turn and face the strain... ch-ch-changes...

change is something that you really can't fight or avoid, so why bother? everything that i have written in the last five years, with probably the exception of this is hardcore, has changed on me. sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a horribly wrong sort of way.

when i wrote if only, i had in mind a book that would successfully critique and condemn misogynistic male behaviour in the 1990's. It was supposed to be feminist and different, and much more stark and clear in its mission. then something happened. i found myself stuck on the subject matter, unable to move past the misogyny. and, i am ashamed to admit, perhaps i enjoyed it. what happened was that i started to repeat myself, with the first hundred pages being nothing but men out drinking, clubbing, fucking, treating everyone - men and women both - like shit. and when the scene did change up, it was probably worse, with me writing in some of the most horrible things i've ever written about one of my female characters. i found that by the end of the book, i was glorifying their behaviour and it sickened me. to top it all off, there was some odd story about finding paradise that sort of started out of nowhere, which led the main characters out on a roadtrip to nowhere. and you know what? even in the middle of nowhere, these guys were cads and assholes. i really felt bad for writing it, and i felt worse when the only people that liked it were guys. that wasn't supposed to happen. in the end, i wasn't sure if it failed because i was a bad writer, or if i really was a misogynistic person. i guess it was a bit of both in me, both things that i've been working on for a long time now to fix.

then i wrote desert sessions: an anti-corporate love story. it originally started out as platform, a book that was supposed to be a major indictment on the current political environment. but then something happened. i sort of ran away to montreal for a while, quitting my job, selling my car, and basically living like a bum in my friend Rod's apartment. i did nothing for a month and a half except be a burden to my friend. that's when platform started changing to desert sessions, but before i could write much on it, i ran away again, this time to europe for a while, going on this sort of odd quest to experience things. i ended up traveling on the road with complete strangers, sharing intimate details with them, things that i would never have told anyone back home. we shared everything to the point of being completely comfortable being naked with each other. it was an odd time for me because i could be who i wanted to be. no one knew me over there. i did what i wanted, and behaved how i liked, and most of that was spent in a drugged-up, alcoholic stupper. i was essentially free, until the money ran out. then i had an epiphany one sober day on a train from mont pellier to paris, france, and things changed for me then. i came back home and finished desert sessions in four months. instead of being a huge political opus, it ended up being primarily about my experiences wandering through europe and parts of canada.

then comes this is hardcore. this idea came fully formed to me, and it was the only real idea i had at the time, so i wrote it and i was finished in about 8 months. nothing much changed from the original concept except maybe the last section of the book. for the most part though, it followed the concept all the way through. i guess it's why i don't have much invested in it. it won't ever be a desert sessions, and i realize that. i don't think anything i write again will be like that book. and because of that, it will probably be my favorite book no matter what. this is hardcore really was based on the feelings i was feeling for one girl, who i now realize that i really don't have much of a connection with and never really did. i think this is why i feel disconnected from the book. why, despite it being my best writing, i don't love the book like i should.

finally, here comes revolutionaries wanted. already in the first month of writing, the name changed to cooler than the millions. again, i was set to write a political opus, an indictment on the current political times of fear and torture and justified wars. but something is happening. it's becoming personal again, and the politics is being pushed onto the back burner. this is frustrating, because i am coming to the belief now that i may never write that political opus. and i'm swallowing ideas from another book. i'm finding that concepts and themes that i reserved for my other project, live acoustic (open fire) are being swallowed up, or stolen by cooler than the millions. i realize that's silly, because i'm writing both, but i have a feeling that the two books will become one sooner or later. it's funny how this all works: i had set characters and set situations, and now i'm finding that i'm losing characters and loving the ones i have left. particularly the female character named sean (i had this wierd thing for sean young during the whole bladerunner thing), who i had as pretty much a throwaway character, just some sort of sexpot to sort of sit around and be pretty, but now, she's turned into the emotional center of the book.

all in all, i do welcome change, but i'm always afraid that i might get a situation like if only again. i guess i have to risk it. not everything i write can be successful. and in the end, i really do like a bit of risk. it keeps things interesting.


over the top

this is tougher than i thought. i am struggling to write cooler than the millions because i am unable to capture the right tone for the book. i've realized that this is why i've had my "block" for so long. my issue is that i'm trying to write a political book without the reader realizing outright that it's a political book. since i don't really read a lot of books (funny, considering i'm a writer), and since i'm mostly inspired by television and movies when i write, i've decided to make this entry about political movies that i felt either hit their mark or missed it, because tone is probably one of the most important aspects in writing anything or filming anything.

syriana is the first movie on my list here. syriana is an incredibly good movie, with so much politics that you almost get suffocated in it. it's about the oil industry and how it creeps into every aspect of not only political life, but domestic life. my problem with this movie is not the politics, because i'm part of the choir it preaches to, but rather its lack of humanity. the domestic parts of the movie fall flat, and i almost prefer if they didn't even bother, because really, when you're dealing with such an incredibly complex issue as oil, your story is bound to suffer in places when trying to fit it into a two hour movie. sure, if it were a book, it could be a thousand pages long and be a masterpiece. syriana, in my opinion, while a good movie, is infinitely unwatchable because of this lack of humanity that is sort of tacked on at the end. it's like, "the oil industry is bad and corrupt because of x, y, and z. oh, and it hurts families." i have no desire to see it again.

crash was a movie that critics loved, and i hated. while syriana was lacking in the domestic aspect, crash was all about the domestic part, which is good, because it brings humanity to the issues, but the movie was accomplished in such a piss poor fashion. the movie has about three or four scenes that comprise the whole point of the movie. everything builds towards the major scenes, which ultimately have a twist at the end (eg: the racist cop turns out to be good at his job, the good cop fucks up, etc). it keeps doing this, and it gets boring. the movie just seemed so contrived. it would have been much better if it had focused on one story rather than a bunch. i mean, we get the point already.

