A Recommendation Letter.

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to express my heartfelt recommendation for Ms. Felix Morgan for the writing position you have advertised. Ms. Morgan is a friend of mine, which is to say she doesn’t mind that I’m dead, and I don’t mind that she’s stubborn. Felix has many peculiar qualities that make her a strong writer despite her occasional disregard for punctuation conventions.

When Felix drinks she drinks whiskey and becomes argumentative or affectionate or, on occasion, both at once. She will show up early every day and make coffee. She’s built up an immunity to morning malaise that you would do well to take advantage of.

Her strengths lie in spinning yarns, eliciting laughs, and dreaming big. She works best when paired with someone content to chase after her ideas and tie them down to more boring realistic concepts. If your trade is in inspiration, in sunshine, in stories more true than you’ve previously imagined them to be, by all means hire this young woman. Give her space and structure and coffee beans. Extend the hand of true collaboration via high five.

If your Felix is malfunctioning follow these simple steps:

1. Check the power supply. Is your Felix positioned near a window?

B) Speak the reset command: “Tacos?”

Finally: To activate idea generating mode set the Felix to ambulatory conversation with a brisk walk around the block.

With optimal settings Ms. Felix Morgan will produce a high-quality stream of words and ideas. She’s not perfect, thank god, but enthusiastic, which is much preferable. Any questions may be directed to me via seance or shamanistic journey. I’ll be on the river, somewhere between the water and the stories that run on it.

Best of luck,

 

 

gr0054922_H.jpg

Reasons I didn’t meet my daily word count

  1. I hate all the characters and also the story and also words in general and who even reads anymore anyway and what ever happened to wanting to be an astronaut, Felix
  2. Not enough coffee.
  3. Too much coffee.
  4. My laptop battery was only at 56% and I left my charger at home.
  5. Something shiny.
  6. I got a new idea and spent hours researching bird taxidermy instead.
  7. It was sunny and I went swimming.
  8. It wasn’t sunny and I watched Nashville reruns.
  9. I read what I wrote yesterday and it was good and I felt accomplished and forgot.
  10. Tinder.
  11.  Probably my hair should be a different color.
  12. Maybe I’ll go for a walk.
  13. Reading inspirational articles about other writers is kind of like writing though.
  14. What if I had a thinking cap and also I knew how to crochet.
  15. Maybe somebody put a voodoo curse on me.
  16. Does texting count.
  17. Owl videos.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 9.16.46 AM

AWST Press Announcement

The day has come! So thrilled to announce that AWST Press  is publishing a hand sewn book of my short stories as part of a collection curated by Owen Egerton.

The collection will include three original works: “Hawt Topic”, “Abusive Muse”, and “Necromancers Don’t Say ‘I love you'”

Owen chose me along with Lindsey Verrill , Erin Pringle-Toungate, and BOB FRICKING SCHNEIDER for his author curated series of books. Can’t wait to become best friends with all these peeps.

When recommending me, Owen wrote this about my writing, which is my favorite paragraph that has ever happened in the history of ever:

Morgan plays in the myths and legends of our culture like a child playing in an old abandoned house. She explores the darkness, laughs at the shadows, gleefully celebrates the creepiness, and gingerly dances on creaking wooden floors never fearing she’ll fall. Morgan reuses the known to create the new, giving fresh life to age old terrors and delights. There’s a page-turning and side-splitting thrill to reading her work as the monsters that once hid under our beds now crawl beneath the sheets to draw close to us.

You can order your copy here.

I’ll update this post with links as they feature my interview and previously published work on the website:

Up first: “Hung Like a Headless Horseman” from the anthology The Monsters Who Loved Me  (Lucky Dark Press 2015). Read it here.

“Looking For Someone To Love”, a zombie western from my undergraduate days, can be read over here.

A collection called “Poems For Boys I Don’t See Anymore” is available for download here. It’s slightly less bloody and monstrous than my fiction?

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 9.16.46 AM.png

card-i-heart-huckabees-vivian-jaffe

Inspiration, Existential Detectives, and Other Mysteries of the Heart and Mind.

