I went on vacation to Grand Rapids and played more pinball in a weekend than I played all last year. I was tearing up Simpsons Pinball Party on Saturday night and some guy asked me if I felt like The Who's Tommy. Then the ball went down the middle, and I said, "Yeah, I feel blind, deaf, and dumb." I was never a Who guy anyways.
Then I saw Reigning Sound in Chicago on my way back. They make me think that the fifties were badass. I was always partial to odd-numbered decades anyways.
I didn't get any writing done when I was gone, which is not fine. I was still looking toward the time off I was going to take in April anyways, so I guess I'll count that as now. I'm still working on that chapbook, but it's still going slowly. No new thoughts on whether or not to throw away my old stories or rework them, which makes me think I should go back and actually read them again. I'm only going to go back a few years on this, though. Nobody needs my bullshit from 2008 except maybe other people who were boring pricks and want to relive the navel-gazing glory of twenty page stories where nobody talks to each other, later on describing their story as having "a subconscious arc to the narrative, lending it organic qualities than really bloom upon multiple readings." (Also: Fuck.)
My friend Dena's manuscript is shaping up. (Probably. I haven't actually read the second draft, but she's a smart little firecracker and I trust her to work hard at it.) I'm sixteen pieces away from finishing up my comments on it for her, at which point I'll sit back and see if she wants me to look at the second draft or if she'll be sick of my shit by then. I'm pretty sure I say "This does nothing" and "Take it a bit further and see what happens" far too often, to everyone about everything, that I myself am sick of my own shit already when it comes to advice.
It's also that time of year where I run a weekly writing workshop for young adults at the public library about twenty minutes away. Sign up is down this year--I was assured that sign up for all things at the library was down this year, though I'm still considered the reckless, nonsensical one in the library hierarchy--and I think a lot of it has to do with Harry Potter and Twilight both dying down in popularity. A couple years ago when those books were a cultural phenomenon, kids thought it was cool to be a writer. Now that the YA thing has fizzled a bit, they all want to go back to doing whatever it is that kids do normally.
So I've got two groups of kids: four 12-14 year olds (1 age 12, 3 age 14) and four 15-17 year olds (3 age 15 and one age 17). All girls except one fifteen year old dude named Matt who totally has his shit together. He's working on three screenplays and a "psychological thriller." When I was fifteen I was working on new ways to masturbate and lists of my favorite wrestlers. I look forward to resenting his success.
I showed the older group "The Harvest" by Amy Hempel. They had never seen anything like it before, and I think it added something to their thoughts about what writing is, rattled loose some thoughts that were already there. That's what any good writing should do, especially "The Harvest," a story I read about once a month. I'm trying to find other stories to share with them during our time together, but it's tough because we're only in workshop for an hour and a half each week, and I want to make time to show them how to workshop each other's work. Even if we did have time, though, I'm not so sure I want to sit down and have them read a twenty page short story out loud to one another. I'm already bored by that option. But I am going to show them stories each week. I'm thinking Barry Hannah's "Love Too Long" next, but he says nigger a couple of times in there and the violent sexuality might be a bit much for kids who are just learning about what all that stuff is for.
For the younger group, I'm really trying to focus on in-workshop writing. Lots of exercises, lots of stuff just to get the juices flowing. The first session together was taken up mostly by introductions, including me rambling incoherently for 45 minutes in an attempt to tell them, simply, that I am 27 and have a book coming out. They all said they had stuff written already, so I want to do some traditional workshop stuff with them, too, but it'll mostly be hammering ideas into their heads through prompts.
In previous years, the groups weren't separated, which was a hassle for everyone. Everything changes once kids get into high school, so the cut was perfect: incoming Freshmen and younger in one group, everyone up to recent graduates in another. Other than me finally realizing that I am not cool, have never been cool and am no longer able to convince myself that I am cool as a means of survival, and that I am an unfortunate adult in the eyes of teenagers instead of just a rad guy who happens to be a bit older, things are going fine so far.
who watched it, proving that it really isn't a generational gap that makes me look like a goddamn loser.
I want to end this by thanking everyone who donated to the Jersey Devil Press 2012 Collection Kickstarter. It was funded last week, which means Eirik won't have to fork out the cash from his pocket, which means that he can live comfortably and still support rad things like my book. There's still a week and a half left, and any money over the scant $630 goal goes toward a third book that JDP will be doing. Really, though, thank you so much to everyone who donated. You will be receiving your promised rewards this Fall when the book is released, in addition to a bonus reward from me. Because I'm a pal like that.