Hello all,

Let me take a moment to thank everyone, first and foremost the writers who participated in the making of Tequila Kitty, for taking such an interest and for following along the convoluted, sometimes non-sequential adventures of our four-legged, sombrero-wearing, tequila-swilling friend.

That said, I owe everyone an apology for unceremoniously dropping the ball, er, bottle (probably many bottles at this point) in posting the chronicles of our feline friend Tequila. I could give many reasons, but they would all be excuses, and there are no excuses that can be made. I have not lived up to my responsibilities in posting each chapter on a weekly basis. And, I also erred disastrously in not deputizing one of the many extremely talented, more responsible, and patient writers involved in the project to post the chapters weekly in the case of my grave negligence. To everyone involved, I can only apologize for not getting your words out fast enough and to as much of the reading world as they deserve. And to those who have been following the project, I can also apologize for the same reasons: for not getting the words of the talented writers who gave a lot of time to this project out to you for your enjoyment.

I am taking this as an opportunity, however, to get the series back on track and posted on a weekly basis, and to win back the loyalty of those who had started to follow the series. This will be an ongoing effort and it will start today with the posting of Chapter Six by my talented friend Jon Stern. As mentioned already, too many writers gave too much of their time, talent, and energies to this project to let it die at my irresponsible hands.

I am grateful to everyone's patience and their involvement in this project. I can only hope to win back the initial trust you all showed in my by becoming involved by living up to my end and getting this story and your words out to the public in a timely manner.

With many apologies,

Darren Cormier

As part of The Adventures of Tequila Kitty, an interview with each writer will appear within a few days of their chapter being posted. Christopher Chik, an emerging and very talented author, is currently working on his Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. His work has previously appeared in One Forty Fiction and also at his blogs Chasing Dimaggio and Occupy Mars.

Q: Tell me about the novel you’re working on. When did you originally start the story? How did it evolve? What was the original kernel or acorn that became the story?

It’s the story of a baseball pitcher’s struggle with autism from childhood to the major leagues. I started the story around 2007 as a collection of my own autistic thoughts and tendencies fleshed out in awful scene snippets which would make even a bad experimental novel cry. The story was really born when I started the low-residency MFA at Southern New Hampshire University and my mentor, Wiley Cash, showed interest in the idea and pushed me to try other narrative approaches. I suppose the kernel was own experience growing up in an era when autism spectrum disorders were a relative unknown combined with my family’s history in baseball, particularly pitching.

Q: Give me a brief bio of your life:

I grew up and still live just south of Los Angeles and remember writing little stories of my daydreams since about second or third grade. As a child I loved sports, especially hockey and baseball and going to games with my Dad and Uncle David. I did a lot of camping and hiking with the Boy Scouts on my way to Eagle Scout. When I got older I took interest in philosophy which took my writing in a different direction for a while before I found my way back home to fiction again.

Q: What would you say are your strengths as a writer?

Most importantly, I take criticism well. I also read everything as a writer and editor, trying to dissect it and see what makes the heart beat and see how that applies to my own work, my own projects; to that end, I take a lot of notes while reading any book. I’m never satisfied and always try to learn and keep honing my craft.

Q: What are you working on now?

The novel for the most part, but I’m also working on some short stories, in particular a satire of the recent rash of American gun violence. My big project for the year, though it’s likely to take more than one, is a non-fiction effort about my favorite musician, Chuck Schuldiner, who was the front man for and creative force behind the band Death.

Q: What publications has your work appeared in?


Q: Who are your primary influences, or inspirations, as a writer?

One of my best friends from high school has pushed me to write since I’ve known her, but I first got the idea of writing in my head at my local branch library. My parents left me there to read while they attended to something, and I found Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles and saw how a man put his daydreams, his fantasies, to paper. I was sold; I started dreaming of typewriters and, some years later, laptops. I’d have to sit around my parents’ offices a lot after school as well, so I’d find an unused typewriter and plot out my daydreams—at least, when I wasn’t making colossal paperclip chains. My mom has an English degree and got me to loving books real young. Seeing her write, even to little or no acclaim, gave me the affirmation I needed. Kids are so often short on confidence and long on doubts, it was nice having that as a beacon growing up.

Q: How has your upbringing influenced your work, if at all?

Being autistic obviously affects my WIP, the baseball novel, but having a physical disability probably had more influence. It hardened me, made me stronger, and gave me a more adult perspective to weigh my writing against. In elementary school, instead of stories about GI Joe and ninja fantasies, I’d write detective stories about serial killers and horror stories about things that go bump in the night.

