Sunday, September 7, 2008

Vegans on Hard Drugs

I was going to write a long post about narrative vs non-narrative fiction, the marriage of the two, my amusement at people who think that writing has to be 'about' something, my confusion over why people feel most satisfied by 'stories' that have a full resolution and plot arc, character development. I hate hearing people talk about their 'character' in their story or book, 'tell me about your character, who is he?,' no really who the fuck is he? He isn't anyone.

Charles Dickens is dead.

Long live Charles Dickens.

Not going to let myself get blasted off on that, as I ended up writing two stories for a prompt for an anthology coming in the nearish future, one called REALISTIC STORY and one called UNREALISTIC STORY, it probably more aptly says what I think than if I tried to say it here, so I won't babble anymore.

Except to say (yeah, I couldn't stop myself) that the rule: WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, is probably the most damaging and stilted piece of advice in all of writing instruction. If you are writing entirely off of what you know, I will probably end up closing your book and turning on the TV.

SHEER GENIUS, a show about hairstylists who compete on tv to cut hair, is still a show that is on air. It sounds like something out of George Saunders.

I am afraid of that tweedy neon orange elf who is one of the judges on there, he looks like he's going to melt into an easter basket.

I got contributor copy of the new issue of 11:11, it is really nice looking, I have another list in it (please kick me), as well as stuff by Jack Spicer, Terry Bisson, a lot of others, I feel lazy, here is what it looks like:

I am going to write a book called 'Vegans on Hard Drugs,' it makes me want to fold myself up, I don't understand vegans who do drugs, maybe I could figure it out if I tried to write the book, I would never really do it.

Tonight at the Atlanta reading we will be performing Sam Pink's 'Play for Two People' that is in the first issue of No Colony, I am excited, it is a funny play, and good. I am going to try to film it, I hope it works.

This video by Sam Pink is the shit, Sam Pink should be a stand up comedian, I would go see him.

Please stop talking about kombucha.

Please stop talking about Barack Obama.

Please no more beer.


They are making Martin Amis's LONDON FIELDS into a film now, Amis doesn't kill me usually but LONDON FIELDS is really incredible, about a guy who plays darts during the apocalypse, there's a really nasty baby in it, it is a great read if you are looking for a longer book, I don't see how they will make it into a movie without fucking it in the ass, the same way I am scared about BLOOD MERIDIAN (though I don't believe that one will ever really get done, Cronenberg or no), here is Vincent Gallo talking about the LONDON FIELDS script, talking shit about some people, Vincent Gallo.


Anonymous said...

the alternate ending to bad beat is up now at hobart, thanks again for writing the piece.
- barry


awesome, i will check it out

Heather said...

Vincent Gallo is my favorite bastard. I don't know if he was born out of wedlock, but he is still a bastard that I love.

I totally hear you: vegans on hard drugs and kombucha shut up.


yes he is a bastard. if anyone hasn't checked out the listings on his website for merch, you have to:

the impregnation is particularly nice

Matt DeBenedictis said...

Vegans on drugs, I love that name. It could sore from its splash from a book page. For some reason the name sounds like it could also be a shitty Dandy Warhols song.

Maximum Etc said...

One great piece of writing advice that I got as an undergrad, and one which I frequently pass along to my students, is "write what you know, or write what you want to know." The instinct to go from the gut is not such a bad one, I think, but it's limiting, and it precludes whole categories of discovery (outside of maybe some sort of limited, probably boring version of "self-discovery," which we're all better off being spared anyway). The second half of the statement, however, can mean anything from encouraging you to write a thoroughly researched period drama to encouraging you to push voice and style to the precipice of a whole new form (or beyond it!) in order to figure out the necessary mode for your story-telling. Off the top of my head: Brautigan, Crawford's Unguentine, Burroughs, Raffel, Evenson--anyone who's worth a damn, really.

The devil's in the dialectic, of course--I contend that most of the best work you read is that which is the product of the writer successfully wedding what s/he already knows with something that they would very much like to know, and only were able to learn through the process of the writing itself. Usually, it's pieces of content which are the Great Knowns--Hannah's southern geography & customs & music; Crawford's obvious horticultural & gardening expertise. But none of this explains the miracle of "Water Liars" or anticipates the great dome over the barge in Unguentine.

So I don't know that the advice itself is the problem, it's more like the simple fact that genius is rare and successful harnessing of genius is rarer still. Even if you could create the great avant-garde-fiction one-liner bit of writing advice, 999 out of 1000 people you gave it to would produce work just as dismissable as the suburban realism or whatever that you're reacting against.

Or maybe the argument is against one-liner advice, sui generis. This is something I could conceivably get behind, but then I'm more than happy to devote hours to the topic, and most people aren't.

sam pink said...

you write better posts than me

Anonymous said...

vincent gallo's website is genius. I sent him a crotch shot (well sort of, it wasn't naked) for his collection and an email about how I took a date to see brown bunny and the guy dumped me shortly thereafter (true story). I suggested it was gallo's penis that scared him off. gallo replied in a one line email that said, "where are you?" it was interesting.


huh. for me its not necessarily that stories have to be "about something" but to me the sum of all the given details have to mean something greater than the details. they have to matter. the details have to convey information to the reader that is worthwhile. otherwise people shouldn't write stories. they should call their mom and tell them how boring their day was and what they did between cooking ramen noodles for lunch and jerking off before bed because nobody else gives a shit.

i dont know. thats just me.

sam pink said...

i am laughing.

jereme said...


your posts make me feel less bad about not going to college and living a base life

i 'learn' shit here, if that means anything to any one. probably not the guys with the degrees, i dunno, but it means something to me

'vegans on hard drugs' is a great title

straight edge vegans on fda approved supplements is what comes to mind at first but then i imagine some wafer thin vegan eating some brown rice mess with a needle in his arm and puking from the junk reaction

vincent gallo yes

Darby said...

