Posted in Book Reviews (updating), psychology, writing

Never Fear Chalk, Only Playground Bullies and Staircases.

I’ve talked on here before about my own manuscript: there’s stalking, there’s jealousy, there’s pain, pleasure, basically every ingredient you need to create a believable but obviously fictional life. There’s also crime, a smidgeon of it (not including the stalking), and so I’ve taken to reading a lot of crime novels lately. I’m halfway through two books in particular and much like Hollow Kingdom, I plan on reviewing them as I read them. So let’s get started with that today.

The Chalk Man by C.J Tudor

Not going to lie, I found this book in Goodwill for $2.99. It was published in 2018, so it’s considered contemporary fiction and the inside jacket revealed there’s a dismembered body of a teenage girl, so there was definitely crime; the book met my two requirements of myself at the moment.

We jump between 2016 and 1986, so far, from a time where our protagonist, Eddie, is a middle-aged adult and back to the time when he was a budding teenager. All of his friends have nicknames and thank God they’re nothing like the ones in Hollow Kingdom. Although they are a bit gimmicky, they’re believable for children: Metal Mickey, Fat Gav, Hoppo and Eddie is called Eddie Munster because his surname is Adams, such as in The Addams Family. Apparently “Eddie Munster was out of The Munsters, but it made sense at the time . . .”

Nicky is another one of their friends, a girl who loves hanging with the boys, and her father is the local Vicar. This only becomes a problem at Fat Gav’s birthday party because Eddie’s mother works at an abortion clinic; at some point an argument erupts and Eddie’s father punches Nicky’s father. A few days later, Eddie’s family receives a pig fetus in the mail; I’m hoping this is set up for some further plot development.

Right off the bat, we get a terrifying incident: a girl is severely injured by a rogue piece of fair equipment and Eddie is right in the thick of it, inches from being impaled. He sees the jacked up face of the girl victim but is urged to help her by a strange man, Mr. Halloran. The two, so far, have a decent relationship, although things did get a little weird when Mr. Halloran saved Eddie from some serious sexual assault from some bullies who seem more like budding rapists. He brought Eddie back to his house and Mr. Halloran has a bunch of paintings of some girls from the town, including the jacked up face girl. I think he’s being set up to be the crazed murderer of the town: he’s a teacher, he’s quiet, he’s got a bunch of paintings of girls, and he’s forming a close connection with a student. Yep. Checks all the boxes for fictional murderers.

In 2016, as a middle-aged adult, Eddie lives with a much younger roommate, a young woman he fancies but will never tell her really because he’s “too old.” Fat Gav owns a pub, and he and Hoppo are angry that Eddie didn’t tell them Metal Mickey was back in town. Metal Mickey, we learn, has returned because he wants to write a book on “the incident” and I’m assuming that means the dismembered girl, although I haven’t gotten that far yet. He says he knows who the real murderer is. Spooky.

What I find annoying so far with Tudor’s writing is the constant cliff hangers at the end of each chapter. I get that it’s meant to keep you reading and is a staple of crime fiction, it just turns me off. I want the story to flow some places and hang other places, kind of like how life does. There’s also nothing special about the writing style; Tudor’s voice is average: not quite bland but not quite unique. I’m interested in the plot line, but that’s the only reason I’m continuing to read it.

Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner

Having a degree in psychology and living with schizophrenia and going back to school for cognitive science means I know a thing or two about disorders, including the personalities along the Dark Triad, and despite what people think, psychopathy itself is not a mental disorder. It’s a personality TRAIT, alongside Narcissism (which is different from narcissistic personality disorder) and Machiavellianism. So, when I started reading this book and realized it was about serial killers, I was waiting for the diagnosis Antisocial Personality Disorder, and sure enough, as cliche as aways, it came.

D.D. Warren is a detective called to a crime scene of a woman having been skinned (in some places) and killed, a bottle of champagne and a rose left on her nightstand. The detective went back to the crime scene, encountered what I’ve learned so far was the murderer, and got shoved down the stairs, enduring an injury that’s left her shoulder and arm completely useless during its healing process.

