Monday, November 24, 2014

Cosplay The 13th


    A bonus post lands this afternoon thanks to a flash fiction prompt over at Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds blog.

    For those of you unfamiliar with Chuck and his work, let’s just say — in a run-up-to-Christmas kind of a way — that he’s the other “guy with the beard”.

    This week’s prompt was a simple one:

    Get the hell up off of your scented bean bag, Whirl, and make merry with your writing paraphernalia.

    Alternatively:

    Write a 1000 word superhero story, mashed up with another subgenre.


    I decided to run with moderate horror on this one, and having “turned up” thusly, here’s what I turned out...


Cosplay The 13th


    Darkness invades my skull through pursed irises of terror.

    Was that a crash or a thump or a bump or a bang?

    I kick back my duvet and assume a defensive stance, midway between Rogue Gorilla On The Loose and Possible Vampire Alien.

    “It’s Cosplay Time!”

    My trademark costume on up catchphrase is met by the silence of a custom-built superhero mansion under threat.

    Where is my alter ego’s moulded carapace?  My matching boots and helmet?  All the fancy swishy swashing of automated hypervelcro?


    I throw on the lights and reach inside the bedside cabinet for my Standby Costume Putter-onner Device Array Container Pod — my SCPODACP!

    Dials buzz as I punch in my 363-digit encrypted security code and assemble the locater aerial, but in my fear-fuelled haste, I hellheck can’t remember who I chose as my favourite TV or movie star — and the pod dies.

    Everything about this scenario suggests INVADERS WITH EVIL INTENT, and without my costume I’m naked as a helpless babe: a bundle of fear waiting to be consumed whole by fear itself.

    Someone — or some thing — or some ONES — or some THINGS — or ALL THINGS — have breached my mansion’s defences, and now creep, en stealthy masse, about staircase and scullery, eager to unleash their uncanny devilry upon my helpless, costumeless form with the psychopathic zeal of Elvis lookalikes battling to outquiff each other to the beat of Heartbreak Hotel.


    I pull out my phone and call the emergency costume hotline.

    A thousand bucks a month buys me premier 24 hour access, but you never know when some intergalactic space war will drag those guys from their desks, leaving behind only a clueless goober and a pile of microwave oven instruction manuals.

    Tonight I’m lucky.  Tonight I get the stretchy head honcho.


    With one ear on every nook and cranny of my mansion, and both eyes popping from my skull, I run through my dilemma — like The Flash.

    “Hmmm,” says the guy, “sounds like you have a problem with the destablerized molecules comprising your costume.  Best thing is for you to hook up some kind of nuclear generation device to any two parts of your superbeing apparel you can lay your hands on, and perform a straight interdimensional particle swap boost. That ought to meld those costume parts and transform them into a magnet for the rest.”


    I thank the guy and rub my hands.

    Most other superheroes would be out on a limb right now, but if the sworn arch-enemy of Lieutenant Particle has learned anything from 30 years of superheroics, it’s this:

    Given a choice between making a hasty and triumphal post-combat exit from a Death Star, clutching either the plans for a nuclear generation device OR a rare beetle collection, you take the plans every time — then assemble what you find, in your basement, with a 24-piece screwdriver and spanner set.

    And, yeah, maybe you steal a few beetles also — and Snoopy Dance.


    My brain flips into Mission Plan Mode, cogs whirring, amygdala suppressant soup swirling.  All I have to do is figure how to make it through the shadows to the basement without being eaten or roasted, fix up my costume with nukes, then deal with the bad guys without being eaten or roasted.

    Do I take the stairs, the elevator, or the curiously superhero-width and ladder-rich ventilation shaft?

    Panic grips my throat like my heart had pumped right up inside my neck and made like a boa constrictor with my tonsils.

    It’s indecision like this that first led me to become AquaLaserPantherBoyForceMan, and my mind swills with images of the uncle I couldn’t save, the radioactive sea cucumber I felt compelled to insert, the Nordic hammer whose typo I couldn’t prevent myself from pointing out to the Gods (which they subsequently had tattooed all over my body) — and the $3,795 bill for badly sewn spandex.

    But there’s no time for origins now.  This is the finale.

    Preferably, not mine.

