-her map of Tasmania. It’s her first show, and she’s terrified and ecstatic. Her mother watches, fretting with glued-on lashes a flurry of spiky black around gem-bright eyes. Sequins and rhinestones catch the cheap-lightbulb fluorescence that surrounds the makeshift dressing-room mirror as she puts her scissors down and picks up a pair of sheer stockings. The fleshtone nylon whispers and scratches as she unrolls it over her skin, encasing herself with a drag queen’s first line of defense.

She stands, smoothing her slitted gown over her bestockinged thighs. The slice in the fabric nearly reaches her naval, and slides as she moves, a shifting peep-show that shows far too much but never quite …everything.

“You all tucked up, honey?” her mother asks, and the virgin queen reaches between her thighs, giving the space there a quick once-over with cherry-taloned fingertips. Nothing comes loose, and she strikes a pose. The line of her posture is nervously perfect, from the tip of her glittering stiletto pump to the peak of her lace-front bouffant. Someone must have bled on her lips to get that color of red, and her lashes are a falsely modest line against her carefully porcelained cheek as she shyly ducks her head and blows her mother a moue of a kiss.

“You’re beautiful,” whispers her mother through proud tears that threaten to make her eyeliner run, and with all the frightened determination of a robin in late spring, she nudges the virgin through the curtained door, down the dimly-lit hallway at the end of which the stage is waiting, dollar bills in hands around it, waiting for a garter to receive them.


So we registered strangeandsavage.com in my name tonight.

The project is… the secondary, parallel track to my impulses to make things. Stories come first, but images are a close second.

Watch this space.

When I began this blog, it was with the intention of using it to document my experiences as I felt my way along the breadcrumb path to becoming A Writer. Because I am a crack ferret of the first water, that purpose quickly fell to the wayside in lieu of… well, anything else, and long pauses in between updates.

I’m still me when I wake up in the morning, so I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that I can steer this ship back into that particular shipping main, but I will at least intersect with it now and again while I veer wildly and enthusiastically off course. Tonight, dear reader, marks one of those rare and probably not-highly-anticipated conjunctions.

So, then, some thoughts on this whole writin’ bizniss.

– I’m a little stupid sometimes –

Firstly, saying something akin to “I am going to become A Writer!” is just damned silly. I am A Writer. I know it. I have been for years now, because I have been writing for years. What I am not is A Published Writer, but that’s amendable, and indeed, appears to be growing ever more attainable as a goal. This thrills me, because it’s the only goal I’ve had that’s lasted lifelong. I’ve considered and discarded any number of varyingly-wild career and personal goals, but the absolutely unmovable yearning to publish has remained the constant anchor-star of that constellation.

It’ll be nice to sell stories or, ideally, someday, novels. It’ll be nice to have the extra income here and there and, if the stars align and the gods smile upon me and that bitch of a muse doesn’t desert me for a bottle of gin and a rent boy, perhaps if I’m very lucky and work very hard, it’ll be nice to give my day job a hearty, one-fingered fuck you, and live off the ill-gotten proceeds of, as NFG puts it, making things up for a living. It’ll be nice. I’m not counting on it, and I’m very aware of how difficult and uncommon reaching that happy state is, but if it happens, it’ll be nice. It’s not the push behind my ambition, though. This is:

Writers are my heroes. Stories formed the core and the foundation of my childhood, and I considered the people who wrote them something akin to demigods. They were special, set apart and possessed of talents and powers not granted to ordinary people like me. I learned about cultures that revered storytellers as priests and keepers of wisdom, and I didn’t see that strange or unusual at all: it made sense to me. It still does. Stories were religion, and writers my priests, because through them came the words. The Words. And as I grew older, I realized that I could make the Words do things, too. I could put them together and shape them around what was in my head, just like the writers could. Slowly, in a process that’s still ongoing, my image of the world began to realign itself, with me inside the circle inside which the writers stood.

I belong there.

That’s why I am determined to write, and to publish what I write. The money’ll be nice, if it comes. The notoriety’ll be nice, if it comes. If the money and the name-recognition never come, I’ll be just as happy, because they’re not what it’s about. What it’s about is being in that circle.

There’s just… nowhere else I fit.

– Sometimes, stars align –

I’m incredibly lucky.