jarhead was a good movie. it's not really a political movie per say, (not for or against war), beause it's mostly about one man's experience. but it is a political movie in terms of the military industrial complex. or more specifically, one cog of that complex, the marines. this movie got it right. while syriana and crash were both trying to hit you over the head (with syriana it was necessary due to the complexity of the politics), jarhead was quietly moving along, in a very anti-climactic way. jarhead gets it completely right in terms of tone. even scenes where there were opportunities for hitting you over the head (eg: when the soldiers come across a convoy of charred and burnt out bodies of iraqi civilians), it choses not to. only deciding to focus on the moment and treat it like it is: a moment. we all know war is bad, and that war is hell. there's no need to smother us with it. after the movie, adam and i overheard a woman complaining because the civilian deaths were treated so lightly in the movie, and that they should have focused more on it. she completely missed the point. perhaps she's better off watching saving private ryan if she wants that sort of thing. (by the way, i thought saving private ryan was a joke compared to the masterpiece that the thin red line was. both of them came out the same year, but saving private ryan got more attention because it was more... obvious. i guess a poetic war movie like the thin red line is just not something most people like.)

finally, the constant gardener also got it right. a movie about big business and corruption and healthcare, all rolled up in a nice little package. this worked really well and i think accomplished what it set out to do. my only beef with it is the last scene in the movie, where you see the little african kids. it was just a little too much. i mean, we got the point. still, it was a good movie, with some smart writing and directing. like syriana, the movie didn't tell me anything that i already didn't know, but at least it was entertaining. but oddly enough, even though it got the human side down just right, i liked syriana more. i guess it's because syriana has explosions in it and i'm a sucker for explosions. plus, george clooney gets tortured, which is think is just his comeupance for making those crappy batman movies.

so that's tone. probably one of the most important aspects to story telling. and i'm struggling with it with cooler than the millions. it would be so easy to write in a bunch of rants, but really, that's all boring. and since my writing is heading to a more subtle place, i'm thinking it would be a mistake to write such a scene. there are a lot of things that i've already ruled out. (eg: i was gonna write a character into the book who was ultimately going to become a suicide bomber, but that was too much for me.) there's gonna be issues of torture, of human rights, of freedom and paranoia and fear. but ultimately, i want cooler than the millions to be human. i guess the best description for the book would be the following: a political opus on what one person's life is worth.


liar, liar, pants on fire

so by now, i'm sure everyone has heard of james frey, the brain trust that decided to write a memoir and deliberately fabricate key parts of his life. i must say that i have not read his book, a million little pieces, nor do i want to. i'll admit, i'm a sucker for controversy, but i really couldn't care less about what the novel (it now has to be called) is like. this entry is simply based on what i've read in the major news papers.
this all started when the smoking gun, a site known for its celebrity mug shots, uncovered various discrepancies with what he wrote in his memoir, and what actually happened. what's interesting to me is the fact that he felt compelled to lie. and the thing is, he wouldn't just lie about key facts (such as the fact that he says he spent 3 months in jail, when it was only a few hours, or hitting a cop with his car - an incident which was integral to the events in the book), but he'd also embellish and lie about things he didn't need to, such as the character of Lily, who apparently commits suicide by hanging in the book, but in reality Frey admits she died by slitting her wrists. now, was that necessary? more importantly, did she even exist?

i guess i can understand the compulsion to make things up about one's own life, because let's face it, most of our lives are mundane and when something interesting or different or exciting happens to us, we tend to exaggerate a bit, but most people don't outright lie and make stuff up. for instance, in desert sessions, a bunch of the events in the book did happen to me or to someone i knew, but a lot of it was also made up. of the stuff that actually happened, i changed things and added things to make it more exciting. and i didn't call it a fucking memoir. for example, when i was in europe, i was traveling with a guy named cameron who was this really amazing, poet-in-his-own-right, aussie dreamer who sort of floated through life. we would walk through the barren streets of leipzig in the middle of the night, completely high on hash, doing stupid things. we would also go to clubs in prague, where one night he handed to me (a drug novice) a white clump about the size of a gumball, telling me to take some of it. he assured me there wasn't any heroin in it so i was drunk and decided to just go for it. pretty much the next few hours, i was fucked out of my gourd, paranoid that the lights from the club were lazers that were out to hit me, and subsequently resorting to dancing like a maniac for two hours thinking it was my only defense against the lights. at one point, i believed i was swimming. these events made it into desert sessions, but i took the liberty of splitting them up, changing the scenarios to fit the characters and the story. in the end, the character that i based on cameron died in the book, but in reality, he's alive and well, and probably somewhere in tibet right now smoking a joint.

i suppose the real crime is that he wrote the book, and called it a memoir, when it probably should have been categorized as a novel. the thing is, i can understand why he chose not to label it a novel. novels like that, where people go on alcoholic and drug induced binges and fall in and out of crime, are written all the time. they're a dime a dozen. they're about as hackneyed as books about kids coming of age. calling it a memoir gives it a little more strength, and one wonders if oprah would have chosen it for her book club if it had just been a novel. the reason for its success was the strength of it being a memoir, and subsequently giving people hope (particularly other addicts and their families). this makes it the ultimate crass move. people thought it was real, even when various literary critics were questioning its complete merit from the moment it hit the retail shelves. it may have not been his original intention to prey on people's sympathies when he wrote the book, but once it got big, he just couldn't shut up about it and the help it could bring to other addicts.

now, is this new? some guy lying and making something up for his personal benefit? no. but what's insulting is that he's such a bad liar. he lied about things that could easily be checked up on (eg: jail time, court documents, etc). if you're gonna lie, at least lie about something the general public would be too lazy to bother with, such as whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. plus he lied to oprah! how could he! (oprah has since come out and apologized for defending frey's work, and has now actively attacked him for lying). but hey, what do i know? he's sold 3.5 million copies and i've sold... okay, let's not dwell on numbers. at any rate, you can read the whole report
here. you almost feel bad for frey, but then again, he's sitting on his pile of money that will only get bigger once his screenplay gets made into a movie. maybe i should start my own memoirs... yes, i can see it now... i can write about my harrowing adventures as a pirate on the stormy seas, rescuing moon maidens from the violent locals, all the while high on pcp... and perhaps i could write a screenplay about it, with charlize theron playing the hooker with the heart of gold who gently and lovingly teaches a teenage version of me the beauty of a woman...


