Friday, June 09, 2023
I’m publishing my second book: Homeward Bound and Other Stories. Available 12.06.23. In case you didn’t know, then now you know. This is the book I’ve been writing my whole 20’s. I’m going to be 28 soon, so it’s been a slog of writing while going to school, finishing my BA, working full time, working part time, through the covid era and back. I had the idea for two of these stories while I was still in the Icelandic equivalent of high-school. The Mumbler and Homeward Bound. They’re the only stories that survived my first 3 years of writing, although I completely rewrote them.
While getting the book ready for publishing, my days started out with a creeping doubt about everything I’ve done leading up to this, and an overwhelming urge to scrap the whole enterprise. Once I had my coffee and started working sporadically on the various things associated with publishing a book, I started thinking clearly again. Now is the actual test of courage, to put one’s work into the world (read Amazon.com.)
I had some reservations about the cover, which features me as one of the unnamed characters in the book - a man wearing a furry costume inspired by a My Little Pony character. I’m sure you can see why that might be a little embarrassing. This is one of those times where I have an idea for something and then hope desperately to have any other idea before the deadline. And I tried to think of anything for the cover that wouldn't make people think I’m a brony furry, but I couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love how the cover turned out. And someone in my life said that if I were to go with an alternate design I would be showing less vulnerability. The thing is, I wouldn’t want the cover to be worse just because I couldn’t be vulnerable. So, I really hope you f**kers like the cover. I mean, the things I do for you…
Everything is ready now. The book is written, it has a cover and an Amazon description. Four of the short stories were published in magazines. Homeward Bound and Other Stories is a collection of the strangest thoughts from my twenties distilled into short stories. It is about a professor falling in love with My Little Pony, a teenager who never learns a lesson, a man in his thirties who keeps putting off his suicide. It is the product of all those times I thought “God, I don’t want to write that, but it’ll probably be a good story.” Besides that, I think it’s about how weird it is to live in the twenty-first century. I hope you’ll like it. You can preorder it at: www.amazon.com/Homeward-Bound-Other-Stories-Atlason-ebook/dp/B0C6QKR4V3
Tuesday, April 18, 2023
The picture is from my phone’s gallery and is a sample of the roughly thirty attempts at a reel that I ended up scrapping. It just wasn’t working. It is a snapshot of history where I stood around awkwardly in my kitchen trying to entertain strangers on the internet and failing to even entertain myself. A snapshot of one of the worst moments in a creative’s life, where he has to give up. It goes against all the advice you’ll find on the internet, that you should trudge on no matter what; even if you’re embarrassed, even if your family doesn’t like it, even if you can’t get published to save your life. But all of those actually imply that you are failing. And you are. Which is the important caveat to trudging on: is that you will really in large part be quietly failing along.
That happens to be another self-help platitude. For every successful shot, you may have ten failed shots. All your ideas for stories are really gut-feelings that often don’t go anywhere. It sucks. It sucks so much. I’d like to tell you it’s all worth it, but that’s not for me to decide. Not for you, at least. What I can do is show you the snapshot of my gallery where I recorded myself awkwardly and nothing came of it. Because social media affords a unique opportunity to highlight the work that goes into art; the artifice of it. And you can see the completed videos I posted on Instagram and Facebook. Or any completed work of art. Better yet, you can make your own videos, or stories, or short yet wordy rants about scrapped ideas.
Saturday, April 16, 2022
Usually I share quotes by other people here, but this time I'm sharing some of my favorite lines from my own published work. And yes, the review of my book was also written by me.
Logan’s place was a local place with eternally dimmed lights, one kind of whisky (Jack Daniels) and a regular in every seat at the bar. While the jukebox blared “American Pie,” Joe was on his second rant and Trish was staring down her makeshift sangria – they didn’t have any fruit.
- Jacob’s Windmill, published in Skandali
She was bald. Not like cancer bald. More like… Britney bald.
- Classification III, published in Skandali
There is a “Prologue,” (I put prologue in quotation marks because this plotline is never again addressed in the book,) in which the main characters of the Harry Potter series engage in sodomy. The perverted author barely makes a pretence of parody: he names the characters Happy Popper and Donald Westley. This is a theme that runs through the book; it seems he is lazy as well as disgusting.
- Review of Fantabulous Fan Fiction, published in Stúdentablaðið
Hanging above the entrance was a banner with big colorful letters, BronyCon. And the pilgrims it amassed were no less colorful. They all had some indicator, some picture on their t-shirt, or a hat fashioned as the face of one of the ponies. Seen from outside it was almost beautiful in a way; all the colors. But I remembered Hylas and was careful to gaze from afar.
- Emptiness in Harmony, published in Skandali
FRED, no relation to FRODO BAGGINS™, and SAMMY, no relation to SAMWISE GAMGEE™, struggle to carry a 14 INCH BROKSONIC TV VCR COMBO TUBE TELEVISION SET up a hill.
- Fantabulous Fan Fiction, self-published
Why I write in English:
Thursday, March 3, 2022
People like to ask me why I write in English. You know, since I’m Icelandic and all, and writing in a foreign language is weird and awkward; I am aware of this. It’s a decision I made when I was nineteen, and most of my decisions back then were both ill advised and ill informed; this is decidedly one of them. It has made it quite difficult for me to get published in Iceland, because for some reason Icelandic publishers like to publish books written in Icelandic; who’d a’ thunk? Of course writing in English does allow me to spread my work around the world, and, more importantly, the internet. But I also have some personal reasons for writing in English. I think it has to do with why I got into reading in the first place, which was a desire to go beyond myself.
I like to say that reading is boring. If I wanted to have fun I’d do cocaine or play video games. I’m joking of course, but it does speak to the fact that some literature isn’t fun enough to read just for the pleasure of it. You don’t read Shakespeare because the wordplay is funnier than Bill Burr’s latest special; it isn’t. So, why do people read that stuff? Of course, there are some brilliant things that are fun to read and also have that quality that makes people want to read Shakespeare. Putting those aside, I wanted to find out why some cultural artifacts survived while most pop songs seemed to have an expiry date within two months of release.
I was looking for meaning. That, of course, is why people read Shakespeare and all that other really intellectual stuff. That much is obvious. Why those texts are meaningful is maybe less obvious. I’m still sort of working on that. And I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to decipher world class literature as a goal in life. It’s a total hazzle. Also, I’m actually trying to not sound too conceited while writing this. And I hope you believe me. Thing is, I don’t know why literature is. That's why I read difficult shit: because I’m ignorant.
For me, it wasn’t a question of whether to write in English or Icelandic. Writing in Icelandic wasn’t at all appealing. Firstly, I didn’t care for Icelandic literature at the time. I did give the high literature a chance, i.e. Snorra Edda and Halldór Laxnes. And sadly, I haven’t given Icelandic literature much of a chance since, except for some of the newer authors, which I’ve actually quite enjoyed. But at the time, it felt like just more of the same stuff I’d been exposed to all my life. And I was desperate for something new. Of course, in a sense, I was wrong. I didn’t think I could learn anything about something approximating general human nature, or the basis for our society in the particulars of Icelandic stories. But, that is, in fact, where you derive those truths: in the particular situations of everyday life. For the most part it doesn’t matter where that takes place.
Nevertheless, my search led me to explore foreign literature. Mostly English, because I only know Swedish, Icelandic, and English, and there’s way more to choose from in the English canon. I figured I could expand myself while searching for something foreign, and once I’d gone beyond reading, I figured that the best way to do that was to engage with it. That is why I write in English. Now, you can learn loads about the world, and become a fuller person just by reading. You don’t have to take an active part in everything you like. It’s perfectly acceptable to watch sports instead of playing them, read books without writing, and go to art galleries without being a painter. But you should take part in something. Anything. Just pick something. Well, this is what I picked, and this is my discipline now. Ill fitting as it may seem, I think it’s just right for me.
I wrote an article:
Sunday, February 6, 2022
I wrote a satirical article where I pretend to be a particularly inept psychiatrist giving people mental health advice; I'm quite proud of it. The article, not the bad mental health advice. Anyway, the wonderful people over at Sála, the magazine run by the department of psychology at HI, have published it on their website. You can read it here.
If you found out about me because of the article, then I would like to welcome you to my little corner of the internet. Here is a free sample of my writing. It's super silly, don't worry. And if you want to stay updated then you should like me on facebook.
Happy New Year:
Friday, December 31, 2021
I like to think I had a good writing year this year. The total word count for 2021 is 24.000 words, which is just short of my 28.000 word goal. But hitting 85% of your goal is way better than not setting a goal in the first place. So, this year I’m setting a writing goal of 35.000 words and if I walk away with 30.000 then I’m a happy clam. The Reddit Prompts (a collection of writing prompts I wrote on reddit,) worked out great, with the highest upvoted prompt getting 86 upvotes #internetpoints. And I got published in the last issue of Skandali!
I read some gems this year that I wanted to share with you, and thanks to Goodreads, which I finally joined, I have a complete list of what I read in 2021. Which happens to be 25 books. So, if you’re like me, and you always feel as if you’re reading too little, you should join Goodreads, and find out exactly how little you’re reading. For 2022, I’m setting a reading goal of 35 books; wish me luck.
If you haven’t already read these books, then you should get on it. Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl. Did you know that Roald Dahl didn’t always write children’s books… Neither did I. Well, this fantastic short story collection is full of shocking, plot-twisty goodies for adults. And it only cements Roald Dahl as a great author. Sweet Tooth. A comic book by Jeff Lemire that was recently made into a netflix series. The series was great, but, as is often the case, the comic was more heartbreaking and true to itself. And I mean heartbreaking in a good way. Lanny. Max Porter writes such strong characters that they literally warp the words on the page. That’s all I want to tell you. Go read it.
Finally, I would like to wish you a happy new year, and happy reading!
The Best Literature for Halloween #Spooks:
Sunday, October 31, 2021
Spooky season is nearly over, and this year I read two spooky things. The first one, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, is a brilliant collection of spoopy short stories by the Argentinian novelist Mariana Enriques. This collection was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, and I was immediately captivated by the cover. The short stories are incredibly imaginative, absolutely enthralling, and oftentimes perverse. In any case they get 4/5 for spooks, and 5/5 for being literary brilliant.
The second thing I read was the manga Shiver. It is often said that we are scared of what we don’t know, and that we can therefore be more scared of the things that we can’t see, like the dark. This naturally makes it difficult to draw scary things. But Junji Ito does draw exceptionally terrifying things, and coupled with his storytelling ability, the stories in Shiver are amazing. The cover features a picture that may trigger trypophobia, which after reading Shiver, doesn’t feel like a phobia, but rather like a legitimate concern. I had to hide this book under other books when I went to sleep. 5/5 for spooks, 5/5 for drawing and story.
