Friday, March 6, 2020

It is finished...5,000 Words Later

My spin on an updated version of a classic ghost story is complete. I have some editing to do, for sure, but I handed it over to my wife for a read and she seemed quite affected. I had to clarify her opinions, but her reaction was ultimately positive, though she admitted to feeling disturbed.

Once this story is completely edited and print-ready, I have about six or seven more to prepare before I will be able to start down the road to publication.

When I reach the end of the line and can hold the completed collection in my hands, I intend to throw a party or something. I mean, I’m not a very social person, but why the hell not?

Now, to bed and then on to the next tale!

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Writing Progress and Feeling Weird About Ghosts

Yesterday, I spent most of the day working on a weird tale which borrowed from my experiences as a boy in Florida as much as it did from my interests in odd and horrific fiction. I wrote for hours, getting out well over three thousand words, but as I surveyed my progress and the consistency of the tale I realized that I was making a mess of my original intention.

I have abandoned that story for the time being.

Today, though, I am in the midst of another series of hours of pouring out words. This time the story is different, and I'm getting a little too invested in it. I decided to write my version of an update on the model of a classic ghost story. Like the story from yesterday, this one also borrows from my past experiences, as I find myself loosely following the old, "Write what you know" directive.

I'm tapping into a cold February from years ago, in a historic town where my wife and I managed to escape for an unforgettably strange, yet charming Valentine's Day. The story doesn't involve the holiday as much as it focuses on the oddity which is the Victorian bed and breakfast, and it goes into the feel of an old town and the old establishments which comprise the town. There are also ghosts, because a ghost story would be kind of crap without them.

The trouble with trying to capture the feel of a good ghost story, I find, is that you tend to creep yourself out and cultivate a mild paranoia about the quiet corners of your home. I try to get into the moments and the atmosphere when I write, and when I do this in a ghost story it creeps me out, thoroughly.

Regardless of my personal terror at my own process, I'm hoping to try and sell this story, if at the end of its composition I am satisfied with it. However, if it doesn't sell, I will certainly be placing it in my short story collection.

Anyway, back to the writing. Progress updating and blog massaging for this day is complete!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Cringing, Sighing, Shame, and What's Been Happening Here for Almost a Decade

If you want to embarrass most writers, or at least knock them off their guard, you should seek out their old work and show it to them. You will probably witness eye rolls, looks of revulsion, sighs of shame, and maybe even a knowing chuckle.

I have been writing since I was a small child, and I have been writing here, on this blog, since May of 2010. I know for a fact, having reviewed my old posts here and the notebooks I've carried around for decades, that I have trailing behind me a legacy of shame and embarrassment. But as they say, "It is what it is."

Through writing all of this awkward, unquestionably bad, painfully embarrassing, and occasionally surprisingly decent material I have learned so much. Without the scraped knees and broken bones of failing to pull off the voice of others or moronically abusing the thesaurus, I wouldn't be capable of writing how I write today. Hell, I'm sure that in a year or ten I'll look back on what I create today and shake my head.

Regardless, I have to keep going. One letter after another, making words which will follow words, and eventually they'll communicate ideas or tales which may or may not shame me greatly in times to come. It's the process, and I embrace it, wincing all the way.

To those of you who have read my odd posts, ignorant ideas, silly reviews, and dumb-dumb opinions, thank you. I'm sorry for the pain, but I appreciate your support.

Maybe I'll look back on this blog in another ten years and write a similar post. Who knows?

News of an Upcoming Self-Publishing Project, and Other Things...

After years of self-doubt, uncertainty, apathy borne out of depression, and other nasty things, I have managed to drag myself free from the mire of creative paralysis and dedicate myself to publishing a collection of my short stories. I even have an artist in reserve for the cover, which I've been told is something quite rare for those who travel down the pathway of self-publishing.

These stories are mostly new, having been written within the last year and over the next few months. However, some of the ideas popped into my mind years ago and have sat in a sort of file box in a dusty corner of my brain ever since. It never hurts to horde ideas, but it would damage the integrity of the ideas less if one were to act on them while they were fresh instead of letting them sit unattended, to deteriorate with time.

If you were to attempt to categorize the stories which will be collected you could assign them to the genre of horror, though some fantasy might creep in, depending on the tale. It has felt most natural to write about the horrific and to meditate upon darkness, and in a way it always has. This isn't because of the ridiculous state of the world, as I'm sure most would shallowly assume or declare. It is due to the fact that my interests in literature have always tended to lean toward the dark and macabre.

I'm not some self-labeled goth, or aspiring edge-being, who's trying to express some contrived dark persona through excessively grim and cliched writings. I'm just a person who has always enjoyed the stories of the supernatural, mysterious, chilling, and unfathomably horrific, whether I read them myself or heard them spoken aloud by the people who influenced me most in my formative years. Considering the exposure I have had to horror throughout my childhood, it's actually not at all surprising that I would naturally end up outputting tales like these.

