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Lesson #18 – Stay Creative

25 Sep

It isn’t always easy, is it? Thankfully, I’ve learned that to stay creative I need to:

 

  1. Surround myself with creative people.

  2. As I said in my last post, go places and watch people.

3. Collaborate.

  1. Write ideas down when I have them.

  2. Never force it!

 

I’m sure there are plenty of others, but those are at the top of my list. Feel free to share the ways you stay creative!

True Detective Thoughts

10 Mar

I shouldn’t be allowed to watch anything involving crime drama/mystery/basically anything cool or potentially mind-blowing. Why? Because I get too involved and my imagination runs wild with theories like an unbridled pony down an undiscovered beach except this particular pony never stops or sleeps at night because all it does is think excitedly about possible conclusions.

This time, however, I was sort of right about the ending, so I feel like exploring it a bit. If you don’t want to hear anything about HBO’s True Detective, stop reading!

So, basically, I got too into it and after some investigations, suddenly was checking out a case from Louisiana involving sexual abuse and other creepy stuff. Then I read Robert Chambers’ 1895 book of stories titled The King in Yellow, which was suggested because both the show and book, both mystery/horror themed, mentioned Carcosa and a yellow king and a mysterious yellow sign. The stories were good, but also supernatural, which led a lot of people to think the show was going to end similarly.

My mind considered a bunch of theories and in the end I thought to myself, what if this is one thing that ends on a positive note? What if they solve the case and evil doesn’t prevail? What if that’s part of the twist? Sure, everything leading up to it was…sick. We saw a cheating husband, pessimism about life and what happens after death, gangs, kidnapping, sexual abuse, frightening rituals, a big guy in a gas mask and dirty underpants, excessive drinking and drug use, a video of a child being sacrificed and, unfortunately, I’ll never be able to forget how Erroll Childress fingered his half-sister in that dirty house near all those creepy dolls. Jesus.

In the end, light won (or is winning). Carcosa was a place and idea that represented evil and often corrupted innocence. In Chambers’ book, Carcosa is a mysterious, dim, possibly cursed city. I think Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson visited a version of Carcosa in multiple ways throughout the show, but they ultimately don’t allow themselves to be consumed by darkness and are rewarded with another chance. I could go into serious depth here, but if you watched you’ll likely understand.

I like the light vs. dark theme, which of course exists in stories and real life.

In real life, we tell ourselves stories, hide behind stories, tell our children stories and even grew countries and religions out of stories. Stories are everywhere. Those who watched the show watched a story about a story based on a story that references other stories and we ourselves are a story and so on.

I think one theme of the first season asked, “What stories are you surrounding yourself with?” We choose what and who surrounds us and the show reminds us that it’s easy to be led down paths and become consumed by the theme and mood of our interests, stories and beliefs (all of which are our choosing). Interestingly, in Chambers’ stories, anyone who reads The King in Yellow play is driven mad by it. The killer in the show was crazy because of stories and sick rituals, the detectives were in and out of their own versions of “madness” because they were consumed by the case and on our level, anyone who watched may have gone a little crazy with excitement over theories and the mystery of the show.

Now that’s some excellent writing.

Please feel free to share below any thoughts or theories if you watched and want to discuss!

 

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In Defense of My Absence. Sort of.

24 Jan

Many of you have complained that I don’t write enough. First of all, in my defense, it’s kind of hard to write from inside my purple comforter that I’ve been rolled up in like a taquito ever since arctic air began chilling my actual bones. This is what we have going on today:

 

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Ridiculous.

 

Or, according to my friend Paula, it’s Baby, It’s HOLY MOTHER OF GOD I NEED MORE LAYERS Outside. Her area is far more frigid though, so I shouldn’t even be talking (which isn’t a reference to her lacking any sort of sexual responsiveness, as she seems to have no problems there. But I’m not calling her a hobeast or anything, either! Well, maybe a little bit. Would you just read her blog already? Jeez).

The second reason I haven’t been around is that my boyfriend moved in and suddenly I do weird things, such as go on dates instead of writing alone while drinking wine from a bag.

