March 21, 2024 / 1 Comment

The Magic Bullet

If you’re reading this, it probably won’t come as a shock to you, but… people love stories. Literally, since the start of recorded history. They love reading them. Hearing them. Watching them. They love having their emotions played with and their expectations subverted, and they also love comfortable, familiar tales and they can sink abck . They love made up people and places and event that never happened.

Believe it or not, some people also love telling stories. Pulling people and places and moments out of their head and presenting them to an audience. They love the act of stringing these specific words together in this specific order and knowing it’s going to get that response.

Another thing people love is, well, easy solutions. If there’s a way we can get around doing some work, we’ll usually do it. Yeah, this takes sixteen steps, but is there a way I could do it in fifteen? Or maybe eight? Could I skip over the first dozen steps and maybe just do those last four?

But sometimes we just can’t cut corners. For complexity reasons or safety reasons or just because, look, this is how long it takes to do this. As much as we want ease and simplicity, there are some things in life that take time and effort.

So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the Warren Commission.

A week after the assassination of JFK in 1969, newly sworn-in President Johnson ordered Chief Justice Earl Warren to investigate the killings. Warren assembled a group of congressmen and specialists to gather evidence and quash all the conspiracy theories that were already starting to run wild throughout the country.

The Commission’s final report, alas, didn’t really help calm fears there was a big cover-up going on. One of the more controversial declarations it made was that a single shot caused all of the non-fatal wounds to both President Kennedy and Texas Governor Connally, a shot that changed directions multiple times during its flight. Even more amazing, said bullet was miraculously found on the floor in Connally’s emergency room, having supposedly fallen out of his bloody thigh, completely clean and not even deformed…

The popular term we got from this report, which you’ve probably heard before, was the magic bullet. A small, simple thing which defies every bit of common sense to produce borderline-miraculous results. Some might even say… magical results.

Some folks think to be a successful writer, it’s just a matter of finding a magic bullet. I mean, all these folks talk about spending years trying to “hone their craft” but it can’t actually be that difficult, right? Surely there’s a trick that’ll let me skip to the front of the line—an easy way to bypass all those early, boring stages—and get to the point where people are fighting over my manuscript.

So let’s talk about some of the magic bullets folks spend time looking for..

The magic word
Back when I read contest screenplays for food, a common thing to see was scripts entered into a very niche contest with clearly minor additions to make them fit the requirements of said niche contest. I saw countless stage plays that had a few camera directions sprinkled on them. More than a few token minorities and painted-on sexualities. My favorite, however, had to be the sex comedy that showed up in the pile for a faith-based, prayer-centric screenplay contest, where the protagonist desperately prayed to God oh please, please Lord, let me get this woman out of her clothes!

Storytelling doesn’t work this way, either with audiences or publishers. I can’t expect that using this word or that one (or this phrase or that label) is going to be an instant key to success. I definitely shouldn’t expect that it’ll make people overlook certain other glaring issues my work may have.

The magic genre
Pretty sure since the dawn of storytelling there’ve been folks trying to jump on the hot market bandwagon. Thag gets all the applause for his mammoth-hunting story? Well, Bron have mammoth hunting story, too! Two mammoths! With lasers mounted on skulls!

With the desire to make a sale, some folks try to follow the “hot” markets. Right now young adult science fiction is hot? Guess I’ll write YA sci-fi. Historical romance is hot? Did I mention my YA sci-fi is a time travel story with a historical romance element (mammoths in love)? What’s that? Horror adventure is hot? Guess I better dump the YA and start over

The issue here is timing. Even if I lunge at that hot new genre, there’s simply no way to get a manuscript done, polished, and in front of someone before the trend’s passed. Seriously, none. Especially when you consider most publishers are already working a year or so ahead of the current market.

Worth noting there are folks who write very timely books and they write them very fast, but a lot of them almost inherently don’t have much of a shelf life. They sell really well for a brief window and then usually never again. I need to decide if I’m okay with that. Assuming I even have the ability to do it

Don’t try to follow a market trend. Just write the horror/ romance/ faith-based/ mystery/ sci-fi story you want to tell and make sure it’s the absolute best one anyone’s ever read. That’s what’ll catch people’s attention and make hundreds of others rush to hop on my bandwagon.

