This is the Writer's Prayer. This is the Penmonkey's Paean

I am a writer, and I will finish the shit that I started.

I will not whine. I will not blubber. I will not make mewling whimpering cryface pissypants boo-hoo noises. I will not sing lamentations to my weakness.

My confidence is hard and unyielding. Like a kidney stone lodged in the ureter of a stegosaurus.

These are my adult pants. The diapers have burned away in the fires of my phoenix-esque rising.

I will burn down the forest. As the conflagration rages, all my excuses shall come scurrying forth like syphilitic rats whose backs smolder with the smoky scent of my coming victory. When my excuses bound, shrieking and squealing, toward my feet, I shall use my mighty wordhammer to squash them all, ‘asploding each like a sausage stuffed with self-deception and disillusionment.

This book is not the boss of my shit.

These characters dance when I tell them to dance. They leap, cackle, fuck and punch because I jolly well told them to and if they don’t do as I say I will have them nibbled to death by marmots.

This plot is knotted tight in the configuration I demand. With it I shall tie a noose, and with that noose I shall hang my fears and uncertainties by the neck until they void their bowels and their legs quit kickin’.

These words march in the order I choose. They are my little bitches, cobbled together of letters and made to carry heavy notions and lofty ideas and character motivations and bad-ass non-stop mad ninja action. In this way they are like ants, carrying more than they should rightfully be able to carry.

They can even be forced into  sentences that no one has ever written before. “Betty Scarpetti can take pictures with her robotic hoo-hah, and those pictures will steal your dreams and sell them to goblins working the Secret Carnival down in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly.” See? Nobody has ever written that before. Every word journey is a Journey West. I am Lewis, and I am Clark. I am not the Donner Party.

I recognize that writing a novel is hard. And I don’t give a lemur’s left foot. I don’t give a good goddamn. I don’t give two shits in a wicker basket. The best things in life are hard. Like hunting pterodactyls. Like getting married. Like climbing a mountain and building a ladder to the moon. Like raising children. Like raising robotic children. Like making a golem who will build a robot who will raise your robot children.

Writing a novel is hard because it needs to be hard. If it was easy, every jackalope with chalk dust on his fingers would write an epic masterpiece on his cave wall.

I am like a crazy mountain goat, clambering to heights no man should go.

I can almost see the top now. The pinnacle awaits.

This book is almost complete. But challenges shall dog my every step.

My hamstrings might snap like high-tension cables and take out one of my eyes. My back may bend and bow until my scoliosis allows me to pleasure myself with my mouth. My knee caps might shoot off, striking a Yeti in the eye which makes him really mad and so he comes over and tears both of my arms off and beats me about the head and neck with my own gore-spewing limbs. My mind may crumble under the assault, driven to the very precipice of sanity, staring down into the deepest yawning yawping abyss and as the Yeti howls and my synapses fire I will smell the scent of funeral flowers wafting up from that abyss and I will find it peaceful and comfortable and will realize how easy it would be to just pivot my hips just-so and go tumbling down into that satisfying darkness, the darkness of ease, the darkness of acquiescence, the milk-livered niddering darkness of sweet sweet cowardice.

But I will do no such thing.

I will soldier on.

I will grab one of my severed arms in my teeth.

I will flail my neck around until I slug the Yeti in his Yeti balls with one of my own dismembered limbs, and I will watch as he cries, “MROOOOOooooo!” and pirouettes into the chasm of shadow, clutching his junk.

I will reattach my arms with the duct tape I wisely brought from home.

I will hammer my spine straight with a rock I found on the ground.

I will tie my busted-ass hamstrings around my recently-reattached arms, and I shall puppet my own legs as if I am a Marionette, and I shall puppeteer those legs so that they step over the yawning abyss.

I will sally forth until I have this book by the balls and by the throat.

I am the Commander of these words.

I am the King of this story.

I am the God of this place.

I am a writer, and I will finish the shit that I started.

My Writing Life: Penmonkey Evaluations

My Writing Life: Penmonkey Evaluations

Over at terribleminds ( Chuck Wendig is doing an informal survey of writer’s writerly habits. I’m posting my responses here because, why not? — it is my writing blog, after all.

a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

I’ve noticed that I’m getting pretty good at showing instead…

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Flash Fiction Challenge 10/11/11

Chuck Wendig posts these challenges every week on his website, and I’ve been doing them lately. Here’s the latest one, about a monster, and I just went over an old story I did and really tried to polished it up. Read it or don’t.The Doppelganger

Terry was angry. Really, really angry. Angrier than he had ever been before. And scared. His heart was beating so hard, he thought it was going to break his ribs. The air was cold on his bare skin. He should have put on a robe, he thought. Maybe his shoes. The grass of his front lawn was cold as fuck, and an October night in New England wasn’t the kind of weather you could parade around in naked. His gun was cold too, probably from keeping it in a lockbox in the basement. His breath curled in the air in front of him. The chilly air didn’t matter. He felt cold all the time. Lights snapped him out of his thoughts. Big, bright lights. Spotlights. Other lights too. Blue and red, flashing and swirling. Blinding him. He told the lights what he thought of them. “Fuck off, you fucking lights! You’re trying to blind me! Blind me from the real world! I can’t close my eyes anymore…” he sobbed. Not after what he knew. Not after what he had seen.

