Fiction: How to Cope with the Loss of Yourself

It was an accident. An accident? It was the steady ground suddenly tilting into the steep sides of a gorge, and the shitty path and its shitty cracks turned into crumbling rock giving way under shittier shoes, the ones that were going to be thrown out and replaced with the new season because these had paid their dues and there was supposed to be just enough traction for a few more weeks of Weather, before Weather gave way to Heat.

 

It was an accident in that it happened, it was done, and they were asleep at the bottom of the gorge and it was too steep and too far to get them. Someone else would have to get them.

The above is from a new piece that appears in the December issue of Split Lip Magazine. You can read the full piece here.

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Fiction: Metropolis Unwinds

It had been a long night of extrajudicial murder for Batman; riding out the adrenaline just barely got Bruce Wayne back to his lair under the river.

Man, for someone completely uninvested in the DCEU, I had a lot of thoughts about Batman v Superman, so I… wrote about it. This features Batman and The Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, and my exasperated long-suffering fave, Perry White.

FreezeRay Poetry included my flash fiction piece, “Metropolis Unwinds,” in their Issue #11 this month. Read the full issue at FreezeRay and my piece in full

Poem: A Mergirl Speaks of Travels

Listen—one day you’re gonna find yourself out in the ocean,
in the world, and you’re gonna stop and feel the electric
heartbeat of the entire world in the water around you—
down here, no one is ever alone.

This spring, Strange Horizons put out a call for their summer special, Our Queer Planet. The excerpt comes from my poem chosen for the series, “A Mergirl Speaks of Travels,” which follows a queer scientist-explorer in a futuristic aquatic Earth.

You can read the full poem at Strange Horizons and listen to it here.

Poem: “Divinity through the Ages”

What would you do with unlimited power?

Over at Open Letters Monthly, I’m thrilled to have a poem in their February 2016 issue.

I do love this poem a stupid lot; it came out of a collection I worked on about two years ago. A lot of the poems and prose poems were unsalvageable, but I’m still circulating some in hopes of getting them published. The poems riffed on mythology and women from my favorite stories (female characters from history, myths, and literature) and I’m glad that if any part of that collection sees the light of day, it’s this one. (Maybe the Mary Shelley one, too.)

Read the full poem at Open Letters Monthly.

Fiction: “Drink, Kill, Contract”

dear-robot-coverMy short story, “Drink, Kill, Contract,” appears in the anthology Dear Robot: An Anthology of Epistolary Science Fictionedited by Kelly Ann Jacobson. You can purchase the anthology here and read more about the anthology below:

Dear Robot is an anthology of nineteen science fiction stories told in a variety of epistolary styles. Letters, scientific notes, manuals, and emails all tell different stories about the future. From a behavioral contract for interstellar exchange students to a transmission from an astronaut in space, these sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking stories all use their structure to amplify their message-especially when that message is that a band of deadly robots are chipping away at the door.

 

desk lunch – 2015-11-19

Brought to you this week by Thanksgiving.

Please. Please. Is it Thanksgiving yet. Is it my holiday of family and friends and complete and utter sloth. Please. Am I at my parents’ house yet, watching old seasons of Great British Bake Off and the new season of Masterchef Junior. All I want for Thanksgivingmas is to be home already.


Topography of Short Stories: Upright Beasts

Perhaps another way to put it is that as a writer who isn’t rich enough to not have a job or antisocial enough to not want friends, you have to be a master thief. You have to steal every ounce of time you can. Scribble notes on receipts; revise when the boss turns his back. Grab every speck of time you can until you have enough for a book to bloom in. That might take a year or a decade, but the little stolen moments will eventually add up.

A really good read about shaping a story collection. Now halfway into my NaNoWriMo project, the Frankenstein’s-monstering of a project is starting to show itself, the bumps of writing this one thing every day building into the texture of each story I finish. It’s interesting, and I only wonder if that idea of texture will survive into the revision stages, or how it’ll translate into something else. Hmm!


What if climate change was as scary as the 1950s-era Soviet Union, or terrorists? What would that look like?  Would we come up with something as ostentatious and awe-inspiring as the Apollo space program? Would we find ourselves fighting energy proxy wars in other countries — sneakily funding solar installations, sending renewable energy propaganda out over the airwaves, Voice of America style?

