WHAT TO DO DURING YOUR PANDEMIC-QUARANTINE-ISOLATION-SELF-DISTANCING-DETACHMENT FROM SOCIETY

I dunno, maybe you were planning on building a social-distancing pillow and blanket fort. Maybe you were gonna watch Contagion because, you know, the current global pandemic isn’t scary enough. Or, and this is a hypothetical, you’re set on perfect harmony of zen and nothing go will get to you.

You do you. 

But…

If COVID-19 has taught us anything besides that hands get pruny like a Kaffir lime from being washed two-hundred and seventeen times a day, and that Americans really, really – like seriously really – love their toilet paper, it’s that having to stay at home can become excruciatingly monotonous.

Let’s face it, if you aren’t prepared to stay inside for the next couple weeks with food and supplies, you’re already screwed. Grocery shelves are empty; restaurants are closing; toilet paper is gone. All of it.

Whether you’re dragged kicking and screaming into quarantine or told to self-isolate, you must now prepare yourself for weeks of delivery foods and, I dunno, lots of showers after using the toilet. But alas, here’s some ideas to keep you occupied during your social hiatus.

Why not DO NOTHING?

Why?

Uhhhh, why not?

It goes without saying, doing nothing is easy. Lounge around. Sloth away. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Allow the gods of laziness to whisk your mind away to wherever the fuck lazy people laze.

You could EXERCISE

Staying active is good for the body and the mind. It invigorates the soul and all kinds of other healthy bullshit. You don’t need fancy equipment, or any equipment. Google it. Figure it out.

Binge-watch NETFLIX and MAYBE CHILL

While any streaming service will do, the chill part might be a little tricky especially if you’re truly maintaining a social distance. Binge-watch EVERYTHING.

CLEAN your dirty house

This actually depends on the level of messiness one has in one’s domicile. Do you need to tidy up a bit? Is it the-interior-paint-is-rotting-off-the-walls dirty? Are we talking pigpen style living? Does the toilet look like a rusty car bumper? Does it stink so bad even the dogs want out? If that’s the case, clean. And maybe change your living habits, I dunno.

Be Tom Cruise in Cocktail and ALCOHOL

I’m not advocating that drinking will aid your blues, but if I had to be quarantined with you, I’d drink. A lot. Become a master of the mixing game. Learn to sling a cocktail like the pros.

*this asumes you have a plentiful range of spirits on-hand. If not, I’m sure your local grocery store will be abl to help; just don’t go for toilet paper.

Become manly and GROW A BEARD

Sounds easy enough, but you’ll need patience. And persistence to get past the itchy part at about ten days. Push on man, push on. If your partner doesn’t like facial hair, fear not. You’ve unwittingly, and successfully, handled the unable to Chill part of Netflix and Chill.

RESEARCH…ALL THE STUFF

Pick a topic. Any topic will do. Learn about it. Read about it. Become an expert. Get to the end of the Internet on said topic. Tell all your friends the wondrous things you learned about the Hercules beetle while in exile.

Or…

Learn how to flatten the curve. Check to see how far is social distancing. Understand what an incubation period is all about. Look up the terms quarantine and isolation and know the difference. Find out what Public Health Orders actually mean. And get the rest of the key terms whilst under lockdown.

READ a goddamn book, would ya

Pretty much goes without saying. If you’re dying for a good read during your detachment from humanity, go here. If you’re not, learn how to contemplate life while stroking your freshly grown beard and dreaming of ample supplies of toilet paper before mixing your new favorite cocktails and starting the next Netflix series all while lounging in your clean house.

WRITE like a motherfucker

Did you think I’d leave it out?

It’s a writing blog.

Duh.

WIPs, finish them. Ideas, write about them. Characters, develop them. Plots, construct them. Endings, finish them.

See where this is going?

No?

Okay, FINISH YOUR SHIT. You have time. A lot of it. Maybe too much.

AND

If you’re really, really mind-numbingly bored, start a podcast like everyone else on Earth because, why the fuck not.

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The COVID-19 or as I’m calling it, THE TOILET PAPER SHORTAGE OF 2020

 

*looks over shoulder while hugging remaining Charmin rolls. shifty eyes feel someone’s watching*

I write this wondering what‘ll happen if there’s a real apocalypse. First, we‘ve come to know how Americans really feel about toilet paper so that’ll disappear faster than free cake. Second, we know anything toilet paper related-adjacent-in-the-vicinity, will disappear. And third, yes, ALL toilet paper will be gone.

