-don’t cry about your job (ie no time off/feeling like pre-serum steve rodgers every time you try to do said job)
-don’t cry about missing your mother (because you’ll see her again i promise)
-don’t cry about making wrong decisions (you make them and sometimes they’re the worst and other times they’re not)
-hug your dog and okay, maybe cry a little but then go see guardians of the galaxy and let things feel better.
It’s okay to have troubles it’s okay to struggle it’s okay to not want to
it’s okay to cry for you it’s okay to weep for you it’s okay to not want to do either
it’s okay to want to see the ocean so bad it hurts your chest it’s okay to want to do something you’re not sure what so bad it hurts all over
It’s okay to love your job but not want to go it’s okay to go to work and be happy you went
it’s okay to spend a day in pajamas it’s okay to eat bad
it’s okay to do what you’re doing now because mourning is so so hard
you’re moving in with me and
I’m rearranging my room and
I have a better job so
I don’t really have to do the one that
makes me unhappy and
I’m in California so
I go to bed sick because
My diet stays in oregon and
I hate myself for it but
That’s not at the top of
My list of hates so
I eat more and
Feel worse and
I thought I didn’t eat when I’m sad but
This trip proves otherwise unless
I’m not sad about it but
I am sad about it because
I catch my reflection and
My eyes are ringed red and
They shine like like like
I can’t think of a good simile and
I never write anymore.
3:25 pm on June 19;
I’m pretending it’s not all about that.
He wouldn’t want it
To be all about him.
this is it this is it this is it
how do we cope with anything
and i am doing it early for you,
so you could see me.
but our timing is still wrong.
you’re not here
and i couldn’t care less about this
because you’re not here.
a cheap snapshot
and filmed moments-
because you’re dying in that place
and i am putting on mascara
and a cap
and a gown
and cords that show i’m second best
all for you.
and may the odds be ever in your favour.
i am worn to bits and considering culinary school instead.
Writing Advice: by Chuck Palahniuk
In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.
From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.
Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”
Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”
Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.
Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”
In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.
Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”
Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.
If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.
Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.
Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”
Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.
Present each piece of evidence. For example: “During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”
One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.
For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”
A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”
A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.
Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.
No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”
Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”
Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.
Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.
And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”
“Ann has blue eyes.”
“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”
Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.
And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”
Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.
For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.
Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.
“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”
“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”
“Larry knew he was a dead man…”
Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.
Chuck Palahniuk (via oh-humberthumbert)
This is the only piece of “writing advice” that I’ve ever found to be unilaterally useful.
abs-necessary for me right now can’t someone just give them to me or
i ate too much today and you’re dying even in my dreams and i love my mother and the ocean is calling my name.
and i’ll begin with an apology, because my 365 isn’t again this year.
but i’ve been taking a lot of drives,
and walking a lot of hikes,
and crying a lot of nothing
(though i should be crying more).
and i’m losing weight
and getting healthy
and saying no
and saying yes please help
and i thank everyone for sticking by me.
i am rough now.
i’m sorry if you’ve noticed.
but everything will be.
and i’ll start another 365 when i come out the other side.
And I slept in a smoking room. Silhouettes of stubbed out cigarettes line the comforter and I have not been eating well.
I braved the city on my own, and made a fool of myself on every bus.
And it’s funny how things work out, because we never talked, not before all this, not really. We made our commute in silence and we put everything we wanted to say in cards for Christmas and moments of weakness, like before you sent me off to prom with that boy I was sure I was going to grow old with, and now every time when I visit you. It’s a funny thing to cope with.
Because I was so certain, and when I am certain, nothing can break me. And then the certainty was pulled out from under me like a rug meant for a beating, and I feel like the worst. I feel like I am not meant for this, I am not meant to visit you. Because it isn’t fair. Because I was so certain. Because I was positive the worst was right around the corner, I’ve seen ravens on every telephone wire, staring at me with pity. And ravens don’t pity. But they knew. They knew you, they knew me, they knew what was to come.
And then it didn’t.
This place really does have the best views of the bay.
Mover, R; 89 year old male; disposition: expired.
There’s a man behind the curtain who just wants something to eat. He says ma’am with a southern drawl but everything else is Californian. And he’s aching and I wonder what’s wrong with everyone, even his nurse with the blanket wrapped around her waist like a towel but a blanket.
I was going to teach him how I planned on getting an agent. He was going to be reassured and proud that I chose to do what I love. We were going to see the new muppets movie because that’s what we do, we see movies and watch tv and eat food.
I wonder if it all tastes like nickels or soap this time around. I had hopes it would taste like food. But it probably doesn’t if he’s not eating it.
It was going to be a good last week, because, not projecting bad energy, just projecting bad practicalities, this has got to be the last week. The end of August is too late. This is it this is it this is it.
It’s cute that you thought this was going to be a vacation ever. After Christmases spent amongst tubes and beeps, this feels easy.
And every single playbill will have your name in my bio. And maybe that will make it not hurt.
No one cleaned the blood off his face. What the fuck is that about.
Children scream too much. Another reason to not have them. They sound like fighting cats.
And the nice older paramedic, not the bitch with the gum and sunglasses, saw my heart on my sleeve, even beneath its shield and I thanked her and I meant it very much.
“He’s had a tough road.” Like potholes that swallow you up as you drive over them rough? Is that what you mean?
This is it this is it this is it.
i don’t want to tell anyone a damn thing but some days i wish i would. it would explain this sorry lump in my throat and my sorry body asleep on the couch at eight o’clock and my sorry shitty attitude when things aren’t clean. and i counted my steps, one two half, up those stairs and i’m sorry i didn’t go and tell you.
i’m sorry for a lot of things, but i don’t want you to feel sorry for me. i have enough of it on my own. and i’d give some sorry to you if i wasn’t so selfish.