a tiny book of tiny stories

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Sketchy Behavior | Hellen Jo 

Never afraid to speak and/or draw her mind, Los Angeles based artist and illustrator, Hellen Jo and her characters can be described as rough, vulgar, tough, jaded, powerful, bratty and bad-ass - AKA her own brand of femininity. Known for her comic Jin & Jam, and her work as an illustrator and storyboard artist for shows such as Steven Universe and Regular Show, Hellen’s rebellious, and sometimes grotesque artwork and illustrations are redefining Asian American women and women of color in comics. In fact, that’s why Hellen Jo was a must-interviewee for our latest Sketchy Behavior where we talk to her about her love of comics and zines, her antiheroines, and redefining what Asian American women identity is or can be; and what her ultimate dream project realized would be.  

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I hate the “You’ll never make it big” argument as a deterrent for aspiring writers. Look, I’ve done my research, I know how tiny, tiny, tiny of a chance that I or anyone else will “make it big” is. But listen, my guys, that chance isn’t zero. Every famous author started out with the exact same odds, remember that, don’t let people who shove “you can’t make it big” down your throat deter you.

And if you DO fall into the vast majority and your story doesn’t get that movie you dream of, and it doesn’t sell a million copies, is that really so bad? No matter the scale your book is read on, big or small, someone out there will read it, and someone out there will love it just as much as you do. So write, guys, write. 

The world will never run out of a need for stories, it needs you. 

my mother opens the sunroof on a roadtrip at midnight and i don’t bother pretending that the stars are small enough for me to count. instead, i talk about how the closest star is 4.24 light years away and how the next closest star is 4.37 light years away and how what we see now happened years ago.

i talk about how small we are. how we’re spinning at an alarming rate but we are so incredibly minuscule compared to our planet that it’s okay. one of my brothers doesn’t care and the other is tipsy, so i’m pretty sure i’m trying to get through to myself more than anyone else.

i just forget that we aren’t important sometimes, i guess. i have the audacity to think i’ll matter in 4.24 or 4.37 light years when i’m too quiet, too human to matter now. i could die or sleep forever or never get out of bed again and all of the stars are still exploding, you know? earth is still spinning and the sun is still burning. i’m not really sure if this makes me want to thrive, or if i want to explode myself now

—  there are 7 billion, 47 million people on the planet and i have the audacity to think i matter (catherine w // sempiternalwriting)
Every monster needs a human.”
That’s what they all said.
But they never talk about the curse that comes from loving a monster.
She had a beautiful heart. Full of love and starlight.
Every night, when I came in colours of the midnight sky, she softly illuminated every fear and scar I hid under my skin.
But the light can’t always overcome the darkness.
The way she tried to change me, turn me into something more beautiful, hurt so much more than my bruises.
She never loved what I was, only the idea of what I could be.
So I shattered our house of glass and left, in the middle of a burning love.
All she could do was caress the ashes and try picking up the pieces of glass that pierced her skin and left scars.
In trying to preserve a human, I turned her into a monster.
—  Tamarind Fall // Writing prompt: He loved her but he was too late in saving her from himself. So she lay there in a pile of heartbreak and ashes.
(by @soul-of-a-gypsy-angel)

April 20th excerpt:

Sam drove the final nail in the coffin of his stubborn resistance. “Dean,” he said gently, sitting on the edge of his book with his legs dangling off. “None of us can drive the Impala. If you run yourself into the ground, we’ll be helpless. Please, just eat something.” His eyes, even as small as he was, were wide and round, staring up at Dean beseechingly.

Patron Saint Bluebell

Hey, listen. I know the world’s on fire. But listen.

I’ll tell you a thing.

On the day after the election, when everything was worst and all I could do was go numb or cry hysterically, do you know what gave me the most comfort?

It wasn’t the words of Lincoln or Gandhi or Maya Angelou, it wasn’t Psalms or poetry, it wasn’t my grandmother, it wasn’t contemplating the long arc of history. It wasn’t even hugging the dog.

It was the Twitter account @ConanSalaryman.

This is a joke account. It’s somebody who narrates as if Conan was working in an office. Tweets usually sound like “By Crom!” roared Conan. “You jackals cannot schedule a mere interview without gathering in a pack and cackling?!” or “Conan slammed his sword through his desk. Papers and blood rained through the office. Monday was slain.”

I followed it awhile back and have found it funny. (I’m not a huge Robert Howard fan inherently, but whoever is writing these does the schtick well.) But if it had not posted once that day, no one would have noticed at all.

Instead, Conan the Salaryman posted something inspirational. And then replied to dozens of people replying to him, for hours, in character, telling them that by Crom! it was only defeat if we did not stand up again, that the greatest act of strength was to keep walking in the face of hopelessness, that the gods have given the smallest of us strength to enact change, that we must all keep going as long as Crom gave us breath, and tyrants frightened Conan not, but we must look to those unable to fend for themselves. (“Though by Crom! We must hammer ourselves into a support network, not an army!”)

I have no idea who is behind that account. But it was the most bizarrely comforting thing I saw all day, in a day that had very little comfort in it. There was this weight of story behind it. It helped me. I think it helped a lot of people. If only a tiny bit–well, tiny bits help.

I have been thinking a lot lately about Bluebell from Watership Down.

There’s absolutely no reason you should remember Bluebell, unless, to take an example completely and totally at random, you read it eleven thousand times until your copy fell apart because you were sort of a weird little proto-furry kid who loved talking animals more than breath and wrote fan fic and there weren’t any other talking animal books and you now have large swaths memorized as a result. Ahem.

Bluebell is a minor character. He’s Captain Holly’s friend and jester. When the old warren is destroyed, Captain Holly and Bluebell are the last two standing and they stagger across the fields after the main characters. By the end, Holly is raving, hallucinating, and screaming “O zorn!” meaning “all is destroyed” and about to bring predators down on them. And Bluebell is telling stupid jokes.

And they make it the whole way because of Bluebell’s jokes. “Jokes one end, hraka the other,” he says. “I’d roll a joke along the ground and we’d both follow it.” When Holly can’t move, Bluebell tells him jokes that would make Dad jokes look brilliant and Holly is able to move again. When Hazel, the protagonist, tries to shush him, Holly says no, that “we wouldn’t be here without his blue-tit’s chatter.”

I tell you, the last few days, thinking of this, I really start to identify with Bluebell.

I am not a fighter, not an organizer, certainly not a prophet. Throw something at me and I squawk and cover my head. I write very small stories with wombats and hamsters and a cast of single digits. I am not the sort of comforting soul who sits and listens and offers you tea. (What seems like a thousand years ago, when I had the Great Nervous Breakdown of ‘07, I remember saying something to the effect that I had realized that if I had myself as a friend, I would have been screwed, because I was useless at that kind of thing. And a buddy of mine from my college days, who was often depressed, wrote me to say that no, I wasn’t that kind of person, but when we were together I always made her laugh hysterically and that was worth a lot too. I treasured that comment more than I am entirely comfortable admitting.)

But I can roll a joke along the ground until the end of the world if I have to. And increasingly, I think that’s what I’m for in this life. Things are bad and people have died already and I am heartsick and tired and the news is a gibbering horror–but I actually do know why a raven is like a writing desk.

So. First Church of Bluebell. Patron Saint.

Keep holding the line.

July 26 | Books & Cupcakes Book Photo Challenge | Black & White