Sunshine Comes Around

Sometimes it can get dark, and, for most of us–if not all of us–that is a relatable fact. Life is not always this rainbow filled paradise that someone stirred up inside a milkshake, it’s actually a road that changes quite often.

Some say it’s a tough road, some a pleasurable road.


I think it’s just a road, dependent on what you yourself call it. I am not walking the same road as someone halfway across the world–no way is that possible; but they could be wishing they were walking my road, I could be wishing I was walking theirs.

As I sit here and chomp on Easter chocolate, I think about times I’ve wished to walk another road, or, even, to stop walking it entirely. Grim, I know; and, trust me, I never want to find myself thinking thoughts like that again. But you can’t build a wall around everything.

For me, I think, that can be easy to forget, maybe for others it is, too. Acting as if you can move through the world and be indestructible–I’m a teenager, whaddya gonna do, sue me?–it can size you up pretty well in your mind, then, when you think you have it great and the troubles are all fading, the tiniest thing breaks through your defense and crushes  you.

I had dark thoughts. Thankfully, they passed, but when I thought them, when I was in that stage, where it feels like a million dumbbells are pressing on your chest and you’re suffocating from the immense weight so badly, that any chance to remove the weight, the insanity, the stress, is taken, and it is taken with haste.

I felt decrepit, an old man walking in a teenage body; there were times I felt weak, unable to accomplish the routines I was committed to so fondly; and there were times I wanted to get away from it all–would a miracle show up and transport me from this hell that seemed never-ending?

Folding inwards was the route to my happy place, going deeper into my mind than I had in years. Night after night, I plugged away at a novel in which every dark ingredient of my conscience was added to this infesting depression–it was, at times, heartbreaking, blissful, tragic; and, when I reached the ending, both satisfying and saddening.

If you lose yourself, lose who you are, not who you think you are–the grit and bones of yourself–it can be shattering: you can look at the world in such a way that the sky seems to always be cloudy, that it contains these tumultuous emotions and is waiting for the perfect opportunity to barf it all over you. No one around you reveals their true self, that it’s always one mask or another, then you realize you’re the one who is wearing different masks, and now they’re worn and battered from constant use.

It almost happened to me, for about five minutes. It was draining, and; frankly, I have never been in a darker place. From my point of view, however, what else had I to do? A family member was going through cancer, suffering so often, and so much, it got to be unbearable to stay in the house. All of our solutions were going to shit, one after another the doctors kept coming up with blanks. And I felt it was up to me to maintain happiness in my family, each member dealing with their stress in their personal ways, while I was stuck in between a rift of sunshine and darkness–and eventually the darkness overcame the sun, as much as it hurt to know.

“How do you get around that?” I asked myself, and the truest answer for me was, keep writing, keep doing what you love, what keeps you sane. I did. I finished my novel, the darkest story I have ever written, and within those words was the five minutes of total surrender. I still get a chill when I read the scene, as it is personal and full of hatred at everything, regardless of how much these things had supported me beforehand.

I write this because I know I’m not alone. Millions of people go through the worst times of their lives, worse than my own experiences by miles, and many of those people have trouble finding a crack in their storms of darkness.

I write this because I want you all to remember sunshine comes around. It may not seem so at the present, but it is fighting to reach you, all the people surrounding you, who love you, would lay down their lives to help you see the light, if only for five minutes.

And sometimes, five minutes is all you need.

Think daily,

A Southpaw


Oh, Boy, Another Writing Rejection

This has to be, what, the thirteenth or fourteenth time I have been rejected by a short story magazine? Just so you know, I keep count–there’s this stack of rejection sticky notes hanging on my cork board, stuck to it by a thumbtack. They’re accumulating, so, in a way,  I suppose that’s a good thing, getting my stories out there and what not, even if they don’t make it.

I got this batch of short stories, at least seven of those puppies, waiting on special opportunities to free themselves and go out to those great readers that I will have someday. You see, there is no way I’m giving up. I’m gonna shoot off stories until I get published, damn it! And you can take that to the bank, or the publishing company…or wherever you stow your own stories, be it in a crate or a refrigerator.

Fun Fact: Tom Wolfe wrote on top of a refrigerator. Yeah, try that one on for size, you chair lovers.

Rejection is not so bad to me, most of the time. I view my failures as stepping stones, telling myself, “okay, buddy, you didn’t get in this time, but what can you do next time to make sure you receive a personal rejection instead of a form rejection?”