The third reason, which sucks to admit, is sheer anxiety masked by busy work. As you may recall, there’s supposed to be a book in the works, but every other day is spent worrying that you will hate it, so I withdrawal and claim something important is going on and the idea isn’t revisited until about 2 weeks later. It’s a vicious cycle. Sometimes I even choose exercise over writing just so I don’t have to do it. Can you believe it?

Embarrassingly, I’m writing this post right now for the very same reason.

The weird thing is that the stories in the book thoroughly delighted others, and that is the ultimate goal, so I don’t know what my problem is. I’m stuck, people. I’m stuck and I’m a wuss and it’s time to admit it.

So…that’s it. There it is. Judge me as you will (although I would prefer some encouragement or advice).

Fighting Fear with Fear

18 Jun

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Big thank you to La La for letting me take over her blog for the day. Whenever things aren’t going well, I pop over here and read a post to brighten my day. Thanks La La!

We all have fears. Mine usually involve small spaces and high places.

So I scrupulously avoid those two things.

But one night it all went wrong.

Back in college, my boyfriend Tom* and his best friend Vince* cajoled me into attending a DC house party. I didn’t know the guy throwing the party, but DC is pretty well known for it’s low-lying buildings.

Probability was on my side.

We show up at a nice three-story townhouse. Except the party isn’t downstairs and it isn’t upstairs. It’s on the roof.

But it gets better. To get to the roof, you have to go out a window (small space) onto a metal fire escape and then climb a metal ladder to the roof (high place).

Tom tries to persuade me. My fear builds. The trembling begins.

Somehow they get me over to the window to look at the next steps. The fire escape has wide gaps between the slats. I can see down to the pavement below. My heart double-dutches in my chest.

Even if I manage to stand on that fire escape, the ladder to the roof is welded to the side of the building.

I’ll pass out. And no one will catch me and I’ll drop to my death. I’m certain of it.

I back away from the window. Lies pour from my mouth. “You go ahead. I’ll be up in a little bit.” No way in hell I’m ever going up there.

They stay with me a while trying to get me to go up. “Just give me some time,” I say. Like eternity and back.

The second they go up, I contemplate leaving. Because every time I think about following them, the fear grows. My heart jackhammers against my chest. Sweat pours from my eyebrows.

I go downstairs to catch my breath. It’s just a window. Just a fire escape. Just a ladder. Just a roof.

In my mind, it’s the equivalent of taking on Darth Vader, Freddy Kreuger, Pinhead, and Michael Myers.

I don’t have a cell phone on me. No way to call a cab. No idea where we are. I don’t know the area. Visions of Lifetime Movies dance before my eyes. Something far worse will happen if I step outside into the night. Something I’ll have to face all alone.

I turn around trudge back upstairs.

The window and I are in a stand-off when Tom and Vince come back down.

“It’s no fun up there without you,” Vince says.

“We won’t let you fall,” Tom promises.

I swallow. “I can’t look down.”

“I will go out first and pull you out after me. You won’t have to look at anything.” Tom smiles. His smile makes everything seem possible.

“What about the ladder?” I ask.

Vince says, “I’ll go first.”

Tom swears, “We’ll sandwich around you. You won’t fall.”

They are so certain. I want to believe them. So I let Tom pull me out the window and get me up on that rooftop.

Sometimes the only way to fight fear is with a bigger, badder fear.

*Names changed because I can.

 

Author Bio:

Kourtney Heintz writes emotionally evocative speculative fiction that captures the deepest truths of being human. For her characters, love is a journey never a destination.

She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, her supportive parents and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amuck at night, imagining a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide.

Her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin, was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist.

 SixTraintoWisconsin1600

One Sentence Summary of Novel:

When Kai’s telepathy spirals out of control, her husband Oliver brings her to the quiet Wisconsin hometown he abandoned a decade ago, where he must confront the secrets of his past to save their future.

