Random NVDT – Writerly Concerns #7

Personal Accountability and THG III


Chungwipff makes a good point about using WordPress for personal accountability in the comments of Adieu For Now.  A point I had mislaid somewhere in the Social Media wasteland. Create something. Put it up. Own it. Do it again. Forget what anyone else is doing, or not doing, or how what you do is received. Give it your best shot, be accountable to yourself. Get out of your own way, write your story. Your way. My Mantra had gone walkabout. Thank you, Chungwipff.

I bailed on my personal accountability based on what I perceived as a landscape largely without a threshold knob for the noise floor. No gate/expander, wide open. Foolishness, vagaries, rampant narcissism. Which are none of my damn business. I control the threshold of my personal noise gate. I hereby revoke my tantrum and resultant self-exile. I do not revoke my opinion(s) on the root cause. This started as a methodology for personal creative accountability, and so it continues. Nothing else matters.

I have been guilty of accusing others of things I once tried. Looking for the equation, the silver bullet that would make me a “writer.” I once took a Tony Hillerman novel apart. Because they read like glass and drop you right into the environment without travelogue. How much scene vs. dialogue vs. narration vs. internal dialogue. Seriously. I bark at people now because it was a waste of time. Timing of events for formula writing is important. The rest is all storytelling. I was fortunate enough that my father was friends with Tony’s father. He was older than my dad. My dad, like me, hung around places he wanted to be with his hobby. I turned my hanging into a career. My dad made side money. As a photographer and short story writer. Saturdays we’d go downtown and hang out at Hillerman’s Photography. When he had a large job, like team pictures, my dad would borrow the Hillerman drum dryer for his prints. Tony the author, a man who taught English in missionary schools for Native Americans and in Mexico, said there was no secret. He sat down in a room with his characters and an idea for a story, and off they went. He committed little hash to the page, and then he came back with wax on – wax off. He wrote a story, did the work. No magic. Except, I think, for listening to his own stories.

There is no Silver Bullet. There are formulas. For arcs, for story driving events. But there is no substitute for a well drawn yarn. What sets the really good like Hillerman and Vonnegut and Steinbeck and Hiassen and King, David Foster Wallace, and true genius like Virginia Wolff apart is their stories. And their style. Perhaps there are only X number of conflicts and plots. But stories? Stories are everything, and they deserve our best shot. Stories and their telling deserve our respect because they are a gift. Not everyone has the mindset to escape, to dream, to see the mirage that is an untold story. Respect your stories. Your loss if you don’t. All I’m sayin’.


Starting in a day or two, I will begin publishing The Hot Girl III – Cambridge. It is draft mode. I cranked it out and it has languished on my hard drive for three years. Once upon a time there was an editor who knew an editor who thought it was a good idea. Both of them are dead. Must have been a killer idea.

Unless you beta read The Hot Girl, you don’t know these people, and this is the only synopsis/player scorecard you’ll see –

The Hot Girl is a social commentary fairy tale. Feminism, gender role confusion and rock n roll from the late Seventies through the mid-Eigthies. A bit like the taming of the shrew, who doesn’t need taming along with self-discovery, the perception of abuse, coming of age, true love and destiny all wrapped in fairy tale.

For starters, two star crossed kids, like any good fairy tale. Angry ex cheerleader (Deanna) looking for a cause and Rock n Roll Prince Charming (Jackson), looking for a Princess. Deanna hears someone describe Jackson’s mother, before she knows the woman is his mother, as “An elegant hell in high heels.” And sets out to discover feminism, because elegant hell in high heels sounds like the best gig since head cheerleader turned out to be a bust. But she’s at a superficial level. Until Jackson introduces her to a pair of rich, over educated lesbian feminist fairy godmothers, Amanda and Alix Morisé, who can be found here. The Morisé’s own a huge real estate development company inherited from Amanda’s father. They run their empire from the 17th floor of an office building in middle America. 1700 Oilman’s Bank Tower. And more than anything, they want women’s issues front and center, and they need a cheerleader. No one better qualified than an a very attractive, angry high school ex-cheerleader and overachiever with man issues, a sterling academic record and a temper. How Amanda meets Jackson in The Hot Girl I is an exercise in feminism kicking sexism’s ass, and listening to a woman. Deanna wants to know a real feminist, and Jackson, reluctantly, introduces them.

Think of a classic like Captain Blood. I wanted to write that, in different context, only I always wanted to know what the girl was up to while Errol Flynn was off pirating. I asked some women and they told me they didn’t know, but they’d be damned if she sat in her room reading poetry, sniffing roses and pining away while the non Pirate Prince Charmings of the world plied her with party invitations and gifts and scams and offers of wedding rings.