   
    Flesh creeping about my knotted sinews, I take the pole direct to the basement, cursing myself for letting Flapdancegirl slip from my life.  I still hear her leather apron’s skid against the pole’s cold steel, feel the lash of her forty foot tongue against the insides of my toenails.

    What a fool I was to throw her away — to lose her, leave her flailing in Dr Murkswamp’s devillish Sargasso of Doom to die.

    I hereby dedicate the forthcoming mortal combat to the memory of our love — just as soon as I retrieve my aquahelmet from its curious new semi-resting place above the basement door.

    Its sequinned chrome glints in the candlelight’s twisted shadows as it shakes from side to side, neither levitating, hovering nor flying.

    Next to it is a glove, vibrating like the pixels of a frozen DVD movie.

    It’s a mis-atomized costume assembly glitch, just as the tech guy said!  But now, a cold chill waterfalls down my back, and there’s no time to figure out the what, when, why, how, who, where, which, whatever of it all: I have precisely the two parts of my costume I need to reassemble the whole thing.

    Heads up!  It’s time to kick open the door and make with the nukes!

    Or, because I’m still in my exoskeletonless pyjamas, maybe I should just use the door handle.


    Lieutenant Particle’s nuke device throbs before me, its Master Booster Power Switch clutched tight by the coils of Flapdancegirl’s prehensile tongue!

 
    She pounds the switch, hard — and laughs.

    My aquahelmet spins onto my head.  Gloves and trunks and belts and panther pelts fly in a haze all around me, velcro into place, one by one.

    From a secret receptacle below my chin, my underwater protection mask rolls out over my nose and mouth, sealing my costume tight.

    But this time, no pffffft of oxygen!

    No flip-down titanium snorkel!

    Flapdancegirl fixes me in her sights and grins her cruellest erectile dysfunction grin.





    Uh oh.

    It’s Cosplay Time...


Crease Me Please Me


    Cups of coffee come and go from my desk like a succession of acrobats cavorting on a trampoline, each one secretly borne through the wormhole between Humdrumville and Writing Central by my inner procrastinator.

    I dare not test my pulse for fear of reaching 1000 before I place fingertip to wrist.

    On my writing slope, words buzz from crisp white paper, traced in black ink with the purpose of a gramophone needle let loose on a polyparobolic groove of indeterminate rpm.

    My characters are trapped here, behind swirled bars.

    They clutch at ink, rattle the paper, rumble with muffled voices.

    No rubber ring strikeouts can save them.

    No megaphone corrections can make their stories heard.

    No turn of the paper can uncover them.


    More coffee arrives, and so pumped is the vessel at my elbow’s crook, I swear a feisty terrier could leap through the hymen of skin twixt blood and bone more readily than a dolphin stunting with a hoop.

    I must not look for this dog.

    His muddy paw prints will smudge all I have written, his eager tongue will bathe my aching muscles in the saliva of Downtoolsmania.

    He may even beguile me into knitting a woollen typewriter from his scraggy fur.

    Or bite me on the cock.


    My eyes roll to the ceiling, and spin, blurring into one the single lightbulb overhead and the retinal blind spot buried deep in my skull.

    Grey.

    Grey dog.

    Wagtail.


    “So, am I a dog or a bird — or what?”

    Whiskers twitch before me like strands of spiderweb coated in frozen chocolate.

    “You’re a figment, a mere figment is all — a sliver of hairy nothingstuff as phantomy of anatomy as all these characters whose words and deeds hang helplessly from obfuscation’s  fuzziest hook here on the page.”

    The dog winks.  “Yeah — but I might just know something.”


    We talk — me with the air of a sceptical 79 year-old negotiating the mis-selling of a dubious pension, and he with his dopey dawgie look powered down to zero for maximum Sound Canine Advice effect.  He fetches a couple of sticks between his orations, which is weird because I neither throw any nor have the faintest clue where he’s getting them from.

    Cats don’t pull stunts like this.

    When the dog is done, I fold my paper like he said, making triangles, squares, weird obliqueys.

    It’s half origami, half screw-into-a-ball, and as the dog woofs further particulars, a figure forms between my fingers  — a figure I fall in love with instantly.