Doctor Adeline Day (although she goes by a different last name) is the daughter of infamous serial killer Harry Day and sister of infamous serial killer (and youngest to be tried for murderer in their area) Shana Day. Adeline is a psychiatrist and cannot feel pain due to a rare genetic disorder, but she does understand her sister’s troupe of “blood means love”, something their father taught her. Shana cut people to show them how much she loves them and is diagnosed, by her sister, with antisocial personality disorder.

I would like to point out that while the book mentions it’s quite unconventional for a family member to diagnose another family member, it’s something that wouldn’t happen. I’d also like to point out the majority of people diagnosed with and living with antisocial personality disorder are not serial killers. In fact, they live relatively normal lives. They simply don’t care for your feelings and will manipulate the hell out of you to get what they want. They are driven by their own desire and could care less what you think about that. That being said, aggression and violence come easy for them. It just doesn’t mean they’ll use it to harm people; it’s more like they could and would feel nothing if they did.

I’m tired of mental disorders being the reason for crime. Why can’t Shana just be a serial killer? Why does she need a label? Why does blood need to equal love? That’s more delusional than antisocial.

Adeline has a secret of her own, though. She goes on dates, sleeps with her dates, and cuts little strips of their skin and puts them in jars as keepsakes. I’m on page 209 right now so I don’t yet know the significance, but it better be something good. I swear to God.

So far the book has been mostly dialogue and I mean this. We get a paragraph or two of set up and story and then we get pages of dialogue, which is fine because most of the time it’s written well, but there are instances where I think the character of Adeline is much too “Hollywood psychiatrist” and a lot less “average psychiatrist,” meaning she talks like she was written for low budget movie. She has great explanations for everything and constantly knows what people are thinking without them saying more than a few words. She also talks kind of like a type-writer: old-fashioned and stiff.

That being said, I want to know who the murderer is and if he is conspiring with Shana Day, as some detectives are starting to think. I want to know if Adeline will get caught with her creepy skin obsession and lose her license (hopefully) and I want to know whether detective D.D. Warren’s shoulder will ever get better. I mean, that’s the real plot line here.

Would you guys read either of these books? What’s your chosen genre these days?

Until Next Time

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and join me on Instagram @alilivesagain or on Twitter @happyschizobs

Posted in Book Reviews (updating), writing

Hollow Kingdom: Final Review

It’s been a long journey from Dennis and S.T.’s house with Big Jim, to Kraai the crow, Migisi the eagle, The One Who Conquers, The Weavers, and The One Who Keeps. The world Kira Jane Buxton creates, at first glance of the back cover, feels magical, grotesque, intriguing. The characters introduced in the first few chapters: Genghis Cat, Winnie the Poodle, and those throughout, like the Humpback whales and a pack of wolves, are filled with personality and never really heard from again. There are so many unsatisfying things about this book, I’m not sure I can fit them in this one post. But I’ll try.

I’ve said before the plot is ingenious: a crow tells the story of how humankind fell. We learn about Aura, the way creatures of the Earth communicate with one another, and we learn how each of them sees humans, from S.T’s fantastical obsession with the resourcefulness of humans (or MoFo’s) to the murder of crow’s less than tasteful view of humans (or Hollows). It’s obvious that Buxton appreciates, loves, and admires animals. It’s a shame she can’t write.

But first, let’s talk about the GOOD things about Hollow Kingdom.

The Good

There are moments Buxton can actually write. The way she describes action–the crows attacking or getting away from danger–is quite realistic. She has a knack for metaphors. Each chapter is riddled with them (we’ll talk about that later), things like “Looking for signs of twisted limbs, hungry vermillion eyes, and neck bones with no rules,” or “Then it flattened its ears to its head and expelled a roar, a roar that tore through the bones of the building . . .” They are great for creating feeling and some are powerful imagery. 

