Reluctantly Yours, The Artist.

Only children actually want to be artists — children, rich people, and boring people who are afraid of being exposed as boring people. Most of us grow up, and either learn that we aren’t interested/talented/crazy, and we move on because we are intelligent/responsible/hungry. The rest of us are either rich people/children/boring or reluctant artists. When I was a kid, I didn’t want to be an artist, I wanted to be an astronaut. And I often blame my mom for my not becoming one.  She refused to send me away to Space Camp. But really, I was never going to be an astronaut. She knew from the start what I was.

Artist is a nebulous term that I don’t have a definition for exactly, but so far as I understand, here are some of the symptoms:

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Un-Friend All of Your Writers

Don’t make friends with writers. I am a writer and I have a bunch of friends. I’m not bragging, I’m just telling it like it is. The fact is, I think I should have fewer friends.

My friends are nice friends. They love me and tell me that I am talented and they go to my readings and proofread my atrocious grammar and spelling. They are there for me when I need to quit my job, again and again. They validate my unjustifiable laziness and unsuccessfulness. They do this for me because I encourage it and I am entertainingly embarrassing at parties.

Little do they know that I’m a whining, way less than prolific, self-righteous, know-it-all with a Goddess-complex (maybe they do know this and wonder why I keep coming around).

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The Day Job vs. Bliss

It happens from time to time that a tortured artist toils and bleeds for her craft, only to die before it means anything to anyone. It also happens that an artist toils and bleeds for her craft and no one reads or cares about her work, dead or alive. But hopefully, the artist is dead by then and, presumably, doesn’t care.

No one likes to think about these things, but it’s true. Sometimes, the thing you love doesn’t love you back. Just like a girlfriend who doesn’t love you back, it so happens that, a person can follow his “bliss” (just as Joseph Campbell tells him to), and nothing comes of it. Sometimes people get hit by Mack trucks. It’s not personal, it’s physics.

So, in the mean time (the space between being a raging success and the Mack truck), you’ll probably need to get a job. You’ll want a job for the moneys that keep writers in mac laptops, gluten-free muffins and five-dollar lattes. But, what should a writer do? Isn’t a job selling out?

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Thank you, Science Fiction

Today I caught a Sunday matinée of Prometheus — a heavily criticized film that is meant to be something of a pre-Alien movie. I’m just going to come right out and say that I thought it was fine. I don’t know if I thought that because so many big block busting sci-fi films have let me down so spectacularly or because it actually was fine (please direct all of your well-composed thoughts to the contrary to someone who hasn’t thought of them already). It made me think about my beloved science fiction genre (or Speculative fiction, if you please) and I realized that I haven’t yet posted about my heart, my genre, my raison d’écrire.

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“I only read Non-Fiction” and other arbitrary dogmas

I’ve never understood why people feel better about themselves when they tell me that they only read non-fiction. It’s as if they think of themselves as less silly than the rest of us “dreamers” or “artists”. Whenever someone tells me that, I am immediately offended. It’s as if they’ve just told me to get a real job.

Much to the horror of some of my colleagues, I have been known to say that I don’t believe in Non-Fiction. And even though, all of my super serious, seriously funny, and extremely adventurous NF writer friends have already written me off, I have to say, I love Non-Fiction genre books. I do. Does that sound like a contradiction? No, I guess it doesn’t. It sounds like a semantics argument. It’s always about semantics, isn’t it?

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Things You should know about Stephen King and 11/22/63

I have planned on writing a review of Stephen King’s new book, 11/22/63, for a while now but I just haven’t been able to get around to it. I think what has been holding me back is the fact that I haven’t been in the mood to entertain snotty comments and harsh judgments about Stephen King. I didn’t want to hear about how people “don’t read horror”, “have books they have to get to before King” or whatever boring argument that people who have never read anything by King come up with. But, today, an article crossed my path (which you can find here) that put a fire under my tush and now I’m going to let you all have it

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Poetry Month: You Like Poetry.

April is Poetry Month and I can almost see your eyes rolling (like wayward marbles in a face of misunderstandingness). I know what you’re thinking because I did too, once: I don’t understand poetry – it doesn’t make sense, the rhymes are horrid and I’m not all that interested in getting in touch with my feelings. And, you know what? I hear you. But the problem is, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

For one thing: you do like poetry and you always have. Whenever a person puts something to you in such a way that you weren’t able to see it in before, that’s poetry.

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Murakami: 1Q84

I made the hideous mistake of unabashedly disliking Haruki Muarakami’s novel 1Q84 in front of someone who had just started reading it and I may never forgive myself for it. So, allow me this moment to redeem myself and explain my position on subject.

You see, I LOVED The Wind Up Bird Chronicles so much. That book did so much for me. It reminded me that there was still a lot that a novel could do. It was the first unapologetic piece of surrealist literary fiction that I had read in a modern context. I needed that book to exist if I was ever going to hope to write the kind of fiction that I like to write.

I could hardly wait to read 1Q84 and as soon as it became available on KOBO, I was on it. I started reading right away, expecting to be otherwise unavailable for the entire 1031 page duration.

Very quickly, I felt obviously manipulated by the author. I could sense that this book was written to be a “great work”. I didn’t believe in the characters or their motivations and I could barely slog through the clunking, repetitive prose. There was nothing of the subtle, brave Murakami who wrote The Wind Up Bird Chronicles. This was in your face, heavy-handed, bludgeoning the reader to death with over sentimentalized symbolism.

I thought to myself that, surely, this is a translation issue. Or, 1Q84 had suffered the same fate that most serialized novels do with its redundancy, over explanation, and over exposure. And I might have been able to excuse him from it if it hadn’t been so consistently boring as a result. Continue reading