Today I had the pleasure of meeting cartoonist Stephen Bissette. If you like horror and/or comics, you may have heard of him. He’s done awesome work in the horror genre and for Swamp Thing. He came to my university as part of the Visiting Writers’ series and showed us some of his comics, and this man is truly a master of horror. He also does some writing, and is featured in Hellboy: Odd Jobs, from which he read to us a selection of his work. It was captivating. His writing is like Edgar Allen Poe for the 21st century. He was very engaging, encouraging us in our pursuits. I’m glad to have gotten to hear him speak.
A fun exercise – see what story you can come up with using these first lines.
Every year, the announcement of Bulwer-Lytton Prize is a gift from bad writing heaven. Inspired by novelist and playwright Edward George Bulwer-Lytton’s famous “it was a dark and stormy night” opener, the contest asks writers to submit an opening sentence for the “worst of all possible novels” — although Fifty Shades of Grey has already been written. The results are perennially astounding, with entries in every genre from Children’s Literature to Spy Novels, and one sentence awarded the dubious honor of the worst sentence of the year. It’s like the Razzies, but better.
Here are some of the best entries from the past decade of the contest, each of them just as wonderfully atrocious as the next. Think you can write a sentence that’s worse? Leave your (unofficial) submission in the comments.
1. Sue Fondrie
Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into…
View original post 1,905 more words
I tear myself apart.
A million tiny pieces
adrift in the blackest
I snag them, snare them,
lay them in rows.
others taste them,
they don’t understand.
They swish and spit them out,
Poke, prod, search for patterns,
arrange the pieces of me
into designs no one else can see,
or toss them into a heap—
waiting to explode.
“The thing of course, is to make yourself alive. Most people remain all of their lives in a stupor. The point of being an artist is that you may live.”
Sherwood Anderson, 1927
Courageous in the wake
of an asteroid.
It plows into my room,
obliterates my name,
all that is left is my craft.
no trace of life—
like clumsy birds
then soaring to the sky
to caress the stars,
and fall like the asteroid.
I think it brave
until my thoughts are buried
I look at the trees—they’re black clouds against the dim gray sky. No stars tonight, no breeze; even with the roaring engine nearby I could be the only person on Earth. There is a light from the forest; it illuminates every spider’s web that I didn’t see before. I lean closer; the intricate weave is suddenly a beauty to my eye. I sit and stare until dew settles on the delicate silk; I watch it become a galaxy, billions of twinkling celestial bodies all netted in a single entity, a universe, vulnerable to the slightest breeze, yet capable of harnessing life and destroying it all in the name of its creator. I’ve never been so close to the stars. I tend to long for things that are too far from my reach.
When I was in high school, my father gave me a journal. It was a red snakeskin design with narrow lines – perfect for a big project. I knew when I got it that I couldn’t fill it with my stupid poetry. This journal needed something special.
It took a few days, but I finallly found inspiration. I imagined a young man in a strange new world, encountering strange creatures and a stranger system of government. Admittedly not my most original idea, but that story was the first novel I ever completed. It opened a floodgate of brilliance and creativity.
It took two years, but I hand-wrote an entire novel. Afterwards, after some encouraging reviews (which I now suspect might’ve been total hogwash), I began to write nonstop. I lived in my dad’s poolhouse and I’d graduated from high school. Without a job, I was able to dedicate my entire summer to writing books. I’d wake up, go to my computer, and write from 9 to 5 with no pauses, no breaks, not even a glance at the clock. I saw very few people. Just my dad. I wasn’t interested in seeing anyone else. Friends, to me, would be a terrible waste of time. Friends would interfere with my writing. Even in times when I was forced to be around others, I resented it and thought only of my books.
I’m telling you this because, during those months in which I did nothing but write, I changed. I was no longer interested in performing roles for other people. I was no longer interested in trivial things like relationships and gaming with friends. I became boring. I became serious.
Not that I thought I was boring. I didn’t. Still don’t. I happen to think – no, know I’m awesome. But my friends didn’t think so. I spent so much time inside my own head, organizing my stream of thought, reflecting on hypotheticals, characteristics, psychology, and ethics that I’d matured far beyond others my age. Without distractions and influences, I grew.
Writing is valuable. It helps us on the path to discover who we are. Since the consensus is that none of my stories are similar to one another, I guess “who I am” isn’t definable, but I’m happy with that.
A sociology professor once asked how I define success, and I basically said that success, to me, is when you’re doing what you love, when you’re on a path that you’re happy with. You never want to reach the end of that path. That’s why everything I write is different from the last. I’m still exploring my mind. If everyone else took to time to delve into their own minds and organize their thoughts the way a writer does, they could be well on the path to achieving clarity. They can grow.