I don’t recall seeing any pre or post apocalypse movies where hoarding toilet paper was a thing. Ever.

*checks internet*

Nope. None.

I see pictures of Costco carts full of food. Do you have any idea how hard it is to fill a Costco shopping cart?

*tries to figure equivalent quotient of toilet paper to groceries purchased. says fuck it because math is hard*

Imma back up.

I should explain. There’s a backstory here. Once upon a time in the very recent past I was given a task: pick up toilet paper.

I laughed. Sure. No problem. I’m on it. Not too difficult. Pfft, whatever.

Until…

I had no idea that during CORONAPOCALYPSE the first thing panicky humans would hoard would be…
Toilet paper.
Toilet paper?
For a respiratory virus.
Toilet. Paper.

No-no. It’s my bad. I absolutely got it wrong.

I. Didn’t. Know.

I developed a strategic plan.

It was early. So early, the darkness was comfortable and I was still blurry-eyed. I wiped the sleep sand from my eyes.

I ambled through a store where carts were pushed like guided missiles. Tunnel-visioning shoppers were on a mission. Like an army of ants, they scurried one after the other, carts to assess, straight for the paper goods aisle. My pulse quickened. I waited to cross a main artery from kids clothes to paper goods. My super-secret shortcut didn’t work. After I Froggered across, I too found emptiness. Like a vault wiped after a robbery, fingerprints didn’t even remain. Mother Hubbard’s cupboard was bare. Bone white shelves shined under high fluorescent lights. Not a single roll. Panic-buying empty.
I thought about laying a fifty to make a backroom deal with a stock person to text me when the next shipment arrived. I turned to the has-any-and-everything-of-consumer-goods god, Amazon.
Nothing. Out. Damn.
Confusion set in. I dreamed of being back in bed and hiding under a heavy blanket. I zombied through the store grabbing some needed food stuffs. And then, well, it happened.

The gall of someone to sneeze. I was more than a social distance away. I stared. It quickly turned to a glare. Eye darts. My misanthropic self kicked in.

Why is that person breathing? Cart abandoned.

Now it’s time for Netflix, panic-eating donuts, and pandering Amazon for unneeded shit. While you’re there, I mean, it can’t hurt, so go here for a good read during your 14-days of solitude.

But wait…

Did I…am I… I’m signed up for…toilet paper notifications? Holy hellshit.

Final note: 

Remember, Social-Distancing can be another meaning for introverted misanthrope. Also, I’ve decided to sit this apocalypse out for now and not wrestle any panic shoppers.

#spareasquare #coronapocalypse #toiletpaper

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You Wanna Write?

So…
You wanna be a writer?
Why?
All joking aside, really though, why?
Do you really need less sleep? Do you want more stress? Don’t you have enough misery in your life? What, you don’t loath yourself enough already? You haven’t reached that specific plateau of self-hate quite yet? 
Do you wanna wake at two in the morning with a one-of-kind-out-of-this-world idea only to blurry-eye your way through monkey-tapping and fat-thumbing the keys on your phone in such a way that when you wake it’s all red underlines of mish-mosh fuckery and you go apeshit nuts trying to decipher your own damn words only to say, “Fuck this,” and delete?
Do you want your friends to always ask what a word means? Or worse, ask, “Hey, what’s a word for that?” like we’re fucking dictionaries slash thesauri. Or, because you’re now a writer, would you like friends to ask about your thoughts on their ideas of stories they’ll never write. It’s like a test to see if you’re on top of your shit? Oh, WRITERS ARE ON TOP OF THEIR SHIT. ALWAYS.
But, I ask, who needs it?
This is not to deter you from writing. In fact, quite the opposite. If you have ideas, get them out. Write ‘em down. Let the creative flow. Writing is art and you need to art hard. Make writing notes a daily part of your life. The story in your head needs to be told or extracted surgically, and hey, that sounds like it’ll hurt like hell…so write. 
Here’s the WARNING disclaimer: writing, it’s a lonely endeavor. Like solitary-sit-in-a-cave lonely. It’s you, a computer, and thoughts. Lots and lots of thoughts. And loneliness. And more thoughts. And then the loneliness. And then the decisive settling of dread. That’s the part where you think your writing is awful. And sucks. And well, bad. And there’s coffee. And probably scotch, maybe, but pretty much needed. 
Enjoy. 