Every night he saw them. The cold people. Pale and skeleton thin, with featureless faces. But eyes that saw everything. Bright, hungry eyes that saw every lie and every secret. They danced slowly around their statues, bony backs and jutting hipbones swaying to guttural, wordless hymns. Hymns in an ancient and heathen tongue. A language that made the cave man in Terry scream and quake, the primordial instinct that this was what a predator sounded like. They hunted men in the dawn of the world, took their skins, and went in among their families to live in a grotesque mockery of life. They bided their time, drove friends and neighbors mad, and then devoured them. Then they moved on.

He could feel them lurking all around him. Tall and bone white, stalking with freakish grace through black forests, as thin as the branches they moved among. Their faces were strangely human, and at the same time horribly alien. Blank faces that looked like no one and at the same time looking like everyone he had ever met. His sweat felt ice cold. Or his skin was red hot. He couldn’t tell. They spoke to shadows. Their laughter was cracking ice on a black pond. They delighted in cruelty. And although nothing even close to a smile ever appeared on their lips, you could see it in their glinting eyes. They were smiling.

He could remember the creatures capturing men out hunting. Reaching into their eyes to tug the skin free from the skull. A man begging as his skin was pulled from his body like someone would peel an orange, and make a game of keeping the rind whole as they worked methodically over the body. He could see his wife and children greeting him as he came home. But it wasn’t him. They could tell in the still moments between conversation. Before they slept, he would stare at the children for a heartbeat too long. His wife would find mirrors broken. His friends would suddenly be nervous in his company. And then, the creature would become bored. His friends despised him. His children feared him. His wife recoiled at his gentlest touch. Then nothing. The people in the town would come out to his house, and find his children half-eaten. His wive gibbering and drooling in a corner. And his skin, folded neatly and placed on a chair or hung from a coathook.

"Please, honey. Please. Please. Honey." a familiar voice sobbed. He looked down at his wife’s rosy-cheeked face. Streaked with mascara. She was sobbing and choking on her own words. Begging for him to let her go. "Please." It was for her own good. The cold people would come for her some day, would eat her slowly. Keep her alive. He had to make it quick. No suffering for his lovely wife.

Terry saw an alien funeral. Swaying and dancing, chanting and whispering, as a pale body turned to dust. Then, with bony, clawed hands, they pawed the dust into a jar of red clay. They ripped open a jackal and pressed the jar into it’s warm insides. And then they faded back into the night. That jar, like an itch in the back of his mind. He hated it. He hated it when he, Mike and Glenn had found it in the ground of the construction site. Why hadn’t he smashed it with the bulldozer? Why hadn’t he re-buried it? “We’re rich!” he remembered Glenn saying as he tugged the clay jar free from the ribcage. “We’re fucking rich, man!” But Terry couldn’t stop staring at the small, canine skeleton. It’s jaws had been open in a pitiful, silent scream.

He hadn’t slept in days. His skull felt like it was being pulled apart. They had guns on him. The cops, yelling for him to put his gun down. To let his wife go. To give up. He chuckled at that. He had given up weeks ago. And he could feel them all around him. Cold people wearing the skins of men. They thought he was fooled, but he knew better. There were no cops here. Just puppets and puppeteers. Just wolves in sheep’s clothing. He had to protect his wife from them. Their malice, their cruelty, and their hunger. His mind wasn’t broken yet. He could still save her. He thumbed back the hammer on his gun.

Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey - Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey “No seriously, he’s not f**king around, you really don’t want to be a writer. But if you’re mad enough to decide that you do, Wendig will be your gonzo-esque guide, from the technical advice about structure, query letters and submissions, to dealing... -

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Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey

Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey

“No seriously, he’s not f**king around, you really don’t want to be a writer. But if you’re mad enough to decide that you do, Wendig will be your gonzo-esque guide, from the technical advice about structure, query letters and submissions, to dealing with agents and editors and how to make your characters do as they’re damn well told, he’s full of good advice. Like a cursing, booze-soaked Virgil to your Dante, let him show you around.

Buy this book, your editor will thank y

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a lovely little list, here’s the bullet version, click through to see the rest:

  • You are Legion
  • You better put the “fun” in “fundamentals”
  • Skill over talent
  • Nobody cares about your creative writing degree
  • speaking of luck
  • this is a slow process
  • Nobody “gets in” the same way
  • Writing feels like - but isn’t - magic
  • Storytelling is serious business
  • Your writing had whatever value you give it
  • You are your own worst enemy
  • Your voice is your own
  • cultivate Calluses
  • Stones are polished by agitation
  • act like an asshole, you’ll get treated like an asshole
  • writing is never about just writing
  • this is an industry of people
  • the worst think your work can be is boring
  • no, wait, the worst think your work can be is unclear
  • writing is about word, storytelling is about life
  • everything can be fixed in post
  • quit quitting
  • no such thing as bad writing advice
  • though, nobody really knows shit about shit
  • Hope will save you

The devil is in the details and Chuck Wendig is a devil you should know.