Paperback available from:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Ebook available from:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

Kobo

iTunes

 

Connecting with the Kourtney

Website: http://kourtneyheintz.com

Blog: http://kourtneyheintz.wordpress.com

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/kourtneyheintzwriter

 

Goodreads giveaways going on until July 1:

5 free signed copies of my book (US only): http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/54224-the-six-train-to-wisconsin

For Canadians, 1 signed copy:

http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/54216-the-six-train-to-wisconsin

Several other countries can win 1 signed copy: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/54217-the-six-train-to-wisconsin

The First Time

9 May

When I got home from work, my puppy Porter was in the window wagging his big fluffy tail. Dane was sitting on the couch, watching a documentary on the History Channel. I changed my clothes and we went to Zen West Roadside Cantina to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with sangria.

He had fish tacos for dinner and I had a quesadilla. We talked about little things of no importance and recalled the loud, old Jewish couple sitting in front of us at the Mary Poppins production we saw the night before. He was good at imitating them and it made me laugh so hard. I remember where we were sitting in the restaurant and the little kid running in circles who repeatedly played the same, really annoying song on the jukebox while his mom and dad completely ignored him. I don’t recollect what song it was now, but it was spinning in my tipsy head as I tried to fall asleep later that night.

Back at my house, we drank wine and watched a show that was saved on the DVR. Porter chased his tail and we laughed. Dane suggested that he was just like that kid at the restaurant, really, except fluffy. He adored Porter. He was mad when I first rescued him because he didn’t want a dog, but as you can see, he fell in love with him pretty quickly:

 

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When it was time for bed, Dane cuddled with me for a bit before heading to his room. He said he was happy things were going well with us (we had fought in the months prior) and we made plans to see each other when I was back home from house sitting on May 9th.

The next morning, he came in early and kissed my forehead before he left. I glanced at him through squinting, sleepy eyes as the sun poured through the sneaky cracks in the blinds, directly on my pillow.

That was the last time I saw him.

We emailed a bit that week and he called on the 8th to say he wasn’t feeling well. He had heartburn. I told him to get some TUMS.

“Thanks, good idea,” he replied, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

That was the last time we spoke.

I’ll never forget a single moment.

The memories we had together and his passing are a constant reminder of the beauty and fragility of breath and life. One year ago, this propelled me out of my routine stillness. It was like an awakening from the numbness of the patient etherized upon a table in T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

Grateful and inspired, the months that followed sparked the first time I truly began to live.

On Blogging

29 Apr

Blogging has been an unexpected journey for me. It started as an extension to the journals I began at age 12 that lasted until about 23, filling five books:

 

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The quote on the cover that says, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale” is ironic, really, because from page one the reader can sense the true awkwardness of a chubby, shy, hopeful romantic (even at age 12) who experiences the absolute opposite of anything resembling a fairytale.

The topics within the second half of that top journal alone talk about my friends and I at 15-years-old facing being dumped, eating disorders, rape, my dream date for a dance who broke me into pieces by choosing to go with a girl he said was prettier, drinking, a stomach being pumped, a stabbing, depression and death.

My romantic awkwardness and my tendency to over-think everything continues throughout the five journals and despite every moment that would make most readers cringe as I embarrass myself on the regular, the entire thing is woven together with a sense of “gratefulness, hope and humor” that I had and continue to carry with me as I go.

I stopped writing things down for a few years and when I picked it up again, I chose to blog and decided that no matter what depressing thing happened in the world or in my personal experience, I was going to write for myself and shed a humorous light on life. I was tired of reading and watching awful things, you know? I didn’t expect, or necessarily even want others to read it. I’m grateful that people do read and comment, but I still don’t expect it. I simply wanted to creatively journal for myself and had no idea there was going to be a community aspect.

My stats, number of followers and being Freshly Pressed meant and still mean very little to me.

With that said, I was delighted to meet people, be real and learn that I can make others laugh. I think the community has introduced us all to others who inspire us and/or have somehow changed our lives. Writers can easily connect with each other here–we all know about an artist’s deeper layers that exist within each one of us. It gives us an immediate connection and for some, a way to throw around ideas. Through this I’ve also met some friends I’d like to keep for a lifetime, had conversations with people from all over the world and even had a very odd fan fiction story written about me. I wonder whatever happened to that guy.