She’s also created a character. I wouldn’t consider S.T likable, but I wouldn’t consider him generic either. He has his own personality, and that personality just happens to harbor extremely cheesy catch phrases and a disturbing sense of loyalty to humanity. He is quite dedicated to first curing humanity and then to keeping Dennis alive and then to carrying out his life as a crow. His big character arc is finally realizing that he is indeed a crow with MoFo mannerisms, not a Mofo in a crow body. What should be a big turning point for S.T. is kind of washed away behind the reason humanity fell. 

Unlike some commenters on Goodreads, I actually enjoyed the toast to nature. The trees, the animals, everything connected and communicating on their own wavelengths (Aura) sounds divine and certainly out of the range of abilities for humans; we’re quite incapable of communicating well, if 2020 has shown us anything. I think where Buxton falls short is the presentation of Aura. 

Which brings us to:

The Bad

Let’s start with how overwritten this book is. The metaphors. They’re great every once in a while, but when every page is riddled with at least ten or fifteen “pendulous trucks” and elephants that “smelled like churned soil and freedom” and an “ancient song of sorrow that the evergreens shook from their leaves” and “calling on the ocean with our breath,” it gets a little tedious. While those are all great descriptions, don’t get me wrong, imagine 304 pages of that, consistently, partnered with lines like “crumble-cheese turd burger” or “yard demolishing fuck trolls” or “pubic badger” or “you could have heard a dust mite queef in there” or “fuck off, you douche flute” or “butt-splosion of information” or “cheese cups, ass clubs” or “scrotum-sanitizing mouth” or any of the other cheesy lines that permeate this book. It reminds me of first-time writer workshop attendees who know that adjectives and metaphors and similes can often carry semi-good writing, so their pieces becomes soggy with figurative language. 

Let’s talk about nictitating membranes, too. I’m fully aware that they are the part of birds that kind of slick across the eyeball in a blinking fashion. I’m also fully aware that Buxton personified a crow who doesn’t really see himself as a crow, so why would he regard his blinking as nictitating membranes licking his eyes or “make [his] nictitating membranes shut out the world momentarily?” Why can’t he just blink? 

We’re also introduced to side characters like Genghis cat, Winnie the Poodle, A fairy Pitta, a polar bear, a spruce tree, an armadillo, a highland cow, a camel, an elephant, a humpback whale and a pack of wolves. We get a conclusion, sort of, on Genghis cat and Winnie the Poodle and the polar bear who is the last bear on the ice. In the beginning of the book it was whimsical, and I looked forward to hearing the view of the world through just a few side characters continuously, but that never happened and they sort of came out of nowhere throughout the book, breaking up the flow of the story. We get short bursts of personalities, but it doesn’t really add much to the plot, other than Genghis cat joining up with the Orangutan(aka The One Who Opens Doors). Winnie the Poodle dying only symbolizes there’s no humans left to help the domestic animals, and we already knew that. 

What happened to the humans, after all? Well, we get some insight on that from Ghubari. He says, and prepare yourself, “it was a virus.” Not like AIDS or Ebola, but “mans creation” from “the internet.” He continues with, “. . . it started with the addiction. Technology was an intangible seductress, a siren calling for ships to meet her jagged rocks. It was a virus that spread through the systems, through the network, chips, watches, phones, tablets. Through eyes, skin, and synapses.” 

So something within the technology seeped into the skin and changed everyone into Cassowaries and giant spiders. 

I’m not kidding. 

Buxton doesn’t refer to The Hideous Ones as Cassowaries, but they’re described as humans who now scream in “the language of a raptor.” They have “hideous skin and jet black holes where there must have been eyes” with “colossal legs propelling them to great heights, and they snapped and shrieked with breaks the color of death.” The weavers have mandibles and eight legs and some weird stuff is going on with them, they silk up other humans and animals and suck them dry, so I’m not sure what kind of computer virus can turn you into a spider, but that’s what we get, folks. The Weavers and The Hideous Ones are the result, according to Ghubari, of humans evolving, their “last-ditch effort at survival.”

