30 or so Stories I’ve written in 2018 that have been rejected: Why I Write

(For the record this isn’t a story and it was accepted. However after numerous failed attempts to upload and several emails to the editor, I ended up saying fuck it.)

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I suck at writing. I cheated on my spelling testing in the second grade. My reading comprehension is garbage. When I read fast, “wrods look lkie thsi”. In high school, I worked on a paper for two weeks straight only to get a note from my teacher telling me I didn’t even try. I scored a 2 out of 12 on the writing portion of the ACT. I got beat out for a non paid editors position for a small College newspaper by someone who’s first language isn’t English. All this begs the question, why am I writing this essay? Because I have to.

No, nobody is forcing me to do this. I like to write, so that’s what I do. But this doesn’t make me a “writer”. That’s a word my Aunt uses at Thanksgiving to talk about the novel she’s worked on for ten years. To me those are just six, ego boosting letters, that give other people permission to be a dick at a workshop. I don’t need anyone’s permission. Honestly, I don’t give a fuck if you read this or not. To me, the act of writing is it’s own reward.

So what am I trying to accomplish? Wow, talk about a tough question. I feel like most people would say something along the lines of “I want my voice to be heard.” That’s a solid reason. Everyone wants to leave their mark on the little planet. And now with all these technological avenues it’s easier than ever. But that’s not me.

See, you have to understand this wasn’t ever the plan. I was a failed musician who bitched in notebooks and found relief. I’m an avid online dater who uses imaginative language to set himself apart. I’m an Engineer who sends daily project updates with a story arch. So what am I trying to accomplish? Shit, I don’t know. Writing chose me, not the other way around. I’m just playing the hand I was dealt.

I submit my work because it keeps me honest. The longer that something stays in the drawer, the more my mind will play with it’s value. Idea’s aren’t stocks. They’re for everyone. Why not submit? There’s nothing to lose. Getting a gently worded letter by an overworked, underpaid editor doesn’t mean that was a bad idea. It just means I believe in it. That’s all.

Plus, my goal isn’t to write one great piece, it’s to get better at the craft. So when I get a rejection I know it’s time to turn up the heat. I’ll sit down and ask the tough questions. How bad do I believe in this? How many red-eyed nights have you stayed up pushing that pen around? How many early mornings have I gotten up to edit? How many rejections have I received this month? This week? I already know the answer to all of these questions, and it’s not enough.

It’s funny but when I think about it, everything has been right there in front of me the whole time. It always has bee. The feeling of accomplishment when I finish a piece. The smile I get after writing a great sentence. The focus I get after a rejection. All of it is right there and no one can stop me to go after it. So I ask myself again, how bad do I want it? Bad enough to take a break from my fiction writing to type of this essay? Bad enough to get goosebumps on the first draft? Bad enough to red line two drafts this morning? Well, I don’t know about anyone else but I want it bad.

…And that’s why I write.

Business Ethics

 

business-1753098_1280If you’ve been around the OL dating game at all you’ll probably start to notice all the complex relationship statuses. The shit labeled like it is straight out of a math book, with poly- and mono, and all the three letter acronyms. One that always cracks me up is

“Ethical Non-monogamy”.

It’s not polygamy, which any idiot can deduce from the non part of the monogamy section.

It’s ethical dammit! These people make it sound like Mormons don’t have any ethics to them.

Adding the word ethical is what makes me scratch my head at the entire identifying statement.

Why does the person identifying with the label need it to be “ethical”?

If I walk down to a bar at 10 am on a Sunday and order a beer, I don’t say I’m an ethical alcoholic. Oh no, ethics has nothing to do with it. Nor do I give a fuck what anyone thinks about it. Moscow mules taste just as good in the am as they do in the pm.

But this Segways into a bigger picture to why the word is added for the person. It softens the phrase by giving their brain a positive idea to latch on.

Personally it makes me think that on some level they think what they’re doing is wrong. Whether or not they are conscious of that idea is irrelevant, but it’s stands out like a 70 year old European in a banana hammock.

When you truly are indifferent about something you just put it out there and let the other person deal with it. It’s like handing someone a blank canvas with a color palette.