    “I’ll call him Foldy.  He can act like a kind of conduit between the spirit world of my imagination and the real world of punctuation.”

    “Sure, if you can get him to stand up.”

    “I’ll fix up a stand.  From chapter two of this nouveauness-free novel.”

    “Why limit yourself?  Go for the whole podium.”


    I pluck paper from my drawer, eager to transform WIP-fodder into a podium, a skyscraper, a whole world of adventure for Foldy to discover and enjoy and...maraud around in.

    The dog flips over with excitement.  “I’ll construct an underground labyrinth from all your rejected scripts, and if we make like crazy with maybe your Daphne Du Maurier collection, between us we can fashion a narrative for Foldy and his friends!”

    “Friends?”

    “Sure.  We can rustle up a perfectly serviceable sidekick from all your 60s Spidey comics.” 



    It’s an approach I’d never thought of before.

    But I never had a fictional furball-cum-sidekick of an Origami Worlde enthusiast before, licking at my face and burying his cold, black nose deep into the folds of my punctured elbowaic hymen.

    If truth is stranger than fiction, it plays in a different cinema today.

    I have no need for celluloid or expensive nacho-burger hybrids; less still do I crave a miscellaneous fruit flavoured mushy-slushy shitswamp.

    It’s days like these that make writing worthwhiler than usual.

    Dogs, whiskers, Foldy: all is bliss.



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Incubatteyries Recharged


    Most writing advice goes like this:

    Write!

    Write till your fingers bleed and paramedics avoid you for fear of drowning!

    Write till your backside is number than a paralysed octopus!

    Write in the face of a Godzilla / alien horde team-up — but make no reference to this in your writing!

    And so on, and so forth, and bleurgh.

   
    I did try to follow this advice on Monday morning, really I did.

    I did try to ensure that the Abysswinksback Family Online Writing Advice Facility failed to default on its commitment to splonk forth something vaguely wordy at 9.59am every Monday and Thursday.

    But you know how it is sometimes with necks and waking up and swellings and pus and spider-like fish things that crawl from open wounds above your jugular notch and writhe, writhe, writhe: there’s only so much you can do with cheeks blown out to Kim Kardashian proportions and an Adam’s Apple the size of a tumour bulldozered from a fat guy’s stomach during an episode of Bizarre & Disgusting Ailments & Afflictions.

    I haven’t so much nursed this condition as wrestlered it.

    Fuck writing — I couldn’t even brush my teeth or see my willy to piss straight.

    As for my volunteer hour at the old people’s home down the road, let’s just say that when I phoned to cancel, my voice was so gurgly and weird that they evacuated (then torched) the place, fearing Satanist attack.

    That’s why nothing got written on Monday.

    No blog posts, no fiction, no sonnets praising Victoria Coren-Mitchell’s sensational hair.

    But none of this means that my writerly brain failed to work.

    Behind the wall of pustulent fish-flesh masquerading as my face and neck, sufficient synapses flickered on with the delayed zeal of damp fireworks.

    Ideas came, links were made — some of which were completely unrelated to my neckular tumescence and its associated throbbing agony (and spider-fish bunjee displays).

    So the hard part of writing continued — the plunge into the dread pool of uncertainty, the kiss of idiosyncrasies, the (ok, so, yeah, this sometimes happens) farting.


    Now that I’ve more or less recovered (bar the odd red lump and the occasional random pinhead-thin fountain of clear yellow liquid), it only remains for me to w-r-i-t-e-i-t-o-u-t.

    So maybe that’s my writing advice for the day:

    Speculate!  Incubate!  Speculate!  Incubate!

    The marks on the paper will come in the end.

     
Sorry #197 — on Monday, I won at Neck

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Curse Of Pre-Christmas

    It’s gettin’ to look a lot like Christmas.

    Not actually Christmas, as in stacks of tinsel and reindeer everywhere you look.

    It’s just LIKE Christmas.

    I’ve always been bugged by the way shops roll out the Santa with the prematurity of knee-jerk ejaculators, but at least in previous years they’ve been honest.

    We believe Christmas begins on November 21st, which is why we have our tree up and our elves gadding, cute n’ perky.