Friday, October 22, 2021
Sometimes the writing process is strange and fitful. Here are some things I did today when I should have been writing a short story: Laundry, watch stand comedy up on youtube, watch an honest trailer for the Evil Dead franchise on youtube, watch Evil Dead II in the middle of the day (it was just as good as I remembered,) literally sit on the floor, look through the short story collections I own to see how many short stories they contain and get frustrated when they all have more short stories than I’ve ever written, have more coffee than I should have, lay on the couch in the fetal position hiding under a blanket, write this blog post. Final word count for the day: 111. Has been worse.
The Room - Why we love to rewatch the worst movie ever
Sunday, September 05, 2021
The Room is perhaps the worst movie ever made, a title contested by the likes of Plan Nine from Outer Space, Troll 2, and Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, all of which are spectacularly bad. This particular movie is, however, probably the most rewatched movie of all these. So what is it about The Room that makes it so enjoyable? Is it the memorable dialogue like “Oh, hey mark,” or is it the many ridiculous directorial decisions like the spoons in the picture frames? Is it the fact that the more you delve into the history of the movie and its makings the stranger it gets? How can we be so flabbergasted at this movie and still so enthralled? I think it’s because The Room manages to exemplify nearly every error in writing, and filmmaking, while presenting just enough structure to qualify as a story.
The Room may barely be a story, and it may be the worst story ever written, but it is a story. It actually kind of follows the hero myth if you look at it from Lisa’s perspective. She has a clear want (to cheat on Johnny,) which she pursues and gets. She pays the price when Johnny kills himself and probably has some sort of character change at the end when Mark rejects her. Johnny likewise has a downward spiral motif going on where he becomes increasingly jealous and deceitful until he kills himself. I.e. has a negative character change. So the movie has a plot of some sort, i.e. in Lisa falling out of love with Johnny.. And no matter how funny it is to watch a spectacularly poorly made movie, I don’t think we would bother without some sort of plot. Mind you, the movie is only about that one thing.
While the movie tries to add multiple subplots, it only succeeds in resolving the main plot. That’s partially what I mean when I say that The Room has just enough structure to qualify as a story. It brings up various plots that are never fully explained or resolved. Danny’s drug problem, Claudette’s cancer diagnosis, what the deal is with that couple that came to Johnny’s house to have weird chocolate sex. But even with all those unnecessary and bewildering scenes, the movie finds time to repeat the scenes and lines that are necessary to the development of the story. Like how Lisa spends the whole movie telling various people she doesn’t love Johnny anymore, the repeated sex scenes, and the fight scene that happens twice at the party for some reason. If you cut the movie to the main story it might be less than twenty minutes long. The rest of the time goes into being a wonderful example of how not to make a movie.
The Room exemplifies so many errors in filmmaking. Here are some off the top of my head. Shilling (when Claudette says a lot of nice things about Johnny that are never shown to be true,) repeating scenes (the fight scene at the party,) clunky dialogue (whole movie,) repetitive dialogue (whole movie,) looking straight into the camera (the scene where Johnny is on the metro and straight up turns around to look at the crew,) not giving characters reasons for why they do stuff (like why doesn’t Lisa love Johnny anymore? Seriously, this is never explained,) misogyny (how Mark thinks that he’s cheating with Lisa because she’s a “manipulative bitch,” even though she didn’t do anything manipulative at all, he just wanted to sleep with her,) cliché dialogue (“Sometimes life can get complicated, and you’ve got to be responsible,”) continuity errors (when Mark is suddenly standing behind Claudette in one of the rooftop scenes.) Honestly, that’s not a complete list of technical and narrative flaws. For some of the more technical errors made during the shooting of this film see The Disaster Artist. Like how they dismantled whole sets just to remake them the next day, or how he needed two crews to operate the bizarre camera set up.
The Room is a wonderful cinematic experience. And I think it is so because the film walks a tightrope between being a story at all and being a jumble of technical and practical errors. It is an hour and a half long wait to see if the story ever gets anywhere. It is being thrown away from the narrative arch in favor of every whimsy that Tommy Wiseau (Writer, Director, Producer, Lead Actor,) conjures at that point in time; and being pulled back every time Lisa says “I don’t love Johnny anymore.” It is like watching a mystery movie about what happened to the story. It is spectacular, and if you’re looking for a movie to watch on repeat this fall I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Douglas Adams’s five part trilogy is one of the funnier things I’ve ever read. If you’ve only seen the 2005 movie I recommend reading the books as well. Not because I’m one of those people that preaches that the book is always better than the movie. In fact, I usually think the movie is better. They’re usually better edited because they need to fit into the arbitrary ninety minute standard formula. And reading is boring yo. But in this case the books contain a lot of wordplay and the like that doesn’t translate well into film. Also, there’s a lot more content, all of which is quality.
Madness and creativity:
Saturday, May 1, 2021
There is this idea floating around that in order to be a good artist you want to be sort of mad. People like to reference Van Gogh and Kurt Cobain and simply assume that it was their madness that made their art good. They also note that artists live and work in a space that is different from the lives of ordinary people. And a less than ideal definition of madness defines it as “different,” when madness is actually the loss of one’s ability to make proper sense of the world around you. Another theory is that there is meaning in madness, and therefore it is the artist’s job, as an outsider, to discover that meaning. This, I find, is a rather warped version of Jungian theory, which posits that an artist derives his art from the unconscious, which is not to be equated with madness. Even if the artist were deriving his art from the same place as madness is derived, then it wouldn’t mean that he needed to be mad to do so. Madness is not helpful to the artist.
First and foremost, madness is a disease. We’ll take for our example Schizophrenia because it is the most obvious example of madness, even though depression and anxiety, for example, are largely characterized by cognitive distortions, e.g. catastrophizing and overgeneralization. See Haidt and Lukianoff’s The Coddling of the American Mind for a social discussion of cognitive distortions. Their appendix has a short overview of cognitive distortions and how to do Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT. CBT is a greatly helpful practice, even if you don’t suffer from depression or anxiety. If you are suffering any major psychological distress then you should seek professional help.
I will mostly be referring to Professor Robert Sapolsky’s lecture on Schizophrenia from 2010. It is available on youtube, as part of a lecture series, and is an excellent resource. Schizophrenia is not a single thing, but one of its characteristics is an impairment to sequential thinking. Meaning that when schizophrenics talk, or think, they cannot make sense of the sequential logic of a sentence, and they jump from one idea to the next, without there being any logical link between the two. They may make associations that were not meant in the context of the sentence. For example, they might confuse whether the speaker was talking about the bark of a tree, or a dog barking, even though it would have been obvious from the context which one the speaker was referring to. In other words, making inappropriate associations. While this may seem to be what an artist is doing in his profession, making new associations where people have found none before, it is in fact the exact opposite. An artist finds more meaning in a sentence. When he uses a double entendre, for example, he cleverly inserts two meanings into a sentence that should only have one. In a schizophrenic, all meaning is lost, because the internal meaning of the sentence goes awry when the words in the sentence don’t link up to the whole. Furthermore, Schizophrenics tend to have trouble with abstractions. They don’t know whether an utterance is meant to be taken literally or figuratively, which as we all know, is one of the most necessary things for an artist to know, since artists deal with the figurative often.
In opposition to my theory is that schizophrenics experience auditory hallucinations that are similar in content across schizophrenic sufferers. Many claim to hear the voice of Jesus, or Satan. Which would suggest that there is some underlying structure to the madness, from whence we might gain something. Even so, the artist and the schizophrenic are not doing the same thing. When someone in a story claims to hear the voice of God, or that they are a “Hero,” it gains symbolic value within the context of that story, and is meaningful in that way. But stated without reference, it is simply mad. Which is in some way what this boils down to, is that meaning is made up of content and context. There can be no meaning without context. Even if schizophrenics and artists derive their material from the same place, say from the unconscious, the fruits of their labour cannot be meaningful without proper context. There are no hidden benefits to having schizophrenia.
Eric Neumann, a disciple of Carl Jung, talks about outsiders. “‘Outsiders,’ [are] those who fall within an enlarged category of the type known in myth as the hero, the Great Individual.” He goes on to list a few types of “Great Individuals:” Seers, artists, prophets, and revolutionaries. He also mentions how they must necessarily be in opposition to the “ordinary,” meaning the ruling cultural norms of their time and place; what would colloquially be referred to as the mainstream. (The Origins and History of Consciousness. Part 2, chapter C, Compensation of the Separated systems: Culture in Balance.) This is true of artists because they need, in a sense, to stand outside of culture if they are to add to it and change it. They are different. A Schizophrenic also suffers from social withdrawal, but for a very different reason. He cannot abide by societal norms, because he is ill. And he is ostracized from society because of it. Now, when an artist takes off all his clothes, paints himself purple, and screams out “my father did this,” it is art. Whether or not it is good art is a discussion for another day, but he is playing with meaning. He is also knowingly acting in a way that would not be tolerated in everyday life. If a schizophrenic were to do the same thing, it would be the results of a tragic illness. Might it be meaningful to a casual observer? Sure, it might. Does it make the schizophrenic an artist in that brief moment? You could argue that. But it does not equate the artist’s stance as an outsider to the social withdrawal of the mad.
“Alright, Egill, so then where do artists get their inspiration from? They don’t get it from seven eleven. And why is art so weird and crazy all the time?” Well, we don’t really know where art comes from. Some say that art is taking pre-existing art, and ideas, and mushing them together to create something new. Some say there’s a divine muse that speaks to you if you’re willing to listen. Some would say that art is simply people being truthful. Some say it comes from the unconscious. In the same chapter that I referenced earlier, Eric Neumann says that “The hero, like the ego, stands between two worlds: the inner world that threatens to overwhelm him, and the outer world who wants to liquidate him for breaking the old laws.” Maybe some art comes from contending with the same things that mad people contend with: the most unknown and difficult to tread reaches of the human psyche. Maybe some madness comes out of the creative process. Madness seems to have a biological basis, but people don’t tend to go mad unless they are exposed to stressors as well. This is the only reason I can think of for the claim that creative individuals have higher rates of mood disorders. But, if the artist is dealing with madening things, then it would not help him to be mad. In fact, once again, he would need to be saner than others, in order to withstand the stressors of his profession.
I have now drawn a few similarities between schizophrenics and artists. And I have shown in what way those similarities do not mean that the artist needs to be mad in order to do his job. In fact, I have shown how it would be detrimental to him. I don’t think it is fair to the schizophrenic to say that his disease is a hidden blessing that enables him to be creative and see the world in a different light than others, when it is in fact a debilitating nightmare. And I don’t think it is fair to the artist to say that he should aim at madness and sacrifice his mental health for creative achievement. Especially when it isn’t even conducive to good art. It is simply bad advice.