The Flashing

No, not the DC comics character. And NO, I’m not flashing anyone. Ever. Mostly, anyway.

Flash Fiction. Not just really short fiction either. Flash fiction IS its own genre.

I thought of the regular cliches when writing this: tell, don’t show; don’t get wordy; don’t get too descriptive; and, choose an effective title. And then…

Well hell, if you don’t understand those already from writing in general, then you’ll find no help here. Sorry, but not really. Actually, not even a little bit.

There’s a lot of useless information on the Internet. No-yeah, I know. It’s true. Write flash fiction in just 25 steps. Read now: 13 steps to writing flash fiction. How to write flash fiction in ALL the steps.

Damn, I’ll just assume that each and every one of those regurgitated the points almost verbatim. And, you should assume it too. While it’s true, not much is original anymore (geez, thanks Internet), that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful. And it doesn’t have to be outrageously long to be good advice.

So, Inkateers, here’s my flash blog on flash fiction.

Make The Title Earn Its Money: Don’t be afraid the create a title that tells more than, well, the title.

Start Sooner Than The Beginning: Huh? you ask. You read that right. You need to jump in. There’s no building a dramatic story. In fact, consider starting smack in the middle where there’s immediate conflict or action. No backstory, flash forwards, or prologue either.

Be Precise: To the point. Don’t get moored in a quagmire of details. Know when to end it. And, keep it short. Under 500 is a good rule of mind, although I’ve seen some under 1,000. I like under 500 because it challenges me as a writer. Makes me cut out any unnecessary bullshit.

Cut The Bullshit: Don’t allow morass to bring you down and ramble on. It’s flash fiction, not a novel.

Don’t Be Afraid To Have An Ambiguous Ending: Allow the reader to imagine more; paint a picture of the mind; or ask, what the fuck just happened. Also, see my last post on ambiguity in writing.

Last Sentence Holds The Meat: Make that motherfucker count. It needs to hold up its end of the story. Seriously. Needs to tie a lot together in just those few words. If you end it with, The End, you will be hunted and hurt.

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The Art Of Ambiguity

Which way does your writing go?

I’ve said it before, Don’t be afraid to have an ambiguous ending. Allow the reader to imagine more; get all up in their kitchen and paint a picture in their headspace – and then own it (their head, that is); and, allow the reader to ask, what the fuck just happened.

I know what you’re thinking, “Shit, Chris, I’d prefer to understand just what the hell’s happening when I get to the ending of a story. Tidy that shit up nicely so I can just kick back knowing fully what took place. I don’t want to think. Thinking, well, it sucks.”

I get it, few things are more interesting to people than not fully understanding something. It’s like goddamn algebra. It’s like they’ve been cheated out of all that precious invested time in understanding characters, the plot, a few twists, and then the ambiguous whammy kinda feels like a sledge hammer upside the skullbox. No one likes a sledge upside the head. Probably not, anyway.

But, an ambiguous ending or character can lead to other things. It offers the reader a chance to wonder. To ponder the intrigue. To suggest to themselves a different scenario of final events. Or, to elevate their senses on the finality of said events. Is it really over? Could it have ended that way? Did she really die? Can’t be. Say it ain’t so. Emotion overload. It also gives the writer an out. Do we write another story or book as a follow up?

The ambiguous ending should leave the reader wanting more, not cheated. It should spark their curiosity for more. That’s the entire idea. As the writer, it’s imperative we don’t give definite answers in an ambiguous ending. Seems a little obvious, but as people, we too like things wrapped in a cute little bow. This bow must go fuck itself. The bow must die. The bow is not complex, ambiguity is complex. Bye-bye bow.

A way to work on ambiguity in your writing is to practice flash fiction. Super duper segue here: come back for my next blog post at this spot for flash fiction must haves. In other words, the do me’s and don’ts of flashing.

Writing IS Hard

I could just leave it at that. One singular sentence to sum up writing. Fits perfectly. Very apropos. But, no. There’s more. Lots more. It’s hard like getting out of bondage. Or a straight jacket. Or an insane asylum.

For simplicity, I’ll give you five reasons as a teaser.

Writers are artists. The canvas is blank until we cover paper with words. Magical, fantastic words that the reader uses to create a vivid picture in their mind. The creative effort is long. To say it’s painstaking doesn’t describe accurately the work involved. And, art takes time.

