Half-Digested Thought Gruel, Ladled Into Your Blog Bowl

Been a while since I came here and just sorta painted the walls with a erratic spatter of thoughts and news musk, so here we go, let’s do it.

Hey, you can find me talking about writing in a couple places this week. First, The James Altucher show had me on, and it’s always fun to do a podcast like this where the curiosity level is off-the-charts and you get such good, brain-chewing questions. Then! I got to sit down with good buddy and writer extraordinaire Delilah S. Dawson for Gotham Writers and get into crunchy process questions about writing across both genre and medium and we even dig into some business-related writing stuff. Bonus: on both shows I talk about Star Wars, too, which leads me to…

The Mandalorian Has [SPOILER] In It?! I created the character for the Aftermath trilogy and now I guess that character is in the show, played by Timothy Olyphant of all people. I always envisioned the character with a bit of Raylan Givens in him, so this is a damn fine fit. It’s funny, the news about this had been percolating for months, but I truly, truly disbelieved it; it’s very rare in my experience that something makes the jump from the pages of a Star Wars book to the Star Wars screen. The reverse is a constant flow, but the content doesn’t usually swim upstream, so to speak. So, that’s very cool. It’s admittedly also… you know, a bummer, and I sorta wish that I could be just 100% all YAY about it. I have a lot of complicated feelings about it, ranging from harassment and death threats and then how you just sorta get left out there to deal with it, and soon you realize that it maybe exacerbates anxiety and depression and — you know, this isn’t fun to hear. Star Wars is supposed to be fun, not fuckin’ bummertown, so I’ll just say, yay, this is exciting, even if I don’t really get anything for it besides the Cool Points. It’s nice too because the Aftermath trilogy was always at the top of a ladder of really wonderful storytelling and character-building throughout the franchise’s legacy, and part of that ladder includes a lot of references to Clone Wars and Rebels, so to come full-circle and to have something from Aftermath then feed back in, as it were, is pretty rad. I’m excited to see the episode later today with the fam. (Some have suggested the story in the show for him is somewhat different, so I can’t speak to that. But I know despite people demanding canon be a rigid act of historicity, it’s generally far more flexible than that, and must be for any of it to exist at all without exploding.) If you want the spoiler character, here’s the sentence — just plug it into ROT13. Pboo Inagu vf va Gur Znaqbybevna. And actually PBOO INAGU sounds like a great Star Wars name, doesn’t it?

And in case anyone wants to be mad at me about this, for some reason: hey just fuckin’ relax, I’m not in the sandbox anymore, I don’t think I’m even allowed in the sandbox anymore, I’m not breaking your toys, calm down. I’m doing my own thing and you can go on not giving a shit about that and being cranky about space wizard social justice or something.

Let’s talk about writing advice for a second, by the way. There’s been a thing recently where people have been going through my writing advice and, I dunno, fisking it, taking it to task, ripping it apart — and please let me be the first to say, that’s good! Do that. I try to be very clear up front about writing advice that it’s all nonsense. As I’m wont to say, it’s bullshit, but for some people, bullshit fertilizes. Both of my writing books open with me pretty clearly saying, hey, don’t take this stuff too seriously. It’s why I write it in a way that’s absurd and obscene, so nobody reads it like I’m telling you WHAT MUST BE DONE LEST YOU DIE IN THE ABYSS. This is a lawless place and art is re-invented by the artist every time they choose to make something new, and I like to think I’ve been clear again and again that we need to constantly question the Sacred Cows of Writing Advice, because for every thing you MUST DO or CAN’T DO, there are countless authors who have gone the opposite way to great success. Shit, I don’t even agree with half my writing advice anymore — as I write more, I know less, and I’m good with that. Every book I write reminds me that I don’t know how to write a book. It’s as designed, I suspect. And the writing advice is always just a toolbox full of random tools; maybe you need that weird screwdriver, or maybe you don’t. Throw it away if it doesn’t help you. Stomp on it like it’s a baby. Wait no don’t stomp on babies. That is also bad advice. Unless you hate babies. In which case, ennnh, yanno.

Who doesn’t like scary stories? Been watching a handful of horror movies recently, some favorites, and some new stuff. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is the standout, I think — astonishingly creepy fucking movie, though I’d also argue it maybe wavers a little in the third act. (Though the third act waver is a horror movie problem in general, and probably deserves a blog post unpacking that problem at better length.) I won’t spoil, but I had NO idea what it was about going in, and it threw me for a couple good loops. Apostle on Netflix was great, if utterly brutal and dour. Ready or Not is a fave, and I’ve watched it a buncha times now — serves really well in a two-fer with Knives Out (which is not a horror movie, I know). Scare Me on Shudder was so fucking great — it’s hard to know if it’s even a horror movie or a movie about horror, but it’s funny and weird and twisted and entirely relies on the performances of its capable actors. It’s arguably better than any of the movies I watched, but I also wonder if it’s really even a horror movie at all. I feel like there’s something else I watched, too, but now I don’t know what the hell it was. WHATEVER. Yay horror movies. It’s weird that right now they’re comfort food? That, too, demands a greater unpacking — during times of stress and upheaval, horror stories do well. Again, I’m surprised Wanderers has sold as well as it has through the pandemic. It’s sales have been, up until the last couple weeks, ridiculously steady. Which boggled my bits, but hey, cool. Thank you for reading.

Oh oh wait, I remember! The last movie was One Cut of the Dead. Again, no spoilers because — well, I just can’t spoil it. You need to see it to know what I’m talking about.

Let’s talk fun horror stories. Let’s say I’m still in the mood for a fun horror movie — what’s your favorite? By fun, I mean, not a movie that crushes your soul. Not something that wrecks you after, but something that’s a blast to watch, even if it’s gross or scary or whatever. Also, was the most recent Halloween any good? Thinking on checking that out today.

You got your vote plan in place, right? Too late to mail a ballot if you haven’t, so go to a drop-box, or your polling place on the day of, or the electoral office nearest to you — get it done. Get those ballots out. Vote! Vote for your democracy, vote for your friends, for the kids of this country and the world, for the people at the border in cages, for climate change refugees, for those sick from COVID and those locked down trying not to catch it and those forced into more dangerous situations because there is no safety net to help them, vote for Senate and local and president and every initiative you think can help people and not hurt them. Vote, vote, vote. Have a plan. Talk to friends and family. Make your case, plead your POV, get it done. Love you all, whatever happens. We’ll figure it out.

And that’s it, I think.


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