Less Than Pulp, Issue 37
On Writing Less but Writing Better, Pictures of Storm Damage, Saint Sadist, and Skinamarink
Note: I’m so sorry this week’s issue is late and on the short side. I came down with a nasty virus on Sunday and am still recovering. I initially thought it might be food poisoning, but Jean came down with it too. Thankfully, her bout seems less severe. Some of this newsletter was written on Saturday. I completed the rest on Tuesday night.
Over the last 14 months, I’ve written a lot less than I’d grown used to. From 2018-2021, it was like some dam within me burst and there was this flood of words. Were all of them great? Perhaps not. But all of them felt great. Throughout 2022, almost starting on January 1st, my productivity slowed dramatically. Some of that can be traced to specific things—bad publishing deals, Covid fatigue, day job bullshit—but the true cause felt a lot less tangible. I spent a lot of time letting it get me down, but I’ve noticed something recently: though I am not writing as much as I was, I’m producing better work. More than once, I’ve gotten frustrated that a writing session only resulted in 500 words, but then, on going back to read those words, I found them imbued with confidence, complete with fully realized characters and situations. You know—all the stuff writing is supposed to have!
I work at a much more leisurely pace, but I do finish things and the completed works feel a lot more, well, complete. I don't know what all this means. Perhaps I've simply hit my stride.
People have asked me for pictures of all the downed branches in my neighborhood from the ice storm the other week. This is not nearly all of them. Something like 400 trees were affected. While we got our power back after five days, some of our neighbors weren't so lucky, and it took almost two weeks for some people to have electricity. These extreme winter storms seem to have become an annual occurrence here in Central Texas, but this was the worst yet due to all the fallen branches.
I sincerely hope everyone is safe, sane, and warm.
On Friday, as piles of branches still adorn our neighborhood, our youngest turned two! I can’t believe it. She’s got a ton of personality already, very kind but definitely knows what she wants. Jean shared a photo of the day we took her home and she met her big brother. It’s definitely in the top three best days of my life, the other two being the birth of my son and the day I married Jean. You’d think getting published or something else writing-related would be on there, but nope! I love this writing stuff, but family takes the top three spots.
I always go back and forth on whether or not to share family photos on the socials. Even grinding it out in the indie press, I am still technically a public figure, so I do get nervous about oversharing. On Facebook, I am a little more liberal about it, though. Not sure why.
Speaking of Facebook, Christina Pfeiffer is hosting another buddy read of a book of mine on that platform. This time up, it’s 2019’s controversial release Saint Sadist. By the time this hits your inbox, the group will be about three chapters in. It’s been a cool experience so far. Readers are asking all the right questions, and the work seems to be resonating the way I intended. As a creator, I can tell you that isn’t always how it goes. Even though it’s been four years since its release, I may write more in-depth about the inspiration behind the book and the process of writing it. This newfound attention is bewildering and encouraging, especially now when even in the book world four years feels like a million years ago, and older stories sometimes get forgotten.
As longtime readers know, I am a huge fan of Clive Barker. As a writer and a filmmaker, the dude just speaks to my soul. He has since I first read The Hellbound Heart at 15 or 16. It might have even started before that, when I saw the image of Pinhead in some horror magazine and thought Oh my God what is this? The above analysis of the first Hellraiser film by Rob Ager was a joy to watch. He breaks down the prevalence of box imagery beyond the Lament Configuration, explains the confounding but now obvious flower imagery, and unpacks some other goodies as well. I admit his theorizing occasionally goes to some bizarre places in some of his other videos, but this one was right on the money. Highly recommended if you’re a fan of this stuff. Though I’m not a filmmaker, these sorts of things always get me thinking of ways to infuse my prose with more symbolism and subtext—even though I admit I sometimes feel that the best of that stuff happens on accident.
I also watched the extremely polarizing film Skinamarink and the classical sleeper The Wolf of Snow Hollow. My full thoughts on Skinamarink could probably fill an entire essay. Maybe that will happen here or on the podcast’s Patreon. In the meantime, here’s what I said on Facebook.
So, there it is. I loved it, but because I’m ever the diplomat, I get why some people didn’t.
On the much less experimental side, The Wolf of Snow Hollow was a fun slice of classical monster horror with excellent performances and modern sensibilities. It’s a werewolf film about reckoning with our inner beast, like all great werewolf stories usually are. It’s also the second to last movie to feature celebrated character actor Robert Forster. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already.
Anyway, that’s gonna do it for this issue, as I’m still not feeling a hundred percent. As always, you can grab my books on Amazon or Godless, and check out the newest episode of Make Your Own Damn Podcast right here. I’m also serializing the sprawling internet age horror novel Digital Darkness for free on this newsletter, so be sure to Like, Share, and Subscribe (it’s magic, you know).
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