The magic aesthetic
More than a few folks think the secret to success—real, worthy success—is to create art. Actual literature which will be recognized immediately for its inherent worth and my inherent genius. That deep, overwritten sort of art that makes grad students start to feel warm in the middle of intellectual discussions.

This one’s a double edged sword, because a lot of the folks going for this bullet end up taking it in the chest (I believe the gentleman ordered a metaphor, mixed over ice?). It’s my firm belief that attempts to create art usually lead to forced scenes, painful dialogue, and unbelievable characters. Plus, that same art then becomes a blanket excuse to let the writer brush off any comment or criticism their work may get. After all, only the sophisticated and intelligent people are going to understand art. If they don’t understand, it just proves they’re not intelligent and thus not qualified to judge it, right?

As I’ve said many times before—don’t try to create art. I just want to tell the best story I can the best way I can tell it. Let somebody else worry about if it’s high art or if it’s just some pedestrian, pop-culture crap that’s going to sell a million copies and get a movie deal.

The magic message
Close behind the above bullet is the belief a story needs to have a deep, powerful meaning. Every element should be loaded with subtext. Each page should make the audience rethink their beliefs.

While it’s great to have subtext, a writer shouldn’t be fighting to force it into their story. Likewise, if I’ve come up with a clever metaphor which applies to the catchphrase/ scandal/ fashion of the moment, much like the special genre above, odds are that ship will have sailed loooooong before anyone ever sees my work.

If I feel like my work has to have a greater meaning… maybe I should ask myself a few questions. Do I think it does, or am I trying to live up to someone else’s expectations? Will it still be relevant six months from now, or six years from now? Most importantly, does this greater meaning serve my story? Or is my story bending to this greater meaning?

The magic contact
One of the more common magic bullets you’ll see is networking. My writing’s irrelevant compared to knowing the right people who have the right jobs. For a long time it was (incorrectly) touted as the only way to succeed in Hollywood, and I think that belief spilled into prose writing as well. Some folks spend more time hunting down “contacts” than they do working on their writing.

Alas, active networking is dead. Any seminar, website, or app that promises me tons of networking opportunities will not offer a single useful one. I’m a big believer that the best networking only ever really happens by accident, and trying to do it defeats it immediately.

The people I want to make connections with are… well, the people around me. The folks I’m already talking to and hanging out with because I like them. And they like me because I’m not basing these relationships on a personal agenda, just on a shared interest of movies or toys or gardening or games or just weird shared life experiences. They’re the folks I’m more likely to help later on. And they’re going to be more likely to help me.

The magic software
I’ve talked once or thrice before about becoming too reliant on technology. There’s nothing wrong with using a spell-checker to double-check my work, but I shouldn’t be relying on it to actually know how to spell for me. Or to know which word I meant to use. Or to know what that word means vs what I think it means. Because… well, it can’t do that. Any any of that.

Seriously, how often have you had spellcheck tell you something’s wrong just because the word’s not in its vocabulary banks? Maybe it’s just a word that particular dictionary didn’t adapt yet. Maybe it’s an alternate but still widely -accepted spelling.

And now there’s also grammar checkers and style checkers and you may have even heard there are some fancy futuristic lines of code out there that’ll write the whole story for you. But the sad truth is, none of this stuff actually works. No, it doesn’t. They all understand “writing” in the same basic-competency way a second-grader does. They barely understand the rules, and they definitely don’t understand when and how to break the rules. They don’t understand context or subtext or nuance or, yeah, even basic vocabulary.

So anything these systems do for me, I’m pretty much going to have to double and triple check from every angle (if I actually care about it being good). I’ll need to actually know the spelling and the grammar and the style I’m going for, and I’ll need the patience to do it all line by line, rewriting as I go to make sure there’s consistency.

Which really means… I’m doing all the work anyway. So, y’know, maybe I could just cut out that legally/ ethically/ artistically questionable step and just start learning to do this stuff.

Y’see, Timmy, as I’ve mentioned once or thrice, there’s really no trick to writing (the Y’see Timmy means this is or big overall windup, for those of you who are new here). No secret words or key phrases or handshakes you need to know to get past the doorman. It’s just about being willing to put in the time and effort to become better at something. Some folks are. Some folks aren’t. Guess which ones tend to succeed more? Believe me, I say this standing with thirty years of literary garbage swirling in the wind behind me. The most terrible, derivative fanfic. Some truly God-awful sci-fi and fantasy tinged with high school angst and college melodrama. Heck, look back far enough and you’ll see three completely different versions of that long-lost American classic Lizard Men From the Center of the Earth.

