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Author Archive: "Joe Hill"

The Fill-in-the-Blank, See the Crab, and Say Goodbye Post

February 9th, 2007

I've spent four days running off at the mouth about writing. Maybe it's time to talk about something else. And by talk, I mean, I say things, and you say things too. That's why there's a comments thread below. So here's five non-writing fill-in-the-blank statements. I'll provide my answers. You provide yours.

1. If I could download a new skill straight to my brain, it would be: how to play guitar. You will, by the way, be able to download that skill and others, directly to your gray matter from the iTunes store, for .99 per new ability, by the year 2016. Unfortunately, radical DRM will prevent you from then teaching or sharing your new skills to anyone else. So while you may be able to download the ability to throw the Roger Clemens splitter, if you try and show your kid how to do it, your arm will go haywire, and you'll wind up chucking the ball into your kid's head.

2. If you could scrub any one song out of existence and all human memory it would be: "Tom Sawyer" — Rush. I wouldn't last long at 'Gitmo. All they'd have to ...

The Other Novels

February 8th, 2007

Mike and Dana Jean and Angie, over on my message board, were wondering if Heart-Shaped Box is the first novel I ever completed. No — in the years before Heart-Shaped Box, I wrote a bunch of other novel-length works I was never able to sell. At fourteen, I fell into the habit of slinking off to my bedroom after school to spend a couple hours playing pretend with words, and eventually, as they will, all those words added up. I sort of assumed I would be a published novelist by the time I was 19. In fact, it took me until I was 32 to sell my first book, 20th Century Ghosts.

But what if things were different? What if I had sold one of those early stories that I wrote when I was much younger? Here's a list touching on a few of those early unpublished stories, along with the age I wrote them, a brief plot description, and the imagined critical response to their release...

Midnight Eats (14): Plucky boys at a private academy discover, during a late-night panty raid, that the dean is ...

Ted Bundy Revisited

February 7th, 2007

It's always interesting to me, how long it takes for a story to move from concept to completion to (maybe... hopefully...) publication. In my case, at least, the process is rarely straight-forward. For example, yesterday, just foolin' around, I used my Powell's blog entry to write a new short story, "You Have An Instant Message from Ted Bundy In Hell." But I didn't really start that short story yesterday. I started it four years ago, when I had the idea for the title. And that's about all I had... that, and a vague notion that it would be fun to write about dead people using the Internet for diabolical purposes.

Now yesterday's story isn't bad for what it is — the roughest of rough drafts — but right now what's there is more like raw ingredients than stew. In first draft, it's still hard to tell how the thing might taste when properly prepared. Normally I'd let it sit a couple weeks, wouldn't even look at it until I had a while to work up some new ideas and get some distance from it. But we don't have time for that, so just ...

You Have an Instant Message from Ted Bundy in Hell

February 6th, 2007

So yesterday I got going on about blogging in the life of the modern writer, looking at the pros and cons... the main advantage being the power a blog has to connect writers with their readers, and the main disadvantage being that keeping a blog can distract a writer from getting new fiction written. At its worst, obsessive blogging can be a way to feel productive without actually, you know, being productive. But wait! What if you made writing the blog, and writing the new story... one and the same thing?

Why can't you use a blog as a place to hammer out a new story? After all, I used yesterday's blog entry as a vehicle for assaulting you, the harmless, well-meaning Powell's reader, with my poetry. Why not assault you with a new story, made up on the spot? Now I have a deadline — I have to get this entry to Powell's by ten in the morning of the 6th — so I don't have a lot of time to diddle around. And as a rule, I hate to show first drafts to anyone, but in the name of literary experimentation ...

The First Entry, In Which I Bust Out the Big Poetry Stick On Your Can

February 5th, 2007

Here's the part where I tell you who I am and why I'm here. But first, who I'm not: I am not the songwriting Joe Hill who fought for union rights in the Depression-era west before being executed by firing squad, after a court found him guilty of murder on circumstantial evidence. I have, however, read a good novel about him. I am also not the Joe Hill who wrote a book of poetry called Surviving. My own poetry has never been collected, for two good reasons: (a) there isn't much of it, and (b) what there is, isn't pretty. Let me prove it to you. Here's one I wrote about a year ago:

A Hunter Named Dick

There once was a hunter named Dick
Who squeezed off a shot with his prick.
He just missed the birds
As I'm sure that you've heard
Though the news dropped the story by six.

See what I mean? Good thing I mostly stick with prose, right?

Okay, on to who I am: I'm a writer of short stories, the occasional comic book, the infrequent unproduced screenplay, a new novel called Heart-Shaped Box, and ...

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