I still haven’t told you, dear internets, about the beautiful little book of short stories of mine that is coming out soon. But there, I just did. Now. On to other things.

I’m in love with things made of paper. My daily lists are little bits of simple art. I have had to implement an intensive review process when purchasing a new journal or notebook, lest I become a blank-book hoarder. But all of this is to tell you how hard it is lately to buy business cards.

I need them. I do different work and have to tell people about it. I write so many words, these days: technical ones and fictional ones, and bloggy ones, and secret poem ones, and online dating consulting ones. So I want cards. I want red ones and beige ones and thick parchment ones and serif font ones. It’s hard to decide. But at the end of the day, all I want is this one:

card-i-heart-huckabees-vivian-jaffe.png

I < 3 Huckabees was one of the first movies I fell in love with. It may seem trite now, to some, but when I was young it was one of the first movies I ever saw that walked the line between hilarious and super dark and it was all smart and clever and real.

So what is a writer, any artist really, but an existential detective? To say anything else is a lie, or a simplification, or a joke. I live my life sideways sometimes. At least according to the world at large. Here is an example:

I have a friend named R. His real name makes me want to write about space pirates but that’s not important now. We were best friends the second we met and I’ve lived long enough to know that is magic to be cherished when it happens.

R loves yoga, and makes hard eye contact, and talks enthusiastically about every single thing he thinks of. His skin is milk chocolate with red tattoos. He has a scurrilous beard and mouth full of white teeth that beam at you when you’re clever. He works hard and thinks deeply and laughs deep from his belly. These are qualities I value in so many of my friends.

He travels a lot, he’s much in demand. He is available for epic trees of conversation approximately 1-3 Wednesdays a month. And I, because I’m me, book my entire schedule that week around it. There is nothing more important to me on those days than walking and lunching and talking about books with my friend. And, the last time we hung out, we had beers in the morning and discussed the discussion of things.

“Is it a luxury? Is it a privilege that I get to decide to plan my day around sunshine, or good conversations, or a book I can’t put down? How can I ever go back to a regularly scheduled job?”

“Felix. I can acknowledge that we both know like what’s it like to be hungry and in survival mode. So let me rephrase your question.”

“Please do. Cheers and good morning.”

“What right do they have, the people who would employ us, to contract us for time rather than results? In what world do people have a right to say where we should be, mentally, corporally, at any given moment? Why should we think we are getting away with something, that we are elite, to have the simple indulgence of scheduling existential necessities?”

“Hmmm. All I know is I’ve worked too many jobs where I had to ask someone else if I could use the bathroom. I consider it a moment of profound professional achievement when I reached a level of work where I could decide my own urination schedule.”

“That’s exactly what I mean.”

Anyway. I work really hard. I’m learning to hustle, and to invoice, and to save for taxes, and a million other things about contract work and tech bubbles, and the wonderful weird technocrat contradictions of life and community. But. I take time, every now and then, to invest in my inner existential detective. And I never even knew how to explain why until Kirk Lynn did it here.

By glob, you should follow that link. But if you don’t, here’s my favorite bit:

When I need inspiration I start giving more time and attention to the world around me. I write an e-mail to someone I miss. I make a mix of the best songs ever for where you are in your life right now. Or I set myself a challenge: I have to be kissed three times before an ending comes to me… Maybe it’s a thank-you note I’ve been neglecting, or a handful of change in the cup holder of the car that wants to meet people on the side of the road.”

 

So if I hand you a card soon that says nothing but “I write stuff.” or “existential detective”, I hope you’ll consider that I’m not only qualified for the job, I’m qualified for this absurd and authentic and stumbling exploration of life. And really that’s the best Ive ever felt about my skill set. So.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

il_fullxfull.5995998

One more thing about love, though

I’ll be back to blood and guts and monster stories soon, but I remembered this definition of love by Jeanette Winterson  from the book  Big Questions from Little People & Simple Answers from Great MindsI guess my top five list is up to seven now. But you know.

“You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signaled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)

And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.”

PS You have to be brave.

3776489247_60f86e0d2e_z

One graph, three quotes, and a poem about love.

