early twilight of the wolves

It appears that Twilight of the Wolves is available on amazon over a month early for some reason!

There are only thirteen copies so buy them all up as fast as you can so no one else can have it early!

If you need more information about the novel, you can always find it here.

 

AWP tomorrow, so I need to finish a week’s worth of work tonight so I can go there and not have to worry about the world beyond.

Should be a good time. I was going to write about some other stuff today, but I’ll leave the unpleasantness alone. I think I said it enough yesterday.

For now, just love and be loved.

And buy my book! It’s the greatest book about wolves you’ll ever read.

america the hateful, the unthinking

Thought I’d just share some thoughts about what I’m seeing over and over again lately. The first part was shared on facebook a few days ago, but I thought I’d just drop it here, since nothing’s changed. But let’s look at what’s happening internationally, and let’s look at it from our perspective, or the perspective shoved at us.

I think we’re seeing some interesting and uncritical looks at current events recently, which remind me of the KONY campaign from a few years ago. The situation in Ukraine and Venezuela are quite different than that, but the reaction is similar, in that people aren’t really looking at what’s happening, or what has happened, or the context surrounding the events.

Since the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, we’ve started looking at any civil unrest as a sign that change is necessary, but it’s interesting to look at the Arab Spring and Occupy Movements in comparison to these.

Ukraine’s teetering on civil war and the opposition forces have taken Kiev. These opposition forces appear to now be controlled by an extremely right wing group. An extreme fascist group whose influence has grown immensely. If you think the Tea Party is bad, Svoboda will shock you.

In Venezuela, the far right wing and hyper-rich are calling for a coup. Western media portrays Leopoldo Lopez as a peace loving activist, which ignores that he is one of the wealthiest men in the country, trained and educated in the US, or how he was a part of the US backed 2002 coup of democratically elected president Hugo Chavez. A lot of the issues Venezuela’s currently facing are caused by these hyper-wealthy families, who are manipulating the currency and stockpiling things like food. Make no mistake, these are not the faces of democracy pounding at the gates of a tyrant. The claim that the government owns all media there is also completely absurd, since the opposite is largely true. If you think Fox News is unfair to our President, take a look at what the news casters in Venezuela said about Chavez.

People should have the right to protest everywhere, and violence, in my opinion, is always incorrect action, but I’m also a young white american man living in the midwest. I didn’t live in a country like Venezuela, which had an 80% poverty level before the Bolivarian government was elected. I never lived in a former Soviet state and have to live through all those issues. My pacifism can, in a sense, be seen as a state of privilege because I’ve never had to literally fight for my life against a government that wanted me poor or dead, and I’ve never had to fight for my life to keep a democratically elected government in power.

I’m positive people in Venezuela and Ukraine have plenty of reasons to protest. I’m not an expert on either place, but I do know that there’s more going on than what gets memed around the internet. Not all revolutions are positive, and not all students are seeking a leftist utopia.

And now let’s turn that inward, and look at who we are.

Everyone’s angry at Alec Baldwin, which is justifiable but also a big who cares. An aging actor whose relevance slides away more every year goes crazy and is given a platform. Blah blah blah.

But then there’s this:

Broadway has changed, by my lights. The TV networks, too. New York has changed. Even the U.S., which is so preposterously judgmental now. The heart, the arteries of the country are now clogged with hate. The fuel of American political life is hatred. [. . .] And this is all about hate. It’s Hate Incorporated. But the liberals have taken the bait and run in the same direction—and it’s just as corrosive. MSNBC, in its own way, is as full of shit, as redundant and as superfluous, as Fox.

[. . .] People are angry that in the game of musical chairs that is the U.S. economy, there are less seats at the table when the music stops. And at every recession, the music is stopping.

It’s something I think about a lot. Everything is hate, everything is focused on our separation and differences. There’s no thought given to unity or celebrating how much we are the same. Everything is about containing people, cutting up their identity and lumping them into one group or another, and it doesn’t matter what the group is. What matters is that the group is not ME. We see lists of things blah blah blah can’t understand. We see essay after essay that mostly amounts to the writer and his/her group being correct and fair and everyone else being incorrect and horrifying.

