The Liars Club’s Flaming Pants Night

So . . . I made a meetup. I’ve called the group, “The Liars Club”. The event is called Flaming Pants Night. It is every Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Urban Farmhouse in Richmond’s Scotts Addition. I have two ideas for this night. One is a storytelling and writers meet and greet. I hope people bring works of short fiction that they would like to read and have critiqued.

Pants on Fire NightLet’s talk about vision & purpose for this thing. I’ve met with three different groups of writers in RVA. All three have adopted the current progressive orthodoxy regarding diversity and inclusion. And all three are predictably intolerant of outliers who won’t adhere to their orthodoxy. Also, I haven’t found anyone (yet) whose blog is a mix of commentary and fiction like mine.

Thus . . . The Liars Club’s Flaming Pants Night. I hope I get wonderful lies from the members. Not just little white lies. Big, flaming, pants on fire lies. Her Gropenfuhrer had sex with a porn star? Meh. Cheeto Satan made a gangbang video with 100 women? That’s more like it. With a little luck, this will grow into a live show where performers compete to tell outrageous stories.

Flaming Pants Night and Microaggressions

Politics, religion and such. I am about the story. Polemic speeches to persuade an audience to agree with you, regardless of oratorical skill, are a problem. It’s better if you can tell a story with a point of view. I’ll listen to the story. Chanting the slogan of the day or ranting about Doorknob Trundlefuck‘s latest crime against humanity? Shut up.

Now, this is the sort of thing that can devolve into a mess. Thus, some rules.

  • Narrative only. The other prose forms: persuasion, informative, descriptive, process and comparison contrast are not allowed.  Tell a story. Even better, tell an outrageous story where the character embodies what you admire/hate.
  • No crosstalk. Meaning you can comment on someone’s work and address your comments to the group. What you can’t do is cut the rest of us off by engaging in a back & forth with one person.  Don’t. Stick to talking about the work.
  • Be fearless in choosing work to present and in sharing your opinion about the work presented.
  • Have fun!
  • We are not a meat market. Yah, attractive people and all. Sure. But . . . we are here to encourage each other to write better fiction and tell better stories. Stay focused.

It Happened Last Night

I was at the Urban Farmhouse in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition last night at 6:31 pm. Nobody else showed up. I had two other people say they were going and didn’t go. So, there are now two lies recorded about Flaming Pants Night. One, those that said they would show up can now say they told the first lie in the Liars Club. Two, my own lie that I would stay the whole two hours. I left a little after 7:00 pm.

It’s night two of Flaming Pants Night as I make this edit. A few tables from me is a social worker and his friends gathered to talk about non-fiction writing. I hear bits of their conversation. Most of it is about the process. What’s the plan? How do we feel about the plan? They are deeply in the weeds on the best means of facilitating good non-fiction writing. It makes my head hurt.

The people I like around me are nuts. There is no plan. We operate in this sequence, “FIRE! Oh, uhm, yeah, forgot . . . ready? ok, AIM! Right, sorry, I’ll wait while you load more bullets.” We are the fools that will give up the markers of the normal first world life for a shopping cart if it means we can keep doing our thing. Flaming Pants Night, once it is more than me, isn’t going to waste much time on exactly how we will organize a bunch of malcontented outliers with a story to tell. We’ll tell the tale and then figure it out.

Out of the Mess

How do you become a writer? Start writing. Write at least a page a day every day. Well, ok, for six days. Sabbath is a thing.

The next task is to find readers. The difference between a diary and a book is an audience. A diary is read by a very limited audience. A book is a hope that lots of people will read what is contained within. Sometimes we get lucky and the book makes money. A couple notes, though. First, if your purpose is to gain fame and wealth from creative work and not the work itself? Stop.

You will never put in the effort needed to get good at the work. There will always be a piece of you wondering if this is the thing that will blow up and achieve the wealth and attention you hunger for. Choosing art, regardless of media, is a choice to be miserable. There are decades of work that goes unnoticed. Odds are no one will ever give a shit. Your brilliance will end up collecting dust on the floor of a closet.

