Do I have an original thought in my head? My bald head. Maybe if I were happier, my hair wouldn't be falling out.Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I am a walking cliché.I really need to go to the doctor and have my leg checked. There's something wrong. A bump. The dentist called again. I am way overdue. If I stop putting things off, I would be happier. All I do is sit on my fat ass. If my ass wasn't fat I would be happier. I wouldn't have to wear these shirts with the tails out all the time. Like that's fooling anyone. Fat ass.I should start jogging again. Five miles a day. Really do it this time. Maybe rock climbing. I need to turn my life around. What do I need to do? I need to fall in love. I need to have a girlfriend. I need to read more, improve myself. What if I learned Russian or something? Or took up an instrument? I could speak Chinese. I'd be the screenwriter who speaks Chinese and plays the oboe. That would be cool.I should get my hair cut short. Stop trying to fool myself and everyone else into thinking I have a full head of hair. How pathetic is that?Just be real. Confident. Isn't that what women are attracted to? Men don't have to be attractive. But that's not true. Especially these days. Almost as much pressure on men as there is on women these days.Why should I be made to feel I have to apologize for my existence? Maybe it's my brain chemistry. Maybe that's what's wrong with me. Bad chemistry. All my problems and anxiety can be reduced to a chemical imbalance or some kind of misfiring synapses. I need to get help for that.But I'll still be ugly though.Nothing's gonna change that.
Charlie Kaufman
He was almost at his door when Vik’s earsplitting shriek resounded down the corridor. Tom was glad for the excuse to sprint back toward him. Vik?He reached Vik’s doorway as Vik was backing out of it. Tom, he breathed, it’s an abomination.Confused, Tom stepped past him into the bunk. Then he gawked, too.Instead of a standard trainee bunk of two small beds with drawers underneath them and totally bare walls, Vik’s bunk was virtually covered with images of their friend Wyatt Enslow. There were posters all over the wall with Wyatt’s solemn, oval face on them. She wore her customary scowl, her dark eyes tracking their every move through the bunk. There was a giant marble statue of a sad-looking Vik with a boot on top of its head. The Vik statue clutched two very, very tiny hands together in a gesture of supplication, its eyes trained upward on the unseen stomper, an inscription at its base, WHY, OH WHY, DID I CROSS WYATT ENSLOW?Tom began to laugh.She didn’t do it to the bunk, Vik insisted. She must’ve done something to our processors.That much was obvious. If Wyatt was good at anything, it was pulling off tricks with the neural processors, which could pretty much be manipulated to show them anything. This was some sort of illusion she was making them see and Tom heartily approved.He stepped closer to the walls to admire some of the photos pinned there, freeze-frames of some of Vik’s more embarrassing moments at the Spire: that time Vik got a computer virus that convinced him he was a sheep and he’d crawled around on his hands and knees chewing on plants in the arboretum. Another was Vik gaping in dismay as Wyatt won the war games.My hands do not look like that. Vik jabbed a finger at the statue and its abnormally tiny hands. Wyatt had relentlessly mocked Vik for having small, delicate hands ever since Tom had informed her it was the proper way to counter one of Vik’s nicknames for her, Man Hands. Vik had mostly abandoned that nickname for Evil Wench and Tom suspected it was due to the delicate-hands gibe.Just then, Vik’s new roommate bustled into the bunk.He was a tall, slim guy with curly black hair and a pointy look to his face. Tom had seen him around and he called up his profile from memory:NAME: Giuseppe NicholsRANK: USIF, Grade IV Middle, Alexander DivisionORIGIN: New York, NYACHIEVEMENTS: Runner-up, Van Cliburn International Piano CompetitionIP: 2053:db7:lj71::291:ll3:6e8SECURITY STATUS: Top Secret LANDLOCK-4Giuseppe must’ve been able to see the bunk template, too, because he stuttered to a stop, staring up at the statue. Did you really program a giant statue of yourself into your bunk template? That’s so narcissistic.Tom smothered his laughter. Wow. He already has your number, man.Vik shot him a look of death as Tom backed out of the bunk.
S.J. Kincaid
Here's the thing about Hazel: Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That's what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease.I want to leave a mark.But Van Houten: The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, They'll remember me now, but (a) they don't remember you and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion....We are like a bunch of dogs squirting on fire hydrants. We poison the groundwater with our toxic piss, marking everything MINE in a ridiculous attempt to survive our deaths. I can't stop pissing on fire hydrants. I know it's silly and useless--epically useless in my current state--but I am an animal like any other.Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We're as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it and we're not likely to do either.People will say it's sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it's not sad, Van Houten. It's triumphant. It's heroic. Isn't that the real heroism? Like the doctors say: First, do no harm.The real heroes anyway aren't the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn't actually invent anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn't get smallpox....But then I wanted more time so we could fall in love. I got my wish, I suppose. I left my scar....What else? She is so beautiful. You don't get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.
John Green
I don't judge a scene or a line of dialog by whether or not it advances the plot, for example. Imagine an edit of Tarantino's Pulp Fiction wherein only dialog that advances the plot was allowed to remain. I don't obsess over the balance of conflict and interaction. I don't generally fret over the possibility that something I do may cause some reader to experience a disconnect (what an odious metaphor). I don't think in dramatic arcs. I don't spend a lot of time wondering if the plot is getting lost in description and conversation. To me, this all seems like a wealth of tedious confusion being introduced into an act that ought to be instinctive, natural, intuitive. I want to say, stop thinking about all that stuff and just write the story you have to tell. Let the story show you how it needs you to write it. I don't try to imagine how the reader will react to X or if maybe A, B and C should have happened by page R. It's not that I don't want the story to be read. I desire readers as much as anyone. But I desire readers who want to read what I am writing, not readers who approach fiction with so many expectations that they're constantly second-guessing and critiquing the author's every move, book in one hand, some workshop checklist in the other and a stopwatch on the desk before them. If writing or reading like this seems to work for you, fine. I mean, I've always said that when you find something that works, stick with it. But, for me, it seems as though such an anal approach to creating any art would bleed from it any spark of enjoyment on the part of the artist (not to mention the audience). It also feels like an attempt to side-step the nasty issue of talent, as if we can all write equally well if we only follow the rules, because, you know, good writing is really 99% craft, not inexplicable, inconvenient, unquantifiable talent.
Caitlín R. Kiernan
On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut and there was only one boat. But the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Some of those who were saved and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little life-saving station grew. Some of the members of the life-saving were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members and they decorated it as sort of a club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The life-saving motif still prevailed in this club`s decoration and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held.About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick and some had black skin and some had yellow skin. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before coming inside. At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club`s life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon life-saving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. So they did just that. As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club and yet another `spin-off` life saving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself and if you visit the sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.
Ross Paterson