Wednesday, January 28, 2015


For the last three years I've been working on the same story on and off.  It started off as a short story, about 8k, and altogether unsatisfying.  Over the last year especially, I've been rewriting it over and over, letting it get longer and more meaningful (to me, at least).  But lately I feel like I'm at that point where I've more or less lost my ability to judge the whole thing.  Are my characters shallow?  Wimpy?  And how shallow is too shallow by the way?

Clearly this means it's time for second opinions, which means posting it up on my favorite site,  Years ago, I was there all the time, writing and reading, but I fell away from it as most of my stories seemed to be stalling out and never getting finished.  A lot of the people have changed now, but the site itself remains essentially the same, and I'm exciting to get back to it now that I'm writing seriously/happily again.  And of course I can't wait to dig through and find some new stories to follow.

The story I'm posting is Sweet, a novella (novel?) about an incubus and a fey with a self-destructive relationship.  It's set in the fictional city of New Berlin, which is where most of my new work is set.  New Berlin is every bit as toxic as Connor and David's on-again, off-again romance.  A glittering metropolis with a rotten core.

I'm expecting to post two chapters a week, as fast as I can rewrite them yet again.  :)

I can't even begin to say how glad I am to be able to bury myself in this story right now.  My mother has come through her surgery pretty well, but there is so much work that lies ahead of her now, and ahead of me.  Sometimes art really does save.

Friday, January 23, 2015


I cannot stop thinking about starfish.  Starfish, sea stars, brittle stars.  Many species have the ability to regrow lost limbs.  Some can even regenerate all new limbs and the central disk of their bodies - all from a single lost arm.

Humans cannot do this.  When injury or illness causes us to lose a body part, it's simply gone.  It can be replaced with a prosthetic, and certainly prosthetics have come a very long way.  But they'll never really be you.

Starfish and brittle stars can chose to shed their limbs.  Special connective tissues soften when the star is threatened, allowing it to lose its limb but keep its life.

If you had to make this choice, could you do it?

I like to think that I could.  I like to think that if I were ever bitten by a zombie, I'd waste no time in taking a hatchet to my own limb.  But I don't know.

Right now my mother is lying in a hospital bed facing a surgery that will amputate her right leg twelve centimeters below the knee.  It is, in her case, a true choice of life or death.  Diabetic complications have disfigured her ankle to the point where it will no longer bear her weight.  The limb is infected.  If it isn't removed, it will result in sepsis and death.

It took thirty-six hours to convince her to agree to the operation.  Thirty-six hours during which she asked, Why bother?  What kind of life can I have with one leg?  Thirty-six hours during which I stared at her in a kind of angry helplessness, and replied, You can have A LIFE.  In which you are not dead.  In which there is a chance, always a chance, of things getting better.

With the persuasion of one insistent doctor for whom I feel immense gratitude, my mother has finally agreed to the surgery.  She has finally allowed herself to feel a sliver of hope that after this operation, she will regain her health, and with the use of a prosthetic, may be more active than she had been able to be in over a year.

I'm incredibly relieved.  I'm deeply shaken.  I'm entirely terrified.

It's not me facing an operation or life without my leg.  But for a while I thought I was facing life without my mother.  My mother, who irritates me and makes me crazy, who succumbs to her depression more than she battles it, who gets into screaming matches with me over stupid, pointless things and then makes me feel terrible over when she starts crying.  My mother who taught me to swim, to makes art out of pine cones and glitter, to love horror movies, and to be a hopeless romantic.

I don't want to live without my mother.  I also don't want to live without my own leg.  I don't know now, if the choice were mine, what I would decide.  I am not a brittle star, just brittle.  And that scares the shit out of me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Hydra is Green

Today is a good day.  Today I ran out of chartreuse.

With any other liquor it might just be a case of drinking too much.  But in the case of this particular liqueur, it's a clear sign that I have been doing my writerly duty and writing.  And better, not just writing, but writing entire drafts.