So, there you have it. A handful of things you shouldn’t be spending time looking for. I mean, seriously, who spends their time trying to get hit by bullets?

Next time (assuming you survived all those bullets) I’d like to talk about baseball and Lindsay Lohan.

Unless you’ve got a better idea…?

Until then, go write.

January 18, 2024


Okay, one last start-of-the-year post. I promise. I won’t ask you to think about anything else writing-related.

Well, not until next week. But that’ll be different stuff.

Last week I talked about process and diminishing returns. That maybe the way I’m doing things right now—no matter how long I’ve been doing them—might not be the best way for me to do things. Maybe just for this project, maybe… overall. Sometimes we just need to look at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and figure out if there’s room for improvement.

The catch here, of course, if I have to be willing to improve. I have to acknowledge there’s a problem that needs to be fixed. Or at least a rough spot that could use some sanding or lubrication or something.

And like I mentioned before, that can be tough. Nobody wants to admit they’ve been doing things wrong or that they’ve possibly wasted a lot of time beating their head against a wall when the door was right over there. I mean, it even had a bright red exit light over it.

So look… here’s four things I should be willing to graciously acknowledge about my writing.

1) My first attempts at writing aren’t going to be good
When we first start writing, it’s tough to admit something we wrote isn’t good. We put in the time and the effort (okay, maybe we only put in one of those) and ended up with a solid three pages that were… mediocre, maybe. Possibly just bad.

But this isn’t anything to be bothered by or ashamed of. It’s normal. You didn’t expect to make a perfect three-layer cake the first time you tried. Didn’t think the first time you started jogging it’d be as effortless as some runners make it look. Why would writing be any different?

None of us like to be the clumsy rookie, but the fact is it’s where everyone starts. Especially in the arts. People love to tell stories about those gifted prodigies who won awards and prizes with their first attempt at something, but the truth is most of them are just that—stories. It’ s folks cherry picking (or ignoring) the facts to create a narrative that helps them push an idea. Sure, there’s a few actual gifted amateurs out there—very, very few—but the vast majority of us have to work at something to get good at it.

You noticed I said “us,” right? Lots of folks think of Ex-Heroes is my first attempt at a novel, but it wasn’t. There was the very clumsy early work Lizard Men from the Center of the Earth, a super-derivative sci-fi novel called A Piece of Eternity, a puberty-fueled fantasy novel (embarrassing on a number of levels), some Star Wars and Doctor Who fanfic, The Werewolf Detective of Newbury Street, The Trinity, The Suffering Map, about half of a novel called Mouth… and then Ex-Heroes.

And I can tell you without question that most of those sucked. In many different ways. It doesn’t mean I didn’t try to sell some of them (we’ll get to that in a minute), but I couldn’t improve as a writer until I accepted that I needed improvement.

2) My first draft isn’t going to be good
There was a point where I ‘d fret over my writing. I’d worry about individual words, each sentence, every paragraph. I’d get halfway down the page and then go back to try to rewrite the first paragraph. And then I’d get to the bottom of the page and rewrite it again. My productivity was slowed to a crawl because I kept worrying about what had happened in my story instead of what was going to happen.

It was a very freeing moment for me when I realized my first draft was pretty much always going to suck. And that’s okay. Everybody’s first draft sucks. We all have to go back and rework stuff, no matter how long we’ve been doing this. Everyone. I’ve seen some folks argue that they don’t technically do drafts, per se, but if you look close even they admit they rewrite a lot.

Once I could admit that and shrug off all those worries about word choice and sentence structure and dialogue and everything else… well, it became a lot easier for me to finish a first draft. Which meant I could do a second draft and a third draft. And then maybe even sell something.

3) My writing’s going to need editing
Okay, this seems like an obvious second half of the last admission, doesn’t it? If my first draft is bad, clearly it’s going to need some editing. Thing is, there’s a lot of folks who hear “it’s bad” and immediately move on to the next thing (I’ve got a whole school of thought about why this is, but that’s a different topic). Because my writing is perfect, so you saying it’s bad must mean there’s some inherent flaw in the plot or the characters that would mean rewriting the whole thing and who has time for that?

