Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WE HAVE MOVED!!!

So go check out the new site, ralphpullins.com for all your strange rambling needs. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

In a Mood

I knew you had the blade when I turned my back on you
the straight razor with the pearl handle, stolen from your grandfather's old shaving kit
I knew you were behind me, knew you were not going to let me walk out
and when I felt the cold steel whisper on my throat,
I knew this was the way it had to be:
your breath, hot in my ear, saying
I love you.

So I'm in a mood.  I am filled with anger, and when I am, this is what comes out.

In the white room, there is silence, solitude 
When I cut my wrists, words pour out, black and white, seething, choking
filling the space, building a new world, 
one in which I am not welcome

I live a good life.  Solid, responsible. Why, then, this fire inside? Why is my head filled with these terrible images?

I feed the pages to the flames, one by one, 
the lives I created burning to ash,
I can hear them cry out
page after page, burning cities consumed by fire
I will never be free, will never be empty
I will never be alone

I have insurance.  I have a reasonable mortgage.  I have a station wagon that I drive, every morning, on a very reasonable commute.  I have a loving family and a stable relationship.

When the ghosts come, they tear me to pieces,
take everything, leaving only empty memories,
a husk that can walk and say the right things
They return to the darkness, laughing
The hollow vessel walks into the future

I have done everything right, have achieved everything I have ever dreamed, received every gift, had every prayer answered, and somehow this has filled me with rage. 

Stability is a chain.  A blessing.  A curse.

Still Writing,

RP

4-22-16


It has been a long time since I have written anything interesting, and I have been feeling bottled up.  I decided to purge some words and this is what I got.  I don't know what it is or what it means, but it isn't boring, so there's that.

I'm fine by the way.  Really.  It might say something about my writing that I have to constantly reassure people that I am OK, and not considering something unthinkable, but I promise you I am fine.  Maybe out there is someone that isn't, though, and maybe they will read this and feel less alone.  Maybe.

Cheers. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

REVIEW TIME!!!

One of the unexpected side effects of declaring yourself a writer is that you are then expected to know something about writing and give handy advice to novice writers as if we are not all just winging it and hoping for the best.  I have no real advice except this: finish your shit, work until it is done.  Other than that, do whatever works for you, whether it is writing in the basement of a monastery at midnight or while driving a eighteen-wheeler across country or on the back of a damn dragon as it lays siege to the Impenetrable Fortress of Serious Impenetrability.  Just work, and finish your shit, and then fix all your mistakes, and then give it to other people to enjoy and point out all the mistakes that you missed.

Another thing that I didn't expect was that, as a writer, you are then expected to read and write reviews of the books of your friends and colleagues.  You know me, I am supportive as hell.  I love to lift up my fellow man as much as I can, so I wrote and shared my very first review of my pal Mike Hansen's book When Life Hands You a Lemon yesterday while I was dicking around on my phone while the kids were at gymnastics, and I have to tell you, it went just swimmingly.

In the shower last night, I decided that I would do a series of reviews of several of my favorite books and post them up here because writing about other people's writing is great fun, not awkward and terrible, that I really, really love to do, instead of writing anything new of my own.

Here are my reviews of some of my favorite books, though this is only a partial list and I will certainly have to revisit this idea when I come up with other great books that I forgot.

Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
Dude, you seriously haven't read this yet?  It is only one of the greatest American novels ever written.  Pull your head out and read it, dipshit.  It's good as Hell.

Catch-22, Joseph Heller
You might have read this one in school, and if you did, log on to Facebook and poke your elderly Lit teacher because its fuckin' great.  If you haven't, read it.  But don't watch the movie, because it's godawful.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
Seriously, it made me cry at the end.  For reals, its fuckin' incredible.  Read it, love it, bask in the beauty and pathos, and then thank me later.

Jingo, Terry Pratchett
This is an entirely arbitrary place to start with the Discworld, and I am only choosing this one not because it is my favorite of his, because it isn't (that would go to Night Watch, probably, or Carpe Jugulum, or maybe Reaper Man). I picked this one because this is the first one I got, picked up at random off of a spindle rack at 6:30 in the morning after I got off the graveyard shift waiting tables full of fuckwads at Bumpers, a shitty '50s themed restaurant in Longview WA.  Read this one, then read everything else of Pratchett's that you can get your filthy hands on, because he was nearly the perfect writer.  Funny and smart and touching.  Brilliant man, brilliant stories, and now I'm bummed because there are no more stories coming from the Discworld, since the man went to that great Library in the Sky.  Godspeed, Sir Pratchett.  Mind how you go, sir.

