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 Late Night Thoughts, Questions for you, science, Uncategorized, writing

Death in the Anthropocene

I fell asleep at 8pm last night and woke up at 5 this morning and so let’s talk about death.

I read this essay called Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene by Roy Scranton in the book Modern Ethics in 77 Arguments. If you’re a philosophy buff like me, if you took a lot of classes in undergraduate college on the subject and found that you talked often about the older guys and not so much about the people today, then this is the book for you. I will say some of the people today are lacking in their creative abilities and misunderstanding a lot of basic philosophical concepts, but I guess that’s just how we move with the time.

How to Die in the Anthropocene (our new era today), though, is well above some of the other essays I’ve read so far in this book. It talks about facing one’s death in light of climate change, in light of war, in light of being human and succumbing to our ultimate end. Scranton challenges that a bunch of philosophers sitting around and talking about life doesn’t make changes, BUT that the Anthropocene may indeed be the most philosophical of ages in that it’s requiring we question what it means to live, what does being human mean, and, most importantly, what do our lives mean in the face of death? He says, “What does one life mean in the face of species death or the collapse of global civilization? How do we make meaningful choices in the shadow of our inevitable end? . . . we have entered humanity’s most philosophical age–for this is precisely the problem of the Anthropocene. The rub is that now we have to learn how to die not as individuals, but as civilization.”

He describes his time in Iraq and how he faced death everyday. Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s Hagakure, a samurai manual, provided some solace. It said we should “meditate on inevitable death” daily. And so Scranton did so, imaging each day that he’d be blown up or shot or killed in some other war-torn, horrific sense, and he’d tell himself he didn’t need to worry because he was already dead. What mattered, then, was helping others come back alive. Tsunetomo says, “If by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead. . . He gains freedom in the Way.”

In the end, we realize that we are already dead. Each day is a new death for us in that every moment is something new, the next moment new still. We are indeed living death. Scranton doesn’t focus on what we need to do to save ourselves or our planet, he focuses on the fact that we’re already dead and that instead we should focus on adapting to this new way of life; “we can continue acting as if tomorrow will be just like yesterday, growing less and less prepared for each new disaster . . . or we can learn to see each day as the death of what came before, freeing ourselves to deal with whatever problems the present offers without attachment or fear.”

That is learning how to die.

We can apply this to physical life just the same as Scranton did. When someone passes, they leave behind what has come before (life) and if they move on to something, each moment will start anew again, as there is nothing that doesn’t come with something; if something came alone, there would be no such thing as nothing, and visa-versa. If we didn’t have death, there would be no life, quite literally, and so to those wondering whether living infinitely is possible, it’s not. You wouldn’t be alive if you can’t die. You couldn’t even “be” because there is no chance for you to “not be.” Sorry to burst your bubble.

I would argue that in the face of death our life means exactly what it’s meant to mean: we are here, shortly, and then we are not, and that goes the same for the bee that stung my foot, for the plants I sniffed as a child, for my first cat who died peacefully on the kitchen floor. We aren’t here to make a purpose on earth, we’re here to die. And the sooner you’re okay with that, the sooner life will be enjoyable.

Death hurts. I would go so far as to say it’s the most hollow, defeating, crushing feeling I’ve ever felt, to have someone pass on without either of you ready for that. But it doesn’t have to be. They have not only graduated from life, they’ve completed their purpose.

We can’t know if anything is next, we’re almost purposefully physically limited from ever knowing something like that. All we can know is that we will all complete the same end-goal and we should find celebration and happiness in what people do here and in their graduation.

This isn’t a somber topic. Rejoice.

Until next time.

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

Posted in Community, Uncategorized, writing

World Book Day Lies

Serious question: is World Book Day today, March 4th, or Friday, April 23rd? Google and social media are conflicting sources of information right now. I guess they kind of always are.

Whatever day it may be, we’re going to talk more about Hollow Kingdom. I read another chapter. I’m really going chapter at a time here, guys, it’s hard. I’m stuck somewhere between absolutely despising every single word that comes from the narrator and absolutely loving some–SOME–of Butxon’s descriptions. This certainly is a book that showcases today’s type of modern fiction. A lot of contemporary authors who I’ve read, like Carmiel Banasky (The Suicide of Claire Bishop) and Dan Vyleta (Smoke) have intriguing plots with lackluster storytelling. What bothered me about The Suicide of Claire Bishop was the severe lack of understanding how delusions break. What bothered me in smoke is Vyleta could have went in so many different directions yet he went in the one he chose.