Look, we miss a lot of stuff on a first draft. On reflection, that character may be a bit of a stereotype. That dialogue could be a little sharper. I use that one turn of phrase a lot. I mean, seriously, it’s in every chapter.

And holy crap. Chapter nine? What was I even thinking? That’s just gone. Deleting the whole thing. Best if nobody ever sees that. It seemed like I needed it at the time but now that we’re doing this whole “admitting” thing… yeah, it should go. Doesn’t matter that I spent three days writing it. Gone. Remember to fix all those chapter numbers now…

Truth is, the editing is where we actually start to get better. It doesn’t happen by going to seminars or reading how-to books, it happens by sitting down and working on the writing until it’s better. And sometimes, yeah, it takes time and effort and multiple tries to make things work. Worse yet, no matter how much we learn, we’ll always find new mistakes to make and new things we can mess up.

Ha ha ha, you say. Well, only for so long, right? Eventually I’ll hit the point where I’ve figured it all out and writing holds no more mysteries. I will solve writing, yes?

Ehhhh, not really.

One of our goals is to come up with something new. We’re going to try these characters in that setting, this plot with those characters, maybe even some types of characters I’ve never tried writing before. And all these new combinations mean new things to learn and new mistakes to make in my early attempts. Running some quick and kind of horrying numbers, I can safely say I’ve been trying to tell stories for over forty-five years now (which is really weird when you consider I’m definitely still in my late thirties) and I really wish I had this down to a science. But the truth is I just finished a major rewrite on a book that’d already gone through four drafts. Because… well, it needed the editing.

4) My writing’s going to be rejected
Look, not everything’s going to appeal to everyone. Doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just that people have different tastes. They have different moods. No matter how hard we try to be fair, we like and dislike things for random reasons. Maybe it was a good story but the main character has the same name as an ex things ended really poorly with. Maybe I’d just seen one too many journal-style stories that week. Heck, maybe I had mild food poisoning at the time.

Good stuff gets rejected sometimes. It’s just a fact of life. Heck, even with the list of publishing credits I’ve got now, I’ve had short stories rejected, book proposals, comic proposals, all sorts of stuff. Rejection got less painful once I realized it wasn’t some personal attack, just a person who didn’t connect with my story at that moment for some reason.

Also probably worth admitting the ugly truth. Sometimes we also get rejected because… well, our stuff’s just not that good. Two agents asked to see The Suffering Map and both sent me a polite “sorry, not for me” letter. And they were (in retrospect) 100% right to do so. It wasn’t a great book and it had a lot of problems.

Oh, and please don’t fall into the trap of thinking something’s automatically good because it got rejected. We’ve all seen the folks who see rejection as proof their book is too good for those agents and Big Five publishers. We’re being honest here and admitting the truth, remember?

Y’see Timmy, if I can admit some of these things to myself, it can only make me a better, stronger writer. These aren’t flaws I have to wear forever like a big red letter A. Really, if I look at the above statements and my gut reaction is “Well, yeah, but this doesn’t apply to me,” it’s probably a good sign I’m not admitting some thing to myself.

So as you step fully into this new year, take a good look at your writing, and be willing to acknowledge what’s there.

Next time, I may blather on about first drafts a little more. Or tabletop games. Or maybe something else, if anyone has requests.

Until then, go write.

November 2, 2023 / 2 Comments

Na No Wri Mo

I’d planned a horror genre post for last week, but it never came together in a way I was really happy with. And one of the changes I’m trying to make here is not to force myself to come up with blog posts. Or to spend hours and hours trying to make them work—which, y’know then puts me hours behind in the work I actually get paid for.

On a related note, please don’t let this stop you from asking or suggesting something down in the comments. I’m always up for answering questions—that’s easy. It’s trying to come up with semi-relevant topics that’s always the tough part.

But anyway… now it’s November, and November only means one thing…

Turkey and stuffing!!!

No, wait it means

Na No Wri Mo !!!

