkward.

I’ve never really understood how to interact with people. Over the years I’ve come up with my own rules, personal guidelines to social etiquette that completely shut me down in almost every circumstance. Whenever I’m about to open my mouth, I remember these rules. I know I should ignore them. But experience still reinforces their relevance for me. Today I just want to talk about one of these rules, and that is that most folks are oblivious to apathy, even if apathy is dagger-like and shooting straight out of your eyes down their throats.

Except Mormons who go door to door. They’re alright.

Rule #1: People don’t give a shit if you give a shit about what they’re talking about.

I remember going to my friend’s birthday party about five years ago. His ex girlfriend’s father sat beside me at the main table. He was decked out in Dale Earnhardt gear, chiding someone else at the table for their love of Jeff Gordon. I stared at my steak, hoping it would keep me out of the conversation.

It didn’t.

“You like Jeff Gordon?” He asks me.

“Not really into NASCAR,” I say.

I assumed that’d be it. Do you like it? No, sir I don’t like it. The end. Except it wasn’t the end. For some reason, he took my response to mean I didn’t UNDERSTAND NASCAR. For the next half hour, this guy used my steak as a race track, looping around the edge with his finger to show me where the pit crew waited. “See that piece of fat right there. Pit crew’d be right there. They fix stuff.”

That’s fucking nice. Can I eat now?

No I can’t. Because Dale here ain’t done showing me, in excruciating detail, exactly why the Indy 500 is called the Indy 500. Surprisingly, there are only 200 laps. Even more shocking: the 500 has nothing to do with how many brain cells die each time you watch a NASCAR event. The 500 comes from 500 miles. Now, with this precious knowledge in hand, would I be more interested in watching a bunch of fucking cars drive in circles for hours and hours and hours? Fuck no. I don’t give a shit about cars, nor do I give a shit about circles or ovals or stars . . . or any other shape that cars would care to navigate.

After 130 laps, Jim noticed a pattern: the cars were moving in circles!

There is only one car story I have thoroughly enjoyed in my life. One of my relatives was caught on the interstate with the runs and had to clear out her purse and shit in it. That is interesting, and that kind of story you can tell me any time. If someone takes a dump in an awkward place or pisses their pants in public, I’m all ears. If you have a story about someone who likes to take dumps in awkward places and piss in public, you will have my attention for life.

With my NASCAR experience in mind, I’m still confused as to why my mother used to hide on the Mormons who came to our house to talk about God. Because when you tell them you don’t give a shit about what they want to tell you, they’re generally pretty cool about it.

Just last summer I had a couple visit my house. I opened the door and poked my head out, and my stomach, covered with dried BBQ sauce from the previous night, followed. “Hey?”

“Would you be interested in some literature about the Lord?” they asked.

There was no question. I needed something for the toilet later. “Sure.”

“Could we come in for a while to speak with you?”

“Naw. I’ll take the free literature though. Those Awake mags are good fun.”

Reluctantly, they handed over the magazine and I bid them farewell. Free reading material. Minimal conversation. No finger dancing around my steak to chart a path to heaven.

Maybe they would have stayed longer or been more aggressive about sticking around if I would have had a pair of underwear on or something. I like to believe they’re just polite people.

Bellows of the Bone Box

ImageIt has been too long since I’ve been on here. Things have been incredibly busy and there’s a lot to cover in a short amount of time, so I’ll get right to it. 

One of my stories recently found a home in an anthology titled “Bellows of the Bone Box,” published by Siren’s Call Publications. It is my first time working with them, and it was a pleasure. Everyone involved in the publication of this anthology came together to produce the best text possible. My thanks to the beta readers who took the time to help me polish my story.

You can learn more about my thoughts on Steampunk, and check out a preview of my story by clicking right the *%$ here

While the official announcement is still pending, I can say that I have a new book coming out in the near future. The tentative title of the book is listed in the catalog section of the Spectacular Productions website, which you can access by clicking here. The artwork looks really great and should be available in the near future. 

