Fiction is a Fiction. (or: Fiction is History)

photo credit: Huffington Post


Let’s begin with a limerick, because they’re fun:

There once was a young man from Austin

who wrote stories one could get lost in.

But the actual cost:

‘Twas the plot that got lost

And his readers just wound up exhausted!

I have decided that, at least for now, I’m going to give up on writing fiction. There are a few reasons for this, but the most notable one is that I am really not good at it. This is not to say that I couldn’t be good, if I were to continue practicing, which I might do in my spare time, but I don’t think there will be much posting of fiction, at least on this blog. (Readers rejoice.)

My writing gifts (modest as they are) lie much more in the realms of non-fiction (read: short opinionated essays that require no research) and poetry, so I think for the most part I want to concentrate on these.

Fiction still appeals very strongly to me, but I have to confess a great deal of this appeal comes from the possibility of selling a work of fiction and reaping either financial rewards or notoriety. Neither of these should be goals of mine, at least not if I am writing purely for the sake of writing. If they end up being ancillary advantages, I wouldn’t turn them down, but if they are an objective, if they are an intent, then my work will be tainted, even if it ends up being well-respected. I have talked before about my feelings regarding bandwagon fiction, and though I am hardly alone or revolutionary in this outlook, I nevertheless feel that the perversion of writing (or the co-opting of it, perhaps) simply for the sake of financial gain leads to phenomena like this, and shortly thereafter what would previously have been called “romance” novels completely overwhelm the “Fiction and Literature” section at the bookstore.

I don’t want any part of this, and I do not wish to be a writer who succumbs to any emotionally dishonest trend. But let’s be realistic: I was light-years away from this objective anyway. The first step in making marketable fiction is to write something that interests people, and I haven’t done that yet, at least not in my fiction. But regardless, I want to at least nip in the bud the proclivity for sacrificing art, sacrificing the potential to make something truly meaningful, on the altar of success.

And just as a disclaimer, do not think I am of the opinion that all writers who have achieved a level of financial success or critical acclaim are doing something wrong. I am reminded of this verse, though it is perhaps only loosely applicable:

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’”  – Matthew 19:23-24

I think the same is perhaps true of people who are truly following a calling. Perhaps it is not impossible to remain artistically uncompromised following success, but it sure is freaking difficult. That’s why I don’t even want to start down that path at all. Instead, if you want to find me, I’ll be in the (pitifully meager) poetry aisle.


For my wife, on our Anniversary



It took me longer than I had hoped to complete this. I am a day late. May she forgive me.


On Shopping for a Card


There are few options. All born,

whether by mirthful laugh fanfared or by

agony thrust into the gaping bright new empty:

all have a day, all without exception.

Cards to mark these occasions abound like

cans on grocer’s shelves –

but those congratulating

a spouse for the anniversary of our union

are so few, sparsely littered about the stacks like

plastic bags on the side of the road. They are

battered, jumbled up, envelopes don’t

match the cards. The messages are

banal, benign, flat and yellowed as the

paper on which they are printed.


But one stands out. Simple, elegant,

refined, stated with candor and

wisdom, without cheek, without

frivolity. The script curves gently like

a slow river, graceful, serene. The colors are

subdued but warm, as faintly burning embers,

or April sun rising over newly tilled earth. It simply states,

“Love is not in the falling, it is

in the staying.” I buy it, and just

sign it. It needs no addition to its words. (You

know well how mostly I like to

amend what is already perfect.)


Somewhere I know there must be one whose

writer, blinded, dumbed, stumped by his wife’s

glory and beauty, can only say,

“I hope it has been as good for you

as it has been for me.” Until I find it,

this one will have to do.

I hope you like it.


yesterday is dead and laid in the ground and today is soon to follow


i give thanks for these breaths

i draw in to fill lungs

inside respiration becomes


and breaths on the way out

(take with them only filth)

spew out sandpaper flowers, acid puppies


i give thanks for these feet

perambulating daily

along the path one or both make

a turn

lead me to darkened alleys

(take with them my body)

i ride rusted boats a-sail in rusted seas


i give thanks for these hands

which write with delicate caress

open fingers take shelter become


pound down on coffee tables

(take anything they can grasp)

and forcefully guide anarchic orchestras


i give thanks for this mind

it dreams up lofty tales

and plots character deaths but not


dwell on dank and dirt and

(take everything as nails)

churn out lugubrious wisdom and termite trees


i give thanks for a Redeemer

takes from me all these gifts

which i have burned and scorched

gives them back polished

useable, corruptible again

this time will be different

(wish it were true)


I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?  – Jeremiah  2 : 21


Author’s note: This is a terrible poem, frankly, but i post it anyway because it is appropriate. i have the anti-Midas touch. We all, as humans, do, when everything we touch turns to dust. i have no problem posting a very poorly written poem because i am not attempting to showcase my skills here but rather showcase my brokenness. Generally speaking, that is more effective in reaching hearts anyway. Love to all.