This isn’t a liberal or conservative thing. I think liberals congratulate themselves and pat themselves on the back often for trying [often halfheartedly] to support and give voice to the marginalised, but then, in the same breath, spew vitriol at their generalisations about the religious or old or conservative or whatever group you want to call them. Everything is hate and everyone is constantly spitting on everyone else, because they dare disagree, because they’re audacious enough to not agree.

This version of feminism is wrong because of such and such a reason, or this version of multiculturalism is incorrect because of blah blah blah or white/black/chinese/hispanic/old/young/conservative/liberal/mustlim/christian/jewish/atheist/communist/anarchist/capitalist/gay/transgender people are destroying everything we know and understand because they’re not ME.

Everything is hate hate hate and separation, delineation, cutting up, and sectioning off. Just look at all the articles and essays coming out every day from Salon, The Atlantic, the New Yorker or New York Times or Huffington Post or any other media outlet of that stature or nature, and look at how many are about separating people and delineating one other. Critique is one thing, and I think it’s extremely valuable, maybe the most valuable thing [and I’m often probably too persistent and harsh with my own critiques of the world] we have, but it often seems that we have nothing else. We have no ideology of unification, or even kindness and support.

Everyone is not ME and everyone who is YOU is always wrong.

That sounds like the new mantra of the world, and it’s not just an american or western thing, though perhaps we’re inundated more here because we’re all constantly connected to this neverending festering pile of hate and loathing.

And so we’re putting ourselves in a hole that we’ll never escape from. We spiral in this hate and we drink in its intoxicating and festering feeling, because it brings us into these tighter, though splintered groups. Social media has made this worse, I think. Everything spirals so quickly because no one takes the time to examine what’s actually happening. With the KONY video from a few years ago we had the perfect meme. It was well done, articulate, had a definite purpose and goal, and it worked. People bought into it, because almost no americans understand anything about africa, let alone a specific country in that continent. I’m guilty of the same ignorance, but I also wasn’t convinced by this youtube video calling for the US military to invade a sovereign nation to catch a single man who may have died years ago.

We don’t stop to think, we just react. We react and we react and we react. There’s an injustice here! Post about it, pretend you know and understand the history of that country or region or the context of the situation because as long as you’re saying what everyone else is saying, no one can blame you. In fact, you might get blamed for not being compassionate enough! for not decrying this hate quickly enough!

We link to blogs that go viral but never look at who’s writing that blog. The best recent example is this blog post about the Venezuelan protests or this video.

It’s a well written article and a well made video. They’re clear and concise and direct. They speak to the youth of america about injustice in a country that most of us know nothing about, though american media has called it a dictatorship for the last fifteen years [despite being consistently re-elected democratically with massive support]. So we buy into this. We love it. We see these and we think that america should go in and fix the problems of this backwards third world dictatorship, this tyrannical power holding a nation hostage.

The problem with the video is that it’s absurd and full of propaganda and complete lies. The issue that needs to be addressed with the website is that it was started and is run and funded by supporters of the 2002 coup, and has a very antagonistic representation of the Bolivarian government.

A little history lesson about Venezuela:

Venezuela is a very wealthy nation in resources. It has the largest oil supply in the world. For centuries, South America has been exploited by western powers through the collaboration of the wealthy class. The super wealthy of Venezuela used to own the country. Venezuela had an 80% poverty level and most people couldn’t read or write and had no health care. Hugo Chavez mobilised these disenfranchised millions and won the election in 1998. Over the many years he was president [in my opinion, too long, though there are reasons for that], he worked to change that situation, which infuriated the hyper-wealthy, because he was taking the economy out of their hands. The poverty level has dropped dramatically. Everyone has access to education and healthcare, and children growing up under the Bolivarian government are the first people in the history of their family to even know how to read and write. In 2002 the hyper-wealthy, backed by US money, led a coup, ousting Chavez. The new ‘president’ repealed the democratically voted on constitution and instilled a dictatorship. Within one day, the poor and the young mobilised to bring Chavez back and kick out the usurpers. The US has spent millions of dollars every year to gain control of Venezuela and its oil by funding these hyper-wealthy and training them to destabilise the nation. Chavez died, and his successor won the following election. It was closer than any election since the Bolivarian government was first elected, but it was perfectly legal, fair, and democratic.