Let them eat quotes! Non-fiction quotes.
Monday, April 12, 2021
Here are a few quotes from some of my favorite non-fiction books.
“Our greatest enemies are ultimately not our political adversaries but entropy, evolution (in the form of pestilence and the flaws in human nature), and most of all ignorance—a shortfall of knowledge of how best to solve our problems.” - Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now.
“Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you'll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It's that simple.” - Austin Kleon, Show Your Work
“The Structural elements of the collective unconscious are named by Jung ’Archetypes’ or ‘Primordial images.’ They are the pictorial forms of the instincts, for the unconscious reveals itself to the conscious mind in images which, as in dreams and fantasies, initiate the process of conscious reaction and assimilation.” - Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” - Stephen King, On Writing
“To be interesting, be interested.” - Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Notes on obscure art:
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
I am terrified of success. I’m terrified of the responsibility, the scrutiny, what I’d do with the money. But more than that I’m probably afraid of being seen. And it is therefore that I believe that people who glorify obscurity are full of shit. I have been guilty of this myself. Thinking Elton John’s “Take Me To The Pilot,” is better than “Love Song,” just because less people listen to it. Or that the black and white japanese movie from 1972 is better than Titanic just because someone’s mom likes Titanic. I’ve even glorified the idea of being an obscure writer that doesn’t use social media. And sure, there is a certain magic to finding that golden nugget buried beneath the mainstream. Or of having that one song that is just yours. In fact, I absolutely love finding works of art that are less than known, but I think that practice can devolve into a perverse identification with works and sentiments that are, at their worst, misanthropic and anti-society. As far as I’m concerned, I need to seperate how much of delving into obscure art is wanting to find art that I am really passionate about, and how much of it is fear of being seen and a feeling that I do not belong.
You can’t make a case for art being better if fewer people “get it.” Surely one of the prerequisites of good art is that it has universal appeal. Surely it touches on some deeper node in the human experience if everyone cares for it. Surely Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael haven’t been enjoyed by generations because nobody “got them.” Surely they haven’t been remade four times for a small audience. Those glorious turtles deserve all the recognition they can get. Heroes in a half shell. Turtlepower! Anyway, it stands to reason that many people would enjoy good art.
There is the argument that the obscure writer has more liberty to experiment with his work because he isn’t trying to appeal to the mainstream. Which is true in a sense, but there is clearly a point of diminishing returns when it comes to experimentation, and mainstream stuff is often as far out there as anything experimental. Harry Potter is pretty out there, it just has great narrative structure and appeals to many people. And yes we wouldn’t have a ton of wonderful things without writers pushing the boundaries of form and whatnot, but those creations are not good because of the fact that nobody cares about them. They are good because they are unique.
I think the glorification of obscurity may be partially a fear of being seen. I think it is also a silly identification marker when it is used to identify with the obscurity. I’m no shrink, but it feels a little like a coping mechanism whereby you reject someone before they reject you and so you say you’re too good for the mainstream because you don’t think you belong in the mainstream. It is worth noting here that there is no such thing as the mainstream, it is usually only used to represent things that do not belong to it. However, when people identify with a work of art they truly feel represents them, or when sharing something they are passionate about despite it being a niché, then I am all for it. Much like I have been telling everyone to go watch Aunty Donna on Netflix. Those guys are fucking hilarious. They break every form there is then play with the pieces. Wait, was this whole blog post just a long winded attempt at getting more people to watch Aunty Donna because if more people watch them they might get renewed for a second season? You’re damn right it was. Everything’s an ad! #notsponsored
Katherine Mansfield: The Garden-Party and Other Stories
Saturday, March 6, 2021
On my bookshelf sits a book called: The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield. It includes something like 90 short stories, some of which are unfinished. So far, I’ve only read the collection associated with The Garden Party, but they were some of the best short stories I’ve read in my life and I highly recommend them. Mansfield’s use of symbolism and tone makes for some of the deepest subtext I’ve ever witnessed. It is everything I aspire to in my writing. The way in which she builds moral ambiguity in a few pages and then concludes the stories without telling the reader what will happen nor what he should want to happen is extraordinary.
Writing Advice: You are not your thoughts
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
This, for me, is one of the fundamental lessons of meditation. It’s something you’ll realize pretty quickly if you meditate and I implore you to try it yourself. Essentially it is found out by seeing your thoughts go by, without engaging in them and realizing that you are neither producing them, nor are they affecting you if you do not engage with them. You can also take a further step back and see yourself noting your thoughts and start questioning who you are and what it means to have a Self and a lot of other hippy junk, but we’ll save that for another day. Suffice it to say that you can have an existence that is not intertwined so much with your thoughts. Which is incredibly useful for your mental well being. And it will also help you see yourself as a mediator of brain chatter, taking in only what is useful and dispensing with the rest.
Which is how this relates to writing. An amateur writer will have a tough time distancing himself from his writing. He will also feel as if everything he writes should be kept and cherished. But if he meditates and realizes that he is not his thoughts, then he will know that he is neither producing his ideas, nor are they so close to him that he should cherish them independent of their merit.
This is a strange position to be in. Because if you aren’t producing your thoughts then who is? Is it your environment programming your brain into firing the signals that are useful for surviving wherever you happen to be? Are your thoughts the ceaseless fever dream of a monkey who for some reason found himself doing taxes? Or is human existence layered into various processes, most of which are hidden from us in our unconscious? Do we share some or most of those unconscious processes in a layer called the collective unconscious? We do seem to have similar ideas as other people, and similar stories tend to resonate the most with people. In truth, it doesn’t really matter all that much where your thoughts come from. What matters is that that place is not altogether unique to you.
What then does it mean to put thoughts onto paper in a way that is engaging to others? It means distancing yourself from your characters in the same way that you distance yourself from your thoughts. In writing a character that is anxious you portray them as anxious without giving special credence to the anxiety simply because it originated in you. You let it exist without demanding that it is reasonable, or that it isn’t. You write about that which we share, like emotions. And you write about it in such a way that it is accessible to others, vis-à-vis story structure and symbolism, because you realize that you are attempting to mold those strange signals you’re receiving into something useful and beautiful.
Egill’s Internet Adventures and 2021 Plans:
Saturday, January 1, 2021
Oh boy, “insert topical joke about how bad 2020 was.” Am I right? But we did get some stuff done this year. And by we I mean I. But if I say “we,” then you might feel a little more invested in reading this post.
First of all, I wanted to let you know I’m starting a new segment on the website under stories, called “The Reddit Prompts.” It’s going to be reposts of short-short stories I write on the subreddit /WritingPrompts, which is something I started doing while trying to plug myself on Reddit. It’s been loads of fun, so I figured I’d post them here as well. Working on getting that Reddit karma. #Egill’sInternetAdventures.
This year we got rejected about 30 times. I kind of lost count a little. Now, 30 is a little less than my intended 50, but that’s alright. I’m done counting btw, it’s a hassle. We did get published twice in Skandali - big shout out to them - and self published our very own book, Fantabulous Fan Fiction. We also wrote a decent amount. The publishable word count is up to 28.000 words. Let’s try to double that in 2021. We’re going to start sending the short stories to publishers and start working on the sequel to FFF: The New Neurotics. Hopefully I can upload a Reddit Short-Short every month this year. During the next couple of months I intend to make some small changes to the website, particularly to the “stories” tab.
I hope you are well and psyched for the new year. Also, I hope you stick around and join me in making some quality, albeit mostly ridiculous, content.
NaNoWriMo higlights #4
Sunday, November 29, 2020
NaNoWriMo, because we all know we do our best work when we're anxious and overworked. Here's a snippet from my NaNoWriMo short story
She stopped at a door with a crooked wooden sign above it. The sort that you made in woodworking class in school. It said “Studio.” She opened the door and stepped inside. It was dark inside and she fumbled around for a cord on the floor. When she plugged it into the wall a flood light blinded her. Once her eyes adjusted she noticed that every square inch of the walls were covered in paintings of vaginas. In the middle of the room was an easel, and in the corner was an orange futon.
“Wow.” The abundance of the subject matter felt like being kicked in the ass with a heroin needle. She kind of liked the paintings. Some were pink and others were various colours, one for each layer. Some were realistic and others stretched outwards into eternity. They were all signed, Ellen.
Do you like it?” Dolores turned around to see the woman who invited her. She wore a V-line dress and no bra. A single strand of her hair was curled, creating a chaotic loop down the left side of her face. She was twirling it now.
“I do. It reminds me that it matters how you look at things. We might all be looking at the same thing, but we see it differently.” Dolores said to sound smart. She had seen a similar exhibit of Les Femmes d’Alger and spent the whole afternoon looking for the best one.
“Very good, it’s called drawing crazy patterns on your sheets,” Ellen said, “I heard you singing in the hallway.
Dolores blushed. “I’m sorry, I was just goofing around.”
“No, I quite liked it.”
Dolores balanced her head on the palm of her hand ironically. “I’ve been inspired by the greats.”
Ellen chuckled. “They’re all self-portraits by the way.”
NaNoWriMo highlights #3
Saturday, November 21, 2020
NaNoWriMo, the only month of the year you actually get anything done. It's about writing a novel in 30 days, even though actual novelists work year around. My little aspiration of writing a short story during NaNoWriMo is going great. Here's another snippet:
Dolores poured herself a glass of Bushmills 16-year single malt whiskey. She slumped into the purple armchair and tried to make out the titles in the bookcase. There was the Social Contract next to the Leviathan. Marx was leaning against Smith. And stacked in a neat line at the top was every kind of Existentialist. It was as if the bookcase was having an ideological battle with itself.
No sign of her hostess. There had been something about her that made Dolores go all the way from her stuffy dorm room to upstate New York. Some way of looking at Dolores in precisely the way she wanted to be seen. Although Dolores had a hunch she was just putting off packing.
Mr Mistoffelees burst through the door and started rearranging the books. “No, no, no. It won’t do.”
Dolores watched the man for a full minute before she coughed to get his attention.
“Hi there, did you notice?” Mr. Mistoffelees said.
“The whole house is in disarray. It’s like they can’t be bothered anymore.” He saw an expressionist painting above Dolores and reached over her to adjust it.
Dolores stood up abruptly. “But you’ve made it crooked.”
“Yes, well it’s the least I could do.”
Dolores rubbed her temples. “Who are you?”
“An old friend.”
“Well, the couple’s friend of course.”
NaNoWriMo Highlights #2
Sunday, November 15, 2020
National Novel Writing Month, the month where you get to rush writing that book that you should have scrapped years ago, but your ego wouldn't allow it. Once again, not really doing the "writing a whole book" thing, but I am writing a short story. Here is a snippet:
"You wanna people watch while you wait?”