Oh, don’t you just get sick of those? It starts off all kind, “Thank you for submitting, such-and-such to our splendid magazine,” then comes the hammer to the gut, “but we do not think it exactly fits our tastes,” as if, instead of being publishers, they pursued a life of culinary critique. Ah, yes, hand me the fried lobster, would you, dear writer? In the end, they sometimes give you a little compliment, wish you luck, the sort of stuff that makes  you want to nod your head while gorging on a Klondike Bar, not me personally, but, hey, whatever works.

I persevere, however. I fight the good fight and write once more into the night. Ah-ha, it did rhyme! I then search the darkest corners of the Internet for magazines accepting stories and blast ’em off, like Buzz Lightyear blasted Toy Story to the top of the Box Office. You go, Buzz! Be a friggin’ incredible Space Ranger! I’m gonna stay here and write some more stories.

Just can’t wait until I get done with these two novels, then we’ll see how hard it is to get published. Oh, you betcha, it’ll be a trial–several trials, in actuality–but I am ready to kick it old school and get my stuff out there!

Whoo! Whoo-hoo! Writing rocks, dudes! Cowabunga!

Ah, crap, I think I stepped too far into the surfer lingo, ’cause all of a sudden I’m in the ocean. Well, the laptop’s sinking now, so…I guess…wait…I think…I’m…breaking up…the connection…seems…to be…going on…the fritz…


Think daily,

A Southpaw


Brain Vomit: Creating and Editing Stories

There comes to me to be two great parts of writing. The Creating and the Editing.

Creating is fun because–well, why is it fun? Is it that we’re bringing to life these splendid, and sometimes not so splendid, characters who, in a way, are foggy representations of ourselves and those around us? Is it that we can meet people without even leaving our office? They are real, really! Or is it that we have a drive–an insatiable hunger–to produce   stories to change the world and spread global peace and cure the hunger epidemic and hand out Nobel Prizes like Hershey chocolate bars?

I think that applies to all but the latter.

I can create for who knows how long. One novel took me nearly six months to complete–and that was the first draft, currently it is in its second draft. My other novel took me four months; and, truth be told, it was harder to write. So, it depends. A single short story may take you a month. A single novel may take you five years, make it six if you want to beat Tolstoy and Hugo.

Then–[lightning sounds and a hissing cat]



Yes, scream, scream and bang your heads against the wall! The dreaded editing monster has returned to wreak havoc on your precious little writing brains and hands–and, worst of all, your time!

But I don’t have an hour and a half to spare! 

Wipe up those tears, crybaby, and make it ten minutes a day! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Side note: I was having fun just inserting those laughs, had to force myself to stop.

Editing was a hated task of mine…when I was fourteen. I’d finish a story, usually between fifteen or twenty pages; read it to my family, who sometimes fell asleep during those times; and stuff it inside a binder or send it off to a publishing company.

Random House, here I come! What? A piece of shit? Excuse me? 

Now, quite obviously, I have seen the error of my ways and am editing constantly. Seriously, dude, it’s an eight hour grind, totally not tubular or radical at all. I finish a short story and start the editing process the night after. For me, the whole set of writing and editing one of those takes near to nine days; some of you may be different, and that is A-okay.

What works for you, works for you.

Yeah. I can feel the inspiration surging through us. Go Writers. Blow the trumpets.

You can be a Creator or an Editor, or you can be both. But those guys are nerds, am I right? Eh? Anyone want to laugh? Who honestly edits and creates? It’s too much of a chore. Everybody knows the surefire way to becoming an excellent writer is by watching crap loads of television, pouring grape juice on your manuscripts, and shouting at your computer because it won’t invent the story of the century at your command.

Sure, I know that club. It’s called Dead End.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw

Note: We made it to eighty posts! Let them eat cake! Thank you for staying with me so long!

And I don’t really have cake. That was a joke. Sorry.

Brain Vomit: Pantsers and Seaters

All you writers out there; yes, I am even talking to you, Man Who Uses A Fountain Pen On All Of His Manuscripts, I have a revelation–writing is a flooding of the mind, the gates open and the brain is drowned in tidal waves of words.

That sounds badass when I put it that way, not to toot my own horn–

Any who…

All of us have varied methods of writing, some like to write a certain number of hours or minutes–two hours is a good amount for me–and others prefer a trusty word count limit between 1000 and 2000 words…some go to 6000, those are the outliers…don’t tell them I said that.

Whatever methods we use work for us; well, they have to–what the hell is the point of organizing all this writing shit if it turns out to be Dumpster material in the end?

Of course, organization can take its own forms. Most like to call them Seaters or Pantsers–I am wondering who came up with those because the latter seems like it was meant to sound immature…I identity with the Pantsers, just unbuckle that belt–but I am kidding…in reality a Pantser could not give two coal heaps about a written plan and decide to, like the Hippies of old, go with the flow, dude–cause, why not?

