Journal Juice 5 | Identity

I am not who I want to be. Does that mean I am not who I am supposed to be? I do not know. I only know that I am not who I envisioned myself to be according to the fantasies and daydreams from today and yesterday, even going all the way back to my adolescence.  According to my six year old self, I am not the singer I am supposed to be. The ten year old Me barks that I am nowhere near the drummer I am supposed to be. The thirteen year old Me shakes his head because I am not the artist I am supposed to be. The fifteen year old Me screams that I am disappointingly not the guitarist I am supposed to be. How about that nineteen year old Me who professed himself to be a writer? Said he was going to write dozens of novels? The twenty-something Me has a litany of under-achievements I have amassed. Perhaps most egregiously I am not the father my twenty-one year old self had espoused to be. In recent years I have also come to realize I have not been the husband, son, brother nor friend I had longed envisioned myself to be. So who am I? What is my identity? Do I want a new identity? Do I want to be someone else? No. None of this is to suggest that I am not grateful for my life. Or family. Friends. Acquaintances. Accomplishments, thus far. It just means I aim for more. To do more. To be more. I just want to be the ideal Me doing ideal things that ideally enrich the lives of all those I encounter, and those who encounter my music, my stories, my children. Identity is that lasting thing we leave behind when we’re dead and gone.


Recently

Read: Love Invents Us by Amy Bloom

Watched: Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Sons of Anarchy: Season 6

Listened: Alice in Chains, Esthero, iFanboy podcast, Flunk, Hooverphonic, Menomena, The Nerdist Podcast, Russian Circles

 

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Cover Art: The Underneath

So I’m dusting off my very limited cover-making skills and this is the first test subject. “The Underneath” was published a couple of years back in the bizarro print anthology compiled by fellow writer/editor Joe Jablonsky, entitled Like Frozen Statues of Flesh. The plan at this point is to re-publish the story in digital/e-book form for the first time, via Smashwords. Covers tend to be required for these sort of things and I am a small-time author with a small-time budget (i.e. no budget). That particular predicament invokes the D-I-Y mindset of taking matters into my own hands and, while summoning the spirit of independence (i.e. no-name author of meager means), I make fresh ice tea out of lemons myself. Wait, that’s not quite how that’s supposed to go. Well, at any rate, this is the first pass at it. An arm with a gaping wound, which is integral to the bizarre happenings in the story. It actually came to me pretty quickly (I fortunately have a rather eager Muse). This image might stick. It may not, if, for instance, I manage to do something even more cool and creepy with an eyeball (ya gotta read the story once it’s available to know what I mean by that).

Here are some covers I designed in the past (clicky to enlarge):

My best Photoshop work ever, for the digital edition of my short story "Pieces of Candice"
My best Photoshop work ever, for the digital edition of my short story “Pieces of Candice”
A makeshift cover I made for the digital edition of my short story "All Things Considered"
A makeshift cover I made for the digital edition of my short story “All Things Considered”
A little makeshift cover I cooked up in Photoshop for the digital edition of my microfiction "Shard"
A little makeshift cover I cooked up in Photoshop for the digital edition of my microfiction “Shard”
Another makeshift cover by me for the digital version of my short story "Mass Graves"
Another makeshift cover by me for the digital version of my short story “Mass Graves”

 

The Rucker Report: Week 51, 2014

28368403-vector-silhouette-of-a-man-sitting-at-a-computer-on-a-white-background I have a bunch of stories that need homes. That means I have much work to do in the New Year (and prior to it).

Hello and good day to you all. As I write this the sun is finally shining.

A bit of irony in that tidbit is that today is also the Winter Solstice. But I’ll take what small bit of luminescent glory I can from that great ball of radiated plasma in the sky.