    Customers were then free to grumble or cheer as they shopped, the reliefmongers cussing the Twelfth Nighters for their traditions of misery, and much hissing of they’re completely ruining the spirit of the season on the ditto versa.

    The new pre-Christmas decorations throw the whole thing into disarray.

    The small Christmas is coming notices (compwete with twee iwwustwation) dangled tantalisingly in the red wine and dog food aisle the moment the hallowe’en stuff got binned are merely REMINDERS, as in

    * Your electricity bill is due.  Please pay within 30 days.
    * It’s time for your six-monthly dental check-up.  Please call the surgery at your earliest convenience.
    * We Sommaly piratts.  We hav ur parants.  Pay 1m quids or thay dye neks fiday.

    “Too early to put up the Christmas decorations, Sir?  Indeed it is, which is why you’ll see nothing of the kind in any of our stores for at least another week.  What you see is what you always see: informative, helpful in-store publicity, all of which serves to highlight our forthcoming offers.  We sincerely believe it is in our customers’ interests to provide information that might interest them.  We all have to stock up and keep costs down, and our promotional information reflects this.  We think it’s good news for customers, good news for business — and good news for Christmas.”

    At which point I wrestled the guy behind the counter into the freezer cabinet and clubbed him to death with a pack of frozen beefburgers.

    Regrettably, they were not “2-for-1" — or I might have pummelled his brains out.




Monday, November 10, 2014

Hinny2volition


    I’m no big fan of multitasking.

    Sure, I can breathe AND remain upright AND look at Lolcats simultaneously, but juggling bananas while flicking pound coins into tigers’ mouths is mercurial ambidexterity too far for this cack-handed writer, let me tell you.

    What interests me right now are the shifts in thought and deed (same thing, actually, but I love a good shorthand clichĂ©) that must necessarily take place as we move from one activity to another.

    One minute, you’re gardening; the next, you’re cooking dinner — till finally, you’re on  your hands and knees cleaning baby sick from the living room carpet or shopping online for novelty leather motorcycle pantees.

    The point is, there are some activities that lend themselves to easy transitions while others remain problematically clunky.

    Sometimes this is simply the result of incompatible physiological states being bundled together in too short a time frame, as anyone who has tried to connect with their yogic wherewithal after running a marathon will testify.  Riding a horse while drunk is another clincher.  Ditto allowing a drunk horse to ride you as you perform brain surgery on an unanaesthetised epileptic chimp.

    Other times, a change of clothes, equipment or surroundings is required to make the transition, and any self-respecting bunjee jumping naturist will know the deal with this one.

    What’s interesting for writers is that very often the biggest leaps take place (and are necessary) between one version of sitting-at-a-desk-thinking-and-writing-and-looking-out-of-the-window and another.

    There’s no actual leap here, as might be the case if you went from (hot, sweaty) NAKED GO-GO DANCING ON THE BEACH to (calming) GURUCRAFT ATOP MONT BLANC (AVEC SNORKELS).

    The scenario for most forms of writing is the same: chair, desk, pen & paper / gadget, window.

    The physiological state is the same too: broadly calm, sitting posture, no stress on heart or breathing, pyjamas — and so on.

    And yet, somehow, the shift from NOVEL to POEM, REPORT to DISSERTATION, TRADING CARD FLAVOUR TEXT to BLOG ARTICLE rarely happens in the kind of instant you might expect would be the case for transitions from one form of writing to another (for me, at least — you might be a flickermercurial genius).

    What interests me right now isn’t so much the brute fact that these so-called “changes of mind” or “changes of mindset” should exist (and take odd amount of time they take) but what goes on in these transition states.

    Assuming you made an immediate change from NOVEL to POEM, then what would happen?

    You’d stop thinking all your NOVEL thoughts — all of them — and start thinking all your POEM thoughts — all of them — in an ON/OFF electric switch kind of way.

    For this to happen, these thoughts would need to be concrete, known.

    Bird.  Oiseau.  Bird.  Oiseau.

    When we KNOW things, we can switch quickly between them.

    And maybe this is the deal: the fuzziness of creativity is hardly concrete.

    Who knows what constitutes a NOVEL?

    Same goes for POEM or HALF WRITTEN ARTICLE ABOUT CHEESE.

