Another month gone that I'll never get back, because that's how time works until you're dead and it doesn't matter anymore. Here's what I've been doing.
1) I went and talked to a temp agency about getting me work in an office because I hate my job at Wal-Mart, mainly because I can't fuck around as much anymore.
1b) I realize this makes me sound incredibly lazy and part of a much larger problem concerning the new adults of America, but it's a matter of right more than anything. I signed up for a shitty job that pays under $10 an hour and has no responsibilities. Being a fuck up is built into it. It's a job for retired people who want to push a broom all day or kids in high school who are waiting for their lives to start. I'm using it as a way to have a job I can leave there when I walk out the door, which it hasn't been, thanks to a clause in my "Wal-Mart contract" that says I agreed to help out where needed, meaning that if this fucking dildo assistant manager I hate tells me to eat shit and bark at the moon, I have to eat shit and bark at the moon.
1c) That dude's a dick.
2) I saw Bret Michaels of Poison at the casino in town. It was one of the worst shows I've ever seen. He opened up with two Posion songs, so fine, I wasn't pissed. Then he went off stage to change his shirt and came on to play "Sweet Home Alabama." Then he dedicated "Something To Believe In" to the troops and the people of Boston. His twelve-string acoustic sounded like Steve Albini's Shellac tone, which was kind of awesome but entirely inappropriate. Then he changed his shirt again, came back out, and played "What I Got" by Sublime after giving a shout-out to Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray. He played for under an hour, which is kind of an odd thing to complain about--"This food is terrible, and such small portions!"--but he didn't play "Ride the Wind" so I'm pissed.
3) Some dude came into the bar I work at and stole my screen-printed, hand-numbered Melvins poster from the wall in the little room I do door in. We took a screenshot of the security footage and did a public shaming of him online. I happened to run into him the next day on the street, where I called him a fucker, asked him where my poster was, and then opened up the back door of his car to grab it while he made excuses. He's a white dude with dreads, so fuck him.
3b) I put the poster back up and it disappeared that same night. I asked the owners to check the footage the next day and they never did, so I assumed they just didn't care. A week later, I saw the poster hanging back up in the room. The middle of it was completely burned through and then entire thing was ruined. I was immediately bummed. Ten minutes later one of the owners comes through the door holding the real Melvins poster, then explains to me that he saw it on the ground that night and took it home. He went to CopyWorks, made a cheap black and white copy, stained it with coffee, colored it with colored pencils, and then burned out the middle. He and the other owner were watching the security footage to see my reaction and he ran down to the bar as soon as he saw I was about to kill myself. A total dick, but what a wonderful prank.
4) I've been eating people's ice cream out of the freezer at work because I'm a rotten human.
5) I started writing fake horoscopes under the name Dr. McCracken for a local entertainment magazine.
5b) Here are three of them:
Aries: You will argue for forty-five minutes with an IKEA representative about the best way to design a pit. Enjoy naps in lieu of the sun, which will eventually burn out anyways. Someone in your professional life will dream of lighting your shoes on fire. Life is debatable.
Taurus: A new love interest will appear and replace all of the light switch covers in your house with photocopies of your baby pictures. Do not be shaken by the unknown. Cry in your bathtub at every opportunity.
Gemini: More than ever before it is important to remember that the human body's age limitations are ultimately usurped by the fact that cancer is unavoidable in all life forms past the age of 150. You will drown your motivation with ice cream.
6) My buddy Zach made me a custom leather guitar strap that has my name written in the scoops of an ice cream cone.
7) I started watching this video series on YouTube where some Irish guys talk about old wrestling PPVs for like an hour and a half over-top the footage they're talking about. I'm halfway through the Wrestlemania I episode and yes, they make an interesting point with the placement of Lord Alfred. Very odd. And yes, my life is disappearing.
8) I found out that I'm Jewish. My mother was explaining something about my grandmother being an old Jew, which made me realize--thanks to David Cross--that if her mother was a Jew, then that means she's a Jew. That means I'm a Jew. A loophole Jew, but still a Jew.
8b) Nobody was surprised.
After what felt like a million years but was actually only like two months of minor complaining about not being published for two months, I got e-mails telling me that my story "Go Says No," about pinball and the doldrums, will be going up at BULL: Men's Fiction and my story "A Comprehensive List of the Least Worst Way To Do Everything," about a dead wrestler and his brother dealing with it, will be going up at Necessary Fiction, both in the near future.
