Last week I posted my story “Empty Houses” on this blog. Doing so reminded my good friend Spam about when I first wrote and workshopped the piece in the IRC channel I’ve been hanging out in for almost a decade now, so she jumped back into the logs of yesteryear (approx. 2008) and excavated the following snippets of conversation.
I reproduce them here because 1) they’re hilarious, and 2) they emphasize the work and good humor that goes into revising and making writing better.
It is perhaps self-evident — but I will put this out here now for clarity — that my alias in these exchanges is “Hoot.” Thanks to all my other strangely named friends for their help and support throughout the years.
<sushi> Man, Hoot
<sushi> That first “when” is unnecessary
<sushi> uglies up an otherwise decent sentence
<gte> What you shave a bit and now you’re Ernest Hemingway
<Hoot> yeah what
<Hoot> with the distance between them when factoring
<Hoot> in the driveways being something like a quarter of a mile
<Hoot> also removing the when from that makes the sentence not make sense?
<Hoot> unless you mean something else
<Foiba> and i would’ve thrown in an “either” after ‘verdant fingers”
<sushi> Replace it with a comma
<Foiba> but now i’m ernest hemingway
<sushi> “He held cradled a shotgun in both hands.” is really awkward… how about “He held a shotgun cradled in his arms.” or “He cradled a shotgun in his arms.”?
<gte> “He cradled a shotgun”
<gte> “like a long, hard, thin baby”
<Hoot> gte that is gross sounding
<gte> when I write it is pretty much stomach-turning
<gte> for many different reasons
<gte> so I don’t do it often
<sushi> gte’s is better
<Hoot> yeah I am going to use it
<Hoot> in an edited fashion
<gte> for the love of god don’t use similes
<sushi> It’s like a psychological insight into the dude’s character
<sushi> Like the gun is a coping mechanism
<Hoot> actually it’s not, he wouldn’t like babies
<Hoot> that’s why I’m trying to come up with something that better suits him
<gte> “He cradled a shotgun like a long, hard, thin baby, which is to say he was shaking it violently and cussing between the blows he incessantly rained down upon it”
<Foiba> see, that can be your trademark, Hoot
<Foiba> shakin’ babies
<Foiba> via firearms
<sushi> “He cradled the shotgun like a fine Cuban cigar, waving it under his nose to savour its aroma.”
<Hoot> [Writer Trademark]: Strangely Hilarious Child Abuse
<Foiba> “I can’t tell if he hates babies or hates guns.”
<Foiba> “I think it’s safe to say he hates both equally. Maybe babies more.”
<sushi> He hates their necessity, Louie
<Hoot> that will be the main feature of literary criticism of my work
<Foiba> “I need another kid like my old one needs a hole in his head.” “… What?” “With this gun.”
<Hoot> “The GUNS AND BABIES CONUNDRUM has stumped scholars for generations.”
<tarosic> hahaha you have to convince them that you hate guns more but that it just gets transferred to your hatred for babies when people read it
<Foiba> “What I’m saying is that I want to kill the baby I hate with the gun I also hate. But I don’t know which one I hate more?”
<Foiba> END OF CHAPTER
<tarosic> and then Hoot was full of hate
<tarosic> and a baby
<tarosic> or a gun
<tarosic> or a baby with a gun?
<tarosic> a storyworld built on armies of 9 month olds crawling through trenches engaged in full scale warfare, but written about very derisively
<Foiba> “I kept her from the doctors, for they couldn’t possible have understood this problem more than I have. A Cyclopean, eldritch babe, born with a shotgun for a left hand.”
<Foiba> “As soon as he was born, he commandeered my dirt bike and did a badass jump over the creek.”
<tarosic> “God how i saw him mewling in the night and dreamed of crushing his head with a rock
<sushi> “The pink and wrigglies crawled through the trenches. They didn’t need a reason to crawl. Anymore than they needed a reason to shoot their guns.”
<tarosic> “At least skullcrushing through bludgeoning made some sort of visceral sense… not like shooting someone with a gun”
<Foiba> “Before he jumped the creek, he used the dirt bike to do badass burnouts to spell the solitary word ‘CYCLOPEAN'”
<gte> The lonely voice of a golden retriever echoes in the distance
<Foiba> “And then a tinyurl that ultimately lead to a You Tube of a Mr. Rick Astley.”
<sushi> Subtle literary references like that make book scholars jizz
<Hoot> noooooooo golden retriever
<tarosic> hahaha the baby armies used golden retrievers as their cavalry
<Hoot> well, I now have my ftp with the campus network functioning
<Hoot> just in case we ever want to do another Tell Hoot He Uses Too Many Goddamn Commas Evening!
<sushi> Too damn many, Hoot
<Foiba> i’ll fix your commas, hoot
<tarosic> Seriously, Hoot, I cannot, nay, will not stress this enough, your comma usage, it, it, it just exceeds sane limits.
<Foiba> (with badass dirtbike jumps)
<Hoot> Replace all extraneous commas with dirtbike jumps.
<sushi> Yeah, you put the “punch” in “punchtuation”
<Foiba> “I don’t know exactly what the hell is happening in this narrative, but it’s pretty fucking awesome.”
<Mechant> pretty, fucking, awesome
<Mechant> p,r,e,t,t,y,, ,f,u,c,k,i,n,g,, ,a,w,e,s,o,m,e,
<Hoot> At the beginning of the third week the strange people came and the dirtbike squalled like a demon as it shot off the ramp and into the air a rushing and like some sort comet the bike twirled in the sky before smashing down to earth in a blazing trail of glory unsmiling throng that poured through the valley and down the hill toward the town.
<Foiba> “We never thought it was possible,” the townspeople said as the dirtbike did this badass flip over the haunted creek
<Foiba> “That the townspeople could rise from the grave,” and do badass jumps over their forgotten graveyard, “and wreak vengeance upon the living.”
<Hoot> man my own ending pisses me off
<Hoot> (just finished my reread)
<Hoot> oh damn better get to bed
<Hoot> sushi if you are still here, later I WANT A FULL REPORT (over how many commas I don’t need)
<sushi> I like the use of “walkers”
<sushi> If you want I could print this off and do a full edit for you tomorrow at work
<Hoot> haha, I will have you and Louie slaving away for me
<sushi> Could you send me the .doc?
<Foiba> you can compare mine and sushi’s edits and choose the best
<sushi> steel cage match of the edits
<Hoot> sushi what is ur emailz
<Foiba> i can’t guarantee that your new ending won’t have a dude blasting “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” while doing a badass dirtbike jump
<Foiba> just sayin’
<Hoot> that is all right
<Hoot> we have to make great sacrifices for art