The Ever Lovin’ Hulk

This is how they should have remade the Hulk movie…

“Belted by gamma rays… ain’t he unglamorays.” That’s a line that’s just very close to be genius. The hulk should have just been going around being all like “I’m big, I’m ugly, I’m angry, but I’m kind of lovable, too. Ain’t my fault I’m unglamorays.” We used to let cartoon writers get away with unglamorays, it doesn’t seem we let them get away with that anymore. The writing is still bad, but in the most bland of ways.

It’s the same thing with comic books really. Comic writers today take themselves very seriously, and in doing so they really miss some major opportunities to have fun with their art. Because if comic books can’t be fun anymore, what can be?

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Literary Merit of Key Parties

So, I’m at a point in writing my novel that I’m really just grasping at anything. I’m trying to create something beautiful and whatever, but I’m also trying to fill some pages. And to fill those pages I’m going to use words, just about any words I can find.

I do enjoy Chuck Palahniuk books, but sometimes he’s a little much. Just sort of random info dumping that makes the reader say, “Why is it important that the character knows this random tidbit and why is it important that I know that the character knows this.” Some of Palahniuk’s factoids are very interesting, but a lot of it is Wocka Wocka Wocka. But now I understand, as I try to pump this novel beyond 150 pages, I’m ready to plug in everything I can.

So, I got this little idea about Key Parties, and I thought it’d be interesting to go into key parties and where they started–the history of key parties–but the information doesn’t exist. I completely expected to google “Key Party” and find that it was invented by Wilford Brimley and Don Ameche. Where did the fish bowl come from? Maybe, Jacques Cousteau? Bea Arthur was there. That would have been exciting info, but alas it was not to be. Mostly people talking about The Ice Storm. Maybe, it’s for the better, I obviously had some vision of flappy old person flesh, maybe, that doesn’t need to shared with the world.

So… no key parties, no simple keys, no novel, no liver spot on liver spot action, no nothing.

Currently reading: What is the What by Dave Eggers

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Rejection Letter – A Four Dimensional Love (F&SF)

Rejection Letter

Here’s my rejection from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It’s a personal rejection letter, but F&SF always gives personal rejection letters so that’s not a terribly big deal. It is from the Editor in Chief, Gordon Van Gelder, and not some anonymous reader or junior editor, so maybe that’s a good thing or maybe he just happened to pick it up. My favorite parts, of course, are “story is ambitious” and “some interesting passages.” Which means the story is a failure, but an ambitious failure, and while there were a few well written sections they didn’t out weigh the poorly written passages surrounding them. A pretty good rejection, but my biggest problem is, I just don’t know where the story is going to go to now.

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A Million Little Pieces

Crimes Against Writing

I just read A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, not the most timely of reads given the circumstances, but I wanted to see if the book was worth anything beyond Oprah’s stamp of approval and a little controversy. I treated the book as fiction and it was fairly easy to see why people were so made. The book simply isn’t good. Now that’s not to say A Million Little Pieces was bad, it just wasn’t particularly good. There weren’t any moments that the so-called memoir flopped, but there wasn’t any place it shined either. To hear Oprah talk you would have thought this book was a masterpiece, like Nabokov and Faulkner made sweet, sweet love and that baby was A Million Little Pieces. Sadly it was just an average piece of non-fiction.

James Frey

I do have a biased against non-fiction, I’ll admit it. I’m a fiction man. But there are plenty of non-fiction books I enjoyed, but for the most part I find memoirs bland and lifeless. “Lifeless!?” you say. “How can it be lifeless when it’s based off of life?” The problem is that non-fiction sells, so two things happen: books are pushed out way before they’re ready and the books are conceived by writers with only a small amount of talent but big ambition. Ultimately though the biggest problem with creative non-fiction is the people reading it. For some reason, if a story is true or claims to be true readers give it a sort of special dispensation. Which means they’re much more forgiven with the prose and more likely to cut the writer some slack. They believe that even if the writing is bland the truth in the moment makes up for that. Does truth equal beauty or does beauty equal truth? For me, if something is magical it becomes true, and a hack is a hack no matter how much of himself he puts on the page.

