Well, last week really got away from me, didn't it? I meant to write some blog stuff last week, but I was too busy working on [AWESOME SECRET THING] and [OTHER AWESOME SECRET THING THAT'S DIFFERENT FROM AWESOME SECRET THING]. It looks like my plan to sell some books will have to wait for a few days, too, because all of a sudden it's Monday and I'm leaving for Portland and Seattle tomorrow to do a couple of Wil Wheaton vs. Paul and Storm Shows.
I spent most of today working on [AWESOME SECRET THING], and then got down to putting together my setlist for the shows. I had a pretty good idea about what I wanted to do, but I went looking through my blog archives anyway, just in case there was something I'd forgotten about that would be fun to perform.
Going through those archives is weird and wonderful. I don't remember writing most of the posts, but I clearly recall the events that inspired them. What started as a quick skim through the archives turned into a couple of hours spent reliving the high points of the last couple of years. It was time very well spent.
While I combed the archives, I found some flash fiction while that I thought was worth reposting, because it's super short and I don't think it sucks:
Ian missed living in a city that didn’t keep any secrets from him, where everything was out in the open: junkies, hookers, pan handlers, rich snobs and bad cops. You knew where you stood with everyone in the city, and everyone in the city knew where they stood with you.
In the suburbs, though, everyone had a secret. Two houses up, the Doyles were overdue on three months’ of bills, but they kept paying the gardener to come and keep up appearances. Across the street, Mrs. Canton practically begged every delivery boy who came to the door to fuck her, except on Sunday when she went door to door, passing out bible tracts. Next door, Doctor and Mrs. Thompson argued quietly and intensely almost every night about their son, who they’d put into a group home for troubled youth.
Day after day, Ian smiled and waved to his neighbors, while recording all of their secrets in journals and photo albums.
When the police finally found the bodies buried in the loose dirt of his basement, his neighbors were shocked: “He was quiet,” Doctor Thompson said. “He kept to himself,” Mrs. Thompson added.
“He never left his garbage cans out. He kept a lovely lawn,” The Doyles told investigators.
When the handsome young reporter from Channel 6 came to her door, Mrs. Canton smiled carefully and said, “Would you like to come inside and talk about it over a cup of coffee?”
The best part of my day? That’s easy: those few blissful seconds right after I wake up, when I just feel my head against the pillow and the warmth of the blanket, before it all comes crashing back down on me and I remember where I am. That’s when the worst part of the day begins.
There are guys in here who talk about their dreams. Not like what they want to do with their lives or what they’d do with a million dollars; I mean their actual dreams, where they can fly and talk to animals and shit, but I never remember mine. I haven’t remembered a dream for … well, long enough that I can’t remember what the last one was, and I have a pretty good memory. Like, when I was a kid, there were these smokestacks that I could see from the motorway when we were getting close to home. They were tall, with four rings of red lights around them every five meters or so. The top ring of lights blinked slowly, and on nights when the weather was bad, I could still see the red glow reflecting off the clouds, even if I couldn’t make out the smokestacks in the dark. I would tell my mum, “I can see the smokestacks, mummy!” And she would reply, “That means we’re almost home, darling.”
On cloudy nights, I lie back on my bed, look out through the bars, and imagine that I can see a soft red glow slowly blinking against the orange reflection of the lights, telling me that I’m almost home.
These short short short stories aren't perfect. I think 239 is the stronger of the duo, but there's some nice imagery in Perchance to Dream that makes it worth reposting.
But the point isn't to be perfect. The point is to get excited and make something creative. I need to remind myself of that from time to time (in this case, "time" being every day or so) or I'll get so stuck trying to get to the mythical Land of Perfection that I'll never leave the station.
I was talking to my friend Ed today, and unexpectedly remembered an idea I had months ago for a story that I think is pretty damn cool, that will be a lot of fun to write and tell. A year ago, I would have been paralyzed with fear about even attempting it, but something happened between then and now, and I'm not afraid any more. I don't feel like a fraud when I make something up and write it down, and I don't hear Carrie's mother holling "They're all going to laugh at you!" when I think, "You know, this would be a fun story to tell."
That bitch yelled at me for years, and it feels pretty good to nail her to the wall with a bunch of shit that I shot right out of my mind.
Making stuff up and writing it down is a lot of fun, but having the courage (or audacity) to show it to other people… well, the risk is worth taking.