Archive | January, 2015

An Old Post

30 Jan
Just a nasty old post

Just a nasty old post

This is one of the telephone poles in my neighborhood – right at the corner of a busy intersection. And while I know it isn’t anything special, it always catches my eye when I walk past. The damn thing is covered, from knee high all they up to 8 feet or so, with the remains of past notices. But the papers always get taken down – usually pretty quickly. I’m not sure if it’s a city services deal, or if posters are just conscientious about recycling. Either way, nobody pulls out the nails, staples, and… uh, what the hell is that? Paper clips? Washers? Cripes, people are weird.

Anyway, there is an unconscious history at work here. It’s not as cool as the cross-sections of poles I’ve seen online. But there is an artless, accidental beauty to this. Like a human skeleton – at once familiar and maybe a bit horrifying. Especially with the sun at an oblique angle, the topography jumps out, stands as testament to messages past. In an existential sense, these are the ghosts of messages that have come and gone. I like that.

Just weird and random

Just weird and random

And then there’s this piece of surreal, urban sculpture. What the hell is this about? I don’t know. People just randomly began to add things to this pole, a few months ago. Every other day, some odd article of clothing, or a toy, or strange ephemera would appear. I really took notice when the shoe showed up, but even before that – when the doll heads were stuck in there – you could tell it was going to be a strange thing.

These are the kinds of stories of objects that we don’t even look for. How many of these crazy things have I walked or driven by? It’s a compelling element to my creative eye. If I don’t see these things, I sure as hell won’t create them from whole cloth. Sometimes, reality is so bizarre that it goes beyond my imagination. Little details, tiny accidents, circumstantial art: I spend my some of my time looking for it now. It’s a crazy world, and I want to keep it that way. Maybe this kind of attention – this dumb urban exploration – is just the thing. Then again, I could be making a big deal over nothing. All epiphanies are personal, after all. But you gotta take your inspiration where you can.



Not the End of the World

28 Jan
( wikipedia commons )

( wikipedia commons )

I have a perverse fascination with ‘end of the world’ stories. When I was young, movies that involved the apocalypse, or near destruction of society grabbed me like nothing else. I’m thinking of Road Warrior, Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Dead. Real juicy stuff like that. My budding storyteller brain got stuck on those scenarios and I would try to adapt them to my own life. “How would I survive the zombie holocaust?” That was a very popular one in my imagination.

Maybe it was because I grew up with the constant idea of nuclear war. Movies like Threads, or The Morning After certainly chilled me – terrified me, even – but there was no happy fantasy I could play with there. I mean, the real end-of-the-world is a whole bunch of no fun. My own, personal, imaginary, post-apocalypse might have been a morbid place, but it one that was on my own terms. I don’t know. Maybe I’m psychoanalyzing too much. But the appeal of this imminent ‘sunset of civilization’ stayed with me – and grew and grew.

Here’s an excerpt from a story I’ve been working on. The origins are relatively mundane, really. There are these characters, and their lives are in shambles, they’re unhappy, and they split up. The fact that it happens in a city that has just barely escaped total devastation at the hands of an alien attack is a bonus. Well, kind of. It’s a complicated story, and I’m working the bugs out. But this section really made me smile.

    They looked at each other in silence. Their faces were mirrored in mutual confusion and regret. His jaw was clenched, her eyes were puffy. He lit another cigarette and she sipped her tea. Pete tried to understand the tangle of love and lust, hate and sadness that he was trapped in. He couldn’t grasp why he couldn’t move. This whole encounter was a microcosm of the last two years of his life, and it didn’t take another woman or another man to break it free – it took an alien invasion, and an entire city falling on their heads. She shifted in her seat and searched his face. He wanted to give her closure, something – anything – as a going away gift, to make it easy. She wasn’t going to cry, she wasn’t going to kiss him, or hit him. She just wanted to leave.

As I return to these weird themes, over and over again, I’m the lesson I’m learning is very simple: write what you want. I’m working with whatever turns my crank and gets me motivated. A lot of it is going to be trash, but I’m okay with that. Every piece of trash can be reused, recycled, made better. Which would be a nice point in a post-alien invasion story, huh? Think of all that junk in landfills. Hmm…

Transitions and Scenes

27 Jan
The plot thickens, every day...

The plot thickens, every day…

So many times in my life, I’ve wondered, ‘What the hell is wrong with me?’ Granted, sometimes there is something wrong with me. I forgot to sleep, or eat, or put on pants – whatever. One of the amazing things about living on this crazy planet for a few years is that you notice the patterns and cycles. The ones that happen slow make us feel all warm and fuzzy. Springtime is when the earth wakes up from the slumber of winter. Aw. Nice. But paying attention to the shifting patterns inside our own minds and bodies is a different matter.

What the hell is wrong with me? Nothing. It’s just the middle of winter, and this time around, I’ve got vitamin D. And energy. And I’ve been kicking out stories every week, like a lean, mean, writing machine. It’s a good feeling. However… it’s all part of the cycle, man. This is the time of year for me to kick my butt into high gear and actually do things. I’ve started a lot of little projects, and I’m balancing a huge amount of logistics over my head. Part of me is just waiting for it to come crashing down.

I’m trying not to panic though. Just because things don’t go the way I want the first time, I can still back up and try again. There’s always the next time around, on this big ol’ wheel, right? Because as much as there is sometimes something ‘wrong’ with me, a lot of the time there isn’t. As a writer/editor/artist/whatever you have to be ready for the cycle to come around again. I’m trying to pay attention. I don’t wanna miss my shot, and end up waiting again. Let’s hope I don’t bollocks it up, eh?