Just a quick mid-holiday update: pleased to announce my latest publication, which was immediately inspired by the concept behind Complete Sentence journal – to write a story in one sentence.
The art is also of my creation, which I’m pretty chuffed about.
Highly recommend checking out the archive of this website – lots of really great material in there, and I also recommend submitting your own sentences! The editor, Jason, was an absolute joy to work with, and I couldn’t be prouder to have this tiny piece be included in their pages.
Here we are, mid-autumn already. Since we last spoke, dear void journal, I have been ferociously reading so many things, and planning so many new ones.
For most of late summer, I was busy with health issues. Nothing dire – just concerns of the dermatological and of the gastro-intestinal. Thankfully, both issues have resolved, and with the cooler wind’s balm, I am much happier and a bit more well-adjusted than during those steamy, torrid days of city-hot summer.
Unfortunately, during those months I was also pre-occupied with a great deal of depression and writer’s malaise. I was in a rut, spiraling in circles, unable to make headway on even the smallest poem. Everything I even attempted to write met an instantaneous (and unceremonious) end. But those issues, too, appear to have resolved – if only for now, and I’m pleased to be able to say I have been writing on a daily basis again, sometimes churning out what feel like complete little flash fictions, sometimes even hitting my stride and ending up with 5K short stories.
I am pleased to say, also, that I’ve done a little revamp of this here website – there’s new header image up top, and there’s now a bit more focus on the blog-posts, which I will attempt to get out more frequently.
A round-up, then, of what I have accomplished in the last few weeks:
- One new short story, called “poppet” for now, clocking in around 5,000 words. I’m comfortable with the level of how uncomfortably-ended it is, because I’m becoming (slowly) accustomed to the idea of revision and tightening/tautening, etc. I’m also becoming aware that my process might involve drafting something, then putting it away for months, and returning to it once it’s sort of stopped haunting me. Some stories haunt longer than others, I’m discovering.
- A new, completely re-imagined version of the second short story I ever wrote (September 2020!), still called “Wasp” for the time being. It’s still far too long, and it needs more pruning, but I feel like it’s in a much more stable place than it used to be, and I’m quite proud of it.
- Tons of flash fiction, most ranging from >1K to just around 2.5K. Some of them are ridiculous, but I feel like I’m working through what constitutes a satisfying “ending” for me. It’s tough, slippery like an eel, but I’m happy with the progress I’m making. These titles include:
- A Robbery, which is a short story in one sentence.
- Flood, a piece about grief and rising waters.
- ransom, a weird, misshapen piece about a ransom note.
- small, a piece that started off as auto fiction from Joy Baglio’s Community Writing workshop and then veered into total fiction. I love how it ends, but the title might also be touch, or it might be something else entirely.
- Good Hands is the first time I’ve ever been able to write about working in neurosurgery, and I’m very happy with this piece. It starts in second person, and then somehow moves to first person, but there’s also a draft where it’s all in first person, too. I like to play with points of view.
- I have also written a list of books on craft/process that I have found illuminating, perhaps in preparation for a longer work on the different kinds of feedback/critique that can be given – based on my experience – and how to tell when one might be more warranted than another. This is a long-term project, as I am in no way qualified to write this kind of thing yet, though I do love to read other writers’ work and offer my thoughts/feelings on it, especially at a granular, sentence-building level.
That’s all for now. Look for another post coming soon with some of what I’ve been reading, and my thoughts on them!
Have added a section to the webpage that features an ongoing list of Writing Prompts from a server on Discord that I help moderate. If that’s something that interests you, have at it, and let me know if anything inspires you! I’m always intrigued by how others react to these open-ended prompts.
Nothing on the publication front, but I haven’t been actively participating in that side of writing lately. All I seem to be able to come up with is shreds of beginnings. Trying to be gentle with myself and just allow the writing to come as it needs to for now. There’s no need to rush anything. I’ve finally gotten back into reading more regularly, and I’m quite happy with that for now. I’ve also been watching more movies, and writing down my general thoughts about them on letterboxd.com (link will take you to my profile there).
In addition, I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts about what I read and add them to my profile at goodreads, for now. I don’t like to “review” things as such, and I really kind of hate assigning “stars” to things, but if something I read moves me in a certain way, I like to try to suss out how I feel about it there. Recently, I’ve read/reviewed a few interesting things, a mix of new and old. If my thoughts on Wallace Stevens, indie horror, or esoterica interest you, hit that link.
Books read recently:
- Circe, by Madeline Miller: a lush and lyrical imagining of the life lived by one of the more intriguing characters in Homer’s Odyssey, using inferences from the Telegony to fill in the blanks of Circe’s time on Aiaia. There was nothing about this that I didn’t like. After reading this, I instantly sought out her earlier work, Song of Achilles, which I also liked, but not as much as I did Circe. I wonder if I would have felt differently had I read Achilles first, but that’s such a small nit-pick: reading both of these cemented for me that Miller is an author of muscular, ardent prose, and I will be on the look-out for anything she publishes in the future.
- Mists & Megaliths, by Catherine McCarthy: a collection of Welsh horror stories from an indie horror author whose star is definitely on the rise. I enjoyed most of these stories. “Lure” is still my favorite from this writer: a shimmering, elusive story told in the second-person, though the closing tale in this collection, “Coblynau,” is a tremendously emotional and spooky painting of a national tragedy that echoes far down the corridor of time. Other stories in this collection left me feeling as though they were a bit rushed, or slightly thin on the ground, but McCarthy is an interesting writer to watch mature. I’ll be checking out her forthcoming novella, Immortelle, for sure, which releases soon, and has been hyped to the skies.
- Incarnations, three plays by Clive Barker: never having read any of the master’s dramatic work, I treated myself to these three plays, and loved every moment of them. I still have his other collection, Forms of Heaven, to enjoy, but this was a delightful treat, and I hope someday to see at least one of these in an actual theater.
- The Psychedelic Experience: a manual based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, by Tim Leary: a slim volume, interesting anecdotally and historically, but nothing awe-inspiring. Neat analogy with the inclusion of the bardo and the various stages of tripping on LSD.
- The Hill of Dreams, by Arthur Machen: Gorgeous, sensual prose, but the actual narrative seemed almost secondary to the descriptions. Still, a welcome addition to what I’d already read of Machen’s work, and some sentences that will stick with me for a long time.
- Heartfelt Horrors, by Michael Sellars: it was a genuine treat to encounter another independent horror writer who handles each sentence with such care. These nine atmospheric stories impressed me in a way that very few others have: the word choice and imagery were intensely evocative, and Sellars proved that he’s a writer who loves the art of language as much he does the art of crafting narrative. I can’t wait to read his other work.
- The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality & Imagination, by Wallace Stevens: Dense, scholarly, convoluted ideas regarding the duty of the artist in the world. Gorgeous prose, but so layered that it made my head spin a bit to try to get a handle on the ideas presented. Still, something I will return to in the future, many times, I’m sure.
- The Auctioneer, by Joan Samson: I read this in one sitting during a four-hour flight, and I was riveted the entire time. I haven’t read such a thrilling, tense story in quite some time. Though it’s a novel and not a short story, in both tone and characterization, this easily sits alongside Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery as one of the most disturbing works of rural horror I’ve ever read. The best thing about it is that, though it was written in the late 60s, and deals with the urban diaspora, the themes are timeless and even eerily prescient for our modern times. Highly recommended.
I hope everyone is sane and healthy as the summer months trudge along. I, for one, can’t wait for the cooling solace of autumn after summer’s venomous sting.