blue tuesday

so the conservatives finally won, and deservedly so. as much as i've been supporting the liberals, i can't justify their continued control over our government. with all the corruption scandals, it was basically a matter of time before the liberals fell. i feel pretty good about the whole situation, really. the liberals didn't collapse, the ndp is stronger than ever, and the conservatives don't have a majority, which means that they won't be able to put into effect all their crazy crackpot social schemes. they will also have to prove themselves with their limited mandate. overall, an acceptable result. although, the idea of harper and bush getting together for a tea party is sort of disturbing. let us not speak of that again.


men vs men

the thing that holds most men back from achieving greatness is themselves. most men have inferiority complexes. i really believe this. men need validation, to be told that what they're doing is important and makes a difference. it's why men are always beating their chests, competing against each other. i am just realizing that everything that i write, has to do with this in one way or another. and it's easy, i suppose, because i'm a guy who's got his own inferiority complex. but i'm working on mine. i've been actively working to reduce how much of a factory it plays into my every day life. this is no easy feat. men see the world in black and white, in wins and loses. at least i do, as do most of the guys that i know. you either win or you lose. everything is a competition. there is no second place for not getting the girl of your dreams. or if you want to talk about sports, who gives a shit if you come in second? history only remembers the victors.

i say this because cooler than the millions, though it is my political opus, like desert sessions, it is becoming quite personal. i find that i am basing whole characters on people that i know now. and, surprise surprise, the main theme that's coming through is not the politics, although it plays a huge part, but rather men and their complexes, which do factor in hugely into the political arena as well. you can't look at a guy like george w. bush and tell me he doesn't have an inferiority complex. that guy has a complex big enough to fill, well, texas.

i guess in the end, these complex's help men achieve. those that can overcome them do move onto greatness, while others, like most men, sort of wallow in mediocrity. coller than the millions will be about a man achieving greatness. don't worry, it's not gonna be a testosterone-filled romp. testosterone doesn't make a man. what makes a man is ultimately what he does. and cooler than the millions will be about that; what a man does. i know i'm looking at this like a typical male, but hey, i'm a guy, and very short sighted.

as for the feel of cooler than the millions, i've been listening to a heck of a lot of duran duran, interpol, joe cocker and corey hart. yes, i said it, corey fucking hart. that guys rocks the casbah like no one's business. i mean, c'mon... sunglasses at night, never surrender... i think i even managed to work in a corey hart joke into the book. i've long suspected that i had the pop sensibilities of a 16 year old girl. that's okay; i'm man enough to admit it.



i have just finished re-reading this is hardcore after not having touched it since i finished it, back in November. the good news is that it still holds up for me. it's still good, and i've only had to make a few minor changes. for the most part, that book pretty much came to me fully formed, and it shows. the book is tighter than my last, and definitely more accessible, even if the ending me be a bit bleak. the cover is shot and finished, and basically looks great. it's sexy and dark and i think fits the book perfectly.

so now that i'm pretty satisfied with this is hardcore, i can focus my attention completely on cooler than the millions. the other day, while out for a run, the ending came to me. well, not the exact ending, but the last sentance of the book. this is a good sign, because now that means i'm starting to work through my writer's block. these things usually only last for a few weeks at a time anyway, and i'm about ready for it to be over.

i also came to the conclusion that i am afraid that cooler than the millions will be big. usually i write books in the 200 page range, but i think this may be double that at least. this may not be a lot to some, but to me, that's a heck of a lot. i just feel really good about this one, unlike this is hardcore where i was unsure of why i was even writing it. i'm also in the process of reading adam's book, so that should be interesting. i'm only half a paragraph in so far, and it is already vastly different than my stuff. that is a good thing. there are a few things i still want to touch up on with this is hardcore, but once i'm done that, i can move on to reading adam's book.



the following are a few books that have directly influenced me over the years. this is basically a glimpse into what i like to read, and what has influenced my writing. i suppose you can say that these are my early influences.

bret easton ellis was the first major contemporary writer that i came across. his book, american psycho, was the first piece of contemporary work that i fully dove into, and needless to say, i thought it was an utter complete waste of time. i had been drawn to it after hearing about all the controversy. really, it was much ado about nothing, because the book really was terrible. it was far too long, too repetitive, and really, not worth the time to protest. then i decided to give ellis another shot. i don't know why. i guess i just liked the cover of this book.

anyway, less than zero is by far, one of the best contemporary works of fiction ever. sort of funny, considering it was written in the eighties, but it's still very now. the book is basically about a bunch of wealthy kids in los angeles, who spend their time wrapped up in drugs and alcohol and sex and pretty much just living very vapid and vacuous lives. not much in terms of plot, but there was something about ellis' writing style that completely turned me onto writing more contemporary pieces. up until then, i had been writing mostly faux h.p. lovecraft pieces. this was the type of writing that i really enjoyed; simple, sparse, and rich with atmosphere. no other book describes los angeles better. simply put, ellis is one of the best out there. too bad he hasn't written a good book since the informers.

alex garland wrote an incredible book that was made into a so-so movie staring leonardo dicaprio. shit happens, but it doesn't diminish the book any. the beach is about a british guy named richard, who is traveling through thailand, searching for an experience. he comes across a guy, daffy, who tells him about this remote beach, so prestine and beautiful, and completely untouched by civilizatin. richard ends up being give a map by daffy, who subsequently commits suicide. richard then runs into a french couple, etienne and francois, who he convinces to go with him to the beach, because a) he's a coward and doesn't want to go by himself, and b) francois is a babe, and he's in love with her. the book is filled with great referenes to the vietnam war, ninetendo game boy, movies, and this great one-sided romance that richard suffers through. it gets a bit too lord of the flies for my taste, but it's really great never-the-less. if you've read any of his books, or seen any of his movies, you'll know that garland likes a bloody ending. usually people die, sometimes in large numbers, at the end. still, a great read. and if you've travelled any, you'll definitely appreciate richard's desire to find some place untouched by civilization, to find an experience. lately garland has been doing a lot of movies, but i'm hoping he returns to books soon. his last one sucked, and i'm pretty desperate these days for a good read.