In a world of Seaters I have been criticized as a Pantser–not many like to take a leap of faith and rely on the good ole’ Muse to supply with them a Pass Go and Collect $200 dollars card. Those who do know how relaxing, and, unavoidably, how stressful, it can be. For Chrissakes, you’re writing in your underwear, how can it not be more stressful?

But I am not here to convert writers to the dark Pantser side of the Force.

Sometimes, and this has happened frequently to me while writing novels, I curse my Pantser beliefs and decide to migrate to the realm of the Seaters; but each time I get freaked because I’m worried the story is going to suffer from my change of perspective.

It is difficult to plan out a novel, let alone a short story, and I commend the writers who take the extra time to do so. Being a Seater means sketching out the characters and the setting and the conflict all before actually writing the first draft–I wonder they don’t get bored from figuring out how the story ends and who the characters are inside and out so early.

See, for every fifteen Seaters, there are thirty Pantsers.

The writing world has to have both perspectives to ensure different types of literature; one can never be the same as the next, as they say.

Because repetitiveness is just plain dull.

Writers reading this, tell me one thing–when you are Pantsing, that sounds bad, or Seating, your stories, when does it get to the point where you ask yourself, “What the hell am I doing?” and change faiths on a dime? Or does it ever get there?

Now, if you’ll excuse me–I have to get back to Pantsing.

Think daily,

A Southpaw


Brain Vomit: The Fragility Taboo

Hemingway once said, “You should never talk about writing.” I am, of course, paraphrasing–Hemingway said something alike to that; but I was not fortunate enough to be alive in the twentieth century. Had I been…well, let’s not consider the outcome, shall we?

I believe his words…on some level, some level deep beneath all these cobwebs and dust piles in my brain–can we get a janitor out here? I paid the damn fee, man; you think someone would tidy up.

On another level; however, methinks Hemingway was reserved–wait, that’s a lie; he wrote about anything he did, from fishing to drinking. He chose to refrain from conversations about writing because, for him, it was taboo, not the all-the-rules-of-those-teeny-tiny-writing-groups taboo…the oh-shit-my-work-is-going-to-be-ruined-if-I-spill-the-smallest-word taboo.

That taboo. The one I used to suffer from.

When you’re sitting in a room alone, with but a laptop or a word processor or–if you’re going Stone Age–a typewriter it is too easy to start questioning all of it: the word count, the story, the characters, the size of the documents, page count, the writing itself! You go deranged–quit the writing and establish a smoothie stand in the middle of the Ozarks. Maybe a tad extreme…

Questioning. You question it. The writing. The writing questions you–crap, I screwed it up.

Get this: it is not like talking sports results. I cannot go into a bar–for one reason I am seventeen–and engage the bartender in lively conversation, like, say, “I loved how the game went last night. It was so wickedly cool when So-and-so knocked the thing into that bigger thing.” Put a spin of writing on it: “Loved how the words came rolling out of my head last night…you know, I was doubting myself…but now I see…”

All is well and good if you have a person to whom you can confess your writing aspirations and failures–they must be great listeners; but the reason most writers are not too keen on  sharing their favorite activity of the day is because of fear: they are frightened that any spoken word will shatter their fragile story and its routine.

The Fragility Taboo.

Just so you know, I am totally copyrighting that. You heard it here first, from me…here…in a blog…Yeah. Let’s move on to other things, shall we?

You cannot completely cure a writer of the Fragility Taboo. It’s like drinking–take away a pint for a week, in this case let the writer voice his doubts and concerns, and they will be slobbering after a cup and an area of silence. And do not try to cure them…they won’t appreciate it.

All a bystander can do is watch them think: day in and day out thought probing within themselves. If, at any point, they feel up to speaking, listen, and listen well, because they trust you enough to talk about that which makes them exceedingly nervous.

But what am I–a doctor or a writer?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Brain Vomit: How To Write

I am a writer. Shocking news…I know; please, don’t all of you have a heart attack at once–I cannot stand writing induced heart attacks. Look at all those other writers who caused heart attacks: Stephen King; Guy De Maupassant; Bram Stoker…Dr. Seuss. It goes on for a while…

I am a writer and I like writing.

Enough said.

Time for the “Think daily”–what’s that? I didn’t talk about writing? Of course I did–I mentioned how writing is an escape route; and, in a story, it is not you who controls the characters but the characters who control you. Dun Dun Duunnnn! Excellent B-horror movie material for all you fledgling movie directors…enjoy, be merry; but remember I accept checks of up to 200 dollars. Toasters just ain’t that cheap any more, folks.

