I am going to find a hotel/motel/Holiday Inn, book myself a room, not buy the in room wi-fi, post up with a bottle of mid shelf whiskey and finish some fucking writing projects. At some point. I don’t know when I’m doing this, but I’m doing it. 

Now, does anyone have suggestions for inspiring (preferably cheap, sort of maudlin and run down) locales in Las Vegas or nearby to do that in? 

I just need to get out of my own head for a while and I need to find a place to disconnect for a few days. 

writing being a writer is a weird fucking thing man

The Cactus Cup

In 1998 Brandon’s great aunt Dorothy passed away. Dorothy left behind a legacy of hideous, granny square afghans she had crocheted over the course of her 80 years and a sprawling collection of coffee mugs. Dorothy always said she found them at thrift stores. She liked to go to the Goodwill on Senior Wednesdays and pick up a few cups each week. She had them in every room of her house. She made great use of them, not just to drink from. As decoration, she potted plants in them, stored buttons and other notions. They were everywhere.

Dorothy was a woman of meager means. She lived a modest life, a widow for the last twenty years of her own existence. She rented a small bungalow on the edge of a major metropolitan area. She drove the only car she had ever bought new, a massive Coup de Ville from the late 70’s, until the day she died. 

She was also a practical woman and knew that someone would have to take care of her humble but none the less interesting estate when she passed. That dubious honor fell to young Brandon. He was always her favorite, sitting with her after family dinners working on stitching together another in a long line of visually offensive afghans. Brandon was a quiet boy, prone to introspection but quick to laugh with Aunt Dorothy. Dorothy had a raunchy sense of humor and had the unique ability to bring out liveliness in Brandon that wasn’t often seen by other family members. 

Brandon was a tender 17 when his favorite eccentric Aunt passed away. Still wrapped in grief when the letter arrived in the mail detailing what he was to do with the cups and blankets she had left behind. The letter came on her signature Garfield stationary, scrawled in purple ball point pen. It read:

My dearest Brandon, 

If you are reading this it means I have gone beyond the veil. Please don’t be sad. We’ll sit together again in a hundred years when you’ve made the move too, I promise. You’re a good boy and I know you’ll live a good life. 

You are the only person I trusts with the cups. I need to tell you their secret though, so you can make sure they find new homes that are appropriate. 

Every single cup in my house I stole. I hate the Goodwill. The only time I go to the Goodwill is to steal cups. I haven’t bought a damn thing from there since 1965 when I needed a new spatula and didn’t want to pay retail. 

Most of the cups where stolen from people though. I’m not sure why but whenever I went to visit someone and had a cup of coffee or tea, I would put the cup in my purse before leaving. Sometimes I even raided their cabinets when they went to the bathroom and took more than one. 

What can I say, I just really like coffee cups. 

The cream colored one with the cactus on it is especially dear to me. I stole that one from the gentleman I made time with in the 80’s after your Uncle passed. I was already an old woman by then but that doesn’t mean I didn’t deserve to do some canoodling in my old age. The cactus cup is my most prized acquisition. It always reminded me of living dangerously even when people thought you were too old or too stupid to be interesting anymore. 

I want you to find a home for every cup I ever stole, but you must keep their secret. If anyone asks, I was just a silly old lady who bought a lot of 49 cent cups from the thrift shop. 

You’ll find a ledger under my mattress with a brief description of the cup and where I stole it from. I want you to find someone you think deserves that cup and gift it to them. This may take time. 

As for the cactus cup, that one is yours. Never let anyone underestimate you. You may be quiet, but I know you have great things ahead of you. Live dangerously but keep a low profile. That’s the secret to a happy life. Oh! And whiskey. I always had whiskey in my coffee cup. That makes life pretty happy too. 

I love you. See you in Paradise. 

-Auntie 

p.s. you can burn the afghans for all I care. They’re really ugly, aren’t they? 

Brandon retrieved the ledger, the cups and the ugly afghans. He bought a few book cases and developed an organizational system for the mugs. On one shelf lived cups for people with a great sense of humor, on another cups for people who needed a swift kick to the shins. It was a complex system but one that Dorothy would have been proud of. 

By his 30th birthday Brandon had given away all of Aunt Dorothy’s cups except his prized cactus cup. He had grown into a confident, if not still quiet man, who had created a home for himself full of things he loved. He cultivated a reputation for being shy and reserved and most of his family still thought of him as a sweet boy who lived a boring life. 

Little did they know that Brandon was the reigning Queen of West Texas, the best known drag persona west of the Mississippi. And his stage name was Dorothy Seguaro. He never took the stage without first taking a shot of whiskey out of his beloved cactus cup. 

To Great Aunt Dorothy, may she inspire many more quiet children to live dangerously in their own way. 