The commodity shortages are for a variety of reasons, but a big one is the hoarding of the hyper-wealthy, who are also manipulating the currency, causing massive inflation.

Now, these students in these protests are in fact students and they’re Venezuelan, but they’re predominantly the children of the wealthy class. They were educated abroad and they speak english, which makes them perfect for packaging the message to the western world. We hear the voice of a young woman speaking english and we immediately identify.

But who tells the story of the many impoverished people who support the Bolivarian government? Who tells the story of those who don’t speak english?

Well, no one here.

But I’m getting sidelined.

The point is that no one bothers to examine Venezuela’s history or even the context of the protests. We react. We react. We react.

But no one thinks.

And when we do think, it’s only to separate. It’s only to split up the world and society, to section people into different groups.

No one is allowed to simply be a human anymore. You need to carry flags marking what your social, religious, and economic beliefs are. It’s easier for us to dismiss you or agree with you if we know that your flag is the same as ours.

But I guess I wrote a lot of words to same something very simple:

Be kind.

That’s really all there is to say. Be kind. Love one another. Try to understand each other. Find the places where we come together, and tie us tighter. When you see cracks, work to fill them in, rather than actively chip away at them constantly.

This will not go viral. This will go largely unread. But I also didn’t write this for marketing. I didn’t write this for an audience in mind, and that’s why it won’t succeed in a meme market. If this were a real essay, I’d structure it better and cite all the sources I should’ve cited. Several months ago I decided to stop sharing everything political with the internet, because it seemed like no one cared or no one read. But if you care about any of these things I’ve said here, look them up. Do research on Hugo Chavez, and not just what mainstream western media has to say. Look at what’s happening in Ukraine, and actually look at the result we’re seeing there: Fascism–neoNazis. Take a minute to look at all the articles filling the social media world day after day. You don’t even have to read them. Usually the headline tells you everything: 10 Reasons Why this Group or Person is Wrong about Everything, 5 Ways Men will Never Understand Women, 20 Straight Things Gays Don’t Care About, 11 Ways White Feminists Don’t Represent Me, and on and on.

That’s not to devalue critique, and many of these kinds of articles are very useful for a lot of reasons, but if we never look at society or the world as a place of synthesis, we’ll never get there.

Be kind. Live well. Be kind.

Goodnight.

on writing like yourself

I’ve been writing for a long time. I started trying to get published at the very end of 2008 and was pretty consistently published through 2009 and 2010 in various journals. Back then I thought what mattered was being out there, no matter where it was. This is obviously untrue, especially since many of the places I was once published are no longer even websites.

But I don’t think I really took writing seriously until I finished my first novel about three and a half years ago. A lot’s changed since then, especially my style and goals, but I wanted to talk a little bit about the road between 2008 and now.

For a while there were a bunch of sites that told you who you wrote like. Probably there still are, but the point was to drop a bit of your writing or a whole giant chunk of it into this site and it’d tell you who you write like. I’ve done it a few times and always received surprising answers. I’ve also received a lot of surprising comparisons from people that have read my work.

Here’s a list of those I remember:

  • HP Lovecraft
  • James Joyce
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Nick Cave
  • Thomas Pynchon
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Craig Clevenger
  • Joseph McElroy
  • Ursula K Le Guin
  • Haruki Murakami
  • Steve Erickson
  • Steven Erikson
  • Ian Irvine
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Franz Kafka
  • Norman Mailer

And I can’t remember who else. I agree with some and disagree pretty strongly with others, and then there are those I’ve never read, so there’s no way for me to really compare. I think it’s good to be told you sound like those you’ve never encountered and not so great to be told you sound like your favorite authors.

