Blog Archives

My New Weapons For NaNoWriMo

Quick blog post. Doing the NaNoWriMo thing again, going to crash and burn most likely, but there is one thing that has helped me in the two weeks prior to it.

The first is my main addiction which is of course Tumblr. The scene is…interesting at times, especially because I really feel out of place from it a lot of the time. And that’s what keeps me coming back – looking into a petri dish of social commentary, fandom and assorted nonsense that’s intriguing to me. So, that’s where I’m getting my inspiration from.

Second has to do with the thing I started two weeks ago. I’ve been working for a client that has me working at breakneck speeds for writing articles. At first I didn’t really think I could write a 500+ word  article in under 1-2 hours but apparently I can? and I’m getting faster – I wrote one under 40 minutes in sheer panic of the deadline yesterday.

So, that means, under concentration, I can hit the 1667-a-day pace for the 50,000 goal this month in about….6 hours. But, because the closest thing to research I’m using is riffing off Tumblr, it really won’t take that long.

I wrote 400 words when I woke up this morning, actually. From 4 Tumblr posts, completely dismantled to fit the narrative. All in…what, half an hour? This might work, maybe.

Expect updates. Happy writing.

 

Girl Band, Part 1

Note: I was published in a poetry book by Saul Williams years ago. The title of the poem is Girl Band, and I decided to write a four-part flash fic piece from each stanza.

Little maiden blue, burqa blessed,
she holds monstrous stories told
in the spaces of her lyre; infantile,
how her voice is muffled by the cloth

It didn’t surprise her fans that tickets to her shows sell out in ten minutes or less. She liked choosing small venues – this time a considerably-sized lounge – and a place where protesters would not be an issue.

The fear in her mind left years ago when she escaped the terrorist camps, so she had her dark gray tour bus park in front of the lounge and the few protesters that had made it outside on that cold December night. The shouting were a cacophony of Arabic, Urdu, Farsi while the police shouted in English. She remained silent, her mouth hidden beneath a black burqa adorned with a bronze grille. Her blue eyeliner gave the looks she made at her opponents the more menacing while she walked inside the lounge.

The techs set up the stage quickly – all that was needed was a rug to cover the  stage’s wooden flooring, a comfortable and stylish seat, and a table at the proper height for her instrument. She had been using a three-foot tall lyre, gilded and Sumerian designed for the better part of a decade.

The red and purple stage lights came down on stage, and she came in, draped in a long, light blue burqa with a golden mesh. It looked as if she was floating towards her lyre. She sat down on the seat and pulled her arms out from under the burqa. Both her arms, covered in full-sleeve tattoos, depicted images of the bloodshed she witnessed at home, like a dark tapestry of sorrow and violence. She plucked at the strings with her right hand, whose arm had images of AK-47s and beheaded infidels.

“We born from the earth leave buckets of blood,” she sang, her voice the exquisite mix of the child and pixie, “my clit is gone…”

She commenced with her left hand, the one with an arm draped with buildings in ruin and explosions. The complexity of the melody was beautiful, making her lyrics and odd juxtaposition.

“I’ve run thousands of miles in the woods and the mud, but my clit is gone…”

The crowd could not make it if she was in pain or or if she was detached as she sang. There was a whimsy in her movement, swaying her head side to side and tapping her feet in black leather boots that seemed impossible to think she could be enjoying singing what was coming out of her mouth.

“My family is under the sand with the rest of the town,

The killers blessed my neck with knives, and I lied down… now my clit is gone.”

Her die-hard fans soaked into every word – some knew the lyrics and whispered it to friends and lovers. Others in the crowd simply walked out in discomfort or repulsion.

The song ended with a complex arpeggio. Afterwards, she spoke softly on the microphone.

“Thank you that was the easiest song on the set list. Let’s continue.’

With that, she removed her burqa, revealing an Afghani woman wearing a Rancid t-shirt and ripped jeans. The scars on her face mapped her life’s pain, but she maintained a genuine smile as she moved onto the next transgression.