Tennis players have weird sock rituals.  I have this:  Every time I finish a complete draft, I pour a glass of chartreuse over ice.  I prop my feet up on my desk.  I put Antichrist Superstar on the stereo.  And I toast myself to a job well done.

Self-indulgent, maybe.  But in an occupation that involves so much isolation, hair-tearing, and ideas that never come to fruition, I like to celebrate the small things.

Today's celebration is even more important for the fact that what reached its end was the third draft of a novelette that hopefully only needs a few final edits and a good polish before being ready to launch into the world.  (I would very much like to launch another story into the world before I die of old age.  Or frustration.)

What's even more important?  I really like this story.  I think I love it.  Definitely I love the characters, who are totally fucked up in a beautiful sort of way.  They say things to each other like, I'd rather hurt you than anyone else.  I'd rather be hurt by you than anyone else.

Which probably means I have listened to bloody Sweet Dreams too many times.  (But really, can you listen to Sweet Dreams too many times?)

So yes.  Today is a very good day.

In this moment, I feel like the hydra, baby.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Art. Failure. Writing. Love. Confusion. Truth.

I'm not gonna lie.  The last couple of years have kicked my ass.

I've gone through just about every position a twenty-something can have in a literary agency without actually becoming a flat out agent - assistant, junior agent, office manager, royalties assistant/royalties manager...  I gained a lot of invaluable industry knowledge, and the certainty that I did not want to be in the business of selling other writer's books.

After that revelation came to me, I spent a lot of time frantically trying to figure out what I did want to do.  Write, was the first thing that came to mind, just like it's been the first thing that came to mind since I was twelve.  I like to think I'm smarter now than I was at twelve.  But really... not.  No, upon the decision that I would (once again) attempt to become a professional, paid storyteller...  I immediately set off to write a lot of stories carefully calculated to appeal to a mainstream audience and make me enough money to live off.

Head, meet wall.  You know the drill.

In short, I wrote a lot of things my heart wasn't in.  And because my heart wasn't in them, most of them turned out pretty shitty.  Yet I kept telling myself I had to keep going, because if I stopped, I'd never get anywhere, if I stopped, I'd end up working a job that made me miserable for the rest of my life...

At some point, I realized it wasn't just the job that was making me miserable.

Just me, as usual, trying to force myself to be something I wasn't "for my own good."

Why am I saying this?  Why am I typing out a pointless confession as if the internet is my own personal diary?  God, I wish I knew.  Call it therapy, maybe.  Self-therapy via internet.

All I know is this:  I want to be in love with what I write.  I want to laugh and bawl along with characters that seem more real to me sometimes than my own family.  I want crazy, dark, twisted, ugly, beautiful stories that make my heart feel like its breaking.

The Far Away Years was the first novel I ever wrote, and it ripped my heart out completely.  When I finished writing the first draft, I cried for a week because I didn't want it to be done.  Looking back now I see a flawed story.  But I still love it; I still love Danny and Jeff, and I still miss them.

I want that feeling back more than I want anything else.

So I'm trying a new thing now, that is somewhat of an old thing.  Going back to my roots.  I'm not the same writer I was ten years ago when the first words of The Far Away Years were written.  I'm not even the same writer I was when it was finally published six years ago.  I've lived more, loved more, hated more, cursed more, bled more.  But I'm ready to be that person again who says, fuck the mainstream, fuck my savings account, fuck everything.  This is what I love.  Beautiful or ugly, this is my art.

Don't get me wrong.  I still hope, someday, to make a living off my art.  As I embark on a new phase in my writing, I still have every intention of promoting and asking everyone I know to buy my books and be so kind as to consider reviewing.  But only as long as I can look at those books and say:  I love you.  You are the best and truest thing I was capable of in this moment.

Happy New Year.

~the long buried L.F. Blake, clawing her way to the surface again~