Yesterday I asked you guys to give me something to write a story about. The first one was about the first socks I ever knit, an autobiographical story. This one is fiction, based on my friend imaginarymagpie asking why he loved his coffee cup so much. For you, the reigning queen of West Texas, my love. 

fiction short story microfiction am writing writing the queen of west texas

I just want to finish this story. 

It’s a mess and I know the beginning and I know the end but I can’t figure out a middle. 

And every time I sit down to write I just feel like everything I have to say sounds stupid and childish and amateur. 

I think the only course of action at this point is to get belligerently drunk and write the middle shitfaced on whiskey because honestly I think it’s what the character would do and I don’t know how else writers handle this shit. 

Like. Why did I pick this as a hobby/vocation?

writing am writing not really writing can i just be drunk and hope the words come?

Recommitting myself to the Fuck You, Brian story. Ditching the prompts though. I’m at just about 12k word count right now with a goal of 40k. 

Here’s the promise I’m making to myself. If I get to 40k. (WHEN I get to 40k) which is officially no longer a short story but much closer to a novella I think? I’m still super unclear on how long these things are supposed to be. Anyway, when I get to 40k I’m going to start querying literary agents. Because my life is not scary enough and I feel it could use with more uncertainty, fear of rejection and gut wrenching insecurity. 

I just wrote a story outline and here are my notes on theme:

  • NOT a love story
  • 30 something coming of age
  • about female friendship and second (third? fifth?) chances
  • get your shit together, June. 

I think that about covers it. 

fuck you brian writing fiction

Wrote two chapters on the Whiskey story yesterday and now I’m completely obsessed with it. I’m trying to settle on exactly what flavor of monster we’re dealing with. 

I basically need a good solid 48 hours, a lot of caffeine and/or writing wine (sweet whites, it’s very specific) and someone to listen to me bounce ideas for a while. 

Guess how I’m spending my weekend? Who wants to come over and listen to me babble about mythology and fat babes who help protect monsters from warrior nuns? 

a girl called whiskey writing am writing

Okay, so here’s what I have:

1) A 40,000 word shit show detailing nearly every thought I had while going through a terrible break up. I started writing it the day he dumped me and wrote on it for the year following. I haven’t looked at it in months, I have no idea if it’s even coherent. It’s not fiction, it’s all VERY real life and is basically a collection of essays/blog posts. Who wants to read it?

2) About 8k words on a sci-fi/fantasy, lost civilization in space, bad guy trying to bring back Earth style conservative politics and Christianity. There’s a cat who never dies and the main character is a weird girl who owns a haberdashery on a space ship. It’s…a mess. Who wants to read it?

3) A few thousand words on a sorta love story but mostly about a girl on a drive through the Nevada-California desert and experiencing a love-lost situation in flashbacks. Also a wreck and currently written in fits and starts. I need help fleshing out an actual story arc. Who wants to read it? 

4) The concept/treatment for a children’s book about a hedgehog that I wrote one night while I was super fucked up on sleeping pills. Loosely based off bed time stories I used to tell my brothers. The hedgehog is very lonely because he’s prickly and no one wants to hug him. He’s building a boat in his backyard and a fox steals his shit and his friends help him find his stuff but it turns out that he’d rather help the fox than build his boat. The fox was cold and lonely too. Now they’re besties. I haven’t actually written that one, I just have the general concept. 

So, for those of you who offered to read some of this stuff for me let me know what you’re into. Really I just need people to talk about these stories with so I can actually get past the hump of “well, I have an idea and now what?” 

You into it?

writing first reader help me

Sometimes I get really bummed out that like half the (admittedly, AMAZING and hilarious) bloggers I follow have all secured book deals. I do not begrudge them their success, mostly because I like reading their books and am so stoked that publishers somewhere are looking at this medium as a way to source new talent, but like. I want a book deal. 

But I don’t really know how to do the things you need to do to get one of those. I remember in college I had to write a book proposal for a creative writing class I took. The professor graded it and sent it back and told me that I would have been rejected by a publisher. I got a C on the project I think. I know I passed, but like, barely. And his comments have really stuck with me in the subsequent years. I’m pretty certain that there is not a single idea I have or piece of writing I have completed or even could complete that would be picked up.

I do not think I’m on the same level as Grace Helbig or Hannah Hart, definitely not popularity wise. I also don’t think I’m as talented as Alida/The Frenemy. (I call her Alida in my head because I like to think that we’re friends. Even if she doesn’t know it. ALIDA WE’RE BESTIES, HIIIIII.) 

Ugh. Anyway. One of these days I’m going to get real drunk on wine spritzers and actually send off a book proposal to someone. Just, you know, in case. 

