*Segments in quotation marks are excerpts”.
If you’ve never tried writing I highly recommend it. It’s weird and wonderful, creative and personal. It’s tremendous-right up until the moment that a stranger tells you that the story you have poured your heart into is” good but….
“But I feel someone else might be better equipped to represent it”. “But I’m afraid that I can’t think of any editors to put this in front of.” “But I’m not sure what the market is for a book like this.” The first couple times you just focus on the part where they said it was good, but then you realize that that’s a very kind way of saying that they’re not sure my book would make them money. At first I found that aggravating, but then that’s absurd isn’t it? In a world where publishers have to compete with Youtube and whatever Kimye has going on in their dreadfully public lives, they have no choice but to swing for the fences when it comes to what they publish, and agents likewise need focus on the books that they know they can sell. I can sympathize with that, and quite frankly, I wrote a weird little book. Time is money, so why should they spend theirs trying to figure out if they can sell my novel? And then it occurred to me to find out for myself.
So that’s what this post is for. I’ve spent the last two months trying to find a literary agent, and while I understand that a lot of people spend a great deal more time than that looking for the right person to represent them, I myself am leaning in another direction. While I have no hard feelings towards literary agents, I have recently sought out publishing houses that allow you to submit without the backing of an agent. My current favorite is “Impulse Publishers,” both because I sincerely feel as though my novel would fit in nicely there, and because its home to the same sort of books that I myself read (and because they’re smart, handsome/beautiful/any other adjecitves that would make them like me enough to publish my novel, people). However, I see very little reason to submit to them at this point, unless I myself can determine that this is indeed a novel that people would want to read. My goal (absurd as it may be) is to receive ten thousand positive responses to this post. And what is a positive response? Anything that signifies that this is a novel that you would be willing to buy. Like my post, leave a comment, share it with your friends. If the idea strikes you kindly, please do everything that you can to help me spread the word. It could potentially help me out a great deal. So what’s going to happen now is I am going to tell you about the novel. If you like it you can give me a helping hand. If you don’t, well I don’t know. You can tell all your friends about the douchebag you met on the internet I guess. Anyway, here it is.
“I find myself awakening in my own skin, righteous with self discovery, now fully ready and eager for the end…..until at the last moment I am saved by own metaphorical webbing, and in an instant my life comes flooding back down upon me all at once like a damn breaking. Spiderman takes off his mask, and he is Peter Parker. I stop convulsing on the floor just long enough to be Tyler Metz, dog whisper and murderer”.
The novel that I wrote is titled Something Decent. It is a first person narrative told from the perspective of twenty four year old slacker stoner Tyler Metz, who sits on his couch one slow Friday morning with a joint in one hand, and a cigarette in the other, his eyes glued to what are apparently a particularly good batch of cartoons. It’s a typical day in the life of an unemployed man child, though not for long. As Tyler sits smoking alone on his couch, from seemingly out of nowhere his dog walks into the room on its hind legs transforming slightly with every step until he stands before Tyler looking almost human. This dog, who up until that point he had known as Peter speaks to him, his words growing ever more haunting with each passing sentence. Tyler is at first able to keep his cool, trying to participate in his own mental break down to the best of his abilities (as psychosis so rarely lends itself to such rare circumstances) but as “Peter” confronts Tyler with his dark past (“And I know that you killed your uncle because he fucked you.”), he is no longer able to keep his cool, and in a fit of righteous rage he shoves the animal to the ground and stabs it in the heart killing it quickly.
And that is how the book begins. Before he can fully process what has happened Tyler is forced to defend himself from the lingering spirit of the murderer that had possessed his dog. He does so with the help of a suicidal spirit guide named Zeke, a drug dealing psychic named Funky, and a man named Joseph Hoffman, asshole, Satanist, and Catholic priest, (not necessarily in that order). But that’s not all that there is to the novel.
“I have never encountered a more dehumanizing experience than walking around like a shell, living the life of a person that I barely recognized. That was what my life had become. I was in the middle of a long plummet, with no net, and no hope of finding one.”