Ugh.

I’m a fan of Toni Morrison, John Steinbeck, John Irving, Tom Robbins, Louise Erdrich. I look for writing patterns, for dialogue development, for Easter eggs in the plot, for motifs, for meaning. I don’t much care for stories that just tell a story. I’m along for the ride, yes, but I’m also here for the art.

Back to Hollow Kingdom. I love some of her descriptions. For example, a crane fly with its “gangly legs and drunken flight” is simple but beautiful imagery. We all know how creepy those things look when they fly. In my house, we call them “Mosquito Eaters.” I have no idea if they eat mosquitos.

Some of S.T’s narration is entertaining. Take, for example, “I was in the basement, spitting pills down Big Jim’s gullet. How long did this go on for? Can’t say for sure–I’ve never fully grasped the concept of time–but I can tell you that I tried to follow Big Jim’s Big Boobs Hot German Girls calendar and that we got through one month (two whole German boobs).”

The problem I find with the narration is that a lot of the description is too often convoluted with the urge to sound deep. Sometimes simple is better. This line irks me in particular: “Dennis [the dog] even chased off taunting college crows and the malicious squirrels intent on tea-bagging the garden gnome.”

When the fuck have you ever seen a squirrel tea-bag a garden gnome? I’ve seen them crawl on the head and subsequently its balls might hang in the gnome’s face, but it’s not humping or squatting over the gnome, laughing like frat boys or ten year old children in Call of Duty.

Those kinds of descriptions are too rampant, and the only reason I criticize it is that they sound like they’re trying too hard to be humorous or stand out. You don’t need to push things like that on your readers. Let them get lost in your story and the way you write, not what you say. I’m damn near so focused on the weird narration that I forget a story is taking place.

For world book day, or fake world book day, whatever today is, I am intent on working more on editing my friends’ memoir, on editing my own manuscript, on submitting my short story to two potential publishers, and reading yet another chapter or two of Hollow Kingdom.

We WILL make it through this book, ya’ll.

We will.

Until next time.

Shiver me Timbers! You’re not following ThePhilosophicalPsychotic? Follow now! And join me over on Instagram @alilivesagain for post updates or on Twitter @Thephilopsychotic for whatever!

Posted in Community, Late Night Thoughts, Uncategorized, writing

250 Followers?!

We hit 250 followers and I’m appreciative of all of you. I’m thankful for the readers and the commenters and those of you who browse past without feeling the need to acknowledge you’ve read. I’ve been reading more of Hollow Kingdom, so I’ll have an update about that tomorrow. I’ve got to highlight some of the overarching descriptor sentences that keep grinding my gears.

I’d also like to say thank you to those of you adjusting to the switch of content on this website. I haven’t been reading a lot of psychology research lately, but when I find a good article (as in, a primary source) we’ll get back to some of our regularly scheduled programming too. I still need to update the website. I’ve mostly been writing songs, making sure I’m taking care of myself, and working on my short story I’m submitting this month. Forgive me if things take a little while to look right on the page of the site.

I also read a really beautiful essay written by Roy Scranton (I thought it said ScanTron like those blue things in college and high school you take multiple choice exams on) entitled “Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene.” I might talk about that one tomorrow. Five months ago, my best friend of 14 years passed away suddenly after birth complications from a baby that she thought she’d miscarried fully. Philosophy, and particularly taoism, have helped me learn how to grieve and how to face my own morality. I’d like to share that wisdom with all of you, especially in this time of widespread death, fear, and terror.

It won’t be cuddly. We won’t talk about how everyone dies–that’s a given. We’ll talk about how we’re already dying, how we’re dying every day, every second. We won’t talk about how that means we have to live in the moment–that’s also a given. We’ll talk about how that means nothing matters in the sense that the focus and value we place on things is quite vain, and until we learn how to accept morality, face morality, and place it in the forefront of our mind without obsessing or fearing it, we’ll never learn how to live.

And last but certainly not least in any way, I’d like to thank those of you who remember me from Mentaltruths.com. I see some of you have followed this blog as well, and while my obscene rants about Alex Gorsky and the Risperdal scandal have no place on ThePhilosophicalPsychotic, I hope you remember that with the same fondness I do, and I hope you’ll also see my sarcasm hasn’t changed much. If anything, it’s matured and aged like fine fucking wine.