To sum it up, S.T says, “addiction to an electronic world caused the downfall of the Mofos. They’d forgotten to connect with each other, to connect with the creatures who missed them and to Nature as She called for them to come home.” 

Preachy, but we get it. 

The Ugly

There’s nothing really ugly about this book, but because I started with “The Good” and “The Bad” it felt wrong not to put “The Ugly.”

Conclusion

I don’t believe any of the reviews on the front of this book. It wasn’t “hilarious” or “exuberant” or “movingly written.” It was “eh.” 

I’ll be reading the sequel simply to bring you guys more Kira Jane Buxton. At the end of Hollow Kingdom, S.T is lead to a human baby in a house, abandoned obviously, and untouched by the technology-spider-cassowary virus. We obviously have to find out together whether there are other babies around the world, whether the human race survives, or whether the animals reclaim the world. I don’t really care which it is, I just have to know one or the other. 

My next full review will be on The Morality Play. I’m almost finished with it. 

What are you all reading this month?

Until Next Time

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and join me on Instagram @alilivesagain or on twitter @thephilopsychotic. 

Posted in Book Reviews (updating)

Moral Facts and Your Opinion

Good morning, afternoon, and night to the world. Today we’re talking about why our children don’t think there are moral facts.

What’s your first impression of that sentence? Besides my obvious P.C inclusivity for the entirety of the world (brownie points?), what do you think of the term “moral facts?” This would ultimately require you to believe that there are absolutes: a fact is, after all, absolutely true. So then, is it absolutely true that murder is wrong? Is right and wrong all there is to morality? There are questions you must ponder. Does this make it subjective? We could go through this all morning, afternoon, and night.

But first, let’s start with the essay I read entitled “Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts” by Justin P. McBrayer, written back in 2015.

McBayer starts with the definitions of facts and opinions provided by his son’s second grade classroom, which can be easily googled:

Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.

Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.

At first glance, this feels, sounds, and looks right. McBayer gives reasons why it’s dead wrong.

Firstly, he says that truth and proof have very different features. For example, it can be true that I am feeling sad, but you can’t prove that; you can’t see inside of my head, and I’m excellent at hiding my feelings. McBayer also says that many things which have been “proved” have turned out false. This is the limitation of our physical experience. He also states that if proof is “required for facts, then facts become person-relative.” This means that if I can prove E=MC^2 as a physicist, and you cannot, that equation becomes fact for me but not for you, a non-physicist.

What’s worse, McBayer says, is that “students are taught that claims are either facts or opinions.” Remember those quizzes back in school, usually life science or something, where they made you sort phrases into facts or opinions? I remember them. I remember getting half of them wrong consistently. Do you?

McBayer asked his son a very simple question to show how mixed up this sort of black and white thinking is: he said, “I believe that George Washington was the first president. Is that fact or opinion?” His son said it’s a fact. McBayer replies, “but I believe it, and you said what someone believes is an opinion.” His son says but it’s true, and McBayer replies, “so it’s both a fact and an opinion?”

So, some things that were classified as an opinion in his son’s homework were:

“Copying homework assignments is wrong.”

“All men are created equal.”

“It is wrong for people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol.”

Value claims, the worksheet says, are not facts. McBayer claims this means that public schools teach students there are no moral facts, by way of understanding all value and moral claims call into opinion category. The problem is, in the real world, it’s required of us to “acknowledge the existence of moral facts,” otherwise we could murder and justify not being outraged.

The issue here isn’t what’s being taught really, in my OPINION, but the inconsistencies: either we acknowledge morals or we don’t. Either we teach them or we don’t. Lending mixed signals is what confuses children, and once they get old enough to truly critically think about philosophy, we’ll introduce the big topics.

What do you all think? Are there moral facts? Are there universal truths? What have you learned?

Until next time.

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and join me on instagram @alilivesagain and on twitter @thephilopsychotic.

Posted in Book Reviews (updating), Uncategorized

Book Review from The Psych Ward

The following blog post was written on paper with an ink tube of a pen from within a psychiatric hospital.