It’s a depressing and probably accurate theory presented here: that the only way to get funding for global warming would be by directing the DoD’s interests towards it and having them fund it. It’s depressing because sheer terror might be the only thing that could work in creating progressive climate policies.


Remember #IliadLive from this past summer? The Almeida Theatre spent another day performing Homer, this time recruiting a huge cast to perform the Odyssey. Almeida livetweet the performance and also made a Storify of viewers’ tweets throughout the day, highlighting the different performers and locations used throughout. STANLEY TUCCI READ ON A BOAT.

Listening to these amazing professional actors perform the Odyssey brought the work into a light that I haven’t seen in years. It’s easy to get lost in the Iliad because it’s such a character-driven story compared to the Odyssey—honestly, it’s amazingly character-driven compared to almost everything that’s survived from antiquity. The Odyssey, at least how I approach it, is just as important as the Iliad, but for totally different reasons; Odyssey is far more about the act of storytelling, the act of writing, the act of keeping track of plots and layers of presentation and the ten different things happening in any given moment. Odyssey is much more valuable for how it looks at the importance of telling stories. That’s all people do in the Odyssey: they do one thing, and tell five stories about it, to different audiences, in different times and places, and for different reasons. It’s wonderful. I could get used to these annual performances.


desk lunch – 2015-11-12

Short desk lunch today because my writing project has actually started to take root in my brain and that leaves very little left for literally anything else word-related. As always: check out what I shared on The Rumpus, where I was coherent for like, entire minutes at a time.

On Shining and Staring / On Ruin

No Wine
This is why I believe in intoxication — because it is true to say I believe in it, though I have given it up: drunk, none of us is any better than any other. When drunk we are not trying to be great. When drunk we are fine with the abject instead. I like the way that everyone turns for now toward the abject, as if it is a home.

That book I mentioned last week continues to pay for itself over and over again.



desk lunch – 2015-10-22

I don’t experience writer’s block often because I’ve spent my whole life online, expressing myself through text-based mediums. I’m always reading. I’m always writing. But there come days when the actual act of crafting a story in any form just seems like it’s never going to happen again, not in any sort of viable way (read: publishable- I can’t think like that!) So, I end up writing ridiculously long emails to friends, or really long tag commentary on tumblr, or tweeting too many jokes, because block doesn’t mean there are no words, just- there are no stories. Anyway, that’s why this desk lunch is wordier than usual- I can’t pin down my next project just yet, so I’m reading and processing everything in hopes something will come of it.


“Don’t Go Into The Basement And You’ll Be Safe” And Other Lies Men Tell

A man with a secret is never a good thing, in literature or film (or life, lol). Rarely do those brooding depths hold anything nice: he’s quiet because he’s thinking about me so much! He’s hiding something in that room and it’s a shrine to how much he loves me!, wrote no one ever. The sense of dread that comes from being forbidden to go somewhere, or ask about something, by the person who is supposed to be the love of your life, is, again, one that comes from a deep need to save yourself.

I love how The Hairpin drops these short essays in the middle of an afternoon and I end up thinking about a little one-shot for days afterwards. This one in particular revisits the folktale of Bluebeard’s wife, one that as a kid I never paid attention to because it sounds pointless from the first: women keep marrying this creep and then being surprised when he murders them, wow, how could one avoid that, I wonder. Haley Mlotek nails why, all of a sudden, the tale of Bluebeard’s wife doesn’t seem so ridiculous at all: girl walks with eyes wide open into a bad decision- how will she survive this?


Then, often, we go back to a novel after it’s sat on the shelf for a few months, waiting its turn.
And then we go back again the next night if the first twenty pages are good, and again if the next forty are good.
Pretty soon we have to go back to the beginning if we’re ever going to spend any more quality time with that book….
With most plays, the best you can hope for is heartbreak. You fall in love on the last night of summer camp and never see each other again. Plays, by and large, don’t come home with you.

