blog

Writing without engagement (or: livejournal was really great, right?)

For the last several years, I’ve engaged in micro-blogging: Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr. All of these create an “active” online presence that doesn’t have to actually create anything new (though many do) — one can instead just like, or reblog, or provide a two-word comment, and be considered alive and well.

The other day I went trawling through my old and now very much defunct livejournal, looking for a particular essay I’d written describing the lead up to the “Sicilian Vespers“. And what with one thing and another, I ended up rereading huge swathes of posts, going back years. It was… strange. I had posts about my daily life; posts about my thoughts and feelings; posts with bad jokes; posts where I excitedly shared something I’d learned, or commented on the happenings of the world, or just trolled my friends at length. It was a very different sort of engagement than I have with my current apps and platforms — instead of sharing what’s clever, or attempting to dip into meme status, I just… wrote what I wanted to write. A diary with an acknowledged open audience.

So I might just go ahead and start writing like that again– because why not? It’ll either be read or it won’t, but I will have written it, and I will be able to read it in the future, and shouldn’t that be enough? The act of writing is an exponential exercise — every word becomes ten more at some near-distant point. And even if it didn’t… there’s value in writing for oneself. Of looking inside and writing what one sees without first transmogrifying it into fiction. Of writing something meant to be experienced separate from the “engagement” of social media.

(And also I want another venue to talk about the Sicilian Vespers without having to count my characters or use shitpost styling to go viral. It’s a wild bit of history. Fuck ~engaging~ my audience.)

fiction

The Invasion

by Katherine Crighton

Originally published on tumblr, April 2, 2015

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It began on a Tuesday. Aliens arrived, in swirling disco-ball orbs that were very shiny, and started laying waste to everything in sight and more than a few things in important bunkers. Munitions were destroyed; surrender was denied; the destruction of the world was both imminent and inevitable.

The cats of the Eastern seaboard decided, in a group vote, that the humans had finally proven themselves useless.

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fiction

The Words Are the Breath

by Katherine Crighton

Originally published on tumblr, March 13, 2015. Written for whitesheepcbd​. Warnings: offensive treatment of developmentally disabled children/adults, referenced child abuse, referenced filicide, blasphemy. I tried to be respectful of the developmentally disabled community and their concerns – any errors of fact or misrepresentations of their experience are entirely my fault and, at any rate, I should not be seen as any sort of source for more information (there are many self-advocating groups/blogs both on tumblr and on the web in general that are much better spokespeople/resources than me — start with the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and go on from there).

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Six.

Sunday school was one of the things that Sam was supposed to pay attention to. His mama walked him to the door every time, which didn’t match what the other parents did; it bothered him. He dragged his feet, trying to get her to stop and go back to her pew, but she thought it was because he didn’t want to go, and just kept moving. It was backward. She was getting it wrong and he couldn’t tell her and she wouldn’t listen anyway.

He stood in the door once she pushed him inside, like he always did, and waited there, watching, until she went back to her pew and the sermon started up again. He checked the church – everybody was matching again. Good. Now he could go into Miss Sarah’s class and sit in circle time for today’s lesson.

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fiction

Honey, I’m the Best Time You’ll Never Have

by Katherine Crighton

Originally published on tumblr, February 10, 2015. Written for schatze-loco-pola. Warnings: Early 20th century American-level offensive and racist language/epithets, violence.

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There was a guy in a suit, big and fancy, a round silver piece on his watch chain that had to be worth at least five dollars all by itself just hanging there like it was nobody’s business, and he was walking along Minnie’s piece of street like there was nothing to worry about on such a fine, fine Manhattan morning. 

Minnie was short, sure, and kept herself to herself, but she had fingers like her old auntie’s tweezers and nobody looked twice at newsboys walking with no papers. She slipped up to the guy and started walking behind him, just a little to the left, waiting for the moment when the crowd would shift and she could shift her hand right into his pocket and across his waistcoat and get that watch for herself.