Knowing I’d be here for at least a week, I decided I’d bring a book. The book I decided to bring was Hollow Kingdom. Do I regret it? Not entirely. I figured without a cell phone or laptop or any real, meaningful connection to the outside world besides a wistful gaze out a barred window, I could finally immerse myself in the world Kira Jane Buxton wished to create.

I still couldn’t do that of course because the world Kira Jane Buxton wished to create didn’t come out in a way that interests me, as least as far as syntax goes. Her lengthy descriptions and seemingly extraneous scenes only slow the progress of the book.

If I read nictitating membrane one more time, I’m going to explode. I know that’s what birds have, but Christ, the phrase itself feels overused.

If you’re wondering, S.T. (affectionately named “Shit Turd”) and Dennis the dog have somehow managed to do a lot a little all at once. They rescued a domestic dog named Cinnamon from a house by attracting some sick MoFos (humans) with an iPhone, throwing it through the window and breaking the glass for Cinnamon to escape. What we learn is that the sick MoFos are desperate for power and we learn this while S.T. rides Ghubari, an eagle. We get a contrived lecture on the greediness of humans and the beauty that resides in transitions and new beginnings.

I physically yawned, but to each his own.

We get some more repetitive type language. For example, “Dark water near the rock pool started to stir–the sea stars were screaming at this point–and an arm, long and rust-red, lifted from its depths and into the air. The elongated arm suctioned itself to a rock and was followed by several more lissome limbs, which danced together to life an enormous bulbous head from the depths.”

I would have rewritten something like: “Sea stars screamed as dark water near the rock pool stirred. A long, rust-red arm pierced the air and suctioned itself to a rock. Several more limbs followed, dragging with them a shiny, bulbous head.”

Simple, but effective. If you want to add some descriptors in there, go ahead, just keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

It’s not all bad. I did laugh when she wrote, “I’m not sure why everyone hates opossums so much; they may look like someone shaved the buttocks of a poodle and taught it to talk through its asshole, but they are generally pretty likable creatures.”

I just didn’t know how to react other than laugh.

And “Seattle spring has more moods than Tiffany S. from Tinder.”

But we continue with the cheesy phrases like “yard demolishing fuck trolls” and “pubic badger” and “crumble-cheese turd burgers.”

That’s just not funny to me. It’s trying too hard is what it is.

So Dennis and S.T. have joined a murder of crows who are helping S.T. accept his truth as a crow and getting help from him to break windows. They plan to start breaking out domestics (pets) when they find 6th crows slaughtered and picked clean to the bone. We learn the sick MoFos have started evolving (for survival reasons) into these gigantic birds that are described like Cassowaries but are likened to raptors. At this point, I don’t know what the hell is going on. All I know is I am 263 pages deep into this book and I’m looking forward to the end because then it will be over.

So far, I’d rate this book a solid 2/5. What saves Buxton is her occasional insertion of beautiful writing. Sometimes her descriptions are flawless. Sometimes her dialogue flows. But for the most part, it’s painfully amateur, or at the very least, painfully cheesy. Will I be reading the sequel?

Of course.

Until next time.

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and join me on Instagram @alilivesagain or twitter @thephilopsychotic.

Posted in Book Reviews (updating), Uncategorized, writing

Murderous Writing

I don’t know what kind of writer you are, but I am a writer who enjoys mystery, crime, drama, and just a touch of magic. I like stories that are literary in nature, contain weaving motifs and conflicted characters. I want to search for the meaning and if there is no meaning intended I want the creative ability to create a meaning that is meaningful to me. That’s all I ask.

I’m about 3/4 of the way through a book of short stories called Santa Cruz Noir, noir meaning stories full of crime and moral ambiguity. I’m all for it.

Considering I live in Santa Cruz and it was at one point considered the murder capital of the world, I dove right in.

And still the stories shocked me.

The very first story, entitled Buck Low is about a seemingly comfortable and developed serial killer (I inferred that) who has killed a woman, killed her friend looking for her, and took off up into the Bay. He gave me serial killer vibes because of his nonchalance and easy of killing and travel, as if he’s done that before. It felt like the author intentionally created that vibe.