The Black Hole Disco (Flash Fic)

I wasn’t planning on going to the Black Hole Disco, but having forty percent DNA of dance music makes a person weak for opportunities such as those. In the spirit of “fuck it why not,” I bought a ticket from a junkie days prior and made my way to the 8th Palace.

It was near midnight, and people of all sexes and genders stood outside, smoking. Women wore black shirts with ragged multicolored sigil, denoting their favorite band or god, who knows. Men wore light-colored tank-tops and caps. They all looked equally disaffected.

I passed through the sliding glass doors, into a hallway of shops that were completely locked down. Before I passed the particle-screen security gates leading to the shut-down escalators, I noticed that the floor above me was shaking from a thumping bass.

The Palace used to be a family restaurant and gateway for immigrants looking for cheap breakfast. It shut down two years ago and is still remains a gateway, to an extent. The floors still have their red carpets and foreign decorations, but at the far left is the Black Hole rig. Four speakers strategically placed, two turntables, a sound mixer and two laptops, one connected to an empty metallic ring over the dance floor.

There were two blackouts before the main event came on stage. Each time the ring hummed when it shouldn’t have in the middle of a deep house cut, or in the staccato of a trap jam. I slipped into the crowd and stared at how the pulsing lights from behind the stage bounced from the wallpaper. Such an odd juxtaposition, but I love it.

And then, the dark princess came. Everyone expected the first songs playing were to be her well-known harsh industrial-electro cuts, but she surprised us. She switched heavily between deep bass, southern underground rap, and then to 90s pop anthems. It was interesting, seeing this pallid, black-haired woman playing this kind of set, but we all wanted more of it regardless. Out of nowhere, in our drug-and-euphoria giddiness, she pressed a button on the second laptop and then jumped over the rig on on top of the crowd. She used a party-goer’s hand for balance, and walked to the center on a path made by the hands of others.

This was when I finally learned why it was called the Black Hole Disco. There was another blackout, but the music kept playing. The ring above us burst with a blue light, and I felt a slight pull coming from its direction. My instincts from years of illegal rave escapes kicked in and I ran away as I heard the screams from behind. It took only the length of one song, the DJ’s own from her recent album, for the crowd to get sucked into the dance-singularity. I’m confident those ravers will never be seen again.

I stumbled out of 8th Palace, and in the few minutes I had run from the chaos I found it was now the morning two days later, thanks to time dilation. I could have been sucked into the beyond of wherever that ring took the DJ and the crowd. I should have been on my knees, traumatized. But I did not. I walked for blocks and blocks of damp post-rain city, enjoying the warmth, smiling. Hoping I get another chance to cheat death, someday.

(Slightly inspired by events I witnessed at an Alice Glass DJ set years ago.)

The Absence Epic, 4

23.

 

“You feel weak, but I still think

you’re the strongest man I’ve –“

it’s dark and I am sitting in bed,

three attacks in two hours

“You’re the bravest –“Shut up,

shut up. This is no daring here

this is primal survival, walking

in the woods of the city making

sure the cars don’t run me over.

“You can do this, you have me – “

no one is enough to fight this,

just me and the absence, anger

the desperation, and my tears

 

24.

 

This is not genetic, there is no curse

tied to the ATCG worth passing on

to a child, in my future, I will hold

scared to death the seizure drops

 

 

The fluids show it is not cancer, no

panic then, you are healthy (sort of)

keep true to your smiles no matter

how you hide them, or slip away

 

 

Photosensitivity free, lucky for you

there is a light at the end of this

tunnel unlike for the rest, but recall

the absence, when it hits, breaks you

 

25.

 

I walk out the building, hood up, monstrous

The homeless of the Tenderloin and I share

a certain shame and resiliency this morning

These streets know not the steps or pattern

of the brain waves hunted by the sensors

married to my head, held in holy bandage

There is no consummation – humiliation,

perhaps — but I want to lay in bed, alone

my head held high in hope of the sign

from on right-brain glitch to nodes,

the heavenly disconnect of my senses

to the tech – one cord, from monitor

to temporal lobe, temporary, lonely

 

26.