I’m incredibly lucky because somehow, in the half-dream-state in which I spent the years between aged 19 and 30, I managed to become acquainted and even friends with a rather startling number of people involved in writing and publishing. I have met and befriended authors, some of them quite well-known. I have been introduced to and chatted with editors, some of them quite highly-regarded. I have been given, free of charge and with the most honorable of intentions, some astonishingly good advice about what I’m doing wrong, and what I’m doing right, and what I ought to be doing next.

I have a haphazard, highly effective, unofficial support group, in fact. I don’t entirely know how I came about procuring it, but accepted wisdom assures me that I shouldn’t count its teeth. I’m not gonna. I’m going to take every shred of this advice and I’m going to make it goddamn count.

You hear me, you lot? You miraculous, gifted, incredibly generous lot: I will not take you for granted. You are all a gift to me, and one I probably don’t deserve, but I’m selfish and ambitious enough to accept and make damn good use of it.

You know who you are. Goddamn, but I treasure you.

– Baby steps –

I suck right now.

Let me rephrase that: I’m good. I’m damn good, even. But I’m not good enough, not yet. All those people up there that I screamed my own particular promise to: I’m not good enough yet to be in that circle with them.

I’m better than a lot of people already in that circle. I’m so torn about those ones: part of me, the generous part, the part that uncompromisingly sees the good in all people and all things, insists that I cheer them on, pleased and proud of anyone who manages to join the People Of Words. The other part of me, the part that remembers when Words were a religion: it resents and despises them. They don’t belong there. They’re not good enough, not for me and not for that set-apart circle.

That’s unforgivably arrogant of me. Sometimes, I slip, and I’m a terrible person for a minute or two. Forgive me?

I don’t want to be in the circle if I don’t deserve it, and I am baffled by people who don’t feel that way. It’s one of the few places in which I am closed-minded.

I’ll be good enough, someday, maybe even someday soon. That’s part of my promise, too.

– Fin –

I’m too much in my own head tonight. This has all been a product of that fact: this is the kind of strangeness that roils around in there pretty much constantly, except that normally it’s layered over with the sort of thing I understand is normal: bills to pay, conversations I’ve had today, what I need to get at the grocery store next time I go…

I’ve tried to filter, or at least organize.

Done now. Back to the story. 1,645 words and counting. I hope it’s okay.

I’m considering actually purchasing a domain name and putting together a website. It was recently driven home to me (after significant browbeating on the part of those close to me) that I have a pool of talents that I really ought to be honing, refining, and actually doing things with.

I ought to be writing columns more regularly, for example. I ought to be shopping myself out to local and online publications for column pieces, because I know good and damn well I can do it. Perhaps not perfectly yet, perhaps not even well, but at least as well as a lot of what I see in local (and broader) newspapers, magazines, websites, etc.

I ought to be writing fiction more regularly. I ought to be finishing short stories, I ought to be poking about in writers’ groups and getting feedback, I ought to be improving my craft and really doing something with what I know is at least acceptable talent.

I ought to be taking more pictures. I ought to find photography classes that are actually offered when I can take them (a more difficult feat than might be expected, thanks to my schizophrenic work schedule), and I ought to actually learn the technical craft of what I have thus far done with merely an eye to composition and a cobbled-together, basic awareness of how a camera works and what makes a good picture. I take damn good pictures, but I can take better with applied knowledge. I am hungry to learn.

Beyond that: as I do these things, as I learn and hone and refine and improve, I will want to begin sharing what I do with others. I will want to be able to point those interested to a collection of my best work and say to them: see. This is what I have done; these are my accomplishments. These are my talents, distilled. And, if all goes as I wish it, being able to do that will gradually start assisting me in making my living.

I did say ‘assist’, and I meant it. I’m not going to jump up and down here and scream jubilantly to the heavens that I am going to be the next Neil Gaiman or Annie Griffiths Belt (if that happens, though, I won’t complain), but surely it’s not being naive to think that I can at least make something remunerative out of the things I enjoy doing.

Other people do it all the time, after all, and I no longer subscribe to the paradigm that getting what you want is something that happens to Other People. It’s my turn, now.

Anyway, then: a website. I know myself. If I have a portfolio website, I will want to fill it with things. Therefore, I will need to create things with which to fill it. I will need to write more. I will need to take more photos. I will need to actually start doing the things I keep saying I will do, and maybe then…

Maybe then.