“Heavy Moons” Published in Gone Lawn (Issue 22)

Gone Lawn Issue 22 Cover

Gone Lawn 22 cover, Alternate Flux by Kelley Stephens.

My story “Heavy Moons”, which is about lovers, a crime, and alternate realities, is published in Gone Lawn, one of my favourite online literary journals. This story was inspired by my suburban upbringing and Thin Lizzy’s Dancing In The Moonlight, a good song for nighttime strolls.

You can read “Heavy Moons” here: http://journal.gonelawn.net/issue22/Ho.php

Please check out the other writers as well. Enjoy!

FOGBANK

William Klein New York 67th Street

Temper black and radiant,
She leaves me voicemail messages on
her birthday.

Draw me things! Give me things!
You owe me things!

I awoke realizing I was a thing,
have been walking through fog bank
for some time now.

Here is a wire, child.

Play with it until you can see
a way out.

—–

Millie’s Note: Photo by William Klein.

Back to Basics With Art and Illustration

Millie Ho Illustration Work In Progress

My work-in-progress digital illustration.

Here are some sketches and illustrations from the past few weeks. I’m getting into the habit of sketching at least one idea a day. At first, I was just drawing to update my Art page, but now drawing has become a daily habit.

Millie Ho Sketch Supernatural Office

The original sketch, “How you doin’?”

I always sketch with a pen because a pen glides better, and also because I don’t erase things much.

Millie Ho Cat Riding Fish Sketch

A cat and a translucent Leviathan.

While I love drawing cats, the more I sketch, the more I find myself introducing supernatural elements into my art.

Millie Ho Giant Cat Sketch

“I bring you peace, I bring you love.”

I think the process of sketching a lot, like writing a lot, is that you get to know yourself better and discover what you actually like to draw, beyond the default options.

Millie Ho Sketch Submerged Woman Art

I sure hope that’s gum.

Once you let go of any judgement and faithfully transport what’s in your mind onto the page, that’s when you discover who you really are.

Millie Ho Illustration Demon Hugging Cats

Inspired by this book on giants I’ve had since forever.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how my life would’ve turned out if I went to an art school instead of majoring in business. I would definitely have a better grasp of fundamentals and the tools of the trade, and would also have produced more artwork. However, I think it ultimately comes down to working hard, regardless if you majored in art or not.

I’m grateful for where I am in life, grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, but art has always been an itch I couldn’t scratch, a hobby I kept pushing to the sidelines. But if I can learn to write every day, then I can learn to draw every day. I can and will improve. I owe that much to my younger self, to that kid who found her self-worth through art.

I must practice more, practice consistently, and maximize my potential. Basically, I’m going back to basics. But the good news is that we live in an age where anybody can learn or improve anything if they want it badly enough and keep at it long enough.

More sketches and illustrations to come!

—–

Millie’s Note: I post more art on the SORROWBACON Facebook page.

The More You Write, The More Ideas You’ll Have

Millie Ho The More You Write The More Ideas You'll Have

My brainstorming book, ft. nonchalant teen character.

I used to think that I would run out of ideas if I wrote too much. This fear drained my ability to write at times. But it made sense, right? Your mind can only generate so much content in a lifetime, and eventually you’ll just end up rewriting your existing ideas. Or worse, you could hit a brick wall that won’t move no matter how hard you slam into it. Writer’s block could last for days, months, years—and it’s always worse knowing that you’ve actually hit your ceiling than for it to remain a vague possibility looming in the background.

Now that I’ve been writing consistently every day and haven’t run out of ideas yet, I’d like to correct some of my misconceptions. Perhaps you can relate!

Misconception #1: I’ll become a parody of myself.  

I had a fear that I would just be rehashing the same ideas over and over. But I haven’t reached the kind of output to qualify for self-parody status yet, not by a long shot. And if I become a parody of myself, so what? At least there’s something to parody, at least I’ll know what I’m all about. So there’s no need to worry about things that haven’t happened yet. Just focus on what needs to be written today.

Misconception #2: I need to come up with insanely original ideas.

Nope, not really. There are infinite ways you can tell the same story. I’ve been reading How To Write A Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey, which is a very helpful classic on storytelling, and one section in particular caught my eye:

How many novels could be written on the Samson and Delilah theme? Dozens and dozens. Ever read a story in which a plain but deserving girl finally marries Mr. Wonderful? It has been done a trillion times and will be done a trillion times more.

The key differentiator is not in the idea itself, Frey suggests, but in how the writer executes the idea. Remembering this helped redirect my focus from brainstorming to revising. After all, the real magic happens during the editing process, when the writer demonstrates how their story stands out. Originality comes from execution.