 

The talismans are wrapped on

a string around my arm, wrist first,

penitent. Why did this happen?

What ties did I break that made

this condition my faith, my body

its sole temple and priest?

 

To the forearm, and the threads

become tenuous, protective

to the shivers in a blind animism

where all my will would rather

stay with frayed elder strings

than unbound to the seizures

 

The bicep, where there rests icons

misused saints I used to pray to

but stopped – now, I whisper

small phrases to them as auras

move past the shoulder towards

a flux – divine, wicked, unknown

 

27.

 

I will remain the man shaking violently

Even at 90 and the last flicker of light

When my daughter stops calling me

As I see my wife go into the ground

After I see my child’s eye for the first time

Before “I do” leaves my mouth in May

The last time I’m allowed to go to a festival

Tonight, writing this in fear of my future

Despite all the control and safety from pills

 

28.

There is one maxim to learn, after all these battles

when I have hyperventilated into angel’s trumpets

refusing the touches of careful women saving me

from the midnight fear and morning complications

finally facing complexity, embracing my absence

until my body turns into the predictable maelstrom –

Breathe, Just

                         Breathe. You

                                                  Will Weather

                                                                                This Storm

 

29.

 

Yes, there is no particular ending to a seizure

The waking up, the consciousness resumes

and we are once again left in this universe

on fire, white hot or slowly burning lethargic

 

But we will not let the black and blues define

us, we will take the bruises and the pain

as signs that, yes, we are still here, fighting

the ghosts that refuse to let go of our brain

 

And we will push our bodies, just as they do,

until we become heavenly, orbiting, unlimited,

drifting with hope that we will meet each other

 

And I will finally remember all of our names

The Absence Epic, 3

16.

 

No rest for loud thoughts.
Stay up alone? No, savage
fits destroy my words

 

17.

 

Roses and fire that prick
my fingers and arms

Sight is a luxury slipping
into my ruin on repeat

The ashes, I will not let
them choke me down

It does not have the right
to leave me here, alone

And nobody truly aware
that I am hurting inside,

dragged into a spiral
of thorns and flames
I feel but cannot see

 

18.

 

Let’s go far away where the shivers won’t scare me,

my body reacts at the contact from phantom winds

 

I want to see the bay and the dark sky, the stolen

mix of highways and comfort in masking absence

 

This may be the only road I see out of this trip

where my world is lost when lights become auras

 

19.

 

Triggers create threats, a stream of scattered havoc
springing out from the ether and breaks of emptiness

Triggers bring flames and flames on the walls my hands
are banging against – no burns, only wide-eyed fear

Triggers create memories, displays and a pageant
of frenzies I portray in front of you, my dear

Triggers sit tight, for they live inside and around me
watching for a time and place to grab my hands

 

20.

 

There you are, taking off your dress, a smile
slight yet bit-lip enough it washes cautions
held every time you saw me fall into space
and caressed me in the post-seizure haze

This is the moment I hold you down, hard
onto the sheets and say “Fuck the fear.”
I have touched you there before and loved it
My thoughts, I shut down with a tongue –
a flurry of strokes and moans and I am free

But, in the sex and switched postions It returns.
The damn thing was hidden between the thrusts
and the command “Keep going, don’t stop,”
I follow the wrong gypsy, the cursed one
who puts her spell on me, the impossibility
of an orgasm when my body forgets its place

 

21.

 

All these mind-fires burn what was the old me,
a blaze in the last bonfires of a cold beach

I see, in the inner effigy there is hope left
If I use the ocean – I see it there, the waves
of the new coast calling to me in a new tongue

What is there left to do but to lean back,
let it crash over me, wash the flames away
and ready my mind for the new self, waiting?

 

22.