“What’s that?” Dolores said.
“It’s where you look at people and give them a name and guess what they’re like.”
She stirred her drink. “I guess.”
“Have you seen Mr. Furcoat?”
“That’s good,” He said. “He goes to every production of Cats in the city with a rifle and hunts cast members during intermission.”
“People like him are the reason for understudies.”
“You’re getting the hang of this.” He pointed to an old woman wearing a fascinator made up of half a bouquet of roses. “What about her?”
“The Great Mother. Each rose is for a boy whose virginity she’s taken.” She looked at him coyly. “You better watch out if you don’t wanna be part of that bouquet.”
“Wow. Okay, I got one. Just walked in the door. The Professor.”
NaNoWriMo Highlights #1
Saturday, November 07, 2020
National Novel Writing Month is the challenge to write a novel in 30 days. And this year, I'm not really doing it. But I do think it's fitting to finish this short story I'm working on during November, because I've decided that when I'm done with it, I have enough for a short story collection. Here is a snippet from the story:
The house stood on a little piece of land protruding into the Hudson River. It was an artificial piece of land past the train tracks, which it seemed no one should live on. Dolores followed a young man with gauged earlobes into the foyer.
“Merlin,” he said and reached out his hand.
“Is it really?” Dolores shook his hand.
“No. But that’s the fun thing about going to a party where you don’t know anyone, you don’t have to be yourself. I’m gonna call you Teddy Coat.”
“Lol. It’s Dolores.”
The man took of his coat. “Now why would you tell me that?”
“I don’t know, it’s polite. And I actually know someone here.”
“Well, that's no fun.” He disappeared into the living room.
Self Publishing a book:
Sunday, November 11, 2020
This month I self published my book, Fantabulous Fan Fiction, on amazon. You can find it under the stories tab or by clicking here. It’s weird to self publish a book. It’s not like submitting something to a magazine or a publisher at all. First of all, if you self publish it, it actually gets published. And you don’t have to care what a publisher thinks of it, which is pretty cool. On the other hand, you don’t have a gatekeeper telling you if your work is good enough. So I’ve been developing a little bit of imposter syndrome, wondering if I’m just one of those weirdos posting random, strange, unnecessary things on the internet. Which is partially true, but probably not entirely.
Also, since I did pretty much everything when it came to making the book - I wrote it, edited it, formatted the manuscript, created the cover and uploaded it on amazon - I’ve felt a little like I was playing at making a book. As if I was making a pretend book. Because surely there are more talented and qualified people than I who should be in charge of making books. Some venerable publishers living on vicariousness and uppers. What I make could only be a parody of a book at best. But I’ve held the book in my hand. It’s a book. It came out fine. And I’m proud of it. All in all, self publishing was a fun, albeit difficult, experience.
Hornstrandir, or “how I almost fell off a mountain”:
Saturday, July 18, 2020
I try to make sure everything on this website relates to my work in some way, but during the month of July I didn’t really write at all. Instead I went to hornstrandir and moved out of my parents house. I’m just now getting back on track with writing. Recently I’ve been filtering pretty much everything through the lens of “how does this make me a better writer,” so I might as well do the same thing here. Let’s start with the obvious one: moving away from home.
In his book, Keep Going, Austin Kleon talks about creating a bliss station: Somewhere to work without distractions. I’m writing this from my new desk, in my new apartment that I have all to myself. My previous efforts at creating a space in which to write were all more or less focused on getting out of my bedroom, hence separating work space from living space. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to work from a gaming computer, but surprise surprise, you end up wasting a lot of time playing video games. So I got myself a laptop dedicated to writing. I figured this out for myself when I was abroad and could only write on a busted up laptop that barely ran Microsoft Word. I got a lot more work done that way. Also, being abroad worked like a writers retreat. It’s a lot easier to dedicate yourself to writing if you’re away from everything. So when I had my new work laptop ready I moved to the living room and only wrote before lunch; which worked way better, but it also put me at the mercy of whatever was going on in the living room. I tried going to the library, which also worked wonders the couple of times I went there. Now I finally have my desk with a view and I think I’ll get a lot of work done from here. Plus the obvious personal growth of having my own place is going to help loads.
Hornstrandir is a little more complicated and symbolic. If you don’t know it, Hornstrandir is a nature reserve at the north-western point of Iceland. It’s totally remote with almost no phone service. You carry everything you need on your back, spend all day hiking up crazy mountain passes to get to the next camping site, and it’s incredibly beautiful. Now I consider myself to be in decent shape. I live in Reykjavík so the next mountain is like a 15 minute drive and I go hiking every once in a while. But the first night, after what was meant to be a relatively easy trip, my legs wouldn’t move. And the next morning, when we were getting ready for our first difficult hike, they still wouldn’t move. But we were following a pretty tight schedule so I had to make them move. I staggered along, up an incline and a few kilometers until we got to the first mountain pass. We had been rushing up to the snow covered pass to escape some fog that eventually never hit us, when I realized my sides were bruised from where the backpack was resting on them. We dug our toes into the snow, and you really had to force them in there to get any footing. I might have gotten up half the pass before I was hyperventilating so bad I took a knee. It really felt as if my feet were going to give up and I’d go tumbling down the whole mountain. I even made the clichéd mistake of looking down, and caught the worst case of vertigo in my life. But I took a couple of deep breaths, dug my toes into the snow and scaled the rest of that mountain pass. Ok, maybe I wouldn’t have tumbled down the whole mountain. It was probably more like twenty meters. So I made a clickbaity title, sue me. But then the next day I did it again with another mountain pass, and again on the last day. It even got a little easier.
I knew I could push through being tired and uncomfortable, but I didn’t know I could push through being exhausted, scared, ashamed, frustrated, and in pain. Now isn’t it kind of stupid then to go climb mountains, wasting all that energy, putting yourself in danger: Yes. But at the same time there’s at least one lesson to be learned. You can push yourself way harder than you think. All it takes is the right kinds of circumstances. In regular life we like to pretend these circumstances don’t exist. So what if you flunk out of college? So what if you don’t get your dream job? Well, by the same logic: So what if you fall off a mountain? It’s mostly only going to suck for you. But maybe us human animals should really struggle in order not to have really shitty things happen to us. And maybe that entails tapping into some of that crazy hiking in the wilderness energy.
Update: Working on Fantabulous Fan Fiction
Saturday, May 30, 2020
I've been working steadily on Fantabulous Fan Fiction for the last month or two now. It's a collection of ridiculous parodies and you can read the first short by going to Stories. I almost have the first draft done. I'm aiming at something like 70 pages and I'll probably have it done in a couple of weeks, at which time I'll get started on re-writes. I wanted to let you know the titles of the stories, because that's something I can show you and I don't think they'll change very much. Also I think they're pretty funny in and of themselves. See if you can spot the references:
The Lord of the Tube Television - Scene 1
Regular Teenage Ninja Humans
And Then There Were None - Happy Madison Productions
The Lord of the Tube Television - Scene 42
Hamlet - Taped Before A Live Studio Audience
The Lord of the Tube Television - Scene 237
Austin Kleon: Steal Like an Artist
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
I finished the last Austin Kleon book. Which means I've posted every book in Austin Kleon's "artist's self help," trio on this website. I love books like these and I would wholeheartedly recommend every single one. Because I don't know about you, but I like to hear that all my artist anxieties aren't exclusive to me. That other people need advice and that there is some advice out there.
Steal Like an Artist contains obvious advice, that needs to be said nonetheless, like "Don't wait until you know who you are to get started." And not so obvious advice like "Be boring." If you're looking to be artsy then Austin Kleon's trilogy is a great read, and better yet, it's really helpfulAustin Kleon: Steal Like an Artist
Quotes Wednesday: Quotes on Writing.
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Ohweee, it's time for some quotes! This time we're doing quotes on writing. Happy Wednesday.
There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately nobody knows what they are - Somerset Maugham
The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always - Arthur Miller
Writing a book is like telling a joke and having to wait 2 years to know whether or not it was funny - Alain De Botton
Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it - P.J. O'Rourke
Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all - Abraham Lincoln
You think your pain and your heartache are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive - James Baldwin
Published in Skandali!
Saturday, May 16, 2020
The Icelandic magazine Skandali is publishing my story, Jacob's Windmill, in their next issue. They even used a snipet of it as a teaser on their website. I guess this answers the question I asked myself in an earlier blog post. How many times do you have to get rejected before a story of yours is published? 21 times.
Artist Showcase: Helena Þórarinsdóttir
Wednesday, May 06, 2020
I couldn’t wait any longer to show you this wonderful painting by Helena Þórarinsdóttir. The story I commissioned it for isn’t nearly done - it doesn’t even have a title - but I’ve been sitting on this painting for a while now and I wanted to share it with you. I don’t know how she makes those colours sing so wonderfully, but she’s done it more than once. Go check out her instagram for more goodies: Instagram.com/helenathart
Saturday, May 02, 2020
Lately I’ve been researching copyright laws and the public domain a little. Copyright is granted to an author of a work immediately upon creation, even so you can register your copyright. And it seems that a number of old movies have fallen into the public domain (owned by the public,) because the copyright was not renewed or properly filed at the time. When something is in the public domain anyone is free to use it for commercial purposes. You can adapt it word for word (which is why there are so many adaptations of old plays like Shakespeare’s,) or even print it and sell it as is.
In regards to the public domain, if I’m not mistaken, in 2020 we should be seeing work from 1924 falling into the public domain because the copyright has expired. There are, however, a ton of films that no one bothered to copyright or renew the copyrights of. And once I tell you the titles of some of these films you will know why: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, The Incredible 2 Headed Transplant, One Body Too Many, Blood on the Sun, The Screaming Skull, and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I don’t know about you, but these are now my favorite titles. It really is amazing what you can end up finding when researching even the dullest of topics.
Quotes: Movie Edition
Saturday, April 25, 2020
Boy, do I like a good quote. Here are some movie quotes I wanted to share with you:
If you were happy every day of your life, you wouldn't be a human being. You'd be a game show host - Heathers.
Dr Bernard Hazelhof says it is good to have goals but not stupid ones like mine. - Mary and Max
Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Without you, today’s emotions would be the scurf of yesterday’s - Amélie
All these 30 years; what have I been doing there? I can’t remember no matter how I try. All I remember is just being busy; and even then I was bored - Ikiru
Christopher Vogler: The Writer's Journey
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
If you want to learn about story structure and archetypes then this is a great book to get you started. It is something of a simplified version of The Hero's Journey, which originates from Carl G. Jung and Joseph Campbell, which is great, because if you've ever tried reading Jung or Campbell you know its downright impossible.