This piece at LitHub is about how plays and novels are presented and how we take them in; more than that, it makes me think about revisiting media. My habits on this sort of thing are on either side of a very blunt spectrum: watch once then never again, or watch obsessively and ritualistically until something else takes its place. See: HAMILTON. See: TOLKIEN, HARRY POTTER. See: every song, movie, poem, book, fandom that has dug its talons into my back and fused a part of itself into my spinal cord. This piece articulated with spectacular accuracy the appeal of revisiting or not revisiting something: why I spent the summer of 2007 entering the Spring Awakening Broadway lottery so I could see the original run three times; why Thanksgiving means watching The Lion in Winter once every weekend until the New Year; why I highlight and bookmark paths through books/ebooks. It’s all so I can find my way back to something I love.


In their suspended states of animation, microbes exist in a realm completely apart from most other organisms. They are neither living nor dead. Without growth, reproduction, and (in the case of endospores) metabolism, they lack many features that seem inherently tied to being alive on Earth. Indeed, they are just one borderline case that makes a sweeping definition for life nigh‑on impossible. Writing last year in New York Times Magazine, Ferris Jabr commented that the problem comes about because scientists ‘have been trying to define something that never existed in the first place’. He concluded that ‘Life is a concept, not a reality.’

Meanwhile, nothing is real.


Last Book I Loved: Station Eleven

Station-ElevenFor weeks after reading Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, I couldn’t get it out of my head. So, for The Rumpus’s The Last Book I Loved series, I wrote an essay that tries to explain why it has the best portrayal of life-after-the-apocalypse. It showed how delicate and human our technology is, how they are extensions of ourselves, and how much we would miss them when they were gone. It captures so well the element of civilization’s collapse, people longing to have everything they once had, all while moving on to make new lives for themselves.

Station Eleven is a love letter to technology, one I never could have written myself.

Love letters require distance, and when it comes to me and technology, I can’t put any distance between us. I learned to type as I learned how to read and write. I’ve had computers and the Internet almost as long as I can remember, and a cell phone a little less than that. I’ve memorized three phone numbers, some Latin conjugations and declensions, the complete scripts to five or six movies from the late 1990s, and probably nothing else. When almost every fact available in all of human knowledge has been stored somewhere online, why would I bother storing anything but the most important things I’ll need to access over and over again?

Read the rest at The Rumpus.

desk lunch – 2015-10-01

Brought to you this week by Hamilton, currently devouring the brain of every person I know. If you’re looking for something linking this week’s three essays together, it’s something thematically similar: stories about how artists make their work and their careers happen.


This Is How You Become an Editor

They didn’t know about Mensah, the name I gave myself when I was eighteen, and if they knew the name, they could search for me online and know everything. Know about my messy relationships, know about my politics. To be unknown by everybody, or half-known, and to have to decide who should know which half of me, but never giving all of me, not even to someone I’d share a bed with, is to be constantly half-powered, half-committed, half-ready to leave it all behind. So I would joke with my coworkers, and we would swap stories over beers or Italian at a local spot for lunch, but I lied to them. I lied to everyone. I presented one man, but I was another man.

This is just a very good, winding story about going from a day job to a writing/editorial job, but I’m linking it for the passage above—finally able to own what you want to do and who you want to be. The day job/writer job split feels like Voldemort and his horcruxes a lot of the time.


“Make sure you value us. …Your students of color have worked twice as hard to get to where your white students are. Appreciate the work it took for them to get there.”

Really interesting quotes from students in MFA programs, but I’m particularly glad they interviewed comparatively a lot of Sarah Lawrence grads. I attended undergrad at SLC and ended up furious/uninspired by all of my writing workshops for the reasons listed in this piece.

LMM: I was like, Don’t look at Busta, don’t look at Busta. Then I look into the second row and Mandy Patinkin is sitting above Busta Rhymes. If there is a Busta Rhymes of musical theater, it probably is Mandy Patinkin. And it was just fucking crazy, when the people you’ve emptied your pockets to see are seeing you.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the composer of Hamilton and In the Heights, is like an actual ray of sunshine come to life. (See what he said about donating some of his grant money. UGH. ARE YOU REAL.) Every interview with him contains some moment or some line that strikes a little too close, and this interview in particular has a lot of good stuff about being Latin@ at a mostly white school, and working while also working, and. It’s a lot.