But a throwing out a leading phrase like that is like handing someone a coloring book. You can use any color you want, but it’s still obvious what the picture is.

On a subtle level, it clues me into how the person thinks about this particular concept. We all generally accept various connotations of words.

But in reality is nothing is black and white, just grey. Our brains place shit in categories for us to help digest these bigger complex ideas. This is how the human race has evolved.

The thing is, when you take a stance on a widely accepted issue, you’re going to get scrutinized.

It’s instinct to want to push down the nail that sticks up above the rest. It is, what it is.

So at the end of the day,

that is what bothers me the most about the “ethical non-monogamers”.

I don’t give a fuck about how many people you are in a relationship with.

I just want you to leave the ethics for your Social Studies class,

and be proud of who you are.

Riddle Me This

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Her profile reads:

Paul’s height is six feet, he’s an assistant at a butcher’s shop, and wears size 11 shoes. What does he weigh?

There’s multiple levels to a good riddle.

99.9% of the time the answer is always in the question. But the smartest thing you can do is keep your eye on the big picture.

Two are measurements, one is an occupation, and the question is a measurement.

Add in the fact that it’s a riddle, and you can start to see why one phrase sicks out above the rest.

Also why the other three have to match.

Misdirection.

It’s a great tool that helps bring novelty to the familiar, but this post ain’t about relationships. It’s about a bio.

Now I’ve read a shit ton of profiles, but ones like this really stand out to me. Most are generic, not because people don’t like to talk about themselves, but because most people don’t give themselves permission to be themselves around strangers. The ironic thing is, the finger prints of your personality is all over everything you do.

What you write,

or what you don’t write,

What you wear,

What’s in the background of your picture

These things speak in volumes.

And much like the answer to the riddle, they aren’t on the surface.

Which is why this sparks my curiosity.

So why a riddle? Why this one? When did she hear it? Does it mean anything to her?

Now I’m not retarded. The odds of the stars aligning, us meeting up, her looking remotely like her pictures, so I can even get the faintest opportunity to see if she’s the person she claims to be is fucking terrible.

It’s the never ending Zeno’s paradox of online dating.

But I guess those minuscule odds is why I like to play the game.

I type:

Paul weighs meat. Who doesn’t love a good riddle?

Be Honest

Why do you give a shit?

About the eyes,

the words,

the sharp pain of standing out with an opinion.

You’re worried about getting isolated

yet,

you hide inside yourself

day after day

around the people you claim are your friends

who you’ve spent over 20 years with

and

still

aren’t close enough

to have the decency

to drop your fork on the porcelain plate and honestly say:

“Your pot roast is tastes drier than grandma pussy.”

…Why do you give a shit?

Tell Me What You Want, What you Really Really Want

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I’m sitting at Starbucks when she asks, “What are you looking for?” My eyes peered over at the coin on the linoleum floor. It looked like a nickle, but I couldn’t tell from this angle. I cleared my throat and pulled out the first words I could think of.

“So you know how can tell a lot about a person by the way they stand and wait? The more you watch them, the more you get to know them. Do they hide in the back, quick to pull out their phone? Do they stand patently? Do they try to figure out how many people are watching them?

Are they pissed because there is only one person at the register?

Obviously, a lot of this is all moment to moment. I mean, we have our good days and our bad dates, and all the other  But the fascinating thing to me, is the HOW they do this. I can’t help it, my brain just goes kid in a candy store with this type of shit.”

“Darby, what does this have to do–”

I put up my finger. “Gimme a second, I’m getting to that.” I took a quick breath and continued.

“So the how someone stands, or the way they get mad. These are all learned behaviors influenced from all types of different people within this person’s world, so to speak. Some of these behaviors we play around with, kind of like a new jacket, while others we seem to hold on for dear life. The second ones are weird traits. They’re the ones we like so much we tend to form a bit of an identity around them.”

I took a swig of my latte and placed it on the cold table.

“It would be like if you wore that Grey Jacket everyday of your life.”

She bashfully looked up and rubbed her jacket.