Part of why I went so long--"so long," I guess, since it really wasn't a very long time--without getting anything accepted for publication was because I didn't have a lot floating around out there, and what I did have floating around was at the big-time journals that take at least three months to respond. Nothing was helped by the responses I actually was getting, which were all rejections, one of which addressed only to "Dear [name]." I am a human, I swear.
But anyways, those should be out soon, and I'm sure I won't shut the fuck up about them once they get here. "A Comprehensive List" is the first story (that I have written, maybe not the first story in the collection) in a pro wrestling based chapbook I'm working on called The Road Becomes What You Leave, a title I pinched from a Magnolia Electric Co. song lyric, one that was actually already pinched several years ago for a short documentary about the band. (Magnolia Electric Co. singer/guitarist Jason Molina recently died after a long battle with alcoholism, and though I've been planning on using the title for years and years and Molina probably wasn't a huge wrestling fan, I'm still very dedicated to the idea of using it.)
"Go Says No" isn't a part of any collection, at least not yet, and that's somewhat exciting, because it means that in a few years, if I can keep writing, I'll hopefully have a handful of stories to pull from to make a new collection. It'll be interesting to see what themes emerge from the group of stories. I plan out what I'm writing about, at least in terms of what I want to get across emotionally or thematically, as much as I can ahead of time, so the idea that a book that doesn't exist yet is going to come together from a bunch of stories that also don't exist yet kind of blows my mind.
The Passenger Side Books website is finally up and running, and the first two titles are available as fuck. Justin Lawrence Daugherty's Whatever Don't Drown Will Always Rise and my Murmuration are$5 shipped each or $9 shipped as a bundle. People said nice things about each of them, like this from Amber Sparks about Justin's book:
"Justin Lawrence Daugherty has not just a voice, but a hulking, goose-pimpling presence on the page - like something buried in the earth too long and about to burn its way out. He is an acute and devastatingly honest observer of the current human condition, and his characters limp and bayonet their way through Whatever Don’t Drown Will Always Rise like soldiers of some wounded new century."
Or this from Mary Miller about my book:
"The five stories in Ryan Werner's Murmuration, which are dedicated to the Midwest, bring me into the heart of a world where boys drive cars off cliffs and have least favorite strippers, where dreams must be revised into "necessary shapes" by playing guitar in the street at night. Ryan writes with authority, skill, and passion, not only about the Midwest, but about youth and what it means to be young."
Get them both right here at the Passenger Side Books site.
Also, Murmuration is on Goodreads.
And so is Whatever Don't Drown Will Always Rise.
AND ALL THIS SHIT IS ON TWITTER NOW.
I had a couple things go online recently, despite my endless whining about not being published. The first one, my story "Back and to the Left" up at Jersey Devil Press, I totally forgot about because they're the ones who published my first book, where this story originally appeared. We worked out a loose arrangement and now it's here and I'm stoked. It's like finding twenty bucks in an old pair of pants. Anyways, this story is based on the song "Brain of J" by Pearl Jam, and it has to do with the idea that JFK didn't really die--until now--and wasn't really up to anything anyways. OR as I like to call it, REALITY, DUDE.
Aside from his relations with Marilyn Monroe and being the most powerful man in the United States for a little bit, JFK wasn’t the luckiest guy around. He was accident prone, more than anything. Still, he kept his humor. He’d call me a few times a year and say something like, “I just slammed my hand in a car door. First I get shot in the head and now this.”
The other thing I had go up is a review of Roy Kesey's Any Deadly Thing up at Heavy Feather Review. I didn't really like the book, but here's me being diplomatic.
In these large, faraway places are usually two people experimenting with the space they’re forced to cohabitate. In the portion of their lives we’re presented with, the good stuff often seems ready to arrive despite the stories all beginning and ending in odd spots, the story going on, always.
I didn't talk much about what I'm working on because I'm not working on shit. I've been busy finalizing the PSB stuff and working and playing in four or five bands. And I hate reading more than one book at once, so I've been stuck on Ken Nash's The Brain Harvest, trying to read it at the slow points in my work day, which isn't exactly ideal or productive. However, I just finished the review for The Brain Harvest (and a review for The Stone Thrower by Adam Marek, which was wonderful), so I'm going to reread The Watch by Rick Bass and some new shit by Gary Lutz and I'm going to generally get back into the swing of writing again. Because I like writing. I think.
All right. Let's get incredible.