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Books

Chuck Palahniuk: Spirit Animal or Cock-blocker?

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imagesH6UEV3ET“Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison.”

This is the opening to Chuck Palahniuk’s novel DAMNED, a story about an angsty teen dead girl and her journey through Hell. Or more accurately, the story I’d have written if I’d been, you know, a better writer.

My new years resolution to make my writing a priority ended the moment I finished the book DAMNED, and was forced to face the reality that my writing sucks balls compared to Chuck Palahniuk’s.

I’d like to tell you this revelation prompted me to get busy on a book of my own, working with all the drive and ambition of a writer inspired by Palahniuk’s genius to, as Neil Gaiman put it, “Make good art.” But it didn’t. Instead I curled up in a ball and cried like the giant hack baby that I am. I also haven’t written a word since.

That’s because I have my own personal cock-blocker, and his name is Chuck Palahniuk.

So why all the literary flacidity, you ask? Well I’ll tell you why.

[I'm going to give you my answer at the end of this next passage because it builds suspense. It's a technique good writers use, or so I've heard]

The book world is filled with writers whose work makes me feel like I’ve been junk-punched in the literary genitals. One of them is James Ellroy. Take for example the opening of his pulp-fiction inspired novel, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL:

“An abandoned auto court in the San Berdoo foothills; Buzz Meeks checked in with ninety-four thousand dollars, eighteen pounds of high-grade heroin, a 10-gauge pump, a .38 special, a .45 automatic and a switchblade he’d bought off a pachuco at the border—right before he spotted the car parked across the line: Mickey Cohen goons in an LAPD unmarked, Tijuana cops standing by to bootjack a piece of his goodies, dump his body in the San Ysidro River.”

Only Ellroy can write a 78-word sentence about grizzly murder and police brutality and craft it to read as high poetry. In lesser hands this opening would have been a disaster. I am sure if I were tasked with the challenge of writing this novel I’d have Bucknered all over it (for all you non-New Englanders out there scratching your collective heads at the word BUCKNER, click HERE and feel my pain).

Another dream-crusher is Chuck Bukowski. Take for example his poem SOME PEOPLE: 

some people never go crazy.
me, sometimes I’ll lie down behind the couch
for 3 or 4 days.
they’ll find me there.
it’s Cherub, they’ll say, and
they pour wine down my throat
rub my chest
sprinkle me with oils.
then, I’ll rise with a roar,
rant, rage -
curse them and the universe
as I send them scattering over the
lawn.
I’ll feel much better,
sit down to toast and eggs,
hum a little tune,
suddenly become as lovable as a
pink
overfed whale.
some people never go crazy.
what truly horrible lives
they must lead.

I doubt Nicholas Sparks ever wrote a poem like that, the epic tool. Now I’ll admit that Bukowski is not for everyone, but personally, I cannot get enough of him. Seriously people, I hear Roberta Flack’s voice inside my head whenever I read his work. Whenever I read my stuff all I hear is Bobcat Goldthwait.

I admire Stephen King for his mastery of characterization and worship Neil Gaiman for, well, everything, but Chuck Palahniuk is the only writer who ever made me WANT to write. His literary voice and story lines are so eerily similar to mine that I have to wonder if we are related somehow. For me, reading one of his novels is like reliving painful childhood memories spent with a better-looking, ultra-talented sibling, feeling the push-pull of striving to be like him only to hate him when I fail in comparison. Now I truly know how it feels to be an Oakland Raiders fan.

So at the end of the day what does all this self-contemplation/flagellation mean? Why it means I am an insipid douche-bag writer, that’s what it means. It means that instead of wasting my time lamenting why I will never be as successful as my heroes, I need to get busy, you know, writing. It means it’s time to get my head out of my ass and get my ass to my desk.

Yeah. Easier said than done.


Twisted Fictioneer Interview with Edward Hotspur

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hotspur-t-shirtIt’s time for another interview with a member of THE TWISTED FICTIONEERS, a group of authors who collaborate on charity writing projects such as ICONIC INTERVIEWS and F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES. Every Wednesday and Saturday we will feature an interview from a different author who has contributed to our writing ventures.

Since today is none other than Edward Hotspur’s birthday, I thought it fitting to feature his interview and get a glimpse into the mind of this blogger extraordinaire. For those of you out there who reside under rocks and who may not know, Edward Hotspur has written everything from a disenfranchised Tom Turkey to shameless Elf Erotica to all points and posts in between. His STORIES blog page alone is enough to keep a reader busy straight through to the Rapture. Luckily for us, we won’t have to wait that long to find out what makes the great EH tick. So raise your glasses and toast another year to:

EDWARD HOTSPUR

 

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I could imagine.

Do you prefer to write in a specific genre and if so, why?

I would prefer to – however, my brain won’t let me, which is why I have a hard time finishing anything. I can write posts, but they are all over the place, as you can tell from my blog.

What techniques do you use when crafting your writing day to day that keeps you focused on the plot and storyline?

During successful writing times, I totally visualized the scene, and visualized myself as the main character in that scene, then just described what I saw and how I felt. Another technique is to take a real situation, and make it absurd. Sometimes in life you can do that without much tweaking.

Many readers will probably be offended by F*cked Up Fairy Tales and/or Iconic Interviews. What is your message behind the irreverence?

Mine was “OH MY GOD I’M WRITING FILTH!” – which I tried to disguise as ‘dirty and monogamous need not be mutually exclusive’, or ‘romance is extremely sexy’, or something… hey! Look over there!

What is the most challenging aspect of the mechanics of writing for you, and how do you overcome it?

I can write all day long in short bursts. I can hit publish. I can’t seem to edit for books, and that’s why I have enough stuff for 10 books, but only have basically one done, and that only electronically.

There is art and science involved in writing. What is your favorite aspect of writing in the context of its art?

Describing the scene. Freedom to create. Spaghetti on the wall technique.

Ten years from now, what are you writing?

Scenes From A Lear Jet? Scenes From A Tropical Island?

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 And now for a little something extra we bring you…

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TEN THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT EDWARD HOTSPUR!

1. What would you consider to be your best personality trait?

Stubbornness. Persistence is an incredibly powerful tool, but….

2. What do you think is your worst personality trait?

Stubbornness. …when it crosses over into ‘going for the kill’, it can be bad.

3. You wake up Saturday morning and everyone has left you alone for the day. What do you do?

Things that I can’t do with a bunch of people in the house. Typically things that involve shutting off the water, the power, or both.

4. Name one person, living or dead, who you’d like to take to dinner:

Sidney Poitier. No, seriously, my wife. We rarely get that chance.

5. If you could choose a superpower, what would it be and why?

Hard to say. Time travel would be nice, but so would healing, speaking any language, or immortality.

6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Assuming that certain conditions existed, I’d live in Florida, and have houses in England and Japan.

7. Your favorite book/favorite meal/favorite sport:

Book – hard to say. Impossible. Meal – steak, because rare. Getting steak, not the condition of the steak. Sport – Child rearing. Wait, what?….. Oh, okay. Then I like hockey.

8. Your favorite movie/food/song that you secretly like but don’t want to admit:

There are no songs that I like that I wouldn’t admit to liking.

9. What job do you wish you had?

Writer, rock star, club owner, etc. Something fluid and creative, but that still requires structure.

10. Your favorite swear word:

“James Lipton.” Just kidding. It’s ‘fuck’, including all its variants.

 

FEATURED EDWARD HOTSPUR WORK:

TOM TURKEY

THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER (The Passion of Suspiria and Mister Dead)

 

CLICK HERE TO WISH EDWARD HOTSPUR A HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


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