I pick you out of my teeth like spinach.
I take a bath and I don’t think about drowning myself.
My sister spends the weekend at the apartment and
doesn’t ask me about it, even though she can see
that my teeth have gotten sharper since last time.
Your name is just a name.
I am still in one piece when I close the door.
I say “thank you for everything” and wipe my mouth.
You watch the Discovery Channel and see a lioness
lick her bloody paws after a kill.
You think of me and wonder if the grass was really so tall
that you couldn’t see me coming.
I am growing into something fierce and hungry.
When I kiss your skin, I am only trying to taste your bones.
Whatever is left of you, I hope it forgets me.❞
—Prey | Caitlyn Siehl (via alonesomes)
Here is what they don’t tell you:
Icarus laughed as he fell.
Threw his head back and
yelled into the winds,
arms spread wide,
teeth bared to the world.
(There is a bitter triumph
in crashing when you should be
The wax scorched his skin,
ran blazing trails down his back,
his thighs, his ankles, his feet.
Feathers floated like prayers
past his fingers,
close enough to snatch back.
Death breathed burning kisses
against his shoulders,
where the wings joined the harness.
The sun painted everything
in shades of gold.
(There is a certain beauty
in setting the world on fire
and watching from the centre
of the flames.)
—Lars and the Real Girl (via crystalteeth)
when I am done. She will show up
to your first date with a dustpan
and broom, ready to pick up all the pieces
I left you in. She will hear my name so often
it will begin to dig holes in her. That
is where doubt will grow. She will look
at your neck, your thin hips, your mouth,
wondering at the way I touched you.
She will make you all the promises I did
and some I never could. She will hear only
the terrible stories. How I drank. How I lied.
She will wonder (as I have) how someone
as wonderful as you could love a monster
like the woman who came before her. Still,
she will compete with my ghost.
She will understand why you do not look
in the back of closets. Why you are afraid
of what’s under the bed. She will know
every corner of you is haunted
—-Clementine von Radics (via clementinevonradics)
I am not the first person you loved.
You are not the first person I looked at
with a mouthful of forevers. We
have both known loss like the sharp edges
of a knife. We have both lived with lips
more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
unannounced in the middle of the night.
Our love came when we’d given up
on asking love to come. I think
that has to be part
of its miracle.
This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness. You
will hold me like I’m hope. Our arms
will bandage and we will press promises
between us like flowers in a book.
I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
of your nose. I will write a dictionary
of all the words I have used trying
to describe the way it feels to have finally,
finally found you.
And I will not be afraid
of your scars.
I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.
—Clementine von Radics, Mouthful of Forevers (via milagetinmykunis)
In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.
From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.
Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”
Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”
Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.
Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”
In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.
Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”
Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.
If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.
Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.
Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”
Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.
Present each piece of evidence. For example: “During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”
One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.
For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”
A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”
A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.
Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.
No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”
Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”
Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.
Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.
And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”
“Ann has blue eyes.”
“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”
Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.
And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”
Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.
For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.
Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.
“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”
“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”
“Larry knew he was a dead man…”
Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.❞
I need to go back to school.
This is really really good advice
— (via nuggative)
2. when school starts and you want to jump rope instead of play kickball, be careful not to trip and hurt your knees.
3. if you grow up and a boy makes your heart hurt, you do not have to be ashamed.
4. if you fall in love with a girl
who wears the same clothes
as you, it will be easy for me to buy you both presents.
5. if I teach you anything, I will teach you to be gentle.
6. you are not Atlas and the world
is not a burden for you to carry.
7. if you do not like your body, if you feel like you were put inside the wrong one, I will stand by and watch you become again.
8. because we are human beings and we do not always have to
take what we are given.
9. I will love you constantly, fervently, always.
10. I will teach you the value of
the word “no” so that, when you hear it, you do not question it.
11. when the war comes
and you want to fight, I will
sleep with clenched fists until you come home to me.
12. when the war comes and you don’t want to go, I will sleep soundly.
13. you are allowed to be soft. you are allowed to break and bend. you do not have to be strong. you do not have to be a soldier.❞
—a letter to my future son | Caitlyn S. (via alonesomes)
I am either so full of love that it spills out of me
and I must embrace everyone I see
and every sentence is a compliment or a celebration of life or rivulets of laughter bubbling out of a joyful heart
or I am so full of rage that my words are balled up fists
and my eyes are daggers
and there is no sunshine or even cautious optimism and everyone
needs to watch their fucking back
there is no in between.
Christ knows she deserves something nice for a change.❞
—of Montreal, “Voltaic Crusher/Undrum to Muted Da” (via nowherezenwherever)