About the aforementioned work: I has only recently returned to the world of writing prose fiction. I’d been threatening this a few times over the past three years while I basically blogged and wrote comics journalism, while also making feeble attempts at breaking into the comics industry to write comics and graphic novels. That’s a nigh-impossible task without available, competent and trustworthy artists. Admittedly I didn’t quite give that particular arduous journey the desperate push it apparently requires, but that’s a sad story for another day. Writing and publishing prose — which I’ve not done in earnest since late 2011 — is a comfy old sock for me, and not only because it puts so much more control within my hands. There’s just something very empowering about being in (almost) complete control, internally and externally, of what ultimately happens with the art you produce. Comics, movies, television — not so much. Short stories and (someday) novels? Today’s avenues to publishing are so much more abundant and the roads are far easier to travel, despite all the snow and ice that are a plethora of other writers doing the same thing. So that’s where I am, again. Good to be home.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Going it alone can be just as daunting a task (though arguably so much more rewarding). The art producing duties AND the administrative and business duties fall on the relatively unknown, small press author’s shoulders so much more than say those of an author with an eager agent, a committed publisher and a ratified book contract. So, no, it’s not what you’d call easy work. Nothing worth doing ever is. I’ve been away for a bit, so researching the market and all the options that are available is what will keep me up late these next couple of weeks. Re-reading, proofing, editing, tweaking, rewriting, formatting — all those activities tend to take place when a writer pulls up previously completed works or works-in-progress. I have an abundance of both, so I’m not even considering all-new work in this. The low-hanging fruit, of course, is the previously published and out-of-print or circulation work that’s sitting around not getting read anymore. That should not be the case. WIPs are naturally the next priority.

None of this is to say that all-new work will not be addressed, though. Most any writer’s head is filled to capacity with embryonic stories begging to be born, so much of the preliminary work — if you’re not a one-track-mind kind of creative person — is done inside the mind, often long before the writer sets pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. We’re always writing, whether it’s physically or merely within the abstract of our troubled minds.

But, first, research and re-publishing. On the hunt for online venues, new and old, as that’s an area I’ve largely not conquered since I was more focused on print. Several markets have come and gone in both print and web during my three year hiatus. That’s always troubling, but I soldier on. A new potential market I’ve found for flash and short-shorts is QuarterReads. The tagline is A short read at a fair price. Perfect. No one’s trying to get rich here at Ruckerpedia (wait, what?). And I wouldn’t dare think to charge more than a quarter to read a 800 word flash piece over at, say, Smashwords. No, Smashwords is where my longer works once were and shall be again (or at least that’s the plan). When the 250 word micro Shard was available there it was available for free. It will be again. But of course you’re here now. You could just read it here.

Speaking of free, a couple of free book reads I recently grabbed for the old Kindle are: Fade to Black and Ducks In a Row by my friends Tim McBain (w/ LT Vargus ) and Michelle Garren Flye, respectively. Check’em out!

Fade to Black (Awake in the Dark Book 1) Ducks in a Row


 Recently

LISTENED: Metronomy, Duran Duran, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Brandon Rucker’s Sap

WATCHED: Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger

Dream a Little Scream of Me

Dreams and ScreamsThis poem was originally featured in the speculative fiction and poetry print anthology Dreams and Screams, published by Liquid Imagination Magazine in mid 2010. I wrote it in December of 2009 around the same time I wrote a couple of other little spec-fic poems that will show up on this site soon. I had a great time with this one as the cadence came to me immediately and I knew that would add to the overall hook and help make it more memorable. Fun Fact: the printed and digital versions contain an un-proofed typo in line 22. Totally my gaffe to own.


“Dream a Little Scream of Me”

by Brandon L. Rucker

~

Dream a little dream of me

When you sleep

I will creep

On your fears and superstitions

While you pray

I will play

I’m the lurker in your closet

Boogeyman

Yes I can

Make you fear what lay in shadows

Scaredy cat

Insomniac

I’m the ghoul beneath your bed

I breed fright

When there’s no light

Fill you up with dread and doubt

Am I a lie

You decide

I’m the monster in your nightmares

Sending thrills

That give you chills

Just dream a big ol’ scream for me

Then face the fears

That you hold dear

~

Copyright © 2009 by Brandon L. Rucker

Journal Juice 4 | Noise

I remain in awe of those – particularly writers, but any creative folk – who can effectively eliminate the Noise with even just a modicum of success. External. And Internal. Noise is generally that thing that imposes itself within the path of the Muse.