Vogler references a ton of well known movies to illustrate his point, making the book incredibly accessible and fun to read. Whether you're a storyteller or not it will enrichen your understanding of stories as you start seeing patterns and meaning you never noticed before.Christopher Vogler: The Writer's Journey
Writing Advice: Break one or two rules
Saturday, April 18, 2020
Writing rules are meant to be broken. But it’s really easy to go overboard with that stuff. There’s a point of diminishing returns and it happens almost immediately; because the rules are there for a reason. Essentially they’re there to ease translation. You have some nutty ideas in your head and you want to put them on paper. Maybe you even want your nutty ideas to help some people that also have nutty ideas they don’t know what to do with, or are going through the same sort of shitty life experience that gave you your nutty ideas in the first place. But those people aren’t going to understand your specific circumstances and your insane way of expressing yourself. That’s why you need to structure your ideas, and that is why we have writing rules.
The rules aren’t there to create meaning, it’s more like they’re funneling meaning. They’re taking your meaningful thing and making it understandable, and hopefully to as many people as possible. That’s why it is so fun to break them. It’s as if you’re letting more meaning spill out. And it’s way more powerful if you stick to breaking just one or two rules, because then those misdeeds stand out even more. Once you’re breaking seventeen rules, I just don’t care anymore. Also your work becomes impossible to read. Don’t forget that writing is difficult and writing rules are there to help you. Mind you, some rules are straight up stupid. You can totally split infinitives, and strand prepositions, and even write “kewl,” instead of “cool.” Don’t be a square.
There is a decision then, which is: Does the effect of breaking this rule outweigh the clarity I lose by breaking it? Say you want to start your story at the end instead of at the beginning. That’s breaking a rule. And I would tell you not to do it unless you have a really good reason. Because who is going to want to read your story if they know the ending? But maybe the real intrigue of your story is in why Tom Cruise is wearing a flamingo costume at the top of the Empire State building, or whatever crazy ending you’re writing. There you have some reason to break that rule. Just be smart about it. Now go and break a couple of rules or so.
Saturday, April 11, 2020
I'm starting a new series on the website, and you can read the first part of it for FREE. It's called fantabulous fan fiction (edited for copyright reasons,) and it's going to be a collection of the most ridiculous and outrageous parodies of pop culture my friends and I can think of.
The first piece is called Actually-An-Ant Person. It's incredibly short and equally stupid. Turns out it's really fun to write these sorts of things, so hopefully the whole series won't be too long in the making. Go on, give it a read: Fantabulous Fan Fiction
Understanding the substructure of story by not understanding Zardoz at all
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Zardoz (1974) has long been regarded as a nonsensical, drug fuelled, extravaganza starring Sean Connery for some reason. But it is also a wonderful study on utopian thinking and archetypal language. Also, yes, Sean Connery wears a ridiculous outfit. If you haven’t seen Zardoz I would suggest you don’t. But if you have, and found yourself confused and alone, then hopefully this analysis will help clear things up.
The story relies greatly on symbolism and, I suppose, the substructure of the story. You can think of it as Harry Potter without Harry Potter himself. You know how Harry Potter is about a lot of mythological stuff, like the snake within us, which is represented by Voldemort. And how it has a lot of archetypal characters. An archetypal character is a character type that recurs in a lot of stories. Because of that the archetypal character takes on the attributes of the characters that came before him, and we recognise his role in the story easily. Examples include Dumbledore as the wise man and Harry Potter as the Hero. Zardoz has a lot of that as well, it just isn’t as steeped in a particular setting as Harry Potter. A lot of the charm around Harry Potter is that it contrasts the regular world with the magical, giving the regular world symbolic resonance. You can sort of think of Zardoz as only archetypal, or only symbolic, which is a shortcoming, but it is still really fun to analyse, exactly because all the underlying structure is so noticeable.
Zardoz takes place in a dystopian future, in which a part of humanity calling themselves Eternals has gained immortality, scouring the sum of human knowledge in order to solve every unsolved mystery. During some cataclysmic event, they isolated themselves from the rest of humanity, who they call Brutals. The story centres on Zed, one of the Exterminators, who are tasked by the titular Zardoz to kill Brutals, presumably to keep them from rising against the Eternals. Zed, upon finding that Zardoz is a trickster posing as a god, infiltrates the Eternals’ living quarters, the Vortex. Turns out Zed is the super evolved result of a eugenics experiment by Zardoz. Essentially Zardoz was trying to create someone to destroy the entity keeping the Eternals alive, the Tabernacle, which Zed does and then the Eternals can die.
Now, isn’t that a lot of nonsense? That’s exactly what I’m talking about. None of those words mean anything. Once we get further into the story we’re confronted with even more meaningless terminology, like the Apathetics, who have given up on eternal life and don’t do anything. And the Renegades, who broke some ridiculous rules, like questioning the system, and were aged for it. I guess if you have the secret to immortality you can also age people at will. But what does it all mean?
In essence the story is simple. A hero figure is led by a wise man to destroy a corrupt system that has run its course, and start a new one. As the hero advances he rises to a point above the system. Which teaches us what those types of stories always teach us. It is the job of the heroic individual to revitalize a system that thinks it has all the answers. Or even, as the movie suggests when it says that the Tabernacle created Zed: that a corrupt system will revolt against itself through the aid of the heroic figure. This is why the Apathetics “come to life,” after engaging with Zed. It is why the Tabernacle, the entity Zed needs to destroy, talk about itself as the sum of the Eternals. It is why Zed ends up shooting a former version of himself when he is inside the Tabernacle. Once again, this is the sort of interpretation you can derive from reading into a story, but it is literally what Zardoz is about. The issue of eternal life is of course loosely tied into this, but that can largely be viewed as a metaphor for the Eternals having achieved their pinnacle, and that they refuse to reinvent their society. It is also stated that they have merged their conscious and unconscious lives.
A few of the things that happen in the movie only happen because story-structure or symbolism demands it happens. And it’s really overt. For example Zed talking to the Oracle character, Avalow, at the midpoint in the story. This scene is what Joseph Campbell calls the meeting with the goddess. It is the point in the story where the hero gets a little break, even gets what he wanted, and is tempted to quit his adventure. The first Harry Potter does this excellently, where Harry finds the mirror showing him his deepest desire: meeting his parents. In Zardoz it is literally a woman with her tits out. As far as the other archetypical characters goes: the wise man character has a painted on beard and the ally character is named friend. The same silliness goes for Zed and Consuela falling in love. It is completely unprompted, and horribly executed, but I guess it makes sense for them to fall in love.
In sum. A part of what makes stories resonate with us is clearly the way they’re structured and how they have an underlying meaning that elevates the surface meaning. Zardoz, on the other hand, neglected to put a story on top of its story structure. As a result it’s structured nonsense. And it doesn’t grasp us at all. It has no connection with our lives. Now, I like Zardoz. But I like goofy stuff. And I’m a story geek. So you’re going to have to make up your own mind about whether there’s anything to the movie. And remember: The gun is good, the penis is evil. No that’s not right… how the hell am I supposed to quote this movie? “An old man calls me, the voice of the turtle is heard in the land.” No that’s not right either. “We’ve all been used, and reused, and abused, and amused.” That also awful, but probably as good as it gets. Remember to like and subscribe.
Staying at home challenge:
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
This March I decided to stay at home for the entire month. The point was to see how much time gets lost to all those little things we have to do in life, like going to the bank, or out drinking. And I wanted to see just how efficient I could get if I holed myself up in my apartment and focused exclusively on my writing. So I didn’t even look at the news or anything. It turned out to be a crazy experiment that I won’t do again, but I'm happy to have tried it. I’m posting it now on the final day of March so that you can see the whole log all at once. I can’t tell you how excited I am to go out tomorrow. I’m going straight to some crowded place just to be among people. Man, I miss people.
Day 1: Made a schedule for the month. Other than that I cleaned up the apartment and stocked the fridge.
Day 2: Today was great. Managed to stick to the schedule 100 percent. Woke up at 8 and did this lovely morning routine where I had myself a big breakfast: Eggs and bacon with some fruit on the side and a steaming cup of coffee. Then I meditated and stretched. I got so much writing done, and after that I got through like half of the emails I’d been ignoring. Decided to start posting on my website two times every week. Feels good. Going to reward myself with some Netflix and Lays.
Day 3: If it keeps going like this I’m going to be done with all my 2020 goals by the end of the month. Short story collection here I come.
Day 5: Woke up about an hour later today so I skipped that mediation junk to get back on track. But it’s almost the weekend anyway, so I’m pretty chill about it.
Day 6: I did some writing this morning, but then I spent the rest of the day playing video games.
Day 8: Spent the whole weekend playing video games, except for when I found some old excerpts of mine to post on the website. A couple of my friends texted me this weekend, but I ignored them. Can’t have them dragging me outside. I’m starting to feel sort of like some sort of potato that lives on couches, but I’m ready to get back on track tomorrow.
Day 9: Didn’t get back on track, but I wrote for an hour.
Day 11: Got another email from a magazine saying they didn’t think my story was “a good fit for their magazine.” Going to write a blog post about it.
Day 13: Woke up at noon. Wasn’t a productive day.
Day 14: Pulled a blog post out of my ass. Wasn’t any good.
Day 16: Ran out of food. Had some delivered from one of those grocery stores that does home deliveries, but I must have smelled, or something, because the delivery guy wouldn’t come within two meters of the apartment door.
Day 18: Wrote a blog post about keeping a schedule and posted my schedule, which I haven’t followed in a week.
Day 19: By the late afternoon I found I had been staring out the window for three hours.
Day 20: Broke down and took a walk. It felt so good to be outside. Even though the weather was lovely there were hardly any people outside. And the people that were outside all crossed the street when I came close to them, must have happened five times. Can you believe it? The one that really pissed me off was this old woman. The old bag could barely walk, but she went through all that trouble not to be near me. I got so mad, I crossed the street and coughed in her face.
Day 24: The hills are alive WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC!!!
Day 26: Made an important discovery. There are more even numbered collections of things in the apartment than odd. For example there are 48 books, 26 drawers, 6 chairs and 10 spoons.
Day 28: I finally figured it out. There is no self. We are the universe, fragmented into multiple “consciousnesses,” and we’re gasping for air. WE don’t really exist. At best we’re a distant thought imagining itself. And why wouldn’t we imagine ourselves to be a limited entity? It’s the only way to rid ourselves of the responsibility of being the universe. BE THE UNIVERSE. BE THE UNIVERSE.
Day 30: Oh, look, it’s almost April. I can go outside in a while. Cleaned the apartment.