j.g. ballard is a writer who is obsessed with car crashes. he's got this real life fetish for cars and for destruction, which is really quite creepy. still, it works for his books. you have probably heard of crash, the book about people deliberately getting into car crashes and then having sex. concrete island is another book about a crash. this time, a business man takes his car off the on ramp and crashes it into a concrete island, which is basically just a cement and grass no man's land. he survives the crash, but is crippled, and must essentially learn to survive, marooned in the middle of the city, unable to escape. it's sort of like a modern day robinson crusoe. normally ballard sort of bores me, with most of his writing being far too pretentious and arty to really keep my attention. still, he manages to be arty and still keep a sci-fi edge. everything this man writes has something to do with the whole man vs machine theme.

don delillo, with this book, proves himself to be a forward thinker. i was in montreal when i read this book. it was hot, muggy, and i was desperate to get rid of my writer's block for when i was writing desert sessions. i started reading players and i could not put it down. it is absolutely eerie how close this book foretells 9/11. the book is about a couple who essentially go their seperate ways. one, the husband, works at the n.y. stock exchange, where a terrorist act happens and a man is murdered on the trading room floor. his wife works at a grief counciling firm that has its office in one of the towers of the world trade center. it gets more crazy from there. the whole book is littered with people talking about how the world trade center doesn't seem permenant, including images of planes nearly crashing into buildings. this book is insane. to think, this book was written in the late 1970's. when i read this, i had chills up my spine. delillo had written an amazing book called great jones street, about a rock star that isolates himself from the world and subsequently ends up running into a cult. until i read players, that book had been my favorite of delillo's, but players totally changed that. delillo has influenced everyone from ellis to garland to phalaniuk. if you ever have any doubt, just read americana, delillo's first book. the book is dry, but the writing style is unmistakable. ellis and the others definitely copied from delillo. and, i guess, so have i.

so that's basically a brief list of books that have penetrated into my psyche. everything i write, i owe to these guys, and for that, i'm grateful.


desert sessions... part 2?

i don't want to repeat myself. that being said, i have a harsh feeling that cooler than the millions may end up being similar to desert sessions. not identical, but more like in the sense that they can be related. that's bound to happen when i mix personal stuff with my political views. i took sort of a break from politics with this is hardcore, chosing more to rely on plot rather than political ideology. i also stayed away from much of the personal stuff with this is hardcore except for probably the first ten pages, where most of what some of the characters were feeling was exactly what i was feeling at the time when i wrote the book: you know, obsession with a girl, and frustration at my own limitations.

i am still going to try to make cooler than the millions as different from desert sessions as i can. it will be a horror story, first of all. secondly, the style will be different. much of what i used to rely on will be avoided, and instead of being just a collection of ideas, it will be more plot heavy like this is hardcore. thirdly, it will take on an 80's sort of nihilist flavour. and finally, despite the nihilism, it will be my most positive book to date. it will show, what i believe to be, the underlying hope and optimism that lies buried under centuries of human strife and war and cruelty. if there's any hope to humanity, if there's any hope at all, what i think, where i believe that hope lies will be aparent in cooler than the millions. i'll give you a hint: the title has something to do with it.

i have been in an odd place as of late. i feel like i'm sort of blind. things are slowly falling into place for me - my job, my family, my friends... yet i am probably more disconnected now than i ever was. it's an odd feeling, this, lying awake at night, staring at the wall; not feeling depressed, not feeling frustrated, just... feeling still. i'm basically standing still while moving. it's a strange feeling that i'm going to try to explore with cooler than the millions. i think i'm ready to return to more personal stuff. i sort of shot my wad with desert sessions to the point where i was really reaching with this is hardcore. so much so it was just easier to make shit up for the last 2/3rds of the book. this is hardcore, while my best book to date, was just an exercise for me. it was escapist fiction for me to write, because i had nothing personal to say. i am at a very strange time in my life, living in an apartment that pretty much is a visual representation of who i am today, which is very empty, waiting to be filled up, but unsure of how to go about doing that. i guess that's the problem i have with writing cooler than the millions. i've been filling my time with going to work, exercising/working out, and hanging with friends. i don't know if this is the answer, but i have to do something, or else i'll end up living too much in my own head, which i pretty much do all the time when i'm by myself.

i have also decided to focus on healthy attachments. this should help my writing process become... sunnier, despite how vicious cooler than the millions may turn out to be, with or without the positive ending. sunshine and lollipops, baby!

* addition: the cover to this is hardcore is shot and done. many thanks to jen, for putting aside her modesty all in the name of art. i know i promised to debut the pictures here, but i think i'll hold off until we actually publish the book.


the mechanics of writing

i'm not sayng i'm the best writer, nor am i saying i'm a terrible one. i'm someone that sort of floats in between i suppose. but what i do know is that i have learned some things. you can't really teach anyone how to write, but you can just spout out what you've learned in your own writing, so here are 10 things that i've learned:

1) character: most people will tell you to write what you know. but really, if you're good enough of a liar and are willing to research, you can write whatever you want, and you can make it good so long as you write with some talent, conviction and/or hard work. writing what you know can be bullshit, because sometimes what you know can be boring. when it comes to character, however, writing what you know does sort of ring true. every character that i have written has possessed qualities that my friends or myself posess. it's just easier to make up events than it is to make up characters, so mining from your friend and neighbors is always good. especially when they read it and think you've written about them and start yelling at you because they find it offensive. hey, it happens! the key about character, is that you always want to write someone that will anchor the book. you can have a book filled with vacuous, slutty people, or a vast fantasy world, but if you have that one "normal" person, you'll find your other characters stand out more. it works the other way as well. the key is to give the reader someone to identify with. without an identifier, it can be like watching an opera.