Yes, it’s a silly little story about a boy that’s being pursued by his former pet (turned walking talking asshole) but truthfully it is more than that, at least to me anyway. There are demons, and ghosts and drug dealers, and yes there are plenty of jokes (this is not one of those talking dog books that takes itself too seriously) but to me it’s more than that. It’s a story written for those that have walked the streets wearing a smile that is not their own, wondering why no one else could understand that they were suffering. It’s a story for people who have contemplated the nuances of life and death, and perhaps decided that the latter was simpler. It is my own personal attempt to navigate through the dark terrain of living, dying, and the vague in between. If you read this and you understand the feeling, and would like to walk through the journey with me (in an outlet that is softened by stoners and talking dogs) then let me know here. Like my post, share it with your friends on twitter and facebook, and shoot me a comment letting me know what you think. And you know what? If you think I’m full of shit you can say that too. It’s a whole lot better than hearing “It’s good, but….”.
“Life is what you make it, and I have made mine twice. There is what you see, and what you don’t: each iteration is just as real as the next, if you want it to be. The only question now is who do you want me to be? Perhaps it’s my wounded poetic soul crying out, but I would love to share, I would love to say everything, because then I can be alive. Then, the person that I am can exist beyond the dimensions of my skull. Maybe I’ll be just as fucked up as ever or maybe I won’t but–Oh. You aren’t listening. That’s ok, I understand, no one likes a sad clown.”
Follow me on Twitter @DewmontPaul for updates on what is happening with Something Decent.
By Drake Mahoney.
Life can be shit wall to wall. There, I said it. Now you can trust me. Now you can believe the words that I say because I’m not out here trying to tell you that everything will work out. I’m here to tell you that it’s time to make everything work out. Don’t worry, I’m not an asshole either. I’m not going to insult you into turning things around, I’m going to ask you in a polite manner. Please turn shit around. Pretty please, with sugar and boogers on top. Every single sunday marks a new week. I’m not going to pretend that that is profound, instead of something that you have been told since you were in Kindergarden, I’m merely asking you to really thing about it. Every new week, every new day, every new second is a chance to make things…new. This is your life, don’t let the past define it. Struggle is universal, there is no getting out of it. Make the best of it. It will happen, so let it, and then move on. You are stronger than you know, and with each fleeting second you are given a new chance to prove that, so do it. Let your new beginning start now.
A Practice in Forgiveness
A humanist perspective
By Kathy Mcdermant
I like to think of myself as at least a somewhat decent woman. I care about others feelings, I recycle even when no one is looking, and if I see that someone’s shoes are untied, I tell them. I even run a column not so humbly titled “A humanist perspective”. My priority is indeed people, at least that is what I like to think. The truest test of character comes in the face of adversity, everything else is just for show.
Today my cell phone was stolen. I know right? Honestly a cell phone is an unnecessary commodity. I don’t need it; it isn’t going to save my life, if I am hungry I cannot eat it. The problem is not that the device was essential to me, it is not even that I cannot afford a new one. If we break things down to their simplest form, the problem is that someone else has something that I want.
Yes the phone was mine, yes I paid for it, and yes, I do have the right to expect no one to take it from me. But I am not entitled to it. Did you know that the computing power in an IPhone is greater than that of the equipment’s that launched the first rocket? Of course you did, you probably looked it up on your IPhone. How could anyone possibly make a valid argument that I need something like that? They can’t. I do not need my IPhone, and I suspect that no one else does either.
Reasonable enough right? The IPhone is without question a practice in over indulgence, and in a world where there are a very limited number of resources to go around, there simply is no room for such things. So you’re probably proud of me right now. “Wow,” you say to yourself, “that Kathy sure handles things well. She has a level head and can indeed handle the heat of the kitchen”. Well you’re wrong, and perhaps mildly schizophrenic.