(shouted like the opening to “Mortal Kombat”)

It’s National Novel Writing Month, and you may be one of the thousands of folks who sat down yesterday (or late Tuesday night) and started working on a book. If you are, I’d like to offer you four big tips for NaNoWriMo. I’ve presented these in the past, and I think they’re key to having a successful, productive November. Or any month, really, if you’re not trying to finish a book in the next thirty days…

So here’s four things we all should keep in mind

1) Pace Yourself—Trying to fill every waking moment of the month with writing will burn any of us out pretty quick. Seriously. And it’ll show in the work. Don’t believe all those bozos telling you that desperation and misery creates greatness. Nobody wins a marathon by sprinting the entire way.

It’s tough, but try to be aware of diminishing returns. A lot of times—especially when I’m on a deadline—I’ll work late into the night. Sometimes it goes great, but sometimes… I start to slow down and my productivity drops. Eventually it hits a point where I would’ve been better off going to bed two or three hours ago because I would’ve gotten just as much done in half an hour on a good night’s sleep.

Again, none of us can sprint for a month. And after too many sprints, you’re just going to crash. Hard. So find a good, steady pace that works for you and keep it up. Remember, the idea here is we’re not trying to write faster, we’re trying to write at a much more regular rate. It’s better to do a thousand word every day than two thousand every third or fourth day. Or six thousand a day for two weeks and then quitting because we’re burned out.

2) Rest and recharge—Don’t be scared to not write for a little while. Have a meal at the table. Curl up with somebody on the couch for half an hour and get caught up on Loki or listen to an episode of Old Gods of Appalachia or something. Go for a walk. Run an errand. Take a nap. Take a shower. No, seriously, take a shower. Yeah, I’m talking to you. You’ve been sitting there typing since midnight Tuesday and you’ve got Halloween stink and writer stink on you. Please use body wash.

The point is, don’t feel bad about stepping away from the computer for an hour. We’re trying to get a lot done this month, yeah, but we also don’t want to overwork our brains to the point they overheat and seize up (see above—crashing and burning). Take time to cool down and refuel. I’m not saying take off two or three days, but don’t be scared to get up and stretch now and then. In the end, it’ll make everything run smoother and overall faster.

3) Don’t be Hard on Yourself—NaNoWriMo is work, but it’s also supposed to be kind of fun. We’re on a deadline, sure, but it’s a self-imposed deadline with no consequences if it’s missed. Seriously, none. Working on my book shouldn’t make me feel miserable (again, see above—bozos).

So relax. Push yourself, but don’t pressure yourself. The real goal here is to improve, to increase my regular writing rate. Any and every improvement counts. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make your targeted daily or weekly word count. That’s the kind of thing that only makes you feel bad about yourself. It doesn’t help anything, it just makes you not enjoy writing as much. Enjoy all the little victories this month. This is a time when coming in second or third is still a great achievement.

4) Nobody’s Going to Buy This— Sorry to sound harsh, but forget that right now. Seriously, it’s just not going to happen. No agent’s going to look at this. No film studio will pre-emptively buy the rights after a prolonged bidding war. We’re just not there yet. Nowhere near it.

Y’see, Timmy, National Novel Writing Month is kind of deceptive, because we’re not really going to be writing a novel this month. We’re writing the first draft of a novel. Just a first draft. Maybe even just the first draft of a novella. And, as we’ve discussed here a few times, there’s a big difference between a first draft and a polished, completed manuscript.

And really, we’re writing a rushed first draft. It’s going to have plot holes and dropped threads and factual errors and punctuation mistakes and typos. Sooo many typos. Incredibly embarrassing ones. It absolutely will, trust me. Having a finished first draft is a fantastic starting point, but it’s going to need a lot more work once November’s over. No question about it.

This draft is for us. It’s to do whatever we want with. Don’t spend a moment second-guessing what those other people will want. They’re never going to see this. They may see the third or fourth draft later—and be interested in it—but what we’re doing right now? This is just the first steps. When we complete this draft, we’ll barely be halfway through the process.

So forget everyone else. For NaNoWriMo, just crank up the music and let your imagination run wild. Do whatever you want. Drop your inhibitions and expectations and just tell your story.

Try to keep these things in mind over the next couple weeks. Hopefully they’ll make things a little easier for you. Which’ll make the writing a little more enjoyable.

Next time… maybe I’ll finally talk about Rashomon. Or maybe I’ll answer one of your questions.

Until then… go write.