But as non-fiction goes, I’ve read worse than A Million Little Pieces. I can’t go so far as to say that the writing is good, but it wasn’t outwardly bad (which I think is saying a lot for the genre). Personally I don’t care that James Frey lied, I was much more concerned with the style. However, the back lash against him was because readers felt robed. However, the book was somewhat true, it can’t be completely discounted. His only real crime was that he made himself a tough guy. I’ve been in countless writing classes with dudes who think they’re Hemingway man’s men, and while the results were usually less than spectacular, I never held it against them. James Frey painted himself to be a major league criminal that hit a rock bottom that just didn’t hit. What we know for sure about Frey is that he drank too much, he was arrested for a traffic violation, at least once, spent three hours in jail, and maybe did some coke. He’s definitely more of a bad boy than myself, but not nearly the menace to society Frey painted himself out to be. It’s that story of recovery that moved so many of his readers. By painting himself to hit an ultimate low and being able to recover (and being able to recover through sheer force of will), he gave hope that his readers could recover just as easily. By lying about his story, he suddenly deleted their prospects.

The second problem readers would have had was that James Frey talked at length in A Million Little Pieces about truth. About the importance of truth. About the Tao ringing true. And he painted the boastful, lying character of Bobby as despicable. The fact that Frey was proven to falsify much of his life then puts into question basic tenants of his book. That truth will save you and admitting the truth to yourself is the beginning of recovery.

A Million Little Pieces was originally written as fiction and rejected something like 14 times. The reason, of course, was pretty simple: mediocre prose and a melodramatic atmosphere. I don’t blame Frey though, I feel like he got cornered into it by his publisher. Given the choice between not being published at all and hundreds of thousands of dollars, it was a pretty simple choice. I do blame him though for killing off his great love. Through there wasn’t anything even approaching genuine emotion between Frey and Lilly, but I kept wondering how was Frey going to get out of this. Their relationship was hokey love at first sight. That’s not real love and it’s kind of hard to pass it off as that in a memoir. So, how does he got out of this fake relationship? He kills her. And not only Lilly, but James Frey killed everyone—he killed anyone that could possibly corroborate any of his story.

As it turned out, the scandal didn’t hurt Frey’s sales one bit. The sequel became a best seller. And Frey recently published his first book of fiction (which turns out to be his third book of fiction). All in all, the moral of the story is to lie your ass off, but if you do, make sure you kill all the witnesses.

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The Art of Rejections

I ran across this blog that I, well, I can’t say that I liked, but I found it interesting. Literary Rejections on Display does exactly that, displays rejections. A great concept, but only an okay blog. My big problem with Literary Rejections is that all the rejection letters are form letters. Form letters just makes me think that they’re simply an untalented writer. I mean, we all get form letters, but to have nothing but form letters is not a good sign. Another problem is Literary Rejections on Display is just not a snappy name like Wolf Gnards. Gnards just roll off the tongue.

Although, I think I’m going to start posting my rejection letters, too though. I’ve gotten some good ones over the years (i.e. some real awful ones), should be fun.

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Natalie Portman, “Please Publish His Stories!”

I had a fortune cookie today that said, “You will receive what you always wanted.” Now I realize that fortune cookies are not exactly known for their accuracy, but a little hope does swell up in you when you read something like that. The thing, of course, that I’ve always wanted (besides Natalie Portman) is to be published. Not published by my school. Not published by a friend. Not published by my mom, but real honest to god they-pay-me-money-or-at-least-an-issue publication.

As close as I’ve gotten, as friendly as the rejections have been, I’ve never been terribly close to getting really published. Again… that doesn’t count school, I was a god in school, which shows how much college is worth. I was very eager when I was a young baby faced lad, but that eagerness has waned somewhat as I’ve become a bitter baby-faced man. I haven’t really sent out too much in the last couple of years but I recently got back into the swing of it, and for some reason I’m hopeful.

Since I’ve been out of it so long, my publication records are little out of date. I like to keep an accurate spreadsheet publications, what they’re looking for, and what they pay. Fortunately, I ran across a website that does all the work for me. Duotrope Digest has a full database of writing resources, you just type in what you’re looking for and spits out a bunch of options. Check it out if you’re looking for a place to publish.

I do feel good about the stories I’ve sent out, but it really doesn’t mean much. Of course, if I don’t get published Natalie Portman better watch out.

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