 

Hi, I am your lungs contracting at rates of complexity
per seconds, blinking faster, your words on remix
Ven aqui, compadre mio this won’t end ‘til you chill,
til you die, ‘til the shivers go away happy once they
ate away at all the quiet air you had left in the day

Decomposition of the 5-7-5s: A Breakdown of Haiku Mixtape

I briefly mentioned my Haiku Mixtape project in September. It came from an old pastime I’d do when something I’d listen would spring concepts in my head. Haikus by traditon are pastoral, although modern poets are expanding the subject matter. One interesting example of this is the Times Haiku Tumblr blog that posts haikus taken from the New York Times.

Why I decided to go into the details of my mixtape, I have no idea – pobably for future reference. The blog’s background comes from a Detroit Times article, if I recall correctly. The fonts I use are all free, most from 1001 Free Fonts. As for the haikus, I have them saved in two locations: an Evernote note and a Word document file. The Evernote is for when I’m listening to something outside of home and need to jot it down somewhere with no internet access. The Word doc is the primary file where I play around with fonts before I paste them in the Photoshop files. I have a master Evernote page for mixtape images that serve as backgrounds.

Here’s the latest haiku:

I loosely used the first line in the song lyrics – the word “napalm” – and then based it from that. Then I based this image of a very angry punk. I went through about three edits before I decided on this one. I almost considered switching to another Iggy Pop song after I heard it at a bar on a memorable night. I may still consider writing a haiku from it so I won’t divulge the song title.

I also post the haikus in my deviantArt account just as an excuse to update to old thing – I haven’t in such a long time and since I’m making some semblance of new content I figured it made sense to. You’ll see a new one sometime tonight or tomorrow. Happy listening.

Train Writing

I have a new job, one that has me leaving the house after years of working in my pajamas. So that means a commute, which I’m comfortable with. This has afforded a small moment of peace, as turbulent as that sounds, since I am away from the family and the office for a combined eighty minutes give or take when the next train comes. So, of course, I write. I keep three notebooks in my bag along with all my other items. Lately I’m using one of the smaller ones since I’m working on my new Haiku Mixtape project, which doesn’t really need a lot of real estate as far as paper is concerned. The larger notebook comes out rarely, but when it does it’s only when I can sit down waiting for the next train, and when i really need to put down something long and drawn out.

This isn’t a new thing, I’ve been doing this for years. What makes it different is the ritualistic nature of it now. The pulling out of the black book and pen, the faces of daily commuters surrounding me becoming small easels for facial descriptions, etc. It isn’t like the weekend train ride. there’s a permanence to it now. This continued mobile isolation of sorts will be a productive one, hopefully. Until the job drives me insane.

(Note: parts of this were made in repeated drafts written on the PATH train on Monday and Tuesday of this week.)

Can’t Let Them Catch The Midnight Writer

The first time I can remember writing alone was in third grade. It was well past my bedtime and I barely sat on the kitchen table enough to scribble down on one of those composition books with the scattered black-and-white patterns throughout the cover and back. I don’t quite remember what it was on – insects, perhaps – but I remember the time being past the 11 o’clock news and no one being in the room with me. The only reason my parents didn’t try to stop was because these were the days in which my mom went into work around six in the morning and my dad’s hours were completely fucked from all the residency he did at multiple hospitals.That was around 1995.

It’s 2002 and my sister is fast asleep. Years of staying up late writing or playing games have added up by then and the internet have mixed it all up and made me into a huge mess of insomnia and information addiction. The Compaq PC was the only computer my family had  at the time, and I was the one that was on in more than anyone else. When I wasn’t downloading music at the speed of Congress getting any work done, I pulled up document files while I talked to other friends with sleep problems – mostly girls – and wrote. I played music at very low volumes so that no one noticed I was awake, at least not until it was two or three in the morning. I pulled many all-nighters writing topic and country papers for Model UN (yes, I was that kind of nerd, and I’m not ashamed of it). My brother introduced me to energy drinks because of my nocturnal writing patterns, and I learned the concepts of deadlines and how to produce quality work. It just took the darkness.

