A Writer’s Funk: Writing Plenty, Producing Nothing

I have not forsaken the blogosphere. Normally I would blame my absence on the Muses forsaking me, but that’s not even true. I’m in one of those funks.  This particular funk is the no-matter-how-I-write-it-it-looks-like-crap-to-me funk.

Generally, I try to say something profound or at least remotely helpful in my blog. Taking a step back to consider that only posting when things work might be a misrepresentation of the writing life, I decided to post about what’s going on now—the time when nothing at all seems to work.

Gah

That moment when it gets really tempting to say, “Screw this shit! It’s whiskey o’clock!”

I have a couple of undone blog entries and an almost-finished short story for my project 13 Morbid Tales sitting on my laptop.

The blogs are being hindered by two pesky little demons: the Nobody Wants to Read That demon, and his bitchy associate, the What Will They Think of You demon.  The former whispers, “Seriously, who on Earth really gives a crap about that? The few who might have had similar experiences, so you’re not exactly enlightening anyone.” Meanwhile, the latter whispers, “What? You want the whole world to think you’re a wack-job, in addition to the few who know you well enough to know you’re a wack-job?”  Posting this is kind of my way of telling both demons to f*ck off. Hopefully it works, and you’ll see these posts soon.

The short story is another issue entirely. It has, in my opinion, everything a short story of its nature should have, except for that whole being finished thing.  It started with a loose outline, and of course, as the story started taking shape, it evolved well past the outline. Great! It should have done so. I had momentum.  I had direction. Well, I still have direction, but suddenly no momentum.  Every paragraph I write reads back to me a little something like this:

Blah, blah…Is that even a word?…Blah, blah…Bad segue…Blah, blah…Sentence I really like…Blah, blah, blah, blah…and, oh yeah—blah!

A friend and fellow wordsmith once advised me against doing the “writerly” thing, which, in that particular case, meant reworking a whole paragraph over and over to no avail just because I was too in love with the one sentence that was screwing it up to remove it.  Realizing how great that advice was after I took the troublesome sentence out (because I ended up with a great paragraph), I placed it in the great advice file in my memory bank to be revisited any time I saw myself in a similar situation.  Well, you know what I read after I took out that great sentence? Exactly the same as above minus the “sentence I really like” part! So I scrapped the shit. And by that I mean I scrapped the paragraph, not the story. The story is good.

So, for half a second, I decided to turn to free-writing exercises to help unclog whatever has been stopping me up. But that idea was shot to hell by my own screaming at myself to, for the love of Pete, focus on the task at hand!

Gah!

There is no conclusion to this post. No great pearl of wisdom. Hell, there isn’t even a plastic Mardi Gras bead of wisdom. Just know that I’ve not abandoned you. I’ve been keeping up with the reading of posts, even if I don’t comment, ’cause God(ess) knows, I haven’t even been able to write a good one of those lately!

Freddy Krueger vs. The Children of the Corn (or Stuff I Think About Instead of the Task At Hand)

It started with an innocent status update on Facebook. “Ya know what horror movie I’d like to see get made? Freddy vs. The Children of the Corn.”

It was really meant to be no more than a humorous status update at the end of a Friday. No more, no less. But my head is a chaotic place at best and there is always something to contemplate besides the task at hand.

For those unaware of who Freddy Krueger is or who The Children of the Corn are (although I don’t know how one could be unaware), a little background first.  Freddy Krueger, of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, is a murdered burn victim turned dream demon who feeds on fear and kills the teenagers of Elm Street in their dreams (there’s a lot more to the story, but truly, I’m assuming people know who freakin’ Freddy Krueger is, and if not, Google it). The Children of the Corn from the Children of the Corn franchise are a bunch of bat-sh*t crazy kids from the fictitious rural town of Gatlin, Nebraska who kill all the adults for the pleasure of a demon referred to as “He Who Walks Behind the Rows”.  Of course they off each other when they become adults too.  The movie franchise started with Children of the Corn, which is based on a short story by Stephen King. And honestly, anything else you need to know can be Googled.