Neuromancer, William Gibson
Start here, because this is where Cyberpunk started, before that was even a thing.  Gritty and fast and all around killer.  This isn't my favorite of his either (Pattern Recognition wins that particular award), but Neuromancer redefined everything, and if you haven't read it, you probably hate awesome things.  Don't be that dickwad.

Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
Danny Boyle did a pretty good job with the movie here, but the book is funnier, dirtier, more real and desperate, and captures exactly what Welsh is all about.  Read this one as an icebreaker, then read Maribou Stork Nightmares if you feel like having your soul crushed out of your ass.  Seriously if you read Maribou Stork Nightmares and you don't think about it for days after and contemplate the darkness of the human soul, you're probably some kind of heartless cyborg.  Die, robot scum.

Geek Love, Katherine Dunn
An absolute mindhumper of a book, crazytown batshit fucking blow your mind out with depravity and unexpected heart.  I've never read anything like it, and I've read a whole shitload of books in my life.  Fucking rad all around.

American Gods, Neil Gaiman
Dude, if you don't know Gaiman, you need to come out of the cave more often.  Guy has written everything, comics and movies and novels and TV, and radio.  Chances are you know something of his.  This is my personal favorite, but I picked up Neverwhere off of that same spindle rack I got Jingo off of, and was blown away.  Come to think of it, I would like to meet whoever stocked that grocery store paperback spindle rack.  Seriously informed my reading tastes for decades.

Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
Fucking dinosaurs, bro.  Di. No. Saurs.

The Stand, Stephen King
This is the first adult-y novel I ever read, and it's a monster.  Come for the apocalypse, stay for the perfectly rendered characters, the humor and the horror and also the villain, who, not so coincidentally, shares a name with the main protagonist of my second novel, though my goofy story has absolutely zero to do with King's amazing book. Homage, people, look it up.  I haven't read it in years, but I still remember Stu and Frannie and Nick, Larry, Flagg, and Mother Abagail, like I was hanging out with them yesterday.  That's how to write a character, folks, where they are so real that they seem like old friends.

Choke, Chuck Palahinuk
My favorite of his, filthy and crazy.  Again, the movie is just ok, but the book is brilliant as hell.  Fight Club, though it veers away from the text a bit, is an excellent example of a movie you could watch if you want the experience, but you hate reading.  Though let's face it, if you have read this far, you probably don't hate reading.

Now I Know Everything, Andrew Postman
Nobody has read this book, and I have no idea why I did, but its a flippin hilarious romantic comedy.  I don't usually get down like this but I have read this a bunch of times and its still great.

Sharp Teeth, Toby Barlow
So, no big deal, this is an epic poem werewolf love story, which would be awesome, even if it sorta sucked, but it does not suck.  You would think that given the premise, that it might suck, but you would be incorrect.  It takes a deft hand to make something like this seem great, and he does it with fuckin' aplomb.  Aplomb, em-effers.  Aplomb.  Absolutely unique and just an all around killer.

I Know This Much is True, Wally Lamb
Seriously on most of my "best of" lists.  A heartbreaker of a novel.  Good as, it is good as, its... its fucking good, ok?  Just read it.    

That's just a few, you know?  So I guess I'll never feel compelled to write another review eh?  I just knocked out a bunch, and now we're good, yeah?

On the reals, though, you dorks out there in readerland that want to know what you can do to help us poor scribblers?  Write reviews, tell people if you like something, request it in your library.  But most of all, keep reading.  That's why we do this shit.

Still Writing,

RP
Insert the usual afterword: on Twitter @ RDPullins, my book Antiartists out in May, like my Facebook page blah blah blah... 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A People Zoo

The trouble, I have decided, is memory.  I remember things and people, and I can't seem to let them go. 

I have written something personal, just as a way to organize my thoughts on the subject, to see if I can process events.  I had something that just needed out, understand?  I was thinking of it and thinking of it and it just wanted written, so one night I sat down and wrote it.  And that was good, I had it out, it was safely trapped on paper and that was great.

I am a believer in art for therapy, for changing perspectives, for the organization and processing of events.  When we catch things on paper, it makes them real, and therefore somehow smaller, more manageable.  If we write as hard as we can, as honest as we can, as real and raw as we can though, the problem becomes one of exposure.  In order to reach people in a real visceral way, we have to first expose our own soft bellies, we have to shed our own chitinous exoskeletons, reveal our weaknesses and our failures, we have to open ourselves to attack.  And for someone like me, who has divided himself into in and out, into what I will share and what I keep for myself, this presents a problem.  I want to speak aloud, I want to touch and move people, I want the output, but I don't want the input.  I like my exoskeleton right where it is, thank you very much.