    Even the experts don’t know everything about their chosen specialities, and there may not even BE an “everything” to know.  Novels, by definition, don’t actually exist until they’re written, after all.

    Whichever way you think of it, there’s clearly more to juggle in the moment here than mere versions of birds.

    And maybe that’s a good thing for creativity in general.

    Because Bird Oiseau Bird Oiseau simply demonstrates a minimal grasp of French.
   
    It’s a statement of fact, with little intertwixting of shibboleths — a more easily leapable chasm than the maw of a gulf between my dystopian novel about meerkat vampires on a Death Star (as a vehicle for a contemporary take on the philosophy of William James) and my sonnet about a belly dancer with floppy boobs who slims down to a size 10 after doing battle with her mirror reflection and love for Jamie Oliver’s new hairdo.

    When our oiseaux bulge and swell thus, any kind of intertwixting could well strike us as an inconvenience.

    Grrr!  Go away Fluffy da Meerkat Gunner, with your talk of free will in an inherently fascist universe!  I badly need a word to rhyme with GAZONGAS!  Six syllables!

    Or, you might end up beached in mid-twixty, doomed to write stuff like this:

    Fluffy da Meerkat Gunner peered down his boomer lens at the Imperium’s latest monstrosity.  Its hulking form blotted out the stars like a giant titty, mighty cannons poking from its armoured carapace with the pertness of nipples teased erect by a minimally sexy Southern plonker.”

    or

    when you dance, you entrance, my one true love,
    as Vader, hypnotic’lly dangerous


   
BUT, if you can bear to wait till things settle down, and actively pursue this moment of hinny twixt hinnies, viewing it as a momentary “one thing” in its own right, then notions of any kind of multitasking vanish.

    The singularity of intertwixtyness lives!

    Let there be Hinny2volition!

    It’s just a thought — as is NOVEL and POEM and DISSERTATION ON NOVELTY MOTORBIKE PANTEES — but we so often miss/dismiss it whenever we journey through the hinny hinterland between other, seemingly more important, concerns.


 (For more equine-themed writing advice, go here)

Monday, November 3, 2014

WRFzat: Rhododendocrosight

RHODODENDOCROSIGHT
noun

   A view of the world made possible when the rose-tinted spectacles have been thrown away and the resultant disappointment and misery has vanished into the ether.

   A form of optimism based on what exists, independent of over-reaction to unhelpful or negative stimuli.

   The witness of matter in bloom.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nanowrimo Is Wasted On November


    As swathes of 1/11ers prepare to do battle with their muses in the name of the novel, the written, and the uncustomarily evidenced, it’s time to silence the dreaded INNER EDITOR and flash about the burg the almost penis-like snake of all our OUTER HOSEPIPES OF WANK.

    This is not to say that NANOWRIMO is baaaaaaad, or that everything that comes of it is a monumentally delusion-fuelled SHOWER OF PISS.

    Even though it MAINLY IS.

    But if (writers, writers) we are to afford ourselves the luxury of immersing our creative wherewithal in mammoth trunk sized squirts or urine, spraying upon ourselves the liquid of purest wank, burdening our wildest excesses of effuse with no condoms hewn of grammatically punctuated uberStrunk — then why insist on cramming it into one of the shittiest months of the year?

    July is HOTTER.

    May has, like,  a hidden command in its only syllable: “I may, I might, I must”.

    And for fuck’s sake, what else is going on in December other than allowing yourself to be robbed of every spare moment in exchange for things you never asked for, synapseslaving up a bunch of TV shows you’d never watch if you had the option of WRITING, and videoing a dessert the whole family is glad you incinerated?

    So, bugger NaNoWriMo MONTH — it’s time we paid heed to THE OTHER ELEVEN thirtysomethings.

    Our inner editors will (and must) catch up with us come December 1st, and outer editors beyond our control will muster degrees — worldes, calories — more scrutiny over our ejaculations LIKE OUR FEEBLE WORDS WERE CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS PRIMED TO FEED THEIR CARBONIZING WHIMS.

    So, let it all hang out for a month (a month!) if you must.

    What shibboleths fly unbidden from you the rest of the time, you wasters?