There are odd stories too, like Mischa and the Seal, about a woman marine biologist graduate student. Seals are her muse, they speak to her (quite literally) and she enjoys staying in hotels, particularly a hotel which overlooks the beach. She meets a fellow ocean lover, James, and while they date, a particular seal she communicates with warns her there’s something strange about James and she needs to “dig into it.”

Longer short story short, James is a seal and otter serial killer.

Mischa kills James with his own arrow contraction that he kills the animals with.

She takes a shower, I think, and then seemingly kills herself by also disappearing into the ocean.

I say these stories shocked me because it’s not often I get to read good published crime stories or novels. A lot of them feel contrived to me, although there’s one story I’m hoping is good that I’d like to read about a serial killer who broke out of prison and is searching for his daughter. Unfortunately, I forgot the name. I used to work at a library and saw tons of books I wanted to read. If anyone knows the book I’m talking about, please put it in the comments below.

If you have any crime book recommendations that aren’t detective mysteries, please put those in the comments below too.

I feel like there’s a community of crime writers that are often rejected from the mainstream publishing scene considering murder and darkness scares people. I personally love writing and reading stories that push the boundaries of what we think is acceptable.

I just wrote a story entitled To Jane. My protagonist murdered another woman because she accused my protagonist of stealing some cheap costume jewelry. I sent it off to a couple small magazines, but I’m anticipating rejection; good writers always anticipate rejection. It makes getting published more surprising and fun.

It’s also a grave mistake to pair mental illness and crime together. The two are not synonymous, in fact they’re very opposite of each other. I aim give evidence to that point with my book.

My main work in progress is centered on crime as well; besides the stalking, there is murder, and I’ve learned that murder is acceptable as long as the actual murder isn’t described; people just need the idea of it to conjure their own sick visions. People also like a little mystery.

What is your favorite genre? What do you write? What do you read? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time.

Don’t forget to hit that follow button, and join me on Instagram @alilivesagain or Twitter @thephilopsychotic.

Posted in Late Night Thoughts, Uncategorized, writing

Can’t Sleep? Read This.

You guessed it. It’s another 5 a.m shit-post.

I decided to stop by before I started working on my manuscript. The best time to write, I think, is when the world is dark. It really gives your thoughts nothing else to work with and that’s exactly what you need when focus is your priority.

It’s fascinating watching word count increase, and simultaneously terrifying. We know there are long novels like The World According to Garp or War and Peace or these monumental novels like East of Eden. We also know people have computers and cell phones and the 2021 attention span of half a goldfish.

Half.

The dead half.

And so publishers follow suit. Short, simple, to the point is the way novels are these days, and while that forces writers and editors to learn new skills, it also takes away from what stories used to be. They used to be journeys. The used to be full of depth and motifs and while books these days still have that potential, not many live up to it. Long novels are now “boring” and you’re limited really in what you’re allowed to do unless you get published by a small publisher with a lax editor, or you self-publish.

I’m not against self-publishing, I’m just a horrible self-marketer with a small social media following and while even one or two people reading my novel would be enough for me to buy a $500 dollar bottle of champagne and drink it with my pinkie up, it wouldn’t be enough to break even for all the time I put into my work or pay my car off.

What’s more important to me than money, champagne, and pinkies though, is readers. I didn’t write the book for it to sit on my shelf in hoards. I already have hoards of books. I wrote it for people to read. I wrote it to spark discussion and curiosity and disgust and fear and smiles and laughs and many conflicting emotions. If I just cared about the title of an author, I’d have self published three short-story anthologies and two novels by now.

I’m not bashing those who self-publish. I’m just saying my goals aren’t conducive with self-publishing.

I’m also very interested in what an editor would rearrange if given the chance.

I submitted my short story to two separate, small magazines. I’m still looking for beta readers though (can you tell I’m anticipating rejection?), and if anyone is interested, just leave a comment below! I see some are jumping on that bandwagon and I’m more than appreciative.