More sleep disappeared in college, as I wrote my fiction/poetry out of boredom at night when I wasn’t working on lab papers during the day. There was less sunlight there, creating days with an illusion of perpetual twilight. And that was all I needed to keep the words flowing. I was pretty much a wreck at that point and well on my way to the major crash that would occur near the end. Every night has a dawn, and some are painful and blinding.

When I finished school and my brain finally decided it was time to go haywire, I had to give into a set sleep schedule. I had help from someone, but the more I slept the more I lost the night, and there went the dark and the silence and the click-clack of my fingers on something. The first rounds of medication didn’t help either – they dulled everything, from my physical hunger to my thoughts. I took a considerable amount of time to write again, and to no surprise it came back to me in the dark, when I was working a night job with a bunch of Mexican guys. During breaks I would take out a small notebook and jot down pieces of a story inspired by what I was doing.

As of this writing, it’s almost  6 AM and the sun is just making its way up. The sensation is the same as it was years ago, and I am spell-checking and fixing any grammatical errors on my sister’s paper after doing some of my own personal work. The rush of night writing, the liberation and isolation it allows me to have, is amazing, but there is a new thought that crosses my mind – will this always be the way it works?  I hoped I could find a way to do this with the sun but I never can. This thing, this path that gives me strength, it’s unhealthy and this will hurt eventually but I don’t see any other way to do this. I’ll just continue writing until the light comes, then find my way to sleep if the day allows it.

The Weekly Tumblr Dump – 3/21/14

 

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Sipho Mabona wants to make a life-size origami elephant using a 2,500 sq. ft paper. I’m a big fan of paperfolding so I am excited to see it happen.

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From writer Chuck Palahnuik’s latest essay on writing (from his own Tumblr site). Apparently you have to sign up to the mag that has the full one but this quote is good enough, I think:

Whether you’re making music or films or painting pictures… play to the strengths of your medium.

One of the aspects of written narrative I appreciate most is the ambiguity that’s possible and sustainable before the true nature of a fictional situation is confirmed. Like the roadster in The Great Gatsby which is green or yellow, depending on the moment, I love to keep the details of a story in flux. One thing morphs into becoming another, sometimes even a third thing.

My classic example comes from the story “Guts.” Whatever is holding the narrator underwater, first it’s a snake, then a sea serpent, then it’s a prolapsed colon, finally it’s a “thick rope of veins and twisted guts.” This gradual evolution from the fantastic to the horribly real is something films have less success depicting. There are good examples. In A Portrait of Jennie Joseph Cotton gradually realizes his girlfriend is dead. A ghost. In Jacob’s Ladder Tim Robbins slowly comes to terms with the fact that he is, himself, dead. But too often the ambiguous thing must be made real in order to be filmed, and that robs it of the power of being debatable, undecidable. So often, once we see the monster, it’s no longer scary.

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This made me laugh as a man who’s felt those.

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From Lev Grossman’s post titled ‘Small Batch Writing” (via http://kadrey.tumblr.com/):

I’m always on the lookout for little gaps like that in my schedule: anytime I can get a block of 10 minutes or more, I take it. I write in waiting rooms. I write in cars while other people are driving (this is very boring for them, but I do it anyway). I write while pasta is boiling.
Sometimes when I’m taking care of my kids they fall asleep, or lose consciousness for other reasons. The second they do I’m at my keyboard. Ninja writer strikes! Then I go back to changing diapers.

20,000 Word Death Bar Halftime Report

Dammit.Well, last night’s push definitely help, but I got mired in weddings/Dark Souls/unpacking and I can only take the fault for Dark Souls (that game is the goddamn devil). Here’s the breakdown:

4541 for continuing my rewrite of the initial Terra Occulta comic arc into short story/novella form.
3371 for a story in the same universe that is muuuuch later in the story between the protagonist and his sister
752 for a work-in-progress entry on my seizure.
768 on an anti-nostalgia article which I’m cleaning up now.

If I keep working on the main story, I should be able to bang out the remaining 53%. let’s see what happens.