2) prose: i love writing prose. love it. however, prose can get really boring really quick, especially if you're describing every stitch of furniture in the room. that's unnecessary. the trick with prose is to keep the reader interested, especially if you write thick prose like i do. so i find that i try to write prose as i would edit a music video. i want it to be fluid, to move, to have words that flow. the goal is to have a person read a thick paragraph, and not realise that they're reading it. this can be accomplished by describing a very visceral and action-filled image (there's always some sort of movement or action in my prose whether physical or simply lyrical), or to write longer sentances for example. the main thing about keeping prose interesting, is to write only what is necessary. don't tell me how many cracks there are in the floors (just say "a lot"), don't tell me how many dents a car has (just say "a lot"), and don't describe every single patron in a bar (just say "typical").

3) cliches: cliches are good. fuck what anyone else says. originality is too much effort, and people really identify with cliches. the only danger is to not use too many cliches. every once in a while when you do the opposite, subvert the obvious, you can achieve greatness, especially if you've used a couple of cliches and the reader is expecting a third. pulling the rug out from beneath the reader is always good, but don't fuck with the reader. (you know what i mean, you david lynch wanna-be assholes.) toy with the reader for sure, but don't fuck with them. they'll respect you more in the end.

4) style: by style, i mean the way the words are physically arranged on the page. if you use block prose, it can portray one message, and if you use multiple, small paragraphs, it can portray another. the way your words look on the page are almost as important as the way they flow. it's like looking at a dinner plate full of food. if you have it set nicely, it looks classy, and if you have it all bunched up together, it looks like slop. it doesn't really matter in the end how it's arranged, because it's just food and it ends up all the same in the end, but the look of it can really say a lot.

5) tired material: do we really need another book about some young girl or boy growing up on the prairies? fuck no. but you might want to write one. if you do, try to do something different. you don't have to be original, but you have to be able to do it with some style or distinction. otherwise, what's the bloody point? for instance, on the surface, my book cooler than the millions sounds like it might be a typical book about political terrorists, but it won't be. and i'm not just talking about the vampires. when it is done, i hope to add my own style and voice to the mix, thereby cementing something different. i will guarantee you, cooler than the millions will not be a tom clancey book.

6) which brings me to my next point, voice and influence: you have to have your own voice. i know that sounds like oprah got to me, but i really don't know how to say it any other way. it takes time to get this voice. the best way to do it, is to copy those you like, steal as much as you can, and then from there, you'll find that you've grown tired of it and you'll start to develop your own style and voice. you take what's best of the writers you admire, and add your own twist. it took me 10 years before i finally found something to call my own. is it like other writers? for sure. bret easton ellis, j.g. ballard, j.d. salinger, h.p. lovecraft, don delillo, and now earnest hemingway to name a few. you can't escape your influences, so don't fight them. embrace them. i stole ellis' sparse writing style, ballard's sci-fi/contemporary flare, salinger's simple insight, lovecraft's thick prose and taste for horror, delillo's poetry and serious take on the world, and hemingway's short, simple sentances. i took them all, and i added my own, such as my music video way of cutting/writing scenes, emphasis on what i call, big sentances, my need to write rambling prose at times that bleed into one another... lots of stuff. and don't forget to accept influences outside of the writing world. i can't tell you how many times a music video like robert palmer's "addicted to love" or a visceral movie like the thin red line has influenced me. and i can't forget music. listening to music helps me set the tone of the book. for example, when writing desert sessions, i listened to lots of desert rock and city punk music. for this is hardcore, i listened to lots of trance and classic music standards from the likes of frank sinatra. and for cooler than the millions, i'm listening to lots of 80's pop because i'm trying to catch the nihilistic flare that the 1980's represented. i want the regan 80's!

7) experiment: try new things. always. otherwise, how will you ever evolve? most of human society is not evolving, especially western society, because no one is willing to try anything new, mostly because they don't have to yet. always look for something new. always. i realise how stupid this sounds considering just earlier i said originality is too much effort, but that doesn't mean i don't want people to try. heck, i try all the time.

8) know your destination: have the ending in your head. i find this helps for me, because that way you can help yourself navigate and not fall too far off the beaten path. that being said, keep a list of ideas and things you want to do with your book: don't depend on your brain to keep all of this in check, because memory is a poor copy for the real thing. just ask any lawyer.

9) welcome criticism: if you write a bad book, and people let you know it, they are most often right. i know it hurts sometimes, but with enough time, it won't hurt anymore. i can take criticism on the chin and still stand my ground. that's what writing for 10 years gets you. in those ten years, i've written dozens of short stories and poems, finished three full novels and one short story collection, and i've recieved over sixty rejection letters from agents and publishers. there is nothing anyone can say to me now to hurt my feelings. i've got skin as thick as leather. a writer's best defence is exposing him or herself, letting people read the stuff, and risk being blown out of the water. with desert sessions for example, most people liked it, but one girl absolutely hated it. she hated everything about it and really let me know. at first i was hurt, but then i re-read her notes, and realized how right she was about a lot of it. so i re-wrote the book on her opinion, and it turned out much better. in the end, don't worry if it's not perfect. you can finish the book and then later realize lots of it sucks. that's just the way things work. perfection is unatainable, so deal with it.

10) own up to your own work: if you write a piece of shit, admit it. if you write something that offends someone, stand your ground. you wrote the damn thing, spilled blood and sweat for it, so don't ever apologize for it. if it sucks, yeah, admit it, but don't say you're sorry; just dust yourself off and start over again. however, even if it is a piece of shit, be proud of it. seriously. how many people in this world can say they've legitimately created something? not that many i can tell you. most people in the world live without ever creating (babies don't count) or they go through life doing nothing but destroying. and don't throw anything away. i've never thrown anything away. if anything, keeping that old writing around has made me realize just how far i've come. sure i'm embarassed of most of it, but i'm not sorry i wrote it, and deep down inside, i'm still proud of myself. i blew away the competition when i was 17 years old, and i'm still managing to hold my own today. is the stuff that i write these days my best ever? you bet. is it the worst? you bet. i think at least 40% of what i write today still sucks, but that's what hard work is all about. i have yet to write my best novel, and i may never write it. honestly, i hope i don't, because everything would be downhill from there.