I will chronicle any and all developments here, on my now nearly decade-old blog. So, please look for the updates and blurbs I deposit about the experience. It is possible, depending on the publication and plans for marketing the book, that I will set up a separate site and blog for it, but until then, this is my home for writing my mind on the vast and unsettling Internet.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Batman Turns 80

The Caped Crusader. The Dark Knight. The Batman.

One of the greatest masked crime fighters in all of comics turns 80 this month, and his masters at DC Comics have published a ninety-six page comic to commemorate the occasion. Detective Comics #1000 is now for sale at your local comic book shop, and if you're a fan of the character and his world then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy.

I first met Batman through Tim Burton's 1989 film adaptation, which my father purchased on VHS from a grocery store when I was a very little boy. The dark, stylistic setting and the operatic characters of the movie were astounding to me. I eagerly watched from a hunched position in front of the television, memorizing scenes and occasionally trying out my version of the, "Batman voice." Movie tie-in toys followed as holiday and birthday gifts, and I was able to create my own Batman scenarios upon the floor of my bedroom.

I next officially encountered the character, shortly after, on the shelves of the comic book shops to which my Uncle Jeff and grandmother would take me. The comics were magical and immediately felt sacred. There was a power in the images of those books and the stories they told. As far as I'm concerned, Batman began in that four colored world, and he will always be at his best there, no matter how banal and idiotic the ideas and decisions of the writers at his publisher have been or currently seem to be.

After experiencing the comics I would occasionally see the Adam West Batman rerun on cable. The wackiness of the old Bill Dozier series felt off to me from the start, but it was nice to see any version of the character I had come to admire. I couldn't get over the quality issues and the camp, though. I mean, Batman once bested King Tut's brainwashing by drinking copious amounts of buttermilk, if I remember correctly. Even to a kid, the natural reaction was, "What the?!"

Next to the comics, the most powerful interaction I had with the character was through Batman the Animated Series. Bruce Timm, Paul, Dini, Alan Burnett, and so many others expertly crafted a show which was deep, rich, and spellbinding. The city and character designs, the atmosphere, and the average story quality were above anything else on television at the time. To this day, the influence and success of this series drives superhero animation at Warner Brothers, but things have fallen off in terms of quality and direction, it seems. It's too bad they lost sight of where they were so right not that many years ago.

At 80 years old, Batman is still with us, and he's still changing the lives of his fans through various forms of media. The character might not always feel like he's in the best hands, and many mistakes have been made with his handling over the years, but I feel that the core of who and what the character is will always see him through.

Here's to another 80 years of Batman!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Joe Bob Briggs

I remember Monstervision. It was one of the few programs on cable television which really meant something to me as a kid. Along with early Nicktoons, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, MTV's Liquid Television and Oddities, and Mystery Science Theater 3,000, it created an atmosphere unlike anything else I had encountered. Altogether, through tone, aesthetic, and rich content these shows provided near endless entertainment and helped drastically shape who I would become.

The host of Monstervision was one of those personalities who boldly stood out on the ridge of excellence above the depressingly mediocre valley of TV content. Joe Bob Briggs was the charming, witty, and insightful guide to a world of some of the strangest, worst, and best horror films to have ever been printed upon celluloid. His Southern qualities made him seem disarming and familiar while his knowledge of cinema astounded many who happened upon his program. The set for his show, a kitschy sort of trailer, which almost seemed like a less surreal Wayne White design, was incredibly enchanting, and it made me long for such a trailer in a movie set-like desert landscape where I could one day move and contemplate film.

Unfortunately for many of us television viewers, Joe Bob eventually moved on from Monstervision after TNT altered and eventually brought it to an end. He continues to write with an entertaining voice and an admirable outlook on life and movies. In the last year he made a return to a sort of televised host position, reprising the role of himself on Shudder where he once again takes the time to talk to an audience which is settled in for the best and worst of exploitation films and horror cinema.

Television and cinema history owe a debt of gratitude to the work Joe Bob did and continues to do. He's one of the more qualified and reliable voices which expresses itself in regard to film and film history. If you're someone who needs a compass to guide you toward worthwhile viewing experiences, you can't go wrong with Joe Bob's recommendations.

Reaching for a tonally appropriate quote with which to draw this brief blurb about a beloved Southern television host and movie critic to a close, allow me to paraphrase and slightly alter a line spoken by Sam Elliott's "The Stranger" in the movie The Big Lebowski: "Joe Bob Briggs abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there."

Joe Bob Briggs, back in the Monstervision days.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The beginning of a daily routine designed to go on forever...

It has been some time since I wrote anything, especially here. That's mainly because I lost a lot of hope and a lot of faith in myself, which lead to the loss of a great deal of time. Too much time.

Today I decided to fix that. I decided to make daily writing a mandatory exercise. It's time to get to work. It's time for regular output. It's time to get to going somewhere different than I've been.

I'm continuing here on Random Verbosity, because I hope that putting the new beside the old will allow readers to see some development over time. Seeing that development might explain some things about who I am or who I became. It might be like a useful copy of a marked, notated, and raggedy map from some great journey.

I'm here to write. I can't think of any other reason why I was born or why I continue to live. So I will write. I must.

I hope that you'll join me and read.

Thank you.