Not as if I wrote a list or anything: I may have some pointers; but, listen, I’m a seventeen year old–what the hell do I know about writing? You put a pen on a paper and let your brain vomit. I really can’t say more. Okay…maybe you scrape off the vomit–the little carrot giblets– and spread some tofu on that sucker, adding a bit of tasteful flavor to your literary work. I forgot–then you turn on a box fan to the highest setting and spray paint your artist studio in tofu vomit…it’ll be hard to tell the difference…Whatever picture shows up, be it a portrait of Jesus Christ or the McDonalds arches; that is the personality of your story.

Then…if you feel up to it…you take a fork from your silverware drawer, a nice thick fork; and walking up to that beauteous Michelangelo-died-of-shock wall stab those prongs into the glob and pile it into…a manilla folder–for storage.

What, did you think I was gonna say your mouth?

Get your head out of the gutter.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

How I Became Silent In A World Of Noise

People always say silence is golden–personally, I have never seen one yellow spark come shining off that thing; but, hey, we all see life a little bit differently than the person sitting next to us. They say it is golden, methinks, because in a world of noise quiet is a sought after quality: whoever talks the most shows the most; whoever talks the least shows the least.

Think of it this way–those who choose silence are wearing a cape; these people are the tightlipped among us…for a reason. This reason could be embarrassment or anxiety or not feeling strong enough to show themselves…

But you know what else it could be…

Bullies. The kind of people who we should give pity; why? they have such a shitty life they want to hurt others to achieve a wholeness. They wander the world in these large spiked boots and stomp upon anyone who looks a tad–no, a lot–weaker than they are. No one stops it–barely anybody steps in to say, enough!

I am silent because I was bullied.

Middle school. Sixth grade–had a fresh way of looking at the next three years of my life; struggled with grades a bit, but who doesn’t; and there were so many new people I figured I could entertain with my rambunctiousness. Make them laugh. Find some new friends.

I tried to be nice to everybody–people tell me now they don’t think there is a mean bone in my body–and it turned out…not many wanted to be nice back. They called me weirdo; sixlet; and a whole bunch of other names that thankfully have not stayed with me–with the exception of weirdo.

Class started–initiate the teasing. One guy sat behind me in math class, made fun of my glasses, my ears; and guess what? I yelled at the dude. I yelled at him in class, a total of three times. And the teacher standing there, who knew exactly what was going down…he did not do a damn thing to stop this kid.

None of my teachers said anything.

None of my classmates said anything; in fact, I began to think most couldn’t stand me.

Alone and bullied I went into myself. Gone was the loud kid who liked being funny and hoped others thought so, as well; and in his place was a kid who kept his mouth shut and assumed the world was out to tease him. A role reversal, some may say; or a shedding of old skin.

I became silent. Throughout the rest of that year I did not try to be funny or loud.

Thankfully my parents were the SAVIORS OF THE DAY; and rode up to that school and talked to that principal and told them, you need to get your shit togetherthis boy is being bullied and no one is stepping in to stop it.

And they did–they called up those boys and handled them…no idea how; however shortly afterwards the bulling came to a halt. It was a blockade on their tyranny; and I was so relieved…even though…my bullies had changed me.

For a long time I thought it for the worst: I couldn’t be funny; I couldn’t talk; I couldn’t be me…

Then I started writing.

These short nine page stories in a notebook–at the moment it is atop my desk–ranging from Batman to Call of Duty; fan fiction, if you would. And, hey, don’t bash me! Everyone has to start somewhere! I just happened to…you know…go the route of least resistance?


I wrote them in frenzies, these small three story series; and once I had finished I read them aloud to my parents and relatives–because screw editing at eleven, right…eh? Parents told me they loved ’em; if they hadn’t I wouldn’t have cared–I loved them enough for three dozen people.

Kidding–I got serious self doubt in writing; anything helps…really.

Put simply, where I couldn’t be myself in real life…I could do so in my short stories. Kind of a bad ass science fiction plot, if you ask me; but Isaac Asimov has probably already beaten me to the punch. Besides the fiction–I was comfortable in my shoes in artificial reality…sounds a little depressing, I know; although it hasn’t been to me for the last, what, seven years!

In actual life, as the years passed–read that last bit as if you’re saying “once upon a time”–I battered at my shell with the help of Cross Country and Track; and swore whenever I saw bullying I would put a stop to it. I don’t play teasing…no way, pal.

My friends, even those who don’t know me, are always asking, why are you so nice to everyone? and why are you so quiet all the time? Well, to all those reading–you know who you are–I am nice because no one was nice to me; and I am silent because, I, too, have realized that silence is golden.