Because You Can’t Not Do it

Choose to create, to make, because you can’t imagine doing anything else. Choose to do what you do because not doing it feels like choosing death. It’s gonna cost you everything. But . . . if you are willing to sacrifice for your work, it may pay off in the end. It may not.

Art is born out of the mess. To find the good work you have to allow a little cray-cray. Too much analysis just kills it. The Liars Club is a reflection of its founder and my own comfort with not knowing the plan or the usual method for getting something done. I’m the only one here for the second week. Nothing good ever comes easy. Besides, sitting here nursing a coffee has added 600 words to this piece about my hopes for the Liars Club’s Flaming Pants Night.

For next time and each time after this I am bringing my laptop and intend to spend the two hours at the Urban Farmhouse writing. Though this is the Liars Club so I might be full of shit. There is a chance I’ll buy a bottle of wine to share. You can find out the truth of this by showing up April 6th at 6:30 pm.


The Coming Storm

This originally posted on Halloween 31-Oct-2015.

The stream of news is ceaseless. Picking a bit of it to write about feels overwhelming. A few weeks ago it burst forth in a spew about another mass shooting and the requisite call for more gun control. I still have that post sitting in my queue. It hasn’t posted because I don’t want to just fall into line and be another member of the chorus singing my part in the predictable propaganda either side of the issue. I want something to say that is better than, “no more guns” or “MORE GUNS!“. Two weeks ago I thought that meant research. I’m kind of over that idea. Now I’m in prayer trying to decide what I want to say. If you must know, I’m not a fan of increasing gun control.

tyler_tx_rosegardenThis morning I am writing this from Tyler, Texas, where there are flash flood warnings. We are fine. Our hotel is on a hilltop. The worst of it for us is puddled roads that could cause hydroplaning if we drive too fast. I sort of feel like the weather matches my mood.

Two weeks ago I had an amazing time with my son celebrating his birthday (10/14) and mine (10/9). We shopped a bit. I got myself a charcoal grill, an iron and a microwave. October makes a year at the house I rented. I finally feel safe buying things you would buy for a house. If you follow me you’ll know I’ve been down & out as well as on the rise. The fear that I could be down and out hangs around like a drunken alien. He leaves for a few days then comes back hungover and pukes all over my tub for a while until collapsing on my couch. I’ve not been able to get him to leave and stay gone. So it is an act of courage to do small things like buy a grill and a microwave. I left a tract for all the local AA meetings in the pocket of that alien. Maybe this time he’ll keep going to meetings.

The weather outside is miserable, we can’t drive and let the camera photograph rain, I’m inside, in a warm hotel room writing this. Why complain? Well . . . because without good weather we sit in our hotel rooms biding our time and only being paid a piddly stipend. The big paychecks I’ve been getting wash into the storm drains along with alien puke and my good mood. I start to regret buying my microwave two weeks ago. This big money job ends in six weeks. I have until then to get ready for the looming drop in my income. I survive these storms in my life. I have so far. Each time they come it’s no fun at all. My anxiety skyrockets. I behave badly. My drunken alien starts recovering from his binges in the extra bedroom I use as an office. He messes with my TV remote so all I can watch is blocked Playboy TV and TrueTV. It sucks.

With this weather, with perhaps being idle today and tomorrow, two of the six weeks remaining will be small paychecks more like what I usually earn instead of the inflated windfalls I’ve been getting. Grumble. Instead of having to move from my 5th floor walkup in the bad part of Mt. Olympus in a few weeks I may have to move on Monday. Grumble. The alien tells me being roommates would make things better. Cost sharing and all. Right. Cost sharing with an addict. Think about it. Grumble.

I have a hard time writing stuff like this without trying to end positive. Without landing on some sermonizing. With forgetting that what I like about the blues is that it stays there–in the lamentation. With closing the narrative I’ve started about a drunken alien by saying he’s two weeks clean & sober and there is hope. It’s a rainy day in Tyler, Texas. The wives are arguing with their husbands about getting more sandbags. It’s Saturday and the power is off. The kids are bickering out of boredom. I just got a text message from my friend who is watching my house. There is a trail of alien puke from the back door to the toilet. The alien has left the house. My friend is headed to Walmart for Pinesol. I’m warm, dry, well taken care of and anxious about what tomorrow brings. Another day in my little heaven.