Day 31: Last day of the stay at home challenge. I didn’t think I’d ever be this excited to go to the grocery store. I want to go dancing, and I never go dancing. Maybe I’ll travel somewhere exotic, like Italy. Wouldn’t it be funny if I got sick or something?
*This blogpost was written during the start of covid 19 and is entirely fictional.
Notes on keeping a schedule:
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
When you’re working from home it’s good to keep a routine. Or else you’re going to go insane. So in case you’re trying to get some work done from home, or start a business in your garage, or, I don’t know, there’s a worldwide epidemic preventing you from leaving the house, then let’s talk about keeping a schedule.
Now, I’ve picked up a few guidelines here and there for keeping a schedule: Start with the most important thing, plan fun things, be boring enough to get the work done, start small and expand, and doing something for an hour everyday adds up to a lot of hours. Some people talk about being a morning person or a night person. I’m starting to think that that’s a load of rubbish, because I would definitely call myself a night person, but I do my best work in the morning. Why? Because it’s the first thing I do. I still have all my energy and I can’t procrastinate if I know I’m only gonna do it in the morning. If it’s noon and I haven’t written anything, then I know I’ve wasted a day, which adds a little bit of pressure. I’m not going to magically “feel like it” at 2 AM.
Here’s the routine I’ve been trying to follow lately:
8:00 - Morning routine (brush teeth, breakfast, mediate, stretch)
9:00 - Write
10:00 - Write
11:00 - Write
12:00 - Lunch/chores
13:00 - Website work
14:00 - Miscellaneous tasks
15:00 - Miscellaneous tasks
16:00 - Walk
17:00 - Hang out
18:00 - Gym
19:00 - Dinner
20:00 - Movie or whatever
21:00 - Movie or whatever
22:00 - Read
23:00 - ASMR
It is worth mentioning that I’ve never followed that schedule 100%. Nor do I really intend to. But it’s nice to have a guideline of sorts so that I don’t waste away my day. It often goes to shit in the afternoon. I’ll lose myself down a youtube rabbit hole or buy a railroad simulator on steam. And I only go to the gym three times per week. But that's the danger with working from home, is all your plan setting is largely wishful thinking. The hardest part is getting to it and sticking to it.
Creativity as a personality:
Saturday, March 14, 2020
I was surprised to find out that creativity and conscientiousness were completely independent of one another. That is to say that those Big Five attributes weren’t related at all. The Big Five is a personality model with five independent personality attributes, two of those being conscientiousness (hard work) and openness to experience (creativity). I was always of the opinion that artists were in some way unrelated to hard working chaps, that hard work wasn’t what made art, but introspection and magic mushrooms. I guess the stereotype of the bohemian artist did that. Drunk, lazy, resentful even. But that isn’t what successful artists are like at all. Successful artists are just as well put together as anyone else who is successful in doing what they want to be doing. Just look at Judd Apatow, or Jerry Seinfeld, or Tina Fey. Those are all comedians.
The psychological metric for creativity is called openness to experience. Essentially it measures how interested people are in art. That’s it. All you really need to be an artist. Be interested in art. As far as the rest of it is concerned it’s the same criteria as everything else, work hard and try not to be a stupid idiot. I mean it isn’t easy. Being properly successful means you have to be better than a lot of other people. And a lot of that is luck of the draw when it comes to circumstances and IQ. But you don’t have to be a certain kind of person other than loving art. You can wear a suit, and follow a schedule and say good day to passersby. You don’t need a crazy haircut or an addiction to hand knitted scarfs. We all build these crazy little schemas about what things are supposed to be, and probably most of that noise is half baked ideas from high school. It’s a real shame when people think you can be a lazy artist and get away with it.
In fact, what I’ve found leads to the best creative work is consistency. Sounds obvious, but some people think you have to wait for your muse before you can get to work. But what really seems to work is to treat it like any other job. And why wouldn’t you? There’s a reason everyone works in the same way: because it works. Probably you should try to be as regular and boring as you possibly can, and then let your art be the variety that keeps you unique and interesting.
Notes on rejection (adding a rejection counter)
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
How often do you have to get rejected before you get published? I've heard the phrase "rejection is the name of the game," alongside plenty of other warnings about writing: "it's a bad career move," "the odds are against you," "it's a game of luck." Spoiler alert, all that stuff is true. At least as far as I can tell. But I believe consistent work and talent overrides that anyhow, so we're not gonna worry about it. And a part of being consistent about writing is being consistent about submitting your work; and that means being rejected.
Stephen King has a wonderful story about rejection in his book “On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft,” where he took his first rejection slip and nailed it to the wall. By the time he was 14 and the nail wouldn’t hold all the rejection slips, he put a spike in the wall. Now, that’s how to deal with rejection. And while I would absolutely like to imitate Stephen King’s spike of rejection, I’ve only been rejected through email. So, we’re gonna do the next best thing by adding a rejection counter to my about page.
Looking over a word document dedicated to the magazines I've submitted to, I count 17 rejections. Which is probably a little bit of an underestimate, but not by much, so we’ll go with that. I'm almost 25 years old and have been avoiding rejection more than I should have. So we’re gonna try to pump that number up to something like 50 before the end of the year. It’s a funny feeling, thinking that you haven’t been rejected enough, but I’m going to trust that feeling.
Besides being a good milestone, I think the rejection counter will be a nice experiment in just how much rejection it takes to get published. Then we can finally find out if all those horribly tacky motivational posters are right.
Quotes out of context:
Saturday, March 07, 2020
Every once in a while I think of some little snippet of dialogue, but nothing else surrounding it. I used to do a lot more of it when I wasn’t disciplined enough to sit down and write daily, but it turns out these are really hard to use, because mostly that’s not how first drafts work. When I’m writing a first draft I don’t look at my notebook to find a neat snippet of dialogue. Dialogue kind of just comes from the character. Or rather that dialogue springs forth from the circumstance of the work in question. And that’s a horrible description, but that’s about as well as I can do. Also, they don’t mean as much out of context. Anyway here are some of those quotes:
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I can never have a serious conversation. Usually I just throw nonsense at things and hope they go away.”
“I sometimes feel as if modern life is about being weaker than other people in your life.”
“While the school of life may be an invaluable source of knowledge, it is incredibly hard to convince your parents to pay for it.”
“I can’t do everything; I have all these vices to attend.”
Writing Advice: Go to the Gym and Meditate
Wednesday, March 04, 2020
Yeah, that’s right: sound regular people advise. Because artists somehow think they’re exempt from regular people advise. Stupid artists. “But I don’t like going to the gym, I was bullied and now I associate the gym with wedgies.” Nobody likes going to the gym and life is one long traumatic event. Get over it. The benefits of working out are just too nutty. You will have more energy, you will feel better, and you will feel less anxious and depressed. Fact. Screw all that looking good stuff, that’s just a bonus. If you’re hunched over a macbook all day trying to think what hobbits might say then you need to work out more than anybody or you’re going to go insane.
On to meditation. Here’s the thing, you should probably be able to mediate, because it’s straight up just sitting down and not be flooded by crazy thoughts. It’s the ability to take a breather and not worry about it. So if you can’t do that for ten minutes every morning you need to get on it. If meditation does come easy to you, then you need to get a job you dirty hippy. I mean this is advice I’m giving out here, it’s not going to work for everyone. Meditating all day is stupid.
Monday, March 2, 2020
So, as far as this website is concerned: the idea for the next while is to post here every wednesday and saturday. That’ll make for more content and more regularity. I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing with this website so that’s about as much as I’m willing to do right now, lest the posts become absolute poppycock. When I’m done with the story I’m working on I’m hoping I can write some flash fiction that I can post here, but until then you’re looking at writing advice, quote collections, think pieces, movie analysis, book recommendations, or just whatever I come up with.
Besides that I’m going to attempt some smaller updates to the site: a button to expand the blog posts or maybe just the pictures, a counter for all the times I’ve been rejected, maybe change the font. Stay tuned, and remember to like and subscribe.
Quotes: Novel Edition
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Who doesn't like a good quote? Whether because it succinctly captures something you've always meant to say, and in one sentence nonetheless, or because it's really telling of what the author was going for in a literary work, or just because it looks silly out of context. Here I some quotes I wanted to share with you.
Mrs. Pearse: Mr Higgins: you're tempting the girl. It's not right. She should think of the future.
Mr Higgins: At her age! Nonsense! Time enough to think of the future when you haven’t any future to think of. No, Eliza: do as this lady does: think of other people’s futures; but never think of your own. Think of chocolates, and taxis, and gold, and diamonds.
- Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion
Nagata Kabi on reading positive reactions for her first book: It was like waking up from a nightmare to see beautiful weather outside. But even though I knew I’d be happier if I stepped out into that lovely weather I just couldn’t shake the nightmare’s pain. The happiness I’d supposedly been looking for was really pouring in… but it just spilled right out, and I stayed empty. Like a bucket full of holes, or a jar with the lid on.
- Nagata Kabi, My solo Exchange Diary 1
Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Gazing up into the darkness, I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.
- James Joyce, Araby
Dill was off again. Beautiful things floated around in his dreamy head. He could read two books to my one, but he preferred the magic of his own inventions. He could add and subtract faster than lightning, but he preferred his own twilight world, a world where babies slept, waiting to be gathered like morning lilies. He was slowly talking himself to sleep and taking me with him, but in the quietness of his foggy island there rose the faded image of a grey house with sad brown doors.
“Why do you reckon Boo Radley’s never run off?”
Dill sighed a long sigh and turned away from me. “Maybe he doesn’t have anywhere to run off to…”
- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
E.H. Gombrich: The Story of Art
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
You should read the Story of Art because art is a messy subject and this book makes it seem so easy. It spans pretty much all of art and architecture without being overwhelming, which is an amazing feat. It isn’t snobby or jargony any more than is necessary and I have learned a great deal from it. That there is my pocket version of the book. I mean, we’re talking about a text book here and it’s so good I’ve taken it with me on vacation.E.H. Gombrich: The Story of Art
Saturday, February 22, 2020
What up my banana republic people reader listeners. I finally finished my BA essay with a stunning grade of 7.5. It was a tough three years of Yum Yum noodles and feeling much too old to be at school. And now you, yes you, you lucky carpet stroking chicken nugget, can read about cult movies and what they are about and stuff. Because that is what I felt warranted three years of study, is sort of figuring out what cult movies are about. So if you’re into academia and cult movies and psychology, which odds are you aren’t, then you can find the link here.