Q: What inspires you the most (e.g. music, landscape/nature, written word, life, etc.)?

I’d have to say life, because I don’t really know otherwise. Sometimes you can’t sleep and are in bed watching Demolition Man for the five thousandth time, when epiphany strikes and the what-ifs start rolling around; sometimes a conversation sparks an idea for a story; sometimes the loathing of some existing aspect of human culture does it, especially when I get to writing satire.

Q: What are you reading right now?

Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris and What We Saw at Night by my current and rocking mentor, Jackie Mitchard. The latter is really cool because the main characters have a genetic flaw that they don’t see as this big setback. I can really empathize with the way they think, that no holding back mentality. I’ve never had characters be so close to home for me.

Q: What authors, when you read them, make you think, “I’m giving up writing because I will never be as good as them?”

Raymond Carver comes pretty close. My writing mantra is “WWRCD?” Less is more, lean is mean, and all that jazz. Sometimes, though, a little poetry-spiced prose really lets that daydream form, and Toni Morrison weaves that into narrative with beauty and tension in the same breath. I try to strike a balance between the two.

Q: I know this is the hated and borderline unanswerable question, but it has to be asked. Why do you write?

I daydreamed a lot as a kid. Writing them down as stories was a way to share the process of make-believe outside of the playground. More than anything else, writing is a way to give the daydreams a reason to be, like an action figure is a reason to be talking to yourself, belly-down on the carpet.

Q: If you weren’t writing, what else would you be doing?

Playing and teaching guitar probably. I used to be on track for a career in law, but I wouldn’t trade writing for that ever.

Q: Name your top five favorite books and/or top five favorite authors?

In no particular order: Brave New World, Aldous Huxley; To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee; What We Talk About when We Talk About Love, Raymond Carver; anything by Ray Bradbury; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig.

Q: What is your non-writing claim to fame?

I got my picture in the paper as a kid for being a wicked awesome Push-Cart Derby driver who could make the Kessel run on a wooden palette in under twelve Parsecs.

And now we get into the non-writerly, more silly-ish questions of the interview, as paraphrased from James Lipton of Inside the Actor’s Studio:

Q: What is your favorite drink?

Rum and Coke with a lime twist.

Q: What is your favorite curse word?

Asshat, though my favorite cursing of all-time is the chained diatribes of the dad in Christmas Story. That guy could out-swear two sailors and a pirate with mere gibberish.

Q: Favorite food.

Pepperoni, black olive, and roma tomato pizza with Newcastle or Longboard beer, and I’m a big fan of Señor Fish’s fish tacos.

Q: What is your most vivid memory?

I’m not sure I have a most vivid memory, but I can remember almost everything since age three. My second earliest memory is dancing around in my parents’ living room to Michael Jackson’s Bad playing on a little Fisher-Price tape recorder.

Q: What is your favorite sound?

Ocean waves lapping on the beach, that steady rhythm of the Earth’s pulse.

Q: What is your least favorite sound?

Dog alarms, like people mount on their fences. Any real high frequencies like most people don’t hear really. Forget ADT, I can be stopped dead in my tracks by a dog alarm.

Q: If heaven exists, what do you think god will say upon meeting you at the pearly gates? What would you want it to say?

Probably, “I told you so, jackass.”

I’d want a god to tell me the journey isn’t over yet, that I was interesting enough to merit a sequel. Truth be told, I’d like to make the Singularity and live forever. Wouldn’t it be cool to see the Sun eat the Earth from the safe distance of some colony on one of those Kepler planets? What happens when the universe ends or does it?

So I've finally decided to jump off the cliff and write a novel.

That sentence will have one of many reactions, depending on the person:

1) The most common reaction: absolutely nothing, because most people won't read this blog post so they won't be aware of this momentous (for me) decision.
2) A modest shrug of approval to themselves followed up by the immediate forgetting that this is taking place.
3) "Why the hell are you telling us about this?" said to self, and sometimes coupled with the thought of "instead of actually just writing the damned thing."
4) Encouragement and support by well-meaning, kind-hearted people who will probably forget about it immediately upon reading this post or seeing this headline on the many social media venues where this will appear. This person's reaction will be along the lines of, "Oh, that's great. I'm sure he'll tell us about it when it's done."
5) And the least common reaction from people: a barrage of questions not limited to, but including, the following: "What's it going to be about?", "When will it be finished?", "How long is it going to be?", "It's going to take you HOW long?", "I think you should write a book about..."