The trouble is, I write for people to read, and somehow just writing isn't enough anymore.  Somehow I need for my words to be read, I need it to be out there in the wind and the weather, out there to be judged, to be liked or hated.  it isn't enough to capture it anymore, I need to display it.

Is there an end to this?  Is there an upper limit to my exhibitionism, or will it eventually be that I invite people into my house, make my safe private life a people zoo, allowing strangers to tour and observe me in my natural habitat, watch as I eat and shit, as I cry, as I fail and lose everything, as everything I have worked so hard for crumbles into dust in my hands?  Am I to expose myself completely, gut myself on the kitchen floor, pull out my bloody heart, lift it in offering, stand pounding on the glass, screaming at the visitors to watch me, look at me, love me?  Can you see?  Now do you get it?  Now can you understand?   

I live a good life now.  I make good safe decisions, I do my very best to not hurt people's feelings when I interact with them, I work hard at being honest and at not harming others either with my words or actions.  I am, honestly, a bit boring.

But it wasn't always this way.  I was a shithead, a selfish asshole, a bully, a walking hammer.  And I think of it, the people I hurt, the things I said, the way relationships ended, the thoughtless and painful things I did.

And maybe one day there will be a reckoning, when I face all of my sins.  Maybe one day I will have to pay.

Maybe I will face judgement, and will be found wanting.

I'm sorry you should know, I really am.  I like to think I'm different but really I'm not.  I try to make good decisions, to be better than I was, but mostly I'm not sure if its an ideal that I am attempting to live up to, if I'm trying to force my square into a round, forcing ten pounds of shit into a five pound bag.

The trouble is memory.  I remember.  I remember.

I'm a wolf, and though I have wrapped myself in the wool, I say baa, baa, and allow myself to be shepherded and fed, I've still got the teeth, the claws, I remember the hunt, the fear, the hot wet metal taste of blood.

I'm still a walking hammer.

My fists are clenched, my teeth grind to dust, my bones are ice and shattered glass.  I smile and say good morning, I hold the door, I drive my children places.  But sometimes I look in the mirror, and all I see are fangs, all I see is a predator, all I see is a smiling killer.

I hate it.

This is the curse of honest self discovery, the realization that the monster is inside, that you haven't been able to find what you have been hunting and hating all this time because it is you.  This is the curse of memory.

Still writing,

RP

A special thanks goes to Amber Geislinger for interviewing me on her channel Southern Belle Humanism.  I had a lot of fun. Check out my dumb face talking, and her other conversations with interesting people (including my writer buddy Lev Butts talking Lovecraft/Cthulhu stuff) on her channel on YouTube. As usual, I am on Twitter @RDPullins; Antiartists, my novel has its own Facebook page, go and like it; check out my publishers website here: pennamepublishing.com; email me if you like at dissent . within at gmail. com.  Cheers.




Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Vacation Photos

So I took a vacation.  Packed up the wife and kids and mother in law in the family truckster and drove everybody to Wally World, represented in this case by Walt Disney World.

It was suitably great, relaxing and tiring and fun and magical.

I expected all that though, the walking and the lines and the rampant consumerism, the heartstopping awesomeness of seeing your kid's faces as they see something with their child's eyes that you could never hope to see with your cynical and jaded adult's.  They still believe in magic; they don't care about tired feet and diminishing savings accounts, they think a pencil with Donald Duck on it is totally worth five dollars, and look hurt and confused when you can't see it too.  It was incredible.

I have never been to Disney before.  It was promised me a couple of times and never seemed to materialize.  I thought that my chance to experience it as a child was lost forever, and it was, in a very real sense, but I never knew that you get to re-experience things through your kids.  It was magic.  Safe, sanitized, focus grouped, and polished magic.

We walked into the Magic Kingdom, and I swear to you, I welled up.  I was overwhelmed and awe stricken with the pure honor and privilege it was to be able to provide this experience for my kids, for us together, a family of four, a mom and a dad and a brother and a brother.

My wife worked so hard to make it happen; she set it up, packed our stuff, saved our money, she worked and put cash in envelopes and remembered to pack our toothbrushes and made snacks for the ride, all of it selflessly and quietly done so it seemed to us like magic, that things were just already done, the rooms booked, the tickets bought, all of it happened to me like a gift, which is what it was, I suppose, her whole life as a giver, making all of our lives easier and events happening smoother.  The woman is a gift herself, a blessing for me and my children.  Magic, I tell you. 

I met Chewbacca, and that is my life complete.

What I didn't expect was to walk away inspired.  You expect the fun and the laughter, the wonder, the sore feet, the impatience.