Of course, there was also the movie Freddy vs. Jason, which sparked this “Freddy vs…” nonsense in my head to begin with.

So anyway, there I was, basking in the “likes” of an innocent status update, when my chaotic head took over, outlining the plot no matter how hard I tried to concentrate on other things, because really, this sh*t writes itself.

So, we’ve established that the adults in Gatlin are gone. The children are now wards of the state of Nebraska.  Of course, everyone in Nebraska knows about what happened in Gatlin by now, so no one in his or her right mind fosters or adopts these kids. Enter the grief-stricken parents of Elm Street, desperate to hear the pitter patter of little feet, or even the hormone driven tantrums of teenagers, in their homes again after Freddy killed their own children.

Zoom in on an idealistic young couple who really just wanted to adopt the adorable six-year-old girl with bouncing curls, but upon finding out she had siblings, had to take them all in.  They’re taking their three adopted children (because there are always three—unless we’re talking about horror movie sequels, in which case there are many more), into their big, wonderful home on Elm Street.

However, the teenage middle child (because it’s always the middle child), hasn’t quite forgotten about his devotion to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, and so he becomes the leader of a whole new corn cult on Elm Street.

The killings start out looking like accidents.  The town drunk falls into an electric fence mysteriously turned up too high.  A bookshelf falls on the librarian.  The man with the notorious road rage runs his car off the bridge.  But soon it becomes obvious that the children of Elm Street are killing the adults.

And, you know, there’s that corn field that grew out of nowhere in a suburban neighborhood.

So, there’s Freddy, hangin’ out, havin’ a beer, watchin’ the game—you know, whatever it is Freddy does in his non-killing hours—when he senses the fear on Elm Street (kind of like a disturbance in the force).  Elated, he throws on his glove and goes to work.

Much to his surprise, it’s not the children of Elm Street emanating all the fear.  It’s the adults!  What a quandary for Freddy! If he does what’s in his nature, he’s a hero, not a villain. But then, well, there are some kids to be killed. I imagine this as some poignant moment with Freddy, head in knife-gloved hand, contemplating his path, accompanied by maudlin violins and dim lighting. But then, as the music reaches a crescendo, his head snaps up in his ah-ha moment.  He is Freddy!  He is a killer of teens! (Because we can’t have him killing small children—audiences couldn’t take that and it would destroy the possibility of the almighty sequel. These kids must become teens.)  He is what he is and there is blood to be spilled!  And if that makes him a hero, so bloody what!

And then there’s lots of blood, and gore, and a final battle between Freddy and He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Toe to Toe. Demon to Demon! Freddy inevitably saves Elm Street, if only to secure some future killing for himself. Job security is important in this economy.

It will be wonderful! You’ll have a tub of popcorn.  You’ll share a giant soda with your date.  You’ll hover over the cinema toilet to take a runny poo before you laugh about the movie in the car the whole way home.

But you won’t freakin’ blog about it because I already did!

Book Review: The Werewolf’s Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten

The Werewolf’s Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten by Ritch Duncan and Bob Powers, with illustrations by Emily Flake, is easily the most fun book I’ve read in quite some time.  Written in the same spirit as The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead (by Max Brooks), The Werewolf’s Guide to Life is a tongue in cheek manual to help new lycanthropes (werewolves) survive their first few moons (transformations).

Not lacking in dark humor, the book addresses topics such as how lycanthropes should lock themselves away during their moons, what they should do if they get loose and turn or kill someone (because, let’s face it, it’s going to happen), and why lycanthrope suicide is not an option.

If you’ve ever sat and wondered, “Well what if…” when it comes to the life of a werewolf, this book will answer every question you’ve ever had and a few you probably didn’t in a way that will make you howl with laughter.

Yes, I know that last line was cheesy.  Feel free to have some wine with it.

While thoughtfully and thoroughly written, The Werewolf’s Guide to Life is a quick and easy read, perfect for your daily lunch breaks or a road trip (as the passenger, of course!).  I even enjoyed a few chapters before bed!

If you’ve read or are reading this book, feel free to add to this review in the comments.

Happy reading!