Thanksgiving Ham

Been a pretty good fucking month, this November, at least in terms of my writing. It’d be nice to say I finally got that elusive book deal but I wouldn’t want to lie.  It’s starting to look like that ain’t in the cards, at least for this current hand I’m holding. Which is a goddamn shame, since one of those books is pretty fucking brilliant (while the other is just pretty fucking good).  I haven’t been awarded a fellowship, nor have I won any major awards.  And, again, those things might not be in my bag. It’s not sour grapes, ’cause believe you fucking me, I’d take ‘em if they came my way, mixed fruit packaging and poker metaphors notwithstanding.  All I’ve ever truly asked of this life is to create art while earning enough money not to starve, and I’d say I’ve done pretty well in that capacity, even if getting there came via a skewed, unconnected and crooked path.  The Lord, it seems, does work in mysterious ways.

(If you Google that phrase, there are actually a lot funnier pictures.  Very wrong, funny pictures.)
I want an outlet for my work; I don’t care about the money.  Which is good, ’cause I ain’t making squat at this.  So to that end, November has been a very good month, indeed.
http://www.shotgunhoney.net/ and http://thrillskillsnchills.blogspot.com/ are also publishing some stories in a day or two, and KVMR, a Sacramento radio station, is turning one of my shorts into a drama (acted out with with music!).  And yesterday, I received a lovely acceptance letter from the folks over at A Twist of Noir, lavishing praise on a piece I just finished called “A Matter of Trust,” which is one of those pieces that, as a writer, you develop an affinity for because it did not come easily; I’d been writing that particular piece for well over a year.  You can find that story here: http://a-twist-of-noir.blogspot.com/2011/11/interlude-stories-joe-clifford.html.  
Now, countless hours have been logged completing these works, and while I am utterly grateful to these places for recognizing that effort and providing the avenue for me to showcase them, you still find yourself asking, is it really worth it?  I mean, the time it takes for me to write an average short story, actual sitting down and writing the damn thing, probably falls somewhere between 15 and 30 hours, not to mention ones like “Trust,” which take a lot longer, and it’s not like the world is exactly clamoring for my latest witty burst of the short form.  If novels are a dead art, what the fuck are short stories?
Another old gem from the Onion.

Novelists Strike Fails To Affect Nation Whatsoever

MARCH 15, 2008 | ISSUE 44•11
LOS ANGELES—The Novelists Guild of America strike, now entering its fourth month, has had no impact on the nation at all, sources reported Tuesday.
The strike, which scholars say could be the longest since 1951, when American novelists may or may not have voluntarily committed to a six-month work stoppage, has brought an immediate halt to all new novels, novellas, and novelettes from coast to coast, affecting no one.

Enlarge ImageBookstores across the country saw no measurable change in anything.

Nor has America’s economy seen any adverse effects whatsoever, as consumers easily adjust to the sudden cessation of any bold new sprawling works of fiction or taut psychological character studies.
“There’s a novelists strike?” Ames, IA consumer Carl Hailes said. “That’s terrible. When is it scheduled to begin?”
The strike kicked off last fall when the NGA announced it had hit a roadblock in negotiations with the Alliance of Printed Fiction and Literature Producers, failing to resolve certain key issues concerning online distribution, digital media rights, and readers just not getting what writers were trying to do with a number of important allegorical devices.
After a press conference at the Massachusetts home of NGA president John Updike—who called the strike an attempt by novelists “to give both the sublime and mundane alike their beautiful due”—members of the guild began picketing their studies, desks, and libraries and refusing to work on any further novels until the APFLP and the American reading public agreed to their demands.

Enlarge ImageNovelist T.R. Walsh was forced to put a manuscript on hold he has been writing for more than 15 years.

So far, sources say, no one has attempted to cross the picket lines, most of which are located in private homes. However, unconfirmed reports indicate that at least one novelist may be breaking the strike by writing under the pseudonym “Richard Bachman.”
“We must, as a people, achieve a resolution to this strike soon,” novelist David Foster Wallace said at a rally Monday at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, where he is a professor. “The thought of this country being deprived of its only source of book-length fiction is enough to give one the howling fantods.”
“I thank you both for coming,” he added.
While the strike has been joined by an estimated 250,000 novelists—225,000 of whom have reportedly stopped in the middle of their first novel—it has done no damage to any measurable sector of the economy, including bookstore chains, newspapers, magazines, all major media, overseas markets, independent film studios, major film studios, actors, editors, animators, carpenters, those in finance or banking, the day-to-day lives of average Americans, or anything else anyone can think of as of press time.
A report published last week by the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication found that the strike has thus far had an economic impact of approximately 0.00 to 0.01 percent. In addition, consumer habits remain unaffected, with 0 percent of those polled saying their reading habits had changed “significantly,” 0 percent saying they had changed “somewhat,” and an additional 0 saying they had changed “slightly.” A significant number of respondents reported no reading habits.
Although some initially worried that the strike could affect Hollywood by limiting material for television or film adaptation, fears were quelled when studio executives announced in January that they would continue optioning comic books and graphic novels.
The publishing industry itself, which many believed to be most vulnerable, has nonetheless managed to weather the crisis. Publishers have reissued new editions of early, pre-union novelists—such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Jane Austen, both of whom have previously established successful track records—and have seen no no change in monthly sales.
Some members of the public attempted to express concern over the prospect of the strike going on much longer.
“If this situation is not brought to a halt soon, it could have serious ramifications for, you know, literary culture, I guess,” said Kyle Farmer, a Phoenix-area real estate consultant and avid golfer. “It would be tragic if we had to go a whole year without a new novel from Kurt Vonnegut or Norman Mailer,” he added, unaware that both authors died in 2007.
No high-profile, red-carpet, star-studded telecasts of the PEN/Faulkner Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Awards, or the Man Booker Prize Awards were affected by the strike, since no such telecasts have ever existed. 

Which is why professors have always told me that if you are looking to writing to answer some deeper existential questions, or hoping it’s going to provide love and acceptance from the masses, critical acclaim or fame, you’re in the wrong line of work.  You’ve got to love writing for writing’s sake.  I did.  And then I didn’t.

Grad school kicked the shit out of me.  During my three years in Miami, I got divorced, almost died in a motorcycle accident, and worst of all had to live in Miami, the armpit sweat stain of America.

It was also when I was introduced to this ass clown, and from whom, thankfully, I never expect to hear again.

Grad school was a strange, though necessary, experience.  I learned the particulars of a craft, even if it’s not exactly in high demand, which came at a high cost.  And I am not talking about the divorce or almost dying part.  To learn any skill thoroughly, you need to take it apart, dissect and inspect it, put it back together. Which takes the magic out of it.  There used to be something magical about words, a power to penetrate (insert teenage boy joke here), and I lost that for a while.  Even when it came back, somewhat, it was hardly the same.

I began to hate writing and had kinda given up.  Then I started writing this blog and it made me remember the parts of it I used to enjoy.  And you started reading it.  So thanks.

*
To show our appreciation, Candy & Cigarettes would like to give away a Thanksgiving Ham*.  Sign up to follow Candy & Cigarettes (over there on the right side, where it says “Follow”), and one lucky reader will receive a 10-oz. ham for Thanksgiving.  It will be pink, plump, and succulent!  
Just our way of saying thanks!
* Terms & Conditions apply.  1.) Might not be for this Thanksgiving 2.) Might not be a real ham 3.) Must live in my neighborhood to be eligible 4.) People named “Chad” will not be considered.

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