But, yes, I have decided to write a novel. For those who know me, this is a huge deal. The idea of writing a novel scares the living hell out of me.  I am not what most would call attention sufficient. (It has taken me about an hour and a half to write this far due to various distractions which, were I to list them, would make this post longer than our tax code.) I've always written short stories and over the years have focused more and more on shorter structures, perhaps due to the aforementioned lack of attention sufficiency.

On top of the usual doubts that accompany the process of writing, I have decided this will be historical fiction. Which just increases the amount of doubts to a near crippling level: Do you conduct the research first and then start writing? Or do I start writing and then conduct research to fill in those details I am unsure of? Which voice/character starts the story? How much research is too much research? (And when will I be conducting research as a means of procrastination, instead of just writing the damned thing?); what if, after 200 pages, you realize you need to rewrite the entire book or the scene on page 250 is actually how you need to open the book, thus forcing you to rearrange the entire structure; or you realize you need to change the point of view from third to first person? With a short story, these issues are easier to handle: thirty pages is much more manageable to rearrange and cannibalize than three to four hundred.

"Why would you do this if you know it's going to cause this much torment?"  Good question, hypothetical reader.

Over the past few years I have jumped off many proverbial cliffs in terms of pursuing life goals that for various reasons--none of which were any good--I decided to avoid for years and years and years and... well, you get the point. Since I was in the process of tearing down my own self-constructed scaffolding, I figured I would just jump at the next obstacle, the next goal, and deal with the fear and prospect of failure later. That was writing this book, the idea for which has been bouncing around my head for almost six years now.

So for the next few years be prepared to be bombarded with blog entries about historical research, the frustrations of writing, and Cambodia. And the occasional writing-induced outburst.

As always, thank you.

(character count, including title: 118)

This Must Be The Place I Waited Years to Leave

"Why can't you write something nice that will sell, like a love story?"

This is an announcement for a new feature, a new page on this website: Lines I Love. We all, as readers, have them, lines that make us laugh, reflect, cry; descriptions that make us cringe, pull our knees tightly together in fear and empathy, a visceral reaction to the material being read. Sometimes, in the middle of what might be an otherwise hapless story or thoroughly average novel, the writer weaves a phrase that so delights us, we have to re-read it in momentary praise and condemnation: praise and awe over the beauty of the emotions the author has captured and the way in which he or she said it, and condemnation for the fact that we didn't think of it first.
As this feature (and website) evolves I may include an explanation as to why I love these particular lines or passages. As of now there is no rhyme, no reason, no order. Feel free to visit the page and see what types of writing and phrasing tickles my arbitrary fancy. Feel free to disagree. Feel free to leave comments of some of your own favorite lines. Those submitted will be added to the page, with attribution.
I leave you lines from "The Origin of Love" from the film Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The lyrics near the end of the song, listed below, sums up the intentions of most writers, well, at least my intentions, better than I could ever hope to: to show the pain inside each of our characters (and us) and, hopefully, by showing that pain, to help them (and us) heal:

But I could swear by your expression
that the pain down in your soul
was the same as the one down in mine.
- John Cameron Mitchell, "The Origin of Love"

A little over a year ago, I posted my reading list for the year 2010. I did not make it through all those books. I did not even make through ten percent of those books. However, this is not a post about my failure to adhere to my reading list, or any list for that matter. But it did get me to thinking about the nature of goals and lists. Trying to read every book on our reading lists is a near-futile act: new books are going to constantly pop up that we are going to want to read.
Despite this reality, however, I still have a to-read list for the year 2011, which includes most of the holdovers from last year. And I will address that reading list (plus the nature of trying to choose what to read next) on a future post (perhaps the next one).
I have created a goals list for the year 2011, consisting of mostly writing, reading, and running goals, and that I share with you below.

1. To have a total of at least 10-12 stories published. I am presently awaiting publication of my 6th story; 4-6 to go.
2. Submit at least one story a week for publication.
3. Complete a dozen new stories, including three longer ones that have been nagging at me for quite some time.
4. Run a half-marathon, in preparation for running an actual marathon in 2012. (side question: should I also create a marathon training blog/online journal?)
5. Read 104 books: 2 books per week. This has since been modified to 52: one book per week.
6. At least two blog posts per week.
7. Complete and write critical reviews and interviews with Jim Shepard, Steve Almond, and Dan Chaon (authors I have contacted in the past who agreed to an online interview format.)
8. Read about half of the books from my 2010 reading list.
9. To write something every day. Lydia Davis said in an interview in Bomb Magazine: "In the meantime, I started doing these very short stories to break myself out of the rut of not writing or resisting writing. I told myself: You have to write two tiny stories every day. It didn’t matter how silly they were, I just had to finish two one-paragraph stories." I feel that same way. But, when writing those silly one-paragraph stories, I can at least say I'm writing.