I also had the pleasure of working with Rooster Republic Press this year. They published the first bizarro story I ever wrote in Tall Tales with Short Cocks Vol. III (pictured below). The story, titled “Harry Holden: Zero Man vs. Jimmy Bogardus: BIID Looner, features some of my favorite topics, like BIID and looners (I love me some looners). It was an exercise in my bizarro style that I’m glad finally found a home. I’ve come a long way from the content and style featured in the story, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have merit. The story represents what bizarro meant to me when I first started working in the genre. 

 

Image

 

I feel like there was more, but it has escaped me at the moment. I hope 2013 has been as busy and productive for you as it has for me. See you all again soon!

Walking Towards the 8-bit Horizon

After two years without glasses, I finally managed to see an eye doctor a few months ago. I promised myself I’d be honest on the eye exam, unlike my last trip to the DMV when I memorized the sequence of letters before reading them back to the woman at the counter.

I knew my vision was bad, but not third-line-unintelligible bad. After I failed to read virtually all the letters, the doctor slid through various lenses until we settled on a set that brought the world into focus. For the first time in two years, I started to see what I had missed.

Two months later my glasses arrived. Since then, I have been amazed at the things I have seen:

Every light emanating from a house after dark is generally a wide-screen television that is big enough for me to see what they’re watching. I feel like I’m being invited into the homes of my neighborhood every time I drive to the store. Scratch that. I feel like I’m being strong armed into their living rooms to watch shitty CGI family films, MMA championships, and football. There are no refreshments served as incentive for me to feign interest. I’m grateful that the speed limit doesn’t allow for prolonged exposure to their programs, because I would probably watch out of curiosity and subsequently be bored to fucking death.

When I was a child, one of the most compelling elements of gaming was that there were these elaborate backgrounds that the player couldn’t explore. I wanted to hike in the mountains of Ninja Gaiden II. I wanted to go to a theater in Double Dragon II’s skyline. The virtue of 8-bit gaming wasn’t what I could do. It was what I couldn’t do and that limitation’s ability to spark my imagination. I don’t see that in games as much as I used to.

The houses in my neighborhood are the same way. Before I got my glasses, I saw nothing but a blur in the neighborhood windows. I had to imagine the source of the blur. Perhaps it was a fluorescent light used to breed some obscure species of moth that my neighbor was using as his murder signature. Maybe it was a light box and someone in my neighborhood was inking his/her magnum opus: a graphic novel.

Now I see the source of these lights. There’s enough detail to ensure I’m not compelled by what I see inside. The anonymous throng of people who make up my town could easily be a ubiquitous clone of the same person placed in house after house. They’re going through the same motions, watching the same screens. And if you drive long enough, you start to notice patterns, just like you might in 8-bit games or old cartoons like Tom & Jerry where cat and mouse run past the same fridge time and time again.

For some reason all of that disappoints me. Yet I am in complete awe as I stare up at the sky, watching the same stars and the same moon traverse the same pattern every night. Glasses or no, that black canopy above me evokes the same feeling of wonder. No matter how well my sight is, no matter what magnification I view the stars through, I’m mesmerized. I notice patterns there too. Some stars radiate with the same intensity, or waver rhythmically as if the entire universe dances to the same song. But I can’t travel there, which inspires me to imagine what might be if I could. One look up at night and I become a child again. I’m staring into a 32″ screen wondering what it’d be like to walk among the green-tinted wreckage that scrolls through the background of Journey to Silius. My sense of wonder is rekindled, and sight once again inspires wonder instead of apathy.

I want to lay on the rooftop of one of those abandoned buildings and stare up at that green intestinal tubing sky.

In my short time on this planet I have watched so many people who see things clearly become disillusioned. I have fallen into that trap in the past. But from now on I’m following the things that inspire imagination and wonder when I see them clearly. When clarity reveals intricacy instead of simplicity, that inspires me to seek understanding.

When clarity reveals simplicity, perhaps it is a delusion. Something lurks beneath the surface of even the neighborhoods where every 60″ television is switched to Sunday-night football. Sometimes I think simplicity is a personal construct, a horse blinder we create for ourselves to avoid being overwhelmed by the natural intricacy that exists even in repetition and ubiquity. Then again, maybe everything can be boiled down to repetitious actions on a repetitious template. If so, many of us seem to be perfectly fine with retracing our own steps and repeating our own actions.

Speaking of which, anyone remember this video that used to air on Cartoon Network?