An Excerpt From an Unpublished Essay

An excerpt from an unpublished essay:

“The tumor was mine. Arguably, it was my malignant baby, for my body had created it, and it was growing inside of me at an aggressive pace. But I did not want it. I wanted it out. There was a lot of debate over the best way to address the monster within me. The first oncologist wanted to chop off both my breasts and yank out my reproductive organs. After that, a plastic surgeon showed me his photo album filled with pictures of women whose heads were clipped out of the frame and whose breasts had been ravaged by cancer, the interior flesh of which had been removed by him, and which had been reconstructed in ways that did not, to my eye, look at all natural. Finally, a physician’s assistant came in the room after the plastic surgeon had left. I said I didn’t realize it would look like that, and he said he understood. He held one hand in the air palm up, and he held the other hand in the air palm down. His top hand made a tent over his bottom hand. He said my breast was like a circus tent and having a mastectomy was like taking away the tent pole. With that, he flattened his top hand against his bottom hand like a circus tent collapsing, crushing all the circus animals, carnival performers, and acrobats in the process.”

Buy my short story "The Tumor" — it’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."

Don't Give Away Your Right To Negotiate For Yourself (Updated)

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find a clause like this in a contract for a freelance article.

(*see below for an update)

Image via Magic:  The Gathering

Image via Magic: The Gathering

  1. Read your contract in full before signing it. Don’t skim-read it on autopilot.

  2. Do not agree to terms like these. You are giving away your right to negotiate.

  3. Explain the clause must be removed from this contract in order for you to sign it.

“10. Film/TV/Audiovisual Works: You hereby grant and assign to [redacted] exclusive decision-making, signing authority, and rights with respect to feature film, motion picture, video game, mobile application, television, episodic programming, and any other audiovisual work based on or derived from the Work.

[Redacted] agrees to make good faith efforts to consult with you before signing any such ancillary rights agreements.

Any monies actually received by [Redacted] upon optioning and/or selling the Work (after deduction of [Redacted]’s actual, out-of-pocket costs and expenses, including, without limitation, agency fees and other fees and expenses related to sale and exploitation thereof) will be distributed as follows:

Fixed Compensation.

i) Option Fees/Purchase Price: 50% to [Redacted], 50% to you 
ii) Royalties and/or Series Sales Bonuses (if any): 50% to [Redacted], 50% to you 
iii) Contributor Writing or Consulting Fee (if any): 100% to you 
iv) Executive Producer, Producer, or Similar Fees for [Redacted] or its employees/contractors (if any): 100% to [Redacted].

Contingent Compensation and box office bonuses (if any): 50% to [Redacted], 50% to You

It’s acknowledged that [Redacted] may have a first look or overall deal with a third party, and any guaranteed fees associated with such an agreement are expressly excluded.

Accounting statements with respect to any ancillary exploitation of rights pursuant to this Section and payments, if any, will be delivered to you within 90 days following receipt by [Redacted] of the actual monies and such statements from third party purchasers or licensees of such rights.

It is agreed and understood that the services you are furnishing under this Agreement are extraordinary, unique, and not replaceable, and that there is no fully adequate remedy at law in the event of your breach of this Agreement, and that in the event of such a breach, [Redacted] shall be entitled to equitable relief by way of injunction or otherwise. You also recognize and confirm that in the event of a breach by [Redacted] of its obligations under this Agreement, the damage, if any, caused to you by [Redacted] is not irreparable or sufficient to entitle you to injunctive or other equitable relief. Consequently, your rights and remedies are limited to the right, if any, to obtain damages at law and you will not have any right in such event to terminate or rescind this Agreement or any of the rights granted by you hereunder or to enjoin or restrain the development, production and exploitation of the rights granted pursuant to this Agreement.”

I requested the clause be removed. The editor declined, describing the contract as “writer-friendly.” I declined to sign.

Buy "The Tumor" — my short story that’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."

Things That Make It Easier to Write

  • Wearing hats

  • A room with a view that doesn’t entice one to leave it

  • Your blancoat (a coat that is so warm and cuddly that it feels like a blanket but has sleeves and a hood so that if you leave the house for food you appear to be dressed like a normal person)

  • No headaches

  • The vague belief that well-told stories manifest their fictional realities

  • Caffeine of choice

  • An internal sea of self-dissatisfaction

  • Somebody else’s beautiful creation (ie “Roma”)

  • Talent

  • Lying to yourself: “You’re almost done,” “You can do this,” “This is going to be amazing”

Buy "The Tumor" — my short story that’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."

Image via  eBay

Image via eBay

Walkabout

Recently, I’ve started walking again for several reasons. I gained some weight. It helps with anxiety. When I’m walking, I feel like I’m in control of something, even if it’s that my body is moving forward. Most of the time, I think about something related to work. On walks is a place where mental organization and sometimes epiphanies take place. Possibly, it’s also a situation that makes me feel small. In the world, you are tiny. At home, you are big. So far, it’s going pretty good. My brain is settling, relaxing, easing. Writing is a lot like walking. Just keep going.

Buy "The Tumor" — my short story that’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."

The House That Jack Built

I mean, is anybody a fan of Lars von Trier, really? I happen to be intrigued by him, because if you can say one thing about him is that he’s never boring. Or, at least, even when he’s boring, it’s because he’s doing something outrageous to death. Speaking of outrageous and death, LVT has a new flick out, and you don’t have to walk out of a theater at Cannes to see it. “The House That Jack Built” is available for streaming on Amazon. Convenient! Nothing like home delivered endless slaughter of women and others in scenarios in which the victim fairly makes the killer kill, I always say. The movie’s best kill, if you will, is the first one, when Matt Dillon, aka Jack, kills Uma Thurman, who plays a really annoying woman. Because this is LVT, you’re not sure if you’re supposed to laugh hysterically, feel grim, or just hold on for the duration of the ride. But, boy, can Uma take a jack to the head. In any case, you can look at the movie as a series of vignettes in which Jack murders people, or you can look at it as a meditative study on the creative process as told through the persona of someone who happens to use murder as his tool d’art. Frankly, the mutterings of Jack to a Virgil stand-in are the most interesting parts of the movie, particularly when Jack waxes philosophical about how matter dictates its form in art. Don’t search #thehousethatjackbuilt on Instagram, like I did, if you don’t want to have the penultimate shocker spoiled for you. It’s crude, but this is LVT, isn’t it? I won’t mention the part with the windshield wiper; I mean, that’s just ugly (or is it?). We have come to expect this sort of thing from the enfant terrible of Dogme 95. What I could never quite resolve with Jack is if LVT is trolling masculinity or wallowing in it. Toxic masculinity is a fair thing in which to flail. To attempt to redux The Inferno, the place to which the film devolves, is a mistake. Stay in your am-I-a-misogynist-or-not lane, LVT! Alighieri you ain’t.

Buy "The Tumor" — my short story that’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."

I'm in a Library

I’ve fallen back in love with libraries, as of late. I used to think they were graveyards filled with tombstones. Now I see they’re immortal. All those stories between the covers. My favorite libraries have shelves so big you have to turn a wheel to pry them a part and walk between them.

Buy "The Tumor" — my short story that’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."