Want to know why? It is so hard to come by these days.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Writing is the New Running

It should be obvious by now: I like to write. If I hated writing I would not do it; however as it is my favorite hobby I devote what little time I have to its pursuance–perhaps one day as a career. It is calming and acts as a source of release for me; all the pent up issues in a day are blown out in 500 or 600 words a night.

But you know what else is calming?

Running five six or miles. You know how it feels to strap on your shoes–okay, who actually straps on shoes? we all have laces for a reason–and leave your driveway or apartment staircase and go jogging inside a mental marshmallow. At first you may hate this feeling–and then you will grow to love the runner’s high received from running comfortably for a long period of time. It has nothing to do with drugs.

The thing is, running and writing are not as separate as they seem: they both require excessive mental endurance; they both act as forms of release from stress–although some stories can be stressful–and for both pacing is key.

What do I mean by pacing?

A story needs conflict and character–action and rest.

A race needs sprinting and running–action and rest.

To master each form you must understand them. I’m not about to spout some Mr. Miagi be-one-with-the-story junk; but when excelling in writing and running you have been through the ringer with them; you have sat down next them on the bus and fired up an emotional conversation in which both parties shed at least one tear; and you have been versed in all of their likes and dislikes throughout life.

This sounds more serious than it is, you say. Perhaps on that you are right, but are you willing to step out there and get to know these activities, to cherish them fully for what they not only appear to be but truly are?

Running and writing are buddies; their friendship is unmatchable even on the standards of Frodo and Sam…or the pilots in Top Gun. If you happen to do both take them out to dinner some time and observe the fluidity arising from their sudden union. Buy writing breadsticks…and get running a platter of salad–he is always on about his diet.

And get this, I ask him, “Hey, Running, you want some chocolate cake?” He turns slowly in his sweaty singlet and gym shorts–all the while he is staring with those grassy eyes of his–and replies, “Have you forgotten I am in your head? You’re not even talking to a real person!”

Joke’s on him, I guess…

Bye for now. I’m going to invite Drawing to the art museum–he’s a quiet guy.

Think daily,

A Southpaw


The Blockbuster: A Casual Sketch

Currently I am reading Timeline by Michael Crichton, the author of Jurassic Park and the Lost World; and as of today I have read most of the book in enjoyment and distress. Enjoyment, because I’m a sucker for a fast thriller and action sequences get my adrenaline pumping; and distress, because I savor thoughtful character development and scene description, such as in my recent reading of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. While reading Timeline, however I have realized a blockbuster has its place in literature–they are difficult books to write–and they acquire so much popularity among readers because of these specially chosen factors:


  • The definition of a blockbuster is “something notably effective or successful,” and when I hear the words “effective” my mind springs to formulaic thinking, which is how most blockbusters and consistently adrenaline-fueled thrillers are constructed. It usually starts with a simple plot sketch of the rising conflicts–these are tense scenes for the purpose of hooking the reader without divulging deeply into character motivation and backstory–then throughout the first chapters characters are hastily introduced as defined outlines of their personalities (sometimes these can be stereotypical personalities but more on that later…). And soon the story comes to an explosive conclusion in the final chapters–this is the release of the carefully balanced tension throughout the novel.


  • In blockbusters characters are mere outlines of themselves–what they lack in psychological development they contribute to with repetition of names, like “Hank climbed the tree” and “Hank waved to Judy and Jack at Steven’s house,” and quirky traits which they repeat constantly in the story: say the protagonist is a fireman who hates touching water and is always carrying a pair of gloves with him– maybe he says “got to get ’em dry” before tugging them on at the hydrant. His actions will be repetitive and predictable; and likely you will feel comforted by the repetition…perhaps annoyed as well.


  • This is a blockbuster sentence. Short and to the point; and ridding a paragraph of all unnecessary descriptions and words. Blockbuster sentences focus on the action at hand–if the antagonist rifleman is preparing to fire a shot at the heroine cowering in the house, then by God the next few paragraphs will center around his aim and his fingers and his mind; how each of them result in his squeezing the trigger on that sweet 22′ caliber. The impact sentences–“The bullet shot from the barrel, whistling. It pegged Katelyn in the forehead, and blood flecked her shining hair. She stiffened and tumbled sideways down the stairs.” By the way that is not an exceptional blockbuster paragraph in any form, merely an amateur writing.

Those three elements are key to a blockbuster…but if you want a successful story, then you need to have an intriguing premise that knows how to scoop up the action on a hot platter and maintain the heat while serving slices of itself to the readers on consistently sized plates. Then it is all up to you on how you personally spice the dish.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw