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Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

The Morning After

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I don’t know what to write about now. After writing that mega-post, it’s like a huge weight has lifted. I’m no longer keeping these really intense thoughts to myself out of fear of reactions. And now that I’ve written that, it’s like I need to dig the well a little deeper to see what else there might be.

That makes me wonder.

Prior to writing that, I felt like I could never be totally honest with what I wrote about because I was afraid of the reaction. Now, that part is out there and I’ve found myself struggling with what I could write about next. Like I said, I think I might have to dig a little deeper now. So now what I’m wondering is if that was what I was actually afraid of. That after digging out this thing that I had built to be so huge in my mind, there’d be nothing else underneath.

I’m sure there is, and I’m starting to think my New Years resolution had more to do with abstaining from writing because of fear than it did with my frustration with the internet’s level of discourse. I can’t write, or refuse to write, because of fear.


Written by matt

March 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Posted in writing

Riverside to Austin, 9 Hours In

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So if it was almost 4am and you’re sitting in the passenger seat of a Dodge Challenger with your Chuck Taylors propped up on the dashboard, what would you write about? Would it be about the relative absurdity of the situation you ended up in? Would it be about getting to see almost every star in the sky above the void surrounding you on either side of your designated ribbon of highway? Would you reflect on the plasticity of time now that it’s actually 5am after crossing the New Mexico border?

Maybe you’d just do like me and ask a bunch of rhetorical questions that are just barely on this side of nonsense.

Written by matt

March 17, 2011 at 2:51 am

Just Two Quick Things

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1. You may have noticed that even though earlier in the year I made a little promise to try to write in this blog once a week, things just haven’t worked out that way. Part of that is because I started another blog that’s about the ins and outs of playing bass guitar in a church setting, and I’ve been spending some time over there. You can find that here if you’re so inclined. I’m hoping to just be able to have fun with that and talk about music in a way that I don’t really get to in this blog.

2. After reading “On Writing” by Stephen King, I’ve re-edited that short story I wrote a couple months ago. The story itself is still the same. The things I really paid attention to altering were more of the nuts and bolts of the writing. You know, things like continuity and flow and other intensely important things I wish I would have known BEFORE submitting it to a short story competition which I wasn’t selected for.

I just ended that sentence in a preposition.

Written by matt

February 27, 2011 at 2:22 am

Posted in writing

on criticism (constructive or otherwise)

with 3 comments

today i half jokingly posted to twitter a link to an article about the necessity of critiques in the art world saying that i was afraid of critiques. it’s a very well written article by my good friend nate on the proxart site. i was following along on his twitter account and saw where the ideas sprouted from. he had previously posted an article about a piece of public art that the city had purchased at an ungodly price. he didn’t think it was very good at all (neither did i, for the record), and someone had commented to him that basically took the form of “just cause you don’t agree doesn’t give you a right to criticize.”

some of you may have noticed (but probably not) that a couple weeks ago i had posted an extensive (for me) essay on the difference between worship music and Christian music, then made it a private entry, then reposted a revised version a few days ago. there were a couple reasons for that. the first is that i wasn’t completely happy with how i had written it. it felt disjointed and sort of patchy in the flow of logic. the second is that i got a very long comment that rattled my cage a little more than i was comfortable with. it didn’t critique my writing of the subject, but the subject itself. it blindsided me with just how wrecked i felt about it. i dwelt on the “why” of those feelings for a while and talked through it with my wife and i think have since come to at least a minor conclusion about it.

writing is new to me. sort of. i’ve always loved writing, but we seem to have brief passionate romances before it doesn’t do what i want it to do, then we both say things we don’t mean and part ways for months or years at a time. on the other side, music is something that i’ve been doing consistently for the past 13 (holy hell….) years. i’ve been critiqued up and down on that and mostly in the earlier years. i grew from it, but only after i learned how to take the criticism. i had to learn to separate me as a person from the music i was creating. i don’t know if i’d learned to do that with my writing when i posted that. I’m still not sure it’s 100% possible if your art is truly an extension of yourself. anyway, i don’t think I was ready. on some subjects, I might still not be ready. maybe if I had written about something else church related that had nothing to do with music or fatherlessness I wouldn’t have taken it so personal. or if the comment wasn’t so personal, maybe I wouldn’t have taken it so personal.

I actually do want critique on my writing. I’d like to be better at it. I would, however, like the criticism to be about the writing rather than the subject I write about. of course, I’d also like to write another work of fiction and have that critiqued like crazy.

p.s. I typed this whole post trying not to put two spaces after the period before the start of every sentence because I just read an article today that said how incorrect that actually is to do despite what I’d been taught my entire school career

Written by matt

January 19, 2011 at 12:03 am

Posted in random much?, writing

short story

with 2 comments

It’s raining again. The sight of dark clouds used to be a depressing sight, but God knows the air could stand to smell a little cleaner. The downside is that this is going to be a long walk. Might as well just get it over with.

Walking down the streets is more like swimming against a current. Twenty years ago there were maybe half as many people living here. This has become one of the last places in the country where you could have a legitimate chance of getting a good enough job to feed your family though. I don’t begrudge the others who weren’t so lucky that make it harder to walk the streets. We all have a right to keep trying.

Like I would have a right to start throwing judgement around. I have to walk to make sure no one I know finds out where I’m going. It really doesn’t matter if everyone else does it or not. It won’t ever become mainstream even if most people have been there a few times.

I still remember when these places first started cropping up. Everyone was so oddly disturbed by the whole idea. They would go on and on about the indignity of it and how we could be so much better than this. They were a bunch of hypocrites just like me. I’m pretty sure that all the regulars would say anything to anyone in public to look like they’re above such endeavors, all the while saying anything to themselves to convince themselves that there’s no shame in it. The “We’re All Humans and Have Needs” defense is my personal favorite.

Good, I’m already about halfway there. I’d love to say I don’t need something like this to take the edge off, but I do if only so I can be more put together for my wife and kids when I get home. My wife knows where I’m going and the kids just know that Daddy works a lot. She understands even if she’s not 100% a fan of the idea. She seems to think that it reflects on her in some way; like she’s not enough. In a way I suppose she’s right, but that wouldn’t explain why it doesn’t feel the same when she gives it to me.

Maybe she should come down here some time. She wouldn’t be the first woman to ever go to one of these places. At first, you would have been hard pressed to find a woman in one of these places. A lot of them realized they needed it too before long. Now, you’re just as likely to see women as men hanging around waiting to get their fix. We’re all humans, right?

Just a little bit farther and I’ll be there. I always sneak around the back to keep from being seen by anyone I might know. It wouldn’t do any good to have my carefully crafted image of self reliance and over-confidence amount to nothing simply because some coworker or neighbor knew that I was just as needy as them. Maybe I’m just being paranoid. I can’t imagine them being able to regularly afford coming here.

This particular establishment is definitely more of a high end one. Their employees are actually around the correct age, for example. That was a big problem when these places were first starting out. At first, some of the only people who were willing to sell themselves like this were just in the wrong age bracket. Being in that little room, just the two of you, if the other person is the wrong age, it can really take you out of the moment. That’s the trick though, and why it can be so expensive: a client like me can’t be taken out of the moment. We can’t just be going through the motions, we’ve got to believe it. Once local casting directors got wind of what was required of these places’ employees though, it became easy enough to please clients like myself. Never underestimate what a desperate actor won’t do.

Sometimes I wonder about the employees. Were they treated this way, and that’s why they’re able to do something like this now?

Finally, I’m here. Thinking about all that made my attention drift off a little. God, I didn’t realize how bad the craving was until now. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long. The waiting area is decorated to make it look like you’re in someone else’s home. It could just as easily look like your mom’s place back east or something. There’s a brick fireplace with a couple of couches and a horribly patterned rug in the middle. The only things that stick out are the somewhat dimmed lighting and a small desk where the receptionist sits. I’m the only client right now, but I’m sure business will pick up as the late afternoon becomes the evening. I pay in cash, which they thankfully still take as antiquated as it is.

I don’t even have to sit to wait my turn before the receptionist says she’ll take me back. It’s a short walk down the hall to my preferred room. It’s again decorated to look like anyone’s home and this room looks like the house’s family room. The only thing that sticks out in this room is the small section that’s blocked off with floor to ceiling clear plastic, like they use to shield convenience store workers, with its own door hidden in the wall behind so that we don’t cross paths before it’s time. I’ll admit that this can take you out of the moment, but I understand the “no touching” rule. There had been some reports of violence in the past, mostly people taking out some past grievance on the poor soul on the other side.

The receptionist leaves the room and closes the door for me. There’s a shabby looking wing-backed chair for me to sit in that faces another chair inside the part of the room that’s sectioned off. That chair also fits with the decor and looks like some worn in Lay-Z-Boy recliner. As I sit down, the hidden door begins to open with a sudden click. It startled me a bit after keeping so secretive on the way here. My heart was already racing in anticipation of what comes next. As my guest walks in I can already feel my palms get sweaty. I feel like I always look so nervous when I’m here, though I suppose that’s to be expected. I never say a word when I’m here. I wouldn’t know what to say.

“Hello,” he says.

Silence from me.

“I hope you had a good day at work.”

Please, get to the point, I think.

“I’m so glad you’re doing what you love.”

There we are. Keep going.

“I’m so proud of you. I hope you know that.”

Oh, that felt good. I needed this more today than I thought.

“I’ve always been proud of you. I don’t care if you were never good at sports or with girls, I was always proud of you,” he says. That greying hair and face full of weather-beaten wrinkles look just like they should. He’s wearing a sweater made with colors that were hardly in style 25 years ago.

“I’m sorry I never told you that more when you were younger,” he says. He’s good. I believe what he’s saying as much as I would believe anyone. “I’m so proud of how you’re raising your kids. I can tell they love you and that you would never leave them. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you at that age.”

I begin to break and can’t hold back anymore. My eyes start to water and then flow with tears. My hands grip the arms of the chair so hard that I think I might rip them off. All of that tension builds and then releases at once, and then I’m on the ground barely able to keep myself looking at the archetype in front of me.

“Your wife sure must love you,” he says thoughtfully. “I’m sure you’ll never leave her or your kids behind. I’m sorry I couldn’t do that for you.”

I need this. Oh God, I need this. Just a little bit more and I can face another week. I need this.

“You’re going to be so much a better father than I ever was. I’m so proud of the man you’ve become. I’m so proud of you….”

Written by matt

December 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Fiction, writing

kind of a human again

with 2 comments

i moved. we moved. we no longer live in loma linda. i am back in riverside, the place of my childhood. that’s not why i’m kind of a human again. i’m kind of a human again because the move is completely over. for the past few days i’ve been in kind of a haze. my apologies to anyone i’ve hung out with since sunday. my mind was completely focused on the move and getting everything done that needed to be done. after moving what i believe to be about 15 times in my life, you’d think i would be used to it. i hate it. i think it might be different next time i move. this time it didn’t feel like i was in anticipation of where i was moving to as much as i felt like i was stuck in a place i was trying to get out of. kind of weird. but it’s over now, and my mind is seeing it’s way through the patch of fog that’s been crowding my thinking. i’m looking forward to my morning pages again. it’s been a few days now. i miss just that little amount of creativity i get.

go read slaughterhouse five by kurt vonnegut

latest jam: “like a star” by corinne bailey rae

Written by matt

June 14, 2007 at 9:51 pm

Posted in random much?, writing

that was unexpected.

with one comment

i have started a workbook to help me be more creative. i started it almost exactly 24 hours ago. it’s going to be hard. it’ll be way good for me and i think it will help me just be a better human being all around though, too. anyway, as i was going through the first week’s chapter, there was this exercise to kind of make you realize that there’s always that inner censor that tries to make you “be sensible.” what you do is write down the sentence, “I, (your name), am a brilliant and prolific (painter, writer, chef, etc.).” and while you read that sentence you see what kind of negative thoughts pop into your head about that. i was working all that in my mind last night and said to myself, “I, Matt Quillen, am a brilliant and prolific writer/musician.” that’s when my train of thought quite literally stopped dead in its tracks. i had realized that for some reason i said writer before musician. then i had to really think about that for a minute. when i was younger i had wanted to be a writer. i wanted to write books and stories and all kinds of stuff. i don’t know what happened exactly to that childhood dream, but i stopped dreaming it. looking back, i also realized that around that time was fading away is when i started wanting to be a musician. as i’m working through all this in my mind, i started to connect some pieces together. my biggest fear as an “artist” is that i have nothing to say. that even though i know how to spell and have good grammar and even kinda know how a phrase works within a sentence works within a paragraph works within a body of writing, that there won’t be anything to tell the world. i started to wonder, “is this why i’m kind of a quiet guy?” “is this why i chose to play bass, the designated un-rockstar and least attention grabbing of popular instruments?” “is this why i have such a love/hate relationship with blogging?” “is this why i fear the concept of songwriting?” “what have i not done because of my fear that i have nothing to say?”

i’m looking forward to the next 12 weeks of this book.

song for the moment: “god put a smile upon your face” by coldplay

Written by matt

May 8, 2007 at 3:46 pm