Some of my worst ideas:
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Just like there are stupid questions, there are stupid ideas. And while I’m sure there are plenty of stupid ideas that have already made their way into my stories, there are a few that I’ve discarded. These two I gave up on primarily because they came across as political or were impractical to write:
The little vegetarian who could:
This one is just as insidious as it sounds. Essentially I was trying to pull the rug out from under vegetarianism, not because there is anything wrong with being a vegetarian, but because I don't think it's immoral to eat meat. So I read Peter Singer’s book, Animal Liberation, and still wasn't convinced of there being a moral aspect to vegetarianism. Singer makes a strictly utilitarian case for vegetarianism and I’m not sold. Still, I shouldn't have written this stupid story.
It’s about the only vegetarian in town, who gets the town together in the courthouse to argue about whether they should continue to eat animals. I wrote a few characters who represented the historical views of eating animals, the Christian view, Kant’s view, and Singer who won the argument. And the town decided to stop eating meat. In the end I had this gruesome scene of a farmer slaughtering all his animals, who had his own point, that the animals we’re breeding in farms aren’t really animals at all. They’re food. They couldn’t live on their own and the only reason they’re here in the first place is so that we can eat them. So at the end of the story there are no farm animals and that made the protagonist sad because her primary motivation had been to be nice, and she got all the animals killed. I guess I was mostly going for shock value and it isn’t really a good story. Also it borders on propaganda. I already had a pretty fixed point of view when I started writing it and even though I read as much as I could tolerate on the subject that didn’t change. Doesn’t make for good literature that.
The purposefully not passing the Bechdel test story:
I’m realizing that some of my ideas are just me being a meany. I had the idea to write a story that just barely doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. If you don’t know the test it’s to find out if a story is “representative” of women. If the story has two women speaking to one another about something other than a man it passes the test. So my story would be about two women, but they only talk about a man the whole time. Maybe they’d be at a restaurant talking about some guy they met the night before and then a male waiter would come and they’d start talking to him about quantum physics or something, just not to each other; so it wouldn’t pass the test. I know it’s stupid and impractical and mean. And I know the Bechdel test is just an approximation of whether a story is chauvinistic, and I don’t really have anything against it. Just thought it might be funny.
Artist Showcase: Rachel Schollaert
Saturday, February 15, 2020
That's the cover painting for my new story. It's by the incredibly talented Rachel Schollaert, who does everything from comedy to writing to painting. Not only has she edited everything I've written, but she is my biggest fan, as I am hers. Go check out her severely underestimated Twitter: Twitter.com/notrachels, her facebook for shenanigans and pictures of dogs: Facebook.com/rachelschollaertdoescomedy, or read her blog: Presentdaypilgrim.com/.
Think Piece: Writing Advice, be Prolific
Saturday, February 08, 2020
Here’s the funny thing about being a prolific writer: It's crazy easy, not because it’s easy in itself, but because the competition is shit. Writing is something people give up on all the time. And you don't have to put in to many hours to catch up. Some of the most prolific writers write for something like four hours every day, and that’s difficult, but it isn’t a fourteen hour work day. On a good day I write for two hours. But if you’re writing for an hour every day you’re probably in the 95th percentile of the most prolific writers on the planet. I don’t really know what it is because conscientiousness and openness to experience (the psychological metrics for hard work and creativity respectively,) are separate things. But people like to engage in a lot of mental gymnastics for why they shouldn’t treat writing like it was any other avocation. “I have to be in the mood,” “the writing has to be perfect,” “I need more life experience before I start writing.” That’s all a lot of junk.
Writing is simple. It doesn't depend on dramatic spurts of inspiration, or fully fleshed out ideas. You simply wake up in the morning, do your morning routine and write. I know. It’s hard. You’re going to have weeks where you can’t do it at all. I had one of those weeks this week. And I know. Who am I to give you advice? Aren’t I just some unpublished, unemployed loser twat pretending to be a writer instead of getting a real job? First of all, wow. Relax. Second of all, it’s not really my advice. I’ve gotten this advice from Stephen King, Steven Pressfield, and Austin Kleon, among others. It’s good advice. It’s perfectly in line with good mental health too because it gets you out of your mind and acting in the real world, which is like the first principle of CBT. And how could writing a lot not be the answer to writing good fiction and getting ahead of other writers? It’s the answer to everything else. So write a lot, or play the cello a lot, or ski a lot, and if you're editing, then edit a lot.
Movie and TV Analysis: The Golden Girls
Saturday, February 01, 2020
Have you ever started doing something ironically and then before you know it you’re on the second season of The Golden Girls? For me it started out as a bit when a buddy of mine and I were expecting someone to come over. We would play an episode of The Golden Girls so our guest would be all like: yo, what am I walking into here? And that’s funny because we’re not exactly the target demographic for the show. We must have watched those magnificent ladies for the better part of the summer.
The Golden Girls is about four elderly women living together, every one of them a widow or divorcee. Blanche, the promiscuous; Rose, the stupid one; Dorothy, the reasonable; and Sophia, who has lost her ability to regulate her speech after a stroke. They all live together because of reasons. Blanche owns the house and their living situation is nearly compromised in the first episode when she almost marries a bigamist. In fact, a number of the episodes are centered around the ladies’ love lives. But, besides the women living together I don’t exactly know what the plot is, although I guess it’s that way with most sitcoms.
So, why do I like the show? Why should you watch it? What does it all mean? Let us examine one of the episodes to find out. Besides, with my Bachelor in English, it may be the only thing I am qualified to do. In episode 4, season 1, Blanche is faced with a dilemma. Her sister Virginia needs a kidney transplant and Blanche is a possible donor. Blanche resents her sister for having continually stolen things from her and the episode forces her to reconcile with Virginia. Now, because we’re watching a sitcom, and if you have sitcom characters change too much you don’t have a sitcom anymore, in the end Blanche displaces her resentment on her other sister. Also she doesn’t even have to actually give up her kidney: they find another donor. In doing so the show seems to set up a moral principle that if you’re willing to do good then good things come of it. Which isn’t necessarily true, but it’s a damn good principle.
The B story in this episode is interesting in that it was picked for this particular episode. The other three ladies are taking care of a baby with colic and coddling it a little. The baby can’t sleep because they keep visiting it in the middle of the night. This could mean a couple of things. Blanche could be the baby. They’re equated in that they both can’t sleep at night and when Blanche finally decides to give Virginia her kidney the baby leaves. In that case it’s a perfect analogy because Blanche needs to be put in a situation where she isn’t being coddled and face whatever is making her a cry baby i.e. her relationship with her sister.
Otherwise, because Blanche doesn’t want the baby around, it represents her relationship with her sister. She doesn’t want the baby to make a mess or to stick around. Which, yeah, you don’t want your relationships to make a mess. And man there are some relationships that make such an awful mess you wish you had never met the person. But if you aren't willing to face the mess then you don’t get to have a relationship. And Blanche’s relationship with Virginia is like taking care of a baby in that both are costly. A baby needs a lot of time and energy and Virginia needs a kidney.
I often say that what I look for in a work of art is something I couldn’t have thought of myself. And The Golden Girls, with its particular blend of insight and circumstances quite unlike my own is exactly that.
Thank you for being a friend.
Working Title: 17ish Again
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Just finished another short story that I can’t post here if I want to send it to publishers, but I can give you a quick synopsis and a snippet. The story is about twenty something years old Jacob who travels to the past, retaining his adult mind. But he’s about to find out that being in high school isn’t as easy as he thought:
I stood up and got my phone out of my pocket. My Nokia phone. I had a Nokia phone in my hand. Why did I have a Nokia in my hand?
Alright, I stumbled home, to get my actual phone. Stroked my head as I walked in the house. Did I shave my head last night? Just had to splash my face with some water. I kind of fell on the bathroom door. But I got to the sink and saw myself in the mirror. I had this baby face with zits. And the buzz cut I had in high school. Had to sit down, so I sat on the edge of the bathtub and let myself slowly sink down.
Was there a reason I was thrown back into my past self? Was this my one shot at changing the past, or a ridiculously vivid lucid dream, and I blew it playing video games all day?
Getting to know Brony culture
Sunday, January 19, 2020
My second short story, Emptiness in Harmony, is about a college professor who becomes infatuated with the children’s show My Little Pony. That idea didn’t just appear to me; there is a whole subculture of men that watch the show. They’re called Bronies. And the fun thing about writing is that sometimes you find yourself researching something like Bronies. If you want to learn more about Brony culture there is a wonderful documentary about it called Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony. Now, while I can’t say I fully understand the appeal of the show, I do have a much more comprehensive view of Brony culture.
For one the show is well made. I watched a few of them for context. Sorry about that if you wanted to write Bronies off as a bunch of loonies watching some nonsense just to be anti-establishment or whatever. The writing is good, the characters are rounded, and the voice acting is professional. But that doesn’t really explain why one would watch a kids’ show does it? We watch shows and read books either to learn something or be entertained, and if you feel you’re being condescended to you aren’t doing either of those. Maybe the writers just went too high-brow with their Pony show. The community aspect may have had something to do with the show’s success at a later point, but there had to be a few Bronies before they could even hold a convention. So there must be something appealing about the show itself, particularly to men in their twenties. If you want to go super political on the subject (which I don’t usually like to do) then the show either embodies all of those things that men have been denied in the patriarchy and they can now allow themselves to feel as we enter more progressive times. Or else the “whatever wave of feminism we’re on right now” has sucked the masculinity out of our culture to such an extent that men aren’t men anymore and have decided to be infantilised. I don’t know about any of that stuff. Usually I like to give a story the benefit of the doubt and think that if people like a story then there is something to it.
The main theme of the show is friendship. It’s a pretty universal theme, applicable to all times. And before you go “Well, that explains it. We’re lonelier now because of smartphones and that’s why these guys are clinging to the show for comfort,” I would like to rebut that that is nonsense. Steven Pinker found that people have adapted perfectly well to our changing social circumstances and even that the people who use social media the most report having more close friends and the women among them being less stressed (Enlightenment Now, chapter 18.) Ha ha I used a real academic reference in a blog post. Suck on that literally every other blogger. And those statistics make sense; it’s probably that extroverted people are using social media more. But that doesn’t mean there is no such thing as loneliness. Maybe that’s what the show caters to. They did a study on the audience and found that the majority considered themselves to be introverted, which isn’t the equivalent of being socially awkward or lonely, but it’s in that ballpark. It’s probably that a bunch of people that aren’t supposed to like a girly cartoon got together and made each other feel less shitty and alone about it.
Come to think of it I like plenty of weird shit. I like cult movies and nerdy web-comics and Armand van Helden. I only feel a slight inclination to apologize for any of those things, so maybe Bronies shouldn’t feel any worse about their thing. What I have felt is less than inclined to share my more offbeat interests, as I’m sure most of us have felt. And I wrote my story from that point of view. I don’t know what it’s like to be a Brony, but I do know what it is like to enjoy something offbeat. And I appreciate it when people enjoy their weird thing without being ashamed or getting all up in your face about it.