What are your goals for 2011? How do you plan to reach them?
A few weeks back I noted the ending of one of my projects: the Random-Quote-of-the-Day blog and random quote of the day itself. This was due to its nature of consuming too much of my time and, like the ending of most relationships, I just didn't feel the passion anymore. Well, I am here to announce the resurrection of that project.
Now, before all two readers of this blog get upset and begin to call me a hypocrite and begin to say that I'm reneging on my word... or before they begin to genuflect in front of their keyboards and laptops to my reversal of thought and resurrection of my digital innovation and brilliance (Hey, if a man can't fantasize in an insanely self-aggrandizing fashion on his blog, where can he?), this will be a modified project.
Some certain events have recently transpired which led me to realize that a few of the quotes I had accumulated but not used, were very apropos given recent situations. I decided that instead of announcing to the world my problems and travails, it would be easier to take the higher road and also to take the more positive/cryptic road by posting motivational and inspiring quotes for myself to use. It has worked. I also realized that although I enjoyed the extra time by no longer holding myself captive to my rigid structure for finding the quotes and then photos, songs, or film clips that corresponded to the chosen quote of the day, I also missed to a certain extent quoting an inspirational or ridiculous phrase. That said, I do not want this endeavor to become a time suck.
Therefore, I announce a resurrection of the blog with a few amendments:
-- I will not be posting one every day. I may sometimes go a week without posting something.
-- I will no longer accompany each quote with a song, photo, or film clip, unless that quote comes from a song or a film and I am able to find the clip without much fuss.
That's really it for the amendments.

As always, thank you and enjoy.

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Fans, friends, and those people who opted not to flee after stumbling across this blog (and seeing what this monkey with a typewriter has to say): It's been a few weeks since I last wrote. And, perhaps I could use the forthcoming paragraphs as a means to get me to blog more often.

A few weeks back I attended the Salem Literary Festival. Among the workshops I attended was one hosted by Maine writer Jefferson Navicky on the prose poem and flash fiction. (Some of his work can be found here and here. Oh, and here, too. And a cool interview in Smokelong Quarterly, the holy grail of flash fiction magazines.)

(Wow, that's a whole lot of links.)

During this discussion, we were given a few writing exercises. Before a couple of the writing exercises, we practiced a technique that can be used before one sits down to write: meditation. Meditation is usually used to clear the brain, to minimize chaos, to increase general good feeling in one's self. Its therapeutic tendencies are central to Buddhism, Taoism, and many other Eastern religions. It is not usually thought of as a technique in writing. The idea of sitting in front of a computer screen or a blank piece of paper, with the intention of filling that empty space, by doing nothing, not even thinking, seems counter-intuitive. And that's precisely why it works.

We all have our own personal difficulties, distractions in sitting down to write: bills, kids, spouses/significant others, basic household chores, Facebook, lack of will, etc. What motivational tactics do we use to get ourselves to write, especially on days when we just can't seem to bring ourselves to write?

What tricks, techniques do you use? Do you use a reward system? Are you a naturally self-disciplined person who doesn't need any tricks? Do you need a deadline: and, if you have a self-imposed deadline, do you have the self-discipline to hold yourself to that deadline?

Confession: there is a partial selfish motive in this discussion topic. Now that I've finished my MFA, I'm finding it difficult to hold myself to writing. So I'm looking for any ideas that others may have.

Since graduating with my MFA, I have spent most of my creative fuel inconsistently updating this blog  and trying to decide which of my many creative projects to tackle next. The usual result: too many options yielding creative paralysis.

I recently had this discussion with some friends and fellow writers, and thought I would send it out to whatever readers I have of this blog. Any suggestions, or even discussion is highly welcome.