Perhaps the real bonus for this little lady has been the dick pictures from past commenters, even though I continually announced that I would laugh at every penis entering my inbox (and I did… that pun was not intended, by the way).

Little did those dudes know about the coffee table book I’ll publish someday called, “Is This Your Dick?” that will highlight all the ding dongs.

So, that’s what makes my blogging experience go ’round.

Why do you blog?

Katie Couric: Part 1

22 Apr

Two weeks ago, my boyfriend and I went to NYC because yours truly was a guest on Katie Couric’s daytime TV show on ABC. Basically, one of my posts here (I will repost it before the show airs, I am not yet sure of the date) caught the attention of a producer and they invited me to be on the show. Crazy, I know.

I was nervous. I mean, I barely know how to walk in a straight line, my laugh is kind of ridiculous and I often stumble over my words. The other day when I sneezed in the parking lot at work, my shoe flew off and a guy laughed at me. A few weeks ago I fell while running and my shorts got pulled down and guess who wasn’t wearing panties?

What I am trying to say is that things can get weird around here, but I accept this. I was worried, however, that it would be difficult to control this general clumsiness/awkwardness and I didn’t really want to have to tell you a story about how I embarrassed myself in front of Katie Couric, an audience and cameras.

What was a girl to do? I was told that getting a lot of sleep would help, but instead my nervousness led us to margaritas:

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and then this happened…

guy

…but too many margaritas and that creepy old bikini guy didn’t do the trick, you guys, so the next morning I was up at 5 am thinking of all the ways I was going to screw things up. I thought of how to get out of it and even pretended to have a stomach ache, which my boyfriend saw straight through and resulted in him physically taking my hand and pulling me through New York City to the studio. Bless him.

When we got there, I changed in the green room and went to hair and makeup. The women who fixed me up did a beautiful job, but I felt a bit weird because I don’t usually wear much makeup and I could tell it made my boyfriend uncomfortable, too:

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Him: You’re so….sparkly.

Me: I knew it! I look like a sparkly whore!

Him: Well, don’t worry, it’s just makeup for TV and I bet up close Katie Couric will look like a sparkly whore, too!

____

The idea of me hanging out with Katie Couric while we both looked like sparkly whores made me feel a lot better.

We watched the first segment in the green room before someone came to get another woman and I for our segment. Everything after that felt like a whirlwind because suddenly, whilst in a cloud of hairspray, a guy was clipping a microphone to my bra, a woman was using a lint roller on me and the makeup artist was retouching my lipstick.

I don’t remember much that happened after that. The conversation with Katie Couric was short, and funny, but I have no recollection of what was said. She was nice and very laid back and mentioned afterward that she liked my slippers (more on that later) and that I was funny. I secretly celebrated with imaginary high fives all around to everyone nearby.

My boyfriend says I did well, but maybe he’s just being nice. Who knows. I didn’t fall, so that’s a plus. He did mention that he heard me guffaw at Katie’s sex joke while on camera, so I hope they edit that out because yikes.

Anyway, that sums up the time I was on Katie Couric’s daytime show….one of the most random things I’ll ever do. I’ll be able to tell you more about the subject later and will let you know when it airs if you want to DVR it or something.

If I Were A Linguist

14 Apr

This morning in the shower I wrote a poem about being a linguist. I am not a linguist, but this is what would happen if I were one.

___________________
 
If I were a linguist
who uses her tongue freely,
I would be cunning and write a poem about
driving a lexis
and wearing a diphthong.

There’d be something in there about synnning
and taxes and that’s why
I’d be awkward and have no friends
if I were a linguist,

so I wouldn’t be much different from who I am now,
if I were a linguist.

 

 

Kevin – A Possible Book Preview

7 Feb

Some of you have asked for a preview of my collection of stories. It is not finalized, and I may not even include this one, but feedback is more than welcome. Let me know what you think.

_________

About four years ago I began seeing a guy named Kevin. He was younger than I was, which was a change of pace from my usual interest in older men. He had a “top secret government job,” which I thought sounded sexy and mysterious.