I don't know what Walt Disney would think of what his park has become, the avarice so readily evident in the gift shops and food courts and aggressive marketing campaigns, the corporate monstrosity that his company has become, I really don't.  What I loved was the old kitschy attractions, where you can hear the servos whining, and the animatronic parts clacking together, the half-creepy robot people in the Carousel of Progress.  It was there that if you looked carefully you could see the vision that the man had for the future, the belief that things were getting better, that technology will solve problems.  It came across as an egalitarian vision, that all of mankind would benefit from the new and wondrous future.

I want to live in that future.

I know there is a lot of propaganda there too; you cannot create and manage a company as large and unwieldy as Disney without being a complete hardass.  I got the same feeling when I toured the Ford plant, this hero worship, this attempt to whitewash the man as a benevolent visionary, rather than a driven and unforgiving taskmaster.  And that's okay too, I suppose.  Both men are long dead, and both have created a lasting legacy for better and sometimes certainly for worse.  It's okay to sanctify them some, make them something that they couldn't possibly have been.  You get a pass some after you die, right?  Even a complete and utter shithead gets a passing "oh he wasn't all THAT bad was he," as he goes into the ground, right?

I don't know.

I did learn some things, whether it was there or whether it came from me. 

One of the themes of Antiartists is that art is not the object, the painting or song or statue or whatever, but the experience you get when you see it, when you hear it.  The art is what you take with you when you leave, what stays with you as you live.   

Here are the lessons I took away:

1.  Commit.  Disney said in an interview that he mortgaged his company, his house, and his own finances to get Snow White made.  There were several times that if things went differently it would have ruined him completely.  Do you trust your product the same way, to go all in, to risk everything that you have built to get it done?

2. Persevere.  He got crushed several times, wiped out completely, but he built it all again, kept moving forward, kept believing.  Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was his first commercial success, and because of some legal loophole, he lost all the rights to it.  Fucked over by the lawyers and robbed by the contract holders, he then went on to draw and animate Mickey Mouse.  If you got screwed like that, would you still create, or would you turn inside, bitter and angry?

3.  Quality Will Out.  Make good stuff first and foremost.  It doesn't matter if you get people in the door, if they want to immediately turn around and leave.  If you build it well, they will come in, and they will stay, and when they leave, they will tell their friends to go, and they will themselves return.  There is no marketing scheme that can overcome trash content.  Even pop garbage music has a good beat that you can dance to.  Make the best product that you can.  period.

4. Work your ass off.  Disney literally worked himself into a "significant breakdown."  He drove himself a bit crazy working, expected his animators and staff to do the same.  The guy was driven.  He kept pushing kept moving forward, kept sacrificing, kept thinking big.  For those of us who work full time and have a family its damn hard to want to sit down and work some more for little to no reward.  Do it anyway.  Drive. Sacrifice. Work hard.  

4.  Don't listen to people that want to tell you that you cant.  Disney spoke about when came home and told his father, a Missouri farmer, that he wanted to be an artist.  He gives a long pause before he says, "... he was... less than receptive." Imagine that conversation.  People love to tell you what you can't do, what isn't practical, what isn't realistic.  Don't listen to them.

6. Dream big.  Listen.  It's all well and good to set modest goals, to manage your expectations, I understand that.  But I want more than that.  I want the breakout, I want the movie people to come knocking on my door, I want to be interviewed by Steven Colbert, to be on the panels, to get paid to speak about my stuff at conferences, I want to win awards and to sell a bazillion copies of my books.  I want all of that.  I dream big, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Look, I don't care about the reality of the man, OK?  I'm not going to do any research and find out that he was an anti-Semite, or ate his boogers, or liked to kick puppies in his spare time.  I am not going to do this because the point of this entire rambling piece here is that is DOESN'T MATTER.  I took my boys to Disney World and they really loved it.  They loved Jedi Training, they loved meeting Mr and Mrs Incredible and Chewbacca and they loved the gift shops and the rides and the shows.  It was magic.  I came away inspired and ready to kick some creative and writing career ass.  I'm probably not brave enough to mortgage the house for it; I will still keep my day job, but I will believe in myself and my ability, I will continue to dream big and to move forward.

Thank you Dedra and Jim Clark. You are generous and kind and just all around lovely.
Really.  More than I can put into words.  Much of our experience, our magic memories, can be directly attributed to you. 
Thank you.

Thank you Sheri.  For working so hard, for being my gift, for putting up with, and encouraging, my dreaming. You are my best friend.

Still Writing,

RP

Thanks to all who read this.  Like my Antiartists page on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @RDPullins, look out for a cover reveal in a week or two.  My publisher, Pen Name Publishing, is comprised of awesome, passionate people.  Go to the website, check ME out, obviously, but also look at our other authors and their projects.  Cool stuff.  Peace.