As always, thanks. And enjoy.
I'm not sure if an introductory sentence is really needed for this entry: the subtitle really speaks for itself. However, to explain, as I have a tendency to overdo, in the first David Foster Wallace themed entry, I mentioned that the piece I included on the first try at the I Write Like quiz was an excerpt from my novella "I'm Hoping This Will Work." I also mentioned that I had included the excerpt below, which, if you have read the entire entry, you will know is a total fallacy. (This wasn't deliberate, I just forgot to include it.)
As such... I have included that excerpt in this entry.

This excerpt is the first page and a half of the novella. The set-up for the piece is as follows: It’s about a young man in his early twenties named Mike Higgins who is overcoming the death of his best friend, Andy, something he feels responsible for—they went out drinking one night and, on the drive home, Mike had Andy drop him off at the store near his house. Andy drives around the corner and gets in a head-on collision with a delivery truck. The structure of the novella alternates between Mike's "what-if" scenarios--if had had done this differently, then that wouldn't have happened-- and the actual narrative. Below is the first of the alternate reality "What-if" scenarios.

As always... enjoy.

 Last Wednesday

I am hoping this will work, that when everything is finished, the screaming phone calls, the booze, nameless women, nightmares, my inability to read more than five pages at a time, and the blood, all that fucking blood—when my front door is closed and locked for the final time, I’ll be throwing my clothes in the back seat, driving those two blocks, one coffee in hand, another in the cup holder, driving to pick up Andy, and we’ll drive like we always talked about, to Montreal, Madagascar, cross-country, straight across that Atlantic Ocean, anywhere, really it doesn’t matter;  we’re just driving, him and me, anywhere.

We’ll start at Redbones, as usual. Downstairs, just like we did. It’ll be raining (I won’t change that) as I walk down the road. I’ll get there first: Andy will be coming from work in Kenmore, and I just live down the street. Tom the Bartender will ask, “How are you, Mike? Where’s Andy?” “He’s on his way.” I’ll order a beer, and ask for a menu while I check out the girls across the room.

When Andy finally gets there we’ll do a few shots and talk about work, movies, and ideas for a summer trip: Amsterdam, Grand Canyon, Montreal. We’ll keep drinking, just like we did, and drive home. I’ll have him drop me off at the Corner Market for some milk and smokes, but I’ll tell him to wait. We’ll make that dreaded left and swerve as that fucking delivery truck takes his turn a little too wide. The car will fishtail and careen into the curb, the tire popping.

“Fuck!” Andy will yell.

“Don’t worry we’ll use a spare and keep drinking at my house.”

We’ll wake in the morning, one on each couch, boxes of crackers, empty containers of ice cream, half-empty glasses of whiskey and beer bottles scattered on the floor.

That’s what will happen, and I won’t be kneeling in my room amid a stack of books and scotch at noon, socks that haven’t been changed in three days clinging to my feet. I’ll be at work, sending him stupid forwards, making plans for later, for this weekend, or making plans with a girl that I will have met at a party.  He’ll answer the phone when I call. I won’t jump at the sound of tires screeching, I won’t be afraid to leave my house and walk to the center; the walk to Davis won’t remind me of everything from that night.

It won’t remind me of anything, because nothing will have happened.

In my previous post I discussed my love/hate relationship with the work of the unfortunately late David Foster Wallace, and my analysis of how the always reliable and psychologically accurate Facebook quizzes determined he was the author I most wrote like. (I also discussed the scourge of pretentious hipsterism, an illness I used to suffer from, but with the help of Scorn-away (a new drug from Pfizer) I have been able to overcome this debilitating malady.)
At the end of the post I mentioned I had written for grad school a paper on Foster Wallace's essay "The Nature of the Fun," where he discussed why he wrote. I have attached my paper below.


In Will Blythe’s collection of essays Why I Write, Blythe asked many famous and not-so-famous, or not-so-famous at the time but now very famous, writers and novelists to expound on their reasons for writing, why they hole up in rooms and attics and offices, why they shun people and society like well-read, non-contagious lepers, why, even if they are morning people, they treat themselves like they are vampires, keeping themselves locked in a room or house as if contact with the sun might disintegrate them and turn them into a gossamer skein of skin, bone, and lots and lots of caffeine. Most of those essayists told about writing to find out the truth about themselves and about the world. Tom Chiarella wrote about all the things he couldn’t do—play basketball or cook or fix machinery or build a bookcase or balance his checkbook—and, when left at the bottom of that list, writing was nowhere to be seen: he wrote because it was something he could do, something he was good at. Same with Mark Jacobson, it was something he was good at. Thom Jones writes because he wants to be Wile E. Coyote and catch that fucking roadrunner just once (and when he’s done catching that roadrunner, he probably wants to smoke up or drink with Wile E. Coyote). And Stephen Wright has been staying at the Overlook Hotel for far too long. He needs to go stay at the Ramada or Best Western: more people stay there, he’d have more human interaction.