Austin Kleon: Keep Going
Saturday, January 11, 2020
Got me another Austin Kleon book for christmas. It's all about how to stick to your artistic pursuits. Kleon talks about how best to organize your writing and with what mindset. It includes the best advice I've ever gotten about writing, and the one you'll find everywhere: make a routine and make sure writing is part of it. Personally I like to write for two hours every morning and then not think about it too much for the rest of the day.Austin Kleon: Keep Going
Song lyrics I don't know what to do with
Saturday, January 04, 2020
I like using song lyrics in my writing. Sometimes as a title (Emptiness in Harmony is from a Simon and Garfunkel song and my BA is named after a line from Pink Floyd's In the Flesh.) At other times I like to put them into the story itself. Particularly I like little snippets that can stand on their own, but I have a hard time putting those to use. Because of this I usually have a few lines at the ready and I figured I'd share with you some that I haven't found any use for yet:
I got a headache like a mother twice the price of my thrills – Guns ‘n’ Roses, Bad Apples
Twenty years of schooling and they put you on the dayshift – Bob Dylan, Subteranean Homesick Blues
My love for you's so overpowering I'm afraid that I will disappear – Paul Simon, Slip Slidin‘ Away
Money doesn‘t talk, it swears – Bob Dylan, It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose – Janis joplin, Me and Bobby McGee
Jordan Peterson: 12 Rules for Life
Monday, December 23, 2019
The final book on my christmas reading list is a self-help book. I know, self-help books are stupid. But you should read this one because incidentally this self-help book is one of the most controversial books of the decade. I have mixed feelings about it. For one, it forces you to be responsible for yourself and at times characterizes some stupid thing you've said so clearly that you can hardly stand it. Also, it was the final nail in the coffin for my academic clarity. I was having a fine go of it regurgitating marxist theory, and then I had to throw that all away because of this book and others. On the other hand it helped me some put other theories in perspective, such as Existentialism and Jungianism; theories I had felt were true, but that I had trouble reconciling with other ideas.Jordan Peterson: 12 Rules for Life
Nagata Kabi: My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness and sequels
Sunday, December 22, 2019
I know what you're thinking: that's porn. It's not porn. This is one of those times where you actually can't judge the book by the cover, because this series is a shockingly honest personal account of depression and eating disorders. I do think one of the wonderful things about art is that something written on the other side of the planet by someone quite unlike oneself can resonate as much as this series does.Nagata Kabi: My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness
Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell: The Disaster Artist
Saturday, December 21, 2019
If you still haven't seen The Room (2003) then I suggest you do so. And when you're done you will have some questions. Why was this made? Are they serious? Who payed for this fiasco? This book answers some of those questions. It details Greg Sestero's involvement with the movie and his getting to know Tommy Wiseau, the director, lead actor and writer of The Room. That there is my signed copy of the book from when Greg Sestero came to a screening at Bíó Paradís.Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell: The Disaster Artist
Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt: The Coddling of the American Mind
Friday, December 20, 2019
I read two books by Jonathan Haidt this year. This book and The Righteous Mind. You should read this one because it more or less directly contradicts Steven Pinker's book that I recommended to you yesterday. Whereas Pinker found no rise in depression, Greg and Haidt did and use it as one of their six explanations for the rise in what they term "safetyism," the notion that one should avoid unsafe endavours, always trust one's feelings, and divide the world into good and bad people. They explore how these "untruths" have led to rising tensions on college campuses and how that in turn sustains poor mental health and cognitive distortions such as the untruths.Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt: The Coddling of the American Mind
Steven Pinker: Enlightement Now
Thursday, December 19, 2019
If you're still looking for some christmas reading then here is a countdown of the top five books I read this year, in no particular order. First up: Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now. If you have, like the rest of us, been feeling a little stressed out about the state of the world then read this book. In it Pinker gathers contemporary positive statistics about, among others, health, wealth, the environment, and depression. It turns out we're doing a lot better than we thought. The book includes wonderful findings, such as that the poor countries of the world are becoming richer at a faster pace than at any other point in history, that economic growth and environmental progress can go hand in hand, and that suicide rates are not at an unprecidented all time high.Steven Pinker: Enlightenment Now
Back to school
Saturday, December 14, 2019
Here's a sentence I never thought I'd say: I regret not buying that poster signed by Zac Efron. I took that picture at comic con in Berlin where someone had a booth with all these posters and albums and stuff signed by celebrities. Now I don't know if they're all fake or what, but I should have bought the Zac Efron poster anyway. Because in 2009 he starred in a movie called 17 again and right now I'm writing a story using essentially the same trope as 17 again, of someone inhabiting his old self. Working title: 17ish again. And since it's set in the past and similar to 17 again, I decided it would be a good idea to watch old Zac Efron movies; for research. So, here I am, a twenty four year old man, with a task on my calendar titled: Watch High School Musical. And I don't even have the goddamn poster to show for it.
Saturday, December 7, 2019
This is my Bauta. Apparently Venetian masks have different names based on the design and this is a Bauta. I bought him last year for halloween, but he makes for a better room decoration than a costume because he is uncomfortable to wear for a long time. In the same vein I figured he might be a good background picture for some kind of posts right here. Maybe just generic update posts.
I spent this last week finalizing my BA essay and after I've handed that in I'm going to spend the rest of December editing an old story. As far as I can tell, my newest story (Emptiness in Harmony) has only been rejected three times this semester. I'm gonna try to pump those numbers up and get rejected way harder in 2020. Mostly I've been sending my stories to short story contests because if you win one of those you get money. But it takes a long time for them to read all the submissions and that really narrows my chances of being rejected. Now, since I feel I have to be rejected by at least a certain number of publications before I give up and post the stories here on my website, and I do want people to be able to read my stories, I've started applying for rejection by non paying publications. Wish me luck.
NaNoWriMo Highlights #4
Saturday, November 30, 2019
Last week of NaNoWriMo. Once again NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50.000 words. They have their own website (nanowrimo.org) where they help people reach their writing goals and if you're less ambitious you simply go for a lesser goal. This week I got down 2300 words for a grand total of 4500. That's nowhere near 50.000. Nor is it anywhere close to what my lesser goal, which was to write 25.000 words. So it might seem weird to write about it on the internet. But I'm happy just to be writing at all.
Jonathan took a garbage bag in one hand and noticed a familiar smell when he grabbed his jacket, which only grew stronger after he had thrown out the trash and reached into his coat pocket for a cigarette. It was a woman’s perfume, enveloping the jacket lining. It didn’t mix well with the Winston reds. Jonathan had always enjoyed the smell of a cigarette and in a subtle way he resented those who could quit smoking because they found they didn’t really enjoy anything but the nicotine. He enjoyed the harshness of a cigarette. That you could do something not to feel good exactly, but satisfy some other human impulse.
He had worried about the smell until now; didn’t want Ellen to complain about being married to an ashtray. But if it was either perfumed houseboy or an ashtray, he’d be an ashtray. He blew a hefty mouthful of smoke into his inner coat pocket, stamped out the cigarette and walked inside. As he came up the stairs, he noticed Karen out of the corner of his eye. She sat in the armchair swirling a cocktail.
NaNoWriMo Highlights #3
Saturday, November 23, 2019
I only wrote a couple of pages for Nanowomo this week and to be honest I don't think I'm going to use most of it. I got sick and besides that I've been feeling a little off, but that's all part of the writing process I guess. lol. God, I feel so pretentious saying "the writing process" Even if it isn't my best work I wanted to show you some of it so you can get a sense of where I'm at.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All Work and no play makes jack a dull boy. all work and on play makes Jack a dull boy.All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no Play makes jack a dull oy all work and no plaY makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play maes Jack aull boy.ll work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Al work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All Work and no play makes jack a dull boy. all work and on play makes Jack a dull boy.All work and no play makes Jack a dul boy. A.ll work and no play makes jack a dull boy all wor and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.ll work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All Work and no play makes jack a dull boy. all work and on play makes Jack a dull boy.All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All Work and no play makes jack a dull boyall work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
People = Shit?
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
I've been trying to find some music to drown out the world while I'm writing, so I went and found a band I used to listen to back when I was an angsty teen: Slipknot. If you don't know them they're that lovely band with the timeless hits like: People = Shit, Everything Ends, and All Hope is Gone. It's actually been great for getting in the right headspace, but I really hope it doesn't seep into my writing :) smiley face.
NaNoWriMo Highlights #2
Saturday, November 16, 2019
The second week of NaNoWromo was a little more productive. I wrote 1500 words, which is still far from the target goal, but I'm still 1500 words richer, and I've managed to recycle a couple of ideas that didn't seem to belong elsewhere. The whole point of NaNoWrOmo is freewriting, which I'm still pretty bad at. I want to go back and edit everything right away. Here's silly old idea of mine that I went back and edited a little for you.
Mr Pagill, who had hardly looked up from his drink, made half an attempt to the refreshments, but seeing Old lady nr.1’s hand reaching for the same spot, he retreated. Old lady nr.1 assembled an appetiser: rye bread, cured salmon, dill sauce. Mr. Pagill watched her manoeuvre the table and how despite the various hors d’oeuvres and accompanying sauces, her shawl stayed clear of it all. He imagined the shawl had a will of its own, dancing effortlessly, condescendingly, around the smorgasbord. Almost as if resentful of the hedonistic cold cuts, vile sauces.
NaNoWriMo Highlights #1
Saturday, November 9, 2019
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) is an online challenge to write 50.000 words, i.e. a whole novel, during the month of November. I'm not that ambitious and set myself the goal of writing 25.000 words.This means I have to write 5000 words every week, or 1000 words every weekday. So far I have written just short of 700 words, which, you may notice, is nowhere near any of those other numbers.
Upstairs in the den was a leather armchair, a few kitchen chairs, and a small liquor closet. Sitting in two of the kitchen chairs were two old ladies whose names I haven’t picked yet. Their intent had been to see the whole house, but after the ordeal of the stairs they were obliged to sit down. Since there were two of them neither thought it was fair for her to sit in the armchair. From there they could see into Jonathan’s office and downstairs through the banister.
“He sure does read a lot.”
“I don’t really know my purpose in this story, but isn’t this a nice way to set the scene?”
"Is this going to be in the final edit?"
"Almost definitely not"
Show Your Work!
Friday, November 8, 2019
This is the book that really made me want to make this website. It's a wonderful book for upcoming artists about, well, sharing your work. Particularly sharing your process, and the things that inspire you. In the spirit of that: here is something that inspired me. #NotSponsoredAustin Kleon: Show Your Work!
Wednesday, November 6, 2019
This is the first update, declaring that I made a website. Hurray!