I appreciate you all. If you’re new, welcome. If you’re old, thank you for sticking around. If you’re not following–what the hell are you waiting for? Don’t forget to hit that follow/join/subscribe button, whatever you see, and also join me over on Instagram @alilivesagain. We have great fun there too and you’ll get updates and sneak-peeks on posts.

Until next time guys.

Meaning, like, tomorrow.

Goodnight.

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.

Posted in Community, Questions for you, writing

To All The Crass bunches of “Douche McGoos” out there

A lot of book reviews are reviewed when the reader has finished the book and established a (mostly) secure opinion of the content. I’m not one to do things in an orderly fashion. I’ll be reviewing this book as I read it because there are some truly awful mannerisms of the characters that I’m too lazy to annotate or remember, and there are some truly wonderful descriptions and plot ideas. I figured this would also ensure I keep up with reading.

This site won’t always be book reviews, but when it is, I’m sippin’ Captain Morgan.

Fun fact: I HATE rum. And we’re talking about the book Hollow Kingdom again. Their crow is much better than that shitty one I drew yesterday.

I read some more last night and identified the mannerisms of the characters I can’t stand Let’s start with that.

*SPOILERSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS*

Do you all remember the novel Watership Down? They made a godawful (in my opinion) Netflix adaptation. The book itself is about societal politics, but from the point of view of a commune of rabbits. Hollow Kingdom is quite the opposite, being set in a newly apocalyptic world, with the story told from the point of view of multiple animals, the main character being a crow named “shit turd,” obviously called so by the human he used to hang around.

I should have known. That name was a bright red flag.

Shit Turd calls humans “Mofos,” which I honestly found cute in the beginning in the sense that he picked it up from Jim, his human, and I thought that was the last cheesy fucking name I’d hear. It seems it’s only the beginning.

A cat calls his humans Mediocre Servants (which again, kind of cute, not terrible) but also proceeds to identify them as “dildo nosed potatoes.”

Geese are referred to as a “crass bunch of douche McGoos.”

I . . .

Look ya’ll. If it was ONE character in the book with these mannerisms, if this was a character trait–or, rather, FLAW–then maybe I could tolerate it. But it seems every character so far (Shit Turd, otherwise known as S.T; Genghis cat, and Winnie The Poodle) has the same narrative voice. The only name I’m mildly entertained by is Spark Pug. That’s . . . that’s beautiful.

And while these pervasive, amateur, cheesy phrases are spread through this book with reckless abandon, there are some savior scenes which I’ve enjoyed so far. When S.T. realizes Walgreens carries over the counter medication that could save Jim, he figures he should fly up in there and get some. He encounters four zombies punching buttons on a blood pressure machine and after yelling at them unsuccessfully, S.T. gathers Monistat, Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs, Lasix, Prilosec OTC, E-Mycin, Keflex, and Summer’s Eve, all of which “sounded effective” and would cure Big Jim. Low and behold, Summer’s Eve, that traitor bitch, fell out of the bag and knocked against the check-out stand, startling the four blood pressure zombies and some pharmacy zombies who were hiding. They all rushed for S.T. and he dropped more items while being swiped at. Eventually he gathered all the items to drop off to Jim.

So far if I were to give this book a rating, I’m sitting at about a solid 3/5. That’s being generous, only for the sake of the savior scenes like the one I described above. If she wouldn’t have written those well, I would have gave this book away to someone who enjoys reading without getting immersed in diction, syntax, plot, story, narrative voice and figurative language.

What do you guys think? Should I keep putting out an opinion on this book or have you had enough? Do you really not care at all? Let me know what you think. Give me a thumbs up emoji, even, or a thumbs down emoji or even that emoji that’s supposed to be ice cream but looks like a pile of shit. I’m happy with all of it.

Until next time.

Don’t forget to hit the follow button and come join me on Instagram @Alilivesagain or Twitter @thephilopsychotic

I’m learning Reels on IG, so this should be interesting. Come join me.

Join me. I have no friends, so I need internet buddies.

Posted in Community, Emotions, Late Night Thoughts, Questions for you, writing

Books and Things and Things and Books!

How incredibly lucky we all are. This sentence has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I’ve just been reflecting on things, and figured maybe it will spark others into reflection as well.