Some of THG is already up here, as short story. Here they will be presented in context. If you meet someone you don’t know, don’t worry, they won’t bite. Just climb in and take the ride.

THG III begins several years into Jackson and Deanna’s relationship and who she has become with his help. She is tired, again, of being told what to do. Tired of her mistakes in personal judgement dulling the sheen of her brilliant performances on the academic debate circuit where she takes feminism and throws it straight into the face of patriarchal strongholds and comes out with medals for both skill and humanitarianism. I will drop us all into what I call the “between narrative.” Between the bliss of young love and the glow of success, her mentor’s frustrations, and her need to run. Stay tuned.

Personal Accountability – Defined

I read an interview with Jeff Beck. He was asked why it takes a while between records.

“I’m the sort of bloke that’s like a ton of bricks, you know? I won’t be moved until I hear something that really sends me up in the air, then I’ll be around pestering everybody, playing for them. I can’t see the point in putting out an album, kidding yourself that it’s great, if you don’t believe it. You’ve got to believe in what you’re doing—and then you can take all the crummy reports that are going to come, and you can say, ‘Well, sod you, I like it.’ And that’s the main thing.”

Published by

Phil Huston


9 thoughts on “Random NVDT – Writerly Concerns #7”

    1. Thank you. Geez, I had to go in and edit my rambling! Out of practice. I love Jeff Beck. It’s a platonic bromance, but the guy makes all old guys look good. Even if that probably isn’t his hair.


  1. You gotta watch who you give your killer ideas to. The kid with the knife at the plug is probably OK, that knife has a bone (or fake bone plastic) handle. Probably trip the breaker and earn him a smack on the back of the head.


  2. Part of my struggle is finding that sweet spot between what the big publishers are looking for in terms of style choices and what my voice actually is. In a perfect world, I would only worry about the latter, but alas…


    1. Here’s a news flash. The big publishers are clueless. And a gimmick is even better.


      Most of them are vain and confused and waiting for you to make them some money in a game that is gasping, but has manged to outlast the music industry. You find an editor who believes in you, or someone who will help you lick stamps and send out your work, your way. Or apply for a job furthering the Nancy Drew franchise with #412. Chasing tails will never put your story on anyone’s desk. If it’s already selling, somebody else has done it. I wish I could write flash novels as well as Barbara Park, but were I to succeed, so what? A friend tells me he knows a guy who can play guitar just like Eric Clapton. Great. So? Been done already. Tell your stories, find your voice. Once you discover all your favorite modern music was made by session musicians and your favorite modern books were half written by research assistants and staff you will say, “Oh my. Time to find ME.” Because you and YOUR stories are what’s important. Ad and propagand people write to a specific rhetorical audience. Storytellers tell stories.


  3. THG III released in pieces or you gonna offer an epub or mobi?

    The pressure is slowly easing in my head. And with its soft sigh the notions of story parts are returning.

    I’ve gone through a recent spate of eLibrary downloads and returns. Pull down books that are supposed to be hot and find out they’re not: full of poor phrasing, bad cadence, cliches and humdrum voice. Next. More and more I’m drawn to the literary side, dark and complex. If there’s no adroit effort evident in the sentences, then I’m dissatisfied. Next. Brad Thor was on CSPAN books and he presented a great facade. I pulled down one book and found three cliches in the first 500 words. Next.

    These notions are building. I could use a good 30-60 day run writing rampant, riotous and raging narrative — mixed with a bit of reflective, resourceful and relaxing scenes to loosen the belt and let myself breathe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Writing for the hell of it is the best f*cking thing you can do for yourself. Stuff you know you probably don;t need, or will use that might be your next big thing.
      Man, I could dump it from Scrivener into anything you want, but it’s dialogue and scene driven and I have no idea what would be a keeper or a throwaway. That’s why it’s going up. So I can say “Oh, I like that”, or “Oh, that’s shit. Right now it’s so broad and a result of exactly what you mentioned. I put a character in Cambridge and Hollywood and said “go. show me how you get your asses back into the women’s world movement.” And they did. It took forever and they introduced me to some crazy people along the way. Even now I see a scene in my head and think, “I need that” and realize “no I don’t or this will be “The Stand x 3″ of coming of age.” My real problem? Dropping an audience (that might not care) in the middle and setting that up. Bu then 1 and 2 will be done soon and they buy that, right? What, a buck a pop?

      Liked by 1 person

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