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

 

 

 

man woman hands holding broken heart

These Fish Won’t Die – or – Why I’m Breaking Up With Grad School

I’ve been passive aggressively killing three guppies and two catfish for a few weeks now. The filter and lights suddenly went out and I was so stressed out I didn’t notice or investigate for a few days. And then I just kept not doing anything about it. I’ve fed them a few times. They are pretty hardy, those fish.

I’ve been in college for thirteen years. At every large decision point I preferred school to my job options and so I just kept going. When I was getting divorced, and so many notions about what the world was like were catching on fire, I thought about quitting. But I didn’t know how, not really. And I was scared. I have two little warrior-princess-ninja-superheros counting on me and I need to make sure I am in the best possible situation to provide for them. Of course I do.

And for a long time I thought being a professor was it. I like teaching. I like being on college campuses. I’m one of the people who still fantasies about fresh school supplies and fall leaves and liberal arts education. I liked these things and I thought I liked them enough to make a career out of them. But I was wrong.

The kind of professor jobs I was aiming for are disappearing. Higher education is suffering from a lot of things but mostly, in my opinion, an identity crisis. Tenure track positions are rare and usually involve moving across the country. Thats the track my parents took, my advisors took, my fellow students too. But it’s not going to work for me.

Two years ago I moved to Austin and about one year ago I started pursuing  my passions again. I never really stopped but I did it with a renewed vigor. I started writing very day and making little chap books and I just kept meeting more and more people who were making amazing things here.

Lucky Dark is going through a little growth spurt and I had to make a mission statement for it. And in doing so, I had to really nail down what I want to be doing. Writing. Publishing. Exploring new ways to tell stories through interaction and technology and art and lights and radio all sorts of things of things I haven’t thought of yet. Creating a community of driving creators who can pool resources and ideas and continually inspire one another. I am quite sure this is the work I want to be doing.

But I still assumed that I’d be a professor by day and an author and subversive publisher by night. In fact, by honing my research in on fandom and parasocialism I hoped to bring them together but still with research as my main focus. It had to be. Because tenure is something it takes a long time to achieve and that would be the paragon of safety in job security and income. Except that it isn’t really anymore, is it? And if it’s not, then what the heck am I getting a doctoral degree for?

And so I went through this large mental shift. Right around the time the filter on my fish tank went out and I found out I won’t have adequate funding in the spring semester to be able to continue to write my dissertation full time. What if I’ve had it wrong? What if theres a way to make the creative drive my main goal. What would that look like?

I still have to pay the bills, sure. But as a grad assistant I make less than literally any other job I could find. I teach college classes for less than the cost of two students to attend it. And I do that because they offer me tuition breaks and experience towards the ultimate goal of professorship. But I’ve just figured out that’s not what I want. So I have the wrong day job, and the wrong extra-curricular activity too. Because I’m not driven to stay up late, bleary eyed and word stupid,on my third shift of the day to write my dissertation. And I’ve been feeling awfully guilty about that lately.

So if I want my nights free to chase down monster stories and existential mysteries, then I shouldn’t be paying a lot of money in tuition for the privilege of writing a book-lengthed research paper. And I can’t anyway. Without funding for an assistantship to teach, I can’t afford tuition. It’s a catch 22 that’s kept me cobbling together a life full of part-time jobs to just get finished at any cost. But one piece of the academic finger trap has broken and I’m feeling, more than anything,incredibly relieved.

It is certainly the case that I can use these things the other way around. I can use my research on parasocialism and fandom to inform how I write, how I market, how I plan enticing literary events. And I will, I have most of that knowledge already. I’m already doing that.

And it would be great if I could make this shift after I’ve graduated and have all the gravitas of the letters next to my name. I have truly longed for the day I could refer to myself as the doctor. Of course I have. And I hope that I still will finish, but I’ll have to do so gradually.

My soul, my budget, my two little tangled-hair-wildling-hearts can no longer afford graduate school. Breaking up is hard, and I’m worried that it might be messy. Will grad school try to lure me back in as is always has before? Emergency scholarships? Offers of professor support? Drunk texts at 2am? Don’t be needy, grad school. We had our time. It’s not you, it’s me. And it’s you. Because you’re not for me. And I’m a little worried without some heavy introspection on your part, you might not be right for anyone soon. But that’s on you. I can’t help you with that.

I have to spend all day making a resume, and finishing a short story, and buying a fish tank filter.  Let’s still be friends, okay?