October 12, 2023

Speed Limits

Wanted to try out a sort-of new analogy. Congratulations! You’re all my test subjects.

I’m going to make a bit of a leap here and assume most of you reading this know how to drive. Just, y’know, basic driving. A car. A pick-up. Maybe some of you even know how to drive a motorcycle.

I’m also going to assume most of you have a degree of experience at driving. You’ve been doing it for a while. Yeah, there’s a chance one or two of you are still in high school and only just got a learner’s permit, but the general vibe I get here in the comments—and from my readers in general—is most of you are solidly in the “adult” demographic, which means I can say you’ve probably been driving for at least a decade. You’ve got a license and got a solid feel for it. We can put you behind the wheel of a car and you can follow the rules of the road.

Of course… well, let’s have a little moment of honesty here. We’re all friends, right? We trust each other to a certain degree? And we can all admit that maaaaaaaybe we don’t always follow the rules of the road.

No. No we don’t. Come on, we said we were going to be honest. Okay, look. Quick show of hands. Just put your hand up, nobody else can see it. Well, I mean, all those people there at work, but they don’t know why you’re doing it. If they ask, tell them you’re stretching.

How many of us have broken the speed limit in the past week?

Don’t nitpick. It doesn’t matter if you were only going five miles over or that there wasn’t anyone else on the road at the time. Going over the limit means you broke the speed limit. So put your hand up if you’ve done it in the past week.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Oh, of course I’ve done it too. I’m not lording it over anyone.

I’m sure more than a few of us have also failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Made a U-turn we weren’t supposed to. Let’s not even getting into signaling for turns or lane changes.

Now here’s the thing. We all know this is wrong. We know we’re breaking the rules. But we keep doing it. And a lot of the time, we get away with it.


Well, a lot of it ties back to the experience thing I mentioned up above. Yeah, we were all taught the rules by a relative, in a drivers’ ed class, or maybe from a friend. We had to demonstrate we knew the rules to get our license.

And most of the time we need to follow the rules. I can’t just decide red lights and stop signs don’t apply to me anymore and plow through ‘em all at full speed. Eventually that’s going to catch up with me. So to speak.

But the thing is, once we’d been out on the road for a while, we started to see there’s still a degree of flexibility. Like driving on the freeway. Ten, fifteen miles an hour over? It’s breaking the rules but it’s also… just kind of accepted. We all do it.

Because we’ve all learned when and where it’s acceptable to break the rules of the road. When it’s going to make my driving experience a little faster or easier without hurting anyone. We know we can be a little excessive on the freeway, but we should probably rein it in a bit in school zones and parking lots. Making that u-turn on an empty road in the middle of the night isn’t the same as making it at lunchtime in heavy traffic. We understand why why it’s okay to do it here, but not here.

Let’s have one more moment of horribly honesty. Some folks get caught speeding and get a slap on the wrist. Other people get large tickets. Or worse. The ugly truth is, some people can get away with breaking the rules just because of who they are. Doesn’t mean the rest of us get to break them in the same way. Sucks, but that’s the way life goes sometimes.

And yes… there’s definitely someone out there who taught themselves how to drive and didn’t bother getting a license and drives 83 miles per hour past the school and the police station every day and they’ve never gotten a single ticket. Hopefully it’s clear this person is a rare exception, not a role model. Please don’t follow their example.

Now, hopefully you see where I’m going with this.

Y’see, Timmy, there are rules to writing. Absolutely, no questions, no arguments. There are rules, we need to know them, we should be able to pass a basic test on them. And a lot of the time we’re going to have to follow these rules to some extent or another.


Once I’ve done this for a bit, I’ll get a sense of when and where I can bend those rules. Or break them. Or flat out shatter them. And I’ll know I’m totally, 100% justified in doing it. I’ll be able to tell you exactly why it’s okay. Yeah, the rule says do this, but I’m doing this because it’s better for the dialogue, the flow, the suspense, or what have you.

I definitely don’t want to break a rule and then just say “ehhhh, I don’t know why. I just felt like breaking it. Shake things up a bit, y’know? I’m disrupting storytelling.”

That’s not going to go over well.

Next time…

Well, there’s a whole aspect to this rules thing I just barely touched on, so next time I think I’m going to talk about why Doctor Watson told all those stories about his old roommate.

Until then, go write.