As much as I love a lot of people on that list, I have no intention of being them, or writing like them. It’s something I had to discover. Back in 2008 and 2009, I realised I was just aping my heroes, and that’s the worst possible feeling to have. To think that all your hard work was just bad copying or rehashing. And so I pushed myself away from who I was.

Almost every year I try to relearn how to write. I think this is essential. Of course reading is the best way to learn new ways to do things, but so is just trying to break yourself away from who you were. I look back at my first novels and I don’t know if I could write them again for a lot of different reasons. But I keep pushing to be a different version of me.

That’s the most important thing. People tell you to find your voice and sort of cling to it, but I think that’s actually pretty bad advice. You should always be looking for new voices, for new mouths to speak through, for new hands to feel with and new eyes to see with. Certainly there’re a lot of similarities between myself and myself, but I want every book to at least feel different, if not be completely different.

Which is a struggle for me, as I rely on multiplicity and polyphonic structures. I find it almost impossible to stick with a single narrator for longer than 10,000 words. I’ve done it several times, but it’s just not normal for me to do. I need to switch directions, juxtapose people and ideas. That’s why I set out to write a novel with 101 narrators, because I wanted to do polyphony as big as I could so I could just be done with it. And since I’ve still not finished that novel, I’m still writing multi-narrator novels, but I’m working past it. I moved to third person, which gives me some breathing room, as I narrate in a sort of closed floating way, like the camera in Gasper Noe’s Irreversible. And that gives me some freedom of form and style, but my third person style, because I put so many rules on it, sort of has the same feel across novels and stories, which is not ideal, but I think part of that is because other people don’t follow my rules and so they can talk about the internality of a character while still playing at third person narration. But this’ll get me into a whole thing about the rules I make and I don’t want to talk about that.

But maybe I should, in a general way.

Make rules for yourself. If you rely on something, such as multiple narrators or jumps in time, force yourself to write a single narrator in real time. That’s actually what my second novel is. It’s a failure, but it was 40,000 words of unbroken first person present tense narration. I achieved my goal. I didn’t write a very good novel, but I did what I set out to do, and I learnt a lot in doing so.

Constantly force yourself away from your habits and your comforts. If you only write realism, throw yourself into fantasy or science fiction. If you only write genre, shoot for something literary. I’m constantly trying to write in different genres, and though I often fail, I learn something on the way. Part of it, for me, at least, is that I don’t research a genre before I write it. I’ve been trying to write hardboiled noir for a while and I just can’t get there. I could learn a lot if I just read some books, but I want to find the genre in my own backwards way. I don’t want to walk through the front door everyone else walks through. I want to climb the tree and jump onto the roof, break open the window and climb into its bedroom.

So make yourself rules, and then break them.

Find your voice, and then disassemble it.

Know who you are as a writer, and then rewrite it.

I rarely give advice about writing because I think most advice is pointless, but I guess you can consider this my bit of writing advice.

you can’t turn back time

but you can start over.

We’ve had several very difficult months and it felt broken, and maybe it was–I believed it was–but we’re starting over and trying to relearn how to love one another.

In other news, I threw away about 15,000 words of my giant monster novel and have been working on it, but I’m throwing away what I have now too.

Nothing’s working the way it’s meant to so I’m going to move on to another project for now. I’ll come back to this because it’s the greatest idea I ever had and also the greatest title I’ve ever thought of.

a lot of change

Everything is in a state of flux, but I think we’re finding out balance, slowly. I move slow. I heal slow. Happiness isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.

It’s Valentine’s:

You shall be my roots and
I will be your shade,
though the sun burns my leaves.

You shall quench my thirst and
I will feed you fruit,
though time takes my seed.

And when I’m lost and can tell nothing of this earth
you will give me hope.

And my voice you will always hear.
And my hand you will always have.

