Creative Writing 101

Still not dead. Still writing sometimes. Either this is the first real evidence of my insanity or a somewhat decent take on the philosophy behind creative writing. 

To work in creative writing, in storytelling, you have to be able to access lives. Not just be capable of crafting a character, but a whole life. Building fictional spaces can’t be where your work stops, you need to experience those fictional spaces in every possible way.

Characters can’t know they exist to fill archetypes, can’t be handed plot armor, they have to take those mantles, by force, from the author and audience. Characters exist in physical realms for those who consume the medium, and they (the audience) can compartmentalize them however they see fit. Those who write them well must be connected to their life and be able to enter their notion of reality. They need to look at everything in the very fashion the character, not the author, would. There is a fallacy in this notion, certainly.

Bear with me as I wax philosophical for a minute. Every person living is experiencing a different life. My understanding of everything is different from yours. Literally everything. We cannot actually share a true reality. Even our agreed upon truths and safeguards for civilization and emotive creatures aren’t the same for any of us. Sometimes those differences are massive and noticeable, but what I’m talking about is more simplistic and broad than that. My understanding of, experiences with, and value of anything cannot match anyone else’s. The details of humanity are too beautifully complex and violently chaotic for that. The methods by which we store information and use that to interact with the world is a deeply personal thing. One alteration to our experience would vastly render us different. If we ventured into an alternate reality that only differentiated from ours in one way, whether it is the name of butterflies or the hand you use as dominant, you would find yourself alienated from your alternate reality self. You wouldn’t be able to think the same as the other version of yourself. It can be fun to consider this, to give reality this much elasticity. It is also alienating and puts humans on a path of solipsism. I think this is unfortunately true.

Now, there are methods by which one can get a sort of look behind the veil of other peoples lives. A glance at the network that connects us. Methods to get “online” a sort of spiritual and psychic internet. Meditation, drugs, shared experiences, sexy maybe. But being able to see the others, or talk to them even, aren’t the same as being them. You are still connected via your understanding, experiences with, and values regarding these cosmic treats. You’re still using “software” you designed yourself and you happen to own the search engine. I’m not against fostering these connections. I’ve dabbled in all the methods above and love all my time spent “online”. It’s only on those grounds I’m comfortable in my conclusions. We haven’t mastered self-awareness as entities. We haven’t escaped the reality of human consciousness. I think it is unfortunately true.

See my fallacy? I’ve made creative writing essentially impossible. If to write is to express lives and you can’t ever truly escape your own, how the fuck can you write?

The answer is you can’t. Writing is like conducting an experiment. You can’t ever actually prove anything, but you can disprove dumb shit and elevate certain theory’s credibility. A writer’s job is trying to create places where others live. Good writers make those places seem like a place you’d want to visit on your own consciousness internet excursions. Good writers elevate the good places and populate them with characters that don’t have to prove anything. Their characters spread out, touching the surfaces and melding with the place. The good writer sets out to birth creatures and lets them roam freely and develop into what they need to be, not what the author wants them to be.

 

Hands 1-3

1.

In search of brutal hands

that can bash in skulls and eyes and tongue,

hands that turn the person to primordial

and leave visceral poetry across

the crime scenes, hands that pour

goat milk and raw honey from Grecian vases

and waterboard this temple until

it cries out cosmic truth,

hands made of serpent flesh

that pull hearts and lungs from cages

and examines them in the fresh mountain sun

looking for potential jewels,

hands that do the work of Revalations,

that drum and trumpet the beat of four riders

pulling apart this husk

in those cardinal directions

leaving a mandala of all one was

for scavengers to fight over,

hands that won’t let go till our

fervorous pleas of OH-PLEASE-KILL-ME

aren’t speaking from a place of fear

but from the roots,

in search of those hands

that show us all that remains

good in a man.

 

2.

If I rub my hands together, with enough force

I can turn the dust into sparks,

a handful of lightning thoughts and thunder beliefs,

and if I do it long enough,

there will be plenty for you and for me.

 

And if we rub our hands together, with enough force,

we can turn all fear into a seedling,

a tree with roots tangled in and out our

skin, blossoms bursting through our chests

and fruit shall fall from our eyes

as we age.

 

I rub my hands across the petals of your lips,

I can turn them into ash, with enough force,

and then I can hold more of you

in my hands.

 

If I rub my hands together

I can turn your dust into sparks

all lightning struck tree,

planted in the palm of me.

 

3.

Those who can read

Know her as a star map, already fading

 

those who can touch

Know her sympathy can, in fact, vanish

 

Those who can hold

End up knowing she doesn’t really want them

 

Those who are offered, though,

Know she is handing them a second chance.

Entry #22

Officers Parker and Bishop shuffled down the steep scree field, sending smaller rocks racing out under their heavy feet to the bottom of the coulee. They had parked behind the ambulance, which itself had been parked behind the fire chief’s rig, which was further parked behind the logging truck that had first stopped and called in the crash. The guardrail was severely mangled, like a great beast had come along and shredded its rusty contours with razor-sharp claws. It was that time of day where the sun had just begun its travels off to other parts of the world, and the mountains and trees were casting jagged shadows that danced as the emergency service lights all spun around at different speeds. The bottom of the ravine was home to numerous small shrubs and a creek that gurgled by gaily with little to no regard to the horrendous addition the mangled truck had made.