Maybe I’ll pitch the sky punk one. I’m like a solid 1/3 of the way done with that shit pie. 

writing bad confidence day

"Don’t Reach for Me" : a short story by you and me

So here’s what we know so far about this short story you guys are helping me write:

Main characters:

Beatrice “Bee/Bey” Jordan, short, chubby and weird. Lives in Vegas, is presently on a solo journey through the desert to put her toes in the sand on the beach outside L.A. having recently suffered a heart break. (Cliche plot line, I know.) 

Finnegan Connor, pale and skinny, dark wavy hair and a penchant for shoe gazing. 

They met in the middle of the night while Bee was sitting on a rock in the desert looking at the city lights. Finn is charming but kind of a dick. 

Story arch: 

Bee is driving to the ocean. It’s a cleansing ritual for her. She woke up one morning and couldn’t stand the thought of spending another day in Vegas. Finn is gone but not quiet forgotten. 

Here’s the scene so far at the beginning of the story, Bee is in her car at 2 a.m. headed out of Vegas:

That dark stretch of road before Barstow feels endless, day or night. Dappled with parched Joshua trees and burnt out towns past their prime. Even in the middle of the night it feels oppressive and heavy with heat baked into hard packed earth from the day before. These empty and eyeless shacks on the roadside are haunted by a stream of over the road truckers and tourists on their way to the beach. Everything west of Vegas feels like a piece of bread left out too long. 

What’s missing:

I don’t know how/when/why they broke up. I don’t know what happens after Bee gets to the beach. I don’t know where Finn is now. I don’t have any conflict that needs to be surmounted. (So therefore, I don’t particularly have a story yet.) 

Since we’re building this story together, let me ask you: what obstacle should Bee encounter? What will help her find resolution in her heart break? What thing needs to happen to make this story worth reading? Where the fuck is Finn and why is he there? Do we want Finn and Bee to get back together, stronger for having been apart? Or do we want Bee to find happiness on her own. (I’m leaning towards that resolution myself. I’m not particularly interested in writing Bee into a complete romance novel cliche.) 

I’m going to finish this one guys. I’ve given myself a word count goal of 10,000 words and a finish date by May 18th. I have no idea what I’ll do then but it’s time I finish something. 

Drop some plot points or thoughts in my ask box. I really like the idea of writing this story together. 

don't reach for me story telling short story writing writer writing prompts

I’ve never been good at pitching for freelance work. In fact, I’m kind of terrible at it. I think the problem is that the stuff I write about is dime a dozen; music (yup, every hipster with a MacBook does music reviews now), sex/love (ditto hipsters + MacBook + two semesters of women’s studies.) and personal essays (ugh, I am a fucking cliche.) are all done to death. And probably in more inventive ways. 

I’m not trained to be a “real” journalist, so that cuts most straight news reporting out of my repertoire. I would require far too much hand holding and editing to be worth any editors time as a freelancer. This isn’t self-depreciating either. I worked in a newsroom for two years, I was one half of the editorial team, I handled the entertainment stuff and my boss did everything else. I know what an overworked/underpaid editor looks like, and I know they’re not going to want to have to explain to me about comma splices or the inverted triangle theory or whatever every time I turn in a hack job piece of news. There are journalist majors fresh from four years at their college paper who can and will churn that stuff out like little literary robots. And they should, they should get paid for that too. That shit is hard. 

So that leaves under the radar, maybe 50 person friends/family readership e-zines and my own network of blogs that have a handful of dedicated followers. (What up, ya’ll!) But that shit doesn’t pay or advance my career as a writer. 

So, what to do? Shannon and I really want our sex blog to go…somewhere? Eventually? Maybe? And I know the way to do that is to network, to guest blog and get our name/URL out there and all that. But, how? How do I convince a site like The Gloss or Vice or HuffPo to let me say things like “lady garden” on a platform that will reach more than a few thousand readers? 

HOW? Tell me your secrets, internet. How?

writing writer pitching freelance guest blogging how to be a guest blogger hire me

I started writing a book a few years ago. (I actually finished one too. It’s not fiction and it’s not very good, but I finished a first draft at least.) This book is my first stab at fiction and I got about 20k words in and stopped because I had written myself into a plot hole the size of the Grand Canyon and didn’t know what to do. 

For some reason while I was in the shower last night I figured out how to salvage the story. It’s going to change a bit, but all of a sudden I figured out how to rework it to make it keep going. 

I have no idea if it’ll turn into anything full length. There’s a mysterious house cat who doesn’t appear to age, a heroine who owns a haberdashery, a culture beyond religion and a space ship involved. So…it could be really good or total trash. I have no idea yet. 

But I pulled the file out of the dark recesses of my computer and I’m going to start tweaking it with the new plot outline and see where it goes from here. Even if I’m the only person who ever reads it, it feels like something I need to finish. 

writing writer writing fiction fixing the plot storytelling writer problems