For I will shelter you.
And I will comfort you.
And even when we are nothing left,
not even in death,
I will remember you.

I’ve been continuing my movie a day journey, but I can’t remember everything I’ve watched. I’ve done some rewatching too.

I’ll just list most of them:

The Great Mouse Detective

Skyfall

Reservoir Dogs

Adrift in Tokyo, which was really quite great.

The Hunter

Once Upon a Time in the West

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, I think I already talked about this, but it really is amazing.

I can’t remember what else. We’ll see what I end up watching today.

life goes on

In flux, in confusion, but I like this.

Finished the first draft of my graphic novel, which is maybe too insular, emotional, and non-narrative. I’m going to let it sit for a few months and maybe rewrite it when I can see those images clearly again.

loneliness: affliction, addiction, disease

Life was meant to get easier but I don’t think it ever does. It doesn’t necessarily get harder, but ease and life seem to never go hand in hand the way they should.

I’ve not made a post like this in a long time. Not since I discovered that people actually come here and read what I say. This private corner of the internet’s been opened up, and though all those old posts exist, very little of my life now goes in here. It’s a strange turn, for this to become sort of a marketing thing, or whatever a blog is meant to be. But it stopped being about me and started being about the world around me, which isn’t bad, and I probably prefer it, but this post is a reaching back, in a sense, and it’ll probably be unpleasant to read and write.

I’ve spent most of my life alone. About twenty four of the twenty six years I’ve been alive. For a long time this bothered me, depressed me horribly. I believed in love, and I believed there was some for me, somewhere. I fell in love before. I fell in love often, was reckless with my heart, with affection, with all the bits that made me up. I gave myself away, recklessly, expecting nothing, maybe even wanting nothing. But I hoped somewhere in the maelstrom of love and heartache and pain and depression and horrifying loneliness, I’d find that love, that cure for the hole inside me.

I made mistakes. Countless ones. I was hurt along the way, sometimes too deeply, and I’m sure I caused my fair share of carnage in the lives of others. It’s the kind of that makes me sometimes wonder if I’m a bad person, if maybe I’ve always been, and that the reason for all the isolation and loneliness is because I’m a trainwreck neverending, loving poorly or maybe selfishly or maybe just not really loving at all. Just taking.

And that would be the worst, to discover that I’ve only been taking from so many people for so many years.

But I believed in love, even after every heartbreak. And they hit me hard. Through high school I drank too much alcohol and slept almost never. There were weeks when I only slept a handful of hours, and there was a particular week, after I broke my heart all to pieces, that I sort of slipped into surreality and delusions, because–as I discovered–you need to dream in sleep, or you start dreaming while awake. It was a frightening time in my life, high school. I remember it oddly fondly, but I was less than happy. I was stupendously unhappy. I drank nearly every day, spent all night awake thinking so many things that only hurt me more. I was at odds with myself. I couldn’t see clearly. I couldn’t see life and light. I was in love with Death and thought I’d find peace if only I could discover what it meant to be loved, what it felt like, what it looked like.

And I thought I did, for a while. But, as is normally the case for ridiculously unwell people, things didn’t end well, and I crashed. But as time went by and the isolation remained, the loneliness festered, I found ways to channel that energy and deal with the absence. I still looked for love everywhere, gave where I could, but I really was just a nonsense ball of wreckage wandering through college. But I also began to learn. I cultivated my isolation. I stopped looking at the absence as an enemy, but as a confrontational friend, and I poured myself into myself, over and over. It wasn’t until I was nineteen that I realised that I liked myself, and that realisation was one of the happiest of my life. Not only did I like who I was, but I genuinely enjoyed myself.

I made me happy, and a lot of life became easier after that.

I mean, I had always been sort of a loner, but I’ve always enjoyed people [though I often can’t stand the sight of humans] and enjoyed their company. But my natural inclination was always isolation. I enjoyed sitting in my room and reading or listening to CDs or drawing or writing or just staring at the walls for hours as my imagination created new worlds for me to live in. I was sort of impossibly in my head, and it wasn’t until I was probably seventeen that I really started to live outside it. And, I mean, how could you love someone who’s not actually with you when you’re together? How could you even enjoy their company?