We punish ourselves. There’s stress. There’s sleeplessness because when we wake, we think of the goddamn story and tweak it at two in the morning. Or we create a character and develop her at three in the morning. Or we sit in a movie theatre and excuse ourselves to the restroom because we just got a great idea and need to peck it into our phone’s notes.

Why?

Because the story imprints our brain. It sticks with us long after the final words get written. Even after it’s edited and published, we wonder if it could have been better. What we coulda changed. We do this to ourselves because in some sadistic we, it’s how we thrive. And keep going to write again. Or…

We stress about writing. Or, we don’t write when we like and stress about not writing. And then we stress about the writing we’re actually doing. And when we write and jump to another work or social media, we stress about that because, well, WE’RE NOT FUCKING WRITING. But when we do write, you’d think the stress would go away, but then we stress about the actual goddamn writing and if it’s even any good. Then people ask us if we’re writing, and we answer yes, but think Mother of Christ, am I writing enough? And when people ask us for sample of our writing and we don’t have enough to give, STRESS. And we even stress about if we’re blogging enough. So, holy shit. *rips out a gob of hair*

Writing requires focus. I’ll be honest here, I’ve yet to meet an artist who has laser focus all the time. We I tend to jump back and forth in writing projects so yeah, there’s a few WIPs hidden on my Mac. Also, see the above paragraph. Now, where was… Oh yeah, focus.

Writing requires diligence. This is not to say that writers aren’t a diligent sort, but making the full commitment is well, a huge commitment. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes dedication. So yeah, the diligence thing is hard. And damnit, diligence takes persistence.

In summary, WRITING IS HARD. Very. Fucking. Hard.

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Today I Climb My Everest

I wanted to blog, then I didn’t. And this went round and round until, yeah, blog. I have reasons. Some real, others well…

Anyway.

Why the long road to blog? Because blogging takes work. It steals from other work. Writing work. That’s not to say that I’ve been writing like a motherfucker. In fact, just the opposite: Not much.

But hey, I still write every day. My writing notes explode with ideas and sometimes those ideas gain growth, expand, and evolve into stories. Short stories, to be exact. Problem is, my current WIP list is too long. Way. Too. Fucking. Long.

So yeah…

I need to finish some shit. A lot of shit. I get it.

First thing’s first: I shall finish a piece that’s long taunted me. It laughs at me while asleep in its tech file embedded deep within my Mac. It shuns my very existence. It smiles when it sees me hammer at keys for other WIP. It looks upon me with wide eyes and whispers, “Fuck you.” Then it smiles knowing full well that I’ll never attack it. But, no more. Consider full-on attack mode. I will Hulk the living shit out of it.

IT is a post-apocalyptic story I wrote way back in 2015. “Finished” it almost four years ago to this day. And it sucked. A huge goddamn bag of suck. Sucked so bad, I coulda called it Hoover. Or *Blow Job Betty. Use whichever you want. Don’t care. All I care about now is this one story.

Why?

Really?!

I will gently place your audacity aside in asking why.

Because that one story has haunted me. I think about it regularly. I see it in my dreams. All dreams. I see it when I’m awake. It taps at my shoulder. I create notes about it. And more notes. And then some more. I’m continually adding or revising it. All in my head. And some notes. You see, this one bullshit story has detracted me. It’s derailed my writing. Completely took me out of the writing world and put me smack in the WRITING FUNK. It’s removed me from other works. It’s placed my mind in disarray for writing.

This is not an excuse, it’s a stark reality.

Therefore, Post-Apocalyptic story, I shall finish you and you shall complete me. I will make you better. I shall, with your rolled up papers in hand, shout from my mountaintop. Sure, no one will be around to hear that scream, but doesn’t matter. I will finish the story in a way that feels complete. And thorough. And works. Until then, blogs at this spot will be more regular as I update my progress.

* Name is purely coincidental. If your name is indeed Blow Job Betty well, your parents really fucked up. If your name is just Betty and you’ve given blow jobs, that’s okay. Probably a good thing, in fact. Keep at it, Betty.

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Go Write

I was recently told to go write. This is only weird because the words came from a friend. It’s not like I tell people what to do. Well, *laughs* I do if ‘go fuck off’ or ‘go fuck yourself’ counts, then yeah, I guess so. Actually I’d never say “go fuck off.” I believe less is more so “fuck off” would suffice.

Anyway.

They say if you write, you gotta do it. They do say it. I’ve heard it. Read it, too. The it is writing. Every day. WRITE.

Do the dance. Peck at the keyboard. Make words from letters and then get sentences and all that stuff to appear on the great expansive paper dance floor. WRITE.

So this friend – back off. HE’S REAL. – says to go write.

Why?

People that know me tend to think my writing stops because they see no production. I’m like motherfuckers, if a tree falls in the woods does it not make noise? Actually this makes no sense whatsoever in the current context, but it shall remain because WRITING.

So…

Production. Yes. There’s always writing produced. My story notes are writing. My ‘notes’ notes are writing. My short stories are writing. Any yes, my writing is writing. I write every day.

Confused?

Haha. Me too.

Not really.

Here’s the breakdown: I’m constantly writing. Ideas – I gather them all from the fertile garden of my brain where word-seeds grow into beautiful sentences and then bloom into flowery paragraphs. YES, IT’S REALLY THAT EASY.

No. No it’s not. That was a complete lie.

So ideas.

And more ideas.

Mixed with more ideas because IDEAS.

And wait, yet more goddamn ideas making new ideas. It’s a baby room of crying ideas all looking at me wanting more ideas to happen.

Soon the ideas create ideas which roll into a snowball of ideas. They tumble down the idea mountain picking up idea momentum and idea speed. And like an idea avalanche, they roll on top of idea after idea after idea, gathering a steam of ideas until WHAM. CRASH. BAM. A thunderous crunch of ideas in the brain. IDEAS.

So my friend, way back there in the beginning, said to go write when he really should have said, FINISH YOUR SHIT.

But hey, that’s another post entirely.

See you then.

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C’mon! Just The One More.

I told myself I’d stop doing it. Just quit. No more. No mas. Zip. Zilch. Not even one. 

But nope. 

There I was, doing it again. Sure, I was up early. Had all good intentions. Then…

Shit. Just. Happens. 

I emailed myself. 

Another goddamn email I won’t read. Another email I don’t have time to read. Another email I will move to that folder. Another. Another. Another. 

Why’d I do it?

I blamed it on lack of sleep. I said it’d be only one more. I told me it couldn’t hurt.

Then whammity fuckin’ wham. I brazenly informed me that, “Hey fuckwit, you created an email folder that is titled ‘ME’ not because you’re a narcissist, but you’ve sent to many emails to yourself and you can’t keep up.”

Whew. 

That’s a lot to say from me to me. But I was right. I have sent one two hundred many emails to me. I should delete some. Or I should just block me from emailing me. Or I should just read the goddamn article and not even send it. Unless it’s a really good one. Like the ones I’ve sent. They were all really good. 

Damn, I should go and read those. 

The Desolate Road Is A Motherfucker

The writing…

Hmmmm.

Let’s just say that’s it’s been a desolate road.

thewindingroad

It twists.

There are hairpin turns that’ll rip you apart from the g-forces, shredding flesh from bone. Your hope – to come out unscathed. A miraculous misgiving of nothingness endured. You make it, only to live for another treacherous run.

Then what?

Where do you go next?

You whip out pen and paper and write.

A lot.

Some of it’s shit; some is that of greatness that only you can scribe.

Pfft, even some of the shit develops ideas and what was once shittiness is nary that of greatness, but a thriving new story.

You press on.

Suddenly you find yourself creating a piece that is eager to fall onto the white page. Blankness is no more. Words pour out; a metric fuckton of hammering keys unfurls; and, you see it happening.

It?

Yeah, IT.

You have characters going this way and that. There’s more tension than a bunch of hyenas and a lonely boar. You ratchet. And release. Tweak conflicts. Move things in favor of other things. You add fear. More conflict. But you’re careful not to overdo it because that’s a no-no. You wind tension tight like one of those little rubber band balls and just about when the little fucker is about ready to burst, you slowly back off. No big O. Release doesn’t happen.

So yeah, your story is coming along nicely and then you have a rational conversation with yourself and find your face in front of a mirror talking back at you, “Hey you! Yeah, you. Listen to this idea: that story ya been crafting… what about we put that sucker into a screenplay, but for TV.”

You respond to yourself because, why not. “You mean a script?”

Of course yourself responds again because, conversation. “Yeah, that.”

And it’s decided by you and you. You’re now deep into several episodes of script writing.

So it shall be. The writers road twists and takes us where-the-hell-ever.

Also actually this is totally normal.

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