The crowd shifted, sure, lady and her fella falling behind, businessman with his briefcase cutting right, light and easy, she wasn’t even a spit away, and–

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fiction

Fifty Silver Bells and Nine

by Katherine Crighton

Originally published on tumblr, February 2, 2015. Written for laurlovescookies.

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It was one of the house-party days, the ones when Alex pretended he had a grand salon, a modern-day Algonquin Round Table with himself firmly in the role of Dorothy Parker. Becca had come by, and Sadie, and a few of the old crowd from college and the new crowd from the gallery, before Alex had had to quit. Thom’s role on days like this was, generally, to keep the food coming and provide the occasional set-up lines for Alex’s wit. 

Not so officially, and not so anyone would notice, Thom kept a careful eye on Alex, watching for when he was starting to flag so that guests could be directed gently out while the feeling of triumph was still high, before the exhaustion of the illness crept back in.

The ability to dismiss guests with aplomb was one of Thom’s more minor talents, compared to some of the other things he could do.

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fiction

Après nous le déluge

by Katherine Crighton

Originally published on tumblr, January 26, 2015

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it starts

“I feel like a stupid American,” Ben says, staring up at the glass pyramid in front of the entrance to the Louvre.

“That’s because you are a stupid American,” says Alyssa, or at least that’s what he thinks she says, because she says it in perfect French and while beating some insane level of Candy Crush on her phone, which is completely unfair, she’s not even looking at what even he knows is kind of a big deal in terms of art, okay, Ben is not the philistine here. 

The rest of the Albert Finch Memorial High School language club is scattered around the wide courtyard along with the other tourists, snapping pictures on their phones (except Lucas, with the DSLR), running their hands through the shallow water in the fountain that surrounds the pyramid. The sun is high overhead, though some clouds are in the distance, sweeping closer, and it’s summer-warm. The light, though, is still somehow brighter than the light they had in New Hampshire – which doesn’t make a lot of sense, because it’s the same sun, isn’t it? Then again, Paris smells weird, too, like Boston stink and the perfume Alyssa likes to wear, all at the same time.

Ben looks around, at the too wide, too Rococo buildings, and the sudden breath of modernity the glass pyramid represents. He isn’t really here for France, when it comes down to it. His French is limited to bonjour, merci, and combien? Which, so far, has been good enough.

Ben studies Spanish. He’s saving his phone’s available memory for the Sagrada Família.

“I’m going to get my revenge when we hit Pamplona,” he says mildly. He scratches his fingertips over Alyssa’s screen, messing up her level. She looks up and scowls at him. “I’m going to order squid for you and tell you it’s chicken.”

“They are related languages, Ben, it’s not as if I can’t–” She stops, suddenly, her mostly put-on annoyance dropping from her face as she looks over her shoulder. “Ben,” she says. “What the hell is that?”

He’s been fooled by her before – distraction is a well-worn tactic – so he sidesteps her before he turns to look.

It’s–

The sky is boiling.

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Uncategorized

rallyonward:

The thing about writing is that it can be very easy to fall into the trap of “it has to be perfect when it hits the page.” When that doesn’t happen (because of course it doesn’t), that’s when many people give up.

The more sneaky trap, I think, is the one that appears for those who made it past the first one: “it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to be everything.” Maybe the words aren’t the right ones, that’s what second drafts are for, sure, but you can’t edit what isn’t there, so you better get it all down the first time around. 

So a writer sits there and thinks “I really want to write a story about a duel, but before I can do that I have to write all the lead up to it, and I can’t do the lead up with out making sure I have parts of the B-plot going through it, and I can’t do that before I figure out how I’d reference the theme, and I can’t reference the theme without creating some parallels in some other scenes, and I don’t even know what those scenes are–”

And then nothing happens, and the screen remains blank, because there’s more than one way to try and get everything “perfect” before it even hits the page.

Don’t worry about the theme. Don’t worry about those side scenes. Don’t worry about the references you have to shove into places you haven’t even imagined yet.

Write the duel. Write the next thing you’ve got a clear picture of. Write it out of order, write it from the wrong character POV, write it in a different tense. You can’t edit what isn’t there – and you can’t write when you’re too afraid of getting it wrong.