I’m sort of jumping around a lot, I guess, so don’t look at this as chronological, but picture it as swirling effluvia of my brain and heart.

In Ireland I sought escape. Escape from the demons and ghosts who haunted me. Love that haunted me. The face of so many women who were so kind to me, who I wish I had been better for. But I found my isolation in Ireland and it began to comfort me. I wandered Dublin for days by myself. Often the most interesting times of my weekends were after my friends and I parted ways. All the strange people I would meet in the streets at 3am and all the strange adventures we’d go on. One off friends who carried me through the night, and I enjoyed my time with them immensely, but the best part was that it was barely ever real. Just a few hours with people whose names I didn’t know wandering Dublin in the rain and the dark, causing havoc and laughing loud, eating too many kebabs. My loneliness also struck me there as an affliction, and I realised how dangerous it could be, how missing people, loving people, and looking for personal value in them would tear the world apart, and leave you a weeping mess, afraid or unable to get out of bed and wander the streets you love.

But, once out there, the wind would hit me in such a way, or the sun would peer behind a cloud, and I’d find myself smiling, remembering that life is all right. It’s good to be alive, even if it’s massively absurd and sort of inane.

For all the ravages of loneliness and depression, which, for me, are sort of strongly linked. My depressive episodes are linked to a lot of different things, and most of them have to do with a looming apocalyptic weight that crushes me, but isolation is sort of an everpresent ghost haunting me. I collapse into it, in both good and bad ways.

I crave my isolation at times. I’ve cultivated it so long, and become so comfortable in it, that I miss it sometimes. But then I also crash into it, with existential calamity all around.

I feel addicted to my isolation, which really isn’t the same thing as loneliness, though I’m using them sometimes synonymously. I need it and I crave it, but it’s a disease. It’s no good to be alone, and I know that.

When I moved to South Korea, I sort of gave up on finding love. I had just turned twenty three, and I guess I thought it wasn’t for me. A family, a wife, children–I couldn’t even picture it, wasn’t even sure I wanted it. I still fell in love often, gave my heart away, was reckless with the person who is me, but I never thought any of it would last, didn’t even care if it didn’t. I met beautiful people there and I know I was kinder than the me in high school or college. I was a better person, more able to understand and relate to humans. And so, though I remained alone, I found shelter in the love of others, the perfect moments of love we shared in that country that felt, for a while, like home.

And then I fell in love again, recklessly, and I love her still.

But the disease is still here, and it eats at me. At us. I don’t really know how to make it better or what to do about it. But I know that this goes on forever, this isolation, this disease, that spreads and grows. The more time you spend alone, the more you cultivate that isolation, the more it grows and the deeper it becomes, until, sometimes, you’re feeling too much or not enough, like the world is exploding within you or like it’s happening in another room, behind paned glass.

My life has become strange, and I’ve grown strange inside of it. I no longer know what I want, or what I lack.

I know that the absence cannot be filled by another. Loneliness cannot be cured by love, though it seems like it should be. So this is something I need to do better. Something I need to discover.

I love you.

oh, today is full of things

There’s so much going around facebook right now that I can’t keep up, so I’ll try to dump it all here.

Congratulations to Mary Miller and Kyle Minor for all the awesome press they’re getting for their books, The Last Days of California and Praying Drunk, respectively.

Kyle Minor press:

Interview at Other People with Brad Listi

Tinhouse interview

Believer interview

Boston Globe review

Kirkus review

And then this Buzzfeed list is a good transition, since Mary and Kyle are both on it

Mary Miller:

Interview at Brooklyn Rail

Electric Literature interview

Hobart interview

Review at Heavy Feather Review

New York Times review

All right, I think that catches us up.

Oh, and some things about me:

Cover art for my forthcoming novel Noir: A Love Story done by Ryan W Bradley.