Writer's Commentary: Week 1

I really like doing Writer’s Commentaries but I almost always fall down on the job so I’m changing it and trying to do short ones on a week of stories at once rather than try to do one on a story a day. More writing all at once, but it feels more workable to me for some reason. Let’s hope I’m right!

On Post: Boy in the Bubble

Date: January 1, 2018

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Obviously the song’s emphasis on technology was a big inspiration factor. When Simon wrote it, I feel like he was a bit more marveling at what we can do—with the exception of the bomb in the baby carriage—but this is a far more tech skeptical time and there is the matter of the bomb.

I wanted to keep a sense that the narrator was not omniscient which is why his explanation for the history up to the moment feels a little fragmented and conspiratorial. There is maybe some alien stuff in there, some bits about government experimentation, and so on. The point is that information and history has gotten a little scattered so he probably doesn’t have an official record to check with and without that, he can only assemble what happened from what he remembers and what he’s heard here and there.

I also wanted to keep the “Boy’s” abilities vague. He brings out the worst, it seems, in people but not in a specific way, it seems. Again though, we only know about that through the narrator so it is possible he has it a bit wrong or the powers are a bit more focused than that.

I like my dystopians just a step away from now, for the most part, not because I think now we are living in a dystopian, but because I think these things go slow and aren’t always evident. Life doesn’t change overnight for good or ill so even during times of great upheaval, the signs of the old order or society or however you’d like to say it are still everywhere. So that’s how I imagined this. Humanity is fragmented and in hiding but they’re hiding in houses, surrounded by signs of the lives they only recently stopped living.


On Post: Go With the Flow

Date: January 2, 2018

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The song makes use of a.) the idea of the woman comparing herself to the objects left over at the end of a relationship and that b.) in essence, discarding them will discard her for her ex. Additionally, it brings up the idea of a world in the picture frame and outside of it. So from those pieces, which show up in literally the first stanza, I just went to the idea of clinging to this physical artifact, this photo, as a way to keep an old relationship alive. Lorenzo isn’t crazy, he’s not talking literally. But still, there’s a part of him that subscribes power to that photo that, in some way however symbolic, by keeping it he can revisit and “live in” the best parts of this dead relationship.


On Post: Claim Your Ghosts

Date: January 3, 2018

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This one twisted around on me a couple of times. Originally, when I started writing it, I imagined it to be a tale of a murderer being visited by his victims. However, as I started, it felt a bit too CHRISTMAS CAROL, on the one hand, and a bit too repetitive on the other. I just wasn’t wearing my “creative ways to kill people” hat that day and I was having trouble injecting life—if you can forgive that near pun—into the victims so it was just feeling like a parade of ugliness without much point.

I was still stuck on the idea of ghosts visiting the living to tell them to let go though so I reset it with the idea of a man confronting the ghosts of his decease family. Again though, I started with a bleaker idea. That the man had somehow been either active in their deaths or, at least, some very large factor—say driving while intoxicated.

The problem with that was, in the writing, it felt more like the ghosts were giving him an excuse. Like, “no, it’s ok you murdered us, stop beating yourself up about it,” so I wanted to make the guilt more irrational and destructive on a generally decent guy.

I think I may have overdid it. It feels a little emotionally shallow to me in practice, unfortunately.

That said, the moment Kevin feels his son’s arms around his neck and smells him again felt effective on first pass and felt effective revisiting it now.

So I don’t know. Good effort but didn’t get it past the goal line, I guess.


On Post: Hands Down

Date: January 4, 2018

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As has been stated and restated and demonstrated over and over here, I am not a poet. I just…I don’t know…lack the gene for it? My dad can write poetry and lyrics pretty well and I know my grandfather’s dad could do the same, so maybe it skips a generation? Not sure. But, in any case, just not my skill.

Nonetheless, I force myself to do for January Project for variety and in the desperate hope that it will, one day, produce something worthwhile.

This one, as a work of poetry, is not anything to write home about, for sure. However, I like it. It gives me a chuckle.

The idea came from just the open emotion of the song and the often repeated criticism that if anyone acted in real life like they do in romantic comedies when trying to win someone back, they’d be more likely to get a restraining order than a kiss and a swelling orchestral piece. I figured it stands to reason that the same could apply to songs.

The conclusion, though, did not come to me until the very end. I was writing aware I had a starting point, a place to go, but no place to end up. But I’d earlier written a piece of SJW as criticism (look for it soon at Comicsverse!) and the whole LAST JEDI stuff is continuing to go on so that just clicked into place as I hit the last stanza and it seemed too perfect to ignore.


On Post: 21 Questions

Date: January 5, 2018

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This was a lark. I probably should’ve dug deeper but just in getting the title I knew basically what I was going to do from jump. Then it was just fun to monkey an application format and come up with silly questions to ask that weren’t just dirty jokes or overly serious bits. There’s a couple of in-jokes or pop culture references in there, obviously, and those came fast and easy (which is why most of them are in the middle of the survey questions), but I think it all worked.


On Post: Mean Spirits

Date: January 6, 2018

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We have a fire pit in our backyard—I know, I know, we’re pretty cool—so the lyrics that invoke burning in a backyard made me think of that which makes me think of parties. As the lyrics go on they seem to be talking a lot about things being revealed and a lot of the imagery it is horror related—fangs, venom, ghosts, demons—so I began to picture a party in which people are revealed to be monsters.

Then, I imagined walking into that party and seeing people you thought you knew being exposed for you they truly were inside their skin suits.

Initially, I was going to go towards humor, a kind of GOOD PLACE thing, but as I began to write it, I found the melancholy coming in so it became the tail of a devil (or THE Devil) writing to the woman who he loved, earnestly, about how he was trying to give it all up but just could not. So he thought maybe he could balance it, but her catching his party told him that was a lie he was telling himself too.

I like the idea that the one the Lord of Lies was lying to the most was himself and therefore maybe it is always like that. How often a day does the Devil tell himself he’s basically good and the only reason he’s the ruler of Hell is that no one got what he was trying to do.

Of course, if you want to ignore the supernatural bend, which is easy enough, I think, it’s just a story of an addict having a crazy party with other addicts and getting caught falling off the wagon by someone who thought he was clean.


On Post: I Need a Doctor

Date: January 7, 2018

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So this is easy to guess where it started. “Bring me back to life.” So my first thought was what is hardest to come back to life from? Well, death, right?

However, I loathe zombie fiction so I didn’t want to do that kind of returning from the grave story. But if you don’t, you end up with Revival (a very very good comic) or The Returned (good TV series) so I needed another wrinkle.

What’s harder to come back from them death even? Well how about cremation after death? Perfect. I loved the idea of the urn literally shattering and the husband almost catching the resurrected woman but trusting the voice in the dark to be his wife’s. Felt like the kind of thing that would be super unnerving when you learned the truth. How would she even have looked at that moment?

Where the thing falls apart is the end. Good end if you are writing more, lousy end for a short story. I just couldn’t find a way to knit it together so I punted, I confess. Bad show, me.