so there are ten tips. you don't have to agree with me, obviously. different people write differently, and what may work for one person may not work for another. the only piece of advice that is truly universal to all writers, heck anyone trying to accomplish anything at all, is to not give up. the truth is, you may write shit, and you may continue to write shit, but don't ever give up. remember, there's still a market for shit. just take a look at tom clancy or britney spears or michael bay. books, music, movies... shit can still make you money. in some cases, lots of it. just admit that it's shit, and you'll be cool with the world. no one will ever get down on you for being honest. if they have a problem with it, so what? fuck 'em.


the end is fucking nigh

once a power reverts to might as their primary means of influence and control, rather than the superiority of their culture, values and ideals, the end is near.

once a power starts compromising its own core values, such as illiegally spying on its own citizens, it will find that its base ideals and structures will begin to rot and cannot hold, hence, the end is near.

once a power ends up with its citizenry chosing ignorance for bliss over interaction and questions, the end is near.

once a power sacrifices its own well-being, such as pulling funds from disaster relief for the sole purpose of military might, the end is near.

once a power begins to believe the false image it starts to project, the end is near.

i am officially announcing the beginning of the decline of the american empire. may she rest in peace.


writer's block

it is not fiction. i wish it were, but to me, writer's block is definitely a reality. i haven't written a word in probably well over two weeks now. and it's funny, because i've been trying to write two books at the same time, specifically to solve my bouts of writer's block. i figured, when i got stumped on cooler than the millions, i'd just easily move onto live acoustic (open fire). however, that is not the case. writer's block seems to block... indiscriminately.

at any rate, i've got a few ideas. at first cooler than the millions was going to be very much like desert sessions in that there wasn't going to be much of a plot; more like a bunch of ideas strung along together by a couple tiny character arcs. instead, i've opted to go for a high concept, plot-heavy sort of deal, kind of like this is hardcore, where the plot ends up only a little gimmicky.

at any rate, i figured today was the day that i would revisit old work. really old work, in some cases. i've been looking for inspiration, and all i found was crap. at any rate, for my own humiliation and your amusement, here is a play i wrote back in 1995, grade 12 creative writing class with two of my friends, brett semenzin and jason bedford. we had to write a play for class, and none of us had ever written a play, nor knew how one was structured, so we wrote this in a half an hour, pretty much as a joke. we decided to take winnie the pooh and ruin everyone's childhoods. i believe we rip off everything from drug movies to shakespeare. still, it was fun, and it's quite blasphemous. i think we had all just finished watching reservoir dogs and pulp fiction. it's called, in which christopher robin learns a lesson of life. (it has not been edited or touched in any way shape or form since i first finished it). i believe we got a c- on it. enjoy.

- - -

In Which Christopher Robin Learns a Lesson of Life

By: Jason Bedford, Brett Semenzin and Loring Kim. Creative Writing 12


Christopher Robin Tigger

Winnie the Pooh Rabbit

Eeyore Kanga

Scene I

[In front of Winnie's home. A bleeding and torn Christopher runs in from rightstage. Winnie is leaning against a stone at center stage.]

Winnie - Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh. Where the heck are you? Smokin' dope with Elizabeth Shue cause I'm Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, the dopest bear around...

Christopher - [panting] Eeyore beat the crap out of me!

Winnie - [smiling] If it's any consolation a squirrel bit me.

Christopher - [desperate] Winnie you've got to help me!

Winnie - Here, I've got somethin' to make you feel real good! [handing Christopher a needle] This'll make you friggin' invincible!

[Winnie shows Christopher how to use the needle. Christopher follows his advice. While Christopher is dazed, Winnie shoots up with the same needle]

Christopher - I'm flyin' man! I'm flyin'!

Winnie - You're Goddam superman! Since you're such a good kid, I'll help you out. Let's go get that jackass!!!

Christopher - Gosh, you're the greatest pooh bear!

[exeunt to right stage]

Scene II

[Enter Eeyore from left stage and Winnie and Christopher from right stage. Meet at the peaceful centre of a forest clearing]

Winnie - Where are you going, ass!

Eeyore - I ain't lookin' for any trouble...

Christopher - Shut it! [strides forward and backhands Eeyore] How do you like it?! Take him Winnie!

Eeyore - Leave me be, pooh bear! I ain't dun nothin' to you!

Winnie - Its got nothin' to do wit me, ass! Its what you dun to my little buddy!

Eeyore - He had it coming, Little Bob! He had it coming! He stole my Granny's medicine.

Winnie - [Moving threateningly closer] I never liked your Granny anyway. She was always so skimpy with the honey.

Eeyore - You ain't all that, bear! You ain't all that!

Christopher - [screaming] I'm going to kill your ass, ass!

Eeyore - [pathetically] Dear God in Heaven, by all that's holy!

[Winnie and Christopher pounce on Eeyore, arms flailing]

Christopher - [slaps Eeyore] You think you're better than me?! You're just a mule! You're nothing! All you mules and donkeys stick together!

Winnie - Take 'im down, Chris! Take 'im down! Hold him down for me

Chris, I'm gonna curb him! [Christopher holds Eeyore down]

Christopher - I got him Winnie!

Winnie - [curbs his head] Whoa, did you see the way his head caved in?

Christopher - You're one crazy ass bear, pooh!

[exeunt to right stage]

Scene III

[Enter Christopher and Winnie from right stage, back at Winnie's home]

Christopher - That ass won't be bothering me no more. What a high, especially when you're high. [giggling]

Winnie - That donkey won't be braying for a while little buddy!

Christopher - Gee wilikers; you're so clever pooh bear! [pause] I've been meaning to ask you something. Why don't you ever where pants? I mean you wear a shirt...

Winnie - [dancing] I'm too sexy for my pants! Too sexy for my pants, so sexy it hurts!

Christopher - [giggling] You're so clever pooh bear!

Winnie - We deserve a good celebration. Hey, Chris, have you ever gotten some?

Christopher - What do you mean?

Winnie - Man, are you a...

Christopher - O-of course not! Are you trippin'?

Winnie - Oh yah man, I'm flyin'!

Christopher - [giggling] So am I, so am I!

Winnie - Shutup monkey-boy! Looky looky we've got nooky.

[enter Kanga from left stage]

Kanga - Hey Christopher, I haven't seen you in a while.

Christopher - [blushing] I've been around.

