Category Archives: Writing

Cringe n’ Purge: Excerpts from My Middle School Diary

Between the ages of 12 and 18, I kept a regular diary. Well, diaries. When I dug them up out of my mom’s basement this past Christmas, they comprised at least 15 volumes.

Box of teenage diaries

Pictured: a box full of shame

As I peruse these snapshots of a misspent adolescence, I realize I had a lot to say, and absolutely none of it was good. I evidently fancied myself a bit of a rebel, when I was really something closer to the anime-addled offspring of Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way and a Livejournal meme. I was the human embodiment of a t-shirt reading “You laugh because I’m different, I laugh because you’re all the same.” Witness Exhibit A: Continue reading

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What Is Good Writing?: Idiots Weigh In

What is good writing? A woman ponders the question.

Recently, I was asked to create a tweet answering the question: “What is good writing?” The finished product received a mediocre grade, which means I must not have addressed the issue very thoroughly.

“How did I manage to mess this up?” I groaned. “Any idiot could explain good writing!”

In today’s post, Any Idiot gets their chance. Continue reading

Day Job: Five Things I Planned to Do While Waiting to Get Famous

Rohan Kishibe, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

When I was three years old, I decided I wanted to be a writer. When I was nine, I realized I would need a day job. That’s an awfully tender age at which to have your spirit crushed, but there you have it. My parents were nothing if not straight with me.

I spent the rest of elementary and middle school brainstorming potential occupations to keep me afloat while I waited for my literary ship to come in. Unfortunately, most of the ideas I came up with weren’t so much “day jobs” as they were “different ways to become famous.” Here are a few of the careers I mulled over during my fame-whore years. Continue reading

The Anti-Credential Biography: Highlighting Your Worst Qualities

Most of us have encountered a situation in which we’re asked to describe our accomplishments. Often, this happens in a job interview. For writers, it happens when you have a piece accepted for publication. The publisher will ask for an “author bio,” which is just a truncated version of the more general “credential biography.”

Here’s credential bio about Neil Gaiman.Neil Gaiman, credential biography
Here’s another about Apple CEO Tim Cook.Tim Cook, CEO Apple, credential biographyNot thrilling pieces of literature, but they get the job done. No matter your field, you’ll spend much of your professional life marketing yourself. The credential bio is an advertisement for the product that is you.

I got to thinking, though–sometimes I don’t want to be a product. It’s a lot of effort, putting your best foot forward. Wouldn’t it be kind of fun to give your worst qualities some air time?

Here, for your consideration, are some anti-credential biographies I wrote on the train this morning.

white businessman, stock photo

David Burrows is an accomplished salesman and sociopath. He has achieved an 80% success rate in convincing his sex partners to call him “Your Majesty.”

Black businesswoman, stock photo

For ten years, Letitia Nichols has languished in public education. Every time one of her students misuses the word “literally,” a part of her literally dies. Letitia oversees PTA meetings and her own personal campaign to keep the screams inside.

white businessman, stock photo

Hugo Bloughampton left his job at Chrysler to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a children’s author. He currently sleeps in a ditch and has developed a strange growth at the base of his spine.

white businesswoman, stock photo

Carol Martin smells like nothing you’ve ever smelled before.

Japanese businesswoman, stock photo

In cultivating career success, Kyoko Menendez tramples anyone who gets in her way. Sometimes, at night, she can hear the sobs of those she has wronged. She is pursuing a Master’s degree at MIT and keeps her old scabs in a photo album.

Body Horror with Heart <3

anatomical diagram

Hey gang, sorry I’ve been M.I.A. for a few weeks–I’ve been preparing for my upcoming trip to Japan. Speaking of which, I’ll be posting an article about WeIrD jApAn later today. It’ll be my last post before I disappear into an aether of cherry blossoms and excellent public transportation, so hopefully it’ll tide you over until my return at the beginning of July.

And now, an announcement: my short story “Whole” will be published in Pulp Literature volume 8, scheduled for release this fall! The premise can be described thus:

Having made a wish to switch places with her recently deceased sibling, a young woman finds herself rotting alive. With her insides liquefying and her brother slowly reviving, our heroine must cope with the bizarre ramifications of her sacrifice.

It’s as grotesque as it sounds, but I like to think there’s an undercurrent of sweetness to it. I’m extra pleased that Pulp Literature accepted the longer, grosser version–not the toned-down one I wrote in an attempt to appeal to more delicate sensibilities. I’ll share additional information as it becomes available!

21st Century Serial: Thirty Five Weeks in Hell

Nature Abhors a VacuumDo you love late nights? Deadlines? Posting unedited first drafts online where everyone can see them? Then have I got a format for you! It’s called serialization, and it’s been around at least as long as there have been writers who get off on suffering. Between August 2014 and April 2015, I serialized a science fiction mystery story on the official blog of the Mid-Michigan Prose and Writing Group. The story is called Nature Abhors a Vacuum, and I describe it thus:

Pip is a minimally motivated, socially maladjusted college student with a ‘shroom-addicted roommate and a callous fiance. When her upstairs neighbor is murdered, Pip decides to investigate, drafting her younger brother and a local public radio host into service as her assistants. What they discover will forever change their views on space, time, and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen.

It’s an idea I’d been kicking around since 2007, when my then-boyfriend began selling for Kirby, manufacturers of high-end vacuums and workplace degradation. I won’t bother describing what a horrible experience it was–many of the gory details made it into the serial. (Although, if you’re hungry for more scandal, you can check out the “Litigation” section on Kirby’s Wikipedia page.) Anyway, when the leader of my writers’ group asked me to write for their blog, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get this story out of my system.

And it was. But boy, did I learn some lessons along the way.

Continue reading

“I’m Too ____ to Be a Writer”: Inspiration for the Discouraged

Let’s start with a confession: I’ve been discouraged lately. Not just because I wrecked my car, or because I have awful PMS, or because my job has me encountering poop more often than a proctologist moonlighting as a zookeeper. It’s the socially-conditioned things that have me down–assumptions I and many others hold about what it takes to be a successful writer. I suspect I’m not the only one who flounders amid these sorts of defeatist attitudes. That’s why I’m about to br-br-break ’em down.

Proctologist

“Time to clear out your Assumption Chute!”

Continue reading