A Horror Story That Reminds Me of Me

Have you ever written a story only to realize another writer published something similar? The Great God Pan, published in 1890, is a horror novella that has inspired in me the cathartic déjà vu experience described above. If you’re like me, you’re currently mashing up literary, horror, and fabulism fiction for your debut novel, in which the demigod Dionysus (with the help of other Greek figures) resurrects a cult of followers through moonshine. Ring any bells? No? Maybe it’s just me then.

I recently discovered the novella The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen. In this story, Dr. Raymond wants to devise a way to open the mind of men so all can experience what the world has to offer, but his experiment cripples or kills his patients. There is more to the story, but I won’t spoil it for you (I’d recommend you read it). The text’s premise surprised (and delighted) me. While the two works have similarities, both are unique. All of the other plot elements, the characters, the form, and my prose differentiate my book from Machen’s (plus, I focus on Dionysus and not Pan).

I’m exited my story is akin to a novella Stephen King hailed as one of the best horror tales ever written. I hope he’ll have something comparable to say about my novel.

(Photo via greyfaced)

Haikuinator

Last semester, I took a course titled Content in Form & Fiction at Rosemont College with the ever so brilliant Carmen Machado. We explored various forms in fiction, including found texts, artifacts, experimental novels, novels in verse, novels in stories, hyperlink texts, online games, and other story telling forms. With the help of Adam Louie, I created a fake mobile app as my final project.

You can check it out here.

Found Tweets: Meanwhile on Mars… (A Poem in Fragments, Part Four)

He recently lost his Mother.

I’m real sorry your mom blew up, Angel said.

I’ve cried multiple times, he said.

Don’t let yourself stay sad, she said.

Angel’s singing had always cheered him up. Life seemed so much brighter.

He had called her beautiful every morning when she first woke up.

Love is never simple. Even for intergalactic settlers.

She died on impact.

A Study in Cups and Chairs

Writing is so much more than sitting at your computer, waiting for the words to come. It’s also paying attention to the world around you.

I’ve had a productive writing week, but today I felt dry, used up, and tired. So I put into action advice that I got from Natalie Goldberg’s The True Secret of Writing. I went to a coffee shop, Cups and Chairs, to record what was in front of me without subjectivity or interpretation. For twenty minutes, I wrote in a small red moleskin notebook, recording what I heard, saw, smelled, and tasted.

Here’s just a snippet of what I wrote:

There was a bug on the wall. I turned my head to sip my latte. When I looked again, the bug was gone.

Christmas ornaments hung on the light switches: blue, green, and red balls with glittery accents.

A woman, dressed in all black, delivered a steaming teapot and green mug to a college student sitting on the sofa, fussing with his laptop. The sofa had a linen cover. The walls were painted muted earth tones, grassy greens and brownish-reds. Old pictures, faded and some torn at the edges, of Philadelphia’s monuments hung on the wall. A bullet board hung over a cream and sugar station. Someone had shaped the tacks into a smiley face.

A woman in an Argyle sweater talked on her phone. It took me a few minutes to realize that she had a faint Irish accent. It was only noticeable when she pronounced long vowels like “good day” and “thank you.” After she hung up, she ate soup and crunched on a sliver of crusty bread.

A policeman walked into the cafe. “Did someone call?” he said. His radio was on.

“I did,” the barista said. She was the one dressed in black. “Someone called and said they were from PECO and that we owned them thousands of dollars. They said if we didn’t pay, they’d come turn off our electricity today.”

“Did you pay them?” the policeman said.

“We didn’t,” the barista said. We got their number and said we’d call them back. When we couldn’t reach them, we figured out it was a scam.”

“Did someone come in with a video to tell you it was a joke?” The policeman laughed.

The barista didn’t sound amused, but rather stern. “No sir. Would you like some tea?”

The woman in the Argyle sweater started talking on the phone, and I was cut off from the conversation.

I hope to use this exercise to cultivate specificity in my fiction, which I think is one key to great writing.

cuppainting