I have some really exciting news about stories and me and books and publishing things to share and I will, I promise, soon.

But meanwhile, I was having a conversation with a friend today about  words and love and meanings and so I asked them if they had a current good working definition of love. Which immediately led me to wonder if I myself did. And because I’m reading Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet right now, which everyone should read, IMMEDIATELY and OFTEN, I had just come across a good one so I went in search of others I’ve liked.

So anyway here’s my top 5 definitions of love:

5. Tom Stoppard

“It’s to do with knowing and being known…Knowledge of each other, not of the flesh but through the flesh, knowledge of self, the real him, the real her, in extremis, the mask slipped from the face. Every other version of oneself is on offer to the public. We share our vivacity, grief, sulks, anger, joy… we hand it out to anybody who happens to be standing around, to friends and family with a momentary sense of indecency perhaps, to strangers without hesitation. Our lovers share us with the passing trade. But in pairs we insist that we give ourselves to each other. What selves? What’s left? What else is there that hasn’t been dealt out like a deck of cards? Carnal knowledge. Personal, final, uncompromised. Knowing, being known. I revere that. Having that is being rich, you can be generous about what’s shared — she walks, she talks, she laughs, she lends a sympathetic ear, she kicks off her shoes and dances on the tables, she’s everybody’s and it don’t mean a thing, let them eat cake; knowledge is something else, the undealt card, and while it’s held it makes you free-and-easy and nice to know, and when it’s gone everything is pain.”

4. Robert Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love

stern1322719450187.png

 

3. Pablo Neruda – One Hundred Love Sonnets -XVII (Translated by Mark Eilsner)

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

 

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

 

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

 

2. Steinbeck

“There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.”

 

1. Rilke

“Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over, and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate — ?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world for himself for another’s sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things…Merging and surrendering and every kind of communion is not for [the young] (who must save and gather for a long, long time still), [it] is the ultimate, is perhaps that for which human lives as yet scarcely suffice.”

BONUS: this poster.

f680b5af88d51d51fc5b3198014dec48.jpg

 

 

 

NerdCon: Stories

How many times can you dream about Patrick Rothfuss before it casts a weird, creepy, shadow over your future best friendship? Asking for a friend.

~

NerdConPoster

I saw the announcements for this Con back to back from Pat and Hank Green, two of my most favorite nerd muses. Last June I presented a paper on parasocial relationships in dystopian worlds at a scholarly conference associated with the Anime Convention A-KON in Dallas. So professor me wanted to go.

But I’ve also been working like crazy on this latest novel, and starting projects like Lucky Dark press, and thinking about story phone hotlines and Billy Murray themed adventure dating apps and so creative me wanted to go too.

And then I saw it was in Minneapolis (a place I continually mispronounce MINN-E-AN-APPLE-IS). My cousins moved there about a year ago! I could stay with them! Done and done.

This was one of the most inspiring trips I’ve ever taken, for a number of reasons. I saw people I knew I found inspiring, like Pat, the Brothers Green, Lev Grossman, and Paulo Bacigalupi. I saw people I wasn’t familiar with but who I now find very inspiring like Darin Ross, and Nalo Hopkinson.

The panels went beyond surface things, although there was much levity, and explored topics like how to earn a living as a creative person and what a story teller’s moral duty is to their audience. Here’s some district things I remember:

~

My cousins were both working when I got into town so I successfully used google maps to navigate the public transportation system to my their apartment. I walked up three flights of stairs to find a lovely place full of books and bikes. All the windows were open because the fall air was perfect. I collapsed on an air mattress and had one of the three best naps of my life.

I woke up right before my cousin, little Ian, came home. He’s called little Ian because my Dad is Big Ian but he’s not very little anymore. He burst in the door in his bike kit with his bike over his shoulder, he carries it up the three wooden flights of stairs every day. He’s all blonde locks and smiles and gives me a huge hug and makes tea because that’s what my family does. I had forgotten all the tea. It’s been too long since I saw most of them. He starts cooking too, pulling a paper recipe card out of a little box as we try and squish five years into minutes of conversation. He is leaning against the counter with the window and the city behind him while we waited for the oven to warm when he interrupts himself in the middle of the sentence because he recognizes his wife’s squeaky bike brakes. Without turning he leans to the side and calls out the window “Hi, Bean!”  and she calls “Hullo!” back up to him. This is one of my newest favorite family memories. And then she’s there too with another bike on her shoulders and there’s more hugging and more tea and more food and I’m in a new place but utterly and completely at home.