There’s nothing wrong with anticipating rejection, by the way, because if you’re familiar with submitting pieces to magazines, you’re probably also familiar with disappointment.

Thank you readers. You all have made my week with all the views and likes. I’m surprised my banter hasn’t scared a few of you away. Next post we’ll get back into Modern Ethics in 77 Arguments.

Don’t forget to follow The Philosophical Psychotic and join me over on Instagram @alilivesagain or on Twitter @ThePhiloPsychotic. I’m a lonely female bastard in need of internet friends. Feed me.

Posted in Community, Late Night Thoughts, Uncategorized, writing

Late Night Show: Let’s talk about cliche characters.

Hey everyone, welcome to another rendition of “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing up so late.”

I do know, actually. I got three hours of sleep the previous night because of a bad dream, went through the day normally, worked out, came home, and fell asleep at 5pm. I awoke at 2am, refreshed, to find the dark world at my disposal, and I must say I’m not disappointed. There’s a quietness in night and early morning that swells my soul sometimes, in the same way one swells when the smell of good food passes by.

What do you enjoy most about working on your manuscript or short stories or poems or whatever it is you pour your heart into? Sometimes for me the editing is tedious, and then I read little snippets of my work that make me say “damn, I wrote that?” and the process feels worthwhile.

I’m trying to figure out how to sum up my work-in-progress without sounding cliche. I’ve purposefully chose to write with a typical character base in mind for irony. Eventually I want some beta readers, so I’ve finally decided to come out of the writer’s closet and tell people I’m writing a novel. The first question out of everyone’s mouth, with their stupid, curious little eyes twinkling, is always “what is it about?”

I don’t know, stuff happens, people exist, what more do you want me to say?

That’s going to be the description on the back. I’m obviously brilliant.

If you’ve written a book, or are writing one, how do you give people a synopsis without giving away too much or sounding too typical? We all want our work to be unique I guess, and maybe the fact of the matter is there’s no such thing as a unique idea anymore. We’re all just building off of each other, and that’s kind of the running theme in my work, hence the necessity of cliche base characters. But you tell people that and they lose interest.

This is why when people ask me what I write, I say “nothing much, like some short stories or whatever” because I don’t want to get into everything else I work on. I suppose I mirror my protagonist a bit, or he mirrors me; I’m not quite sure which one of us came first.

I didn’t really base it off of my life, but I pulled from some experiences because they were necessary to a few characters, basic traits like shyness or arrogance or unwavering personalities. Some characteristics of our characters have to be relatable, under stable, and predictable, or else the believability falls short and, again, people lose interest. That’s the struggle with writing a protagonist who you anticipate people won’t be fond of: you need to show that their despicable characteristics are flaws any of us could have, but do it in a way where they aren’t do despicable that they’re irredeemable. That doesn’t mean the character needs to be redeemed at the end, that’s actually more cliche than anything, but it does mean there needs to be some understanding for why the behavior or thoughts of your character are as they are.

There are very few people on Earth who would be considered horrible and nothing else. Even child predators and murderers have come from backgrounds that make you say “well, I get it but that’s no excuse for their behavior.”

Because there quite literally is no excuse for their behavior and you quite literally do get it.

There were two particular subjects I hated reading about because they always followed the same steps: murder and mental illness. The murderers haven’t always been mentally ill, I mean those categories to be separate from each other.

With murderers, the cliche is always a detective trying to find them, or a murderer narrating their sick desires.

With mental illness, the whole focus of the story is always on the mental illness.

I got tired of that.

If a character has a mental disorder, I’d prefer it’s not even mentioned. Just show it through characteristics and wrap the story around a different plot line. If you don’t have the disorder yourself, you’re going to be hard pressed trying to describe it, no matter how many lived-experience interviews you do. Sorry. And, for the love of God, don’t interview a psychologist for that. They’ll be incorrect 99% of the time.