People latch on to easily explainable things because they are afraid of the unknown, or they are afraid of 'not knowing'. Entertainment has to be 'relatable'. It's the majority of what's being published. Or it's what sells anyway.

I think everything kind of means something on some level anyway. Sometimes it's more buried, and sometimes the meaning is more complex or obscure, but usually it's there. Unless you're writing asemically. We're sort of talking about dadaism here. Is the very act of attempting to be not-meaningful the meaning of meaningless art?

Keith Montesano said...

great post.

ah, "write what you know." i think that's starting to become a thing of the past. because that opens all kinds of philosophical cans o' worms anyway.

i prefer, "how would mark borchardt write this?" instead.

Keith Montesano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bradley Sands said...

I think that some stories need a resolution. Some don't. It's a case-by-case basis. Some stories are better without a resolution.

It's all about satisfying the reader. If the reader doesn't need a resolution to be satisfied, then this is ok.

Stories that are more focused on language or style than plot do not need as much plot, characterization, or a resolution.

I like stories best when they are equally language-y/stylistic and plot-y.

I understand vegans who do drugs, but not vegans who do drugs and eat vegan for health reasons rather than ethical reasons unless it has to do with trying to eat healthy to combat putting unhealthy chemicals in their bodies. I think you should write a book called VEGANS ON DRUGS WHO HATE ANIMALS.

Vincent Gallo was good in Freeway 2: Confessions of a Trick Baby.

That whoring/impregnation thing is funny. I wonder if it's a joke. I will never know. Vincent Gallo seems like a very serious guy. But he was in Freeway 2: Confessions of a Trick Baby, so maybe not.


great to meet you tonight matt


'write what you want to know.' that is great. yes.


barry, what is worthwhile

sam, your play was fun, i havent looked at the video, it went over really well, more on that soon

bradley, originally in the post i had the scene from trick baby where he gets thrown into the oven, it is maybe his best scene


hi bree you are the shit hi again 'where are you' haha

Peter Cole said...

shear genius makes me cringe. perfect description of that elf dude...really funny. every time he smiles

DOGZPLOT said...

ahhh... what is worthwhile?

thats like, what is the secret to life?

i think its not a question of what is worthwhile, but why are you (the author) telling me these things. why are you giving me these details? why are you introducing me to these characters? i think there has to be a reason why, otherwise why should anyone read. of course individuals determine what is worthwhile to them, so the answer is intrinsic, but on some level, even the author, no matter how (insert the proper adjective) a writer thinks they are, are just wasting people's fucking time.

the details have to say something. if you tell me you want to stick your dick in the pages of somebody's book, i get it. if you tell me you looked up and saw a cloud, maybe not so much then. the reader needs to know the context, needs to know why they should care. i dont't know man, fuck, im rambling now. is anything im saying making any sense to at least one person. if not, im gonna go make pasta salad and feed it to a circus elephant


context is good. i think too often people depend on 'understandable context' rather than allowing the suspension of disbelief. context, also, is relative.


Anonymous said...

I'm with Maximum etc and Darby and dogplotz. Smart stuff.

Also, what I like about Gallo is that I think he inspired two albums by PJ Harvey, stories from the city, stories from the sea and uh uh her. Otherwise the dude reminds me of 15 or so guys I fucked in my twenties when hanging out at max fish and i don't mean that as a compliment. I was basically a retard when I was in my 20s.

And also, I love Dickens. The guy brought the decrepit poverty of england to the attention of so many FOR THE FIRST TIME and gave a voice to the poor and made a living writing about poor people when no one thought it was possible to do that. I also love one very serious Dickens hater, Evelyn Waugh, whose book "a handful of dust" ends with a torture scene of someone being read Dickens to them.


dickens can write about a footbridge like nobody's business.

i mean that as a compliment

Kofi said...

Funny you should talk about Dickens.

I discovered this blog after putting down a Dickens book (physically, not metaphorically). I was looking something more up-to-date. This blog and the places it links to are great.

You have adroit ways of simulatenously explaining why I stopped taking writing classes and why I shouldn't have.


hi kofi, i like your blogs, funny timez

DB said...

i just received my copy of no colony. it looks amazing. i will post about it soon maybe. after i read it all.

Brandon said...

my friend used to be in a band called Vegan Drugs.

They were straight edge.

The Man Who Couldn't Blog said...

i am sorry, but no. more barack obama. more beer.

fear. more beer.


daniel, good i am glad

brandon, good i am glad

matthew, this is terrible

DOGZPLOT said...


i wish i was 4 or 5 of those 15 guys you fucked in your twenties.

maybe you are out of your twenties and still like to fuck. call me we'll work it out. i'll lick all the places you didnt know you had holes and crevices.

david copperfield is my favorite dickens.

Anonymous said...

David Copperfield is my favorite Dickens, too. Many people, including David Gates, who is a damn good writer, thinks so as well. He wrote a nice essay for some new edition a few years back.

Dude, I probably did fuck you in my twenties. Did you get drunk at max fish? Then I fucked you. You just don't remember, and neither do I.

The Man Who Couldn't Blog said...

I've always been partial to Bleak House. And Liz Phair's Exile on Guyville.

And The Loved One.

Oh, and fucking whilst high.

Though, I guess while drunk and buzzing on Celexa was not uncommon.