Kanga - [turns to Winnie] I haven't seen you in school lately. Where have you been?

Winnie - With my buddy here. Say, you're lookin' pretty good, Kanga. Why don't you show us some pouch? We'll give you some free stuff.

Kanga - [backing away protectively] What do you mean?

Winnie - Oh come on, you'll like it. You aren't trippin' are you?

Kanga - [angered] Christopher, I'm gonna tell your mother!

Christopher - [mockingly] Ma? Ma's dead!

Kanga - Christopher, how can you disrespect your mother like that! Take that back or I'll have to box in your ears!

Winnie - [persistent] She's slammin' you man! She's slammin' you! You gonna take that?!

Christopher - No way, pooh bear!

Winnie - Beat her down, boy wonder!

Kanga - [Horrified] Now wait a minute!

Christopher - [unsure] B...but... but she's a girl!

Winnie - You tellin' me there's a difference between that and what your dad does to your mother?

Christopher - [desperate] But dad says she deserves it! She never listens, dad says!

Winnie - It's equal rights, man! Women are always moaning for equal rights. Do you think it is equal to men if we thrash a guy, and not a woman, just because she's different?

Christopher - Well... I still... [Kanga is edging away and is now on the verge of escaping]

Winnie - You tryin' to play me? Is that it? Play your own buddy?

Christopher - [on the verge of tears] No... [Kanga tries to dart away]

Winnie - She's gettin' away! [Winnie reaches her and grabs hold of her arm. His right hand is in a fist. He raises it threateningly] Where do you think you're going? Back to Austrailia?

Kanga - [crying] Please! [she cowers away] Dear lord! Sweet Jesus! [There is a sudden pause as an orange and black striped tiger bounces from left stage in singing a merry tune]

Tigger - Hoo Hoo hoo hoo, The wonderful thing about tiggers, is tiggers a wonderful thing... And so is crack.

[everyone turns to regard the creature, and while this is going on, Kanga kicks Winnie in his stomach and darts away in a rapid pace off to left stage. As Winnie is recovering, Tigger exits left stage]

Christopher - Holy moly! Did you see that thing?

Winnie - [hurt] What was it?

Christopher - I don't know. [Helps Winnie up] Are you alright? She hammered you pretty hard.

Winnie - Savages, I tell you. Bunch of savages in this forest. [Rubbing his belly] I'm gonna get that bitch...

Christopher - [reeling back in horror, mouth agape] Say it ain't so, pooh bear! Say it ain't so!

Winnie - Sorry. I didn't mean such language. I don't know what came over me...

[exuent to left stage]

Scene IV

[enter Winnie and Christopher from left stage. The setting is near Rabbit's home just at center stage. It is about after noon.]

Winnie - Oh man... am I ever hungry!

Christopher - So am I, pooh bear. So am I.

Winnie - What do you propose we do, little sidekick?

Christopher - Hey! How come I'm the sidekick?

Winnie - You just are!

Christopher - Oh. [From right stage rabbit enters, walking (upstage) out into the forest]

Winnie - There's Rabbit! Hey lets go ransack his house. He's always loaded with honey and crack!

Christopher - Yah, lets go!

[Winnie smashes a window and they both enter through the window into the burrow. Inside, there are jars of honey lining the walls, bags of crack littering the coffee table, shelves of cassette tapes. And a table in the middle of the room with three smoking bowls of porridge.]

Winnie - Look at all this stuff! Huhhuhuhuhuhuh honey...

Christopher - [picking up a video cassette] Hey what's this Winnie?

Winnie - Huhuhuhuhuhuhuh rabbit porn...

Christopher - Look at this! [He moves to the table of porridge while Winnie is rummaging through the jars of Honey. During this, Winnie gets his head stuck in a jar of honey. Christopher tastes the first bowl] Sweet Jesus! This porridge is toooo hot! [He tasted the next bowl] Geez louise! This porridge is toooo cold! [Winnie is moaning with his head stuck in the jar]

Winnie - Uhhhh... Christ; Help! Christopher, help! Uhhhhhhh...

Christopher - Oh benedrill! I'm comin, pooh bear! [He grips Winnie's head and smashes the jar against the wall. Winnie's head comes free.]

Winnie - Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Christopher - I hear someone coming! We gotta move, now! [Christopher runs out of the burrow, stage left. Winnie tries to follow but gets stuck in the hole.] C'mon Winnie, what's stopping you!

Winnie - I'm stuck! I can't fit out the door! [Christopher tugs on Winnie but to no avail] Stop it, it hurts, dammit!

Christopher - You dumb bastard! You could have gone out the window! [Offstage Rabbit is entering] Pooh bear, Rabbit's coming back!

Winnie - [crying] I'm done for! Leave without me!

Christopher - I'm not leaving your side, pooh bear! I won't do it! [Rabbit enters, from offstage] Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! [Runs off to left stage]

Winnie - [wails] I'll see you in Hell!

[lights dim out]

Scene V

[Back in front of Winnie's home by the rock at center stage. Christopher is weeping by the rock as Winnie, severely beaten and bloody enters from leftstage.]

Christopher - [looking up] Winnie you're alive!

Winnie - [collapses, Christopher kneels at his side] Oh horrible! Horrible! That rascally rabbit got me! I can still see him now! His eyes were afire as he bent over and whispered in my ear, "I wanna be Jackie Onassis; I wanna wear a pair of dark sunglasses..."

Christopher - You're not gonna die, pooh bear! You're gonna live! Live!

Winnie - I die, Christopher. Christopher, I die... [he dies]

Christopher - [with tears in his eyes] Goodnight, sweet pooh. And may flights of angels swing thee to thy rest. [He sets Winnie's body onto the ground, and as he weeps over the body, he sees the needle clutched in Winnie's paw. He takes it, and with a single violent thrust, he plundges it into his wrist] I'm flyin' man. I'm flying. Winnie... watch me fly...

[Tigger bounces from left stage in singing a merry tune]

[The curtain falls]

okay, since i posted that bastardization, that atrocity exhibition, i have to now redeem myself, so here is a bit from my last book, this is hardcore...