I did not handle myself with dignity or any sort of basic decency really. Instead I borrowed a friend’s phone, and I called my number over, and over, and over again. I dialed that number until I got tired of dialing that number, and then I dialed it some more, until finally I could take no more of it. So I did what any child of the digital age would do. I started texting. “I lost my phone, if you have found it please return it to the lost and found, thank you.” Reasonable enough. After all, I had left it on a chair in the library; it wasn’t entirely fair of me to assume that it had been taken. I had checked the lost and found without success, but that didn’t mean anything. Why at that very moment someone could have been scouring the campus, desperately trying to find the lost and found so that they could return the phone I had misplaced.
But they weren’t. I knew it, they knew it, and if the government is squandering our money on cell tracking half as well as they used to, Obama knew it too. I knew that my phone was stolen when its new owner answered one of my many phone calls, and then hung up. Bold isn’t it? So I sort of threatened them…. “Return my phone to the lost and found and I will forget all about it….that is the only way that I will forget all about it…” And that’s the best that I could come up with.
Oddly enough the threat of me remembering how I don’t have a cell phone did nothing to retrieve it for me. So I tried again. This time a tried a nicer approach. “I’m sorry that I have to be this way. I’m not trying to get you in trouble; I just want my phone back. God Bless.”…..hahaha. Yeah. That didn’t work either. So I gave up. No response, no phone, and in my mind, no justice.
So what’s the take away here? Well the way I see it, there were two victims today. Obviously I am one of them, but you’ve already heard all about that. The other is the young sir or madam that helped themselves to my phone. If you all are like me you are probably at your computers right now thinking to yourselves that you could never steal someone else’s phone, or steal anything for that matter. I couldn’t either, in fact I can hardly fathom it. SO think of what the life of the person who can must be like. Something is missing for them. Maybe its money, maybe it’s a strong moral compass (perhaps an absent parental unit) or maybe even just a general lack of guidance. Whatever it is, they have made an unusual decision, and one that reflects a difficult living circumstance. Something is missing, that is why they had to take more. And whatever it might be that they are looking for, I can tell you this, it will be much harder to find than a new phone.
The Struggle Bus
A humanist Column
By Kathy Waldorf
The struggle bus is real and it makes no stops. There is no pulley, there is no schedule, and the only fair that you have to pay is your own happiness. The struggle bus is real, and only you can drive it. You are its operator, its customer, and its sole reason for being.
The struggle bus is indeed real, and I believe that at times we are all a passenger on it. Life is hard, sometimes because something bad is happening, and other times because LIFE IS HARD. It’s unavoidable. We all struggle, and we will all continue to struggle until the day that we die, because that is a large part of the human experience. But another part of the human experience is HUMANS.
It’s an odd concept isn’t it? No? Well it’s an odd thing to have to say nonetheless. People are all around us. We walk past hundreds of them every day, every single one of them living just as thorough and complete a life as us. Each one of them experiencing some variety of every emotion that we feel too. Each one of them, at least an occasional passenger of the struggle bus.
So where am I going with this? If you’re like me and in college, I can almost guarantee that you hear the word “networking” on an almost daily basis. Networking will get you into better school programs, help you find a job, and cure cancer. But here’s what I think, your whole life is one big “network”. Every single one of those struggle bussers you pass in the halls are experiencing the same struggles that you are. Use that! No them! Make a friend, get to know a stranger, BE HONEST! Life is hard for everyone, not just you.
I think that that is part of the problem. The struggle bus is a solitary experience, but it doesn’t have to be. We don’t have to be alone, because everyone that we will ever meet is a victim of the same struggles that we are. Society expects so much of us. We are told that we have to spend the first twenty something years of our lives in school so that we can spend the next forty working. We are all on the same playing field, and it’s time that we act accordingly. Know yourself, and let others know you as well. I’m a strong believer in the talking cure. If you’re afraid for your future, tell someone! If you’re overwhelmed with work, tell someone! I believe that the only cure for hard times is a human connection. Nothing just goes away; you’ve got to let it heal. Let conversation be your medicine! Let yourself get better, and help someone else do the same. Only you can stop the struggle bus.