Tag: Writing

James Brandon — Writing Things

James Brandon, author of Ziggy, Stardust & Me, came to visit my library. In fact, we were his first official school visit.

Brandon spoke of his experience growing up as a gay teenager when homosexuality was considered a sin and aberration and not another sexual orientation among many. He showed us awkward photos from high school, complaining that “I didn’t know what to do with my hair.” Now, in plaid and jeans, with friendly glasses, a high forehead, and hair at a near-coiff, he’d definitely figured out what to do with it. But the point of his lecture was to “Believe in Yourself.”

Brandon also spoke about forgotten LBGT histoy, including the year when the DSM stopped listing homosexuality as a mental disease. On a slide he showed us how a Chicago newspaper described the event: “20,000,000 Gay People Cured!” We learned about the Gay Liberation Front and Doctor Anonymous and the barbaric treatments used to ‘cure queerness.’ And we learned how an author can connect his own intimate life experience with greater historical events.

Brandon also imparted some excellent advice for our audience’s creative writers:

  • Writing is creating real life characters. As an actor, I need to research how to embody a person. As a writer, I need to research how to embody twenty persons. One of the techniques I remember reading on the internet was to write fifty things a reader will never know about your character. I decided to go further and filled a spiral notebook for each character. Dialogue became easier because I knew about the secret conflicts my characters were dealing with.”
  • Research will unlock the greatest mysteries of your novel.”
  • “I needed to tell this story because I wasn’t seeing me out there. I wanted to write not by looking in but looking out.”
  • “It’s okay if your book takes a while. Writing my book took about 18 months to go from draft zero to draft one. Then I wrote about a hundred drafts before I turned in my manuscript to my agent, and she and I rewrote the book three more times (which took another two years) before submitting it to publishers.”
  • Most important, believe in yourself. And be you. We don’t need anything less than who you are. And your differences are your most beautiful you. We suffer without it.”

Evelyn

“I have a feeling,” she whispered to a decapitated paratrooper enthroned in his chute, “that you were like an upside down map.”

“And you weren’t made of sticks,” she told his member, which was suffering some pretty normal rigor mortis. She cocked her head as if judging the time from the sun, but you couldn’t see the sun right now. It was blocked.

She judged for a mo, checked her watch, then clamored up a B-52 stratofortress lying in a tilt. Evelyn climbed the wing casually, ignoring the billows smoking from heaters, engines, dead bodies. She danced over a guttural rotor blade slowly winding itself to a premature death, then looked at a man split in thirds.

We could have been, she fluttered. One happy swell before the wave.

Published — “Birdu Vanilla”

365 Tomorrow published my scifi microfiction “Birdu Vanilla.” The story is a reflection on senseless gaming but don’t confuse me for a ‘video games make you hurt people’ right-winger ignoring the rightful causes of gun violence. I’m more of a flightless bird who’s too fat to fly. You’ll notice the comments are more forgiving than my last piece on 365.

Justifiably so.

365 Tomorrows is an online journal that publishes speculative fiction every single fething day. The site is an excellent complement to your morning bowl of cereal and glass of Moloko Plus.

The Novel I wrote when I was Ten — “Old Endings”

Today we finish a hundred pages of literary abandon.

When I was ten, I wrote The Hero on Foot: The War of the Bowl. It was a fantasy travesty, an attempt at fascinating narrative by an immature writer that ended in drivel. You can start from the beginning by going here.

But we’re done. This is my last post on THOF:TWOFB (huh, not as catchy as LOTR) covering the final chapters.

Thank the gods there never was a sequel.


Chapter Eight

Our ‘hero on foot’ has come a long way. Javis has befriended wizards, slain knights with silly names like Sir Venice and Sir Treacle, been healed by a pontificating ogre, ordered a ‘hot squirt’ in a cathedral dedicated to cats, and tossed an urn into the face of his deadliest foe, then beheaded the guy.

But now Javis has to deal with something even stranger.

A fight between a demon and a zombie.

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The Novel I wrote when I was Ten — “The Only Fucking Battle in the War of the Bowl”

The Hero on Foot: The War of the Bowl is a trash book. Every page, every sentence, every word. Trash. And I can say that because I’m the book’s writer (in my defense, I wrote the abomination when I was ten). The manuscript is a compilation of every overused fantasy trope bound by poor syntax and grammar. Want to start at the beginning? Go here.

Today we will look at the only battle in the promised ‘war of the bowl.’ Spoiler. The battle is trash.


Chapter Six

A recap. Our hero is chilling in a cathedral. His mentor is hanging out in a cave. The villain is unconscious, carried around by his friends.

So basically nothing is happening.

But this chapter isn’t called “The Battle” for nothing.

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The Novel I wrote when I was Ten — “The Cathedral of Cats”

This is Part III of the book I wrote in middle school. If you want to start from the beginning, go here.

In 1999, when I was ten, I wrote a book. It was called The Hero on Foot: The War of the Bowl and it was the worst thing ever written. Some twenty years later and I’ve recovered that particular manuscript from my parent’s attic—and out of my immense generosity, I’ve decided to review, summarize, and post excerpts for your general amusement.

The book was a poor imitation of Lord of the Rings with the One Ring to Rule Them All replaced by kitchenware. Tolkien’s decision to use a ring makes sense. A ring is ceremonial, has intrinsic value, can represent the union of souls, has a sense of permanence and significance. Today, we wear rings to show our devoted love, or alma mater, or sport’s team, or membership in a secret society. A bowl? I guess you use it to eat cereal.

There’s a delight in watching bad movies. I hope y’all will equally enjoy bad literature.


Chapter Four

If you’ve missed the story so far, all you need to know is that our hero is badly injured and lost in the woods. That’s really all you need to know. Seriously.

Javis Kyle is discovered by an ogre named Lars. Apparently my ogres are smart, compassionate creatures.

And this is what ten-year-old-me thinks smart people sound like:

By the way, Lars is dressed like a gentleman scholar. I hired an artist to recreate this.

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