Misconception #3: It’s bad to produce crappy ideas.  

Sure, I believe in quality over quantity just as much as the next person, but how do you develop quality? You need to generate lots of crappy ideas first! The more I jot down all new ideas, the more good ideas I get along with the bad ones. And sometimes it’s not even the initial idea that materializes into the final story, but a secondary idea that branched off the main one. Knowing this has encouraged me to keep writing and generating new ideas, even if they don’t go anywhere. You never know when the stars will align.

My Experience With Writing Stories Daily 

It all started a few months ago, when I wrote new stories to take my mind off Draft One of my manuscript so that I could revise it objectively. My first few ideas were bad. They resembled half-formed thoughts and I failed multiple times trying to stretch them into stories. But I persisted. I worked on one story for a few days, set it aside and started a new one, then edited the first one after I finished the second one. Rinse and repeat, over and over.

Eventually something interesting happened: my ideas began to get better. My execution of these ideas also improved. I also began to see ideas everywhere: an overheard conversation in a restaurant, a random song lyric that formed the basis of a character sketch. Since I now believed I won’t run out of ideas, I began to see the ideas I would’ve missed if I hadn’t been looking.

Consistency Is key

I tried doing something like this in the past, but I didn’t stick with it consistently. As a result, my ability to ideate turned rusty. Eventually, I falsely believed that I was incapable of brainstorming new and better ideas. But it’s like exercising, really: it’s inefficient to start, stop for a few weeks, and then pick up the dumbbells again. To properly strengthen the writing muscle, I need to keep exercising every single day.

My experience has taught me that you won’t run out of ideas.

You’ll just get better at recognizing and developing them.

——-

Millie’s Note: What’s your experience?

The Hammer

William Klein Family Millie Ho Short Story

The best you can ever hope for is to stay out of prison.

Gavin replayed his stepfather’s words in his head as he jumped the fence and landed in his parents’ backyard.

He’d been kicked out of the house a week earlier for doing something he couldn’t even remember. Was it for speaking out against the stepfather gambling his mother’s wages away? Or was it for hitting his stepsister after he saw her not only steal the rum Gavin had stashed under his bed, but also freaking lick the excess liquid off the bottle with her gross, bumpy tongue in order to hide her crime?

It didn’t matter. What mattered now was his stepfather’s dog sleeping in the doghouse. Gavin pulled the dog out by its tail, and then held on to the leash when the dog started twisting and yelping.

“Shut up, fugly bitch,” Gavin said, and tugged on the leash hard.

The dog looked like no other dog in the neighbourhood. It had long, black fur that hung down its sturdy body like dreads. When it pounced the dreads flailed about like a mop. Gavin couldn’t see the dog’s eyes. All he saw was the long black coat and the red floppy tongue. Creepy as hell.

Gavin grunted as he continued dragging the dog towards the shed. He still wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but it was going to be something that would make a statement. The shed contained all his father’s tools. Gavin remembered the slingshot-propelled cart he and his father had built together for a middle school project. His mother had told him it would be easier to just buy a kit from some toy store, but Gavin had enjoyed toiling over the building of the thing with his father, liked seeing how the pieces fitted and were put together.

Now he was going to use the same tools to take the pieces apart, he decided. He set the dog in the middle of the shed and fastened the leash to the workbench leg. The dog started yelping and Gavin shut the door. He turned on the lights. He looked around the crowded space for the first time since his father was killed. There were cobwebs everywhere, in bright spaces and dark spaces, between the small crowded objects on the workbench and along the long wooden planks stacked against the wall.

Gavin took a hammer and held the dog’s head in his other hand. The walls seemed to close in on him and the air felt dense on his skin. He didn’t realize he’d been waiting for some time, just standing there and staring at the black mop head that didn’t have any eyes, until he heard the garage door creak.

Somebody was coming home.

His stepfather would be out with his poker buddies, so it must be either his stepsister or his mother—whatever, they were all the same, all brainwashed by the same freeloading tyrant.

Gavin stared at the dog again. He could do this. His hammer-holding hand was starting to shake, and Gavin hated any part of him shaking, hated anything that made him feel weak.

Then something long and rectangular caught his eye. It poked out between the toolbox near the wall, under a tapestry of cobwebs.

It was the cart he and his father built. It was crusted and dusted with age and splintered in more places than he remembered. But it was the one and the same.

Then the sound of the front door opening, and door keys jingling.

In the end, Gavin set the hammer down and let the dog go.

When he escaped, however, he made sure to leave through the fence door this time, and to leave it wide, wide open.


Millie’s Note: Happy Father’s Day! Photo by William Klein, as usual.