But of all the essays that resonated with me, the one that resonates with me easily the most, especially at the point I am at right now with my novella, was David Foster Wallace’s “The Nature of the Fun”. A book- (or story) in-progress is, as Wallace wrote, “a kind of hideously damaged infant that follows the writer around, forever crawling after the writer (dragging itself across the floors of restaurants where the writer’s trying to eat, appearing at the foot of the bed first thing in the morning, etc.), hideously defective, hydrocephalic and noseless and flipper-armed and incontinent and retarded and dribbling cerebro-spinal fluid out of its mouth as it mewls and blurbles and cries out to the writer, wanting love, wanting the very thing its hideousness guarantees it’ll get: the writer’s complete attention.”

At least Foster Wallace’s creation has a mouth right now, has arms, albeit flipper arms, but arms nonetheless. His child spits and leaks cerebro-spinal fluid because it has a mouth, it can drag itself across the floor and make noise, because it has arms and flippers. My novella, as it stands right now, has maybe an ear, or an eye, and I think there are the beginning formations of a toe or two, and every day I wake up (or after the Mets game is over) I look down at my feet or across the apartment into the dining room, or behind my laptop, and peeking over the top is this amorphous blob of pulsating cells and discolored organs. But, after I finally shake it off my leg, I start molding my lovable blob and by the end of the night I have created a face, or an arm, and the very next day I can recreate that face, and maybe form a nail for that toe that I made the night before, and I should move on to creating a face, a skeleton, but oh what an exquisite toe it is, so instead of creating a face, some legs for it to stand on, a skeletal structure in which to add adornments and decorations later, I’ll paint that toenail instead. But I must keep working, because no one wants to create just a toe.

A farmer came up to me once and said, “Here! Do you see that massive stretch of land over there?”

“The one with the giant mound of dirt that doesn’t stop as far as the eye can see?” I said. “The one with the enormous house on the hill?”

“That’s the one,” the farmer said. “And it’s yours.” He gave me a giant ring of keys and I felt like a janitor, flipping them around in my hand, one key for the tractor, another for the hay silo, yet another for the house and so on and so forth. The next day I went out and planted a flower, out of all that fertile soil and machinery and animals and time and money and land I had been given for no reason other than this farmer wanted to give me this extremely valuable gift and I just happened to walk across his determined path that afternoon, I planted a flower. After a couple of weeks a purple bulb sprouted and unfolded its pretty little fingers to the sky. But I did nothing else with the thousand acres of land, content to have grown just a flower that, after a few weeks, had its leaves fade in color and wilt and wither like human skin, until the petals fell off into the soil I had been given. And I did nothing else with the land, I just watched it grow fallow and parched and cracked, and the tractor and backhoe and rakes rusted and flaked, the handles on the shovels splintered and rotted away, filled with termites and wood fungus.

Obviously that’s an invented scenario, and probably an even more tortured metaphor, but you get the point. If someone gives you such land, such tools, such machinery, why would you stop at having just created a flower, one small piece of beauty in a massive all-encompassing dirt heap possibility? Why would you not want to create more beauty? In the story that follows me around the house, that bites at my ankle as I fill my coffee mug, that hovers over my head like a monolithic shadow as I lie down on the couch to read a book, that stands in front of me as I try to watch TV, I have created an ear, a perfectly formed ear, and then a toe, and then an exquisite toenail, and I spent about a day or two polishing the toenail, a palimpsest of a digit, erased, recreated, erased, recreated, instead of creating more body parts, but tomorrow (or when I’m finished writing this essay) I’m going to jump back in and create more of a person, try to hone my child into something presentable, something beautiful, something that would make Anne Geddes call and offer me money so that she can take my no longer hideously malformed infant and dress it into a pumpkin. And just so I can turn her disturbing, treacle-filled brain down, I will continue to mold, shape, trim, and stretch my quivering gelatinous goop of a story into something that I wouldn’t want to keep locked in the basement dungeon out of fear that it might eat the neighbors, but into something that I would want to introduce to people and show off to the world.

And why do we keep doing this, continue to write, why do I keep doing this, why did David Foster Wallace keep doing it? Because, as he said, “it’s still all a lot of fun.”