“Definitely a magical jacket.” I took another sip of my latte and she followed suit.

“But anyways, what were we talking about again?”

“You were avoiding telling me what you were looking for in a woman.”

“I was?” I let out a small smirk.

She rolled her eyes. “Oh my god!”

“Kidding. Back to this identity thing. Those traits are something I look for with anyone I meet, but it’s not like an active thing. See, we’ll just be talking about something mundane and it’ll hit me, like a motorcycle at a light pole. BAMM! Something just clicks in me and I realize, This is who this person is, or who they think they are. Just like with your Grey Jacket.”

“You really like this jacket.” She said smiling.

“It’s true. But see that “who they think they are” part is super crucial. Everyone is stronger than they think they are. We just tend to forget that from time to time.”

“We do.” she said, adjusting herself in the stool across from me.

I took the final drink of my latte.

“So I said all that to finally put an end to the simple question.”

“Finally.”

“I know. I know.  So what I’m looking for, is a girl that owns a specific crazy leopard pattern jacket that she bought drunk at a thrift store years ago. Maybe she was feeling excited about her new promotion, or always wanted one since she was a kid. I don’t know that part. But what I do know is for some reason she gets up every morning, sifts through the jackets in her closet, passing the leopard one because of some excuse about how it’s just not right for what she’s wearing today, and puts on the Grey Jacket.”

I began gripping the empty cup with both hands.

“And honestly, what I’m really looking for more than anything else. More than toe curling orgasms, or honest thoughts about my writing, or even putting up with my retarded bull shit. All those things are great, but the thing that might be the most insanely beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, is when I help that girl connect the dots in her brain. And she struts down Diversity street, flaunting her leopard pattern jacket on without a care in the world.”

“Wow” She said, analyzing my eyes.

“Yea. So that’s what I’m looking for.”

 

Actual Cover Letters I Send To Literary Magazine Editors Pt. 2

Dear Editor,

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….I bet you were waiting for me to start off the cover letter like a professional and not some 90’s retro computer game. Well expect the unexpected, my friend. Here I would love to tell you that there is some deep significance to the number seven that applies to the story I’m sending, but there isn’t. I thought it would be fun to draw.

If you couldn’t tell, this letter isn’t going to get any different from what’s above. I’ll probably ramble a few more sentences about nonsense and sprinkle in some inappropriate jokes here and there, because well screw it. I really don’t care if you publish my work or not.

Trust me, it’s not that I don’t think my work is good. Everything I write is fireworks on the 4th,  including my name. I would like you too, if you feel it fits you journal. But if not, we’ll do this song and dance again soon.

You see for whatever reason, I measure my success by the amount of times I hit the green submit button. That’s the gold metal to me. Whatever happens after that is a bonus. This year I’ve submitted 30 pieces, which means I’ve kicked ass 30 times. Chicago Marathoners have nothing on me and you best believe 31 is coming in a few brief seconds. Well, that is, until I figure out how to tie in a solid joke at the end.

………

………

……………………So I got nothing. I was trying to out smart you by making a pun with a movie quote from Se7en. But I’m done. I wasted all my creativity on this this piece. …Okay and this cover letter that you probably won’t read. So you won this round, but I’ll be back. You can count on that one.

P.S. Please enjoy my my 700 word piece entitled “Oscar”.

P.S.S. I really loved your last piece “Mooncake” by Grace Prasad.

Sincerely,

Darby Cashed

Aka the people champ

Aka the Voodoo Child

Aka the Italian Stallion

Aka the most successful deadbeat writer you’ve never heard of

 

Part 1 Here

 

How to Stand Out At a Concert

You move through the herd of selfie takers by the Riot Fest Demon Head

Dodge the Random Zombies in between stages, Texting their friends

Bump into the groups scrolling Instagram while Weezer warms up

You tilt your head to make out Rivers Cuomo from the sea of iPhones recording

“Bro, give me your Phone, I’ll take a sweet video for you” Says the stoned kid in the Bulls Hat next to you.

“It’s cool man, I’ll just enjoy it now.”

Welcome to being fucking weird in 2018.