Kevin and I had a lot of fun together. I liked his preppy style. He was a typical party guy who loved drinking and socializing, which was perfect because I also happen to enjoy drinking and socializing.

Our first date was to a really fun bar in the city on a hot Tuesday night. It was a perfect date, really, even if we did get a bit too tipsy. He was tall and I loved his cute nose sunburn, and the way he looked into my eyes when he bent down and tucked my hair behind my ear before he kissed me.

I have to admit that I am such a sucker for a hot date on a summer night with some cold drinks. Who isn’t?

When it was over he dropped me off at my house and said he would call me the next day. When he did, he invited me to meet his parents out on Friday for happy hour, and then he and I would go out afterward. It sounded fun.

That Friday I wore a pretty blue dress my mom had bought me for “something special.” I was excited, and I’ll admit a bit nervous to meet his parents on only our second date.

Kevin picked me up and we met them at a bar on the water in Fells Point, a really cute area in Baltimore City. His parents, Phil and Viv, easily were two of the nicest, most fun people I have ever met. They were young, hip and everything I could have wanted on a date with parents…until his mother took out a nail file.

It could have been the effect of the beer, but I swear to you that I watched in slow motion as his mother reached over to her son and began filing his nails. My jaw dropped.

“He doesn’t keep up with his nails very well, does he?” she commented.

“Err, I hadn’t noticed,” I replied.

“Well, he doesn’t. He’s not very good with his room, either. You’ll have to push him to clean.”

The whole thing lasted only about three minutes, but I am telling you that it was such an odd moment that I couldn’t help but comment on it later. “Kev, does your mom always file your nails like that?”

“Yeah, she does, she’s kind of a control freak.”

I kind of wish I had run at that moment, but do you think we should we really judge people immediately about things like that? He was younger than me, after all. Maybe he was just a bit immature, or maybe I was just making up excuses. I didn’t know, I was just glad it was over.

He and I went to another bar and got food and more beers and somehow we thought it would be fun to make a bet that for every beer I drank, he could drink two in the same amount of time. It turned out that he could, but as you can imagine after my four pints and his eight, I ended up drunk and he ended up extremely drunk. We kept laughing and enjoying ourselves, though. He was such a fun guy to be around!

Afterward, we decided to walk back to his house, hand in well-manicured hand. He lived about seven blocks from where we were and at block three he started picking up the pace.

“Why are we rushing?” I inquired, doubling my step to keep up.

“Sorry, I have to use the bathroom.” My roommates are out, so when we get inside just make yourself at”…and then, my friends, he pooped his pants.

Right then and there, Kevin farted and pooped his pants.

I got a cab home.

We never talked again.

NeverEnding Imaginations

20 Nov

I love reading creative posts and catching a glimpse of what’s inside the imaginations of other bloggers. My imagination gets wild and crazy and I can think of a few childhood experiences that certainly played a major role in that development.

One example is my love for the 1984 film The NeverEnding Story.

Cue majestic music, bitches:
 

 

When I was a kid, I made my parents rent that movie every weekend for approximately two years. Something about it truly grabbed my imagination and expanded La La Land into a vast empire where I am still a beautiful empress with a British accent. I also blame it for giving me imaginary friends (a mermaid and a turtle) that lived in the sewer.*

At night I made up related stories while curled up on the floor in my Care Bears sleeping bag. In my head, I WAS The Childlike Empress and I lived in an ivory tower made of glorious light. I imagined (still imagine, just kidding, kind of) someday walking down the aisle wearing her headpiece:
 

But with real pearls. Image from Etsy.

 
Except back then I was jonesin’ for some Atreyu:
 

Atreyu sporting the Auryn. Image from Google.

 
Is there something from your childhood that you associate with the development of your imagination? Do you still make up stories in your head as you fall asleep? Have you ever put someone’s baby on a dog and pretended he was riding Falcor? No? Oh. I guess I haven’t either, then. That would be a weird thing to do.

Also, this is the song from the movie. Look at this guy. Just look at him…and there upon a rainbow is the answer to a never-ending story.

 

______________

* My imaginary friends and I are no longer in contact.

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