I picked up a book called Modern Ethics in 77 arguments and have sworn myself to at least an argument essay a day. This last one I read was actually about human nature, evolution, and our inner conflict: what makes us altruistic or callous? Are some people born good and some born bad or are we born neither one of them and simply learn traits? The author of that essay is a biological mathematician and from his studies he says we are all a mix of everything really, and I think that’s always the answer in real science. People think just because we study something that we’re going to get concrete answers and that’s rarely ever the case. Life is complicated, biology and chemistry much more so.

The other book I’m reading is called Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton. It was laying dormant on a table surrounded by cheesy romance/friendship novels in the middle of Barnes and Noble. It’s bright green with a picture of a wide-eyed crow above the city of Seattle, Washington. Of course I fucking grabbed it.

The synopsis of the story is that this crow visits this human everyday, at least he has been, and this time he visits, his human’s eye falls out. Then his human is wandering around, banging his head against the wall and bleeding from his fingers. Obviously the world has been zombified and this crow is our witness from the beginning. The idea is fun and strange, but sometimes her writing comes off as amateur. Amateur in the sense that there are a lot of unnecessary descriptors, things that you’re told not to do, or things you’re told to watch out for, when you’re in a creative writing workshop/class. This is her debut novel, so I’m giving her some slack. I’ll come back with more information once I finish the book. Both of the books.

You see, the picture above was going to be what the cover looks like, but then I made it dark. That thing was supposed to be a crow, but because I am not a drawer gifted by the gods, it came out looking like it’d been mangled by a car. So I turned it into Crowthulu. Sue me.

What do you all enjoy most about reading? What kind of books do you enjoy? I like anything that deviates from the norm, or if it’s within the parameters of the norm, it must be creative in other ways, like poetic syntax or narrative voice. Something that for me I consider in the “norm” would be books that express ultra-realistic relationships and experiences in the world, books that don’t embrace magical realism, paranormal things or super-human qualities. A book that follows a woman after a messy divorce, to me, is within the norm, and I’m willing to read it if there’s something about it that stands out.

I’m very cautious about that now. I read Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh and almost emailed her to get my two days worth of reading back. Her book follows a troubled girl who meets a fantastical (but very real and normal) woman.

I mean, that’s literally the plot.

She meets the woman, spends the remainder of the book describing every little feeling she experiences, every little bit of hatred she has for her alcoholic father, whines, and then this BIG THING that is constantly foreshadowed in the book happens within a few pages and it’s the end.

As a writer, I’m not here to tear other writers down, but when something just ISN’T IT, I’m going to say it, and I’d hope fellow writers would have the same mentality toward my work.

Comment some of your favorite books or short stories or poetry or some of your worst of all of the above! Let’s all give each other something to read.

I personally love to read books that I don’t find that good. It’s more of a learning tool than anything.

What do you think?

Please hit that follow button if you’re enjoying what you read, and come meet me on Instagram @ alilivesagain!

Posted in Questions for you, Uncategorized, writing

Beta Readers? Beta Reading?

Sometimes this is fruitless, but I’ve decided to put it out in the ether anyway: anyone out there in need of a beta reader? I love reading others’ works. I’m editing a friends’ memoir currently. I’m also looking for beta readers of my own for a short story I’m submitting to a competition in March. I’m looking for feedback and/or constructive criticism, as well as a fresh perspective for the content and/or any typos. I’ve had a few anonymous eyes read it already. It’s about 3.5 printer pages (word document) and is written in the form of a letter. It’s quite amusing if you ask me, but I’m the writer.

Although, I will say that not all of my writing amuses me. Most of the time I find it grotesque.

Maddening.

Irreparable.

I could go on and on.

Does any one else stay up late into the night contemplating their works’ successes and then wake the next morning only to realize it will inherently fail?

I’m being morbid. In reality, most of our writing will never be read by anyone.

Is that still too morbid?

A lot of people say that it doesn’t matter, that you just write for you, and that’s great for them and all, but I’ve never written something that I wouldn’t want read by someone else. I write as a form of communication, as a way to delve into the hearts and minds and souls of people I’ll never meet.

The point of this post is to ask for Beta Readers. So I’ll ask again: anyone want to swap writings or read mine or want me to read theirs? If so, you can comment down below, email me at alishia.dauterive@icloud.com OR reach out to me on Instagram @alilivesagain. That’s probably the fastest way. I had to erase my contact page on here to make space for other things. I’ve also forgotten how to work WordPress.

Thanks guys.