- - -

She’s not the girl from the skytrain but she’ll do. Her name is Jen and she’s a small Asian girl in a black cocktail dress who under normal circumstances would be considered a visual marvel. At this point in time, I’m a lawyer or a politician to her or something: I can’t remember what I told her. She’s talking to me about how she recently dated a guy who’s biggest fantasy was for her to dress up as Marvel Girl and shove ice cubes up his ass. The woman sitting on the stool next to her leans over and says, “Oh, I’ve done that,” which makes Jen laugh hysterically. I just smile faintly and take another drink from my glass.

I’m feeling really loose now, probably too loose, with most of the day’s angst having been drowned away thanks to all the rum I’d been drinking. Anime images have replaced real models on the projection screen. Large eyed, big breasted, purple haired animated girls bounce around the screen displaying Matrix-like fighting skills, blurring the line between kiddie cartoons and soft core porn. And all the while, Jen is talking, content to display to me a vast knowledge of Hunter S. Thompson literature. At one point, she puts her hand on my arm and laments that the poor Gonzo journalist is now dust and ash and gun powder and soon to be forgotten by all except those self-nihilist fetishists still clinging to what’s left of their faded mescaline memories. When she takes her hand away, she deliberately rakes her blue nails lightly along my suit jacket.

Jen then looks right at me with her brown almond-shaped eyes and just says, “Imagine.” She takes a sip of her Cuba Libre and says, “Imagine a free Tibet.” I ask her why Tibet and not the other hundreds of subjugated peoples and her response is that it’s chic, it’s tragically hip, and rock gods perform at the benefits.

“Whatever. It’s so nineteen ninety-six,” I say between sips of my drink. My eyes roam down her slender figure to her legs and she takes care to shift them so her dress rides up higher, letting the slit up the right side of her dress part wider. I take a sip of courage from the glass and reach down to put my hand on her bare brown thigh. She doesn’t look at me but she smiles into her glass. When I move my hand up her inner thigh, she glances at me and I tell her that I’ve pretty much made all the mistakes that one life can make and she just opens her legs wider for me. She takes another sip of her drink and I am not surprised to find that she’s not wearing any underwear. There’s a guy a few feet away who’s watching the two of us but I don’t care. And suddenly I wonder what she would feel like, what she would smell like, and this causes me to pull my hand away as if I’d just touched my own sister. Jen puts her drink down on the bar and just looks at me. She asks me what’s wrong and I shrug and she says, “Talk to me,” and I lash out at her by telling her that she’s just a woman. I immediately apologize and she forgives me in such a tone that I can’t believe that I’m not ashamed. The animated women on the screen are now gripped in a passionate lesbian embrace; Sesame Street to soft core porn in a blink of an eye.


Jen finishes her drink and says something to me, but I’m sufficiently drunk enough now that the volume to everything sounds like it has been turned down a couple of notches. She takes me by the hand and says, “Don’t look down, baby.” She pulls me off the bar stool and I stumble a bit but she catches me. We leave the dark, hole-like confines of the bar and the post-punk music to make our way up the staircase and outside to the street. It’s a warm evening, about twenty degrees and counting. She takes me around the corner where I offer her a cigarette. I cup my hands over the end of the cigarette and light it for her. The cigarette sparks and she thanks me. I find it horrible that I don’t smoke, but I carry a pack around with me just in case of moments like this. She takes a deep puff of her cigarette and leans back against the wall. She looks me up and down and takes another drag. She flicks the ashes away and says, “Lend me your hand and I’ll sing you a song.”

Streaking red and blue lights shoot past us and a wailing siren follows. I take care to give her shelter. She smiles into my neck and kisses me and soon I’ve got my tongue in her mouth and my hand up the slit of her dress. I’m a little anxious and I’m pushing way too hard but she’s not complaining. She breathes heavily into my ear as I feel the warmth of her pussy and I rub my fingers up and down the opening. She puts her arms around my neck and hugs me close. The fingers of her left hand roam up and down the nape of my neck, tracing the letter “S” while her other hand holds her cigarette delicately off to the side, careful not to get any ashes on her dress. She smells of fruit, tastes like rum and cigarettes and feels like bare, honest sin. “I’m going to hell,” I say and she grips the back of my neck as I slide a finger into her wet pussy. I work a second finger in and this inexplicably makes her giggle. I kiss her hard and push my fingers deeper into her, making her take a sharp breath into my mouth. I press myself up against her, feeling her breasts against my chest. I start to think of the girl from the skytrain again and I wonder what sorts of noises she would make. Is she the type to bite her lower lip as if almost ashamed to admit how much she’s enjoying it? Or is she the type to just let it all out, with every moan and every pant and every breath bouncing off the walls? I think of her brown hair so dark it’s almost black, with her white skin and I imagine a dark, triangular patch shaved neatly above her small pussy. The image of her suddenly splinters as I feel a sharp pain on the back of my neck. “Shit!” I say and my hand darts up to touch the nape of my neck. Jen has managed to burn me with her cigarette in the heat of the moment. She’s apologizes profusely and I just shrug it off and kiss her again, wanting desperately to get back to where we left off, but I’m not feeling it. She’s purring beneath me, but I’m not feeling it. I’ve got my hands all over her but I’m not feeling it. All I can think at this point is that she’s just another victim and so am I. Victims of circumstance. Can I deal?

I stop kissing her and I take a step back. I’m staring at her but not seeing her. Her image blurs away almost as if in soft focus as I take another couple steps back. The lights from the street fracture and break up, splitting the vision of her into several pieces like so much broken glass. I can’t make out any of her features anymore. I’m too drunk to care. Her almond eyes, her small nose, her red mouth; all of it disappears as she blurs out of my line of sight. She’s a mannequin to me now, a fucking whiteboard. I look down at my right hand, rubbing my thumb and forefingers together, feeling her wet sex all slick and glamorous, nearly sparkling under the hot lights. I’m not too sure of what I’m supposed to say or how I’m supposed to feel but I tell her I’m sorry anyway. She’s saying something to me, her hand out to me, pawing at me, but I turn my back on her. All the mistakes that one life can make. Can she deal?