“Dun du nuh-uuuuhhhh, dun du nuuuuhhhhhh…”
Indiana Jones Parker was twelve years old, with a chip on his shoulder. Being twelve years old, in itself, is enough to allocate an entire bag of Ruffles (or Sweet Onion, Indy’s favorite) to anybody’s shoulder region, what with the girls and the body odor and the sudden realization that everybody in the world except for you is a mondo mo-ron, but Indy’s case was special. He didn’t just have the usual set of well-meaning but woefully misinformed parents, the ones who are always interfering with your social life and never around to drive you places. He had the kind who thought it was a good idea to name their kid Indiana Jones. And at twelve years old, the name had finally caught up with him. He glopped some green paint with vengeful apathy on the chipped wood.
“Dun du nun-uuuuuuuhhh, dun du nuuuhh nuuuhh nuh!”
At first, when he was old enough to understand the kind of stigma his name was likely to invoke, Indy had entertained the notion that it was all some sort of elaborate tease, that on his eleventh birthday Mom and Dad would bring out a cake with some iced message along the lines of “Happy Birthday, Your Name’s Really Steve, Plus Your Myopia Was Actually Hay Fever, Now Go Out There And Enjoy A Balanced And Normal Life (P.S. Aunt Martha Was Adopted, And She’s Been Sent Back)!!!!!” But so sweet a revelation was not meant to be, and he had gone on to be Indiana Jones Parker for two more years, with the promise of six more to come before he could legally change his name and disown his family.
No, the worst part was that it wasn’t a joke, not even a mean-spirited one. His parents had actually figured they were doing him some kind of favor. He smeared the green paint around, letting it lump and dribble where it would. No, it was clear that Mom and Dad, especially Dad, were true Indy-philes. They had a dog named I Hate Snakes, for crying out loud. And a goldfish named Nazi Mystic. They even liked the new one, and the TV shows. There had to be a law somewhere.
“Dun du duhn duuuuuuuhnn…”
Realizing too late the tune he was humming, Indy slammed another wet lump of paint against the wall, splattering a little on his shirt and glasses. They’d been watching that movie again last night, and though Indy had turned his own stereo up to eleven and clamped the headphones against his skull, it hadn’t been enough to drown out the sounds of whips cracking, biplanes exploding, and springs squeaking. And worst of all, that tune, that famous tune. Why did it have to be so catchy? It would be stuck in his head for days, weeks even. As a goof, he tried painting his name onto the wall, the new one he’d given himself. It would just be painted over anyway, but it was nice, seeing it up there on the wall. It was something he could imagine seeing tacked on to Daisy Pattinson’s name, some day. She’d never go for “Mrs. Indiana Jones Parker,” that’s for sure.
Screw this, young Indy suddenly thought angrily. “Suddenly” and “angrily” tended to be the adverbs most often applied to his thoughts and actions these days, usually in tandem. So Mom and Dad wanted to ruin his life, ruin his chances of ever getting past first base with a girl, of ever getting a career as anything other than a stunt double, plus they’d given him nearsightedness even though neither of them wore glasses (but Aunt Martha did…), and then what? They asked him to paint the shed. In the middle of this beautiful sunny Saturday, when everyone else was at the mall or watching TV, where was he? Outside, painting a stupid old building green. It wasn’t even a proper building, just four walls and a roof and the big sign that said “Temple of DOOM!” You couldn’t see it from the street or the neighbors’, so who cared what color it was? Indy threw down his paintbrush and stalked away, leaving behind an angry swish of rapidly peeling paint, as well as four simple, wishful, envy-green words, like a spiteful signature:
“BATMAN G.I. JOE PARKER”
I’ve added a new category to this blog: Sexy WIPs. What are Sexy WIPs? You may already have seen a few of them. They’re my own unpublished (some might say unpublishable) writing. I want to share them with you, free of charge.
As a writer, you’re always making sacrifices. Jokes, concepts, characters, and entire story arcs get thrown away in early drafts. Some stories start out promising, but never get anywhere. And sometimes, the revision process is nothing more than a gentler, more protracted, but no less exhausting way to beat a dead horse. Killing the horse might have meant something once, but a horse (or any other four-legged work animal) can only die once, and the more you beat it, the dustier and deader it gets.
There are two unpopular ideas about writing I have always clung to:
- Every creative work that anybody has ever written has an audience, somewhere. Some writing is better than others, and every publisher of writing has their own criteria by which they separate the multitudinous chaff from the rare germ. This means that the majority of writing will never be formally published. It does not mean that the stuff that does get published is necessarily better than the stuff that doesn’t; it’s just been deemed, by the curators of such things, to be likely to appeal to the widest possible audience of readers. I have a near endless back catalog of writing that, for whatever reason, is unlikely ever to be published in a venue in which I would be happy to see my writing appear. I hope you will enjoy reading it, regardless.
- Revision does not always improve a work. Revision is important in academic writing because presenting a logical, structured and persuasive argument is similar to building a watch. It requires a great deal of fine tuning and clearing away of the tiniest speck of grit. Creative writing, however, does not always come from a place of logic. Creative writing is a fever, and there’s a great deal of energy inherent in its first creation. It is sloppy energy, like a spray of colorful vomit across a pattern of linoleum tiles. You can go back in and mop it up, presenting to the reader a nice clean grid of pea-green linoleum, but you risk mopping up the same thing that made it so contagious in the first place. Inspiration is not a thesis.
Sexy WIPs are the intersection of those two beliefs. They are writing (usually fiction) that I believe are worth reading, even if I don’t think they are worth publishing. They are ephemeral, glimpses of ideas I chose not or was unable to pursue to their conclusion. Some are things I am working on today. Others date all the way back to high school, when I was full of promise and not yet bored inside my own skull. I think that there are people in the world aside from me who will enjoy them, and I sincerely hope that those people find their way to this cozy little corner of the internet.
Now excuse me while I go hork up another one.