If a character is a murderer, I’d prefer they not be driven by something like “I hate the world” or “mommy was mean to me” or “look at me being a vigilante and all.” It gets boring. There are so many other motivations besides drugs, lifestyle, trauma, abuse. Those things can be included, but they don’t have to be the reason. They could just be part of the puzzle.

I guess my book is intent on using cliches to get rid of cliches. I feel like that’s been done before, and I’m okay with that because again, we’re all building off of each other. My protagonist gets mixed up with a person who’s been following him for a reason I can’t share, and upon learning more about this stalker, he learns he will never not be stalked. No, he doesn’t die at the end. Jesus.

I guess that’s a good, quick summary.

What’s your WIP about lately? Anything juicy? Let me know.

Also, I’ve always wanted to read “John dies at the end” or whatever that book is called. Does he really die? Hollywoo stars and celebrities: What do they know? Do they know things? Let’s find out!

If you don’t know what show that’s from, we can still be friends, but like, you need to step it up.

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and join me on Instagram @alilivesagain. I don’t have friends IRL so I need internet buddies to help my depleted self-esteem. K, thanx.

Posted in Community, Emotions, Questions for you, Uncategorized, writing

The Qualms of Writing

Update: I still haven’t read more than another page of that book.

You guys.

It’s hard.

I’m so invested in the plot line, that’s why I keep picking it up, but the writing style boils my tears and subsequently scorches my irises. Nothing against the author, but I hope she never writers another book like this as long as she lives. That being said, I’d still choose this work over anything ever written by Stephanie Meyer(s?) or E.L James. Stephanie reminds me of that one girl in seventh grade with popular friends, but who isn’t actually popular herself, and all her popular friends read a fanfic she’s written and hype up her skills just to fuck with her. And then it blows up in Wattpad and she considers herself a “writer.”

It’s not that internet clout or self-publishing is bad, it’s that people with little or no understanding of how language actually works keep getting these life-changing deals, and it’s quite frustrating for the rest of us.

I haven’t actually fully read E.L James’ anything (fifty shades, The Mister, etc.), just snippets, but she can also take a middle finger for the team. And if you’ve never read Stephanie Meyer(s?) blogs on her website: DEAR LORD. I feel like I’m reading the style of my own angsty teenage rants.

I used to think I was an amazing writer. When I was 11 and homeless, I started writing a novel I thought would go viral. My characters were actually very well developed, as my teenaged-beta-readers pointed out, but as I got older and learned more about language and how stories proceed and went to workshops and fiction classes and the likes, I realized what I wrote wasn’t any better than that shit on the bottom of your shoe right now. What that writing did for me was get out feelings, pains, and provide a save haven for my convoluted mind that was already descending into madness.

I pulled a side-character from that jumbled mess and that’s my protagonist in my current WIP. It’s much better than when I was 11, I promise that. Is it publisher worthy? Well, after I finish this edit, get some more beta readers, ask an editor, and find an agent, I’ll let you know.

I write short stories as well. I’ve got one written in the form of a letter by a woman in jail. She’s writing her sister to inform her of what REALLY happened. It’s just under 3000 words, so about 4 Word doc pages. So far my beta-readers have come back with positive feedback and have pointed out typos and grammar I’ve somehow missed in my two months worth of re-readings. I’ll be submitting it before the end of March to a small magazine, which is why I’m not sharing it online.

It’s true you don’t need a reputation to eventually publish a novel, but let me tell you–like for everything else in life, reputation helps.

I’m always looking for beta-readers for my work and I’m always open to being a beta-reader for others. I am reading a friends’ memoir currently and doing some editing. I’ve always been the editor for people, and I’m realizing how much I enjoy it, more-so when I get to work with them one-on-one to figure out their voice with them. I don’t always make the edits for them because I’m not a professional editor trying to get people’s work published, but sometimes I do.

What about you guys? Do you plan to self-publish? Do you have any works on display on your site? Have you won any contests? The last one I won was local and I was 17 years old. Do you consider yourself a writer?

I’m going to go mull over my thoughts on a bike ride. Until next time.

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and join me on Instagram @alilivesagain or on twitter @philopsychotic.