External Noise is, at least for me, all that goes on around me during creative peak times. Not all of that Noise is bad or even necessarily a hindrance. After all, a great deal of it will in turn inform and service the art of which I am compelled to create. However, going with the general law of averages, to what average does that truly amount? A mere 10% of useful Noise? So what to do with the remaining 90%? That surplus is the struggle. Because we are not manufactured with natural, automatic smart-filters. We must manually, and quite deliberately, apply our filters. The rub, or should I say the fear, is that while filtering we might somehow inadvertently block some of which should be included in the better percentage. Thus, there is temptation to be a little lenient where that’s concerned, when really we should probably take a more rigid hard line and be done with it. The successful ones do.

And what of Internal Noise? Oh, that can be equally nasty stuff if left unchecked by a hard and fast filter. Voices from within delivering Noise is not a situation to be trifled with in the absence of due diligence. Sure, they present themselves as friendly entities, but they can be sinister, turning your Muse against you, or worse, you against your Muse. When that occurs your intentions can be compromised, your progress minimized and your confidence severely marginalized. The wrong internal voice could make you not unlike the proverbial dog chasing its tail, or the coiled serpent devouring itself from its tail-end.

So again, I am in awe of those with filters firmly in place keeping the optimal amount of Noise at bay. I wish to become more like those folks.


Recently

Watched: Prometheus deleted scenes

Listened: Modest Mouse, Outkast, God Forbid

Update: Getting There…

Ah! That feeling you get after the first time you re-read an old story of your own that you had previously put aside for a long spell. That just happened moments ago. The only thing is this particular story is heavy on the bizarre and I’m not sure what the bizzaro market is like these days for short fiction. Truth be told, the story in question, “The Other Roommate”, should have been submitted to, and included in, Joe Jablonski’s Like Frozen Statues of Flesh anthology back in the Summer of 2011 (where does the time go?), but I needed to make a few more passes at the piece before it would be ready and the deadline had come and gone, though not before I managed to get my other bizarro pieces “The Underneath” and “All In a Day’s Work” accepted for the book. Now, this piece is ready for submission, ready to be sent out into the wild for consumption and perhaps resulting in indigestion. So I need to research the short fiction market because I’ve been out of the game for quite a bit and I don’t know who is publishing bizarro fiction these days. Though I no doubt need to step up my digital publishing game these days, I tend to prefer to submit work to prospective markets first before taking it upon myself to self-publish. So I will attempt to do that with this one. I think it would sit very well in the company of other bizarro stories of its ilk.

In addition to everything else, it just occurred to me that I need to task myself with resurrecting a couple of old stories that I wrote and lost several years ago. It was actually prior to the turn of this century. I keep everything and I really can’t recall losing many if any other significant pieces of writing, but somehow between PC and technology upgrades and such over the many years, I somehow lost both of these works-in-progress. I remember the titles and their themes — “Scars” and “Ride”. The concept of the former has been borrowed for my lyrics to a song of the same name that I worked on last year, which is why I don’t think it will be hard to re-envision and re-write that story when I sit down to do it. The latter will require more creativity but the positive here is these stories will benefit from being written by the now early 40’s Me instead of the late 20’s Me. Or at least that’s the optimistic way of looking the situation. And optimism is a welcome word for me to be using today, given that yesterday was not a day of optimism, if the most recent Hello, Blank Page post was any indication.

As previously mentioned, I’ve been using the month of December to play the role of archivist, using this website as the ultimate source for my artistic output — past, present and future. I figure, heck, I could die in a week, a month, a year and there would be no archive of my having done something with whatever meager amount of talent I inherently have. So since I’m still doing maintenance and content work here at the ol’ website, I can’t say with any certainty that I’ll get started on brand new work before the new year commences. Yet this was part of the grand design because as I slowly dip myself back into the fiction-writing pool, I always like to warm up with reading and critiquing my old work, and playing with previous works-in-progress and seeing if I can successfully add to them, or tweak the old ones before I take the full dive, if only for the analysis of the progression (who doesn’t get a kick of confidence out of seeing your own growth?) and the flexing of dormant muscles. That said, I’ve always tried to start a new year off with brand new writing. I do, after all, have a blank page fetish.

Well, I better get back to it. There’s a WIP that desperately wants me to look at it so that I might finally finish the damned thing.

Until next time, when I discuss the insistence of dreams on a writer’s muse and some other stuff I didn’t fit in here…

– BLR

Hit me up at @RuckerWrites if you’re the tweeting kind