~

Every day at NerdCon stories someone is asked to give a talk about why stories matter. These ranged from very funny to incredibly touching . I was especially impressed with Dylan Marron’s presentation. I was familiar with his “Every Single Word” series which is such a simple and elegant way to illustrate the need for more diversity in stories and movies. I watched the presenters at these talks but I also watched the audience. There were a lot of young people there, but not all young. There were a lot of friends and parents and families and of course I was there alone but I never really mind being alone and especially when my mind is set to full absorb settings. I wander around, listening and thinking, and I have the feeling that all of this is feeding ideas that will emerge fully grown at some point in the future. Walking around, feeling like I’m bursting with things to write and say. This is one of my favorite feelings.

~

Patrick Rothfuss is a great speaker and a bad moderator. It looks like it pains him to let other people talk sometimes. I know, because he said so, that the panels he is moderating are ones he pitched originally. You can tell he’s been thinking on these things a lot and has a lot of amazing things to say. Pat doesn’t talk in words so much as paragraphs and pages. That man must bleed and cry stories. He seems cranky much of the weekend, but in an intensely passionate way. I watch him bring every possible person into the room without breaking the rules. He asks us to squish, he puts the extra panel chairs into the audience. You can see how much he hates to see anyone left outside. He speaks often of his kids, his fans, his journey. I’ve heard some of his stories before, because I pay attention. What do he, and John Green, and so many of these guests have in common? They are so very them. They make things and they are themselves and I want to do that so much it hurts a little.

~

I dont do the evening con things so I can see my family. I miss the birth of the guacanati, but that’s okay. One night we cook for their friends, and everyone comes over with full happy hearts and full glasses of wine. We eat and we laugh and me and Ian both doodle and then switch pages to change each others drawings. Christine has a way of tucking herself onto the couch with her friend that I recognize from sitting by so many of my friends. I’m slightly homesick for Ashley’s big hugs, for my epic conversations and creations with Seth, for cuddles and bad TV  with Margaret. I marvel at my ability to find the best people in the world for friends. I see it’s a trait that runs in the family. At night Ian reads to Christine to help her fall asleep. He reads to her because they fit perfectly in each other’s hearts. He reads Neal Stephenson because he has excellent taste. I leave Name of The Wind behind when I leave, taking out the page Pat signed. I’ll hang it on the wall next to the desk where I make things.

~

Hank Green talks about having a negative bank balance and Darin Ross talks about being a single parent on the How Do You Make Your Money panel. I have a moment where I realize that my feeling successful in creative endeavors has never been tied to my bank account balance. In my mind, I perform some made up voodoo to disconnect those things entirely, to be put back together in a new configuration later. When I get home I’m going to publish a book, make a podcast, start a creative collective, take over the world. I truly believe, for the first time in a while, that I will reach a point where I can make things all day and pay my bills too. This is the most tantalizing thing that’s happened in my brain in a long time.

~

When I get home this evening the sun is setting and the city is so crisp I want to eat it like a cracker only with my heart instead of my mouth or something else I can’t even express very well because I’m drunk on midwest autumn. We are going to dinner at a friends house. they show me the secret on the front stoop, someone has written in the cement “to call the doctor press here” with a thumb print circle. I press it. Of course I do. I am put on the back of the golden tandem bicycle with Cousin Ian. Christine has another bike and an epic backpack with a german potato dish nestled in it somewhere This is how the cousins get around. This is how they do. We ride by the string of little lakes, we sit on a porch and talk and talk of stories and schools and kids and Texas. The night fades so gently and a single bat flies out and I think of how happy I am in Austin. I sleep so well and in the morning I go home. When I walk in my house I make tea and I make plans.

~