 

Both deputies had heard over the radio who exactly it was that had been ejected from the driver’s seat. Both couldn’t help but think it was related to the Nice case, yet both were determined to not let the paperwork from this incident join that growing pile of shit.

 

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If Hemingway Wrote My Life

The Teacher watched the bubbles race each other to the surface of his drink. It was a bastard drink, 7-Up and Knob Creek Whiskey on ice. It was the yellow of an ale and had almost no bite. He could have sworn he put in several fingers of the whiskey, but the soda held all the bite at bay. It was good and sweet in the late afternoon. It made his mind at ease at first swig.

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The Last Poem I Ever Wrote

I’m slurping down my ghouls with whiskey shots

Suppress and deny

 

Suppress and deny.

 

I finally found out what is wrong with me

My face isn’t symmetrical,

 

My face isn’t symmetrical

So how dare you expect me to contribute

To society.

 

The left eye is lazy,

The crows feet are different heights,

There are already crows feet,

One eye is sadder than the other,

The hair doesn’t line up,

There are already crows feet,

One eyebrow is intense

And it ain’t the right one,

Or the right one,

The left eye is lazy,

My face isn’t symmetrical.

 

How can you expect me to contribute

To society?

 

All the friends keep saying,

“It’ll be good.”

But I never was a friend with smart folk.

This will have to be the last poem I ever wrote

Until I drink whiskey again.

 

 

 

Even then,

My face isn’t symmetrical

And these ghouls keep sharpening my teeth

On their way down.

Entry #20

From: Academypublishinghouse@*****.com

To: thepeachykings@gmail.com

Subject: Progress?

Body:

Hey AT & RH,

Loving the copies we have seen so far. You two have a real knack for filling in the blanks of what happened in those bumpkin towns. Two reasons I’m contacting you today, and frankly, it’s not all peachy. (see what I did there?) The first item, sales from the last book are down. This was to be expected going into this quarter but still thought you two should know. I guess people are done hearing about the incident in Phoenix, with the final finding being inconclusive and all. There is a palpable energy here in the office though; we are really excited about this Deercliff work. Which leads to my second reason for emailing. WTF is up with the delays? That sheriff got her memoir out within months of the events up there, and she is on fucking Ellen. We don’t know how much longer we can cover your expenses without seeing some tangible results from our investment. Need to see the next entry of the work sooner rather than later. If you two are burnt out or something, then just say so, but we need to have something ready to publish in the next few months (even if it’s unfinished) to keep up our contract with you.

Sorry for the pressure, like I said, we really like what you have sent our way. just really really need you guys to wrap up your work in Deercliff and come on home.

Good Luck,

Amelia.

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Keelhaul (Short Story)

This is a long short sci-fi story about space and goo and loneliness and love and fathers and stuff. It has been taking up most of my writing time lately, and I’m just happy to have this first draft done. Definitely a work in progress. Enjoy and feel free to provide feedback in the commentspretty please.  – OG Soggy Boi

Keelhaul

By AJ Tompkins

Audio log – Hospital Corpsman Antony

Assigned: UENC Giles

Joint UEN/Herrmannian Empire Expedition

Mission Statement: Rendezvous with Exploratory Drones in Asteroid Belt Z-378 for Frozen Water Stores

Entry Number: 1,031

I am recording this entry with the purpose of submitting it as an official record and as part of my case against UENC Commander Charon, CO of the UENC Giles. I will attempt to leave out no detail, and cover all the bases for this complaint.

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Two Bottle Ballad (Poetry)

Two Bottle Ballad

 

Like Christ my blood is wine,

Each sip a fuzzy caterpillar crawl

To the fruit end of the tree,

Barely flowered, tart,

I let it consume each new possibility

Before its time.

The only other route being

let them grow fat and drag my branches

Across the ground,

Creating a whole new generation,

A grove of mistakes,

Thorns and vines

Stealing away light that should be

Mine.

It Gets Dark Early (Poetry)

It Gets Dark Early

 

Round this way it gets dark early,

So all the people follow suit,

Antler crowns and flowers in their hair

Amulets designed to catch the solstice sun

And faux Orion belts round their waists.

 

Never enough light around this way,

So our eyes adjust and pupils get big,

Chakras aligning with the shadows cast

By all the bigger figures of imperial history

And them chains they got tangled in.

 

Round this way celebration requires fire,

So the hands are always sap stained and cracked,

The axes have constant existential crises

They are the only ones singing and swinging

And that just doesn’t seem fair.

 

Never enough good around these days,

So we just wear cloaks plucked from ravens,

Better to blend into those smoky bar walls

While sticky hands pass ciders and meads

And all the voices mumble apologies.

 

Round this way superstition reigns,

So all the sovereigns lean on the entrails

Cast about by lazy shamans with red hands

Despite them never picking up afterward

And claim truth is theirs alone to create.

 

Never enough round this way,

Yes, round this way there is never enough.

Climate’s Change

(via Daily Post, Finite)

 

The flames are always finite,

For they rely on the generous giving of

Others bodies for their warmth.

Eventually they get climatized

To the predatory pity and decide to fade,

Ash to dirty ash, spinning and

Cackling like newborns

As they spin free, dust returned

To dust, so fine it lingers

In your life line and love line

Through each wash, growing darker

And more a part of your skin.

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